The Grand Premio Presidente Medici
The motor racing world welcomed the addition of a fine new facility when twelve of the cars recently in South America for the Argentine and Brazilian Grands Prix stayed on to inaugurate the Autodrome at Brasilia, the space age Federal Capital of Brazil.
The incredibly well-equipped new circuit which will be part of a lavish sports centre named after the Brazilian President Emilio Medici, rivals the Paul Ricard circuit in amenities, and the track itself, although tight, was considered better than Ricard by most drivers. Certainly, the pits are among the safest and best in the world with a wide pit lane and curving walls protecting stationary cars and teams. Between track and pits is a raised signalling balcony over a block of drivers' changing cubicles.
In practice, under thunderous skies with intermittent heavy showers, Reutemann Showed that his performance at Buenos Aires in the Brabham BT44 was no fluke, and obtained pole position at 1 min. 51.18 sec. for the 5,475-metre circuit. Fittipaldi's victorious Texaco Marlboro McLaren M23 was, predictably, close behind with 1 min. 51.27 sec. Scheckter's Tyrrell, fitted with conventional rear springs instead of torsion bars, was in contention at I min. 51.40 sec., with Pace, in the Surtees TS16, equal. So we had four different makes in the first two rows with Merzario's lso Marlboro and Beltoise's BRM right behind, an interesting situation.
Hunt had hoped to use the new Hesketh which he had tested successfully at Interlagos after the GP, lapping in 2 Min. 32.90. sec. This compares with this year's pole position by Fittipaldi of 2 min. 32.97 sec., and the outright fastest time by Peterson in practice for the 1973 race of 2 min. 30.50 sec. Unfortunately, a fuel cell on the new car split and as no spares were available Hunt had to use his usual Mareh at Brasilia. It suffered a succession of clutch problems, relegating him to the back of the -grid, and causing his retirement after four laps of the race. Reutemann led from the start, as expected, but was pressed by Fittipaldi for several laps. Then Reuteniann's luck ran out again and his engine expired in a cloud of steam and pieces as a piston destroyed itself and associated parts. Behind, Scheckter was held up for several laps by Merzario, and by the time he was past, Fittipaldi was too far ahead for Scheckter to catch, since he was suffering from a wheel balance problem and tyres going "off".
Merzario held a steady fourth, driving extremely well, and as his fuel dropped, was able to record a time only 1/10th sec. outside Fittipaldi's fastest race lap.
Pace was out of luck, having two pit stops with mixture problems from a slipped metering cam which put him out of contention,but his team-mate, Mass, despite poor brakes, put in a fine performance to hold fourth place.
Wilson Fittipaldi, who is building his own Fl -car in Brazil, was given a drive in Robart's BT44 and after re-adjusting it drastically to his liking, had a tremendous struggle with Stuck in the March. Despite lacking an effective clutch, the elder Fittipaldi got in front and then Stuck was forced to retire with the large rear wing assembly of his March flapping.
Ganley, in the other March, climbed into sixth place, and Pescarolo's BRM followed. Beltoise was suffering from tyre troubles on the "sharp" new track and had two pit stops to change them all round, making him two laps in arrears at the end.
Fittipaldi drove his usual cool and all-conquering race, leading with ease from the seventh lap to the end, and scoring the third successive victory for his new team.—L.A.M.
The Presidente Medici Grand Prix - Brasilia - 40 Laps by 5.476 km. - 2I9 km.
1st : E. Fittipaldi (Texaco-Marlboro McLaren-Ford M23) 1 hr. 15 min. 22.75 sec. - 174.337 k.p.h.
2nd : J. Schechter ( Tyrrell-Ford) 1hr. 15 min. 35.15 sec
3rd : A. Merzario (Iso-Marlboro-Ford) 1hr 15 min 49.85 sec
4th : J. Mass (Matchbox Surtees TS14) 1 hr 17 min 01.59 sec
5th : W. Fittipaldi (Brabham-Ford BT42) 1 lap behind
6th : H. Ganley (March-Ford 741) 1 lap behind
7th : H. Pescarolo (BRM P160) 1 lap behind
8th : J-P. Beltoise (BRM P160) 2 laps behind
9th : J. C. Pace (Matchbox Surtees TS16) 5 laps behind
10th : H. Stuck (March-Ford 741) 6 laps behind
Fastest Lap ; Emerson Fittipaldi (Texaco Marlboro McLaren M23) on lap 20, in I min. 51.62, sec.-176.600, k.p.h.