1970 Austrian Grand Prix
- Sunday, August 16, 1970
- Grosser Preis von Osterreich
- F1 World Championship
Zeltweg, Austria, August 16th.
There was a very definite “feeling” in the air as I drove over the mountains towards the centre of Austria, to Zeltweg where the Austrian Grand Prix was to be held on the new Osterreichring. It was to be the first Wold championship Grand Prix to be held on the new circuit, the previous Grand Prix of this season, held in Germany, had seen the new Lotus 72 win its fourth victory in a row, but Ferrari was getting stronger and stronger and challenged the Lotus very seriously at Hockenheim; the cars using Cosworth engines were on the decline as regards engines, for reliability was fast disappearing and replacement parts and overhauls were getting behind schedule. The feeling that the Grand Prix scene was reaching a major change it its history was heightened by both Ferrari and BRM having four cars each at the circuit and three entries each, the Italian team in a strong position with Ickx as leader and Regazzoni and Giunti backing him up well, both having made good impressions in their first season of Grand Prix racing. A very large support force of spectators for Ferrari was pouring in from Norther Italy and the Austrian countryside seemed to be alive with Grand Prix fever, motoring sport in Austria being in the throes of a boom, actively spurred on by the victories of Jochen Rindt, who is regarded as a native of Vienna, even though he was born in Germany and now lives in Switzerland. The Osterreichring was opened last summer with a sports-car meeting and then a 1,000-kilometres sports-car race as part of the Manufacturers’ Championship. It is a permanent circuit carved out of the grass and fir-clad hillside overlooking Zeltweg and the airfield where the old Zeltweg races used to be run, and is one of the better artificial circuits. It follows the contours of the land so that it abounds in steep climbs, sharp descents, falling-away curves and has five completely blind hill-brows, beyond which are fast curves, so that a driver must know exactly where he is going and be precisely “on line”. On each of these brows there are light signals which can be switched on to give warning of incidents happening over the top. If the circuit lacks anything it is a slow corner or a sudden change of direction that calls for maximum braking, but apart from that it is a satisfying circuit on which to drive, while the pits and paddock area are large and spacious and well able to cope with a proper Grand Prix meeting.
All told there were elven hours of practice time available, starting with three hours on the Thursday afternoon before the face, and continuing with four hours on Friday and Saturday afternoons, so that no one could complain that they could not get ready for a one and three-quarter hour race. This being the first Grand Prix event on the new circuit the only standards to go by were those of the previous sports-car races, when the fastest lap was 1 min. 46.6 sec., and it only needed the first afternoon of practice for a bogey time of 1 min. 40 sec. to be established, an average speed of over 212 k.p.h. this was set up by the wo Ferrari new boys, Regazzoni with 1 min. 40.4 sec. and Giunti with 1 min 40.9 sec., both driving flat-12-cylinder Ferrari 312B cars. Ickx missed the first practice and when he did arrive he came with a terrible cold and not feeling too bright. The Yardley-BRM team also missed the first practice due to the transporter arriving too late, but Eaton was able to practice with his own car as it had come on ahead on a trailer. There were twenty-six entries listed altogether and twenty-four arrived, the two forfeits being Hill with Rob Walker entry as their new Lotus 72 was not finished in time and the old 49C had been pensioned off, and Peterson with the Antique Automobiles March 701 through lack on an engine. Most of the teams that were using Cosworth engines were running with their fingers crossed and hoping they would not suffer any breakages for there was a desperate shortage of supplies from Northampton, though some day and night transport driving was bringing some spare engines for some of the teams. The pace that the two Ferrari recruits set in the first afternoon was somewhat demoralising and depressing to a log of their opponents and the Friday practice was a little better, for Ickx joined in and was immediately with the other wo Prancing Horse cars from Maranello. Rindt was a bit late starting practice on Friday as the Lotus 72s had to have their side radiator scoops narrows as a rival team had protested that the overall width of the car was beyond FIA regulations, this being since the cooling scoops were revised after the Spanish Grand Prix and was something the RAC scrutineers missed at the British Gran Prix! (Strange how a car suddenly becomes illegal when it is successful.) Once under way again Rindt was the only possible challenger to the Ferraris and though Regazzoni was fastest for a long time, with 1 min. 39.7 sec. and Ickx was just behind him with 1 min 39.8sec., Rindt raised the Cosworth hopes just before practice finished on Friday afternoon with a lap in 1 min. 39.2 sec. There were the only ones to break the 1 min. 40 sec. barrier, though a few came close, Stewart and Giunti being equal with 1 min. 40.2 sec., though the Italian recorded it first, and Beltoise, Amon and Cevert were close up behind, the young French driver of the second Tyrrell car doing a courageous lap in the slipstream of one of the Ferraris to tow him along to an excellent, if artificial 1 min. 40.9 sec.
Permanent road course
Jacky Ickx (Alfa Romeo T33TT/12), 1m35.81, 138.011 mph, Sports Cars, 1974
First Race1969 Austrian Grand Prix