The eighth Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina was a non-championship race, held on January 24, 1971. The race was won by Chris Amon in a Matra, with Henri Pescarolo second in a March-Ford, and local hero Carlos Reutemann finishing third in an older McLaren-Ford.
Throughout all of the post-war years through 1960, South America had hosted a series of Temporada races, run under Formula Libre rules. Starting in 1953, this was supplemented by a full Formula One race in most seasons. In 1971, Argentina sought to return to the Formula One world, initially with the required non-championship race.
Two weeks previous to this race, during the 1,000km of Buenos Aires sports car race, the Matra of Jean-Pierre Beltoise ran out of fuel just before the Curva de Parga. He started to push the car to the pits, a distance of about 1⁄2 of a kilometer. Unfortunately, it required crossing the track, too. Just after the kink leading onto the pit straight, he tried to cross the track. The Ferrari of Ignazio Giunti appeared, slipstreaming past a local entry. The right front of his car hit the stationary Matra at about 250 km/h, and after the collision coasted about 200m down the track, engulfed in flames. It was more than a minute later when Giunti was pulled from the wreckage, but it was later determined that he had died almost instantly from a basal skull fracture.
Beltoise was later arrested, and left the country after posting a bond of £3,000. He would not return for more than two years. In the aftermath, several safety improvements were implemented quickly, and the organizers had a list of several more changes (including circuit modifications) to show to the FIA representatives, who were on hand to judge whether the track would be allowed a championship race in 1972.
The withdrawal of Ferrari (and Beltoise fleeing the country) left a disappointing field, which was comprised of 10 Formula One cars of varying ages, three Formula 5000 cars (5.0 liter stock blocks using carburetors) and two Formula A cars (5.0 liter stock blocks using fuel injection). Five of the 15 drivers were from South America.
- Bellasi: Starting money from the Argentine national oil company YPF prompted Silvio Moser to show up with his car, which was unchanged since its last appearance at Monza.
- Brabham: Not entered.
- BRM: Not entered.
- Ferrari: The Scuderia had entered three cars, but the entry was withdrawn after Giunti's death. Much of the spectator interest withered away after that.
- Lotus: The team entered two 72Cs for Emerson Fittipaldi and Reine Wisell, and a spare 49C for Emerson's brother Wilson Fittipaldi. The cars were unchanged from their last appearances.
- March: The factory team was not entered, as the new model 711 was not yet ready. YPF enticed three private teams to enter 701s, including Frank Williams, as De Tomaso had withdrawn from Formula One.
- Matra: The two car entry became one after Beltoise fled the country. Chris Amon spent much of the practice time experimenting with various improvements.
- McLaren: The factory team was not entered, as they were still busy with the new model M19. Starting money plus YPF sponsorship drove Jo Bonnier to enter his mature M7C for local driver Carlos Reutemann, while Bonnier himself drove a Lola Formula 5000 car, also in YPF colors. Three of the five Formula 5000/Formula A cars were McLaren M10Bs.
- Surtees: The team entered the original TS7 for Rolf Stommelen. John Surtees and the rest of the team were busy in England building a second TS7. The team had some possible improvements that they sent along to be tried in Argentina. One of the Formula 5000 cars was a Surtees TS5.
- Tyrrell: Not entered.
The full entry list for the 1971 Argentine Grand Prix is shown below:
- Cars with gold backgrounds were European Formula 5000 cars, with 5.0 Chevrolet V8 engines and were using carburetors. Cars with rose backgrounds were North American Formula A cars, with the same engines, but allowing fuel injection.
Timed practice was held over two sessions, one each on Friday and Saturday afternoons. Some of the teams wanted some additional time for testing potential modifications for the 1971 cars, and were granted and unofficial session on Saturday morning. The drivers in current cars dominated the proceedings, with one exception. Quickest of all was Rolf Stommelen in the Surtees, who managed to edge Chris Amon's Matra by 0.03. Row two was the Lotus pair, with Reine Wisell less than two-tenths behind, and teammate Emerson Fittipaldi 0.43 behind pole. The shocker of practice was local driver Carlos Reutemann, who drove Jo Bonnier's two year old (and under-funded) McLaren to the fifth best time, 0.64 behind Stommelen.
Qualifying Results Edit
On Sunday the cars followed a Mercedes 280SL for a lap, before being waved off in a rolling start. Stommelen shot straight into the lead, but Siffert managed to shoot along the outside edge of the track past several cars, and wound up second at the end of the first lap. The rest of the order was Pescarolo, Wisell, Emerson Fittipaldi, Amon, Reutemann, Bell, Wilson Fittipaldi, Prophet, Moser, Spice, Bonnier, García-Veiga and Marincovich. While Stommelen pulled away from the field, a large queue formed behind Siffert, except for Emerson Fittipaldi, who had a damaged front wing on the side that Siffert passed him on, and was falling back. Amon was past him on the second lap and managed to take fourth from Wisell on lap 4. Emerson Fittipaldi had dropped behind all of the other Formula One cars (except Moser) before pitting for a new nose, and he was just three laps down as he rejoined the race right behind Stommelen, whom he shadowed to the checkered flag.
Meanwhile, Amon and Pescarolo had been having a huge battle, with Amon often pulling alongside, but always being on the wrong side for passing before the next corner. Siffert was just a couple of car lengths ahead, and Wisell was just behind, expecting some sort of collision to clear his path. Bacj behind, García-Veiga had retired with a terminal oil leak, and Marincovich was called in on lap 12, after he had dropped five laps down. His retirement was officially a broken fuel pump, but observers suspected that the team called him in because he was several seconds a lap slower than anyone else. Jo Bonnier pulled in on lap 22 because the alternator wasn't charging the battery. Up at the front, Amon was doing everything he could think of to get past Pescarolo, but the Matra understeered whenever it got close.
So at the flag, Stommelen had won the heat by more than six seconds, and less than seven-tenths covered Siffert, Pescarolo and Amon, with Wisell watching just behind. Reutemann drove a clean race for sixth, then Bell and Wilson Fittipaldi having fallen a lap down. Prophet led the five liter contingent in ninth, two laps down. Moser crawled across the line, with his engine sounding very ill.
Heat 1 ResultsEdit
The full results for the first heat of the 1971 Argentine Grand Prix are outlined below:
|7||10||Derek Bell||March-Ford||49||+1 Lap||8|
|8||6||Wilson Fittipaldi||Lotus-Ford||49||+1 Lap||9|
|9||22||David Prophet||McLaren-Chevrolet||48||+2 Laps||11|
|10||2||Emerson Fittipaldi||Lotus-Ford||48||+2 Laps||4|
|11||18||Silvio Moser||Bellasi-Ford||42||+8 Laps||10|
|12||24||Gordon Spice||McLaren-Chevrolet||37||+13 Laps||13|
|Ret||28||Carlos Marincovich||McLaren-Chevrolet||12||Fuel Injection||15|
After a 45 minute break, the cars were lined up for the second heat. Emerson Fittipaldi's car had sprung an oil leak, and after some poking around by the mechanics, the decision was made to retire the car. García-Veiga's team had done the same thing for similar reasons, and Moser's team was still working furiously on his Bellasi, so they had 12 cars on the grid. At the back, British driver Greg Young had replaced Carlos Marincovich in the Luigi Chinetti McLaren, the YPF sponsors having been satisfied that their driver wasn't up to the task. The F1 teams were becoming concerned, as what had started off as a very warm day was now becoming quite hot, so adjustments were being made, and notes taken, on the chance that they would return next season.
At the start, Siffert got the jump on Stommelen, ahead of Pescarolo, Reutemann, Amon and Wisell. But as in the first heat, Siffert started holding up those behind him, but this time is was the entire grid. The Matra team had made some adjustments to the car, and Amon found them to his liking, as he got past Reutemann on lap 2, and finally past Pescarolo on lap 3. Two laps later, he took a shot a Stommelen. Unfortunately, Stommelen chose that moment to try a pass on Siffert. Stommelen got the worst of it, bounced to the side of the track as he came over on Amon. He rejoined the race in eighth place, but soon retired with some of the gearbox studs broken. Amon, however, was undeterred, and managed to outbrake Siffert on lap 10. Siffert soon fell behind Pescarolo and Reutemann, and eventually retired with a broken suspension upright, presumably damaged in a collision with Stommelen, after the German had bounced off of Amon. Wisell had been in and out of the pits, and the adjustments made by the Lotus team had not been the proper ones. He finally spun into the barriers on lap 34. Back at the front, Bell had been playing the waiting game for some time, but with an emptying track, he made his move. He shot past Reutemann for third, and was shadowing Pescarolo, when suddenly a puff of smoke came from the engine, and his day was done. Wilson Fittipaldi had also suffered a blown engine, as had Moser after his mechanics finally got him back in the race.
At the flag, Amon was 22 seconds ahead of Pescarolo, which gave him a clear win on aggregate. The attrition of the second heat meant Pescarolo, Reutemann and Prophet were second, third and fourth in both the heat and overall.
Heat 2 ResultsEdit
The full results for the second heat of the 1971 Argentine Grand Prix are outlined below:
|4||22||David Prophet||McLaren-Chevrolet||48||+2 Laps||9|
|5||24||Gordon Spice||McLaren-Chevrolet||47||+3 Laps||12|
|6||28||Greg Young||McLaren-Chevrolet||47||+3 Laps||14|
|7||26||Jo Bonnier||Lola-Chevrolet||46||+4 Laps||13|
|DNS||2||Emerson Fittipaldi||Lotus-Ford||0||Oil pressure|
Results on AggregateEdit
The aggregate results for the 1971 Argentine Grand Prix are outlined below:
|4||22||David Prophet||McLaren-Chevrolet||96||+4 Laps||11|
|5||10||Derek Bell||March-Ford||88||+12 Laps||8|
|6||12||Jo Siffert||March-Ford||86||+14 Laps||6|
|7||4||Reine Wisell||Lotus-Ford||84||+16 Laps||3|
|8||24||Gordon Spice||McLaren-Chevrolet||84||+16 Laps||13|
|9||6||Wilson Fittipaldi||Lotus-Ford||70||+30 Laps||9|
|10||26||Jo Bonnier||Lola-Chevrolet||68||+32 Laps||12|
|11||18||Silvio Moser||Bellasi-Ford||66||+34 Laps||10|
|12||18||Rolf Stommelen||Surtees-Ford||60||+40 Laps||1|
|13||28|| Carlos Marincovich|
|14||2||Emerson Fittipaldi||Lotus-Ford||48||+52 Laps||3|
|15||30||Nestor García-Veiga||Surtees-Chevrolet||11||+89 Laps||14|
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