#227 1973 Swedish Grand Prix

2022-07-04 01:00

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#227 1973 Swedish Grand Prix

There are some people who think that Grand Prix racing should be made more uniform than it is and bemoan the fact that all circuits do not have aircra

There are some people who think that Grand Prix racing should be made more uniform than it is and bemoan the fact that all circuits do not have aircraft landing strips and motels incorporated in their design. Fortunately, Europe is not uniform in everything and each country still possesses some variation, so that although the cast for a Grand Prix does not vary much from race to race, the surroundings still do. With Scandinavia now joining in the Grand Prix circus we have the extremes in contrast by going from the Grand Prix round the streets of Monte Carlo, uphill and downhill between the hotels, houses, shops and restaurants, to the flat, arid waste on which the Swedes have built the Scandinavian Raceway on the edge of the little country town of Anderstorp, though from the circuit there is not a house to be seen, just sandy scrub and distant pine trees. The circuit is absolutely flat, incorporating the Anderstorp airfield runway in the main straight, with the rest of the 4.018-kilometre circuit twisting and turning in a series of uniform right-angle corners and hairpins, with the start and finish and the timekeepers at one end of the wiggly bit and the pits and paddock at the other end. This comes about because the CSI inspected the circuit in 1968, when it was built, and would not sanction the start line being on the short straight where the pits were, demanding that it should be on the longer straight on the other side of the circuit. By this time the vast tarmac paddock has been laid and the pits built, so the race control center is set up remote from the nerve center and it seemed to work. The cast that journeys to Sweden by boat, plane and road is little changed from Monaco, except for some non-starters, these being Merzario in the second Ferrari, Andrea de Adamich with the third Brabham, Amon with the Tecno, Galli who withdraws from further active participation on the eve of the race, and Von Opel, there being no sign of the Ensign once again.


Of the regulars, Team Lotus are back to full strength with two cars each for Fittipaldi and Peterson, Ferrari have his two B3 cars for Ickx, Team Tyrrell their three cars 005, 006 and 006/2 with the first number in wedge-nose, side-radiator form, as tried briefly at Zolder, the McLaren team have their three M23 cars for Hulme and Revson, the Ecclestone Brabham team their two BT42 models for Reutemann and Wilson Fittipaldi, with a brand new BT42 in the transporter, though it is not used. The BRM team are reduced to three cars after Beltoise crashed his at Monaco, the line-up being Regazzoni P160/07, Beltoise P160/01 and Lauda P160/08. The UOP-Shadow team have built another new car, for Follmer this time, his Monaco car being reduced to scrap, and Team Surtees have the three cars they took to Monaco, the spare car being for Pace. With the loss of Nanni Galli the Williams team have a spare car for Ganley, and both cars have been converted to a single front radiator layout instead of the two radiators, one on each side just behind the front wheels, as originally built. The March force comprises Jarier with the works car, Beuttler with the stock-broker’s car, with a new oil radiator layout at the back, and Reine WiseII with the car Purley has used at Monaco, it being rebuilt with new body panels and painted bright yellow like the Beuttler car. Graham Hill completes the list with his Shadow, rebuilt and strengthened since Monaco. In total, there are four practice sessions and, presumably, the constructors are being paid sufficient money, for there are no boycotts or complaints of practice, and the practice takes place over Friday and Saturday before race day. It is held in early morning and late afternoon on the first day and early morning and lunch-time on the second day, with breaks during each session if any cars become derelict round the circuit and needed collecting, and there are quite a number of them. Considering it is all supposed to be practice time, the troubles are rather more abundant than was reasonable.

The UOP-Shadow team start the ball rolling on Friday morning when Oliver’s Cosworth engine, just back from an expensive Cosworth rebuild, blows up before he even leaves the pit lane, and Follmer crashes his brand new car into the catch fence at the end of the pit straight and crinkles the monocoque, this being DN1/5A. Wilson Fittipaldi barely completes a lap before the engine in his Brabham sheers its oil-pump drive, which ruins the bearings and puts him out for the rest of the morning. However, not everyone is in trouble, and Cevert is in flying form, sliding round the constant-radius hairpins very prettily and making fastest time, hotly pursued by Peterson, who is naturally the star and hero of his own Grand Prix event, the first to be held in Sweden. For the second practice, Cevert takes over the modified Tyrrell and appears to like it as much as the standard one, and improved on his morning time with it, but Peterson is getting into the groove and makes fastest time in 72/R6 and second fastest time in his spare car, 72/R8, so that one can say in all truth that he dominates practice, everyone else trying to keep up. Among those who are keeping up well is Reutemann, his Brabham being in fourth place, just behind Cevert’s Tyrrell. Once again FoIlmer keeps the ball rolling, setting off in his Shadow which has been straightened out as best as can be done in the paddock, and promptly going off into the sand again, this time without further damage. Oliver and Wilson Fittipaldi join in now, both with new engines in their cars, and Jarier drops out of the running when the crown-wheel and pinion breaks in the Hewland gearbox on his March, while Revson’s McLaren wrecks its gearbox. On Saturday very few people make much improvement as the circuit seems to be getting polished and slippery, and it has never had such high speeds or hard use before. Trouble and crashes continue unabated, however, Pace bending his Surtees when the left-rear wheel breaks off, leaving only the bolted centre on the hub, and Regazzoni walks back to the pits when his B.R.M. engine blows up.


Beuttler gets all crossed up coming into the pit straight, and bends the front of his March on the barriers, and Fittipaldi has a rear hub carrier break on his spare Lotus. Frank Williams lets the Danish F5000 driver Tom Belso have a go in GaIli’s Iso-Marlboro, and Cevert and Stewart improve their times in the standard Tyrrell cars. Ickx is making steady progress with the lone Ferrari, the spare car not being used, but somehow the small Ferrari effort looks a bit lost and lonely. In the final session, Stewart decides to try the modified Tyrrell, in view of the speed Cevert has done with it. So, the pedals are all altered so that the little Scot can drive it. After a mere handful of laps, he returns to his normal car and the experimental one is put away, there not being time to reset everything back for the long-legged Cevert, so the Frenchman continues in his standard Tyrrell. In the Lotus team there are some minor panics when first Fittipaldi stops out on the straight in his spare car, the temporarily repaired rear end having given way again, and then Peterson is reported to be in trouble in his spare car, but it proves to be merely a shortage of petrol. As practice draws to a close, Ganley spins off into the sand and gets everything clogged up, necessitating an engine change and general dismantling to get rid of all the sand. Belso has another brief try in the spare Williams car and fewer people still make any improvement to their times, even though they are all flogging round to the bitter end. The timekeepers are using a clever computer to produce results and it is programmed merely to remember and record each cars best lap and to discard any slower ones, so that it throws away all the times that show no improvement on the remembered time, which leaves us with only the cumulative best time for each driver, along with the cumulative number of laps each driver has completed. Stewart being top of the list with a total of 74 laps in 006/2 Tyrrell, whilst Wisell runs him close with a total of 71 laps. The race distance is to be 80 laps, and most drivers manage to complete over half a race during the two days, while Peterson does 32 laps in Lotus R6 and 42 laps in Lotus R8.

While the weather has been good during the two days of practice it is really superb on race day and a crowd of 55.000 packs the Raceway, one of the largest crowds at any sporting event ever held in Sweden, and Prince Bertil is a keen spectator, honoring the event with his Royal presence. At 9:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, there is a short test session, particularly useful for those teams who have been rebuilding cars or installing new engines, but it produces further troubles, for Ganley has the throttles stick open and crashes IR/01, which he has intended to race, and there is a panic to get IR/02 ready, while Fittipaldi has oil leaking out of the rear main bearing seal on his new Cosworth engine, so the back end has to be stripped off and a new seal fitted. A national Formula Three race and a saloon-car race fills in the morning and then the Grand Prix cars are wheeled out to the pits to prepare for a 1:30 p.m. start. The scheme is that the cars should do warm-up lap and then take up their dummy-grid positions in front of the pits and when everyone is ready they will set off in formation round the circuit to the starting line. By 1:50 p.m. nothing has happened for GPDA says there are too many photographers on the edge of the track, the organizers then say they are in a dangerous place anyway, and the GPDA (in the shape of President Hulme) says that where the organizers want the photographers to go is even more dangerous. Eventually a compromise is reached and the warm-up lap takes place, during which Wisell puts the brakes on and his hired March breaks the left lower front wishbone mounting, and he returns to the paddock with the wheel at funny angle. The remaining twenty cars leave without him, and Peterson in Lotus 72/R6 leads them round to the start, where they all pause briefly and are then off with a shattering roar. Eighteen of them get round the first corner, headed by Peterson and Fittipaldi, while Graham Hill gets his Shadow on the dirt and the throttle slides got all jammed up.
He gets going later but is then plagued with electrical troubles. As the nineteen cars roar round the first lap it is the two black and gold Lotus cars leading the two blue Tyrrell cars, followed by Reutemann and Hulme. On the second lap, Wilson Fittipaldi gets crossed-up at the second hairpin and goes off into the rough and wrecks the nose and radiators of his Brabham. Then it all settles down, with lap times two to three seconds slower than in practice, but the leaders are going as fast as they can with full petrol tanks and the circuit in race-day condition. Peterson leads Fittipaldi by a short distance, while Cevert passes Stewart and leads his team leader in pursuit of the Lotus pair, and Hulme passes Reutemann and tails the two blue Tyrrells. There is nobody else in the race, even though the rest are racing, and the order behind the pace-setters is Ickx (Ferrari), Revson (McLaren), Hailwood (Surtees), Beltoise (B.R.M.), Pace (Surtees), Ganley (Williams), Lauda (B.R.M.), Jarier (March), Oliver (Shadow), Follmer (Shadow), Regazzoni (B.R.M.) and Beuttler (March). Apart from Beuttler passing Regazzoni, the B.R.M. having tyre troubles which ruins its handling, and Oliver passing Jarier, nothing much happens for a while and they all go round and round. At 15 laps Beltoise stops at the pits in response to a signal for his mechanics can see oil leaking from the tank; a rivet holding a baffle had broken, so the hole is bunged-up with a Pop-rivet and the Frenchman is on his way again. Monotony now settles in as the two Lotus cars lead the two Tyrrell cars, with the McLaren right behind them, all their Cosworth engines giving equal power and all their Goodyear tyres providing equal grip. Reutemann’s car is vibrating badly and he cannot keep up and the two Surtees drivers are very unhappy with their Firestone tyres, while Follmer’s Shadow is handling like a camel, still being a bit out of line after its practice accidents. 
On lap 33, the monotony is relieved slightly when Stewart feels he has followed his team-mate long enough, and goes by into third place, this move being prompted by the fact that they are about to lap some of the faster tail-enders, and Cevert is not too good in fast traffic. Sure enough, Stewart pulls away and begins to reduce the gap to the Lotus pair, who are still circulating more or less nose-to-tail. While this is happening, Hulme is having a small private drama, for his throttles stick open and he hastily switches off the ignition, coasting along still in gear; tentatively he switches on again, expecting the engine to fire again on full throttle, but nothing happens. Then he realizes the throttles have shut themselves again, and pressing the accelerator he finds everything is normal, so he takes up the chase once more, having lost about 15 sec. Stewart closes up steadily on the Lotus pair, and at 41 laps he is right behind them, but there is nothing else he could do, and complete stalemate sets in as the three cars circulate nose-to-tail, each driver waiting for the others to make a mistake or for some mechanical thing to go wrong. Meanwhile, Cevert is dropping back, having lost his inspiration, and Hulme is closing up on him pretty rapidly. The rest of the runners are trailing along, being lapped one by one, except for Reutemann, Ickx and Revson. By 55 laps, Hulme is up with Cevert and the leading trio are unchanged, it being difficult to see how it is going to change. Pace has stopped for more tyres and is now lapped. Hailwood has given up the unequal struggle. Oliver retires when his Shadow breaks the inner mounting of the lower right rear wishbone, letting the wheel lean in drunkenly, and at 58 laps, Beltoise pulls off on to the side of the track when his B.R.M. engine blows up. The leading trio lap Revson and then it is Cevert’s turn to lap the American’s McLaren, and in the scrabble he somehow gets held up and HuIme goes by both of them, into fourth place.
It is a neat bit of team work by the two McLaren drivers, which is more than Cevert can cope with. Ickx is lapped with ease, the Ferrari having been pretty uninspiring all weekend, and then Lauda runs low on fuel and has to stop for more, one of his tank breather flap-valves playing up and letting petrol out as well as vapor. He is in a lowly tenth place at the time, and a few laps later Ganley also stops for petrol, losing ninth place, as his mixture control has slackened off and gone to full rich, ruining the consumption. With eleven laps to go, Fittipaldi begins to drop back from Peterson as his brakes begin to weaken, due to oil from the gearbox getting on the rear discs. This baulks Stewart for a moment, but then he is by and into second place, while Hulme passes the slowing Lotus and takes third place on lap 70. On the next lap Fittipaldi has lost all contact with the leaders and continues by using the gearbox to slow the car, but Cevert is catching him fast, and takes fourth place on lap 73, and on the next lap Reutemann is past the Lotus. Being low on oil and being overstressed when slowing the car, the gearbox is beginning to break up and Fittipaldi is struggling desperately to keep going to the finish. Meanwhile, his team-mate is in trouble for his left rear tyre is losing pressure and going soft, making it very difficult on right-hand bends, as Fittipaldi suffers in Barcelona. Stewart is now doing all he could to get by, but Peterson has his foot hard in and his elbows well out, and at 76 laps there is stalemate again, with Peterson desperately racing to the finish, Stewart trying to find a way by and Hulme right behind the pair of them. Fittipaldi’s gearbox finally gives up the ghost and he stops near the finishing line, and then Stewart suddenly slows right up and Hulme goes by. The short links, or straps, that transmit the drive between the left rear brake disc and the gearbox hub have broken up, just as they have done on a front brake at Barcelona. Hulme is now right on Peterson’s tail and the Lotus’ tyre is now really soft and there is nothing the Swede can do to stop the healthy McLaren forcing by on the very last lap. Stewart is passed by Cevert and Reutemann and is very lucky to finish.

Nicola Carriero


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