#195 1970 Canadian Grand Prix

2021-10-23 01:00

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#195 1970 Canadian Grand Prix

A large section of the Formula One entourage is taken en masse to Canada for the first part of a combined package deal to cover the races at St. Jovit


A large section of the Formula One entourage is taken en masse to Canada for the first part of a combined package deal to cover the races at St. Jovite, Watkins Glen in the United States, and Mexico City. Housed in one big tent behind the pits of the Mont Tremblant circuit the equipment is arranged for all to see, with packing cases all round containing tools, spares and engines. Reading from right to left the scene is as follows: Ferrari 312/001 for Ickx, Ferrari 312/004 for Regazzoni, Matra-Simca MS120/03 for Beltoise, Matra-Simca MS120/02 for Pescarolo, and MS120/01 as a spare, Lotus 72C/R4 for Hill, Brabham BT33/3 for Stommelen, Brabham BT33/2 repaired after its Monza accident for Brabham himself, BRM 153/05 for Rodriguez, 153/04 for Oliver, 153/03 for Eaton and 153/06 with the new-type engine installed as a spare; McLaren M14D/1 with Alfa Romeo engine for de Adamich, McLaren M14A/1 for Gethin and McLaren M14A/2 for Hulme, the first of the March cars, 701/1, for Amon and 701/5 for Siffert; the first of the TS7 cars for Surtees, the hybrid cobbled-up for Monza having been unstitched and 001 and 002 taking their normal parts; the De Tomaso 505/38/3 for Schenken, the blue March 701/7 for Cevert, the other blue one, 701/4, for Stewart and also the Tyrrell car, and finally the yellow and brown March 701/8 for Peterson while tucked away in the corner are the bare bones of March 701/6 which local driver Jacques Couture is hoping to borrow, but a shortage of Cosworth V8 engines ruled out any such frivolity. There is some packing cases marked Team Lotus but no Team Lotus cars or drivers, the entries are been  withdrawn after the Monza tragedy. While Matra arrives with three complete V12-engined cars and five engines in boxes, the Peterson March is without an engine, as is the De Tomaso, and the Rob Walker Lotus 72 is without any shafts to drive the inboard brakes front and rear.


Surtees is a little upset with Grand Prix constructors’ politics and the organisers, for trying to enter both his cars but he only has one accepted, and on arrival is told that it is a pity he has not brought TS7/002 as well as he could have entered it! The official March team has the unusual situation of having both cars ready for Thursday practice and no drivers, Siffert suffering from a bad cough and Amon still being on his way from England due to staying behind to test a March-Chevrolet V8 Can-Am car. The Walker Lotus 72 do not practice as new brake shafts of solid construction, rather than tubular, are on their way over, and while practice takes place the Peterson March is being screwed together, but the De Tomaso is sitting engine-less, as it does until Saturday. The Yardley-BRM team is not too happy, for though their cars are running, their spare engines have not arrived. During the afternoon this problem doesn’t worry Eaton, for he overdoes things and spins into a guard-rail, bending the right  front corner, so the rest of the day and the Friday sees him watching his mechanics do some very crafty repair work on the monocoque and the suspension mounting points. Stommelen is also standing around watching, as Brabham has taken his car out to see if it’s all right and has crashed it due to a collapsing wishbone on the left front letting the wheel trail back and lock the steering. It is a bit of a race between the Brabham mechanics and the B.R.M. mechanics to see who will finish first. Meanwhile Oliver and Rodriguez put some miles on the spare car to test the new engine with revised ports and water passages, as well as driving their own cars. On the day before practice Stewart has tried to test the new Tyrrell car, with the modifications to the fuel system completed, but bad weather and an engine failure stopped him learning much. Consequently he spends most of the first official practice in his March, while the Tyrrell is having another engine installed.


He presses on to good effect with the March but is beaten by Ickx, whose Ferrari is in fine form, Pescarolo who is given a suspiciously fast time, Surtees who is enjoying the circuit, Beltoise who is not worried about his engine as it is due for a routine change at the end of practice, and Hulme, whose McLaren is going well but giving him a hard time with steering kick-back on the wheel over the ripples of the road surface. Regazzoni is having trouble with the brakes on his Ferrari and Cevert has his flywheel retaining bolts all break, fortunately without any other damage being caused. Next day practice continues unabated in fine and dry weather and the Walker Lotus 72 is completed, as is the Peterson March and Stommelen’s Brabham, but Eaton’s B.R.M. is taking longer and the De Tomaso team has an engine at last but can’t assemble the car in time. Stewart is not happy with the feel of the throttle pedal on the Tyrrell, the trouble beings in the slide mechanism on the engine, so he jumps from the Tyrrell to the March and back again all afternoon. Having got the engine working right he roars off in the Tyrrell, only to have a rear-wheel centre-lock nut come loose, the safety-pin luckily keeps everything in place. Beltoise sets off with a new engine in his Matra but doesn’t do many laps before it blows up and he has to go out in the spare car, and at the end of the afternoon the engine in Pescarolo’s car breaks a connecting-rod, so the Matra team is busy opening their packing cases. Ickx is still fastest, with Regazzoni right behind him, these two being the only ones to get below 1'32"0, though Regazzoni’s car has a bit of bother with its fuel pump overheating. The nature of the circuit is sorting the drivers and cars out, so that there is 4.2 sec. covering the field of cars that practised. Stewart is changing from his Tyrrell to his March with such frequency that it begins to look as though it is his personal lap time is setting, rather than that of the cars.


Saturday is the final day for practice and it dawns cold and damp, which makes it look as though the grid layout would be settled on the Thursday and Friday times, but by lunch-time it is warm and dry once more and everyone is preparing for a final fling. Stewart is away in a flash in the Tyrrell and it looks as though they have got it working properly, but the loose wheel-nut problem arises again, which causes owner Tyrrell and designer Derek Gardner to look very worried. That morning the organisers have announced that the regulation which says the starting grid would be in rows of three-two-three would be changed to rows of two-by-two, making ten pairs of cars to line up. This makes a good practice time all the more important and the Ferrari team is very happy for Ickx and Regazzoni that would be occupying the front row. During the final afternoon of practice no-one looks like breaking into the 1'31"0 bracket, let alone pushing them off the front row, but there is a moment of consternation when the right front brake disc on the lckx car is found to be cracked. This is replaced and all is well. During one of the pauses to collect broken-down cars the Walker Lotus 72 is towed in and Hill has a very quizzical look on his face. A petrol union on the fuel-metering unit comes undone, the distributor cap of the ignition unit falls off, and the whole engine unit becomes enveloped in a petrol fire. Luckily the heat-sensor of the Graviner extinguisher unit reacted promptly and even before he is out of the car the fire is been put out, the only damage being a few burnt pipes and wires. As fast as people is improving their lap times trouble is striking agains and a new wheel and tyre is taken out to Eaton for his B.R.M. as one of his Dunlops deflates due to losing air through the safety securing studs, and Amon’s rear suspension collapses on his March when a rear hub carrier and suspension upright casting breaks. The new B.R.M. engine is not running too well and the car is taken into the paddock tent to have the camshaft covers removed, and designer Aubrey Woods peers into the valve gear but can’t find anything wrong.


Surtees is bedding in a new engine and scrubbing-in some new tyres ready for the race, both wet weather ones and dry weather ones, and is very happy about the whole situation, with a position in row three of the start, alongside Amon. Stewart goes very fast in his March, turning in a lap in 1'31"9 to equal Regazzoni’s Friday time, and it is the only Cosworth- powered car to get below 1'32"0. While he is doing this the Tyrrell is being readied for a final run, the loose wheel nut problem is solved with the aid of a six-foot lever on the spanner. (They should go to some sports-car races and watch Porsche mechanics tighten up wheel nuts!). Suddenly the blue March is overdue and Stewart is seen running across the inside of the circuit. The March has broken a rear-wheel bearing and he parks it by the roadside. Practice is nearly over, and without any fuss Cevert has got the second Tyrrell-March round in 1'32"4 to hold fourth fastest time. As practice is ending Stewart leaps into the Tyrrell, he does a spectacular standing start in the pit area and roars away. The last lap of the day is done by Stewart in a shattering 1'31"5 to snatch pole-position from Ickx, and as someone remarks How professional can you get. After three days of practice Stewart holds  fastest lap with the Tyrrell and equal third fastest with the March, the difference in time between his two cars being four-tenths of a second. He then has to make the difficult decision on which car to use, and opts for the Tyrrell on the front row rather than the March on the second row, even though the Tyrrell has not done sufficient running to prove itself race-worthy. On Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. there is a 30-minute test session for those who wants it and while Hill is out in the Lotus 72 there is a big bang and the clutch flews apart, cracking the bell-housing and wrecking the withdrawal mechanism; Stommelen is also in trouble with his Brabham for the casting, joining the Hewland gearbox to the engine break ; so these two cars have some very hurried work to do on them to fit new parts by lunch-time.


The start is due at 2:00 p.m. and before the racing cars come out, the drivers are parading round the circuit in drop head General Motors cars, either Pontiacs or Oldsmobiles, and then the drivers go off on a warm-up lap in the Grand Prix cars and begin to assemble on the dummy-grid. The Matra of Beltoise is devoid of external fuel tanks, but that of Pescarolo has them on both sides of the cockpit. Everyone has crammed as much petrol into their tanks as possible and there is some last-minute topping up after the warm-up lap. Amon’s red March has a green rim to its nose cowling, to distinguish it from Siffert’s car, and Regazzoni’s Ferrari has a cutaway windscreen, whereas Ickx has the normal all-enveloping screen, with a little deflector tab on the top. As the cars move forward to the starting grid Eaton’s B.R.M. is not running properly and he is preparing to pull off to the right and get out of the way of those behind him. When the Canadian flag falls Stewart shoots into the lead, followed by Ickx, but Regazzoni makes a poor start and Surtees and Rodriguez go round him; Eaton gets his engine to pick-up properly and chases off at the rear. Stewart just runs away from the opposition, pulling out a lead of one second a lap, and for the first time the absence of Rindt is sadly felt, for on a driving circuit like this there is no-one to touch Stewart. Vainly trying to keep pace are Ickx (Ferrari), Rodriguez (B.R.M.), Surtees (TS7) and Cevert (March), and after a gap comes Regazzoni (Ferrari) leading Amon (March) and the rest. Oliver goes into the pits on lap 6 with his left rear wheel leaning at a very funny angle, for the bottom wishbone has broken, and the B.R.M. mechanics set to work to fit a new one. The engine in the Surtees begins to misfire, due to the petrol overflow from the tanks spraying neat fuel into the inlet trumpets, and Cevert goes by into fourth place, while Surtees stops, thinking a plug lead may have come adrift.


There is nothing wrong so he rejoins the race and once the fuel level in the tanks drops a bit the engine runs perfectly, but he is now way down the field in 16th place, behind Eaton who has passed Stommelen, Schenken and Peterson. Stewart is pulling out such an enormous lead without really trying that it all seems ridiculous and you wonder what everyone else is doing, so it is just a question of whether the Tyrrell-Cosworth-Hewland assembly could last for 90 laps. By ten laps it is all a bit of a follow-my-leader affair, with Ickx, Rodriguez and Cevert together, then a gap to Regazzoni and Amon, and another gap to Pescarolo leading Gethin, de Adamich, Hulme and Beltoise and obviously holds them all up, while Siffert, Brabham and Hill are following. Regazzoni begins to get into his stride and closes up on the trio in front of him, and Amon clings on grimly to the Ferrari and moves up with it. Hulme gets tired of waiting for Gethin to overtake Pescarolo and quickly passes them both, but he has lost contact with the leading groups. It is clear that the Ferraris are handling better as their fuel load go down, for as Regazzoni closes up, Ickx goes further ahead of Rodriguez and Cevert, but he doesn’t close up on the flying Stewart, who is so far ahead he seems to be in a race of his own. At the back of the field Stommelen is having a bad time as the steering on his Brabham is very stiff, and the De Tomaso has disappeared into the pits with a broken rear shock-absorber, to have it replaced and re-appears later, while Peterson stops with a leaking fuel tank in the left-hand sponson, to have it removed completely before carrying on. At twenty laps Stewart is out on his own, Ickx is safely in second place, Regazzoni passed Cevert and is getting ready to pass Rodriguez, and Amon is with them all. Hulme is a lonely seventh and Pescarolo in eighth place is still holding up Gethin, Beltoise and de Adamich, and Siffert and Brabham have joined the queue.


Hill is stirring about trying to find fourth gear and Surtees is ahead of him. Siffert goes into the pits followed by a great trail of smoke from a wrecked Cosworth engine on lap 22 and is followed a lap later by Stommelen, who gives up the unequal struggle with his stiff steering. Regazzoni passes Rodriguez and this inspires Amon, who does likewise to Cevert and a lap later to Rodriguez whose B.R.M. now begins to lose a bit of its performance and Cevert goes by it; so at thirty laps the scene is changed quite a bit. Stewart is still way ahead and well out of sight before Ickx appears, and he is comfortably ahead of his team-mate, who is followed by Amon with Cevert close behind and then Rodriguez. In seventh place, and with no hope of improvement, comes  Hulme, then Gethin who has finally taken the plunge and elbows his way past Pescarolo’s Matra, and this has encouraged Beltoise and de Adamich to do the same, while Surtees is moving up through the lot of them. The Lotus 72 is handling in a strange fashion and a pit-stop reveals a loose wishbone mounting at the rear, and Brabham’s car is losing oil and it is getting on his rear tyres, so he stops for some new ones as the leak can’t be cured. On lap 32 Stewart’s impressive progress comes to an unimpressive halt as the left front stub axle, on the Tyrrell chassis, brakes off and that is that, the brake calliper luckily keeps everything in place, but even so Stewart is kept very busy bringing everything to a stop. He limps round to the pits to retire and watch the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni settle down into a solid first and second triumphal tour, for though Amon is holding on to third place, now he is losing touch with the secon-place Ferrari. Behind Amon, the young Cevert is driving splendidly and gives the New Zealander a bad time and no respite. Before the race there has been a general feeling that not many cars will finish, so that anyone in trouble in the pits makes great efforts to effect repairs and come out again. Hill, Oliver, Schenken, Brabham and Peterson all re-appear after they looked as though they were going to retire.


At half-distance it is all over and the traditional procession settles down, the only hope of any changes taking place being unexpected mechanical derangements. The first of these is Hulme’s McLaren, whose clutch stops working and then all the drive from the engine disappears, and De Adamich stops for petrol as the Alfa Romeo-engined car does not hold as much as the other McLarens. Also he makes a rather violent excursion off the road across the rough stuff and stops to make sure he has not damaged anything. From their practice record it didn’t seem likely that the Ferraris will break and both drivers are looking very comfortable so that they can literally tour round in complete control of the race. Amon is holding a valiant third place with the works March, but Cevert is all the while looking for an opening to have a go at getting by. On lap 76 he looses a lot of ground and is seen heading for the pits, a rear shock-absorber is broken, and though the Tyrrell mechanics fit a new one in double-quick time and Cevert rejoins the race, he is back in ninth place after all his earlier efforts. With only three laps to go Rodriguez coasts his B.R.M. into the pits making thirsty signs, for he has run out of petrol. A few gallons are quickly put in and he is away, still in fourth place, but now is lapped by the triumphant Ferraris, who repeat their Austrian Grand Prix performance with an unchallenged first and second. Beltoise is lucky to coast over the line with a nasty jangling noise coming from his clutch and he is five laps down due to two pit-stops to change tyres which the Matra has been scrubbing down badly. Gethin is even luckier for he runs out of fuel just beyond the finishing line. The Rob Walker Lotus 72 is still steering in a strange way and afterwards it is found that the undue loads imposed by the loose wishbone mounting has caused the main rear suspension frame to break. The Canadian Grand Prix sees Ferrari gain his third successive victory, this time through strength rather than power, and the March team is well satisfied with Amon’s worthy third  place and first-placed Cosworth V8 engine.


Maria Vitiello


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