The XIX Gran Premio de España, otherwise known as the 1973 Spanish Grand Prix, was the fourth round of the 1973 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Montjuïc Park Circuit on the 29th of April. The race would be a story of varying degrees of tyre wear, as well as an extraordinary podium for new constructor Shadow.
Qualifying had seen Ronnie Peterson, racing the updated Lotus 72E for the first time, snatch pole, beating Denny Hulme in his new McLaren M23 by 0.7s. Row two was to be shared between François Cevert and Jackie Stewart in the two Tyrrells, while defending Champion Emerson Fittipaldi found himself down in seventh after a difficult couple of days.
At the start it would be Peterson who streaked away into an early lead, while Hulme dragged Stewart past Cevert to head the pack chasing down the Swede. Niki Lauda made a strong start to leap into sixth, while Mike Hailwood got away a minute later, having been told to start in the pits after an engine change on race morning.
Fittipaldi made several moves in the early stages to climb up the order, while Stewart moved past Hulme to take second, with the race settling down soon after. Then, on lap 20, Hulme was forced into the pits, followed soon after by Cevert with a double puncture, leaving Fittipaldi in a lonely third.
A few laps later Stewart went out with a brake failure to leave the two Loti running one-two, although that would only last for a few laps before Peterson's run came to an end with a gearbox failure. Carlos Reutemann then briefly appeared in second until he suffered a driveshaft failure, while Fittipaldi battled with a slow puncture.
Fortunately for the Brazilian second placed Cevert was too far behind to challenge, allowing Fittipaldi to sweep home to a third win of the season. Behind Cevert was the Shadow of George Follmer, who had survived a wave of retirements to finish on the podium, and still on the lead lap. Revson, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Hulme completed the scorers.
The annual swap between Madrid and Barcelona as host of the Spanish Grand Prix saw the Catalan Capital play hose in 1973, with the majestic Montjuïc Park Circuit making its return from 1971. The circuit had been lined with bigger Armco barriers ahead of its return, although the Grand Prix Drivers Association still had concerns, although the circuit remained unchanged from the previous visit. The F1 circus arrived after two non-Championship races, the 1973 Race of Champions and 1973 International Trophy, while the one and a half month break allowed the last of the new Constructors to complete their project.
That effort was by Ensign, who had finally completed, and tested, the new N173, despite numerous set backs in their facilities. Liechtensteiner Rikky Von Opel was penned in as driver after a relatively huge sponsorship deal, and arrived at the circuit ahead of the team with a fair press following behind him. Unfortunately, Ensign decided that the car was not ready to race, and so, as the Formula One Constructors Association negotiated with the organisers about prize money, Ensign quietly withdrew their entry, leaving van Opel rather red faced in the paddock.
Elsewhere, Iso-Marlboro had been busy on behalf of Frank Williams Racing Cars, having finally completed work on their new car, the IR. Built by Italian firm Iso-Rivolta (hence the "IR" designation), the pair of IRs replaced the revised FX3Bs which had served the team through the early part of the season. The new cars were barely tested, Nanni Galli having had a brief couple of laps at Dijon Prenois, while Howden Ganley's car had never been fired before the weekend, making them a rather unknown element ahead of their debut.
Lotus arrived with their updated 72s for Emerson Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson, which were now designated as "72Es" after the application of several compulsory safety features. Their major rivals Tyrrell had completed work on a new 006 for Jackie Stewart, whose 005 had been completely rebuilt after its South Africa trials to become a spare, while François Cevert would pilot the older 006. McLaren had also been busy, completing another M23 to bring Peter Revson up to par with Denny Hulme, with a third car enroute to the circuit to serve as a spare.
Another new design in the field came at Brabham, whose new BT42s were finally deemed race ready, albeit with a last financial push by boss Bernie Ecclestone. The cars, which would appear with sponsorship from privateer runner Andrea de Adamich's backers Ceramica Pagnossin, were extremely well built, with Wilson Fittipaldi and Carlos Reutemann looking satisfied after a couple of tests. de Adamich, meanwhile, had thrown his sponsor money at one of the team's older BT37s, and would receive support from the team during the Spanish weekend.
Ferrari also arrived with updates, with Jacky Ickx and Arturo Merzario getting a pair of new 312B3s to race, although with Merzario absent it would be down to Ickx to bed the new cars in. BRM also arrived with updated cars, the P160 now designated as "P160Es", with familiar trio of Clay Regazzoni, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Niki Lauda on hand as usual. March arrived with updated cars for Henri Pescarolo, replacing Jean-Pierre Jarier who was racing in Formula Two, and the semi-works effort for Mike Beuttler.
Completing the field were Shadow and Surtees, both of which were entered with three car entries, albeit with a privateer among them. For Surtees the entry had been Mike Hailwood and Carlos Pace in the two factory TS14As, which were too new to be seriously considered for updates, while de Adamich was set to race the third car until a late issue arose with the car, forcing him to move to Brabham. Shadow, meanwhile, had their black DN1s for Jackie Oliver and point scorer George Follmer, while a white car was rolled out for Graham Hill to race, the Brit's sponsors demanding that the Embassy Racing entered car use their colours every time it was raced.
Victory in South African had seen Stewart close the gap to early Championship leader Emerson Fittipaldi, the Scot now trailing the Brazilian by three points. There was then an eleven point gap back to Hulme in third, who looked a new man now he was armed with the new McLaren M23, while Revson, Cevert and Merzario all headed into the European season with six points apiece. Ickx sat in seventh, while Regazzoni, Wilson Fittipaldi Júnior and Follmer all had a point each at the back of the scorers list.
The International Cup for Manufacturers fight had also closed up as the field headed to Europe for the first time, with Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth cutting Lotus-Ford Cosworth's gap down to just a single point in South Africa. McLaren-Ford Cosworth were sat in third, nine behind Tyrrell, while Ferrari left Kyalami in fourth, yet to get into double figures. Brabham-Ford Cosworth, BRM and Shadow-Ford Cosworth were also on the board with a single point apiece.
The full entry list for the 1973 Spanish Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice/qualifying was scheduled across three days, although a payment dispute saw all running on Thursday cancelled, the Formula One Constructors Association deciding their members had only been paid enough for two days of running. The teams did, however, come out to practice on Friday and Saturday, with three hours of running on the first day, split into two sessions, while Saturday had a two hour run pencilled in. As for target times, the official lap record stood at 1:25.1, set by Jacky Ickx in 1971, although with two years of development since then that time was seen as rather irrelevant.
Friday's first session was opened by the old lap record older, with Ickx emerging from the pits in the #8 car of teammate Arturo Merzario to complete a series of installation laps in the new 312B3. Yet, as the Belgian set about testing the new Ferrari arsenal, Ronnie Peterson completed an early run in his Lotus 72E, almost instantly dropping below Ickx's 1971 record. François Cevert was trying to keep him on his toes for Tyrrell, completing a series of strong long runs, although both were soon undercut by new GDPA President Denny Hulme in the McLaren.
Hulme and Peterson soon engaged in a private duel for provisional pole, a battle that also briefly featured George Follmer in the Shadow when he tagged onto the back of the New Zealander. First blood went to Peterson when he recorded a 1:25.0, only for Hulme to record a 1:24.7, and then a 1:24.0 on successive laps. Peterson then matched the former time before finding another nine tenths of a second on the following lap, a 1:23.7, only to be edged out a few moments later by Hulme's 1:23.5. A brief pause followed before the pair went at it again ahead of the break, with the Swede putting in a determined display to dip beneath the 1:23.0 mark, ending the session with an unchallenged 1:22.4, a stunning time given everyone's lack of practice.
The end of the opening session had also seen Emerson Fittipaldi challenge for pole, the Brazilian beating Hulme's best time with a 1:23.0 recorded right at the end of the session. The late-Lotus domination put everyone else off at the start of the second session, a feeling that was not aided by a series of failures suffered by their rivals after the restart. Ickx's day, for example, was ruined when a complete ignition failure left him stranded on the far side of the circuit, while Peter Revson suffered two engine failures in his, and the spare McLarens. For almost everyone else brake and tyre temperatures were an issue, with numerous reports of brake fade recorded throughout the session.
Jackie Stewart briefly appeared in the pole fight in the spare Tyrrell, a 1:23.9 his best effort before a spin into the Armco left him in the pits for a fair while. As this was going on, Hulme emerged to challenge Peterson, the New Zealander briefly going fasted with a 1:22.5, before Peterson completed an almost humiliating run. The Swede's first effort matched his best from the early session, before recording a 1:22.0 just moments after Hulme went fastest. Yet, Peterson was not finished, and a huge final effort saw him end the day with a 1:21.8, seven tenths faster than Hulme and a huge three seconds quicker than teammate Fittipaldi.
Saturday saw temperatures climb throughout the day, a factor that did little to aid the near-universal problems with brake fade. Even the faultless Lotus of Peterson was struggling, although the Swede was still setting the pace, eventually matching his best Friday time. Hulme failed to improve in the heat, while Cevert put together a strong late run to beat teammate Stewart before the end of the day.
Elsewhere, Fittipaldi had to swap to the spare Lotus after numerous minor issues, while Niki Lauda spent most of the day jetting brake dust from his BRM every time he came to a corner. Carlos Pace missed a fair amount of the session, his Surtees suffering from an overnight fuel pump problem, before a driveshaft failure left him stranded out on circuit. The Shadows also seemed to be struggling, Graham Hill really having issues to get his car running at all, while the two Iso-Marlboros of Frank Williams Racing Cars were effectively enduring a shakedown session, until Nanni Galli improved to a 1:26.3.
The full qualifying results for the 1973 Spanish Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||2||Ronnie Peterson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:22.4||1:21.8||1:21.8||—|
|2||5||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:23.5||1:22.5||1:23.5||+0.7s|
|3||4||François Cevert||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:24.9||1:23.9||1:22.7||+0.9s|
|4||3||Jackie Stewart||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:24.9||1:23.9||1:23.2||+1.4s|
|5||6||Peter Revson||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:24.8||1:42.5T||1:23.4||+1.6s|
|7||1||Emerson Fittipaldi||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:23.0||1:24.6||1:23.7T||+1.9s|
|9||9||Mike Hailwood||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:27.3||1:24.2||1:26.2||+2.4s|
|12||17||Wilson Fittipaldi||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:26.1||1:26.1||1:24.5||+2.7s|
|13||19||Jackie Oliver||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:26.5||1:24.6||1:29.3||+2.8s|
|14||20||George Follmer||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:25.6||1:24.7||1:25.9||+2.9s|
|15||18||Carlos Reutemann||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:36.2||1:25.9||1:24.7||+2.9s|
|16||10||Carlos Pace||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:27.7||1:25.2||1:25.0||+3.2s|
|17||21||Andrea de Adamich||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:32.2||1:27.4||1:25.2||+3.4s|
|18||11||Henri Pescarolo||March-Ford Cosworth||1:31.9||1:27.7||1:26.1||+4.3s|
|19||12||Mike Beuttler||March-Ford Cosworth||1:27.5||1:27.5||1:26.2||+4.4s|
|20||24||Nanni Galli||Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth||1:28.2||1:27.0||1:26.3||+4.5s|
|21||23||Howden Ganley||Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth||1:29.0||1:26.5||1:38.5||+4.7s|
|22||25||Graham Hill||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:31.7||1:31.0||1:30.3||+8.5s|
|WD||22||Rikky von Opel||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
- T Indicates a driver set their best time from that session in their test/spare car.
|18||Andrea de Adamich|
- * Hailwood would start from the pitlane after a late engine change.
Sunday proved to be another warm day as the crowds swarmed into Montjuïc Park, with an untimed practice session held to allow teams to acclimatise to the circuit conditions. For most this was an aid, but for Surtees it provided a massive headache, for Mike Hailwood suffered an engine failure, forcing him to start from the pitlane, if the team could install a fresh unit at all. Otherwise the pre-race formalities passed without incident, with the field pulling forward onto the grid proper for the start at 12:15pm local time.
When the flag dropped it was pole sitter Ronnie Peterson who shot out of his grid slot to take the lead, disappearing over the rise of turn one ahead of Denny Hulme. Next came Jackie Stewart, having beaten teammate François Cevert off the line, while Jean-Pierre Beltoise leapt into the top five with a strong start. Half a minute after the last car disappeared from sight over the crest of turn one, Hailwood screamed onto the circuit from the paddock after his engine change.
Peterson was already clear of the rest of the runners by the end of the opening lap, the Swede's Lotus taking the crest of turn one without any sign of nervousness. Hulme led the rest of the field through with Stewart, Cevert, Beltoise, Emerson Fittipaldi and Niki Lauda right behind him. The rest then came through in a huge bundle, Clay Regazzoni and Peter Revson trying the break free, while Graham Hill already seemed to be struggling with the new Shadow, barely hanging on to the slowest of the slow.
After two laps of pressure Stewart managed to move into second, although subsequent laps showed that the Scot was just as powerless as Hulme was in preventing Peterson from escaping. Hulme himself was left to fend off a half-hearted challenge from Cevert and Fittipaldi, the latter having moved past Beltoise on lap three. Beltoise's pace was not strong enough to stay with the leaders, and so he and teammate Lauda slipped into the clutches of the chasing pack, now headed by Revson.
It was this pack that provided most of the excitement once Stewart edged out Hulme, as Revson battled past the two BRMs ahead to break clear. The American was quickly followed by Carlos Reutemann in the Brabham, while Jacky Ickx got caught out in the midst of the three way BRM civil war. Their intense fight allowed George Follmer to move up the order, the black Shadow weaving its way past the Ferrari and BRMs to chase after Revson, Reutemann and the final points paying positions.
The BRM civil war was ultimately decided by incredibly high tyre wear, as both Regazzoni and Lauda were forced to stop for fresh tyres after just a dozen laps. As this fight had worn on, Peterson's lead had ballooned out to ten seconds, while Stewart was well clear of Hulme and co. Ickx, meanwhile, had finally picked up his pace once the BRMs disappeared, engaging Follmer in an excellent duel for eighth as Revson and Reutemann closed in on each other ahead.
Elsewhere, Andrea de Adamich suffered a scary failure through the back of the circuit, the left rear stub axle sheering and sending the wheel flying off the car. Left with just three wheels on his Brabham, de Adamich was powerless to prevent his car slamming into the barriers, an impact which ripped most of the front and rear ends off the car. Fortunately the monocoque remained intact, with de Adamich emerging from the ruined car unscathed a few moments later.
The race order briefly settled down in the wake of de Adamich's crash, until Hulme's pace deteriorated when a wheel weight flew off his front right wheel. Some rather odd handling characteristics on the new McLaren allowed both Cevert and Fittipaldi to pass without issue, prompting Hulme to pit for a new wheel. Unfortunately the change took so long that the New Zealander was dumped out of contention and a lap down, leaving Cevert and Fittipaldi to fight it out for third.
Yet, before a fight could develop between the two, the Frenchman darted into the pits with a puncture on the right rear. That stop, which saw both right tyres changed due to Cevert's belief that the right front was punctured, dumped the Frenchman behind Hulme and almost two laps down. Fittipaldi, meanwhile, was left in a very lonely third place, with Stewart in second out of sight ahead.
During the troubles for third, Stewart's chances of victory had been all but ended in heavy traffic, the Scot taking four laps to clear a sizeable bunch of backmarkers. The group, containing Beltoise, Mike Beuttler, Wilson Fittipaldi and Henri Pescarolo were not actually fighting, but ran so close together that Stewart struggled to move through them. Peterson had blasted through the group earlier without any problems, and by the time Stewart emerged from the quartet the Swede's lead had doubled.
The following laps saw the Ickx/Follmer fight finally resolved, with the Belgian finally managing to get his Ferrari ahead of the Shadow on a consistent basis. Unfortunately for Ickx the fight had caused his brakes to overheat, and just five laps later the Belgian was in to have increasingly poor brake fade cured. That left Follmer in a secure sixth, still on the lead lap, although that looked likely to become fifth when Revson's exhaust pipe split, costing the McLaren a fair amount of engine power.
The race order settled after those scraps and scrapes, Cevert the only source of entertainment as he carved his way through the lower orders on his fresh tyres. Hulme had to stop again with a puncture, ruling him out of contention completely having briefly appeared in the top ten, while Ickx rejoined a few laps down in what was now a test session for the new Ferrari. Follmer was slowly closing in on the wounded Revson as both were lapped by Peterson, with the race seeming to be winding to a close with twenty laps still to go.
Yet, several dramas during those twenty laps would cause the entire picture of the race would change, beginning with a retirement for the second placed Tyrrell. Stewart suffered a brake failure into the second hairpin but managed to keep the car out of the barriers to limp back to the pits, leaving Fittipaldi in second and Reutemann in third, with the Argentine closing in. As this was going on, Peterson began to struggle with a gearbox problem, and a few laps later the Swede was out of the race, his Lotus rolling to a stop at the back of the circuit having chewed through all five gears.
As the crowd applauded the distraught Swede on his walk back to the pits, Reutemann continued to close on Fittipaldi, who seemed to be struggling with an issue. As it turned out, the Brazilian was having to battle with high tyre wear, and so Fittipaldi was driving as delicately as he could, despite the oncoming Reutemann, who was throwing his car into every corner. With two laps to go the Argentine racer was within slipstreaming distance of the Brazilian, with momentum on his side.
Yet, at the start of the final lap the battle was over, for Reutemann came to a stop in the pits with a broken driveshaft, becoming the second likely winner to emerge from their car distraught. That promoted Cevert into second, the Frenchman having carved his way up the order superbly in the closing stages, only to get caught behind a rather stubborn Follmer who was then holding onto third. Their duel would upset the Frenchman greatly, who would later remark that Grand Prix drivers were "gentlemen" in battle, although the late failure for Reutemann meant neither could be too upset.
Indeed, when the chequered flag flew it would be Fittipaldi, Cevert and Follmer who formed the podium, the only three drivers to finish the lead lap. Revson limped home to a distant fourth, the McLaren ending the race with just seven cylinders, while Beltoise managed to nurse his tyre eating BRM home on just a single set of Firestones. Hulme picked up the final point after a miserable day, with Wilson Fittipaldi, Nanni Galli and Ickx also making it to the flag.
The full results for the 1973 Spanish Grand Prix are outlined below:
- BRM entered their 150th Grand Prix as an engine supplier.
- Ninth career win for Emerson Fittipaldi.
- Lotus claimed a 50th victory as a Constructor.
- George Follmer earned his first (and only) podium finish.
- Maiden podium finish for Shadow.
- First fastest lap set by Ronnie Peterson.
- This was also the 50th recorded using a Ford Cosworth engine
Three victories in the opening four rounds of the season saw Emerson Fittipaldi extend his lead in the Championship, the Brazilian's advantage opening out to twelve points. Jackie Stewart was his closest challenger, the Scot's retirement a huge factor in that gap reopening, while François Cevert was up to third. Peter Revson and Denny Hulme sat together on nine points, ahead of the two Ferraris.
Lotus-Ford Cosworth held a four point lead in the International Cup for Manufacturers, with rivals Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth sat in second. McLaren-Ford Cosworth and Ferrari held station in third and fourth, while Shadow were up to fifth after just two races. BRM also made a move, pulling two points clear of Brabham-Ford Cosworth who failed to score.
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 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: SPANISH GP, 1973', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr224.html, (Accessed 16/02/2017)
- ↑ 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., '21st Spanish Grand Prix: A lucky win for Lotus', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/06/1973), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/june-1973/45/21st-spanish-grand-prix-luck-win-lotus, (Accessed 16/02/2017)
- ↑ 'Spain 1973: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/afrique-du-sud/engages.aspx, (Accessed 16/02/2017)
- ↑ 'Spain: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/espagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 17/02/2017)
- ↑ 'Spain 1973: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/espagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 18/02/2017)
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