CSI Formula One
In Milan recently the CSI made some instant decisions concerning Formula One racing as part of a short-term policy, and formulated a group to consider Formula One in the long-term. This “CSI Formula One Group” will consist of the President of the CSI and two representatives each from the CSI, the organisers. the constructors, the sponsors, and the drivers. To take effect from May 2nd next year, the date of the Spanish Grand Prix which is the first World Championship event in Europe, the following details have been announced, the aim being better safety and to reduce the cornering speeds of Formula One cars. (Those in charge of our destinies still think safety is linked with cornering speeds!):
1. Formula One cars must have substantial structures extending forward of the pedals for the protection of the driver’s legs and feet. (A lesson learnt from the accidents to Hailwood and Ashley.)
2. There will have to be a supplementary roll-over bar around the instrument panel and a straight-line from the highest point of this to the highest point of the main roll-over bar must pass over the driver’s helmet. (This is an interesting problem and drivers who “lie low” like Merzario will be at a premium.)
3. Oil coolers and pipes must be protected by deformable structures at least 10 mm. thick, and the oil tank must also have this protective covering. (This could produce oil-temperature probleins.)
4. The maximum overhang of the rear aerofoil, which is at present 1 metre or 100 centimetres behind the centre-line of the rear axle, must be no more than 80 centimetres behind the centre-line. (A cheese-paring, half-hearted decision.)
5. The maximum overhang for any front aerofoil device, which is at present unlimited, is fixed at a maximum of 120 centimetres ahead of the front axle centre-line. (This is fair enough, but Ferrari and McLaren will have to watch it if they continue wheelbase length experiments by altering front wishbone angles fore and aft.)
6. Rear wheels complete with tyres, are limited to a maximum width of 21 in. the wheel diameter being fixed at 13 in.
7. The maximum overall width of a Formula One car is set at 215 centimetres (which should not worry anyone, now that narrow-track cars are in fashion).
8. The maximum height for the engine aircollector box is set at 85 centimetres and 80 centimetres maximum for the top of the orifice. These distances to be measured from the lowest part of the suspended structures. (They must have been talking to Harvey Postlethwaite and looking at the new Hesketh; scrutineering of this should be amusing.)
To round it all up the CSI have decided that they cannot think of a new Formula for Grand Prix racing so the present engine capacity limit of 3-litres will remain in force until December 1981, with the existing limitation of 12 cylinders. On the sports-car and long-distance racing scene a maximum duration of four hours has been imposed except for Le Mans, so that the classic 1000-kilometre races will have to get their skates on if they don’t want to be demoted to the Spa 913 kilometres, or the ADAC 732 kilometres. In spite of this reduction not being popular with the competitors the CSI made the decision, presumably for the good of the sport. (Whatever that might mean.)
Formula One Cars
News has been given forth from France that the Ligier Grand Prix car is rapidly taking shape and the first tests are expected to take place this month with an official presentation in November. The aim is to have the car ready and tested before the Argentine Grand Prix in January, and Jean-Pierre Beltoise is named as the test and development driver, though there are mutterings that Jean-Pierre Jarier will be the number-one driver. It seems a safe bet that the car will be driven by a Jean-Pierre. The money behind this project comes from the French cigarette company Gitanes, who backed Matra last year in Sports Car Racing, and the car will be called the Ligier-Gitanes (the Gs are pronounced “shgee”), though no doubt the media will pass it into the oblivion of initials and call it the LG as they have with Mr. John Player’s Special which they call JPS and we call Lotus. It will he painted in the vivid blue and white of Gitanes cigarette packets, featuring the black silhouette of the dancing gipsy girl. Oh yes, and most important of all, it will be powered by a Matra V12 engine, some of the Matra racing team now working at the Ligier factory in Vichy. The whole project is very much an all-French affair and speculation is rife that it might even be on French racing tyres.
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In the August issue of Motor Sport there was.a small and unobtrusive announcement among the advertisements supporting our 50th Anniversary saying that Dan Gurney’s All American Racers are hoping to return to Grand Prix racing. More than that I do not know, but ever since Gurney returned to his native land he has said he would like to return to Grand Prix racing with his own cars, no longer as a driver of course, but as constructor and entrant of the AAR-Eagles. This year they won the Indianapolis 500-mile race with Bobby Unser driving, but for me it has always been a note of regret that Dan Gurney himself never won the “500”, for he always typified the “real American racing driver” and his natural place seemed to be on the winner’s rostrum at Indianapolis. He has probably been looking at the efforts of the Penske and Parnelli teams to break into Grand Prix racing, and saying to himself, “Goshdarn, if I couldn’t do better’n that. I wouldn’t try”. Now and again long letters pass between Gurney and myself, discussing Grand Prix racing, where it has come from, where it is now and where it is going, and Gurney has said more than once: “What are you guys doing to Grand Prix racing over there?” referring to continual messing-up of circuits in the name of the great god, Safety. Nurburgring was always Gurney’s idea of a true Grand Prix circuit and he used to say that if the Formula One brigade want to race on flat Autodromes why don’t they go to Indianapolis. Come to think of it a lot of them did, and came back with a lot of ideas that altered the Grand Prix scene. Remember how we used to laugh at the “Snap Easy Tab-Washer Special”, saying why don’t they call it a Watson-Offenhauser or whatever it really was, and how we did not really believe they stopped racing when it rained ? Nor did we like to believe the stories about car-sponsors making the rules and having an interest in race organisation. Of course, it hasn’t come true in Europe, we wouldn’t let America influence European Grand Prix racing, would we? When I first took a close interest in Indianapolis the whole entry was dominated by four-cylinder Offenhauser-powered specials, with the odd renegade using some way-out engine. like the Novi-V8 or the six-cylinder Sparkes-Thorne. There was a time when a lone straight-eight Maserati car, built in its entirety in a small factory in Bologna, beat all the Offy-powered specials. Strange how things go the full circle. At Monza last month a 12-cylinder Ferrari, built in its entirety in a factory in Maranello, beat all the Cosworth-powered specials. With the exception of renegades like Ferrari, BRM and Matra the whole Grand Prix scene is made up of specials built round one type of engine, the Cosworth DFV, and it looks like going down in history like the old Offenhauser four-cylinder.
Indianapolis led the way on a number of good things that are now part of Grand Prix racing, like alloy wheels, aerodynamic devices, side radiators, disc brakes, slick tyres, to name but a few. It was Gurney’s advertisement that sparked off this diatribe on Indianapolis, but nevertheless I am sure he will be most welcome back on the European Grand Prix circuits, or what is left of them.
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The Canadian Grand Prix, which should have been held in September, was cancelled because the organisers and the Formula One Constructors could not agree financial terms. All the Formula One teams in the Constructors’ Union do a “package deal” with race organisers, and they are very strong and united; those who are not in the Union are a minority and only fill the back of the grids anyway. There was not enough money being offered so they all refused to enter for the Canadian Grand Prix, and when the offer was increased they did not waver from their original decision. Quite rightly, they said they had made a decision not to support the Canadian race and were going to stick by it. Nowadays too many decisions are made by committees or unions and then revoked and certain aspects of motor racing live in a continual air of uncertainty. However, there is a feeling that there was more in the Constructors’ boycott of the Canadian race than met the eye, and with some members of that illustrious body you can guarantee that what they say and what they think are two different things. Don’t be surprised if in the future the Canadian Grand Prix is replaced by one in California, Japan or the Middle East. Lots of people want to get on the band-wagon of Formula One race organising, especially after seeing the spectator attendances at Silverstone, Nurburgring and Osterreichring, and the Canadian race was never very popular or for that matter very successful.
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Many people think the advent of sponsors or, more correctly, the use of motor racing by the advertising world, is the millenium. Recently a Formula One team was still awaiting the promised multiple thousands of pounds from one of its sponsors, a private owner was still awaiting some thousands of pounds from his sponsor, and a small Club was still waiting for their promised hundreds of pounds, from a sponsor. In all three spheres the advertisers had received the promised publicity for which they were prepared to pay, except that they forgot to pay! Sponsorship is not the be-all and end-all of successful racing. — D.S.J.