Formula Two review

The first two rounds of the European Formula Two Trophy were the Jim Clark Memorial Trophy race at Hockenheim and the heavily sponsored Yellow Pages Trophy at Thruxton on Easter Monday. With the 1,600-c.c. Formula attracting so many contestants in its final year, the problem of servicing the multitude of Cosworth FVA engines has assumed serious proportions with many teams not possessing a useable spare. Currently Cosworth are pre-occupied sorting out their 1971 Formula One engines and the situation has been seriously aggravated by the recent Ford strike.

The Hockenheim race was run in two 20-lap heats with an aggregate result being worked out on addition of positions instead of times, so spectators and entrants were left kicking their heels after the second heat while the organisers worked out their final result. Appearing for the first time at Hockenheim were three new cars, two of which were to prove very competitive. The Italian Tecno factory brought along three of its new cars, the chassis being very much the same as the cars which Regazzoni used to win the Formula Two Trophy last year but fitted with their own specially built engines. The two Pederzani brothers who run this team have adapted the Cosworth FVA block to take their own cylinder head, which is copied from the new Ford RS1600 engine and uses belt-drive to the valve gear. This is an experimental exercise in preparation for the 1972 Formula Two which requires the use of production cylinder heads. The Tecnos are financed by the French Elf oil company and are driven by Francois Cevert, who partnered Regazzoni last year, Patrick Depailler and Jean-Pierre Jabouille, who drove the uncompetitive Pygmees in 1970.

Motor Racing Developments 1971 Formula Two car is the Brabham BT36, differing only slightly from the previous year’s car but using inboard rear brakes and a sleeker body profile. So far only two cars have been built for the privately-financed Rondel Racing organisation, which is run by a couple of ex-Brabham mechanics, and are driven by Brabham’s Formula One drivers Graham Hill and Tim Schenken. The third new car was the Lola T240 driven by the Austrian sports car driver Hemut Marko. The shallow bathtub monocoque car showed itself to be uncompetitive in its current state of development.

As at Mallory Park, the Robin Herd-designed March 712s proved to be highly competitive, particularly the works car driven by Ronnie Peterson.

Despite the precarious engine situation, all the major contenders were at Thruxton the following week for the Yellow Pages Trophy race. Amidst a mass of advertising material pushed out by the sponsors of the meeting, forty cars arrived to practice, split into two batches of twenty. On race day they all had to compete in rather long 28-lap heats before going on to a 50-lap final which counted for Trophy points. Once again the Marches proved to be the quickest cars on the track, Peterson setting fastest time of all in practice, and both the Motul/Williams cars of Pescarolo and the English driver Derek Bell being near the front of their respective grids. Once again the well-organised Rondel team featured strongly, with Hill taking pole position for the first heat and Schenken getting a front-row place for the second.

Reine Wisell in the Lotus 69 owned by London International Racing Associates, led the first heat briefly until he was stopped with electrical failure, and Hill beat Bell quite easily. Peterson looked a sure victor in the second heat until the car jammed in fifth gear, the lever came off in his hand and he was beaten by Pescarolo on the last lap.

The first ten cars to finish each heat got into the final along with the next ten fastest overall, taken on the basis of individual race laps, thus ensuring that fast cars which retired during the heat were not deprived of a race in the final. When Pescarolo retired with a broken engine shortly after the start of the final, Hill took over the lead and held off Peterson, who was driving very consistently and making every effort to prompt Hill into a mistake. Eventually Peterson made his move with three laps to go, and outbraked Hill going into the tight chicane just before the pits, only to get fouled up lapping a slower car on the next lap, allowing the wily Hill to repass. There was no time left for Peterson to have another try, and Hill came round to win his first race since his victory at Albi, also a Formula Two event, in 1969. Behind Peterson, who broke Jochen Rindt’s record and the outright circuit record, Bell survived a spin to finish third, while Cevert was fourth.

An interesting newcomer to the Formula was the reigning American Formula A Champion John Cannon, who made a surprise debut with a brand-new March. He had several problems and retired in the final. The next round of the European Championship is at the Nurburgring on May 2nd.—A. H.