Notes on the new cars at Barcelona



In the aftermath of Jo Siffert’s tragic accident at Brands Hatch in 1971 came a resolution to make Grand Prix cars safer against fire risk, particularly in the case of side impacts. This culminated in regulations being drawn up by the CSI which were to finally come into effect at the 1973 Spanish Grand Prix. The regulations required deformable side structures and the text of the actual rules was reproduced in the April issue of Motor Sport. They also required new stronger fuel tank bladders, but because of the unavailability of these tanks, this rule has been put back to a date yet to be determined. Constructors have been introducing their new cars to comply with the rules since the Italian Grand Prix last year, but there was still a rush by some teams to have the new regulation cars finished in time for Spain.

The new deformable cars from Surtees, McLaren, Brabham and Shadow had already been seen, Lotus, Tyrrell and BRM sidestepped the challenge to an extent by producing “safety cladding” to add to their existing cars. This left only Ferrari, the Frank Williams team, Tecno, March and new F1 manufacturers, Ensign to show off their new machines in the paddock at Barcelona. In the end Tecno failed to make it, for, while they had completed a new car for Chris Amon to drive, the engine gave trouble on the test bed. This has prompted Tecno to change from copper head gaskets to Cooper’s sealing rings. The Tecno chassis which was ready to race and had been tested was the one designed and built by New Zealander Alan McCall, who has since split with Tecno. The second design that Tecno will try is that of Gordon Fowell who has had a chassis built up by John Thompson of TC Prototypes, who was responsible for the Ferrari monocoques. This car is still being completed and it remains to be seen which of the two completely different models Amon will eventually drive. Just to add further to the confusion Tecno are now developing a flat-8 3-litre engine as well as the flat-12.

The Cosworth V8-powered Ensign cornmissioned by Rikki von Opel was also on the entry list but failed to appear. Constructor Morris Nunn is obviously finding that building a Grand Prix car is very different from a Formula Three and we expect that von Opel will find the same about the driving.

The non-appearance of these two Grand Prix contenders was more than compensated by the fact that there were two brand new Ferraris in the paddock. Maranello does not produce a new Grand Prix model very often and, when they do, it is worth dropping everything else and taking a long hard look. As has been written many times before the new B3 was built around what the Italians chose to describe as “a British-type monocoque construction”. All previous Ferraris of recent years have been constructed of tubes with aluminium sheeting wrapped around them. They were neither space frame nor monocoque sections but what Ferrari described as an “aero-monocoque”.

Thus the new B3 broke new ground for Ferrari and, because of the continued trouble with strikes by the Italian metal workers unions, it was decided to have at least the first two chassis built to the Italian design by TC Prototypes of Northampton. Once back in the Maranello race shop, the bare monocoques were built lup into racing cars. In the paddock at Barcelona they looked like Ferraris through and through.

Early testing with the first car showed that the side radiator layout was troublesome and overheating was occurring. The ducts were extended in an effort to collect more air but this didn’t help much either. Thus a decision was made to adapt one of the cars to a front radiator layout and this necessitated various body changes. A new nose, with an opening for cooling air, was necessary to replace the rather McLaren M23-like nose of the side radiator car. New side panels were also required as it was no longer necessary to duct air to the side radiators. On the Ferrari the deformable structure is a detachable sandwich of foam and fibreglass unlike the McLaren, for instance, which has the foam injected between two layers of aluminium. At Barcelona one car (chassis 010) had a front-mounted radiator and a second car (011) was fitted with side radiators. This car also had a more recent and neater rear wing mounting arrangement. Although Arturo Merzario’s name was on the entry list, both cars were reserved for Jacky Ickx to make a choice. The Belgian soon plumped for the front radiator car.

On overall dimensions the new Ferrari looks rather larger than any of its competitors but Ing. Colombo says that it is close to the weight limit and Jacky lckx is very happy with the handling, having had to struggle somewhat with the B2 which tended to be unpredictable.

An interesting feature of the car is the extensive use of magnesium alloy castings in the front suspension, the mounting of the engine to the chassis, for the crossbeam and the rear suspension. British firms tend to use fabrications but then no British racing car constructor has its own foundry.

The front suspension consists of fabricated rocker arms and wider based wishbones sprung on inboard spring damper units. Two roughly triangular-shaped castings bolted to the front of the monocoque provide location for the steering rack and anti-roll bar as well as the pivot point for the rocker arms. Also mounted to these two castings is a tubular frame which locates the forward mounting point of the lower wishbones, as well as carrying brake and clutch master cylinders and, in the case of the front radiator car, carrying the radiator core. The front uprights carry outboard ventilated discs tucked well in the wheel and thus air scoops are fitted to assist cooling.

An enterprising feature is the steering wheel which is mounted completely vertically to the ground and thus the column is horizontal, until a point some 12 inches from the wheel where a u/j. directs it at a steep angle to the rack which is mounted well in front of the driver’s feet. The monocoque itself is fairly straight-forward with the fuel contained in tanks either side of the driver’s hips.

Both the B1 and B2 flat-12 Grand Prix cars had their engines hung from “a beam”, thus making access to the metering unit, and distributor a tricky task. On the B3 the engine is a completely stressed member and the flat-12 is now very much easier to work on while in situ. An alternator is also now fitted on the top of the engine.

Directly between the back of the monocoque and the engine is a cast magnesium sandwich plate which is bolted to the back of the chassis. Onto this, two engine bearing plates are bolted and then, in turn, the engine is bolted to these plates. The sandwich plate also provides location holes into which the roll-over bar slots. The roll-over bar has both front and rear support bars.

At the rear another large casting forms the bridge-piece across the engine and this provides the top location points for the outboard mounted spring damper units, Further strength is provided by tubular supports. The bridge-piece also provides support for the gearbox which accommodates inboard mounted ventilation discs and drives through the usual Ferrari shafts which are splined on the inboard end. Very long radius rods, which locate on the chassis, give additional support to the rear uprights. The lower support is provided by a reversed wishbone, mounting under the engine, plus rear facing tie rods which are located on a special casting, bolted to the gearbox.

Both cars were fitted with what were patently brand new engines and, though Ferrari were keeping quiet about this aspect of the car, it would seem that some of the castings at least have to be drilled differently if not completely re-designed for this latest application.

All the bodywork was finished in the usual shade of bright red with no signs of commercial involvement apart from a collection of neatly placed decals mainly concerning direct suppliers like Lockheed, Borg and Beck and Goodyear. A real Grand Prix car.

Officially Italian, although built in Britain, was the second design to come from the Reading workshops of Frank Williams Racing which is called the Iso-Marlboro in deference to the cigarette company and exotic car manufacturers who are joint sponsors of the project. The first “Williams Special” was, of course, the car originally know as the Politoys and designed by Len Bailey. It took rather a long time to build and never showed any great potential, although later in life— for 1973—it became known as an Iso-Marlboro. The new car is the work of John Clarke, formerly of March Engineering, and now on Williams’ staff. He has produced what he describes as basically a very simple design, box shaped as are most of the cars to the new regulations, but featuring twin water radiators mounted just behind the front wheels, which seems to be a fairly sensible place to put them. Two of these new cars were on hand at Barcelona, both virtually untested for Nanni Galli and Howden Ganley. Galli’s car had a monocoque section built outside while Ganley’s was built on the premises, The suspension is British standard outboard wishbone and link, the rear wing mounted by a single strut rather like the McLaren M23.

March Engineering turned up with a pair of cars which ostensibly were brand new and built to the latest regulations, but were in fact their last year’s cars fitted with the compulsory crush-proof cladding and the 1973 design of bodywork. This had the effect of making them look albeit more like proper Formula One machines than Formula Two cars with a Cosworth DFV bolted on the back. Some changes had been made to the monocoques, including the provision of forward-facing rollover bar stays There were two Marches entered, one for Henri Pescarolo, who was stepping in to replace Jean-Pierre Jarier (occupied at a Formula Two event) and the other for privateer Mike Beuttler. The red works STP car in fact had a re-profiled nose but Beuttler’s 72G had the same nose as one could find on a March F3 car. Robin Herd had decided to make a few slight alterations to the suspension, mainly reducing the track at the rear. Overheating front brakes soon proved a problem on both cars and the noses were hacked about to allow in more air. Pescarolo drove 72G/4 while Beuttler’s car was not his last year’s car but, in fact, last year’s works spare which is 72G/2.

While the 1973 Brabham BT42 was first seen at the Race of Champions, its debut ended disatrously when John Watson crashed into the Armco. The chassis of the car was completely destroyed in the accident so Ecclestone’s Motor Racing Developments firm had to burn a good deal of midnight oil to produce two further examples of the angular Gordon Murray design in time for Carlos Reutemann and Wilson Fittipaldi to race at Barcelona. In fact Reutemann’s car had not turned a wheel before arriving in Spain. The cars were basically to the same specification as the damaged prototype although the oil coolers, which gave trouble at Brands, had been re-located. Brabham also brought along the ex-W. Fittipaldi BT37/1 for Andrea de Adamich and this was covered in Ceramica Pagnossin advertising which also found its way onto Reutemann’s car. Apparently de Adamich and his sponsors had fallen out with Team Surtees and Ecclestone was pleased to welcome them to the fold. The BT37 was fitted with cladding as already seen earlier this year.

Of the other teams McLaren had also been busy and there were three bright shining Yardley-McLaren M23s in the paddock. Denny Hulme and Peter Revson retained their regular cars but the spare was brand new and there “just in case”. Hulme’s car had been modified in respect to the mounting of the rear anti-roll bar to the same specification as Revson’s—the idea of the mounting being to accommodate a new all-enveloping engine cover which has yet to appear.

Don Nichols’ Advanced Vehicle Systems team of Shadows were unchanged with the regular pair of sinister black UOP-sponsored cars, although further circuit testing had brought worthwhile improvements. For the first time there was a third Shadow but painted in the white and red colours of Embassy Racing and with Graham Hill as the driver. The chassis of this car was built by TC Prototypes (busy boys!) and assembled by Hill’s own team of mechanics to Shadow specification. It bore chassis number DN 1/3A.

Team Tyrrell had their three Tyrrells, the new-at-Silverstone 006-2 for Jackie Stewart, 006 for Cevert and 005 as a spare. Team Surtees had their regular pair of TS14As (03 for Pace, 04 for Hailwood). BRM brought along four of their P160s in latest deformable structure E-trim for Messrs. Regazzoni, Beltoise and Lauda. The spare, which Lauda tried briefly, had revised front suspension geometry but otherwise all four were to the same specification. Rather than design a new car, further examples of the P160E are being built at Bourne. The last year’s P180s have been consigned to the scrap heap although, in its latest form, the P160’s suspension is mainly that designed for the P180.

For no good reason we have left the Lotus 72s to the end and there were three examples at Barcelona, one arriving in the middle of Friday practice direct from Zolder, where it had been tested by Emerson Fittipaldi. The World Champion started with 72/7 which was fresh from a complete rebuild at the factory, where it had been converted to deformable structures and had the suspension modified to the specification first seen at the Race of Champions. But the Brazilian was unhappy with the handling of the car and switched to his old faithful 72/5 for Saturday practice and the race. Ronnie Peterson was using the newest of the 72s, No. 8, and was absolutely delighted with it.

Thus, in total, there were 27 cars in the paddock available for the 22 drivers but only three different types of engine and only two different makes of tyres. Nevertheless it was still a very healthy array of machinery. – A.R.M.