#216 1972 German Grand Prix

2022-02-02 23:00

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#1972, Fulvio Conti, Rebecca Asolari,

#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


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 little time for the teams to do other than repair the ravages of the previous race before the next one is due. 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 take lightly. The Ferrari team have been testing some weeks earlier and, in conjunction with the Firestone tyre engineers, have came to the conclusion that the layout and geometry of the rear suspension isn’t all it might be, so the revise layout that appeare 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 organise, 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 useses 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 all ready 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 appeares briefly at Brands Hatch, this small private group arrive on spec, hoping they may join in, but the organiser’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 wew 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 make 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. For a first day of practice the wreckage rate is quite absurd, with four cars needing major rebuilds, but to balance this the pace is impressive, with ten seconds being knocks off the old record, and more to come. The new rear suspension on the Ferraris is obviously working well as have been suggest by the Brands Hatch performance, and Ickx is never so happy. Regazzoni’s return to racing is cut short in the afternoon by engine trouble causes by an oil leak. Fittipaldi is showing his natural driving talent by being up with the ringmasters in only his second Grand Prix appearance at the difficult Nurburgring. Those drivers who have race in the 1.000-kilometre sports car race earlier in the year have a distinct advantage because the rebuilt Nurburgring is now very much faster and a lot of different things are having to be learn, as well as the old things being forget. 


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 repaire, 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 expell and fuel cann’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 recorde 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 a speed of 192.5. k.p.h. It is Grand Prix driving at its best and a complete justification of the face-lift given to the Eiffel circuit, making it the sort of challenge to man and machine that is sadly lacking on the flat Autodromes. A lap at nearly 120 m.p.h. round the Nurburgring is the sort of performance that makes the most blasé follower of the Sport reel back and exclaim Ker-rist or Mon Dieu. Ickx isn’t alone in these 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 undisputes 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 sonic negotiations with the AvD Oberfuhrer and sonic help front a member of’ the CSI it is agree that they can both start, but will not be pay to starting money. There are no offers of forming a kitty by the 25 who have qualifies for the large bags of gold. 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 complaine, 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 appeare 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 screames 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 concerne 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 unchange, 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 seemes 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 chang 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 BRM 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 slowes 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 startes 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 got 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. To say that the Ferrari victory is popular will be an understatement, while Ickx is smiling happily because any driver knows when he has do a superb job of driving, and he knows. Regazzoni is a solid second, saying in effect: "Don’t blame me, the World Champion ought to be able to look after himself".


And Peterson is third after some heroic driving that earn him the Joseph Siffert, Man of the Race prize from Marlboro. The rest trail home, those who have run steadily and consistently profiting from those who break or collapse by the wayside. The front-running racers have set such a cracking pace that it is surprising the also-rans stay on the same lap, but the attrition rate can be judge by Ganley finishing in fourth place, having been fifteenth on lap 2. It is one of the better Grand Prix races, and is more than worthy of taking its place in the annals of the history of the great German Grand Prix, hold on it's only right and proper home, the magnificent Nurburgring.


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