1972 Monaco Grand Prix
- Sunday, May 14, 1972
- Grand Prix de Monaco
- F1 World Championship
With the race at Monaco taking place only two weekends after the Spanish Grand Prix there was not much time for any startling new changes to take place, so that the scene when practice started at Monaco on Thursday afternoon was very similar to that which we saw at Jarama. Those teams that had returned en bloc to their factories were back again, renewed and fresh, while those who stayed at Jarama for preparation and then trekked direct to Monaco all arrived in good time, thought not all in good order for the John Player/Lotus team transporter had been badly damaged when a Spanish driver had crashed head-on into it north of Barcelona. Hastily-hired vans had to be acquired and everything unloaded and taken to Monaco in a bit of a shambles. With the Indianapolis 500-Mile race qualifications starting on the same weekend as the Monte Carlo race, there were some small, but significant changes in the overall scene. Ferrari entered only two cars, for Ickx and Regazzoni as Andrctti was committed to Indianapolis, and the McLaren team had got themselves well organised, dividing their forces to allow Revson to concentrate on Indianapolis and Hulme to concentrate on Monaco, so that neither of them had to get involved in tiring transatlantic flights. For this race Revson’s place was taken by Redman, straight from his victorious drive at Spa. The BRM team did a minor shuffle with their motley collection of drivers, substituting Marko for Soler-Roig but keeping their strength up to five. Otherwise, everything was as it was in Spain, even to the non-appearance of the Tecno flat-12, though this time both Galli and Bell had been tentatively entered.
The most important happening was a complete reconstruction of the chicane onto the harbour quayside and of the pit and paddock layout. Previously the temporary paddock was set up in a large garage just behind the starting-line area, but now it was moved to a large underground garage on the sea front far beyond the circuit at the opposite end to the starting line, and the pits were moved from the central island on the up-and-down leg to the Gasometer hairpin, to the harbour quayside and the old chicane at the foot of the hill after the tunnel now became the entrance to the pit road. The circuit itself continued straight on from the foot of the tunnel hill along past the pits and joined the harbour quayside by way of a very tight single-car chicane very close to the Tabac corner. Exit from the separated pit lane was by a gate at the new chicane and this was controlled by a red and green light signal which was operated by Vic Elford suitably placed on the apex of the chicane so that he could see into the pit lane and right back up the course almost to the exit from the tunnel. This new layout was first-class but for one thing, and that was that none of the paying spectators could see what was happening at the pits, and a lot of people had spent a lot of money for seats in the grandstands by the starting line for the express purpose of watching the pits activity especially during practice.
After a certain amount of argy-bargy and manoeuvring by vested interests and buck-passing by officialdom it was agreed that 25 cars would be allowed on the starting grid and hence no qualification other than to decide the order of the two-by-two grid. Fortunately, with Tecno withdrawing, there were only twenty-five drivers assembled for practice so the whole affair was settled and practice began on Thursday afternoon, albeit a bit late due to the wrangling, but it ended exactly as scheduled so the wranglers were the losers. There were 30 cars in the pits eventually so the new arrangements with more counter space and more road space was much appreciated by everyone (except the poor spectators). The BRM team, not quite so deep in the red and white publicity machine of Marlboro cigarettes as previously, had shuffled their cars and drivers so that team leader Beltoise stayed with P160/01, but Gethin forsook the P180 and took P160/03, which have been driven by Soler-Roig in Spain; it was Ganley’s turn to have a race in the 1972 model so he took P180/02, which had been the spare car for Beltoise in Spain and which had done the testing the day after the race. Wisell had a change of car, having bent the one he drove in Spain, and had P160/04, which Ganley had driven in Spain, and Marko had a bit of a special, comprising the front half of P153/03 with P160 components forming the rear half, so it was called P153/03. The ELF Team Tyrrell had the usual three Tyrrell cars, 002, 003 and 004, the only change being that Stewart had opted to race the latest one and use his usual one as a training car. Lotus had no problems, their drivers sticking to their usual cars, Fittipaldi in 72D/R7 and Walker in 72D/R5, and the Ecclestone team likewise were uncomplicated with Hill in the 1972 Brabham BT37/1 and Wilson Fittipaldi in Brabham BT33/3. Ferrari prepared the three cars they had used in Madrid, except that there was something odd about the handling of the latest one, No. 8, that Regazzoni had driven in Madrid, so he took over No. 5 again, that Andretti had used in Madrid, the latest car being brought as a spare, Ickx being in No. 6 as usual. The works March drivers were still prepared to struggle with the X-versions of the 721, trying another type of limited-slip mechanism in the differential, and Peterson had 721/1 with the conventional Hewland gearbox layout as a training car. The Matra team had the same two cars for Amon, MS120C/06 being intended as the car for the race, but after practice they decided to use MS120C/04, with a lot of the parts off 06 built on to it. The McLaren team did a rather similar thing for Hulme, M19C/1 being intended for the race, with M19A/1 as a training car, but after Hulme had made identical times in both of them they amalgamated parts of M19A/1, such as the gearbox and aerofoil, onto the new car. Redman drove M19A/2 which is Revson’s normal car. The Williams team and the Eifelland team had no problems, Pescarolo and Pace having the dark blue Marches, 712/3 and 711/3, respectively, and Stommelen had the Eifelland modified March 721/4, now with special alloy wheels of their own design. Finally the Surtees team were as in Spain, except that John Surtees was back from Japan to listen to any complaints, and to complete the list Beuttler was trying again with the neat little March 721G, this time being guaranteed a position on the starting grid.