1974 German Grand Prix
- Sunday, August 4, 1974
- Grosser Preis von Deutschland und Europa
- F1 World Championship
Nürburgring, August 4th: For what it was worth the German Grand Prix was given the title of the European Grand Prix this year, a dubious honour it last received in 1968. As long as it remains a 14 mile-per-lap drive round the Eifel mountains the Nürburgring will always remain the Nürburgring, no matter how much it is smoothed out, widened or made easier, for the better the circuit gets the more exacting is a fast lap and seven minutes was the aim that a lot of people had in their sights for a lap time when they began to assemble in the paddock. The last piece of tidying up had been completed, this being the long undulating straight from Dottinger Hohe to the “chicane” at Tiergarien which had been widened and resurfaced, one bridge removed completely and another removed and replaced with a better one. The result was a much smoother passage along the straight, with no chance of becoming airborne. An arbitrary figure of 25 starters had been chosen, for reasons best known to the financial wizards of the Formula One Constructors Association, and 31 drivers were ready for practice. Among the new faces on the scene were Howden Ganley with the Japanese British Kit-Car called the Maki, Chris Amon making a return with his own car much modified since it last appeared, with the front brakes inboard once again, the water radiators on each side of the engine and new aerofoils front and rear as well as “a million other mods”. The Token of Ray Jessop was being driven by Ian Ashley, Derek Bell was driving the second Surtees, Jacques Lafitte was driving the second Williams and Edwards was back in the second Embassy-Lola, more or less recovered from his F5000 accident. Mechanically there was nothing startlingly new, though BRM had finished off a third P201, which Pescarolo took over, Ferrari had a brand new 312B3 which Regazzoni was using and Brabhams had built a fourth BT44 which the Hexagon mechanics were finishing off for John Watson. Everyone else was with their usual car, the Lotus team having the modified Type 76-JPS/10 as a training and test car for Peterson, while Scheckter had the use of Tyrrell 007/5 as a test car. Fittipaldi was using the latest McLaren, M23/8, with the new rear suspension using parallel links at the bottom instead of a reverse wishbone and the Marlboro-Texaco team’s spare car, M23/5, had also been changed to this layout. The Surtees team with their Mark 3 versions of the TS16 had new full-width front aerofoils to try out in practice and Ferrari confused everyone by turning their rear aerofoils through 180-degrees, the Vee edge, which was the trailing edge, now becoming the the leading edge. This they did on 016, the new car, and 012 which was Lauda’s car, but the “Muletto” which was 014, kept the old wing layout.
First practice was on Friday, more or less for three hours over lunchtime, with a short break to tow in any cars stranded out on the circuit. Lauda’s claimed lap in under seven minutes during private testing was the standard everyone expected, but no one achieved, and few got anywhere near the seven minutes barrier. As is usual at the Nürburgring there was a lot of circulating round the pits-loop, taking in the South and North curves, before anyone struck out over the bridge before Hatzenbach and set off on a full lap. The weather was dry but very overcast, and not at all promising, but impending rain kept off. Poor Ganley circulated the Maki round the loop for some while and then when he set off for a full lap, he was barely out of sight of the pits when something broke and put the car violently into the Armco barriers, ripping off the entire front of the car and damaging the driver’s ankles, necessitating his transport to Adenau hospital. Stuck was in trouble with the Cosworth engine in his March and had to be towed in during the break and while things were at their height in the second part, Hailwood had his McLaren M23/1 turn sharp left on him as something broke in the front suspension, just as he reached the start and Finish plateau. The car went out of control and damaged itself but the driver was unhurt, and M23/7 was quickly brought out of the paddock for him to continue with. Towards the end of the practice session Peterson failed to re-appear, for the left rear wheel on Lotus 72/R8 broke up and put the car into the guard rails, bending just about everything except the intrepid driver. Amon was making no progress at all with his own car, one lap being sufficient to reveal serious overheating troubles, so the car spent the rest of the day in the garage having its radiator mountings modified. Fittipaldi tried the latest Texaco-Marlboro McLaren, fitted with the very low and very rearward mounted rear aerofoil, the layout soon to be outlawed by the CSI, while both he and Hulme used the spare car.
The two Ferrari drivers were in a class of their own, with Lauda fastest in 7 mins. 00.8 sec. and Regazzoni next with 7 mins. 01.1 sees., not a great difference for a 14 mile lap. There was no real opposition to the cars from Maranello, only Scheckter in the latest Tyrrell being in the same league, with 7 mins. 03.4 secs., but 2.3 seconds at an average speed of around 120 m.p.h. is an awful long way behind. The rest ranged through “good tries” to “hopeless”, while others were still learning their way round the circuit. Watson was still using the 1973 Brabham, as the BT44/4 was still being finished off in the paddock, and Migault was still using a P160 BRM as the first of the 1974 cars was being rebuilt for him back at Bourne.
Permanent road course
Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari 312T), 7m06.4, 119.795 mph, F1, 1975
First Race1927 German Grand Prix