The football championship is over, but Argentina looks at motor racing with the same passion as always. Buenos Aires drowns in the heat of a torrid summer, which invites to the sea, but the people surround with enthusiasm and curiosity the men and the cars that come from cold Europe to face each other on Sunday, January 10th 1972, in the 1000 Kilometer race. This round, which evokes the painful memory of the tragedy of Ignazio Giunti, who fell here in 1971, constitutes the starting point of the 1972 World Brands Championship and the less important and local Temporada.
This year the Championship is reserved for cars of the Sport category, which has absorbed that of the Prototypes: maximum displacement of three liters, minimum mandatory weight of 850 kilos for the most competitive class, the one from 2000 to 3000 cc, and no minimum number of units. The small workshop capable of producing a single unit will be able to compete as the manufacturer capable of producing two hundred machines. This is a new regulation of the sector, wanted to limit the speed performances shown in recent years by the big five-liter sports cars. In 1971, the Englishman Oliver, with a Porsche 017, had almost reached 400 km/h in the preliminary tests of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Hopefully, now, the three-liter cars will be less fast and safer. This is everyone's wish, but we must note that these cars are far from being slow. It is easy to suppose that due to the lower weight of the reduced frontal section, the constant technological progress, especially in the field of engines, the 3000 will end up running like the 5000. We will have the first proof with the training for this 1000 Kilometers, which will also begin under the sign of the great challenge between Alfa Romeo and Ferrari. Porsche has disappeared from the scene, after having dominated the world championship in 1960, 1970 and 1971 with the 017-5000, it did not intend to develop a program with the three liters, the two Italian companies dominate the field, even if we should not underestimate the Lola with the Ford-Cosworth engine of Formula 1 (already present in Buenos Aires), the Chevron-Cosworth, the Matra and the Mirage 12 cylinders (which will be ready in the near future).
Ferrari has, at least in theory, the best three-liter car of 1972. The car, named 312 PB (i.e. boxer prototype), has benefited from a long tuning during the last season. A tuning that took place in the midst of troubles and accidents of all kinds, but which nevertheless should have achieved its aim. The 450 horsepower of its 12-cylinder engine - the same one used on Formula 1 single-seaters - is a comforting reality that has not been accompanied, as has happened with Formula 1 cars, by tire and suspension problems. Rather, the increase in weight imposed by the regulations (from 585 to 650 kilos) may have dampened its brio.
The Maranello team, directed in this Argentine expedition by Peter Schetty, has drivers of exceptional value. The usual Ickx, Andretti and Regazzoni were joined by Peterson, Stewart's deputy in the Formula 1 world championship, Redman, the Englishman who was Siffert's partner in many Porsche victories, and Schenken, one of the revelations of 1971 at the wheel of the Brabham-Ford. For Alfa Romeo, the 1000 Kilometers of Buenos Aires is a greater unknown than for Ferrari, since the real possibilities of the 33 TT 3, the new version with tubular chassis that replaces the well-tested 33.3, are still unknown. This model obtained three victories in 1971 thanks to its ability to withstand the distance, but it proved to be less brilliant than the 312 PB. So here is the TT, more manageable and agile, with some more horsepower (430-440 horsepower). Carlo Chiti, team manager, rightly points out:
"There has been a rapprochement between them and us. Ferrari has become a little heavier, it has gained in strength and, probably, in grip, Alfa Romeo has tried to get more brio".
Alfa also had a respectable team, with very valid drivers such as Galli, De Adamich, Vaccarella, Hezemans and Stommelen, and the newly acquired Elford and Marko. Elford, Stommelen and Galli are the fastest. De Adamich is relaunching, the others will give the contribution of experience, with the new Italian champion Vaccarella, here flanked by the Argentinean Carlos Pairetti on a 1971 type 33.3, at the top for the Targa Florio. Zeccoli and Facetti, test-drivers of Autodelta, complete the group, the first as a reserve, the second running together with gentleman Alberti on an unofficial 33.3. As theater of the challenge there will be the circuit number 15 of the Autodromo Municipale, modernized and made safer, especially in the area before the pits, where last year Giunti died (and to his memory is named a trophy for the best classified Italian driver).
With an exquisite reception in the elegant building of the Italian Embassy in Buenos Aires, the men of the Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Abarth-Osella teams arrived in Argentina to take part in the 1000 Kilometre race that opens the World Championship for Makes. It is a proof of sensitivity towards sport and those who worthily represent it. It doesn't happen in all races, on the contrary, but this race that on Sunday in five hours will consume the first hopes of drivers and technicians seems to be a family affair between Alfa and Ferrari. Peter Schetty and Giacomo Calari, who lead the Maranello expedition, and Carlo Cinti, who oversees the Milanese one, try to temper the tones of a direct confrontation.
"It's not just us".
They say, and recall the presence in Buenos Aires of two Lola 3000s and the future presence of a Chevron and a Mirage. But these are diplomatic statements. Even chance had fun bringing the two teams together: numerous tonsillitis and mild flu, probably caused by the abrupt change of climate between Europe and South America, hit Elford, Marko, Zeccali and Peterson. With a few aspirin tablets the illnesses are eradicated. Ferrari's sporting director Peter Schetty argues:
"This year's championship will be much more interesting than in 1971. In the last season, practically only Porsche could aim at the title. Now there are many teams with cars of similar characteristics. No opponent can be taken lightly. We, and it is logical, will try to win, but we cannot guarantee success in advance. It's impossible for one manufacturer to be successful in every race. A little, I hope, will be up to Ferrari. In the end, perhaps, the human factors will decide: the value of the drivers, the organizational skills and the productive means".
Ferrari, which brought to Argentina three two-seater 312 PB spiders with as many spare engines, has restructured the racing department, dividing it into two sections: sports cars and Formula 1 single-seaters. The first one is directed by engineer Calari, the second one by engineer Ferrari, homonymous but not related to the Modenese manufacturer, with chief mechanics Bellentani and Borsari. In the sport sector there will be three cars per competition. Each crew will have two of them at their disposal, which will alternate according to the calendar: for example, at this moment the cars for the next race in Daytona are being prepared in Maranello, while those used in Buenos Aires will be sent back to Italy and overhauled in view of the next race in Sebring.
Six mechanics are assigned to each pair of drivers: always the same ones who, in turn, will rotate on the race track. In the Ferrari box you can now see order and serenity, as has not happened for some time. Merit of who is directing this Argentinian expedition and of the sensation of strength that the 312 PBs arouse. In a series of preliminary tests without official times, the three Ferraris turned two seconds faster than the best Alfa driver. The Ferrari drivers are satisfied and Mario Andretti, who here inaugurates a splendid new suit, is quick to expound his thoughts on the Ferrari-Alfa duel:
"If the 312 PB holds up, there will be no fight with Alfa. We will have a duel between us".
Those at Alfa Romeo are cautious. Engineer Chili speaks of balanced values, but adds:
"The novitiate of new cars like our 33 TT 3 is always difficult. We had anticipated the departure from Italy in order to test the cars more, but it was not possible due to the delay in the restoration of the racetrack. We could also lose on Sunday in front of a 312 PB widely tested, however our final goal is the World Championship for Makes, which we have never won".
While our two teams prepare for the 1000 Kilometer race with the comfort of the enthusiasm and the cheering of their Argentinean fans, two facts remain to be underlined regarding the theater of this challenge, the municipal autodrome of Buenos Aires. The first is positive: in the wake of the Giunti tragedy, the organizers have carried out extensive work on the track, installing traffic signals in place of the banderilleros, modifying the track with a chicane in the fastest straight and with a hairpin bend in the part preceding the pits, and building a well-equipped hospital center with twenty-five doctors.
The second is negative: too many people around the track, with an incredible episode in the preliminary tests. At one point, the Berta LR stopped for an engine failure. People came down from a grandstand and, since there were no fence nets, quietly invaded the roadway to crowd around the car, including children. A bit of a scare for the drivers, but fortunately nothing happened. But now, rightly, they want that such invasions cannot happen anymore.
The first day of testing for the 1000 Kilometers of Buenos Aires scheduled for Sunday is carried out under the banner of goodwill on the part of the Argentinean organizers, but also of unpredictability, disorder and a sort of carefree cheerfulness that causes episodes more or less funny. The confusion, fortunately, does not involve cars and drivers. The response of the times is on the whole favorable for Ferrari. The Swedish Ronnie Peterson is the fastest with his 312 PB (1'58"59, average 181.174 km/h), followed by Rolf Stommelen, with the new Alfa 33TT3 (1'58"90), by Ickx and Regazzoni (1'58"98 and 1'59"15). The debutant Lola 3000 behaves very well and is fifth with Wisell (1'59"18) ahead of the Alfa of De Adamich (1'59"60) and the surprising Abarth 2000 of Merzario.
The Ferraris offer a highly positive impression. The 312 PB appear to be well prepared, so much so that they need modest fine-tuning. Driving around the track and observing the behavior of the cars, it can be seen that the Ferraris have the best road holding and a more effective acceleration than the Alfa Romeos and the Lolas. The latter, however, equipped with the usual eight-cylinder Ford-Cosworth Formula 1, are very fast in the straight, as several rival drivers underline, not hiding a bit of astonishment.
The tests had started with an hour and a half of delay; the scales for the verification of the minimum weights had not yet arrived and the relative checks were therefore postponed until the end of the training. In addition, the customs granted the entry visa in extremis to the Ferrari and Alfa Romeo tyres, the surveillance of the public was poor, and people were often seen circulating along the track. There is also a comical episode. A large dog appears on the track, vainly pursued by some guards. Shortly afterwards, the animal runs under the stands, avoiding engineer Carlo Chiti who had leapt dangerously to its aid, and finally disappears into the meadows.
The time situation sees six cars within a second: Alfa Romeo manages to contain the gap from the Ferrari, but with some difficulty. Only the sprinter Stommelen manages to keep up with the drivers of the Maranello team. De Adamich is one second behind Peterson. The other drivers of the Milanese team are much further back, among which Elford stands out a little, who, due to the engine failure of his TT during the preliminary tests in the morning, can complete very few laps. The atmosphere in the two teams is however serene.
Ferrari, Alfa Romeo or Lola? The tests of these two days do not clarify the positions of strength and the 1000 Kilometers of Buenos Aires, the opening race of the World Championship for Brands, starts under the sign of uncertainty. However, it is legitimate to give the odds to the Maranello team because of the better combination of road holding and speed performance and the greater degree of homogeneity of the crews. In addition, Alfa and Lola could pay the price of their novitiate with their 33 TT 3 and T 280, which however behave very well in training.
Saturday's practice shows nothing new compared to Friday's, which saw the drivers of the three teams looking for the best time. Six cars are grouped in one second: the Ferrari 312 PB of Peterson-Schenken, the Alfa Romeo 33 TT 3 of Stommelen-Hezemans, the 312-PB of Ickx-Andretti and Regazzoni-Redman, the Lola T 280 of Bonnier-Wisell and the 33 TT 3 of Galli-De Adamich. Further back were the other Alfa's of Elford-Marko, who were unable to run for a short time due to engine failure, Vaccarella-Pairetti and the private drivers Alberti-Facetti. The engineer Carlo Chiti, general manager of the Milanese team, is happy with the results obtained.
"It's useless to talk about it, the fight is between us and Ferrari. The Lolas will get lost on the way. We have equaled the times of Ickx and his companions, this is important. We are there too, despite the fifty kilos of extra weight due to the adoption of the safety tanks".
Alfa's men are convinced that they will be able to give serious trouble to Ferrari's rivals. De Adamich and Galli admit:
"Maybe not to win, but we will certainly engage them".
This all-Italian couple finds in the last session some problems with the accelerator pedal. Galli also makes a bad spin that, fortunately, does not cause any damage to him or to the car.
"With the lower center of gravity due to the boxer engine, and the lower weight, the Ferraris have something more than us. But testing is one thing and racing is another".
It's worth noting how the Ferrari name surfaces at every turn, in Alfa Romeo's comments and speeches. The 312 PB is the touchstone. At Ferrari, on the other hand, little is said about the Milanese adversaries. Not that they are snubbed, for goodness sake, certain mistakes are no longer made, however, they look mainly at internal affairs. The balance of the tests is positive, the cars show that they have come to Argentina with a good set-up. The positive balance is however slightly spoiled by a tire problem, which also concerns Alfa Romeo.
As mentioned, the Argentinean customs blocked the tires sent from Europe for a long time and they were only mounted on Saturday morning. The technicians of the company that supplies Alfa Romeo and Ferrari prepared a new type, with a harder compound, in reference to the high environmental temperatures of Buenos Aires. Instead, the weather changed, it was cooler and these tires turned out to be less functional than expected. The 1000 Kilometers will start at 9:30 a.m.: there are 168 laps to run, and not 165 as previously communicated by the organizers. They realized that the circuit was shorter (5968 meters and not 6062). It is a small detail quite significant. So much enthusiasm, so much good will, but poor organizational skills and a lot of confusion, with delays and countermands.
Ignazio Giunti, who fell a year ago on the track of the municipal autodrome of Buenos Aires, was remembered by his old and new Ferrari teammates in the most beautiful and sporting way: with a splendid, exhilarating victory that launched the men and cars of Maranello into the World Championship for Makes, of which this 1000 km was the first episode. The success was to the advantage of the rookies - in Ferrari - Ronnie Peterson and Tim Schenken, who preceded Clay Regazzoni and Brian Redman. A dazzling double win, which could have become a trio if Ickx and Andretti's car had not suffered a banal and long series of problems with the electrical system.
And since where there is a winner there is also a loser, this can only be Alfa Romeo. The Milanese company lost the battle immediately, in a way that leaves one a little perplexed. Stommelen stopped in the pits for a repair to the linkage that controls the accelerator after just two passes, or twelve kilometers of racing. He restarted, but with such a delay (seven laps) that he was considered out of action. The other drivers suffered a bunch of different types of inconveniences, up to the engine failure for the car of Galli and De Adamich. However, the Alfa brought Facetti and Alberti (who were later joined by De Adamich for a turn) to third place and Elford-Marko to fourth, with Vaccarella-Pairetti ninth.
Not great placings, at least for the way they were obtained. Many things didn't work and the fact that in two days of tests and one day of competition, eight engines were broken is a perplexing fact. A very different impression was aroused by the second brand defeated by Ferrari, namely Lola. Lola had to be satisfied with a seventh place with Larrousse-Craft, but above all with the three liters entrusted to the Swedish Wisell, the small British company did wonders, even coming to lead the competition for a short time.
In the race, Ferrari was certainly more worried by the Lola than by Alfa Romeo. Perhaps relative worry, because the 312 PB had the papers in rule to last more and better than the agile and very fast English adversaries (it has been calculated that in straight line the PB touches the 290 km/h, while the Lola touches the 296 km/h). This has come true, and it doesn't remain that to unite in a single praise the protagonists of the triumph of Maranello, from the drivers, very loyal to the team orders given at a certain point of the race, to the sporting director Peter Schetty and to the technical manager Giacomo Califfi, who have set since the tests, or rather since the preparation in Italy, the presuppositions for a serious tuning, to the mechanics, some of which very young.
In the past, Ferrari has been accused of a certain improvisation. Well, if the situation does not deteriorate later, this time we could see a different Ferrari, with the cars finally ready in the night before the race and the garages quiet in the hours of the eve. A calm and peaceful environment, without bravado but also with a serene conviction of their own strengths. If the assumptions are good, the result ends up coming. The tire problems have been overcome, also because the ambient temperature has risen. However, the drivers said that more could have been done with other types of tires.
Firestone caused a moment of suspense for the Ferrari technicians by supplying Regazzoni and Peterson's cars with tires that were not perfectly balanced, so much so that, after a reconnaissance lap, they were changed before the start. The 1000 Kilometers confronted Ferrari and Alfa only in the first two laps, as mentioned. Stommelen had a good run and took the lead, ahead of the Ferrari trio, then arrived at the pit with the throttle shutters locked. Ferrari and Lola battled each other with impetus. Ickx and Andretti remained in the lead until the first refueling (36 laps), followed by their teammates and Wisell's Lola.
The 312 PB was put out of action on the 45th pass by the detachment of a spring from the fire safety device that disconnects the battery. Andretti stopped along the circuit, got out and repaired the trouble as best he could. The mechanics finished the job, but then, while Ickx was reassembling, a starter cable broke. Twenty-one minutes to fix the problem and for the Belgian and the Italian-American only the tenth place. The Lola with Wisell managed to overtake the Ferraris of Peterson and Regazzoni, taking advantage of the game of refueling after two hours of racing.
Three laps at the lead, then the pit stop and the problem: the mechanics were unable to remove a wheel to be changed and the car lost positions. The other did not go so well. With the Lola's exit from the scene, the 312 PBs of Maranello went on together. The drivers were shown the slow sign from the pit and the two pairs held their positions. In the end, the three Ferraris crossed the finish line together, amidst standing ovations from the Argentinean fans. It had not been since 1970 (Sebring, the 512 S of Giunti-Vaccarella-Andretti) that Ferrari had won a World Championship race. This was a very clear success and, it is thought, there are the bases to get more. At the end of the race, Schetty and Caliri shake hands, the mechanics hug each other and the drivers toast with orangeade, waiting for the champagne. Says Schetty:
"I am happy for Ferrari and for us, that we started the year so well on this very circuit where we suffered so much pain in 1971. We had a few mishaps, but the competition had more. I am sorry for Ickx and Andretti, who would have deserved more. With Alfa there was no duel. They were unlucky and could not show what they are worth".
Once the race is over, the mechanics celebrate their victory with a quiet dinner at the hotel where they are staying in Buenos Aires, together with the Alfa Romeo team. And the fight that didn't take place on the track, almost ignites for the possession of a table. Another Ferrari affirmation, because the always organized sports director Peter Schetty had booked the seats in time. The only absentees were Ickx and Andretti, who returned home immediately after the race, as the former will have to test the Formula 1 single-seater in the coming days, perhaps in Vallelunga, while the latter must conduct a series of tire tests in the USA.
"I only hope that this success is not an isolated episode. We started well, but we are not deluding ourselves that we have already won the title, which is the goal Ferrari is aiming for. Alfa Romeo, for me, raced below its potential. They had more problems than normal. And Lola has demonstrated with facts that it is already running very strongly. No need to sleep, that's for sure. Ferrari, however, has three pairs of drivers who are each capable of achieving any success. They are all elements of the highest level and there is harmony between them, even if, of course, each one wants to win. Moreover, a highly positive note has been offered by their behavior. For example, Peterson, when he restarted after the second refueling, was arriving Wisell with Loia, who still had to stop at the pit for a full tank of gas. Peterson and Wisell are both Swedes and Ronnie could feel obliged to push hard not to give up the lead to his compatriot. I begged him not to do it, because Wisell would have had to stop almost immediately and Peterson accepted to suffer what for him could be a small personal setback. And when we raised the slow sign, the drivers kept their positions without private duels.
The 312 PB is a well-prepared sport with excellent performance in terms of grip and handling, as well as power. It has become a reliable car, so much so that the three cars that started the race reached the finish line. The troubles suffered by the spider of Ickx and Andretti are trivial, and fall within the game of racing. Rather the exploits of the Lola impressed Peterson, who asked the engineer Giacomo Caliri if it was not possible to use Formula 1 engines instead of the current ones, which are identical but less powerful. After the race, Schetty is asked if in the training sessions of Friday and Saturday the drivers did not run at the maximum of their possibilities in order to decrease the gap with the Alfa Romeo and surprise it in the race.
"No, absolutely not, it is in Formula 1 Grand Prix that you try to the limit to get a good starting position. This is not the case for a thousand kilometers. We only tried to finalize the tuning of the car. This operation was successful for Ferrari and not for Alfa Romeo. Stommelen took the lead and then immediately stopped because of the accelerator failure. One lap means nothing. He claims that he would have been able to beat the Ferraris. I don't know. Certainly, he was running better than his teammates. We'll see in the next race at Daytona".
For the team from Milan it was a disappointing race. Seven engines broke down in practice and another one in the race. Elford was able to train, as well as Marko because of a flu. As a result, there were problems that should have been avoided, such as the one with the accelerator. The problem, which relates to a new linkage system, had happened several times during training. And then clutch and brake failures, as well as two exits from the track.
In Italy, races seem to be made to stir up controversy. The most recent ones concern, of course, the very recent 1000 Kilometers of Buenos Aires, won by Ferrari ahead of Alfa Romeo. Since this time everything went well for the Maranello team, from the cars to the drivers to the pit organization, Alfa Romeo is talked about and discussed, with particular reference to the number of broken engines in the tests and in the race, to the drivers' skills and their attitude towards the new fire-fighting tanks, which represent a greater safety but also a weight handicap, since for now the other competitors do not adopt them. Rather serious are the set-up problems and the complex of inconveniences that emerged during the three days in Buenos Aires: accelerator jamming, clutch failures, brake troubles. But fortunately for the Alfa Romeo team and the interest in the championship, nothing is irreparable.
The second contested point concerns the fact that tests and race have shown that there is a gap between Stommelen and the other Alfa drivers. The former was able to match the times of the Ferraris, while his teammates did not. The reason - according to what was said in the box of the Milanese team immediately after the conclusion of the race - lies perhaps in the greater adaptability of the German to these three-litre sports cars, more and more similar to Formula 1 single-seaters. Elford and Marko disappointed, but a judgement on them has been postponed: the former was able to test little because of the troubles occurred to his car, the latter was not well due to a flu. Negative comments on Hezemans and none, officially, on the Italians, except for a warm praise for the excellent behavior of Carlo Facetti. In the immediate future there was also talk of changing crews and pairings for Daytona.
Regarding the question of the tanks, no one denies their usefulness and the inventiveness of engineer Carlo Chiti deserves all praise. However, in the first minutes after the end of the race, technicians and drivers regretted the way the campaign in favor of the tanks was carried out. The first would have liked to discuss the problem with the CSI, to discuss it at a technical level, to carry out tests and then, once the goodness of the device had been established, to adopt it together with all the other manufacturers. Now the handicap exists and it is remarkable not so much in the tests, when it is possible to go on track with few liters of gasoline, but in the race, because with 120 liters it is necessary to increase the quantity of special fire-fighting liquid.
Sixty extra kilos for cars that weigh 650 are a lot. It is hoped that this problem will be solved with the installation of containers on all cars, but it is likely that the CSI will change the measure for January 1, 1973. In Argentina, Nanni Galli asked his colleagues if they did not think it was the case to give up the Autodelta tanks. De Adamìch and Vaccarella said no, while the non-Italian colleagues did not want to commit themselves but made it clear that they were willing to accept their colleague's suggestion.
While the Monte-Carlo Rally is in progress, on the track of the Autodrome of Buenos Aires the Formala l World Drivers' Championship is about to start. We are just in January, but from Europe to America the great motor racing season has already begun. It's a season that risks having no more interruptions, because the calendar offers races in a continuous stream, transforming the aces of the wheel into pilgrims: racing is always more tiring, physically and mentally. A few years ago, the opening Grand Prix was the one in South Africa, on January 1. Then followed a long wait until the Monaco Grand Prix, held in May. Now there is no rest, and the drivers will arrive in the Principality with three races under their belt: Argentina, South Africa and Spain.
But, in the final analysis, this means that motor racing has spread and that for a country, hosting a round of the World Championship is a distinctive sign, beyond the easy controversy about accidents and human safety. Argentina, therefore, is the first stage of a long journey that proposes again known men and machines, next to new names. There have been several changes in the teams, the most clamorous of which is represented by the passage of Beltoise from Matra to B.R.M., but in Buenos Aires the French driver will not be there: he is worried about possible criminal consequences of the Giunti case. At his place will run the Swedish Wisell.
Many changes also in the advertising field with the massive entrance of the tobacco industry, so much so that on the official press releases, B.R.M. and Lotus have changed their names: B.R.M.-Marlboro the first and simply John Players the second. Exaggerations, perhaps. Nothing new, however, as far as the World Championship is concerned. On one side Ferrari and on the other Tyrrell, on one side Ickx, Regazzoni and Andretti, on the other Stewart and Cevert, on one side the Ford-Cosworth 8 cylinder engine and on the other the 12 cylinder Ferrari.
A theme that promises emotions and that will be enriched by many other ideas: what can the B.R.M. do without Siffert and Rodriguez? What possibilities will the March have with its vice-world champion Peterson? What role can the new Tecno-Martini and Polytois-Williams teams play? What importance will tires have? What goals will Nanni Galli and Andrea de Adamich be able to reach? Who will have the better of the more experienced drivers and the rookies? What technological developments will we see on these refined, exasperated single-seaters? The questions crowd in, but the most important is also the simplest: will Ferrari beat Stewart?
It is a question that probably Enzo Ferrari himself could not answer. Stewart and Tyrrell have declared that the Maranello cars will be their strongest rivals, and they have certainly not said this out of diplomacy. Precisely for this reason, it is logical to believe that Ken Tyrrell's team has further refined its single-seater and that Cosworth is intent on always providing it with the best engines. Ferrari, on its own, improved the 312 B2 and the racing program. The car was redone in the rear end, the rear suspension scheme was returned to a traditional position, which solved the vibration problems. Moreover, the management of the Formula 1 department has been revised on the scheme of the Sport one. If the consequences will be equally positive, the Stewart-Tyrrell duo will no longer find themselves on the path to the title.
On Sunday, January 23rd 1972, the Argentinean Grand Prix will be held at the Buenos Aires Autodrome, the first round of the Formula 1 World Drivers' Championship. The race will take place on circuit number nine, 334.550 meters long: 95 laps are scheduled for a total distance of 317.822 meters. The facilities in Buenos Aires have always been good, but following a recent renovation they have become absolutely superb, almost reaching the standards of the Paul Ricard circuit in terms of the garage area. The reconstruction of the circuit was carried out by the company YPF Club, which is the social section of the national fuel giant that receives government money for this reason. The racetrack, which is located within a large park, boasts a whole complex of circuits, although some are no longer usable.
The organizers selected a lineup of twenty-two cars, including all of the official teams except Tecno, which was not ready to participate in this event. All the cars have been transported from Europe in two giant Tradewinds Airways jets: these will then be transported with the same company to South Africa at the end of the Argentinean race, remaining in storage until March. The Argentine organizers propose a particular numbering system, which consists of putting all the official cars in alphabetical order. Thus, at the top of the list are the two Brabhams of Graham Hill and the Argentinean Carlos Reutemann.
The team is now run by Bernie Ecclestone, along with team manager Keith Greene, former McLaren designer Ralph Bellamy, and a recently hired chief mechanic, while Ron Tauranac remains in England. The color scheme has been changed to white, and Graham Hill, who rejoined the team at the last minute, decides to use the 1970 BT33/3 model driven by Schenken last year. Carlos Reutemann inherits the later BT34 model, which features some detail changes including new bodywork around the cockpit. The Argentinean is, of course, a permanent member of the team after his excellent performance in Formula 2 last season. Carlos' stay at Brabham, however, is also guaranteed by the Argentinean Automobile Club, which was also able to offer a financial incentive to the British team.
On the entry list are the B.R.M. Due to possible repercussions after Beltoise's accident in the sports car race in 1971, it was decided to postpone his debut with the British team until the South African Grand Prix, and give his car to Reine Wisell. The team brings to Argentina the two slim P160s from last year, plus a new single-seater that Beltoise was to drive, as well as a pair of 1970 P153s.
All P160s have a specification that includes four fuel tanks instead of two, Lockheed brakes replacing Girling brakes, front wheel nuts with ears, wider cockpit and new rear suspension. Both Peter Gethin and Howden Ganley will race their 1971 P160s, while Wisell will drive a P153. Spaniard Alex Soler-Roig is entered in the race with the Espana-Marlboro-B.R.M. team and is given a brand new P160, while Helmut Marko, who raced the last four races in 1971 with B.R.M., is entered with the Austria-Marlboro-B.R.M. team and is given a P153.
After their unexpectedly sad showing last season, Ferrari is ready for redemption, keeping their drivers: Jacky Ickx, Clay Regazzoni and Mario Andretti. They are assigned the same cars they had last year, although completely revised in the rear suspension system. This change, according to the drivers, will make the car much easier to set up in corners. An in-board suspension is fitted to the front, with a wider track width and a different geometry. In addition, efforts have been made over the winter to improve engine reliability.
The John Player-Team Lotus also arrives in Argentina with the cars that the team prefers to call John Player Special, but that everyone knows as Lotus 72. Actually, the two cars from last year have been modified very little, except for the new black and gold paintwork. The suggested modifications, regarding the rear suspension, have not been carried out. Emerson Fittipaldi retains the old faithful R5 that was originally built for Monza 1970, while Dave Walker will drive Reine Wisell's newer R6. Fittipaldi's car gets a new air box and a new rear wing that could not be adjusted enough for the Argentine Grand Prix, so will be modified in the future.
STP-March brings two of its latest 721 models, which are an evolution from last year's cars and therefore look very similar. Sweden's Ronnie Peterson, who won the Sports Prototype Championship race with Ferrari two weeks earlier, had unfortunately damaged his car in a testing accident in California, but it was rebuilt in England in time for the race. Alongside him will be a rookie driver, 22-year-old Austrian Niki Lauda, who has previous experience in sports cars and Formula 2, as well as a single race in Formula 1.
The Matra team is determined to give Chris Amon all the help it can, so it brings only one MS120 to Argentina. This car mainly includes a new front suspension geometry and wishbones, but little else for this chassis that is now in its third year of use. It is obvious that the McLaren Racing Formula 1 section starts the season with a new enthusiasm and a new will to win, thanks also to the Yardley sponsorship, and to the fact that the M19 finally started to be competitive in the last two races of the 1971 season. For the start of this new World Championship, Peter Revson joins Denny Hulme, and further winter changes include slight alterations to the now conventional rear suspension geometry and lighter bodywork.
The Surtees team is featured in two guises, one as Brooke Bond Oxo Team Surtees, and the other as Ceramica Pagnossin-Team Surtees, with semi-retired John Surtees managing the team's entire effort. A surprise new recruit, Tim Schenken drives a new TS9B in Brooke Bond colors, while Andrea de Adamich, after an unhappy stint with March and Alfa Romeo in Formula 1, rejoins the team he drove for in the 1969 Formula 5000 races, this time with sponsorship from the ceramics manufacturer named in the team's title. He too has a car with a side radiator at his disposal, the one that was first seen at Monza. The team's third driver, Mike Hailwood, is in the middle of the Tasman series, so he decides not to participate in the race.
Both Jackie Stewart and Francois Cevert will race in Argentina with their cars that, during the winter, have been completely disassembled and rebuilt with all new suspension components to the original design. The 004 car of the Elf Team Tyrrell - seen for the first time at the London Motor Show - will therefore not be used in Buenos Aiers, as it is already present in South Africa in anticipation of the second Grand Prix. To conclude the list of competitors is the team directed by Frank Williams, which retains the French driver Henri Pescarolo. However, since the assembly of his car is taking longer than expected, Williams puts a March 721 at the driver's disposal.
The Formula 1 single-seaters are back on track. Another world championship, the twenty-third, is about to begin. The scene opens at the Autodromo Municipal in Buenos Aires, with the Argentine Grand Prix. The protagonists are the usual Stewart, Cevert, Ickx, Regazzoni, Peterson. Old and young, engaged in a challenge that becomes more and more spectacular every year and that constitutes the field of testing of very refined technologies, in an admirable progress even if not transferable to mass production because of the very particular characteristics required of these cars. At the top there is always Jackie Stewart. The Scotsman benefits from an excellent organization. He has a very reliable single-seater, the best engines, the best tires, a close-knit team directed by Ken Tyrrell. Stewart, the accountant of the tracks for his coolness and consummate skill, says he fears only one adversary: Enzo Ferrari. A diplomatic tribute from the clever Jackie to the Maranello-based manufacturer.
In this early season, Jackie Stewart seems to be afraid only of Ferrari and its drivers: Ickx and Regazzoni, with Andretti in the second line. In fact, the World Championship is long and it is logical to expect some exploits, for example of a driver like Ronnie Peterson; but a continuous challenge, without interruptions should be brought to the Scotsman only by the men from Maranello. Compared to last year, some things have changed at Ferrari. The car, the much discussed 312 B, has been revised. The scheme of the rear suspension has been modified, in the sense that it is back to the old style, abandoning the solution of the shock absorber springs in an almost horizontal position. In this way, vibration and tire problems should be gone. It's a pity that a year was wasted before realizing that the trouble was there, in the rear axle. The technicians were stubborn? Maybe.
The Formula 1 department has been changed, modeling its structure on the type of that conceived for the Sport cars section. Peter Schetty sport director, the engineer Ferrari (homonym but not relative of Enzo Ferrari) as responsible, for each driver two cars, that will alternate from race to race, and three mechanics, always the same. Engineer Mauro Forghieri remained as designer and supervisor, but we will see him less on the race fields. This structure has given good results with the Sport cars, as seen in Buenos Aires in the 1000 Kilometers: order in the pits, calm and serenity, cars ready well in advance, tests reserved only for the refinement of the set-up. If it will be like this also for the Formula 1, successes will come, also because the 312 B2 is a competitive single-seater. In 1971, in spite of its troubles, it won two Grand Prix and obtained a good series of placings. Now, the 12-cylinder Ferrari engine will be able to assert the strength of its horses.
Friday, January 21st 1972 practice begins, although the circuit has been open since the previous day and almost all competitors have taken advantage of the opportunity to discover the course and select gear ratios. While Chris Amon begins the weekend with a minor engine failure, Walker and Wisell are the only two unable to attend the session. Stewart seems to be in trouble due to an ignition defect on the Tyrrell, so this apparently very good engine must be changed. From what transpires since Thursday, the McLarens and Ferraris are the most competitive cars and the fastest, although not officially, seems to be Regazzoni, who scores a time of 1'15"7.
This is the first time that circuit number 9 is used with the chicane before the pits and another in the infield section, so there is no record time to aim for. The Friday and Saturday sessions are both scheduled to span four hours, starting at 3:00 p.m., and with a one-hour break. The organization is of a higher standard than expected, so the main criticism is about the lack of communication between race control and the teams, rather than anything else. For this reason the Friday session starts rather late, but then the organization improves as time goes by. The electronic timing of the cars proves to be very accurate, and there are no complaints about it.
Ickx finishes Friday's session with the fastest time of 1'13"50, although Hulme is close behind, having set a time of 1'13"56. Both Stewart and Andretti go under the limit of 1'14"00, while Regazzoni misses it by a little. Amon's problems finally seem to be over, as he scores the sixth fastest time, placing himself in the ranking just ahead of Fittipaldi and Revson, who experiences an engine failure in the final stages. Schenken is very satisfied and surprised by the Surtees, as he had not had the chance to test it before arriving in Argentina, and de Adamich is happy with his TS9B, being right next to Schenken.
The performance is not promising for the B.R.M. team, as the designer and team manager find not a few difficulties in making all five drivers happy, especially when they enter the pits at the same time. The P160s tend to be unmanageable, while Gethin's car overheats and damages the engine. The two older P153s are the fastest B.R.M.'s, and they are well down the list. March Engineering encounters a rather peculiar problem, as Ronnie Peterson, when he woke up on Friday morning, felt ill and therefore had himself examined by a doctor, who diagnoses him with a glandular infection. However, despite being advised to stay in bed until after the weekend, the Swedish driver makes some laps on the track, showing how he is not in condition to race.
The drivers in contention are very high class, and the fight will be very hard and uncertain. De Adamich proves to be happy with the circuit, which in his opinion, is better suited than a faster one, as the fifteenth could have been, to a race valid for the World Drivers' Championship. According to the sporting director of Ferrari, Peter Schetty, a circuit like the fifteenth would have been preferable, because its straights would have given a little rest to the drivers, who, if next Sunday will be a day of great heat, will be subjected to really excessive efforts. The International Automobile Federation had been of the same opinion, and had suggested to the organizers to use circuit number fifteen, but they decided to leave the race on nine, as it was planned.
Saturday, January 22nd 1972 the second day of training is staged. The first part does not last more than half an hour, since the session is interrupted to tow the Matra, which has stopped for gearbox problems, to the pits. At the end of the session it is Stewart who wins with a time of 1'13"61, but it is a slower time than the one set by Ickx the previous day. The engines of Stewart's and Cevert's cars have been swapped during the night, which, strangely enough, seems to benefit both of them. Emerson Fittipaldi's performance also improves dramatically, while Peterson feels much better and his times prove it. Schenken misses the session completely, as the mechanics are busy changing his engine.
As it often happens, the last hour of practice gives a great show, with both McLarens and Stewart setting the fastest lap. In the meantime also Reutemann runs at the rate of 1'13"00. But then, when there are twenty minutes to the end of the session, the Argentine is sent to make a real fast lap, finished in 1'12"46. Peterson would also like to make a fast lap, but his car has a brake problem. In his very last lap Stewart almost manages to sign the fast lap, but stops the clocks at 1'12"68. Revson shows to be a very welcome outsider to the scene of the Argentinean Grand Prix by turning in 1'12"74, gaining the third time just ahead of his teammate Hulme. Behind are Fittipaldi and Regazzoni, who close the trials in fifth and sixth place.
Reutemann's fantastic effort completely eclipses the efforts of his teammate Graham Hill, who at the end qualifies only in sixteenth position, in the middle of the B.R.M. drivers. For Amon, meanwhile, the series of unfortunate events continues: the New Zealand driver ends the tests with a broken gearbox. At the announcement of the times the cheers of the Argentinean supporters are fantastic: Carlos Reutemann, in his third Formula 1 race and first championship race, has qualified in first position in his home Grand Prix. A rare and extraordinary feat, which ensures the Argentinean Grand Prix and the organizers the presence of numerous supporters.
In second place was the Tyrrel-Ford of outgoing World Champion Jackie Stewart in l'12"68. The new Ferrari 312 B2, which had set the fastest lap with Ickx on the first day of practice, suffered from the excessive heat on the second day and obtained the fifth best time with Regazzoni, the eighth with Andretti and the ninth with Ickx. In Argentina it is summer: on Saturday the temperature oscillates around 31°C under a sun that does not discourage the 20,000 people present at the training sessions. For Sunday, an attendance of over 100.000 spectators is expected.
"The winner will be the man and the means that will be able to better resist the heat".
Mario Andretti, the winner of the 1969 Indianapolis 500, says. The Frenchman Francois Cevert, Stewart's teammate, is of the same opininion:
"I would gladly do without a few degrees. The heat is sometimes unbearable and our performance suffers".
There was unanimous praise for the circuit. Hulme states in this regard:
"We are satisfied with the safety measures. I believe that the public will be happy to be able to follow the race from positions that allow a good view of the entire route".
The only problem is the constant use of low gears because of the many tight curves, rather unusual for a Grand Prix track. The start will take place with the cars lined up two per row, according to the times obtained in testing. There are 95 laps scheduled for a total of 317.822 kilometers. It may be that the tires will play - as always - a role of great importance: Firestone has brought only one type of tire to Argentina, while Goodyear has four. The length of the race and the high ambient temperatures are elements that will affect the tires and their performance.
On Sunday, January 23rd 1972, the Argentinean public could not be warmer: an estimated 100,000 people are present along the circuit. It's a World Cup final atmosphere: with no other events or supporting attractions, the Argentinean fans wait patiently under the scorching sun for the race to start, occasionally bursting into chants praising Argentina or El Lole, which is the nickname of the local idol, Carlos Reutemann. The tension gradually grows as the hours pass, until the grandstands begin to sway as the yellow and white Brabham BT34 is pushed in front of the pits. As Reutemann leads the pack on the warm-up lap, thousands of pieces of paper are festively thrown into the air.
At the end of the warm-up lap Chris Amon rushes directly to the pits to complain to his mechanics; the New Zealand driver, in fact, can only engage three gears of the gearbox, so he does not position himself on the starting grid. But he is not the only one to have problems. In fact, there is something wrong with Andretti's engine too, and the Ferrari mechanics rush to the grid to fix it. Peterson doesn't feel healthy, as well as Revson: both drivers have been given antibiotics before the start. Nevertheless, at 4:30 p.m., in front of the President of the Republic of Argentina Alejandro Agustín Lanusse, present in the large crowd, the blue and white national flag is waved and the race begins. The cars start from their pitches towards the first and fast right turn, creating a cloud of dust behind them.
In the first few meters Reutemann manages to keep the first position but, following an error in changing from first to second gear, Jackie Stewart manages to jump ahead of the Argentinean driver. In the back of the field there is confusion, with Graham Hill being pushed off course. The Briton slips on the outside of the circuit, where there is dirt coming from the grass along the asphalt, and scatters sand and dirt on the competitors following him. This causes the jamming of the butterflies of the B.R.M. engine of Wisell and of the Cosworth of Walker. In this regard, the Swedish driver decides to return immediately to the pits to have his car checked by the mechanics, while Walker continues his race. After a short time, however, the Australian also returns to the pits to try to fix the car, but in doing so he re-enters the race on lap 22 only to be disqualified a little later for using instruments not carried in the car.
Wisell loses a few laps due to the pit stop, but on lap fifty-nine will have to stop due to a broken water pipe. The main interest for the public, of course, is the battle involving Stewart and Reutemann, followed by Hulme, Fittipaldi, Regazzoni, Peterson, Cevert and Revson, who is the author of a bad start. Schenken leads the rest of the group, which is already lacking two drivers at the end of the second lap. For the Marlboro-B.R.M. team the season does not start as hoped: first Soler-Roig hits a barrier during the first lap and is forced to retire and a few moments later Peter Gethin, due to a contact, finds himself with a broken oil pipe and some parts of the electrical system. So, after two laps, the Marlboro-B.R.M. team has two damaged cars out of the race, and another one stopped in the pits.
During the first few laps Stewart doesn't seem to be able to gain much time, thanks mainly to an aggressive driving of Carlos Reutemann who follows every move of the Scottish driver and makes the Argentinean crowd cheer on a couple of occasions when he tries to take the lead. But Stewart doesn't give up, and keeps his position at the expense of the local idol. In the meantime Emerson Fittipaldi finally found his rhythm and during the fifth lap he overtook Denny Hulme, who in turn was busy closing the gap on Reutemann. Regazzoni, in fifth place, moves slightly away from the top four. The Swiss driver precedes Peterson, Cevert, Revson and Schenken.
His teammate, Jacky Ickx, begins to pick up the pace after a slow start, while Mario Andretti's engine is definitely out of tune and spitting flames from the exhaust manifolds. After a series of pit stops where the Ferrari mechanics are unable to fix the engine problem, the American driver is forced to retire after the black and white flag is shown due to the fire coming out of the engine, during the 20th lap. Also Graham Hill is forced to retire during the eleventh lap, due to a malfunction of the fuel pump, as well as Andrea De Adamich, who stops because of some engine power problems.
As time goes by, the hopes of the Argentinean public to see their idol triumph diminish more and more: with the decreasing performance of Goodyear tires, also the positions of Carlos Reutemann change, first overtaken by Fittipaldi on lap 8, then by Hulme on lap 11. All the eyes of the public are now focused on Fittipaldi, who begins to close the gap on Stewart, bringing it to a couple of seconds, but the Scotsman responds to the challenge and begins again to gain ground on his Brazilian rival. On lap 20 Stewart has an advantage of four seconds over Fittipaldi, with Hulme - third - about three seconds behind.
Reutemann manages to keep the fourth place, while Regazzoni suffers the pressure of Cevert and his teammate Ickx, who in turn is tailed by Peterson, although the Swedish driver cannot use the fourth gear of the gearbox. This slowdown facilitates Revson's run-up, committed to closing the distance from the group of competitors in front of him, while Schenken is unable to maintain the pace. In a short time Stewart was able to distance himself from Fittipaldi, who from lap 30 seemed to have problems selecting fourth gear.
This inconvenience gives an advantage to Hulme, who begins to close the gap on his rival, and passes to the second place during the thirty-fifth lap. In the meantime Cevert increases the pace and closes the gap that was distancing him from Reutemann, who is forced to rush to the pits because his right tire has lost most of its rubber. The Brabham mechanics replace both rear tires and Carlos returns to the race in fourteenth place while, more or less at the same time, Revson picks up a shower of stones unintentionally raised by Peterson on the right turn after the pits, and turns the car in a spectacular way. The American driver restarts after losing some positions, but a water hose falls from the car: a few minutes later, during the forty-ninth lap, he is forced to retire.
With half of the ninety-five laps completed, Stewart continues to dominate the race as a true champion and widens the gap on Hulme to about fifteen seconds. Fittipaldi is still third, but struggling with the gearbox that begins to work at irregular intervals, while Cevert seems to be competitive, although he remains in fourth position. None of the two Ferrari drivers, Ickx and Regazzoni, respectively in fifth and sixth place, seems to have a chance to last. The two young Austrians Helmut Marko and Niki Lauda are busy trying to leave the last place: the winner of Le Mans tries everything to stay ahead of his compatriot's March.
While the two are engaged in their duel Marko mistakes Peterson for Lauda, and the Swede suddenly finds his trajectory closed. Peterson decides - by instinct - to steer, but the engine turns off: after struggling for a few seconds, the Swedish driver manages to restart the engine, but the two Ferraris are now far away and Schenken has moved up one position. During the fifty-ninth lap Cevert is forced to retire because of the malfunction of the gearbox, and two laps later Fittipaldi has to stop because of the breakage of the suspension. When there are thirty laps to go, Stewart is in the lead with a twenty second advantage over Hulme, who is busy following a small group that includes the two Ferraris and Schenken, who is now in pursuit of the Maranello cars.
From this moment on, however, nothing of importance happens anymore, and the race ends with Stewart crossing the finish line first, and Hulme following at a distance of almost twenty-six seconds. Almost a minute later, the still smoking Ferrari of Ickx arrives third at the finish line, ahead of his teammate Regazzoni who manages to repel the attacks of Tim Schenken, fifth. Peterson was lapped but is content to finish the race in sixth place, while Reutemann's seventh place does not do justice to a great performance by the Argentinean, who will certainly have the opportunity to make up for it in the next races. Pescarolo finishes in eighth position, only four seconds ahead of Ganley, who in turn precedes the young Helmut Marko and Niki Lauda.
Jackie Stewart and the Tyrrell-Ford - always them - win in Buenos Aires the Argentine Grand Prix, the first round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The Scotsman preceded Hulme (McLaren-Ford) and the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni. The third Maranello car, that of Mario Andretti, was forced to retire, like the Surtees-Ford of the only Italian in the race, Andrea De Adamich. Stewart won convincingly, according to his style. In the training sessions he had obtained the second time, behind the Argentinean Carlos Reutemann. So, the Scotsman took off at the starter's start in the first row next to Reutemann.
His dash was irresistible. Reutemann lined up with Tyrrell, trying not to lose contact with the world champion. Stewart, however, gradually pulled away and no one was able to hinder his powerful action. In short, in the lead from start to finish. Reutemann, the idol of the Argentinean fans, had to stop at the pits to change his tires and, of course, the loss of time was fatal. The driver lost many positions and finished seventh. His place in the hunt for Stewart was taken by Fittipaldi and Hulme, who did very well with his McLaren.
The New Zealander, who had obtained the fourth fastest time in practice and who started on the second row, raced with regularity, taking advantage of the troubles of others, in this case also those of Emerson Fittipaldi, the protagonist of a good start with Lotus. The Ferraris offered an excellent demonstration of consistency, but did not have the decisive breakthrough. Ickx and Regazzoni were content to keep the first positions, while Andretti was eliminated, according to the first news, by fuel problems. Already on the fifth lap Mario Andretti was forced to stop at the pits. The Italian-American restarts almost immediately, but stops shortly after. At the tenth lap Andretti is out of the race.
It seems to be back to last year when, for one reason or another, the Ferrari cars were forced to abandon without a fight, in many of the Grand Prix disputed. However, Ickx and Regazzoni, who started in sixth and eighth position respectively, remained firmly in the race and the 312 B2 proved to be up to the situation. Jackie Ickx climbs up several places in the provisional ranking and Clay Regazzoni manages to stay close to his teammate. Their third and fourth place finishes are satisfactory in a race that was not congenial to a fast and powerful car like the Ferrari 312 B2.
At the end of the race, the atmosphere in the Ferrari box is serene and quiet. The technicians consider this first outing anything but negative. The cars have resisted very well to the effort on a particularly difficult track and in exceptional weather conditions. It should also be noted that circuit number nine of the Autodromo Municipal de Buenos Aires is not very suitable for the characteristics of the 12-cylinder boxer. It is a fairly slow track, full of curves, which force the use of low gears frequently.
"Here my 8-cylinder engine should make more than the Ferrari".
He was evidently right. His success in the Argentine Grand Prix was clear and deserved. The Scotsman led the race from the first moment until the last lap, without ever being approached by his rivals. Even Hulme, second on the finish line, was satisfied with his race. The New Zealander at the wheel of the McLaren, was very regular, always keeping the first positions. At the thirty-fourth lap Hulme managed to overtake Emerson Fittipaldi who had preceded him up to that moment and no one was able to approach him in Stewart's wake.
The race, to which the Scotsman gave a very fast rhythm, was made harder by the heat, despite the fact that the start was set for 4:30 p.m. For these two reasons, the list of retirements is full of names: only eleven of the twenty-one cars in the race reached the finish line. The causes were mainly due to the failure of the engines, which were overstressed. Chris Amon, with the Matra MS 120 C, did not even start, as he was unable to start the engine. There were two accidents, but without consequences: Henry Pescarolo ended up in a meadow with the March-Ford of Frank Williams' team and Soler-Roig finished the race against a guardrail.
The joy of Jackie Stewart, winner of the Argentine Formula 1 Grand Prix, the first round of the World Drivers' Championship, turned into pain as soon as the Scottish driver reached the pits of the Tyrrell Ford. Stewart was approached by some friends who, dismayed, informed him that his father Robert Paul had died a few hours earlier, in Scotland. The news of the death had arrived before the race began but had not been communicated to the champion. Stewart's father, who was 76 years old, had been in a hospital in Scotland for some time because he was suffering from a heart condition. As soon as he was informed, the pilot immediately left to return home.
Robert Paul Stewart followed with great interest his son's activity in the automotive field, although he had once forbidden him to race. So much so that Jackie Stewart for a time raced under a false name, until his skill led to the discovery of his true identity. Among those who managed to convince his father to let Jackie race was another driving ace, also Scottish, Jim Clark, who died tragically in a race. Jackie Stewart started in the best way the 1972 edition of the Formula 1 World Championship.