The 1970 Dutch Grand Prix was held at Zandvoort on June 21. It was a solid victory for Jochen Rindt and the Lotus 72, ahead of Jackie Stewart in a March 701 and Jacky Ickx in a Ferrari 312. But the race was marred by the tragic death of Piers Courage, close friend of both Rindt and Stewart.
The race itself was in doubt until a few weeks beforehand, because of the inability of the organizers to raise the money to hold the event. But sponsors and the local council both pitched in, and the race went ahead as scheduled. There was some discussion about safety improvements, but no firm positions were taken. The race was shortened by ten laps from previous events.
- Bellasi: Bellasi was known as a constructor of smaller cars like Formula Three and Formula Ford, but Swiss driver Silvio Moser had contracted with them to build a car for Formula One. The car, with the usual Cosworth/Hewland power package, was very neat and professional looking, but Moser had spent most of his money in the construction, and the car suffered from an almost complete lack of development.
- Brabham: The cars were unchanged from Spa.
- BRM: The Bourne team arrived on a high after the victory of Pedro Rodríguez at Spa. Rodríguez had a new chassis at this race, and wound up driving it in the race after a practice accident in his regular car. Otherwise the cars were unchanged.
- De Tomaso: The team had a spare car for the first time, but due to a bad batch of crankshafts at Cosworth, there was no engine for the spare.
- Ferrari: Formula Two star Clay Regazzoni was given a drive at this race, due to his previous success at the circuit. The Scuderia had been trying to solve its engine maladies by experimenting with different pistons and rings, and yet another new design was in use at Zandvoort.
- Lotus: The team had done a great deal of testing on the Lotus 72s, and it showed, as Jochen Rindt was the fastest driver all weekend. One major change was a stronger rear suspension, after the old design was discovered to be flexing and cracking at speed. Because the team was focused on getting the 72s sorted, Colin Chapman decided against expending resources to run the 49C for Alex Soler-Roig.
- March: After Chris Amon's tough second place at Spa, the cars were unchanged.
- Mario Andretti's STP car was a no-show, due to a shortage of Cosworth engines.
- The Tyrrell team added François Cevert as a replacement for Johnny Servoz-Gavin. Cevert would stay with the team for the next 31⁄2 years. Jackie Stewart had a new, lighter chassis, but he decided that the older car was more stable on this track.
- Matra: Because of handling issues at Spa, the cars had reverted to 15-inch wheels, and had a revised suspension geometry.
- McLaren: The team had regrouped and returned after the loss of their founder, Bruce McLaren, but everyone was still in shock, and no development work had occurred over the past month, and much of what they had done was just going through the motions. In addition, Denny Hulme had aggravated his hand injuries that he had suffered at Indianapolis, so he not driving at this race. He was present to assist, however. So the team had Peter Gethin filling in for Hulme, and Dan Gurney (driving in F1 for the first time since 1968) taking over McLaren's spot. Andrea de Adamich was still in the Alfa Romeo powered car, but the strain of running three cars, with two new drivers, was almost too much for the crew.
The full entry list for the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix is outlined below:
With 24 cars entered, and 20 allowed to start, four were bound to be disappointed. Ten of the cars were seeded, and guaranteed spots in the race, so the battle was among the remaining 14.
On the Wednesday before the race, the Brabham team was testing at the track. Jack Brabham was driving Rolf Stommelen's car when a tire deflated. The car tore out a length of chain link fencing, then went into a ditch. It took a while to cut Brabham out of the fencing, but he was mostly unhurt. The mechanics worked straight through for two days to repair the car for practice.
Practice was three sessions of two hours each, on Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon. Friday practice had just started when Pedro Rodríguez went off at a 150 mph corner, writing off the chassis. The cause was later discovered to be a puncture. Chris Amon suffered a fuel tank leak inside the driver compartment, requiring a cleanup before he could go back out. Easily fastest in the session was Jochen Rindt at 1:19.48, a full half second ahead of Jackie Stewart in second.
On Saturday morning Jo Siffert and Henri Pescarolo both suffered blown engines, and the De Tomaso was delayed while it was converted to a narrower track. Once they got the job done, Piers Courage promptly spun into the sand. Fastest drivers were Jacky Ickx (1:19.50) and Chris Amon (1:19.70).
Saturday afternoon saw overcast skies move in, which turned out to be perfect for faster times. Almost every car set their fastest time in this session, with observers comparing Rindt's neat and tidy pole lap to the curb-clipping and four wheel drifts of Stewart and Ickx. The only example of a seeded driver bumping someone who should have qualified was Graham Hill running 0.39 seconds slower than Andrea de Adamich. Both Hill and Dan Gurney were surprisingly slow all weekend. Surprising performances were turned in by Clay Regazzoni (6th) and John Miles (8th), even though they were driving the two top cars.
|9||4||Piers Courage||De Tomaso-Ford||1:20.32||+1.82|
|DNQ||21||Andrea de Adamich||McLaren-Alfa Romeo||1:21.36||+2.86|
Race day was overcast, and threatening rain. But despite the race starting earlier than usual (the World Cup final was scheduled for later that afternoon) the cloud cover was burning off. The cars queued up, and the starter seemed to get lost, just standing in front of the field. Just before the scheduled start, he seemed to recover his wits, dashed to the side of the track, then paused several seconds before dropping the flag. Needless to say, this caused confusion on the grid. Jochen Rindt, Jackie Stewart and Chris Amon had started to creep, and braked just as the flag fell. Jacky Ickx got away first, just ahead of Rindt. Stewart fell behind Jackie Oliver, but Amon immediately pulled off with a fried clutch. At the end of lap one, it was Ickx, Rindt, Oliver, Stewart, John Miles, Pedro Rodríguez, Piers Courage, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Clay Regazzoni. On lap two, Rindt was on Ickx's tail, Stewart was doing the same to Oliver, and Regazzoni had passed Miles. At the Tarzan curve at the end of the straight starting lap three, Rindt went around Ickx on the outside and made it look easy. At the same corner at the back of the field, Dan Gurney suffered a blown engine and coasted to a stop behind the pits.
Along the straight at the end of lap four, Stewart drafted past Oliver, and giving the impression that he had been held up. Stewart then set out after Ickx, but could get no closer than about two seconds. With Rindt shooting off into the distance, Ickx and Stewart found themselves all alone, having left the rest of the field behind. Rodríguez and Regazzoni had gotten past Miles, who was leading a queue of Courage, Beltoise, Peter Gethin, Henri Pescarolo, Jack Brabham and John Surtees, with barely two seconds covering the group. On lap 15, Courage managed to draft past Miles, and set off after Regazzoni. Lap 19 saw Gethin spinning off and hitting a barrier, fortunately without injury. Soon Oliver and Jo Siffert pulled out, both with broken engines.
Suddenly there was a pall of smoke coming from the back part of the circuit. Courage had been trying to make up ground, and had gotten out of shape at Tunnel Oost. The car went up a bank, overturned and landed upside down. A fuel tank ruptured and almost immediately there was a blazing inferno, fueled by the car's magnesium chassis. The marshals were unable to take any action, other than shooting a tiny steam of water on the accident, which unbeknownst to them, actually makes magnesium burn hotter. Sadly this was almost identical to the ineffective marshaling at Zandvoort three years later for a very similar crash by Roger Williamson. The passing drivers could not help but see the disaster of Courage trapped in the flaming wreck each lap, with the incompetent crews just standing around. After this, much of the enthusiasm seemed to leave the event.
Despite everything, the organizers just let the race continue. George Eaton pulled out on lap 27 with a broken oil tank mounting. Five laps later François Cevert came into the pits with his engine leaking oil. Rodríguez made a couple of pit stops to deal with a loose nose cowling, and found himself dicing with Graham Hill for last place. Pescarolo soon joined the "battle" at the back, with a broken sway bar affecting the handling. Brabham made two stops for punctures, and dropped several laps down. Rindt was cruising lap 51, 20 seconds ahead of Ickx and 27 up in Stewart, when Ickx picked up a puncture, too. A fairly quick stop had him back on track in fourth, but within sight of his teammate in third. Although he soon passed Regazzoni, he was more than a lap down to the front two, and the race ended that way. Rindt had won convincingly, but as both he and second placed Stewart had been close friends with Courage, neither one lingered on the rostrum, and the prize giving was cancelled. The Year Of Death had claimed it's second victim in less than a month.
|3||25||Jacky Ickx||Ferrari||79||+1 Lap||3||4|
|4||26||Clay Regazzoni||Ferrari||79||+1 Lap||6||3|
|5||23||Jean-Pierre Beltoise||Matra||79||+1 Lap||10||2|
|6||16||John Surtees||McLaren-Ford||79||+1 Lap||14||1|
|7||12||John Miles||Lotus-Ford||78||+2 Laps||8|
|8||24||Henri Pescarolo||Matra||78||+2 Laps||13|
|9||22||Ronnie Peterson||March-Ford||78||+2 Laps||16|
|10||1||Pedro Rodríguez||BRM||77||+3 Laps||7|
|11||18||Jack Brabham||Brabham-Ford||76||+4 Laps||12|
|NC||15||Graham Hill||Lotus-Ford||71||+9 Laps||20|
|Ret||4||George Eaton||BRM||26||Oil tank||19|
|Ret||12||Piers Courage||De Tomaso-Ford||22||Fatal Accident||16|
- Fatal accident of Piers Courage.
- First race for François Cevert and Clay Regazzoni.
- First victory for the Lotus 72.
Standings after raceEdit
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