Brands Hatch 27 Sept 1970 F5000 C’ship round. Gardner, Lola T190 Chev, Mike Walker, McLaren M10B Chev, Trevor Taylor, Lola T190 Chev, Graham McRae, McLaren M10B Chev. McRae won from Howden Ganley M10B and Mike Hailwood T190 (Autosport)

The answer is F1 of course, maybe the more interesting question is by how much. A warning this piece is strictly for the F5000 anoraks.

Some recent chatter amongst enthusiasts on the The Nostalgia Forum’s Ontario Raceway thread got me thinking about the relative speed of F1 and F5000 cars. The builder/promoters of the new Ontario facility ran an F1/F5000 race won by Mario Andretti’s Ferrari 312B in early 1971, see here; https://primotipo.com/2015/10/30/questor-grand-prix-ontario-speedway-1971/

In those far away days the ‘Race of Champions’ at Brands Hatch pitted the two categories together, the only occasion on which an F5000 car beat the Effwun jobbies ‘fair and square’ was in 1973 when Peter Gethin triumphed in a Chevron B24 Chev. The 1971 Italian GP winner was running third when Mike Hailwood’s leading Surtees TS14A Ford and Denny Hulme’s following McLaren M23 Ford F1 cars had mechanical troubles gifting Gethin the win. Peter had only qualified eighth though.

Its ‘raw speed’ i am more interested in.

 

Peter Gethin exits Druids on the way to his Brands Hatch ‘Race of Champions’ win in 1973, Chevron B24 Chev (MotorSport)

 

Peter awaits a new sparkbox, ROC weekend 1973 (MotorSport)

 

Brands first round of the 1974 Euro F5000 C’ship 16 March 1974. Peter Gethin on pole, Chevron B28 Chev alongside Brian Redman, Lola T332 Chev, then Guy Edwards in another T332 with Ian Ashley alongside in the yellow T330. Schuppan’s Trojan T101 and Steve Thompson’s Chevron B24 on the row behind. Gethin won from Mike Wilds’ March 74A Chev and Redman (Autosport)

During the peak years of the European and US F5000 championships both categories raced on some of the same tracks, viz; Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Zandvoort, Zolder, Monza, Mosport and Watkins Glen.

So. If we look at the fastest race laps in each event by the cars on the track in the same year, eg; the Italian GP and Euro F5000 round at Monza, we can calculate the difference in lap times. Originally i thought qualifying times would be the go but F1 had greater use qualifying tyres than F5000 so race times are a fairer representation.

The obvious flaw in the logic above is that absolute comparisons can only be made by looking at performances on the same day with each class racing in identical climatic conditions but such races did not occur. So we will not arrive at absolute answers but indicative ones.

What year do we use? To get the greatest spread of meetings lets use 1974. By that stage the greatest F5000 car of all, the Lola T330-332 was in its second year of development. I suspect (but can’t be bothered doing the comparison) that the difference in times between F1 cars and F5000 in 1970-1971 would have much more as the only ‘great F5000’ then was the McLaren M10B. Mind you it’s father is McLaren’s 1968 F1 machine, Robin Herd and Bruce’s McLaren M7. By 1974 there were plenty of very competitive bespoke F5000s- Lola, McRae, Chevron, Matich et al.

In 1975 there were circuit changes (chicanes added) at Silverstone and Watkins Glen between the F5000 and F1 races which make comparisons impossible. After a shitfight over dollars (what else) the Canadian GP at Mosport wasn’t held, and Monza held an F5000 race, in 1975 they didn’t. Further, in Europe from 1975 the Championship admitted the Ford 3.4 litre quad cam, four valve V6 engine with which Alan Jones and David Purley were very fast.

The comparison i am after is ‘one of purity’ between 3 litre F1 cars and 5 litre F5000s as originally concepted, so for all those good reasons 1974 it is.

Remember, it’s fastest lap of the race I have recorded, not pole.

Mosport 15 June 1975. Heat 1, turn 9, lap 1. Warwick Brown, Talon MR-1A Chev thinks about an inside run on Mario Andretti’s Lola T332, David Hobbs’ T332 #10 at left. Jon Woodner’s Interscope T400 behind Brown. Andretti won from Brown and Woodner (Norm Macleod)

 

Main men in the US- Jim Hall, Brian Redman, Mario Andretti and Lola T332 Chev at Elkhart Lake in 1974 (Getty)

 

Ryan Falconer prepared Chev in Andretti’s T332. Circa 525 bhp in period (J Morris)

Brands Hatch

F5000 16/03/74  1:25.90  Peter Gethin Chevron B28 Chev

F1       20/06/74  1:21.10  Niki Lauda Ferrari 312B3-74

Zandvoort

F5000  03/06/74 1:23.30  Peter Gethin Chevron B28 Chev

F1       23/06/74  1:21.44  Ronnie Peterson Lotus 72E Ford

Monza

F5000 30/06/74  1:37.40  Peter Gethin Chevron B28 Chev

F1       08/09/74  1.34.20  Carlos Reutemann Brabham BT44 Ford

Mosport

F5000 15/06/74  1:16.200  Brian Redman Lola T332 Chev

F1       22/09/74  1:13.659  Niki Lauda Ferrari 312B3-74

Watkins Glen

F5000 14/07/74  1:41.406  Mario Andretti Lola T332 Chev

F1       06/10/74  1:40.608  Carlos Pace Brabham BT44 Ford

 

Teddy Pilette, Lola T400 Chev playing in the snow at Oulton Park during Easter 1975. Gordon Spice and Guy Edwards were up front in their T332 Chevs with David Purley third in his Chevron B30 Ford Cosworth GAA-3.4 V6. Whilst the T400 had plenty of success in Europe and Australia the prominent American teams never set aside their trusty, fast, winning T332s (A Cox)

 

Zolder 28 April 1974, unusual, great from the grid shot. Look at that crowd. Heat 1 grid- the two VDS Chevron B28 Chevs of Pilette and Gethin on the front row. Bob Evans yellow winged T332, Chris Craft’ Chevron B24/28 in the foreground and a wheel of Mike Wilds’ March 74A at left. Gethin won the 25 lapper from Pilette and Evans (Zolder Museum)

 

Lella Lombardi, March 751 Ford and Vern Schuppan, Lola T332 Chev scrap during the 16 March 1975 Brands Race Of Champions- DNF both. Race won by Tom Pryce’ Shadow DN5A Ford. No F5000 was classified in a race run in cold, damp conditions

In making the assessment I’ve not considered the weather.

The biggest gap between the two classes is about 4 seconds at Brands, the smallest 1 second at Watkins Glen.

Brands in March can be awfully chilly and glorious in June, ambient temperature impacts on the heat and grip of the tyres of course. Denis Jenkinson’s race report of the Brands F5000 race weekend (actually the Race of Champions weekend in which the F5000 championship race was on Saturday, the ROC on Sunday) does not help me as to weather conditions, but he makes no mention of rain. Similarly, the British GP was run in the dry. If you can help with ‘mitigating weather or circumstances’ do get in touch.

Interestingly, Mario Andretti is on record in a number of publications as saying Vels Parnelli never approached the F5000 times set by the teams Lola T332 at Riverside and Watkins Glen in their F1 Parnelli VPJ4 Ford in testing, but then again that was not a great GP car.

The fastest F5000 cars on the planet in that period were the Haas-Hall and VPJ T332s raced by Brian Redman, Mario Andretti and Al Unser- what an awesome road-racer he was!

Bang for buck there has never been a greater single-seater class. It seems incredible today that, having killed the Can-Am Series, the SCCA also slaughtered their F5000 Championship in the forlorn hope of recapturing Can-Am spectator interest and numbers.

In 1975-6 US5000 had Redman, Andretti, Unser, Jones, Gethin, Oliver, Brown, Schuppan, Pilette, Ongais, McRae, Lunger and others. The Dodge powered Shadows added much needed variety to Formula Lola, mind you Jones won a couple of races in 1976 with a March 76A Chev, it really was a brilliant blood and thunder spectacle even if the cars were not quite as fast as F1…

Oulton Park’s prestigious Gold Cup gets away on 9 September 1973. Ian Ashley’s Lola T330 sandwiched between the blue Chevron B24 Chev of Tony Dean and yellow striped one of Peter Gethin. #25 is Keith Holland, Trojan T101 Chev with Graham McRae’s McRae GM1 well back inside left in red with Guy Edwards’ light blue T330 behind him. Gethin won from Pilette- who is well back here and Tony Dean (S Jones)

 

US Watkins Glen round, final, 2 11 July 1976. Teddy Pilette’s Lola T430 Chev leads a bunch of cars, DNF engine. Lola’s final F5000 design could not coax the Americans from their T332s either. Best place third at Mosport, Q2 at Road America. Successful in Australia in Warwick Brown (1977 AGP & Rothmans Series) and Alf Costanzo’s (Gold Star) hands (T Pilette Collection)

Credits…

Wikipedia, MotorSport, Autosport, Getty Images, Alan Cox, Jonesy Morris, Zolder Museum, Norm Macleod, Larry Roberts, Mike Hayward Collection, Steve Jones, Teddy Pilette Collection

Tailpiece…

(L Roberts)

The great Brian Redman’s Lola T332 Chev looking as good as a racing car ever gets.

Turn 9 at Laguna Seca in 1975, Brian was third that day behind the VPJ duo of Andretti and Unser- T332 Chevs.

What an amazing career in single-seaters and sportscars, whilst Brian dipped in and out of F1 from the mid sixties to the mid seventies he must be up there in any list of ‘greatest driver of the period outside Grand Prix racing’.

Finito…

 

 

Comments
  1. Jonny'O says:

    Add to that the fact that an F1 is a tailored suit, and an F5000 chassis is a shirt that you can buy in any window.
    I believe that under equal conditions of design and cost, a 5,000cc, 2 valves per cylinder, will go together with a 3,000cc, 4 valves.
    But there was a lot of top formula per square meter on the planet, maybe there wouldn’t be room for everyone.
    Anyway, my favorite car and driver in this extinct world was the Chevron B24 with its brave warrior Peter Gethin.

  2. Jim Culp says:

    I was an early F5000 fan. Hockenheim offered a pretty fair comparison in 1970. The fast F1 lap was Jackie Ickx in the Ferrari 312B 2:00.5 and a month later Frank Gardner ran 2:02.4 in the Lola T190. Track conditions were the similar: it was quite warm for F1 and a little cooler for F5000 but the track would have been cleaner for F1, lots of support races for F5000.

    • markbisset says:

      Hi Jim,
      Great to hear from you, the F5000’s blasting thru the Hockenheim forest would have been memorable.
      The other aspect to it is what they were like to drive comparatively.
      Blokes with a lot, or enough experience of both in that mid-seventies period to help us are Andretti, Jones, Redman, Schuppan, Ashley and a bit later Perkins (of F5000), not that i know any of them. 520 pounds of cast iron sitting relatively high behind you and 500 foot/pounds of torque throwing you at the horizon are obvious but it would be interesting to have it put into digestible words all the same!
      Mark

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