#257 1975 Swedish Grand Prix

2021-12-26 00:00

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#1975, Fulvio Conti, Rebecca Asolari,

#257 1975 Swedish Grand Prix

A very complete field of runners turn out for the Swedish Grand Prix and all twenty-six are guaranteed a start as the Anderstorp Raceway is large and


A very complete field of runners turn out for the Swedish Grand Prix and all twenty-six are guaranteed a start as the Anderstorp Raceway is large and spacious. As it is building on a flat piece of waste land there are no interesting contours for the circuit to follow and in consequence the corners and straights are all very geometric requiring a car to be carefully adjust to a well-balance condition of handling and there is little opportunity for the driver to re-adjust the balance of the car by his driving technique, always assuming he is capable of doing so. On most circuits you have to adjust the car to be as near right as possible on one or two corners and make do with it on others, so that you tune the suspension and handling for the corner you like best and on which you feel you can make up most time, but this means you then have to compromise on other corners and even be less than right on corners that aren’t important. At the Anderstorp Raceway, because of the similarity of all the corners, if you got the handling wrong on one you are liable to find it wrong on all of them. However, the reverse applies, though not many drivers seem capable of getting it right. This really is the overall problem that confronts everyone in practice and while some drivers are attempting to get scientific about their overall handling problems, others are getting on with their driving, accepting that the car doesn't feel very good anywhere on the circuit, except down the long run-way which forms the main straight. Summer in Sweden in a big way and a cloudless sky greets everyone on Friday morning when practice begins. Since last year the pit area is going to be completely rebuilt to an open-plan arrangement cover by a large concrete walk-way for spectators and each car has its own space, angled to the direction of the track. An access road started at the outside of the apex of the penultimate corner before the pits and this led into a lane behind the row of pits.


From there a driver turns right into his pit area and on leaving he continues on out the front and turns left into the exit road, re-joining the circuit on the outside of the bend after the pits. This is an excellent scheme which works well in practice, but prevents any possibility of a quick pit stop during the race, the tortuous passage in and out wasting more time than is reasonable. The morning is spending by most teams settling in and there are three newcomers on the scene in the driver line-up, while there is nothing new at all in the array of cars, apart from detail changes, all the regular drivers being mount on their usual machinery. The Frank Williams team are starting all over again with two new drivers as Merzario is at long last out of favor and has gone off on holiday, his place in FW/03 being taken by Damien Magee, while Laffite is away at a European Championship Formula 2 race, so his place in the 1975 Williams FW04 is taken by Ian Scheckter, the elder brother of the Tyrrell driver. In Graham Hill’s Embassy-sponsored team Migault is out of favor so his place is taken by Vern Schuppan in the latest Hill car, while Brise has the original one. The Hesketh team has all three of their cars out, with Torsten Palm in 308/3 with the car covers in Polar Bears, this being the advertising emblem of the Polar Caravan company of Sweden who are sponsoring the Grand Prix overall. In the Brabham team there is an air of expectancy as Carlos Reutemann has cut his hair quite drastically, so that his ears show in an old-fashioned way, and he is convince this will change his luck. More significant is the fact that he appeares for breakfast happy and smiling and saying: What a beautiful day. This indicates that he is in a good mood and there is every chance of him being really on form. He has a very deep and unpredictable nature and if he doesn’t feel right he drives in a mediocre fashion; if he feels good then he is one of the best. The trouble is that no-one can find out what makes him feel good or bad.

From the start of practice Reutemann is obviously on form and you don’t need a stop-watch to see that he is really trying. Another driver who is quietly getting on with the job is Depailler, while Jarier is driving with all the flair one expects from him. It is accept that Lauda will be among the front-runners, for anyone using Cosworth V8 power is convince that the Ferrari is far superior on sheer speed, on pick-up from slow corners, on torque right through the range, on superior braking and road-holding and to listen to some people you wonder why anyone goes on using the Cosworth DFV. The question of Lauda’s driving ability never seems to come into it, but Lauda himself believes that he is putting quite a lot of effort into the overall performance of the Ferrari and while he doesn’t accept all the advantages claim for the Ferrari, he does admit that it is a very good car. However, in this first practice the combination of Lauda and the Ferrari isn’t quite good enough to beat Reutemann and his Brabham. The Argentinian is the fastest with 1'25"297, Lauda does 1'25"457, Depailler 1'25"602 and Jarier 1'25"894, so it is clear that a lap in the 1'25"0 bracket is going to be the standard for anyone who wants to be classes as an Ace. After the performance by Vittorio Brambilla in the works March at Zolder everyone is wondering if it is significant or merely a flash-in-the-pan and when he doesn’t appear in the Ace category at the end of the first practice, people say: Oh well, there you are, you see. Even the Ferrari team has got number 9 on one of the buttons on their electrical Heuer timing machine, but begin to think it is a waste of a good button. The acknowledged Ace drivers like Fittipaldi, Peterson, Scheckter, Hunt and Pace are all busy trying to tune their cars for the geometric corners but not making much headway, while others are quite simply having trouble.
Magee has hardly start off in the Williams before it die on him out on the circuit with the throttles stuck shut and he has to get help from his mechanics, and Ian Scheckter is wishing he has bring his Tyrrell with him from South Africa as the new Williams car isn’t consistent in its feel which don’t encourage him to go too near the limit. Alan Jones has the throttles stick open on the Hesketh 308/1 and go off the circuit through a catch fence, damaging the nose cowling and front suspension and the Hill team begins a long saga of engine trouble. Brise has the Cosworth V8 blow up in GH1/1 so he transfers to GH1/3 and Schuppan is relegate to the Lola HU3 which is being use as a spare car. The Parnelli team are in trouble with a front brake shaft breaking, just like a Lotus 72, apart from being on their own without a designer behind them as Maurice Phillipe has left the team. The team owner, Vel Miletich isn’t in Sweden, nor are the bosses of the B.R.M. team, the Surtees team, the Hesketh team, the Penske team or the Ferrari team, but then the Ferrari team have always had to get along without their leader, and never seem the worse for it. After the lunch interval Robin Herd and the March men begin to show their hand, which look suspiciously like a serious attempt at Gamesmanship to upset the opposition, and later turn out to be exactly that. First of all Brambilla goes out in Lella Lombardi’s car, which fixes a lot of people who see it ahead of them and assumed that they would soon catch up, but then found they can’t. Brambilla’s normal car is paints in the bright orange of the Beta tool company who sponsor him, whereas Lombardi’s car is white, so the sight of the white car going indecently fast must have unnerve some people. When Brambilla got back into his own car he really turns on the steam and is continually putting in laps in the 1'24"0 bracket which make the Ferrari timekeeper get excite and the other top teams got agitate.
It isn’t that the March has suddenly becomes a Super-Car, for its set-up isn’t necessarily any more nearer the ideal than anyone else’s, but the driver is making full use of what he has got and not worrying unduly about the fine details, as are drivers like Fittipaldi and Scheckter. In the Lotus camp there is little joy for Peterson coming in with the nose cowling knock off 72/R9 and having to continue practice in the spare car, which only adds to their confusion. The Ferrari team fiddle about with all their adjustments and make no improvement at all and they are particularly embarrasse by being unable to match the speed of Brambilla. To have Fittipaldi or Peterson, or even Scheckter in front of them is explainable if not acceptable, but Brambilla is going to take some explaining away to the Commendatore. The stocky little Italian, who at 37 is an old man by Grand Prix standards, is not known as the Monza Gorilla for nothing and after he has clock a best lap of 1'24"63 merely say: Vittorio is good, car is good. The morning Aces in the 1'25"0. The brackets are now looking like Jacks and there are one or two Jokers about as well! Some of those who have got things adjust nearly right, lost confidence and got in a muddle, while those who are still trying to get some sense from the adjustments got completely confuse. If it is Lauda and the Ferrari who has got into the 1'24"0 bracket there will be a resign air of: Oh well, naturally, but Brambilla and the March. It isn’t real. Saturday is cool and overcast and the roundy-round of chasing Brambilla starts all over again. With the circuit now becoming well-use, not only by the Formula 1 cars but also by Formula Super-Vee, Formula 3 and a multitude of saloons, conditions aren’t so good as previously and times generally are slower, but even so it is still Brambilla and the March who are fastest, but Jarier, Lauda, Pace and Pryce isn’t far behind. Scheckter is good to watch, but not fast enough, the fire seems to have gone out of Peterson, and Fittipaldi is positively boring. Reutemann seems to be deteriorating and Regazzoni is showing that there must be something in Lauda’s driving, and it isn’t just the Ferrari that is so good.
John Watson is beginning to get to grips with the Surtees, though its transition from understeer to oversteer is much too sudden and vicious. The Hill team has gone back to square one, with a new engine in GH1/1 for Brise, so that Schuppan caan start all over again with GH1/3, but practice has barely begin before the new engine has valve trouble and there is Brise being fit into GH1/3 while poor Schuppan is watching the old Lola being prepare for him once more, just like yesterday. Torsten Palm is going quite well in the Hesketh until he loses control on the corner by the pits and hit the retaining wall, so another Hesketh front-end had to be dug out of the spares box in the transporter. During the lunch hour there is an air of gloom and despondency in the McLaren pit as nothing they seem to satisfy Fittipaldi, the Tyrrell team are equally confuse about how to make Scheckter happier (and faster), Team Lotus are wondering where Peterson’s fire has gone and in the Ferrari pit there is an air of incredible disbelief and a reluctance to telephone Modena! In the March pit the mechanics seem unable to believe that Father Christmas really does exist, Robin Herd is chuckling over the discomfiture of the other teams and Brambilla is awaiting further instructions from the boss. The Brabham team has a straight-forward problem in that Reutemann’s car has broken a tooth off the crown-wheel in the final drive, it being one of the teeth that is drill across its root to improve the oil flow in their attempts to improve on Hewland’s design. While this car is repaire, and prepare for the race Reutemann used the spare Brabham. There is now only one hour left for honor to be achieve and some semblance of order on the starting grid to be final, so away they all go on their Brambilla chase. The March driver content himself with a few averagely-fast laps, though to some people they will be heroic, and then return to the pits and left the car to join Robin Herd on one of the corners to watch the opposition in their attempts to first of all get below 1'25"0 and then to challenge his 1'24"63.
Whether the sight of the orange-overall Italian standing watching give the others a morale boost in the hope that the March has broken, or add to their despair by the sheer confidence of March in not bothering to practise any more, is difficult to say. Depailler got into some rough stuff and a stone puncture an oil radiator and unknowingly he carried on until all his oil was gone and the engine seized. This caused a slight pause for cleaning and the retrieval of the Tyrrell and then it all starts up again for a final 15-minutes. Brambilla puts his helmet and gloves on and sits in his March, all buckle in and ready to go, while Robin Herd stan by the pit wall and kept a watch on the opposition. Drivers like Jarier, Pryce, Lauda, Scheckter, Watson and Andretti looks to be trying all they knows, the two Shadow drivers in particular being good spectator value, but no-one is approaching 1'25"0. Jarier is the fastest with 1'25"263 so Brambilla is content to sit quietly in his car until the checker flag comes out and Robin Herd indicates to him that it is all over. In Belgium Brambilla and the March on the second row of the grid and in the lead of the race for a lap or two is all good fun, but Brambilla and the March on pole position isn’t at all funny for the other teams. Added to this is the knowledge that before leaving England for Sweden he has record an unofficial fastest-ever lap at Silverstone with the March test-car, and it is easy to see why such an air of discomfort lay over the Anderstorp paddock. It doesn't seem possible that Brambilla has suddenly find exceptional driving form, nor that the March has suddenly become a better car than all the others or even that it has a better Cosworth V8 engine than everybody else. It can only be that Brambilla and the March are getting on with the job and somewhere along the line the others have become muddled and confused. Pole position has been gain by genius or technical superiority, it is a case of being less worse than all the others. Nonetheless it is all very gratifying and some people are delight at the discomfiture of the prima-donnas.
Sunday morning sees an untime half-hour of practice for final adjustments, as if the previous two days haven’t been enough. For some teams, like Tyrrell, it is useful for Depailler to try out the new engine instals in his car and Ferrari are able to try Lauda’s car which has equipe with a new gearbox overnight, as these days they leave nothing to chance. Regazzoni has his new one the day before, as the engine is being change anyway, so the whole job is done in one go. They normally reckon to start the races with new gearbox/transmission units and

when you realize that Lauda has done 134 laps of practice it can be seen that the Ferrari team aren’t being over-cautious. Through the two days the Formula One cars have cover 2.854 timed laps, and this doesn't include the opening and slowing down laps which do not get timed. Add to this the efforts of all the supporting races and you get some idea of how much a racing circuit gets use at a Grand Prix. The 80-lap race is due to start at 1:30 p.m., by which time it is very hot, but the crowd isn’t as large as in previous years. For this time the whole event is being televise and the Swedish Government is encouraging people to stay at home and watch. They don’t like large gatherings of Swedes at the best of times, and got worry when the seemingly placid Swedish populace foregather in large numbers at a motor race. The Anderstorp Raceway is unique in having the main grandstands and start-line at one end of the circuit and the pits and the paddock at the other end. The first impression is that it will encourage chaos, but in fact It seems to work well. The cars line up in grid formation outside the pits, this time all eyes having to be on Brambilla in pole-position, and he then leads the field of 26 cars round the circuit to the starting-line; there they pause briefly and the flag drops and the race is on. The Italian makes no mistakes and is away into the lead, followed by Depailler, Jarier, Pace, Reutemann, Lauda, Hunt and Watson, the Hesketh driver making a really storming start from the middle of the grid.


Pryce has got off the mark well only to have a cloud of dust and grit go down the air intake and jam the throttle slides nearly shut. While everyone chases off after Brambilla the Welshman trickles slowly round the opening half lap to the pits, where the slides are freed up. During the opening lap Brambilla has gain quite a few lengths on Depailler, who has the rest quite close to his Tyrrell. As Pryce rejoins the race, a lap in arrears, he enters the circuit in the gap between Brambilla and Depailler, so that to anyone not paying careful attention it looks as though the Shadow is in second place! Pryce’s problem is whether to stay where he is or move out of the way, but he realizes that if he leaves Depailler he will have to let at least another sixteen cars pass, for they are all running nose-to-tail. As he can comfortably stay with Brambilla and Depailler isn’t gaining on them he decides to stay where he is. Apart from Reutemann taking third place from Jarier, the high-speed procession in the wake of Brambilla is content to sit one behind the other, in the order Depailler, Reutemann, Jarier, Pace, Lauda, Hunt, Watson, Regazzoni and Andretti, while the rest, which include a miscellaneous collection of Super Stars and newboys, are beginning to drop hack to form a second race. Nobody can really believe that Brambilla can stay in the lead, except perhaps Brambilla himself, and five laps go by with no change, and then 10 laps and still the orange March is out in front, though the pack are closing imperceptibly. Lella Lombardi drives into the pits to retire, her Cosworth engine sounding flat as something has gone wrong in the metering unit for the fuel injection and on lap 15 Depailler is heading up the pit road with a leak in a rear brake pipe. It isn’t so much that the pack are closing on the leading March, as that the March is slowing, for the left front tyre is taking a lot of punishment and getting overheated, causing the pressure to rise and lose adhesion.

As there are five major right-hand bends on the circuit this is serious and first Reutemann got by and then Jarier, putting Brambilla back to third place. As this starts to happen Tom Pryce moves out of the way and relinquishes his position of being second on the road, even though he is in last place in fact. After 18 laps Brambilla heads for the pits and the March mechanics have a new front wheel and tyre on in an incredibly short space of time, but even so it drops Brambilla down to fifteenth position. The race now takes on some semblance of order according to the textbook, with Reutemann leading Jarier and pulling away, with Pace third, Lauda fourth, Hunt fifth, Regazzoni sixth, Andretti seventh and Watson eighth. In the also-rans race Scheckter is leading Peterson and Emerson Fittipaldi, but as Donohue in the Penske is keeping up with them they can’t be use all their available skill and brilliance. Right at the back of the field Torsten Palm is a bit overwhelm in his first Grand Prix start and got away in last position, but he then settle in and make a good showing. He picks-off the tail-enders in a very determine manner, passing Lombardi (before she retires), Wilson Fittipaldi, Evans, Schuppan and Ian Scheckter. In the first race Hunt retires with a brake-fluid leak from a rear caliper, Pryce is still in amongst the leading group, though a lap behind, and Andretti is pressing hard on the heels of Regazzoni. Both Brambilla and Depailler are working their way up through the slower cars after their pit-stops and Jody Scheckter has drop back some places. Alan Jones spins his Hesketh and takes a long time restarting, which puts him to the back of the field and Mass retires at the pits with a damage water pipe under the car as a result of some kerb bashing. Just before half-distance Brambilla retires with a broken driveshaft universal joint and Jarier drops out when his oil pressure gauge zeroed. This leaves Reutemann with a healthy lead and looking extremely confident.
Pace and Lauda are some way back and the suppose superiority of the Ferrari isn’t very obvious, while Regazzoni is having to work hard to stay ahead of Andretti and Watson. The other race is almost too depressing to watch with Mark Donohue the star among Fittipaldi, Peterson and Scheckter. Passing through this lot after a slow start is Tony Brise, his Graham Hill car having to be set-up for the race by sheer guesswork as a result of all the practice troubles. Once Brise has play himself in to the feel of the car, which he has only driven for a handful of laps in practice, he begins to work his way up to the fallen-stars and then go by them fairly easily, actually elbowing his way by the reigning World Champion as if he is a Formula Atlantic driver! Almost as the race is half-way through Carlos Pace got into a big slide as he joins the runway straight and slid over a landing light (did the GPDA inspector miss that?) crumpling the Brabham’s monocoque pretty badly and retiring in a cloud of dust and earth. This put Lauda in second place but he is discovering that his much-vaunted Ferrari is on way superior to the Brabham. However, by driving as hard as he knows how he can keeps the gap between the two cars at 10 seconds, at which it is for some time, with Pace’s Brabham in that gap. All this time Tom Pryce has keep his Shadow in this 10 second gap between Reutemann and Lauda, and as they lap the slower cars Pryce go with them so that he moves up to eleventh place from twenty-sixth as the race progress.All this while he is driving with an inoperative clutch and when he overdoes things a bit on lap 54 at the end of the straight, going into the chicane and takes the escape route he stalls the engine and can’t get going again. Schuppan has retire the latest Hill car with a broken output shaft in the Hewland transmission and Ian Scheckter has a rear tyre go down suddenly on his Williams as he is rounding the long corner after the pits and this spin him off into the rough.
It looks as though a stalemate has set in and Lauda can see no way in which he is going to win, unless something happens to Reutemann or Brabham. By driving as hard as he knows how he can just stay that 10 seconds behind the Brabham and he keeps that pressure on for lap after lap and by lap 55 his pit signal at last show a minute diminution in the gap. Knowing he has make no more effort, or gone any faster, because he can’t, he realizes that something must be happening to Reutemann and the Brabham so he keeps on driving on the limit. Sure enough, the Brabham’s rear tyres aren’t gripping so well as earlier, not so much because of wear, as the fact that the track surface is deteriorating with a coating of rubber and continual polishing. This is reducing the balance of the Brabham through the right-hand bends, whereas the Ferrari is unaffect as it is running on a different type of Goodyear tyre, a choice that Lauda has demanded of his team-manager and which is now paying off. The chink in the Brabham armour has only start as the merest fraction of a second, but it is sufficient, and soon the fractions become a second and the seconds mount up and Lauda has the Brabham in sight. Reutemann doesn’t give up, though the realization that the Ferrari now has a slight advantage must have weaken his determination. He keeps the red and white Ferrari at bay as long as he can, parrying Lauda’s attempts to sneak through on the inside of corners, with a healthy chopping maneuver, but finally Lauda gathers up enough add momentum out of the long semi-circle after the pits to pass the Brabham down the straight and then it is all over. This takes until lap 70 but then the last ten laps are all plain sailing and Lauda brings the Ferrari home first for the third Grand Prix in succession. It isn’t so much that he has win the Swedish Grand Prix as that Reutemann has lost it. There isn’t arguing the fact that Lauda has worked really hard for this victory. Regazzoni adds to the joy-day for Italy by coming home a worthy third, having been harasse by Andretti for nearly the whole race.
In a good fifth position and on the same lap as the leaders is Donohue with the Penske car, very satisfy at finishing so well up and wondering how it is that Fittipaldi, Peterson and Scheckter aren’t in their usual position of lapping him. Brise has actually been in fifth place after a very determined drive but drops back when the Hewland gearbox begins to break up internally and bits lock the mechanism in fourth gear. He struggles along valiantly to the finish, but drop back to sixth place. John Watson’s early promise has fade when his Surtees run low on fuel and he has to stop for a refill and later do the same things again. The fuel system is playing up and blowing out as much as the engine is using so that consumption is abnormal. On the last lap Torsten Palm has his Hesketh run low on fuel and not being uses to the vagaries of the Cosworth fuel-injection and Formula One fuel system he leaves the engine die on him and though it doesn’t not lose him a place it put him two laps behind the leader, whereas he is only one lap behind in reality. Magee finishes in his first Grand Prix, Bob Evans keeps the B.R.M. going non-stop once more and Wilson Fittipaldi is happy to finish another race with his own car, even though he loses a lot of time at the pits having the front wheels changed and looking for the source of a vibration. On paper the Swedish Grand Prix looks as though it has all run to form, with Lauda victorious over Reutemann, but as you will have realize by now there is much more to it than that. The race organizers have laid on a police escort to guide the racing team's transporters from Anderstorp to Gothenburg, where they are due to catch the 8:00 p.m. boat to England after the race, for these days there is little time to spare. In a very short space of time the transporters are load and one by one they form up outside the circuit for the dash for the boat. As the Frank Williams transporter leaves the paddock a bit late in a cloud of dust with its horn blowing, someone remarks that “the real race of the day is about to begin”. Apart from a few caravans all that is left in the paddock is the victorious Ferrari team, for they live on the European mainland and can drive home in their own time, and carries the good news back to Modena.


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