There were numerous detail changes in the paddock scene at Zolder compared to Jarama two weeks before, notably among airbox designs for the engines, though many teams were still not convinced of the final layout or even that they were an advantage, Shadow, Ensign and Fittipaldi all experimented with no scoops or hoses at all. If anyone had any doubts about the seriousness of the Tyrrell-Gardner six-wheeled project they had to be completely dispelled at the Belgian GP for Scheckter was entered wiffi a brand new car, Project 34/3, while Depailler retained P34/2, straightened out and tidied up after his excursion into the catch-fences at Jarama. Both cars had dispensed with the large sausage-like itir-boXett and had simple covers over the intakes collecting air in a rectangular scoop behind the driver’s head. Scheckter’s new car was using an extension piece let into the bodywork ahead of the cockpit, which moved the full-width nose cowling sonic eight inches forward, well clear of the front pair of wheels. Both cars were using the three six-volt motorcycle battery electrical system with two mounted on the right of the front bulkhead and one on the left, 12 volts being used for the electrical accessories and 18 volts for the starter system.
Ferrari had the same three cars they took to Spain, their only major change being the introduction of a brand new transporter of the articulated type, having stuck to the conventional large van for so long. In addition Fiat sent along their lavish publicity and hospitality unit, suitably labelled Ferrari for this occasion. After the satisfying showing in Spain the Lotus team were more or less consolidated with their cars and drivers, their only noticeable addition being Tony Southgate on the development team, his black pituniform now being a John Player shade of black instead of Don Nichols Shadow black. In the Brahham pits Carlo Chiti was in attendance to keep an eye on the fiat 12-cylinder Alfa Romeo engines and Gordon Murray was trying out two new types of air collectors for the engines, one with a single scoop behind the driver’s head taking air down centrally on to the engine and then dividing it left and right, the other system having large diatneter tubular collectors above each hank of cylinders in place of the normal narrow slots. The first of these different systems had been tried during pre-race testing at Jarama and was fitted to BT45. BT45/2 had been rebuilt with a new chassis after Jarama and had the two narrow “chimney-style” intakes, while the unpainted fibreglass tubular intakes were tried on BT45/3 which was being driven by Carlos Pace.
March were out in force again with their A and B teams, Brambilla and Peterson in A looked after by Robin Herd and Stuck and Merzario in B under the eye of Max Mosley. All four cars were the same as used in Spain, but using flatter and wider air intakes and the B-team had a spare car with them in the form of an old 741 model, naturally updated. To overcome the embarrassment of the illegal maximum width of their cars, the McLaren’s rear wheels had been machined down on the inside face of the hub so that they went further in on the driving flange; a simple and uncomplicated modification that a well-equipped racing team such as Porsche could have done in the paddock in their workshop van. About the only thing noticeable in the Shadow team was that the cars and the personnel were not scintillating the way they used to, and looked as if they had come straight from the Jarama race without even being cleaned, which was obviously not the case. In contrast the Surtees team were looking brighter and sprightlier than ever and their patch in the paddock with big white awnings extending out on each side of the transporter, with Lunger’s car on the right and Jones’s car on the left, looked trim and efficient. The dark blue, almost black, decor of the new-look Frank Williams team of Harvey Postlethwaite-designed cars, financed by Walter Wolf a German businessman, were clearly immaculate in true Williams style, but somehow were almost unnoticed among the gay and the gaudy colours of teams like Ferrari, Ligier, McLaren and Tyrrell, whereas the black and gold Lotus team seem to stand out. The much vaunted Postlethwaite rubber suspension medium seems to have disappeared altogether, normal steel coil springs being the normal order of things now. Next along the line of the entry was the Red Ensign of Morris Nunn with Amon driving it and the small family team were chuckling to themselves when their single car was running amongst all the highly-publicised, heavily-sponsored teams.
The remnants of the Hesketh team were very busy with two 308 cars, the usual number 3 for bearded Harald Ertl and number 2 for Guy Edwards, the former in pure white with the single word ERTL on the side of the cockpit, the latter with all manner of advertising all over the car and a painting of a girl on the nose cowling! The Matra team (oops! sorry, the Ligier team) had clipped their rear wing Since Spain and the hard-working and enthusiastic Jacques Laffite was still the dynamo in the centre of the operation with the Ligier JS5. Limited financial resources are holding up the completion of a second car. There was still no sign of the new Penske car, but the two PC3 models were as smart as ever, 02 wearing a “chisel” nose with canard fins and 01 having a full-width nose cowling. After the disastrous Spanish weekend the Fittipaldi team had only half recovered, a shortage of spare engines preventing them running Ingo Hoffman in the second car; it was kept in reserve for Emerson Fittipaldi who was driving the number one car. The immaculate RAM Racing BT44 Brabhams were being driven by Kessel and Neve, there being no “local-hero” tie-up this time, though in fact Patrick Neve is the local hero in Belgium. Finally, and once again quietly getting on with the job with the Boro-Ensign of the Dutch HB Alarm Systems team was Australian Larry Perkins, enjoying every minute of being in the world of Formula One on the Grand Prix circuits of Europe.—D.S.J.
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Top Hat race day (April 17) Castle Combe
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