The 1973 Monaco Grand Prix, otherwise officially advertised as the XXXI Grand Prix de Monaco, was the sixth round of the 1973 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged on the Circuit de Monaco on the 3rd of June 1973. The race, which was the first to be staged on a heavily revised Monte Carlo circuit, would see Jackie Stewart match a record set by friend and fallen Champion Jim Clark.
Pole position would go the small Scot after an impressive display, Stewart having pushed his Tyrrell round in a 1:27.5, far closer to the old circuit record of 1:21.4 than anyone thought possible. Ronnie Peterson pushed his Lotus to second ahead of Denny Hulme and François Cevert, while a debutante called James Hunt proved to be best of the privateers down in eighteenth.
There was a small shock at the start when Cevert shot past the front row to take the lead into Sainte Devote, with Peterson only just able to keep ahead of an equally quick Clay Regazzoni. The rest of the field squeezed through the tight opening corner largely in grid order, with Stewart down to fourth ahead of arch rival Emerson Fittipaldi.
Unfortunately for Cevert a meeting with a curb ended his chance of victory, the Frenchman having to drag a wounded Tyrrell back to the pits with a puncture. Peterson was therefore gifted the lead, and with a slow Regazzoni holding up the rest of the field, the Swede's advantage soon ballooned out to five seconds. As for Regazzoni, the Swiss racer was making his BRM as wide as possible on the city streets, only to make a mistake at the chicane and slither to a stop on the escape road.
Stewart was released to hunt down Peterson, although before a fight could truly emerge the Swede suffered a fuel feed problem, sending him tumbling down the order. Fittipaldi inherited second but was struggling to keep pace with Stewart, while Lauda briefly ran up in third before a gearbox failure ended his race prematurely. Jacky Ickx then claimed the final podium spot before a driveshaft failure knocked his Ferrari out of action, with Wilson Fittipaldi Júnior duly taking over the position.
With that the race was run, with Stewart sweeping home to a twenty-fifth career win, equalling the record set by the now legendary Jim Clark. Emerson Fittipaldi finished second while a late fuel leak ended the chances of his brother claiming third, leaving a limping Peterson to inherit the final podium spot. A charging Cevert claimed fourth ahead of Peter Revson, while Hulme assumed sixth after debutante Hunt suffered an engine failure just five laps from the chequered flag.
A revised layout for the Circuit de Monaco had been on the cards ever since plans to redevelop the harbour front had been revealed, and in 1973 and a heavily altered run from Portier to the front straight had been devised. Starting from the right hander the entrance to the tunnel had been lowered and widened, while the tunnel itself had been lengthened after an extension was placed on the building above. The chicane post-tunnel had been pushed back to its original location, with new Armco barriers either side, while the sweeping Tabac corner remained the same, although was much wider than before. Then came a new elongated chicane around the newly created Rainier III Nautical Stadium, while the Gasworks Hairpin had been levelled and replaced by a new combination named La Rascasse and Virage Antony Noghes before returning to the start/finish straight. This new layout also saw a much larger pit complex constructed, allowing teams to actually work on their cars without falling over each other, while also providing room for a new 8,500 seat grandstand to be built.
Into the entry list and there was little to comment on for the top teams, who arrived much as they had left Zolder two weeks earlier. For arch-rivals Tyrrell and Lotus there was nothing of note, both fielding three cars for Jackie Stewart and François Cevert and Emerson Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson respectively. Indeed the only change across the six title challenging cars was a rebuilt car for Peterson, and a new set of Lockheed brakes for Stewart.
Elsewhere, Ferrari were finally able to field Jacky Ickx and Arturo Merzario together in their now battle hardened 312B3s, although bodywork swaps between the two cars made it difficult to tell who was in which. BRM arrived with their unchanged trio of Clay Regazzoni, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Niki Lauda, while Brabham were similarly unchanged. McLaren would have to wait for Peter Revson to arrive as the American had been away qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, while Surtees had a brand new car up and running for Mike Hailwood.
Into the also-ran section of the field and the Iso-Marlboros of Frank Williams Racing Cars were unchanged, despite a full service being carried out on both. Tecno had been busy trying to complete their second car in time for the race, and failing to leave Chris Amon with the car he battled with in Belgium. As for Ensign their entry was withdrawn well before the entry list was actually published.
Finally came Matra, who arrived with four cars, two of which were entered by privateers. The one and a half factory entries of Mike Beuttler and Jean-Pierre Beltoise remained unchanged, with Beuttler's once again designated a 731, while the two customer cars were "brand new", on the basis that they had been put together from parts that had been made to support the other cars but never used. One of the two cars arrived in the colours of LEC Refrigerators, a company set-up by the family of driver David Purley to support his career in racing, with the Brit making his debut on the city streets.
The other of these two cars arrived completely white bar the large "Hesketh" adorning the rear wing, which counted as "sponsorship" for the Hesketh Racing effort. Lord Alexander Fermor-Hesketh had formed the team to race in Formula Three, and success with driver James Hunt prompted the team to loan a Surtees for the 1973 Race of Champions, where Hunt had claimed third. The ambitious Hunt persuaded Hesketh to buy a car in order to compete for the World Championship, and with March desperate to find funding a deal for the newest 731 was struck, completely funded by the Hesketh family fortune.
Fittipaldi's lead at the top the Championship was cut to seven points thanks to Stewart, with those two emerging as favourites for the title with two thirds of the season still to go. Cevert left Belgium in third, ten points behind teammate Stewart, and nine ahead of the two McLaren drivers Hulme and Revson. Fourteen drivers were now on the board after the first five rounds, de Adamich, Lauda and Amon the latest drivers to have added their names to the scorers list.
Victory for lead driver Stewart saw Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth overhaul arch rivals Lotus-Ford Cosworth at the top of the International Cup for Manufacturers table, the pair leaving Zolder just a point apart. McLaren-Ford Cosworth sat in an already distant third, while Ferrari found themselves in fourth amid another season of poor reliability. BRM sat level on points with new boys Shadow-Ford Cosworth, while Brabham-Ford Cosworth and Tecno rounded out the table.
The full entry list for the 1973 Monaco Grand Prix is outlined below:
There would be three practice/qualifying sessions in the Principality ahead of the race, with one run each on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Both the Thursday and Saturday sessions would be staged in the afternoon, and last for two hours, while Friday's practice would run for an hour and a half, beginning at 8:40am. As for the target time there was little to go on given the new layout on the harbour front, although getting within ten seconds of the old circuit record, a 1:21.4 set by Emerson Fittipaldi in 1972, seemed like a decent objective.
A small delay preceded the first session of Thursday afternoon, with marshals having to clear some oil dumped by a Formula Three car earlier in the day. Yet, once the pits were open there would be a universal rush to get on track, led by Jackie Stewart. The Scot, like most, realised that the new section on the harbour front would make it near impossible to pass another car, in the race or otherwise, and so getting out first, and fast, was the only way to guarantee a clean lap.
The Scot almost instantly went quickest, and by the end of the session Stewart was on provisional pole, three tenths faster than his nearest rival. That man proved to be Ronnie Peterson in the #2 Lotus, while everyone else bar François Cevert and Jacky Ickx were in the 1:30.0s. The huge gap between the top four and the rest was largely down to overheating brakes, leading to a fair amount of experimentation up and down the field, although the leading quartet were not immune.
Friday morning saw the entire city of Monte Carlo awakened by a set of screaming Formula Three cars, before the Grand Prix cars rumbled onto the circuit at precisely 8:40. It was a clear and, more importantly, cool morning on the Mediterranean coast, with Stewart leading the charge straight from the pits. He found a second on his best time to once again claim provisional pole, ending the morning with a 1:27.5 after a flawless display.
Peterson managed to get within two tenths of the Scot by the end of the day, while Denny Hulme claimed a top three starting slot with a 1:27.8 having driven smoothly throughout. They left the session as the only happy drivers, for Ickx had smacked a curb and broken his suspension, while Fittipaldi struggled to match teammate Peterson's pace. The Brabham contingent were all hit by problems, the two factory cars left abandoned on the circuit, while the two factory Shadows suffered rear wing failures, George Follmer's wing actually coming away and landing in an empty spectator area.
The final session on Saturday would once again follow some F3 action, although after two heats the circuit was coated in rather slippery rubber. That, combined with the afternoon heat, made it difficult for the drivers to improve across the board, the only real improvements coming through increased confidence. Those at the bottom of the pack would have to get a move on, with Peter Revson's arrival meaning that one of the twenty six entries would fail to qualify, the organisers having decided to restrict the grid to twenty five starters.
A large number of issues would prevent several drivers for getting in any serious running, the most high profile being Peterson in the fragile Lotus, which decided to break its gearbox. Jean-Pierre Beltoise suffered a driveshaft failure when attempting to leave the pits for a second afternoon run, while Howden Ganley had a similar failure at the Station hairpin. Jackie Oliver arrived in the pits with a severely bent nose, having been run over by a competitor, while teammate Follmer had his car written off on the run out of Sainte Devote, having hit the back of Arturo Merzario in the second Ferrari. Follmer's car could not be repaired, promoting Andrea de Adamich onto the grid, while Merzario's mechanics worked furiously overnight to get the #4 car back in action.
The full qualifying results for the 1973 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||5||Jackie Stewart||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:28.5||1:27.5||1:28.6||—|
|2||2||Ronnie Peterson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:28.8||1:27.7||1:35.2||+0.2s|
|3||7||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:32.3||1:27.8||1:30.0||+0.3s|
|4||6||François Cevert||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:29.8||1:28.3||1:27.9||+0.4s|
|5||1||Emerson Fittipaldi||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:31.9||1:28.1||1:28.9||+0.6s|
|9||11||Wilson Fittipaldi||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:31.5||1:30.8||1:28.9||+1.4s|
|10||25||Howden Ganley||Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth||1:30.6||1:29.0||1:29.7||+1.5s|
|13||23||Mike Hailwood||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:30.1||1:29.4||1:30.7||+1.9s|
|14||14||Jean-Pierre Jarier||March-Ford Cosworth||1:31.7||1:30.0||1:29.4||+1.9s|
|15||8||Peter Revson||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||No Time||No Time||1:29.4||+1.9s|
|17||24||Carlos Pace||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:33.4||1:29.6||1:30.6||+2.1s|
|18||27||James Hunt||March-Ford Cosworth||1:33.2||1:31.1||1:29.9||+2.4s|
|19||10||Carlos Reutemann||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:31.9||1:31.8||1:30.1||+2.6s|
|20*||16||George Follmer||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:30.9||1:33.1||1:30.4||+2.9s|
|21||15||Mike Beuttler||March-Ford Cosworth||1:32.1||1:31.0||1:31.7||+3.5s|
|22||26||Nanni Galli||Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth||1:34.0||1:31.7||1:31.1||+3.6s|
|23||17||Jackie Oliver||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:36.7||1:34.8||1:31.2||+3.7s|
|24||18||David Purley||March-Ford Cosworth||1:35.9||1:36.7||1:31.9||+4.4s|
|25||12||Graham Hill||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:34.0||1:32.2||1:31.9||+4.4s|
|26||9||Andrea de Adamich||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:32.3||No Time||1:32.1||+4.6s|
- T Indicates a driver set their best time in their test/spare car.
- * Follmer was unable to start the race after his accident.
|Andrea de Adamich||26|
Sunday dawned bright and warm, with many fans flocking to the expanded grand stands in time for the 78 lap race, a distance hastily recalculated after qualifying to ensure the race fell within the two hour limit. There were no major worries after a brief warm-up session held in the morning, with those that had spare cars getting them race ready, while Arturo Merzario was ready to start in his rebuilt Ferrari. After the usual parade by Prince Rainier to open the circuit the cars were ready to start, with twenty-five Grand Prix machines rolling onto the grid for the start.
When the starters flag dropped there was a slight shock at the front, for François Cevert shot up from the second row to take the lead, dragging Clay Regazzoni up along with him. The Swiss racer would ultimately have to settle for third into Sainte Devote with Ronnie Peterson on the inside, while pole starter Jackie Stewart slipped to fourth. The rest of the field quickly fell in behind the leaders up the hill from the first corner, with a long train of Grand Prix machinery following Cevert around the rest of the opening lap.
Unfortunately for Cevert the second lap would not go so well, with the Frenchman misjudging his turn in point at Casino Square and hitting a curb, resulting in a puncture. His relegation to the back of the field promoted Peterson to the lead, with the Swede already a second clear of a clearly off pace Regazzoni. The BRM racer was battling to keep the field at bay, Stewart weaving his car around in Regazzoni's mirrors to try and force a mistake, with Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda, Jacky Ickx and Wilson Fittipaldi Júnior in the same bundle.
Regazzoni's defence would last until lap six, ended by a mistake by the Swiss racer at the chicane as he locked up his brakes and went skidding down the escape road. Peterson had established a five second lead by this stage, although once Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi were released it began to disappear fairly quickly. As for Regazzoni, the Swiss racer would rejoin at the back of the pack, before stopping in the pits to have his brakes looked at.
Aiding the anti-Peterson charge was the fact that the #2 Lotus was suffering a fuel pressure problem, an issue that could not be cured by the reserve fuel pump. That allowed Stewart to catch and pass Peterson on lap eight, with the Swede then opening the door to teammate Fittipaldi a moment later. Next to pass the limping Lotus were Lauda, Ickx and Wilson Fittipaldi, all on lap nine, with Chris Amon quickly closing in on the tenth tour.
The following laps soon became a procession, with the entire field finding it difficult to make any progress other than through retirements ahead. The only source of entertainment would be the charging Cevert, who managed to weave past the slower cars at the back of the field with ease, although he was being caught by the sister car of Stewart. The Scot was dragging second placed Fittipaldi with him, the pair lapping the tail-enders without losing any time to the trio behind.
It was as that third place truel came to lap the backmarkers that some drama finally came to the race, with Lauda just getting past Nanni Galli when his gearbox broke. Shooting through the pair of them was Jacky Ickx in the Ferrari, dragging Wilson Fittipaldi with him, although it soon became clear that both were struggling to match the leaders regardless of the Austrian's BRM. Lauda himself, meanwhile, joined a slowly growing casualty list featuring Mike Beuttler, Regazzoni and Amon. Galli only lasted a few more laps before his race came to an end with a driveshaft failure.
Back with Cevert and his charge had carried him onto the back of Carlos Reutemann in fourteenth, who was the final element of a quartet then headed by debutante James Hunt. The Brit was going fairly well in the Hesketh Racing March, managing to keep Peter Revson, Merzario and Reutemann at bay since the start, although he was off the pace of the factory run car of Jean-Pierre Jarier. Fellow rookie David Purley, meanwhile, was sparring with Andrea de Adamich at the back of the field, only for an engine failure to end his race on lap 32.
Cevert soon moved past Reutemann at the back of the quartet, although a resilient Revson proved too much for the Frenchman for the time being, the American having been caught out by a dive by Merzario at the Station hairpin. Indeed, there would be no further progress for the bright-eyed Tyrrell racer until teammate Stewart came up to lap the group, causing Revson to jump out of the way. Seeing the McLaren move aside, Cevert neatly tucked in behind his Scottish teammate to steal thirteenth away from Revson, a trick he would then repeat on both Merzario and Hunt.
At half distance Stewart held a thirteen second lead, the gap over Fittipaldi having grown when the Brazilian got caught behind the Hunt quartet. Ickx was still falling back in third with Wilson Fittipaldi on his tail, while Denny Hulme was in fourth, having barged past the still limping Peterson. The Swede was still in the points in sixth ahead of Howden Ganley and Jean-Pierre Beltoise, although the sole surviving BRM was the next car to go out when Beltoise buried it in the barriers at Casino Square.
Mike Hailwood therefore inherited eighth place, although that almost instantly returned to ninth when Stewart came up to lap him, carrying teammate Cevert in his wake. Moments later and the Frenchman was on the verge of the points positions when Ganley suffered a driveshaft failure. Then, suddenly, Cevert was up on the verge of a podium finish as Ickx retired with a rare driveshaft failure on the Ferrari, while Hulme disappeared into the pits to have his gear linkage replaced. Now it was only the elder Fittipaldi brother and the limping Lotus of Peterson could deny Cevert a podium spot.
Another stagnant period followed, before Merzario disappeared after a sudden drop of oil pressure, quickly followed into the pits by Hailwood with a puncture. Then, eight laps from home, Wilson Fittipaldi ground to an agonising halt with a fuel feed issue, promoting Hunt into the points with Revson and Hulme now stuck to his gearbox. More importantly the older Fittipaldi's disappearance put Cevert into fourth, with the Frenchman being dragged ever closer to the back of third placed Peterson by teammate Stewart, while Emerson Fittipaldi caught all three of them.
Peterson was now faced with a tough choice: Either baulk Stewart to allow teammate Fittipaldi to catch up and pass the Scot, at the expense of losing third; or try and tag onto the back of the #5 Tyrrell to keep ahead of the #6 car. The final laps were therefore set for a tactical fight between the two best teams of 1970s Formula One, with Ken Tyrrell and Colin Chapman both signalling wildly to their drivers from the pitwall.
Unfortunately the race would end in an anti-climax, for Peterson was caught and passed by Stewart before he realised what was happening. Cevert, for his part, had already folded to the charging Fittipaldi, his "gentlemanly" manner preventing him from baulking a race leader, with the Frenchman's pace tumbling as a result. It was therefore down to Fittipaldi himself to try and catch the leading Scot, but as the race entered its final lap it seemed Stewart would not be caught.
Indeed, in spite of Fittipaldi's stunning final lap of 1:28.1, the Brazilian would fall shy of victory by 1.3 seconds, Stewart cruising home to a record equalling twenty-fifth carer win. The Scot was therefore level with fallen friend Jim Clark, with recent form suggesting that he would soon overtake his countryman well before the end of the season. Peterson limped home to third with a small advantage over Cevert, while a late engine failure for Hunt denied him a debut points finish, with the two McLarens of Revson and Hulme sweeping into fifth and sixth on the final lap.
The full results for the 1973 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Both Hunt and Wilson Fittipaldi were still classified despite retiring.
- First entries by Hesketh Racing and LEC Refrigeration Racing.
- James Hunt made his World Championship debut.
- Maiden Grand Prix start by David Purley.
- 150th Grand Prix entry by Graham Hill.
- Nanni Galli made his twentieth and final Grand Prix entry.
- Fifteenth pole position earned by Jackie Stewart.
- Also Tyrrell's tenth podium as a constructor.
- Stewart claimed his twenty-fifth victory.
- That left the Scot level at the top of the all-time list with Jim Clark.
- It was also Stewart's fortieth podium finish.
- Fourteenth victory for a Tyrrell chassis.
- 57th win by a Ford Cosworth powered car.
A record equalling victory for Jackie Stewart saw the Scot pull himself within four points of early Championship leader Emerson Fittipaldi at the top of the standings, with a huge gap back to third placed François Cevert. Those two looked set to fight for the title between themselves, while Cevert was on track for third, ten points ahead of fourth placed Peter Revson. Denny Hulme was in fifth ahead Arturo Merzario, while a first points finish for Ronnie Peterson put the Swede into the top ten.
Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth had snatched the lead of the International Cup for Manufacturers standings in Belgium, a lead which they extended to four points after Stewart's win. Arch rivals Lotus-Ford Cosworth remained a threat in second, however, with McLaren-Ford Cosworth too far behind to realistically join the fight, despite the fact that over half the season remained to be fought. Ferrari remained in single figures down in fourth ahead of Shadow-Ford Cosworth and BRM, while Brabham-Ford Cosworth and Tecno rounded out the scorers.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: MONACO GP, 1973', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr226.html, (Accessed 26/02/2017)
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 2.39 2.40 2.41 2.42 2.43 2.44 2.45 2.46 2.47 2.48 2.49 2.50 2.51 2.52 2.53 2.54 2.55 2.56 2.57 2.58 2.59 2.60 2.61 2.62 2.63 2.64 2.65 2.66 2.67 2.68 2.69 2.70 2.71 2.72 2.73 2.74 2.75 2.76 2.77 2.78 2.79 2.80 2.81 2.82 2.83 2.84 2.85 2.86 2.87 2.88 2.89 D.S.J., 'The 31st Monaco Grand Prix: Orthadox race on revised circuit', motorsportmagazine.com, http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/july-1973/35/31st-monaco-grand-prix, (Accessed 26/02/2017)
- ↑ 'Monaco 1973: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/monaco/engages.aspx, (Accessed 23/02/2017)
- ↑ 'Monaco 1973: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/monaco/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 01/03/2017)
- ↑ 'Monaco 1973: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/monaco/classement.aspx, (Accessed 02/03/2017)
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