1970 Canadian Grand Prix race report

Jacky Ickx driving for Ferrari at the 1970 Canadian Grand Prix.

Jacky Ickx took his second win of the season in Canada

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Ferrari fast and strong

Mont Tremblant—St. Jovite, Sept. 20th.

A large section of the Formula One entourage were taken en masse to Canada for the first part of a combined “package deal” to cover the races at St. Jovite, Watkins Glen in the United States, and Mexico City. Housed in one big tent behind the pits of the Mont Tremblant circuit the equipment was arranged for all to see, with packing cases all round containing tools, spares and engines. Reading from right to left the scene was as follows: Ferrari 312/001 for Ickx, Ferrari 312/004 for Regazzoni, Matra-Simca MS120/03 for Beltoise, Matra-Simca MS120/02 for Pescarolo, and MS120/01 as a spare, Lotus 72C/R4 for Hill, Brabham BT33/3 for Stommelen, Brabham BT33/2 repaired after its Monza accident for Brabham himself, BRM 153/05 for Rodriguez, 153/04 for Oliver, 153/03 for Eaton and 153/06 with the new-type engine installed as a spare; McLaren M14D/1 with Alfa Romeo engine for de Adamich, McLaren M14A/1 for Gethin and McLaren M14A/2 for Hulme, the first of the March cars, 701/1, for Amon and 701/5 for Siffert; the first of the TS7 cars for Surtees, the hybrid cobbled-up for Monza having been unstitched and 001 and 002 taking their normal parts; the De Tomaso 505/38/3 for Schenken, the blue March 701/7 for Cevert, the other blue one, 701/4, for Stewart and also the Tyrrell car, and finally the yellow and brown March 701/8 for Peterson while tucked away in the corner were the bare bones of March 701/6 which local driver Jacques Couture was hoping to borrow, but a shortage of Cosworth V8 engines ruled out any such frivolity. There were some packing cases marked Team Lotus but no Team Lotus cars or drivers, the entries having been withdrawn after the Monza tragedy.

While Matra arrived with three complete V12-engined cars and five engines in boxes, the Peterson March was without an engine, as was the De Tomaso, and the Rob Walker Lotus 72 was without any shafts to drive the inboard brakes front and rear. Surtees was a little upset with Grand Prix constructors’ politics and the organisers, for having tried to get both his cars entered he only had one accepted, and on arrival was told that it was a pity he had not brought TS7/002 as well as he could have entered it! The official March team had the unusual situation of having both cars ready for Thursday practice and no drivers, Siffert suffering from a bad cough and Amon still being on his way from England due to staying behind to test a March-Chevrolet V8 Can-Am car. The Walker Lotus 72 did not practice as new brake shafts of solid construction, rather than tubular, were on their way over, and while practice took place the Peterson March was being screwed together, but the De Tomaso was sitting engine-less, as it did until Saturday. The Yardley-BRM team were not too happy, for though their cars were running their spare engines had not arrived. During the afternoon this problem did not worry Eaton, for he overdid things and spun into a guard-rail, bending the right front corner, so the rest of the day and the Friday saw him watching his mechanics do some very crafty repair work on the monocoque and the suspension mounting points. Stommelen was also standing around watching, as Brabham had taken his car out to see if it was all right and had crashed it due to a collapsing wishbone on the left front letting the wheel trail back and lock the steering. It was a bit of a race between the Brabham mechanics and the BRM mechanics to see who would get finished first. Meanwhile Oliver and Rodriguez put some miles on the spare car to test the new engine with revised ports and water passages, as well as driving their own cars.

Jackie Stewart driving for Tyrrell at the 1970 Canadian Grand Prix.

Jackie Stewart took pole

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On the day before practice Stewart had tried to test the new Tyrrell car, with the modifications to the fuel system completed, but bad weather and an engine failure stopped him learning much. Consequently he spent most of the first official practice in his March, while the Tyrrell was having another engine installed. He pressed on to good effect with the March but was beaten by Ickx, whose Ferrari was in fine form, Pescarolo who was given a suspiciously fast time, Surtees who was enjoying the circuit, Beltoise who was not worried about his engine as it was due for a routine change at the end of practice, and Hulme, whose McLaren was going well but giving him a hard time with steering “kick-back” on the wheel over the ripples of the road surface. Regazzoni was having trouble with the brakes on his Ferrari and Cevert had his flywheel retaining bolts all break, fortunately without any other damage being caused.

Next day practice continued unabated in fine and dry weather and the Walker Lotus 72 was completed, as was the Peterson March and Stommelen’s Brabham, but Eaton’s BRM was taking longer and the De Tomaso team had an engine at last but could not assemble the car in time. Stewart was not happy with the feel of the throttle pedal on the Tyrrell, the trouble being in the slide mechanism on the engine, so he jumped from the Tyrrell to the March and back again all afternoon. Having got the engine working right he roared off in the Tyrrell, only to have a rear-wheel centre-lock nut come loose, the safety-pin luckily keeping everything in place. Beltoise set off with a new engine in his Matra but did not do many laps before it blew up and he had to go out in the spare car, and at the end of the afternoon the engine in Pescarolo’s car broke a connecting-rod, so the Matra team were busy opening their packing cases. Ickx was still fastest, with Regazzoni right behind him, these two being the only ones to get below 1 min. 32 sec., though Regazzoni’s car had a bit of bother with its fuel pump overheating. The nature of the circuit was sorting the drivers and cars out, so that there was 4.2 sec. covering the field of cars that practised. Stewart was changing from his Tyrrell to his March with such frequency that it began to look as though it was his personal lap time he was setting, rather than that of the cars.

Saturday was the final day for practice and it dawned cold and damp, which made it look as though the grid layout would he settled on the Thursday and Friday times, but by lunch-time it was warm and dry once more and everyone was preparing for a final fling. Stewart was away in a flash in the Tyrrell and it looked as though they had got it working properly, but the loose wheel-nut problem arose again, which caused owner Tyrrell and designer Derek Gardner to look very worried. That morning the organisers had announced that the regulation which said the starting grid would be in rows of three-two-three would be changed to staggered rows of two-by-two, making: ten pairs of cars to line up. This made a good practice time all the more important and the Ferrari team were very happy for Ickx and Regazzoni would be occupying the front row. During the final afternoon of practice no-one looked like breaking into the 1 min. 31 sec. bracket, let alone pushing them off the front row, but there was a moment of consternation when the right front brake disc on the lckx car was found to be cracked. This was replaced and all was well. During one of the pauses to collect broken-down cars the Walker Lotus 72 was towed in and Hill had a very quizzical look on his face. A petrol union on the fuel-metering unit had come undone, the distributor cap of the ignition unit had fallen off, and the whole engine unit had become enveloped in a petrol fire. Luckily the heat-sensor of the Graviner extinguisher unit had reacted promptly and even before he was out of the car the fire had been put out, the only damage being a few burnt pipes and wires. As fast as people were improving their lap times trouble was striking and a new wheel and tyre had to be taken out to Eaton for his BRM as one of his Dunlops had deflated due to losing air through the safety securing studs, and Amon’s rear suspension collapsed on his March when a rear hub carrier and suspension upright casting broke. The new BRM engine was not running too well and the car was taken into the paddock tent to have the camshaft covers removed, and designer Aubrey Woods peered into the valve gear but could not find anything wrong. Surtees was bedding in a new engine and scrubbing-in some new tyres ready for the race, both wet weather ones and dry weather ones, and was very happy about the whole situation, with a position in row three of the start, alongside Amon.

Stewart went very fast in his March, turning in a lap in 1 min. 31.9 sec. to equal Regazzoni’s Friday time, and it was the only Cosworth-powered car to get below 1 min. 32 sec. While he was doing this the Tyrrell was being readied for a final run, the loose wheel nut problem being solved with the aid of a six-foot lever on the spanner. (They should go to some sports-car races and watch Porsche mechanics tighten up wheel nuts!). Suddenly the blue March was overdue and Stewart was seen running across the inside of the circuit. The March had broken a rear-wheel bearing and he had parked it by the roadside. Practice was nearly over, and without any fuss Cevert had got the second Tyrrell-March round in 1 min. 32.4 sec. to hold fourth fastest time. As practice was ending Stewart leapt into the Tyrrell, did a spectacular standing start in the pit area and roared away. The last lap of the day he did in a shattering 1 min. 31.5 sec. to snatch pole-position from Ickx, and as someone remarked “How professional can you get”. After three days of practice Stewart held fastest lap with the Tyrrell and equal third fastest with the March, the difference in time between his two cars being four-tenths of a second. He then had to make the difficult decision on which car to use, and opted for the Tyrrell on the front row rather than the March on the second row, even though the Tyrrell had not done sufficient running to prove itself race-worthy.

On Sunday morning at 9.30 a.m. there was a 30-minutc test session for those who wanted it and while Hill was out in the Lotus 72 there was a big bang and the clutch flew apart, cracking the bell-housing and wrecking the withdrawal mechanism; Stommelen was also in trouble with his Brabham for the casting joining the Hewland gearbox to the engine broke; so these two cars had some very hurried work done on them to fit new parts by lunch-time.


The cars pull away from the grid at the 1970 Canadian Grand Prix

Stewart leads at the race start

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The start was due at 2 p.m. and before the racing cars came out the drivers were paraded round the circuit in drophead General Motors cars, either Pontiacs or Oldsmobiles, and then the drivers went off on a warm-up lap in the Grand Prix cars and began to assemble on the dummy-grid. The Matra of Beltoise was devoid of external fuel tanks, but that of Pescarolo had them on both sides of the cockpit. Everyone had crammed as much petrol into their tanks as possible and there was some last-minute topping up after the warm-up lap. Amon’s red March had a green rim to its nose cowling, to distinguish it from Siffert’s car, and Regazzoni’s Ferrari had a cutaway windscreen, whereas Ickx had the normal all-enveloping screen, with a little deflector tab on the top.

As the cars moved forward to the starting grid Eaton’s BRM was not running properly and he was preparing to pull off to the right and get out of the way of those behind him. When the Canadian flag fell Stewart shot into the lead, followed by Ickx, but Regazzoni made a poor start and Surtees and Rodriguez went round him; Eaton got his engine to pick-up properly and chased off at the rear. Stewart just ran away from the opposition, pulling out a lead of one second a lap, and for the first time the absence of Rindt was sadly felt, for on a driving circuit like this there was no-one to touch Stewart. Vainly trying to keep pace were Ickx (Ferrari), Rodriguez (BRM), Surtees (TS7) and Cevert (March), and after a gap came Regazzoni (Ferrari) leading Amon (March) and the rest. Oliver went into the pits on lap 6 with his left rear wheel leaning at a very funny angle, for the bottom wishbone had broken, and the BRM mechanics set to work to fit a new one. The engine in the Surtees began to misfire, due to the petrol overflow from the tanks spraying neat fuel into the inlet trumpets, and Cevert went by into fourth place, while Surtees stopped, thinking a plug lead may have come adrift. There was nothing wrong so he rejoined the race and once the fuel level in the tanks dropped a bit the engine ran perfectly, but he was now way down the field in 16th place, behind Eaton who had passed Stommelen, Schenken and Peterson.

Stewart was pulling out such an enormous lead without really trying that it all seemed ridiculous and you wondered what everyone else was doing, so it was just a question of whether the Tyrrell/Cosworth/Hewland “assembly” could last for 90 laps. By ten laps it was all a bit of a follow-my-leader affair, with Ickx, Rodriguez and Cevert together, then a gap to Regazzoni and Amon, and another gap to Pescarolo leading Gethin, de Adamich, Hulme and Beltoise and obviously holding them all up, while Siffert, Brabham and Hill were following. Regazzoni began to get into his stride and close up on the trio in front of him, and Amon clung on grimly to the Ferrari and moved up with it. Hulme got tired of waiting fbr Gethin to overtake Pescarolo and quickly passed them both, but he had lost contact with the leading groups. It was clear that the Ferraris were handling better as their fuel load went down, for as Regazzoni closed up Ickx went further ahead of Rodriguez and Cevert, but he did not close up on the flying Stewart, who was so far ahead he seemed to be in a race of his own. At the back of the field Stommelen was having a bad time as the steering on his Brabham was very stiff, and the De Tomaso had disappeared into the pits with a broken rear shock-absorber, to have it replaced and re-appear later, while Peterson stopped with a leaking fuel tank in the left-hand sponson, to have it removed completely before carrying on.

Henri Pescarolo leads the midfield pack in his Matra at the 1970 Canadian Grand Prix.

Pescarolo leads the midfield pack

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At twenty laps Stewart was out on his own, Ickx was safely in second place, Regazzoni had passed Cevert and was getting ready to pass Rodriguez, and Amon was with them all. Hulme was a lonely seventh and Pescarolo in eighth place was still holding up Gethin, Beltoise and de Adamich, and Siffert and Brabham had joined the queue. Hill was stirring about trying to find fourth gear and Surtees was ahead of him. Siffert went into the pits followed by a great trail of smoke from a wrecked Cosworth engine on lap 22 and was followed a lap later by Stommelen, who gave up the unequal struggle with his stiff steering. Regazzoni passed Rodriguez and this inspired Amon, who did likewise to Cevert and a lap later to Rodriguez whose BRM now began to lose a bit of its performance and Cevert went by it; so at thirty laps the scene had changed quite a bit. Stewart was still way ahead and well out of sight before Ickx appeared, and he was comfortably ahead of his team-mate, who was followed by Amon with Cevert close behind and then Rodriguez. In seventh place, and with no hope of improvement, came Hulme, then Gethin who had finally taken the plunge and elbowed his way past Pescarolo’s Matra, and this had encouraged Beltoise and de Adamich to do the same, while Surtees was moving up through the lot of them. The Lotus 72 was handling in a strange fashion and a pit-stop revealed a loose wishbone mounting at the rear, and Brabham’s car was losing oil and it was getting on his rear tyres, so he stopped for some new ones as the leak could not be cured.

On lap 32 Stewart’s impressive progress came to an unimpressive halt for the left front stub axle on the Tyrrell chassis broke off and that was that, the brake caliper luckily keeping everything in place, but even so Stewart was kept very busy bringing everything to a stop. He limped round to the pits to retire and watch the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni settle down into a solid first and second triumphal tour, for though Amon was holding on to third place now he was losing touch with the second-place Ferrari. Behind Amon the young Cevert was driving splendidly and giving the New Zealander a bad time and no respite. Before the race there had been a general feeling that not many cars would finish, so that anyone in trouble in the pits made great efforts to effect repairs and come out again. Hill, Oliver, Schenken, Brabham and Peterson all re-appeared after they looked as though they were going to retire. At half-distance it was all over and the traditional procession settled down, the only hope of any changes taking place being unexpected mechanical derangements. The first of these was Hulme’s McLaren, whose clutch stopped working and then all the drive from the engine disappeared, and de Adamich stopped for petrol as the Alfa Romeo-engined car does not hold as much as the other McLarens. Also he had made a rather violent excursion off the road across the rough stuff and stopped to make sure he had not damaged anything. From their practice record it did not seem likely that the Ferraris would break and both drivers were looking very comfortable so that they could literally tour round in complete control of the race. Amon was holding a valiant third place with the works March, but Cevert was all the while looking for an opening to have a go at getting by. On lap 76 he lost a lot of ground and was seen heading for the pits, a rear shock-absorber having broken, and though the Tyrrell mechanics fitted a new one in double-quick time and Cevert rejoined the race, he was back in ninth place after all his earlier efforts. With only three laps to go Rodriguez coasted his BRM into the pits making “thirsty” signs, for he had run out of petrol. A few gallons were quickly put in and he was away, still in fourth place, but now having been lapped by the triumphant Ferraris, who repeated their Austrian Grand Prix performance with an unchallenged first and second. Beltoise was lucky to coast over the line with a nasty jangling noise coming from his clutch and he was five laps down due to two pit-stops to change tyres which the Matra had been scrubbing down badly. Gethin was even luckier for he ran out of fuel just beyond the finishing line. The Rob Walker Lotus 72 was still steering in a strange way and afterwards it was found that the undue loads imposed by the loose wishbone mounting had caused the main rear suspension frame to break.

Jacky Ickx celebrates on the podium afterw inning the 1970 Canadian Grand Prix

Ickx celebrates on the podium

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The Canadian Grand Prix saw Ferrari gain his third successive victory, this time through strength rather than power, and the March team were well satisfied with Amon’s worthy third place and first-placed Cosworth V8 engine.—D. S. J.

4th Canadian Grand Prix – Formula One – 90 laps – St. Jovite – 383.83 kilometres – Warm and sunny
1st:J. Ickx (Ferrari 312B/001) ………………………………. 2 hr. 21 min. 18.4 sec. – 162.974 k.p.h.

2nd:G. Reggazoni (Ferrari 312B/004) …………………….. 2 hr. 21 min. 33.2 sec.

3rd:C. Amon (March 701/1) …………………………………. 2 hr. 22 min. 16.3 sec.

4th:P. Rodriguez (BRM 153/05) ……………………………. 89 laps

5th:J. Surtees (Surtees TS7/001) ………………………….. 89 laps

6th:P. Gethin (McLaren M14A/1) ………………………….. 88 laps

7th:H. Pescarolo (Matra-Simca MS120/02) …………….. 87 laps

8th:J-P. Beltoise (Matra-Simca MS120/03) …………….. 85 laps

9th:F. Cevert (March 701/7) ………………………………… 85 laps

10th:G. Eaton (BRM 153/03) ………………………………. 85 laps

11th:T. Schenken (De Tomaso 505/38/3) ……………….. 79 laps

12th:G. Hill (Lotus 72C/R4) ………………………………… 77 laps

13th:R. Peterson (March 701/8) …………………………… 65 laps

14th:J. Oliver (BRM 153/04) ……………………………….. 52 laps

Fastest lap:G. Regazzoni (Ferrari 312B/004) on lap 75, in 1 min. 32.2 sec. – 166.514 k.p.h.

Retirements:J. Siffert (March 701/5), 22 laps, engine.

R. Stommelen (Brabham BT33/3), 23 laps, steering.

J. Stewart (Tyrrell 001), 31 laps, broken left-front stub axle.

J. Brabham (Brabham BT33/2), 57 laps, oil leak.

D. Hulme (McLaren M14A/2), 59 laps, engine.

A. de Adamich (McLaren M14D/1), 69 laps, engine.


30 starters – 14 finishers.