The III Grande Prêmio do Brasil, otherwise known as the 1974 Brazilian Grand Prix, staged at the Autódromo do Interlagos on the 27th of January 1974, was the second round of the 1974 FIA Formula One World Championship. The race was to be remembered for a dominant victory by Emerson Fittipaldi, despite the fact that the race had to be ended prematurely by a monsoon.
Fittipaldi also managed to give the home fans exactly what they wanted in qualifying, sweeping to pole despite the fact it was only his second race for McLaren. Carlos Reutemann claimed second on the grid, while Niki Lauda shared the front row with Ronnie Peterson.
At the start it was the "even" side of the grid that got the best start, as Reutemann and Peterson shot in front of Fittipaldi, while Lauda tumbled down the order with a misfire. The rest of the field filtered through behind a fast starting Clay Regazzoni, who shot up from eighth on the grid.
Reutemann led through until lap four, before Peterson elbowed the Argentine out of the way, followed through the Fittipaldi. The source of Reutemann's small drop in pace proved to be his tyres, with the Argentine ultimately falling out of the points as his softer tyres continued to degrade.
Peterson and Fittipaldi, meanwhile, were left to duel for the lead, with the Swede managing to keep his former Lotus teammate at bay. Yet, it was not to last, and as the pair came to lap Arturo Merzario, Fittipaldi outwitted Peterson and snatched the lead. Peterson's attempts to retaliate were then thwarted by a slow puncture, with his stop relegating him down to sixth.
By this stage the skies were really darkening, with near-black clouds threatening the burst before the race was run. On lap thirty-one the clouds finally burst and dumped huge amounts of water on the circuit, with the pace suddenly dropping to a crawl. A red flag was thrown two laps later, the conditions quickly deteriorating beyond what the wet weather tyres could cope with.
The result was declared as the order had stood on lap 32, with Fittipaldi claiming a seemingly dominant victory. The Brazilian had lapped everyone bar second placed Regazzoni, while third went to Ickx, in only his second race for Lotus. Carlos Pace claimed points at his home race with fourth, with Mike Hailwood and Peterson completing the point scorers.
A fortnight after the battle in Argentina, the entire F1 circus arrived at the Autódromo do Interlagos, in spite of some customs issues. The circuit at Interlagos, meanwhile, remained unchanged after its World Championship debut in 1973, although the entire weekend was under threat from heavy rain. Indeed, the new date for the race, two weeks earlier than the previous season, put the even right at the heart of Brazil's monsoon season, although only time would tell whether São Paulo was affected during the weekend.
Everyone up and down the paddock had decided to leave their equipment in South America after the Argentine Grand Prix, although team owners and drivers had been allowed to travel between Europe. Lotus boss Colin Chapman, for example, had been to the Paris boat show before heading over to Argentina, having stopped by in Norfolk to pick up some suspension components. The parts he brought were effectively reconditioned elements used in 1973, and would be fitted to Ronnie Peterson and Jacky Ickx's cars to try and batter adapt them to the new 28" diameter Goodyear tyres.
A rather more ambitious pickup was arranged by Shadow, as Alan Rees returned to South America with the front end of one of the original DN1s from 1973. The problem had been the collision between Jean-Pierre Jarier and Peter Revson at the season opener, which saw both cars heavily damaged and Jarier's monocoque split. Without the facilities to repair it, Rees and co. had been forced to ship the older monocoque and front end to Brazil, before mating that with the remains of the newer car in the paddock. Revson's car had been repaired without issue, fortunate as it was the only DN3s currently running.
Their repairs, however, were almost completely prevented by an issue at customs, where a number of teams, including March, Surtees and BRM, had their cars and equipment stuck at Viracopos International Airport for three days. Tim Parnell and Max Mosley began a campaign to get their equipment released, although the issue would ultimately be solved when John Surtees threatened to withdraw the entry of Carlos Pace, whose car was one of those impounded. The airport bosses were suddenly a lot more cooperative after this, with no further issues found when other teams used Viracopos to get back to Europe.
Once these issues were out of the way, those three teams would run as they had in Argentina, as Pace was joined by Jochen Mass in the reinstated Surtees cars. At BRM, French trio Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Henri Pescarolo and François Migault remained unchanged, although the Motul logos that adorned their cars had been re-positioned upon arrival. March, meanwhile, had a big crate of spare parts with them once they arrived in the paddock, including updated wheel rims and radiator brackets for their pair Hans-Joachim Stuck and Howden Ganley. The self-evolved 731 of Hesketh Racing and James Hunt arrived separately.
Ferrari were also among those held up at Viracopos, although Clay Regazzoni and Niki Lauda's chargers were only held up at the airport for a day. Lola were also affected, having sent their cars from Argentina after everyone bar Lotus to complete some testing, with Graham Hill switching to teammate Guy Edward's car. Brabham had the two works cars of Carlos Reutemann and Richard Robarts through customs at record speed, while the privateer effort for John Watson passed through without issue.
At Tyrrell there were hopes that their two drivers Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler would be better suited to Interlagos, with minor suspension changes for both. McLaren arrived confident of a strong result, particularly as they were fielding Brazil's F1 hero Emerson Fittipaldi alongside Denny Hulme. The third car of Mike Hailwood also arrived without issue, having been packaged up with Fittipaldi's.
The Iso-Marlboro of Frank Williams Racing Cars was to be back in action with Arturo Merzario at the wheel again, having survived the Argentine race without any issues. They were expected to round of the field along with the Lolas, particularly as Ensign withdrew Rikky von Opel's effort after a poor showing in practice back in Buenos Aires.
Unsurprisingly, victory at the season opener was enough to hand Hulme the Championship lead after the opening round, with the New Zealander optimistic of claiming a second crown after his strong start. Lauda and Regazzoni shared the rest of the podium spots, while Hailwood was on the board for the first time since 1972. Beltoise and Depailler completed the top six after the opening round.
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.
The full entry list for the 1974 Brazilian Grand Prix is outlined below:
Four sessions were to be staged at Interlagos for the second practice/qualifying period of the season, with two runs a day on Friday and Saturday. The weather also remained stable, although the ambient temperature climbed throughout, peaking on Saturday afternoon, meaning it would be difficult for anyone to improve. As for target times, the top teams would expect to at least match the lap record of 2:35.00, set by Emerson Fittipaldi in the 1973 edition of the race, with hopes that Ronnie Peterson's pole time of 2:30.1 would also fall.
The first session on Friday suggested that Peterson's circuit record would remain out of touch, however, as the circuit was horrendously bumpy. As if to prove this, Peterson was the first to push during the first session, ending his run with a 2:34.10, which was enough to leave him fastest having attacked every corner. Countering this was the effort of Niki Lauda, a rather relaxed looking lap leaving him second fastest and just a tenth down on the Swede.
For countless others, however, the Interlagos circuit was already causing headaches for teams and drivers alike. Shadow found that their new car, piloted by Peter Revson, could only manage two laps before overheating, while the "Frankenstein" car of Jean-Pierre Jarier failed to break the 2:40.00 barrier. At Hesketh Racing, meanwhile, James Hunt was paying the price for continuing to use a March 731, which had an inherent twitchiness that was only enhanced on the Interlagos bumps.
Stability was also the order of the day at Tyrrell, with Jody Scheckter switching between suspension setups without improvement, while Patrick Depailler simply looked slow. March were fairing better, Hans-Joachim Stuck putting his touring car background to good use to skip over the worst of the bumps to find time. The German spent most of the first run drifting through the bends, and was well up the order come the end of the opening session.
Half and hour after the chequered flag appeared and the circuit was opened again, led out by home hero Fittipaldi, who had been quiet earlier on. Now, however, the Brazilian serious began to push, and by the end of the afternoon had recorded a 2:32.97, a little over a second slower than his effort in 1973. Yet, that appeared to be enough for Fittipaldi to claim provisional pole, for Peterson's corrected best time for that session only came to a 2:33.82.
Most of the issues that teams were having earlier in the day were phased out come the later afternoon, although those who had inherently twitchy cars were still to suffer. As a result, improvements were gradual as confidence grew, although some, such as Clay Regazzoni failed to improve. Peterson, meanwhile, caused some concern at Team Lotus when he appeared to be suffering from dehydration, meaning he received a glucose injection in the pits.
Yet, when Saturday dawned even hotter than Friday had ended, there were not many drivers keen to go and roast in the cockpit. Fittipaldi was one of the few to seemingly want to go out on circuit, with the Brazilian putting together an excellent lap to end the session fastest, albeit with a 2:33.00. As if to prove he was trying to go quicker, however, the Brazilian went for a high speed spin just after the entry to the pits, just managing to keep his McLaren out of the concrete walls lining that section of the circuit.
Another improvement came at Brabham, where Carlos Reutemann shot up the order with a 2:33.21, claiming the second spot on the grid. This was part of a late spree of fast times at the end of the first Saturday session, with Lauda and Jacky Ickx also climbing up the order. These would be the last major improvements of the afternoon, with Denny Hulme slipping down the order as a water leak prevented him from really pushing on.
The only time of note recorded in the final session of the day would be by Revson, who climbed into the top six despite a still ill-handling Shadow. New Grand Prix Drivers' Association President Graham Hill also improved in the lowly Lola, although remained down the order, with teammate Guy Edwards really struggling at the very back of the grid. Hunt ran out of time to seriously improve the handling of his March, leaving him down the order, while the BRMs seemed destined for the scrap heap, despite the fact that Jean-Pierre Beltoise had recorded a 2:36.06 on Friday.
The full qualifying results for the 1974 Brazilian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||5||Emerson Fittipaldi||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||2:35.80||2:32.97||2:33.00||2:33.65||—|
|2||7||Carlos Reutemann||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||2:34.63||2:34.09||2:33.21||2:36.18||+0.24s|
|4||1||Ronnie Peterson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||2:34.10||2:33.82||2:34.38||2:33.92||+0.85s|
|5||2||Jacky Ickx||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||2:36.10||2:35.30||2:34.64||2:35.71||+1.67s|
|6||16||Peter Revson||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||2:36.82||2:36.17||2:47.30||2:34.66||+1.69s|
|7||33||Mike Hailwood||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||2:36.85||2:34.95||2:35.04||2:35.35||+1.98s|
|9||20||Arturo Merzario||Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth||2:38.23||2:35.15||2:36.94||2:35.20||+2.18s|
|10||19||Jochen Mass||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||2:37.94||2:39.76||2:38.59||2:35.43||+2.46s|
|11||6||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||2:38.06||2:35.54||2:36.12||2:35.56||+2.57s|
|12||18||Carlos Pace||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||2:36.10||2:37.35||2:36.32||2:35.63||+2.66s|
|13||9||Hans-Joachim Stuck||March-Ford Cosworth||2:39.51||2:38.24||2:35.64||2:36.28||+2.67s|
|14||3||Jody Scheckter||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||2:38.56||2:36.50||2:35.78||2:35.94||+2.81s|
|15||28||John Watson||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||2:39.19||2:37.32||2:38.29||2:36.06||+3.09s|
|16||4||Patrick Depailler||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||2:43.98||2:43.77||2:37.39||2:36.21||+3.24s|
|18||24||James Hunt||March-Ford Cosworth||2:37.98||2:40.10||2:37.34||2:37.24||+4.27s|
|19||17||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||2:39.54||2:37.63||2:38.34||2:39.00||+4.66s|
|20||10||Howden Ganley||March-Ford Cosworth||2:41.00||2:37.65||3:00.52||2:41.19||+4.68s|
|21||26||Graham Hill||Lola-Ford Cosworth||2:40.90||2:40.99||2:39.06||2:38.62||+5.65s|
|24||8||Richard Robarts||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||2:44.39||2:41.73||2:40.63||2:39.85||+6.88s|
|25||27||Guy Edwards||Lola-Ford Cosworth||2:45.38||2:42.15||2:54.05||2:43.10||+9.18s|
|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.
An untimed warm-up session was staged on race morning to allow teams to bed in their cars after overnight work, although for Arturo Merzario the run only resulted in a ruined engine. The Iso-Marlboro crew were therefore left to try an change an engine in a little over an hour, although they were handed a lifeline when the organisers delayed the start to 12:25pm "in order that Merzario's car may be allowed to start". That delay also allowed the track to be swept, although it did drag the race into the window for a thunderstorm, as had happened over the previous two days.
Unfortunately for Merzario, his mechanic's record engine change would not be enough, with the Italian blasting out of the paddock just as the field line-up on the grid for the start. He would be half a lap behind when the starter dropped the Brazilian flag, with Carlos Reutemann sprinting into the lead from second on the grid. Ronnie Peterson followed him through, dragging Niki Lauda along for a few yards before the Austrian's Ferrari engine began to falter, while home hero Emerson Fittipalldi slipped to third.
The battle for the lead proved to be intense over the rest of the opening lap, with Peterson, despite suffering from an unspecified illness (thought to be heat stroke), trying all he could to get past, with Fittipaldi keeping the home fans' hopes alive a few yards back. Behind them, with a small gap as Reutemann hugged the inside wall across the start/finish line, was a truel featuring Clay Regazzoni, Jacky Ickx and Peter Revson, ahead of a lonely Jochen Mass. Elsewhere, Lauda was slowly tumbling down the order, ending the lap with ten cylinders and in the sights of Formula Three rival James Hunt, François Migault had to be dragged into the pits after an issue on the grid, and John Watson had to stop to have his jammed throttle cured.
Lap two followed much the same pattern as the opening tour, with Peterson managing to nose his Lotus alongside Reutemann's Brabham in the infield, but being edged out as the Argentine held his line. Indeed it seemed as if the race order had already settled down, the only notable change being a move by Brazil's second favourite racer Carlos Pace, who passed Scheckter on the run onto the start/finish straight. Lauda, meanwhile, was falling further back and losing the use of more cylinders, Watson was flying at the back of the field along with Merzario, and Guy Edwards had to visit the pits to have his rear wing removed after a partial failure.
Reutemann's resistance would only last so long, and in the intense heat of the Brazilian summer the Argentine's softer tyres were already fading. Come the end of lap three Reutemann was in serious trouble, and half way round the infield section on lap four Peterson elbowed the Brabham out of the way and forced the Argentine wide. In truth Reutemann's car was understeering wide anyway, and there was little hope for him to close the door on the Swede, or to prevent Fittipaldi from following through.
The following laps saw the Lotus and McLaren pull clear out front, while Reutemann tumbled into the sights of Regazzoni, whose Ferrari was the target of intense pressure from Ickx. Peter Revson was clinging on just behind time, although his Shadow was about to enter meltdown after losing water pressure as early as the second lap. At the back, meanwhile, Lauda was out of action as the second Ferrari finally expired, Edwards had to stop after having his wing removed, and Howden Ganley was circulating in and out of the pits with an ultimately terminal ignition issue.
Pace was the man on the move in the meantime, dragging an off-colour Denny Hulme past Mass, whose pace was beginning to fade with a handling issue. Hunt, meanwhile, was struggling to get his Hesketh-March around the circuit in anything like a respectable time, and was therefore an easy victim for Hans-Joachim Stuck, who was enjoying himself in the newer works-March. As this was going on, Reutemann's tyres were continuing to deteriorate, with the Argentine tumbling out of the points without any chance to respond.
Back with the leaders and Fittipaldi was throwing everything at his former teammate to try and snatch control of the race, gaining on Peterson under-braking but being left behind when the Swede stamped on the throttle. Unfortunately that pattern would result in a stalemate, leaving Fittipaldi to simply plot for a later attack, until Peterson's car began to struggle through the right handers in the middle sector. By lap fourteen it was visible to everyone that the Swede was struggling, and two laps later Fittipaldi pounced, getting a good run out of the final corner to dive past his ex-Team Lotus colleague into turn one, sending the home fans into orbit.
A lap later and Fittpaldi was two seconds clear, while Peterson's wayward Lotus was looking increasingly poor through left handers as well as rights. Three laps later and the #1 Lotus was in for a tyre change, a slow puncture the diagnosis for his collapse under pressure from Fittipaldi, although the change was enough to relegate him to tenth. Fittipaldi was therefore left with a huge lead over the now second placed Regazzoni, with the Swiss driver escaping the attentions of the #2 Lotus of Ickx over the following laps.
It was Ickx who became the centre of attention after the fall of his teammate, for the Belgian was slowly being drawn in by the flying Surtees of Pace. Brazil's "second" F1 racer had been able to escape Hulme when the Kiwi suffered a slow puncture, and was now threatening the podium positions as he swept along in the wake of the #2 Lotus, which appeared healthy if a little off the pace. Elsewhere, Mass had dropped down the order after a stop to cure a puncture, Reutemann battled on in spite of his ruined tyres, recent pit visits for others having put him back in the points, while Hulme was running round at the tail end of the field on his new set of rubber, although he was lapping four seconds quicker than he had before.
As Pace closed on Ickx, Stuck was reigning in Reutemann, who left many scratching their heads as he refused to change his obviously struggling tyres. Regardless, Stuck was on the verge of the points if he could take the Argentine with under half the race to go, although he himself was under threat from a charging Peterson on a fresh set of Goodyears. Unfortunately, before anything could be resolved on track, Stuck's March would fail him on lap 24 as a constant velocity joint broke in the transmission, leaving the German to roll to a stop on the infield section with his head in his hands.
Peterson's charge carried him past that stranded Stuck moments later, and it was only a couple of laps later when the #1 Lotus blasted past Reutemann for a second time to take sixth. Just behind, a rather despondent Scheckter pulled to a stop at the Tyrrell garage to complain about his car. Ken Tyrrell responded sternly and told the South African to simply keep going until the end, although by the time he had rejoined a flying Hulme, Jean-Pierre Beltoise's bumbling BRM, and the lowly Lola of Graham Hill had already flashed past.
But, while the on track action continued on unabated, the skies were getting very dark, with one of the all too familiar Brazilian storms beginning to gather over São Paulo. On lap 29 a few drops began to fall on the circuit, before a fine mist heralded the arrival of a full out downpour. Within a lap the entire circuit was soaked, although no one had pitted for wet tyres prior to, or during, the downpour.
Indeed, race leader Fittipaldi was putting in a masterful display, skating his McLaren around the circuit amid the puddles. He took time out of his display to signal to the officials that they should stop the race at the start of lap 32, with the chequered flag thrown a few moments later. Ickx was the first to take the flag, just a few yards ahead of Pace, whose run had been interrupted by the rain, while Mike Hailwood quietly came home in fifth despite deciding earlier in that lap to stop by the pits to have a vibration cured. Peterson cruised home in sixth, ahead of Reutemann, before being taken to hospital with severe dehydration.
Out front, meanwhile, Fittipaldi and Regazzoni were made to complete an entire lap before taking the flag, meaning Ickx and co. were a lap down on the official time sheets. It therefore looked like a dominant win for Fittipaldi when he finally slithered across the line, while Regazzoni claimed second thirteen seconds behind. It was a popular home win for the Brazilian, but it would be Swiss racer Regazzoni who left Brazil in the lead of the World Championship.
The full results for the 1974 Brazilian Grand Prix are outlined below:
- Thirtieth and final Grand Prix start for Peter Revson.
- Emerson Fittipaldi claimed a fifth career pole position.
- Tenth win for Fittipaldi.
- McLaren claimed their tenth victory as a constructor.
- Engine partner Ford Cosworth powered a car to a 68th win.
A home victory for Emerson Fittipaldi kick started his season and put him ahead of teammate Denny Hulme, although it was not enough for the Brazilian to leave Brazil in the lead of the World Championship. Indeed, it was Clay Regazzoni who led the charge into South Africa after scoring two podiums at the opening two rounds, although the Swiss racer only had a single point in hand. Niki Lauda slipped to fourth ahead of Mike Hailwood, while Jacky Ickx, Carlos Pace and Ronnie Peterson added their names to the scorers list.
McLaren-Ford Cosworth had two wins from two races in 1974, and would therefore head to South Africa in the lead of the International Cup for Manufacturers on eighteen points. Second place was occupied by Ferrari, who had already matched their tally from 1973 after two second place finishes, while Lotus-Ford Cosworth were up to third. Surtees-Ford Cosworth had also got on the board, with BRM and Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth completing the top six.
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: BRAZILIAN GP, 1974', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr237.html, (Accessed 13/03/2017)
- ↑ 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 2.90 2.91 2.92 2.93 2.94 2.95 2.96 2.97 A.H., 'The Brazilian Grand Prix: Fittipaldi wins at home', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/03/1974), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/march-1974/32/brazilian-grand-prix, (Accessed 13/03/2017)
- ↑ 'Brazilian 1974: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1974/bresil/engages.aspx, (Accessed 13/03/2017)
- ↑ 'Brazil 1974: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1974/bresil/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 13/03/2017)
- ↑ 'Brazil 1973: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/bresil/classement.aspx, (Accessed 15/03/2017)
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