Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina, January 24th.
After the unfortunate Ferrari/Matra accident in the 1,000-kilometre race at Buenos Aires the Italian team withdrew completely from the Formula One race and the French team entered only one car, so that there were only ten cars on the entry list; the organisers invited three miscellaneous F5000 entries and two American Formula A entries to strengthen the field. Using a 3.413-kms. variation of the municipal Autodrome the race was run in two heats of 50 laps each, with a 45-minute break between them, using the rather unsatisfactory arrangement of deciding the final result by aggregate times.
Team Lotus entered three cars, two Type 72 models and a 49C, with Wisell and Emerson Fittipaldi in 72/R3 and 72/R5, respectively, while Wilson Fittipaldi drove the old 49C/R6. The highly sponsored Team Surtees entered Stommelen in TS7/002 under the banners of Eifelland Caravans and Auto-Motor und Sport, with the first of the Lacey rebuilt Cosworth V8 engines, giving 430 b.h.p. Siffert had his newly-acquired March 701 and Pescarolo was driving Williams’ recently-acquired March 701, while Bell was in the Wheatcroft March 701. Moser had the Bellasi-Cosworth V8 and Carlos Reutemann had Bonnier’s old McLaren M7C. To complete the list of ten Grand Prix cars was Amon with a works Matra-Simca, MS120/02, as raced by the factory last year.
While the cars were all 1970 models the race was giving an opportunity for new owners and new drivers to acclimatise themselves to 1971 conditions. Wilson Fittipaldi was having his first Formula One race, as was Reutemann, while Pescarolo was finding out about Cosworth V8 power and March handling, and Amon was learning about Matra V12 power and Matra handling. Stommelen was having his first race in a Surtees TS7 and the team were using their first engine that was not prepared by the Cosworth factory, and Bell was having his first race in a March. With so many imponderables and the three Formula 5000 cars of Bonnier (Lola), Prophet (McLaren), Spice (McLaren), and the two Formula A cars of Garcia-Veiga (Surtees) and Marincovich/Young (McLaren), all with Chevrolet V8 engines, much could happen, and much did happen.
Stommelen showed great form in Heat 1 and led from start to finish in the Surtees TS7, virtually running away from the rest of the field, while Siffert, Pescarolo and Amon had a race-long battle, finishing in that order with barely half a second covering them. Wisell was fifth close behind them, followed by Reutemann, Bell and W. Fittipaldi, while brother E. Fittipaldi was down among the F5000 cars, having had to make a pit stop to repair the nose fins, but his Lotus 72 finished the first heat with a sick engine and failed to start in Heat 2. In this 50-lap race Siffert led to begin with, while Stommelen and Pescarolo were behind him, followed by Amon. The new Matra driver began to press on hard and, after passing Pescarolo, hit Stommelen’s car up the back, which broke the bolts between the engine and gearbox on the Surtees TS7, and with the rear suspension mounting out of line the young German driver was forced to retire. Amon forged on and overtook Siffert and led the heat to the end, while behind him things changed drastically. Siffert retired with a broken rear upright, Bell retired with a sick Cosworth engine, W. Fittipaldi retired with a broken Cosworth engine and Wisell crashed. All of this left Pescarolo and Reutemann following Amon, with Prophet leading the Chevrolet-powered cars.
Brazilian F3 Series
Although, officially, the 1-litre Formula 3 came to an end on December 31st of last year it was granted a stay of execution thanks to the efforts of a Brazilian television firm who wished to organise a series of three races for this category at the twisty and long Interlagos circuit near the large Brazilian city of Sao Paulo. It will, of course, be remembered that Brazilian drivers Carlos Pace and Wilson Fittipaldi have been major contenders in 1970 Formula 3 racing in Britain and that another Brazilian, Fritz Jordan, also showed promise towards the end of the year. Obviously the very motor racing conscious South Americans wanted to see their own drivers beating the best from Europe.
Pace, Fittipaldi and Jordan all brought along their Lotus 59s, a couple of other Brazilians, Jose Ferreira and Ronald Rossi who had raced Formula Fords in England, purchased a Brabham BT28 each and another Brazilian who raced in Britain in 1969—Luiz Bueno—hired a Chevron.
The European opposition was strong with the two works Lotus 59s for Dave Walker and Motor Sport/Shell Champion Tony Trimmer (who had replaced Bev Bond in the Gold Leaf team), the Italian champion Giovanni Salvati in a Tecno, quick Swedes Torsten Palm and Sten Gunnarsson, the Swiss Jurg Dubler plus several others making up a field of twenty for each of the races.
Wilson Fittipaldi out thought the rest of the opposition before the start of the Torneo for, towards the end of 1970, he struck up a firm association with the Italian engine builders Novamotor while the other leading contenders stuck faithfully to the British company of Holbay. Novamotor made a very big effort to ensure Fittipaldi had the most powerful engine in the series and this he no doubt did.
Fittipaldi romped home the victor of the series by winning the first two races by a considerable margin. In fact, each event was split into two parts but as he won on all four occasions there was no doubt about it. In the third round Fittipaldi, W. who had made his F1 debut the previous day at Buenos Aires, had to start from the back of the grid. He came through to win the first heat but some body damage and other problems slowed him in the second heat and he finished sixth for fourth place overall. The race was won by the Italian, Salvati.
So Fittipaldi was the clear winner of the championship with 21 pts, with Salvati second with eleven. Australian Dave Walker tried hard but had a couple of set-backs and eventually finished third in the championship ahead of his team mate Trimmer and the Bognor driver David Purley who went very well in his private Brabham. Carlos Pace, who was rather expecting to win the series and usually had the better of Fittipaldi in Britain, had mammoth engine blow-ups in each of the races probably due to attempting to keep up with Fittipaldi and straining his engines just too far. Bueno in the old hired Chevron was very impressive and finished second overall in the first race but then his car suffered from unreliability.
A fourth non-championship race was added to the series at Port Allegre in Southern Brazil and this was another clean sweep for Lotus but with works driver Walker getting the decision over Fittipaldi, each driver winning a heat but the verdict, on a time basis going to the Australian by 1.5 secs. Third was Pace, his engine staying together this time, and fourth Trimmer.