Jenks on...

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Pitstops, 1974

The chaos as everyone changed to wheels fitted with dry-weather tyres put new life into the Spanish Grand Prix. Hours after the event a lot of people were still laughing uproariously over the attempts of the “super efficient Formula One teams” to do a simple thing like change all four wheels on a pair of cars. Even those directly concerned with some of the prize-winning boobs were still chuckling amongst themselves because hardly anyone had been left out of the chaos, except the Scuderia Ferrari, for the Italian team had got both their cars in an out like a flash, leaving everyone wondering how they had done it. The answer was simple, for most of the team management and the mechanics have been involved in long-distance sportscar racing. A few years ago a Ferrari pitstop was well-known for representing a Chinese fire-drill, but now you watch it with admiration for its slickness and efficiency. The major pitstop prize must surely go to Colin Chapman’s John Player Team Shambles. It was when Ickx came in that it all went wrong: one rear wheel was being tightened with the torque spanner, while the other was yet to be done, when someone gave the signal for Ickx to go. He started up, the wheels spun while still on the jack, the car came off the jack and tools and mechanics flew in all directions as the Lotus started to accelerate up the pit lane. Ickx coasted to a stop outside the Trojan pit just where Ron Tauranac was expecting Tim Schenken to stop and a very loud voice in best Australian told Ickx what to do. Without any drive to the rear wheels he could not do it, so the car was forcibly pushed out of the way, by which time the Lotus chaps were having another go at finishing their wheel change amid a lot of shouting and yelling, aided by some cheering from other teams.

Yours DSJ

Denis Jenkinson was our famous Continental Correspondent for more than 40 years.