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#271 1976 Swedish Grand Prix

2021-04-15 00:00

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#1976,

#271 1976 Swedish Grand Prix

Seventh appointment for the protagonists of Formula 1: the meeting place is this time the circuit of Anderstorp, in Sweden. Thirty drivers are enrolle

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Seventh appointment for the protagonists of Formula 1: the meeting place is this time the circuit of Anderstorp, in Sweden. Thirty drivers are enrolled for the Grand Prix tests. The twenty-six who will obtain the best times will be able to line up at the start on Sunday afternoon. Needless to say, perhaps, that two are the superfavorites: Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni with their Ferraris, to the point that local bookmakers are ready to pay 43 crowns (8,200 lire) for each crown (190 lire) bet in the event that any other driver crosses the finish line first. The circuit of Anderstorp is formed by the runways of an airport lost in the woods of southern Sweden. The village is a fairly important industrial and commercial center, which owes part of its fame and fortune to the fact that car and motorcycle races are held there every year. Swedish fans naturally hope not for the victory, but at least for the placing of the three local drivers: Ronnie Peterson (March), Gunnar Nllsson (Lotus) and the newcomer Connie Andersson (McLaren). If only for the interest aroused by their presence, the arrival at Anderstorp of about 100.000 fans is expected. Lotus had given a glimpse of the possibility of presenting in Sweden a new single-seater with six wheels, but the week before the Grand Prix, traditional cars arrived, with the front end considerably reinforced. The device, however, did not help much: in fact, during some preliminary tests on Friday, June 10, 1976, Mario Andretti's car broke its front end while it was traveling at almost 200 km / h. The Lotus of the Italian-American ended up against the protection net and was damaged irreparably, so much so that it was sent back to England together with the car that Nilsson had to test. Andretti survived with a light concussion. In these days the Swedish press has dedicated a lot of space to Ferrari as a team, in the most complete sense of the word. It emphasized the high level technological effort of the Italian company and the quality of the men-machines of Maranello.

 

For the local experts there can be no doubts about the outcome of the Anderstorp race even if, as has been written many times, this will mean the early end of the 1976 World Drivers' Championship. The tests of the Swedish Grand Prix will begin on Friday at 11:00 am and will continue until 3:00 pm with an interval of ninety minutes. Same time on Saturday. On Sunday the race will start at 13:40, and it will take place over a distance of seventy-two laps, equal to 289.3 kilometers. The lap record is by Depailler, set in 1973, with a time of 1'27"262, at an average speed of 165.785 km/h. On the race weighs the unknown of the bad weather: until Friday it rains intermittently, it is cold and during the night the thermometer does not exceed the six degrees above zero. Friday, June 11, 1976 the idyllic peace of the Anderstorp airport is broken during the morning by the roar of the engines at full throttle: twenty-nine drivers enrolled in the tests take to the track, in search of this first taste of the route. Among them there is John Watson with Penske, who presents the new PC4 model, and the American drivers Mario Andretti (Lotus) and Brett Lunger (Surtees) are seen again. RAM also participates again, with the debut of the Danish driver Jac Nelleman, to team up with Loris Kessel. Another Danish driver, Tom Belsø, is entered in one of the Wolf-Williams, replacing Jacky Ickx, who is competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Belsø, whose last presence in the world championship was the 1974 British Grand Prix, does not take part in the tests. The gazes of all those present are mostly turned towards Ferrari and Tyrrell, who have taken to marching in the best way. The Maranello factory, on site since Thursday (mechanics and cars had already been at Anderstorp for a few days, while Lauda, Regazzoni and some of the managers arrived in the afternoon), carried out a collective reconnaissance in the early evening, during which the main directives were set and the situation was clarified. After that, morning wake-up call for all and start of the work. Niki Lauda, whom a Stockholm evening paper called one of the greatest conductors of all time, makes some brief remarks to the journalists:

 

"The circuit is quite difficult. The 312 T2s lend themselves better to undulating tracks. Here, on the other hand, we are faced with a very flat circuit, with curves that are all the same. Anyway, we're here to win, and in all likelihood we will. Problems, for the moment, none".

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And Regazzoni is of the same opinion:

 

"At Anderstorp we have never obtained, to tell the truth, a really convincing victory. Last year Reutemann was first, when, at ten laps to the end, he had to retire for a breakdown. Lauda, then, took the lead, crossing the finish line first. I really hope that this is the good time: the time, that is, of a Ferrari victory obtained for pure superiority".

 

Also in Tyrrell the optimism is of prammatica, with Scheckter that declares:

 

"Last year we did not have the mechanical means able to contrast the superiority of the Ferrari. This year the matter is different: Tyrrell cars are the only ones able to break the monopoly. At Anderstorp we have already had some satisfactions, one year, with a splendid victory of Depailler. Maybe this is the right time for me".

 

For his part, Depailler declares:

 

"The six-wheeler, welcomed with incredulity and skepticism, is proving to be up to its. task. It is absolutely safe and works perfectly. If today someone asks what the difference is between a four-wheel car and a six-wheel car, I can give the exact answer: the six-wheel car is the only one that has a chance to beat the Ferrari at the moment".

 

In the other teams the looks are more tense and the atmosphere more heated. Everyone knows that they have very little to oppose to the superiority of the Ferrari and Tyrrell. The swedes, that is Peterson, that doesn't succeed to acclimatize with the March, Nilsson with a Lotus that has always some problem of tuning, and Andersson to the guide of a McLaren, with which he doesn't have the least confidence, have the maximum desire to do well in front of the public of house, but they certainly ask themselves how it is possible to obtain at least an honorable placing, also because at the end of the tests of Friday 11 June 1976 Niki Lauda obtains the best time. The Ferrari is not free from problems that have been solved one by one, therefore in the team of Maranello the satisfaction and the confidence is evident. Anderstorp is not the most suitable circuit for Ferrari, but it is on the right track. In these terms we can perhaps summarize the first day of testing, which saw an increase in the competitive level of the 312 T2 driven by Lauda and Clay Regazzoni. Both the Tyrrell and one of the Lotus have been a nuisance and have also shown to be very dangerous, but Lauda is in splendid form and it seems very difficult, at the moment, that someone can overtake him. McLaren, on the other hand, brings two different cars: the single-seater driven by Mass has a double rear wing, while both cars mount another air intake for the front brakes.

 

The bodywork has been fixed after well-known technical problems, and has been set back about six centimeters laterally to make room for the famous oil pipe passage, disputed in Spain. During the tests, Mo Nunn confirms that from the French Grand Prix LellLombardi will not run with the second Ensign. In fact, unless there is a lot of money to pay, the team will bring only the car for Amon, also because the amount of money that brings Lella Lombardi from Lavazza, about thirty-five million lire, is poor, if you think that a Formula 1 race costs around £ 20.000.000. Rehearsals begin at 11:00 a.m. and the six-wheel Tyrrell of Patrick Depailler and Jody Scheckter run at 1'27"9. Mario Andretti, in the Lotus, threatens their times and only after this trio does Lauda take over. The fact is that the Maranello single-seaters, also due to a lowering of the temperature, are unable to find a compromise of set-up valid for this circuit, which has oversteering and understeering curves; if you adjust the car in one way it goes well or even very well in a curve but not in another. The returns to the pits are frequent, and the talks between drivers and technicians are long and detailed. Regazzoni's 312 T2 has an anomalous behavior at the rear axle, and it breaks down under braking, so it is decided to let the Swiss driver continue with the mule. Daniele Audetto, Ferrari's sporting director, says:

 

"I believe it is a transient problem. The other teams were able to test last Saturday and Sunday, so they have fine-tuned the cars more completely. We are now making our experiences, and in all likelihood we will improve little by little".

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This is how the first part of the tests ends, the morning ones, with Depailler setting the best time of 1'27"076, followed by Andretti with 1'27"270, Scheckter with 1'27"480 and Lauda with 1'27"534. Then come Amon (Ensign) with 1'27"731, Peterson (March) with 1'27"882 and Laffite (Ligier-Matra) with 1'28"012. During the first session of tests no particular incident is recorded, except for an exit of Pryce due to the breakup of a suspension of his Shadow, while the Tyrrell of Scheckter loses the first of the small wheels on the left without consequences for the driver, and must stop after only twenty-three laps, after that to the curve Opel is Andretti to signal the breakdown to the South African driver. Also Brambilla makes few laps, twenty in total, before that his March reports the breakup of the engine. This brings us to the afternoon. At 3:00 p.m Lauda goes on the track and immediately starts to go fast, a sign that the famous compromise on the set-up has been made in the right way. Regazzoni tries with the mule and records better times than in the morning. The Tyrrell do not improve. Only Andretti with the Lotus seems able to threaten Lauda. The times of the two drivers show differences of a few tenths of a second, and they go down constantly. Twenty minutes before the end of practice, Lauda completes a series of laps under 1'26"0 and thus takes the lead. Having finally obtained 1'26"535, the Austrian returns to the pits. To those who ask him why he returned, Lauda replies:

 

"I don't think there is any chance to do better today. Therefore I stop and we will talk about it tomorrow".

 

Immediately afterwards Regazzoni arrives at the pits with the car smoking and losing lubricant, as an oil pipe has come off and is quickly fixed to allow the Swiss driver to restart; the interruption is a pity because it breaks Clay's rhythm, who was improving his times. Apart from Stuck, who breaks the engine of his March, there are no other important elements in this second part of the tests, which ends at 4:00 p.m. Audetto sums up the situation:

 

"We are also very satisfied because we went much better than on the first day last year. Today's times have amply demonstrated that Ferrari is also competitive at Anderstorp, the circuit where many were waiting for us. No problems for the moment. Let's see what will happen tomorrow".

 

Lauda appears calm and smiling:

 

"The car seems fine to me. In the morning I had some problems but they have been eliminated. We just have to wait for tomorrow".

 

And Regazzoni declares:

 

"Tomorrow I will continue with the mule that works properly, the other car will be set up by the mechanics this evening and then we will see".

 

In Lotus there are smiles and hopes: Andretti at the second place after the first day of tests they didn't expect it either. Between the two Tyrrell cars there is Amon on the Ensign, while Brambilla is immediately after Regazzoni. In any case nothing is certain yet. A Ferrari, the two Tyrrell and one of the Lotus have already imposed a certain physiognomy to the complex of the race. It's a terrible moment for Emerson Fittipaldi, who with his Coopersucar can't get good results:

 

"I don't know what to say, the car is undriveable, the wheels are not sticking to the ground. I can't understand where the problem lies. Now we're going to fit more bars. Of course it is tiring".

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Teddy Mayer and James Hunt are not happy at all, since at the end of the first session the British driver is only fifteenth. To solve the problem of the car not being competitive at all, it is decided to set up the car as it had been prepared during the Spanish Grand Prix, that is to say with the 1.8 centimeters more width of the rear axle allowed by the regulations, except for the position of the oil radiators, which remain on the back under the rear wing because the mechanics do not have the necessary equipment to make this change. But nothing will change. While some teams, like McLaren and Lotus, have paid a pre-race visit to the track for testing purposes, most of them arrive the day before first practice and everyone gets stuck-in surprisingly quickly when practice in bright sunny conditions. These days nothing can be left alone, so the chicane at the end of the runway has been re-aligned, to make it a bit tighter and slow the cars even more on to the wriggly section. It does not take long to see who is trying hard or who has come to grips with the circumstances, a slight surprise being Merzario who is fourth fastest in the initial rush and only gets elbowed back to tenth fastest when the stars begin to shine. There are 27 drivers practising altogether, of which only 26 will be allowed to start and the Formula One scene deserves credit for the fact that invariably everyone turns up; non-arrivals for Grand Prix practice are few and far between. As has become customary Lauda’s Ferrari is setting the pace, but is two or three seconds off last year’s practice pace, due to the tighter chicane, but equally customary the Tyrrell-twins are right behind, the six-wheelers looking beautifully balanced and controllable. Scheckter is awakening from his 1975 lethargy and is really trying, looking extremely confident and spectacular with it.

 

The bearded Harald Ertl suddenly finds himself and his Hesketh sitting amongst the scrub alongside the circuit, but manages to back out, and Tom Pryce finds himself stuffed well and truly into the barriers in his Shadow, from which there is no backing out, for something has broken in the front-end causing him to crash, not a simple driving error. While Carlos Pace has been trying hard with the Brabham-Alfa Romeo, his team-mate Reutemann is held up by gear selection bothers which are eventually traced to distortion of the gearbox end cover over the selector mechanism. There is an enforced break in the practice while the breakdown lorry collects the bent Shadow and Pryce, who is quite unhurt, prepared to carry on in the spare car. In the McLaren team Hunt is not too happy with the feel of his usual car M23/8, so when practice restarts he goes off in the spare car, M23/6 and finds it more to his liking. Michael Leclere tries the Hesketh-Williams car, but it makes little difference to his position near the bottom of the grid and the other two rear runners, Kessel and Nellemann in the RAM Racing Brabham-Cosworths both fade away on the circuit with minor troubles. Scheckter is really pressing on in the six-wheeled Tyrrell as is Depailler and joining them to show that Lauda and Ferrari can be beaten is Mario Andretti in the Lotus 77. At Zolder there have been signs that Andretti and Colin Chapman are getting to grips with the sorting-out of the new Lotus and before practice at Anderstorp has begun the little USAC driver has expressed satisfaction with the car and confidence that he will be up there with them no matter who them are. While some teams are having minor troubles, and others are having major ones, Scheckter has a hilarious one. Leaving the chicane the tiny little left-front/ front wheel parted company from his Tyrrell and the first he knows is a slight twitch of the car as of getting a puncture. He looks through the left-hand window of the cockpit surround and sees a stationary brake-disc and no wheel. 

 

As the car is quite stable (at slower speeds, of course) on five wheels, he drives back to the pits and his mechanics gather round the cockpit to see what he wants, only to find him laughing his head off inside his Bell helmet, for none of them has noticed the tiny wheel is missing; then one of them looks down. There is no serious damage done and the car is soon raceworthy again. The whole hour and a half had seems to generate an air of frenzy as if it is the last chance to qualify for a good grid position, but amidst it all the little Ensign team are getting along nicely, and Chris Amon is driving very neatly and smoothly on his first visit to the Swedish track and finishes up fifth fastest, just behind Lauda who is behind the Tyrrell-Lotus-Tyrrell sandwich. Next fastest is Peterson, the extra paint on his March by reason of the First National Bank sponsorship not affecting his performance. In an attempt to approach Anderstorp scientifically the Peterson March is using an enormously long wheelbase, brought about by a giant spacer between the engine and gearbox, which is actually the gearbox casing from the old central-gearbox 721X, but is empty except for the shaft joining the flywheel to the Hewland input shaft. Moving the whole rear assembly back has brought an unseen problem with overheating, for the sidemounted water radiators rely on air turbulence immediately ahead of the rear wheels to induce crossflow, but now the turbulence has moved back with the wheels and no longer reaches the radiators which are still in their same positions alongside the engine. This problem is solved during the lunch break by reverting to short wheelbase by removing the spacer and bringing the gearbox and rear wheels forward to their normal position. The other March-A car has a more fundamental problem, for the engine has broken which has stopped Brambilla’s practice, but many March mechanics’ hands soon have another engine installed and the car is ready for the afternoon practice.

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The lunch break is also used by the Penske mechanics to weld stiffening plates on the front pick-up points Of the top rear radius arms on the new Penske, and while the job is being finished off Watson re-commences practice with the spare car PC3/02. Regazzoni is another driver who uses the team’s spare car in the afternoon practice, as his regular car does not feel good under braking, so it is put aside for attention later. A driver who would have liked his team to have had a spare car is Gunnar Nilsson, and they would have done so has not their new car destroyed itself in pre-race testing. As it is his regular car 77/R2, just would not run properly due to the German Rita ignition system playing up and before the afternoon session is over the car is wheeled back into the paddock for serious investigation to take place. While Lauda has asserted himself with his normal position at the front his team-mate Regazzoni is still in trouble, returning to the pits with oil pouring from a loose union under the engine. No damage is done and it is soon put right, but it wastes valuable time. In the Brabham pits Pace is complaining bitterly to the Alfa Romeo designer Carlo Chiti about the oil all over the back of the car and on the inboard brakes, but the cause is not a simple loose union as on the flat-12 cylinder Ferrari; Chiti seems to suggest that oiliness is a design feature of the flat-12 Alfa Romeo engine. When the pandemonium subsides and the electronic timing aparatus feeds all its information into the computer system the result of the afternoon efforts is that Lauda is fastest, Andretti is second, Amon third, Scheckter fourth, Depailler fifth and Laffite in the Ligier-Matra sixth. The only alteration with the combined times for the day is that Depailler moves his six wheeler up into third place, the other positions remaining the same.

 

On Saturday morning the weather is rather cool and dull, though dry enough, and the hour and a half of practice is supposed to be devoted to doing tests with full petrol tanks, and to scrubbing in sets of tyres ready, for race day. This is in accordance with a bright idea thought up by the Goodyear tyre technicians and the constructors little mouthpiece. In actual fact most people carry on experimenting with handling adjustments to try and improve their times, even though there is no official time-keeping taking place, or they are trying to beat insuperable problems like making an engine rev properly or a gearbox select its gears properly. Actual race preparation does not enter into the thoughts of many teams for there is still the final hour of timed practice to come and the last chance to get a good grid position or even get on the grid at all for the tail-enders. The frenzy and pandemonium seem as pronounced as ever, though Laffite is bedding in a new Matra engine and gearbox on the Ligier, and Scheckter tries his Tyrrell with the sausage-like air collector box, though by and large most people are beginning to abandon air collector boxes, preparing to let the engine suck air in as best it can and let the air flow over the car have more effect on the rear aerofoil. While Scheckter is charging round, Reutemann is unhurriedly going along in his Brabham-Alfa Romeo and as the six-wheeler overtakes the Brabham it chops in a bit too soon and the fat rear wheels clip the front of the Brabham and spin it into a concrete retaining wall, so there is a pause while the wreckage is collected and the two drivers give an explanation of their unruly behaviour to the Stewards. Reutemann has banged his right hand rather badly and is not too keen to continue practice, even though the Brabham mechanics have the spare car ready for him. Merzario would have liked to continue practising but the left rear corner of his March is torn apart as a hub bearing has broken up and is being replaced. 

 

Saturday 12 June 1976 the second day of practice takes place, decisive for the starting positions. At 11:00 a.m. Lauda goes on the track trying to keep the pole position, checking that the car continues to run properly, while Regazzoni, in addition to trying to get a good time with the mule, also tries his normal car, which on Friday has reported an abnormal behavior at the rear axle. Ferrari's excellent and disciplined mechanics worked hard during the night and Saturday morning around Regazzoni's car, which will hopefully be in place for good in the afternoon. But at the end of the tests four drivers are able to do better than Lauda: Scheckter (Tyrrell), Andretti (Lotus), Depailler (Tyrrell) and Amon (Ensign), while the Ferraris, that on Friday had gone very well, are not able to improve. The threat of Tyrrell and Lotus, just hinted on Friday, is realized on Saturday, at least here at Anderstorp. The day has two very different and distinct aspects: in the morning the drivers go on track for ninety minutes of free practice without official time recording. Lauda starts immediately strong and so does Regazzoni, to the point that at the end, the unofficial times compared with the official ones of Friday see Lauda in the lead, followed by Scheckter, Regazzoni and Amon. During the first practice sessions Scheckter hits Reutemann's Brabham-Alfa, causing it to go off the track. Leaving the car, the Argentine reaches the box on foot and goes directly to Scheckter, who had previously gone to Ecclestone to apologize and to tell the incident. Reutemann approaches while Jody is getting ready to start: not a word between the two, only that Carlos makes sign to Scheckter that his behavior has been crazy.

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The Argentinean driver will go to the first aid station because they fear the fracture of three fingers of the hand, but fortunately there are no injuries: only the blow, that hurts a lot. When in the afternoon the official tests start, nobody expects anything but a confirmation of the situation clearly outlined before. Instead, while Lauda runs with difficulty on the times of Friday, that is under 1'27"0, Scheckter starts on 1'26"0 to drop after a few laps to 1'25"80. Then, not even a quarter of an hour after the start of practice, Amon records an excellent 1'26"0, and Depailler starts to run constantly on 1'26"50. The sensation of a series of times better than those of the Ferraris becomes more and more concrete: Andretti, on Friday in second place, makes only one lap during which his third gear fails; he returns to the pits and the repair takes more than twenty minutes. Back on track, Mario records times inferior to 1'26"0 inserting himself between the Tyrrell, that do not denounce the least problem. Regazzoni, still driving the mule, because his normal car is not perfectly tuned, runs with great regularity in times that are definitely higher, that is on 1'27"0. At this point Lauda goes back to the pits to try to set up the car more and more frequently, but without changing the situation. At three minutes from the end of the practice session, Niki decides to change the tires, but he gives up immediately afterwards. In practice, Lauda's car, as the Ferrari sport director Daniele Audetto will declare during the evening, has significant understeer problems, while Regazzoni's car is oversteering. Moreover, towards the end of the tests, Lauda complains of a drop in the engine, so much so that he runs much slower than usual. It took the Swedish Grand Prix and the Anderstorp circuit to break the positive series of the Ferrari, that lasts from September 1975, that is from the Italian Grand Prix won by Clay Regazzoni. The men of the British teams and those who feared a premature end to the Formula 1 World Championship breathed a sigh of relief, but the substance did not change: Niki Lauda and Regazzoni remained in the top positions even when things did not go well. In short, a mediocre Ferrari, for once, is better than many adversaries.

 

In the final hour the session became even more frenzie and Scheckter and Depailler are forcing ahead with their six-wheelers, the handling being such as to give them great confidence to let the whole car slide through the corners in a graceful, balance and spectacular style. In complete contrast is the Ensign which Amon is driving with studied neatness and precision, and achieving the same results. Lauda’s Ferrari engine is getting a bit tired, a new one being due to be fitted for the race, and he can not get near the front, ending up in fifth place, but still ahead of 22 others. Andretti is really in the Anderstorp groove and heading for the front when all the teeth strip off third gear pinion in the Hewland gearbox. In spite of everything being very hot the Lotus mechanics tear the gearbox apart, clean out the broken bits, fit new gears and Andretti is back in the fray, repaying their efforts with second fastest time overall and a place on the front row of the grid. The other Lotus is in as much trouble, for though a complete engine change has got it going properly, a joint in the front suspension collapses and Nilsson loses a lot of time while it is replaced. At this point he is still down amongst the rabbits at the back of the field, but then just before it is too late everything starts to work right and he does a superb fast lap which moves hint right up into sixth place; and then the Lotus runs out of petrol. You can’t think of everything when there is a panic on. Reutemann resumes practice rather disconsolately in the spare Brabham-Alfa Romeo after having the Ferrari-like nose piece taken off and the original one fitted, which means hack-sawing off the new mounting framework, and Pryce is not as confident with the spare Shadow as he has been before his accident. Jochen Mass has the lower rear aerofoil on his McLaren off and on and decides to leave it on, while Hunt seems to be spinning every time you look up, the McLaren being quite unable to keep its back wheels under control.

 

Alan Jones is trying as hard as he can with the works Surtees, but getting no real results, possibly because he is trying too hard, and poor Emerson Fittipaldi is back down with the also-rans, the Copersucar-sponsored car not responding to chassis-tuning the way they want it to. Frank Williams is wondering why he has got such a large and opulent set-up to achieve twenty-fifth place overall when Morris Nunn with no set-up or entourage at all has his car in third place overall, operating from the back of what looks like a secondhand furniture van compared to the Walter Wolf Racing transporter, motor-home and support vehicles. Frank Williams is not the only one looking sideways at the red Ensign on the second row of the grid, with its Valvoline sticker on the side and the name of some completely unknown property development company as well. When it is all over it is not surprising that the Danish driver Jac Nellemann, having his first dabble in Formula One, is the odd man out, and it is interesting that no-one has dominated practice. Depailler has been fastest in the first session, Lauda in the second and Scheckter in the third, but we have had enough races and practice now to see that Ferrari versus the six-wheelers is the format, with cheeky intervention by the Ensign and a welcome return of Lotus to the front. The earlier demise of Team Lotus to the back of the grid just isn’t real. The Ligier-Matra V12 is always well in the running, the March teams have spasms of excitement, the McLaren team are still wondering how i-inch oversize on width could possibly have made all that difference, and if the Brabham-Alfa Romeos are ever going to get anywhere to justify the size of the operation they had better hurry up because the season is halfway over. The back-markers are still the back-markers and there is no real reason why they should change.

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Sunday 13 June 1976, at 1:40 p.m., the race day is cool and cloudy, but quite dry, and after the Swedish airforce has tried to emulate the Red Arrows and there have been a few diversions and parades to keep the 33.000 paying customers happy and the serious business of the 72-lap race draws near. All one and three-quarter hours of it. While the cars are being warmed-up Colin Chapman and his engineers are measuring the overall balance of Nilsson’s car, fore-and-aft and side-to-side, to say nothing of corner-to-diametric-corner and Chapman decidea it is undriveable like that. Then everyone goes off on a warm-up lap and lines up in grid formation in front of the pits, which are at one end of the circuit. The starting-line and time-keepers are at the other end, half–a-lap away, so when everyone is ready Scheckter and Andretti on the front row lead them away round to the start, followed by Amon and Depailler, and then Lauda and Nilsson. With the two-by-two grid layout these days, and 26 cars taking part those at the back can barely see the starting flag (when there is one). This time the tail-enders are still rounding the corner at the beginning of the starting straight when Scheckter and Andretti reach the starting line. The Swedish flag trembles and everyone hangs with back wheels spinning furiously on the slippery surface. With his Cosworth V8 bouncing on the rev-limiter at 11.500 r.p.m. Andretti snatches second gear and the black and gold Lotus leaps into the lead as the others find grip and chase after him to the first corner. While the Swedish Ferrari Owners Club look puzzled at seeing the cars of Lauda and Regazzoni in amongst the pack, the Lotus owners in the crowd think this is like old times. As the field pours round the 150-degree curve by the pits the order is Andretti, Scheckter, Depailler, Amon, Nilsson, Lauda and Laffite, but out of the back-markers shoots the new Penske with its throttle jammed open by dust and grit on the slides, and as Watson scrabbles to switch everything off the car bounds over an earth hank and almost into the crowd, bends and batters and out of the race.

 

Meanwhile Reutemann peels off, into the pits, his engine sounding anything but sweet. Along the runway speeds the slim little Lotus, with the two six-wheelers in hot pursuit and at the end of the opening lap there is no change among the front runners. However, in the organisation there is some clucking and chuntering and the start-line judges, Allan Parsson and Gustav Larsson, decide that Andretti has jumped the start and they penalise him one minute, as if it is a Formula Ford race. This information is transmitted to Colin Chapman at the pits who signals -58 sec. to Andretti as he goes by steadily pulling out a lead. Naturally none of his opponents know about the penalty and few people in the pits hear the loudspeaker announcement with the continual roar of the passing cars. One thing they all do know is that Gunnar Nilsson is not racing any more, for on the third lap he spins out of the right-angle corner before the pits and cannons backwards into the pit wall, so there is no need for expianations to his team, he has landed almost at their feet. The other Swedish hero, Ronnie Peterson, is not doing anything stupid but he isn’t exciting the crowd, being in eighth place behind Hunt. Reutemann gives up as his right hand is hurting him and he feels there is no point in being brave and heroic in last place, and Kessel spins off with the rough on lap 6. Fittipaldi has achieved some sort of handling for his car by removing the front anti-roll bar altogether, but the result is that the front tyres wear out so rapidly that there is no point in going on. Ferrari enthusiasts have maintained that if the fresh engine in Lauda’s car is going to make any difference he will be in the lead in five laps. He isn’t in the lead by ten laps, and it is obvious that he never will be while those in front kept going. Andretti is waiting for no-one, nor is he stopping to argue about his penalty, Scheckter is sliding the Tyrrell through the corners beautifully but not quite keeping the gap constant. Depailler is still third, and Amon fourth and then comes Lauda driving as hard as he can, but it isn’t enough.

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Quite a gap has opened up before Laffite goes by leading a nose-to-tail string of eleven cars, in the order Hunt, Peterson, Pace, Regazzoni, Brambilla, Mass, Jarier, Pryce, Jones, Merzario and Stuck. Bringing up the rear are Leclerc, Perkins, and Lunger, and Ertl has made a pit stop after going offthe road. Gradually the scene at the front spreads out, with equal gaps between the first five cars, while Laffite pulls the Ligier-Matta well ahead of Hunt. The Hesketh of Ertl gets in the way of the following bunch when they comes to lap him as it is faster than most down the straight, but slower through the wiggly bits. By twenty laps the high-speed procession is very settled and it is just a matter of seeing who is going to break down first. The number has already been reduced by one when the Dutch-owned Ensign bursts its engine at the chicane, leaving Perkins with a long walk home. Andretti is looking so smooth and comfortable out in front that it seems that nothing can stop him, certainly not the six-wheeled Tyrrells, or the Ferraris and everyone feels that Amon and the Ensign should not have been there in fourth place, while a lot of people wish it isn’t. Amon, however, is enjoying himself and can see no reason why he should not have third place as he is gradually catching Depailler. A cloud of dust goes up as Branshills gets in a muddle while braking for the pits corner and takes to the rough stuff, but it does not delay him and he keeps his place behind Regazzoni. The March nose cowling is decidedly tatty on the right side after this, and on right-hand bends the air is getting under the nose and upsetting the balance, so Brambilla gradually dropi back. Merzario can not understand why those in front of him are going so slowly, so he livens things up by passing Pryce, Jarier and Mass and then sets off after Brambilla. Just over half distance as a lethargic air is pervading the scene a very large cloud of dust at the first corner after the start indicates that something pretty serious has happened. Anion has Depailler in his sights when the left front corner of the Ensign collapses And the car goes head-on into the barriers after knocking down two catch-fences. A very shaken New Zealander climbs out of the wreckage with bruised legs and is very lucky to be uninjured.

 

While the Ensign crash at Zolder has happened too quickly for Amon to know what has happened, this one has gone on for a long time in his full view. While this has been taking place there is a stir going on in the pits for Ken Tyrrell has been trying to find out whether the minute penalty on Andretti is official, and Race Control at the pits end of the circuit can not get any sense out of the control point at the start-line. Until he knows officially he is not going to signal Scheckter or Depailler, so that as far as they are concerned they are still trying to catch the Lotus, though in vain. What they don’t know is that the Lotus Cosworth VS engine has lost its edge and Andretti is trying to give it an easy time and has been doing so for ten or fifteen laps, which is why his lead has not been increasing. As the Lotus finishes lap 45 it is slowing visibly and as it approaches the pits end of the circuit on lap 46 a gusher of oil blows out of one of the inlet trumpets as a piston breaks up and the whole thing goes by the pits in a cloud of smoke and that is that. Looking out of Race Control, waiting for confirmation of the minute penalty, Tyrrell says: Don’t bother, and returns to his pit to urge his lads to take it easy and concentrate on completing the remaining laps. In first and second places the revolutionary six-wheeled Tyrrells, brain-children of Derek Gardner, cruises round in complete control in only their fourth Grand Prix, so that any doubting Thomases, Michaels or Leonards must have felt a bit uncomfortable. Given that they only inherite those places because the Lotus engine blew up, it does not alter the fact of being first and second, even if it is by luck, and behind them are thirteen other cars that would have liked some of that luck, Lauda is comfortably in third place, though somewhat dejected, and Laffite is very content in fourth place, equally secure. In fifth place is Hunt, hut he has Peterson closing up on him, and in seventh place Pace has Regazzoni closing up on him, the Ferrari driver obviously becoming conscious of the fact that one of the hopeless Alfa Romeo-engined cars is ahead of his all-conquering Ferrari.

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In ninth place is the struggling Brambilla in the orange March and behind him, waving his fist, was Merzario in the white March. Pryce, Mass, Jarier, Jones, Lunger, Stuck and Ertl have all been lapped. With everything to lose and so much to gain Scheckter drives on tip-toe, trying as hard as he can not to strain the engine, the clutch, the gearbox, the brakes or the suspension, for it only wants one little thing to go wrong to spoil it all. Apart front Stuck retiring at the pits, Ertl spinning off again, erratically this time, and Merzario’s engine giving out right at the end, the Swedish Grand Prix runs its course and the two six-wheeled Tyrrells finish in perfect order in first and second places. The Ferrari team are not at all happy with their third place nor with Regazzoni, even though he does pass Pace, and Peterson for good measure, while a lot of people would have been very happy to have finished third, or even sixth. It is interesting that Regazzoni’s Ferrari went by Peterson’s March on the long straight as if it was standing still, but could make no ground at all on Hunt’s McLaren on the same straight. With this triumph, the new model realized by Derek Gardner and Ken Tyrrell shows to be extremely fast, and above all to have reached in a very short time a high level of competitiveness. But it is necessary to consider that the Anderstorp circuit has always been favorable to the cars of the English team; curiously, also in 1974 Scheckter and Depailler obtained a similar winning double. Ken Tyrrell welcomes his men at the finish line with a hug and then declares:

 

"The cars are going very well and I am more than convinced that we have a very good chance for future races. We can say that we have solved all the problems, and that we look to the future with great optimism".

 

Scheckter and Depailler report not to have had the slightest problem and to have conducted the race at their leisure, not even having suffered attacks. Just the South African, after the race, will tell how the project was born, and what were his first impressions:

 

"I expected to win here. Of course I was amazed by Andretti's performance but then, since it was impossible to catch him, I stayed quietly in second position. My car didn't do badly, I just had some grip problems at a certain moment, which made me think about tire degeneration. Then everything was ok. The anti-Ferrari Tyrrell? Not right away, I think, but very soon. Let's say that at Brands Hatch we will give everyone a run for their money, because the car is there and it is also very competitive. It could have been done better if my car hadn't had some rear problems, which were wagging. Of course initially I couldn't get used to the six-wheel Formula 1. Then, slowly, using it convinced me that Gardner had an exceptional intuition. Today, in Formula 1, either we look for new engine alternatives, with Matra and Alfa Romeo, to beat Ferrari, or we look for new technical solutions. We've already guessed it. With the progress we make from race to race, we will soon be the only ones who can counter the Ferraris. I don't think Elf-Tyrrell designer Derek Gardner would have been very happy if he had known my reaction when I first piloted the revolutionary six-wheeler. It was like driving a touring car. I couldn't see the front wheels, I couldn't aim for the apex of the corner, I had to calculate it by moving forward piece by piece each lap until I reached the point-limit. Then I knew where it was. Really, it was simply like being back in a regular car with covered wheels. The other strange feeling I experienced driving it for the first time was that it felt like I was driving roller skates. I had the impression as if the second pair of front wheels were directly underneath me. Truly a strange sensation".

 

And adds:

 

Despite these two differences, it didn't take me long to feel the car properly and to work out a different technique to pilot it. Oddly enough, this technique is not radically different. I suppose the comparison most easily understood by the common motorist is that of changing from a left-hand drive car to a right-hand drive car. Before I became accustomed to the narrowness of the front end, I would enter turns, discovering on the way out that I had missed the apex. Then I moved to the apex on the next pass, realizing I could pull to the inside later and on the exit I had extra room. Simply put, the car was much more economical in terms of the amount of ground needed to make a turn. And that simply means that you have two advantages: first, you gain fractions of seconds in the corner and then, second, because of the clean, economical trajectory you reach top speed sooner. I'm sure Derek's rationale is much more complex than this theory of mine about the car's advantages. About eighteen months ago I first sniffed the fact that Ken and Derek had something very strange going on. Ken had a habit of saying things like this: how would you like a car that has twenty percent more front-end grip? And how do you feel about a front track that is twenty inches narrower? I knew something was going to happen but I didn't know in what way. Patrick and I tried to imagine what it might be. We imagined all kinds of things - some of them really disturbing - but the one thing we never considered was a six-wheeled car. The first time we actually heard about it was at Paul Ricard, during a practice session about a year ago. Derek pulled out the blueprints of the car, settling in comfortably and simply saying, what do you think? I think Patrick said something like damn, and I said Jeeze or something equally eloquent".

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"There's not much really that can be said in a situation like this. One thing I was certain of was that it would work. Because I have a lot of regard for Derek and I know that he once worked something out in his mind, and one of those new designers around these days capable of producing a machine that is competitive from the moment it leaves the drawing board. In fact, we often joke with Derek that his biggest obstacle was the drivers. The 007 was more competitive in the first six races than it is now that the drivers have developed it. The other thing that's really interesting about the six-wheeler is the way people react to it. When it was first presented to the press at the Elf reception, you could hear giggles and people didn't know whether they should laugh or applaud. The reaction from the drivers and managers of the other teams was almost similar. They made a mockery of it and joked about it. Now that we've run it, the drivers just try to ignore it. And the team directors, every time it spins a wheel, run to the guardrail with a stopwatch in their hands like a bunch of frightened hares. But back to the car, Almost everyone wants to know what it feels like to have four wheels in front. Here's the answer: you don't realize you have four wheels in front. It's like driving with two. But what you do notice is that you direct where you point. Normally pointing the steering wheel is just an indication of where the car will head...eventually. At low speeds the car really acts like it's on the tracks. I can imagine the next, valid sixty-four dollar question: why do you need four wheels in the front? Well, the answer is that the tighter the car, the faster it goes on the straights. The problem, though, is that narrow-track cars do well in the corners. To say something stupid, you'd need a variable car that's very narrow on the straights and develops a wide track as you approach the corners. But you can't have that, so we have a narrow car with extra road holding built in for the turns".

 

Finally:

 

"And this extra road holding comes from the four wheels in front. In other words, a rubber footprint on the road at the front end. We also have an advantage in terms of straight-line braking. For example, approaching a tight hairpin quickly, I think I can pull off later than most. But when I have to brake when the car is already in the hairpin, then I guess our car is equal to all the others. With all this rubber up front, I've noticed several times that when I've entered the corner fast, the car has a tendency to lift the inside rear wheel off the ground. Several times I looked in my mirror and saw that our rear wheel wasn't turning. This can happen with a four-wheel car, though, so it's not something that's characteristic of a six-wheeler. Ken is very astute as far as letting the world know what the benefits of the car are. I think he wants the other designers to find out for themselves. However, I am perfectly prepared to deal with one of the big disadvantages. Which is definitely those of pit stops to change tires, from wet to slick. One thing is for sure, and that is that this car is one of those that must be driven cleanly. What I mean by this is that this is a car that requires maximum concentration on the part of the driver and that will give the best performance when it is steered smoothly rather than jerkily. It will have to be driven very smoothly. With other cars you can compensate for certain flaws by moving them a little bit sideways. I've always been someone who had this sideways tendency, but as I'm getting older I'm more convinced that driving clean is the way to go. The whole team has great confidence in this car. We put all of our hope into it to get out of this negative phase. To be honest, it's not like we had consistently good results last year. I think a large part of it was due to the fact that there wasn't much we could do with the 007 four-wheeler. The old car suffered from the development work that was being done on the new one. It's certainly starting to give us some good results. To be honest I put a lot of faith and hope in it, in this car. But at the same time there is still a lot of development work to be done. But you can see why we are all passionate and why we believe in it. To have achieved these results with so little work with such a revolutionary car, must indicate that we can expect even more benefits. It could also be that we will present ourselves in the future with a car with different characteristics for long and fast circuits, who knows. We have become a team that can beat Ferrari, of this I am convinced. We have our problems, which are there with every new car. This is the most exciting project that has ever been developed in Formula 1, as far as I can remember. I'm delighted to be a part of it and I'm confident we'll do well".

 

And Depailler, second, comments:

 

"A not bad second place, maybe I could have been closer to Jody if I hadn't mounted some softer springs that made some unforeseen tricks at the distance, in fact at mid-race I had very little rear grip. My confidence in this six-wheel project seems justified, no?"

 

To a journalist, who asks him if the World Championship starts again from Anderstorp, Ken Tyrrell replies:

 

"I prefer not to comment".

 

But only a few minutes earlier he had said:

 

"We are very confident for the future. We will continue to win".

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There is no doubt that the six-wheeled Tyrrells, first and second in the Swedish Grand Prix, are indeed the cars of the day. Beating and beating, they ended up crossing the finish line ahead of the Ferraris, proving that efforts and sacrifices are never really in vain. We must not forget, however, that the Tyrrell had won in the same way, and in Sweden two years before. And it is more than evident, by now, that the circuit of Anderstorp, with all its long radius curves, with the sudden changes of temperature and with the track more than dirty after a long series of races of various formulas that take place before the Formula 1, is not the most congenial for the Ferrari, while it is perfectly adapted to the characteristics of the British car. In this circumstance the Ferrari has probably found itself in the lowest point of its line of performance while, at the same time, the Tyrrell has reached the peak, and from the concomitance of the two situations the result of Anderstorp has come out. But in Ferrari the outcome of the Swedish Grand Prix is considered quite satisfactory, as Daniele Audetto admits:

 

"A third and a sixth place in Anderstorp are very good for us. The cars did not have any problems and this is what counts. The placings obtained in Anderstorp confirm the validity of our cars. This circuit is not congenial to us. We cannot create a victory just to come here. We will get back to winning, that's for sure. A Lauda and a Regazzoni like this can give us nothing but great satisfaction".

 

Lauda pointed out the poor grip of the tires, whose temperature was found at the end of the race to be twenty degrees lower than on Saturday, and recalled the problems of over- and understeer that were repeated in the race. The Austrian driver admits that nothing more could be done, and thinks that already in France Ferrari will return to victory.

 

"The car didn't have any grip, however, in a particularly difficult circuit for the Ferraris, I brought home four points that I think are important, not so much for the standings, but in particular because even on this circuit, where Ferrari should build a car on purpose, we didn't look bad. I checked the temperature of the tires after the arrival and they were twenty degrees colder than yesterday, which was already a cold day. So we found out the reason for the lack of grip that the Ferrari was complaining about. It was hard to drive because I had a lot of oversteer going into the corners and a crazy amount of understeer going out. But in the end it wasn't a surprise for us: we knew that Sweden was difficult for us".

 

The performance of Mario Andretti and the Lotus cannot be judged because of the false start made by the Italo-American: it must be said, however, that Colin Chapman's car is growing, and it would be time after such a long negative period.

 

"An exceptional car my Lotus. I left quickly. It is not true that I left early. At the starter it was me and Jody together, there was oil signaled by the flag at the start, my car skidded. I put the car in second gear and maybe this gave the impression that I started earlier. It's just rhetoric now. I certainly didn't scramble the car because I had a six second lead over Scheckter. Suddenly in front of the pits a valve spring gave way and it was impossible for me to win the second Grand Prix".

 

Strange but true, there were people willing to bet any amount of money on the complete disappearance of Lotus from the fight. Those who bet won, but not for the reasons they had in mind. The Lotus cars had to retire not because of mechanical failures, although everyone says that they are cars at the limit, and precisely for this reason very delicate, but because of the impetuosity of the drivers. Nilsson, the Swede, disappeared from the scene before he could even get into the heart of the race, and it's a pity because the experts predict a great future for him. Andretti got it all wrong, starting early, getting a penalty, and forcing himself to blow the engine. It remains the indisputable fact that a threat to Ferrari and Tyrrell cannot come from Lotus. The public of Anderstorp liked then the two Italians Brambilla and Merzario. Vittorio attacked Regazzoni repeatedly, but he was not able to overcome him. Even for him the impetuosity proved to be a negative factor: having to brake hard and return after an impossible attempt to overtake him, he damaged the nose, thus having to end the race quietly. A real pity, since he had the possibility of a good placing. The Italian driver of the March, Vittorio Brambilla, finished tenth, declares:

 

"Until the problem with the nose, I had a good chance; then the car became very understeered and I had to slow down".

 

Merzario really did all he could. Seventeenth after the second lap, he passed one competitor after another, reaching the ninth position. Just as he was doing better, his engine broke down.

 

"I was having a decent race when suddenly everything went off. Having to stop with only one lap to go is just really bad luck".

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The circuit of Anderstorp, in short, has highlighted the possibilities of the Tyrrell, which in fact are today the only cars that can put the Ferrari in difficulty. The House of Maranello certainly has the men and the technology necessary to solve the problem in the best way. Lauda, as reported in Sweden, played defensively, avoiding unnecessary risks. An intelligent tactic, which brought him four points and which the year before had even brought him victory. This time only two of the four cars ahead of the Ferrari stopped, Andretti's Lotus and Amon's Ensign, and the Austrian had to be satisfied with a third place that is not to be despised. As in Monte-Carlo, we must underline Regazzoni's splendid performance that, starting from the sixth row, fought for a long time, until he overtook Ronnie Peterson and his March in the final. Of course, the Swiss driver did not fight for success, but for this reason his determination and his desire to race should be admired. The performance of Mario Andretti and the Lotus cannot be judged because of the false start made by the Italo-American: it must be said, however, that Colin Chapman's car is growing, and it would be time after such a long negative period.

 

"An exceptional car my Lotus. I left quickly. It is not true that I left early. At the starter it was me and Jody together, there was oil signaled by the flag at the start, my car skidded. I put the car in second gear and maybe this gave the impression that I started earlier. It's just rhetoric now. I certainly didn't scramble the car because I had a six second lead over Scheckter. Suddenly in front of the pits a valve spring gave way and it was impossible for me to win the second Grand Prix".

 

Strange but true, there were people willing to bet any amount of money on the complete disappearance of Lotus from the fight. Those who bet won, but not for the reasons they had in mind. The Lotus cars had to retire not because of mechanical failures, although everyone says that they are cars at the limit, and precisely for this reason very delicate, but because of the impetuosity of the drivers. Nilsson, the Swede, disappeared from the scene before he could even get into the heart of the race, and it's a pity because the experts predict a great future for him. Andretti got it all wrong, starting early, getting a penalty, and forcing himself to blow the engine. It remains the indisputable fact that a threat to Ferrari and Tyrrell cannot come from Lotus. The public of Anderstorp liked then the two Italians Brambilla and Merzario. Vittorio attacked Regazzoni repeatedly, but he was not able to overcome him. Even for him the impetuosity proved to be a negative factor: having to brake hard and return after an impossible attempt to overtake him, he damaged the nose, thus having to end the race quietly. A real pity, since he had the possibility of a good placing. The Italian driver of the March, Vittorio Brambilla, finished tenth, declares:

 

"Until the problem with the nose, I had a good chance; then the car became very understeered and I had to slow down".

 

Merzario really did all he could. Seventeenth after the second lap, he passed one competitor after another, reaching the ninth position. Just as he was doing better, his engine broke down.

 

"I was having a decent race when suddenly everything went off. Having to stop with only one lap to go is just really bad luck".

 

The circuit of Anderstorp, in short, has highlighted the possibilities of the Tyrrell, which in fact are today the only cars that can put the Ferrari in difficulty. The House of Maranello certainly has the men and the technology necessary to solve the problem in the best way. Lauda, as reported in Sweden, played defensively, avoiding unnecessary risks. An intelligent tactic, which brought him four points and which the year before had even brought him victory. This time only two of the four cars ahead of the Ferrari stopped, Andretti's Lotus and Amon's Ensign, and the Austrian had to be satisfied with a third place that is not to be despised. As in Monte-Carlo, we must underline Regazzoni's splendid performance that, starting from the sixth row, fought for a long time, until he overtook Ronnie Peterson and his March in the final. Of course, the Swiss driver did not fight for success, but for this reason his determination and his desire to race should be admired.

 

Anthony Quartey

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