The 1972 United States Grand Prix was the 12th and final round of the 1972 Formula One season, held on October 8, 1972. Jackie Stewart, in a Tyrrell-Ford, recorded his fourth and final Grand Chelem. Teammate François Cevert was second, and third was Denny Hulme in a McLaren-Ford.
Frequently in the past, teams would give the final round of the season a miss, saying that it was not worth the effort to cross the pond. But with two races, just a short distance apart, skipping the finale was less of an option. And, just to make sure, the USGP was offering a then-unheard-of prize fund of $275,000, including $50,000 to the winner. So the race actually had a record 31 Formula 1 cars entered (larger fields had been previously attained with Formula 2 cars added).
- Brabham: Graham Hill would be leaving the team, to run a private Shadow in 1973, but Carlos Reutemann and Wilson Fittipaldi would remain as the two primary drivers, supplemented by a series of rental drives in the third car. New designer Gordon Murray was already making notes for the new 1973 model.
- BRM: Brian Redman was the fourth driver, driving the later of the two P180s. Mike Pilbeam was present as the team's new designer.
- Ferrari: Mario Andretti was back, for what would be his final race for The Scuderia. Neither party was happy with Andretti as a part-time driver.
- Lotus: Colin Chapman was not immune to the attraction of that much prize money, so he entered three cars, bringing back Dave Walker for one final race.
- March: Both cars were back in the original configuration. After this race, Ronnie Peterson would be moving to Lotus, and Niki Lauda to BRM.
- McLaren: Formula 3 hotshot Jody Scheckter was making his debut in the spare car.
- Surtees: Tim Schenken was entered in the new TS14, but the car was driven by John Surtees to sort it on Friday, so Schenken did not even get behind the wheel until Saturday. US driver Sam Posey was renting a drive in Schenken's normal car.
- Tyrrell: No changes to the cars, but the team added Formula 2 driver Patrick Depailler again, running in the 004 car. Both regular drivers had signed again with Tyrrell for 1973.
- Williams: Ron Tauranac had popped back in to help out in the pits again. Both drivers would be leaving after the race: Carlos Pace had signed for Surtees in 1973, and to no ones great surprise, Henri Pescarolo had been released, after the staggering number of chassis he totaled this season.
The full entry list for the 1972 United States Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice Overview Edit
A huge entry of 31 cars turned up and actually got down to practice. Some of the team owners were curious about the entry, as the organizers had only posted prize money (no starting money, but 30th place was guaranteed $6,000) for first through 30th places. The race officials simply decided that 31st place would receive 30th place prize money, also, upping the total purse to $281,000.
Practice was divided into three parts, a long four hour session on Friday, two hours on Saturday morning, and 90 minutes on Saturday afternoon. On Friday it was obvious that the Goodyear cars had the advantage, as the only Firestone car in the top eight was Clay Regazzoni in sixth. The Tyrrells and McLarens were the teams to beat, with Jackie Stewart setting the pace with a 1:40.481. Peter Revson was less than 5/100s behind, with Denny Hulme in third and François Cevert in fourth. Even their third drivers got in on the act, with Patrick Depailler in 11th and Jody Scheckter in a very impressive eighth. The Ferraris were sixth, 10th and 12th. On the other hand, of six Marchs entered, the fastest was Carlos Pace in 16th, driving last year's 711. Ronnie Peterson was having all sorts of mechanical troubles, and wound up 26th. Tim Schenken just sat and watched, as John Surtees and Mike Hailwood were taking turns, sorting out the new Surtees TS14. They promised Schenken that he would have all Saturday to get familiar with the car.
Saturday greeted the drivers with fog and rain. No one came within 15 seconds of their Friday time, and those times made up the grid. Peterson was fastest at 2:05.288, and seemed to believe that the problems had been fixed. The only other drivers to lap under 2:10 were Graham Hill, Carlos Reutemann and Jacky Ickx. Both Tyrrell and McLaren experimented with wet settings, should there be rain on Sunday. John Surtees' strategy blew up in his face, as Schenken could only manage 1:57.674, while trying to familiarize himself with the new car in terrible conditions. Since that time was well outside of the 110% limit, Surtees had to file an appeal with the stewards. The appeal was granted, and Schenken started the race 31st.
|19||25||Andrea de Adamich||Surtees-Ford||1:44.279||+3.798|
During the 15 minute warmup session just after lunch, a head gasket blew on Bell's Tecno, so the team told him to not push the car, and hope that others retired before he did. And Amon came in, complaining that the engine was on 11 cylinders, but as this was Matra's final F1 race, they did not have the parts to attempt a repair. So Amon lined up at the back of the grid.
Due to rain showers in the area, the cars were lined up promptly at 2 p.m., and at the flag, Stewart shot into an immediate lead ahead of Hulme. But behind them, Regazzoni had tried a suicide run up the inside of the track, causing several drivers to take avoiding action, and leaving Reutemann and Revson with damaged bodywork, and Emerson Fittipaldi with a slowly deflating rear tire. Several teams complained about Regazzoni's start, but the marshals basically said 'It's Ferrari, we can't do anything'. At the end of lap 1, Stewart came by almost two seconds ahead of Hulme, followed by E. Fittipaldi, Scheckter, Ickx, Regazzoni, Andretti, Reutemann, Cevert, W. Fittipaldi and Ganley. At the end of the lap, Bell was already falling behind the field, and Revson made a pit stop for bodywork repairs. On lap 2, Reutemann also came in for a new nose cone. On lap 3, Stewart went by with a 5 second advantage over Hulme, and Scheckter had got past E. Fittipaldi for third, having a brilliant debut race.
E. Fittipaldi was dropping back, and on lap 6 he stopped for a new rear tire. The team then noticed suspension damage from the Regazzoni incident, but had to choice but to send him back out. Stewart was just dominating things, and after the chaos of the start, Cevert started picking up places, seemingly at will. Bell was the first retirement on lap 9, due to overheating, and after another pit stop, E. Fittipaldi joined him, due to damage from the collision with Regazzoni. Cevert had worked his way past all three Ferraris (and Regazzoni was dropping back to due his front wheels having been knocked out of alignment) and by lap 20, had also passed Scheckter to work on Hulme. Other drivers making excellent progress included Peterson, who had had almost no practice due to two blown engines, but was now finding his car handing perfectly, and had got past Andretti and Regazzoni; and Depailler, who out of nowhere was suddenly pressuring the Ferrari trio.
Andretti was experiencing handling problems, due to a strange decision to run different tire compounds on each side of the car. He was soon holding up a group of W. Fittipaldi, Hailwood and Depailler. Meanwhile, Regazzoni was losing power, due to a broken exhaust pipe. Possibly related to the fun and games at the start. Peterson had gotten by Ickx, but the Belgian would not give up without a fight, and the two were almost nose-to-tail for several laps. On lap 30 Cevert passed Hulme for second, and the Tyrrells were 1-2, with Depailler's third car in 10th. Scheckter was all by his lonesome in fourth, then was the Ickx-Peterson duel (Ickx having repassed Peterson), followed by another battle between W. Fittipaldi and Hailwood, who had moved a few seconds ahead of Andretti, followed by Depailler. Retirements along the way included Schenken (rear suspension on lap 23), de Adamich (front suspension on lap 26) and Reutemann (engine on lap 32). The BRMs were having a miserable race, all four lapping near the back of the field before Redman's engine blew on lap 35, Beltoise suffered a broken distributor on lap 41, Ganley's engine let go on lap 45, and finally Gethin's motor quit on lap 48.
On lap 40, a rain shower moved across the north end of the circuit, just past the pits. A group of Scheckter, Hill and Buettler (Scheckter had just lapped the other two) came on the shower just as warning flags were starting to be waved, and all three spun on the wet pavement. While Hill and Buettler got going again quickly (but Buettler was passed by Posey), Scheckter had stalled his car, and it was more than a lap later when he got the car restarted. So Scheckter found himself having to re-pass the same cars, this time for position, as he had lost 11 places while stalled. One of the beneficiaries of this was Revson, who had battled back from being almost a lap down after the first lap, and now found himself in ninth place. Which became eighth when W. Fittipaldi's engine blew. A brief battle between U.S. drivers netted Revson seventh ahead of Andretti, and then he moved into the top six by slipstreaming past Hailwood. Which all came to nothing on lap 55, as a main ignition wire inexplicably cracked, leaving him suddenly without any electrics. Hailwood then moved back into the top six, but with two laps to go suffered a broken suspension when Buettler moved out to lap Lauda without checking his mirrors, bumping Hailwood into the guard rail.
At the finish, Stewart had eased off a bit, but was more than 30 seconds ahead of Cevert, with Hulme a fine third another five seconds back. One last bit of drama came when Ickx lost part of an exhaust pipe, and allowed Peterson to just nip him at the line for fourth, despite Peterson having just about worn his tires out. Despite his weird tire choice, Andretti made it to sixth, a lap down but ahead of Depailler, who just beat Regazzoni and an angry and fast-closing Scheckter. Wisell drove a very quiet and measured race to get a nice payday for 10th. Between grabbing the pole, fastest lap and a 1-2-7 finish, Elf Team Tyrrell took home over $97,000 of the $275,000 prize fund, an absolutely unheard-of sum at the time. And it was noted that Stewart had swept all three races west of the Atlantic in 1972.
|6||9||Mario Andretti||Ferrari||58||+1 Lap||10||1|
|7||3||Patrick Depailler||Tyrrell-Ford||58||+1 Lap||11|
|8||8||Clay Regazzoni||Ferrari||58||+1 Lap||6|
|9||21||Jody Scheckter||McLaren-Ford||58||+1 Lap||8|
|10||12||Reine Wisell||Lotus-Ford||57||+2 Laps||16|
|11||28||Graham Hill||Brabham-Ford||57||+2 Laps||27|
|12||34||Sam Posey||Surtees-Ford||57||+2 Laps||23|
|13||6||Mike Beuttler||March-Ford||57||+2 Laps||21|
|14||26||Henri Pescarolo||March-Ford||57||+2 Laps||22|
|15||18||Chris Amon||Matra||57||+2 Laps||7|
|16||33||Skip Barber||March-Ford||57||+2 Laps||20|
|18||20||Peter Revson||McLaren-Ford||53||Ignition wire||2|
|NC||5||Niki Lauda||March-Ford||49||+10 Laps||25|
|Ret||27||Carlos Pace||March-Ford||48||Fuel injection||15|
|Ret||11||Dave Walker||Lotus-Ford||44||Oil pressure||30|
|Ret||25||Andrea de Adamich||Surtees-Ford||24||Accident||19|
- First race for Jody Scheckter.
- Final race for Dave Walker, Sam Posey and Skip Barber.
- Final race for Matra as a constructor.
Standings after raceEdit
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