1973 Dutch Grand Prix

Grote Prijs van Nederland

Sunday, July 29, 1973
Dry and overcast
Fastest Lap:
Peterson, 1m20.31
1973 season:

An unhappy affair

The Dutch Grand Prix got off to a bad start when the mechanics arrived in the racing transporters the day before practice was due to begin and found that they could not get into the paddock as workmen were still building it. This was part of a huge facelift that Zandvoort was undergoing, for last year it lost its permit to hold the Grand Prix as the CSI decided that the safety requirements were not up to scratch. After a lot of haggling, agreement was reached, the money was raised, a 15-year lease was signed and the NAV, the Nederlands Autorensport Vereniging took over the whole project. In a matter of a few months the track was cleaned up, widened, resurfaced and completely lined with steel guard rails in direct contrast to the previous safety measures which had catch nets round most of the corners. On the fast back side of the circuit, after the East Tunnel bend, a new second gear corner was built, this corner dropping away slightly as it turned right and then running into an opening-out left-hand bend which provided a fast entry into the righthand sweep onto the finishing straight. The sand dunes had been cleared away from the edges of the track giving a wide run-off area at most places and bevelled curbs had been put in at a number of crucial points, but for the rest of the circuit the new tarmac merely butted up to the sand and soil edging. The pits had been moved back (for the third time now in Zandvoort's history) to give a wider pit lane, and the paddock was lengthened. The entry to the pits from the main straight was down a veritable tunnel of guard-rail, so that anyone allergic to steel must have felt very uncomfortable. As the surface of the circuit looked good, and the edges and safety measures looked all right everyone was tolerant of the fact that time had run out and the pits and paddock were not finished. Practice was due at 12.30 on Friday and the rain started to fall, and it went on raining all day. Some places are almost tolerable in the rain, but Zandvoort is not one of them for you are always conscious of the gloomy North Sea just behind the grandstand and the depressing wind that is always blowing makes rainy conditions really bad. Hunt in the Hesketh March and Stewart in the experimental Tyrrell were among the first to brave the elements, the wedge-nose on the side-radiator Tyrrell having less of a point at the front, with a protruding lower lip. Follmer would have liked to have joined in with his UOP-Shadow rebuilt after its Silverstone accident, but while the engine was being warmed up the camshaft driving belt broke, so that he never did get out in the rain, even though there were two sessions of practice. Under cover of the large tent attached to the side of the transporter the UOP mechanics were finishing off a brand new car with a completely new rear suspension on more orthodox lines than the normal Shadow layout. Instead of the integral lower wishbone and rearward running radius rod, there was now a simple wishbone locating the bottom of the upright and a separate radius arm running forwards, with a parallel one above it to the top of the upright. Although the car was worked on all day it never got running and the other team member, Oliver, was using his usual car, it having been straightened out after his Silverstone starting-line accident.