1974 Dutch Grand Prix
- Sunday, June 23, 1974
- Grote Prijs van Nederland
- F1 World Championship
Zandvoort, June 23rd: The Grand Prix scene moved from the flat Anderstorp circuit in Sweden to the undulating Zandvoort circuit in Holland in a period of two weeks, and between times quite a lot happened. Team Lotus called in at Zandvoort on their way back from Sweden and had Peterson test the Lotus 76-JPS/9 and promptly had an accident when some experimental brake pads gave trouble. The Lotus was quite badly damaged and the Swede was knocked a bit unconscious, but otherwise escaped injury, and was all fit and ready to go again when everyone gathered for the Dutch Grand Prix. During the intervening period there had been a bit of a shin-dig at high levels involving the CSI, the Formula One Constructors Association and the Dutch organisers, over who should be invited to qualify and who should not. On the practical side of things, such as paddock and pit space, circuit length, practice time available and so on, there are beginning to be too many aspiring Formula One contestants for the situation, but this indicates that the racing scene is outgrowing the circuit scene, so that the circuits should be enlarged, not the entries reduced, and certainly not reduced by “closed shop” union methods such as the Formula One Constructors are trying to do. The CSI, pressured strongly by the RAC, came out on the side of freedom and liberty and said that anyone and everyone should be given the chance to qualify for the starting grid of a Grand Prix, the number of starters being dependent on the length of the circuit, as always, and that any organiser who refused to do this would not be granted World Championship status next year. If the pits or paddock are not big enough for the current scene then they should be enlarged. This little argy-bargy cleared the air a bit and put certain “entrepreneurs”, who think they ought to be running the scene, in their right and proper place.
The number of cars permitted to run on the Zandvoort circuit is 25, and a total of 28 drivers were milling around the pits ready to start practice, with some 38 cars between them, but when practice got under way at mid-day on Friday June 21st there were only 27 drivers active. John Surtees and Carlos Pace were in the throes of a personality conflict, not surprising after Pace’s childish showing in Sweden, with the result that the Brazilian was standing about idly while his car, Surtees TS16/03, never left the paddock. In the BRM pit Pescarolo had gone all temperamental because Beltoise wanted to try both of the new P201 cars, which left the three-times Le Mans winner with an old P160 BRM, so he wandered off in a gloom. Everyone else was either happy, like the Ferrari team, confident like the Tyrrell team, optimistic like the Hesketh team or hopeful like the Graham Hill Lola team. There were no revolutionary breakthroughs on the mechanical scene, but lots of detail work had been done before the event, and there were some personnel changes. Lotus were relying on their two usual 72 models for Peterson and Ickx, the cars scintillating like never before in new coats of black and gold John Player paint, while Lotus 76-JPS/10 was ready for Ickx to experiment with, having its water radiators mounted much further forward, just behind the front wheels, with new side ducting. The Tyrrell pair, Scheckter and Depailler, had their usual cars, with the Donington Collection’s Tyrrell 006/2 in the paddock for emergency use, and among the detail experiments they were trying were some extended shrouds over the side-mounted water radiators on Depailler’s car. Fittipaldi and Hulme had the Texaco-Marlboro supported works McLarens with their usual variety of instant adjustments to wheelbase, rear end geometry and aerofoil position, while Fittipaldi’s car, M23/5 had new inlet trumpets to its Cosworth engine, bringing them closer together towards the centre of the car to allow a new slimmer and smoother air-collector box. The spare car was marked down to Fittipaldi, while the “show-car” was lying in the sand in the entrance road to the circuit, with Dutch enthusiasts climbing all over it. The Brabham team had their usual trio of BT44 cars for Reutemann and von Opel, with Pace sniffing round to see if he could fit into a Brabham. In conjunction with Goodyear Reutemann was trying some new tyres on 10 inch diameter rims, that really did look like cotton-reels. Stuck and Brambilla were in the works March cars and Regazzoni and Lauda had Ferrari 014 and 015, respectively, with 011 standing by as a spare, with Regazzoni’s number on it, but it was never used. The rear aerofoils on the Ferraris had a new trailing edge shape, which was of vee formation, but the engineers did not seem to be letting on as to why. BRM were still trying to run three cars, with their two P201 models, and P160/10, for Beltoise, Pescarolo and Migault, and the Shadow team had three cars but were content to run only two drivers, Jarier being joined by the Welshman Torn Pryce taking Redman’s place. Team Surtees had made a big effort to get rid of the Shambles Trophy, and had a brand new car ready to go. A sizeable amount of weight had been transferred to the rear, by moving the battery to a mounting behind the gearbox, and making new water radiators that lay across the rear of the car, just under the rear aerofoil. This allowed a much smoother and longer nose cowling, devoid of openings, and the flat extensions on the cockpit sides had been done away with. In addition the front suspension geometry had been revised and all in all it was hoped that this new car, TS16/05 for Jochen Mass, would not suffer the same dreaded understeer of which the drivers were complaining. An indication of the situation in the team was that John Surtees had entered himself as driver in the spare car, TS16/04, but he never showed signs of taking up the option. Frank Williams was happy to have the effervescent Merzario back in the cockpit, even though his damaged hand was still not fully mended, and in the second Williams car, Gijs van Lennep was having a go at qualifying for his own Grand Prix, all part of the Williams “fluid-team, sponsored by Marlboro”. Teddy Yip was happily putting some Eastern hieroglyphics on Maurice Nunn’s Ensign MN02, which spelt out Theodore Racing, for those who understood Chinese or Japanese, or just plain fretwork, and Schuppan was driving as usual, and next to them Ron Tauranac had the Trojan for Tim Schenken, with a new full-width front aerofoil above the nose, like a Ferrari, among other mods in the search of raceworthiness of a new design. M’Lord Hesketh was back to strength with his two Hesketh cars for Hunt, but the prototype 308/1 was strictly an emergency spare and not a time-wasting alternative to 308/2. Hill and Edwards had their usual three immaculate Lolas, sponsored by Embassy, and the lonesome Hailwood with his Yardley McLaren was alongside the other works McLarens in spirit if not colour.
There was more than sufficient time for practice, and most people put in a phenomenal number of laps in getting ready for the 75-lap race. Most of Friday and Saturday was given over to practice, with a break halfway through to collect up any derelict cars, and for a general gathering of the breath. A strong wind along the main straight made the drivers keep their heads down, and aerofoil “experts” were fiddling with their fins and wings and things, trying to cut down drag along the straight without losing out on down-force round the corners. However, the main thing that everyone was doing was to try and see which way the two Ferraris had gone, for Regazzoni and Lauda powered off into the distance from the word go, leaving all the Cosworth runners breathless, while the BRM team hardly seemed to be breathing at all. Poor old Surtees was still in trouble for just when Mass was getting all enthusiastic about the new car the Cosworth engine sprung an oil leak and the stocky German had to revert to the practice car, and as the team juggled with the stick on numbers, the time-keepers and few others had much idea of what Surtees car was doing what. BRM were also confusing the time-keepers by changing numbers about on their three cars, using 14, 14T, 15, 37 and 37T between their three drivers, not that it had any effect on the overall scene. As expected it was “never-say-die” Peterson who was hard on the heels of the two Ferraris in the first half of practice, with 1 min. 20.22 sec., but it was a fair distance from the red cars, which had done 1 min. 19.51 sec. and 1 min. 19.71 sec., respectively, for Regazzoni and Lauda. During the breathing space it was clear that a lap in under 1 min. 20 sec. was the aim for any Cosworth-powered driver, if he was to keep the Ferraris in sight, and after the break Scheckter did just that, with 1 min. 19.91 sec., but Lauda had rewritten the standards with a lap in 1 min. 18.91 sec., so everyone had to have another think. While Peterson was trying hard to keep the Lotus flag flying Ickx was doing some test driving with the Lotus 76 and it was beginning to show promise, though the Belgian was not over-enthusiastic about it.
Permanent road course
Niki Lauda (Brabham BT46-Alfa Romeo), 1m19.57, 118.809 mph, F1, 1978
First Race1948 Zandvoort Grand Prix