#195 1970 Canadian Grand Prix

2021-10-23 00:00

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#1970, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Francesca Gentile,

#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 1 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 There is some packing cases marked Team Lotus but no Team Lotus cars or drivers, the entries are been withdrawn after the Monza tragedy.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 but luckily the safety-pin 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 junction 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 taking 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’ve gone 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-the-leader race, 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 so comfortable 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. At this point one no longer knows other adjectives to come up with to define Ferrari's new triumph in the Formula One World Championship. Maranello's team in twenty years of successes on tracks around the world has accustomed its fans to resounding feats, however, these new 1970 ones fill fans and friends with a special satisfaction. The reasons are quickly stated: the season had started badly, and already many prophets of doom were anticipating a third year of disappointments after 1968 and 1969. Ickx had miraculously escaped the Madrid fire and spared no criticism of the car. Then, little by little the horizon brightened. The car, this fascinating 312 B, began to get into gear, its mighty 12-cylinder boxer to show all its 460 horsepower, and the results, with inexorable gradualness, began to come, while the number of cars employed in the race also grew. Zeltweg and the Austrian Grand Prix concreted the escalation: first Ickx, second Regazzoni; Monza confirmed it with the forceful victory of a magnificent Regazzoni; now, the Canadian Grand Prix, on the mixed-fast circuit of Mont Tremblant gives with the encore of the winning pairing of Zeltweg a great hope, that of Ickx winning the world title. The situation is known: Rindt is on 45 points. The tragic accident at Monza extinguished the engine of his Lotus forever. All he would have needed was a placing to win, while now he can no longer defend himself. But the feeling falls to the math: Ickx, with two wins in the next two Grands Prix of the United States and Mexico, the last of the season, can reach the maximum limit of 46 points. He is therefore the only one capable of overtaking the Austrian: for Regazzoni could at best match him, while the others in contention before Canada, namely Stewart, Brabham and Hulme, are now out of the chase because of the failure of their cars. 


Once again Ickx and Regazzoni were able to run a race in perfect accord. A tandem that deserves all praise. The Swiss had protected the Belgian driver, the team's first driver, in Austria, while in Monza he had only completed his race after Jacky Ickx retired. In Canada he repeated the tactics of Zeltweg, covering his teammate's back and settling for second place. It fell to the others, to all but the thoroughbred champion Jackie Stewart, to play the role of wingman. The Scot, with the rookie Tyrrell-Ford, set an unmitigated pace in the first part of the race, remaining in the lead tailed by Ickx and Regazzoni. On lap 34 the inevitable happened: a suspension of the car gave way and Stewart took the pit road. Amon, in the March, withstood the action of the leading pair quite well, finishing third with a gap of about thirty seconds to Regazzoni, while Rodriguez and Surtees came in one lap down, Gethin with two, Pescarolo with three. Long is the list of retirees. By now the Ferraris had achieved such superiority over the other cars, whether propelled by the eight-cylinder Ford-Cosworth or the 12-cylinder B.R.M. and Matra-Simca, that they could impose themselves with some ease. For this very reason it is not far-fetched to believe that Ickx can confidently play his cards in the next two races. It will also take a bit of luck, because often trifles from nothing can block the best momentum. However, in these two years, Ferrari has accumulated so many bitter moments that it is safe to hope for a favorable moment at last. After the race is over, Ickx and Regazzoni tell how they won in Canada. Back at Grey Rocks, the hotel in St. Jovite, a stone's throw from the Mont Tremblant circuit, which is these days hosting the Maranello group, including technical director Mauro Forghieri, drivers Ickx and Regazzoni, and eight mechanics led by the talented Borsari, the team is in full euphoria.


"Even here we found a bunch of fans. They had flags, signs, at the end they besieged us, almost like in Austria or Italy. And lots of champagne: we are becoming real connoisseurs".


Europe or America, Ferrari fans are experiencing hours of elation. The Maranello team is the strongest, successes are coming in bunches, there is still hope for Ickx to win the Formula One World Championship. Jacky Ickx said:


"It was not an easy race, especially because of the track conditions. We haven't raced here since 1968 and the road surface was in pitiful condition. Sinkholes, potholes, undulations made the car peck. Almost all the retirements were caused by suspension failure. It was a real trap. Those on my Ferrari held up beautifully. It's not just the engine that's good. Stewart got a very good start and started pulling like hell with his Tyrrell. I lost a few seconds on him, but I preferred to save the car. The laps were ninety. When Jackie stopped, I knew I could aim for success again. Behind me I had Regazzoni, and Clay did well, as he did in Austria". 


And for the World Championship? The situation is well known: Jochen Rindt (assuming the CIS does not decide in any case to award him a memorial prize, but to award the title to the second in the standings) has 45 points. But the Belgian does not get too out of line: 


"It is not an impossible feat to establish ourselves in the next two races. The 312 B is superior to the other cars, and it is offering proof of great reliability, but anything can happen in a Grand Prix. I have high hopes, and I have confidence".


In Canada, in fact, the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni performed well. Only in practice had some problems been created by the stresses caused by the road surface. There had been ruptures in the radiators, which had to be replaced. For this reason and because of the fact that in the first laps the cars-with full fuel tanks, and therefore heavier-were more exposed to the danger of failure, it is logical that the two drivers of the Maranello team initially let Stewart indulge (incidentally, we repeat what was already said after the Italian Grand Prix: the agreement between the Scot and Ferrari for next season seems very close). Regazzoni, however, admits that he did not make a happy start. 


"I let myself get caught up in the pack, and I found myself in sixth place. Overtaking was difficult, and Rodriguez, in the B.R.M., gave me a bit of trouble for a few laps. Once I passed him, things became easier and, before the halfway point of the race, I got behind Ickx".


Clay forgets to point out that the fastest lap was his, and that after remounting four drivers he had to limit his momentum. It just wasn't appropriate to get into a duel with his teammate. On Monday, September 21, 1970, the Ferrari group split up: Forghieri, Ickx and Regazzoni left Canada to return to Europe, while the mechanics, with cars and their spare parts, remained in St-Jovite. They will move to the United States in the coming days. The adventure continues. 


"With Sunday's success, Ferrari won its 45th Grand Prix. No team has won so many".


In the meantime, Chapman has clung to the idea that Rindt, free from any suspicion of a driving error, underestimated the speed at Monza. Driving tests with Fittipaldi and Wisell at Snetterton indeed demonstrate that the car without a wing is truly unstable, something Rindt had not noticed at Monza; he is still not convinced that the brake shaft was already broken before the impact with the barriers. However, he decides to reinforce them as long as doubts persist. In Canada, the Lotus of Rob Walker driven by Graham Hill has solid and robust brake shafts; their diameter is larger, and now it is 60 thousandths of an inch.


"Now I have solid brake shafts".


Graham Hill says at Mount Tremblant, speaking with Jack Brabham who asks in surprise:


"Why, were they cables before?"


For Watkins Glen, Chapman reinforces the diameter of the shafts by another 80 thousandths of an inch, always solid. He reports, speculating a possible return to hollow shafts:


"The drivers have experienced vibrations in the brakes, and they have also suffered the breakage of a gearbox gear".


The weight increase with the introduction of solid shafts is at most two kilograms. If the resistance of the brake shafts and their stresses had been calculated correctly before, as Lotus claims, why did Chapman reinforce them? This is the question everyone is asking. If the calculations made for Monza were correct, they would have been wrong for Canada; and if they were wrong for Canada, why couldn't they have been wrong for Monza as well? According to Bernie Ecclestone's opinion, it would be a matter far from technical, quite easy to understand.


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