#198 1971 South African Grand Prix

2022-08-31 01:00

Array() no author 82025

#SecondPart, Fulvio Conti,

#198 1971 South African Grand Prix

With the 1000 km of Buenos Aires, scheduled for Sunday 10 January 1971, on the Municipal Autodrome (164 laps of 6121 meters each), the Sportscar World


The French driver took right onto the obligatory trajectory of the cars that were accelerating out of the bend to slip into the big bend leading into the pit straight, and at a certain moment, the French driver stopped him, moving from the back of his Matra alongside the steering wheel, in the most dangerous point of the track. Parkes arrives, in the lead, and Giunti, slightly off to the right. It is clear that Parkes comes out of the corner faster than the Italian rider, who slips in behind him preparing to take advantage of his slipstream or attempt to overtake. And here it must be observed that when a driver has set a curve in a certain way he is forced into a fixed trajectory, he travels as if on a rail. Emergency maneuvers are impossible, or almost impossible. As Parkes parades, Giunti's Ferrari collides with the Matra, which is taken from Beltoise's hands. Soon after, the gigantic blaze as Beltoise flees. At the same time, on Wednesday 13 January 1971 Colin Chapman, legal representative and owner of Lotus, was deeply amazed to learn of the criminal proceedings opened against him by the Italian judiciary following the accident in which on 5 September 1970 in Monza, the Austrian Jochen Rindt lost his life.


"I don't understand why the Italian judiciary decided to charge me with manslaughter. This surprises me quite a lot, especially since. Together with my technicians, I have not yet had the opportunity to examine the remains of the car. To establish whether or not Rindt's car had a defect in the shaft connecting the brake disc to the left front wheel, I will first have to examine the remains. However, I can assure you that Rindt's car was perfect".


Another Italian story.


"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. Believe me, Ignazio’s death saddened us deeply. It was terrible".


On Wednesday January 13, 1971, Mr. Martin, head of the press services and public relations of Matra, the house for which Jean-Pierre Beltoise runs, confessed. The French manager is awkward, almost speechless. A few meters from him, at the foot of the main altar of the church of San Roberto Bellarmino, in Piazza Ungura, there is the coffin of Ignazio Giunti, wrapped in the tricolor, covered by a cascade of flowers. The beautiful church in the elegant square is packed with crowds. Many, many young people. The books under the arm, the maxi-coat, the dismayed faces. They see in Ignazio a symbol of generosity and daring, the image of a man, of a real man. Then the friends, the representatives of international motoring, the managers of Ferrari, the drivers, who huddled affectionately around Giunti's relatives. The mother, Baroness Gabriella Sanmartino di Strambino, the sisters Annamaria and Nicoletta, the brother Berardo, the fiancée Mara Lodirlo, assist with bowed heads, with strong and composed grief, the funeral service, which is officiated by the parish priest of San Roberto Bellarmino, don Alberto Parisi, and by the chaplain of the pilots, don Sergio Mantovani. The absolution of the martyred body of Ignazio Giunti, who had been baptized in this church in September 1941, was imparted by the cardinal vicar of Rome, Monsignor Angelo Dell'Acqua. The cardinal utters some expressions of condolence, addressing Ignazio's mother, Ferrari - represented by the general manager Dondo and the sports directors Forghieri, Schetty and Caliri - and the young people. Consoling words echo, not in line with the traditional yardstick adopted by the Church to judge races and comment on the accidents that occur in them.


"Not risk, but suicide".


Vatican radio had said a few days earlier. Monsignor Dell'Acqua, on the other hand, praised Giunti as a pilot, that is, the man who became a sportsman to pursue a dream, an ideal. A man who was a young brother to the young, a figure who is an example. A new, sincere way of seeing racing and its protagonists, in sad and happy moments. After the ceremony, Giunti's body, which had been watched over by eight mechanics, was hoisted onto the hearse. Merzario, who should have substituted Ignazio in the 1000 kilometres, holds the green helmet of his deceased friend in his hands. Many people cry. The mournful procession sets off towards the Verano cemetery. 


Here, in sector number 8, the 1970 Italian champion is buried. A long red rose is placed on the coffin, placed in the Giunti family tomb. Baroness Gabriella thanks her friends, addressing brief, intense words to her son's former companions, to Merzario, to Regazzoni, to de Adamich. Mr. Martin also approaches her. Those close to the two ensure that, after the sentences of circumstance, the manager Matra says:


"It was a fatal case".


And Giunti's mother, calm and cold:


"No, it wasn't a coincidence".


It's true, very true, it wasn't a coincidence. Martin adds:


"Beltoise is the unintentional cause of the accident. But he is not the only one responsible. Why didn't the marshals oppose his maneuver? No one intervened, in fact they yelled at him to hurry because it was dangerous".


It is now only a question of ensuring to what extent the French pilot and the Argentine organizers (who sent a telegram and were represented by an official from the embassy in Rome) have to share responsibility. Ferrari awaits the outcome of the actions promoted by CSAI internationally and so does Giunti's family. Berardo, Ignazio’s brother, says to the president of CSAI, engineer Alberto Rogano:


"Keep me informed. We will help you in everything and for everything. We won't bring actions other than the sporting ones, but we want the investigation, so that Ignazio's death has a moral effect, for the races and for the drivers. If sports justice disappoints us, then we will follow other paths".


Engineer Rogano receives a telegram from the prince of Meilernich, president of the CSI, in which he assures the president of the CSAI that as soon as he has received the reports from the CSI delegates present in Buenos Aires, he will start the investigation. Rogano, while preparing a dossier on the tragedy. Surprisingly, on Friday 15 January 1971, Jacky Ickx, the Belgian Ferrari driver, opens a controversy against the Italian press, accusing it of not being objective, of letting itself be overcome by passion and emotion and of unjustly throwing away all responsibility for poor Giunti's death on Beltoise’s shoulders. Ferrari's number one was this morning at the cocktail presentation of Merckx's team, of whom he is a personal friend. He chatted first in a friendly way and then gradually more and more polemically with the Italian journalists.


"Pushing your car when you run out of petrol and you're not far from the garage is absolutely normal, which all riders do, even if we know very well that it's against the regulations. I myself found myself in Beltoise's condition and behaved like him".


However, someone points out to Ickx that doing it all is not a good justification at all, above all for the consequences that this can have, as the tragedy of the Temporada more than exhaustively demonstrates.


"It's not up to us drivers but to the race marshals and officials to enforce the safety rules. Beltoise has a crumpled arm and he's not a madman when he drives: crippled as he is, he couldn't push his Matra very fast".


A certain astonishment welcomes these words of the Belgian pilot, and in the opinion of those present it was precisely the conditions of Beltoise that should have discouraged him from a maneuver that was already extremely dangerous and forbidden in itself.


"Siffert (the Porsche rider who won the tragic race) told me that the yellow danger flags had been displayed in good time and that therefore the drivers should behave with caution. Beltoise will also have seen the alert and thought he could do the same thing he did".


Then, perhaps to mitigate the uproar caused by his words, all the more so if we consider that Jackie is a teammate of the young pilot killed, Ickx adds:


"I wouldn't want anyone to think that I am accusing Ignazio, who was a friend to me".


But then, the following day, Jacky Ickx's father, Jacques Ickx, a journalist, denied the statements attributed to him by Italian newspapers according to which Ignazio Giunti also made mistakes in Buenos Aires. Ickx's father tells reporters on behalf of his son that Ickx denies making any statement about an incident he did not witness. The interviews that appeared in Italy would therefore not reflect his thinking.


"If my son intends to comment on the accident, he will do so in the columns of the newspapers and weeklies to which he collaborates".


Intercepted by telephone in Brussels by Scuderia Ferrari, the Belgian driver declared to Peter Schetty:


"No statement has been released by me to the press".


Scuderia Ferrari, for its part, confirms that, even after the team's return from Argentina, it will not make any declarations, intending to file its findings together with the president of CSAI, engineer Rogano. A few days later, Saturday 20 January 1971, Jean-Pierre Beltoise's lawyer was interrogated this morning by the judge who was preparing the case to ascertain whether the pilot was responsible for manslaughter for his behavior in the 1000 kilometres. There is reason to believe that on Monday 22 January 1971 the magistrate will adopt a decision, and it will therefore be known whether he will issue an arrest warrant against the French pilot or will acquit him in the preliminary investigation. The magistrate also interrogates Juan Manuel Fangio, as race director. The former World Champion repeats the usual statements to justify Beltoise.


"I told the judge that it was an accident like any other. I also specified that Beltoise behaved like any good driver, trying to stay in the race. This was just one more tragedy".


Jean-Pierre Beltoise will leave Buenos Aires for Paris on Monday evening. He will return to the South American capital within sixty days to stand trial for the death of Ignazio Giunti. The French pilot, called by the investigating judge Estollati Vergara, who had informed him that he had been indicted as responsible for the tragedy, ordered the seizure of Beltoise's assets for a value of around four and a half million lire. The conductor of the Matra should have been jailed but, at the request of the defense lawyer, he was granted bail on bail. In the previous days, Beltoise had sent engineer Enzo Ferrari a letter in which he tried to justify his behavior and regretted what had happened, saying he shared everyone's pain. In the meantime, Rome has confirmed that the Giunti family will join the civil party in the trial against Beltoise. 


A few days later, Sunday 24 January 1971, Chris Amon with Matra Sinica MS 120 wins the Grand Prix of the Argentine Republic for Formula 1 and Formula A machines. The latter limited themselves to making the race more interesting after retirement of the Ferraris, but from a competitive point of view they never pose a threat. The winner's average hourly speed of 159.418 km/h should be considered high, given the winding circuit and the abundant rain that fell during the day. The competition takes place in two heats of fifty laps each. The first battery is easily the prerogative of the German Stommelen, on Surtees TS 7, who maintains the lead of the race from the first lap to the end. In the second battery Siffert begins to pace the pace, but for a short while, since Amon manages to stretch his Matra, and then Siffert having to first stop at the box and then retire due to trouble with the spark plugs, the chase is continued by Pescarolo and Reutemann, which finish in second and third place in order. This result is also valid for the effects of the final classification by sum of times. The big defeat of the day is Lotus, which given as favorite on the eve, is forced to settle for seventh place in the standings. The following week, Sunday 31 January 1971, Porsche recorded the second consecutive victory in the Sportscar World Championship. After winning the tragic 1000 kilometers of Buenos Aires with Siffert-Bell, a five-litre 917 from the Gulf-Porsche stable asserted itself in the 24 Hours of Daytona Beach with Rodriguez and Oliver ahead of the private Ferraris of Bucknum-Adamowicz and Donohue-Hobbs. The race is grueling, so much that only 22 of the 48 cars that started on Saturday evening completed it. The Gulf-Porsche affirmation is painful. After the retirement of the 917 driven by Siffert-Bell (engine failure) and that of Elford (multiple accident, which also involved Donohue's Ferrari, which continued after a long stop in the garage for repairs), Rodriguez-OIiver maintain firmly in command of the competition, while the Italian cars had to stop several times due to problems of various kinds. With three hours to go, when the 917 had an advantage of 342 kilometers over its closest rival, Buchnum's Ferrari, the twist came. The Stuttgart car can be seen slowing down and pitting. Great confusion of mechanics, and finally the response is this: failure of the transmission shaft, the organ must be replaced. A very serious inconvenience, a difficult repair. The Porsche gets stuck in the pits and, minute by minute, Bucknum's Ferrari decreases the disadvantage. 


Eventually, the car from Maranello takes the lead. There are 70 minutes to go until the end of the race. But at this moment, after a stop of an hour and a half, the mechanics handed the 917 back to Rodriguez. The Mexican begins with his chase. Its disadvantage is about 800 meters. A few laps, and Rodriguez crowns his effort, also because the Ferrari gradually gives way, also affected by problems with the transmission. On the sidelines of the 24 hours, attended by just 35.000 spectators, he recorded a singular incident. A small two-seater touring plane crashes near the runway at the speed ring. The column of smoke and dust forced the pilots to slow down for a few minutes. While Shepard, Mitchell and Roosa begin their wonderful adventure to the Moon with Apollo 14, a few kilometers from Cape Kennedy, on the Daytona Beach track, Rodriguez and Oliver conclude the 24 Hours with the Porsche 917. An adventure too, with accidents, cars off the track, others blocked by irreparable breakdowns, and with a suspenseful arrival. The final part of the race was the most exciting. It doesn't happen in all competitions that a car can stop for 90 minutes and still win. Some considerations arise from this. The first, and more logical, is this: that Porsche was able to remain stationary for an hour and a half (and assert itself) because such was its advantage over Ferrari. But how was the 917 able to achieve this margin of time if the 512 from Maranello had finished the 1970 championship on a crescendo, reaching a plan of substantial balance with its rival from Stuttgart? The fact is that Ferrari is not participating in the world championship this year. The Italian team has sold its five liters to various teams, and it is known that no team can offer the preparation and assistance of an official team. Also, Donohue's latest version 512 was delayed in a collision; it was the most perfect specimen and he found himself having to chase with little hope and many aches and pains. In 1970, when Porsche and Ferrari confronted each other openly, a situation like this never happened. Once again, John Wyer's Gulf-Porsche has proven its efficiency. For two years, the German brand has been entrusting its cars to the organization of the English manager Wyer, linked to and subsidized by the Gulf oil company. This is an official team, which looks after and directs the 917s before and during the races, but which is also assisted by technicians from Stuttgart. 


The mechanics, directed by a Modena native who moved to England, Ermanno Cuoghi, are among the best. They proved it again on this occasion. The exact nature of the transmission failure is not known: the wording is rather generic. It is believed that it is not the shaft, because this in the Porsche, which has an engine and rear drive wheels, is a simple shaft, which shouldn't involve so much time for its replacement. It is likely a bearing inside the gearbox. In that case it would justify the length (and, of course, the speed) of the save operation. Not even the 917 is an indestructible car. Various specimens are on the track at Daytona and, apart from that of Elford, eliminated by a spectacular crash, the others succumbed to engine problems (Siffert) or, again, to the transmission (Marko). In fact, the American track, very fast and with a rough surface, with significant junctions between the speed curves and the rest of the track, has always been a car wrecker. For these reasons, the Daytona episode is unlikely to repeat itself. The fact remains that Porsche is always at the top, but that private Ferraris can make their presence felt. The official ones will have to participate in the Formula 1 World Championship. Meanwhile, in Europe, Italian journalists meet Jean-Pierre Beltoise almost by chance at the Monte-Carlo Rally. Checked sporty suit, air of a man on vacation. 


"Do you want to talk to an Italian journalist?"


He replies with a half grin:


"Why not?"


The dialogue opens, while the cars parade on the quay of the port amid the hum of the cameras. Is it true that you came to Monte-Carlo to talk to Prince Metternich, president of the FIA?


"No, I've been with him, but also with others. I came above all to meet the president of the French motor sport federation. Imagine the reason".


Maybe to defend himself against accusations of irresponsibility after what happened in Buenos Aires? Beltoise is silent. It is said that they will give her a six-month ban. It is true? He blurts out:


"I hope not. In practice, it would mean losing a year, and I'm already 34. It would be a hard blow for me and for my career".


To Giuseppe Viola, a Rai radio commentator who later interrogates him in the hall of a large hotel, Beltoise explains:


"In Buenos Aires any of us riders would have behaved like me. It was a combination of circumstances that caused Giunti's death. The responsibility cannot be of a single person".


That is of Beltoise. Jean-Pierre concludes:


"You Italian journalists are at fault. I hope the public doesn't listen to you. I plan to come to Italy soon to race. I'm sure the spectators will behave sportily".


So says Beltoise, as Ove Andersson passes smiling and happy with his Alpine-Renault. And meanwhile, in Maranello in Italy, Ferrari presents the Formula 1 single seater that will participate in the 1971 World Championship competitions. It is an updated version of the 312-B that won with Ickx and Regazzonl in the second part of last season. The car, called 312 B2, had 12 opposed cylinders and a displacement of 3000 cc. Compared to previous types, the single seater has new suspension and modified aerodynamic profiling. The engine has also been improved in some details. In the next few days it will be tested on the Modena racetrack and, subsequently, sent to South Africa due to the most appropriate climatic conditions. However, it is believed that Ferrari 170 model will participate in the South African Grand Prix (6 March 1971) and the subsequent one in Spain. The 312 B2 should make its debut on Sunday 23 May 1971 in the Monaco Grand Prix. On Monday 1 February 1971, the new Ferrari 312 B2 was tested for the first time, as anticipated, at the Modena racetrack by the Swiss driver Peter Schetty, who held the position of head of testing and sporting director of Ferrari. Considering that the track is very wet, the tests ended satisfactorily, even though Schetty didn't force it despite reaching a very significant average (on the 2,366 km circuit), which however is not officially timed. Testing will continue in the following days, while a test on the Kyalami circuit (South Africa) is scheduled shortly. The engineer Enzo Ferrari and the engineer Mauro Forghieri are present. Schetty also completes a few laps at the wheel of the Ferrari 2000 sport (called 212) with which, in a personal capacity, the driver Eduardo Lualdi will participate in the 1971 European mountain championship. In the meantime, Wednesday 3 February 1971 the March version 711 is presented. The new single-seater, presented during a press conference held in a luxurious London hotel, will take part in all the competitions of the 1971 World Championship, starting with the South African Grand Prix, scheduled for Saturday 6 March 1971 at the Kyalami circuit. The car, which will be powered by 8-cylinder Ford-Cosworth and Alfa Romeo engines, retains very few technical details of the original model - the 701 - in which March took to the track with Stewart at its debut last season.


The new single-seater, designed by Robin Herd (former McLaren designer) follows many Lotus solutions from 1970. The aerodynamic profiling of the bodywork, lower and wider than the previous one, is undoubtedly one of a kind. To a single fin, mounted on a central support resting on the round nose, two water radiators are added, arranged on the sides (as in the Lotus 72), a rear tapering which contains the air intakes for the engine (almost entirely covered), two adjustable spoilers and five fuel tanks, arranged in the sides and in the center of the monocoque car body, with a capacity of approximately 225 liters. The disc brakes are placed inside the car body (as in the 72). Another innovation is the Hewland FG 100 gearbox replacing the DG 300. Overall, the single seater is lighter than last season's (it is approaching the minimum weight of 530 kg), and above all, thanks to its exceptional aerodynamic profiling should have very good acceleration qualities. Two March-Fords and one March-Alfa Romeo will take part in the 1971 World Championship races. In this one Andrea de Adamich and Nanni Galli will take turns. One of the two Cosworth-powered cars will be entrusted to 28-year-old Swede Ronnie Peterson. STP Oil Treatment - this is the name of the STP March team for the 1971 season - will announce the name of the second driver in a few days. The Formula 1 car with Alfa Romeo engine will be entered in the races of the World Drivers' Championship this season under the name Stp March-Alfa Romeo 711. On Friday 26 February 1971, the tests for the South African Grand Prix got off to a bad start for Ferrari. first episode of the Formula 1 World Championship, scheduled for Saturday 6 March 1971 on the Kyalami circuit. Clay Regazzoni goes off the track at 160 km/h destroying his car. The Swiss is miraculously saved and will still be able to participate in the race with a replacement car for the one that was completely destroyed, and which will be sent to the spot by the Maranello team. The accident, which recalls the one that happened a few weeks earlier to Jackie Stewart on the Tyrrell-Ford, took place almost at the end of a first series of training sessions. Regazzoni - according to what Ferrari's technical director Mauro Forghieri himself admitted - set up a curve in an unfortunate way, finishing with the front left wheel on the raised concrete edge that delimits it.


The car jerked, spun and after a series of spins crashed into an embankment, breaking into two sections. Moments of fear followed for the Maranello team, then Regazzoni was seen abandoning the wreckage of the car by himself. raising his arms several times to reassure his companions and rescuers, who rushed to meet the Swiss driver. Practice was immediately interrupted and, shortly after, the two sections of the single seater were recovered and brought back to the garage. Regazzoni had begun the previous day to get acquainted with the circuit on which he had never raced. The Swiss had driven the 1971 version Ferrari 312-B for around fifty laps, reaching speeds of over 280 km/h on the straight. In his best lap he set a good 1'19"2. Stewart had repeatedly broken the time of 1'18"0, while the official track record of Kyalami is held by Surtees (McLaren-Ford) in 1'20"8. Ferrari will therefore be able to participate in the South African Grand Prix with all three of its cars, entrusted to the Belgian Jackie Ickx and the Italian American Mario Andretti and Regazzoni. All the other teams will line up two cars. The Formula 1 season opens on the Kyalami circuit with the South African Grand Prix. This is the most spectacular sector of motor racing, although less valid than others (such as Rally) from a technical and promotional point of view, being a competition that ends in two hours, placing a man and a car on a track, under everyone's eyes, exaggerating the talents of one and the qualities of the other in the myth of speed. In a subtle balance that often, too often breaks down in the drama, they powerfully attract the audience for the immediacy and color of the representation. This year the world title is vacant, or rather, the best will not be on track to defend it. Jochen Rindt passed away in Monza in September (a few months before, and it already seems like a long time) and many are now disputing the succession. At the forefront were the Ferrari trio - the Italian American Mario Andretti, the Swiss Clay Ragazzoni and the Belgian Jackie lckx - and Jackie Stewart with the Tyrrell-Ford. Then two old men, like Graham Hill and John Surtees, some valuable but not yet established drivers in Formula 1, like Amon or Siffert or Rodriguez, some young people, like Fittipaldi, the Brazilian Lotus driver. The fight, in theory, should narrow you down to the Maranello-based team drivers and Jackie Stewart. But it won't be a battle between three riders on one side and one on the other. Everyone will do for themselves, it doesn't matter if the color of the car is the same.


Indeed, it is feared that for lckx the rivals to beat are more Andrettl and Regazzoni than Stewart. And vice versa, of course. A situation that could bring Ferrari some favors, but which could also prove to be a double-edged sword. The 1971 World Championship will also have to establish whether the cycle of eight-cylinder engines prepared by the specialized English workshop Cosworth has come to an end and whether it is up to the 12-cylinder, and in particular the jewel prepared by Ferrari, to replace them at the top of Formula 1. Last year, the situation evolved in favor of the 12-cylinder boxer from Maranello which closed the year with a series of triumphs, while the Cosworth recorded numerous breakages and breakdowns. Today, the Ferrari engine is credited with 461 HP, while the Cosworth 1971 edition has 450 HP (the B.R.M. 12-V and the Matra 12 V have 420 HP and the Alfa Romeo 410 HP). There is also the participation of two Italian riders in the championship: Andrea de Adamich and Nanni Galli. Both will take turns at the wheel of the March equipped with an Alfa Romeo engine. A half-service participation, with little hope, also due to the insufficient performance of the engine. Rumors circulate that Alfa is preparing a 12-cylinder. Reserving the right to present it in August. However, it will be too late, given that the Milanese company, due to its past and the financial commitment it invests in the sports sector, should have aimed for higher goals than obscure placements for some time now. However, de Adamlch will continue to remain in the World Championship and Galli will enter it: this is a comforting note, the only one. Mario Andretti, the three times American USAC Champion, has long been considered by the Grand Prix circus as a potential winner of World Championship races and this has been the little Italian-born driver’s big ambition. However, occasional races with Lotus in 1969 always ended in retirement, usually when high placed, while last year’s effort with an STP March was almost completely abortive, apart from a third place in the Spanish GP. During this time Andretti has also driven occasionally for Ferrari in long-distance sports-car races, and when it is announced that he has further extended the deal in 1971 to take in Formula 1 races with Ferrari as a third member of the team, which already include Ickx and Regazzoni, everyone is very interested to see how he would get on.

The answer is provided conclusively at the opening round of 1971 World Championship at Kyalami when Andretti takes his 1970-type flat-12 Ferrari to victory with team mates Regazzoni third and Ickx eighth (after he had been slowed by a puncture). To start three Grand Prix cars in a race and have them all finish on full song is quite an achievement these days. But despite predictions to the contrary it is not all easy sailing for the Maranello team. The Cosworth-engined cars offers quite a challenge but, surprisingly, it is not the Tyrrell of Stewart, complete with the latest 11 series engine, but the new Formula One cars from McLaren and Surtees stables with Denny Hulme and John Surtees driving them. Both are put out of the running by annoying little failures rather than major mechanical disasters, Hulme when he is conclusively in the lead with only four laps to the flag. The organisers of the South African GP, in particular Alex Blignaut, work efficiently and tirelessly to attract a large and representative field for the Grand Prix. This year they spend in the region of £100.000 in appearance and prize money, but on an early reckoning look as if they will have made a small profit when all the sums are done, thanks to a huge 100.000 crowd, which turn out encouraged by a massive publicity campaign in the national newspapers printed in Johannesburg. The race is not directly sponsored but all the papers rally round and give the race enormous space, running stories daily for two or three weeks beforehand culminating in big six-page supplements which are in all the copies of the papers, not just those slip issues sold at the circuit gates. With a few last-minute additions, a field of 25 cars is amassed and all but two of them come over from Europe. Last year the race attracts new models from every team except Lotus and while, this year, brand-new cars are not so numerous there is still plenty of interest around the paddock. Ferrari brings along four cars, the three regular 312 B1s plus a brand-new 312 B2, which is described elsewhere. Sadly this is written off in pre-race testing by Regazzoni so the team has to rely completely on last year’s machines. Both Ickx and Regazzoni have their regular race-winning cars, 001 and 004 respectively, while Andretti takes over 002, which is last raced by Giunti in the Italian GP. Gold Leaf-Team Lotus are little changed from their appearance in the Argentinian Grand Prix and late races last season, for they have Fittipaldi and Wisell respectively in the regular Lotus 72s numbers 5 and 3.
In numbers of personnel the team is rather more limited than of yore with just the two drivers, four mechanics and Colin Chapman. Racing Manager Dick Scammell has left the company while Competitions Manager Peter Warr is sorting things out at base. The March Engineering Ltd. team arrives on the Grand Prix scene just a year ago and the works and private cars are in the hands of such drivers as Stewart, Amon and Andretti. This year these three have deserted them and by a twist of fate they fill three of the first four places at Kyalami. Meanwhile, the Bicester team, whose entrant’s licence now reads STP-March, have rapidly promoted Peterson to team leader and done deals to have two further cars driven by de Adamich and the Spaniard Alex Soler-Roig who, unsuccessfully, attempts to qualify a Lotus 49C in two or three races last year. All three drivers have the new futuristic-looking 711s for the race, although the third car is only finished for the final day of practice and the large aerodynamic engine covers and the ducts to the side radiators are discarded even before practice. Peterson and Soler-Roig have the usual Cosworth power while the Italian has his car powered by an Alfa Romeo T33.3 engine, similar to the ones he uses in a McLaren last year, with noticeable lack of success. The engine is now reputed to be giving 440 b.h.p. following attention to the valve-gear over the winter, and while this figure seems likely the torque is apparently far less effective than that of the Cosworth V8. An even more recently arrived constructor on the Grand Prix scene is that of Tyrrell, although, unlike March, this team have no plans to sell cars to customers. Now running under the title of Elf-Team Tyrrell, the Ripley racing manager has two cars bearing his own name for the first time. Stewart has the choice of the original 001 which he has wrecked in a Kyalami testing accident a few weeks beforehand but now rebuilt, plus a new car, 002, which has several detail differences to the monocoque and is described in our in the Paddock article. The new car is intended primarily for the French driver Cevert, who arrive so conclusively on the GP scene last year and he does, in fact, drive it. Bruce McLaren Motor Racing brings along just two cars, the progressive spring-rate suspension M19, described last month, which is to be driven by Hulme, and a last year’s type M14A for Gethin. This car has been modified in the suspension department to accept the latest low-profile tyres and particularly 13-in. rear wheels.
Motor Racing Developments, now minus Jack Brabham, are also using 13-in. rear diameter wheels for the first time on their two Brabham BT33s. Graham Hill, driving for the team for the first time, has what is virtually a new car to the 1970 design, for it is built around a new monocoque but still carries chassis plate BT33/1, while the second ex-Brabham car is entrusted to the local driver Dave Charlton, who went so well in last year’s race in a Lotus 49C and subsequently had won the South African Formula One Championship. Charlton has the Brabham deck out in the colours of his recently acquired sponsors Lucky Strike Racing. Still finished in the colours of Yardley but now enter by British Racing Motors, are B.R.M.s for Rodriguez, Siffert and the team’s F5000 recruit Howden Ganley making his Formula One debut. Rodriguez, as team leader, has the new P160 at his disposal as well as an almost new and never-raced P153 number 07, while Siffert has P153/06, which also has very few racing miles on it, while Ganley takes over 03 which uses to be raced by Eaton. True to their word Matra does not replace the presently-banned Beltoise so Equipe Matra is relying completely on recent signing Amon. He has the choice of an almost new car, MS120/04, or Pescarolo’s MS120/02, which remains engineless in a packing case. Modifications over the winter include a new nose much resembling that of the Cosworth 4-w-d machine which never races. John Surtees is really blossoming out as a Formula One car constructor these days and his team enter no fewer than three of the angular but attractive machines from Edenbridge. Surtees himself has the choice of his regular TS7/001 or a brand new and lower car TS9/001 which arrives for second day’s practice. This proving satisfactory Surtees hands over the older car to Redman, who is presently resident in South Africa. In fact, this is to be the Lancashire driver’s first Formula One drive since his nasty accident at Spa in 1968 when a works Cooper-B.R.M. broke under him. A second Surtees TS7 is entrusted to Stommelen, who goes so well in it in the Argentine. This car is in the colours of the German consortium of Auto Motor and Sport magazine and Eiffelland caravans, while the other two cars are in the Brooke Bond, Oxo-Rob Walker colours. The remainder of the entry is completed by four independents headed by Frank Williams Racing Cars, who have the ex-works test March 701 for ex-Matra man Pescarolo (they have a 711 on order), Bonnier in the ex-works ex-Surtees McLaren M7C with which he crops up from time to time and two cars from the local Team Gunston.
These are a March 701 from five times South African Formula One champion John Love, who it will be remembered actually led the South African Grand Prix in 1967, and an ex-works ex-Williams Brabham BT26 for Jackie Pretorius, a local driver with F5000 experience, who has recently taken the car over from Peter De Klerk, who drove it in last year’s race. Kyalami is a very attractive spot about mid-way between Johannesburg and Pretoria and the attraction of the hot summer sun and general fairy-tale world at the posh hotels nearby regularly attract the teams a couple of weeks before the race for test sessions. This year, however, there are fewer takers than usual, although March arrives very early followed by Ferrari, while the majority of teams are running a couple of days before the start of official practice and so are ready to go when the first of the three three-hour sessions start on Wednesday. Indeed, this is very much the case for the two fastest times of the nine hours total of practising come within the first three hours. The heat at Kyalami is something that has to be taken into consideration and most of the faster times are usually turned in in the closing half-hour from about 5:00 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. when everything is getting a little cooler. Tyres also have a considerable effect on practice for Goodyear’s G24 compound is proving to be very fast but not to have durability in the heat. Hence the tyres are good for qualifying with a low load of fuel on but not for the race. Meanwhile, Firestone has tyres in some experimental compounds which prove very quick on Fittipaldi’s car but due to the politics of only having one set decided not to supply them for the race. Although Kyalami’s official record stands at 1'20"2 to local driver Charlton, during his extensive testing programme with Goodyear a few weeks earlier, Stewart has lapped the Tyrrell in 1'18"1. However, on Wednesday he surprises even himself by getting down to 1'17"8, which put him firmly on pole position. Amon has the Matra going nicely on full song to record 1'18"4 and this time is never bettered, either. Meanwhile, the Ferraris of Regazzoni, Andretti and Ickx respectively record 1'19"1, 1'19"3 and 1'20"1 and are only split by Peterson, who is giving the Ford-engined March 711 its first run and records an excellent 1'19"9, but unfortunately fails to improve on the time and slips on the grid. Despite having three No. 1 drivers on their strength there seem to be few emotional I-want-the-good-engine-and-new-tyres type dramas in the Ferrari pit.

Each car is managed separately by Forgheiri engineer, Ferrari engineer and Peter Schetty, who are looking after Regazzoni, Andretti and Ickx respectively. The McLaren team are having an interesting time sorting out Hulme’s new M19 with its unusual suspension design and once they find that the wing and roll-bar changes seem to have the opposite effect to that which would be expected from a conventionally suspended car, they find that they are making good headway. Surtees is concentrating on his older car while Stewart has tried both the new and old Tyrrell and decides to remain with the older car. During Thursday’s practice Stewart’s engine blows up early on while he is still engaged in testing the car on full fuel tanks so he is out of the top times. It is Regazzoni who heads the list, having lapped impressively at 1'18"7, which put him firmly on the front row. Andretti in the second Ferrari is little slower at 1'19"0, but Ickx, in his, seems to be rather overshadowed. Emerson Fittipaldi, having learned the tricky circuit for the first time, again shows what a fast car the Lotus 72 is by recording 1'19"0. Stewart’s time, before the engine failure, is 1'19"4, just 0.1 sec. faster than team-mate Francois Cevert, who is driving a Tyrrell and racing at Kyalami for the first time, so his speed is most creditable. Also on 1'19"5 is Rodriguez, who has the new B.R.M. going well, and Amon who reckons his engine is off form. Stewart, Amon and Ickx all have fresh engines fitted for the final day’s practice on Friday, the Scot’s being the first of the new 11 series motors. However, the front row is not altered, although Stewart is by far the fastest on Friday with 1'18"1. The big improvements come from the two new cars of Hulme and Surtees and both get down to 1'19"1 to finish up on row three with Ickx, who finally get down to 1'19"2. Row four is comprised of Cevert and Rodriguez with their Thursday times and on row five come Gethin in the older McLaren, Charlton who works hard and put lots of laps in to take the Brabham round in 1'19"8 (after reverting to 15-in. rear wheels) and Peterson. The rest are ranged out behind as per the grid. Amon is unhappy as his new engine does not seem very good, while Stewart also comments that his new engine is not anything particularly special. The large South African crowd filter into Kyalami early as a full programme has been laid on for them, including saloon, Formula Vee, Formula Ford and even a vintage race. 


A half-hour non-timed setting-up session for the Formula 1 cars have several takers, amongst them Francois Cevert whose engine blows up and the Tyrrell team has to rush through a last-minute change. However, there is a very healthy grid of 25 cars lined up for the start and once they have rolled forward from the grid the starter raises and drops the South African flag very quickly, catching out both Stewart and Amon. However, Regazzoni gets away very quickly and both Fittipaldi and Hulme tuck right in behind him, several others are held up by the two front row men, while Hill and Soler-Roig are very slow away from the back of the field. The opening laps are very confusing indeed and even the most experienced lap charters have trouble following the progress of a huge mass of cars dicing out the middle positions. Anyway, it is Regazzoni definitely in the lead with Fittipaldi, Ickx and Hulme in his wake, then Rodriguez, Andretti, Stewart, Surtees, Siffert, Cevert, Charlton and the rest. Soon there are some retirements with both Bonnier and Soler-Roig going out on lap 5, the former with suspension trouble and the latter with engine trouble, although no one really miss them. Next to go is Gethin, whose McLaren has been fitted with badly out of balance front wheels and he can hardly hold the steering wheel, and even a mirror shakes off. To add to his problems a fuel leak starts from the tanks so he retires on lap 7. By this time Hulme is already starting to show that he is going to be a major contender by moving into second spot behind Regazzoni, while Fittipaldi is third dropping back into the clutches of a furiously dicing bunch comprising Rodriguez, Stewart, Andretti, Surtees, Ickx and Siffert. Hulme is obviously on top form, the new McLaren working well, and it is obvious that he would soon catch the leading Ferrari, something we have not seen in Grand Prix races for some time now. This he does and he flashes by into the lead on lap 17, while Surtees moves up to third position by displacing Rodriguez. Meanwhile, Ickx has made a pit stop to have a wheel changed as a front tyre has gone flat and this effectively drops him out of contention, although he does work his way up from last position. Pretorius’ Brabham retires on lap 22 with a broken camshaft. Once into the lead Hulme starts to pull away from the Ferrari while Surtees has likewise moved ahead of the fourth place scrap which is really keeping the crowd on their toes. 


Andretti is racing wheel to wheel with the two B.R.M.s, for Siffert has moved up smartly to join Rodriguez while Stewart has dropped back to watch this frantic dust-up. Lotus team-mates Fittipaldi and Wisell are now running nose to tail in the next two positions and being hounded by Cevert. Peterson in the new March have pulled up to 11th spot, after a shaky start, and is starting to leave behind him the battle raging between local drivers Charlton and Love as well as Redman and Amon, who are also in there pitching. The pits have been quiet for too long and on lap 30 there is a sudden rush of business. Siffert’s B.R.M. engine has objected to a sustained bout of slipstreaming and has boiled itself dry and he steams to a halt as he pulls into the pit road. Charlton also comes in to complain that his engine is well down on power and broken valve springs are diagnosed so he retires. Peterson is also in as his progress has been hampered by a puncture and he drops to the bottom of the field before rejoining. Then a couple of laps later B.R.M.’s chances of a good placing totally expire when Rodriguez comes in with the rear of his car doused in oil, and the little Mexican is suffering badly from burned feet. In fact, the body section has moved allowing the hot air from the radiator to pass into the cockpit instead of being ducted out and roasts both its driver and the engine. To add to the team’s troubles Ganley also stops from sheer physical exhaustion and sickness, finding that Grand Prix racing takes a lot more out of a man than Formula 5000, and the acquisition of a new Bell Star helmet is not helping the cause either. He returns to the race but later the exhaustion forces him to retire, while Love has retired with a broken gearbox. Regazzoni is finding that he is getting a tremendous vibration from his front wheels and is slowly dropping back and first he is passed by Surtees, driving better than for many a year in the brand-new TS9, and then by team-mate Andretti, who is really piling the pressure on. At the half-way mark Hulme is looking every inch a winner with a lead of some six seconds over Surtees and the two Ferraris while Stewart is now fifth, although, surprisingly considering his superiority during practice, looks unlikely to improve his lot other than by default of others. The two Lotus 72s have been split by Cevert with Wisell moving ahead of Fittipaldi, whose car is, apparently, oversteering very badly. 


Amon is ninth and also not showing practice form and has Hill, who seems to have really got the hang of his Brabham, and Redman, who likewise is getting to terms with the Surtees, hard on his heels. Up at the front Surtees' strong run starts to fade as an oil pipe to the gearbox oil cooler fractured and the lubricant starts to leak away and Surtees progressively slows, dropping to fifth place before the box finally seizes solid on lap 55. There are several other retirements around this time with Fittipaldi’s engine blowing up in front of the pits, while Cevert crashes at the difficult Leeukop corner damaging the Tyrrell quite severely. It appears all this safety clothing can sometimes be quite a hazard. Apparently Cevert is perspiring profusely under his balaclava Nomex hood and Bell Star helmet, the sweat gets in his eyes, he blinks at the wrong moment and-crash. By three-quarters distance Hulme is still in a good lead, although there is no doubt that Andretti is racing as hard as he can to attempt to catch the orange McLaren. Meanwhile, Stewart is closing on Regazzoni for third, while Wisell is running a sound fifth. Hill’s good run is halted when his rear wing starts to fall off and he is called in the pits to have it fixes and this elevates Amon, Redman and Ickx up a place. Despite Andretti’s hard charging and the fastest lap of the race on lap 73 (although it is not a new record), Hulme has answered the challenge by speeding up and feels really good to reel off those remaining laps to score his (and McLaren’s) first Formula One victory since Mexico 1969. But, with just under four laps to go, Hulme suddenly feels the McLaren lurch as he accelerates out of a corner and the car starts to weave all over the road. A bolt holding the top right rear radius rod has either broken or pulled out and hence the back wheel is no longer properly located. Hulme decides to soldier on at much reduced pace while Andretti sweeps by into the lead. Poor Hulme limps on making desperate signs at his pit, who can not understand what the trouble is thinking that perhaps the car is stuck in gear or running out of fuel. In fact, as Andretti reels off the remaining laps, he actually overtakes Hulme again and slows as he passes him waving as much as to say bad luck you had me beaten and then accelerates to take the flag and win his first but almost certainly not his last World Championship race. Stewart has passed Regazzoni in the closing stages and so comes into second place and gives the marque Tyrrell its first ever championship points. 


Behind Regazzoni comes Wisell after an excellent and well-calculated drive, while in fifth place, a lap down, is Amon in the Matra with Hulme limping into sixth place. So there are five different makes in the first six using three different engines. There are also plenty of finishers out of the points with Redman seventh in his Surtees ahead of the three pit stoppers, Ickx, Hill and Peterson, while the final three, Pescarolo, Stommelen and de Adamich, have all plodded along steadily and reliably without any great fireworks. Although the Alfa-powered March 711 is four laps down on the winner the Alfa Romeo engine has at last finished a race; something it fails to do last season when installed in a McLaren. So with Spain coming up in April and a couple of non-championship races in between, the scene looks set for a very interesting and exciting season. It is surprising that the Ferraris have not won from the front but they still have the new car up their sleeve. No doubt Stewart will offer more of a challenge in the coming races; it is pleasing to see that both Surtees and McLaren have come up with very competitive designs for the 1971 season, while the Matra will also be a challenge when the engines are set up just right. Triumphant debut for Mario Andretti and the Ferrari 312-B version 1971 in the Formula 1 World Championship. The Italian American and the car from Maranello, after a long furious chase to Denny Hulme's McLaren and a final duel with the Tyrrell Ford of Stewart, prevailed on the Kyalami circuit in the South African Grand Prix, the opening round of the 1971 season. Hulme, with his yellow-orange car weakened by the race pace, finished in sixth place while Stewart obtained the third place 'honor. Ferrari's success in this very tough competition (only 13 of the 25 drivers made it to the finish line) was completed by Clay Regazzoni's third place, who preceded Wisell (Lotus-Ford) and Amon (Matra-Simca). lckx, delayed by a puncture that cost him time, had to settle for eighth position, while the only Italian in the race, Andrea de Adamich, finished in thirteenth place with his March-Alfa. 


For Andretti, who was driving a Formula 1 Ferrari for the first time in a Grand Prix, the satisfaction is great, as the Italian American had never won. Andretti, winner of an Indy 500 and a 24 Hours of Le Mane, had so far not achieved prestigious results in the World Championship. In 1969 he had done some racing with Lotus and last year with the March of his sponsor Andy Granatelli. An unhappy experience. Joining Ferrari also for Formula 1 allowed Andretti to confirm his great talents in this sector. The race was very close. At the start, Regazzoni was the quickest to sprint. The Swiss held the lead for the first few laps, then a progressive loss of power from the engine of his 312-B prevented him from keeping the lead. While Ickx had to stop in the box to change a wheel, Hulme jumped into the lead in the McLaren, followed by Surtees, at the wheel of his new single-seater, Andretti (delayed by a bad start) and Stewart, engaged in an exciting duel. The Grand Prix continued along these lines for a long time, while withdrawals followed one another, determined by the heat and the exhausting pace of the competition. In particular, it was a black day for B.R.M., with Sifferi and Rodriguez stopped by engine failures. The Mexican suffered painful burns to his feet from overheating a pipe. The Frenchman Cevert, Stewart's teammate, went off the track with the Tyrrell, ending up against a guardrail. A big crash, but with no consequences for the pilot. Twenty laps from the end, the first plot twist: the eight-cylinder Cosworth by Surtees gives in and disappears from the scene. Four more passes and it's up to Hulme to slow down. Even the McLaren engine showed symptoms of fatigue and the courageous and tenacious Andretti, supported by his Ferrari, concluded the long Pursuit. Stewart overtook Regazzoni and the race held no more emotions. In the end great scenes of enthusiasm in the Italian garage and congratulations for everyone, for Andretti, the other drivers, the sporting director Schetty, the technical director Forghieri, the mechanics. Andretti also beat the lap record in 1'20"3, at an average speed of 113.942 km/h. Enzo Ferrari says about him during a subsequent phone call:


"He is a phenomenon, a fighter like Nuvolari. He is a true professional, who never surrenders and is fully committed to honoring the contract that binds him to our team".


But in his relationship with Scuderia Ferrari, Mario Andretti does not think only about dollars. For him, unlike others, racing for the Maranello team has a special meaning. It means driving cars with a glorious name, it means, for him who had to take American citizenship for work reasons, to prove that he is still Italian. On a very happy day for Scuderia Ferrari, the news that the GPDA has expressed itself in favor of Beltoise brings deep sadness, sharing its responsibilities not only with the Argentine organizers, but also with Giunti himself. Indeed, on the occasion of the South African Grand Prix, the Grand Prix Driver Association (GPDA) holds a meeting, in which the drivers express themselves in favor of a rehabilitation of Jean Pierre Beltoise. Following the death of Giunti, the French driver's license was suspended for three months. Furthermore, he is awaiting trial by the Argentine judiciary and the FIA. The GPDA establishes that Beltoise is not the sole responsible for the disaster. Giunti himself and the organizers of the 1000 Kilometers of Buenos Aires, according to the opinion of the Formula 1 drivers, must be considered equally guilty.


©​ 2023 Osservatore Sportivo


Contact us


Create Website with | Free and Easy Website Builder