A very complete field of drivers 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.
"Last year not only didn't I gain, I even almost lost money".
Now, anyway, Brambilla can start to hope.
"I have a good car, and on Sunday I can win. I think I can improve today's performance: the car is not completely OK with the grip, but the work that is to be done is not hard. I'm happy".
"The 312T has a soft setup and is more affected by this phenomenon".
Ferrari's technicians and mechanics worked intensely around the suspensions of Lauda and Regazzoni's cars, operating in particular on dampers, bars and buffers. The surprising fact of the day is the absence of the reactions of the two cars to the changes made in the attempt of improving their behaviour. And, in fact, they faced a disappointing last hour of practice. Luca Montezemolo says:
"We started well, then we stopped. The others improved and we are stuck at the same point. It appears that Ferrari at Anderstorp is really unable to go fast like in other circuits. The important thing is, however, to bring home some points, thinking of the world championship title".
"The changes that we made today brought some improvements to the driving, but not to the times. Tomorrow, we will try new ways".
In view of the second day of practice, there are two questions on everyone's mouth and that particularly engage the Italian fans: will Ferrari improve their times and Brambilla keep the pole position? The mediocre performance of the Italian cars was rather surprising and the comments and suppositions of the experts in this regard are of different nature. Someone talks about technical details, someone believes that it the configuration of the circuit is to blame, someone says that the nerves played a key role. It has to be reminded that Lauda and Regazzoni's cars did well in the morning but did not manage to work as well in the afternoon, despite an accurate setup has been made in order to improve their performances. The rivals, instead, did better in the afternoon and relegated Ferrari to back positions. It is useless to do a trial to all that happened: maybe there is some truth in each of the different suppositions, the cars have to receive a further setup, the track with new corners level the performances and does not foster the Italian cars and, finally, the anxiety to do very well probably shocked the nerves of the Ferrari team. On Saturday, anyway, there will be further two and half hours of practice and Ferrari's performances might be improved: Lauda is definitely optimist in this regard. The other question to which the practice will give an answer is about Vittorio Brambilla, who, despite being 37, appears to have reached a turning point in his career. The good driver from Monza looked even moved by his wonderful lap and promised that he will do even better, since he finally managed to perfectly set up his March. In his favour, it is very unlikely that someone will be able to beat the times set on Friday. Brambilla says that he aims for victory: it is really to be wished for, since Ferrari officially states, in the words of the really talented Montezemolo, that the team is more than happy if Lauda will be able to collect some points, given the features of the circuit. The weather appears to still be good, even if for half an hour, during Friday afternoon, a storm was feared. The eventual rain may cause issues to the tyres and in such conditions everything can happen. The small town of Anderstorp, meanwhile, is invaded by at least 70.000 fans, who will certainly rise to 100.000 on Saturday and Sunday.
A large number of police forces check that the order is maintained, especially about the problems connected with the euphoria of drunk people. In a 100 km radius around Anderstorp, wine and alcohol cannot be sold; many people, though, brought some from home. Until now, there we no cases of excesses, but the critical moments still have to come. The area of the circuit was invaded day and night (it is almost never dark in this place) by hundreds of beautiful Scandinavian girls, hired for promoting all kinds of products. The Swedish papers write in this regard that women and fast cars are an inseparable duo. Among the journalists, the most upset are the South Americans, over one hundred, who demand the victory of Fittipaldi or Reutemann in the name of the Brazilian and Argentinian fans. 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. On Sunday, Brambilla is in front row, in pole position, that is in the prestige position that awards, besides the race results, the man and the car that emerged in practice. The driver from Monza smiles. When someone asks him how he went so fast, he opens his arms almost as if he apologized.
"I worked on this, and the circuit adapts well to March's features: I gain a lot on the banked corners, while on the straight I am as fast as the others. Everyone asks me what I will do tomorrow. Well, I don't know, ready, go: I'm going. Then we'll see. If the start is good, I'll try to stay in front. Winning would be awesome, but I would be okay with finishing the Grand Prix. In a race a lot of stupid problems can happen, you'll never know how it's going to end. At least here I don't fear the performance of brakes, as in Belgium. It's one less burden".
"We realized that we mounted inadequate front tyres on Friday. This morning, in agreement with Goodyear's specialists, we chose another type. The situation has immediately improved, even if it was because of the dirty track. Lauda and Regazzoni could not make particularly good results as the other drivers. Then we got another issue on the rear tyres this time. They deformed and also in different ways, making the car undriveable even on straights. So, we discarded these tyres, with the number 34, in favour of the type 31, less fast but more reliable".
And Niki Lauda comments:
"If on Friday I had the car with today's conditions, I'm sure that I could run with the pace of 1'25"0. I was just calmed down on the situation of my 312T and then came the surprise from the rear tyres. On straights I was losing 500 rpm of my engine and when I pushed on the accelerator, the rear end was breaking down and the car was swerving. We should have solved this inconvenience too, anyway. We're not the fastest but not the worst. It's clear that we mustn't aim too high tomorrow: I would be okay with finishing the Grand Prix and taking some points for the championship".
Regazzoni's opinion is similar. Luca Montezemolo says in conclusion:
"I think that we will do well anyway. It's logical that after Monte-Carlo and Zolder these results are not the best, but we knew that Anderstorp would have been tricky for Ferrari. Then, we'll have harder circuits and we will be advantaged again".
The small town of Anderstorp, a group of wooden houses lost in huge birch and fir woods, lives today its day of worldwide fame. In occasion of the seventh stage of the 1975 Formula 1 World Championship, no less than 100.000 people coming from all Scandinavia showed up. A group of Italians take their seats on the other side of the track, in front of Ferrari's box, and raise a big tricolour flag with the writing:
"Long live Ferrari's team, the Italian brand".
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.
"There's not much to do, we only hope to get some points".
Murmured the mechanics of the Italian team on the eve of the race. Did a miracle happen at Anderstorp maybe? No, there are no miracles in the Formula 1 Grands Prix, every event, except few cases, can be linked to precise technical and human reasons. The miracle simply consisted in the right choice of tyres. The tyres mounted on Lauda and Regazzoni's 312T, harder and slower than the ones that the other teams mounted, but safer, endured until the end without causing particular problems to the two drivers. Carlos Reutemann, overtaken by Lauda in the exciting end of the race, reached the finish line on his wheels, and so did others, such as Emerson Fittipaldi. This miracle, which was obviously created by the experience of Maranello's technicians, and matured in an environment that was still quiet despite the many difficulties of the eve, has its roots in the strength of Ferrari parts: the tyres went well, it is true, but also engines, transmissions, suspensions and brakes did their job. Many cars, today, had to retire due to issues on the engine or on the braking system, or they were forced to slow down. Mauro Forghieri, great master of every technical secret, says:
"Maybe we were lucky, because we chose the right way. We had to decide: prudence or gamble? Niki and Clay understood the situation and gave up using faster tyres, of which we were not so sure anyway. I think that now we are happy".
"Please, let's not talk about the championship. It's too early, only eight races before the end are left. Of course, we are doing very well. Today I would have been happy with some points, but instead here's another win. I must say that it was a hard victory, maybe harder than in Monaco. In the Monegasque circuit you need to drive with extreme focus, but in Anderstorp I pushed to the limit and only in the last few laps I could cruise with less tension. My 312T behaved perfectly. It only had some understeer at the beginning, due to the hard tyres, but towards half the race this issue disappeared and I stepped up the pace. I started to hope on the victory when I realized that I was quickly getting close to Reutemann's Brabham. I tried to overtake Carlos two or three times, but he closed the way. In the end, I managed to do it, and then it was like a walk in the park".
"Well, considering all the problems that we had in practice, I would have never imagined that today would end like this. In the end, unfortunately, the engine lost power and I preferred to slow down. I was hearing some dangerous vibrations. It would have been a really bad joke if I had to retire in that moment".
As always, the final word on Ferrari's race is on Luca Montezemolo, who this time did not manage to hit the track after Lauda's last lap.
"Ferrari has an excellent car and driver, which were able to behave in a splendid way, even in this circuit. It's a better success than the others, more suffered and less expected. The duo Lauda-312T is the best and has been and since the start of the season, except the inconvenience in Barcelona due to the crash caused by Andretti, it has always finished every race. Hoping on the world title is by now allowed, even if the competition is still very strong. We wish that Ferrari can still keep its great performance".
So, Ferrari is still on top. The opponents start to be shocked. The gap for winning is narrowing down and the British coalition starts feeling in trouble. In Sweden, a good performance was done by the American drivers Andretti and Donohue respectively on Parnelli and Penske, while the young Tony Brise, on Embassy, took away the sixth place from Scheckter and Fittipaldi. The World Champion by now does not even see the exhausts of the red cars from Maranello. Vittorio Brambilla, who was the fastest in the practice and conquered pole position with an exceptional time, had to pit on lap 18 while he was ahead, in order to change the front left tyre. Then, after rejoining the race, the definitive stop occurs on lap 38 due to the failure of an axle.
"In the first ten laps I didn't have any issue. I started to hope, since troubles usually show up early. I was racing on my own pace, without pushing too hard, since nobody had tried yet to attack me. Then, the tyre started to vibrate. Good grief, I thought, even this time we are going home with bare hands. I stopped, I changed the tyre, I rejoined, and then the axle broke down. It's okay, races are like this, today it's me, tomorrow you, too bad it's always me. I'm sorry, it's clear to see, that it ended like this, but by now I'm used to it. Better luck next time, I'm trying again, I don't even give up".
Even Carlos Reutemann is gloomy.
"My rear left tyre betrayed me. I ended my race on the rims. The car in the last few laps was almost undriveable. I was forced to slow down. I'm sure that Niki, otherwise, would have not reached me. Today I lost, it's not him who won".
It can be true, though, based on facts, that Reutemann had some issues, Lauda hadn't, and a win can be obtained only if everything works perfectly. Carlos can only blame it on his tyres. In conclusion, Emerson Fittipaldi. The Brazilian is devastated. For quite a while, each of his race ends badly and his McLaren looks always less competitive.
"This race was a lottery. Lauda's number came out, good for him. I had grip, tyre and brake issues. I only had front brakes from lap 40 on. What a pain. It's not good, especially because Niki and Ferrari end up winning even when they should lose".
Luca Montezemolo, Scuderia Ferrari's sports director, had said:
"I would immediately sign eight times in order to have Lauda second and Regazzoni fifth or sixth. This circuit is not suitable for our cars. The most important thing for us is to defend ourselves and collect some points".
An hour before the start of the race, Montezemolo gathered the Italian journalists and claimed once again:
"It would be better if we don't win, or people would start saying that we are too strong and the others are too weak. This Swedish Grand Prix, definitely unfavourable to us for technical reasons, is very good for us as a transition challenge. The next few circuits are more suitable for Ferrari and we will keep collecting points".
Superstition or diplomacy? This is yet to be known. It turned out that Ferrari won and in a superb way. Of course, Luca Montezemolo was more than happy for the classification of the two cars. So, the Swedish Grand Prix weekend, which took place on the Anderstorp circuit, which started pretty poorly and with big problems due to the inadequate tyres, ended in the best possible way. Credit goes to the drivers, the cars and the organization. The Swedes, who in terms of organizational capability are pretty skilled, were even astonished by Scuderia Ferrari's performance. In the evening, in a comment on the race, it will be said on Stockholm's radio:
"Ferrari is already strong basically, and the work in the pits is done in the perfect way. There are teams that maybe have more money to spend in promotional activities, who maybe have nicer buses, who maybe have more flamboyant jerseys. Ferrari bets especially on technique and organization. The mechanics work rationally, not an action more than necessary. No other pit is so well prepared, so clean, so tidy. The tool cabinets are textbook worthy. Every time a tool or every other thing is no more useful, it is immediately placed to its own place. Everything has its weight and ends up giving its results".
On television, the Swedish commentator affirms:
"The win from Lauda and Ferrari are the result of an excellent driving technique, together with a great organizational effort. A worthy driver is paired with a superior a car, to which a routine directed by very talented people is added".
The Swedish motor experts are positively shocked as well:
"These are victories gained thanks to the team, who works more than the others and better than the others".
Says Lennart Ojesten, a very famous Swedish journalist. A car magazine followed the Ferrari team during all the race and will certainly report in details also the enormous work done by the team leaders: Montezemolo, Ghedini, Forghieri and the head mechanics who were photographed and even captured on television, almost like cinema divas. Anderstorp's victory is therefore important in the international field, not only for the points gained in Formula 1, but also because it allowed the world, where organization reigns supreme, to see that Italians, if they want to, can organize themselves as much as or even better than everyone else. Besides this, Ferrari's win made the Italians who work in Sweden happy, especially the almost one hundred people from Brescia who, for the third consecutive year, came to Anderstorp waiting for the success of the Italian cars. So, Ferrari won in Anderstorp. The best thing is that they won despite even Luca di Montezemolo believed in that, the one in the whole team that always suffers the most.