Notes on the cars at Jarama
On May 1st, the second day of practice for the Spanish GP, some supplementary rules for Formula One cars came into force, notably the elimination of tall air-collector boxes for the engines and a reduction of the maximum overhang of the rear aerofoil behind the centre-line of the rear wheels; these two limitations hopefully curbing the ever-rising speeds round circuits. In addition there had to be a roll-over structure in front of the driver, a line from the highest point of this to the highest point of the roll-over bar behind his head had to clear his helmet when normally seated in the car. The front structure had to be able to withstand various G-forces, downwards and horizontally, this factor being by calculation. Ahead of the driver's feet the chassis or monocoque had to be suitably re-inforced to give protection in a head-on crash. Although the fast practice session was on April 30th, the
All this meant that everyone had to adopt a sleek low-line look, though some 1976 cars already conformed earlier in the season, and the overall scene was much more purposeful looking, though measurable reduction in speed or cornering power were not obvious. Everyone had their own ideas for getting air to the engine and while some looked very odd, others looked intriguing, and some were almost invisible. The Ferraris had intakes sunk into the sides of the cockpit surround, ducting air along inside the double-skin of the cover, all made in glassfibre, each side feeding its own six horizontal cylinders. The two cars were the 1976 pair, 025 and 026, seen on test at Paul Ricard in February and were the T2 models, but without the de Dion rear suspension layout. One of the older models, with the latest cockpit surround, was behind the pits as a spare, but was never used.
While new air-boxes and repositioned rear aerofoils were the overall keynotes of newness in the paddock, many disbelievers and cynics had to quietly disappear, for the Tyrrell team produced their first full-race version of Project 34. It will be recalled that when Project 34, the six-wheeled Tyrrell, was first revealed at the end of last season, it was made clear that it was merely a test-vehicle for research and would not race in that form. After a winter of testing of that prototype a brand new car was built, P34/2, conforming to all the rules and requirements and it was this that Depailler was driving. It was wearing the nose form of 34/1, a full-width "shovel" nose with no aperture, in place of the F2 ELF-like nose first seen on this new car. The tiny front brake discs were now of the ventilated type and the air-box was the two-eared affair tried at the International Trophy practice. Just in case anything went wrong Depailler's normal Tyrrell 007/4 was on hand and prepared, but in fact it was never needed or used. The Tyrrell team, and Patrick Depailler, deserve full marks for demonstrating their complete faith in the six-wheeled project by concentrating solely on P34/2 and not fogging the issue by making comparative tests with the old 007 car. There are many teams and drivers who would have been dodging backwards and forwards from six-wheeler to four-wheeler and getting themselves confused. The Tyrrell team were at a bit of a disadvantage in that designer Derek Gardner had been taken ill the previous weekend and was absent from the meeting. A further six-wheeler is being built up, which Scheckter will have when it is ready, but for the Spanish race he had to be content with his well-used 007/6-4, which used the "twoeared" air intake like P34/2.
Team Lotus adopted a fairly simple double intake on each side of the driver's head fairing, but both Type 77 cars were now using outboard front brakes, with wide track, and both had the longest possible spacer between the Cosworth V8 engine and the Hewland gearbox. Mario Andretti has now joined the team and taken over the car extensively rebuilt after Gunnar Nilsson's crash in the Long Beach race in California, while Nilsson had the car previously driven by Bob Evans. Ecclestone's Brabham team had their three BT 45 models, with flat-12 Alfa Romeo engines, their intakes needing no alterations as they were originally designed to conform to the new rules. Each bank of cylinders has a collector box running outwards more or less horizontally into a bulbous box from which rises a tower with a narrow vertical opening facing forwards, this structure mounted on the monocoque sponson on each side of the engine. Reutemann was still using BT45/2 but Pace had taken over the newest car BT45/3 and the original car had become the communal spare.
The divided March team, Mosely looking after Stuck and Merzario, and Robin Herd looking after Brambilla and Peterson, had the four cars used in America, their air-box problem being solved by simply dividing the previous orifice into two and having rudimentary air scoops on each side of the head fairing. The McLaren team had adopted a somewhat similar solution, the general trend being very similar to that designed last year by Harvey Postlethwaite on the Hesketh 308C. Hunt was driving M23/8 as usual, but Mass had taken over M23/9 as he felt happier in it, even though it was identical to M23/6, which now became the spare car, but was unused throughout the weekend. While bringing the rear aerofoil mounting forward to comply with the new regulations Gordon Coppuck took the opportunity to redesign the bridge structure over the gearbox that carries the rear suspension. The Shadow cars, being looked after by Tony Southgate for the last time before he joins ream Lotus, had grown large horizontal ears from the head fairing, with thin forward-facing slots to gather in the air. The three cars, DNS/5B for Pryce, DN5/4A for Jarier and DN5/3A as the spare, were the team's usual three and like McLaren their spare remained unused throughout the weekend. The Surtees team had not had to make any air-box alterations as the TS19 series were designed to the new regulations and the two cars were as already seen at previous races, the white car number 02 being driven by Alan Jones and the red and white car number 01 by Brett Lunger. Frank Williams was another who was well in advance of new airbox regulations, the Hesketh 308C/1 having started the trend for air intakes on each side of the driver's head fairing, and the second Postlethwaite car, which would have been 308C/2, but is in fact FW05/2, was similar. Both cars were set up on coil springs and not rubber suspension.
Rather overshadowed by the six-wheeled Tyrrell was Morris Nunn's brand new Ensign, driven by Chris Amon, though perhaps its red colour was confusing. Very neat and tidy in conception, it was outwardly fairly orthodox to look at but carried interesting new front brakes, designed and made by Nunn's Ensign team. They were similar in conception to those on the Lotus 77, having two calipers to each disc, mounted diametrically opposed fore and aft, using Mini-Cooper-size brake pads. Gripping the disc in front and behind the centre-line is reckoned to give smoother and more balanced braking.
The 1975 Hesketh of Harald Ertl, being run by Horsley and those members of the old Hesketh team who Stayed on, was designated a 308D in view of the low-level, side-intake air-box and was actually 308/3, the car used as a spare for Hunt last year. In the dark blue Williams FW04 of Brian McGuire was a local lad, Emilio Zapico paying expensively to try and qualify to start in his own Grand Prix, and another Spaniard, Emilio de Villota was hoping to do the same thing with the Brabham BT44 normally raced by Patrick Neve for the Tissot Watch Company sponsored team of John MacDonald. The second RAM Racing BT44 was driven by Loris Kessel, the Swiss driver who sparked off the whole operation. The long Ligier-Matra V12 of Jacques Latlite had had its enormous "tea-pot spout" intake removed and a short stumpy one incorporated into the head fairing, scooping the air after it had passed over the driver's helmet. Although the latest Penske PC4, designed by Geoff Ferris had been out on test it was not ready to race and John Watson was relying on the two PC3 cars, they being a remarkably matched pair in every detail. The two 1976 Fittipaldi cars of Emerson Fittipaldi, FD04/1, and Ingo Hoffman FD04/2, had alternative air-boxes, the first with "ears" out the sides of the head fairing, with horizontal ,slots and the second with close-fitting intakes on each side like McLaren and March. The last car on the list was called a Boni, but was in fact the 1975 Ensign MN04. When the sponsorship deal with the Dutch HR Alarm System company fell through, Nunn was paid off and the sponsors took the car. They formed their own team, with free-lance design assistance from Ron Tauranac and renamed the car Boro and signed up Larry Perkins; the 1975 F3 Champion, to drive for them.
With three major Grand Prix races already run, and two minor Formula One events, it was not surprising that the only cars making their debut in Spain were the Tyrrell Project 34 and the Ensign N176, but racing in a European Grand Prix for the first time were the 312T2 Ferrari, the Lotus 77, the Brabham-Alfa Romeo, the Surtees TS19, the Ligier-Matra, and the Fittipaldi FD04. so the scene looks very fair and interesting for the rest of the European season.—D.S.J.