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#204 1971 German Grand Prix

2022-08-25 01:00

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#1971, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Siria Famulari,

#204 1971 German Grand Prix

Saturday 24 July 1971, on the renovated Watkins Glen circuit about 300 kilometers from New York. Alfa Romeo wins with Andrea De Adamich. Ronnie Peters

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Saturday 24 July 1971, on the renovated Watkins Glen circuit about 300 kilometers from New York. Alfa Romeo wins with Andrea De Adamich. Ronnie Peterson and the spider 33.3 the 6 Hours, the last round of the World Makes Championship in which Porsche has already established itself for some time. The Italian car beats the mighty 5000 cc 917-Ks: Siffert-Van Lennep's came second at two laps and Bell-Attwood's took third, at twenty laps, ahead of Motschenbacher's unofficial Ferrari 512-S -De Cadenet. Ickx-Andretti's 312-P was forced to retire and the same fate followed Donohue-Hobbs' 512-M, which had set the best time in training. Peterson and de Adamich set an average speed of 181.655 km/h, covering 279 laps in six hours, equal to 1089.930 kilometres. The two took the lead halfway through the race, when a heavy downpour hit Watkins Glen. The 33.3 asserted its handling qualities, leaving behind the Porsches, more powerful but less comfortable in the wet. It must also be said that the Gulf team's preparation for this American race was rather precarious. It was the last test of the year, in 1972 the big cars equipped with German five-litre engines would no longer take to the track, the title was already in the bag. Why be very picky? Furthermore, the crews themselves were improvised. The passing of Pedro Rodriguez, who had given the Stuttgart company so many successes, had forced sporting director David York to revolutionize the driver pairs, placing Siftert with the Dutch Van Lennep and Bell with the slow Atlwood. It ended with the 917-Ks making a long series of pit stops, while the Alfa 33.3 of Peterson and De Adamich repeated the exploits of the 1000 km of Brands Hatch (success of Pescarolo-de Adamich) and the Targa Florio ( statement by Vaccarella-Hezemans). A regular march, interrupted only for refueling and to change tires when it started to rain. 

 

The race of the other two 33.3s entered by the Italian manufacturer in the 6 Hours was much more eventful. The spider entrusted to Stommelen and Pescarolo shortly after the start went off the track, hitting a guardrail while Stommelen was trying to overtake another car. The two cars suffered serious damage while the drivers remained unharmed. Almost ironically, a similar incident was repeated as the competition was about to end, with Alfa's third 33.3, that of Elford-Galli, as the protagonist. The Italian car, driven by Elford. it hit American Barber's Lola due to poor visibility. Even in this case, fortunately, the runners remained unharmed. Elford, at that moment (lap 258, twenty minutes to go) was in second place, a placing that would have made the day triumphant for the 33.3 and the Biscione team. The adventure for Ferrari is less happy, both for the 312-P prototype with the 12-cylinder boxer engine used in Formula 1, and for the 512-M prepared by the American team Sunoco. This car, entrusted to Donohue and Hobbs. it jumped into the lead at the start, followed by Siffert's Porsche 917-K and Maranello's three-litre spider. with Ickx and Andretti. An hour into the race and both Ferraris are forced to retire. First the 512-M due to engine failure, then the 312-P due to a starter motor failure which occurred during its first stop at the garage for refueling. Thus, from the first moments, the 6 Hours of Watkins Glen was restricted to a duel between the 917-K of Siffert-Van Lennep and the Alfa 33.3 of Peterson (making its debut on the Italian prototype) and de Adamich, while Bell's 917-K was immediately cut out of the fight due to an accelerator failure which forced it to stop for twenty minutes in the garage. An exciting battle that the rain resolved in favor of the red spider, which once again demonstrated its qualities of resistance and regularity. The race was very tough. Only ten of the twenty cars that started finished it. Upon arrival, de Adamich says:

 

"The rain helped us, but we were already in the lead. In any case, our car had better grip in the wet, as had already happened at Brands Hatch".

 

Peterson, the new ace of the sport of driving (he is also emerging in Formula 1), says he felt very comfortable behind the wheel of the 33.3.

 

"I couldn't have started better than this".

 

Among the many sectors of Motorsport, one of the most interesting is that of two-seater racing cars, i.e. those racing cars that take part in the Canada-America Cup. This event, summarized by the acronym Can-Am, is divided into a series of tests taking place on Canadian and US circuits. The sign is that of the dollar: the prize pools are very rich. 

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In 1970 the organizers had allocated half a billion lire plus a minimum quota of 35 million per race (ten, of which seven in the USA). The two-seater racing car category, born in Europe, has truly made its fortune in America. In Europe its activity ends in the Interserie championship, while in the United States and Canada it ends up practically replacing sports and prototype racing. There is no limit to the capacity of the engines and the bodywork is reduced to the minimum expression, there is not even a requirement for accessories such as lights and signaling devices. In Can-Am the imagination of American builders and tuners finds no limits. In general, the cars all have a monocoque structure (like Formula 1 single-seaters) and the engine is part of the chassis. The use of Chevrolet engines of 7500-8000 cc with powers exceeding 1,700 horsepower is common. The weight of the machines is less than 700 kg. For years the field has been dominated by McLaren, whose manufacturer-driver, Bruce McLaren, killed himself last year while he was testing a new example intended for this racing series. However, the current edition of the Can-Am has brought three new, valid opponents for the big cars of Hulme and Revson, bearers of the Anglo-American team. We are referring to Jackie Stewart's Lola, Jo Siffert's Porsche 917-10 and Mario Andretti's Ferrari 712-M. Stewart, who won one of the Can-Am races this year, has also exported his class brand to North American circuits. He was in the lead several times, as in the Watkins Glen race, which followed the 6 Hours won by Peterson-De Adamlch's Alfa 33.3, but he was often betrayed by his car's transmission. The Watkins Glen race was the debut test for Porsche and Ferrari. The two manufacturers have competed in the Cup in recent years, but with disappointing results. Ferrari had prepared a special car for Chris Amon in 1969 (the 612) while in 1970 a special 512 was prepared for a team in Los Angeles, i.e. a car with a chassis identical to that of the 612, a five-litre sports engine and bodywork. wedge-shaped. Similar experiments had been carried out by Porsche with its 917. Now the challenge becomes official and the Porsche-Ferrari battle moves from Europe to America. There is also a commercial and advertising reason. For both brands, the US market is the most valid for sales. The German manufacturer also wanted to justify this decision on a technical level. 

 

The engineer Pieck, head of the competition department for the Stuttgart company, explains that anti-air pollution and safety laws require the design of increasingly larger and more powerful engines. Therefore, useful information can be obtained from the Can-Am races. Both Siftert's 917-10 and Andretti's 712-M (fourth) are fairly similar wedge-shaped spiders. The German car (but for 1972 a completely new model will be released) uses one of the best 12-cylinder engines adopted from the 917-K sports. Power is around 630 horsepower. The chassis is made of aluminium, derived from one of those of the 917-K at Le Mans. The 712 M represents an intermediate version of the real Ferrari for Can-Am, which should be ready in September. The engine is a 12-cylinder 7000 cc engine, the frame is tubular with light alloy reinforcement panels. The debut of the two cars was positive. Finishing two girls behind the ultra-proven McLaren-Chevrolet represents a good start. The calendar includes eight other competitions (Watkins Glen was the fourth of the series). The Maranello and Stuttgart teams have time to improve their cars against the McLarens. Meanwhile, race after race the Formula 1 season passes through Europe. The first part ended in England, the second opens on Sunday 1 August 1971 in Germany. Six tests have been held so far, with another six scheduled for the calendar. Jackie Stewart, with Tyrrell-Ford, is leading the World Championship. He won four races and proved to be a truly great ace. His Tyrrell is not a prodigy, but it has a good chassis, the best Ford engines. Cosworths in circulation, a small but very efficient team of mechanics. Furthermore, the car is fitted with tires that are highly reliable in the dry. These are the ingredients of a cocktail that is dominating the Formula 1 World Championship. They are normal ingredients (the difficult thing is to bring them together), others of a mysterious type do not exist. The case that broke out the day after the French Grand Prix remained a malicious fantasy. The rumors were silenced by the response of the technicians who analyzed the petrol used on Stewart's Tyrrell. The fuel had no secret additives and was not made up of strange mixtures. It was very common premium petrol. And the counterproof came from England. At Silverstone the Scot's engine was removed from the car, sealed and shipped to Cosworth, which has its headquarters a few kilometers from the circuit. Other tests, same result, the engine was in order. Therefore, the Stewart-Tyrrell duo is going strong, very strong indeed, with natural means. 

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And, as often happens, the minds of man and machine are accompanied by the favor of fate and the misadventures of rivals. Misadventures of a technical nature, let it be clear, because in racing the word bad luck is used too frequently to cover shortcomings and failures that should be indicated in another way: engine, chassis, precarious set-up, suspension, tyres. Here, we have arrived at the sore point of Ferrari and its drivers, of whom three are back in Germany: Ickx, Andretti and Regazzoni. Andretti did not take part in the French and British Grands Prix, Ickx and Regazzoni participated but were unable to score points for the championship. In both races the Belgian and the Swiss had to retire. The point is this: Stewart has 42 points, Ickx 19, Andretti 9 and Regazzoni 8. Ickx, who is second in the standings and is the best placed of the trio, would have to win five races in order to win the title, hoping, at the same time, that Stewart obtain, as best result, a second place. Mathematical games and alchemy. Stewart is 90% World Champion. However, in addition to the vague theoretical possibility of overtaking the Scotsman, the path remains open for Ferrari and Ickx to achieve prestigious successes. Last year, the title was won by Rindt and Lotus, but the series victories of Ickx and Regazzoni (which began with a second place for the Belgian in Germany at the Hockenheimring) impressed the public and the world much more of the Grands Prix. Everything depends, however, on the resolution of the problems that emerged in these last races. The use of the tyres, the strong vibrations that shake the entire structure of the 312-B2 Ferraris, the failure of some engines have caused an unfortunate situation that the Maranello technicians are trying to resolve. It seems, however, that, for now, the American company that supplies tires to Ferrari is not able to make tires that are more efficient than the current ones. In any case, it will be the German Grand Prix that will clarify whether the situation has had a positive outcome or not. A race that suits Jacky Ickx above all, who on the fantastic, difficult Nurburgring circuit has always provided evidence of great skill, starting from the success obtained in 1969 with the Brabham-Ford at the expense of Stewart, then with the Matra- Ford. 

 

With the Brabham, Ickx was the fastest in training (7'42"1) and in the race (7'43"8) while this year, with the Ferrari 312-P prototype - in practice, the F1 single-seater with bodywork - achieved, respectively, 7'36"1 and 7'40"8, exceeding the average speed limit of 180 km/h for the first time. The theme of the German competition will basically be the usual one - Jackie against Jacky - with the possibility for the man element to emerge with greater relevance than the machine element compared to other Grands Prix. However, we must not underestimate the possibilities of the other two Ferrari drivers (Regazzoni, in particular) and of a trio who have recently contested excellent races: Peterson (March), Fittipaldi (Lotus) and Siffert (B.R.M.). There is no doubt in my mind that, the return of the German Grand Prix to the Nurburgring after its brief removal to the Hockenheim Motodrom is popular, for the movement and race fever is already evident when I arrive at the circuit the day before practice begins. By the time race day arrives, the Eifel mountains are like a human ant-hill, and though no official figures are given for the attendance, the scene is reminiscent of the early post-war years and I have not seen crowds like it for ten or more years. A promise of superb weather for the weekend and the return of the Grand Prix to, its only possible home seem to arouse enthusiasm throughout Western Germany and the neighbouring European countries, so that the result is memorable; the only sad thing is that the race des not turn out quite as expected. There is no lack of support for the first Grand Prix on the new look Nurburgring, for all the teams are entered, Ferrari, March, McLaren and B.R.M. with three entries apiece, and Tyrrell, Surtees, Lotus and Brabham with two entries each. Matra are reduced to one entry, for the affair of the Giunti/Beltoise accident in the Argentine last winter has arisen again in FIA circles and Beltoise has been banned from driving for a further period of time, so that Amon is left on his own to defend the French colours. To complete the list there are the private entries of Frank Williams’ March 711 for Pescarolo, the Clarke-Mordaunt March 711 for Beuttler, Bonnier with a McLaren, and the 1970 Surtees TS7 hire-car that Dieter Quester is arranging to borrow, but the financial arrangements fall through at the last minute, causing Surtees to remark something about: If Quester drove like he talked he’d be a World Champion. 

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Of the three-car teams Ferrari are undoubtedly the strongest on paper, with Ickx, Regazzoni and Andretti in the three 1971 Ferraris, with a 1970 car as spare. The B.R.M. team has co-opted Elford into their ranks to drive the late and much lamented Rodriguez’ car, with Siffert leading the team and Ganley being the third member, while McLaren are reduced to the two entries of Hulme and Gethin due to a shortage of engines caused by the Cosworth factory being on holiday, so it is Oliver who is dropped. The STP-March team has Peterson, Galli and de Adamich in their cars. The situation is rapidly developing where one Tyrrell car is bad enough for the opposition but two cars are twice as bad, and if Tyrrell ever enters three cars there will be a lot of people who will feel like giving up. His two entries are, as usual, Stewart and Cevert, while Lotus has their usual mixed-double of Fittipaldi and Wisell, and Surtees and Stommelen are in the Edenbridge factory cars, while Hill and Schenken are in Tauranac’s Brabham cars. The major changes to the machinery being used are confined to March and Lotus, for the STP-sponsored team has rebuilt 711/4, that Galli had driven at Silverstone with a Cosworth V8, and converted the back-end to take an Alfa Romeo V8 engine, while the Gold Leaf-sponsored team has built a new Type 72 to the latest D-specification, for Wisell to drive, this being R6, while his old car R3 has been refurbished and Charlton has taken it back to South Africa in place of Rob Walker’s R4, which has been the original choice. The minor changes involve the re-making of bits that brake at the British Grand Prix, such as the coil mountings on the P160 B.R.M.s, and the addition of proven parts such as a full-width nosepiece on the spare Tyrrell car, while new minor details include a full-width nosepiece on Schenken’s Brabham BT33/3, German Bilstein shock-absorbers on Peterson’s works March as well as a cold-air box on its Cosworth engine, some experimental drilled brake discs on Hulme’s McLaren, revised air-collector boxes for the Surtees cars, and a solitary CSI/GPDA regulation rear light on Bonnier’s old McLaren, which is almost a new McLaren as it has been rebuilt with the monocoque being re-skinned. Practice is arranged pretty fairly, with two sessions of one-and-a-half hours each on Friday and a two-hour session on Saturday. 

 

The first session starts at midday on Friday, with the Eifel mountains on their best behaviour, the sunshine bringing out large crowds very early in the proceedings, and everyone who has not taken part in the ADAC 1.000-kilometre race last May is keen to find out about the cleaned-up Nurburgring. Although the widening, smoothing out and resurfacing meet with Stewart’s approval, it is soon evident that the Nurburgring is still one of the best challenges to Grand Prix car designers and builders, and to drivers, for speeds are higher everywhere and road-holding and suspension as well as bravery and skill are at a premium. Those teams, that are not trying to stop the undersides of their cars scraping on the ground in the dips, are trying to keep the wheels on the ground over the humps or trying to make their cars handle on the multitude of differing corners, both horizontal and vertical. More work is being done on shock-absorbers, springs, roll-bars, tyres and ride-heights than on engines or gearboxes, and those that are not trying to solve these problems are picking cars off the edges of the circuit or replacing broken engines. When the last German GP has been held at the Nurburgring, in 1969, it has been over 14 laps-a distance of 319.69 kilometres-and lckx has won with a Brabham in 1 hr. 49'55"4, he making fastest lap in 7'43"8. For some unaccountable reason that no-one would admit to, this year’s race is reduced to 12 laps, a mere 274 kilometres. (We must forget the bad old days of Ascari and Fangio when they raced for 22 laps of the Nurburgring to find out who was going to win the German GP, for I am told that that is not progressive thinking). With two years’ advance in power and road-holding, to say nothing of the two years’ advance in the glory, the estimate of laps at 7’20"0. Is reasonable enough, especially taking into account the widening, smoothing and resurfacing of the circuit, and in the first session Stewart takes his Tyrrell 003 round in 7'21"9, to set a new standard. Just what some of the other drivers, engineers, designers, team managers, mechanics and helpers are doing is hard to appreciate when you look at the list of best laps recorded during the first practice session, while some of the slowest laps of which we never hear must have been remarkable. For some people there are good explanations, such as the fact that Wisell never leaves the pit area as his Lotus 72 is so new it is being finished off as practice begins, so he confines himself to laps round the short pit loop and never sets off round the full circuit. Beuttler does not get far before he crashes his March 711 into an Armco barrier and Bonnier is presumably doing an official tour of inspection in his McLaren on behalf of the GPDA.

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Later Marko sets off for a lap in this car but runs out of petrol. Stommelen blows up the engine in his Surtees car TS9/002 and Galli brakes the Alfa Romeo engine in the March 711/4, while Pescarolo ends practice with his March monocoque bending in the middle and creasing the outer panels. Ganley’s P153 B.R.M. brakes its gear-change linkage but Siffert is recorded by the timekeepers at 7'22"4, a time that a lot of people doubted as he is the only driver to break 7'30"0 apart from Stewart. There are five training cars standing by but none of them are used during this first practice session, these being the 1970 Tyrrell for Stewart, #4 of the 1970 Ferraris for the Maranello drivers, the first of the 1971 Matras for Amon, the latest P160 B.R.M. for Siffert and the latest 1971 Surtees for Stommelen or the owner of the team. In the late afternoon there is another hour-and-a-half of practice and needless to say Beuttler is missing, as is Galli, but Stommelen practices in the spare Surtees while another engine is installed in his regular car. Siffert’s car is also undergoing an engine change so he uses the spare B.R.M., and Ganley is missing as his gear linkage is being repaired. Amon changes to the spare Matra-Simca V12 and Stewart goes out in the old Tyrrell only to have the engine break. He returned on the pillion of a motorcycle and promptly goes out in the 1971 car and sets fastest time of the day with 7'19"0, which demoralises everyone even more. Regazzoni lands all wrong his Ferrari after aviating over a new hump at Plfanzgarten, the jump being caused by the previous bends having been made smoother, and the Ferrari damages its right rear quarter; he returns to the paddock and goes out in the spare Ferrari. With Stewart getting below the estimated 7'20"0 it is not unreasonable to expect most of the reasonably good drivers to get below 7'30"0, but only three manage this during the afternoon. These are Ickx, as is expected, with 7'22"9, Regazzoni in the old car with 7'27"6, which keeps one’s sense of proportion straight, and Cevert with 7'24"0 in the Tyrrell 002. This last performance causes quite a flutter for it means one or all of three things, either Cevert has one of the Stewart special engines, the Tyrrell car is outstanding on the Nurburgring, or the young Frenchman is developing into an ace-driver under the tuition of Stewart and Tyrrell. The 4.000.000 marks spent to make the Nurburgring circuit safer probably saved Clay Regazzoni's life. The Swiss went off the track with his Ferrari 312-B2 at a very fast point. Guardrails and containment nets kept the red single-seater from falling into the trees. Serious damage to the car (rear suspension and exhaust pipes), which however will be repaired in time for the German Grand Prix on Sunday, but the driver was unharmed and returned to the pits and resumed running with a reserve.

 

"It was a bad adventure. I was in fourth gear and traveling at 200-220 km/h. I flew over a jump in my place called Brunnchen, and as I fell the car ended up at the edge of the road, on the dirt, going into a spin. I went off the road like a shotgun ball. After one turn I leaned the back of my 312-B2 against the tables of a net. It went well".

 

For the Swiss it is the seventh accident since the beginning of the year: six times off the track (tests for the South African Grand Prix and the Dutch Grand Prix, races in Monaco, France and Austria, the 1000 km with the 312P prototype, and now at the Nurburgring) and once involved in a collision with a slower car (at Spa). A thrilling budget. mu it must be said that it was almost always not Clay's fault. This is the rather eventful start to Ferrari's training for the German Grand Prix, the seventh round of the Formula 1 World Championship. A day, apart from Regazzoni's accident, dedicated to solving the problems posed by the tyres, the sore point of the 312-B2 . The situation appears slightly better than previous races, even if due to the characteristics of the circuit. The tortuous course of the track (22,835 metres, with 170 bends) and the lack of very fast bends - as in France or England - reduce tire fatigue. Ferrari and Firestone worked together, looking for an emergency solution for this Grand Prix, which in practice could decide the fate of the World Championship. Tests have been carried out in America and Australia. Says the technical director. Mauro Forghieri:

 

"The situation is not yet clarified. We brought tires with different compounds and diameters to the Nurburgring. We ended up resurrecting the higher profile tires we used last year and the results were decent. The vibrations have decreased. But Ickx then achieved his best time with a new type of low profile tire with modified sidewalls and tread. In short, everything is to be decided".

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Meanwhile Jackie Stewart, with the Tyrrell-Ford, set a fabulous time of 7'21"9fl0, at an average speed of 181.300 km/h. It's okay that the circuit has been softened in some sections, with the disappearance of some tight corners, however it remains extremely difficult due to its length and the lack of precise reference points. The Scotsman then reiterated his form and the moment of grace of his car. In this regard, the only flaw came from the failure of the Ford-Cosworth engine, with which Stewart had carried out the first part of the tests. Jackie stopped along the way and returned to the garage on his motorbike, resuming his ride in the spare car.

 

"But it always happens to them in training, never in racing".

 

After Stewart, of course there is lckx with a time of 7'22"3, which in turn precedes Siffert with the 12-cylinder B.R.M. by 0.1s. The Swiss was given a time of 7'22"4 which, according to findings of Tyrrell and Ferrari, would not be accurate. There has been some confusion among the official timekeepers and it may well be that it can be rectified some time. Regazzoni set the fifth best time and Andretti the eighth best time. No complaints about lckx time. It is 3 seconds better than Stewart's, but the Belgian paid particular attention to experimenting with different types of tires to understand the differences in behaviour. A test run, therefore, rather than a series of exploit laps. Mario Andretti, who knows very little about the Nurburgring circuit, performed well, given that he only raced there in 1969 with the integrated-wheel drive Lotus. Mario went off the track due to a wheel coming off on the first lap.

 

"Here too you have to press your foot down, but if you get to the top of a climb and you don't know whether you have to turn right or left afterwards, well, it becomes a problem".

 

Ickx and Regazzonì had a very nice attitude towards Andretti; Ickx pulled his teammate for a few laps and advised him to use lower gears than expected. The Belgian pilot said:

 

"You see, Mario, you have to keep a certain rhythm, use third where you would put second, fourth instead of third. Eventually, you will find that you are faster".

 

Regazzoni offered to travel the circuit in a private car with Andretti at his side, showing him the secrets of the track in detail. An idyllic climate, perhaps dictated by the common anger over Stewart's successes. At midday on Saturday, July 31, 1971 there is a final two hours of practice for honour to be retrieved by those embarrassed by Cevert, for potential winners to try and challenge Stewart, and for those in mechanical trouble to try and get themselves sort out. Stommelen is back in his normal car, Pescarolo’s March has been cleverly strengthened inside the monocoque, Stewart has another engine in his spare car, Regazzoni’s 1971 Ferrari has been repaired, as has Beuttler’s March and Ganley’s B.R.M., while Galli’s March and Siffert’s B.R.M. are ready with new engines. In fact, the amount of work that mechanics have done in the paddock in rather poor conditions during Friday and during the night is quite phenomenal, and if the GPDA want something to turn their good intentions on it might be double pay for overtime by their mechanics and some better lighting and bench facilities in the paddock garages. After spending many millions of Deutschmarks on the circuit to appease the drivers it is pathetic to see their mechanics working in crude lock-up garages with a single 40-watt bulb in the ceiling, just as they did twenty years ago. The daily thrash round the Nurburgring gets under way with quite a rush as people realize it is now or never and a number of drivers get well below the 7'30"0 time, and lckx joins Stewart in the super-ace category with a 7'19"2 lap, a mere two-tenths of a second away from Stewart’s pole-position time. Cevert proves that his Friday performance is not a fluke by improving to 7'23"4 and Regazzoni beats him with 7'22"7, which seems only right and proper in view of the time Ickx records. 

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Siffert dispels the Friday doubts with another good lap well below bogey time, and Hulme and Fittipaldi join him in the elite class, while Schenken scraps in by two-tenths of a second, which is praiseworthy enough when you look at some of the drivers who do not reach bogey time. The STP-March team are confident that Peterson is well in the elite category so are rather taken aback when the official practice results give Peterson’s best lap as 7'32"4. The number one talker of the March concern, soon goes round the other teams and finds three of them have recorded a similar mid-20-sec. time for Peterson, the Swede being one of the drivers who other teams keep a stopwatch on during practice, so armed with this information he attacks the organization after practice and eventually a new time is issued for Peterson; 7'26"5, and everyone is happy. Stewart has settled at 7'22"0 and before he can re-assert himself in the fastest time of day position rain clouds sweep across the Eifel mountains and practice fizzles out very suddenly as the rain pours down. At one moment, the pits are full of photographers photographing, Press pressing and hangers-on hanging on, and it is almost impossible for anyone to do any serious work. Within seconds, the whole pit area is clear except for the racing cars and the mechanics and one or two enthusiastic followers of Grand Prix racing. To everyone’s amazement, Hulme goes out in the pouring rain and does a full lap of the circuit and returns wet but laughing at all the open mouths that greet his return as if he has taken leave of his senses. 

 

He says that his 7'26"0. lap in the dry with a bog-standard Cosworth V8 engine has put him in a good mood. Stewart, Schenken and Surtees all have a splash round the short pits loop, and Wisell skates back to the paddock on Firestone slick tyres. As practice ends under rainy skies, Pescarolo’s March is being retrieved from out on the circuit where it has landed in a heap after yet another rear hub casting has broken. Stewart against Ickx, Tyrrell against Ferrari. The German Grand Prix also proposes this theme, which is the leitmotif of the Formula 1 World Championship. Compared to Friday, however, there is a variation. At the end of the first day of testing, the two Jackies are separated by 3.3s. On Saturday, the Belgian's deficit drops to just 0.2s. Stewart, in fact, did not improve his time, while the Belgian driver went from a time of 7'22"3 to a time of 7'19"2. A very respectable performance, which demonstrates how Ickx, on this Nurburgring circuit, has nothing to learn from Stewart and, at the same time, places himself on a better performance level compared to the very valid Regazzoni and Andretti. The Swiss will start in the second row, alongside the B.R.M. of Siffert, while the Italian-American will start from sixth, on par with Peterson's March. A further detail must be mentioned. Ickx achieved his excellent time with a less brilliant engine than those of Andretti and Regazzoni. Jacky Ickx explains:

 

"In the long straight before the garage I couldn't reach the same number of laps provided by the engines as my two teammates. I talked to them and found that I was 600 RPM down on Mario and 400 down on Clay. Also, the water temperature was getting a little too high".

 

The 312-B2 reaches, as is known, a maximum speed of 12.500 RPM, with a power of approximately 480 HP. In practice, the difference translates into a loss of 10 km/h. In the straight Jacky could reach 270 km/h against the 280 km/h of Andretti and Regazzoni. Ferrari's technical director, Mauro Forghieri, therefore decided to replace the engine with a new one.

 

"I do it reluctantly because this unit, all things considered, had proven to be safe. How will the other one go?".

 

Let's not forget, Ferrari is now suffering from the union unrest of a few months ago. The disturbance caused by them was probably reflected on some materials and on some delicate processes.

 

"To overcome the problems exposed by Ickx, we changed the spark plugs and the ignition. But he was not satisfied. There are also psychological factors in this situation. We therefore preferred to please him".

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Ickx's time and the improvements shown by Regazzoni (from 7'27"6 to 7'22"7) and Andretti (from 7'31"8 to 7'31"7) raise Ferrari's prices on the eve of this seventh round of the World Championship. The mechanics worked splendidly during the night to repair the car damaged when Regazzoni went off the track. A team of five men, led by chief mechanic Borsari, changed the rear suspension and exhausts, the engine (which may have had dirt infiltrated) and the gearbox. Sixteen hours of effort around the single-seater, from Friday evening until 4:00 in the morning and then from 7:00 a.m. until the tests begin. Regazzoni says:

 

"It's better than before".

 

And he proves it right away. As for Andretti, the Italian-American could have done more if another driver hadn't delayed him on a faster lap than him.

 

"I could have gotten a 7'26"0, instead of the 7'31"0. Patience. I'm starting to understand the route. I really hope I can make a good impression tomorrow".

 

The 312-B2s demonstrated today that they are better suited to the ups and downs and curves of the Nurburgring. Mauro Forghieri says:

 

"Yesterday we worked on the tyres, today on the cars, from shock absorbers to gears. And something good was achieved".

 

Ferrari and Firestone decided to adopt low profile tires for the race with modified sidewalls and tread compared to the types used in France and England with very unfortunate results. Firestone is developing a new dry tire, but it won't be ready for three months. However, vibrations and deterioration phenomena have decreased. Half an hour before the end of testing, the tire situation was reversed with a Hitchcock-style surprise. Dark clouds quickly gathered on the Eifel hills, through which the circuit extends, and a violent downpour broke out. Meteorologists are also predicting rain for Sunday. Suddenly, we noticed long faces at Goodyear, the company that supplies Tyrrell, Brabham, Matra-Simca, McLaren and the Williams team (the March of Pescarolo) and laughing faces at Firestone, which has the most efficient wet tires and it is linked to Ferrari, Lotus, B.R.M., March and Surtees. Mauro Forghieri adds:

 

"If it rained tomorrow our problems would disappear, or almost. Nor are we worried about not having tested the cars with these tyres. The tests carried out in the past, in particular in Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix, are clear. We know what work to do on the 312-B2 to possibly adapt them to rain tyres".

 

For its part, Goodyear brought a new type of tire to the Nurburgring, precisely to overcome the problems that emerged in Holland. However, these are new tires, which have not even been given a name. They have never been tested by the drivers, so much so that the organizers of the German Grand Prix allowed Stewart, after training sessions, to take a lap of the circuit with the Tyrrell to test them. In the end, it was decided to use them, hoping for the best. It may seem absurd that rain and, therefore, tires can become referees of a race. The reality, however, is this. For Ferrari, however, the comfort of Ickx's time remains. Let's not forget, it was achieved with a dry track, therefore in conditions favorable to Stewart and the Tyrrells. The Scot is one step away from the title, but no one is willing to give it to him. The duel between the two Jackies promises to be truly exciting. The start of the German Grand Prix is due at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 1, 1971 and even early in the morning it seems that most of the spectators have camped out overnight to be sure of a good vantage point, yet the traffic flows in continuously until well after lunchtime and the Nurburgring is as full as it has ever been. 

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The only difference is that, this time the paying public can really see something for the safety improvements have benefited the spectators almost more than the competitors. The morning is fully occupied by races for Formula Vee and Super-vee, a rousing demonstration lap by Ford’s Transit Supervan. displays by dancing girls and a variety of race-followers both in and out of the paddock that reaches an all-time high. The race rules say that no cars would be allowed through the tunnel that leads from the paddock to the pits later than ten minutes to one o’clock, and that a warm-up lap of the short pits loop would be made by everyone before lining up on the dummy-grid. When Hill’s Brabham BT34/1 is started up in the paddock there is a depressing shortage of fuel pressure, so a lot of the mechanical bits are torn apart to find the trouble and it is cured and reassembled in a mad rush to beat the paddock gate closing time. When Pescarolo tries to leave the pits, his engine would not run properly and it is suddenly realised that in the flap of rebuilding the rear suspension the engine has not had a new set of plugs fitted, so this is done in haste while everyone else leaves the pits to go to the start. As most of the drivers join the circuit from the concrete pit lane, they stop on the tarmac and do a practice start, and for the spectators in that area it is liked a non-stop drag-race meeting as car after car takes off in a cloud of tyre smoke. The modern 3-litre Grand Prix car presents an impressive sight as it accelerates away leaving wide black lines on the tarmac. At the very last minute, Pescarolo joins the happy throng on the grid, at which point Hill and Wisell are suddenly very unhappy for the Brabham’s throttle linkage has fallen apart and Wisell’s engine has developed a vapour lock in the fuel pump. Consequently only 20 cars roar away when the German flag is lowered, with Ickx beating Stewart to the first corner by a few feet. The cars have been lined up in pairs, with Stewart on the right at the front, lckx alongside and Regazzoni and Siffert behind them, so once again the Scot is the only Cosworth-powered and Goodyear-shod runner in the forefront, which pleases his sponsors no end. As they round the South Curve and race up the straight behind the pits the leading Ferrari has the blue nose of the Tyrrell almost touching its exhaust pipes and the little beady eyes of the Scottish driver has a very hard and determined look in them, for with only two-tenths of a second between him and Ickx on practice times he cannot afford to hang about. 

 

Back on the grid a shrewd blow in a strategic place has cured Wisell’s lack of fuel pressure, and he joins the race as the tail-enders are still down at the South Curve. Poor Hill is not so fortunate for his trouble is due to a vital nut being left off during the last-minute panic in the paddock, and the leaders are over half a lap away before his throttle cable is refixed and he can start racing. It is clear that, Stewart is not going to stand any messing about from Ickx as he forces his Tyrrell into the lead on the North Turn before they are even out of sight of the pits. Although Hulme has made a good start from the third row, following the two Ferraris, he is passed by Siffert and Peterson during the opening lap. With the official lap record standing to Ickx from 1969 it is no surprise that Stewart’s standing lap at 7'37"7 is a new record, nor that his first flying lap is also a record, at 7'29"9. Stewart ends the first lap with a commanding lead over the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni, who are followed by the B.R.M. of Siffert, the March 711 of Peterson, Hulme’s McLaren and Andretti’s Ferrari, then come Cevert, Schenken, Fittipaldi and the rest, except for de Adamich’s March-Alfa Romeo which has already expired with fuel-injection trouble. Hulme is already in trouble with a leaking petrol bag tank, the petrol getting on his feet, and both Andretti and Cevert go past him on the second lap. With a clear road ahead Stewart is putting as much distance as he can between his Tyrrell and the Ferraris, and as Ickx sweeps up through the climbing right-hand turn at Wippermann he spins off the track, across the dirt safety area in a cloud of dust and clouts the Armco barrier with the back of the car. Regazzoni takes avoiding action through the dust cloud and before he gets himself sorted out he has an excursion off the track which lets Siffert nips through into second place and causes the Ferrari to damage its exhaust system under the engine. A very disgruntled Ickx is getting out of his derelict Ferrari, the impact with the Armco not only putting a very large dent in the new steel wall, but bending the left rear suspension and top radius arm of the Ferrari, and wiping off the battery and all the ignition and charging-system that is mounted on the rear of the gearbox. This little contretemps by the Ferrari team, mean that Stewart ends lap 2 some 15 sec. ahead of Siffert’s B.R.M. and once again all hope of a Grand Prix race is gone. 

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Regazzoni’s Ferrari follows, then comes Peterson’s March, followed by Andretti’s Ferrari and Cevert’s Tyrrell side-by-side, the young Frenchman getting ahead at the South Curve. The rest goes by one after the other in the order Hulme, Fittipaldi, Schenken, Pescarolo, Stommelen, Gethin, Elford, Surtees, Ganley, Beuttler, Galli and Amon, the Matra driver really suffering as his V12 engine is popping and banging. A long way back come Wisell with Hill even further back and when it has all gone quiet at the pits de Adamich arrives to complete his first lap. Amon’s practice has gone from bad to worse and all the good Matra engines are used up, so that he starts the race with a car cobbled-up from the front half of MS120B/06, a rather tired old engine, and the rear end of MS120B/04 with the earlier rear suspension layout. Going along the straight behind the pits Ganley suddenly finds oil pouring into the cockpit of his B.R.M. and switches off in a cloud of smoke before the whole engine brakes, so with the race hardly begun we are down to twenty runners of which Hulme and Amon have little hopes of finishing, and de Adamich is too far back to get anywhere even hads his Alfa Romeo engine been made to run properly. The end of lap 3, sees Stewart with so much lead that he is passing by the back of the pits as Siffert arrives at the front of the pits, and Hulme has dropped out of the running as the fuel leak has become impossible. He draws into the pits, drip trays are put under the leaking McLaren and he removes his petrol-soaked shoes and socks and sat and watches the race. In the meantime, Beuttler has got a flat right front tyre on his March as he passes the back of the pits and rather than try and drive a full lap on the flat tyre he turns off into the loop at the North Curve and comes back to the pits, entailing immediate disqualification. It is unfortunate but there is no other way for he would not have got far on the flat tyre, so now there were only seventeen little Grand Prix drivers for de Adamich has given up. Almost without being notice Cevert has overtaken Peterson and is in fourth place on lap 3, and on lap 4 when Stewart laps in a new record time of 7'27"2, Cevert does 7'27"9. At the same time Siffert’s B.R.M. engine begins to misfire which causes him to drop back so that the B.R.M., Regazzoni’s Ferrari and Cevert’s Tyrrell end the lap in close company, and during lap 5 both the Ferrari and the Tyrrell pass the ailing B.R.M. 

 

This leaves Stewart with 33 sec. lead, aided by a lap in 7'25"5 and Siffert passes the pits in fourth place pointing at his front suspension. From the mid-field Pescarolo stops at the pits as his March seems to be falling apart again, and a short trip round the pits loop confirms his feelings for the front suspension is bent and the rear suspension is coming away from the chassis. After a mere six laps the race is halfway through and Stewart’s lap record run is down to 7'23"6, while Cevert is trying hard to get past Regazzoni’s Ferrari which is sounding bad and is 500 r.p.m. down on maximum due to the damaged exhaust system. Siffert takes the short loop back into the pits as his engine dies on him with a defunct coil, entailing immediate disqualification, which he dies not mind as his right front lower wishbone member is coming adrift from the chassis. Amon is long overdue and arrives late at the pits with signs of a private accident with a barrier on the right-hand side of the car, so now there were only thirteen little drivers left, for Gethin has also gone, having spun gently off the track on the left-hand bend at Metzgefeld, just in front of Surtees and Elford, the McLaren sustaining a bent rear suspension. In add, Galli is black-flagged as the March-Alfa Romeo’s rear aerofoil is falling off, a trouble that Peterson has experienced in practice, so he draws into the pits after seven laps to have it removed, and Fittipaldi is already there as his Lotus is losing oil and has broken its front anti-roll bar. Cevert has got in front of Regazzoni, but the Ferrari driver is doing his best to keep up, and just has not got the speed of the Tyrrell along the main straight. Stewart covers lap 8 in 7'22"9 and Peterson dashes into the pits to have a damaged fibre-glass cover removed from one of the side-mounted radiators of his March 711 and this drops him from fourth place to fifth behind Andretti, but safely ahead of Schenken who is sixth. Galli returns to the pits with broken engine mountings on the March-Alfa Romeo, probably the reason for the aerofoil falling off, and as nothing can be done he limps away to try to finish. Fittipaldi also comes back to the pits, this time for good as all his oil has leaked away from a split tank, so this leaves eleven fairly healthy runners and one sick one, and by proper Grand Prix standards the race is barely under way, but by mini-Grand Prix standards it is fortunately nearly over. 

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The ninth lap sees Regazzoni driving really hard to stay with Cevert, but on the next lap the Tyrrell number two driver does an inspired 7'20"1 lap, which even Stewart does not improve upon, having done 7'21"8 on that lap. As Elford goes by the back of the pits his B.R.M. engine stops as the ignition coil fails, as has Siffert’s, and while the leaders are ending the race he gets another coil from the pits and fits it to the engine and gets going again, finding that the engine goes better than it has done since the start. Stommelen makes a quick stop at the pits to say that his Surtees feels a bit odd, but as nothing is visibly wrong he goes on. As Stewart is a comfortable 40 sec. ahead of his team-mate he is able to take things easy by his standards, and goes round in 7'20"8, not knowing that Cevert is holding the lap record. The number two Tyrrell driver cannot relax for the swarthy Swiss Ferrari driver has not given up the chase and is hounding the pretty young French lad unmercifully, though without hope of regaining second place unless Cevert makes a mistake, which is unlikely as he has the ability to concentrate to the full even when under pressure. Stewart cruises home to another undisputed victory to the joy of Tyrrell, Gardner, Elf, Ford and Goodyear to say nothing of Jackie Stewart Incorporated and Cevert finishes a strong second to the absolute joy of Monsieur Francois Cevert himself and Regazzoni is a hardworking third. Then comes a rather uninspired Andretti, an ever-improving Peterson and Schenken, the Australian having a trouble-free run this time. Surtees follows with the two late starters WiseII and Hill behind him, and the Brabham driver just fails to make up his handicap on the Swede. 

 

Tyrrell repeated the winning duo of the French Grand Prix in Germany: Stewart first, Cevert second. In third place was Regazzoni's Ferrari and fourth was Andretti's. Jacky Ickx went off the track after a lap and a half. Spin, crash into a guardrail and the end of any hope of winning the Formula 1 World Championship, of which this race represented the seventh episode. Stewart has won the title at 99%, in theory not yet, but the mathematical alchemy of the scores can no longer deceive anyone. Over the 274 kilometers of the race, Stewart gave way to Ickx for only one kilometre, the initial thousand metres, then the Scotsman passed the Belgian at the second bend of the circuit and climbed into first position, calm and confident. The usual walk, the usual festival, so to speak, while behind him Ickx, Siffert with the B.R.M., and Regazzoni angrily tried not to lose ground. Further back, Peterson, Andretti, almost immediately overtaken by Cevert. The others were pale shadows, including, unfortunately, de Adamich and Galli, hit by the usual series of troubles of all kinds. If everyone knows Stewart's class, Cevert's second place once again highlights the merits of the Tyrrell-Ford, a traditional car, without certain cutting-edge Lotus-style solutions, but harmonious in every element, from the chassis to the engine, suspension. A single-seater that is just a year old. It is always prepared to perfection and has offered highly reliable tests on all circuits. Furthermore, two other factors influenced the Stewart-Cevert double: the tyres, which reconfirmed their superiority in the dry (rain was an illusion on Saturday) and the lower weight at the start, determined by the lower day load. fuel. One fact: the Ferrari started with around 160 liters of petrol, the Tyrrell with 135, which is to say around twenty kilograms less. At the end of the first lap, Stewart had a 3.2s lead over Ickx. The Belgian pilot says:

 

"I tried not to lose contact with Stewart. The low profile tires, with new sidewalls and tread, were performing quite well and vibrations were contained to acceptable levels, although the 312-B2 was slightly oversteering. Jackie took the advantage when recovering at the exit of the slow sections, while on the straight we were more or less equal. Then, in a curve on the mixed road that leads onto the straight before the pits, I spun. I was in fourth gear and was traveling at 150-160 km per hour. I hit a guardrail on the left hard and stopped. There was nothing left to do".

 

Ickx doesn't say it, but it's clear that, in order not to lose too much ground against Stewart, he was forced to keep an excessively high pace. It should also be noted that during the night between Saturday and Sunday the mechanics had replaced the engine, gearbox and other parts on the 312-B2 destined for the Belgian. The car has been practically redone. Ickx was only able to test it during the short lap around the pits which preceded the drivers lining up for the start. The Ickx accident almost didn't involve Regazzoni. The Swiss ended up in the dust caused by the team leader going off the road and, for a few seconds, he no longer saw anything.

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"I had terrible moments, I felt like I was going to end up against a guardrail at any moment. I went into a spin. Luckily, the car stayed on the track and I was able to fly away while Siffert overtook me. Then the tires started to get worse and, once Siffert retired, Cevert overtook me".

 

The Frenchman achieved the feat during the sixth lap.

 

"I would perhaps have taken it again, because in the last laps, with the car lighter due to the fuel consumed, the performance of the tires had improved, if the engine hadn't stalled due to a broken exhaust pipe".

 

An inconvenience that resulted in a loss of around 500 rpm (10-15 km/h less on a straight line). The only happy one in the Ferrari clan is Mario Andretti.

 

"An interesting, almost fun experience. I'll need it for next year".

 

The Italian-American had no problems with his tyres, but his pace was around 7'30"0 per lap, compared to Regazzoni's much faster times. The tire problem remains, even if it seems to be on the way to a solution. However, it must be honestly stated that at the Nurburgring the tires had less influence on the results of the Tyrrell-Ferrari battle than on other occasions. Says Ferrari technical director Mario Forghieri:

 

"Stewart is stronger for a variety of reasons, and that's what matters most in practice".

 

It became clear that Ickx would not have been able to effectively counter his Scottish rival, just as Regazzoni was unable to impose himself on Cevert. Andretti himself would not have overtaken Peterson's March-Ford if the latter had not been forced to make an unexpected pit stop to remove the bodywork of a side water radiator that he was dangling dangerously. A lot of work awaits Ferrari if it wants to close this World Championship worthily.


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