1975 F1 World Championship
- F1 World Championship
Niki Lauda had promised to dominate Grand Prix racing in 1974, only to be thwarted by mechanical failures. There was no such ill fortune in 1975 for Lauda delivered Ferrari its first World Championship since 1964. Designer Mauro Forghieri introduced the 312T with transverse gearbox (hence the “T” designation) to improve weight distribution. The combination of Lauda and Ferrari proved irresistible, and his five wins were backed up by Clay Regazzoni’s victory at Monza.
McLaren won three times, with two of the victories coming in shortened races. The British GP was stopped when a downpour sent 12 cars sliding into the catch fencing. Emerson Fittipaldi took the win. Of the top six classified finishers, only two were still running at the flag!
Fittipaldi’s new team-mate Jochen Mass scored the only Grand Prix win of his career in the tragic Spanish GP at the end of April. Practice had been disrupted by protests from the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association that the Montjuich Park circuit, particularly its barriers, was unsafe. Their fears were realised when race leader Rolf Stommelen crashed over the barrier, killing a spectator, a marshal and two photographers. Lella Lombardi became the only woman in GP history to finish in the points when she was classified sixth in the race. It was also the first time that reduced points were awarded, since less than half of the race had been completed.
Torrential rain also shortened the Austrian GP and again forced the reduction of points. Vittorio Brambilla celebrated his only victory by crashing over the finish line! Tragedy had marred the event when a high-speed puncture caused Mark Donohue to crash in practice with fatal consequences.
James Hunt’s Hesketh beat Lauda in a tremendous Dutch GP, but the financial burden of running a team without major sponsorship forced team patron Lord Hesketh to quit F1 at the end of the year. The Hesketh marque continued in Grand Prix racing but it would never be a force again. Jody Scheckter and Tyrrell won in Sweden but Lotus endured a fruitless year.
Brabham continued to improve with both Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace winning races for the Martini-sponsored team. Pace’s victory in the Brazilian GP would be the only one of his career, while Reutemann won at the Nurburgring. Jean-Pierre Jarier showed sensational early-season form for Shadow, qualifying on pole for the South American races but the Frenchman was denied victory in Brazil by mechanical failure. Although Welsh team-mate Tom Pryce started from pole in Britain, his promise did not translate into race wins either.
The year ended in yet another tragedy. Graham Hill had run an Embassy-sponsored team for two seasons and he retired from the cockpit in May to concentrate on managing the concern and possibly the best young driver of the time, Tony Brise. But the new team came to an abrupt end in November, when the light plane flown by Hill crashed in fog near Elstree airfield when returning from testing at Circuit Paul Ricard. Both Hill and Brise were killed, together with designer Andy Smallman and three mechanics.
Firestone withdrew from Formula 1 early in the season, leaving Goodyear as the sole tyre supplier, and the Owen Racing Organisation ended its backing of BRM.