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#253 1975 South African Grand Prix

2021-12-29 23:00

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#253 1975 South African Grand Prix

The Friday of the 31 January 1975 Enzo Ferrari, the director of the romances unveiled at the final, on the latest lines of his vast and decisive expla

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The Friday of the 31 January 1975 Enzo Ferrari, the director of the romances unveiled at the final, on the latest lines of his vast and decisive explanation at the Ferrari’s moment, gives the big and good news by using an Hitchcock’s technique: the early debut of the 312T. In Sud Africa at the beginning of March instead of Spain at the end of April, even two months early of the expected date and  even not only a car, but two. The most important thing is to highlight the fact itself of the announcement of Enzo Ferrari. Clear, thorough, in a journalistic style. No secrets, no shadows, following the clever style that Ferrari even made last year and of which the lawyer Luca Montezemolo became interpreter with measured diplomacy. Furthermore, one must notice the flexibility of the technical plan, flexibility enabled by the elevated skills of Scuderia Ferrari, by the hard work of every man at every level, by the generous enthusiasm that animates an old gentleman who believes in sport. Finally, the early debut of the 312 T is a risk that has been already evaluated. Times have been speeded up, two cars have been sat up instead of one: in South Africa it could be good, but also bad. Anyway, it’s worth it to try for many reasons: the 312 T is the car that will be employed during all the season of 1975, so it’s a worthwhile chance to compare it with its competitors. Potential young lacks could be improved on time for the Spanish race; Lauda and Regazzoni will race on the track with a bigger motivation. It’s necessary to add that expect immediately a resounding success of the 312 T, will be a mistake. It’s obvious that the Maranello’s team hopes it, but every new car needs a specific setting in time. The important thing, however, is to start, as Enzo Ferrari thinks:

 

"Following the Brazilian and Argentina’s Grand Prix, Ferrari has examined the emerging technical situation together with the results. The Ferrari 312 B3’s cars have showed real improvements, and the times achieved in practice and in racing define its extent. We don’t think that our results, only four positions, have been caused to a greater power of the Ford Cosworth’s engine against the Ferrari boxer, because the measurements carried out attest that the maximum speeds are equivalent, while the boxer maintains an appreciable advantage in acceleration cues. Concerning the weight, the Shadow, McLaren and Brabham cars are at the limit of the formula, 575 kilograms: Ferrari accuses an handicap, especially if it’s considered the fuel which is 155-160 litres for the Ford Cosworth and 180 litres for the boxer. However, a problem arises, connected to the new situation in the sector of tires for F1 cars, whose construction and distribution in 1975 was only handled by the Goodyear. Differently from what happened last year, in which Goodyear gave a specific type of tire for each race, for every temperature and environmental condition based on what they considered most suitable for the suspension of the B3; this year, obviously for economic reasons, Goodyear has prepared only two types of compound applied on the same type of carcass. The same Goodyears’ technicians said that such standard tires can be highlight particularly problems especially on the front axles. It must be noticed that an inconvenient like this is absorbed in different ways from every car and if for some of them the effect is tolerable, for the B3 it was unexpected and very accentuated. It’s our belief that exists a good balance between the B3 with Mclaren, Hesketh and Brabham’s cars, a little with the Tyrrell , Lotus, etcetera. On the other hand, with the Shadow’s one there is a deficit that is evident especially in fast corners with a constant wide radius. With these preconditions, Ferrari decided to modify the technical-agonistic plan of 1975 which imposed the appearance of a brand new 312-T in Barcelona on 27 April 1975. Therefore, facing the amount of variables that the short time left implicates, Ferrari will anticipate the debut of the 312-T with two units at the South Africa Gran Prix on 2 March 1975".

 

The six weeks of break time between the Gran Prix of Brazil and the Gran Prix of South Africa gives an appreciated relief to a great number of the teams of Formula 1, giving them the time to think about their individual situations after the first two events of the season. It also allows them to complete new cars or try to start some corrective action if they consider their performance insufficient. Kyalami has a mainly friendly atmosphere, helped by the discreet and autocratic control of Alex Blignaut, himself a former South African Grand Prix competitor and race cars driver. In the past years, before the increase of interest in motor racing in South America which led to the re-establishment of an Argentine Grand Prix and the inauguration of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Kyalami was the starting point of the Formula 1 season and many teams come up in South Africa a couple of weeks before the race to carry out tests. Now the most important race in South Africa is the third Grand Prix on the calendar, but in any case it maintains its congenial atmosphere. After the disappointing performances in South America, Ken Tyrrell's team is extremely eager to redeem themselves in Kyalami, being the homeland of its number one driver Jody Scheckter, who come from East London. Derek Gardner has prepared some changes on a new chassis, including a new all-round suspension geometry, a taller and thinner air-box water radiators repositioned in a Parnelli’s style.

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Before switching from inboard to outboard front brakes in South America, Gardner continues this apparent reversal of his development by replacing the torsion bars at the rear of the two Tyrrells with a conventional coil spring-shock arrangement. Depailler will use the 007/4 model, repaired after the Interlagos accident, and equipped with coil springs, while Scheckter's 007/2 has been equipped with both torsion bars and coil springs for comparison tests and used as a team escort. The McLaren carries three M23 cars under the care of Gordon Coppuck, Emerson Fittipaldi uses the M23/9 and the M23/8 assigned to Jochen Mass. Brabham’s designer Gordon Murray is optimistic that his cars will be able to take a second win at Kyalami, so much so that the pristine white Martini-Brabham BT44B are exactly in the same set-up used in Brazil. The March Engineering comes with his first 751 based on a Formula 2 model, which will be given to the brave Vittorio Brambilla, while his old 741 is sold to the young Italian Lella Lombardi who drove an F5000 Lola and tried unsuccessfully to qualify for the British Grand Prix in a borrowed Brabham last year. Slightly disappointed after the poor performance in South America, Scuderia Ferrari decides to abandon the 312 B3 model and replace them with the latest 312 T chassis, which will be driven by Lauda and Regazzoni. The way in which Enzo Ferrari, aided by a substantial financial support from Fiat can bring new models to the track almost every year, makes the economically less gifted teams envious, even though the Maranello’s team hasn’t built a spare car yet. Therefore it’s forced to rely on the latest model of the 312 B3, the 020 chassis, in case of need.

 

Contrary to the Ferrari's way in doing things, the newly formed team B.R.M. takes on the South African race with a P201 singleton chassis and their old V12 engine. Last year Beltoise managed to take the second place in the South African Grand Prix, thanks to qualifying tires and a series of important retirements that flattered the car, but even the most optimistic team member can’t hope in a repeat of that amazing performance. Meanwhile, however, the British team takes off Mike Wilds -after failing in winning the South American races- and signs Formula 5000 champion Bob Evans, who will race in all the remaining competitions of this season. Having decided that Ronnie Peterson will continue racing with Team Lotus, the mechanics build a new car, the 72/R9, for the Swedish driver, as the R8 needs a major repair, while Jacky Ickx will drive his usual R5. The two Team Gunston’s cars for Eddie Keizan (72/R6) and Guy Tunmer (72/R7) bring the number of Lotus cars in Kyalami to four. Having used one DN3 in South America last year, Tom Pryce is very happy to finally be able to race the new Shadow DN5/2A after Jarier's promising race at Interlagos. Lola’s team of Graham Hill brings a new T371 model for Rolf Stommelen, being this a development of the year-old T370 design but with different suspension geometries and repositioned fuel tanks, while Hill will still rely on its regular T370. The Vels Parnelli Jones’s team with their only registered driver, Mario Andretti, are also hoping for an improvement in their performance. The Penske, which will be led by Donohue, has been lengthened by five inches, while the rear track has been increased by three inches in an attempt to improve its rather erratic handling.

 

With the tests taking place on Wednesday 26 February 1975 and Thursday 27 February 1975 in view of the race of Saturday 1 March 1975, the plan is quieter than usual with a free Friday for relaxation or for work dedicated to the preparation of the cars, for both pilots and mechanics. Denny Hulme's time of 1'16"3 set during practice for the South African Grand Prix in 1973 is the limit to aim for because Lauda's Ferrari had set a time of 1'16" 8 during practice in Grand Prix of the previous year, when the Austrian driver was in pole position. In the first practice session begin on Wednesday 26 February 1975, Lauda doesn’t take to long to set a time of 1'16"83 with the new 312 T, even if before the end of the day Carlos Reutemann sets a time of 1'16"61 with his Brabham BT44B, and Carlos Pace a time of 1’17”0. While Fittipaldi (1’17"22) and Jody Scheckter (1’17"17) are busy chasing the Brabham and the Ferraris at the top of the times, at the bottom of the group a good drama is expected. Shortly after the start of the session, Graham Hill spins at the Jukskei’s corner and his Lola goes off the track, getting stucked between the safety barriers, with the chassis irreparably damaged. The subsequent examination conducted on the Lola, reveals that the right rear tire was flat and this seems to be the reason for the sudden loss of control of the British driver. Meanwhile, Ronnie Peterson has more to think about than a slight oil leak, because his new Lotus shows all the symptoms of the brake problems he initially experienced with the 72/R8 in South America. And so, the best he can do is a time of 1’18"20. During the night the rear pump and the calipers will be replaced and, with the addition of fresh brake fluid, the problem appears to be solved by Thursday.

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However, an oil collection tube comes off forcing Peterson to return to the pits immersed in a cloud of blue smoke. Contrary to the performance seen in Brazil, the New Shadow DN5 does not perform well at all. Jarier, who has completely dominated the race held at Interlagos before his retirement, only managed to set a time of 1’17"37, improving slightly over the next day of 1’17"37, Tom Pryce is even worse: his optimistic valuation of the DN5 potential during testing at Goodwood is prematurely (and hopefully temporarily) shattered with a time that does not go beyond the 1'18.36 limit. None of the two cars is fast enough on the straight line and both drivers quickly communicate it to their team manager. Meanwhile, Ian Scheckter is busy imitating his younger brother's oversteering driving style and with the Lexington Tyrrell sets a time of 1’18"01 during the second session. So, Ian Scheckter manages to set a better time than Donohue, Pryce and Ickx, who can hardly be faster than Keizan and Tunmer's two 72s. Thursday's session begins on a particularly unfortunate note for both Emerson Fittipaldi and Niki Lauda. On the Brazilian's McLaren, the engine explodes in a spectacular way while he travels the right-hand sunset curve at 225 km/h, flooding the track with oil that Lauda's Ferrari is unable to avoid, being a few meters behind.

 

The Italian car spun and crashed into the protective fences on the outside of the curve, tearing the outer skin along one full side of the monocoque and severely damaging the rear wing. The displeased Austrian driver manages to extract his damaged car and slowly bring it back to the pits with his own strength. Without a doubt he is relieved that the current trend of abandoning Armco barriers in favour of triple-layer fences has allowed him and his car to not suffer much worse damages. After a short break Fittipaldi’s McLaren has been recovered and while the mechanics furiously work to add the last suspension parts to the spare car, the guys from Ferrari undertake to prepare the spare B3 that Lauda will use later on the same day. It’s interesting the fact that while Lauda manages to lap in 1’16"83 with his new car, with the old one he turns in 1’16"96 expressing an effort that demonstrates the great skills of the driver in knowing how to manage complicated situations. Meanwhile, Carlos Pace precedes Reutemann and takes pole position: the winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix laps in 1'16"41 ensuring both elegant Brabhams, designed by Gordon Murray, the monopoly of the front row. A personal triumph for the modest designer. South African compatriot Jody Scheckter manages to get the third absolute time: driving faster and faster, Tyrrell's number one drops gradually and sets a time of 1'16"64 before making a mistake in the Barbeque Bend curve, the point in which occurred the fatal Revson accident in 1974.

 

This is a simple case of a slight overshoot and after that Scheckter extricates himself from the indulgent recovery fence, he doesn't try to hide his mistake or make excuses. The South African driver admits that he lost control but at least his team has the satisfaction, while he hurried to prepare the reserve car for the race, to know that their driver has managed to set a time that guarantees him the third place. During the last practice session Patrick Depailler sets a time of 1’16"83 and Andretti sets a time of 1’16"89 which makes him earn the sixth place on the starting grid. Brambilla's new March had been hastily patched up after Wednesday's accident, but nevertheless the stocky Italian sets a time of 1'17"05, while the unstoppable Peterson will start in eighth position. Regardless of the accident involving Niki Lauda, a new chapter in Formula 1 will open tomorrow for Scuderia Ferrari: the 312 T makes its debut (3 stands for three litres of displacement, 12 for the number of cylinders and T for transverse to indicate the position of the gearbox). It’s the weapon for the year 1975, the car that could allow Niki Lauda or Clay Regazzoni to win the title of World Champion. The debut is highly anticipated. There is hope in the Maranello team and its fans. Will Ferrari, that last year was the main character of the championship even if not winning the title, succeed the time? It’s known that the new car was supposed to hit the track at the end of April in the Spanish Grand Prix. The outcome of the first two races of the season (Argentina and Brazil) in which Lauda and Regazzoni had to play a secondary role, contenting themselves with disappointing placings, led Enzo Ferrari to anticipate the debut of the 312 T, of which the drivers - after the first tests - tell amazing things.

 

"It is more manageable, safer and faster than the B3, therefore more competitive".

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The recorded times on the private track of Fiorano and on other circuits prove him right. Three sets of reasons, as the lawyer Luca Montezemolo points out, affect Ferrari's decision. First of all, an economic reason: financial investments were focused on the 312 T. Psychological reasons, since everyone, starting with the drivers, who wanted to accelerate the creation of the new single-seater. At the end, technical reasons. A month and a half early of the initially planned plan allows the study of any changes before the climax of the Formula 1 season, which begins in Spain. Perhaps not an easy decision, but certainly a quick and clear-cut one, as befits racing. Doubts, delays, uncertainties are not made for the world of competitions, like groups, bureaucratic committees: the responsibility must be of one only, and when we do not resign ourselves to this law, or do not understand it, it is better close. Now, having made the decision, Ferrari waits. Will it be good or bad? Enzo Ferrari, a diplomat, made it known that he would already be happy with a placement of his new single-seaters. But perhaps this is not the case. Better a brilliant performance, perhaps interrupted by a trivial trouble, of those who define themselves as youth, than a test without performance. Because, in the first case, it would be clear that the right path has been taken. And for Ferrari, agitator of men, it would be the demonstration that - at least sometimes - tenacity, commitment, work and courage find a match. The second and final day of testing for the South African Grand Prix, the third act of the Formula 1 world championship scheduled for Saturday 1 March 1975 at the Kyalami circuit, was quite eventful. Some accidents occurred and fierce controversy arose over the race director's decision to close training without making up for the time lost in the stops to recover the cars that remained stationary along the track, a decision that ended up damaging Ferrari above all. The Italian team went through a moment of fear today due to an almost incredible accident that happened to Niki Lauda. The Austrian, after eight laps, therefore at the beginning of the tests, had decided to return to the box and had joined Emerson Fittipaldi. But, as mentioned, the engine of the Brazilian's McLaren exploded suddenly, flooding the asphalt with oil and the Austrian driver's 312 T became uncontrollable.

 

"The car swerved and flew into the fences of the track. A stake has sheared the lower part of the body".

 

The rear wing was also damaged. The technicians of the Maranello team, however, believe they can put the car back in order in time for the race. Immediately after the accident, of which Fittipaldi is obviously not at fault, the father of the Brazilian driver, Wilson (like his second son), went to the Ferrari pits to apologize, on behalf of his son. The engineer Forghieri immediately gave the order to set up the old 312 B3, carried as a spare, so that Lauda could continue the tests. The technicians from Maranello, on the other hand, immediately got to work around the damaged car, to see if there was still the possibility of putting it back in order in time for race day. The Ferrari damaged during the second day of official practice of the South African Grand Prix is ​​perhaps recoverable. The mechanics of the Modena team, despite the rest day on Friday, were working hard around 312 T to try to get the car back into racing condition. However, although it is true that Pace and Reutemann, with the Brabhams, are in the front row of the starting grid, Lauda is in the second, alongside Scheckter and Tyrrell. Regazzoni with the second Ferrari is further back, in the fifth row. The Swiss driver underwent a series of tests to try with a full tank of petrol and, in the end, when it came to competing for an exploit, the training sessions were declared closed. The race director did not consider making up for the lost time, or rather, first he asked the English teams if that was the case or not, given the conditions of the track made slimy by the oil. The team managers of Brabham and Tyrrell, satisfied with the results of Pace, Scheckter and his companions, responded negatively and the protests of the Mannello team went unheard. Basically, the rehearsals lasted an hour and three quarters and not two and a half hours as scheduled. The drivers will still have one hour of free training (ie without official timekeeping) on ​​Saturday, before the South African Grand Prix takes place.

 

"It should be enough for me to check the condition of my Ferrari".

 

Niki Lauda admits, while the Sporting Director of Scuderia Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, says:

 

"A day to forget. Such a stupid accident just as we are working hard to make the 312 T happily debut, then the hostility of the Kyalami organizers, who certainly look favorably on the English teams. If nothing else, the laps made by Lauda with the old B3 have however shown how the 312 T is a model of decidedly higher possibilities".

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Merzario also had an accident with Williams. The Italian driver went off the track at the beginning of a curve breaking the nose of the car. The worst problem is that it contains the water cooler and that Frank Williams does not have a spare. Mechanics will work wonders. Very good Vittorio Brambilla. The Monza is in the fourth row with his March, repaired until after the accident on Wednesday. In favor of Vittorio Brambilla was probably the performance provided by the low-profile tires supplied to March by Goodyear as the car is derived from the Formula 2 model and, therefore, is fitted with tires of a different type from the standard tires of the other single-seaters. Lella Lombardi will also be in the race. The Alexandrian set the slowest time, 1'19"68, against Pace's 1'16"41, but it was enough to qualify. In fact, the girl is happy to compete in the South African Grand Prix. the old Graham Hill and Wilson Fittipaldi qualified with Copersucar. Saturday 1st March 1975, at 2:00 p.m., the South African Grand Prix will be kicked off, third round of the Formula 1 World Championship. On the starting line , in the second row, the Ferrari 312 T of the Austrian Niki Lauda will start, which the mechanics repaired in record time; after the accident in practice, Regazzoni, with the other Ferrari, is in the fifth row. He managed to qualify. His March will start in last position, but it should be noted that this minimal result was missed by two well-known riders, such as the English Graham Hill and the Brazilian Wilson Fittipaldi, the brother of the World Champion, the company of the Italian raises a question: can a woman gar successful in Formula 1? To this question, Lella Lombardi's colleagues issue conflicting answers. Here are a few. Bobby Unser:

 

"No, the good god built man and woman differently. If I could talk to women eager to compete in motor racing, I would tell them they should shovel sand against the tide".

 

 A.J. Foyt:

 

"Not enough".

 

Graham Hill:

 

"Personally I don’t think that in the current state of our civilisation the women can beat mens. I think they will probably be able to do it in a million years. But then, perhaps, they will be creatures different from what they are today".

 

Jody Scheckter:

 

"I don’t like racing with women, I just don't feel safe".

 

"Some women have incredible driving skills. If they could do the practice and experience that pilots do, some of them could develop that talent".

 

Johnny Rutherford:

 

"If a woman works hard and trains, she can be successful. I also think a woman has the same desire to win as a man".

 

Finally, Ronnie Peterson, speaking explicitly of Lella Lombardi, declares:

 

"He has a very good driving style. I don't see why it shouldn't be successful".

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At 2:00 p.m. on Saturday 1st March 1975 the drivers are ready on the starting grid waiting for the flag of the mossiere to lower, with Wilson Fittipaldi's car wandering hopefully in the back waiting for some last minute problem to involve one of the qualified competitors and allowed him to start the race. Slowly the two white Brabhams approach the flag side by side, with the two pilots looking at each other carefully out of the corner of their eye. When the flag was lowered, Carlos Pace took the best shot, climbing past the starting line with a conspicuous advantage and taking the lead up to Crowthorne Corner, while Scheckter - with his Tyrrell - moved from the second row to second place and the Lotus Peterson's black-gold climbs to third place, starting from the fourth row. After the curvilinear section, the Clubhouse and the hairpin bend to the right of Leeukop, with the Brabham still in the lead, Pace is in the lead, followed by Jody Scheckter, Peterson, Reutemann, Depailler, Regazzoni, Fittipaldi, Lauda, ​​Brambilla, Hunt, Andretti, Merzario, Laffite, Mass, Stommelen, Pryce, Watson, Ian Scheckter, Jarier, Donohue, Charlton, Evans, Ickx, Lombardi, Keizan and Tunmer, while Wilson Fittipaldi is forced to return to the pits after making a slightly too optimistic start , as Guy Tunmer appeared to be in trouble shortly before advancing from the fictional grid to the starting grid. Meanwhile Jody Scheckter has no intention of easing the pressure on Pace: the South African driver stays close to the Brazilian driver's Brabham as they complete the second lap, and brakes at Crowthorne Corner, at the end of the main straight, taking the lead of the race. Driving with the confidence of a veteran, the young South African begins to control the group following him. On lap three Carlos Reutemann moved up the rankings after Carlos Pace waved him over as the brakes of his BT44B started to give problems.

 

Peterson meanwhile loses ground, as his car shows serious understeer problems that force him to adapt his driving style to the behavior of his Lotus. After the first ten laps, the race takes on a stable pattern. Jody Scheckter defends himself from the attacks of Reutemann's Brabham, which in turn precedes Depailler, capable of mortifying the intentions of Emerson Fittipaldi, engaged in a decisive comeback after having been the author of a good start from the sixth row. Peterson is soon overtaken by the two Ferraris of Regazzoni and Lauda, ​​racing close to each other, while Andretti is followed by Mass and Stommelen. Farther back, Ian Scheckter, with his Tyrrell, comes out sideways on the grass and slips to the back of the grid. During the sixteenth lap Brambilla's March stops, victim of a broken oil cooler, while Watson's Surtees stops after nineteen laps due to a defect in the clutch mechanism that risked burning the unit. In the rear Ickx has problems passing the two Lotus of South African drivers Guy Tonmer and Eddie Keizan, as his Lotus 72 also suffers from the same understeer problem reported by his teammate, but unlike Peterson, the Belgian driver does not seem to want to face the situation and resigns himself to the behavior of the car. On the contrary, the Swedish driver wears out the left front tire before returning to the pits to make some adjustments to the wing, and resume racing at a constant speed. At the head of the group, while Reutemann remains close to Scheckter, trying from time to time to overtake the South African driver under braking, only once does the Argentine driver manage to correctly side by side in braking at the Crowthorne corner. On this occasion Scheckter manages to keep the lead with skill, while from now on Reutemann seems to want to settle for second place.

 

In the meantime, Emerson Fittipaldi manages to outpace Depailler, but without warning the World Champion is forced to make three pit stops before the source of the breakdown is discovered which slows him down. Only at the third stop do the mechanics discover that a lead plate originally mounted in the distributor has come loose. This inconvenience causes Fittipaldi to fall to the bottom of the group, leaving Depailler alone to chase the two leaders of the race. Behind the French driver, the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers are consistently holding fourth and fifth, with Regazzoni not fast enough to keep up with the leaders and Lauda not incisive enough to pass the Swiss driver, both due to problems. to the engine. Jochen Mass follows in seventh place. The German driver precedes Stommelen, who from lap twenty-five is engaged in chasing Ian Scheckter's Tyrrell. Almost unnoticed, Jarier's Shadow retires during the thirty-seventh lap due to a broken exhaust pipe and the consequent engine overheating. Sixteen laps later, exactly during the fifty-third lap, Hunt's Hesketh also stops due to a metering fault, after having already made a pit stop early in the race to replace the nose of the car damaged following a contact. in the early stages of the race, after the start. Behind Stommelen and Donohue, Pryce is now alone, while Ronnie Peterson overtakes the Lotus of the two South African drivers and that of his shadowy teammate Jacky Ickx. Slowly Carlos Reutemann reduces and brings to a couple of seconds the delay from Jody Scheckter's Tyrrell, increasing the confidence of the South African driver who has not decreased his pace at all in the last laps, finally mortifying the expectations of the Argentine driver in the final laps and concluding with just over 3 seconds ahead of his opponent after 78 laps of the race. The post-race is an occasion of great joy for the thousands of fans who flocked to the circuit to cheer their local hero, and it's nice to hear Ken Tyrrell exclaim, above all the din: "Don't forget about Patrick".

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The French driver who drove a good race finishing it in third place. But, logically, Tyrrell's second driver is overshadowed by Jody Scheckter's big day. Carlos Pace finished fourth, while Clay Regazzoni's Ferrari stopped due to a broken accelerator with seven laps to go, allowing Niki Lauda to take an unexciting fifth place ahead of Mass and Stommelen. Donohue and Pryce precede the fierce Peterson, while Guy Tunmer wins the duel with Jacky Ickx on the finish line, finishing two laps behind the victorious Tyrrell of the compatriot. Finally, Mario Andretti also stops during the seventieth lap, due to a problem with the transmission of his Parnelli. In the South African Grand Prix, the third round of the Formula 1 World Championship, Ferrari failed to pull off the miracle of an exciting exploit. Niki Lauda finished fifth while Clay Regazzoni was forced to retire in the finale. The race was won by Jody Scheckter, with Tyrrell: the South African precedes Reutemann (Brabham), Depailler (with the second Tyrrell) and Pace (with the other Brabham). Emerson Fittipaldi retired. The Brazilian, however, retains the command of the world ranking. Jody Scheckter drove a magnificent race with a car that the mechanics had given him just half an hour before the start. The young South African had destroyed his Tyrrell in Thursday's practice and had to settle for the T car, which - after the free training sessions held the morning before the Grand Prix - it was decided to replace the engine. The operation was concluded just in time for the start of the Grand Prix. In the race, Scheckter took the lead after three laps overtaking Carlos Pace, who subsequently lost other positions. Jody kept the lead with skill, containing Reutemann's attacks.

 

"I have hoped so much for Scheckter's mistake, but he has none. He really deserved to win".

 

t’s the first time  that a South African driver has made a name for himself in the South African Grand Prix. Tyrrell’s success is completed by Depailler's placement, a clear sign that the cars of the English team have driven very well. Ferrari, on the other hand, had to settle for a colorless race, with Regazzoni and Lauda marching for a long time in fifth and sixth position. The Swiss retired on lap 71 due to a broken throttle control rod: the same problem happened to Lauda in practice. The fact is of those who fall into the woes of youth of each new model, and there is no need to cry scandal. Rather, the modest race of the two 312 T. Lauda has disappointed everyone, including of course the mechanics of the Maranello team: at the end of the race:completed by the placement of Depailler, a clear sign that the cars of the English team drove very well. Ferrari, on the other hand, had to settle for a colorless race, with Regazzoni and Lauda marching for a long time in fifth and sixth position. The Swiss retired on lap 71 due to a broken throttle control rod: the same problem happened to Lauda in practice. The fact is of those who fall into the woes of youth of each new model, and there is no need to cry scandal. Rather, the modest race of the two 312 T. Lauda has disappointed everyone, including of course the mechanics of the Maranello team: at the end of the race:

 

"My engine was insufficient. I could only take 11.300 rpm against Regazzoni's 12.000 rpm. Luckily Clay was in front of me: I achieved this placement by staying in his wake on the straights".

 

Regazzoni, in turn, states:

 

"The behavior of my car was inexplicable. A little oversteer and a little understeer. Cornering it was really difficult to control".

 

The two drivers also add that in the first fifteen laps the behavior of the cars was acceptable, but that it then progressively deteriorated. The Sporting Director of Scuderia Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, admits:

 

"It certainly wasn't a good figure. Obviously we are not satisfied. We are only consoled by having brought at least one car to the finish in a hard and selective race like this one".

 

For the Scuderia Ferrari technical director, Mauro Forghieri, the South African Grand Prix was for Ferrari without Infamy and without praise.

 

"However, we have gathered some experience, which will be precious to us for the next races".

 

Regazzoni should also have been penalized by one minute for early departure. The measure, partly thanks to Montezemolo's mediation, partly due to the contingent situation, was not applied. Emerson Fittipaldi's performance was also bitter. The Brazilian driver, who in the early stages of the race had moved to fourth position, was forced to stop in the pits with the engine emitting strange sounds on lap 39. Emerson left to stop five more times and eventually quit.

 

"A wire from the ignition distributor broke and the engine started running at 7 cylinders".

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For the Italian fans the day is completely disappointing. Vittorio Brambilla broke a support for the oil cooler, he sold the engine to Arturo Merzario ("It was an engine that had raced in Argentina and Brazil, the fresh one broke in free practice before the race") and Lella Lombardi was lack of petrol. Fittipaldi in Argentina, Pace in Brazil, Scheckter in South Africa: three drivers and three different cars (McLaren, Brabham and Tyrrell) won the first Grand Prix of the Formula 1 season. In none of them did Lauda and Regazzoni's Ferraris shine . The cars produced in Maranello have only collected a series of placings and if the old 312 B3s had gone down in the South American trip to the track, the 312 T's made their debut at Kyalami, of which the drivers had said marvels in training. The debut, as the managers of the Maranello team acknowledged, was at least disappointing. Good for Lauda and Regazzoni that the situation at the top of the World Championship standings has not changed and that Fittipaldi in South Africa has not collected even a point. The Brazilian retains the lead at 15 points, followed by Pace (12), Reutemann (10) and Scheckter (9). Regazzoni is sixth with 6 points, Lauda seventh with 5 points. It is always legitimate, therefore, to hope for a reversal, for a return of Ferrari and its drivers to the top of 1974. The debut of the 312 T was awaited with keen interest. The old B3, which in Argentina and Brazil had proven to be inferior to the Shadow revelation (which in South Africa did nothing) and Brabham and barely on par with Tyrrell and McLaren, had been retired early.

 

The new car with the transverse gearbox was supposed to hit the track in Barcelona at the end of April and, instead, Enzo Ferrari had accelerated the times for technical, psychological and financial reasons at the same time. Should we now, on the wave of bitterness for the colorless race of Lauda and Regazzoni, claim that he was wrong? Not at all. The reasons for the anticipated debut remain good, even if it did not end with a success or with some exciting exploit. If nothing else, the men from Maranello realized, in direct confrontation with the competition, first in practice and then in the race, that a lot of work still needs to be done around the 312 T to make the car a winner. This is the most important point that justifies the debut. From today to the next world event, consisting of the Spanish Grand Prix, there is an abundant month and a half. This means that there is plenty of time to work on the new car. And, in fact, an intense training program has already been studied, which starts right from South Africa, where the Italian team stops to carry out a series of tests on the Kyalami track. One fact that makes the comments on the performance of the 312 T a little uncertain is the poor performance of the Lauda and Regazzoni engines. The 12-cylinder did not perform according to the usual standards. It is not the first time this has happened in Kyalami, either because of the altitude (almost 2000 meters) or because of the heat (about 33 °C). In any case, Ferrari made a bad impression in South Africa, as said by the sporting director, Luca Montezemolo, and now we have to wait for another race.

 

To be honest, we would have to be fed up, if we did not know with how much passion, with how generous commitment, with how much love all the men of Ferrari fight in pursuit of the dream of a title that does not seem to want to return to Italian hands. And if you didn't know the tenacity and irreducible decision of Enzo Ferrari himself. He does not give up, it is not right that those who are simply his fans give up. The next appointment, therefore, is in Spain, in Barcelona. A mixed circuit, one of those that last year really liked the old 312 B3. If nothing else, a few days later you can see some good signs. On Tuesday 4 March 1975, in a series of free practice sessions held on the same circuit as Kyalami, Niki Lauda, ​​with the new Ferrari 312-T, set a better time than the Brazilian driver Carlos Pace, who had conquered pole position with Brabham in the South African Grand Prix: 1'16"2. A record time, equal to that obtained in 1973 by Hulme (McLaren). The Austrian precedes other drivers (many teams have stopped in South Africa to fine-tune the cars in view of the European season), such as Hunt (Hesketh, 1'17"2), Fittipaldi (McLaren, 1’17"3), Pryce (Shadow, 1'17"7), Andretti (Parnelli, 1'17"8 ) and Reutemann (Brabham, 1'17"9), who took second place on Saturday 1 March 1975, behind Scheckter and the Tyrrell. The news is comforting: it means that the new single-seater from Maranello is a solid reality and that he can fight for the championship. Probably, in the South African Grand Prix, the modest race of Lauda and Regazzoni depended only on the engines mounted and the particular climatic conditions of the day.

 

Simone Sabatini

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