Notes on the cars at Nurburgring

The McLaren team completed the rebuilding of the car that Jochen Mass crashed at Zandvoort and it was taken to Nurburgring for him to race; this was M23/8, but in the Saturday morning practice session he tried just a bit too hard and crashed heavily, damaging the car beyond immediate repair. In consequence of this he used the spare car, M23/4, for the final practice session and also for the race. On the first lap of the race near Adenatter Forst, Mass crashed once more, said to be due to a tyre deflation. This was another spectacular high-speed accident, with the car bouncing along the guard rails and M23/4 was reduced to virtual scrap like its sister M23/8. In both crashes Mass was completely unhurt, which says much for the structural strength of the McLaren monocoque chassis.

In the Silverstone multiple accident Scheckter’s car, Tyrrell 007/6, suffered a badly damaged monocoque which proved to be a write-off, so the car was rebuilt around a new monocoque chassis and thus took on the number 007/6-2. In the Nurburgring race Scheckter crashed heavily, at very high speed, because he thought something broke at the back end of the car. The car was very severely damaged but the driver escaped unhurt. The second car in the Tyrrell team for Nurburgring was 007/4, that had suffered only a mild excursion off the road at Silverstone. On its first practice lap at the Nurburgring, driven by Depailler as usual, the lower mounting for a front spring broke, thought to be a legacy from the Silverstone incident, though it was surprising a hair-line crack escaped inspection during race preparation. In the Nurburgring race 007/4 split one of the spring-operating rocker-arms of the front suspension, but Depailler was able to get back to the pits where another rocker arm was fitted and the car finished the race. The spare Tyrrell was 007/5 and was only used for the second practice session by Depailler, while his own car was being repaired.

Team Lotus suffered a major set-back when it was found that Henton’s car in the Silverstone accident was beyond immediate repair. This was 72/R5, the car raced earlier by Jacky Ickx, so the team were reduced to only two cars for the Nurburgring, Peterson as usual being in 72/R9, in short wheelbase form and to 1973 specification as far as possible, while John Watson joined the team in 72/R8, with long wheelbase and coil spring rear suspension. In the race Watson had an operating link in the front suspension break and though it happened at very high speed he was able to bring the car to rest without any damage.

After the Silverstone incident the Brabharn team found that Pace’s car, BT44B/2 was beyond repair, so he took over BT44B/4 for the German race, Reutemann staying with BT44B/1 and the spare car as usual being BT44B/3. In the race Pace’s car suffered a flat tyre and he drove back to the pits, which may have damaged the rear upright which later broke and put him out of the race. The March ream were in surprisingly good form, none of their cars being damaged in the Silverstone incident, and on the second day of practice, and for the race, Brambilla’s car had a normal rear aerofoil in place of the special Silverstone one. This car was 751/3 and Stuck was in 751/2 and Lombardi in 751/1.

The Scuderia Ferrari rang the changes on their line-up of 1975 cars, taking 021, for Regazzoni, 022 for Lauda and 018 as the spare car, though it was never used. As is normal for the Italian team engines and gearboxes were changed before the race. In the Shadow transporter was a brand new car, DN7/1A, following the lines of the DN5 series, but fitted with a Matra V12 engine and heavyweight Hewland gearbox. The French engine is used as a stressed member, like a Cosworth V8, bolting on to the rear bulkhead of the monocoque, but due to the extra length of the Matra engine, tubular stays brace the rear of the engine diagonally forwards to the outer edges of the monocoque. Jean-Pierre Jarier was looking forward to driving this new car, but the management decided not to run it as they felt they had little enough time to get the DN5 cars set-up for the Nurburgring, so the Shadow-Matra was left in the transporter. The team cars were DN5/2A for Pryce, DN5/4A for Jarier and DN5/3A as the spare, as usual, and Pryce used the spare for a time in practice when his own car refused to run cleanly.

With a shortage of engines restricting his Silverstone entry to a single car, and that retiring early in the race, Frank Williams was back to full strength for the German GP, with Laffite in FW/04 and Ian Ashley in FW/03, but unfortunately the new driver flew off the road on Saturday in the final practice, suffering ankle injuries and demolishing the front of the car. In the Hill team Tony Brise crashed the spare car on Saturday morning, when a tyre deflated, and damaged the right-front suspension and steering, but it was repairable. In the race, in GH1/1, he crashed again, this time much more heavily, due, he thought, to something breaking and the car was virtually a write-off.

The Hesketh team had their brand new C-type 308 car in the paddock and Hunt did one practice lap in it, but like the Shadow team the Hesketh management decided to concentrate on the older car, there not really being sufficient practice time to experiment with the new car. Hunt raced 308/2 until the driving pegs to a rear wheel sheared off. The original Hesketh, number 308/1, previously driven by Alan Jones for Harry Stiller, changed hands recently, bought by German journalist Harald Ertl. From the Stiller blue it changed to the gold colour of Warstein beer who were sponsoring the bearded German driver. Despairing of curing their troubles with breakages in the drive to the inboard brakes of the Parnelli car, the Vels-Parnelli team fitted out VPJ4/003 with an outboard mounted brake set-up as used on their USAC cars. The complete assembly was sent over from America and bolted straight on to the Formula One car. The air-scoops in the bodywork for the inboard brake layout were taped over with the simple word GONE written on them. The spare car, VPJ4/001, still retained the inboard set-up, but it was not used during practice.

The Penske team were still running their March 751, Wilson Fittipaldi was using the newer of his two cars, van Lennep was driving the latest Ensign, and Tony Trimmer drove the Japanese Maki, suffering a slight excursion off the road in the last practice session when a wheel collapsed. The BRM team withdrew its single entry for Bob Evans, there still not being enough horsepower coming from the Aubrey Woods designed V12 engine, and John Surtees withdrew his entry for John Watson due to a shortage of engines after wrecking two at Silverstone as well as suffering damaged cars in the multiple pile-up. As a temporary measure John Watson was released to drive for Team Lotus.—D.S.J.