ANOTHER Formula Two season, three races in as many weeks, but mutatis mutandis the man to beat is still Jochen Rindt. The Austrian led the 46-lap final at Thruxton on Easter Monday to give the latest Lotus 69 its first victory, followed it up with another victory at Pau on the following Sunday and a week later he was in the lead (albeit briefly) before being pushed off the Hockenheim circuit on the first lap.
The Thruxton win, Rindt’s third in a row at this now traditional British Easter venue, was accomplished in the all-conquering style to which we have become accustomed from the Austrian. At Pau, however, there was a thorn in Rindt’s, flesh in the form of none other than Jack Brabham. The thrice World Champion, invited to take Stewart’s place in John Coombs’ new Brabham which Stewart had used in unavailing chase of Rindt at Thruxton, was fitted with Goodyear tyres (as seen on the latest Formula One Matra) in place of Stewart’s Dunlops and went straight into the lead while Rindt made a poor start. The stage was set for perhaps this year’s most interesting confrontation and certainly Rindt fairly flung the Lotus around to make up the lost ground on Brabham. Pau, a true round-the-houses venue where Formula Two cars are at their best, is not the easiest of places for overtaking, while the Goodyear-shod Brabham proved unusually wide. Sadly, there was no moment of truth, because Brabham’s fuel-metering unit belt broke on the 21st lap and the race was handed to Rindt. He said afterwards that he had been waiting to pass; observers who saw the angles at which the Lotus was being thrown round might have disagreed.
The arrival at Hockenheim the following week of the Jochen Rindt Racing Ltd. truck (and of Rindt himself) was something of a surprise, especially when it was discovered that certain promised safety alterations, among them the erection of chicanes to slow down the cars on the very long straights, had not even been started.
Rindt’s last appearance here, in 1968, provided him with a win, but he firmly refused to return in 1969, saying that the slipstreaming type of racing, involving large bunches of cars with drivers of very mixed ability at high speed, was too risky.
Before race day there were grumbles of a similar tenor from many of the newcomers to Hockenheim, and on the first lap of the two-part race the incident which many had forecast took place. Mercifully, the cars had slowed down to 80 m.p.h. or so, or were in the process of doing 80, as they prepared to enter the slow speed bends inside the packed stadium section of the track, when there was a collision. The culprit was undoubtedly the Argentinian Formula Two Champion Carlos Reutemann, having his first-ever race in Europe. Having succeeded in outbraking half a dozen cars, Reutemann’s new Brabham pushed Rindt’s Lotus out of the lead and caused a couple of damaging accidents behind. Nobody was hurt but three cars were out of the rate and Rindt elected to make a couple of stops to rectify minor damage.
Reutemann, ironically, was able to continue after only a short delay and catch up with the leading bunch. In the second heat he made a determined hid for the lead and on occasion got in front of the pack, but on the last lap he again made himself decidedly unpopular by spinning (again on one of the slow corners), causing more damage and forcing one well-placed car out of the race. When the results of the two parts were put together it was found that the experienced Swiss Clay Regazzoni (Tecno) and Japanese newcomer Tetsu Ikuzawa, both of whom had won one of the heats, were first and second, only 0.1 sec. apart. It was Regazzoni’s first win after three years in the formula, while lkuzawa had previously been unimpressive in the Thruxton and Pau events.
The success of the Tecno at Hockenheim proves that this space-frame design, which has been little altered since it first raced in 1968, is sound if not advanced. Regazzoni was well up in the group which battled over third place at Thruxton before being eliminated by a spin, and he again crashed while fighting his way into second place behind Rindt at Pau after an earlier indiscretion.
Without Brabham cars, Formula Two racing would be in a sorry plight, and although customers had to wait for their 1970 cars almost until the last minute, because of the short supply of the necessary “bag” fuel tanks, the slightly revised version of the 1969 BT30 proved to be well sorted out. No fewer than 15 of these distinctively shaped cars were delivered for Thruxton and Bell drove his orange Wheatcroft Racing-entered BT30 into third place to take maximum points in the European Trophy for non-graded drivers. At Pau (a non-championship round), he finished fourth with gear and clutch trouble, but scored more points by finishing third at Hockenheim. He and Regazzoni, both former members of the Ferrari F2 team, now lead the Championship score after two rounds with 13 and 11 points respectively.
Although there is no official Brabham Formula Two team, two Formula Three “finds” of last year, Tim Schenken and Francois Mazes, have been teamed together by Manchester garage owner Rodney Bloor in works “blessed” cars. At Thruxton they both ran into footling difficulties, while at Hockenheim their brand-new engines both failed, but at Pau Schenken was promising and finished third after being delayed by Regazzoni’s second-lap spin. But for this setback the Australian might well have been racing with Pescarolo, who took a good second place in yet another new BT30, Bob Gerard Racing’s new car which was driven by Peter Gaydon at Thruxton and Hockenheim.
For March Engineering’s Formula Two team, run in its first year by Malcolm Guthrie Racing, the season has started badly. The cars were ill-prepared for racing at Thruxton, but both finished, albeit with their glassfibre noses disintegrating. Chris Amon found the handling of the car alarming at Thruxton, but by the time it got to Hockenheim (where Ronnie Peterson drove it) the suspension was being sorted out. The bulky side fuel tank containers are thought to be a handicap on top speed, but nothing conclusive could be decided there because Peterson was enmeshed in the first-lap accident.
The BMW team arrived with four cars, two of them driven by Jo Siffert and Jackie Ickx, at Thruxton. Ickx was late starting the final but moved up the field into sixth place at the end, while Siffert retired with fuel injection trouble. Very few modifications have been carried out since 1969, but at least the cars are finishing races, for in their second race of the year (Hockenheim) Hahne finished a close third in one heat.
In spite of the excellent Brabbam/Goodyear performance at Pau, every entrant except Stewart and BMW has put his faith in Firestone tyres this year. The development of a small Firestone tyre especially for high-speed circuits has resulted in a significant reduction in lap times at Hockenheirn, where Rindt lapped faster in practice even than the best 5-litre sports car record. Advances in engines are not so great, for the latest Cosworth FVA differs little from the 235 b.h.p. 1969 version, yet still proved to be slightly faster in a straight line than the latest BMW at Hockenheim.
In spite of Cosworth and Firestone domination the 1970 Formula Two season has started promisingly. Nevertheless, it will take a good man indeed to topple Rindt from his throne, although there are those who hope that Brabham will have another opportunity.-M.G. D.
March 30th, 1970
W.D & H.O. WILLIS TROPHY – Formula Two – Thruxton – Final – 46 laps
108 miles – Dry and sunny
1st : J. Rindt (Lotus 69-Cosworth FVA) .. 57 min. 41.0 sec.-181.42k.p.h.
2nd : J. Stewart (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .. 57 min. 53.4 sec.
3rd : D. Bell (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .. 45 laps
4th : R. Widdows (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .. 45 laps
5th : A. Walker (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .. 45 laps
6th: J. Ickx (BMW 270) .. 44 laps
Fastest lap : J. Rindt (Lotus 69) 1 min. 14.0 sec. (184.46 k.p.h.) (equals existing circuit record).
28 starters – 17 finishers
April 4th, 1970
30th GRAND PRIX DE PAU – Formula Two – Pau – 70 laps – 193.2 kms.
Dry but overcast
1st : J. Rindt (Lotus 69-Cosworth FVA) .. 1 hr. 33 min. 37.6 sec. – 123.8 k.p.h.
2nd : H. Pescarolo (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .. 1 hr. 34 min. 21.7 sec.
3rd : T. Schenken (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .. 1 hr. 34 min. 55.8 sec.
4th : D. Bell (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .. 69 laps
5th : F Mazet (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) .. 69 laps
6th : F Cervert (Tecno-Cosworth FVA) .. 68 laps
Fastest lap : J. Rindt (Lotus 69) 1 min. 19.5 sec. (77.64 m.p.h.).
14 starters – 9 finishers
April 12th, 1970
2nd JIM CLARK GEDACHTNIS-RENNEN – Formula Two – Hockenheim
Two 20-lap heats – 270.72 kilometres – Dry
1st : C. Regazzoni (Tecno-Cosworth FVA) 3 pts. (2+1) 1 hr. 22 min. 01.3 sec – 198.1 k.p.h.
2nd : T. Ikuzawa (Lotus69-Cosworth FVA) 3 pts (1+2) 1 hr. 22 min. 01.4 sec
3rd : D. Bell (Brabham BT30-Cosworth FVA) 7 pts (3+4) 1 hr 22 min 03.1 sec
4th : H. Hahne (BMW 269) 10 pts (7+3) 1 hr. 22 min. 16.2 sec
5th : E. Fittipaldi (Lotus 69-Cosworth FVA) 11 pts (6+5) 1 hr. 22 min. 17.4 sec
6th : R. Stommellen (March 702-Cosworth FVA) 12 pts (5+7) 1 hr 22 min. 16.9 sec
Fastest Lap: D. Quester (BMW 269) 1 min. 58.7 sec. (205.3k.p.h.)
23 starters (two heats) – 11 classified