#216 1972 German Grand Prix

2022-02-02 23:00

Array() no author 82025

#1972, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Siria Famulari,

#216 1972 German Grand Prix

With the 1972 season passing its midway point Grand Prix races are happening with great rapidity, be hold every alternate weekend, so that there is li


On Saturday 22 July 1972, at midday, forty cars will start the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen which last year saw the Alfa Romeo of Andrea de Adamich teamed with Ronnie Peterson triumphant ahead of two Porsche 917 Ks. This could be the turn of Ferrari, present with three cars that have now won the World Championship, driven by Mario Andretti and Ickx, Arturo Merzario and Redman, Ronnie Peterson and Tim Schenken. The winner of this 6 hours will earn only 5000 dollars, compared to the 13,000 that the winner of the Can Am (which will take place on Sunday afternoon) will take away in the prestigious million dollar race. In practice, the Ferraris responded well to expectations, while the two Mirage Gufis with Bell and Carlos Pace, Van Lennep and Adamowicz set times almost similar to those of the Ferrari. The scorching temperature of these last few days could influence the final result, but it does not keep away tens of thousands of spectators who set up tents, campsites and invade the areas surrounding the racetrack which three weeks earlier had been hit by a hurricane which flooded the entire area of Pennsylvania and northern New York. The Ferraris could also participate in Sunday's Can-Am if - as engineer Cabri says - they finish in good condition and in first position. Then the drivers and some mechanics will return to Italy while Mario Andretti will remain in the United States and will test the new Firestone tires, prepared for the new racing car under construction in Maranello. Having made the necessary conditions, on Saturday 22 July 1972 the World Sports Championship ended with yet another one-two for Ferrari. First Andretti-lckx, second Peterson-Schenken. The third 312-P, entrusted to Merzario-Redman, was forced to retire due to engine problems. That of the Maranello team is a sensational result: out of eleven races, ten successes (Ferrari did not participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which was won by Matra-Simca), with even a poker at Zeltweg, and the conquest of the title already at the seventh race (the Targa Florio). An overwhelming supremacy, which easily overcame rival brands - Alfa Romeo, Lola and Gulf-Mirage in particular - and which materialized with the acquisition of 208 out of 220 points available in the championship. 


Even the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen was no exception: the suspense was offered not by the Ferrari-Gulf Mirage fight (the English brand lined up two cars with Van Lennep-Adamowicz and Bell-Pace), but by the challenge between the 312- P of Andretti-lckx and Peterson-Schenken. Bell-Pace's Gulf Mirage reached the finish line third, but 14 laps behind and after many problems, while Van Lennep's was forced to retire due to a fire caused by an overheating engine. The race was resolved in the very last laps. Peterson-Schenken were in the lead in the last hour with about thirty seconds of advantage over Andretti-lckx, slightly held back by vapor-lock phenomena caused by the high ambient temperature. Andrettl, on his home track, managed to catch up with Peterson and overtake him, then stopped in the garage to refuel. The Swede returned to the lead, while Ickx replaced the Italian American. On lap 180, six seconds separated the Belgian from Peterson, on lap 185 they were together, on lap 186 Ickx took the lead, closing the race with a sprint that guaranteed him the 5,000 dollar prize. Also on Sunday 30 July 1972 there will be three Ferraris who will take to the track in the German Grand Prix, the eighth round of the Formula 1 World Championship which now seems to be in the hands of Emerson Fittipaldi. Jackie Ickx, Arturo Merzario and the returning Clay Regazzoni will bring the Maranello challenge to the Brazilian and Lotus, as well as Jackie Stewart and Tyrrell, always protagonists of these races which consume cars and men in two hours with their overwhelming pace. Not since the Spanish Grand Prix had three red 312-B 2s been fielded together by Ferrari. Then they were driven by Ickx, Regazzoni and Andretti. For the Italian-American it was the last participation in a Formula 1 race: commitments with the US championship affected his program. Ickx and Regazzoni tested themselves in Monaco and Belgium, then the Swiss fractured his wrist in a simple accident and his place was taken first by Galli (in France) and then by Merzario (Great Britain). Arturo has now been reconfirmed, and he deserves it for the good performance he provided at Brands Hatch. A test not only of combativeness, but also of maturity and skill. If we can expect another demonstration of skill from Merzario and from Ickx, in a moment of particular flair, the most vigorous attack on Fittipaldi and Stewart, we cannot expect too much from Regazzoni. 


Clay returns after a month of inactivity and his desire to win is tempered by his newly restored wrist. Professor Gai, of the Rizzoli institute in Bologna, judged the driver to be clinically healed and perfectly fit to race and Regazzoni himself, after a test on the Fiorano track at the wheel of the 312-B2, confirmed to Ferrari that he was at ease.


"We only advised him to rely on his common sense. If he doesn't feel it, no race, or if he feels pain during the race, stop at the garage. Nobody will criticize him".


An extremely responsible attitude from Ferrari. The three 312-B2s will not present any particular changes compared to the British Grand Prix. The Maranello team's technicians have identified the fault that forced Ickx to interrupt his fabulous ride ahead of Fittipaldi and Stewart at Brands Hatch: it was a broken tooth on the pinion, a key element of the differential unit.


"It wasn't a bad thing".


Say the Ferrari mechanics, who make due conjurations for this and any other possible sudden betrayals. In fact, today the 312-B2 is back at the top, or almost, of Formula 1, placing itself at the level of Colin Chapman's JPS-Lotus and Ken Tyrrell's Tyrrell. Indeed, in England Ickx had managed to lead the race in the first girls, despite the handicap of the greater weight caused by the greater quantity of petrol needed by the 12-cylinder boxer compared to the 8-cylinder Ford-Cosworth adopted by Lotus and Tyrrell, and then to progressively distance both Fittipaldi and Stewart. The 480-485 HP of the boxer constitute a record for Formula 1 (the Cosworths deliver 460-465 HP) and the weight - 560 kg - is very low. The vibration, tire and suspension problems seem to have been resolved and the car has regained the balance that it had unfortunately lacked last year and in the first months of this year. There are therefore good possibilities for a prestigious result, which rewards the progress made by Ferrari in Formula 1, after having dominated the World Sports Championship with the three-litre 312-P sports cars. In Maranello they are very cautious and the motto is:


"Let's not fool ourselves".


However, both the qualities of the drivers and the characteristics of the car compared to the circuit lead to optimism. Their opponents aren't joking and at Ferrari they fear the Stewart-Tyrrell pairing (the Scotsman will still have an old-style car) more than the Fittipaldi-Lotus pairing, why? The Scot's greater knowledge of the Nurburgring and its 22 km of ups and downs and sometimes slow, sometimes very fast corners. In the past there have been splendid duels between Stewart and Ickx: Jackie against Jackie, this could be the gist of a German Grand Prix that promises to be balanced and electrifying. A very full entry arrive in the Nurburgring paddock for the German Grand Prix and they are all on time and ready to go, for the 22.835-kilometre circuit round the Eifel mountains is not one to be taken lightly. The Ferrari team have been testing some weeks earlier and, in conjunction with the Firestone tyre engineers, have come to the conclusion that the layout and geometry of the rear suspension isn’t all it might be, so the revise layout that appear at Clermont-Ferrand is design, and they are now keen to see if it is as equally successful on the Nurburgring. Chief engineer Forghieri is paying a visit to the German race to watch developments as he isn’t convince they have got the right answer to the rear wheel movement, though it appears to be a reasonable one. Regazzoni is fit once more, his broken wrist mended, so the team is up to full strength, with Ickx in car number 5, Regazzoni in car number 7 and Merzario in car number 8, there being no spare car. The black Team Lotus has their usual three cars, R5 and R7, both with the taper oil tank and single oil radiator under the small aerofoil tor Fittipaldi, and R6 with the old twin oil-radiator layout for Walker. With Revson racing in a USAC track race, Redman take over his car in the McLaren team, the original M19A/1, while Hulme as usual had M19C/1. 


The car that Redman crashes at Clermont-Ferrand have’t been rebuilt, and probably never will be, as the little Colnbrook factory is busy with a full programme of racing and are concentrating on finishing off a new C-series car, rather than spent time repairing one of last year’s models. The B.R.M. team are looking a lot more organize, which please their faithful supporters, and have three drivers and four cars. The drivers are Beltoise, Ganley and Wisell and the cars are all P160 models, and are all using the new layout of duct oil radiators on the sides of the monocoque, giving a cleaner air-flow to the rear aerofoil. This experiment is tried at the British Grand Prix and in addition to improved down-thrust at the rear gave lower oil temperature, so the layout is adopt on all the cars. Beltoise has his usual car P160/01, Ganley has P160/06 and Wisell has P160/05 while P160/03 is the spare car. The Tyrrell team have done a fantastic amount of work in a very short space of time for the British Grand Prix see them with Cevert's car bent when he crashes, and then bend some more when Peterson runs into it, and the new car crashes in practice by Stewart. Although, the new car 005 was repaired it isn’t taken to Germany, and Stewart uses 003, his 1971 car, with 004 as a spare, and Cevert has his usual car 002 completely new after its Brands Hatch crashes. Matra has straightened out their new car MS120D/07 after its Brands Hatch crashes and Amon is confident once more and ready to try really hard, and the old car MS120C/04 is there just in Case of emergency, but he don’t intend to drive it unless it is absolutely necessary. Peterson and Lauda have the two Formula Two-based March cars, as in previous races, the former with 721G/3 and the latter with 721G/4, both looking like brand-new, while Beuttler had 721G/1, the original idea car in this March-design offshoot. Bernard Ecclestone’s team of white Brabhams are as before, with Reutemann in BT37/2, Hill in BT37/1 and Wilson Fittipaldi in last year's car BT34/1, the last car retain the lower wishbone rear suspension layout for driver preference, the other two having the parallel link layout first try at Clermont-Ferrand. Schenken, Hailwood and de Adamich represent the Surtees factory, in the usual cars, the first-name has a bit of a repaint as one of its sponsors have use up his agreed time of two races. 


The Frank Williams team are just about keeping pace mending cars as fast as Pescarolo wrecks them, and have their March 721/3 already again, having been completely rebuilt round a new monocoque, and Pace has the March 711/3 as usual. The brand new Politoys Special, crashes at Brands Hatch, is still in pieces back at the works. Stommelen has the blue and white Eifelland March, possibly on its last outing as such, for the owner has sold his Eifelland Caravan business and the new owner did not seem keen on motor racing. To complete this enormous field is Bell with the flat-12-cylinder Tecno, now with Tauranac-inspired front suspension, to match the new rear end it has at Brands Hatch, the front wishbones have a wider base with more fore-and-aft rigidity, and more vertical movement. To complete the official list there is Dave Charlton with his Lotus 72D/R3, having one last go at European racing before returning home to South Africa for his national Formula One season. In the paddock there is the Connew, which appears briefly at Brands Hatch, this small private group arrive on spec, hoping they may join in, but the organizer’s refuse them permission on the grounds of it being an unknown car with an inexperienced driver, the Nurburgring not being the place for such a combination to start Grand Prix racing. There are two sessions of practice on Friday and two objectives for drivers to aim for, one is grid position and the other is to qualify for the grid. With Grand Prix cars, getting wider and starting areas remaining the same width, the number of cars considered to be safe on the front row keeps diminishing, and this year only two are to be permit, so that fastest practice time and second fastest are going to be all-important. In addition the field is going to be limit to 25 cars, so the slowest two drivers will be out. For such a long and difficult circuit the first session of just over one hour seems ridiculously short but even so a lot of activity is pack into it. When the B.R.M. for Beltoise was brought to the pits it was found to have a leaking connection in one of its fuel tanks, so he promptly take the spare car, and everyone else was soon out on the circuit. The lap record for the cleaned-up circuit was set last year in the race by Cevert with a time of 7'20"1 in the Tyrrell 002, and the Frenchman shows it wasn’t fluke by recording 7'19"7 in the same car quite soon in this practice. 


However, Stewart is in even better form and recorded 7'17"2 and the only other driver to get below the old record was Peterson, with 7'19"5, the F2-base March proving to be about right for flinging round the twists and corners of the Nurburgring, in the sideways motions that the Swede enjoys. On the very fast approach to the Aremberg corner, a small shower of rain dampen the road surface and Walker spin off on it and brake the left rear corner of his Lotus 72 and shortly afterwards Merzario lost his Ferrari and hit the bank, a bit further on, on the descent into the Fuchsrohre, while Charlton has a big slide at the point where Walker crashes, but got away with it. Although the session is short most people are able to get into contact with the circuit and set themselves a standard. Two hours later, practice begin again and the two crashed cars are return and are back in the garage workshops, but the rebuilding is going to take some time. The time-keeping in the morning hasn't been beyond suspicion, some official corrections having to be made to the published results. In the afternoon it is little better, and one source of confusion is that Stewart’s blue Tyrrell is #1 and Cevert’s identical car is #7. Add to this, the system whereby a driver can take the short-loop round the North Curve before setting off on a full lap and it can be appreciate that the time-keepers don’t have an easy task. Cars can pass them starting a full lap, finishing a full lap, finishing a short-loop run and starting a full lap, finishing a full lap in the pit-lane or finishing a short-loop in the pit-lane and there is no way of knowing exactly what the driver is doing until the times records at each passing are analyze. 


The result of all this is that many people in the pits time Stewart to be going very fast ind, while officially it is Cevert who go very fast. However, there isn't any argument about the speed at which Ickx is going, the Ferrari being well set-up for the Nurburgring. He makes all previous fast laps look pathetic with a time of 7'10"0, but towards the end of the practice it is generally agree that Stewart is equally fast, but officially he is given 7'16"4, while Cevert is given 7'12"2. The Frenchman is going fast, without a doubt, but whether it is that fast we shall never know, for as he aviates over the brow after Pflanzgarten, he lands badly and crashes into the barrier, escaping unhurt but Tyrrell 002 is bend around the cockpit and the suspension units broken, entailing another extensive rebuild. The McLaren team are also hard at work, for practice have barely begin when Redman spin and hit the barriers coming out of the South Curve, just as he is about to set off on the full circuit, so M19A/1 is in for a pretty extensive rebuild. The way the racing mechanics manage to straighten everything out, working in a paddock lock-up with the equipment and spares they carry in their transporters, is nothing short of amazing. Once again the time-keepers have to have two goes at getting the results of practice sort out correctly, and the official order is lckx, Cevert, Fittipaldi, Stewart, Amon, Peterson, Reutemann, while Hulme and Stommelen just scraps under the old record. The confirmation of the healing of the left wrist for Clan Regazzoni, the proof of his skill on the Nurburgring circuit for Jackie Ickx and the emotion of a flight off the track at 260 km/h for Arturo Merzario: these for the three Ferrari drivers involved in the challenge to Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi, are the salient facts of the first day of training for the German Grand Prix. A cold day, with sprinkles of rain, in which everyone dedicated themselves to setting up the single-seaters. Regazzoni is in a good mood. He is pleased to return to this world which for its protagonists has the effect of a drug.


"I lost two important races for Ferrari and for me. The 312-B2 had improved and therefore I could have obtained some positive results. I didn't know Clermont-Ferrand, but at Brands Hatch I could have joined that fantastic three-way fight between Ickx, Fittipaldi and Stewart. I was content to watch it on television. Indeed, my friends from Swiss TV hired me as a commentator: I commented on the races in France and Great Britain from the studios in Lugano and I enjoyed witnessing the exploits of my colleagues".


The Swiss driver, who brought Ferrari an unforgettable success in the Italian Grand Prix in 1070, has his left wrist protected by a special plastic bracelet. A month earlier he broke it playing football with the mechanics during the tests for the Austrian 1000 km in Zeltweg. The fracture has healed and the x-ray tests carried out in recent days in Bologna have given Regazzoni the all clear.


"I'm doing re-education exercises with special tools. Anyway. I move my fingers freely and my wrist doesn't bother me. I might as well take off my bracelet. But I prefer to protect my forearm from possible blows. This is a circuit where you skip all the moments".


The month of forced rest recharged Regazzoni morally, who played tennis and was with his wife and children in Milano Marittima. The conversation turned to the future, and Clay still seemed uncertain about the path to take: stay at Ferrari or change team?


"I would like to stay in Maranello where I have always felt comfortable. However, the simultaneous commitment in Formula 1 and Sports is truly tiring. Competitions with Sports are very tough. There are easier types of racing, such as Formula 2. Well, I would like to do Formula 1 and Formula 2, and nothing else. I hope to be able to reach an agreement in this sense with Ferrari".


Ickx instead talks about the Nurburgring, a circuit congenial to him, the scene of an epic battle with Stewart in 1969. That year the Belgian was racing with Brabham.


"It's a track where you struggle a lot. One lap is 22km long and there is no stopping time. You have to find a certain rhythm and try to maintain it at every step. The ups and downs and curves are continuous, while the road surface is undulating like that of the desert tracks in Africa".


Finally, Merzario. The Italian driver who receives the combativeness award given to him at Brands Hatch in memory of Jo Siffert has been through dramatic moments.


"I arrived in fifth gear, that is, at 250-260 km/h, on a stretch of asphalt on which a downpour had poured. In the transition from dry to wet, the 312-B2 skidded and lifted. I traveled about fifty meters as if I were in a plane and ended up sideways against an embankment. I crawled for five hundred metres, went back down into the meadow next to the track and hit a drainage ditch. Result: the right front and rear suspensions and the wheels broke. Quite a problem. Before that damned point there was a signal station, but no one warned me of the trap".


Dave Walker, in the Lotus, also went off the road in the same place, damaging the suspension. On Saturday, there is a full two hours of practice from 1:20 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. on paper, but it all runs a bit late. Redman’s McLaren is repaired, the method used to remove the dent in the monocoque making honest tool-room and jig workers wince with pain. Walker’s Lotus is ready again and Merzario’s Ferrari is having the finishing touches put to it. Cevert’s Tyrrell is still being work upon so he take out 004, with the number 7T on it, as Stewart is content to concentrate on 003. This time Ickx is really out to show who is ringmaster and he is soon lapping in the 7'10"0 bracket, but there is more to come as the Ferrari mechanics make fine adjustments to the mixture control setting of the fuel injection. Peterson is still in fine charging farm, going as fast as ever, but Lauda has to miss this last practice as there is something wrong with the fuel system on his March, which turn out to be a faulty non-return valve in the central fuel collector tank, so that air isn’t being expel and fuel can’t get in from the side tanks. Merzario’s Ferrari is bring up from the paddock and he tries it round the short-loop expressing satisfaction with it, but the engineers know they still have to line the wheels up correctly for camber and toe-in, and set about doing this in the pit road. The overall pace is really hotting up and beating Cevert’s old lap record of 7'20"1 is for the beginners, the real aces are aiming to beat 7'10"0 Wilson Fittipaldi’s practice end abruptly on the return leg behind the pits when his engine broke, while his young brother is going steadily faster and faster, trying to use the Lotus 72 to its full potential. 


The rug Argentinian Carlos Reutemann is really taking to Formula One on the Nurburgring and is making a lot of publicize heroes look a bit silly, getting his Brabham round in 7'12"4 and that other South American racer, Carlos Pace, got his March round in 7'16"6, his Williams teammate Pescarolo doing an exciting lap in 7'14"4, that many people feel is driving beyond his capabilities. Traveling fast up the leg behind the pits Hulme has a remarkable happening, far something falls off the car in front of him and Graham Hill (nobody notices who it is and nobody claims to have lost anything). Hill misses the object but Hulme hits it and whatever it is it shot past the cockpit arid slices the right rear tyre completely off the rim in an instant, and the McLaren skates along on three tyres and the bare rim, giving the Armco a slight clout as it come to rest, so there is more repair work for the McLaren team. Hulme has been going well and has recorded a lap in 7'14"5, but the way things are progressing among the aces, this isn’t in the running. Ickx is consistently below 7'10"0 and ends up with a shattering 7'07"0. Ickx isn’t alone in those last-minute heroics, for Stewart is well under 7'10"0, and right at the end of practice got one in at 7'08"7, a mere 1.7 sec, slower in more than seven minutes of 100% concentrate high-speed driving. These are the undisputed ringmasters and Fittipaldi join them with a lap in 7'09"9, a praiseworthy effort for the newcomer but it causes Chapman to remark only two seconds behind now. Anyone worth his place in Grand Prix racing should have been below the old lap record by now, apart from those like Merzario and Redman, whose progress have come to an abrupt halt, and the starting-grid times and positions on the two-by-two line up tell their own story. Bell has been finding that the front and rear suspensions on the Tecno seems to be working well, but they don’t seem to be joined together well enough, so perhaps Tauranac will have a go at the bit in between his two modifications before the Italian GP. The Pederzani flat-12-cylinder engine seems to be going quite well, although it blew a cylinder head join in this last practice session, necessitating the fitting of another engine. Charlton is getting nowhere in his third European outing, suffering from G-sickness, though the car is healthy enough, and Beuttler’s March is plague with bother in a new fuel system; consequently these two drivers are at the bottom of the list and are posted as non-starters. 


After negotiations with the AvD Oberfuhrer and help a member of the Csi it is agree that they can both start, but will not be pay to starting money. Early on Sunday morning there is a short free practice on the pits-loop for anyone who want to make last-minute adjustments, especially useful for Cevert to try his rebuilt Tyrrell and Lauda to try his unblock fuel system. Pre-race preparation is a leisurely affair as the German Grand Prix isn’t due to start until 1:00 p.m. The distance have been change from the 12 laps of last year to 14 laps this year, and no-one complained, it finally sinking into some thick heads that Grand Prix racing is been heading to being written grand prix racing. In good time, ever one move up into the pit lane and the enormous crowd of nearly a quarter of a million wait expectantly for a classic German Grand Prix, and they don’t wait in vain. From the pits, everyone go off on a warm-up lap, but not everyone got back to the starting area, for the ignition died on the Matra V12 and poor Amon had to be towed back to the pits. With full tanks the Matras has scraping the ground in the dips, and something have been scoop up into the flywheel housing and had damaged the static ignition-pick-up. While the French mechanics search for the trouble and then fitted a new contact, the other 26 competitors line up for the start, with Ickx and Stewart at the front, with Fittipaldi and Peterson behind them and Beuttler at the back. Outstanding is Reutemann’s position in the third row. Conditions are perfect for racing, warm and dry and not too bright, and as the starter made the unusual maneuver of raising the flag on high, all 26 cars surge forward, with Peterson joining the front row on the extreme left. Fittipaldi getting between Stewart and Ickx and Regazzoni making a superb start and tucking in behind his team-mate. As they race for the narrowing road entering the South Curve, Peterson, Stewart, Fittipaldi and Ickx were side-by-side and somebody had to give way. Peterson’s March was bumping tyres with Stewart’s Tyrrell, and the Scot lifts off early, while Fittipaldi give best to Ickx, which let Regazzoni nip by. Peterson decides lckx has he better line for the corner so content himself with second position and they stream up behind the pits and away on the opening lap in the order Ickx, Peterson, Regazzoni, Fittipaldi, Stewart, Reutemann, Pescarolo and Cevert. With a clear road ahead Ickx is away, and he is already 3 seconds ahead at the end of the opening lap, with the standing start lap time of 7'29"1. 


After all 26 cars are going by and are out of earshot on their second lap the Matra V12 burst into life and Amon screams off from the pits in a vain chase, already a lap and a half down. The sound of the Matra exhaust can be heard for miles as it sped after the field, on its lonely way over the Flugplatz and open fields towards the descent to Adenau while the rest were climbing up towards the Karussel. By the time they reach the observation post in the Hohe-Acht area Fittipaldi has find a way past Regazzoni’s Ferrari, moving into third place behind Peterson who is really on form. This give at the Brazilian a lap in 7'22"6, but Ickx is even quicker in 7'20"7 and as he pass the pits he cockes his head sideways to look in the mirror to see how close his nearest rival was, but Peterson has not yet appeared in sight. On the third lap, the race took up a distinct pattern, with Ickx out on his own, his Ferrari sounding very strong, then come Peterson with the black and gold Lotus of Fittipaldi right behind the March, and a little way back Stewart had his Tyrrell pressing hard on the tail of Regazzoni’s Ferrari, but unlike Fittipaldi the Scot could not find a way by the swarthy Swiss. Reutemann follows in a firm sixth place, followed by Pescarolo holding seventh place after a good start. After a fair gap came Cevert, Hailwood, Schenken, Beltoise, Stommelen, Hulme and Ganley in a tight procession, all hoping to lead it and become a rather uninspiring eighth overall. The real aces are putting on such pressure at the front that the mid-field runners are completely over-shadowed. Wisell is running on his own and Pace stopped at the pits as it feel as though the car is falling apart. It jacks up and shakes and kicks but nothing seems to be falling off so he goes on his way. Another bunch are racing merrily among themselves for the honour of sixteenth position, and these are Merzario, Redman, Lauda, W. Fittipaldi, de Adamich and Hill, while Charlton, Beuttler and Walker are bringing up the rear ahead of a depress Bell in the Tecno, which isn’t going at all well, and when they have all gone the lonely Amon screams by, but he is not going to repeat his Clermont-Ferrand performance for the incentive isn’t there. This third lap see Ickx and Fittipaldi set a join new lap record with a time of 7'19"0, but the Ferrari already have a lead of nearly ten seconds over the Lotus, and as the fuel load lightened it go faster and faster, while Fittipaldi has the problem of trying to get past Peterson, who is drive on the inspire limit to retain his second place. The fourth lap see a number of the lesser lights fall by the wayside. 


Wisell stopping out on the circuit with a broken engine. Lauda stopping at the pits with oil leaking from a split tank, and Charlton become overcome by his sickness once again, while the Tecno only just complete four laps before the engine brake internally and water spew out of one of the inlet trumpets. Ickx do his fourth lap in 7'16"7, which settle any more nonsense about sharing the new lap record, but during the fifth lap Fittipaldi got by Peterson, but he is never going to catch lckx, who is now well out of sight in front of him. Stewart is still looking in vain for the way past Regazzoni, so is still in fifth place, while Reutemann and Pescarolo are comfortably sixth and seventh. Pace makes a return to the pits now knowing what is wrong for the front anti-roll have broken in two, the feeling he has had earlier being the beginnings of a weld join breaking up, and his mechanics set about fitting a new bar. Stommelen’s electrics have go on the blink and he is heading slowly back to the pits and Walker is concerned about a low oil pressure reading on his gauge. On lap 6 Ickx lower the record to 7'16"2 and his immediate pursuers are unchanged, but as Reutemann starts lap 7 his Brabham make sounds of jumping out of gear, or clutch slip, and it isn’t surprise to hear he has stops half-way round the lap with no drive to the rear wheels. Walker comes into the pits and a leak at the top of the oil tank is find, which is letting oil escape as it is pumped back from the engine, so his race is ruin. The half-way point is reach without further drama and Ickx has the race in his pocket, providing the Ferrari don’t leave him down and behind him Fittipaldi is getting away from Peterson who is trouble by his left-front wheel vibrating badly on right hand bends. Stewart seems to have given up all hope of getting past Regazzoni’s Ferrari and the rest are playing follow-my-leader though any sort of fast lap round the Nurburgring, even those of the tail-enders, calls for so much concentration and effort, that there is not much left in reserve for wheel-to-wheel battling as on an Autodrome. Ickx isn’t slackening the pace having got into a splendid swinging stride, and his eighth lap is another new record in 7'14"7 and at the end of this lap both Cevert and Schenken stops to have a tyre change and are soon back in the race. 


At the end of lap 9 Ickx is 15 seconds ahead of Fittipaldi, who no longer has Peterson following him, for while braking heavily for the hairpin before the climb up to the Karussel, the March has lockes a front brake and spin along the road, doing no damage, and continuing but letting Regazzoni and Stewart go by into third and fourth places, and further down the field Hailwood’s Surtees has collapses beside the road when the left front suspension broke, and to add to the toll Hulme’s engine blew up just before the end of the lap. As Fittipaldi set off on lap 10 his mechanic is watching from behind the pits as the car take the North Curve and he notice an ominous smoke haze behind the car, only just perceptible to someone who know the car so well. During the lap the blue smoke increase for all to see and by the time the Lotus appeare over the brew leading onto the start area the smoke cloud is enormous, but the Brazilian carryon past the pits. The trouble is obviously more serious than a simple oil leak for Regazzoni, Stewart and Peterson have close up behind the Lotus. Out of the South Curve and up behind the pits there is a horrible jangling from the back of the Lotus as the gearbox burst asunder and a minor the starter but Fittipaldi stops smartly and leapt out, the fire being put out before it can spread. The trouble presumably start with a crack in the gearbox casing, everything breaking up as the oil leak out. This left Ickx even safer in the lead than ever, not that Fittipaldi or anyone else is giving him any trouble, and his tenth lap is yet another record in 7'13"6. During this lap Pescarolo lost control and have an enormous accident on the descent down to Adenau and the March 721 is written-off once more against a guard-rail, the beard Frenchman stopping from the wreckage unhurt. As Ickx starts lap 11 the Ferrari don’tt sound quite so crisp for an exhaust manifold have split and on the final straight he find the engine will not pull maximum r.p.m. anymore, but with 46 seconds lead he has time in hand. The string of retirements is allow the steady runners at the back to gain places and Beltoise is up into fifth place, followed by Ganley, Redman, Hill and the elder Fittipaldi. 


Merzario stops at the pits at the end of lap 11 to point out a drastic loss of oil pressure, and is telling to drive on slowly and try and finish. An observant marshal round the circuit saw that the battery mounting on the B.R.M. of Beltoise has brake and the battery is in danger of falling off. He telephone race control who put out the black flag for Beltoise, who instantly slows up, but of course has to complete another full lap before he can stop at the pits. By the time he passes along behind the pits the battery is trailing along the ground hold on only by its leads, and before he completes the lap it falls off completely, but the alternator keeps everything working. He stops at the pits next time round but there is nothing to do so he rejoins the race with one lap to go, down in ninth place, letting Ganley move up into fifth place. Ickx starts his last lap with no worries, for the split exhaust manifold isn’t causing anymore bother, but Stewart is still trying to find a way to past Regazzoni. In the series of medium speed swerves before leaving the woods in the descent after the starting area plateau, at the Hocheichen corner, Regazzoni run a bit wide. Stewart see an opportunity to get by, the Swiss recover, and there is a coming together of wheels and the Scot’s Tyrrell is spin off, while the Ferrari continue on its way unmark, leaving the Tyrrell with a broken right front corner and a driver shouting abuse and pouring out his soulful tale (slightly exaggerate) to his favorite newspaper reporter. Peterson is third after some heroic driving that earn him the Joseph Siffert, Man of the Race prize from Marlboro. When the single-seater with Jacky Ickx at the wheel passes the finish line at the Nurburgring, followed about fifty seconds by Clay Regazzoni, the Ferrari mechanics go crazy and seem to want to roll onto the track to hug their drivers. Later they go up to the main stage together with Jacky and Clay and invent joyful pranks with champagne. In these scenes of enthusiasm, livelier than usual, lies the outpouring of the desire to win that the team has accumulated in recent months and the anger at some successes that have slipped away when they seemed to have been achieved, as in England. Says the engineer Giorgio Ferrari, 27 years old, who directs the work of the Ferrari team in Germany with Peter Schetty:


"This time no trouble interrupted our race. We had worked a lot, at home and here, to prepare the cars, trying to adapt the suspension of the 312-B2, already designed for mixed circuits, to the characteristics of the Nurburgring. But at the start, despite the exceptional times set by Ickx in practice, there were at least five or six riders capable of establishing themselves. Ickx, increasing his lead lap after lap, reassured us, even if that broken exhaust pipe in a jolt was a thorn in his side until the end of the race".


So, Ickx first, Regazzoni second and Merzario, whose car damaged when he went off the track was repaired during the night between Friday and Saturday, twelfth due to the lack of brilliant performance of the engine: can we talk about a relaunch of Ferrari in Formula 1?


"Yes, as long as this does not remain an isolated success. The 312-B2, in fact, has improved. We changed the rear suspension, gave a different adjustment to the front ones and studied a greater aerodynamic load by modifying the wing. In addition, we performed a series of small refinements. The car is more balanced, can use the engine power more effectively and has more reliable behavior".


Ickx and Regazzoni, however, maintain that there is still room for improvement. The Belgian states:


"It wasn't a difficult ride. Peterson's presence behind me was comforting. I gained seconds on him every lap and Ronnie could slow down the others. In the end I only feared a car breakdown, perhaps a minor one. Now the 312-B2 runs well and is competitive compared to other single-seaters, such as Lotus or Tyrrell. I would like it to be a little more stable".


Regazzoni's opinion is similar. If Ickx, who has always performed excellent feats at the Nurburgring, and has reconfirmed himself as king of this circuit designed among the hills and forests of the Eifel, the Swiss has provided further proof of his generosity as a fighter. Clay, with a sore left wrist, held off Stewart for the 14 laps of the Grand Prix. In the last, the two touched in a bend and the Scot's Tyrrell ended the race against a guardrail. Stewart was furious. He claimed that his rival had first prevented him from overtaking and then had thrown him off the road, preventing him from finishing second and taking six points for the World Championship, on the very day of Emerson Fittipaldi's retirement.


"It will make me lose the title".


Stewart hisses angrily as he looks out of the door of a mini-caravan parked in front of the Tyrrell garage in parc fermé. Stewart knows very well that Regazzoni was the protagonist of similar incidents in the past and is counting on this to support his version of the innocent victim. But in the trick curve, Regazzoni was on the inside and following his exact trajectory. He had, so to speak, right of way. Perhaps Stewart believed that he was braking to give him free rein: wrong calculation, then. Or perhaps the Scotsman expects his opponents, intimidated by him, to give way? One fact is certain: that if a 312-B 2 that was not yet perfect offered Ickx the possibility of a solo victory and a Regazzoni not at the optimum physical efficiency to fight Stewart on a circuit as tough as the German one, further improvements should bring men and machines to the top of the World Championship. All this testifies to the experience and technical heritage of the Maranello team, which always finds within itself the strength and ability to react to adverse situations. It seems that the 1970 season finale is about to be repeated, when Ickx and Regazzoni achieved a fabulous series of successes and placings with the first version of the 312-B. Two years ago, the title was now in the hands of poor Rindt and Lotus, this year there is a hint of uncertainty and suspense, even if Ickx admits that if everything proceeds normally, Fittipaldi will become World Champion. There are four Grands Prix left until the end of the season (Austria, Italy, Canada and the United States) and the Brazilian, who was forced to retire due to a broken gearbox while in second position, but more than 20 seconds behind Ickx, has 43 points against Stewart's 27 and Ickx's 25. Emerson would have to rack up one retirement after another and one of his rivals would have a series of victories: unlikely. However, while the double is being celebrated in Germany, Ferrari issues the following press release from Maranello:


"Given the uncertainty of the immediate and future moments, which does not allow for an overly onerous financial program, Ferrari will release its drivers at the end of the season. The company will keep its technical staff intact and will continue to design and build a Formula 1 model and a sports prototype that it will also test in racing, but will not make any binding commitments to the championships".


The success of Ickx and Regazzoni with Ferrari in the German Grand Prix had surprised no one. It was expected as a natural fact after the progress of recent times. However, he is surprised by this statement, which arrives the day after the triumph at the Nurburgring (perhaps Enzo Ferrari was waiting for just such an occasion) and which extinguishes, with its well-motivated reference to budgets and financial burdens, much enthusiasm. But competitions are also linked to numbers. Ickx flies up and down the Nurburgring, but how much does a single minute of this ride cost? An accurate study carried out by British experts calculates that each Formula 1 team spends more than 400.000.000 lire to take to the track with two single-seaters. On average, the first example involves the outlay of around forty million, the subsequent ones around a dozen million. The cost of an engine is around eleven million and its overhauls are around two million (the operation is performed after each race); another eleven million are spent on tires (two hundred are consumed per season, each worth around 55.000 lire while a rim costs 185.000 lire). Travel and payments for mechanics absorb around ninety million. These are indicative figures, of course, because the budget of each team is linked to numerous contingent factors. Therefore, as far as Ferrari is concerned, two points must be considered: it is not just a team, but a real manufacturer that manufactures every part of its racing cars; it not only participates in the Formula 1 World Championship, but also in the sports car championship. 


A downsizing of the 1973 sporting program therefore appears logical, albeit painful, all the more logical considering the difficulties facing the Italian economy, to which Ferrari explicitly refers. It is also reasonable to assume that this line of austerity was meditated and discussed with Fiat, linked to the Maranello company since 1969, and finally drawn up by mutual agreement. Turin's technical-financial help does not fail Maranello, and if the delicate general moment does not allow the implementation of more ambitious commitments, this comforting consideration remains: research and development will continue. After all, it wouldn't be the first time that Ferrari is content to take to the field with just one car. For the purposes of the result, racing with one specimen and not with two or three reduces the possibilities, because a small problem can stop the best prepared car. However, it was precisely the experiences of 1971 with the 3000 cc 312-P sport - a laboratory racing car - that favored this triumphal season. It could happen again, given that the austerity program is linked to a contingent moment, which everyone hopes will change quickly. Next year we will have to be content with seeing - and perhaps not in every race - only two Ferraris. Who will lead them? For Formula 1 the name of Ickx must be mentioned, who has already anticipated a generous consent to a possible request from Maranello, for sports Ickx and Mario Andretti, with Merzario in the role of test driver and luxury reserve. The others will go for theirs road and it is sad to see such a close-knit group of men disintegrate. But the reality of the budgets is not discussed. Peter Schetty, Clay Regazzoni and other protagonists of Ferrari's victory in the German Grand Prix return to Italy on Monday afternoon, in Milan, by plane from Frankfurt. The news of the downsizing of the 1973 competitive activity takes the group by surprise, still euphoric after the winning double by Ickx and Regazzoni at the Nurburgring. Sports director, Peter Schetty, says:


"I am very amazed. It is unexpected news that leaves me perplexed and which comes at such a happy moment for us: the World Sports Championship had concluded with a triumph and the Formula 1 single-seater was proving to be competitive. To take to the track in endurance races or Grand Prix you need at least two cars, and this applies even if you don't have any championship interests".


Which already happened in 1969 and 1971. Regazzoni states:


"I had heard rumors of a reduction in programs, but I wasn't thinking of such a drastic decision. I thought we would continue to race with two sports cars and two single-seaters. Undoubtedly, this year's participation in the makes championship with so many cars, so many races and so many expensive trips must have cost a lot. I am skeptical about the possibilities of just one 312-P and say just one 312-B 2. For Formula 1 I am sure that Ickx will be chosen. That's right, he is Ferrari's first driver. However, I would be very saddened if the honor of talking about this machine fell to others. In any case, I must hurry to conclude certain contacts with some manufacturers to define my programs for 1973".


In this regard, there is talk of the B.R.M., but it appears that the Swiss has also received offers from other groups. Clay closes with this comment:


"This is really bad news".


Finally Ickx. The Belgian, highly celebrated on Sunday evening at the Grand Prix awards ceremony, returns to Brussels on Monday morning. When asked by phone, he says:


"I sensed that there was something wrong in the air. However, I didn't think I would have to hear such news. I haven't been officially informed yet, but I'm sure they will soon call me from Italy. Thinking about the future is difficult, because I don't know anything specific. One fact is certain: if Ferrari wants me to drive its 312-B2 again next year, I will say yes, provided of course that the downsizing of the programs is temporary. I have faith in Ferrari and in the Commendatore".


These words by Ickx are very beautiful and nice. And the final closing expresses the thoughts of all the fans of the Maranello team.


©​ 2024 Osservatore Sportivo


Contact us


Create Website with | Free and Easy Website Builder