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#212 1972 Monaco Grand Prix

2022-02-06 23:00

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#1972,

#212 1972 Monaco Grand Prix

With the race at Monaco taking place only two weekends after the Spanish Grand Prix there is not much time for any startling new changes to take place

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With the race at Monaco taking place only two weekends after the Spanish Grand Prix there is not much time for any startling new changes to take place, so that the scene when practice start at Monaco on Thursday afternoon is very similar to that which we see at Jarama. Those teams that have returner en bloc to their factories are back again, renew and fresh, while those who stay at Jarama for preparation and then trak direct to Monaco all arrive in good time, thought not all in good order for the John Player/Lotus team transporter are badly damage when a Spanish driver had crashed head-on into it north of Barcelona. Hastily-hired vans has to be acquired and everything unload and take to Monaco in a bit of a shambles. With the Indy 500 qualifications starting on the same weekend as the Monte-Carlo race, there are some small, but significant changes in the overall scene. Ferrari enter only two cars, for Ickx and Regazzoni as Andrctti are commit to Indianapolis, and the McLaren team have got themselves well organised,dividing their forces to allowing Revson to concentrate on Indianapolis and Hulme to concentrate on Monaco, so that neither of them have to get involved in tiring transatlantic flights. For this race Revson’s place is take by Redman, straight from his victorious drive at Spa. The B.R.M. team do a minor shuffle with their motley collection of drivers, substituting Marko for Soler-Roig but keeping their strength up to five. Otherwise, everything is as it was in Spain, even to the non-appearance of the Tecno flat-12, though this time both Galli and Bell had been tentatively entered. The most important happening is a complete reconstruction of the chicane onto the harbour quayside and of the pit and paddock layout. Previously the temporary paddock was set up in a large garage just behind the starting-line area, but now it is move to a large underground garage on the sea front far beyond the circuit at the opposite end to the starting line, and the pits are moved from the central island on the up-and-down leg to the Gasometer hairpin, to the harbour quayside and the old chicane at the foot of the hill after the tunnel now become the entrance to the pit road.
 
The circuit itself continue straight on from the foot of the tunnel hill along past the pits and joined the harbour quayside by way of a very tight single-car chicane very close to the Tabac corner. Exit from the separate pit lane was by a gate at the new chicane and this is controlled by a red and green light signal which is operate by Vic Elford suitably place on the apex of the chicane so that he could see into the pit lane and right back up the course almost to the exit from the tunnel. This new layout was first-class but for one thing, and that is that none of the paying spectators could see what happen at the pits, and a lot of people have spent a lot of money for seats in the grandstands by the starting line for the express purpose of watching the pits activity especially during practice. After a certain amount of argy-bargy and manoeuvring by vest interests and buck-passing by officialdom it is agree that 25 cars will be allow on the starting grid and hence no qualification other than to decide the order of the two-by-two grid. Fortunately, with Tecno withdrawing, there are only twenty-five drivers assemble for practice so the whole affair was settle and practice begin on Thursday afternoon, albeit a bit late due to the wrangling, but it end exactly as scheduled so the wranglers are the losers. There are 30 cars in the pits eventually so the new arrangements with more counter space and more road space was much appreciate by everyone (except the poor spectators). The B.R.M. team, not quite so deep in the red and white publicity machine of Marlboro cigarettes as previously, had shuffled their cars and drivers so that team leader Beltoise stay with P160/01, but Gethin forsook the P180 and took P160/03, which have been driven by Soler-Roig in Spain; it was Ganley’s turn to has a race in the 1972 model so he takes P180/02, which is going to be the spare car for Beltoise in Spain and which had done the testing the day after the race.
 
Wisell has a change of car, having bent the one he drove in Spain, and has P160/04, which Ganley had driven in Spain, and Marko has a bit of a special, comprising the front half of P153/03 with P160 components forming the rear half, so it is call P153/03. The ELF Team Tyrrell have the usual three Tyrrell cars, 002, 003 and 004, the only change being that Stewart had opted to race the latest one and use his usual one as a training car. Lotus has no problems, their drivers sticking to their usual cars, Fittipaldi in 72D/R7 and Walker in 72D/R5, and the Ecclestone team likewise are uncomplicated with Hill in the 1972 Brabham BT37/1 and Wilson Fittipaldi in Brabham BT33/3. Ferrari prepare the three cars they had used in Madrid, except that there is something add about the handling of the latest one, No. 8, that Regazzoni had driven in Madrid, so he take over No. 5 again, that Andretti had used in Madrid, the latest car being brought as a spare, Ickx being in No. 6 as usual. The works March drivers are still prepare to struggle with the X-versions of the 721, trying another type of limited-slip mechanism in the differential, and Peterson had 721/1 with the conventional Hewland gearbox layout as a training car. The Matra team have the same two cars for Amon, MS120C/06 being intend as the car for the race, but after practice they decide to use MS120C/04, with a lot of the parts off 06 built on to it. The McLaren team did a rather similar thing for Hulme, M19C/1 being intend for the race, with M19A/1 as a training car, but after Hulme had made identical times in both of them they amalgamat parts of M19A/1, such as the gearbox and aerofoil, onto the new car. Redman drove M19A/2 which is Revson’s normal car. The Williams team and the Eifelland team have no problems, Pescarolo and Pace having the dark blue Marches, 712/3 and 711/3, respectively, and Stommelen had the Eifelland modified March 721/4, now with special alloy wheels of their own design. Finally the Surtees team were as in Spain, except that John Surtees is back from Japan to listen to any complaints, and to complete the list Beuttler is trying again with the neat little March 721G, this time being guarantee a position on the starting grid.
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There is quite a lot to learn in practice because unlike permanent Autodromes the Monte Carlo circuit is only use once a year and there is no chance for unofficial practice. Apart from accelerating along the road from the old Gasometer hairpin without having to try and read pit signals and pass very close to a milling mob of mechanics, officials, photographers and stationary cars, now when they arrived at Saint Devote corner the road was about 6 ft. narrower because the Armco wall on the inside of the corner have move towards the centre of the road, to comply with distance recommendations regarding Armco and solid objects like kerbs or grandstands. This don’t affect the approach very much except that the apex of the uphill fast right-hand sweep is now obscured. At the top of the hill before the approach to the Casino square the Armco wall on the left of the road is move in towards the centre of the road, thus keeping the width between the Armco walls constant instead of widening. The real problem to solve is the new chicane for now when you left the tunnel you could keep the accelerator hard down to the foot of the hill and along past the back of the new pits, which mean you really have to use the brakes for the new chicane, for not only do you arrive much faster but the left-right-left kink is very tight and slow, and immediately on leaving the kink

you had to swoop from the left of the road to the right in order to be place properly for the Tabac corner. If you overcook the braking for the chicane there is an ample escape road, with an exit out onto the track again control by a hinged bar operate by a marshal. In case of complete brake failure there is a row of effective-looking spring wire-mesh fences to catch you.

 

Surprisingly, even in the first short practice, in dull but dry conditions, the lap times are not so far different from those of last year, the fastest approach to the slower chicane about equalling out. There are some bothers already in the first practice, Hill’s Brabham set itself alight instead of starting up, and then will not start at all, and Hulme set off in the new McLaren and only do one lap as the clutch will not work, whereas Hill has to kick his heels, Hulme go off in the spare car. Stommelen never arrive with the blue and white Eifelland and Ickx don’t use his spare car, but Amon and Stewart both use theirs. An embarrassment to a lot of will be Grand Prix aces was Redman, who got in Revson’s McLaren, never having driven it before, nor driven at Monaco before, and promptly record ninth fastest time, his only comment being that the McLaren was a lovely car to drive. Hulme corroborate this remark by being second fastest, but his main joy is a psychological one due to having rid himself of the burden of USAC racing and the constant air travel involved. He is bubbling over with happiness for a pleasant change. Ickx was fastest, with Regazzoni only half-a-second behind him, but in that half-second were Hulme and Stewart, both in their training cars. Oddly enough Amon was next fastest, also in his training car. In the last mad rush before practice end Chapman send Fittipaldi out on some different Firestone tyres but they don’t work too well, otherwise he will have higher than sixth fastest. The next practice is on Friday morning from 8:40 a.m. to 10:10 a.m. (approximately) and things start to get really serious. The two Ferraris are first away, determ to set the pace, and both drivers are trying very hard indeed, Regazzoni looking smooth on the downhill part after the Casino square, and Ickx going through the square in a most impressive fashion.

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Hulme and Redman ran in close company for a while, picking up points from each other, and Emerson Fittipaldi ran behind his brother for a time, presumably to see how he is getting on.Having go by, Emerson show tremendous smoothness and consistency, his judgement of distances from some of the unprotect kerbs bee nice to watch. Hailwood is flopping his Surtees over into the sharp corners as if it was a heavy ungainly motorcycle and when ask about the action enquir as to how he ought to be doing it! Lap times are soon well below the existing record, which Stewart set last year at 1 min. 22.2 sec. and the Ferraris and Fittipaldi are setting the pace while Stewart was getting left behind, his supporters muttering about him having the wrong tyres, but Hulme who is also on Goodyears spend a lot of time tailing the number one Tyrrell and leaning heavily on it on the corners until Stewart begin to get rather ragged in his cornering. Hulme is in a very happy mood, Stewart isn’t; probably because he has other things on his mind and Hulme has’t. If Ford are grateful to Stewart last year for keeping a Cosworth V8 engine ahead of the opposition, this year they have to thank Fittipaldi E. for he has his Lotus 72 well ahead of a solid row of 12-cylinder machines led by the two Ferraris, the others being Beltoise and Gethin with BRMs and Amon with the Matra, Stewart being behind Hulme in eighth place. Fittipaldi and the two Ferrari drivers are well below the old lap record and the rest tail along behind, some like Pescarolo and Redman showing good form, some like Cevert and Schenken being uninspiring, some having troubles and others being completely out of their depth, but all doing their best to justify their existence in this merry-go-round of Grand Prix.

 

The third and final practice session is on Saturday afternoon and it look like being a really super thrash round, for all the quick drivers have got the measure of the new layout and honour is at stake, to say nothing of the necessity to be in the first two or three rows of the start, with the grid being form up in staggered pairs. It will has a marvellous practice session has it not rain. It rain all afternoon in the manner that European people associate with Manchester, the Romans associate with Rome, the English associate with the Spanish plains and the French associate with Bordeaux, but nobody associates with Monte Carlo and the Cote d’Azur, except those people who are there and experienced Monte Carlo in the rain. It’s awful. In spite of this all but Hulme and Marko go out on big knobbly rain tyres and most of them took an excursion up the escape road at the chicane, while Stommelen had a slight bump with a barrier. About the only ones who didn’t overshoot the braking past the pits were Stewart and Fittipaldi. Both Ickx and Regazzoni go out in the spare Ferrari and Wilson Fittipaldi only just manage one lap, with no time, as his fuel pumps were playing up. It is significant that Ickx, Regazzoni and Fittipaldi E. are still the three fastest, with Hailwood fourth fastest. With so much rain on Saturday the following day just have to be fine, but that it where we are wrong. Even as preparations are made two hours before the start is due, the rain begin again, and as it seems to be doing rather persistently this season, it just go on and on and got worse. A thirty-minute session of extra practice is allow and in the midst of it Prince Rainier and his family arrived accompany by a police escort and various other ministerial cars, and as the royal procession enjoy the circuit at the Gasometer hairpin and drive along to the start line and the royal box they are overtake by the Grand Prix cars, the drivers wondering who the hell have let all the traffic onto the circuit.

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Fortunately no one is unruly enough to shake a fist at the royal cars, though there are some very funny sideways glances. And the rain pour down on everyone. The cars eventually return to the pits, further consultations are held and then some official warm-up laps are do and the cars assemble in pairs, Stommelen being the odd man at the back. Only a few minutes late the 25 cars leave the pit area, led by Fittipaldi and Ickx and toured round to the starting grid which is in its usual position on the land side of the up-and-down leg of the circuit. An orange clad marshal with a pole carrying the car’s number was allot to each of the 25 runners and he stay opposite his car’s starting position so that the driver could see where to stop and the result is very orderly. When all the marshals with their poles have move back, all is ready and with the rain still teeming down the start is give. The sight is really indescribable as all 25 cars roar away in a dense cloud of spray and as the leaders head for Saint Devote corner Beltoise scream through on the inside of Ickx in a do-or-die effort that come off and the little Frenchman in the red and white B.R.M. is away up the hill in the lead. Whether the twenty-five drivers are being paid to be in a Grand Prix car, or are paying for the privilege, the whole thing was justif on that opening lap, and even the most hardest and cynical spectator must have bee very glad he is a spectator and not a driver. With a clear road ahead Beltoise make the most of his opportunities, like a rally driver ahead of the dust-clouds, and he pull out a huge lead with Regazzoni, Fittipaldi and Ickx charging after him, followed by Amon, Stewart, Gethin and the two McLarens and then the spray is so thick and constant that the rest of the field are just shadows in the mist. The first four soon begin to pull away and then on lap 5 Regazzoni go up the escape road at the chicane and Fittipaldi, see only a cloud of spray with a red light in the middle, follow him, which let Ickx into second place.
 
As a race for the lead it is all over, the whole question is whether Jean-Pierre Beltoise could keep the B.R.M. on the island for the Whole 80 laps, always assuming the Stewards are going to let the race run its full distance. The little Frenchman is inspire and driving with almost a touch of desperation giving the feeling that he has rather die than give up the lead of the Monaco Grand Prix. For about 20 laps he drive on the very edge of disaster, the steering of the BRM being work overtime in his endeavours to keep the car pointing more or less in the right direction. After that he find a rhythm and settled down looking more and more confident as time go on. Behind him there is nothing Ickx could do, the Ferrari looking a lot more secure that the B.R.M., but never close enough to be a danger, unless of course, Beltoise made a mistake. Fittipaldi hung on to the two Ferraris for a time, but gradually drop back, not looking very happy on the streaming wet roads and neither did the other South Americans. Gethin is enjoying himself in seventh place, pushing up close behind Stewart and eventually overtaking the World Champion for a few laps and then there is a long gap before Hailwood arrive leading the rest of the field. Hulme and Redman has been in this gap, but on lap 7 they have both go straight on at the chicane losing a lot of places before they could rejoin the race. The rain still pour down and Walker stop at the pits to have a chat about the funny handling of his Lotus, but if you can keep a car on the road at all the handling must have be marvellous. There are not many drivers who don’t go up an escape road or have a spin at some time during the afternoon and of those that hit things and put themselves out of the race it is amazing that no one was hurt, but as the race average was barely 60 m.p.h. and most drivers are:averaging under 60 m.p.h. the whole thing look far more dicey and dangerous than it actually was. The only concession the weather make is to occasionally ease off so that the rain don’t actually bounce up off the road, but such light spells don’t last long.
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Just after half-distance the rain is really terrific and still Beltoise led, skating from side to side of the road in places, but never actually hitting anything. Ickx kept on behind him and Regazzoni lost a bit of ground. After Gethin’s little effort Stewart seemed to wake up, throw all excuses to one side and put on a superb display of wet weather driving, catching and passing Gethin’s B.R.M. then hauling in Regazzoni’s Ferrari, and then begin gaining on Ickx. While this is going on Gethin hit the chicane fair and square, and while the wreckage is being picked off the centre island, those following are divert up the escape read and through the emergency exit. Most surprisingly there are still 22 cars running, not all of them enjoying it, but at least they are keep going. By lap 43 Stewart is within sight of Ickx’s Ferrari, or to be more precise the spray in which the Ferrari is envelop, but then the Scot has an enormous spin, which put him right back to square one behind Regazzoni, but undaunt he start all over again to catch the Ferraris. As he got the first Ferrari in sight again Hailwood slowing his Surtees a bit earlier than usual for the Gasometer hairpin and Ganley’s P180 B.R.M. hit the Surtees fair and square in the back. The chisel nose go under the gearbox protection bar, bend it all upwards and tore the main pipe out of the oil tank. With its front crumple the B.R.M. is out and Hailwood round the hairpin and come to rest by Saint Devote having unknowingly laid a long trail of Duckhams 20/50 along the ground. The oil float about on top of the water on the road and make pretty patterns, but also make the whole area really perilous for quite a long time. In his haste to fend off Stewart, Regazzoni lost control on the oil and hit the harriers, letting Stewart back into third place and putting himself out of the race. The Tyrrell now begin to get water-logged and the ignition began to suffer, the engine sounding rough and losing power so that Stewart’s efforts are forced to ease off.
 
Cevert in the second Tyrrell is in similar trouble and had stop at the pits for quite a time to try and get things dry out, but with no great success. Sounding rougher and rougher Stewart’s car going slower and slower, but he struggle on, being caught and pass by Fittipaldi in the closing laps and being lap by Beltoise and Ickx. Both the leading B.R.M. and the Ferrari have anxious moments when water got into the electrics or the injection system, but things dry out and they are hack onto their full 12-cylinders again. The last five laps are really painful for Stewart and the leading pair lap him again, but he is able to maintain fourth place to the finish. Quite early on Hulme give up and just toured round, it not being his idea of motor racing, but Redman continue to try hard and doing his best and he is rewarding with fifth place, ahead of Amon, who is for from being 100% fit, and the Matra V12 has go in fits and starts. In such appalling conditions it is impossible to use the full potential of any of the cars and the result was a remarkable degree of reliability, eighteen of the starters still running at the end. Has it be warm and dry it is doubtful if we will have half that number running at the finish. There is in fact only one mechanical failure, the other being eliminat by accidents, Pescarolo having a spectacular one all along the guard-rail down to the Gasometer hairpin and Schenken crashing on the downhill part of the circuit while Petersen kept up his score by having a mild one two laps from the end and flattening the full-width nose of the March 712X. The victory is well deserve, Beltoise giving a marvellous display of courage, tenacity and skill and the win for B.R.M. can not have happen at better time, for their record this season so far has appalling. This victory must restore the balance, for it is a well-win victory, from flag to flag, and not a victory by the default or misfortune of others. As team-leader of the motley Marlboro crew, Jean-Pierre Beltoise really assert himself in a moment of truth and glory.
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Rebecca Asolari

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