#229 1973 British Grand Prix

2022-07-02 01:00

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#1973, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Francesca Risi,

#229 1973 British Grand Prix

On Thursday, July 5, 1973, Ferrari began testing its three-litre 312-P sports car on the Vallelunga track, near Rome, where in March it was defeated b


On Thursday, July 5, 1973, Ferrari began testing its three-litre 312-P sports car on the Vallelunga track, near Rome, where in March it was defeated by Matra-Slmca in the second episode of the Sportscar World Championship. The outcome of these tests will depend on participation in the penultimate test of the championship, scheduled in the United States, Saturday, July 21, 1973. From Maranello were sent two cars, a 312-P of the usual type and a modified by the engineer Forghieri, both subjected to some improvements for these tests. Under the guidance of the technical managers Colombo and Caliri, Ickx and Merzario run laps, from early afternoon until evening, but there are no notable times. The reason is twofold: the good tyres have not yet arrived in Vallelunga, and the heat is terrible (33  ). The tests will continue on Friday and perhaps Saturday morning; a decision will be taken on Monday or Tuesday. Ickx appears serene and works hard, as Wednesday in Fiorano, where he had driven the 312-B3 of Formula 1. The Belgian did not meet with Enzo Ferrari, but on his mood must have positively influenced the reassuring presence of the new assistant to the presidency, the young lawyer Luca Montezemolo, not forgotten young Rally driver and author of beautiful races together with his friend Cristiano Rattazzi. Montezemolo plays a difficult role, but his enthusiasm and style should make a valuable contribution to improving the atmosphere in Maranello at this difficult time. Friday, July 6, 1973 Montezemolo will be in London to participate, as Ferrari delegate, in a meeting of Formula 1 constructors. Topic: the participation or not to the Italian Grand Prix in Monza in relation to the Chapman case and to the incrimination of the patron of Lotus for the death of Rindt. Meanwhile, at the summer conference of the CSAI, in Rimini, Enzo Ferrari criticizes the national and international leaders for the lack of compliance with sporting standards, such as the interval between race and race, the use of fuel, the number of days of testing. Moreover, Ferrari complains that its safety plan has not even been examined by the competent bodies. And while in Bologna, Clay Regazzoni, who in these times is often seen between Modena-Maranello (Ferrari) and Bologna, also visits Tecno. The Swiss, who currently drives a Formula 1, tries the new car of the Bolognese brothers, whose agreement with Martini is on the verge of breaking. Regazzoni, who has raced in the past with both Ferrari and Tecno, thinks about 1974. As is well known, Regazzoni is not at all satisfied with B.R.M., as a team and as a machine. 


"It’s a messy team, with cars that don’t look like Formula 1 but Formula 2". 


Team-mate Beltoise also plans to leave the British team. The following day, the Scuderia Ferrari closed the practice cycle with the 312-P. In total more than 300 laps of the Vallelunga track are covered with satisfactory results. Ickx stands out in the morning the best time with 1'12"5, against 1'12"6 of Merzario, information however far from the track record held by Matra-Simca with 1'08"9. The results obtained, given the climatic conditions - hot and humid - are good and, after the return to the venue, will be decided almost certainly the continuation of the championship. After a few days of silence, rumors begin to leak in London about the meeting held Friday, July 6, 1973 in a hotel at Heatrow airport by the Formula 1 constructors. Theme of the meeting, as known, is the case Chapman, namely the indictment of the English manufacturer by the Italian judicial authority for the death of Jochen Rindt. The decisions of the manufacturers' association would be important. It would have decided not to send the cars to the Italian Grand Prix, and this not for controversy towards Monza but in general towards Italian justice. So, no to Monza but also to Imola or Misano or Pergusa. Manufacturers, again according to authoritative rumors, would send an official letter to the Automobile Club of Italy, CSAl and the organizers of the Italian Grand Prix, explaining the reason for the decision. 


"We are very sorry to have to take this decision, from which we will only retrocede if we are given by the competent authorities assurances of a different treatment". 


The meeting, attended by Colin Chapman and Ken Tyrrell in person, as well as representatives of Brabham, McLaren, March, B.R.M. and Ferrari (missing Surtees, Frank Williams, Uop-Shadow and Ensign), lasted over five hours. The various aspects of the Chapman case were debated at length and, in the end, the manufacturers voted no to Italy. It seems that the decision was reached unanimously, with the abstention of the delegate of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo. In London we now expect a reaction from the Italian authorities, sports and not. Perhaps, there will be some development, certainly it is believed that the veto of the association of builders is very firm. The decision of Formula 1 manufacturers was in the air. A week earlier, at Le Castellet, on the occasion of the French Grand Prix, the drivers agreed on Monza with the 1972 variants, but considered it appropriate that their owners take some initiative to shake international public opinion and the sporting authorities (and not just sports) on the Chapman affair. Summarizing briefly the main points, Saturday, September 6, 1970 the Austrian Jochen Rindt leaves the track with his Lotus-Ford in the straight that leads into the parabolic curve. Witnesses say they saw the car skidding and crashing into the guardrail. The driver almost died instantly. The wreckage of the car is seized and the court entrusts the expert opinion to engineer De Riu, technical commissioner of the CSAI. According to this report, Chapman is charged with criminal liability in the accident, which was allegedly caused by a mechanical failure in the front axle. Chapman, now, no longer sets foot in Italy and his sports director Peter Warr had explained to Le Castellet the attitude of Lotus to engineer Rogano, president of CSAI. Now Monza is not under charge, but - even if the Formula 1 manufacturers do not say openly - the Italian law and the way to administer it. What do they reproach? Two things: that non-sporting justice should be concerned with an accident that occurred on a track, especially when the public is not involved; that after three years the case of Chapman has not yet been resolved and has just come to an indictment. No manufacturer, given what is happening to the patron of Lotus (and what has happened to Enzo Ferrari in the past), wants to expose himself to the risk of sending cars to Italy for which he is responsible. Ken Tyrrell says:


"And if in September, in the Grand Prix, an accident happened, I too would end up being accused. Why? Better not go to Monza or other Italian circuits". 


A rather simple reasoning, which, however, risks damaging the sport of the Italian steering wheel. And no alternative solutions seem possible. The Manufacturers' Association wrote in its letter to ACI that it did not wish to withdraw from its decision, unless there were special guarantees that it would be treated differently. Different in what sense? The law is what it is and no sporting authority or not could offer such guarantees. We deduce, except miracles to the Italian, that you will not see in September the Italian Grand Prix. One last note. It would appear, again to the London voices, that Ferrari abstained at the time of the vote: on the one hand, probably, it should have signed the document of the other partners, on the other hand it has not forgotten its Italian spirit. The fear on the part of Colin Chapman, the owner of Lotus, of falling into the coils of the terrible Italian justice, has led to a stance on the part of the Formula 1 constructors. However, the constructors' association has perhaps not well understood the problem. The consequences for Chapman in the case of his coming to Italy are in fact practically nil. The prosecutor of the Republic of Monza, Dr Luigi Recupero, whose office conducted the investigation that led to the indictment of Chapman, Monday, 9 July 1973 states that the Monzese court can only arrest the English manufacturer. It is a very remote possibility, because it is only in the event of a massacre, or in some very particular cases, that this is done. At most, Chapman could be given a warrant by a clerk of the court informing him of the date of his trial. This process will be instructed in the autumn session, probably in October. A few days pass, and finally Tuesday, July 10, 1973 comes a happy news from Maranello: Ferrari does not withdraw from the Sportscar World Championship and will participate in the penultimate race of the season that sees it committed with Matra-Simca. 


"Ferrari has decided to participate in the Six Hours of Watkins Glen, scheduled for July 21, with two 312-P cars entrusted to Ickx-Redman and Merzario-Pace and, compatible with the working time of the workshop, with a third piloted by Reutemann and Schenken". 


We also learn that at the next British Grand Prix, scheduled for Saturday at Silverstone, will only Ickx. The Merzario car is in fact undergoing a series of changes, in particular as regards weight distribution, to improve its performance. The decision of Enzo Ferrari and his collaborators is truly pleasing. And for many reasons: because the challenge with the Matra-Simca continues to the end and does not leave to the French company the opportunity to comfortably conquer the world title: because from Maranello starts a lesson of courage and sportsmanship, and these days it is an admirable fact; because obviously the tests conducted in the previous week, in Vallelunga, must have offered some positive indications. The situation at the top of the championship is not easy for Ferrari. After nine races, discarding the three worst results as per regulation, the French company has 104 real points against 100 in Maranello. Only four points, but at Watkins Glen the Maranello team will have to assert itself in order to improve its ranking and take the field for the final duel, scheduled for October 21, we do not know if in Buenos Aires or San Paolo. Moreover, it is known that at Silverstone, for the British Grand Prix, there will be only one Ferrari. As is well known, Ickx is contractually entitled to two cars and, since Merzario’s car is undergoing a reconstruction, Maranello preferred to skip an Italian race. There is nothing to be scandalized, indeed it is consoling that we work around the already much discussed 312-B. It means that from Le Castellet emerged the first lights and that, finally, you know how to operate to make it more valid. With the British Grand Prix scheduled for Saturday, July 14, 1973 at the fast Silverstone circuit, the Formula 1 World Championship reaches the ninth round. The challenge is open between Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi, between Tyrrell and Lotus. The Scotsman managed to overtake the Brazilian in France: Jackie has 42 points, Emerson 41. It will now be up to Fittipaldi try to regain the primacy. Fittipaldi himself was troubled by the death of Antonio Schiavone, the well-known Brazilian organizer of motor racing. Schiavone was on the jet that crashed in Paris and was reaching Europe precisely to attend the British Grand Prix, and to conclude a series of negotiations already started with pilots and managers for the autumn sports season in Brazil. Emerson receives the sad news shortly before taking to the track. The World Champion, painfully impressed, says: 


"I am deeply saddened. Schiavone was a good friend of mine and his help at the beginning of his career was invaluable to me. I can’t believe it. We were supposed to meet today or tomorrow here at Silverstone". 


With Great Britain being the home of most of the teams involved in Grand Prix racing today, as well as many of the drivers and the people putting money into the racing, it is no surprise to find one of the largest entries ever seen, arriving for practice. There are no fears about having to qualify for a starting grid place, for they can all be accommodated on the wide 4.71-kilometre circuit, so their only problem is exactly where they will be on the grid. Official practice takes place on Thursday from 11:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. and again on Friday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., a total of 5 hours practice for a race that is going to last for less than 1-1/2 hours, being run over 67 laps. In case this is not enough there is an unofficial practice day on the previous Tuesday, and if this still is not enough there is a further 30 minutes available on the morning of the race, which is Saturday July 14th. As the John Player cigarette firm are backing the meeting and doing all the high-pressure publicity to bring the required crowds to buy the very expensive tickets to pay for the enormous field of Grand Prix cars, to say nothing of the Formula Atlantic cars, the Formula 3 cars, the Saloon cars and the Historic cars, the John Player backed Lotus team are out to win. They are more determined than before, if that is possible, and Fittipaldi and Peterson have their two cars each in the same condition as used at the Grand Prix of France, with the rear aerofoils mounted well back, the Brazilian having R5 and R7 and the Swede R6 and R8. In order to avoid the confusion that nearly all other organisations suffer from when a driver has two cars at his disposal, the first cars are given the normal racing number, and the spare car an entirely different number. In Fittipaldi’s case R5 is race number 1 and R7 is number 40 and Peterson’s pair are 2 and 41, respectively.


This sensible system avoids the use of 1T or 2T which invariably confuses the timekeepers. The poor old muddled Ferrari team arrives with two cars for Ickx and no sign of Merzario, even though he is entered. The Belgian is using 010 as his number one car and has 012 as a spare. Tyrrell’s smart blue cars are his usual trio, the spare car having the chisel-nose and side water radiators, but there is no question of having any drivers other than Stewart or Cevert in the car. On the other hand the McLaren team has all three of their M23 models entered and ready to race, with Hulme as usual in M23/1, Revson in M23/2 and Scheckter in M23/3. Ecclestone’s Brabham team surprises everyone when they unload four BT42 cars, 42/2 for Wilson Fittipaldi, 42/3 for Reutemann, 42/4 for De Adamich and a brand new one, 42/5, as a spare for Reutemann, it being finished off in the paddock. In addition the modified 1972 car, BT37/2, previously raced by De Adamich, is now being driven by John Watson, backed by Hexagon of Highgate, the used-car dealers, and it is painted chocolate brown, though some people call it another sort of brown. The UOP-Shadow team are unchanged from previous races, with Follmer and Oliver driving, and Graham Hill with his Embassy-cigarette backed Shadow is there to support and oppose the works team. BRM produced a brand new P160, number 9 in the series, for Regazzoni, while Lauda and Beltoise have their usual cars. John Surtees enters his full set of TS 14A cars, with Hailwood in 04, Pace in 03 with the vented side sponsons, and the German saloon-car driver Jochen Mass in the oldest car, number 01, and not being involved in any complicated sponsorship programme it is painted white. Frank Williams has both of his Marlboro and Iso Rivolta backed cars in side-radiator form, and co-opted the New Zealand Formula 5000 driver Graham McRae into the team to join Ganley. There are four March cars entered, the works car, the Stockbroker car, Lord Hesketh’s car and David Purley’s car, and since they are built as new cars for 1973, from the basics of the 1972 cars, some new chassis recognition plates have been made and riveted onto the monocoques. The works car is 721G/4 or 731/4, the Stockbroker car 721G/2, the Hesketh car 731/3 and Purley 731/2, which give slight variations on the original designations and definitions.


There are two important moves within the March camp, one being that Jean-Pierre Jarier is no longer in the works car, due to the ending of various complicated deals, and Roger Williamson took his place, due to the commencement of even more complicated deals. Beuttler is fully recovered from his Formula 2 accident and is back in the yellow Stockbroker car, Hunt is driving for Lord Hesketh in the car modified by Harvey Postlethwaite, and Purley has his car back after its brief loan to Wisell for the Swedish Grand Prix. The smooth green Ensign is having another stab at this Formula One business, driven by von Opel and last, and unfortunately least, is the trouble-torn Martini Racing Tecno team with Amon as driver. They have their original 1973 car, designed by Alan McCall, before he disappeared and left them high and dry, and the brand new car designed by Gordon Fowell and his Gorted Design firm. The new car is very smooth, but angular looking, monocoque with orthodox suspension and the flat-12 Pederzani engine and Hewland gearbox cantilevered out the back of the cockpit structure. The water radiator lay very flat at the front with air for it being taken in through a duct under the wedge-shaped nose cowling. With 35 cars in the paddock there is much to see and in the tiny Silverstone pit lane there is as much confusion as there is at Brands Hatch, even though all 35 are never out at the same time. Fortunately Lotus are able to overflow into the area beyond the pits, Ferrari does not use their spare car, Brabham has spent most of the time finishing off their latest car and Tyrrell puts one of his away when he brings out his spare, but even so the tail end of the entry overflows into the Trade drinking pits. The GKN-Daily Express meeting back in April gives a good indication of what to expect as far as the top drivers and cars are concerned. The two Lotus drivers and Stewart can be guaranteed to go quickly, even though the Tyrrell does not seem to handle too well on the flat airfield circuit, while the McLaren’s are sure to be deceptively fast, being very stable and giving their drivers a comfortable and confident ride, Hulme being belligerently fast providing conditions are good, and Revson’s smooth driving and USAC high-speed experience paying dividends on corners like Stowe or Woodcote compared to the harbour front at Monte Carlo, for example. Cevert always seems to get left behind on corners calling for bravery and finesse, and none of the other teams ever seem to look like providing a natural winner or a serious challenger.


However, there are a number of interesting asides and these are to see how Scheckter will perform after his meteoric drive at Paul Ricard, how Williamson will get on in his first drive in a Formula One car, how Mass will fare in the Surtees, how McRae will go in the Williams car, whether Ickx will get anywhere with the Ferrari, and how the new Tecno will perform. Just as everyone is getting ready for the first practice a summer shower of rain fell lightly on the scene and while everyone goes into a flap it stopped and dried up almost instantly. As the skies are still overcast and the overall weather forecast for the next three days is uncertain, one driver in particular is determined to get in a quick lap before rain slow everyone up. This is Stewart, and as soon as the circuit is open for practice he is away like a jack-rabbit. The weather stays dry, though threatening, and for two-and-a-half hours everyone goes round and round, some going faster and faster, some going slower and slower, and some coming to a grinding halt. One of these is Regazzoni, who does a mere 16 laps with his brand new B.R.M. and brand new engine, before all the bearing metal ends up in the oil tank. Others stop and are able to get going again, thanks to some speedy work by their mechanics, like Scheckter, whose Cosworth engine in his McLaren spring a leak in its high-pressure mechanical petrol pump. Replacing it means removing the exhaust system and water plumbing from the left-side of the engine, so the South African loses quite a lot of practice time. Williamson goes grass cutting out of Abbey curve after trying to take the bend without lifting off, and makes a mess of the nose cowling, and Peterson has a lot of oil leaking out of the gearbox on his spare car which he is using until his first choice is ready. Hunt spends a long time in the pits while his gearbox is made to work, an incorrect spacer allowing the gear cluster to float about, and when he does get going he not only goes very fast, but put himself up with the fast Goodyear-shod runners, even though he is on Firestone tyres, which B.R.M. and Team Surtees have been telling everyone are no good. While he is busy winding himself up to even greater things the front suspension of the March collapses at Becketts Corner and with the left wheel turning itself on full left lock, and Hunt turning the right one onto full right lock to counteract it, the car slides straight on and stops on the grass, luckily without any serious damage.


With little fuss and a lot of determination Hulme makes fastest lap, the McLaren handling so nicely that it never looks very fast, and he is a whole second faster than his team-mates. As expected Peterson, Fittipaldi and Stewart are hard on Hulme’s heels, the primitive RAC timekeeping unable to decide the differences closer than one-tenth of a second. Peterson never does go out in his number one car, while Fittipaldi never goes out in his practice car. Cevert tries the spare Tyrrell briefly, but Amon is stuck with the earlier Tecno as the new one has something wrong with its engine and keeps blowing all its oil into its catch-tank instead of returning it to the oil tank even when warming-up in the paddock. Mass is getting the feel of the Surtees so well that he is as fast as Pace, and they are both fractionally faster than Hailwood, and De Adamich is taking time to get used to the more forward driving position of the BT42 and the different feel, compared to the old BT37. Watson is making the best of what he has got in the way of a Cosworth engine in the brown Brabham, but McRae can not get much joy with the Williams car and is wishing he has his Formula 5000 car to drive. Ickx and the Ferrari are an embarrassment to all the Ferrari enthusiasts, though the noise is some consolation, but he seems unwilling to hurl the car into the corners with the sort of carefree abandon that the McLaren and Lotus lads are displaying, yet it is arriving into the braking areas as fast as any of the cars. By the time this first practice session finishes Stewart has completed 66 laps, Hulme 60 laps, Fittipaldi and Ganley 59 laps, Peterson 51 laps, and Wilson Fittipaldi 50 laps. Saturday’s race is to be over a mere 67 laps, and there is another 2-1/2 hour practice session yet to run. One can not help feeling that either there is an awful lot to learn, or they are slow at learning. The first day of practice has confirmed that McLaren, Tyrrell and Lotus are always at the top of the Formula 1 competition, with particular reference to McLaren, which is going through a happy season and would deserve even better results than those it already achieves. The first six best times were obtained by Hulme (McLaren), Peterson (Lotus), Stewart (Tyrrell) and Flttipaldi (Lotus), Revson (McLaren) and Scheckter (McLaren). It is worth noting that Stewart and Fittipaldi have shot at the same time in the name of the perfect balance between men and machines. Not in evidence in these initial phases of tuning the Ferrari of Jacky Ickx. The Belgian got only the 17th time (1'18"9) after having suffered problems of various kinds. 


Andrea de Adamich, the only Italian driver in the race, drove in 1'20"6 (20th performance out of 29 competitors on track) with his Brabham. On Friday it all starts up again, with the same people being fast, the same ones being courageous, the same ones being slow and many of the same troubles appearing, as well as some new ones. Regazzoni has another engine in his BRM and is going well. Lauda is still driving hard and bravely. Peterson gets his hands on his proper car and Fittipaldi tries his spare one briefly. Poor Amon does one lap in the new Tecno before the catchtank is full of oil and then returns to the old Tecno, and Stewart has a brief go in the chisel-nose Tyrrell. He does this while 006 is being repaired, for he has taken to the grass in a big way at the exit of Woodcote Corner on one lap and damages the nose-cowling and the left-front suspension. A new nose cowling is fitted and a new lower wishbone member, and he is away again. Williamson is also on the grass at Woodcote, but at least he is in good company, but Purley goes off at Becketts and bends his March too badly to continue or even repair it in time for the race. The McLaren team are very happy for Revson equals Hulme’s time of yesterday and Scheckter is less than half a second behind them, so the Yardley firm who back the McLaren team with money, are even happier. Colin Chapman is not at all happy that his ace drivers are not up at the front but as practice draws to a close Peterson rose to the occasion and in a display of driving that gladdens the hearts of Silverstone old timers, he snatches pole position away from the McLaren team with a lap in 1'16"3 compared to their 1'16"5. The pale-faced Peterson is fully winds up and it is terrific to see it happening. While the Lotus enthusiasts are bubbling over with joy, the Ferrari fans are hiding their heads in shame for Ickx with the 312B3 flat-12 is only as fast as the newcomers von Opel and the Ensign, and no Ferrari can possibly be that bad. It is obvious that McRae should have stuck to Formula 5000 for he is not as fast as his team-mate Ganley, but the works Shadow drivers are over-joyed for they are a full three-tenths of a second faster than Graham Hill. There is some slight consolation for Amon when he sees the newest Brabham BT42 sets off from the pits with Reutemann and not reappear, dying out on the circuit. When it is all over and the timekeepers have sorted it all out into some semblance of order and a starting grid, everything is in its right perspective.


The front row is Peterson, Hulme, Revson, the second row Stewart and Fittipaldi, the third row Scheckter, Cevert and Reutemann and then the miscellaneous lot that make up the field but seldom look like winning, and there are 28 all told, for Purley’s March is beyond immediate repair. With good weather and a sun from the Côte d'Azur, many drivers have improved the times obtained on Thursday, but there is no illusions: towards evening the sky becomes again cloud and Saturday the capricious English weather could also decide for the rain. For this reason some teams (especially those vying for the first places) have also made test by their men the tires with the tread from water. There was still a fierce fight between the drivers of three brands, namely Lotus, Tyrrell and McLaren, to the point that seven of them, Peterson, Hulme, Revson, Stewart, Emerson Fittipaldi, Schekter and Cevert are grouped in a second of their time difference. It goes from 1'16"3, to the average of 222.250 km/h of Peterson to 1'17"3 of Cevert. What at the beginning of the season seemed like a duel between the drivers of Tyrrell and Lotus has become an uncertain three-way battle with the inclusion of McLaren drivers, which in turn is constantly increasing in performance. All use the same eight-cylinder Cosworth engine, which with its 460 effective horsepower is still superior to the twelve-cylinder B.R.M., Ferrari and Tecno. And if the tests are an indication that it will be the race, Saturday we will have a memorable Grand Prix. Silverstone is a very fast circuit, with an average of 220 km/h, and to make the time you have to take many corners with the accelerator at the maximum, in fifth gear. To illustrate the problems of the track, Stewart is a guide to the journalists on a tour of the track itself, fortunately only by bus. After many tests and tweaks of the suspension adjustment, almost at the end of the tests the Lotus Team managed the best tuning, and Peterson set the best time. Emerson Fittipaldi, who started with very little gasoline to be as light as possible, stayed on the track without fuel and had to settle for the fifth time and the second row. Tyrrells are perhaps less suited to the Silverstone track, because shorter and less aerodynamic than other cars. To make up for the difference, Stewart has performed in one of his best tests, entering the fastest corners even at the cost of slight skids on the surrounding grass. Interestingly, Stewart and Fittipaldi, who posted the same time of 1'16"9 on Thursday, improved exactly the same, by 0.2 seconds, almost demonstrating the equal form of cars and drivers. Still not very exciting the performance of Ferrari: the position of Ickx in the starting grid and the lap time, 2.6 seconds higher than the best, clearly indicates that something is wrong. Luca Montezemolo, the new assistant of Enzo Ferrari, tries to summarize the problem of the Maranello car:


"The car is still new and we are in a restructuring phase that we hope to conclude soon". 


Montezemolo also adds, with much sincerity:


"Of course with such a time and a car like that it would be better not to run tomorrow". 


For his part, Ickx says: 


"The car has a great engine, at least equal to the best Fords, but the chassis has something we can not discover". 


This is confirmed by the fact that, despite all the tests, Ferrari’s times have not fallen below 1'18"9. Not very comforting also the test of Tecno, which got the last place on the starting line with the older car, while the new one only completed a couple of laps. Amon stopped because the oil tank, too small, had filled with foam. However, the car will remain in England for further development. It is still to be seen if this tuning will succeed, certainly today England is the best place to build Formula 1 cars, at a very high level. Finally, a comforting news for the Italian Grand Prix. The Formula 1 constructors, who had decided to no longer race in Italy to protest the Chapman case, were reassured by the Court of Appeal Adviser Arienzo on behalf of the CSAI. Chapman was clarified - finally - the legal aspect of his indictment for the death of Rindt. The manufacturer has received extensive assurances that he will not be arrested or that his passport will be confiscated, and that his case will be followed with particular attention. On Friday there has been the sort of public attendance that will have gladdened the hearts of most race organisers, but on Saturday there is an enormous crowd, proving that motor racing needs to be in the centre of a country, attainable from North, South, East and West, not tucked away in an inaccessible corner. The gates open at 6.30 a.m. and from that moment on there is a continuous scene of activity, both racing and non-racing so that anyone who participate in it all must have been completely wearn out by 2:00 p.m. when the British Grand Prix is due to start. For those whose only concern is the Grand Prix the real activity begins to occur about 1:30 p.m. when the cars and drivers begin to gather for the entrance into the pits, with the lucky chief mechanics having the honour of driving the cars from the paddock round to the pits.


The drivers then drive round the circuit to the starting grid, where everyone is marshalled into their grid position, and then a fine parade is carried out in front of the main grandstand. Row by row the cars are wheeled along the track by the mechanics, while the drivers and the team-managers or team owners walk alongside and the commentator presents the contestants to the Tribune d’Honneur. It is as good as a bull-fight and gives you the feeling of participating in the great manifestation that is about to begin. The drivers then don their helmets and gloves, are strapped in their cars by their mechanics and set off on a serious warm-up lap in grid formation, led by Peterson. It is a splendid sight as the 28 cars in rows of three-two-three appears under the bridge before Woodcote Corner in an orderly array, just like an Indianapolis rolling start. They pause on the dummy-grid and then move forward to the starting grid, the Union Flag goes up, is lowered and amidst smoke and rubber dust the British Grand Prix is under way with at least five drivers determined to win, another half dozen out to profit from any weakness amongst the five, many more hoping to keep up the pace, and the rest just hoping. Two drivers give up hope almost before the flag has reached the ground, one being Lauda whose B.R.M. breaks a drive-shaft as he lets the clutch in and the other is Oliver who charges through the smoke from the back of the grid and hit the back of the stationary B.R.M. The Shadow limps away along the pit straight with its front end damaged, while Lauda’s mechanics hustles the B.R.M. across the track and into the pits. Peterson has got away first, but at Becketts corner Stuart nipped by into the lead and by the end of the opening lap he has pulled out a phenomenal lead. Peterson is next into view, then Reutemann, then Scheckter followed by Hulme, Cevert, Hunt and Revson.

As they stream through Woodcote corner, nose to tail, it is the tail of Scheckter’s McLaren that begins to slide out and he is too late in applying correction. In a graceful pirouette the McLaren spins right across the track and it hits the retaining wall of the pits and bounces back into the middle of the track. While it is in this long-drawn-out classical spin Hulme, Cevert, Hunt, Revson and Regazzoni go by, but as it ricochets back from the pit wall the McLaren of Revson strikes the tail and then all hell breaks loose as the rest of the field crashes into the wrecks or dodges about to miss the wreckage. The race organisation acts instantly and the officials appear with the chequered flag and red flags, indicating without argument or discussion that the race is stopped and will be re-started at a later time. Meanwhile, those ahead of the accident are still racing, until they end the lap, when they all come to a rapid stop at the scene of the crash. When the dust has settled it is seen that nine cars are involved in the pile-up, the Brabham of De Adamich has crashed headlong into the barriers on the outside of the track and he is trapped in the cockpit with a broken ankle. Apart from minor bruises and shakings no-one else is hurt, but the Surtees cars of Mass, Pace and Hailwood are smashed, the Shadow of Follmer is ripped open, the B.R.M. of Beltoise is wrecked, the March of Williamson is wrecked, as is the McLaren of Scheckter. The Shadow of Hill has been struck in the rear and a wishbone broken, but it is limping round to the pits under its own power. It takes some 40 minutes to release De Adamich from the wreckage of the Brabham and even longer to clear away the wrecks and the debris. In the meantime those cars that escaped are wheeled back to the starting grid and Hill’s car is repaired in the pits, and Lauda’s B.R.M. that has been in the pits all the time has a new drive-shaft fitted. To all those who see the cause of the accident it is obvious that Sheckter has over-cooked it and has a classical Woodcote corner high-speed spin, in just the same way that Mike Hawthorne has done in 1953 with his Ferrari and many years later Christabel Carlisle has done with a BMC Sprite when she kills one of the scrutineers. It is a simple matter of too fast without the reflexes and skill to catch the rear-end breakaway.
There are those who say the left-front tyre has burst and others who say the right-front tyre burst, but a pause for think will have put them right. Agreed the left front tyre is developing most of the cornering power to absorb the cornering force, and can quite reasonably have collapsed under the strain, but has it done so it will have reduced the cornering power of the front end of the car almost to zero and nothing on earth will have made the tail of the car slide out and overtake the front end. The car will have slid more or less straight off the corner at a tangent. For those who suggest that the right front tyre burst there are two answers, one that it is lightly loaded and will not have upset the balance so dramatically and the other is the photograph in the Daily express of the McLaren on the rebound after striking the pit wall and quite clearly the right front tyre is sound in wind and limb, even though the accompanying text says it is punctured. John Surtees sums the whole thing up when he says: a certain driver thinks he is going to win the race on that opening lap. Bravado and enthusiasm may be all right around the stop-and-go corners at low speed at Paul Ricard, but on the 140-150 m.p.h. knife-edge of Woodcote corner a certain amount of finesse and fine judgement is needed, especially on new and un-warmed sticky tyres. It is 3.30 p.m. before the track is cleaned up and there are nineteen out of the original twenty-eight cars available for the restart, Lauda’s B.R.M. and Hill’s Shadow having been repaired during the lull. The unfortunate De Adamich has been taken to hospital with a broken ankle and everyone is marvelling that there has not been more personal injury and designers are feeling justifiably pleased with the crash-resistant properties of their monocoque structures as far as the drivers are concerned. John Surtees is nearly in tears at the sight of his entire team wrecked almost beyond repair, but is thankful that Hailwood, Pace and Mass are unhurt. The Shadow team are taking a resigned attitude, having become used to the sight of their cars being wrecked during their short time in Formula One, and others are making some pretty caustic remarks to the McLaren team about their hot-headed young South African charger, but secretly wishing they have a driver with as much fire in their own team.
The onlookers in the start area are beginning to realise exactly what the Indianapolis 500 Mile race is like, and at 3:35 p.m. the deplted field moves up on to the starting grid. Everyone takes up their original positions, leaving gaps for those who have been eliminated. Purley is missing anyway, Oliver has eliminated himself on his own, but Scheckter, Hailwood, Pace, Mass, Beltoise, De Adamich, Williamson and Follmer are missing as a result of the pile-up. On the second Grand Prix start of the day there is not quite the same tension and excitement, even though all the principal contenders are still there, and while Peterson leads away Lauda shot through from the fourth row, using the vacant grid position in front of him to advantage and is into second place behind the Lotus, followed by Stewart, Fittipaldi, Hulme, Revson, Cevert, Regazzoni, Hunt, Ganley, Reutemann and the rest, except for McRae whose throttle slides becomes jammed with dust from the cars in front and the Williams expires on the opening lap. Nose to tail they charge round on the opening laps, Ickx getting ahead of Ganley and Stewart passing Lauda on the second lap. It is clear that the young B.R.M. driver is not going to keep up this pace, and while Stewart closes up on Peterson the rest are lined up behind the B.R.M.. On lap seven Stewart is attempting to pass Paterson and makes his bid at Stowe, but it does not come off for he muffs his gear-change, strikes the rubber markers on the inside of the corner and goes spinning off onto the infield. This left Peterson on his own, Fittipaldi has got past Lauda, so Team Lotus are first and second in their sponsor’s Grand Prix and everyone is happy. Not so the rest of the challengers for Revson and Hulme are soon past Lauda, while Hunt has passed Cevert, taking sixth place. Stewart’s spin has dropped him to thirteenth place, but he is going again and about to start another handicap race like he has done at the GKN meeting earlier in the year and recently in the French Grand Prix. Peterson is well out on his own, followed by Fittipaldi who is in a nice position to apply some team driving and prevent Revson and Hulme getting at the Swede, while behind them Hunt is preparing to take fifth place from Lauda, and Cevert is tailing along at the end of the leading bunch.
Reutemann is leading the next group which consists of Regazzoni, Ickx, Gantley and Fittipaldi W., and then Stewart is seen heading for the pits, with the nose of the Tyrrell coming adrift. It is refixed and the earth and grass removed from the radiator and he is back in the race, but now a lap behind the leader. He joins in again just behind Hunt, but a lap down, and is circulating at the pace of the leaders, but no more. Of the rest of the runners the dismal Tecno effort expired on lap 6, Graham Hill has a pit stop to change a tire on his Shadow and Watson is in trouble with the Hexagon Brabham with sticking throttles, so this left Beuttler and von Opel bringing up the rear. Lauda is being steadily elbowed back down the field, first Hunt passing him, then Cevert, then Reutemann and then the BRM finds its proper level in company with its fellow driven by Regazzoni. Up at the front of the race Stewart has passed Hunt, then he passes Hulme and is between the two McLarens, but Revson is putting the pressure on Fittipaldi and they are closing up on Peterson. Hulme has dropped back but can not relax for Hunt is right behind him, going splendidly and refuting all the stories about what is wrong with March cars and Firestone tyres, and the Hesketh team are enjoying the whole thing. At 25 laps the situation is unchanged, except that Lauda has stopped to have a tyre changed and Graham Hill has disappeared from the back of the field, but Peterson’s lead is not so secure for his team-mate is getting closer due to the pressure that Revson is keeping on the second Lotus. By 30 laps they are right up with the Swede, and as Stewart is not making much progress as regards regaining the lap he has lost he eases his pace only to find Hulme up close behind him because Hunt is on his tail. So we have the interesting situation of a Lotus out in front, closely followed by another Lotus with a McLaren breathing down its neck, followed by the second McLaren being lent on by a March, with a Tyrrel unintentionally in the middle of it all, the second Tyrrell having been left beind on the high-speed corners. In modern motor racing jargon the situation is that a John Player is leading, but the second John Player is being pressured by a Yardley, while the second Yardley is being hard-pressed by Lord Hesketh’s chauffeur, and there is an Elf mixed up in it all through no fault of its own, while the second Elf is doing nothing to help. Realising he is getting nowhere Stewart gets out of the way of the Hulme/Hunt battle and lets them go by and they begin to close up on the leaders.
Peterson has a bare two seconds lead at 34 laps and Revson is looking for a way by Fittipaldi. Then there comes a light shower of rain; not enough to cause a panic, but sufficient for everyone to exercise a certain amount of discretion, but just as this happens, on lap 37, Fittipaldi pulls off to one side of the track with the drive to the Lotus rear wheels gone, and Revson has a clear view of the leading Lotus. Not being a wet weather enthusiast Hulme eases right off, and Hunt, who doesn’t care whether it’s wet or dry, shoots past into third place. Revson’s smooth and relaxed high-speed driving (high-speed for Grand Prix racing, but slow compared to Indianapolis or Pocono) is now paying off and on lap 39 he goes by Peterson into the lead, and Hunt is now pressing hard on the tail of the Lotus, while Hulme has dropped a long way back. Down at the back of the field Cevert is just circulating, Reutemann and Regazzoni are racing with no one in particular, but Ickx, Ganley and Fittipaldi W., are having a splendid scarp together with no real result in view, and then comes Stewart, followed by Beuttler, with von Opel, Watson and Lauda still going round. Luckily the rain shower does not develop or wet the track badly, and serious racing is soon resumed, the order now being Revson, Peterson and Hunt one behind the other, a small gap and Hulme, a much longer gap and Cevert, another gap to Reutemann and Regazzoni and a further gap to Ickx, Ganley and Wilson Fittipaldi, who are still racing each other. Stewart and Beuttler are a lap behind. As Wilson Fittipaldi comes into Woodcote to end lap 44 there is a cloud of smoke from the back of the Brabham and he lays a stream of oil round the corner as he coasts to a stop beyond the pits. When the leaders come round next time the oil flags are waving furiously and they all pick their way gingerly across the slippery surface, and for two or three laps they have to be extra careful. It is noticeable that Revson is much faster and more stable than anyone across the skating rink and this lets him pulls out quite a lead over Peterson. By the time everyone has soaked up some of the oil on their tyres, and disposes of it round the circuit, Revson has pulled out a five second lead by lap 50, but Peterson still has the irrepressible Hunt pressing him hard.
As the surface dries up Hulme got back into his stride and zoomes up behind the Lotus and March, and on lap 56 he goes by Hunt into third place and begins attacking Peterson, spurs on by the knowledge that Revson is still out in front. Hunt is now in trouble with a large blister appearing on his left front tyre, but undeterred he hangs onto Hulme’s tail, as he and Peterson chase after the elusive American driver. At the back of the field Ickx and Ganley are still battling away and it can be seen that the leaders are going to lap them before the end of the 67 laps. Sure enough, on lap 63 they are behind Ganley and on the next lap are by as he moves out of the way, so that their progress is not impeded. There is no way Peterson is going to let Hulme by into second place, and while Revson comes home to a well-deserved and popular victory, Peterson leads Hulme across the line by mere inches, with Hunt right behind them, and a truly momentous British Grand Prix is over. Peter Revson, driving a McLaren-Ford, won at Silverstone a Grand Prix of Great Britain without history to the effects of the fight for the world title, but full of suspense, fortunately to happy ending or almost, for a spectacular carambola that imposed the suspension of the race after just one lap. The accident, in which twelve cars were involved in a more or less serious form, was resolved without damage for the drivers, with the only exception of the Italian Andrea de Adamich, who ended up in hospital with a fractured ankle. The two protagonists of the title duel, Emerson Fittipaldi and Jackie Stewart, did not suffer any damage, but were reduced to the role of appearance in the subsequent game. The Brazilian was even forced to retire due to problems at the change, the Scotsman finished tenth. Revson, on his first Grand Prix win, beat the Swede Ronnie Peterson and his Lotus in the sprint. McLaren’s triumph is completed by the third place of Hulme, who preceded Hunt, an English driver almost debutant in Formula 1, on March, Cevert, on Tyrrell, and Reutemann, on Brabham. Ickx with Ferrari, came eighth after a colorless race. The initial accident, which recalled the famous carambola happened in Indianapolis in 1966, imposed the stop of the race for about ninety minutes to allow the clearing of the track strewn with pieces and fragments of the cars involved. The first route was given with 28 cars deployed at the starter signal; on the second route, only 18 remained.
It was just finished the first lap with Stewart, author of a fabulous start, in the lead. The Scotsman, with the Tyrrell-Ford, had already secured a hundred meters ahead of the group, but while facing the Woodcote curve, in front of the stands and pits, traveling on 250 km/h, South African Jody Scheckter lost control of his McLaren due to a tyre burst. Scheckter’s car got lost in a spin, then bumping into the pit wall. The Frenchman Jean-Pierre Beltoise, with the B.R.M., and the German Jochen Mass, with the Surtees, collided against McLaren, while the other drivers managed to maneuver to avoid the frontal collision, but they collided laterally bouncing from all sides. They were involved de Adamich (Brabham), Pace and Hailwood (Surtees), Oliver, Follmer and Hill (Shadow), Jarier (March), McRae (Iso) and Purley (March). No one was seriously injured, but it took almost an hour to get de Adamich out of the wreckage of his Brabham. During the long wait, the Italian showed a great presence of spirit and directed the rescue operation, helping with advice those who worked to free him. At first it seemed that Andrea got off with some bruising, but then it was learned that he had suffered a fracture of the right ankle. Andrea de Adamich will tell a few years later:


"That day, July 14, 1973, I was very happy. Finally, after racing with the old Brabham BT37, I had the BT42 designed by Gordon Murray, which represented the state of the art. It was my first outing with the new model, yet I felt it had potential. The corner in front of the pits was very challenging. To deal with it, he went from 280 km/h to 260 km/h and at the start of the race the cars were close, struggling and full of petrol. The dynamics of what happens is very simple. Rookie Scheckter turns at that curve, comes out, hits the wall and returns to the track while the group of cars is coming. The rest is easy to imagine. I don’t see Scheckter at the time, but I get the problem, I get what’s going on, and I think about the cars in front of me. I do not even have time to be afraid but only the impulse to seek the passage to waste as little time as possible and be able to accelerate again. I seem to see a space, I throw myself and reopen the accelerator, but in the meantime Beltoise’s B.R.M., who is at my side, gets hit, gets in front of me and I put the center in full, in the engine area. The impact is strong, I am always in fifth and my Brabham, sobbing down of turns but still accelerated, directs me towards the external guardrail. Another bang at 90, the worst imaginable. Then silence. Interrupted only by the ticking of the electric gas pump. I start the switch-off for fear that a sea of gasoline will come out and the car will catch fire, I try to get rid of the belts, I put my hands outside to lift me, but nothing to do. I’m stuck, walled in, and it’s like my legs are soaked in concrete. I re-emerge in the cockpit with a feeling of bitter surprise and it is there that the pain explodes. Well, at times like that, you understand how a pilot’s brain works. The mental focus is on precise situations, on problems that you have to solve in fractions of a second, you have no time for fear. The truth that still shocks me sometimes is this: if I had died in the crash of Silverstone, I would have had neither time nor mental predisposition to notice. I would have disappeared as you turn off a switch, without fear and pain. The pain becomes unbearable and they make me morphine in order to resist".


He continues:


"Help is scrambling to get me out, but it’s not easy. You have to saw the machine longitudinally because doing it by cutting would mean affecting the side tanks. They’re dramatic moments for everyone, not just me. Here comes the great Stirling Moss with a microphone in his hand and interviews me live for the BBC. Me on morphine who knows what I answer. Then comes the fear, the real one. They are cutting the single-seater with a compressed air scissors, which slits the sheets like butter. I don’t feel my legs anymore and I am attacked by the terror that the shear offends me a limb without me being able to report what is happening. Luckily it doesn’t happen. I’m finally out on a stretcher, but it’s been 52 endless minutes since the accident. Once outside, I look at my right leg which is straight but has the foot tilted to 45º on the left. Bad sign. The ankle is gone. What worries me, rather, is the pain in the right leg, which is excruciating. I could not know that a frame tube had cut off my muscles, so the perception was very unpleasant, but the damage contained. Rather, the right knee was fractured and I still keep in me the souvenir: a screw implanted to rebuild it. I didn’t let the British touch me. Already at dawn the next day I left for Italy on the personal plane of Bernie Ecclestone, and from there began my comeback towards the return to racing. The following year, 1974, I returned with Alfa Romeo to the Marche World Championship and I am sincerely happy that the crash at Silverstone ended only my Formula 1 campaign but not my career, which has still continued with satisfaction. While I was in a wheelchair at my beach house in Levanto Fittipaldi, Reutemann and Peterson came to see me, but Jody Scheckter, the man who had triggered the accident, missed the shadow. I don’t think it has anything to do with the spirit of the time. Jody was simply rude: neither a word nor a greeting card, after all that had happened. And to say that we drivers made a group of friends, we met each weekend: one Sunday in Formula 1, the next in Formula 2 the other with prototypes...".

Andrea de Adamich also adds that he immediately reviewed the footage of the accident:


"Yes, and I have a shocking story to tell. I was in the hospital in a wheelchair, and I was looking at the images on the projector. At a certain point, at a carambola occurred, let’s say two seconds later, when everything seems just finished, you see that enters the tangle the March of a latecomer. He hits hard in the pile, engine on one side and cockpit on the other, but the pilot goes down without problems, adjusts himself and calmly returns to the pits. In those moments as a hospitalized spectator I almost felt anger and I thought: what is the logic? Why am I here and he hasn’t done anything? What’s the point of all this? This I was saying, between me and me, biting my lips. I had no way of knowing that pilot’s name was Roger Williamson and, in a few days, he would have died at the stake of his March at Zandvoort. When Roger died, I was petrified and had a hard lesson that I still have today. And it’s this: in life you should never complain if you can still complain. Yeah, if you can complain, it means you got lucky".


The fearful Silverstone carambola suggests many considerations. First: the start is the most dangerous moment of a Grand Prix. The single-seaters are grouped together, with the fuel tanks inflated; the drivers are stretched to the maximum; each, perhaps with a thread of recklessness, tries to gain the best position in the always convulsive sprint of the start. The first laps are experienced with anxiety by those who are in the box, because you know that the risk of a carambola is serious. The unexpected is feared: a break, a spin, a puncture that blocks or unbalances a car. Second: none of the cars caught fire. It is a miraculous fact. One must be horrified at the thought of what could have happened otherwise. A bit of luck, perhaps, but also some positive elements: the presence of a large area of lawn on the left of the track, where almost all the cars ended, losing speed and, above all, avoiding being thrown back on the roadway by the guardrail (probably, if there was also a free area on the right instead of the pit wall, the accident would not even have happened, because Scheckter’s spin would have been turned off harmlessly and McLaren would not have ended up on the road of the other drivers); the effectiveness of the new safety measures that came into force in April: special fire tanks, reinforced cockpits; the promptness of intervention of the rescue vehicles. Thirdly, despite improvements in safety, single-seaters remain fragile. What kind of car can withstand a 250 km/h carambola? What makes you think is the long time it took to free Andrea de Adamich. In the event of a fire, who would extract our pilot from his Brabham? Yeah, maybe the most organized British firefighters, but the question remains. Motor racing is often subject to a stroke of luck, so results do not always reflect technical values: however, Revson’s victory is fully justified by McLaren’s technical superiority. Mind you, the differences between this car, the Lotus and the Tyrrell are minimal as the rest of all the British racing cars (especially if they are driven by the same engine Cosworth) but there are differences. The McLaren like the Lotus is a car equipped with variable spring suspension, and this means that at the limit of the grip the response of the tires is better, as you can have a soft suspension for normal movements, but harder for the biggest shakes, when you risk not having the rubber parallel to the ground.


These suspensions are built with a double linkage between the arm connected to the wheel and the one that drives the spring, in order to achieve the desired effect. In addition, on a track like Silverstone, very fast and mainly with right bends, someone has even experienced a differentiated adjustment of the suspension of one side and the other of the car, and even tires of different hardness, in order to maximize the possibilities of adhesion. For example, at Lotus they experimented with the camber variations, that is, the inclination of the vertical plane, of the left rear wheel, lengthening the upper arm of the suspension by one millimeter at a time. The Tyrrell is the most conventional car, and it is also perhaps there more maneuverable, because it has the shortest wheelbase of all. There is a reversal of the trend that has hitherto been to shorten, as cars are now at the limit of longitudinal stability and need to be extended again. There is no doubt that a Formula 1 car reaches the fullness of performance after one or two years of experimentation, as Lotus and now McLaren have shown: Tyrrell was a unique case of winning car, but we must not forget that the manufacturer made use of the experience with the Matra, while the designer (who worked at Ferguson) had all the experience of the various studies of four-wheel drive cars. Ferrari’s difficulties, on the other hand, probably originate from a project that is not up to the competition’s standards, so every change only makes the situation worse: but it is a very complicated problem. As for the engines, it is even incredible the ability to resist every opponent demonstrated by the eight-cylinder Ford Cosworth: when it seemed to be surpassed by 12 cylinders it has recovered very well and today the first places in the standings are always the cars that use it. This is evidently the most balanced engine in the ratio of weight, power and consumption; which also shows that today it does not take more horses than the Ford can give (about 460), but you have to know how to use them well. Any increase in power, and therefore in the speed of the machines, must however be framed in the problem of race safety: Silverstone could have been the end of Formula 1 motoring simply by eliminating half of the existing leading drivers. It has been seen that the safety measures adopted for cars (tanks and fire extinguishers) have served to avoid a burning of 2500 liters of gasoline. 


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