1975 Dutch Grand Prix
- Sunday, June 22, 1975
- Grote Prijs van Nederland
- F1 World Championship
Even before practice began at Zandvoort the tone was “who will be the quickest of the Cosworth-powered cars,” and the first practice did nothing to allay this feeling. The Ferraris were using long thin tail-pipes on their exhausts instead of the more usual megaphone ends and the engines were set for a wide power range to assist acceleration from the too slow, but important hairpin bends on the Dutch circuit. With a strong headwind blowing along the straight and Goodycars supplying everyone with “standard” tyres, there being no “super-sticky” ones for the chosen few, it was not anticipated that the all-time fastest lap of 1 min 18.31 secs set by Lauda in practice last year would be approached, even by the Austrian himself. The race lap-record stands to Peterson (Lotus) at 1 min 20.31 secs set up in 1973 and last year the fastest race lap was only 1 min 21.44 secs by the same driver and car. These sort of times give an average speed of around 116 m.p.h. and apart from the Panorama ess-bend, most of the back leg of the circuit is flat-out in fifth gear for the ace drivers. 1 min 20 secs was going to be a good lap time to aim for, while 1 min 21 secs or longer was not going to be very impressive or of much use for a good grid position.
The expected Ferrari domination materialized with Lauda and Regazzoni recording virtually equal times, the Swiss being fastest by a mere hundredth of a second, with 1 min 20.57 secs. Among the opposition was a single ray of hope in James Hunt, with the Hesketh 308/2, who just cracked 1 min 21 secs, by three-hundredths of a second, but everyone else was in the comparatively unimpressive category, while a few were down-right slow by ace-Grand Prix standards, but nevertheless very fast by normal standards. While all the leading teams were unchanged as regards drivers and cars, there had been some re-shuffling among the lower orders. The Harry Stiller-sponsored Hesketh 308/1 activity had ceased, so Graham Hill snapped up Alan Jones for the number two spot in his Embassy-sponsored team, alongside Tony Brise. “I had to have young Jones,” said Hill, “I used to race against his dad in the Tasman series.” Ian Scheckter was having another go with one of Frank Williams’ cars, and Jacques Laffite was back in the team. The Hesketh hire-car 308/3, driven in Sweden by Torsten Palm was back as Hunt’s Spare, all white and pure once more, and Wilson Fittipaldi’s little Brazilian team were pleased to have got a new car completed, their third altogether, this one having neater tubular front wishbones. Gijs van Lennep was driving Morris Nunn’s Ensign in place of Wunderink, who was still on the sick list, and there was a brand-new Ensign in the paddock, but it was not due to be run just yet. The Vels Parnelli team were missing once again, Andretti having a more important race to contest in the U.S.A., and a newcomer on the scene was Hiroshi Fushida with the blue and white Maki from Japan, though it looked as though it had been built in England, with its Cosworth V8 engine, Hewland transmission and Melmag wheels.
The first practice session had been from 10 a.m. until 11.30 a.m. under cloudless skies, and after lunch the glorious weather and practice continued. From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. the lappery continued and while Regazzoni was not so fast Lauda went much faster, down to 1 min 20.34 secs. However, two more drivers joined Hunt in the elite class, these being Scheckter with Tyrrell 007/2 and Reutemann with Brabham BT44B/1. All three were greatly encouraged by being faster than Regazzoni on the afternoon times, but they were still slower than his morning time, so the end of the first day saw the two Ferraris on the front row of the grid. The Maki did not appear after lunch as the oil pressure disappeared from the Cosworth engine and the small team had no spare engine. That the Zandvoort circuit is not a very difficult one for a skilled driver of a Formula One car was shown by ten drivers recording times within the span of three-quarters of a second. To most people one whole second of time is difficult to visualize, let alone three-quarters, and in that space were Emerson Fittipaldi, Jarier, Brise, Brambilla, Laffite, Watson, Mass, Pryce, Pace and Depailler; a situation that brought forth some discussion on the validity of the existing method of timing practice laps.
Permanent road course
Niki Lauda (Brabham BT46-Alfa Romeo), 1m19.57, 118.809 mph, F1, 1978
First Race1948 Zandvoort Grand Prix