#199 1971 Spanish Grand Prix

2022-08-30 00:00

Array() no author 82025

#1971, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Siria Famulari,

#199 1971 Spanish Grand Prix

Porsche’s victory, great performance by Alfa Romeo, Ferrari defeat. This, in summary, is the result of the 12 Hours of Sebring, the third round of the


Porsche’s victory, great performance by Alfa Romeo, Ferrari defeat. This, in summary, is the result of the 12 Hours of Sebring, the third round of the World Sports Championship. After the successes in Buenos Aires and Daytona thanks to the 917-Ks of the official Gulf-Porsche team, on Sunday 21 March 1971 it was the turn of Vic Elford and Gerard Larrousse, in a 917 usually used as a training car, to give the House of Stuttgart's third consecutive triumph. Alta Romeo, after being in the lead, places the spiders of Nanni Galli-Stommelen and Vaccarella-Hezemans (on which de Adamich and Pescarolo also climbed after the withdrawal of their car due to a fire) in second and third place. A good result, given that these are 3000 cc cars compared to the five liters of the victorious Porsche. Ferrari, however, lost across the board. First the gearbox of the new Andretti-Ickx sports prototype failed, then - due to a series of misadventures - the various 512s prepared by American teams were delayed or forced to retire, among which the blue-yellow one of Donohue-Hobbs stood out, edited by Roger Penske, who at the end of the race filed a triple complaint against Gulf-Porsche (which at Sebring had to settle for fourth place with Rodriguez-Oliver and fifth with Siffert-Bell). The first protest refers to a collision that occurred in the initial stages of the 12 Hours between Donohue's Ferrari 512-M and Rodriguez's Porsche 917-K. Donohue. who had taken command of the race in the early hours, is furious. The American, who participated in the competition despite a swollen ankle, said at the end of the race:


"It was Rodriguez's fault. I passed him on the inside and he hit me three times".


The fact is that Penske claims that the German 917 had resumed the race after a seven-minute pit stop without adequate repairs to the bodywork, which was missing part of the front right section. In the second complaint. Penske invites the stewards to disqualify Siffert's Porsche, as the Swiss, who remained stationary along the circuit during the second hour due to lack of petrol, had gotten on a motorbike, rushed to the garage and took a can of fuel. He would have had to follow the trail, on foot. Third protest: the engine of Siffert's 917 had not been turned off during a refueling. The jury limited itself to giving Siffert a four-lap penalty for his motorcycle excursion. Porsche victory, therefore, and a splendid race for Alia Romeo. Nanni Galli and Stommelen found themselves in the lead at halfway; their car was followed by the 917s of Elford and Rodriguez and the second Italian spider with de Adamlch. The two German 5000s gradually closed the gap, and after six hours Elford Larrousse were 55s from Galli-Stommelen. At the seventh hour the Porsche was in the lead, at an average of 179 km/h, followed by Galli's Alfa at 41s. Rodriguez and Ollver were three laps behind, de Adarnich-Pescaroio on seven. In the following two hours the positions did not change. However, Elford and Larrousse lapped the Alfa Romeo, and brought the average to 182 km/h. With an hour to go Elford had extended his lead to three laps. The Porsche of Rodriguez and Oliver were ten laps away, the Alfa Romeo of de Adamich and Pescarolo were eleven laps away. In the last hour of the race, the positions remained unchanged until a few moments from the end, when de Adamich's Alfa Romeo snatched third position from the Porsche of Rodriguez and Oliver, completing the good success of the Italian cars. The race ended in the greatest confusion, because hundreds of spectators had invaded the track. At the same time, after Mario Andretti, Clay Regazzoni brought the brand new Ferrari Formula 1 single-seater, the 312-B 2, to success, beating Jackie Stewart's Tyrrell-Ford on the Brands Hatch track. Andretti had won the South African Grand Prix with a renewed version of the car with a 12-cylinder boxer engine from 1970, Regazzoni won the Race of Champions, a Grand Prix not valid for the World Championship but always followed with interest, being the first competition of the season in Europe. Three daughter-in-law single-seaters had entered the English race: Ferrari, then Emerson Fittopaldi's turbine-powered Lotus (identified by the acronym 56 B) and Graham Hill's 1971 Brabham (abbreviation BT 34). The Lolus retired on lap 38 due to suspension failure after a disappointing test, the Brabham on lap 36 due to engine failure. Ferrari remained, and it won, demonstrating that it is at the top of world values. The running of the Race of Champions highlighted this superiority


At the start the track was damp and slippery, swept by an annoying wind. Stewart and Hulme took the lead, followed by Regazzoni, who had competed on the Brands Hatch circuit only once (in last year's British Grand Prix, in which he finished fourth), the road surface having only dried out shortly little by little and Regazzoni forcefully rose to prominence. The Swiss caught up with Stewart, who remained alone in the lead after Hulme's retirement. He overtook him and, in a few laps, gradually separated him. A clear and indisputable success, which Stewart honestly admits. The Scottish champion says:


"Like in South Africa, the performance of my Tyrrell-Ford dropped over distance. Clay's Ferrari. Instead, he seemed to improve with each shot. It is a very strong and well prepared car. Few other machines have managed to establish themselves on their debut".


Regazzoni, exultant, declares:


"My engine is a bomb. Formidable. I think the car still needs a period of fine-tuning and running-in. After that, he will be truly unbeatable".


However, there is not too much time to celebrate, given that on Sunday 4 April 1971, after the 1000 km of Buenos Aires, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, the World Sports Championship moved from America to Europe, to compete in the Brands Hatch 1000 km. sponsored by the British airline Boac. The Italian coalition dominates in the two days of testing. The three-litre Ferrari 312-P of Ickx-Regazzoni is the fastest, followed by the Alfa Romeo 3.33 of Stommelen-Hezemans. However, the 5000 cc Porsche 917-Ks are in difficulty. too big and bulky for this route. The best is Siffert-Bell. Siffert (who then went off the road, remaining unharmed and without damaging the blue-orange car too much) set the third fastest time, one second slower than Regazzoni. This is no small feat, considering that the German cars will have to refuel at least once more than the Maranello car. The statements of Siffert and Rodriguez are significant. The Swiss pilot says:


"The 917-K is not suitable for Branda Hatch. Last year the race was a triumph for Porsene, but at that time the engines were 4500 cc, less powerful than the current five litres. And what's more it was raining. A prediction? Success for Ferrari tomorrow".

And Rodriguez adds:


"On bumps the car wobbles and gets stuck, it has poor grip. It's a problem to keep it on the road. But if the rain comes, everyone will be forced to go more slowly, and then I'll win".


The mechanics of the two Porsche teams (Gulf and Martini) worked intensely replacing shock absorbers and stabilizer bars, trying to improve aerodynamics with emergency solutions. The Siffert accident has made people even more pessimistic. The engine was damaged when it went off the road and needs to be changed. In the Martini team it should be noted that with Van Lennep it will be Brian Redman, and not Ahrens. The Englishman had announced last autumn that he was retiring from racing to manage a Porsche dealership in South Africa, but he didn't keep his promise, and here he is again with his usual teammates. If at Porsche, for once, the prospects are not rosy, at Ferrari and Alfa Romeo the spirits are happy. The garages of the two teams are side by side, but the relationships are of simple courtesy. It's human and logical, not very exciting. Says Carlo Chiti, sporting director of the Alfa team, pointing to those of Ferrari:


"The fight is theirs. The circuit has worsened compared to last year: there are patches of asphalt, depressions and the Porsches are uncomfortable. Our car is fine, we have also fitted a new type of gearbox, lighter and more compact. We will see…".


It has been confirmed that a new version of the Alfa 3.33 will debut in May at the Targa Florio while we will have to wait a few more months to see the 12-cylinder in preparation (it will not be a boxer type but a 60° V). All is well for Ferrari, with a competitive Regazzoni and an Ickx eager to achieve a positive result after an unlucky start to the season. However, on Sunday 4 April 1971, the Alfa Romeo of Andrea de Adamich and Henry Pescarolo won the 1000 kilometers of Brands Hatch, while the Ferrari of Ickx and Regazzoni reached the finish line second. For Alfa it is the first success in the World Sports Championship. Porsche had to settle for third place with Siffert-Bell. but six laps behind Alfa and with the heavy toll of three out of four cars retiring: Rodriguez-Ollver (fuel). Elford-Redman (petrol tank leaks) and Van Lennep-Larrousse (wheel cylinder seizure). And Siffert finished the race with a non-working clutch. Almost a disaster. The two 3000 cc Alfa 33s and the Ferrari 312-P were the protagonists of the 1000 km. Porsche didn't have a moment's respite and the consequences could be seen in the distance. Ferrari had a fantastic start with Ickx, broken on the sixth of the 335 laps scheduled, that is, almost suffered, by an off-road accident for which the Belgian was not to blame. A car spun in front of Mannello's spider, blocking him the pace: Ickx threw himself into the grass flanking the track to avoid the obstacle, made a few turns and stopped against the protective barrier. He returned to the garage, where they replaced part of his bodywork. the nose, a door and a wheel. The incident meant the loss of 7 laps. But Ickx and then Regazzoni chased their rivals with wonderful commitment. Jacky confides:


"I pulled, I certainly didn't spare the car. She responded beautifully, she's amazing".


It must be said that the 312-P is being tested through racing, in preparation for next year's World Sports Championship. Therefore, two small inconveniences arose, which further slowed down its progress. First the carburettor idle adjustment screw got stuck (two turns to the garage to remedy this) and then the ignition motor (two more turns). The technical director, Mauro Forghieri, says:


"It does not matter. We are here precisely to discover the defects. But we also saw that the car works well".


It is worth mentioning that the 312-P sped away very fast even when Regazzoni took off the visor of his full-face helmet (it was fogged up and the driver could no longer see anything) driving with his eyes exposed to the air. Clay continued to step on the accelerator and didn't want to return to the garage so as not to lose even a second. Thus, he also suffered an injury to his face, under his right eye, from a stone thrown up by another car. If they are happy at Ferrari, they are happy at Alfa Romeo. Engineer Chiti, director of the team, when asked for a comment immediately after the end of the 1000 km, answers breathlessly:


"Five minutes, give me five minutes. I have to recover".


The Milanese company had been looking for a prestigious success like this for a long time, which would demonstrate the passion and financial commitment poured into competitions. Now the victory has come to demonstrate that the 33 3000 cc machines have reached a happy state. This spider came third in Buenos Aires, second in Sebring, first in Brands Hatch. A path in continuous progress. The two Alfa 33s took the lead in the 1000 km, which had seen the 913-Ks of Rodriguez and Siffert alternate in the lead in the first 143 laps, taking advantage of a double daring trouble that befell Siffert's surviving Porsche. The mechanics wasted time removing a wheel due to the hub blocking, and immediately afterwards the 917K lost its spare wheel along the circuit, forcing the race director to display a black flag and send Siffert back to the pits to have another one fitted. as per regulation. The 33 of Stommeleti and Hezemans therefore takes first place, then that of de Adamich (who drove very well especially in the final phase of the race, when the track was very humid) and Pescarolo. On lap 183 the regular running of the two Milanese cars, which the Ferrari had approached, suffered a jolt: the engine of Hezemans' car failed.


The other, however, continued without any problems, while ickx and Regazzoni reduced the deficit and two private Ferrari 512-Ms reached fourth and fifth place. At the end the triumph, with the national anthem, the winners on the podium and champagne: from the track a group of Italian enthusiasts accompanies the Alfa and Ferrari, the cars and the drivers with shouts of enthusiasm. More than logical, because, to be honest, before there had been many victories for Porsches, or Gulfs or Martinis. Once the races relating to the World Sports Championship have been completed, we move on to the Formula 1 ones, with something new. Jean Pierre Beltoise returned to racing in Formula 1 on Sunday 18 April 1971. The disqualification inflicted on him by the Argentine Federation, following the accident he caused in which Ignazio died. Giunti, is not applied as the appeal presented by Matra has the effect of suspending the application of the sanction. The French driver's return to the ranks is welcomed with different moods by the riders competing on the difficult Montjuïc park circuit in Barcelona. The presence of the French driver was accepted by the organizers upon specific invitation from Matra, which until now had only been able to count on Chris Amon. Race director Juan Cerveto specified that admission to the race is still conditioned by the telegraphic response from the FIA which has been asked to assume all responsibility for the alignment of the driver under trial. For the second time in the current Formula One, the Spanish Grand Prix is held on the remarkable circuit in the Montjuich Park in the heart of Barcelona, the first time being in 1969, when front and rear aerofoils are at their greatest height and lots of them fell off, some right in front of officialdom, so that an instant rule is passed which banned high aerofoils and movable ones. Consequently, the lap record is considered by some to be an ultimate, they feeling that the new aerofoil rules are stunting progress. That is nonsense, of course, and two years of development and progress in engine-power, brakes, road-holding and handling have more than made up for any advantages that the high aerofoils might have given. The 1969 lap record is left at 1'28"3 by Rindt with a Lotus 49, and practice in 1971 is barely half-way through before anyone who is anyone in Grand Prix racing is way below this figure, and everyone is there to have a go, right from the moment that practice begins on the Thursday evening before the race. 


As the paddock gate is opened the cars and drivers came out one by one and set off for practice, and it is a sight to enthral any regular racing enthusiast, let alone the thousands of locals who probably have not seen or heard a Grand Prix car engine since 1969. Amon (Matra V12), Andretti (Ferrari flat 12), Stewart (Tyrrell V8), Rodriguez (B.R.M. V12), Regazzoni (Ferrari flat 12), the Lotus 72 cars, the March 711 cars, the Surtees cars, they are all there, and are all ready to go, all that is except Gethin whose McLaren M14A is in the paddock with leaking fuel tanks. The way the numerous 12-cylinder cars move away up the hill from the pits, with the relatively flat-sounding V8s intermingled with them, is stirring stuff and starts the whole meeting off on a keen note, like the first bull into the ring being a real brave one. Some are really ready to go, like Amon with the first of the 1971 Matras, and Stewart with last year’s Tyrrell which he is using as a spare car having a brand-new Tyrrell car all ready for him whenever he wants it, this being the third car from the Tyrrell team. At the opposing end of the field are numerous newcomers, who are not only feeling their way along in the Grand Prix scene, but are also discovering the twists and turns, up and downs, humps and bumps of the Montjuich circuit for the first time, and others like Stommelen, who is sitting in his brand-new Surtees for the first time and finding that nothing really fits him, though the car is basically all right as Surtees has bedded it in at the Easter meeting at OuIton Park. The Lotus team has converted both of their 72 models to the new arrangement of oil tank, single-piece aerofoil and twin oil radiators at the rear, and has built aluminium ducts to scoop air into them, as Ferrari does on his 1970 models and B.R.M. on this year’s models. Fittipaldi is in 72C/R5 and has alternative nose cowlings available, last year’s with the NACA ducts taking air to the front brakes, and the 1971 nose with a smooth top and waisted sides taking cooling air into the inboard brakes from the sides. Wisell is in 72C/R3 with the 1971-type nose. The strong Ferrari trio of Ickx, Andretti and Regazzoni are all in 1970 Ferraris, respectively #3, #2 and #4, and are expecting a 1971 car the following day. Hill has the odd-looking Brabham BT34 with the outrigger radiators, and Schenken has the BT33 he has driven for the team at Brands Hatch. Hulme has the 1971 McLaren and Gethin the 1970 model he has driven so well at Oulton Park.


Stewart’s official car for the race is a brand-new Tyrrell, making its first appearance, and he has the original car as a training car, while Cevert is in the rebuilt second car. The B.R.M. team has four cars, two 1971 models and two 1970 models, with Rodriguez in P160/01, Siffert in P160/02 and Ganley in P153/03, with P153/07 as a spare in case anyone does any serious damage to his own car. The STP-March team are out in force with three 711 models, all with the front brakes mounted on the hubs instead of inboard, and all lacking the fancy covers over the side radiators and the engine. Andrea de Adamich has the first car, with an Alfa Romeo V8 engine, Peterson has the second car, with a Cosworth V8 engine, and Soler-Roig has the fourth car built, also with a Cosworth V8, all three being painted STP red, (but not Reflectagto red). The third 711 to be built is being driven by Pescarolo for Frank Williams, and it has been severely modified with stronger front wishbones, strengthening gussets here and there, a stronger rear suspension frame under the gearbox, and hub-mounted front brakes, and is painted in its usual dark blue. The Matra team has their two 1971 cars, designated MS120B, with Amon in the first one, which has a very similar monocoque to the 1970 model, and Beltoise, back in the fold after having his licence returned, following the unfortunate Buenos Aires crash incident, in the second one. Their numbering follows on from 1970, being 04 and 05, respectively, the second car having smooth, sloping sides to the monocoque instead of the angular, shelf-like layout of the earlier cars. Amon has one of the 1970 cars as a spare, and both the new cars are using the high intake duct that looms over the driver’s head like a bird’s beak. The final team is the Surtees duo, with the owner in TS9/001 and Stommelen in TS9/002. This race should have seen the whole entry carrying their obligatory red rear lights, but for some obscure reason the idea has been postponed until July. Practice sees the usual business of some drivers and teams being switched on and others being very switched off, or just lacking in preparation. Surtees and Hulme have hardly begun to practice before their Cosworth engines break, and Fittipaldi stops his Lotus 72 out on the circuit with a lack of fuel pressure, and when a mechanic goes and gets him going again he is then troubled with the brakes not being to his liking. 


The Montjuich circuit is an extremely hard one and a testing one, very similar in character to Monte-Carlo, but amid trees lined with double Armco barriers all the way round, instead of the houses and hotels of the Monegasque circuit. There is plenty of aviating over the brow of the hill after the pits, and a lot of hectic braking and locking of wheels going into the two downhill hairpins and the downhill right-angle bends. The 12-cylinder cars are setting the pace, especially the Ferrari of Ickx, and his Formula Two Montjuich experience is helping, as is Stewart’s, for he has the new Tyrrell among them all the time, and by sheer brilliant driving he has the Tyrrell ahead of them all at the end of the day. Pescarolo’s Formula Two experience on the circuit is proving invaluable, and he has the Williams March 711 up among the fast runners, but that is his ultimate, for he improves no further, while almost everybody else does in the second evening of practice. Andretti is not being outstanding as he does not feel really at home among the close confines of the Spanish guardrails, being used to a run-off area of loose stuff before the steel barriers on most of the American circuits. All the way round the Montjuich, there is little or no opportunity to overdo things, a few inches off line meaning violent contact with solid steel. Andretti does in fact make violent contact with a guard rail after a spin and shatters the left-rear wheel. All the Firestone users have a new type of tyre available, which is a pure drag-racing slick of solid rubber with no tread whatsoever, there merely being a few small holes for measuring rubber depth as on drag-racing tyres, and most drivers are finding them very good, on both front and rear wheels. Late evening practice is all very well, but it means finishing with the street lights on, and while everyone is packing up, darkness fell. On Friday the practice session is again in the evening, and the Ferrari team produces a 1971 car for Regazzoni to use experimentally, and Amon starts to use his spare Matra but it dies on him. The pace is really warming up, and even some of the new boys are approaching the old lap-record, which must have pleased designers of new cars, and development people. The 12-cylinder cars are beginning to dominate things, but always Stewart is driving harder and harder and staying with them, but this time he is relegated to fourth fastest, with Ickx out in front, followed by Amon and Regazzoni, while Rodriguez and Beltoise are just behind the Scot. If it hasn’t been for Stewart, the outlook of the Cosworth brigade would have been distinctly gloomy. 


HuIme and Surtees have changed their broken engines, and Gethin is having his first practice and driving in a very smooth and relaxed manner, in strong contrast to some of the new boys who are supposed to be the future aces. A car driven smoothly, with no heroics, is often much faster than it looks, and this is the case with Gethin, for at the end of practice there is only one Cosworth-powered car ahead of him, and that is Stewart’s Tyrrell, which is no mean achievement in one practice session. As the practice draws to a close there is every sign that someone is going to break 1'26"0, and it is Ickx who does, with 1'25"9. Right behind him are Regazzoni, Amon, Stewart, Rodriguez and Beltoise, seven-tenths of a second covering them all. Regazzoni does some running with the new car, but it is clear that the team is going to rely on the 1970 cars. 


"I'm tired of finishing second, I'd really like to beat the Ferraris".


This is what Jackie Stewart says on the eve of the Spanish Grand Prix, the second round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The Scotsman, until now, has always had to bow with his Tyrrell-Ford to the men and machines of Maranello. It happened in Kyalami, South Africa, in the first episode of the fight for the title (and it was Mario Andretti who prevailed), in Brands Hatch in the Race of Champions (and it was up to Regazzoni to bring the debuting 312-B2 to success) and in Ontario, California, in the America-Europe challenge (another victory for Andretti).


"You'll see what time Ickx takes to relegate me to second place".


In fact, the Belgian had an unfortunate start to the season, but he remains one of the aces in Ferrari's hands. The Belgian stood out by setting the best time (1'25"9, at an average of 158.863 km/h) of the first two days of training for the Grand Prix. Jacky Ickx demolished the circuit record, which belonged to the poor Rindt and his Lotus (1969, 1'28"3, at an average speed of 154.545 km/h). The Ferrari driver's splendid performance was completed by the second time achieved by Regazzoni, on par with Amon, who used a new version of the 12-cylinder engine on his Matra-Simca. Stewart had to settle for the fourth time (1'26"2) and is rather annoyed. In the garage he complains to the mechanics because his Tyrrel bounces too much on the ups and downs of the Montjuich circuit. Andretti, with the third Ferrari, is at the eighth place in this provisional ranking with a time of 1'26"9. He will be able to improve in the third and final testing session. Ferrari also sent the brand new 312-B2 to Spain. The car is fresh from the success of Brands Hatch and has a series of tests in Monza. It's up to Regazzoni, but it's unlikely that the Swiss will decide to drive it in the race. Two reasons for controversy have emerged: the presence of Beltoise and the nature of the circuit. The Frenchman returns to racing after the three-month suspension inflicted on him by his federation following his role in Giunti's death in Buenos Aires. The Matra driver, however, only has the green light for 30 days, i.e. the time it will take for the CIS to examine the appeal lodged by the French Federation against the recent ruling with which the Argentines banned Beltoise himself from competing for a year . The environment records the racer's return in a neutral way: racing professionals are not happy to hear about a story from which it has clearly emerged that many, if not all, commit misconduct during the race. Everything is working up nicely to a final fling on Saturday evening, when there would obviously be a bunch of cars below 1'26"0, and even the slowest ones would be approaching the old lap record of 1'28"3, but the weather gods have other ideas. During the Formula Three race, which precedes the final practice, the rain comes down in a big way, and thunder and lightning sweep across the skies. The Formula Three race becomes a farce, and though the storm passes, the roads never drie up and the final Grand Prix practice is a dead loss, especially for some like Surtees, who has finally got his new engine to run reasonably well and gets his gear ratios right. Stewart does enough to weigh up the wet conditions and is fastest with 1'37"0, just ahead of Hulme and Surtees, and the first 12-cylinder car is Beltoise’s Matra in fourth place. 


On the color poster advertising the Spanish Grand Prix and which covers the streets of Barcelona in thousands, a red Ferrari stands out in the foreground. He's in the lead. Far away, behind her, other cars can be glimpsed. The designer has captured the mood that hovers in the world of Formula 1 after the successes of the Maranello team. 1970 ended in triumph and 1971 opened in an identical manner with Mario Andretti's victory in South Africa. For everyone the car to beat is called 312-B, for all the favorite drivers are Andretti, lckx and Regazzoni. It is an exciting situation, which however makes the men of the Maranello team cautious.


"Each race represents an episode in itself. Here, then, the extra horsepower that our 12-cylinder boxer offers compared to other engines is not of much use. This circuit highlights the qualities of the engines less".


The fact remains that the times set by the Ferrari trio speak for themselves and if Andretti was slightly inferior to his two teammates, this was due to the Italian-American's lack of knowledge of the track. Andretti says:


"It's the first time I've raced in Barcelona. I found myself in a strange circuit, difficult to learn: yet you have to know it by heart if you want to go fast. It is also dangerous, because even the slightest thing is enough to touch the guardrails that sit flush with the roadway and break a wheel rim. Furthermore, I end up driving very different types of cars from Sunday to Sunday: Formula 1 single-seaters, Formula Indy single-seaters, prototypes. They handle themselves differently, above all the way they handle corners changes. For this reason, I always improve my performance after the halfway point, that is, when I am in perfect control of the car".


One could object to Andretti: but why doesn't he only race in Formula 1? But, to those who ask him the question, Mario responds honestly.


"I cannot neglect my sporting and economic interests in the United States and in the American championship races. I won in South Africa, but I don't know if I will win the world title. My program therefore remains uncertain. It is linked to the future of the next Formula 1 competitions".


The Italian-American also takes stock of the situation in the team.


"Every now and then I read that the relationships between me, lckx and Regazzoni, and vice versa, are not good. Simple gossip. We are like brothers, even if there is a logical sporting rivalry between us. We are all selfish, in the sense that I, like them, would like Scuderia Ferrari to work only for the car intended for us. But there is no problem of coexistence".


The same concepts express Regazzoni and lckx. The Belgian pilot says:


"Ferrari has three cards to play. It's all very simple".


In essence, Ferrari has multiplied its chances of winning the World Championship by three, and it is a wise policy, at least based on the results obtained so far. However, let us not delude ourselves that the lot of English and French rivals are willing to accept the supremacy of the Maranello single-seaters. There is a sort of anti-Ferrari coalition, which sees three drivers and three cars in the foreground. We are referring to Stewart, Tyrrell-Ford, Amon and Matra-Simca. to Rodriguez and B.R.M.. The Tyrrell, built specifically for Stewart by his manager Ken Tyrrell, finds a lot of credit, also for Jackie's qualities as a driving ace.



"On this circuit I am not inferior to anyone".


The Matra has made considerable progress: Amon has received a new engine and in the race he will be able to take advantage of the excellent grip and roadholding qualities of the Volture Bleue. Even the B.R.M. seems to have happily updated his P. 153. Rodriguez won a non-World Championship race in England. The Grand Prix promises to be very selective due to the characteristics of the track and the clashes between the men and the aforementioned cars. Others could benefit from it, such as the always popular Lotus, McLaren and Brabham. Taking to the track with a Brabham, the old Graham Hill will contest his 126th Grand Prix, equaling Jack Brabham's record. On the subject of statistics, it must be said that Surtees will be competing in his 100th race. On Saturday the last training session was disturbed by a heavy downpour which almost flooded the track. It then partially dried, but everyone used great caution, even testing the wet tires in case the rain returned on Sunday. It is an eventuality that the pilots fear, because it would make this semi-city track even more difficult and dangerous. Says Clay Regazzoni:


"The signaling services are not very effective and overtaking is very difficult. You never know what's after a bend or a bump. If a car turns in front, you risk getting tangled".


The Spanish Grand Prix is due to start at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, by which time the skies are very clear and the sun is blazing down on the enormous crowd that line the circuit. After some confusion and chaos in the marshalling area, the cars are wheeled out, and along with the drivers are presented to the grandstands of honour, before being sent away one at a time on a warm-up lap. Ickx uses the opportunity to try his Ferrari as if in the race, and he cannot have breasted the hill after the start any quicker had he been racing. The twenty-two starters line up on the grid, there only being two Cosworth V8-powered cars in the first three rows, Stewart’s Tyrrell in the second row and Gethin’s McLaren in the third row, ready for the start of the 75-lap race, a long and gruelling 284 kilometres round the difficult and exacting 3.79 kilometres circuit, with little or no room for error, under a blazing sun. Up and over the hill the whole pack roar, with Stewart hard on the heels of the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni, the young Belgian boy obviously being out to win. As they all crowd up at the first hairpin the leaders sweep round, but in the mid-field someone chops across the front of Hill’s Brabham, and clouts a front wheel so hard it takes the steering wheel out of his hands and he finds himself almost stationary on the apex of the hairpin. This causes a chain-reaction among the tail-enders, and Surtees, Stommelen, Soler-Roig and one or two others are forced to stop completely, while Schenken and Wisell go round the outside. This little fracas derange the steering on Hill’s Brabham, and Surtees crumples a nose tin. 


Hill is forced to give up, Surtees later stops and changes his crumpled cowling for the one off Stommelen’s car, as the second Surtees would not run properly due to bits of metal finding their way through all the filters and jamming the fuel pressure relief valve open, so the German driver has retired. Siffert comes in to retire with damaged gear-change linkage on the gearbox, thought to be due to being involved with someone on the first hairpin nonsense. Meanwhile, Ickx and Stewart are soon out on their own and there begins one of the better Grand Prix races. The old lap-record goes almost instantly, and Stewart is hounding Ickx mercilessly and gets by on lap six, but his lead is neglible. For the whole race these two battle it out, lapping faster and faster, and Stewart was on the limit all the time, with Ickx driving equally as hard and keeping Stewart right on his toes. Diving, twisting and turning round the park these two keep at it in a masterly display of driving, leaving all the opposition behind, and lapping all the slower cars, some of them twice. In and out of the traffic Stewart tries all he knows to get rid of the Ferrari, but there is no hope, Ickx keeps pressing all the time, but towards half-distance Stewart’s stamina begins to tell, and little by little he opens up a gap and it gets to as much as nine seconds, but then Ickx seems to get a second wind, and as the fuel load is going down the Ferrari is handling better and better. 


The gap now begins to close and bit by bit Ickx is closing it, all the while the lap-record being broken time and time again by both drivers. There is no relaxation for Stewart, he is driving at his absolute best, on the limit of everything all the time, and the brand-new Tyrrell is holding together. Closer and closer the red Ferrari gets, until Ickx has the dark blue Tyrrell in sight down the twisty hill. As the Ferrari lands after the jump at the top of the hill past the pits, Ickx gets a broadside view of the Tyrrell driving into the left-hand hairpin. They are both lapping faster than ever they have gone in practice, running consistently around 1'25"5, and on lap 69 Ickx records 1'25"1, an all-time record lap. In the closing laps they blast past some back markers, but Stewart makes no mistakes, and he finishes the 75th lap going as hard as he has ever had to drive, with the red Ferrari in hot pursuit. Regazzoni’s initial spurt fizzles out when the low-pressure fuel pumps down by the gearbox cracked and let the fuel pressure fluctuate, with a result that the engine runs on a weak mixture and begins to seize up, so it is pulled out of the race before it wrecks itself completely. Andretti gets into a good three-cornered battle with Rodriguez and Hulme, battling it out for fourth place behind Amon’s Matra. This goes on until lap 43, when Andretti has to stop with a small fire going on at the back of the car. His fuel pump has also cracked, and sparks from the pump have set fire to the leaking fuel, but luckily with the power on the petrol is sucked away from the leak and the fire goes out, but on the over-run into corners it would leak out and ignite again. Hulme can see this happening and finally manages to alert Andretti’s attention to the hazard, and he stops at the pits. Another pump is fitted and he goes off again, but as with Regazzoni’s car, the weak mixture has been playing havoc with the inside of the engine, and as it is about to break Andretti stops, with yet another fire starts from the replacement pump. A well-meaning fireman covers everything with foam, including the driver, and that is the end of the American’s race. Rodriguez runs right through in a steady fourth place, with Hulme fifth after a very satisfactory afternoon’s drive, except that he doesn’t win. Amon has taken third place from Regazzoni on the third lap, and he holds that position throughout the race, never looking like losing it, nor improving on it, the Matra running strongly apart from a hesitant pick-up from the slow corners. 


Getting profits from his good starting position but gradually drops back, and is relegated to a steady eighth place behind Beltoise and Cevert. The Matra driver goes well, but Stewart’s young team-mate drives even better, and gradually closes on Beltoise until he gets to the point of making a bid to snatch sixth place. Just at that moment, on lap 64, Stewart appears behind him, at the height of his battle with lckx, so dutifully Cevert gets out of the way to let Stewart by and loses all hope of taking sixth place from Beltoise. As at the Race of Champions, Schenken in a Brabham, and Ganley in a B.R.M. are remarkably evenly matched and ran in close company throughout the race, even recording identical fastest laps at 1'28"9. This time Schenken leads all the way, and makes no mistake at the end, so that they finish ninth and tenth. The Lotus pair are never in the picture, Fittipaldi having no faith in his brakes, especially after the warning light has come on, indicating low fluid level, but a stop at the pits makes no improvement after bleeding them and adding more fluid. The car continues to swoop about under heavy braking, and after the race a break is found in part of the rear suspension cross-member assembly. Wisell is equally unimpressive, suffering most of the time with a recalcitrant gear-change, due possibly to it being out of correct adjustment after repositioning the gear lever, when he decides in practice to adopt a different driving position. Pescarolo’s apparent burst of speed in the first practice does not develop into anything better, and in the race his engine is never on full song. In the opening stages he is in twelfth place and just about hanging on to the mid-field bunch, but cannot have been too pleased when he is lapped first by Beltoise on lap 47, and then by Cevert, on lap 49. Shortly after that the front mounting of the rear aerofoil brakes, and that is sufficient to call it a day with the dark blue March. The three red March 711 cars end the day spread round the circuit, Peterson’s engine dying from electrical trouble quite early in the race, when he is just ahead of Pescarolo, while the Alfa Romeo-powered March wrecks its final drive unit and Soler-Roig is in twelfth place when a fuel pipe brakes and brings him to rest. For the first two cars it has been a brilliant race, hard-fought and won by sheer driving ability on Stewart’s part, for the other twenty cars it has either been steady and dull with unsatisfactory results, for everyone would like to win or be an honourable second, or it has been disastrous and a miserable failure. 


The Spanish Grand Prix saw Jackle Stewart's return to victory after a long series of second places behind the Ferrari men. The race was an exciting, at times dramatic duel between the Scotsman and Jacky Ickx, between the 8-cylinder Tyrrell-Ford and the 12-cylinder Ferrari 312-B. This time the made in England combination prevailed: Stewart beat Ickx with the help of various favorable factors, while the other two drivers of the Maranello team, Mario Andretti and Clay Regazzoni, were forced to withdraw due to problems at the petrol pumps. Both risked being engulfed in flames caused by the fuel lost due to the breakdown, which then ended up on the brakes and exhausts. Amon, with the Matra-Simca, and Rodriguez, with the B.R.M., placed third and fourth, confirming the judgment of those who had indicated them as Ferrari's most dangerous rivals. Hulme finished fifth for McLaren, Beltoise celebrated his return to racing by taking sixth place and a point towards the title. Stewart and Ickx immediately began their battle on the ups and downs of the Montjuïc circuit, the hill overlooking Barcelona. The Belgian led the race for five laps, but on the sixth lap the Scotsman took the lead. First factor that came into play: the Tyrrell was less heavy than the Ferrari due to the lower fuel load (156 liters versus 180). Tyrrell, Stewart's manager, had risked a lot, calculating consumption sparingly. GII went well, and Stewart was able to capitalize on this significant advantage. Second factor: one of the new Cosworths identified with the Series 11 acronym was mounted on the former World Champion's single-seater. This engine is equipped with a more functional lubrication system and reaches 10.500 RPM (10.000 RPM was the limit of the version 1970) with a certain increase in power. It has not been officially indicated, but it can be assumed that it is around 10 HP (from 440-450 HP to 450-460 HP). Add that the circuit enhances the horsepower (470) of the Ferrari boxer less than other tracks and - apart from the driving qualities of the two drivers - the prevalence of Stewart and the Tyrrell is logical. 


It was more prevalent in the initial stages of the Grand Prix. As Ickx. as his 312-B consumed fuel and became lighter, the pace of his action increased. In a fantastic series of laps, the circuit record was demolished by the Belgian and by Stewart, who responded effectively. The two drivers pushed their cars to the limit, almost always driving in countersteer, sometimes entering corners with a locked wheel. At this point, in the one between the two leaders, separated until lap 21 of the 75 laps by 2.3s of separation, the gamble of overtaking the slower cars, destined to be lapped, was introduced. It is clear that both Stewart and Ickx were damaged, however it was the Belgian who suffered the most significant consequences. The Spaniard Soler-Roig, in a March-Ford. He blocked Ickx's momentum on the downhill stretch of Montjuïc, who thus lost another 5s compared to Stewart, who was luckier in completing the maneuver. The young Belgian was not discouraged and went on the attack again, until he reached a gap of 2s. However, an episode similar to the previous one was repeated, this time with Jean Pierre-Beltoise in the protagonist role. The Frenchman, upon his return to the race after the Giunti tragedy, managed to attract criticism from Ickx and Stewart for the stubbornness he showed in not giving up the pace. Ickx lost a few tenths, probably got nervous and fell into a slightly long corner. The fact is that Jacky gives up, ceding the victory of the Spanish Grand Prix to his formidable opponent. Then. he doesn't even go up to the stage of honor for the usual celebrations and appropriate congratulations to Stewart, but disappears towards the airport, destination Brussels. An escape that arouses negative comments. Probably. Regazzoni and Andretti could have joined Ickx in the duel with Stewart if they had not been prevented from doing so by pump failures, trivial in themselves, but equally serious. Regazzoni stopped on lap 13, while he was in fourth position. Andretti on lap 42 (he was fifth at the time). Mario managed to restart, then he finally stopped. Engineer Forghieri, Ferrari's technical director, says at the end of the race:


"Perhaps due to some casting defect, the bodies of the petrol pumps used for starting broke".


Andretti took a considerable risk. The flames came out of the rear of the 312-B at times, especially in the lower sector of the circuit, away from the pits. and therefore none of the team noticed. In vain. Hulme, who was following Andretti in his McLaren, waved his arms from the cockpit, trying to point out the fact. Until the Italian-American, alarmed by the irregular functioning of the engine, pulled his car up to the guardrail flanking the bend preceding the finishing straight. 


The fire broke out, and the pilot jumped out of the car. After the intervention of the firefighters, the situation was resolved quickly, without even too much damage to the 312-B. Stewart now leads the World Championship standings. If Ferraris still remain the cars to beat, he is the man to overtake. this clever little Scotsman who. among many drivers he is the best. The balance sheet of the Grand Prix ends with an observation: that, apart from Tyrrell, the other English brands (in particular Lotus and March) have a lot to work on to become competitive. The Spanish Grand Prix is becoming the mascot race of Jackie Stewart, who had already won it with the Matra-Ford at the same Montjuïc circuit in 1969 and with the March-Ford last year in Madrid at the Jarama Autodrome . Stewart has become the idol of Spanish aficionados, who literally storm him at the end of the lap of honour. Stewart, who managed to break Intintigli's streak of second places from Andretti (South Africa and Ontario) and Regazzoni (Brands Hatch), says:


"It was a very tough race, the circuit is more demanding than the Nurburgring. But the machine responded to every request. Ickx confirmed himself as a great driver and I am happy that our duel offered the public a truly exciting show. However, I must point out that even in the moments in which, at the end of the race, the distances were very close, I continued to keep the race in hand and the most noticeable variations recorded in the gaps were, more than anything else, determined by overtaking. Ickx had his difficulties and the same happened to me, especially when I had to overcome the Matra di Beltoise".


The Scotsman, probably following the advice of the Tyrrell technicians who whisper something in his ears, remembers that the car should have already won the South African Grand Prix. Stewart adds that the World Championship will certainly be very interesting due to the balance of forces that should keep the interest alive until the end.


"At a certain moment I really, I could say, felt lckx's breath, and this happened when he lost ground in some overtaking: I wasn't worried about it because as soon as I found the green light I was able to re-establish a situation which, I repeat, I didn't think it was precarious. The gaps with Ickx were only apparently small, because on Montjuïc even tenths of a second, as was demonstrated today, have great importance".


©​ 2024 Osservatore Sportivo


Contact us


Create Website with | Free and Easy Website Builder