21st Spanish Grand Prix
—a lucky win for Lotus
Montjuich Park, Barcelona, April 29th.
Alternating as it does, between Madrid and Barcelona, the Spanish GP returned this year to the circuit round the Montjuich Park in the city of Barcelona. The Park, with its ornamental gardens and historic Palace, is on a hill between the docks and the southern end of the town centre and the road around the grounds provides a circuit as exciting and spectacular as the Jarama circuit north of Madrid is dull and boring. With no appreciable straight, only a short stretch of level road, two hairpin bends and some staggeringly fast blind corners, it is not a circuit for the timid or cautious. With the lap record standing at almost 100 m.p.h. average speed, and every prospect of it being improved upon, as the last GP at Montjuich was in 1971, a very full Grand Prix field prepared for practice, with the top drivers having their sights on 1 min. 25.1 sec., which Ickx recorded during the 1971 race when he was hounding Stewart for lap after lap.
Practice should have begun on Thursday April 26th, and though the circuit was ready the financial committee of the Formula One Constructors Association decided their members were not ready, so none of them turned out. However, Graham Hill was ready with his Embassy sponsored Shadow, and not being in the Union he started to practise, until he was asked to "support the cause" and stop, which he did; "the cause" being that the Constructors considered they were only being paid sufficient money to warrant two days of practice. Surely it was only yesterday they were bleating at certain organisers because there wasn't enough practice!
On Friday things got under way more or less in an orderly fashion, there being three hours of practice with a short break half-way through. Some teams were out to win from the moment the circuit was open, others were prepared to blow up in the attempt, some were putting on a brave show, while some were merely hoping it would be seen that they were in Grand Prix, and there were those without hope of anything other than personal enjoyment. There were twenty-five entries, reduced to twenty-three when the Tecno for Amon was withdrawn and the Ensign for von Opel failed to materialise.
Team Lotus had 72/R7 for Fittipaldi and 72/R8 for Peterson, while 72/R5 was on its way from Zolder, in Belgium, where Fittipaldi had been doing some testing. All three cars were of the 1973 specification, as already seen at Brands Hatch and Silverstone. and still in the black and gold of John Player cigarettes. Stewart had the latest Tyrrell, that he had raced at Silverstone, 006/2 to the 1973 shape, with inboard front brakes, like the Lotus 72, but using large diameter tubular drive shafts, unlike the small-diameter solid ones on the Lotus. The rebuilt Tyrrell 005 was standing by as a spare for Stewart, while Cevert had 006.
The McLaren team had three identical M23 cars in the paddock, all scintillating in the white and orange Yardley colours. Hulme had M23/1, Revson had M23/2 and the brand new M23/3 was a stand-by should either of them be in need. Ferrari entered Ickx and Merzario, but unsatisfactory results of testing in Italy caused the second entry to be withdrawn. However, they arrived with two brand new cars in the B3 series, 010 and 011, both at the disposal of Ickx, and they are described elsewhere in this issue as are the other new cars.
The John Surtees team and their mixed sponsors had Hailwood in TS14A/04 and Pace in TS14A/ 03, while March were represented by a lone factory car, the up-rated 721G/4 for Pescarolo as Jarier was away at a Formula Two race, and the private March, 721G/1, of Beuttler's Stock Exchange friends, it too being up-rated to 1973 specification. The BRM team in the red and white colours of Marlboro cigarettes, had four P160 models, all rebuilt to 1973 form; with Regazzoni leading the way with P160/07, accompanied by Beltoise with P160/03 and Lauda with P160/01, while P160/05 was standing by as a spare.
Ecclestone's Brabham team had been hard at work since the Race of Champions last March when their brand new 1973 car was written off. Not only had they built two more new cars, but a new transporter as well, the interior fittings and layout all being done by the Brabham mechanics. Both new cars were the BT42 models, number 2 for Wilson Fittipaldi and number 3 for Reutemann. John Watson, who crashed BT42/1 when the throttles stuck open at Brands Hatch, was spectating in the paddock, still on crutches but mending well.
The Don Nichols team of UOP-Shadow cars, in their sinister black finish were as seen at Silverstone, with Oliver in DN1/1A and Follmer in 2A. A third Shadow, DN1/3A, had been built independently of the Universal Oil Products team, and painted as white as the UOP cars are black, with some red stripes to emulate Embassy cigarettes, for Graham Hill's new team.
Frank Williams, having lost the support of Politoys, gained the support of Iso-Rivolta, the small Italian luxury car firm, and Marlboro cigarettes, so his 1973 specials are called Iso-Marlboros and painted a mixture of green, white and red. Of the two cars in the paddock IR/01 driven by Galli had done some testing and a demonstration at Dijon before the 1,000-kilometre race, while IR/02 was brand new for Ganley. The IR in the nomenclature stands for Iso-Rivolta.
Lastly there was the 1972 Brabham BT37/1, suitably up-rated, painted white with green and red stripes for Andrea de Adamich and his Italian backers Ceramic Pagnossin, some of this backing seemingly rubbing off on the Ecclestone BT42s. De Adamich should have been in a TS14A Surtees but the arrangement fell through and the Italian had to switch makes at the last moment.
All was set for a very healthy practice battle, with numerous problems ahead for everyone, for like Monaco the Montjuich Park cannot be used until official practice begins. At permanent Autodromes the more affluent are out testing and practising long before the official time, so that practice becomes a bit of a formality, and anyone unable to afford the time and money for unofficial practice is at a disadvantage. At Montjuich no-one had any knowledge other than that which they had been left with in 1971, and those who had entirely new cars since then had much to learn, while everyone had to learn about new tyres, different makes of tyre, more powerful engines, improved suspension geometry, new springs and shock absorbers and so on, while some drivers had never been to Barcelona before, even with F2 cars or sports cars.
Not surprisingly there was terrific activity in the pits, and it was only a matter of time before the old lap record was passed by anyone prepared to have a bit of a go. With two years' continuous development in Formula One racing it would have been very depressing if the 1971 time of 1 min. 25.1 sec. was not surpassed.
Ickx started off in car number 011, with the side radiator layout, carrying racing number 8, so that Merzario was credited with his time, even though he was not in Spain. However, only two flying laps were made by Ickx, among a number of starting and stopping laps, which did not get a time, and then the car was put way and he concentrated on 010, with the front-mounted radiator and racing number 7.
It was not long before Peterson was down to the existing lap record times, having few problems and pressing on furiously. Fittipaldi was not at all happy with 72/R7, as it did not "feel right" although nothing could be found amiss. He spent a long time in the pits while the left front hub assembly was dismantled and checked on R7, as R5 had not yet arrived at the end of its long journey from Zolder. Cevert was driving hard, the continual racing he is getting with Matra sports cars keeping him on form between Grand Prix events, and was soon finding a lack of brakes; while Stewart was not happy with the handling of his Tyrrell so was not yet in the leaders' battle.
In the McLaren camp Hulme was quietly getting on with things, there being no special problems with Gordon Coppuck's M23 design, and the swarthy new President of the GPDA was soon faster than Peterson. While Hulme was doing this Follmer was following him and obviously learning fast, for he was down to 1 min. 26.0 sec. Peterson had got below 1 min. 25.0 sec. and Hulme did 1 min. 24.6 sec. and then 1 min. 24.0 sec.; this inspired Peterson and he also did 1 min. 24.6sec. and then 1 min. 23.7 sec. but Hulme replied with 1 min. 23.5 sec. Shortly before the interval Peterson got really wound up and went round in 1 min. 22.9 sec. and then 1 min. 22.4 sec. which left everyone breathless.
While the Swede did not look flustered when he stopped there was a rather glazed look in his eyes! In fact, it was noticeable that the lateral G-forces were straining the eye-balls of the faster drivers, and whereas at one time you could tell how hard a driver had been trying by the sweat between his 'shoulder blades, now you could tell by the look in his eye-balls as he lifted up his visor! Lapping the Montjuich Park at over 100 m.p.h. average speed was obviously generating some high centrifugal forces.
While all this was going on Regazzoni had kept the BRM flag flying with a lap in 1 min. 23.9 sec. and the timekeepers credited Fittipaldi with 1 min. 23.0 sec. although Team Lotus and the World Champion himself doubted it, as he was not feeling that confident in the "balance" of R7. A foretaste of the Team Surtees role at this race was given during this first practice when Hailwood's car stopped out on the circuit when a fuel metering valve stuck and he was stranded until mechanics could get to him.
With Peterson and Lotus in such terrific form there seemed to be a slight reluctance for everyone else to get going again after the brief interval. When they did start, trouble was rife, for Ickx did only a few laps in 010 before complete ignition failure stranded him out on the circuit and Revson had an even worse time. Starting off in M23/2 he only got in one timed lap before the engine went sick and when he took over M23/3, the brand new McLaren, that too went sick on him. Peterson was back at his role of pacesetter, with a time of 1 min. 22.0 sec. but nobody else was with him, least of all his co-number one driver in the John Player Specials we call Lotus 72s. Stewart tried the spare Tyrrell briefly, and then got among the faster drivers with 1 min. 23.9 sec. in his newer car but it meant trying all he knew, and more, and ended in an ignominious spin into the Armco barriers, which put a dent in the right front corner of the Tyrrell 006/2.
Peterson showed no inclination to wait for any opposition to appear and went faster and faster, ending up at a demoralising 1 min. 21.8 sec., the next best being Hulme with a quiet and confident 1 mm. 22.5 sec. If we assess the "Aces" to be those below 1 min. 24.0 sec., it makes Peterson a "Super-Ace". The "Heroes" were under 1 min. 25.0 sec., the "odds and sods" were around the old lap record mark and the "no-hopers" could not even see the old lap record, but even so a slow lap was still something to be satisfied with round this spectacular circuit.
The atmosphere was a bit breathless when it was all over and work immediately started to make ready for another whirl on the Saturday and two of the biggest headaches were brakes and tyres for both components were being strained to the limit, not in their ability but in their staying powers. While some types of tyre were giving fast lap speeds they could not hope to last the race, and a change to a more durable tyre meant a rebalance of the car by means of anti-roll bar changes, aerodynamic changes and so on. The faster everyone went the hotter became the brake discs and the more heat the pads had to absorb, and whereas few people give much thought to brakes at most circuits, the Montjuich circuit was causing a lot of "frying" to take place and close watch on wear-rates to be kept. In addition brake systems were getting hotter than usual and expansion was causing trouble as was fluid overheating.
The weather got a lot warmer on Saturday, which did nothing to help the brake and tyre problems, and practice was in one complete session of two hours from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. As everyone scrabbled out of the paddock the spare McLaren M23/3 was left standing-by with Revson's number on it and the spare Lotus 72/R5 with Fittipaldi's number on it. Also there was Pace's car, left behind with a fuel pump problem, but the Surtees mechanics soon cured it. Fittipaldi was soon using his spare car and feeling a lot happier with it, though not matching Peterson's lap times. Brakes were the subject of study in the pits of Lotus, Ferrari, Tyrrell, and Shadow, while the amount of smoke coming off the brakes of the spare BRM which Lauda had been using, not only indicated that he had been trying hard, but that they too were thinking about brakes.
Hulme made an early claim for the fastest Saturday lap with 1 min. 24.1 sec., but not for long as Peterson was soon out and recorded 1 min. 23.6 sec. to which the crafty old Hulme replied with 1 mm. 23.5 sec., which made Peterson go out again and do 1 mm. 23.2 sec. Suddenly, Stewart got switched on and also put one in at 1 min. 23.2 sec. Some drivers were getting nowhere at all, Hill not being able to make his brand new Shadow go very well and Oliver having no chance for most of the afternoon as his car was having a new clutch fitted. The two Iso-Marlboro Williams Specials were being sorted out, this being their first race, and Pace was still having a bad time for his Surtees now broke a drive-shaft and stranded him out on the circuit. The other Surtees had had aluminium air-baffles added along the sides of the monocoque, but Hailwood was nowhere in the running, and Hulme had some laps in the spare McLaren. As practice neared its end Peterson was out again, doing 1 min. 22.7 sec. and then 1 min. 22.1 sec. and finishing up with a repeat of yesterday with another 1 min. 21.8 sec., thus making best time on all three sessions, with no-one really anywhere near to him.
On Sunday morning, as the Park began to fill to capacity, with most spectators walking to the circuit, arriving by bus or underground train or by taxi, the sun was warm and the skies clear, and there was a further hour of practice for last-minute decisions, but with no time-keeping. For some it was a case of checking decisions already made, while others were still adjusting suspensions to suit new tyre grades, and others merely had more trouble. The engine in Hailwood's Surtees blew up, and that in Oliver's Shadow broke a driving belt at the front end, so both cars had to be torn apart in the short time available before the 12 noon start.
By the time the music and pre-race presentations were over it was going to be 12.15 before the rate started, for which the Surtees mechanics were very grateful. Twenty-one cars went off on a warm-up lap and then lined up on the dummy-grid, the missing car being the Surtees of Hailwood, which was still in the paddock being finished. Peterson was on pole position and ready to demoralise everyone, Stewart was in 006/2 and determined not to let the Swede get away, Ickx was in the Ferrari with the front-mounted radiator and planning how he was going to get into the lead and Fittipaldi was in Lotus 72/R5 and quietly contemplating his situation, which was in the fourth row alongside Regazzoni. They all moved forward to the proper grid and were off, Peterson forging ahead as they went up the hill and over the brow to the first hairpin. They were not long gone when Hailwood came out of the paddock and screamed off up the pit lane after them.
It was Peterson all the way, the Lotus looking beautifully steady and very fast through the uphill curves at the end of the opening lap. Hulme, Stewart, Cevert, Beltoise, Fittipaldi and Lauda followed, with the rest in a struggling mob with Hill bringing up the rear, apart from Hailwood who was half a lap in arrears. On the third lap Stewart forced his Tyrrell into second place and by five laps there was a semblance of order, with Peterson three seconds ahead of Stewart and the Scot unable to do anything about it. Then came Hulme, Cevert and Fittipaldi in a very close bunch, followed a while later by Beltoise with the struggling mob of Lauda, Revson, Reutemann, lckx, Regazzoni and Follmer at his heels. While the leading group remained unchanged the mid-field went through a lot of changes and there was some pretty unruly manoeuvres going on. Revson got himself clear of them, then Reutemann did so, and Follmer began to force his way by the whole BRM team and the Ferrari as well.
Peterson was now out of sight before Stewart appeared and at twelve laps Regazzoni had to stop at the pits as his tyres were overheating and four laps later Lauda's BRM suffered the same trouble. While these two were driving with fury and having tyre trouble, Beltoise was being more steady and having no problems. At eighteen laps the picture was still of Peterson running away from everyone, with Stewart in a firm second place, followed by Hulme, Cevert and Fittipaldi in a dead-lock. Then came Revson and Reutemann, followed by Follmer and Ickx having a real wheel-to-wheel battle and after that Beltoise led Oliver, Beuttler, Wilson Fittipaldi, Galli and Pescarolo, while Ganley struggled hopelessly at the back with the engine in his Iso-Marlboro cutting in and out as if he was playing with the ignition switch. He was already lapped by the leader, as were Hailwood and Hill, while Pace had already retired as had de Adamich, the latter in a lurid fashion when his hired Brabham BT37 had the left rear stub axle shear with the wheel flying off and the car destroying itself against the Armco barriers while the driver remained safe inside the monocoque.
This overall situation did not last long for Hulme had the balance weights fly off a front wheel on his McLaren and had to give away third place while he stopped at the pits for a wheel-change, letting everyone move up a place. The pace was so furious that the quickest wheel-change possible meant you would be more than a lap behind when you rejoined the race. At 25 laps Peterson went through the tail-enders as if they were not there, while Stewart got hung up by them and on lap 27 Cevert went swerving into the pits with a flat rear tyre, but convinced a front one was flat. Both right side tyres were changed and he was off again, but like Hulme was now right out of touch with the leaders, so that after all this Fittipaldi was up to third place, well ahead of Revson and Reutemann, while the Follmer/Ickx battle was continuing unabated, the outcome now being for sixth place. Oliver retired out on the circuit with a broken Cosworth engine and Hailwood arrived at the pits in a cloud of smoke caused by an oil leak, while Regazzoni stopped driving in a great fury to have some more tyres fitted to his BRM.
It took Stewart four laps to get clear of the group comprising Beltoise, Beuttler, Wilson Fittipaldi and Pescarolo, by which time all hope of ever seeing Peterson again was gone. As the Swede breasted the fast rise before the pits, where he changd up a gear, on lap 31 he missed the change, but next time round all seemed well. On this same lap Ickx finally managed to scratch by Follmer, but five laps later the Ferrari's brakes disappeared and he was in the pits to have the system bled, leaving the American in his black Shadow securely in sixth place, the last runner not lapped by the flying Peterson. On this same lap Revson was firmly in fourth place when there was a funny noise as an exhaust pipe split and the slight loss of power soon allowed Reutemann to move up a place. At 40 laps, with twenty-five still to run, Hulme had to stop again, this time with a flat tyre, and complete stalemate had settled over the race, with Peterson reeling off the laps as cool as could be, Stewart resigned to second place and Fittipaldi a long way back in a lucky third place. Then came Reutemann, Revson and Follmer, all driving hard but not actually racing with anyone, though still on the same lap as the leaders.
Profiting by running non-stop were Beltoise, Beuttler and Pescarolo, but Cevert was carving his way back through the tail-enders, as was Hulme until he had his second stop. Ickx rejoined the race but too far back to do much good, other than race-test the new Ferrari, and at 45 laps Follmer was eventually lapped by Peterson. At 48 laps Stewart's race was run, after a moment braking for a hairpin, for the drive-shaft to one of the inboard front brakes had broken its strap-joint and he limped round to the pits to retire, leaving the John Player Team Lotus cars in complete command, in first and second places, with only Reutemann on the same lap, for Revson had dropped back behind Follmer. On lap 55 Reutemann's Brabham was suddenly, noticeably and dramatically closer to Fittipaldi's Lotus, and the gap continued to reduce, because Fittipaldi was going slower, not because Reutemann was going faster. While everyone except Fittipaldi was puzzling over this, as he knew his left-rear tyre was deflating, Peterson's Lotus suddenly came to a juddering halt on the lower part of the circuit. First he could not get fifth gear, then third, and finally he got first and there the gear-lever stuck, with the gearbox and final drive chewed up, and certain victory was snatched from him, which showed all over his face as he walked back to the pits, accompanied by the plaudits of the crowd which he totally ignored.
This left Fittipaldi in the lead, but with Reutemann really trying hard now and closing the gap at an alarming rate. Looking completely unruffled and balancing the car on its soft rear tyre through the right-hand bends, the reigning World Champion showed yet another streak of Jim Clark, and maintained first place. At 63 laps Reutemann was only 44 seconds behind, and needed no urging on, and two laps later he had the Lotus in sight. Just when it seemed that an international incident might break out in South America, the Brabham went clattering towards its pit, the inner universal joint on the right-side drive-shaft was broken and Team Lotus breathed a sigh of relief and the unflappable Emerson Fittipaldi was relatively safe once more, the safety pegs keeping the deflating tyre on the rim. On the same lap, but too far behind to be a danger was Cevert, driving his Tyrrell in splendid fashion and up to second place, having finally found a way past Follmer, and very incensed because the "new-boy American" did not move over and wave "the lovely French star" graciously by. Follrner is a hard racer, and if anyone wants to take second place from him they have got to work for it, and he's not going to help them. The sort of attitude we could do with a lot more of in Grand Prix in order to make it proper racing.
With Peterson's retirement the first three were all on the leading lap again, and thus they finished, Fittipaldi's balancing of the Lotus through the right-hand corners, as the car leant on its soft rear tyre, was brilliant, and though he profited from the misfortunes of others it was no easy victory for him. Revson came home fourth with a very sick McLaren, for in addition to the split exhaust a crack in one cylinder head, down in the plug recess let pressure leak into the recess and eventually it blew the plug lead and cap off, the engine keeping going on seven cylinders. Beltoise followed him home having pussy-footed along and preserved his tyres, while his two BRM team-mates were less cautious and threw caution and their tyres to the winds. Hulme's miserable day was concluded by low fuel level in the tanks causing the engine to die on him in the closing laps and he nearly gave up in despair, but struggled on to finish sixth. After pit stops had delayed them Wilson Fittipaldi and Galli finished, and Ickx was still running at the end, the Ferrari sound in wind and limb.—D.S.J.
Spanish Grand Prix – Formula One – 75 laps – Montjuich Park, Barcelona.
3.79 kilometres per lap – 284.2 kilometres – Warm.
1st: E. Fittipaldi (Lotus 72/R5) ..... 1 hr. 48 min. 18.7 sec. – 157.489 k.p.h.
2nd: F. Cevert (Tyrrell 006) ..... 1 hr. 49 min. 01.4 sec.
3rd: G. Follmer (Shadow DN1/2A) ..... 1 hr. 49 min. 31.8 sec.
4th: P. Revson (McLaren M23/2) ..... 74 laps
5th: J-P. Beltoise (BRM P160/03) ..... 74 laps
6th: D. Hulme (McLaren M23/1) ..... 74 laps
7th: M. Beuttler (March 721G/1) ..... 74 laps
8th: H. Pescarolo (March 721G/4) ..... 73 laps
9th: G. Regazzoni (BRM P160/07) ..... 69 laps
10th: W. Fittipaldi (Brabham BT42/2) ..... 69 laps
11th: N. Galli (Williams IR/01) ..... 69 laps
12th: J. Ickx (Ferrari 312B3/010) ..... 69 laps
Fastest lap: R. Peterson (Lotus 72/R7) on lap 13, in 1 min. 23.8 sec. – 162.844 k.p.h. new record
Retirements: C. Pace (Surtees TS14A/03), 13 laps, broken drive-shaft; A. de Adamich (Brabham BT37/1), 17 laps, rear stub axles broken, accident; J. Oliver (Shadow DN1/1A, 23 laps, overheating, engine failure; M. Hailwood (Surtees TS14A/04), 26 laps, oil leak; G. Hill (Shadow DN1/3A), 28 laps, brakes and things; N. Lauda (BRM P160/01), 28 laps, tyre and wheel problems; J. Stewart (Tyrrell 006/2), 47 laps, failure of drive to inboard front brake; R. Peterson (Lotus 72/R8), 56 laps, gearbox and final drive; H. Ganley (Williams IR/02, 63 laps, fuel starvation; C. Reutemann (Brabham BT42/3), 66 laps, inner universal joint on drive-shaft.
22 starters – 12 finishers
Fittipaldi's flat tyre was caused by a pinhole puncture and as it went soft it overheated and began to break up. After the race it was inflated by the Goodyear people and was flat again within five minutes.
Peterson's Lotus had lost 2 lb. pressure from a front tyre, but at least the Goodyears stood the pace, whereas the Firestones didn't. His Lotus had gearbox trouble in practice, and had been renewed.
After the race Cevert informed Follmer in no uncertain terms that European Grand Prix drivers are gentlemen and give way to one another and do not behave in the beastly manner in which he did. To which the forceful American replied " –––––––––––––." Now we know what has gone wrong with Grand Prix racing.
There was a time when Team Lotus earned the title Team Shambles and Colin Chapman was a bit put out. Wonder if John Surtees is going to be equally put out now Team Surtees has taken over the title?
If all the tales of lawyers and solicitors, about drivers who have lost their place in the BRM team or drivers who lost their cars with other teams, are true there are some sizeable actions ahead. If any engineer looked at the Brabham after de Adamich's accident he would do well to keep clear of the "smallprint boys".