Once again Colin Chapman and Maurice Philippe have produced something really new for Grand Prix racing. Last year it was the Lotus 72, this year it is the Lotus turbine car. In the wet on Friday it was very impressive, but this was more due to the smooth power and four-wheel-drive than the turbine conception. Throughout practice it ran smoothly and quietly, with no problems apart from changes of gear ratio in the power take-off box and axle ratio changes. Its position in the middle of the third row of the grid is about where Fittipaldi would have been with a Lotus 72, so the turbine car looks promising, in spite of the characteristics not really being suited to the “stop-go” nature of the Brands Hatch circuit.
Being surrounded at the start the car was unable to accelerate to its maximum amount, and consequently never got clear of the tail-enders, and suffered from the weight of its 60 gallons of aviation kerosene, causing it to bump on the ground down the numerous dips.
The new McLaren, with its progressive movement suspension was visibly more stable over the Brands Hatch bumps than most other cars, and Hulme was driving very smoothly during practice so that he never looked fast. This effortless, smooth-running was accentuated by the comparison of Stewart, who had the Tyrrell on the edge of disaster all the way round, and the hesitant, inexperienced driving of the new boys who were out in front of 400 b.h.p. for the first time. Stewart’s brave efforts were rewarded by being nearly a second faster than Hulme, which is an enormous amount by today’s standards.
Of the new super-special aerodynamic March 711, the less said the better. Last year when the Lotus 72 broke a shaft to an inboard front brake some people put it down to typical Lotus design. Did the March suffer from a design fault? The chief engineer of Daimler-Benz asks rather pointedly whether these chaps have any test facilities? Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix cars and sports cars used inboard front brakes throughout 1954 and 1955 without any breakages, and Lancia used them on the D20 sports car of 1953/54 without any failures.—D. S. J.
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