1970 Italian Grand Prix
- Sunday, September 6, 1970
- Gran Premio d'Italia
- F1 World Championship
Monza, Italy, September 6th.
After the sweeping victory in Austria the whole of Italy was behind Ferrari for the Italian Grand Prix, to be held over 68 laps of the Monza road circuit, and even on the day before official practice began there were enough spectators, to watch the testing that was going on, to keep a lot of race organisers happy. Ferrari had done all their pre-race testing the previous week, during which Giunti had had a nasty moment when a tyre deflated at full speed through the Ascari curve on the back of the circuit. Although the car was damaged it was mended in time for the official practice on the Friday before the race, so that the vast crowd that turned out to watch on the Thursday before race day had to be content with the BRM team, the new Tyrrell car, the Matra team and the BelIasi, with Stewart having to go in a works Matra-Simca V12. There were 28 entries on the official list and as the Italians are not party to the Geneva Agreement which guarantees 10 entries for named drivers, their accepted 20 cars for the Monza grid was to be the fastest 20 irrespective of name or stature; if you were fast enough you were in, if not you were out, World Champion or no World Champion. The Tyrrell Racing Organisation had entered Stewart in a March, entry number 18, and the new Tyrrell car, entry number 16, so that there were in fact 27 entries vying for the 20 places, and with the grid being a two-by-two affair, instead of the more usual three-two-three arrangement, battles for both ends of the grid could be expected to enliven practice.
After the Austrian race the general feeling was that the Ferrari team would set the pace and everyone else would try to hang on to the “tow” provided by their slipstream. Matra even announced that they were prepared to let Beltoise and Pescarolo go 500 r.p.m. over the limit in order to benefit from any slipstreaming, though they did not say “to keep up with the Ferraris”. There was an additional feeling that Enzo Ferrari would run four cars and a certain amount of relief when it was known that Andretti was tied-up in America with USAC racing and “Nanni” Galli was having a second McLaren-Alfa Romeo to support de Adamich. As practice got under way on Friday afternoon, due to run from 3 p.m. to 6.30 p.m., with a one-hour break in the middle, one of the largest concentrations of first-time Grand Prix cars was assembled in the paddock. Ferrari had his four cars, two for Ickx and the others for Regazzoni and Giunti, these being 001, 003, 004 and 002, respectively, while the Yardley-BRM team also had four cars for their three drivers, two for Rodriguez and the others for Oliver and Eaton, being 153/06 with the new V12 engine with improved cylinder heads, and 153/05 for the team leader and 153/04 and 153/03, respectively, for the others. Surtees had two of his own cars to experiment with, TS7/001, the successful Gold Cup winner, and TS7/002, a brand new car, differing only in details such as shock absorbers, rear suspension geometry and material specifications. Stewart had the choice of the new Tyrrell car or his usual March 701/4 and Cevert had March 701/7 as usual, and Gold Leaf Team Lotus had three Lotus 72 models, all to the latest specification, Rindt and Miles in their usual cars, and Fittipaldi in R5, a brand new one. Supporting the works trio of Lotus 72 cars was Hill with R4, the Brooke Bond Oxo Lotus 72 that made its debut at Oulton Park in August. The McLaren team had arrived with just about everything they possessed, the two Cosworth-powered cars M14A/2 and M14A/1 for Hulme and Gethin, the Alfa Romeo-powered M14D/1 for de Adamich and the old M7D/1 resurrected with another Alfa Romeo engine for Galli. The Matra team, the March team and the Brabham team were unchanged from the Austrian race, the pairs of drivers and pairs of cars being as then. To complete the entry were Schenken with the works De Tomaso, Peterson with Crabbe’s March, Moser with his Bellasi and Bonnier with the ex-Surtees McLaren Cosworth M7C/1, though the last entry missed the first day of practice. The weather was superb and as everyone anticipated it was the Ferrari team that set the pace, with Ickx well below the existing lap record of 1 min. 25.2 sec, set last year by Beltoise with an MS80 Matra. However, the true standard was the 1 min. 24:8 sec. set up by Elford with the first of the 5-litre Porsche 917 sports cars back last April, and in the first practice period Ickx was the only one to improve on this, with 1 min. 24.61 sec. Matra were experimenting with extra fuel tanks mounted on the ledges on each side of the cockpit on their cars, to try and solve the problem that lost them third place in the Austrian Grand Prix, and the Brabhams had air boxes, with forward-facing intakes, on the top of the intakes of their Cosworth engines, that looked remarkably like those on the Lotus 72. In an effort to keep pace with the Ferraris most people were removing nose fins and rear aerofoils, to reduce air drag and gain speed on the straights even if it did make the cars a little bit twitchy under braking and rather “nervous” on the corners. The Ferraris were rather rubbing in their power superiority by running in full aerodynamic trim, as raced all season, while Stewart’s March and even Rindt’s Lotus 72 were stripped off and looking very unfinished and strange. The new Tyrrell car was missing for the first part of Friday afternoon, but appeared after the hour break, and had not gone far before it died and Stewart came running back to the pits to continue practice with the March. The spare BRM with the new engine had the wrong gear ratios to begin with and these were changed during the interval and Rodriguez was soon out when practice resumed, but he showed a preference for his old car. Fittipaldi was out in the third of the works Lotus 72 models for the first time and while still learning his way along in it he got involved with a bunch of more experienced drivers and tried to stay with them on braking for the South Curve and lost control, going straight on into the bank, escaping unhurt but damaging the Lotus beyond immediate repair.
Permanent road course
Francois Cevert (Matra-Simca MS670), 1m21.9, 157.055 mph, Sports Cars, 1973
First Race1922 Italian Grand Prix