During the afternoon of Monday, May 21, 1973 the circuit of Monza resumes to live after two days of unreal silence and pain. Ferrari is present on the Monzese track with a 312 and four drivers, Pace, Schenken, Reutemann and Merzario, to carry out a series of endurance tests in view of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The drivers will try again Tuesday, Wednesday, and maybe even Thursday 24 May 1973.
"It will depend on Reutemann’s schedule with Brabham".
The engineer Sandro Colombo admits. The tragedy of Sunday is still too close and even the small facts arouse apprehension. During the afternoon, while Carlos Pace is driving the car from Maranello, news comes to the pits that some people have entered the track just where the two drivers died, painting the asphalt tape with red paint. Immediately on the spot, the surveillance personnel are brought and the unconscious spectators are removed. They write on the track, in large letters:
"Pasolini and Saarinen, we will not forget you".
The tests are suspended to clean the asphalt. The engineer Colombo, technical director of the racing department of Scuderia Ferrari, has been appointed official expert by the Prosecutor of the Republic of Monza, doctor Luigi Recupero. Will carry out the technical investigation on the eight motorcycles involved in the tragic tangle of Sunday.
"I received the communication only this morning, and I reserved myself to decide. I think, however, that I will accept the assignment and I will probably start the surveys as soon as possible".
On the front of the investigation is also recorded a clarification of the Prosecutor of the Republic about his alleged statement, issued by news agencies:
"I didn’t see any oil spots anywhere on the track".
Doctor Recupero, asked about this, does not deny or confirm the detail stating:
"No one questioned me”.
The Sportscar World Championship has now passed the turning point and with the 1000 Kilometers scheduled on Sunday, May 27, 1973 on the ups and downs of Nurburgring, in Germany, it is heading towards the final stage. After this race through the green forests of the Eifel, the calendar offers three more safe races (Le Mans, Austria and Watkins Glen) and one uncertain, in South America: Argentina has given up the 1000 Kilometers of Buenos Aires but it seems that Brazil is willing to take on the burden of organizing the competition. Perhaps we will have a conclusion at the sprint, since Ferrari and Matra-Simca are on a level of substantial balance, as the current score shows: Maranello has 75 points, the Parisian company 64. In appearance even the Porsche would seem to be able to fit into this duel Italian-French being at 62. In fact, Stuttgart does not have a three-litre sport and has collected its booty mainly thanks to the events of Daytona and Targa Florio, races in which the two great rivals did not try or saw the withdrawal of their cars while they were in command. The other protagonists of the World Championship are the Gulf-Mirage, Lola and Alfa Romeo, but none of these three brands can aspire to the title. Gulf-Mirage, despite the success obtained at Spa, does not have a car equal, on a competitive level, to 312 P Ferrari or MS 670 Matra-Simca and also will not take the field at Nurburgring, either for an engine problem (Cosworth is late with deliveries) both to prepare with greater intensity to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the race that - it is said - is worth a championship; Lola has not organized this year a real team and is satisfied with the points brought by private teams; Alfa Romeo, finally, is inserted in delay in the contest for difficulty of development of its new twelve cylinders connected to the agitated union period crossed from our country.
The car is there and promises well, but - by the way - he had to postpone his debut at Spa for a unfortunate accident and lost the Targa Florio for an equally unfortunate episode. Ferrari and Matra-Simca, therefore, beyond the contingent results, which could reserve, of course, other surprises, since in competitions you can never be sure of anything. In Germany, the Maranello team will line up two cars with Ickx-Redman and Merzario-Pace and the French company will do the same with its traditional Cevert-Beltoìse and Pescarolo-Larrousse pairs. Alfa Romeo will have Stommelen-de Adamich and Regazzoni-Facetti, Porsche-Martini the winners of the Targa Florio, Van Lennep-Mueller, and Follmer-Kauhsen. Interestingly, Ferrari will use two different 312 Ps. The machine of Ickx-Redman will be of the usual type used so far while that of Merzario-Pace has some changes concerning the suction system, weight distribution, the cooling system and the height from the ground.
"It is the first step towards the remaking of the car".
But, to be honest, Ferrari is betting more on Ickx’s performance for the Nurburgring than on this new version of the 312 P. The reason is simple: The Belgian has repeatedly proven to be at ease in this very difficult 22-kilometer circuit full of breathtaking climbs and descents, fast extensions and thrilling curves. In recent years Ickx has been the fastest in both Formula 1 and three-liter sports. These are significant exploits. Enzo Ferrari himself, who calmly awaits the events of the 1000 Kilometers, admits that at the Nurburgring Ickx has something more than the other drivers. It is hoped that the Belgian will be competitive on this occasion as well. Ickx, unfortunately, does not give the Maranello team the desired contribution in terms of testing and tuning the machines (I can not commit, he confesses himself), however he has so much class and ability to be exploited at the limit both the 312 P and the new 312 B3. For the Maranello team, so far, it has been a difficult season, between ups and downs and some controversy. Ferrari fans always want victories, but every year it becomes more difficult to succeed. In Germany the Maranello team plays a very important card for the World Championship : yes, it would take just one more Ickx, with that Matra-Simca thirsty for grandeur and that Alfa Romeo eager to get the first success with the 33-TT-12. After the very fast circuits of Monza and Spa and the anachronistic parenthesis of Targa Florio, punctually, the situation of Vallelunga and Dijon is restored - as can be seen from the results of the first day of testing - Matra-Simca in evidence, Ferrari in shadow. With a difference, that now Alfa Romeo has taken to the field, so that on Friday, May 25, 1973, the Maranello team sees itself overtaken by both the team from Paris and Milan. Ickx here is very good, but no one can perform miracles and the ranking of the best times, therefore, is as follows: first the Matra-Simca MS 670 with Cevert in 7'12"8, at an average of 190.1 km/h, then the Alfa Romeo 33-TT-12 with Stommelen (7'18"5), finally the Ferrari 312 P with the Belgian (7'21"8). Cevert, who is going through a remarkable period of competitiveness, achieves his performance quickly, in the early stages of training. The French driver underlines:
"And think that I had a rather tired engine, back from practice and from the Spa race, with at least three thousand kilometers of road".
On the other hand, the performance of the second MS 670, that of Pescarolo-Larrousse was much less brilliant: Larrousse makes two or three laps, then stops at the box.
"Oil pressure does not rise".
The technicians of the Parisian team therefore decide to replace the engine and the volture bleu is returned to the garage: you can only try on Saturday. No one is worried about it, because there are the references of development resulting from private tests performed in recent days and those from the machine of Cevert and Beltolse. And we come to Alfa Romeo, which had its leading man in Rolf Stommelen, also because Clay Regazzonl, until Thursday engaged at Anderstorp in tyre testing ahead of the Swedish Grand Prix of Formula 1 (17 June 1973), arrives at the Nurburgring late. Stommelen, therefore, demonstrates the good chances of the new twelve-cylinder Alfa, that the Milanese technicians hope to finally see to conclude a race after the accident of Spa in practice and that of the Targa in race. The car has no particular changes compared to the examples seen in the past and Stommelen ensures that tomorrow should be possible to improve. At the end of training the car is blocked by the seizure of the fuel pump. The German climbed on the 33 TT 12 of Regazzonl and Carlo Facettl, getting the fourth half of the day (7'28"1) while the best performance of Facetti is 7'38"5, actually not exciting. Regazzont travels only one lap of the difficult circuit, because it breaks the gasket of the head of the twelve-cylinder boxer. The Swiss driver stops in a big cloud of white smoke. Comments philosophically Carlo Chlti, head of the Alfa team:
"We had to change the engine anyway".
Of course, the fact that Alfa Romeo has done better than Ferrari has cheered up the Alfa Romeo team, for which the Maranello team is still the most important measure. At Ferrari the results are not a bitter surprise, but a confirmation - even if unpleasant - of what emerged in Vallelunga and Dijon. Comments Jacky Ickx:
"The situation remained more or less the same. At Monza and Spa the long aerodynamic queues and the very shape of the tracks had contained the drawbacks of road holding that we had suffered previously. At the Nurburgring we are at the beginning. Compared to Matra-Simca and Alfa itself I waste time everywhere. Here we are in a circuit along twenty-two kilometers: from a difference of half-a second we go up to nine".
Ickx and Redman have a 312 P identical to the models driven in the past while Merzario and Pace has been entrusted with a new version, prepared by Mauro Forghleri, which differs in many details: body design, intake system (with a large tube air intake that resembles those used on Formula 1 cars), suspensions strut connections, oil cooler arrangement. With this car Merzario runs in 7'28"2 and Pace in 7'32"8. Very different judgments of the two drivers. Arturo Merzario says:
"It is harder to drive than the other, but it allows me to accelerate first, at the exit of the curves".
While Carlos Pace is of another idea:
"I prefer the 312 P usual way; this does not persuade me, it has unpredictable reactions".
A contrast that reflects the personal one, Italian and Brazilian speak as little as possible Certain statements and certain polemics leave their mark, and it is a shame because only with a true and general harmony can you overcome the most difficult obstacles. However, it must be added that Matra-Simca and Alfa Romeo had already carried out tests at the Nurburgring in order to accurately evaluate today’s Ferrari test. Therefore, the development of the MS 670 and 33 TT 12 was more advanced than that of the 312 P, in particular the model edited by Forghieri. During the evening the mechanics of the Maranello team will work to replace engines and change gears of the fifth gear. Saturday will be up to the drivers. The Nurburgring is missing the Gulf-Mirage. getting ready for Le Mans, there is a Lola 3000 for Pianta and Pica, there are the usual Porsche Carreras ready to take advantage of any missteps of the fastest cars and, in addition, the Ford Capri and the Bmw three liters, engaged in a personal challenge, and some Chevron and Lola 2000. A beautiful field of starters, which, of course, finds the protagonists in the six sports cars 3000. Matra-Simca, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari: the order of the values produced in the first day of tests for the 1000 Kilometers does not undergo particular changes in the second day of testing, held Saturday, May 26, 1973. The French team and that of Milan avoid committing themselves in a meticulous way, satisfied with the times already obtained with Cevert (7'12"8) and with Stommelen (T 19"5), while Ferrari, while improving its performance, is not able to catch any sensational exploit, although the timekeepers create a bit of suspense by attributing to Ickx a magnificent as imaginative 7'15"5. However, the outcome of this seventh episode of the World Championship is not a priori taken for granted. The voitures bleu are superior to the cars of Maranello in the winding German circuit - at least as far as competitiveness is concerned - but it is the French who reject the role of favorites, and indeed raise strong doubts about the possibility of resistance of their MS 670, especially that of Pescarolo-Larrousse. Georges Martin, technical manager of the team, says:
"We shouldn’t have come to the Nurburgring to prepare the 24 Hours of Le Mans more calmly. Then, at the last moment, we changed our minds and were forced to hasten the development of our machines, which here, have never run. And this is a very challenging track so it’s hard to say if we can finish the race. In particular, we’re running out of engines. On the MS 670 of Pescarolo we had to mount the 12-cylinder engine used on Friday in test by Cevert and Beltoise, and previously at Spa. It’s a tired engine, which has covered almost three thousand kilometers. I don’t think it will last tomorrow. I bet it will break a piston".
Superstition or serious technical prediction? Maybe a bit of one and a bit of the other, certainly the Matra-Simca is at the Nurburgring, but the activity of the team has long turned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Martin concludes:
"For tomorrow I fear more the new Alfa Romeo, which seems to me already in place, than Ferrari, but Maranello remains our most dangerous opponent for the world title. I think the challenge will be solved at Le Mans".
Even the Ferrari team is of similar opinion, but, contrary to what happens in the Matra-Simca clan, for now they think especially about this 1000 Kilometers and this Nurburgring. Both the 312 P of the usual type in the hands of Ickx and Redman, and the special version designed by Forghieri and entrusted to Merzario and Pace, in the second test session show a better performance. A significant progress is made by Merzario, down to 7'23"8 (five seconds less than Friday), while Pace (slower than 1.5 seconds) is the protagonist of a harmless exit track. The engineer Giacomo Caliri devises a series of aerodynamic tricks to improve the behavior of the two 312 P and increase grip, but these are simple palliatives that do not solve the underlying problem, as it does not solve, at least for now, the Merzario-Pace car. Jacky Ickx, unusually carefree, so much so as to perform in the pits in circus acts, like walking on your hands, head down, feet in the sky, says:
"I pulled hard today. I think tomorrow, with a bit of luck in overtaking, it should be possible to shoot in the times of Stommelen, but Cevert remains unattainable".
At Alfa Romeo, the managers hope, apart from the natural desire to win, to finally see the 33 TT 12 at the bottom of a race, in order to evaluate exactly the possibilities of the car in comparison with the others. Carlo Chiti says about it:
"I’m happy with the cars, but we don’t claim to match the limits of the Matra-Simca, which is an excellent three-liter, and has Cevert in great shape".
Despite this, on Sunday, May 27, 1973 we can admire the imperious return of Scuderia Ferrari’s competitiveness in the Sportscar World Championship. Ferrari gets in the 1000 Kilometers of the Nurburgring, another splendid double winning, with Ickx-Redman and Merzario-Pace, while the two Matra-Simca and the two Alfa Romeo cars have retired in the early stages of the race, So much so that this would have dragged into monotony if Arturo Merzario had not agitated the tempers by engaging for a few rounds a heart-warming duel with Ickx. The episode will certainly arouse controversy. Now, however, it should not poison the joy for this success of Ferrari, which brings back the analogous double of Monza and, above all, recreates the festive atmosphere that the Maranello team was used to last season. Jacky Ickx declares:
"I’m happy for Enzo Ferrari, we really needed a statement like this".
The debacle of Matra-Simca allows Scuderia Ferrari to increase its advantage in the World Championship, of which the 1000 Kilometers of the Nurburgring constitutes the seventh episode, on the eve of that 24 Hours of Le Mans which represents the most prestigious moment of the season. Ferrari now has 95 points against the 64 of the Parisian company: a difference that begins to weigh: while the second place in the ranking - at 72 - fits Porsche thanks to a private 908-3 in Germany is fourth with Haldi and Chenevière. The success of Ferrari is clear and linear, although propitiated by the retirements of Matra Simca and Alfa Romeo. But if the voiture bleu of Cevert and Beltoise - as long as it was in the race - held the lead on the winding ups and downs of the Nurburgring, the Milanese company immediately saw that its almost debutants 33 TT 12 did not keep pace with the 312 P produced in Maranello. The tests, evidently, are a fact very different from the race, also because sometimes certain times are obtained with the semi-empty fuel tanks or with special tires. Just the initial phase of supremacy of Matra-Simca should not lead to too enthusiastic comments. Maranello technicians do not have a magic wand and are unable to transform a car overnight.
The 312 P, both in the original version and in the updated one, that in the hands of Merzario and Pace has preserved those behavioral defects that limit its absolute performances, even if the inspiration of Giacomo Cabri, a true expert in aerodynamics, allowed the drivers to better control the cars. The real trump card consisted in the preparation of the machines, always accurate, in the skill of the mechanics at the pit, fast in the refueling operations, that have acquired a significant importance with the progressive approach of the endurance races to those of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and reliability; ie in the distance of each organ. Ickx, Redman, Merzario and Pace stopped just to refuel and replace the tyres. Ickx comments on the situation with very wise words.
"It’s nice to be the fastest, however in these races the important thing is to get to the bottom".
Ferrari got there, and well, the others didn’t. Matra Simca saw what she feared on Saturday. Georges Martin even said:
"I bet that on the car of Pescarolo-Larrousse will break a piston".
He was wrong, but just a little: Pescarolo was forced in the first lap, after just five kilometers, to retire due to the rupture of a connecting rod, and the same fate had the twelve cylinders of the MS 670 of Cevert-Beltoise on the thirteenth lap, even though it was a cooler unit. The French lost with a certain gentleness and the sports director of Matra-Simca, Gerard Ducarouge, went to congratulate Caliri.
"Thank goodness you didn’t win the Targa Florio, otherwise the situation would be catastrophic for us now. We were prepared for what happened today. Ours was an unlucky attempt. The challenge will now be decided at Le Mans".
The two Alfa Romeo 33 TT 12 cars held out more or less, like the Matra-Simca, and that is little, but we must consider that these are young cars, at the debut, in practice, and therefore we must not be too strict. During the second lap Regazzoni was blocked by the failure of the engine (perhaps a valve) and at the eleventh de Adamich entered the pit with the twelve cylinders of his car in poor condition. There is no need for mechanics. Carlo Chiti explains:
"The oil seal between the gearbox and the engine broke, and the lubricant spilled out, smearing candles, suction horns and other parts. What is more, the oil is finished on the rear wheels, making the grip very poor. Impossible any repair: to continue in these circumstances would have been dangerous and useless. Patience, on the other hand we wanted a test, a verification and we had it".
With the French and Milanese rivals retired, the task for the regular Ferrari has been simplified. At Beltoise’s retirement, Ickx had a 52-second lead over Pace. There was no need to risk internal fights, with the danger of not bringing either of the two cars to the finish line, and since the Belgian was in charge at the time, he had the happy task of winning, episode Merzario apart. Ferrari on the shields, therefore, to demonstrate the eternal youth of Maranello. We go to Le Mans with greater confidence. But, as said, Arturo Merzario became the protagonist of a disconcerting episode in the final stages of the 1000 Kilometers, when success was now in the hands of Ferrari. Ickx-Redman’s 312 P from Scuderia Ferrari was in the lead, ahead of Merzario-Pace. A comfortable situation, also because it is customary to keep the leading positions between drivers of the same team and avoid duels within the same team. When Matra Simca of Cevert and Beltoise stopped, first place was Ickx-Redman and second place was Merzario-Pace. Precisa Caliri, technical director of Scuderia Ferrari:
"None of us wanted to favour the Belgian against Arthur. Simply, everyone had to keep their position, turning in times perhaps modest but of total safety to bring the machines to the end".
Merzario, on the other hand, progressively reduced his disadvantage from Ickx (25 seconds on lap 33, 14 on lap 34, nine on lap 35 to overtake him during lap 36,) and not because the Belgian’s car did not march properly or because Arturo was better than his teammate, but simply because Ickx adhered to the agreed schedule (a passage in 7'35"0-7'40"0) and Merzario no. From the Ferrari box, while the public was enraged at this challenge in the family, left desperate signals to Merzario. The mechanics were hanging towards the track showing signs with the words adagio, keep your distance, until, to conclude the unwanted duel, the Italian was ordered to return early to the box. Here Arturo did not want to get out of the car and, only with difficulty, Caliri managed to convince him and to make Pace climb. Even the Brazilian stuck to the tail of the car of Ickx, but - as he explained - only to conclude the 1000 Kilometers together.
"We were traveling in 7'50"0, so there was no danger".
The danger was that of an accident at the first 312 P that, given the proximity, involved the second. In the end, Merzario retired to the hotel and did not get on the podium of the winners together with Ickx, Redman and Pace. Merzario says:
"I asked Caliri for permission to pass Ickx at least for one lap for personal reasons. He agreed. With Jacky we did a few laps together, people applauded us. It was like a game. I do not understand these controversies, in the end I did what was established. I’m sorry they picked up Pace and didn’t leave me behind".
But Caliri replies, saying:
"Merzario did not behave as he should. It is not true that what Arturo claims has been established. Here we are among professionals. Imagine if I dared to risk two cars and a certain success. As for Pace, he replaced Merzario as decided earlier".
And Ickx concludes by saying:
"I don’t really understand the behavior of Merzario, I don’t know, maybe he wanted to show that he could reach me, to know how to go fast, but I preferred to continue on the established meter, not to compromise the final result. These are races for the Sportscar World Championship and not for that of the drivers".
It is a delicate moment for Merzario, for many reasons: he remained on foot in the Spanish and Belgian Formula 1 Grands Prix; he is 30 years old and, despite having already shown his great skills, he still feels the need to prove his worth; in the 1000 Kilometers it drove the car set up by Forghieri, and perhaps it intended to show that also that 312 P was valid. However, Arturo - and this is also the opinion of Enzo Ferrari - has committed two omissions. First, it has not been remembered that it is the practice of the Maranello team to avoid internal challenges: once the competition is stopped, each driver is required to keep rigidly the positions; Secondly, you don’t play in such an important race when you are a professional with certain obligations to your team. Merzario is an intelligent man and, after the moment of competitive anger, should understand his responsibilities in the episode. However, the story ended well and now a single-seater is waiting for Como in the very close Monaco Grand Prix. There is need of serenity and agreement of intent, especially now that the fight for the title is almost at an end. Ferrari’s victory in the 1000 Kilometers of the Nurburgring has given a shock to the championship and has mortified the hopes of Matra-Simca, which this year seemed to have to fly successfully and is instead detached by 31 points from the Maranello team. Nothing is yet decided in the fight for the title, but the situation is becoming clearer and the red - the color of the Italian prototypes - is prevailing over the blue of the French cars. It should be noted that few would have expected at the beginning of the season, especially after the two burning exploits of Matra-Simca in Vallelunga and Dijon. The 312 P dominant of the 1972 championship did not repeat the brilliant results and, in terms of absolute performance, had to give way to rivals Ms 670, especially in the circuits full of curves.
The greater commitment had highlighted certain drawbacks of road holding that last year had not surfaced, so much was the superiority of the Maranello team in comparison with the opponents. Union unrest and the need to give priority to the development of the Formula 1 program had prevented a more incisive modernization of the glorious three-litre spider. And yet the 312 P is still giving a lot of satisfaction. Probably, the Matra-Simca executives are worried about what will happen when the car goes really well and the Ferrari technicians have completed a new, more competitive version. Currently, there are two, one of the usual type and the other modified: the first fruit of the commitment of Giacomo Caliri, the second, seen for the first time at the Nurburgring, studied by Mauro Forghieri. It is well known that Enzo Ferrari has confidence in emulation, in the race between technicians. Competition, even within the factory itself, can be a stimulus and Ferrari thinks that this fight can present more positive than negative aspects. Yes now, as said, the 24 Hours of Le Mans (9-10 June 1973) which will represent the most interesting and prestigious moment of the challenge between Ferrari and Matra-Simca. The French company has already announced its participation in the race, while in Maranello there is some doubt because of a transmission joint. There is the fear that the organ In question does not resist for twenty-four hours, or rather is not able to last for the 5000 kilometers planned: in the tests carried out in recent days it has yielded after 3800 kilometers. Obviously it is hoped that it is possible to remedy the inconvenience: it would be a shame to have to leave to Matra-Simca the 20 points that touch the winner, without a real battle. Ferrari’s caution, however, is understandable. After all, the current position at the top of the standings was gained mainly thanks to the reliability of the cars and the accuracy of their preparation. In these races it is important to cross the finish line and it is right that we should take care to succeed in Le Mans. On the other hand, Ferrari’s great rival is going through a difficult period. Matra-Simca got a bit lost during the season after a brilliant start. At Daytona the French company had to withdraw, but then came the affirmations of Vallelunga and Dijon, with exceptional times in practice and a very valid behavior in the race. In Monza there was a setback because of the wheel pins, in Spa for the tyres, in the Nurburgring for the engines, while the French technicians preferred not to venture into the Targa Florio.
The impression, after many competitions, is this: the MS 670 is a very strong car in terms of absolute performance, much less than the overall competitiveness, including in the concept also the development and experience of managers and mechanics in the box. In this field the Matra-Simca, for sure for lack of maturity, is clearly inferior to the Ferrari, that it takes advantage of years of competitions in the world championship brands. The most delicate point of the voitures bleues is the engine, a twelve-cylinder V directly derived from Formula 1. It is a powertrain of considerable possibilities, but it does not have much resistance to the distance. In addition, the French often adopt this tactic: fit in training units identical to those used last year on the car of Chris Amon in order to achieve great times. Now, a Grand Prix engine is built to last 300-400 kilometers, not the thousand of endurance competitions. That’s why many times Cevert, the fittest of the team, proves to be the fastest in practice. And when drivers try to turn on similar meters in the race, here are the breaks. The Matra-Simca, however, is far from defeated in the fight for the title The French company has been preparing for some time to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which considers the crucial point of the championship and that for reasons of prestige (including nationalism) wishes to win. The MS 670, with the addition of the acronym B, will take to the track with many changes (gearbox, wheelbase rear brakes inboard 13-inch wheels) and, in particular, with engines pre wallpaper especially for the length of the ride. The danger of revenge of the French team remains considerable for Ferrari. After all, this challenge illuminates the whole championship. Whoever wins the title will receive more prestige. Awaiting further developments, on Wednesday, May 30, 1973 there is an atmosphere of expectation in Monte-Carlo that is preparing to host two major sports events: On Saturday the boxing match between Monzon and Griffith and on Sunday the Formula 1 Grand Prix. This race is the sixth episode of the World Championship, which currently sees among the most prominent protagonists Emerson Fittipaldi with Lotus and Jackie Stewart with Tyrrell. The Brazilian leads the standings with 35 points, followed by the Scotsman at 28. At the Grand Prix 27 drivers are registered, including three Italians, Arturo Merzario, Andrea de Adamich and Nanni Galli. The Italian cars are the Ferrari, Iso-Rivolta and Tecno-Martini, which will face Lotus, Tyrrell, McLaren, Brabham, UOP-Shadow, March, B.R.M., Surtees.
As for the comparison between the engines, on the one hand the twelve-cylinder Ferrari, Tecno (both boxer) and B.R.M., on the other the well-known eight-cylinder Ford-Cosworth. Ferrari returns to line up two cars, one for Ickx and the other for Merzario, after leaving only the Belgian in the Spanish and Belgian Grands Prix. These are two identical 312 B3’s. This new model debuted in Barcelona, where Ickx finished twelfth, while Zolder Jacky Ickx was blocked by a wing to a bearing, which then caused the engine to fail. The car looks promising in general and, with a little luck, should be able to compete validly with Lotus, Tyrrell and McLaren. The Monaco Grand Prix, now in its 31st year, will take place on a circuit modified from 1972. The variants affect the area of the pits, moved where last year was the stretch of track between the curve of the Tobacconist and that of the Gasometro, the latter and the design of the track along the pool overlooking the port. As all the teams gather in the pit area on Thursday afternoon it almost seems a pity to disturb the happy scene by starting up a racing engine. There is a short delay while some oil spilt by a Formula Three car is cleared up, and then like an explosion it all begins to happen, and it is Stewart in Tyrrell 006/2 who leads the way out onto the revised circuit. In fact, he continues to lead the way, setting fastest practice lap during this first one-and-a-half-hour session. His teammate Cevert in Tyrrell 006 is not far behind him. Every year there has to be some technical problem to worry the drivers, and this year’s problem is brakes. As the cars get bigger and heavier and faster they take more stopping and, added to this, the tyres are giving more adhesion so the brakes can be used harder, and circuits are getting smaller rather than longer so the brakes get less rest to cool down, and so it goes on. Bigger calipers, thicker pads, thicker discs, more cooling, air ducts, air scoops, tubes, deflectors, everything is being tried and the Lockhee and Girling technicians are being over-worked, and the heat being generated is melting the grease in universal joints and hubs, and it is all quite fascinating. The problem used to be roll-bars, then it was spring-rates and shock absorbers, then ignition units, then tyre vibrations, then differentials. This year it’s brakes. Fortunately there are bigger, more powerful, heavier and faster racing cars than Formula One cars, like the Can-Am McLarens and the Porsche 917/10 turbocharged sports cars, so that both brake firms have information and material to draw on to solve the Grand Prix problems. In addition to all the regular Formula 1 runners the field is joined by Merzario, taking over the second Ferrari, and two English drivers with private teams courageously tackling an entry into the sanctity of Formula 1.
These are James Hunt driving a March for the Hesketh Racing team, the car all pure and white and Lord Hesketh’s own personal property, he being his own sponsor if you feel a team must be sponsored these days, and David Purley driving his own March and publicising his family’s Lec Refrigeration firm. The only person missing from the scene is Peter Revson, who is on his way from the disastrous Indianapolis 500-mile race, though his car is in the pits as a T-car for Hulme. Twenty-six drivers are entered and only twenty-five are going to start, so there is a bit of a scrabble not to be odd-man out, though until Revson arrives there are no problem. Just as no-one likes to be last, everyone likes to be first, and in addition they can all see that the slow section is going to hold things up if you are not in the lead at that point on the opening lap, for previously the fast scrabble down to the old Gasworks Hairpin is one of the few places where you can be brave and overtake, and that is now gone. The Lotus team are back to three cars, as Peterson’s second one at Zolder had yet to be repaired, so the Swede has to be careful for there is no question of borrowing Fittipaldi’s spare car. Although he is careful it does not stop him from being fast and he vies closely with Stewart for fastest time of the day, being only three-tenths of a second behind the Scot. The Brazilian World Champion is dragging his feet again, trying both his cars, but not being very impressive with either of them, brakes still being his main worry, until the gear-lever linkage on R7 gives trouble, whereupon he switches to R5 until that is sidelined with clutch bothers, so that in spite of having two cars he is standing around in the pits for quite a time. Although Ickx is third fastest with his Ferrari he is almost a second slower than Stewart, which is a lot on the Monaco circuit, and the new section added six seconds to the lap time and took some 6 m.p.h. off the average speed. Hulme tries Revson’s McLaren briefly to make sure it is working properly and Stewart goes out in the spare Tyrrell, back in standard form since Zolder, as is his own car. The first signs of trouble from the bumps and tight turns are seen when Cevert’s Tyrrell stops with a broken gearbox. While some drivers are taking a long time to get into the swing of the new circuit, others plunge straight in and twitched their way from one corner to the next, notable among these being Merzario, Follmer and Ganley, while Amon is not disgracing himself with the Tecno. Through all the twitching from right to left, accelerating, braking and generally untidy scratching through the new track, one driver stands out way above all the others, and that is Stewart, for he makes his Tyrrell flow smoothly and effortlessly through it all in the same way he does through fast corners.
The Formula 1 World Championship has landed in the most anachronistic circuit imaginable, that of Monte-Carlo. There is a lot of talk about racetracks and safety, the drivers are worried about a thousand problems, but they continue to run in the streets of the Principality, between houses and hotels, touching the sidewalks and near the sea. The 500 horsepower cars seem to be remote-controlled machines darting angrily on a track that is too narrow and limited to contain the exuberant performance. It goes slowly, however, and this is the detail that ends every year to absolve this circuit survived the years to make the fame of Monte-Carlo always young. Thursday, May 31, 1973, in the first day of practice, the fastest was Jackie Stewart, with Tyrrell-Ford. The Scotsman, who is a great friend of the Principality and knows beautifully every meter of the track, has turned in 1'28"5, at an average of 133.342 km/h, preceding in this provisional ranking of the best Ronnie Peterson, with Lotus-Ford (1'28"8) and Jacky Ickx, Ferrari (1'29"3). Arturo Merzario, with the second 312 B3, got the sixth performance thanks to a time of 1'30"5. In the other circuits that host Formula 1 Grand Prix, the average is around 170-190 km/h, with the peaks of Monza and Zeltweg, which reach 215 km/h. This year, then, the improvised Monegasque track has also become slower due to changes made by the Automobile Club to rationally arrange the pit area. The lap record belongs to Stewart, who in 1971 completed a 1'22"2 pass, at an average of 137.737 km/h. The major changes concern the section of the j circuit flanking the small and delightful port of Monte-Carlo. The chicane was, compared to 1972, brought back to the ancient position, at the beginning of the platform after the descent from the tunnel; the curve of the Tabaccaio was abolished and the single-seaters, instead of continuing on the boulevard, bend left bypassing with a kind of U the pool; the pits are placed on the most used portion of the track; the famous bend of the gasometer has been replaced by another curve, which brings the machines from the plain of the port to that of the above avenue with a rather significant change in slope: the cars begin to jump. The works started in February ended a few days before the Grand Prix. The most impressive point is the U that is just below the pits. The circuit runs between new grandstands (18.000 more seats) and single-seaters run between guardrails and nets. The road is very narrow and you think that if a car gets sideways, it blocks the pace of others. Nanni Galli, with the Iso Rivolta, and Beuttler, with the March, who hooked with the wheels making the spectators feel a thrill. Stewart, however, says that everything is fine and then nobody cares. However, the Scotsman, at the end of training, admits that the circuit has become much more difficult and tiring than in the past.
"The greatest risk is given by the continuous presence of guardrails, on the other hand indispensable; if you touch the metal strips with a wheel, the rim breaks and it is the farewell to the race. There is not a moment of tranquility, of rest, you must always be careful to evaluate what happens in front of you".
Regazzoni is more drastic:
"It is a gut, not a track. The mouths of the curves are very narrow, and moreover the guardrails protrude towards the inside".
Emerson Fittipaldi and Ickx highlight the problem of overtaking.
"In recent years we had the straight that closed with the gasometer to overcome the slowest. Now it is gone, and you have to make do as you can".
The new Ferrari 312 B3 performed really well on this opening day. Ickx immediately tried to get a good time, and he succeeded, while Merzario, at his debut in the Principality, tried above all to learn. Even the Como, however, has provided an excellent performance, sign - apart from personal qualities - that the car is in progress. The refining process started with the same first outing of the single-seater in Spain is bearing fruit. The differences, compared to the model driven by Ickx in Belgium fifteen days earlier, are not relevant: aluminum water radiator, modified oil tank, cooling air intakes for the brakes. The prospects are comforting, therefore, while on the front of rivals there are no particular news. After the Formula Three cars woke everyone’s slumbers on Friday morning the Grand Prix cars appear again, after an early breakfast, and practice runs from 8:40 a.m. until 10:10 a.m., or thereabouts, and once more it is Stewart who impresses with his smooth driving and the easy way he makes the Tyrrell flow through the succession of corners. He improves his best time by exactly one second, doing 1'27"5, but all the while Peterson is with him, now being only two-tenths of a second slower, whereas on the first day he has been three-tenths slower. While Stewart looks as though he could go on all day at this pace, and surely can, Peterson never gives the same impression. Somehow one just feels that Peterson can not keep it up, or the Lotus will falter or an accident will happen; no doubt, all very unjust thinking, but honest thoughts nevertheless. Also driving smoothly and unflurried and never looking fast is Hulme, the McLaren riding the bump out of the new hairpin bend better than most, and his result is a mere one-tenth of a second slower than Peterson’s time, giving him third fastest of the morning.
While all this smooth driving is going on Ickx clouts a kerb with his Ferrari, which bends the front suspension, and parking it at the far end of the circuit he returns to the pits and has a go in Merzario’s car. However, it is not to his liking and he soon gives it back to the skinny Italian. The entire Brabham team has come to a grinding halt with various mechanical problems, the BT37 and one mechanic being all that is left in the pits, the two BT42 cars being abandoned out on the circuit. The UOP-Shadow team are not much better off for Follmer’s rear aerofoil breaks away from its mountings and flies up in the air and into an empty spectator enclosure, and the mountings on Oliver’s car are found to be cracking. Hill’s Shadow is all right as his aerofoil is in its original designed position the works cars experimenting with theirs move farther back. Jarier’s works March breaks the left-rear driveshaft, and most teams are keeping an eye on the rear end of their cars generally, in view of the pounding that shafts, differentials, gearboxes, hubs and suspension components are getting. With the end of the second practice a normal pattern is beginning to take shape, with Stewart, Peterson, Hulme, Emerson Fittipaldi, Cevert and Lauda, in that order, in the Ace category, the first three being Super-Aces, and Ganley, Beltoise, Amon, Hailwood, Pace, Merzario and Regazzoni being in the hardtrier category of those who gets a lap in under 1'30"0. For a first time out in such company Hunt is well up among the odds and sods, just one-tenth of a second slower than Beuttler.
As Revson has still not arrived from Indianapolis everyone is still on the starting grid, but there is no doubt that the American will slot straight in among the O and S, and even with only one practice session left will probably be among the hard-triers, though after the 180-200 m.p.h. of Indianapolis the new circuit of Monaco is going to be a bit of an anti-climax. On Saturday practice takes place in the afternoon on a circuit made slippery and polished by two Formula 3 heats, so the overall tempo is slower for the fast drivers. However, Revson has appeared and this makes the tail-enders get their skates on for someone who is going to get left off the starting grid. As was logical, on the second day of practice for the Monaco Grand Prix, all drivers, minus two, improved their times. The exceptions are represented by the American George Follmer, with the Shadow that has even lost the rear wing and by Jacky Ickx, with Ferrari, who went off the track during his second training lap. Andrea de Adamich, then, is out of competition: the Italian has acted as a spectator because the gas station of his Brabham broke at the first stroke of start given to the engine. Ickx crashed with his 312 B3 in the guardrail that flanks this circuit in the downhill stretch between the old railway station of the Principality and the curve that leads into the promenade. A point, fortunately, very slow, where the speed does not exceed 60-70 km/h. The consequences were therefore very modest: a dent in the monocoque and the bending of a left suspension strut. The mechanics were able to carry out the necessary repairs in the afternoon. The Belgian, back on foot at the Ferrari box, from where also Dr Giovanni Agnelli followed with particular interest the evolution of the single-seaters, explained the reason for the accident.
"The shift from the first to the second gear remained in neutral. During the acceleration phase I missed the support of the engine and I slipped away on the left of the track, which was quite slimy due to the oil left previously by Formula 3 cars engaged in their tests".
Ickx was entrusted with Arturo Merzario’s 312 B3. As is well known, the Italian driver drives the Belgian’s secondary car in Monte-Carlo, which has the right to have it back in such cases. A situation perhaps not attractive for Merzario, but the Italian driver has willingly adapted waiting for the third B3 that will finally be all his. The Belgian, however, after a few laps has given up to continue the test, both for the different type of tuning. wanted by Merzario, both for the arrangement - for him uncomfortable - the driver’s seat.
"I just wasn’t there".
Explains Ickx and so the Italian was able to continue his training, perfecting the knowledge of the Monaco circuit, so much so as to drop from 1'30"5 on Thursday to 1'29"8, twelfth time of the day. The B3 is confirming to be, in these first steps, an excellent car: with the tweaks made during the night, the Belgian would have been even more at ease in the ups and downs of the Principality. Merzario says:
"Imagine yesterday, on my first lap, I literally had to find my way. At a certain moment, I almost got into a clearing instead of looking the right way. I tried to make a considerable number of laps, not so much to tune the car, which is fine, as to know the track. The times have come almost alone: I honestly did not expect them. On Sunday, however, I will travel at my own pace, without presumption, with the sole purpose of completing the race. The circuit is fun, but the overtaking problem is serious. If the one in front of you does not raise his hand to wave you over, it is not to be trusted".
Ickx was eliminated provisionally, Stewart with Tyrrell and Peterson with Lotus confirmed to be (for now) the fastest at Monte-Carlo, improving by a second of their time. The Scotsman turned in 1'27"5, at an average of 134.866 km/h, and the Swede in 1'27"7, 0.2 seconds difference between Jacky and Ronnie against 0.3 seconds on Thursday. While these two drivers seem willing to proceed in pairs, there is to be recorded the inclusion at the top of the ranking of Hulme with McLaren (1'27"8) and Emerson Fittipaldi with the second Lotus (1'28"1). The Brazilian had the misadventure in the last quarter of an hour of testing - always the quickest - to stay stationary along the circuit for lack of petrol. The physiognomy of this sixth round of the World Formula I Championship therefore begins to clarify itself following lines already known. A special mention, however, deserve Lauda with the B.R.M., Ganley with the Iso-Revolt (while that of Nanni Galli is quite behind) and Amon, who is exploiting in a fabulous way the possibilities, indeed not exciting, of his Tecno-Martini, that, at the end of the tests has suffered the engine failure. Saturday more trials. It will be a battle that will anticipate that of Sunday. In Monte-Carlo, given the problems of overtaking, starting in the very first positions will count significantly. After the debut in the Spanish Grand Prix and the short and unfortunate participation in the Belgian race, the new 312 B3 is presented in Monaco in the hands of Jacky Ickx and Arturo Merzario. The car has undergone minor changes compared to previous competitions (aluminum water radiator and new type oil tank), but confirmed in the first two days of training the comforting indications emerged in Barcelona and Zolder, beyond the immediate results and critical evaluations. Will Ickx answer Stewart and Peterson?
The Italian fans, who, as always, make this Grand Prix similar to Monza, hope fervently. So here we are on the eve of the most aristocratic Grand Prix of the year, that of Monaco, the only one still able to gather the beautiful world around these Formula 1 cars accustomed to sweeping in wider horizons. Between houses and sea, in an atmosphere that you can no longer find in the other circuits, you will consume the adventure of men and cars. The Automobile Club of Monaco has tried to find a rational solution to the long-standing question of the arrangement of pits. From this point of view, the changes implemented for this edition of the Grand Prix are excellent: there is space, the mechanics work quietly, the danger of collisions between the racing cars and those in the parking lot has disappeared. On the other hand, the abolition of the section of the circuit that linked the famous curve of the tobacconist and that of the gasometer (precisely the part now devoted to the operations of the various stables) has exacerbated the problem of overtaking, which here was easy to carry out. It is also not possible in the new path that touches the edge of the sea and the pool in a sort of narrow U caged between guardrail and fencing nets. According to Stewart, who gave a favorable opinion to this unprecedented arrangement, the single-seaters can only overtake themselves in the straight that leads to the uphill towards the Casino and the next descent. For all other drivers, however, there are no suitable points.
"We must rely on the correctness of those who see themselves reached".
The challenge between Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi continues. The Scotsman, after five races, is behind Fittipaldi, with 28 points, against the 35 of the Brazilian driver. But a possible success of Stewart and a withdrawal of the Brazilian, in addition to placing Jackie at the top (provisional) of values, would allow him to achieve the success number 25 in a Grand Prix, equalling the record of Jim Clark. There is no sign of the front row of the grid being altered, with Stewart and Peterson side by side, but Cevert and Lauda improve their positions and Ickx retrieves a semblance of hope for the Ferrari team, his car repaired after its kerb-striking incident. The UOP-Shadows are back in the field, their aerofoils re-positioned and braced by struts running forward to the engine air-intake; these struts have been part of the original design and were used in South Africa but subsequently discarded. Practice has barely begun before the next rear-end strikes trouble, and this is Peterson’s Lotus, which breaks its gearbox. During the afternoon Beltoise has his B.R.M. break its outer universal joint on the left drive-shaft, just as he is about to leave the pits, and Ganley’s Iso-Marlboro Williams breaks a universal joint in a drive-shaft as he accelerates from the hairpin. Oliver arrives at the pits with his left-front nose fin all crumpled, having got it under someone’s rear wheel! just as practice is ending Follmer and Merzario have a violent coming together up the hill from Ste. Devote, and as the dust settles they can both be heard claiming it was his fault. The result is a written-off Shadow, with all the wheels torn off, and a badly bent Ferrari. At this point de Adamich is about to be left off the grid, but one look at the Shadow is enough to remove Follmer from the list, in twentieth place, and move the remainder up one. As expected, Revson gets among the hard-triers. Now that the revised circuit has been used in anger, with Stewart on pole position with 1'27"5, the organisers do some sums and estimate that the proposed 80 laps might run for over two hours, and as the regulations impose this time limit, the race is shortened to 78 laps to be on the safe side. It is suggested that Formula One drivers, being artisans, are paid by the hour, and extra time on Sundays rates double pay, but this seems unlikely. To try and describe race day last year to anyone on the morning of the 1973 race, with the sun blazing down, the town packed out, the harbour full of yachts, the pits full of dollybirds and hangers-on, most of whom had long since given up trying to justify their existence, would be a waste of time.
Suffice to say that Monte-Carlo is in great form as the Prince and Princess arrive in a royal Daimler, and then drive a lap of the circuit in a Mercedes-Benz, to start the official proceedings. The Grand Prix contenders (and pretenders) have a brief warm-up session during which Hulme’s Cosworth V8 seems a bit down on power, and his gear ratios are changed in the Hewland gearbox in the hope it will pull better out of the tight corners. Merzario tries out his rebuilt Ferrari and Team Tyrrell, Team Lotus, Team Surtees and B.R.M. all have their training cars standing by in case of last-minute trouble with any of the team cars. From the 2 x 2 x 2 grid Cevert shoots past Peterson and Stewart to lead the field on the opening lap, and Regazzoni follows him through to tuck in behind the Swede and ahead of the Scot. Cevert’s glory lasts but one lap for on the second lap he clouts a kerb with his right-front wheel and punctures the tyre, finishing the lap after everyone but Galli has gone by. This leaves Peterson out on his own for Regazzoni is not fast enough to keep up and though in second place he has a steaming mob queueing up behind him, for overtaking is not easy. Heading the queue is Stewart, cursing himself for being beaten away at the start, and desperately looking for a way by before Peterson gets too far away. Right with him is Fittipaldi, Lauda, Ickx and Wilson Fittipaldi, ahead of Amon and Ganley. This queue lasts for five laps, during which time Peterson is getting further and further away, and as the high-speed crocodile pours out of the arcade down to the chicane the leading B.R.M. locks its wheels and goes skating up the escape road, out of harm’s way. The drama in Monte-Carlo was almost over in the last five minutes of practice for the Formula 1 Grand Prix. George Follmer, with UOP-Shadow, and Arturo Merzario, with the Ferrari 312 B3, touched on the climb that leads to the Casino: the car of the American is carambolata for a hundred meters from one side to the other of the narrow track, that of the Italian crashed into a guardrail. A moment of real fear, but fortunately neither driver has reported the slightest injury. Severely damaged, however, the two cars, which, unless a miracle, will not be able to get on track to participate in the Gran Prix of Monaco.
"I came out of the box to break in the tires for the race and I was going up to the Casino, all moved to the right. Suddenly, I heard a terrible bang and saw a car flying above me. I curled up in the cockpit and snuggled behind the wheel. Crazy stuff. This is already a difficult job without such episodes having to happen to complicate it. Follmer miscalculated the overtaking times, or his car got out of gear long enough to run me over. With his right tire he hit me and ripped off my left and literally took off. He destroyed my car".
The American, debuting in Monte-Carlo as Merzario, gives a different explanation of the episode:
"I spun about 180 km/h and started to pass Merzario. He must not have seen me and widened on the left to vary his trajectory, thus getting stuck with his wheels in mine".
It is a version that does not convince at all, also because the examination of the two machines it turns out that to that of Follmer the only remaining wheel is the front right, twisted and bruised while the others flew away in the impact and in the subsequent flight. Merzario’s Ferrari has lost all four wheels. Only from these elements can we deduce that it was the American who climbed with his Shadow in the Maranello car. Arturo’s statements are moreover endorsed by some witnesses present at the event. A real shame for Merzario and for Ferrari who had brought two cars here again and who was not very lucky. The Comasco, who in these days had behaved with great judgment on track, had managed to improve his time, dropping to 1'29"5, sixteenth overall performance of the three training sessions. Ickx, who had not been able to turn on Friday for an initial outing, received from the mechanics a B3 in perfect order and scored a decent time of 1'28"7, which puts him only in the fourth row. They did not improve either Stewart, with Tyrrell, nor Peterson (stopped almost immediately by the failure of the change of his Lotus), nor Hulme, with McLaren. Cevert, instead, with the second Tyrrell has approached sensibly to the three. The Frenchman scored a time of 1'27"9 of all respect: four drivers in 0.4 seconds, a guarantee of uncertain fight and therefore, more exciting, on the eve of this sixth episode of the world championship. For Emerson Fittipaldi, in the third row with his time of 1'28"1, alongside the surprising Lauda with the B.R.M, it will be more difficult to repeat the victorious chases of other races for the difficulty of overtaking that presents the Monte-Carlo circuit. It is a race that is quite uncertain, however the Stewart in pole position is a lure for those in this easy-to-play city who enjoy betting on the Grand Prix. After all, it is easy to predict that, if he is not betrayed by the car, the Scotsman will be able to match the record of the Grand Prix (25) of his great compatriot Jim Clark. At the end of the rehearsal, Arturo Merzario sips as usual, a Coca-Cola with ice and in the meantime runs with his finger guardrail, sidewalks, houses, a long succession of curves for boulverads and streets, touching the sea.
"Let’s start with the new Intascasse curve, the one that replaced the gas meter hairpin. I follow it in the second and I come out moved to the left of the road. It is a point where the car breaks down slightly due to the presence of a jump created by the connection between the level of the port and that of the boulevard: a small deviation of trajectory is always made. Then, down on the accelerator, third and fourth gear, a look on the right to see the signals from the box, I put the fifth gear and I’m on 220 km/h. I pay attention to the flashing lights when another car has just left the pits and starts slowly on the track. I put back the fourth gear just before the St. Devote corner and gave a brake stroke. The entrance is difficult, because the track is narrow and donkey-backed. I try to keep in the middle, avoiding to move everything from left to right to cut the turn as you would in the classic way. Up uphill towards the Casino I put the fifth, running at 230 km/h. It is a serpentine between guardrails and you have to be very careful. A bump, brake, I pass from fifth to third gear and set the curve that leads into the Casino square, a delicate point. It is better not to enter too fast otherwise you move to the right in an excessive way and it becomes difficult to face the next curve that puts me in the descent of Mirabeau, which begins with a significant change of slope. It is essential to make the exact trajectory because, in my opinion, this descent is the only stretch of the circuit where it is possible to overcome another machine by force. If you fly on the jump with the single-seater aligned to the direction of the track, you can hit the accelerator first and more, then be faster. At the Mirabeau brake and I pass in second gear, and I hold this up to the Portier curve, which leads onto the Lungomare. I prefer not to use the first gear as others do, and drive with greater softness. It goes on the 50 km/h: the slowest area of the circuit. The curve of the Portier is tricky, because on the right there is a sidewalk and on the left, before the wall that marks the road, there is a concrete area where you always finish. You are then, with the right wheels on the asphalt and the left ones on the concrete: the grip varies and the car tends to skid. Then acceleration under the tunnel very well lit up to enter the fifth gear. The engine is on 12,200 - 12,300 rev/min for a power of about 480 hp. The speed is around 250 km/h. Finished the tunnel. A jump, braking, fourth gear, I enter the chicane on 180 km/ h. Another braking, third gear, bend left towards the pool. Another stroke of brakes, second gear and here I am in the very narrow U, with protruding guardrails. We are at the Rascasse, the lap is over".
Merzario still does not know if he will be able to run, because the accident that almost destroyed his car could prevent him from the debut to which he cared so much and for which he had prepared so scrupulously. Arturo Merzario asks to address an appeal to all the photographers who had found themselves Saturday in the stretch where he had the incident with Follmer in order to have a clear documentation on the incident itself. Merzario wants everyone’s responsibilities to be clear and trusts in the proof of the photographs. The appeal is taken by a film operator, who during the tests has resumed the dramatic accident between Follmer’s Shadow and Merzario’s Ferrari. The 16 mm colour film will be made available to the Monaco automobile club at the end of next week. It is not known, however, whether the entire dynamics of the collision have been captured. Focusing again on the accident, we draw these considerations: the track is too narrow; overtaking, in any condition, is always an adventure; spectators have run a serious risk, with the wheels flying to the right and left; the guardrails contain the cars in the road seat but damage them and throw them back towards the center, creating a situation of danger for the other drivers who come. Also: we need large clear spaces on the sides of the roadway (but how to make them here?); the intervention of the emergency vehicles was quick and a fire on the Shadow of Follmer was immediately turned off; the new safety measures for single-seaters (tanks and protections) have probably made the episode less serious. Meanwhile, Ferrari technicians and mechanics performed the miracle of repairing the 312 B3 of Arturo Merzario, allowing him to participate in the Monaco Grand Prix and with a safe and intact car, in place also in the set-up. It is a night of hard work, begun at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday and continued Uninterruptedly. The repair of Merzario’s car is closely followed by Sandro Colombo and Giorgio Ferrari, the two engineers present at Monte-Carlo, Giulio Borsari, the talented Maranello’s chief mechanic, and six specialists. Three other mechanics, directed by engineer Bussi, engine expert, operate around the B3 of Ickx, controlling the oil pumps. The accident, which confirms the traditional robustness of Ferrari constructions, had damaged the B3 in various parts. It was necessary to replace the front and rear right suspension, water and oil radiators, a steering arm and repair the monocoque, deformed by the impact, straightening and reinforcing it with a sheet of steel. Finally, the technicians have done to remake the set-up of the car and verify the geometry of the wheels through special equipment.
A job that, moved on a normal car and performed in an equally normal workshop, would cost at least 15 days instead of about 14 hours. This and more for the Monaco Grand Prix, which is seventy percent Italian, at least judging by the border crossings, which are more than 70.000 and which are probably all dedicated to this race. Moreover, the Italian invasion is expected, and restaurants and bars display menus in Italian language and prices in Italian currency. The changes on the circuit had a modest effect on the technical line of the Grand Prix, but they allowed the installation of new grandstands and the more extensive use of the steep slopes of the Rocca, with a higher income. The Monaco Grand Prix is a colossal investment and and as long as it holds up speculation without too much trouble, you can also endorse the cynical assurance that this track is the safest in the world, having on its liabilities only two fatal accidents: on the basis of this theory of optimism, you compete continuously, with serious tests and other less, from a couple of days. Now the race can start to sort itself out, and while Regazzoni stops at the pits to say his brakes do not work properly Stewart and Fittipaldi pour on the coal and gather in the leading Lotus, spacing the others out behind them. Just about at this point the leading car is in trouble with dropping fuel pressure to the injection unit, and though Peterson has switched on the electric fuel pump, to try and boost up the pressure from the mechanical one, it is not enough to give full power and he gradually drops back. Now it is Stewart’s turn to take the lead, which he does on lap 8, with Fittipaldi following him through into second place. On lap 9 Lauda, Ickx and Wilson Fittipaldi are by the Swede and pulling away from him. After three more laps things settle down, with Stewart leading Fittipaldi by just over three seconds and stalemate is setting in, the gap remaining very constant while each waits for the other to make a mistake or for the Tyrrell or the Lotus to fail. Then come Lauda, Ickx and Wilson Fittipaldi, one behind the other, the elder Brazilian brother driving the race of his life, and they are followed by Peterson in the sick Lotus leading Amon in the Tecno, Ganley, Hulme, Hailwood, Pace and Jarier, all nose to tail, and then Revson, Hunt, Reutemann and Merzario in a procession with the rest trailing along and Cevert right at the back but gaining ground after his pit stop.
Round and round the streets of the town the procession winds, there being little hope of anyone doing any overtaking unless the chap in front is nice and gives way, and as they are all still on the same lap this is not likely to happen. All that can happen is trouble, and Amon is the first to drop out of the merry-go-round when he goes into the pits with his left-front tyre flat, rejoining the race at the back. Cevert gets by three of the slow cars at the back when they move over, these being Galli, Hill and Oliver, and then Stewart is amongst them, about to lap them. Although Cevert is catching the slower cars. Stewart is catching him, and as the Scot is weaving through the slow traffic Fittipaldi is following him through and not losing too much ground. While the Lauda, Ickx, W. Fittipaldi trio is lapping the tail of the field the Austrian driver’s gearbox breaks, which leaves Ickx into third place, but not a very impressive one, for Stewart and Fittipaldi are well out of sight and drawing away all the time. The elder and taller Fittipaldi is really enjoying himself, keeping his Brabham BT42 right on the Ferrari tail and going strongly. The Tecno disappears from the scene when Amon finds it swooping from side to side under braking, and after 30 laps Stewart has enlarged his lead to 8.6 sec. over the black and gold Lotus, but is conscious of the ever-present threat. Having galloped past the Os and Ss with comparative ease Cevert is now up behind the hardtriers and they have no intention of moving over, so he is stuck there for a time, in fifteenth place behind Reutemann, who is up behind Merzario, who is up behind Revson, who is up behind Hunt, the new boy leading this group worthily. The other new boy, Purley, has been chasing de Adamich down near the back of the race and after 32 laps his engine dies in the slow section. The fuel collector tank on the March has split and he simply runs out of petrol, and has to push the car to the end of the new section while everyone squeezes by under yellow flags. Cevert eventually gets past Reutemann, but is then behind Revson, who is not one to be impressed by a pretty face, and while he is stuck there Stewart comes up to lap them. Stewart nipped by his team-mate, and while a Tyrrell with flashing eyes and a French smile is one thing in the mirror, a Tyrrell with the beady eyes of a ruthless Scot in the mirror is another thing altogether, and Revson moves over.
Cevert sees his chance and tucks in tight behind his team-leader and follows him by the McLaren. The same thing happens with Merzario and then with Hunt, as they move over to let Stewart through to lap them. In quick succession Cevert is up three places and he continues to stick to Stewart’s tail, even though he is a lap behind Fittipaldi is still in second place, but not quite so quick through the traffic and at 40 laps he is 13 sec. behind Stewart. In third place comes Ickx, still followed by W. Fittipaldi, then Hulme who has struggled past Peterson, followed by Ganley and Beltoise, except that while on his fortieth lap Beltoise slides wide out of the Casino square, strikes the guard rail which crumples the left-rear suspension and nearly tears the wheel off, and with only three brakes effective and not much steering control the B.R.M. clangs into the guard-rail at the foot of the hill and smashes the front end pretty thoroughly. For what it is worth this let Hailwood into eighth place, about to be lapped by Stewart with Cevert in tow, so Hailwood is almost immediately relegated to ninth place. As this happens Ganley’s Iso-Marlboro Williams breaks a rear drive-shaft universal, just as he had in practice and at the same point on the circuit. This loses him a steady seventh place and lets everyone move up one. Without warning Ickx disappears from third place when his Ferrari breakes its right-hand drive-shaft, right at the spline roots, a most unusual happening for a Ferrari, and this lets a delighted Wilson Fittipaldi into third place behind his kid-brother. Hulme is now fourth, but not for long as a bolt loosens off and falls out of his gear linkage, and a pit-stop to have it replaced drops him back. At the same time Reutemann retires at the pits, his gearbox locked in 4th gear, jammed there by a broken 2nd-gear pinion. The two Tyrrells are still circulating nose-to-tail and anyone who has not been paying attention can be forgiven for thinking they are first and second, instead of first and fifth and a lap apart. For ten laps nothing much happens, and then Merzario’s Ferrari falls by the wayside with sagging oil pressure, and it begins to look as though there will hardly be enough finishers to collect all the prizes, and all the 12-cylinder-engined cars are gone.
At 67 laps Hailwood gets a flat right front tyre and the pit stop to change it dropps him from sixth place to eighth place, and at 70 laps, with eight to go, an unexpected situation arises, that could have resulted in a glorious end of race fracas, but somehow just fizzles out. Wilson Fittipaldi’s fine drive comes to an end on lap 72, when his fuel system fails to pick up the last few gallons of petrol and the engine dies. Stewart has everything in hand with an 8-sec. lead over Fittipaldi, with Cevert between them on the road but a lap behind. All three of them are closing up on Peterson whose Lotus is still running poorly compared with the leaders, and nobody likes to be lapped in the closing stages of a race, especially as it will also let Cevert by as well, which would put him into the third place, which the Swede is holding. With Stewart taking it easy on the last few laps, Fittipaldi is closing up and being encouraged to try that much harder. So the scene is set for a super scrap between two Tyrrells and two Lotus, with no one else in the way. If Peterson could baulk Stewart (in a gentlemanly Jack Brabham fashion, of course) it would help Fittipaldi to catch the Tyrrell, but equally Cevert is in a similar position to baulk Fittipaldi in his chase. On the other hand if he sticks with Stewart he is in a position to snatch third place from Peterson. It is the Frenchman who is the first one to chicken out when he sees Fittipaldi pressing in his mirrors and ahead can see Stewart shaping up to lap Peterson. He drops right back and says afterwards that he could see the makings of a nasty, rough situation in which someone might get hurt and wanted no part of it. Peterson is so depressed by his miserable race that he hardly notices Stewart going by on lap 74 and the whole affair comes to nought, with Fittipaldi setting a new fastest lap on the last lap and finishing 1.3 sec. behind Stewart. Oh well! It has been rather a dull race anyway, but something has gone out of Grand Prix racing. The problem is to decide when it went. Was it with Farina, Behra, Brabham, Bandini, Rodriguez, or wasn’t it ever really there? Perhaps it is just that the wrong people get into the right situations.
"Thank God the race was over".
The two protagonists of this sixth episode of the World Championship praise each other with much style.
"Emerson was great. At the beginning I feared that I could not bring myself in the lead and then be reached by Fittipaldi: this for the difficulties of overtaking existing in the bottlenecks of the circuit. In the last laps I saved a little because I knew I could control the situation".
While Fittipaldi states:
"I’m happy for Jackie. He made a fantastic run. In the final I tried everything to reach him. I think I’ve never gone to the limit of myself and Lotus. Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of overtaking problems too. Revson, for example, did not look in the rearview mirror and I had to follow him for a long time. He must have made me lose at least five or six seconds. Stewart has now almost joined me in the championship. I think the title fight will be a matter between us, just like today".
Another episode that deserves to be reported happened in the last laps. Stewart stood in front of Peterson, and the Swede nodded his arm and signaled him to overtake. In theory, the good Ronnie could have been a team player in favor of Fittipaldi, slowing Stewart to facilitate the reunion between the two. Cavalry or a further clue that Peterson does not bind at all with Team Lotus and is thinking about possible future accommodations? And we come to the losers, who are many, including the Italian brands, from Ferrari to Tecno-Martini, to Iso Rivolta. Ferrari and its fans, while Merzario with some boredom on the brakes sailed in tenth position, saw Ickx fight tenaciously behind Stewart and Fittipaldi. A third place would have rewarded both the Belgian and the managers, technicians and mechanics of the Maranello team who is trying with commitment to find the road to success in Formula 1. Ickx’s B3 did not look bad at all in comparison with Stewart’s Tyrrell and Fittipaldi’s Lotus; His behaviour in the U flanking the pool was very satisfactory. Unfortunately, a failure occurred that has nothing to do with road holding. The right rear axle is broken and the beautiful dream of a placement that would have been a spur for the next competitions is over. Shortly after, Merzario also withdrew due to an engine failure. As always, the circuit of the Principality has put a strain on changes and brakes, so much so that, due to a lack of the latter, Beltoise ended up with the B.R.M. against the guardrail in the descent from the Casino to the sea, and Amon with the Tecno-Martini hit with a wheel the wood of the chicane. While Nanni Galli withdrew with the Iso Revolt, De Adamich came seventh. One small positive note in a Grand Prix so bitter for the Italians.