The Grand Prix scene
THE FIRST Grand Prix race of 1970 takes place on March 7th in South Africa and it should be outstanding by reason of the number of new cars competing, for all the teams have made remarkable progress during the winter months in getting their 1970 models finished well in time. On the face of things it looks as though there has been a resurgence of enthusiasm for Formula One, but in actual fact this season is merely going to profit from the deficiencies of 1969.
The present 3-litre Formula is now entering its fifth year and by all normal standards of progress 1969 should have seen a spate of new cars, but experiments into aerodynamics and 4-wheel-drive tended to sidetrack general progress. Brabham has produced a new car, of monocoque construction, which should have been completed last year. The Ferrari flat-12-cylinder car with backbone chassis over the engine was finished in time for Monza last year, but the engine gave trouble, and if Matra had not been so busy with sports-car racing the MS 120 12-cylinder Grand Prix car would have been running last year. Consequently these three manufacturers should be well prepared for this season, even though their designs have been in existence for six months or more. With the change of technical staff at BRM they have come up with a brand new car, using the same basic 12-cylinder engine as last year, and McLaren have merely developed their well-proven M7 series car, combined with knowledge gained with the Formula 5000 car. At the time of writing there has been no sign of the new Lotus, but the general feeling is that Chapman is due to produce another “leader”. The Lotus 25 monocoque caused a great following and the first Cosworth V8-powered car had a similar effect on the design world of Formula One. Two new names that will be appearing in Grand Prix racing this year, both with Cosworth V8 power, are the March and the de Tomaso, as yet unknown quantities as far as race-worthiness is concerned, but both firms have drivers and management with Grand Prix experience that must be taken seriously.
The new Brabham, designated BT33, has a monocoque alloy-sheet chassis of conventional design, finishing just behind the cockpit, the Cosworth V8 engine forming the rear of the chassis. The front suspension has inboard spring units operated by the upper wishbones acting as rocker arms. The rear suspension follows closely that used on the BT26 model and is quite orthodox, while the British Standard Grand Prix kit of Cosworth V8 engine and Hewland gearbox is used. Goodyear are still supplying the tyres, but Gulf have withdrawn their petrol support. Brabham will naturally drive the number one car, now painted turquoise, as used on the first Brabham cars, and a second car will be driven by the young German Rolf Stommelen. This car will be painted white and sponsored by the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, the proprietor having been very impressed by Stommelen’s first drive in a single-seater, when he drove a Formula Two car in last year’s German GP. As Stommelen was the first driver to really get to grips with the Porsche 977 “monster”, he obviously has a feeling for power, so his progress in the Brabham-Cosworth will be interesting to follow.
Before the dust of last season had really settled the new design staff at BRM, led by Tony Southgate, were at work on the drawings of a brand new car, the Type 153. The chassis is an aluminium monocoque that ends just behind the cockpit, from where two triangulated frames made of square-section tubing, extend rearwards and carry the 12-cylinder engine. A new 5-speed and reverse BRM gearbox is bolted to the engine by means of a magnesium bell-housing and this casting has arms projecting out each side which carry the anchor points for the coil spring/damper units and the inner ends of the transverse top links of the rear suspension. The gearbox itself has sideways projections in the casting, sticking out like ears, and these carry the pivot points for the lower wishbones, while the radius arms run forward to anchor points on the monocoque. Front suspension is by unequal length double wishbones with outboard coil-spring units and a rack-and pinion steering gear is mounted on the front face of the forward bulkhead. Wheels are 13-in. diameter with Dunlop tubeless tyres and have 11 1/2 in. wide front rims and 17 in. wide at the rear. Fuel is carried in rubber-bag tanks within the monocoque, one each side and a third behind the reclining seat, this tank also being the collector point from which the pumps pick up the fuel. The monocoque has bulbous sides not unlike last years Matra MS8c, giving the car a “podgy” look. As the monocoque is of the open “bath-tub” layout, a fibre-glass top panel is used, with a wide flat nose cowling incorporating fins. The 12-cylinder engine has been completely reworked, though retaining the basic 60-degree vee layout and 4 valves per cylinder.
Although outwardly the only obvious change is a reversal of the port layout, with the inlets in the vee of the engine and exhausts on the outside, almost all the internals have been redesigned with the use of new materials for vital parts such as valves and valve seats. Water pipes run along the inside of the cockpit to the aluminium radiator at the front and the oil tank and oil coolers are at the rear, over the gearbox. With the exhaust pipes low down on each side, the rear aerofoil is built in over the rear of the engine in a much tidier fashion than last year’s arrangement. Three cars have been built, with a fourth in kit-form as a spare and the drivers are Rodriguez, Oliver and the Canadian George Eaton, though whether BRM obtain three entries depends on organisers, for Grand Prix entry lists look like being crowded this season.
When you remember that BRM make the whole car, chassis, engine and gearbox, you realise what a vast amount of work has been going on at Bourne in the past few months. Unlike most British teams, who draw engines ready to run from Cosworth and transmissions ready to bolt on from Hewland, BRM not only make their own units but do the design and development work as well.
Another firm who do a lot of their own mechanical design and development as well as manufacture are Matra, who make everything except the gearbox on their car. This year they are running a team of two ears for Beltoise and Pescarolo and they are brand new designs designated MS120, though using knowledge gained with the earlier MS11 and MS80 cars. The 48-valve V12 engine has undergone a complete re-design, the cylinder block now being a stressed member bolted to the rear bulkhead of the monocoque and carrying the Hewland gearbox and rear suspension. Rear brakes are mounted on each side of the gearbox and at the inboard ends of the drive shafts, while tyres are 15 inch, though 13 inch Goodyears are expected later.
The front suspension is developed directly from the successful MS80 of last year, but the wheelbase has had to be lengthened by 10 centimetres due to the V12 engine being longer than the Cosworth V8. The monocoque is shaped so that the cockpit sides, containing the fuel ranks, present flat upper surfaces that offer downward-thrust areas to the wind.
After persevering with the V12-cylinder layout for many years, Ferrari has gone back to have another try with the flat-12-cylinder layout, with horizontally opposed banks of six cylinders. It will be recalled that he fitted this layout late in the 11/2-litre Grand Prix days, and last year ran a very successful 2-litre version in the European hill-climbs. Taking a leaf from the interesting but ill-fated air-cooled V8 Honda Grand Prix car, the Ferrari 312 has a central back-bone extending from the cockpit rear bulkhead of the monocoque, over the top of the flat engine, carrying the engine/gearbox unit from above. A vertical pillar from this backbone carries the rear aerofoil, while the fibre-glass nose cowling has fins moulded into it. Last year, while everyone was practising at Monza for the Italian Grand Prix this car was on test at Modena, but the engine was not right and with Amon about to leave the team the car was shelved. Jackie Ickx left Brabham and rejoined Ferrari, with Ignazio Giunti as his number two, and the flat-12-cylinder car was brought out for winter testing and further development ready for this season.
Also in that part of Italy the de Tomaso factory have designed and built a car in conjunction with Frank Williams for Courage to drive. This is a fairly orthodox monocoque layout with a British power-pack of Cosworth V8 and Newland gearbox bolted to the rear bulkhead and forming the rear half of the car, carrying the rear suspension. Although Alessandro de Tomaso is an Argentinian by birth he has lived in Modena for 15 years and could almost be accepted as an Italian, so the car will be painted Italian red, even though Williams and Courage are as English as they come, albeit from opposite ends of Anglo-Saxon ancestry. The design work on the de Tomaso is by Giampaola Dallata, who designed Lamborghini into existence. Much of the basic thinking on suspension and steering comes from the Brabham BT26 that Courage drove last year.
Bruce McLaren and his team at Colnbrook have not come up with anything revolutionary for 1970, the M14 being a logical development of the M7A and M7C used last year, tidied up here and there in detail in the light of racing experience. The only major change is the mounting of the rear brakes inboard, on each side of the Hewland gearbox. The team of McLaren and HuIme remains unchanged, though McLaren may gradually drop out of Grand Prix driving as design and building projects for Indianapolis and Can-Am racing are occupying a lot of his time. If this happens a newcomer from Formula Two or Three may well join Hulme in the Grand Prix team. The orange cars, running on Goodyear tyres, may not introduce any startling innovations into Formula One, but they will certainly be well in the running, powered by 1970 Cosworth V8 engines. As an offshoot to the works team they are building a one-off car in conjunction with Alfa Romeo, which will have a 3-litre V8 engine as used in the Tipo 33-3 Italian sports cars. This will be driven by the studious-looking Andrea de Adamich, with support from both factories.
With Siffert leaving the Rob Walker team his place is being taken by Graham Hill, who is nearly recovered from his American Grand Prix accident. Their 1969 car has been modified to 49C specification, principally in the adaptation of 13-in. wheels, calling for new suspension and steering parts. This car will be used until the 1970 Lotus is delivered, which should be in time for the Spanish Grand Prix in April. As before, the Walker team will be closely associated with Team Lotus and although the car will be owned by Walker and in his colours of dark blue with a white nose band it will virtually represent a third works Lotus car. The official Team Lotus cars will be led by Rindt, who at the end of last season finally reached a common understanding with Colin Chapman with much better results all round. His teammate and supporter will be John Miles, and though they may have to use 49C models to begin with the new Lotus cars should be ready for use for the start of the European season.
Finally we come to the big question mark of 1970, the March 701. As promised, on February 6th they demonstrated two brand new and completely finished Grand Prix cars at Silverstone, while a third car was already on a boat to South Africa. With the design being by Robin Herd, who set the McLaren cars on their design path, it is not surprising that the March 701 looks like a McLaren at a casual glance, especially from the back, the only different outward feature being extra side fuel tanks along each side of the cockpit in the form of aerofoils exerting a downward thrust. From the cockpit rear bulkhead aft it is a British Standard Grand Prix kit, thanks to Cosworth Engineering and Hewland Engineering, but even so March Engineering have made an impressive effort, for there should be five 701 cars in the South African paddock when practice starts officially at Kyalami. Sponsorship for the works car, to be driven by Siffert and Amon, comes from the American STP Corporation and the cars will be known as STP-March and painted in bright red STP colours as the Indianapolis Lotus Cars were in the past. In passing it should be noted that STP and Lotus have parted company on all racing projects. A third March 701 has been purchased by STP and will be entered as an STP Oil Treatment Special, by the Granatelli family, looked after by Vince Granatelli Junior, and driven by Mario Andretti. Athough the Andretti car is a separate entity from the STP-March cars, all three will be factory cars running as a complete team. However, Andretti may miss a few races, depending on how things turn out and what USAC racing clashes with Grand Prix racing. He is racing in South Africa and after that “playing it by ear”, though talking to him and the three Granatelli brothers who originate from Sicily, you get the feeling that they will do all the Grand Prix races they can, dependent on USAC financial commitments.
Apart from the powerful combination of money and drivers that March have cornered for themselves their most important customer is the combination that all eyes will be upon. This is the Tyrrell-Stewart team, who have bought two March 701 cars, painted a rich blue, for Stewart and Servoz-Gavin to drive. Whereas the STP cars are backed by Firestone, the Tyrrell team are backed by Dunlop and these five March cars, all dependent on Cosworth for power, represent a formidable front by any standards.
With the strong selection of factory-backed teams it is difficult to see much hope for private-owners like Bonnier, Moser, Lovely and others who have bought ex-works Grand Prix cars. Motor racing’s “problem-child” John Surtees has bought the M7C McLaren that Bruce McLaren drove last year, which he will race on his own to start with, but by mid-season he hopes to have a car of his own manufacture, Cosworth-powered ready to race. Having tried working with Ferrari, Honda and BRM Surtees is now on his own and his own master, and like Amon will be experiencing Cosworth V8 power for the first time.
All told, the Grand Prix scene is not short of competitors, but it does tend to lack innovation and experiment, especially in the field of suspension and transmission but one thing is certain and that is that all those cars with Cosworth V8 engines will be very evenly matched, so driving skill and tactics will be at a premium.-D.S.J.