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#242 1974 Swedish Grand Prix

2022-08-25 01:00

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#1974,

#242 1974 Swedish Grand Prix

There are a few changes on the driver scene for the Swedish Grand Prix as drivers retired hurt, just retired or were busy doing something else. Arturo

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There are a few changes on the driver scene for the Swedish Grand Prix as drivers retired hurt, just retired or were busy doing something else. Arturo Merzario had broken a finger in an accident during the sports car race at Imola, the week before the Swedish event, so his place in the Frank Williams team is taken by Richard Robarts. In the March team Reine Wisell takes the place of Hans-Joachim Stuck, as the forceful young German is competing in a Formula Two race at Hockenheim, having his sights set on winning the European Championship, and in the UOP-Shadow team Bertil Roos takes over the place vacated by Brian Redman, the Lancastrian deciding that the rat-race of Formula One is not his way of living. Roos is a Swede who lives for the most part in America and does a lot of racing there in European-type National racing. With the total entry limited the BRM team decides not to be greedy with a three-car team and dropped Francois Migault for this event. The organisers agree to take 27 drivers for practice, the fastest 25 to take part in the race, though there is a clause in the supplementary regulations that allows them to take the extra two drivers onto the starting grid if they should be Scandinavians! With advice from the Formula One Constructors Association the 27 drivers do not include Chris Amon, Tim Schenken and some newcomers, the exclusion of Ron Tauranac’s Trojan for Tim Schenken coming as a surprise to quite a few. On the mechanical front the scene is pretty stable, most of the crashed cars from Monaco has been repaired or completely rebuilt or even replaced.
 
Team Lotus has the same formula as for Monaco, with Peterson on 72/R8 and Ickx on 72/R5, with this time the Lotus 76 number JPS/9 for Peterson to try as a spare car. The Tyrrell team of Scheckter and Depailler have the two t 974 cars, as raced previously, with Tyrrell 006/2 as a spare, though it was never used. The McLaren outfit has nearly a full set of M23 models, Hailwood having his usual pair, M23/t and M23/7 for the Yardley side of things, and Fittipaldi and Hulme having M23/5, M23/6, and M23/4 to race in Texaco-Marlboro colours, while on a trailer as advertising material was M23/2. Reutemann and von Opel have the usual three Brabham BT.44 models between them, and John Watson had BT42/2 for the Hexagon racing team. The March that Stuck crashed so extensively at Monaco is virtually scrapped and a new one built around the same identification plate: so that we can justifiably call it 741/1-2, in the same way that Brambilla’s car is 741/2-2 after being written-off in Spain earlier in the season. The Ferrari team’s neat arrangement of ringing the changes on their five cars is spoilt by Lauda at Monaco when he crumpled 015 in practice, and raced 010, so 015 is rebuilt for him to use in Sweden, 010 is given a rest, 012 is the spare car for this race and Regazzoni has on as planned. The two-car BRM team of Beltoise and Pescarolo comprise the two 1974 cars, the former having P201/01 and the latter having P201/02, it now having its front brakes mounted in the normal position of “inboard” for this model of BRM. The Swedish import to the Shadow team takes over Redman’s car, while Jarier has his usual car, in long-wheelbase form, and the new and as yet unraced car as a spare. Tearn and Surtees are not in the best of spirits, both drivers thinking it was time they started winning races and are even unhappier than usual as John Surtees is not there for them to moan at.
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As mentioned, Robarts is acting as stand-in for Merzario, and his team-mate is the Danish driver, Tom Heise. With time being short the Ensign team, backed by Theodore Racing of Hong Kong, brought along the 1973 car for Schuppan to drive, rather than hurriedly prepare the car used at Monaco, and Graham Hill and his young apprentice-driver Edwards, have the pair of Embassy-backed Lola cars that they have raced at Monaco, both looking immaculate and as if brand new, the cars that is, not the drivers. Hunt is driving his lordship’s Hesketh 308/2 and to complete the list there is The Flying Finn, Leo Kinnunen with the prototype TS16 Surtees, carrying more Scandinavian advertising than seems reasonable for its potential. Since last year, when the first Swedish Grand Prix at Anderstorp was held and reckoned to be a huge success, the organisers and the Anderstorp Racing Club have tidied up a few ragged edges that occurred and everyone seems very happy and contented. The circuit is modified slightly in that instead of zooming flat-out off the main straight, which is an airfield runway, through a right-hand sweep onto the wiggly part of the circuit, an ess-bend is built into the curve, so that the cars zoomed off the runway as usual, but then have to brake and lose speed through this ess -bend, to around 50 mph and then accelerate along a short straight to the first sharp corner on the infield. This effectively cuts out the only fast corner on the flat circuit, it. being in the interests of safety we are told. What it does, is providing opportunities for drivers to bounce wheels over the cambered kerbs of the ess-bend and promoting an unprecedented series of breakages during the race. Initially it added a second or two to the lap time, but by the end of practice, lap times of the top group are well below the lap record of 1'26"146, set up last year by Hulme.
 
In spite of the long blast down the runway, the rest of the circuit is so wiggly that the lap speed is only just over 100 mph, fast enough for some Formula One aspirants, but hardly Grand Prix by motor racing standards. Practice is more than adequate, being in two sessions on Friday afternoon, and two on Saturday afternoon, though the time between the two sessions is not long enough for doing any really serious work. On Friday short sharp showers of rain messes things up, but in the dry spell Lauda shows form once more by setting the pace, with Peterson as usual charging along behind him in the Lotus 72. Scheckter is unobtrusively in third place, only a fraction of a second behind the Swede, followed by Fittipaldi and Janet recording good times. Merzario has a very brief try in the Williams car, but soon realises it is not possible to drive properly with his damaged hand, so the car is made ready for Robarts to drive in the second session. Regazzoni crumples the front of his Ferrari very early on, and while it is repaired, he does a few slow laps in the spare car. During the second session on Friday the rain plays havoc and conditions are never completely dry so progress as far as lap times were concerned is backwards and it is latices turn to be fastest. Not a significant situation. Early morning rain on Saturday is not encouraging, but the weather soon clears, and a warm sun dries things quickly. Everyone goes off with a rush, conscious that the previous day’s practice has not really sorted out the grid positions, but almost as quickly everyone stops. The electrical timing apparatus has gone on she blinks, but it is soon rectified, and practice got under way again. On the average Formula One car there are probably ten variables that affect lap times, and anyone who gets six right can reckon on being in the running, nobody ever getting ten out of ten, because some of the variables, like fuel load, tyre wear, temperatures and so on are continually changing.
 
One important variable is driver ability, providing he has the opportunity to show it, but on the Anderstorp track this variable is neutralised by the simplicity of the dead flat circuit, so that an inferior driver with more of his variables right than a highly skilled driver, could appear to shine. By the end of the two Sessions this is illustrated by nine drivers being grouped within one second. Some car/driver combinations will never go very fast, while others can but won’t and others would but can’t. The morale of the two Sunces drivers is so low that their times are not representative at all, Pace being only a fraction faster in the dry than Jarier is in the wet, and Pace is one of the hard-chargers when he feels like it. So is Jochen Mass, but they have both mentally given up due to a general discontent with no progress being made as the season wears on, apart from the disconcerting breakages they suffered at Monaco, but if the drivers do not try then they cannot hope to make any progress. One driver who really does keep on trying is Peterson, and though he drives the Lotus 76 very briefly, with huge temporary scoops on the side to gather more air for the radiators, it is with the Lotus 72 that he is concentrating his efforts. Between the two sessions on Saturday the Ferrari team takes their gearboxes apart and altered the fourth and fifth ratios, taking it longer than the interval, so that Lauda and Regazzoni lose some of the final practice time. This change has been prompted by Scheckter recording the fastest time at the beginning of Saturday practice, his driving being neat and tidy and adjusted nicely to the geometric configuration of the track, the Tyrrell 007 also being well suited to a circuit not calling for anything out of the ordinary, other than an honest balance. The Ferrari changes are no help, for Scheckter is still faster, and almost overlooked by the Maranello men is Denaliler, who goes even faster than his team-mate, to get himself on pole position and be alone in breaking 1'25"0 for the circuit. Other than the two TyneIls being on the front row instead of the two Ferraris, as everyone expected the disposition of everyone on the grid does not cause any particular excitement.
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The weather forecast for Sunday is not too promising so a repeat of the Spanish Grand Prix pit-stop drama can be envisaged, and Team Lotus spends some time practicing wheel-changes. The pits at Anderstorp being small, primitive, and crowded, the Formula One Constructors Association comes up with an excellent idea of using the front of the pits and the back of the pits, to give more room. The organisers hurriedly rip the back out of the existing pits, erect a barrier across the paddock to form a lane behind the pits, and Chapman (in pit number 1) and Tyrrell (in pit number 2) draw lots to see who should have the front pit and who should have the back pit. Chapman loses, so his team has to work from the back of the pits, while Tyrrell’s team works from the front. From then on along the line of pits the team’s keep their same pit, but alternated front to rear, and everyone have much more space and is very happy. It is fortunate that the pit/paddock area has more than enough space available to allow plenty of room for the run-in and for the run-out. As things turns out the weather improved steadily, and the only clouds in the sky are light fluffy ones and the sun grows hotter all the time, but nobody doubted the wisdom of the double-sided pit idea. First thing in the morning, before a series of national races took place, everyone has the opportunity for a last final fling, with no times being recorded, and poor Tom Belso literally flings his Williams car up the road when the suspension collapse on him. Although the race is not due to start until 1:30 p.m. there is no possibility of repairing it, so Robans is made to stand down and Belso takes his car Fittipaldi also decided to change cars, preferring the feel of the spare McLaren to his usual one, these sort of last-minute changes being allowed by the 1974 CSI ruling, providing the driver does not change make of car.

 

After a warmup lap the cars form up in grid order in front of the pits, with Kinunen taking the place of the unfortunate Robarts, while Schuppan, who is the slowest in practice, was told to join in on the back just in case anyone drops out, thus ensuring 25 cars starting. All 26 cars set off on the pace lap round to the starting line, led by the two ELF blue Tyrrell cars, everyone keeping station behind them. There is a pause on the starting grid and then everyone is away to start the so laps race, including Schuppan, as no-one had signalled anything to him. While Peterson is carving his way through from the third row, to tuck in behind Scheckter, who has made a good start, Depaillcr is not so quick and has to follow the black and gold Lotus into the first corner. While all this was going on Pescarolo’s BRM was developing flames around the back end, and while the field goes away on the opening lap the BRM pulls off the track and is doused by the fire-marshals. Scheckter leads from Peterson, Depailler, Lauda, Regazzoni, Reutemann, Hunt, Jarier, lckx, Fittipaldi, Millwood, and Hulme and on only the second time round Roos retires to the pits with a broken gearbox, while next time round Beltoise does likewise with a broken engine. With a clear road in front, Scheckter begets to pull out a small lead, while the rest down to Hailwood run nose-to-tail, nobody looking like doing anything desperate. At six laps Hailwood coasts to a stop out on the circuit, a leak in the main fuel system cutting off the supply to the engine, and it is a case of follow-my-leader and sec who does not break down. At nine laps the front and the back of the field suffers a loss, Peterson coming to a stop with a broken rear drive-shaft and Kinnunen coming to a stop on the runway with a dead engine. The Lotus 72 retirement leaves the Tyrrell cars first and second and soon a situation of stale-mate set in, the circuit not encouraging anyone to do anything heroic.

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The field divides into two parts, the first one containing a procession of aces and professionals, with the cheeky Brambilla doing a splendid job hanging on to them, and the second part comprising the amateurs and also-rans, who are actually enjoying a little private battle far more than the front runners. Mass, Belso and von Opel are racing against other, while just ahead of them the tow Lolas are giving a nose-to-tail demonstration like the two Tyrrells out at the front of the race. One by one the enfeebled begins to drop by the wayside, Reutemann calling at his pit with failing fuel pressure, only to find the back of the car covers in oil from the engine breathers, so it is withdrawn before it blew up. lckx stops with electrical problems and then gives up altogether with low oil pressure, and Pace gives up in disgust. Regazzoni’s Ferrari breaks its gearbox, and Lauda is not going as well as he should have done, for the right rear suspension is collapsing and the wheel is leaning inwards. His reduced pace was holding up Hunt, who has badly wanted to get by, but there is no possibility round the wiggly part of the circuit, and the Hesketh cannot out-speed the Ferrari down the straight. All the time the two Tyrrell’s are pulling further and further away into the distance, pit signals telling them to take it easy and drop their maximum rev-limit by 1000 r.p.m. There is no opposition behind them, with the remaining Ferrari sagging visibly, Hunt boxed in, the two McLarens of Fittipaldi and Hulme running so slowly that Brambilla is giving them trouble, and the charging Jarier having been deflated by first of all making a nonsense and missing a gear-change on the opening lap, and a little while later having the on-board fire-extinguisher system going off. It scents impossible that the two Tyrrell new-boys can be having it so good, but obviously Team Tyrrell has got more variables right than anyone else, and they are dead reliable with it.

 

Watson and Wisell are having a nice little scrap together, for ninth place, but it did not last, as Watson has to stop to change a tyre on the brown Brabham, and Wisell goes out at three-quarter race - distance when a pivot bolt in the rear suspension breaks. Schuppan is having a lonely drive round on his own, right at the back of the field, but keeps going as no-one signalled him to stop racing, and when it is all over, he finds himself excluded from the official results as he is not supposed to have started! Mass skates off the track when the front suspension of his Surtees breaks (perhaps he does have cause for complaint), and Hulme drags himself to a stop when the rear suspension breaks on his McLaren. The troublesome rear suspension mounting point on Lauda’s Ferrari is gradually tearing the welded joint away, and as the wheel leans inwards the load is being transmitted to the final drive unit and the gearbox and the young Austrian is having difficulty changing gear. Finally the transmission gave up the unequal struggle and the second Ferrari retires to the pits, leaving Hunt a clear track at last. However, there were only ten laps to go, and though the blonde Englishman put on a stirring display in gaining ground on the two Tyrrells, even if he has caught them there would have been little hope of getting past them. Both Scheckter and Depailler know exactly what is going on, the South African setting just the right pace, with his agitated French team-mate closed up behind him, and though the last minute flurry by Hunt and the Hesketh wakes everyone from their stupor it is a bit meaningless, and the Tyrrells cruises home to an impressive 1-2, on reliability and practicality rather than genius and inspiration, those last two qualities being strew around the circuit where their progenitors have fallen by the wayside. As the Tyrrells completes their last lap Brambilla’s March seizes its Cosworth engine and coasts to a stop short of the finishing line, losing a worthy sixth place, dropping to tenth in the results.

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Caterina Fioretti


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