#202 1971 French Grand Prix

2022-08-27 00:00

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#1971, Fulvio Conti, Giulia Pea,

#202 1971 French Grand Prix

Most teams are still practising, or testing during the early part of race week, so that when official practice begins at around mid-day on Friday, to


On a track made insidious by the rain and then by the progressive drying of the road, Pedro Rodriguez and Richard Attwood, on Sunday June 27th 1971 give Porsche another victory in that Manufacturers’ championship that the House of Stuttgart has already won a month before. The two Alfa Romeo 33.3 get two good placements with Hezemans-Vaccarella and Stommelen-Gall, but they couldn’t undermine the powerful 917-K of the Mexican and the English. The Ferrari 312-P of Ickx-Regazzoni had succeeded, but a dramatic accident from which Regazzoni was miraculously saved interrupted the happy momentum of the three liters. It was the 148th lap of the 170 scheduled, and Regazzoni was leading the race a lap ahead of Rodriguez (at least, according to Ferraris findings, while according to official timekeepers, it was the Mexican who was leading the race). The Swiss faces at about 280 km/ h the corner that closes the straight of the grandstands, when the 312-P was seen discard outwards and it finished against the barrier that encircles the track. Two hundred meters of terrifying crawling, with the barrier bending, then, finally, the spider stopped. Many damages, but the fuel tanks had resisted and the driver was unharmed. The reasons for the accident are unclear. Regazzoni said he felt the car slipping. There is talk of an inconvenience not well specified, the Swiss says he cannot explain himself the episode. In any case, until it remained in the race, the 312-P offered a wonderful test, clarifying once again its qualities. The 917-K, as mentioned, was one lap back, while the Alfa followed three and a half laps. The race was a duel between Rodriguez and the duo from Maranello. The Mexican basically drove the whole 1000 km. He and Attwood ended the competition in 5 hours 4 minutes and 26s, but Attwood only drove the car for ten minutes. For the remaining time, Rodriguez took care of it, he wouldn’t mind returning to Ferrari and he tries to put himself in the spotlight with extreme commitment. It seems incredible. Once again the race of the Ferrari 312-P has been stopped dramatically. It went well for Clay Regazzoni, and we have to be pleased already, but to the Italian spider the title of the most unfortunate car of the season is rightfully given. Listen up. The 312-P is presented in Maranello at the end of last year. Enzo Ferrari explains:


"With this car we will participate in the Manufacturers’ world championship 1971 not to win it but to accumulate valuable experience. We will be running for it in 1972". 


A long-term plan, a harmonious program. The day of the debut comes, in the 1000 km of Buenos Aires. Its January 10th 1971. Ignazio Giunti is in the lead, when the track is blocked by the Matra of Jean-Pierre Beltoise. A crash, a blaze that takes Ignazio away. The 312-P does not participate in the next race, but instead goes to Sebring, but on the American circuit it retires due to a gearbox incident. It comes the 1000 km of Brands Hatch, in April, Ickx darts to the lead, makes a series of exciting laps and here another car turns in front of him. To avoid the impact, the Belgian ends up in the grass at the edge of the road. When he manages to restart, the race is over. However, Ickx and Regazzoni manage to finish second. They’re hopeful for Monza, and at Monza the dramatic carambola happens at the Ascari corner between Merzario and the swiss Meier. lckx passes on burning scrap, he is saved by miracle while the 312-P reports damage to the bodywork and suspension. But it is not over, unfortunately. Here is the 1000 km of Spa, here is another slow car that stands in the way of the Italian spider. A bad adventure for Regazzoni, fortunately without damage for Clay. At the Nurburgring, the competition does not reserve such surprises. The 312-P gives the measure of its possibilities, it leads the race, but lckx and Regazzoni are betrayed by an engine failure. Never mind, things that happen, that are part of the racing game. In Austria the car was heading towards the final consecration. One lap ahead of Porsche, three ahead of Alfa Romeo, an unquestionable superiority. 


"But why does it all have to happen to our car?"


Turning to other topics, unlike Italy, France has many racetracks. The Grand Prix of Formula 1 transmigrates from year to year and this time its up to a brand new circuit, the Paul Ricard. It is a modern facility, American-style, that opens alongside Route Nationale 8 in an enchanting area of the south of French. 


Marseille on one side and Toulon on the other at less than 50 kilometers, the sea is very close and invites to holidays. The streets are full of endless columns of cars and flushed tourists. You travel in slow motion in the traffic of July while the drivers, lucky them, speed on track. Before and after practice, everyone is on the coast, splashing in the water. Mr. Ricard, king of aperitifs, hosts them on his private small island. A bit of rest, even if the thought remains fixed on Sunday’s race, with its usual questions. Ferrari or Tyrrell, Ickx or Stewart, will there be a surprise? The idea of building a circuit in the South came two years ago to Paul Ricard, who had already built in the area of Le Castellet an airport for tourism. 


"There were still a thousand hectares of land available and no one knew how to use them. I thought, and still do, that the main cause of road accidents is the unpreparedness of motorists. Why not use that land to build a circuit, I wondered? We could have organised competitions in a country where the sun is at home for most of the year and created a school for the improvement of common drivers. I put my group to work, I surrounded myself with experts, I wanted the opinion of Beltoise, Pescarolo and other riders. Stewart then recommended a few tweaks. Hosting the French Grand Prix means our facility won its race".


The history of the circuit officially begins on August 1st 1969 with the establishment of the Automobile Sport Association Paul Ricard. The bureaucratic paperwork takes place quickly and the work has an almost frenetic pace. In less than a year, operating sixteen hours a day, on 19th April 1970 the first part of the circuit was inaugurated (the track of 3300 meters); it is completed on 16 May 1970 while the construction of various subsidiary plants continues in 1971. The Ricard occupies 400 hectares of land. Cost: 1.500.000.000 old francs. A formidable investment. The circuit is divided into three circuits. The first measures 5800 meters and is formed by the union of the other two. It includes 17 corners (8 on the left and 9 on the right) with rays of various types (speeds from 90 to 250 km/h) and a straight of 1800 meters where you can touch 350 km/h. It is on this track that on Sunday 4th of July 1971 the French Grand Prix will take place: 55 laps for a total of 319 km. The second track - 3300 meters long - has 11 corners and a straight of 700 meters; it is intended for Formula 2 and 3 and minor races. The third route, 2250 meters, is reserved for Philippe Vidals driving school and motorcycle tests. The track is 12 meters wide, with deceleration zones at the most challenging points and a side road for emergency vehicles, connected to the airport where a twin-engine Ricard Company is always ready for a rapid evacuation of any injured. Thanks to the worthy contribution of a brand of cigarettes, signals to drivers with flags have been retired and replaced by a modern traffic light system. The circuit is divided into nine parts of about 350 meters. Each is under the control of a commissioner of the route, which controls a device with three lights, two yellow and one blue, arranged side by side. An Intermittent yellow light means that there is a state of danger (oil on the track, ambulance); overtaking is prohibited. Two yellow flashing lights indicate that an accident has occurred; you must prepare to stop. Blue light: beware of mirrors, leave way to those who are about to overcome. The boxes and the two-story grandstands above for guests and journalists are science fiction. There are 50 places for competing cars, real garages of six meters by four with water and electricity outlets. Comment of the mechanics: 


"But these are lounges". 


The building occupies 4000 square meters and overlooks the garage track, well separated from the main one, and the parking reserved for the stables. The stands are divided into two blocks of 25, with independent input-output.


"The day I won’t win anymore, I would stop racing. It was the successes that made me really love competitions". 


So say the two super Jackie, that is, Stewart and Ickx, who seem ready to face off in a new, exciting duel. 


The French Grand Prix, the fifth episode of the Formula 1 World Championship, imperiously re-proposes the theme, monotonous as long as you want but always fascinating, of the fight between Tyrrell and Ferrari, between the British construction school and Italian mechanics. And Stewart and Ickx are the champions. The Scotsman leads the World Championship with 24 points, while the Belgian is at 19 points. The two are then divided by just 6 points. Stewart won the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix, came second in Africa and was forced to surrender in the Netherlands by the tyres. Ickx prevailed in the Netherlands, took a second and third place in Spain and in Monaco, did not score points in Africa. Now, Stewart indulges in pro-Ferrari statements, but it is not known how much the superstition plays (and the diplomacy of the cunning Jackie who thinks, who knows, the future) in his predictions. Most teams are still practising, or testing during the early part of race week, so that when official practice begins at around mid-day on Friday, July 2, 1971, to continue for 2 1/2 hours, it seems that it would be a mere formality for sorting out grid positions. Everyone is present except the McLaren team whose Ford van has broken down at Lyons. Team Lotus has but two cars, the two Lotus 72D models for Fittipaldi and WiseII, the former driver fit to drive once more, but with his rib-cage still firmly bandaged. The Ferrari team are also running only two drivers, Ickx and Regazzoni, as Andretti is competing in a high-speed USAC race on the super-speedway at Pocono in the United States. This means that while Ickx and Regazonni have their usual 1971 cars, the third car of the 312B/2 series can be a stand-by for Ickx. The works Brabhams are as raced at Zandvoort, for Hill and Schenken and Stewart and Cevert have their usual 1971 TyrreIls, with the original car as a spare for Stewart. The B.R.M. team is unchanged since Zandvoort, but the works March team has undergone a shuffle, for Alfa Romeo has re-instated de Adamich in the March-Alfa Romeo which they support. Having a shortage of good Cosworth engines, unlike the Tyrrell team, March decides to concentrate on their new March-Alfa Romeo with Peterson, caving Soler-Roig with the only Cosworth engined 711 from the factory. 


Galli is on hand in case a Cosworth engine can be borrowed and installed in Petersons original chassis, in which case the Italian would have driven it. The works Matra team seems to have been living at Castellet recently and has their three 1971 cars for Amon and Beltoise, hopeful of a victory in their own Grand Prix, while an expected arrangement for Larrousse to drive a Surtees car does not materialise, Surtees and Stommelen having their normal TS9 models, with a brand new one being finished off in the pit garages. Frank Williams has Pescarolo in his March 711 as usual, and hires his Match 701 to Jean Max, and another local hopeful is Francois Mazet who drives Sifferts March 701. During Friday and Saturday there are seven-and-a-half-hours practice for a little race that lasts just over one-and-three-quarter hours. On Friday there are two-and-a-half hours, on Saturday morning there are three hours, and on Saturday evening a final two hours, and just in case someone is not ready for the Great Sprint of Sunday, there is a further 20 minutes before the race actually starts. And yet there are still those who wonder why Grand Prix cars fall apart during an hour-and-three-quarter race. During all this preliminary flogging round the weather is magnificent and the dust and filth lay over the paddock and car parks the way it does at Le Mans in June, and as time goes by the Paul Ricard Circuit takes on the atmosphere of the Le Mans circuit more and more, with the pits and paddock overflowing with free passes and the paying public areas being like Brooklands. The Right Crowd and no Crowding. Both Stewart and Cevert are practising with Girling double-disc brakes on their front wheels, the spare car remaining on single discs, and Stewarts car is sporting the all-enveloping front cowling, making the Tyrrell look like a Prototype for Fords 1972 sports car for 3-litre racing. (Even now someone, somewhere with Ford emblazoned on his heart is scheming up ideas for getting 1.000 kilometre Sports Car races reduced to 100 kilometres). Stewart is scratching away better than anyone and his Cosworth engine has an entirely different note to all the other Northampton V8 engines and the Tyrrell is as fast, if not faster, than the Ferraris down the straight. He is really scratching away through the misty bits of the circuit, with the result that he makes FTD on all three practice sessions, as the table shows, which upset the Ferrari team and there are mutterings about a 3.5-litre Cosworth engine, to which the English reply is:


"Yes, like the 2-litre Dino Ferrari engines in Formula 2 in the Argentine two years ago".


Another mutter is about the super-lightweight ELF petrol that ELF Team Tyrrell are using. Even if it has been 130 Octane stuff no-one can imagine a protest being upheld against the Essence, Lubrificant, Francais firm at the French Grand Prix. The simple fact of the matter is that Stewart has the best Cosworth engine that Keith Duckworth can build, and Stewart is enjoying himself, and out-driving everyone. As he turns to the limit Stewart spins off into the catch nets, and while not exactly blaming the Girling double-disc brakes, he has the single ventilated type put back on Tyrrell 003, taking 001 out in the meantime until its Hewland transmission brakes. Cevert is not on the same limit of dicing so is more than happy with the new brakes, but Girlings are pretty happy with their progress so far and withdraw the lot, possibly looking for another type of car to try them on. Both Tyrrell and B.R.M. are experimenting with guide vanes on the rear aerofoils, a pair being spaced equally between the end vanes, these being described rather quaintly by B.R.M. as Intermediate end plates. Ferrari are still worried about rear tyre vibrations and in addition to the transverse telescopic shock-absorbers being bigger they are attaching inertia dampers to the rear uprights, taking a leaf out of the 2 cv Citroen book. Since Tyrrell turns up at Zandvoort with a large air-box over his Cosworth engines and a conning-tower-like forward-facing snorkel, everybody rushes to follow suit, with Tauranac well in the lead. Lotus does not bother as they have had cold-air ducts on the Lotus 72 since last year. When the McLaren team arrives for practice on Saturday with their two M19A cars for Hulme and Gethin, even they have a large aluminium cold-air box for Hulmes car, though they have forgotten about this years in phrase, the rear tyre vibrations, their drivers having learnt to live with the apparent phenomena. Like so many Cosworth powered teams the real problem in life is how to get a Cosworth engine like the one Stewart is using. The Scotsman says that Ferrari - and therefore Ickx - has a 75% chance of winning the world title, because the team is efficient and the cars excellent. But, meanwhile, he scores the best time on the new Paul Ricard circuit, and a head-tail caused by the overheating of a brake did not dampen his rush. In short, Stewart predicts Ferrari, but strives to not be a good prophet. And it is logical. 


Even his manager, Ken Tyrrell, does not sleep and this is demonstrated by the new aerodynamic nose applied to the single-seater to improve its performance. At Ferrari they are happy with the times obtained by Ickx and Regazzoni with the 312-B2. Ickx had some problems with the brakes and the engine itself proved to be quite weak. With all this the Belgian has placed behind Stewart in the provisional standings of the best times and hopes, of course, to do better in the second and endless practice session. It must be said that, while Ickx praises the circuit for its rational characteristics and the high degree of safety offered, which certainly put it in first place in Europe, he does not love it very much. He finds it too cold and too artificial. But if one factor, among the many who today play in racing should affect more than other drivers to the role of extras. However there is always to be expected a surprise of the B.R.M., in particular from Rodriguez (even if his 12-cylinder engine had the usual carburation problems, so much so that he was called a technician from England) and from the Matra-Slmca, with a Beltoise unleashed as always when running in the house (but the malignant speak of certain super-fuel). In any case, the cars equipped with a 12-cylinder engine, except for Stewarts Tyrrell, seem to have to continue the escalation at the Ricard, also because the men who use cars with the 8-cylinder Cosworth are in trouble for lack of engines. This is the case of Nanni Galli, who, racing his teammate de Adamich with the March-Alfa on which the two alternate, had received the promise from March to participate in this race with a Cosworth engine. Instead, March broke several engines, Cosworth did not repair them in time and Galli found himself on foot. There is still hope for an emergency solution (the British organizer Williams, for which the Frenchman Pescarolo races, will perhaps give the Italian driver one of his engines), but there are not many chances to see Galli on track. Peterson, Marchs number one, has Alfa Romeo and Ford-Cosworth engines of his choice. Why? The Sweden runs with the Cosworths and Nanni is given one of the 8-cylinder Alfa. One thing is certain: at Alfa Romeo the situation is quite confused in many respects, and the Italian driver, by now, would very much like to be able to race in Ferrari. 


Due to the vastness of the pit and management area the whole of practice seems rather remote and unreal, but in actual fact it is all stark reality for Stewart takes pole position on the grid almost a whole second faster than Regazzoni, and more than a second faster than Ickx, but nonetheless the front row sees the Tyrrell and the two Ferraris shoulder-to-shoulder and all the Ford coniving to keep Stewart on the books and happy, is justified. In the second row is Rodriguez, which is reasonable, but alongside is Hill in the Brabham BT34/1 with a time he has achieved in sheer bad temper and frustration after two days of no progress. If only more designers and team-managers would apply a little more psychology and a little less science to practice we would get results a lot quicker. The only fear is that they might overdo it, like the late Joe Craig did with his Norton motorcycle racing team, and kill a few drivers, but it would save the endless and aimless flogging round and round that is becoming an obsession. Apart from Hill the line-up on the grid has a pretty normal look about it, except that a very pleased Schenken is ahead of Ganley, and in fact has been ahead of Hill until quite on Saturday. Jackie Stewart spent these days of practice for the French Grand Prix on the tiny, elegant island of Bendor. A lump of rock and trees that rises in front of Abdandol, a town on the Côte d'Azur that is just 20 kilometers from the Paul Ricard circuit. Saturday evening the Scottish driver dines on the yacht of an Irish friend, anchored in a dock, in a holiday outfit: T-shirt and sailor pants. Jacky Ickx is also on the island. He splashes in the water and gets a tan. But the two Jackies know that the holidays, the real ones, are still far away for them. These are only moments of relaxation, which the tense climate of the tests soon takes care to cancel, Ickx gets on his Ferrari and gets the best time, Stewart jumps on the Tyrrell and lowers it. The duel Jackie against Jackie, Ferrari against Tyrrell, is very open, maybe it could be a factor independent of the drivers or the car to decide, such as, for example, the tires. Eight Grands Prix have yet to be held, including this one, France. How do the two Jackie think it will end? Stewart, perhaps out of luck, says and laughs that Ickx has a better chance of winning the title.


"Ferrari has an efficient team, good drivers and a car that can offer something more than mine. This in general, we are not considering the problems caused by the tires, which can vary from circuit to circuit, favoring me or disadvantaging Ickx. In particular, it is now clear that the Italian engine has more horsepower than Cosworth and we expect fast tracks, like Silverstone". 


For Stewart, Ickx has a 75% chance of becoming the new World Champion. Meanwhile, however, the Scotsman does not give up, as shown by the times marked at Ricard, Ken Tyrrell and Cosworth delay. Tyrrell has designed a new wing for the blue single-seater that has his name and the British technicians continue to provide him super-engines, especially cared for. They are the best eight cylinders of Cosworth, with improvements and modifications almost always kept secret, devised in order to supply more horses without causing breakage. In the end, if Ferrari has 470-480 horsepower, this Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth must also have many, certainly more than the 450 horses officially admitted. Ickx, however, believes that the two cars of the great duel are practically equal, at least as a general rendition. 


"And then, Stewart is always Stewart. Needless to say more about him. We have passed the less fast circuits, so we should have a small advantage over Tyrrell, tyres permitting. Its a bit of a lottery: once the Goodyears are better, another time the Firestones are better. In the Netherlands it was bad for Stewart and good for me, here I am afraid the opposite may happen. In any case, I think that Ferrari, on the whole of the Grands Prix that we still have to race, has less chance of breaking. I would like to add that we should not think only of the Scotsman or me. There is also a Rodriguez to keep an eye on. The Mexican is in a good moment and the B.R.M. is a good car". 


After Stewart and Ickx, here is the opinion of other protagonists of the great Grand Prix carousel, unwilling to remain relegated in the dark role of extras. First of all, Clay Regazzoni, Ickxs partner at Ferrari. 


"I havent been very lucky so far. I think I can still fit in between Ickx and Stewart. Ferrari has a better chance of winning the championship than Tyrrell. Our 312-B2 is superior, especially with regard to the engine". 


And Rodriguez, whose opinion is similar to that of Ickx. 


"Ferrari and Tyrrell have the same chances of success. The two drivers are equal, if Stewart has perhaps a little more experience than Ickx these have a more powerful and complete car. You know, Id really like to drive this 312 B2. As a driver Im not to be despised, who knows if Ferrari has noticed... My B.R.M. is not bad, except for some power issues. I should be able to bother the two Jackie". 


Chris Amon adds: 


"Ferrari is more powerful and my prediction is for Ickx. Unfortunately, I always change the brand at the wrong time". 


Emerson Fittipaldi concludes: 


"Its a fight with almost equal weapons. Ferrari has a fantastic engine, Tyrrell is more accurate and as a complex driver-car is perhaps superior". 


Reviews and comments from other drivers are basically similar to these we have reported. Ferrari slightly favored, therefore, more for the final result than for tomorrow. In any case, a duel intended to arouse new interests and enthusiasm. After a galaxy of little car races intersperse throughout Saturday and filling Sunday morning the World Championship of Paul Ricard, alias the 4th Grand Prix of France, is due to start at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 4, 197 on what is a truly magnificent day, when most of France is either on the beach or on their way to the beach. The pit area is packed to overflowing with free-ticket holders as the cars are assembled on the dummy-grid facing the all-singing, all-dancing electronic starting bridge (discussed elsewhere) that is not going to be used for the start, after a practice run by the GP drivers on Saturday and a fiasco in the F3 race. The start is given by an old-fashioned man with an old fashioned flag and the two Ferraris and the dark blue Tyrrell surges away in a fine manner. As the 23 cars charge off along the straight and through the fast ess-bend heading for the tight ess-bend of the chicane Ickx is already being overtaken by all manner of people as his Ferrari engine is going sour on him. Stewart leads Regazzoni, Rodriguez, Beltoise, Cevert, Amon, Peterson and the rest as they squiggle their way round the twisty bits before heading off along the 1.8 kilometre back straight. On the second lap Amon gets his Matra ahead of Ceverts Tyrrell, but it is not desperately important, and on the fourth lap Rodriguez locks up his wheels braking for the chicane and bounces across the kerbs and the dusty infield, only losing one place in the process, but the race as such is all over. There is no one to touch Stewart, and the Tyrrell and his second lap have been at a leisurely 1'54"09 secs which is to remain as the lap record. Regazzoni may be good but he is not that good, and can only hope to hold on to Stewart, while Ickx has his engine blows up on lap 5, so it is all over. Apart from Stewart being faster than anyone along the straight he is visibly faster than anyone through the high-speed ess-bend at the end of the pit straight. Add to this his ability to brake later than most people at any corner, and to go round all the slow twisty bits faster than most people and it is no surprise that he just motors steadily away from the field. All that remained is that the Tyrrell chassis does not fall apart, the Cosworth engine does not blow up, the Hewland transmission does not break, the Goodyear tyres do not deflate, the Girling brakes do not fail and all the dozens of other firms who contribute parts to the assembly of Ken Tyrrells Special do not fail him, and Stewart has got the French Grand Prix won. There are no other interesting asides to intervene, like re-fuelling stops, tyre changes, or driver changes or even physical fatigue to play its part, so that is the story of the 1971 French Grand Prix. Fortunately it is not quite as dull and boring as that for the other 22 starters are all having great fun playing at motor racing and providing an hour-and-three-quarters of interest and excitement. 


After Ickx has disappeared with engine trouble it is left to Regazzoni to save the day for Maranello and this he does to the best of his ability, holding a firm second place until his twenty-first lap. By this time he and Stewart are catching the tail end of the field and down there is Peterson with the March-Alfa Romeo. As the Swede starts down the back straight the Italian engine blows up and laid a trail of oil, which Stewart negotiates safely, probably because he is nowhere near the limit of his capabilities, but Regazzoni skates off the road on the oil and bounces off the guard rails with the right rear wheel bent out of line. Rodriguez and Cevert go by alright and then Hill arrives battling away well in fifth place with the leading Brabham. He has a huge spin on the oil, slides off the road, across the safety verge, bounces off the guard rail and goes behind a surprised Regazzoni, who is looking at his damaged Ferrari, in a cloud of dust. This really sorts out the race, for it leaves Rodriguez in a poor second place, with Cevert third, for it all happens as Hill is making up distance on Cevert. Before this happens Hulme has given up with an engine that would not run properly, Soler-Roigs March-Cosworth has expired with ignition trouble, Max is in and out of the pits with clutch operation trouble and Mazet is running last of the non-stop runners, and has nearly been run over by Rodriguez, Cevert, Beltoise, Amon, Hill & Siffert when they lap him in a solid pack on lap 11. Out of the mid-field pack two drivers are coming out with great credit, Fittipaldi in his Lotus 72 and Schenken with his Brabham BT33, these two shaking themselves free of their opening lap bunches in great style. The next happening is on lap 28 when Rodriguez has his B.R.M. V12 engine die under him, due to the Marelli coil packing up. After his accident Hill has stopped at the pits to have the left-front wheel changed and though the handling feels a bit peculiar, probably due to something being bent, he charges on with great enthusiasm. On lap 35 an oil pipe falls off the Brabhams engine and sprays oil all over the rear tyres and the road, so that as he goes into the chicane Hill finds himself spinning off the road and out of the race. Fittipaldi and Schenken have worked their way forwards in a fine manner, the Lotus driver being up in fourth place behind Siffert, and the Brabham driver being in sixth place behind Amons Matra. Behind this quartet is another quartet consisting of Wisell (Lotus 72), Beltoise (Matra), Surtees (Surtees) and Pescarolo (March 711), and the Hill oil laying affects both these groups. 


Schenken gets all out of control at the chicane, and goes straight on in amongst the catch nets and has to do a complicated wiggle-woggle to get out of them, which drops him back behind Amon. Then WiseII spins off into the dust at the exit of the chicane and this drops him to the back of his foursome. Both these drivers make remarkable recoveries, Schenken not only regaining his lost place, but catching Sifferts B.R.M. as well and taking fourth place on lap 49, just as Cevert has an exhaust pipe break at the right side manifold. The starry-eyed young Frenchman has inherited second place when Rodriguez retires and has been driving hard ever since to keep it and support the flying Stewart who is out in the lead. Although the broken pipe makes a nasty noise it does not lose the engine too much power and the very apprehensive Cevert presses on praying hard nothing awful would happen to spoil his glorious second place in his own Grand Prix. Just when Schenken has got his Brabham into fourth place all the oil pressure disappears from his Cosworth engine and he comes to a grinding halt by the finishing line, unable by law to push the car to the chequered flag; a bitter disappointment after such a fine race. Pescarolo has spun out of his racing foursome, and tenth place, when the Hewland gearbox in his March 711 goes wrong and though he does another lap that is it. In the closing laps there is just a possibility that Fittipaldi might get his Lotus into second place, but it would mean Ceverts Tyrrell losing a lot more power, which it does not do, so that a delighted Frenchman pleases the locals with his second place. Foolish day for Ferrari and very happy for Tyrrell. Ickx and Regazzoni have retired. Stewart won the French Grand Prix and his young teammate, the Frenchman Cevert, came in second. In short, to put it in football terms, Tyrrell beats Ferrari two nil, maybe with the help of the referee, if there are certain rumors that talk about engines a little too rigged and gasoline quality really super, simply adding that at the end of the race samples of the fuel used by the top five classified were taken by the technical commissioners. Items of which we report separately, with the caution of the case. The facts are limited to exalt the race of Stewart and Cevert and their Tyrrell-Ford, here equipped with the best tires. The Scotsman dominated as he wanted on the very modern Paul Ricard circuit, taking the lead - given through a science fiction electronic equipment - and staying in charge until the end of the 55 laps of this French Grand Prix. What about his race? 


Magnificent, as always. Textbook corners, stylist elegance, in the first laps with the eye to the mirrors to scrutinize the opponents. Then, it was no longer necessary, because the rivals disappeared, first Ickx, then Regazzoni, then Rodriguez. It remained Cevert, almost a boy, who also disputed a good race. The Frenchman, left in the final without exhaust headers, contained the comeback of a wild Fittipaldi, strongly defending his second place. Ferrari failed to stop the diabolical Stewart and the duel between the two Jackie saw the Scottish brand prevail. It must be said that the Maranello team was half unlucky, even if against Tyrrell there was no possibility of success. So, Ickx retired on lap 5 due to an engine failure, Regazzoni on lap 21 due to an off-track caused by the oil scattered on the asphalt by the Cosworth of Peterson (March). Now, engine breakdowns are part of the competition game, track exits like Regazzonis a little less. Mauro Forghieri, technical director of Ferrari, says:


"We had changed Jackie’s engine, because the one used in the first day of practice didnt seem perfect. This was brand new, and it only lasted five laps. We will check in the factory the organ that gave out. However, if it had to happen that we had to brake an engine, better here than elsewhere. We were certainly not in a position of strength". 


In fact, aside from the well-known tires issues, Ickx quickly found himself intruded into the group. At the start, Stewart started inside, that is on the right side of the track, Regazzoni in the center and the Belgian outside. Stewart, with an amazing acceleration, more vigorous than that of the two 312-B2, flew away, Regazzoni followed him, while Ickx found himself involved in the first corner in a confused fight from which he came out in eighth position. The Belgian driver says:


"You can see it was a race for me that was born wrong. Anyway, after a lap I felt a vibration and the engine started to drop. I stopped on the straight of the Mistral, the one with the fastest line. I was also a spectator". 


Ickx left the scene, Regazzoni tried to push Stewart. But the Scotsman gained second over second to the Swiss. You could tell he was a relaxed driver when Clay was so busy. In acceleration, taking as reference the corner that leads into the finish line, Stewart was 0.2-0.3s faster. Then, the oil left by Peterson knocked out Regazzoni. 


"I arrived at the corner that opens on the Mistral and I had an head-tail. I stopped on the right, after bouncing against the barrier. The right rear wheel and suspension attack had broken. While I was checking the damage, Graham Hill slipped like me on oil and went between my Ferrari and the safety barrier. I was bending down and I noticed it at the last moment. Well, I was really scared". 


Regazzoni gives a competent opinion on Stewart and his Tyrrell.


"At the start I started before the Scotsman. I gained a few meters, I went from the first to the second pressing on the accelerator. Secondly, the wheels didnt skate anymore, so the horses on my 12 cylinders all came off the ground. Well, I almost did not believe my eyes: Stewart reached me and passed me, we arrived at the first S with him in front of fifty meters. I dont know, but it felt like it had a engine with 100 horsepower more than mine, which is a lot, believe me. That was an airplane, not a car". 


Maranellos 12-cylinder boxer engine is credited with a power of 470-480 horsepower. With the two Ferrari drivers out, Rodriguez tried to get in the slipstream of Stewart, but with poor results. His B.R.M. appeared to be inferior to the Scotsmans single-seater and Pedro made many numbers in vain to keep up. This is followed by champagne for Stewart and Cevert, and a lot of joy in the Tyrrell clan. Says the Scottish driver:


"I didnt go as well as I could. I pushed at the beginning, then from the box Tyrrell began to signal me the advantage over Regazzoni. I had a margin of one second per lap, and then I decreased the pace. It was an easy race for me, unlike Zandvoort. I just had a bad time, when I got in the oil that betrayed Regazzoni and Hill. I barely kept my car on the road. I remember that I thought: here somebody ends out. The next lap I saw Clay standing still. I knew then that I had the race in my hands". 


Stewart and the Tyrrell mechanics are not commenting on the fuel withdrawals. And that makes sense. But the Scotsman, for example, does not even say that in the twenty minutes of free practice that preceded the French Grand Prix, he stopped along the circuit for a small inconvenience to the engine, which the mechanics immediately remedied. If there had not been these extra practice sessions, in all probability the winner of the Grand Prix would have been Cevert in the end. In the world of Grand Prix there are very curious rumors. No one is clear about this, but there is mention of engines that are too super and fuel that do not really comply with the regulation, which prescribes for three-litre cars the use of commercial fuel, what we put in our cars tank. We remember distant and recent episodes, some drivers (not Ferrari) who found themselves behind Stewarts Tyrrell-Ford smelled suspicious smells. On the other hand, some people find Stewarts eight-cylinder performance a bit exaggerated: three litres or something more? And it is said - we simply report - that some B.R.M. engines are 3200-3300 cc. The environment, in short, is warming up. The fuel argument had already been raised two years ago on the occasion of the exceptional (poorly repeated) exploit of the Matra of Beltolse in Clermont-Ferrand or last year in relation to certain performances of Lotus. The thing is this: theres no control. Its about trust, and its very nice. But the mere fact that these rumors are flying in Grand Prix shows that there must be a foundation of truth. It is also the opinion of many technicians. On Saturday there was a meeting of the Formula 1 constructors. These problems were highlighted. It turns out that Ferrari has proposed to always check, at the end of each race, the engines of the first six classified (which are awarded points for the World Championship) and to take, just before the start, samples of the fuel contained in the tanks. The proposals created a certain amount of excitement. The result was seen at the end of the Grand Prix, when the commissioners ordered the taking of fuel samples from the tanks of the first five cars, the Tyrrells of Stewart and Cevert, the Lotus of Fittipaldi, the B.R.M. of Slftert and the Matra Simca of Amon. The liquid was stored in small bottles, which will be analysed on behalf of the International Sports Commission. The result will not be for 15-20 days. The fact, of course, has given more force to the rumors. Well see. Jacky Ickx states:


"It is not normal that in four years the CSI has not properly set up a check either on engines or on fuel. It is not at all normal that the displacement of an engine has never been examined. Such operations should be performed two or three times a year, by surprise. It would also be a good way to put an end to the rumors. If Stewart wins, it can be said that he has an engine over three liters, if we win, you can think the same. Whoevers okay, hes not afraid of any verification. It is done in all races in the world, why not in Formula 1?" 


This seems to be a very diplomatic accusation. The Belgian has been partially satisfied. Of course, you know what the CSl said about engine control? 


"And who will pay the mechanics in charge of the work? And if then a sensational case breaks out?"


It would take a Lieutenant Sheridan, but it is difficult to find one in the Grand Prix. Twenty-four hours later, Ken Tyrrell, the English manager of Jackie Stewart, gave an interview to an Italian newspaper in which he replied word for word what the same newspaper reported the previous day. Tyrrells main arguments are as follows. 


"We are ready to undergo any kind of verification. Those who had doubts about us were right to express them, so at least they will give us the opportunity to dispel them. It would have been better if they had the courage to say it before the race". 


Tyrrell underestimates the fact that in the environment rumors circulated for some time, so much so that fifteen days ago in Monza during the dispute of the Formula 2 Grand Prix, in the drivers' environment there was ironically talk of inflated engines. Regarding the use of fuel, Tyrrell rejects all charges. 


"Methanol leaves a smell, acute recognizable while aviation gasoline at 130 octane will give more power but risk to blow your engine soon". 


The increase in power at Le Castellet is explained by Tyrrell with the adoption of the new aerodynamic nose. 


"We fitted a nose in the front of the car similar to what the Matra has had for some time, making a couple of changes that make it perfect. It had a fundamental importance for maximum speed". 


Tyrrell leads the whole interview arguing that Stewart wouldn’t have been reached yet by the news that his victory is affected by doubts of a different nature, since he did not have the opportunity to read the newspapers with comments on the races. Tyrrell forgets, however, that the controversy was born through the comments of the Italian and Swiss radio reporters present at the Grand Prix and has therefore had the opportunity to be spread and commented directly at the end of the race and not with the delay of 24 hours of the newspapers. The same newspaper reports with much less relief the statements of Peter Schetty, Ferraris sports director. Schetty as positive man does not insist in the controversy limiting himself to repeat:


"We do the technical checks. They do them in all the world, in all the sports, why should they not be done by us?"


Turning to other topics, Nanni Galli followed the French Grand Prix from the pits. He was in shorts and a T-shirt, the suit and helmet stayed in the hotel. 


"I ended up giving up this race because it would have been reckless. The engine, thanks to Frank Williams, had arrived. But it wasnt a super Cosworth. Also, the mechanics would have had to work all night to assemble it on the Marcii chassis. The car had to be overhauled. I couldnt get on the track like this, in a mess". 


Galli is a young manager. Also for it’s a pity what happened to Paul Ricard. An absurd story, started on Friday and dragged on until Saturday night. Im leaving, Im not leaving, the engines coming, its not coming, its a Cosworth, its an Alpha. Nanni had a precise program with Alfa Romeo, which, as we know, for 1971 had decided to give a single-seater in cohabitation to Galli and Andrea de Adamich. The Tuscan should have touched the car in France. Instead, the program was changed several times, with little understanding for Nanni and de Adamich himself. It would have been better to give the two drivers a car each or let one of the two free to follow his own way.


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