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#191 1970 British Grand Prix

2021-10-27 00:00

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#191 1970 British Grand Prix

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After the French GP end, the Formula 1 World Championship continues with the seventh round of the season. After taking victory in the French Grand Prix with a Lotus-Ford, Austrian driver Jochen Rindt will also attempt to win at the British Brands Hatch circuit at the British Grand Prix scheduled for Saturday, July 18, 1970. In the Formula One World Championship, nine points are awarded to the first place finisher, five to the second, four to the third, three to the fourth, two to the fifth and one to the sixth. This year's calendar calls for thirteen races, six of which have already been held. The British Grand Prix concludes the first series of races, cale to say seven, on which the score for each driver is calculated on the best results; the second series will be six races, with scoring on the five best results. The sum of the two totals will give the final ranking for the awarding of the title. Before the British Grand Prix can be held, the drivers are required to pass other tests overseas in the United States.

 

And so, many of the drivers who on Saturday, July 11, 1970, took part in the 6 Hours of Watklns Glen for the makes championship (success for Rodriguez-Kinnunen in a Porsche 917, ahead of teammates Siffert-Redman, all in 5000 cc 917s; the Andretti-Giunti pair took third place in a Ferrari 512 S, ahead of Hulme-Elford in a Porsche and Ickx-Schetty), took to the track on Sunday, July 12, 1970, to take part in the third round of the Can-Am Cup. New Zealand driver Denny Hulme, delivering on what he had promised in official practice, wins the third round of the North American motor racing championship, beating in a sprint the Porsche 917 of Swiss driver Jo Siffert, who had finished second in Saturday's 6 Hours of Watkins Glen, a round valid for the world marque championship, in the same car. Hulme drove a McLaren-Chevrolet to success, giving the car tuned by his ill-fated teammate and compatriot Bruce McLaren its 16th consecutive victory in the Can-Am championship, a competition that comes with $1.000.000 in prizes.

The New Zealander, a former Formula 1 World Champion, drove his McLaren with confidence and authority from start to finish, completing the 87 laps of the winding circuit Watkins Glen for a total of 211.900 kilometers at an average of 190.8 km/h, in a time of one hour 11'16"0. In his wake came Jo Siffert, the Swiss Porsche driver, who was unable to regain the lead acquired by Hulme immediately after the start. Behind Siffert speeded across the finish line British driver Richard Atwood, at the wheel of a second Porsche 917. The gap between the winner and his immediate pursuers is 30 seconds. In fourth place was a third Porsche driven by English driver Vie Elford, who preceded the Ferrari of Mario Andretti, the American motor racing champion. Ickx's 512 S was also in the race: the Belgian driver was the protagonist of a frightening off-road accident. Fortunately, Ickx was unhurt, but destroyed the car, The new Chaparral entrusted to Jackie Stewart was forced to retire due to a series of failures.

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After the Dutch Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix, there is a feeling that an excellent British Grand Prix could be had on the long Brands Hatch circuit. Ferraris equipped with 12-cylinder engines and the Matras also equipped with 12-cylinder engines are getting closer and closer to winning; the B.R.M. cars equipped with 12-cylinder engines have already achieved a victory, while the V8 Cosworth engines have had a series of problems; the Lotus 72 driven by Jochen Rindt is setting new standards, while the dominance of Jackie Stewart seen during the 1969 season is rapidly fading from the scene in 1970. But as far as the British Grand Prix is concerned, there is much interest even at the lower end of the entry pool, as the RAC indicates that there would be no restrictions on entries for the race, and no elimination from qualifying; inability to be competitive is the only criterion for exclusion. As a result, there are numerous new entries on the official list. Gold Leaf Team Lotus inserts Emerson Fittipaldi, the up-and-coming Brazilian F3 and F2 driver, and grants him the drive of the Lotus 49C/R10, while Jochen Rindt and John Miles will drive Team Lotus 72C/2 and Lotus 72B/1, respectively.

 

Peter Gethin was supposed to enter the Grand Prix with the full McLaren team, but a shortage of engines prevented his participation, so Denny Hulme, Dan Gurney and Andrea de Adamich would represent the Colnbrook firm with the same cars they had driven at Clermont-Ferrand, namely M14D/1 for Hulme and M14A/1 for Gurney, both with Cosworth V8 engines, and the M7D/1, with an Alfa Romeo V8 engine, for de Adamich. The two usual official Brabhams are entered for Jack Brabham himself and for Rolf Stommelen, while a third car is entered for Tim Schenken, but his presence on the track doesn't materialize. John Surtees produces a completely new car, built in his factory, designated TS7/001. The car is very well worked out, with a thin riveted aluminum corner monocoque with rocker front suspension and inboard spring units and a fairly orthodox rear layout, with inboard brakes, the Cosworth V8 engine and Hewland gearbox completing the rear of the car, attached to the rear bulkhead of the monocoque cockpit. The rear suspension hangs from a beam through the clutch housing and a plate under the gearbox, and the upper spoke rods have their forward ends anchored by brackets attached to the Cosworth engine cylinder heads.

 

The forward-mounted radiator is angled almost horizontally, giving a very low nose line, with air entering under the wedge-shaped nose and exiting at the top. Team Surtees enters this car for John Surtees himself, and the McLaren M7C/1 for Trevor Taylor, but a shortage of engines rules out this extra entry. Silvio Moser enters his Bellasi, but it doesn't show up at Brands Hatch, and Jo Bonnier enters a McLaren-Cosworth V8 car, but it doesn't make an appearance at the circuit. The rest of the entries consist of Ken Tyrrell's pair of drivers, Jackie Stewart and François Cévert, with March 701/4 and 701/7 and a 701/2 model as a spare for the Scottish driver. Scuderia Ferrari shows up with its three cars equipped with flat 12-cylinder engines, 001, 002 and 003. At Brands Hatch it is the turn of Clay Regazzoni, who joins Jacky Ickx. The two drivers from the Maranello team will test all three cars available, deciding to use 003 (Ickx) and 002 (Regazzoni). The Matra team rebuilt the car that Henri Pescarolo had used at Clermont-Ferrand, since his accident in practice had slightly damaged the monocoque, and the car is reborn as MS120/01, while Beltoise uses the car with which he competed in the French Grand Prix.

The Yardley-B.R.M. team of Pedro Rodriguez, Jackie Oliver and George Eaton is there with its usual three cars, while Chris Amon and Jo Siffert have the two official Marchs at their disposal, joined by Mario Andretti in the STP Oil Treatment Special March 701/3, back from America where the Granatelli workshops made numerous modifications to the water cooling system, rear suspension struts and rear suspension spars. Graham Hill still drives the old Lotus 49C of Rob Walker's team as their new Lotus 72 isn't yet ready, Pete Lovely will run his Lotus 49B and Ronnie Peterson will drive Crabbe's March. Frank Williams' team returns to racing with the De Tomaso 505/38/2 and Brian Redman is hired to drive it, but on the first day of practice he will not run many laps before the left rear hub shaft breaks internally and fortunately the wheel doesn't come off. Because it is considered a design flaw, the car is precautionarily retired.

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Thursday practice gets off to a bad start as scrutineering is delayed. The time for the first practice session is moved to a different time of day. Jochen Rindt sets an outstanding time, a full second better than the record Jack Brabham had set at the Race of Champions, with a time of 1'24"8. Jackie Oliver, Jacky lckx and Denny Hulme are the only ones who manage to get into the 1'25"0 range, but none of them can get close to Jochen Rindt's time. All of the Marchs don't appear to be competitive on the bumpy, undulating Brands Hatch circuit, as was already apparent during the running of the Race of Champions, and although revised geometry has been built into the rear suspension, the cars seem to be anything but. Jackie Stewart is fastest in his March, with which he sets a time of 1'26"1. On Friday morning the practice session is further delayed, creating confusion in the minds of many people. Jackie Oliver leads his B.R.M. beautifully, while Pedro Rodriguez is delayed by continuing engine problems, so he can make very little progress. Clay Regazzoni manages to keep pace with Jacky Ickx beautifully, equaling the existing lap record, while the Belgian driver firmly holds a front row position thanks to a time of 1'25"1.

 

Jochen Rindt loses a lot of time during this second practice session due to a leaking fuel tank, so he is unable in being able to repeat his performance marked during Thursday's practice. Jack Brabham, on the other contrast, is very competitive at Brands Hatch: in fact, the Austrian driver equals the fastest time and takes the middle position on the front row. Jackie Stewart and Mario Andretti drive their March cars to the limit, but fail to set satisfactory times. John Miles is then able to place the second Lotus 72 ahead of both, causing some anxiety especially for Jackie Stewart. Apparently the March shows a tendency to steer on its own with the rear end over some bumps and changes of direction, which makes it difficult to maintain the precise line needed to set a fast lap. Ronnie Peterson, in his March, manages to be faster than both official cars at Bicester, which is to be good for customer confidence, but is depressing for the official drivers. On both days of practice the sky is cloudy and gray, but the track remains dry and warm. When official timed practice ends at noon on Friday, July 17, 1970, the time set by Jochen Rindt during Thursday's practice session gives him the honor of starting from pole position.

 

It isn't for nothing that Rindt's Lotus model 72 will start on the front row. It is the single-seater of most advanced technical conception in terms of weight distribution and suspension kinematics, and at Brands Hatch it displayed exceptional road holding, which Jochen Rindt, of course, exploits to accelerate before the others at the exit of corners. The Austrian didn't lower in Friday morning practice the time of 1'24"3 (average 181.650 km/h) he achieved on Thursday, but he wasn't unhappy about it. His time remained the best and earned him the hundred bottles of champagne raffled off by a newspaper for the fastest racer. However, the same old terrible Formula One driver, Jack Brabham, equaled Rindt's record by placing himself alongside him. The third man in the front row of drivers was Jacky Ickx, who dropped to 1'25"1 in his Ferrari. Three tenths just behind Rindt and Brabham, a whisker that shows that the suspension tuning work done during the night paid off.

 

There are all the signs of a revival of the Maranello team in Formula 1, and little does it matter if at this time Rindt, leading the World Championship standings, appears as the main opponent of the reigning World Champion Jackie Stewart (who had to be content with the March with the eighth time). After a slow start, Scuderia Ferrari, with Ickx and, alternately, Giunti and Regazzonl, was moving to the top, thanks mainly to its mighty twelve-cylinder engine. Among other things, it was reported that at Clermont Ferrand, in the French Grand Prix, Ickx was stranded not by a valve failure but by a glitch in the ignition system. Clay Regazzoni performed well too, getting the sixth best time (1'25"8, ahead of drivers like Stewart, Beltoise and Andretti). Rather, problems with the front brakes, which cause vibrations in the front end, have not yet completely disappeared on the Swiss driver's 312 B, but Ferrari engineers say they are convinced they will remedy them by race day.

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The atmosphere is serene at Brands Hatch among the Formula 1 drivers about to contest the British Grand Prix, the seventh round of the World Championship. On the circuit that sits in the rolling, wooded prairie between London and Dover (there is even a castle in the area with its good band of ghosts), there is no air of contention. All good, all quiet. So, with rehearsals over, a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers Association is held on Friday, July 17, 1970. Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt also moderate the tone of their polemic against racetracks and, while still claiming (and with every reason) that they have no desire to die on a track for the shortcomings of others, give a favorable opinion of the Monza racetrack and the Italian Grand Prix. The Scottish driver declares:

"The track is safe. There is room to maneuver, there are enough guardrails. It is only a little too fast".

The Austrian adds:


"The real danger at Monza is the track's poor selectivity, so groups form. In any case, nothing like the Nurburgring".

 

Mario Andretti even points out that he likes Monza more than any other circuit. It transpires, however, that the GPDA will ask the Italian managers to make some adjustments to the safety systems. Nothing more, however: no danger, then, on the Italian Grand Prix. And as for Brands Hatch? Here, too, things are running smoothly. This up-and-down, bumpy and very uneven track is viewed with sympathy by the drivers, not least because nothing serious has happened there so far, and a little superstition never hurts. However, it is a challenging track, with some really difficult corners. With its ups and downs it especially puts a strain on the suspension. There is talk, as there should be, about safety, and solutions are being sought by both Grand Prix organizers and race car manufacturers.

 

Can a safe single-seater be made? The argument, more or less, is the same as that held par touring cars. The answer is double: it is impossible to build a car--racing or touring--that is, one hundred percent safe, i.e., able to withstand the most fearful shocks; instead, it is possible to produce a vehicle capable of offering greater protection to the driver or motorists. Mandatory on single-seaters today are an automatic and manual fire extinguishing system, consisting of one or two cylinders and a system of hoses and sprinkler nozzles, a roll cage behind the driver's seat, and internal and external switches to shut off the electrical system. Recently, a device for locking the tire to the rim in case of a puncture has been adopted. More complete and rational are the proposals of a study curated by Pininfarina with the collaboration of specialized bodies and technicians. It is the Sigma Gran Prix, which brings together original concepts and devices. Other proposals are offered by two technicians, Mauro Forghieri, director of the Ferrari team, and Ron Tauranac, head of design at Brabham. Engineer Mauro Forghieri states:

 

"I think the Sigma Grand Prix is an excellent attempt to solve safety problems. However, it would have to be tested whether this car is acceptable from a competition point of view. I think two things should be done before talking about concrete solutions. First, conduct a statistical investigation to determine the real causes of accidents. How, why, when do single-seaters catch fire? This isn't yet known with sufficient precision. Second: do not deal with the problem separately, but bring together all those directly concerned: organizers, drivers, manufacturers. Interesting solutions would pop up, and CIS legislators should consider them".

 

And Ron Tauranac adds:

"A first premise: improving safety requires calm and time. Hastiness is always harmful. However, I think it is necessary to modify the fuel tanks. The rubber casings should be thicker and an air cushion should be maintained between them and the sheet metal container. This exerts a shock-absorbing function in the event of an impact, preventing the tank from bursting. Of course, the solution is twofold: either put less gasoline in the casings so that they don't stick perfectly to the sheet metal or make larger containers. We are working on the problem for our next cars. I would also propose to remove the battery from aboard the single-seaters. This would eliminate one of the causes of gasoline ignition in the event of an accident resulting in broken wires in the electrical system. Starting could be done by portable batteries or other systems".

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Only De Tomaso is missing from the British Grand Prix. A driveshaft to replace the one broken in Friday's practice didn't arrive from Italy, and Brian Redman, called up in place of poor Piers Courage, has been laid up. The others, drivers and cars, are all there, including John Surtees who brings his single-seater, the Surtees TS 7 equipped with the ubiquitous Ford-Cosworth engine, to its debut. As interesting as the appearance of a new car may be, the focus today isn't on the TS 7, which in practice achieved a modest yet predictable time of 1'27"7, the twentieth, but on the test of Jochen Rindt and his Lotus. The Austrian is the man to beat. He has won the Monaco, Dutch and French Grands Prix and is at the top of the Formula 1 World Championship standings - of which this race is the seventh episode - with 27 points. One more affirmation, and the title fight would probably undergo the ultimate shake-up, since the closest pursuers (Brabham and Stewart) are just 19. Jackie Stewart himself, the reigning World Champion, doesn't appear to be Jochen Rindt's most dangerous rival, although in motor racing, predictions leave time to be found.

 

The Scotsman is finding difficult what he found easy last year and, perhaps, is beginning to regret leaving Matra-Ford for March. Robin Herd's single-seater isn't on point. It is heavy and weak in the suspension (especially in the shock absorbers) and Jackie Stewart, used to being the fastest in 1969, sees himself ahead of many. At Brands Hatch he got only the eighth fastest time. Ahead he has Rindt, Brabham, Ickx, Hulme, Oliver, Regazzoni and Miles. For Rindt the threat seems to come from Jack Brabham, always very regular, and Ickx. The Belgian driver is regaining the will to race, and credit is due to the car. The Ferrari 312 B has improved its performance appreciably, so much so that it allowed Clay Regazzoni, a rookie at Brands Hatch, to achieve an excellent time of 1'25"8. It was a continuous growth that began in the Belgian Grand Prix and continued in subsequent races. Maranello's twelve-cylinder engine has the potential to effectively counter Ford-Cosworth eight-cylinder engines. All it takes is a little bit of luck and Ferrari could use that kind of confidence boost. On the contestation front, of the drivers of course, nothing new, or rather a cautious retreat. No discussion of the Brands Hatch circuit and a pointing out of the Monza circuit, which the racers now seem to think is safe, having expressed negative opinions in Clermont-Ferrand.

 

On Saturday, July 18, 1970, a record crowd of 56,000 paying spectators fills the Brands Hatch circuit under bright, sunny skies, and the 11,000 who had turned out the day before get to see two heats and a Formula 3 final, as well as practice for the Formula 1 British Grand Prix. At midday on Saturday features a berlina race, followed by a historic parade of Jaguar cars powered by the XK 6-cylinder engine. This is followed by the drivers' parade, in a variety of Jaguars, from the XK120 to the 1970 E-type. Shortly before 2:00 p.m. the cars that will take part in the Formula 1 Grand Prix leave the assembly paddock to appear in the arena through the tunnel, forming in the crowded pit lane. Just as Cevert's March is about to leave the assembly paddock, there is a gasoline leak that promptly catches fire, but the Tyrrell mechanics are adept at putting out the fire and repairing the car. The McLaren team isn't as fortunate, as the Alfa Romeo-powered car remains in the paddock for two hours with its tanks full of gasoline and ready to go, but as it is about to be taken to the assembly area, one of the bag's rubber tanks ruptures. Unfortunately, although the mechanics try to work feverishly to change the tank, the accident proves fatal and the car doesn't start. Shortly after 2:00 p.m. the first car, Pedro Rodriguez's B.R.M., starts to make a warm-up lap, followed a moment later by Jackie Oliver's car, and Henri Pescarolo in his Matra.

 

This is followed by the second Matra, the one of Jean-Pierre Beltoise. After these four V12-powered cars, Jackie Stewart's V8 Cosworth-powered March starts accompanied by a sound that is flat and boring by comparison with the V12 engines. At 2:30 p.m., Jacky Ickx and Jack Brabham are the authors of a splendid side-by-side start until they reach the Paddock Hill Bend, just ahead of Jochen Rindt. On Druids Hill Jacky Ickx brings his Ferrari onto the right flank of Jack Brabham, and dives to the inside under braking, taking the lead of the race. On this opening lap, Jacky Ickx manages to create a good lead for himself, pursued by Jack Brabham, Jochen Rindt, Jackie Oliver, Denny Hulme, Clay Regazzoni, Jackie Stewart, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, John Miles, and the other competitors. In the process, Mario Andretti damages the right front wing on some competitor's tire at the start. The first moments are complex for those chasing the race leader, as overtaking is difficult on the Brands Hatch circuit. Jacky Ickx leads the pack with an ever-increasing advantage. Only Jack Brabham and Jochen Rindt manage to stay close to the Belgian driver's Ferrari. In the first laps of the race Pedro Rodriguez shows problems with his B.R.M., as the rear end develops abnormal vibrations.

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The Mexican driver pits, but the mechanics find nothing that is out of place. Rodriguez returns to the track and runs a lap, before coming back into the pits again to replace the rear wheels, at which point the bounce disappears and the Mexican driver can return to regular racing, although he is now too far back to hope for a top finish. Pedro Rodriguez continues his run for fifty-eight laps until the car suddenly understeers, sending the Mexican driver off the track at Druids turn. Meanwhile, Jacky Ickx enters the Paddock Hill Bend to start lap seven, but his lead is much smaller than in previous laps. In fact, his Ferrari suddenly slows down and almost stops because something is wrong with his gearbox at the precise moment when Jochen Rindt decides to tuck in on the inside of Jack Brabham under braking. The two rivals come down the steep hill side by side, their wheels almost touching. And as they are caught by surprise seeing Jacky Ickx's Ferrari slowing down, the Lotus 72 takes a good lead over the Australian driver's Brabham up the hill.

 

That's the end of Ferrari's brief moment of glory: Jochen Rindt now leads, followed a short distance by Jack Brabham, with Jackie Oliver a little way back in third, comfortably ahead of Denny Hulme, Clay Regazzoni, Jackie Stewart, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, John Miles, Henry Pescarolo, Mario Andretti, Ronnie Peterson, Jo Siffert and the rest, with Pete Lovely closing the pack. Now Jack Brabham trails the Lotus 72 by a short distance, and nothing Jochen Rindt can try to do shakes the Australian driver's spirits. It is a race brought to the wear and tear of Jochen Rindt's nerves, for Jack Brabham makes no attempt to take the lead in the race, but simply follows his rival looming in the Lotus' mirrors all the while, waiting only for Rindt to make a mistake. As an example of tenacity and patience it is a fine one, but as a motor race it is a bore, and from the stands and grandstands one begins to long for a hard-fought race. However, from lap seven to lap sixty-five Jack Brabham decides to follow Jochen Rindt, waiting for a mistake, which, however, the Austrian driver does not make even when the two are lapping slower cars.

 

It was not until lap sixty-six that Jack Brabham began to increase the pace, and on lap sixty-nine, when Jochen Rindt made a gear change at the rear of the circuit, the Australian driver took the lead. After that, thanks to the time set during the seventieth lap, of 1'25"9, Brabham begins to create a dominant lead. Behind the first two, Jackie Oliver maintains third place without being disturbed by any opponent until the engine of his B.R.M. fails while the British driver is engaged in the Paddock Hill descent, during the fifty-fourth lap. Even earlier Henri Pescarolo's Matra-Simca is forced to stop in the pits because of a puncture, and with another wheel fitted to replace the damaged one he begins to increase the pace until he crashes at Clearways corner on lap forty-first. Meanwhile, his teammate Jean-Pierre Beltoise's car also suffers a slowdown because of a puncture, and later because of a badly mounted wheel; having a bad cold and feeling ill, the French piltoa gives up on lap twenty-four.

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Jo Siffert disappears from the back of the group when an experimental bracket bolted to the left rear strut to lower the pick-up point breaks on lap 19, and Mario Andretti's March suffers a similar failure three laps later. Jackie Stewart is fifth when he, too, suffers a puncture: having arrived in the pits to change his tire, the hydraulic hose that operates the clutch bursts, the fluid leaks onto the exhaust pipes and catches fire, but fortunately the Scottish driver isn't hurt in any way, nor are his mechanics. Ronnie Peterson is also very competitive, until on the seventy-second lap he too was forced to stop with a punctured right front tire and at the same time have the clutch hydraulic hose on his car bled. John Surtees, in his new TS7 got caught up in the battle with Graham Hill, Dan Gurney and Chris Amon, and was hampered by a higher than desirable gear ratio to try to save a Cosworth engine that had now reached the end of its life. When the British driver finally gets rid of his rivals he begins to get into a good rhythm.

 

Surtees drives with one eye on the oil pressure needle, which on lap 51 suddenly drops. The British driver manages to turn off the engine in time, preventing it from breaking down. Another driver who pays continuous attention on the oil pressure indicator is Dan Gurney, who is also forced to give up when the situation becomes desperate, during lap 60. The undisputed hero of the race, however, is Clay Regazzoni, who manages to keep his Ferrari in close contact with Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Jackie Stewart, and Denny Hulme from the very beginning of the race, and when the first two retire he attaches himself to Denny Hulme's McLaren, making the experienced New Zealand driver look bad. On the seventy-fourth lap, the Swiss driver managed to siperate Denny Hulme on his way to Druids corner, but he overdid slightly and ended up on the gravel on the outside of the corner. After skillfully controlling his own car, Clay Regazzoni sets off again in high-speed pursuit of Denny Hulme. From the group of cars that started at the back of the field, Chris Amon and Graham Hill are the only ones who manage to continue despite being the authors of a battle that involves both of them for the duration of the race, gradually bringing them up to fifth and sixth position.

 

In the meantime, after passing Jochen Rindt, there is nothing to disturb Jack Brabham, who at this point looks likely to win the British Grand Prix. But for the third time fate decides otherwise. As the Australian driver runs his final lap, receiving a very popular ovation from the crowd, everything is under control, but as he re-enters the stadium at the Clearways corner the engine of his Brabham dies. Jack Brabham has run out of gas, and for the second time Jochen Rindt rounds the last corner of a race being happy with second place, only to find out later that he is winning, because as Jack Brabham coasts toward the finish line, the Lotus 72 speeds by and crosses the line first. On the same lap Denny Hulme is third, with Clay Regazzoni still pressing him hard but finishing the race 0.4 seconds behind. An incredible performance by the Swiss driver, this being only his second Grand Prix run in Formula 1. Emerson Fittipaldi also deserves an honorable mention for perseverance, because the Cosworth engine of his Lotus 49C proceeded with only seven cylinders throughout the race, but the Brazilian piltota continued until the end, getting the eighth place finish.

 

Double ending at Brands Hatch for the British Grand Prix. Jochen Rindt won the race, but was disqualified because the rear wing of his Lotus didn't comply with international regulations. Jack Brabham, who was second, automatically moved into first place, the first place that had eluded him on the last of eighty laps of the circuit because of a trivial and ridiculous gasoline draught problem. Later everything was back on track and Rindt got first place back. This is the first time in the 20-year history of the Grand Prix that such a thing has happened. It is convenient to divide the event into two parts, both highly exciting. Last lap of the race, seventh round of the Formula One World Championship. Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham dueled from the seventh lap on. In the lead was Jochen Rindt in his red-gold Lotus, behind the more experienced driver in the green-yellow Brabham. A fight to the bitter end, which seemed to have to close at the sixty-ninth lap. Jack Brabham overtakes his rival, gradually pulling away: one, two, three, six seconds. Then, as the Queen's guards, in black neckerchiefs, make wing to the pits and Brabham's mechanics crowd festively to the finish line, a howl of surprise rises from the crowd. As was the case at Monte-Carlo, it isn't Jack Brabham who runs the ring that leads onto the final straight, but Jochen Rindt. The Australian appears after several seconds, with the engine off. A slow-motion arrival, amid ironic shouts and polite applause.

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Time to comment on the episode, to recall the prank played by Jochen Rindt on Jack Brabham in the Monaco Grand Prix. Then, too, Brabham was in command of the race, and at the last corner of the last lap he had given the Austrian driver the green light, leaving the track due to a braking error. Here the error was of a different nature, but the result didn't change. Then, as Rindt, with constructor Chapman and his mechanics, happily took the lap of honor around the circuit, the first rumors spread of his possible disqualification. And here is the second episode. In tests in the past few days, the technical commissioners of the British Grand Prix had pointed out to Lotus that the stabilizer wing placed on the rear train of Rindt's single-seater was higher than required by the rules. These--established by the International Sports Commission after the accidents that occurred last year--require, among other things, that the aerodynamic element shouldn't rise more than eighty centimeters from the lowest point of the car. In addition, the mounting supports weren't attached to the chassis, as the sporting law requires. Jochen Rindt and Lotus file a complaint against the jury's decision. Discussions continue long after the race. After the lap of the parade of honor, the Lotus 72 is taken to the stewards' station for the post-race regulatory check, and the chief steward Cecil Mitchell thinks that the rear airfoil isn't at the regulatory height because the rear support struts are bent, whereas they were straight before the start, inferring that the car had run with the airfoil above the regulatory height and that someone had bent the struts to lower the trailing edge before leaving the car with the stewards after the race.

 

The stewards take photographs and measure far and wide this element whose function is to make the single-seater more stable, thus favoring its performance. One wonders, however, why Rindt was allowed to start if he wasn't in compliance. It was convenient to stop him right away, before the start, perhaps ordering his mechanics to bring the aileron in line with the regulations, as had been done in recent days for the Ferrari and March, which were also over the limits. The jury's decision, however, settled the matter, giving first place back to Jochen Rindt. Such was the curious ending of the British Grand Prix. It was an elimination race. Out of twenty-two competitors who started (Andrea de Adamich in the McLaren-Alfa Romeo, as he got to the start was blocked by a ruptured fuel tank and couldn't even get out on the track), only ten finished the race, and only four with full laps: Rindt, Brabham, Hulme and Regazzoni. Many suspension failures, overstressed by the ups and downs of the circuit, several engine failures-but that is normal-and punctures. Ferrari can be partially satisfied with Regazzoni's fourth place, in his second Formula 1 race. The 312 B held up well over the distance, its engine held up to the end.

 

Unfortunately, a gearbox bearing failed in the car entrusted to Jacky Ickx. The Belgian driver, as always, had a most felicitous start, taking the lead in the long line of single-seaters snaking through the green meadows and woods of Brands Hatch. Six laps in the lead, ten minutes of racing, then the melancholy return to the pits. Clay Regazzoni had an excellent race on a track where he had never raced. He tried several times to pass Denny Hulme and the McLaren, but the New Zealand driver's experience made his efforts futile. In the end, Hulme beat him by only 0.4 seconds. For reigning World Champion Jackie Stewart, who was victorious at Silverstone last year, the British Grand Prix was disappointing too. The Scottish driver, who isn't supported by the March as he was in the 1969 season by Matra-Ford, trudged along in fifth position until he had to stop on lap 54 to replace a punctured tire. In the pits, frantic was the hustle of Ken Tyrrell's mechanics and, on the moment of restarting, the decisive trouble. A trickle of oil leaked onto the exhaust pipes or a brake disc, and a flicker of flame appeared under the car. The Scot literally threw himself out of the cockpit, while a fireman in an asbestos suit operated a fire extinguisher.

 

A jet of dust, and the fear disappeared. What remained was the damage, the inability to restart, even if only to platonically conclude the test. Emotions as well for Henri Pescarolo. The Frenchman went off the track in the Matra-Simca at the Clearways turn, before the finish straight. There was a big bang on the embankment protecting the grandstands, a frightening dust-up and a frantic waving of the yellow flags by the marshals to slow other cars. But, fortunately, nothing more. Pescarolo was uninjured and walked back to the pit box to reassure his team. The other Matra driver, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, retired due to wheel trouble. None of the three B.R.M. cars were saved from the debacle either. The only car from the British manufacturer that performed well - as long as it held - was that of Jackie Oliver. The newly married man rode in third position for some 40 laps until the engine betrayed him. These are, however, almost marginal facts in the long run. The drivers in this Grand Prix never had any room from Jochen Rindt and Jack Brabham. The race broke up into a series of battles between small groups first head-to-head then for places of honor. At this stage John Surtees was prevailing with his new single-seater over Graham Hill and Chris Amon. The engine prevented the Englishman from deriving much satisfaction from his debut. Then, the final surprise, with the jury's double decision.

 

Simona Gallo

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