1975 Monaco Grand Prix
- Sunday, May 11, 1975
- Grand Prix de Monaco
- F1 World Championship
To ease the overall pressure on the town all the Formula One practice was restricted to Thursday and Friday, leaving Saturday for the Formula Three racing. This was a godsend to some of the teams whose unruly drivers ended practice with bent cars. Practice should have begun at 9 a.m. but last-minute attention to the barriers etc. held things up a bit and it was after 10.30 a.m. before the Formula One cars got under way. The regular circus were all present, with the exception of Rolf Stommelen who was recovering from his Barcelona crash, and Graham Hill was alone in his team. The Hesketh team had hired their spare car to Torsten Palm with Polar Caravans sponsorship, but the new qualification rule put him at a disadvantage on his F1 debut. While some drivers were feeling their way round out of natural caution or from a complete lack of knowledge of the circuit, others pressed-on instantly, one of the ideas being to establish a quick time as soon as possible before any outside influences, like a change in the weather or someone blowing up and spreading oil all over the circuit, affected things. A quick hard try in the opening stages would guarantee to get you somewhere in the middle of the eighteen qualifiers, and the rest of the time could be spent working away on details to improve your position up the grid, rather than being pushed down. Among those who made instant tries were Jarier (Shadow), Watson (Surtees), Lauda (Ferrari), and Laffite (Williams). Practice had not been going on long before there was a commotion on the “Mickey Mouse” section of the circuit on the harbour front as Regazzoni spun his Ferrari and in avoiding him poor John Watson severely damaged the Surtees car. Regazzoni limped back to the pits with a crumpled nose aerofoil and the right-front suspension bent, and got going again in the spare Ferrari while the other one was straightened out. Luckily Surtees had a spare car, but Watson had to walk back to the pits while the wreckage of his car was pushed through an opening in the Armco. Mario Andretti had the Hewland gearbox break up on the newly built Parnelli car, so he continued to practise with the spare car, but the Williams team were less fortunate for when Laffite crashed the new car there was no spare and Merzario had a smug look on his face as he continued to practise in the earlier Williams car. Graham Hill coasted to a stop out on the circuit as his Cosworth engine died and practice was held up for a time while the derelict cars were gathered up and returned to the paddock. This year the Formula One paddock was more conveniently situated on the harbour side down near the old Gasworks hairpin.
Activity got under way again, but not long for Reutemann who had a little excursion up an escape road, and could not restart the engine as an electrical wire had broken. He walked back to the pits looking rather disgruntled, and took out the spare Brabham. The noise of the cars bouncing off the barriers continued and Watson damaged his second car for the day, but not beyond repair, and after a lunch-break practice continued into the afternoon, running desperately behind schedule. For one hour in the early afternoon the pace continued and some semblance of form began to appear; Lauda was setting the standard for everyone to aim at, many people saying that the Ferrari flat-12 engine was more suited to the characteristics of the Monaco circuit than the Cosworth V8; they tend to overlook the fact that it didn’t show up badly on the high-speed Silverstone circuit, and when Monza time approaches these people throw their hands up in the air and say “the Ferraris will simply run away from everyone on sheer power”. Few people are prepared to give the Ferrari drivers much credit and when it was found Lauda was fastest in practice and Regazzoni was second fastest, the pundits said “There you are, you see”. A few minutes later Lauda crunched his Ferrari into the guard-rails on the same part of the circuit as Regazzoni had done earlier, and the voices repeated “There you are, you see”, though it was not quite clear what we were supposed to see. Lauda walked back to the pits and, with Regazzoni in the spare Ferrari, he had no option but to continue practice with Regazzoni’s bent car, which was more or less all right except for a slightly bent right-hand suspension mounting. In his own car Lauda had clocked 1 min. 27.16 sec., three-quarters of a second faster than all the best Cosworth-powered specials. In the repaired car he clocked a 1 min. 27.62 sec., still a quarter of a second faster than the opposition, and Regazzoni clocked 1 min. 27.70 sec. in the spare Ferrari. The best of the Cosworth runners was Peterson in the Lotus 72/R9 with 1 min. 27.93 sec. so some of us said that “perhaps we did see” when the pundits started banging on again. Either Regazzoni is a better driver than we think he is or the Aces are not as good as they would like us to think they are! In a British colony like the pits at Monte Carlo it is not the done thing to let it be known that you are a Ferrari enthusiast, but all round the circuit the spectators were not suffering from any inhibitions.
When practice was all over and done with the harbour front paddock rang to the sound of hack-saws, panel-beating hammers and pop-rivet guns as the ravages of the day were repaired. Even Miss Lombardi had joined in the spirit of the thing and crunched her works March, the Bicester mechanics keeping company with Ferrari, Williams, Surtees and Hesketh mechanics, while Tyrrell and Parnelli mechanics were mending gearboxes and Hill’s mechanics were working on engine problems. Hunt had clobbered the right-front corner of 308/2 and Scheckter had broken the gearbox on 007/2.