Although Formula Two has been dropped by all but one British race organiser, on the Continent of Europe the Formula opened in 1968 at Barcelona in Spain with a full entry list and many hopefuls being turned away. Even if the British race-going public have been made to think that they do not like the Formula, it still provides the major link between the relatively under-powered Formula Three and full-scale Grand Prix Formula One cars. In fact Formula Two cars in their latest 1,600-c.c. form have proved to be very nearly as fast around many circuits as the 3-litre cars.
The entry at Barcelona consisted of many new cars but very few new models. The two new models both came from Italy, the Ferrari and the Tecno. Obviously it was the Ferrari which attracted all the interest for, having dropped out of prototype racing (however impermanently), the Modena firm had said they were putting everything into their Formula One and Two efforts. Last year the sole Ferrari Formula Two appearance was at Rouen where, in the hands of Jonathan Williams, the car proved to be a big disappointment and did not appear again. The main problem was that the engine, though a V6, could not match the power of the Cosworth FVA. For 1968 the engine has been re-designed with four valves per cylinder and this seems to have produced the desired effect and the engine is certainly on a par with the Cosworth. The chassis is a beautifully built monocoque following Ferrari thinking. At Barcelona there were two cars for Amon and Ickx to drive.
The Tecno has a conventional space-frame, this being a strengthened version of the chassis they have built for Formula Three in which form it is proving very successful. Particularly noticeable is its short wheelbase. In the rear the Tecno has the usual British Cosworth/Hewland engine and transmission package. The one car was driven by the Swiss Regazzoni who has graduated from Formula Three this year.
The rest of the field was made up with Brabhams, McLarens, Lolas, Lotuses and Matras, all these cars being the same or very little different from those raced last year.
The race, the Grand Prix of Barcelona, is in its third year at the Montjuich circuit near the town centre. It utilises a road round a park on the side of a mountain and sweeps down towards the town and then up again in its 2.4-mile length, full of a range of difficult corners with no room for error.
In practice, Jackie Stewart was fastest with the Matra International Matra MS7. The Formula Two division of this Ken Tyrrell-managed Matra team is being run this year in conjunction with John Coombes. Stewart lapped in 1 min. 32.8 sec., considerably quicker than Clark’s last year’s record of 1 min. 34.9 sec. Clark was second fastest, only 0.1 sec. slower and a similar gap behind came Rindt in a new Winkelmann Brabham. The surprise of practice was the bearded Frenchman Pescarolo who dominated F.3 last year. Moving up a league made little difference, and he was fourth fastest in front of senior Matra Sports team-mate Beltoise. The Ferraris of Ickx and Amon set fifth and seventh fastest times.
Although the practice times augured well for an exciting race, a lap two accident turned it into a procession. At the hairpin after the start Stewart was just leading but behind there was a close battle for second place. In this Ickx braked too late and slammed into the back of Clark’s Lotus, also sending Rinds off course, Clark and Ickx retired and Rindt quickly regained lost time to move up into second place ahead of the two French-driven Matras. However he could not catch Stewart and a broken fuel line caused his retirement near the end. Beltoise also retired with an electrical fault leaving second place to Pescarolo who was chased home by Amon in the Ferrari. Courage, underlining his fine form in the Tasman Series, finished fourth.
A. R. M.