#249 1974 Canadian Grand Prix

2022-08-18 00:00

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#1974, Fulvio Conti,

#249 1974 Canadian Grand Prix

Niki Lauda saw his dream of winning the Formula 1 world title with Ferrari vanish at Monza. The Austrian, who had also led the World Championship, won


Niki Lauda saw his dream of winning the Formula 1 world title with Ferrari vanish at Monza. The Austrian, who had also led the World Championship, won the Spanish and Dutch Grands Prix and secured the prestigious pole position nine times but experienced a terrible string of setbacks in the latter part of the season: no points in Great Britain due to a pit stop forced by the crowd on the track (the case would be discussed on Tuesday, September 17, 1974, in Paris, in front of the FIA tribunal), an accident in Germany, and retirements in Austria and Italy. Currently, Niki has 36 points in the standings against Regazzoni's 46, Fittipaldi's 45, and Scheckter's 43.


"The situation speaks for itself. Even though one always hopes for a miracle, my chances have been extremely reduced. I had already informed Engineer Ferrari that the result at Monza would decide my position in the team for the trips to Canada and the United States. I will put myself entirely at the disposal of Regazzoni and Ferrari: I will try, to the best of my ability, to help Clay win this title that would not only be his but all of ours and that our team deserves thoroughly. Moreover, if circumstances had required it and if the Monza race had unfolded differently, I would have been ready to let Regazzoni pass. Those were the agreements. But it wouldn't have been necessary: I was in the lead and Clay second, and both of us were operating within the limits allowed by our cars; I assure you, I was driving at 70% of the possibilities. My 312-B3 had behaved magnificently in every respect until the pit stop. The engine trouble is part of the game; it's certainly more disappointing to lose a race due to such a trivial matter".


He adds:


"I noticed that many were surprised by how easily I pulled away at the start, but I didn't have to exert myself to distance the Brabham and all the others. It doesn't seem new, by the way: the same happened in Zandvoort and Brands Hatch, just like with Clay in Germany. And being in pole position, what else was I supposed to do? Regazzoni was in the third row and had safer but less agile tires in terms of endurance than mine, so less fast. At that moment, I certainly couldn't wait for him. I repeat, the follow-up of the Grand Prix would dictate the strategy to be observed. I'm really sorry to have been accused, along with Regazzoni, of pushing too hard. Ours was a normal pace, and a certain margin of advantage could have been valuable in the event of a pit stop to change a tire. I don't forget what happened in England: with a margin of about fifteen seconds and the skill of the mechanics, I could have handled such an emergency without too much damage".


Afterwards, the Austrian bitterly says:


"That puncture cost me a lot. Then, in Germany, I tried to win at all costs and collided with Scheckter, getting eliminated on a circuit where, as Clay showed, the Ferrari was clearly superior to other cars. I have already told Regazzoni that I will give him my help in North America. It won't be easy, but I will do my best in practice and in the race. I don't think this is an exceptional or surprising fact, just as it wasn't exceptional or surprising that I, so far, have tried to win the world title. Ferrari has provided Clay and me with magnificent cars; it seems logical that each of us has worked for himself and, of course, for Engineer Ferrari. And it also seems obvious that the Italian executives have equally bet on both of us to have double chances of victory".


He then concludes, saying:


"There aren't many days between Monza and Mosport, but we will do everything to take to the track in the Canadian Grand Prix in the best possible way. The track, among other things, should highlight the qualities of the Ferraris. Now, we need concentration, serenity: Clay and I, the technicians, the mechanics want this championship to be Ferrari's. I am happy to race for Ferrari. I hope to be part of the team, along with Clay, even next year. I have told Engineer Ferrari, and I trust he will confirm it".


Lauda, therefore, assures his support to Regazzoni. For the Swiss, engaged in a very difficult battle with a Fittipaldi who gives nothing to rivals and with a Scheckter who is now convinced he can win the title, this could be a decisive help, and for Ferrari, the winning card in this exciting championship. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, September 17, 1974, in Paris, Lauda's case is resolved by the FIA Appeals Tribunal, convened in a special session. The sports judges correct the finishing order of the British Grand Prix, placing the Ferrari driver in fifth place and demoting Reutemann to sixth, Hulme to seventh, Pryce to eighth, and Pace to ninth. The Austrian had been classified in ninth place. In this way, Lauda gains two points for the Formula 1 World Championship, of which the penultimate race is held on Sunday, September 22, 1974, in Canada; Reutemann takes only one point, and Hulme none. The most significant change, of course, concerns Lauda, who goes from 36 to 38 points. At the top is Regazzoni with 46, followed by Scheckter (45) and Fittipaldi (43). The FIA decision, based on extensive documentation, accepts the appeal of Ferrari and Lauda, who was assisted by lawyer Luca Montezemolo. As is known, the Austrian, forced to stop at the box at the end of the British Grand Prix to replace a punctured tire, could not restart due to the presence of the crowd in the entrance section to the track, losing fifth place. The organizers and then the British Automobile Club had not acknowledged their responsibility in the incident. The FIA decision restores credibility to the Formula 1 World Championship and the sports authorities themselves. A true act of justice has been done to Lauda and Ferrari. The next day, Wednesday, September 18, 1974, the Ferrari team, led by its sports director, Luca Montezemolo, and composed of technical director Engineer Mauro Forghieri and the drivers, Clay Regazzoni and Niki Lauda, departs from Rome to Toronto. Lawyer Montezemolo says:


"We leave with high morale, despite all the criticism that rained down on us after the unfortunate test at Monza. Too much has been said about that race, it must be said, and almost always out of proportion. Unjustified accusations have been directed at our drivers, who have been excellent throughout the season. Even in Canada, Ferrari will be the car to beat, and I can assure you, this is anything but a comfortable role. The opponents are very strong, and from race to race, they take turns attacking us. I hope, however, that our drivers can conclude this championship as they have played it so far".


The Formula 1 World Championship is in its final stages. The Canadian Grand Prix and the United States Grand Prix will decide the fate of this long and exciting season that sees three men - Clay Regazzoni, Jody Scheckter, and Emerson Fittipaldi - and three teams - Ferrari, Tyrrell, and McLaren - at the top of the standings, enclosed in a few points: 46 for the Swiss, 45 for the South African, and 43 for the Brazilian. It is somewhat curious that the two North American races are precisely what will determine the successor to Jackie Stewart. Formula 1 is a product of the old continent, in terms of philosophy, technology, and protagonists. All the teams that have participated with varying success in the championship are based in Europe, so much so that the Formula 1 Constructors' Association has organized a private flight from London to Toronto for the transport of cars and spare parts and then a caravan of trucks for the transfer from Mosport to Watkins Glen. Just like equestrian circuses. It is estimated that, on average, the Canada-United States trip costs each team about 20.000.000 lire, which globally means over 250.000.000 in expenses. Ferrari brings three 312 B-3s to North America for Regazzoni and Niki Lauda, three spare engines, and a whopping 3,500 kilograms of spare parts, from suspensions to brakes, from gearboxes to boxes with various equipment for the mechanics. Ten, considered sufficient to face any unforeseen circumstances, or almost. A Heuer timekeeper, technicians Mauro Forghieri and Giacomo Caliri, and sports assistant Sante Ghedini complete the Maranello expedition, led by Luca Montezemolo. Everyone, with a commitment reinforced by the particular moment, is at the service of Regazzoni and Lauda, especially Regazzoni, of course. The Swiss, with a bit of luck, can win the world title, while the Austrian, despite the two points rightfully returned to him by the FIA for what happened in England, appears with his 38 points eliminated, if not mathematically, at least practically, from the contention. Lauda realizes this and emphatically reaffirms his intentions to help his teammate.


"At this point, I want Clay to win the title. The ways to realize this help, however, are few and depend on how the race will unfold. For example, if at the end of the Canadian Grand Prix, I am in the lead and Regazzoni is second, I will let him pass; if, instead, he is leading the race, well, I would try to slow down his most dangerous pursuers for the title, namely Scheckter and Fittipaldi. Predicting now who of the two is stronger seems impossible. They are on the same level; much will depend on the adaptation of their cars to the circuit".


Mosport is located about seventy kilometers from Toronto, the large Canadian city that opens onto Lake Ontario. It is a challenging circuit with numerous curves, ascents and descents with significant counter-slopes. The asphalt is somewhat patched. Essentially, a track very similar to Brands Hatch. Regazzoni comments:


"It's even worse because the road circuit is very narrow and doesn't allow for mistakes. Here, one must know how to drive and possess a highly competitive car. The Ferrari should do well due to its general characteristics and the smooth progressiveness of the engine during accelerations".


Lauda adds:


"One must have a big heart".


And rightly so, as they manage to maintain averages of 185-190 km/h. The Ferrari team certainly doesn't lack heart, having absorbed the disappointment at Monza with anger. Montezemolo states:


"We were bitter after the Italian Grand Prix. Attempts were made to blame the drivers for faults they didn't commit. Patience. In these days, we have worked intensely to present ourselves in Canada in the best technical and psychological conditions. We have two excellent cars and two great drivers. But now, words don't matter anymore. We will see on Sunday what will happen".


Forghieri adds:


"I regret that Ferrari is forced to play for the title in the last two races, and so far from Maranello. It's an adventure when Regazzoni could have already been the champion. Regarding the engine durability, we have no particular concerns. The failures at Monza are linked to contingent factors, which we have explained clearly, although there are people who continue to embroider fantasies about it. Mosport is a circuit that we don't know very well in terms of technical references. I remember it has always posed setup problems. Like all fast mixed-type tracks, it puts a lot of strain on the suspension and gearbox, but the engine is also quite stressed. The tests tomorrow and Saturday will offer an evaluation of our and others' possibilities, provided the race on Sunday doesn't take on a different face for who knows what reasons".


The Ferrari team settles, along with other teams, in a large motel on the Toronto-Montreal highway, running along Lake Ontario. The weather is wonderful, the atmosphere is serene, the fatigue of the ten-hour flight with a Jumbo from Rome - Regazzoni distributes autographs throughout the plane. Lauda, a flight enthusiast, almost always travels in the cockpit - he is quickly absorbed. A day of relaxation, ending in the evening in front of the televisions for the Canada-USSR ice hockey challenge, which, for now, interests Canadians and Americans much more than the Formula 1 Grand Prix. The McLaren team did not take kindly to the two points awarded by the FIA to Lauda and the changes to the order of arrival of the British Grand Prix. While some offered compliments to Luca Montezemolo, others, especially Teddy Mayer, manager of the Fittipaldi and Hulme team, expressed their resentment in a coarse manner. 


Mayer, threatening revenge against Ferrari, warns Lauda and Regazzoni to be very careful with the blue passing flags and not to hinder his drivers. He further advises Ferrari to strictly observe the regulations, pending his complaints, and finally spreads the word that the French of the FIA have accepted Maranello's appeal to have the Maranello cars back at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year. Mayer loses control of his nerves and any sense of measure, not so much because Hulme (demoted from sixth to seventh place in Great Britain) lost a point, or Fittipaldi feels Lauda closer (the gap between them in the World Cemetery standings has decreased from 7 to 5 points), but because of the protests of one of the team's sponsors, a cigarette company. Now, it seems that there is a lot of concern in Formula 1 teams about the intentions of tobacco companies for 1975, as in European countries, the ban on all forms of advertising, even indirect, for smoking is spreading. And if these wealthy sponsors withdraw, many will find themselves in difficulty. Ickx, the former Ferrari driver now at Lotus, for example, if JPS does not confirm the contract with the British team, would be free and replaced by a rookie driver. It seems that Jody Scheckter has offered to race for Ferrari next season, leaving Tyrrell. The proposal of the South African is likely to fall on deaf ears. Regazzoni and Lauda, according to insiders, have already signed the contract that binds them to the Maranello team also in 1975. These, along with a rumor that Ford-Cosworth has urged all teams using its engines to help Scheckter in his battle against Regazzoni and Ferrari, are the most interesting topics on the eve of the trials. Clay Regazzoni, thirty-five years old, two children, a Grand Prix won this season, three second places, and numerous placements on the scoreboard, is in North America with the heavy task of giving Ferrari a World Championship title in Formula 1 after ten years.


"I am very calm. Winning the title would be a wonderful thing for me, for Ferrari, and for all our friends, but I don't think it would be a determining factor in judging our season. If I succeed, it will be a reward, a recognition of my efforts and the team's. Of course, if I lose it, it will be mainly due to bad luck. But let's not think about it: I am convinced that if the races in Mosport and Watkins Glen have a regular development, without punctures or unforeseen troubles, I should do better than Scheckter and Fittipaldi".


Did you hope, at the beginning of the year, to become one of the protagonists of the Championship?


"No, not at all, both because it's not in my character to make long-term plans and because I thought we would have very strong rivals. The Ferrari 312-B3 had improved, but to what extent? Also, I felt a bit tense; the responsibilities were significant, and I came from a dark season with B.R.M.. However, right after the races in Argentina and Brazil, I understood that we could aim high. I found myself in this situation almost without realizing it. Only after winning in Germany did I understand that I could become World Champion. To be honest, I was convinced I could secure the title between Austria and Italy".


For what reasons, in your opinion, are you leading the standings with such a narrow margin over your rivals?


"First of all, because almost every time I started from the second, third, or even fourth row of the starting grid. It was a big problem. Every time I had to overtake three or four cars. If I had obtained the pole position, I would undoubtedly have taken the lead in many Grand Prix and would have won them. Today, Formula 1 races are mortgaged at the start, and I, moreover, in Monaco and Belgium, couldn't take advantage of this advantage. Secondly, I didn't get all the points that, theoretically, I could have taken. The punctures at Brands Hatch and Zeltweg, for example, took away seven points from me".


Why couldn't you place better at the start on these occasions?


"A matter of tires, not cars. The tests last only six hours. A short time. Trouble if some inconvenience stops you in the box or if you don't immediately find the right tire combination. You get nervous, maybe you don't understand why everything seems perfect while in reality, you're going slowly. There can be a second's difference from the best set of tires to the worst".


Do you blame yourself for anything in your 1974 season?


"No, except perhaps what happened in Monaco. I knew that the rear wheels tended to lock during braking. There were dirty areas on the track, and I ended up in one of them, spinning. Or at the Belgian Grand Prix: now I would wait a little longer to overtake Larrousse".


What do you think of the 312-B3?


"It's a really good car, easy to drive. For its sincerity, it allows you to face any unexpected events on the track. Compared to previous versions, it has improved a lot in the chassis and suspension. The team, then, is on par with the best English teams".


What have been the most beautiful and ugliest moments of your World Championship so far?


"In Argentina and France, I was satisfied with myself. In the first case, it was my return to Ferrari, and I had a beautiful attacking race. In the second, I managed to maintain the third position and not be overtaken by Scheckter. I suffered the greatest disappointments in Monaco and Austria. In Monza, the Italian Grand Prix, I almost expected it not to go well. It would have been too beautiful, a dream".


And now, at Mosport, what do you plan to do?


"Nothing in particular: perform well in the trials and try to bring myself to the front on Sunday. I just have to make sure to precede Scheckter and Fittipaldi".


And Lauda?


"He will help me. And I'm glad about that. We are friends. We had only one disagreement, after the Monaco Grand Prix: I didn't agree with his race tactics, and I told him. Each of us aimed for the title, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by Ferrari: a natural thing, it seems to me".


For next year, what program do you want to follow, title or no title?


"To continue racing for Ferrari. The cars are competitive, the team is strong, and there's Enzo Ferrari who, despite the passing years, is always a stimulus for all of us".


With Lauda?


"Yes, certainly. Niki Lauda is a driver yet to be discovered. In my opinion, he has a long career ahead of him. I would be very happy if after me, the title went to him".


Emerson Fittipaldi, 28 years old, father of a few months old baby, World Champion in 1972 with Lotus, has already won eleven Grand Prix in five years of Formula 1. He is calm, reflective, almost never attacks, and aims above all to finish the race with his McLaren. Jody Scheckter, 24 years old, is in his first big season. 


He won in Sweden and in Britain, showing that he has acquired a certain maturity compared to 1973, in which he was involved in many eventful incidents. Although Ken Tyrrell has made him calmer and more reflective, he is a warrior, a fighter full of grit. Fittipaldi knows how to wait, Scheckter does not. Perhaps for this reason, Regazzoni fears Emerson more, who says, not denying himself even now:


"The important thing is to finish among the top three in these two Grand Prix. Among Scheckter, Regazzoni, and me, whoever manages to do it will become the world champion. Absolutely no risks must be taken. I realized that in Monza. In overtaking Peterson, I came close to going off the track. So, not only would I not have won, but I wouldn't have even gotten second place. However, tomorrow's race may be worth more than the next one in Watkins Glen. It will be an important race. If one of us three wins this Canadian Grand Prix, in the United States, they can live off that".


Who, in percentage terms, has a better chance of winning the title?


"Difficult to answer, but I give myself 40%, and I assign 30% each to Clay and Jody. Why that extra 10% in my favor? Simple, because I will do everything to finish this race and then the American one".


Did you imagine such a contest at the beginning of the championship?


"No, I thought that my main opponent would be Ronnie Peterson, with Lotus. Instead, Ronnie and Mr. Chapman couldn't aim for the title, and those from Ferrari and Scheckter emerged. Two bad surprises for me. Immediately, in Argentina, I understood that Lauda and Regazzoni would be tough opponents. The cars were very fast, with a lot of horsepower in the engine. I hoped they wouldn't hold up over the distance, but unfortunately, it wasn't the case. Scheckter surprised me; in a year, he transformed and became very good".


What were the most beautiful and ugliest moments of your season?


"The most beautiful ones are yet to come, I hope. The others I went through in France and Austria, where I had to retire due to an engine failure. At Zeltweg, I was furious because no one could have taken away the second position".


Were there any mistakes?


"Only one, at the beginning of the season, in South Africa. We chose the wrong set of tires, and I had to stop in the box to have them changed. Too bad".


With the Paris verdict, Lauda has 38 points. What do you think?


"Changing the order of arrival of the British Grand Prix has created a dangerous precedent. The organizers made a mistake, and the FIA made another one. I was surprised. The matter should have been handled differently. In football, for example, the bounce of the ball on the referee is considered. And if the ball goes into the goal, no one thinks of canceling the goal".


Scheckter, who likes to come across as a rough type, is more concise and brisk than ever in interviews.


"I really didn't believe in the possibility of fighting for the title. I was driving a new car, and I didn't know the European circuits. What could I expect? But starting from the Spanish Grand Prix, at the end of April, I realized that I had a very competitive car in my hands. I told Tyrrell, and he told me to prove it to him. It seems to me that I succeeded".


Who will win among you three?


"Impossible to answer, it's more than ever a roulette".


When were you satisfied with yourself?


"In Monaco because I finished the race without damage, and it wasn't easy, especially for me, who was racing for the first time in that narrow circuit. Instead, I experienced the worst disappointments in Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa: in three races, no points".


Any mistakes?


"None, neither on my part nor on the team's. If I had to redo the season, I wouldn't change anything. Now I hope to finish these last two races in the very top positions, of course, ahead of Regazzoni and Fittipaldi. But it will be a challenge because Clay has a magnificent car. In the straights and where there is an uphill, no one sees him".


Part of the speeches in Mosport Parks paddock concern also the two brand new American Formula One teams are arriving on the scene for their very first race. Perhaps one should emphasize that the teams are only new to Formula 1, for both contain plenty of proven ingredients from other racing categories and both turn out their new cars in such an immaculate condition that they rather out-shone some of the old hands. Technically the most interesting is the Maurice Phillippe designs Parnelli VPJ4 which marks this designers return to the Grand Prix scene after three fruitful years spent designing USAC machines for former Indianapolis winner Parnelli Jones. Sponsored by Viceroy cigarettes, the USAC Parnellis have enjoyed a great deal of success in the hands of Mario Andretti, Joe Leonard and Al Unser, but now the team decide on an audacious move into Formula 1 with a Cosworth-powered British standard kit car. Mario Andretti is the driver, this being his first race in Formula One since 1972. Phillippes latest design, unsurprisingly, bears a striking resemblance to the Lotus 72, using as it does the same design of torsion bar suspension, inboard disc brakes front and rear and side water radiators angle in the same way as the later Lotus 76. There are additional refinements such as aircraft-type snap-on joints with one-way valves for the clutch and brake fluid lines which by-passes the need to bleed these systems every time an engine is removed from the chassis and the whole car attracts attention from just about every other designer in the paddock. Even Colin Chapman takes a long look at the Parnelli, doubtless wondering if it's what his team should had designed earlier in the year. The second new Formula 1 car is Roger Penskes PC1 which, although equally smart in its turn-out, feature a more conservative approach with coil sprung suspension and outboard disc brakes at the front although it does employ side radiators, now apparently standard wear for most Grand Prix machines. The basic design work was the responsibility of Geoff Ferris, formerly a Brabham designer, and the car is tested exhaustively on Penskes special test track before it ever laps a proper racing circuit. Initial testing have been carried out by former Can-Am Champion Mark Donohue who announced his retirement from racing at the end of 1973, but he decided to return to active participation after Penskes Formula 1 car is finishes and is on hand to drive it in its very first race. Facing these two new challengers and their optimistic teams is the usual band of confident, hopeful and apprehensive regulars, some of whom have win races this year, some of whom have come close and some of whom arent nearer winning than they are back at Buenos Aires in January. 


Team Lotussuccess at the Italian Grand Prix has convince them that a couple of narrow track 72s are the answer for North America, so JPS/9 is being brought along as a spare car alongside 72/8 for Peterson and 72/5 for Ickx. Neither driver has a chance of the World Championship, but Peterson at least is determin to try his very hardest to win at Mosport as he does everywhere he steps into a racing car. In a stronger position is the McLaren team, for not only do they lead the ConstructorsChampionship prior to the race, but Emerson Fittipaldi is well in with a chance in the driverscontest. The Brazilian drives his usual M23/8 with Hulme in M23/6 and German driver Jochen Mass replacing David Hobbs in the Yardley McLaren following a split with Team Surtees. A statement is issue laying down the terms of his departure from Surtees which quite clearly indicate that their split isnt in any way amicable. Numerically, Brabhams are strongest contenders in the Canadian Grand Prix. Not only do what they having works BT44/1 for Reutemann and BT44/2 for Pace, but the Goldie-Hexagon BT44/4 is completely rebuilt after its Monza accident for Watson to drive and the ex-works BT42/3 is loans to local Formula B driver Eppie Wietzes to drive in his second Grand Prix. He drove at Mosport Park seven years ago in a spare works Lotus 49. Finally, Ian Ashleys consortium of sponsors got hold of the ex-Watson Brabham BT42/2 to replace the Token which he had driven last at Osterreichring. The two works March 741s are on hand as usual for Stuck and Brambilla, while Ferrari bring along a trio of 312B3s for Lauda (015) and Regazzoni (016) while relying on 014 as the T-car. In the Tyrrell team things change round with Scheckter using 007/3 and Depailler being entrusted with a brand new 007/4, the two Elf back men having Scheckters Grand Prix winning 007/1 as spare. At Team Surtees, Derek Bell stays on to drive TS16/0402 but Austrian Formula Ford and saloon car driver Helmuth Koinigg has recruite to drive the second car in place of Mass. The Embassy Lola team for Stommelen and Hill is unchange as is the UOP-Shadow organization while Merzario and Laffite continue to drive for Frank Williams. B.R.M.s recent spell in the doldrums resulte in the suspension of Pescarolo and Migault from driving and the inclusion of Chris Amon in the team alongside Jean-Pierre Beltoise. 


Amon is given the newest car, B201/04 to drive, while Beltoise handles 03 and there isn't any sight of anything new in the engine department from Bourne. Rounding off the entry is Heskeths Dijon-damaged 308/2 now rebuilt with side water radiators, flatten nose and full width front wing for James Hunt, these modifications be incorporate simply for evaluation purposes to see if they are an improvement on the original arrangement and to provide pointers for the teams 1975 chassis. Lastly Mike Wilds is on hand to drive Morris Nunns Ensign MN02. When practice opens on Friday morning, the first quick times are record by the works Brabhams, emphasizing their performance over bumpy circuits. Pace head the charts by the end of the first hour and a half, lapping his BT44 confidently in 1'14"1 with Reutemann right on his tail one tenth of a second slower. Regazzoni gather it all together to equal Reutemanns time, but the Swiss looks as though his Ferrari is on the brink of disaster most of the way round the circuit as he strives to do so. Lauda, Scheckter and Hunt are all lapping in the 1'14"0 bracket, but anyone who dont got into that area on the first day wasnt really in with a chance. While the Ferraris scrapped with the fastest Cosworth power competitors at the front of the field, there are plenty of other teams in trouble. Peterson is trying as hard as he knows in his Lotus 72, but can only manage 1'15"3 which is equally by Beltoise, so clearly there is room for improvement there, but Jacky Ickx is having a thoroughly miserable time. First he run his Lotus 72 gently off the circuit, inflicting damage to its suspension and steering and then he has to sit and wait for his mechanics to repair a brake which has seize on in the Lotus 76, leaving him only a few minutes at the end of the session to got in any serious laps. The Shadow mechanics are pondering over a seriously damage engine in Jariers car and Amon is busy telling everyone that there is, in fact, very much wrong with the B.R.M. and its virtually undrivable. However, Andretti in the new Parnelli looks distinctly promising. Despite his new car showing a mark reluctance to warm up its tyres properly in the cool conditions the former Ferrari driver laps in 1'15"6 during the first session and opine that there is still plenty more left to come. By the end of Saturdays session, Andretti is down to 1'14"9 although Donohue, who had only been one tenth of a second slower than Andretti on Friday, encountered problems on Saturday which ensured that he was unable to improve. After just three laps, Donohue brings the car into the pits complaining that it will not maintain its fuel pressure and has start to burble at several points all-round the circuit. 


Penskes mechanics work furiously for about twenty minutes to coax the car back into healthy life before pushing it back to the garage and examining their charge in more detail. They eventually diagnose a broken belt to the mechanical fuel pump, change the belt and are extremely disappoint when the car still fails to run smoothly. In consequence they are obliged to spend the rest of Saturday fitting a fresh fuel pump which means that Donohue can only got out for the final few minutes of the session. Having foiled all the apparent problems send to hinder them on Friday, Team Lotus are faring scarcely any better on Saturday. Peterson spend the first session looking very glum, sitting on the pit wall watching his rivals fighting for grid positions as the Lotus mechanics sweat blood changing an engine oil seal in the garage and Ickxs 72 stand for much of the time in the pit lane as Chapman, Peter Warr and two mechanics endeavor to trace the source of its fuel pressure shortage. Peterson eventually gots out and works his way down to 1'14"34, good enough for a sixth row start, but the best Ickx can manage after all his tribulations is over one full second slower. Team Lotus fortunes have varies alarmingly all through the season, and this is definitely one of their worst moments, but it is a measure of the standards that this organization generally maintains that they think of this season as something of a failure. The final official practice session on Saturday afternoon provides a fine opportunity to see some really first-class exhibitions of bravery by some leading Formula One drivers. There are times during the season when one is tempted to accuse certain drivers of failing to give their best consistently, preferring a steady and tactical race in third or fourth position and hoping that their faster rivals in front will fail. But on this occasion, with the World Championship so delicately hanging in the balance, this isnt a time for tactics or soft-pedaling and everybody is out there on the circuit scratching away as hard as they possibly can. Regazzoni takes the opportunity to take out the spare Ferrari, the Swiss chasing his Austrian team-mate round in tight formation and both drivers using more of the stone kerbing on the edge of the track than usual. Jody Scheckter is using the stone kerbing and a bit more in his Tyrrell, working his way down to a fine 1'13"30 which at one time looks good enough for pole position. 


But then Lauda comes back with a spectacular 1'13"23 and Fittipaldi counters this with a stupendous 1'13"18 in the closing few minutes before a slight rain shower douse the circuit and that is the destiny of pole position put beyond doubt. Regazzoni looks a little bit depressed by the end of the afternoon, for the chargers are giving him a lot of trouble and he finds that his 1'13"55 is better by Reutemann and Jarier, so he is pushes back down to the outside of the third row. Just as the rain starts to fall, Regazzoni skid the spare Ferrari straight into the catch fences on the outside of the first corner, knocking the nose cone off the car and slightly damaging the suspension in the process. Depailler tries hard not to be left behind by Scheckter, but he is panting a bit to work his way down to 1'13"63, While Hunt, who finds the revise Hesketh preferable to the original car over the Mosport bumps, is the only other competitor to break the 1'15"0 barrier. Amongst the others; Peterson and Watson look a little further back than they should be, the Swede for reasons stats, while Watson isnt one hundred percent happy with his repaired car and is suffering from a bout of sinus trouble. On Sunday, September 22, 1974, unfortunately shows up one or two organizational problems. Although the Mosport organizers are willing and obliging, the circuits crowd control is very poor and the schedule of supporting events isnt run off very promptly. However, the Grand Prix didnt get under way until well over an hour after its appointed starting time, leaving most people wondering whether the bitterly cold wind will be bringing along snow rather than the rain predicts by local weather forecasters. When the Canadian flag drops, both Ferraris make their customary fast starts, Fittipaldi managing to slip in between them both as they stream round the first right-hand corner with Scheckter harrying Regazzoni hard in fourth place. By the end of the first lap Lauda, Fittipaldi, Regazzoni and Scheckter have already open up a slight gap back to Hunts Hesketh who in turn is at the front of a tight bunch containing Jarier, Reutemann, Pace, Depailler and Peterson. Then follow the triers in the form of Stommelen, Andretti, Mass, Pryce, Watson, Hulme, Beltoise, Laffite, Merzario, Ickx and Koinigg while Donohue finds himself box in by the tail-enders and Amon is running a solid last, driving the B.R.M. in a spectacular fashion which seem to have no effect whatsoever on his position in the race. By lap three Scheckter can see that the two leaders are beginning to get away from Regazzoni, so he charges past the third placed Ferrari and starts to try and haul in the leaders. Hunt is sliding the Hesketh all over the circuit as he strives to stay in front of Jarier, while further back, Andretti forces his path ahead of Stommelen and leaves Mass to lead the queue round behind the Germans Lola. 


By lap nine Stuck has make his first pit stop, retiring three laps later with fluctuating fuel pressure on his works in March. Right at the back Amons B.R.M. is beginning to have trouble with sticking throttle slides while Peterson is biding his time at the back of the second bunch. The first real incident of the race came when Mass tried to push inside Andretti at one tight right-hand corner only to have the American move over on him in determined style, causing the Yardley McLaren to slide broadside. This contretemps forced Watson to spin his Brabham into the guard rail, the Ulsterman resuming the race only to stop immediately at his pit to check the front of the car for any trouble. He continued the race but later made a second stop during which it was found that a rear wheel lint had been distorted in the collision with the guard rail, so his mechanics changed it and sent him on his way. Mass stopped a few laps later to complain about acute oversteer on right-hand corners, returning many laps later to have the McLarens rear dampers tightened up and a fresh left rear tyre fitted. Meanwhile Niki Lauda just drives round and round at the front of the field, while Fittipaldi drives as hard as he can to keep the Ferrari in sight and Scheckter did his best to keep pace with the pair of them. Pryce pushes his way past Stommelen by the simple expedient of bashing the nose of his Shadow against the tail of the Lola, both cars staying on the road, and the Welshman quickly pulls away from this bunch. Pace works his way into the leading group only to stop his Brabham BT44 at the pits with a rear tyre having gone off while Reutemann ison lap 25 to change both front wheels for a similar reason. Holding down third place, Scheckter looks certain to collect enough points to keep it clearly in contention for the World Championship. But by the time the race has run to 45 laps, the South African is beginning to feel something wrong with the feel of his brakes. They arent exactly fading, in fact Scheckter can only describe them as feeling funny. By lap 48 he is just turning over in his mind whether he should stop and tell Ken Tyrrell or not when he suddenly find that there arent brakes on the front wheels as he tries to slow for the hairpin, so Tyrrell 007/3 charges the guard rail at unabate speed and seriously damages its monocoque. 


On closer examination it seems that the feeling Scheckter experiences is the straps securing the shaft to the inboard front disc breaking up, but since their early season failures Derek Gardner has designed in a fail safe mechanism which doesnt allow the shaft to come away completely when the straps break. Unfortunately it seems that Scheckter fails to heed the warning given to him when the brakes start to feel funny and drive on until the fail safe mechanism also fails. The Tyrrell team leaders retirement from the race left Regazzoni in an undispute third place, but not for long. An increasing amount of interest is focuses on Ronnie Petersons Lotus 72 which is now hounding Hunt unmercifully for fourth place despite the left nose fin dragging on the ground, a legacy of slight contact with MassMcLaren which is a bit tardy in moving out of the way when the black and gold Lotus looms up in his rear view mirrors. By lap 60 Peterson has dispose of Hunt and is chasing Regazzonis Ferrari as hard as he can so it dont take long before the Swede is right on the Ferraris tail. It is a tremendous display by Peterson again proving just how serious a racing driver he is, whether it be when dominating a Grand Prix from the front or climbing up through the field as he did at Mosport Park. He pressures Regazzoni relentlessly and the Swiss is becoming progressively more and more reggae as Peterson clung hard to the tail of his Ferrari. However, if Regazzoni feels rather embarrase, his plight is nothing to that experienced by Niki Lauda on his 69th lap. Shortly before Lauda arrives at the right-hand turn three, John Watson loses control of his Brabham as he swings into the corner. A lower ball joint on the front suspension fracture, that in turn sever a brake pipe and all that is left for its luckless driver is to scrabble his way onto the apex of the corner in an effort to scrub off enough speed to negotiate the corner. Watson successfully manages this and coast to a halt a little further round the track, unfortunately having shower the circuit with dust, mud and grit as he completes his spectacular manoeuvre. The next car to appear at the corner, where no warning flags were waving, is Laudas Ferrari. He hit the mess on the track and skidded straight ahead into the protective barrier on the outside of the corner, smashing in the front of his car, handing the lead to Fittipaldi on a plate. A few seconds after Laudas unfortunate incident, Fittipaldi successfully negotiates the same corner and took over a comfortable lead which he successfully maintained until the finish, the Brazilian being too far ahead of Regazzoni for the Swiss to mount any realistic challenge and, in any case, he has his hands more than full in the closing stages of the race as Peterson come at him with a rush. 


Despite almost losing control on the corner before the pits, Regazzoni manages to get Donohue in the laps of Penske between hint and the tenacious Peterson on the last lap which allow him to scrape home in second place by just over one second. As the Ferrari mechanics are busy commiserating with Lauda, the entire McLaren team is grinning a communal grin of self-satisfaction as Fittipaldi finishes a very worthy first after avoiding the snares and pitfalls which catch out his young Austrian rival. Fourth is Hunt ahead of Depailler, while Hulme refuses to be ruffled by Andrettis presence right on his tail and beats Parnelli.


"In the United States, I'll win, so with that, we'll put an end to it".


Clay Regazzoni vents a mix of anger and facetiousness against the smiling Emerson Fittipaldi.


"If I had half of his luck this year, I would have been World Champion a long time ago".


Unfortunately, Regazzoni didn't have that stroke of luck, and now he finds himself tied with the Brazilian at the top of the standings: 52 points each. This situation will need to be resolved at Watkins Glen in two weeks. Once again, Ferrari and its men couldn't fully capitalize on their undeniable superiority over every rival. Lauda had an exceptional performance in the Canadian Grand Prix. A perfect start, passing Fittipaldi, then a devilish pace that the Brazilian couldn't match. Finally, when half the race had passed, and the lead over the McLaren driver was around ten seconds, a smart gradual slowdown. And at that point, there was the trap on the track, covered in dirt thrown by Watson's Brabham (whose suspension had broken), and no one had signaled it. Lauda emerged as the winner, Fittipaldi second, and Regazzoni third. If not for this, Ferrari would have gone to the United States with a calmer spirit. Regazzoni would have retained the lead (50 points) ahead of Fittipaldi (49), and Lauda would have taken the third position (47). Scheckter, forced to retire due to brake issues, would have been fourth with 45 points. In practice, still four contenders, but two drivers from the Maranello team for the decisive round. The duel, with a theoretical possibility of involvement by Scheckter while Lauda has been eliminated from the contention, is limited to Regazzoni and Fittipaldi, with all the uncertainties of the situation. It seems incredible that a Formula 1 season (fifteen races across South America, Africa, Europe, and North America for a total of 3500 kilometers) should be decided by a single race, especially when Ferrari has dominated the championship. It's frustrating, and that's what Luca Montezemolo feels.


"We've had a season with difficult moments, like in Sweden or at Monza. However, Ferrari has always known how to react, demonstrating commitment and pride that allowed us to play a leading role on every circuit. After the Italian Grand Prix, there were accusations and criticisms. The Mosport race shows that what happened in Monza was an isolated incident. We've never stolen anything from anyone; Lauda and Regazzoni earned their points on their own, not by exploiting others' misfortunes. On the contrary, they lost many points in absurd ways. And now we're playing the championship in 320 kilometers, an hour and three-quarters of the race".


In the Ferrari team, preparing to move to Watkins Glen, three hundred kilometers from New York, there's an atmosphere of anger thinking about what could have been, dismay at Fittipaldi's recurring luck, joy for the excellent performance offered, and the leading position that Regazzoni holds, even if tied with the Brazilian. A mix of feelings and impressions that include Lauda and Regazzoni. The Austrian's morale is low: with Fittipaldi behind, he couldn't have let Regazzoni pass and would have had to win the Canadian Grand Prix to stay in the title race. Niki mumbles, comforted by his wife Mariella:


"I had no problems at all; I was slowing down since I had a more than sufficient advantage over Emerson... The dirt was spread right on the normal racing line I took every lap. It felt like the car was floating; a big hit with the left side against the guardrail, and my race was over. How could I expect such a trap? Not a signal, not a flag. Now let's hope that Clay beats Fittipaldi".


The Swiss driver maintains his serene mood. It almost seems like he's having fun. In reality, he considers the situation philosophically.


"In the United States, our cars should perform at least as well as they did at Mosport, and it seems they did well here. Of course, at Watkins Glen, we'll have to take a bit more risk, just enough to finish ahead of Fittipaldi. I have only one regret from yesterday's race. At the start, I got off at the right time and managed to pull alongside Fittipaldi, who was on the right side of the track, inside the turn. I should have kept my foot down and dived in, but I thought there was a risk of a collision, so I let the Brazilian pass".


Regazzoni continues:


"It was a difficult race. The track is narrow, and the lapped cars didn't give way. Only the Brabham drivers, Andretti, and Donohue moved aside. I saw things like a pirate; maybe it's the end of the season, and everyone is trying to show off, but there should be a limit. I drove cursing all the time like an angry driver. Then, Jacky Ickx played a crazy trick on me while I had his teammate Peterson behind me. I saw Ickx's Lotus from afar; it was going slow, suddenly accelerated and disappeared behind a curve. I instinctively slowed down, I don't know why, and after the turn, I found him almost stopped in the middle of the lane. I miraculously avoided hitting the Belgian. Is this possible?"


Indeed, is it possible for all this persecution to happen? Before the Canadian Grand Prix, there was a rumor that British teams were invited to compete particularly hard against Ferrari. Formula 1 is not just a sport; the behavior of certain drivers seems suspicious, although it must be acknowledged that Fittipaldi also had overtaking problems. All that remains is to invite the CSI for careful supervision at Watkins Glen on Sunday, October 6, 1974.


"This year, I've experienced many adventures and suffered such strokes of misfortune that I'm armored. I'm not worried; it's Emerson who should be. He has to look back, reflect, and wonder if the lucky streak will continue in the United States. I'm here waiting for him".


For his part, Emerson Fittipaldi is satisfied, of course, and says that the battle between him and Regazzoni will be wide open in the United States. In Canada, he wanted to take the lead immediately, but he couldn't in the first laps, and then getting stuck behind the lapped cars separated him from Lauda. He claims not to be particularly lucky but always ready to seize opportunities at the right moment, and so on. It will be an exceptional United States Grand Prix, a race comparable to a World Cup final in football or a major boxing match. For Formula 1 and motorsport, a unique event, a challenge that will probably remain memorable.


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