The cast for the last Grand Prix in Europe for 1974 is fairly stable, the only new car on the scene being a fourth B.R.M. P201, which Pescarolo is driving, the Bourne team having got themselves sort out for a brief moment; Beltoise has P201/03 and Migault P201/02. Team Lotus has make a decisive move in taking their two Lotus 76 models and one Lotus 72 to Monza, the idea being to race the new cars and have the old one purely as a stand-by; it is Peterson’s usual mount, 72/R8, the new cars being the troublesome JPS/9 and JPS/10. Elf Team Tyrrell are in their usual good order, with their three 007 cars for Scheckter and Depailler, and the McLaren team are with their usual three cars for Fittipaldi and Hulme, and the Yardley sponsors M23/4 for David Hobbs, still standing-in for Mike Hailwood, who is report to be recovering well and with enthusiasm. The Texaco-Marlboro sponsors McLarens aren’t using the transparent skirts round the base of the monocoque that they try in Austria, not because they are not beneficial, but because there isn’t way they can be prevent from rubbing themselves away and if they didn’t touch the ground they are ineffective. Any method of keeping them in contact, rising and falling as the suspension works, will have contraven the moveable aerodynamic device rule. The Brabham team are in good spirits after their win in Austria, confident that their cars will be equally as good on the fast Monza circuit. The two South American drivers are unconsciously urging each other on to greater efforts in friendly rivalry, Reutemann knowing he can go faster than Pace, and vice-versa. John Watson, in the brown Hexagon Brabham BT44/4, with support from the works team, is equally happy and confident, being delight with his new car. Surprisingly, Ferrari keep to their usual two-car team for their home Grand Prix, instead of co-opting anyone into a spare car, as they have done in the past. Regazzoni and Lauda have the same two cars they use in Austria, which are 014 and 015, respectively. The Shadow team is unchanges, although their spare car has been straighten out, but Pryce is still feeling a bit bewilder and very lucky at having escap injury in a Formula 2 crash at Enna a short time before.
Team Surtees has call the Formula 2 driver Jose Dolhem into his trouble team once more, with Derek Bell in the number one car, and Frank Williams has Merzario and Laffite in his cars once more, while Graham Hill has Stommelen with him in the Lolas, as he has done in Austria. The private efforts of Amon, Kinnunen, Hunt and Schenken are unchange and the Ensign has revertes to its original green and yellow colour scheme, no longer being support by Theodore Racing, and as in Austria Mike Wilds is driving it. Ian Ashley’s backers have drop the Token car and bring the Brabham BT42/2 that Watson is racing all season, but it can’t be make ready in time for the Italian race. The Swiss/ Italian team run by Finotto/Bretscher have only one of their cars running, although they have enter two, and Carlo Facetti is the driver. The March team is unchange, with Stuck and Brambilla in the 741 cars, the stocky Italian keen to do well on his home ground, Monza being his local circuit. The Formula One Constructors Association plan the distribution of the pits, there being more cars and teams than Monza can really deal with, so a sad little group farms out onto the grass verge at the beginning of the pit road, while the rest have enough room in the concrete covered pits. The outcasts are Facetti with the bright blue Brabham, Ron Tauranac with his Trojan, Chris Amon with his own car, Wilds with the Ensign, Kinnunen with his Surtees and Graham Hill with his Embassy-Lola team, the last-name being something of a surprise decision by the selection committee. Fortunately the weather is typically Italian, so being put out to grass isn’t as disastrous as it maybe is. Most of the competitors have retain the same racing number all season, but for this race there is a bit of shuffling round among the tail-enders, with Amon, Kinnunen, Wilds, Schenken and Migault having different numbers in the entry list, though the third B.R.M. reverte to its normal 37. Practice is hold on Friday and Saturday, from about midday to 3:30 p.m. each day, with a half-hour break for towing in any cars that have breakdown, or repair any ravages cause by over enthusiasm.
The sun shone down splendidly as the two Ferraris begin to set the pace, but it is soon obvious that Reutemann and Pace in the Brabham aren’t going to let them got away, these four being the pacemakers, join after a while by Fittipaldi and Depailler. The Frenchman’s Tyrrell has extra water radiators on each side of the car, mount just in front of the rear wheels. Scheckter is feeling a bit off colour, and not being encourage by his Cosworth engine suffering from fluctuating fuel pressure, so he isn’t going as fast as expects. He does a few slow laps in the spare car, but all tell isn’t in his usual fast form. Team Lotus seems to be making little progress, and for the second half of Friday’s practice Peterson go out in his Lotus 72, abandoning the Lotus 76. Since last year the permanent chicane on the back leg of the circuit is make even more permanent and generally tidy up so that the exit is much quicker, while the chicane on the pits straight remains ostensibly unalter, with an escape road for anyone overshooting. Last year’s fastest practice lap was 1'34"80, set by Peterson in the Lotus 72, and this is well beaten during the first half of Friday’s practice. Reutemann is fastest with 1'33"64 and a lap in the 1'33"0 bracket is clearly going to be an ace time, Lauda joining the Argentinian in this select group. During the second half Stuck’s March has its nose-cone mounting break away and this send him off the road in a spectacular way after the Curva Grande, the car being badly bend but the young German stepping out unscath. The furious pace being set by the Brabhams and Ferraris is leaving everyone else behind and rather depres, particularly the Lotus team who are virtually also-rans in the battle for the front row of the grid. Peterson give up the struggle with the Lotus 76 and revert to his old-faithful Lotus 72/R8, but Ickx hasn’t alternative but to stick with the new car. Some drivers are as many as seven seconds slower than Reutemann, which must is very depressing for there cannot be that much difference in Cosworth engines.
Building a Formula 1 car is one thing, getting all the adjustments in unison is another thing all together, and watching the Brabhams through the Curva Parabolica it is very clear that they are nicely balance and the drivers can really get on with the business of cornering fast, without having to worry about the car changing its attitude angle once it is aim right. The Williams cars are also nice and smooth in their handling, but some of the others are horrible to watch, the drivers having to take big handfuls of opposite lock at the wrong moment to counteract a slide. At Monza there are raise concrete benches all along the public enclosure and you can virtually look down into the cockpits and see the driver working, in spite of what vintage mind people may say. Reutemann ends the day with the fastest lap, in 1'33"27, but Lauda and Regazzoni are right behind him, no-one else being in their league. That evening an almost tropical rainstorm hit the northern part of Italy and it clears the air and got rid of the heaviness in the atmosphere, so that Saturday is warm and clear and hotter than ever when practice starts again at midday. Reutemann do a few laps in the spare works Brabham, but soon returns to his usual car, whereas Peterson continues to work away in his spare car, virtually abandoning the Lotus 76. The March mechanics have straighten out Stuck’s car and he resumes practice only to come to another stop, more gentle this time, when a drive-shaft brake. Before the half-way pause there is an involuntary break when Hobbs clips the exit of the chicane on the pits straight and bounces across the road and into the barriers, bending the front of the car, so everyone stop while the breakdown lorry collects the bend car. Carlos Pace has now joins the 1'33"0 group, as has Fittipaldi, while both Ferraris are well into it, with Lauda down to 1'33"16, which take pole position on the grid from Reutemann. With 31 drivers competing for 25 positions on the starting grid there are a few traumas going on amongst the rabbits at the end of the field, though some are so hopeless (relative to the top group that is) that they more or less give up all hope of getting into the race.
Peterson has one final fling with the Lotus 76 in the last part of practice, but isn’t as fast as he is in the Lotus 72, and that isn’t fast enough to be impressive anyway. The outcome is becoming very clear, it is two Brabhams against two Ferraris, with Fittipaldi in his McLaren hovering just behind them, but the Maranello hopes receive a surprise blow when John Watson pulls out all the stops and does 1'33"63 in the Hexagon-of-Highgate semi-works Brabham, thus ousting Regazzoni from the second row of the grid. Watson’s progress during practice is a model of a driver getting on with the job as the car is trimmed to suit the conditions, from knowledge and information imparts to the small private team by the Brabham designer, Gordon Murray. Watson’s best times in the four sessions were 1'35"31, 1'34"99, 1'34"08, and 1'33"63. And then the brown Brabham spin off the course at the Lesmo bends and destroys itself, the driver stepping out unhurt! Its not a case of over-enthusiasm, a rear wheel has a brake and sends the car helplessly out of control. So practice finishes with a Ferrari on pole position with three Brabhams very close behind it and blocking the second Ferrari, which has a McLaren breathing hard on it. The Hexagon Brabham BT44/4 is too badly bend to be repair in the paddock, but Bernie Ecclestone don’t hesitate about offering the loan of the spare works car to Watson. There are a few minor problems to sort out, such as making it fit the beard Irishman, and the fact that the works cars run on Goodyear tyres while the Hexagon car run on Firestone tyres, but all go well and Watson is ready to give the car a try-out in the untime practice on Sunday morning, which is the reason for the extra half-hour usually provides on race morning. Lauda is also grateful for it as his car has a new engine fits on Saturday night. It doesn’t need much of a clairvoyant to know who the unlucky ones are going to be when there are more drivers than places on the starting grid and once again there are no surprises; Dolhem (Surtees), Facetti (Brabham), Bell (Surtees), Wilds (Ensign), Amon (Amon) and Kinnunen (Surtees) being left behind.