The 1974 Argentine Grand Prix, officially advertised as the XI Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina, was the opening round of the 1974 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged on the lengthened Autódromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires on 13th January 1974. The race proved to be the beginning of a new era after the retirement of World Champion Jackie Stewart, although Denny Hulme ultimately scored a win for the "old guard".
After a turbulent winter, which saw countless driver and staff changes across the field, the F1 circus headed to Argentina with very little new equipment, although there would be a debut for the latest Lola attempt. The big news was the departure of 1972 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi from Lotus, the Brazilian taking up a seat at McLaren, while Ferrari had completely reshuffled their F1 department, with Luca di Montezemolo taking control with the blessing of Enzo Ferrari.
Qualifying allowed the teams to get back up to speed after four months away from a race meeting, with Ronnie Peterson taking pole, continuing his run from 1973. Clay Regazzoni put his resurrected Ferrari on the front row, while Fittipaldi and Peter Revson shared the second row.
The start would see Peterson immediately take the lead, while James Hunt darted into second after a stunning start from fifth. Behind them, however, there was to be confusion when Regazzoni, Revson and Mike Hailwood collided, with Jean-Pierre Jarier, Arturo Merzario and John Watson also picking up damage.
Hunt went for a spin before the end of the opening tour to end his chances of taking victory, leaving Peterson with a small advantage over Carlos Reutemann. The Argentine racer was in fine form in front of his home fans, and when he swept past Peterson for the lead on lap three the crowd went into orbit. Peterson, meanwhile, was only just able to keep up with Reutemann over the following laps, although his pace began to fade with brake trouble.
Peterson's pace continued to deteriorate and so Hailwood, Jacky Ickx, Hulme, barged past the Swede on lap ten. Those three then battled for second behind Reutemann, who was just keeping out of reach, with Niki Lauda joining them a few laps later.
Issues for Ickx and Hailwood caused them to drop back, leaving Lauda a solid third while Hulme was released to attack Reutemann. The Kiwi failed to make any progress, until the Argentine developed a misfire as the race entered its final throes.
Ultimately, a famous home win for Reutemann would be stolen from him on the penultimate lap, Hulme left with a relatively easy pass, while the Argentine continued to battle. Unfortunately he was also desperately short of fuel, and duly ran out on the final tour to allow Lauda, Regazzoni, Hailwood, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Patrick Depailler to leap ahead of him. Hulme duly collected his eighth and final race victory, Lauda his maiden podium, and Depailler his first point.
The Argentine Grand Prix would host the season opener for a Grand Prix season for the third consecutive year in 1974, although the circuit used had changed. Out went the N°9 layout at the Autódromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires, standing at 2.12 miles, in favour of the N°15 version, which added a 1.6 mile flatout loop. This, however, was only a minor change compared to the seismic shifts that had gone on over the winter in the F1 paddock.
Arguably the biggest changes were made at Italian giants Ferrari, whom had had one of their worst ever seasons in 1973, prompting a complete restructure of the team. In came ex-Lancia rally driver and Enzo Ferrari protege Luca di Montezemolo to manage the team, while the revised 312B3 went through an extensive testing programme. The new Ferrari boss also decided to replace Arturo Merzario, the only Ferrari F1 driver on the books after Jacky Ickx left the team. An all new line-up saw Clay Regazzoni rejoin the team, a move which the inspired the entire firm, joined by his 1973 BRM teammate, and future prospect for World Champion, Niki Lauda.
Ickx, meanwhile, managed to secure himself a drive at Lotus-Ford Cosworth, joining the "John Player" squad after Emerson Fittipaldi left at the end of the season. The Belgian joined as number two to Ronnie Peterson, whose late season form saw him move to undisputed team leader, with the Swede also allocated #1 as his race number for the new season. In terms of equipment, Colin Chapman had made some minor revisions to the venerable 72Es, re-positioning the rear-wing to conform to new bodywork regulations, although the cars were otherwise the same as they had been at the end of 1973. Their new car was also well underway, with two of the 72s already sold off to private owner in South Africa.
McLaren-Ford Cosworth arrived in Argentina in potentially the strongest position, with two World Champions, new title sponsors, and three revised M23s, which had finished the season widely regarded as the best car in Formula One. Designer Gordon Coppuck had lengthened and widened the wheelbase, hoping to gain better traction out of slow corners, while Marlboro and Texaco came in as title sponsors. The driver line-up, meanwhile, would consist of 1967 World Champion Denny Hulme, partnered by 1972 Title holder Fittipaldi, while Mike Hailwood would compete in a third car, still racing in Yardley colours.
Peter Revson had left McLaren after growing tired of their long negotiations with Yardley, with the American joining the only American F1 effort Shadow-Ford Cosworth. He instantly became number one in the team and was handed the new DN3, essentially a heavily revised adaptation of their original DN1, sporting a narrower monocoque/side-pod combination, longer nose and the now conventional tall and narrow airbox above the cockpit. The second works seat was handed to Jean-Pierre Jarier after the Frenchman left March, with 1973 Shadow racers George Follmer and Jackie Oliver abandoned.
Fittipaldi's brother Wilson had decided to quit F1 to focus on rebuilding the family's old racing team, leaving Brabham-Ford Cosworth looking for a new driver. As Bernie Ecclestone set about signing up Formula Three front runner Richard Robarts as second driver to Argentina's new hero Carlos Reutemann, designer Gordon Murray had been busy with the pencils. Two brand new BT44s duly appeared on the grid in Argentina, in essence highly reworked versions of the BT42, with revised side-pods, engine positioning and rearwings, as well as other minor changes. An older BT42 was also fielded in Argentina, to be run without support by Hexagon of Highgate for John Watson.
At March-Ford Cosworth the winter had allowed them to develop a new car, penned by designer Robin Herd, although the new 741 failed scrutineering for being too wide. Max Mosley was therefore left to gain the approval of the other team bosses in the paddock before his two drivers, Howden Ganley and Hans-Joachim Stuck could race. Ganley came in as lead driver, leaving Frank Williams Racing Cars after a season at the back of the field, while Stuck brought rumours that BMW were backing March when his car was adorned with their racing colours.
Hesketh Racing, meanwhile, had decided against buying the latest March in favour of continuing to allow ex-March engineer Harvey Postlethwaite to develop their first self-built effort. James Hunt there continued to use their privately revised 731 at the start of the new season, having put the factory team to the sword at the end of last season, with many of the top teams keeping an eye on the British playboy. Elsewhere Ensign brought a new car for Rikky von Opel to use, essentially the same as the previous design but with minor revisions, with hopes that they can slowly work their way further up the order with some frugal spending.
BRM looked a shadow of their former selves when they arrived with their now familiar trio of P160Es, which remained unchanged from the end of 1973. The loss of Marlboro also meant that the team returned to running in their traditional colours of British Racing Green, although that signified a much larger issue of not having a title sponsor ahead of the new season. Fortunately for them a late deal was struck with Motol Oil, although patriotic British fans would have been disappointed by the French firm's logo suddenly getting plastered across the BRM trio in the paddock. They also fielded an all French driver line-up after Regazzoni and Lauda left, with Jean-Pierre Beltoise joined by Henri Pescarolo and François Migault.
At Frank Williams Racing Cars a budget reduction saw them only field a single car at the season opener, with Arturo Merzario the only driver using an Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth, which had been revised since the end of 1973. Surtees, meanwhile, had been busy building the new TS16, which took various design cues from their Formula Two line of cars. Founder John Surtees again threatened to take over a race seat when Hailwood left, although the team's German F2 driver Jochen Mass was ultimately drafted in to partner Carlos Pace, who took over as team leader.
There would also be an entirely new car on the grid in Argentina, as Embassy Racing with Graham Hill tempted Lola to return to Grand Prix racing, after quitting the sport back in 1962. The new T370 was based heavily on the British firm's venture into Formula 5000 in recent seasons, the deal also included a promotion for Lola F5000 racer Guy Edwards to an F1 drive. He would partner team boss Graham Hill for the season, although it was quickly found that the new Lola was rather heavy compared to its more established rivals.
Finally there were Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth, whom had had a miserable end to 1973 after the death of François Cevert at Watkins Glen. Furthermore the retirement of World Champion and team leader Jackie Stewart left them without any drivers ahead of the new season, while the Argentine race arrived too early for them to field their new car. They were therefore left to sign South African prospect Jody Scheckter, who had spent 1973 trying to write off McLaren's stock of M23s, while as submitting to sponsor ELF's wish to see Patrick Depailler at the wheel. This was inspite of the fact that the Frenchman was still recovering from injuries sustained during a motorcycle scrambling event in 1973, as shown by the fact he was limping around the paddock when he arrived.
The full entry list for the 1974 Argentine Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice/qualifying would be split over four sessions in Argentina, with two runs a day on Friday and Saturday, ranging from an hour to an hour and a half in duration. The weather remain consistent throughout, bright, sunny and hot, with Saturday seeing temperatures soar and causing some predictions that there would be no improvement. As for a target time the N°15 had never hosted a Grand Prix machine before, so the only vaguely comparable time would be a 1:58.39, set by Reine Wisell in a Lola T280 sportscar.
Friday's running got underway at 3:00pm, with home hero Carlos Reutemann leading the charge out of the pits. He was soon up to speed on the N°15 loop, although he was quickly surpassed at the top of the timesheets by Emerson Fittipaldi, who was yet to full settle in at McLaren. Regardless, the Brazilian ended the first session fastest with a 1:53.92, far faster than his former employers Lotus who were struggling to get their cars set up around Goodyear's latest tyres.
Elsewhere, James Hunt was impressing once again with the Hesketh-March, claiming the second fastest time of the early afternoon, just edging out old Formula Three rival Niki Lauda, who seemed to have settled in well at Ferrari. Lauda's teammate Clay Regazzoni, in contrast, spent the first session trying to get his car setup, and so was almost half a second slower. He was still in a better position than Tyrrell, however, as Jody Scheckter struggled to adapt to their suspension design, while Patrick Depailler battled the heat and his injuries while trying to keep up.
The second session on Friday saw Regazzoni continue to work on his setup, although the Swiss racer's persistence ultimately paid off when he claimed a 1:50.96 at the end of the session, the only driver to dip under 1:51.00. Second place went to Peter Revson, who was throwing his Shadow around the circuit and getting an excellent response, a stark contrast to teammate Jean-Pierre Jarier who spent most of the afternoon on five or six cylinders. Ronnie Peterson was slowly getting up to speed in the Lotus, but still complaining of some wayward handling on the new Goodyears, while Hunt was restricted to only a few runs at the end of the day as he had only one set of tyres to play with.
Elsewhere, BRM appeared to be in seriously dire straits, with Jean-Pierre Beltoise trying as hard as he could behind the wheel but simply not climbing up the timesheets. He was still fairing better than teammates Henri Pescarolo and François Migault, who were close to propping up the table, only just ahead of the two new Lolas, which Graham Hill and Guy Edwards were slowly getting up to speed. John Watson was another struggler in the old Brabham, which had some very obvious understeer issues, while Howden Ganley decided to take over teammate Hans-Joachin Stuck's car after finding stability problems with his charger.
Saturday saw temperatures climb, and by the time the drivers were released onto the circuit many decided that Regazzoni's time from Friday would not be beaten. Indeed, come the end of the first session on Saturday and the Swiss racer was two seconds slower than he had been, beaten by an impressive Hunt, who finally had some more tyres to use. Lauda also impressed to beat his teammate, while Peterson seemed much happier in the #1 Lotus to claim the fourth fastest time.
Given the heat of the afternoon, the final session of the weekend was staged in the early evening, just as temperatures started to fall. The final hour of running was hectic, with drivers completing only a couple of laps before returning to the pits, as both Firestone and Goodyear delivered their enhanced "qualifying" tyres, which would only last a handful of laps. Yet, it was only in the final half-hour when the "heroes" came out to play, as Fittipaldi drew first blood with a 1:51.06.
In response to the new McLaren team leader, Ferrari decided to send Regazzoni and Lauda out together, hoping that they would give each other a tow down around the loop. The ploy worked, and Regazzoni snatched provisional pole from Fittipaldi, who was out of the fight after burning through the last of his "quali" sets. Lauda managed to improve into the top ten for the first time all weekend, while Hunt got among the top five with an impressive run in the Hesketh-March.
Then Team Lotus came out to play, with both Peterson and Jacky Ickx sweeping out of the pits on their last set of "quali" tyres. Revson joined them in the Shadow, but his shot at pole expired when he accidentally set off his on-board fire extinguisher, while home hero Reutemann was out of the fight with an engine issue. Ickx then crossed the line to set his final lap of the session, while teammate Peterson crossed the line moments before the chequered flag waved to open his attack on pole.
The Swede was on top form, and had already set two hot laps on his tyres before his final assault on Regazzoni's pole time. It was to be a vintage lap from the Swede, with Peterson throwing his Lotus at every corner and either remaining glued to the road or gracefully slid on the edge of adhesion. One hundred and ten seconds later and the Swede shot across the line, claiming pole by two tenths from Regazzoni and leaving the fans cheering for his display, even though it was not the result they wanted.
The full qualifying results for the 1974 Argentine Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||1||Ronnie Peterson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:54.25||1:52.28||1:53.00||1:50.78||—|
|3||5||Emerson Fittipaldi||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:53.92||1:52.18||1:53.25||1:51.06||+0.28s|
|4||16||Peter Revson||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:56.76||1:51.30||1:54.39||1:53.66||+0.52s|
|5||24||James Hunt||March-Ford Cosworth||1:54.11||1:52.70||1:52.74||1:51.52||+0.74s|
|6||7||Carlos Reutemann||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:54.71||1:51.55||1:53.69||1:54.21||+0.77s|
|7||2||Jacky Ickx||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:54.84||1:53.64||1:54.16||1:51.70||+0.92s|
|9||33||Mike Hailwood||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:54.68||1:51.86||1:54.06||1:52.09||+1.08s|
|10||6||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:55.31||1:52.38||1:53.41||1:52.06||+1.28s|
|11||18||Carlos Pace||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:58.72||1:52.20||1:54.02||1:54.17||+1.42s|
|12||3||Jody Scheckter||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:54.83||1:52.87||1:54.16||1:52.47||+1.69s|
|13||20||Arturo Merzario||Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth||1:56.23||—||1:56.28||1:53.14||+2.36s|
|15||4||Patrick Depailler||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:57.86||1:54.69||1:53.27||1:53.85||+2.49s|
|16||17||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||2:00.64||1:56.08||1:55.82||1:53.66||+2.88s|
|17||26||Graham Hill||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:58.77||1:57.02||1:56.33||1:53.90||+3.12s|
|18||19||Jochen Mass||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:58.24||1:54.63||1:54.57||1:53.90||+3.12s|
|19||10||Howden Ganley||March-Ford Cosworth||1:58.46||1:54.58||1:55.78||1:54.21||+3.43s|
|20||28||John Watson||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:55.24||1:54.85||1:55.30||1:54.39||+3.61s|
|22||8||Richard Robarts||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:59.48T||1:55.98||1:57.85||1:54.73||+3.95s|
|23||9||Hans-Joachim Stuck||March-Ford Cosworth||2:28.30||1:58.26||1:55.19||—||+4.41s|
|25||27||Guy Edwards||Lola-Ford Cosworth||2:01.87||1:57.81||1:58.20||1:56.43||+5.65s|
|26*||22||Rikky von Opel||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||3:07.65||1:59.59||1:59.65||1:57.86||+7.08s|
- T Indicates a driver set their best time from that session in their test/spare car.
- * von Opel would not start the race after his late suspension issue.
|Rikky von Opel||______________|
Sunday dawned warm but cloudy, with an late-morning warm-up session allowing teams to finalise setups for the race. There would be some late drama at Lotus, with Ronnie Peterson stopping back at the pits after being released to the grid, complaining of a misfire. The team, however, were unable to cure the issue, and so the Swede was sent out to take his spot on the grid.
Misfire or not, it was Peterson who jumped into the lead of the race at the start, storming away from pole position and into the first corner, ahead of a fast starting James Hunt, up from fifth. Clay Regazzoni was therefore left to fend off Peter Revson into the first corner, and his attempts to squeeze the Shadow only resulted in the pair spinning across the circuit. Caught unaware, Jean-Pierre Jarier duly slammed into his teammate, causing terminal damage to both Shadows, while Arturo Merzario, Jody Scheckter and John Watson all had their cars wounded after following Jarier into the incident.
Peterson, meanwhile, was not able to escape on the opening lap, and Hunt was past the Lotus as the pair charged around the loop. Then, as the leaders came back the infield, the Hesketh-March suffered a clutch problem, leaving Hunt to take the grass as he searched for a gear. Peterson therefore swept back into the lead ahead of home hero Carlos Reutemann, with Emerson Fittipaldi leading the rest of the field in a huge line at the end of the opening tour. Regazzoni was already beginning to catch the back of the pack in twentieth, while Revson dragged his ruined Shadow back to the pits.
The opening laps saw Peterson working furiously at the wheel, knowing that Reutemann was right behind and looking to appease the home fans. Then, on lap three, the stands exploded, with Reutemann diving past the Lotus at the loop, theoretically out of sight of the fans sitting at the infield. The Brabham would managed to pull out a small lead over the rest of the lap, while Fittipaldi was caught napping by Hailwood at the hairpin.
Moments later and Fittipaldi was misfiring on his way to the pits, a plug lead having come loose just after Hailwood slithered past on the brakes. The Brazilian dropped to eighth as he came in to have the plug pushed back in, before joining Hunt and Regazzoni in a charge through the backmarkers. Peterson, meanwhile, was beginning to bunch up the pack behind, causing Hailwood and Carlos Pace to lose out to Denny Hulme and Niki Lauda within seconds of each other.
It was not long before Peterson was relegated to the back of the group, the Swede later complaining of a brake issue that had caused his gradual demise. Hulme was therefore left to chase down a disappearing Reutemann, while Peterson's teammate Jacky Ickx weaved his way up to third, until being relegated back down the order with a puncture. Other strugglers proved to be Jochen Mass, who was fighting with Patrick Depailler until his engine failed, while Hunt was a victim of an overheating issue, having battled through the field without a clutch since the opening lap.
The sudden attrition brought Regazzoni right up onto the verge of the points, while Fittipaldi was back in the pits when he accidentally turned off the ignition on his McLaren coming through the final corner. Ickx was back up to speed too, and was just breaking back into the top ten when his clutch failed, while Peterson baulked Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Howden Ganley and Depailler for long enough that Regazzoni could blast past the four of them. Three laps later and the Swiss racer barrelled past Hailwood for fourth, although teammate Lauda was too far up the road with ten laps to go.
Reutemann, meanwhile, continued to pound round half a minute ahead of Hulme, despite the fact that the airbox above his cockpit was beginning to fall forwards. Then, as the race entered its final throes, the Argentine's pace began to tumble, allowing the Kiwi to close the gap by a couple of seconds a lap, and drag Lauda along with him. With five laps to go the home fans began to fear the worst, for the Brabham was cutting out on the corners, and running very flat down the straights.
With everyone focused on the leaders, no one really noticed that Graham Hill was out of the race in the Lola, which had an overheating problem while running at the back of the field. Lauda had dropped off the back of Hulme, nursing his tyres to the end, while Regazzoni was still charging around just under a second slower than the lap record he had set on lap 38. Henri Pescarolo was running on fewer and fewer cylinders in his BRM, while Hailwood, Beltoise and Depailler continued to run quietly on as the only other cars on the lead lap.
Onto the penultimate lap and thousands of Argentinians were heartbroken, as Hulme swept past the limping Brabham on the entry to the infield section. The McLaren was quickly out of sight and away on the final lap, while Reutemann crawled past the pits now desperately short of fuel. Hopes that he would hold onto the podium were ultimately dashed when he came to a stop halfway round the final tour, allowing Lauda, Regazzoni, Hailwood, Beltoise and Depailler to thunder past.
With that, the race was run, with Hulme opening his account for the season with a win, sparking hopes that he could claim a second crown, seven years after his first. A double podium for Ferrari via Lauda and Regazzoni showed that their hardwork over the winter had paid off, while points for Hailwood, Beltoise and Depailler were reward for surviving a heat soaked afternoon. Further back, Pescarolo finished the race on seven cylinders, Fittipaldi scrambled back to tenth, and Guy Edwards brought his Lola to the flag, albeit two laps behind the race winner. Peterson was also classified as a finisher, but so far down that it was questionable whether the Swede should have bothered.
As for Reutemann, the Argentine was classified in seventh as he walked back to the paddock amid a huge round of applause, the home fans at least acknowledging that their man had come so close to a win.
The full results for the 1974 Argentine Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Reutemann and Ganley were both still classified as they completed 90% of the race distance.
- Debut for Hans-Joachim Stuck.
- Ronnie Peterson claimed his tenth career pole position.
- Eighth and final victory for Denny Hulme.
- McLaren earned their ninth win as a constructor.
- Ford Cosworth picked up their 67th win
- It was also their twentieth triumph in a row.
- Maiden podium finish for Niki Lauda.
- Clay Regazzoni picked up his tenth podium finish.
- First points finish for Patrick Depailler
Unsurprisingly, victory was enough to hand Denny Hulme the Championship lead after the opening round, with the New Zealander optimistic of claiming a second crown after his strong start. Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni shared the rest of the podium spots, while Mike Hailwood was on the board for the first time since 1972. Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Patrick Depailler completed the top six.
Victory for McLaren-Ford Cosworth saw them top the International Cup for Manufacturers standings after the opening battle, with the M23 looking like the car to beat over a race distance. Ferrari were in second after their double podium, although it was only Lauda's points that contributed to their tally. BRM and Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth completed the scorers list.
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 1.15 1.16 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: ARGENTINE GP, 1974', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr236.html, (Accessed 11/03/2017)
- ↑ 2.000 2.001 2.002 2.003 2.004 2.005 2.006 2.007 2.008 2.009 2.010 2.011 2.012 2.013 2.014 2.015 2.016 2.017 2.018 2.019 2.020 2.021 2.022 2.023 2.024 2.025 2.026 2.027 2.028 2.029 2.030 2.031 2.032 2.033 2.034 2.035 2.036 2.037 2.038 2.039 2.040 2.041 2.042 2.043 2.044 2.045 2.046 2.047 2.048 2.049 2.050 2.051 2.052 2.053 2.054 2.055 2.056 2.057 2.058 2.059 2.060 2.061 2.062 2.063 2.064 2.065 2.066 2.067 2.068 2.069 2.070 2.071 2.072 2.073 2.074 2.075 2.076 2.077 2.078 2.079 2.080 2.081 2.082 2.083 2.084 2.085 2.086 2.087 2.088 2.089 2.090 2.091 2.092 2.093 2.094 2.095 2.096 2.097 2.098 2.099 2.100 2.101 2.102 2.103 2.104 2.105 2.106 A.H., 'The Argentine Grand Prix', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/02/1974), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/february-1974/21/argentine-grand-prix, (Accessed 12/03/2017)
- ↑ 'Argentina 1974: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1974/argentine/engages.aspx, (Accessed 11/03/2017)
- ↑ 'Argentina 1974: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1974/argentine/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 12/03/2017)
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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