1974 British Grand Prix

Brands Hatch, July 20th: Britain's World Championship qualifying round arrived at Brands Hatch for its 1974 edition, the bumpy and undulating Kent circuit being just about as far removed from Silverstone's wide open spaces as it is possible to get. The one common factor which this year's race shared with the 1973 Grand Prix was major sponsorship from the John Player tobacco conglomerate, and although the apparently never-ending pressure from their "public relations" men to call the event by a different title was present as usual, their advertising efforts around the country ensured that this year's British Grand Prix attracted enthusiasts and casual onlookers in their droves. Financially it must have proved rewarding for Motor Circuit Developments and fortunately there was very little unruly back-biting between the sponsors, so it was left to the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain to provide the major talking-point of the weekend with an unparalleled display of incompetence in the closing stages of the race.

Amidst the biennial arguments as to just whether the 2.65-mile Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit is a suitable or desirable meeting point for Formula One machinery, practice got under way on the Thursday prior to the race, the CSI having ruled that everyone who wished to come along should "have a crack of the whip" in an attempt to qualify. Whilst the Formula One Association feared that there would be too many cars on the circuit at one time for official practice to be conducted safely, it became pretty obvious from an early stage that the "aces" would sratch round the circuit quicker than the "no hopers" no matter what was in the way and, in any case, everyone would be under the same handicap. Admittedly the pits were rather crowded, but the erection of some temporary structures on the paddock approach road to accommodate the non-Formula One Association members who were not regular members of the Grand Prix circus catered for everyone who wanted to have a try at being a Grand Prix driver: In Sweden one could measure the stature of an individual driver by whether or not the Ferrari timekeepers considered him worthy of one of the free buttons on their complicated, electronic Heuer timing equipment; at Brands Hatch one could judge the people who had been accepted as full-time members of the "circus" by whether they had proper pit facilities or not!

There were several new cars to be seen in the paddock, including Tyrrell 007/3, this new spare for the British team allowing faithful old 006/2 to be finally delivered into the custody of Tom Wheatcroft's Donington Collection. The car was briefly used by Scheckter on the second day, but spent most of its time standing at the end of the pit lane "just in case". Team Lotus still had one of their new 76's on hand, but neither driver went near it all weekend, both Peterson and Ickx preferring to concentrate all their efforts on the 72. Drilled brake discs appeared for the first time on these cars and a weight saving trial was carried out on Ickx's car by the addition of a titanium roll-over hoop. In the Surtees camp there was another extensively modified TS16 (02-3) to be seen with fresh front suspension and rear-mounted water radiators although it differed only very slightly to the cars seen at Dijon.

Race Results


Circuit - Brands Hatch




Fawkham, Kent


Permanent road course


2.65 (Miles)


Niki Lauda (Ferrari 312B3) and Tom Pryce (Shadow DN5A-Ford), 1m21.1, 117.632 mph, F1, 1974 and 1975 respectively