OF THE twenty cars in the spacious garages of Buenos Aires Autodrome, five were brand new but none of them were to designs not previously seen in public. But there were some pretty significant modifications in some camps, particularly in the Elf Team Tyrrell corner. They had brought along the two Mk. 2 versions, 005 for Stewart and 006 for Cevert, and both cars were fitted with inboard front brakes for the first time since the British Grand Prix. Designer Derek Gardner had come up with a revised lay-out with much larger drive tubes, rather than the shafts previously used, and the new system was entirely satisfactory. On the Thursday untimed session the front brakes came in for a lot of inspection at each stop with Gardner himself taking the temperature of the discs but, after that, everyone seemed happy that they were working well. Otherwise the Tyrrells were as before and still had their huge matt blue airboxes. The older Tyrrell 003 was on hand as a spare but was not touched throughout the meeting.
Everything was very new in the Surtees camp, with brand new TS14s being provided for both Hailwood and Pace. Testing with the original car, first seen at Monza last year, proved very fruitful, with Hailwood lapping Kyalami very quickly a week before Argentine, so the team felt confident until the spring trouble intervened. The new cars, designated 14A/02 and /03, were different from the original car in as much as the radiators were larger (but still had to have ducts added to cope with Argentine heat) and the rear suspension had been redesigned. Unparallel bottom links replaced the previous wishbone and link system. Both cars were finished in a lighter shade of blue than normally seen on Surtees cars with striking yellow wheels and large Fina petrol symbols.
The John Player Team Lotus plan is to have a pair of Lotus 72s for each driver but due to the restricted space in the Tradewinds Airways CL-44 which transported the cars to South America the team only brought a car for each driver. Fittipaldi had chassis 72/7 while Peterson had a brand new chassis 72/8, which had never previously rolled a wheel before the meeting. Both cars had modifications to the front drive shafts and also to the gearboxes for easier mounting of the rear brakes. This also resulted in slight modification to rear cross-member and some of the links of the rear suspension, but the geometry remained the same.
McLaren Racing brought along their pair of regular M19Cs for Peter Revson and Denny Hulme and these had also received some winter modifications. The rear suspension was made up of all new components, including a much lighter rear upright and, though the lay-out and geometry remained almost the same, there was a worthwhile saving of 15 lb. The roll-over bars had also been re-profiled to a more wind-cheating shape.
Motor Racing Development’s new F1 car, the Brabham BT39, is not far off completion but for this race they brought along their usual pair of BT37s. Reutemann was in his usual car while Wilson Fittipaldi took over the car that Hill used to drive. The only major modification was that the sides now had the deformable structure cladding attached which gave the cars a slightly different shape. Both looked extremely smart and were colour coded to the driver’s nationality—green and yellow for Fittipaldi and blue for Reutemann.
The sole works March 721G, which was driven by Jarier, was the ex-Lauda car and the main modification here was the re-positioning of the oil tank behind the driver to the rear. The tank, battery and other ancillaries were mounted on a frame which could be pivoted to allow the gear ratios to be changed without having to unstrap the various equipment. Beuttler’s March 721G was exactly as raced at Watkins Glen.
BRM have now discarded the P180 for good and until a new Mike Pilbeam-designed car is ready are relying on the latest modification of the P160. In fact Bourne had built a brand new car to this specification for Regazzoni which took the number 01, as that car had been destroyed in a testing accident. The most immediately noticeable change to the BRMs was that the cars of Regazzoni and Beltoise both had wide nose sections and new rear wings with huge sideplates. The old style cold air-boxes also made a reappearance while the side oil-coolers had been re-located further back. There were also some rear suspension modifications mainly to the roll bars, which are now tubular and have been re-located. The BRM engine division has not been idle during the winter either, and the V12s seemed to have a rather different note from last year and more power seems to have resulted. But as to the actual modifications no one was saying and engine designer Peter Windsor-Smith remained home in Lincolnshire.
There was little to report in the Ferrari camp, the B2s being virtually as raced at Watkins Glen. It is amazing that the Ferrari, a three-year-old design, looks rather outdated, while the Lotus 72, a year its senior, still looks the most modern and advanced racing car in the paddock. Ferrari had chassis No. 5 for Ickx and No. 8 (the ex-Andretti car) for Merzario.
Completing the list was the Frank Williams team who have done a tremendous amount of work on what was the Politoys and is now the Iso-Marlboro. Suspension, bodywork and various other parts have all been changed since Amon drove the car at the Brands Hatch Victory race and this car was handed over Nanni Galli. A brand new car to a similar specification was entrusted to Howden Ganley, although this had a re-profiled monocoque with a much lower front bulkhead and a generally flatter look about it, plus certain other differences over the original car. This new car took the number FX3/2.
A new tweak that wasn’t seen on any cars at Buenos Aires was the use of 12-in, rather than 13-in, diameter front wheels. Goodyear already have a tyre for these smaller wheels and Lotus tried them in South Africa prior to coming to Argentina. It seems certain the trend will catch on fairly fast. Otherwise we will have to wait until the South African Grand Prix for the new cars and new developments.—A.R.M.