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#207 1971 Canadian Grand Prix

2022-08-22 00:00

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#1971,

#207 1971 Canadian Grand Prix

While there is no doubt that Jackie Stewart and the Elf Team Tyrrell have had a tremendous year the one black spot was the poor showing in the rain-so

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While there is no doubt that Jackie Stewart and the Elf Team Tyrrell have had a tremendous year the one black spot was the poor showing in the rain-soaked Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. Those who like to knock Stewart dismiss him as a fair-weather driver, although the fact that none of the other Goodyear-shod drivers show in the wet is perhaps an indication that something is wrong in the rubber-wear department. Since then the engineers at Wolverhampton have obviously done their sums again and on the streaming wet track at Mosport Park Stewart proves that he is every bit a World Champion in the wet or the dry. Yet again the young Swede, Peterson, proves that he is no respecter of experience or reputation and for a while overtook Stewart, although he later drops back. Mark Donohue confirms what had long been suspected-that he is probably America’s best driver of road-racing machinery and his first-ever Formula One drive produced a third place. The Canadian Grand Prix is one of the most recent on the calendar and this year’s event is only the fifth in the series, which alternates between the Mosport track in Ontario and Le Circuit Mont Tremblant in Quebec. The Mosport track is just under 2½ miles long and is something akin to Oulton Park with its gradients and twists and turns-definitely a driver’s circuit. By American standards the amenities are not very good, but the organisation is friendly and efficient without being gushing. There are 27 entries for the 24 places on the grid, although 22 have guaranteed starts and the other five have to fight for the remaining two places. As it happens, when the flag drops anyone who can start does. Fresh from their recent victories Yardley-Team B.R.M. brings along cars for no fewer than five drivers, a massive undertaking and one that has not been attempted by any of the works teams in the current Formula One.

 

Four of the cars are the latest P160 and these are allocated to their regular drivers, Siffert, Gethin and Ganley, while the car which is normally Siffert’s spare is to be driven by Toronto’s George Eaton, who races for the team during 1970 and has hardly been heard of since. Completing the B.R.M. line-up is Helmut Marko, having his third race for the team, but his first as a works rather than T-car driver. March Engineering also has five cars on the entry list but two of these are privately owned. Peterson heads the team with his regular car (an experimental flat-nose is available and tries only briefly), Galli is in his usual car, while Beuttler takes over the third works car usually raced by de Adamich. To add to the confusion this car is run with one of the Ford engines from Beuttler’s Clarke-Mordaunt 711 rather than its usual Alfa power unit. A deal for Canadian John Cannon, who has been racing a March 712 in Europe, to drive the usual Beuttler car falls through. American Skip Barber has his Triple R Oil Filters March 711, as seen at Monaco and Zandvoort, using a completely unpainted monocoque tub, while the Frank Williams outfit has their modified March 711 on hand for Pescarolo. The Tyrrell team brings along all three of their Tyrrells for Jackie Stewart and Francois Cevert, the older 001 being not only a serviceable but probably race-winning car in Stewart’s hands. All three are in standard short wheelbase form. There is plenty of intrigue in the McLaren camp for the ex-Gethin car M19A/1 has been sold to Roger Penske Racing Enterprises for Donohue to drive but is still being run under the wing of the works who also has M19A/2 for Denny Hulme. The Penske car has been resprayed in the team’s smart blue colour scheme and, as is expected from Penske, is absolutely immaculate. As briefly seen in Austria on M19A/1, both cars now have completely conventional wishbone and link rear suspension, although the rising-rate front suspension has been retained.

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The results seem to indicate that the rising-rate suspension is something of a blind alley and it is worth remembering that back in 1964 Tony Rudd designed a very similar system on the B.R.M. but abandoned it before the end of the year. Gold Leaf-Team Lotus are back at full strength with unchanged Lotus 72s for Fittipaldi and Wisell, and Matra are also back to two drivers bringing along unchanged Matra-Simcas for Chris Amon and Jean Pierre Beltoise, although only the former benefits from the bifurcated exhaust port-headed engine. There are three Brabhams present, the unique BT34 for Hill, Schenken’s BT33 and the similar car which has now been sold to Ecurie Evergreen for Chris Craft to drive. This is Craft’s first World Championship race, although he has driven the car at the Gold Cup meeting. Since then it has been painted in the Evergreen colours and even bore the advertising for a local pickle company. Despite the Monza debacle, Ferrari are at full strength with the usual three B2s for Ickx, Regazzoni and Andretti with the last of the B1s as raced by Ickx at Monza as a spare. Team Surtees brings just two TS9 cars, Surtees himself reverting to 004 and Stommelen returning to 002, which has been back in the jig at Edenbridge since its last race, and features an altered rear bulkhead, plus the necessary attachments to convert it into side-radiator form if necessary. Finally the American, Pete Lovely, who has been cropping up at odd Formula One races for the past couple of years with a Lotus 49, comes along with a new special he has built. Basically it features a Lotus 69 Formula Two monocoque (the ex-Graham Hill car) with the rear section of the old Lotus 49 quite neatly grafted onto the back of it. A larger radiator and Chevron F2-type nose are incorporated in the design and the only major drawback seems to be that the fuel tankage is insufficient for a full-length Grand Prix.

 

Practice is scheduled for a total of four sessions over Friday and Saturday totalling seven hours in all, which give the considerable number of drivers who have not raced at Mosport adequate time to learn the track. Friday starts off damp but the track quickly dries while there is beautiful sunny weather all Saturday which brings a lot of campers to the circuit. Two men dominate the practising, Stewart and Siffert. While Siffert probably has the advantage of more power from the B.R.M. V12, Stewart’s Tyrrell and other Goodyear contractees are helped by a new tyre compound developed by the American engineers in Akron rather than by the Wolverhampton factory. The compound, G28, seems to give a considerable improvement over the old tyre. For the third session Stewart reverts to the older Tyrrell as his newer car is in gearbox trouble and at this point Siffert actually takes pole position, but in the last two hours Stewart reduces his time to 1'15"3 while Siffert is unable to improve on his best at 1'15"5. This gets the locals very excited for the Formula One lap record stood to Ickx and Brabham at 1'18"1, but that is two years ago and there have been considerable advances in tyres and chassis since then. The only other driver to break the 1'16"0 mark is Francois Cevert, yet again showing that he is a fine shadow for Stewart. After Cevert comes a great gaggle of drivers who all record times within the 1'16"0 to 1'16"5 bracket. They are Fittipaldi, Amon, Peterson, Wisell, Donohue, Ganley, Hulme, Beltoise and Ickx. Regazzoni is also in the same bracket but in the T car which he takes over after wiping off the front end of the B2 during Friday afternoon’s session. However, the newer car is repaired for the race. Of this group Ganley’s effort is particularly noteworthy, as is Donohue’s-the thoughtful American progressively becoming quicker and quicker.

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Of the five non-guaranteed entries the two B.R.M.s both qualify without too much sweat, although team manager Tim Parnell keeps Marko restricted to a limited number of laps, even though the eager Austrian would have liked more, and his spectacular style is reminiscent of Rindt in his earlier days. Pescarolo has a very unhappy weekend and has two engines blow up under him almost immediately he starts to practise the Williams car. Finally a spare is borrowed and in the Sunday morning half-hour shakedown session he understeers off the road and through a fence which, though it does little damage to the car, cuts and bruises his neck quite badly and he is unable to start after all. For once the mechanics are able to watch some real motor racing rather than just see their cars flash by, for turn 10 is immediately before the pit straight and is a difficult, medium-fast bend. Being watched by their own pit through a corner like this seems to spur all the drivers on to greater things. The bad tyre vibration which has been a problem this year is particularly noticeable at this corner and the chattering noise can be clearly heard on some of the cars. Race day does not go smoothly at all for there are several preliminary races and in the last of these a Formula Ford driver hits the back of an ambulance attending another accident and is killed instantly. Due to Canadian law this holds up the proceedings for two hours and by the time things are finally sorted out it is starting to rain quite heavily. The drivers are given five laps or so to acclimatise to the conditions and reports are coming from all round the circuit of spins galore. Right out of luck is Ganley, who steers into a guard rail avoiding Andretti, who is having a moment, while Hill also thumps the Armco but limps back to the pit where frantic activity by the mechanics have the car on the grid just in time. Ganley is out and his place is taken by Lovely as Craft’s engine develops an ominous noise as it is being warmed up.

 

So finally, two hours late, the flag drops and the race is on with Stewart getting the advantage into the first turn while the rest just disappears under a cloud of spray. Up at the tight turn 3 there is a bit of a mix-up, during which Siffert gets so sprayed with mud that it completely obscures his vision and he disappears into a ditch and out of it again with the car plastered with mud and way down the field. It is undoubtedly the blue Tyrrell out in front, but Peterson is holding second place with Beltoise a surprising third and Donohue fourth. Then come Fittipaldi, Cevert, Ickx, Wisell, Surtees, Amon, Andretti, Hulme, Regazzoni and the rest. Schenken fails to come round at all but the fault is in the electrical system. Finally mechanics get out to him, replace the spark box, but by then it is too late to continue. In fact, the race is a disaster for the Brabham team for on lap 2 Graham Hill spins and damages the oil tank so he limps back to the pits and retires. Everyone is really tip-toeing round for the Mosport track seems to hold the oil and it is obviously extremely treacherous and lap times are 40 sec. off practice times. Stewart maintains his lead, while on lap 4 Beltoise slips ahead of Peterson but only for three laps. Once back in second spot the Swede starts to make up ground on Stewart spectacularly. Beltoise holds third place ahead of Donohue, who has pulled away from a group comprising Ickx, Fittipaldi, Wisell and Cevert. Hulme has noticeably made up several places while Siffert has to stop to have the car’s nose section unblocked and restarts last. On lap 8 Regazzoni’s unhappy weekend comes to an end when he loses it at turn three and thumps the barrier backwards. The electrics burst into flames, but the fire is quickly extinguished and Regazzoni, who crashes more than most, walks back for the second time in three days to explain to Forghieri. Ferrari’s hopes are not really as high as expected for lckx certainly is not showing the Zandvoort wet-weather form and Andretti has made a pit stop with a misfiring engine and then soldiered on with oil spraying from the engine onto the back brakes which made everything very difficult.

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Stewart and Peterson are quickly working their way through the back markers, as is Beltoise, but he comes up against a rather stubborn one and, in his attempts to pass, he loses it on lap 15 at turn 10 and the resulting impact damages the front suspension beyond repair. Mark Donohue has made a quick stop for a clean pair of goggles (he is one of the few not wearing a Bell Star) but still holds fourth place so now he moves up to third. At this stage Peterson is really giving Stewart a hard time, although, while the Scot is driving in his usual precise manner, the Swede is having several adventures. Both are choosing very special non-dry weather racing lines through the corners in an attempt to gain more traction. But after briefly passing Stewart a couple of laps earlier Peterson gets in front and stays that way on lap 18. At least the rain-soaked spectators have something to make their visit worthwhile and this dice between the established champion and the new up-and-coming challenger is definitely it. The gap varies considerably but it is never more than about 3 sec. as Stewart waits for Peterson to make a mistake. But the March driver has fettled down and is hardly putting a foot wrong so Stewart has to exert his tremendous skill and he finally manages to regain the lead fair and square on lap 31. By this stage only Donohue remains unlapped in third place, lckx is fourth but Denny Hulme, not noted as a great wet weather driver, has clawed his way right up the field to fifth position ahead of the two Lotus 72s with Wisell now challenging team-leader Fittipaldi, Cevert is back in eighth place in the second Tyrrell, Siffert has moved up well but is finding it very difficult to pass Surtees for ninth position. Hopes that Peterson may again challenge Stewart takes a tumble on lap 32 when the pair comes up to lap George Eaton down in 16th place. He sees Stewart and lets him through and immediately moves over on Peterson who is following closely.

 

The March’s front wing is knocked at an angle and he loses a lot of time in the incident and from then on starts to drop back as he wrestles with the strange handling afforded by the cock-eyed nose. For a few laps Donohue starts to gain on Peterson but then he drops back as Peterson speeds up. By lap 35 Hulme has moved up into fourth place. Wisell has passed Fittipaldi and looks like overtaking Ickx as well. Barber has long since drops out when his engine loses all its oil pressure, while Stommelen has a moment and knocks off a water pipe and by the time he notices the water temperature is off the clock it is too late and he retired with an overheating engine. However this still leaves 18 cars circulating in the slightly drying conditions with all eyes still focuss on the progress of Peterson although it looks as if Stewart has the race in the bag while his team mate Cevert is obviously making a late bid to improve his position. During the third quarter of the race the rain has ceased and the track is drying slightly but a heavy mist is starting to fall and visibility is definitely getting worse. By lap 60 the marshals are reporting to race control that they can not see from one post to another. The officials consult their rule books and realize there is provision for stopping the race without affecting the results or the World Championship as over 60% of the distance has been completed. So as Stewart completes the 64th lap, after almost two hours’ racing, he has the chequered flag waved vigorously at him and he has won his sixth Grand Prix of the year. Ronnie Peterson comes home to his fourth second place of the year (the third behind Stewart) some 38.3 sec. in arrears while Donohue, still unlapped, is in an excellent third place. Hulme’s tenacious drive earns him fourth place and the fastest lap, Wisell is fifth, while in the closing stages Cevert has moved ahead of both Fittipaldi and Ickx, who finishes up in eighth place. Siffert comes home ninth, although undoubtedly he would have been better placed had it not been for that first lap incident, while Amon is an unhappy 10th ahead of Surtees, Marko, Andretti and the rest.

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Giulia Noto

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