Last year Matra-Simca committed all its forces to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the race which due to its fame and prestige is worth - at least it is claimed - a World Sports Championship. In the absence of the then victorious Ferraris, the French company succeeded in the undertaking, as had been promised to President Pompidou himself. Now, for Vélizy managers and technicians there is the need to win, for three reasons: to repeat the success of 1972, to beat the Maranello team in the direct challenge, to obtain essential points to reduce the disadvantage towards Ferrari in the fight for the world title. Matra-Simca mobilized its men for the race, setting up an organization that closely resembles that of Ford in the Sixties, when the Detroit giant wanted to beat the small Ferrari in the 24 Hours, the only European race also famous among American athletes. The French company is not as strong as Ford, but it moves on its own ground and benefits from all sorts of support, even at government level. The figures are impressive: 80 rooms were rented (a castle with swimming pool and tennis near Le Mans was rented for managers and drivers), half a dozen caravans to rest on the night of the competition, a field tent with chairs and tables and a kitchen with skilled chefs capable of preparing 500 meals. A workshop and a garage house the four cars destined for the 24 Hours: for each six mechanics (24 in total, therefore), reinforced by specialists such as bodybuilders and welders. A few tons of spare parts (there are 300 different types) were brought from Paris for possible repairs or replacements. This blue-painted team with the French rooster as its emblem is directed by Georges Martin, director of advanced studies at Vélizy, Bernard Boyer, director of the competition service seconded to the Paul Ricard circuit, and Gerard Ducarouge, the team's sporting director. Alongside them, the specialists of the accessory brands, in the foreground those of Goodyear, who were asked to send to Le Mans six sets of car tires divided into the categories slicks (smooth, for dry and clean asphalt), intermediates (dirt and humid) and rain: 288 tires. According to many technicians, a car to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the only race of this duration remaining in the championship, must have good road holding and have a highly reliable engine and brakes. The circuit is of the high-speed type, with the very long Les Hunaudières straight where speeds reach 320 km/h, complicated by the presence of some very slow corners, such as that of Mulsanne. Bayer claims:
"We tried to aerodynamically load the bodywork in order to ensure stability but without limiting top speed. It is not easy to find suitable solutions for the brake problem. After Les Hunaudières there is Mulsanne: you need to drop the car from 315 km/h to 70-75 km/h. There is a real thermal shock, which puts the disks in crisis. We opted for the non-ventilated ones, in order to reduce the cooling on the straight and, therefore, limit the subsequent temperature difference".
For the 24 Hours, Matra-Simca has prepared six engines, four for the race, one spare and one for tests. Power is approximately 450 HP at 10.500 RPM: 30 HP less than the 12-cylinder engines used in 1000 km. Martin says:
"Typically, one in four cars arrives at Le Mans. Considering the possibility of accidents, reduction of pilots, bad weather conditions, we must start from the principle that the car must never stop due to a fault. There are many parts in an engine: if just one breaks, the whole thing stops. We have therefore only used new parts, except in the cases of parts that wear out very quickly in the first few minutes of operation, which then stabilizes, such as the petrol station. The 12-cylinder engines for Le Mans are no more run-in than the others. The average duration of this operation is around an hour. The performance check on the test bench lasts just as long, with one difference: the power of the 1000 km version engines is measured from 11.800 to 7.000 RPM, that of the 24 Hour type units from 11.000 to 6.000 RPM. Then, you run the engine for another 120 minutes and it is ready to be mounted on the chassis".
The Vélizy company's commitment to this race can also be seen in the agreement made with Porsche to create a reliable gearbox for the MS 670/B. It derives from that of the 911 granturismo, taken as a basis both to reduce the financial cost of the operation and for its high qualities.
"One of our mechanics tested the first example for nine hours on a simulator that reproduced the circuit".
Ducarouge's opinion on the preparation of the machines is this:
"Compared to the cars used in the 1000 km, we give up certain lightening measures, we strengthen the supports of some devices, such as the battery, and we better protect the oil, water and electricity circuits. Since it is necessary to replace the brake pads, a job that we don't do in other races, we have trained a team of mechanics".
It can be said that Matra-Simca has been preparing this 24 Hours for a year, i.e. since the day after the double in 1972. In the last two months the Le Mans operation has taken on a frenetic tone, so much so that even current races have been relegated to the background. A commitment that should make Ferrari proud: the Gallo de France is afraid of the Prancing Horse of Italy. Although Enzo Ferrari doesn't expect much from this 24 Hours of Le Mans. He confided to a friend:
"If we won, given the times we're in, it would be a surprising result".
However, Ferrari did not overlook any detail to increase its chances of victory. Without renting castles with swimming pools and mobilizing an army like the Matra.Simca, managers and technicians worked for months to prepare the race in the most effective way. Tests were carried out on the Turin-Savona motorway and in Monza, aerodynamics, engines and transmissions were the subject of studies and tests. The effort (both technical and financial) resulted in three 312-P long-tail cars entrusted to Ickx-Redman, Merzario-Pace and Schenken-Reutemann. Six brand new engines and as many bodies were prepared (three are spare), trucks and cars transported around twenty mechanics and around six tons of spare parts from Maranello to Le Mans. The expedition is entrusted to engineer Sandro Colombo, responsible for Ferrari sports management, and engineer Giacomo Caliri, who directs Ferrari's Sports section. The 312-P for the 24 Hours of Le Mans did not receive substantial changes compared to the usual type, from which they differ mainly in the bodywork, designed (as in Monza or Spa) in relation to the high speeds achievable, for a general strengthening of organs and parts and for the use of new pieces to withstand the stress of the endless French competition. Enzo Ferrari says:
"But Le Mans also requires a lot of skill on the part of the drivers, especially in the first four or five hours of the race. They must use good judgment and have the patience to wait, without allowing themselves to be drawn into possible brawls. Many times I have seen that the outcome of the race depended on what happened in the initial stages".
The sore point of Ferrari's participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans is linked to a transmission joint. Will he give in or not? On the test bench, the technicians achieved the certainty that the 12-cylinder boxer engine can resist for the duration of the race. This certainty does not exist for the road tests: at almost 3900 kilometres, a joint suffered fatigue and the 312-P under test was shaken by vibrations. It is in this specific sense that we can precisely say that Ferrari is trying its luck at Le Mans. So far, the winning card of the Maranello team in the World Sports Championship has consisted precisely in the reliability of the 312-P which, inferior to the Matra-Simca MS 670 in the field of absolute performance, suffered fewer problems in the race, in this advantaged by a more accurate set-up and greater experience of technicians and mechanics. And, having come aside, we consider this card valid, indeed very valid in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ferrari's objective, however, remains the world title.
"If I had to choose between Le Mans and the championship, I would opt for the latter".
On Sunday, June 10, 1973, Matra-Simca concluded the Le Mans operation with a beautiful victory and Ferrari with a very honorable defeat. Henry Pescarolo and Gerard Larrousse precede Arturo Merzario in the MS 670-B and Carlos Pace in the long-tail 312-P. Blue prevailed over red after a painful and emotional 24 hours, which made the outcome of the World Sports Championship increasingly uncertain, of which this race was the most prestigious episode. After all, Enzo Ferrari wasn't wrong when he said:
"Our success at Le Mans in these times would be amazing. Let's settle for a placing that keeps us in command of the World Sports Championship: I would rather win the title than the 24 Hours. That's for sure".
Yet Ferrari came close to the full era with Ickx-Redman, who retired an hour and a half before the end of the competition while chasing Pescarolo-Larrousse with a gap of just 210 seconds. When Ickx's car stopped in the garage and the Belgian indicated that there was nothing more to be done, the engine was not working, a huge sigh of relief seemed to rise in the grandstands of the circuit, full of very proud French fans. And the courtesy applause was wasted on the Maranello car, which five mechanics, still distraught from the long night spent on their feet, pushed towards the large Ferrari truck. And later, at 4:00 p.m., joyful shouts welcomed the victorious Matra-Simca, which was subjected to a truly enthusiastic assault, which not even the very tough gendarmes of Le Mans were able to withstand, then sprayed with champagne by the smiling Pescarolos and Larrousse. Saying why the French company won and the Italian one lost is simple, at least apparently. Both had to face many hardships and suffer the retirement of two cars, but the MS 670-B of Pescarolo-Larrousse had fewer problems than the 312-P of Merzario-Pace. The blue car had brake and engine starting problems that did not seriously affect its ride, while the red one lost more than an hour replacing the clutch and a small tank in the fuel system. It is true that in a race that lasts 24 hours there are no faults that cannot be remedied, except for the failure of the engine or gearbox, however pit stops have their weight, a weight that is felt at the end, when the moment of concretizing efforts and commitment into a result. And Matra-Simca had certainly organized this operation with more means and time than Ferrari, which had never brought its three-litre spiders to Le Mans and which must divide its efforts between this type of competition and «Formula 1 ». From this perspective, Merzario-Pace's second place must be particularly appreciated and Ferrari's joke understood. The race was very balanced, with the riders afraid of being too daring and being punished by some failure. The Matra-Simca led for ten hours and the Ferrari for fourteen: a figure that confirms the situation of parity. The French had, as in the 1000 km of Spa, tire problems: the MS 670 of Jaussaud-Jabouille - which finished in third place - lost any chance of success due to the detachment of the tread of a tire, while that of Cévert-Beltoise was eliminated for a similar reason and Beltoise was lucky not to suffer any damage in the subsequent run off the track. The technicians of the Maranello team, engines aside, went through moments of tension due to leaks in the petrol feeder tank, a banal problem, due to vibrations, which is reminiscent of the one suffered by the 312-P at Spa with the oil radiators. The long duel between Ferrari and Matra-Simca did not accept other interlocutors at Le Mans. The Colombo engineer says, at the end of the competition:
"The cars were performing well and showed that they could handle this new test for them. Too bad the engines failed. I'm not one of those who are happy only when they win, and therefore, also thinking about the World Championship, I am quite satisfied with this 24 Hours. Of course, I hoped that one of the three cars wouldn't suffer the slightest problem. Matra had more time than us to prepare".
Arturo Merzario adds:
"A big effort, I felt like I was always behind the wheel. I wanted to start faster than the others because it was a type of tactic adopted when I raced with Mario Andretti: the results were the same. Last night I was scared for a moment: an oil stain made me skid while I was going at 200 km/h and go into a spin".
For his part, Martin underlines:
"Engines and gearboxes resisted and we won. We took the biggest risks with the tyres. I don't know the reason, perhaps the high speeds at Le Mans caused the tread to come loose".
And Gerard Larrousse concludes:
"I was twice afraid of not finishing the race. Flat, when Pescarolo arrived without oil in the brake circuit, and then when I returned to the garage with a tire about to dechap. One more lap and it would have exploded".
Now, having concluded this anachronistic parenthesis of the 24 Hours, we return to the normal round of races. There are three races left until the conclusion of the World Sports Championship. Ferrari lost a battle today, tomorrow it could win the war. There are some people who think that Grand Prix racing should be made more uniform than it is, and bemoan the fact that all circuits do not have aircraft landing strips and motels incorporated in their design. Fortunately, Europe is not uniform in everything and each country still possesses some variation, so that although the cast for a Grand Prix does not vary much from race to race, the surroundings still do. With Scandinavia now joining in the Grand Prix circus, we have the extremes in contrast by going from the Grand Prix round the streets of Monte Carlo, uphill and downhill between the hotels, houses, shops and restaurants, to the flat, arid waste on which the Swedes have built the Scandinavian Raceway on the edge of the little country town of Anderstorp, though from the circuit there is not a house to be seen, just sandy scrub and distant pine trees. The circuit is absolutely flat, incorporating the Anderstorp airfield runway in the main straight, with the rest of the 4.018-kilometre circuit twisting and turning in a series of uniform right-angle corners and hairpins, with the start and finish and the timekeepers at one end of the wiggly bit and the pits and paddock at the other end. This comes about because the Csi inspected the circuit in 1968, when it was built, and would not sanction the start line being on the short straight where the pits were, demanding that it should be on the longer straight on the other side of the circuit. By this time, the vast tarmac paddock has been laid and the pits built, so the race control center is set up remote from the nerve center and it seemed to work.
The cast that journeys to Sweden by boat, plane and road is little changed from Monaco, except for some non-starters, these being Merzario in the second Ferrari, Andrea de Adamich with the third Brabham, Amon with the Tecno, Galli who withdraws from further active participation on the eve of the race, and Von Opel, there being no sign of the Ensign once again. Of the regulars, Team Lotus are back to full strength with two cars each for Fittipaldi and Peterson, Ferrari have his two B3 cars for Ickx, Team Tyrrell their three cars 005, 006 and 006/2 with the first number in wedge-nose, side-radiator form, as tried briefly at Zolder, the McLaren team have their three M23 cars for Hulme and Revson, the Ecclestone Brabham team their two BT42 models for Reutemann and Wilson Fittipaldi, with a brand new BT42 in the transporter, though it is not used. The B.R.M. team are reduced to three cars after Beltoise crashed his at Monaco, the line-up being Regazzoni P160/07, Beltoise P160/01 and Lauda P160/08. The UOP-Shadow team have built another new car, for Follmer this time, his Monaco car being reduced to scrap, and Team Surtees have the three cars they took to Monaco, the spare car being for Pace. With the loss of Nanni Galli the Williams team have a spare car for Ganley, and both cars have been converted to a single front radiator layout instead of the two radiators, one on each side just behind the front wheels, as originally built. The March force comprises Jarier with the works car, Beuttler with the stock-broker’s car, with a new oil radiator layout at the back, and Reine WiseII with the car Purley has used at Monaco, it being rebuilt with new body panels and painted bright yellow like the Beuttler car. Graham Hill completes the list with his Shadow, rebuilt and strengthened since Monaco. In total, there are four practice sessions and, presumably, the constructors are being paid sufficient money, for there are no boycotts or complaints of practice, and the practice takes place over Friday and Saturday before race day.
It is held in early morning and late afternoon on the first day and early morning and lunch-time on the second day, with breaks during each session if any cars become derelict round the circuit and needed collecting, and there are quite a number of them. Considering it is all supposed to be practice time, the troubles are rather more abundant than was reasonable. The UOP-Shadow team start the ball rolling on Friday morning when Oliver’s Cosworth engine, just back from an expensive Cosworth rebuild, blows up before he even leaves the pit lane, and Follmer crashes his brand new car into the catch fence at the end of the pit straight and crinkles the monocoque, this being DN1/5A. Wilson Fittipaldi barely completes a lap before the engine in his Brabham sheers its oil-pump drive, which ruins the bearings and puts him out for the rest of the morning. However, not everyone is in trouble, and Cevert is in flying form, sliding round the constant-radius hairpins very prettily and making fastest time, hotly pursued by Peterson, who is naturally the star and hero of his own Grand Prix event, the first to be held in Sweden. For the second practice, Cevert takes over the modified Tyrrell and appears to like it as much as the standard one, and improved on his morning time with it, but Peterson is getting into the groove and makes fastest time in 72/R6 and second fastest time in his spare car, 72/R8, so that one can say in all truth that he dominates practice, everyone else trying to keep up. Among those who are keeping up well is Reutemann, his Brabham being in fourth place, just behind Cevert’s Tyrrell. Once again FoIlmer keeps the ball rolling, setting off in his Shadow which has been straightened out as best as can be done in the paddock, and promptly going off into the sand again, this time without further damage. Oliver and Wilson Fittipaldi join in now, both with new engines in their cars, and Jarier drops out of the running when the crown-wheel and pinion breaks in the Hewland gearbox on his March, while Revson’s McLaren wrecks its gearbox. In Anderstorp everyone is rooting for Ronnie Peterson, the second Lotus driver, who is from Örebro, a town not far from this rather flat and monotonous circuit, where Stewart and Fittipaldi will continue their duel at the top, while Ickx with the Ferrari will attempt a raise. The Belgian clarifies the situation of his relations with Ferrari. These are relationships that are going through a difficult moment and Ickx wanted to reject certain accusations and malicious insinuations made against him recently by interested voices.
"I will continue to race with Ferrari if Ferrari wants me, otherwise not. Today, however, the Italian manufacturer also needs to make a high level of commitment at very different levels. The current uncertainty certainly doesn't benefit anyone and the results are a consequence of it. For my part, I have always worked hard, acting with the utmost loyalty. In five years with Ferrari I have achieved results that I consider excellent. Precisely for this reason I firmly reject insinuations or half-hearted accusations made by people who are now well-known in this type of work".
He mentioned the controversy over testing. In fact, criticisms have been leveled at the driver from many quarters because in addition to racing in Formula 1 and sports, he does not commit himself to the development and development of single-seaters and other cars and, when he does, he does so reluctantly. Ickx bluntly denies the validity of the accusations.
"It's Enzo Ferrari who sent too many people away, ultimately making those left unable to do everything”.
The Belgian is referring to Regazzoni, Andretti, Peterson, who raced for the Maranello team last year. Ickx also adds that in 1972 with Regazzoni everything was fine, while this year with Merzario nothing is going well. Jacky then takes stock of the matter of the two available cars claimed for the Swedish Grand Prix.
"Everyone has them, from Stewart to Cevert, from Fittipaldi to Peterson. I don't see why I shouldn't have them myself. On the other hand, it should be remembered that at the beginning of my relationship with Ferrari I was specifically promised two single-seaters for each Grand Prix. And I don't understand why I should risk finding myself in the Monte-Carlo situation again, when I wasn't able to take advantage of Merzario's car due to problems with adapting the pedals and the driving position".
At this point Ickx clearly makes clear his disappointment with the program exposed at the end of last year by Ferrari:
"Only one Formula 1 car for the whole season and a maximum of 5-6 races".
A program that Ickx does not feel like signing up to in the future, even if the situation has changed for this year. The Belgian also expresses his esteem for Enzo Ferrari, defining him as an exceptional man who deserves consideration and respect. And the sentence is pronounced with undoubted sincerity. However, it is easily foreseeable that, if nothing new happens, at the end of the season the Belgian and the Maranello team will separate their destinies. On Saturday, very few people make much improvement as the circuit seems to be getting polished and slippery, and it has never had such high speeds or hard use before. Trouble and crashes continue unabated, however, Pace bending his Surtees when the left-rear wheel breaks off, leaving only the bolted centre on the hub, and Regazzoni walks back to the pits when his B.R.M. engine blows up. Beuttler gets all crossed up coming into the pit straight, and bends the front of his March on the barriers, and Fittipaldi has a rear hub carrier break on his spare Lotus. Frank Williams lets the Danish F5000 driver Tom Belso have a go in GaIli’s Iso-Marlboro, and Cevert and Stewart improve their times in the standard Tyrrell cars. Ickx is making steady progress with the lone Ferrari, the spare car not being used, but somehow the small Ferrari effort looks a bit lost and lonely. In the final session, Stewart decides to try the modified Tyrrell, in view of the speed Cevert has done with it. So, the pedals are all altered so that the little Scot can drive it. After a mere handful of laps, he returns to his normal car and the experimental one is put away, there not being time to reset everything back for the long-legged Cevert, so the Frenchman continues in his standard Tyrrell. In the Lotus team there are some minor panics when first Fittipaldi stops out on the straight in his spare car, the temporarily repaired rear end having given way again, and then Peterson is reported to be in trouble in his spare car, but it proves to be merely a shortage of petrol. As practice draws to a close, Ganley spins off into the sand and gets everything clogged up, necessitating an engine change and general dismantling to get rid of all the sand. Belso has another brief try in the spare Williams car and fewer people still make any improvement to their times, even though they are all flogging round to the bitter end.
The timekeepers are using a clever computer to produce results and it is programmed merely to remember and record each cars best lap and to discard any slower ones, so that it throws away all the times that show no improvement on the remembered time, which leaves us with only the cumulative best time for each driver, along with the cumulative number of laps each driver has completed. Stewart being top of the list with a total of 74 laps in 006/2 Tyrrell, whilst Wisell runs him close with a total of 71 laps. The race distance is to be 80 laps, and most drivers manage to complete over half a race during the two days, while Peterson does 32 laps in Lotus R6 and 42 laps in Lotus R8. Swede Ronnie Peterson will start from pole position in the Swedish Grand Prix. Peterson reconfirms his brilliant form, narrowly beating Cevert, Stewart and Fittipaldi. The Swedish ace who - needless to say - is the idol of the 60.000 spectators gathered in the small town of Anderstorp, however, once again fears bad luck. In fact, in recent times, having ranked first in the trials, he then had to abandon races several times due to mechanical failures. This happened on four occasions, so his chances of accumulating points for the World Championship standings are gone. The times, good in the early morning, worsened in the afternoon. The fault, the drivers declared, was the oil and the abundant sand scattered on the track which could also create significant problems during the race. In fact, it must be remembered that the twenty-two competitors will have to tackle the circuit 80 times, accumulating considerable quantities of sand in the corners which has already caused quite a bit of annoyance even to those who have had to work in the pits. The sand problem is a problem that no one expected. Yet it is there, quite large and is raised in vortices by the wind and the movement of air. Peterson's Lotus went very well and the Swede demonstrated truly exceptional skills. If he runs like this in the race too, Peterson will perhaps be able to give Sweden their second victory in a Formula 1 race. Until now, only Bonnier has managed this feat in the 1959 Dutch Grand Prix.
After Peterson's Lotus, the best times were provided by the two Tyrrell-Fords: those of Cevert and Stewart, who finished close behind the Swede only for a few hundredths of a second. Fittipaldi, Peterson's teammate, ranks after them and leads the World Championship standings with 41 points, followed by Stewart. Ferrari driver Ickx will start in eighth position. The Belgian, who seems to lose a lot in the corners, breaking away far away and demonstrating much less ease than the other competitors, reports constant disadvantages of over two seconds per lap compared to the best. Ickx says that the circuit seems easy to him but that in any case it is not his ideal.
"Everything is fine, but there is something wrong in every way".
Says the Belgian driver who undoubtedly denounces more or less openly the intolerance for the situation created within Ferrari towards him.
"For me the important thing tomorrow is to finish the race. We will see".
As if he were repentant, the Belgian pilot adds:
"It would be enough to win a race or two and everything would be fine".
We later learn that Ickx sent a telegram to Enzo Ferrari in which he declared himself surprised at the press campaign unleashed against him, claiming the work and performances provided to the Maranello team. In his cable, the Belgian states that he will continue to respect the contract until it expires if Ferrari does the same. Ickx however specified that if he continues to be attacked he will give up collaborating with Ferrari in 1974. On Sunday, June 17, 1973, While the weather has been good during the two days of practice it is really superb on race day and a crowd of 55.000 packs the Raceway, one of the largest crowds at any sporting event ever held in Sweden, and Prince Bertil is a keen spectator, honoring the event with his Royal presence. At 9:00 a.m. there is a short test session, particularly useful for those teams who have been rebuilding cars or installing new engines, but it produces further troubles, for Ganley has the throttles stick open and crashes IR/01, which he has intended to race, and there is a panic to get IR/02 ready, while Fittipaldi has oil leaking out of the rear main bearing seal on his new Cosworth engine, so the back end has to be stripped off and a new seal fitted. A national Formula Three race and a saloon-car race fills in the morning and then the Grand Prix cars are wheeled out to the pits to prepare for a 1:30 p.m. start. The scheme is that the cars should do warm-up lap and then take up their dummy-grid positions in front of the pits and when everyone is ready they will set off in formation round the circuit to the starting line. By 1:50 p.m. nothing has happened for GPDA says there are too many photographers on the edge of the track, the organizers then say they are in a dangerous place anyway, and the GPDA (in the shape of President Hulme) says that where the organizers want the photographers to go is even more dangerous. Eventually a compromise is reached and the warm-up lap takes place, during which Wisell puts the brakes on and his hired March breaks the left lower front wishbone mounting, and he returns to the paddock with the wheel at funny angle. The remaining twenty cars leave without him, and Peterson in Lotus 72/R6 leads them round to the start, where they all pause briefly and are then off with a shattering roar. Eighteen of them get round the first corner, headed by Peterson and Fittipaldi, while Graham Hill gets his Shadow on the dirt and the throttle slides got all jammed up. He gets going later but is then plagued with electrical troubles. As the nineteen cars roar round the first lap it is the two black and gold Lotus cars leading the two blue Tyrrell cars, followed by Reutemann and Hulme. On the second lap, Wilson Fittipaldi gets crossed-up at the second hairpin and goes off into the rough and wrecks the nose and radiators of his Brabham.
Then it all settles down, with lap times two to three seconds slower than in practice, but the leaders are going as fast as they can with full petrol tanks and the circuit in race-day condition. Peterson leads Fittipaldi by a short distance, while Cevert passes Stewart and leads his team leader in pursuit of the Lotus pair, and Hulme passes Reutemann and tails the two blue Tyrrells. There is nobody else in the race, even though the rest are racing, and the order behind the pace-setters is Ickx (Ferrari), Revson (McLaren), Hailwood (Surtees), Beltoise (B.R.M.), Pace (Surtees), Ganley (Williams), Lauda (B.R.M.), Jarier (March), Oliver (Shadow), Follmer (Shadow), Regazzoni (B.R.M.) and Beuttler (March). Apart from Beuttler passing Regazzoni, the B.R.M. having tyre troubles which ruins its handling, and Oliver passing Jarier, nothing much happens for a while and they all go round and round. At 15 laps Beltoise stops at the pits in response to a signal for his mechanics can see oil leaking from the tank; a rivet holding a baffle had broken, so the hole is bunged-up with a Pop-rivet and the Frenchman is on his way again. Monotony now settles in as the two Lotus cars lead the two Tyrrell cars, with the McLaren right behind them, all their Cosworth engines giving equal power and all their Goodyear tyres providing equal grip. Reutemann’s car is vibrating badly and he cannot keep up and the two Surtees drivers are very unhappy with their Firestone tyres, while Follmer’s Shadow is handling like a camel, still being a bit out of line after its practice accidents. On lap 33, the monotony is relieved slightly when Stewart feels he has followed his team-mate long enough, and goes by into third place, this move being prompted by the fact that they are about to lap some of the faster tail-enders, and Cevert is not too good in fast traffic. Sure enough, Stewart pulls away and begins to reduce the gap to the Lotus pair, who are still circulating more or less nose-to-tail. While this is happening, Hulme is having a small private drama, for his throttles stick open and he hastily switches off the ignition, coasting along still in gear; tentatively he switches on again, expecting the engine to fire again on full throttle, but nothing happens. Then he realizes the throttles have shut themselves again, and pressing the accelerator he finds everything is normal, so he takes up the chase once more, having lost about 15 sec.
Stewart closes up steadily on the Lotus pair, and at 41 laps he is right behind them, but there is nothing else he could do, and complete stalemate sets in as the three cars circulate nose-to-tail, each driver waiting for the others to make a mistake or for some mechanical thing to go wrong. Meanwhile, Cevert is dropping back, having lost his inspiration, and Hulme is closing up on him pretty rapidly. The rest of the runners are trailing along, being lapped one by one, except for Reutemann, Ickx and Revson. By 55 laps, Hulme is up with Cevert and the leading trio are unchanged, it being difficult to see how it is going to change. Pace has stopped for more tyres and is now lapped. Hailwood has given up the unequal struggle. Oliver retires when his Shadow breaks the inner mounting of the lower right rear wishbone, letting the wheel lean in drunkenly, and at 58 laps, Beltoise pulls off on to the side of the track when his B.R.M. engine blows up. The leading trio lap Revson and then it is Cevert’s turn to lap the American’s McLaren, and in the scrabble he somehow gets held up and HuIme goes by both of them, into fourth place. It is a neat bit of team work by the two McLaren drivers, which is more than Cevert can cope with. Ickx is lapped with ease, the Ferrari having been pretty uninspiring all weekend, and then Lauda runs low on fuel and has to stop for more, one of his tank breather flap-valves playing up and letting petrol out as well as vapor. He is in a lowly tenth place at the time, and a few laps later Ganley also stops for petrol, losing ninth place, as his mixture control has slackened off and gone to full rich, ruining the consumption. With eleven laps to go, Fittipaldi begins to drop back from Peterson as his brakes begin to weaken, due to oil from the gearbox getting on the rear discs. This baulks Stewart for a moment, but then he is by and into second place, while Hulme passes the slowing Lotus and takes third place on lap 70. On the next lap Fittipaldi has lost all contact with the leaders and continues by using the gearbox to slow the car, but Cevert is catching him fast, and takes fourth place on lap 73, and on the next lap Reutemann is past the Lotus. Being low on oil and being overstressed when slowing the car, the gearbox is beginning to break up and Fittipaldi is struggling desperately to keep going to the finish. Meanwhile, his team-mate is in trouble for his left rear tyre is losing pressure and going soft, making it very difficult on right-hand bends, as Fittipaldi suffers in Barcelona.
Stewart is now doing all he could to get by, but Peterson has his foot hard in and his elbows well out, and at 76 laps there is stalemate again, with Peterson desperately racing to the finish, Stewart trying to find a way by and Hulme right behind the pair of them. Fittipaldi’s gearbox finally gives up the ghost and he stops near the finishing line, and then Stewart suddenly slows right up and Hulme goes by. The short links, or straps, that transmit the drive between the left rear brake disc and the gearbox hub have broken up, just as they have done on a front brake at Barcelona. Hulme is now right on Peterson’s tail and the Lotus’ tyre is now really soft and there is nothing the Swede can do to stop the healthy McLaren forcing by on the very last lap. Stewart is passed by Cevert and Reutemann and is very lucky to finish. After a long period of supremacy of Jackie Stewart, with Tyrrell-Ford, and Emerson Fittipaldi, with JPS-Lotus-Ford, true protagonists of the Formula 1 World Championship, Denny Hulme prevailed in the Swedish Grand Prix, with McLaren-Ford, which preceded Ronnie Peterson, François Cevert, Carlos Reutemann and Jackie Stewart. Jacky Ickx, with the Ferrari 312-B3, came sixth. It had been known for some time that the McLaren was a good car, on the level of competitiveness of the Tyrrell or Lotus. However, the small British brand had not yet managed to establish itself, perhaps due to the lower class of Hulme or Revson compared to their opponents. And today, it must be admitted, Hulme was really lucky. The one who regrets the final result is poor Ronnie Peterson, who led for 79 laps in his JPS-Lotus-Ford. In the last Hulme passed him. The Swede resisted for another half lap, then gave in, finishing 4 seconds behind. It was a shame, because Peterson fought like a lion throughout the race, repelling attacks from Fittipaldi, then Stewart and finally Hulme. Peterson first declared that he had exited a corner badly and that he had not accelerated properly on the following straight, thus being overtaken by the New Zealander, then, on the radio, he declared that with three laps to go a tire began to slowly collapse, preventing him from to control his black-gold single-seater. The Swedish Grand Prix, held on a fairly easy circuit, turned out to be a very interesting sporting event. The race went smoothly in the first part, but heated up in the second, with repeated changes and twists.
Peterson's performance was truly great and Hulme's victory doesn't overshadow it, far from it. However, Stewart is now two points behind Fittipaldi in the World Championship. The duel continues. While the Formula 1 world championship is tinged with new uncertainty after the Swedish Grand Prix, with Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi relegated, for once, to the role of domestiques, Jacky Ickx, and the new Ferrari 312-B3 achieve a placing and a point that could even be considered a good omen if it did not arrive at a very delicate moment. The relations between the Belgian driver and Enzo Ferrari are tense, perhaps close to breaking up: Ickx releases statements tinged with anger and melancholy, Ferrari is silent, but his thoughts and appreciations of him are known and someone has perhaps taken advantage of certain confidences. Ickx, who is a very intelligent and decisive man, understood and reacted by clarifying his point of view with cold precision - as is his custom. Let's point out straight away that it would be ridiculous to want to set ourselves up as judges of a Ferrari or an Ickx and agree with one or the other. As always happens when conflicts arise in a working relationship of this kind, the parties involved are each a little wrong and a little right. Misunderstandings are a logical fact, almost inevitable among men with a strong personality and sensitivity. In Formula 1 they are common. An example? That of Colin Chapman and Ronnie Peterson this year, and in 1972 again of Chapman with Emerson Fittipaldi himself. However, it is much less logical and normal that these frictions take place under the attentive and perplexed eye of the public, which is unable to understand how such unpleasant situations can arise and which, at times, is guided to believe certain things by interested voices. It seems like a serialized novel, with silences that are cleverly interpreted on one side and open words on the other. A disagreement like this should be resolved in silence. Not to keep the genius, the fans, in the dark, but because there are many good reasons: the disagreement does not cast a favorable light on Ferrari; Ickx adds to his reputation as a terrible racing guy; Enzo Ferrari appears as a figure in the shadows, instead of standing up like the lion that he is. And there is another reason that must be underlined: Ickx is a cold driver, but he is still a man, a man who needs every psychophysical resource to run at 300 km/h in the cockpit of the 312-B 3. With what spirit will he get into the car to set off with his colleagues to the start of the Swedish Grand Prix?
The causes of the Ickx-Ferrari controversy are known: Ferrari reproaches the Belgian for not carrying out the development and testing of the cars, Jacky replies that he has to race in Formula 1 and in the World Sports Championship and, in any case, that he has assigned the same to the tests weather last year; Ferrari thinks that its driver could dedicate a greater commitment to the company for which he takes to the track and he maintains that he has always raced to the maximum of his and the cars entrusted to him. Other reasons for misunderstanding and friction are tangled up around this basic point: Ickx is not gentle and his personal relationships with Enzo Ferrari have already caused sparks in the past. And this situation has allowed some to mount a real campaign against the Belgian, who would among other things be guilty of forcing Ferrari to withdraw from the World Sports Championship, forcing him to concentrate his efforts on Formula 1, and of wanting two single-seaters for his disposition, leaving Merzario on foot. We might as well clarify the two topics. Enzo Ferrari certainly cannot be forced by Ickx to leave a championship he is about to win, also because Ickx could be replaced in the last three races by others, such as Reutemann. If Ferrari makes this decision, there will be even more valid reasons. Ferrari is free and independent, from everything and everyone, Ickx has a contract with his company and not with others, Ferrari's choices are not imposed by anyone. Furthermore, it is normal in Formula 1 for a leading driver to have a race car and a reserve car, often interchangeable with each other. It may be disappointing that Merzario has to remain on foot or ask for charity from Ickx, but the situation is clear, contracts aside. Ickx is a champion like Stewart or Fittipaldi or Cevert, a driver capable of winning. Unfortunately, there is nothing like defeats or lack of successes that exacerbate certain problems, certain situations. The new 312-B3 goes well, Ickx sings its praises, engineer Giorgio Ferrari reports that he has prepared the car in the best way, yet the car - as can be seen from the tests for the Swedish Grand Prix - is not at the level of the Lotus or Tyrrell. What's wrong? Neither the driver nor the technician knows this, and it is then thought that Enzo Ferrari, in his Maranello, is angry and believes that it is the lack of testing, of adequate development, that creates this inferiority. Perhaps the lckx-Ferrari couple would do well to split up. But, at this point, it would be equally positive if the story were defined by those who have the power, that is, by Enzo Ferrari himself. Same in June, it is the time of choices, of programs for 1974. It is better to decide and speak clearly.