Posts Tagged ‘1970 Dutch Grand Prix’

eaton monaco

George Eaton, BRM P153 in gorgeous pre-Yardley, traditional livery. Monaco 1970 (GP Library)

George Eaton navigates the tricky Monaco circuit in an unsuccessful attempt to qualify his new BRM P153 at the principality in 1970…

Tony Southgate’s new design was a very competitive machine, after the teams disastrous 1969.  Pedro Rodriguez won a classic Spa duel in the P153 with Chris Amon in 1970 but Eaton, the Canadian racer struggled to get the best from it in his only fullish F1 year.

Looking objectively at his results in Grand Prix racing, the wealthy young heir to the Eatons Department Stores empire didn’t appear to have what it takes at the absolute elite level, but comparing his and Pedro’s performances in the Can Am BRM P154 Chev later in 1970 perhaps puts things in a slightly different perspective.

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Eaton’s BRM P153 DNF oil tank, buzzes past the works McLaren M14D Alfa and M14A Ford of Andrea de Adamich DNQ and Peter Gethin DNF prang, respectively in the Zandvoort pitlane, 1970 (Schlegelmilch)

Eaton started racing in a Shelby Cobra in 1966. He raced a Chev Camaro at Daytona in 1967 and soon bought a McLaren Elva Mk3 Chev Can Am car in which he contested the USRRC and the Can Am Series in 1967. In 1968 he bought a McLaren M1C Chev, his best result was a 3rd place at Laguna Seca, in the wet, in 1968.

In 1969 he took a big step up contesting both the Can Am with a McLaren M12 Chev and the US Formula A, nee F5000 Championship in a McLaren M10A Chev, the ‘ducks guts’ chassis to have that year.

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Eaton, McLaren M10A Chev, Mosport 1969, DNF transmission in the race won  by John Cannon’s Eagle Mk5 Chev (ORC)

His best Can Am races in the M12 were a 2nd at Texas and 3rd at Edmonton but he was quick, consistently qualifying in the top six all year. In FA, in fields of some depth he raced in most of the US rounds, 6th at the Shaefer GP his best. He contested only four of the Canadian rounds taking a good win at Mont Tremblant in May.

Off the back of these results he was offered drives in the F1 BRM P138, a ‘roughy’ of a car, in the US and Mexican GP’s in late 1969, retiring from both after qualifying last in both. Hardly the basis upon which to extend a contract for the following season, but that’s exactly what Lou Stanley offered George for 1970- a drive alongside the quick, unlucky Jackie Oliver and the blindingly fast Pedro Rodriguez.

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Dutch GP, BRM P153, Q18, DNF. Rindt won in a Lotus 72 Ford (Schlegelmilch)

Eaton had a terrible F1 season, Pedro made the P153 sing. Oliver was quick but seemed to have all the engine unreliability, whilst George, probably not getting the best of equipment, was slow on the circuits which were unfamiliar to him and the car unreliable.

He qualified best in his home, Mosport event, 9th, outpacing Oliver and finished 10th. He qualified 14th at Watkins Glen and again retired but otherwise didn’t qualify higher than 14th with DNQ’s in Spain and Monaco.

His speed in the Can Am series was a bit different though…

1970 BRM P154 Can Am Season…

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George Eaton with the BRM P154 Chev, 11 June 1970 (Dick Darrell)

Eaton’s pace was put into better perspective when compared with Pedro Rodriguez, his team leader and undoubtedly one of the fastest five blokes on the planet at the time, in Can Am cars.

Rodriguez contested the Donnybrooke, Laguna Seca and Riverside events, the last three of the series races from late September to 1 November. The ‘head to head’ comparison in identical P154 chassis on circuits upon which both had competed before is as follows;

Donnybrooke; Pedro Q7 P9 George Q5, DNF rocker

Laguna Seca; Pedro Q9 P5 George Q8 crash on lap 11

Riverside; Pedro Q7 P3 George Q 1.5 secs quicker than Pedro in practice but boofed the car and DNS

So, George appears to have had Pedro’s speed if not consistency in Can Am cars noting there was a veritable gulf between the pair in F1. Nobody ever suggested these 700bhp Can Am roller-skates were easy-peasey to drive, interesting innit?! Maybe Eaton should be given a little more credit for outright pace than he is usually accorded. He was not just a rich pretty-boy.

Before Pedro arrived to drive the other P154 chassis Eaton started the season at Mosport with Q7 and DNF with oil leak and transmission problems.

At St Jovite he was 3rd having  qualified 9th. To Watkins Glen Q13 and brake failure, Edmonton Q6 with a wheel bearing failure. The car had little pre-season testing some of these problems are indicative of that. At Mid Ohio he had fuel pressure problems which outed him, the dramas resulted in Q25. His results for the last three races are listed above in the comparison with Pedro.

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Eaton P154 Laguna Seca 1970, Q8 and crashed (The Enthusiast Network)

Further perspective on Eaton’s performance is provided by Pedro’s opinion of the car, the Mexican had been ‘around the block’ in terms of experience of big cars since his ‘teens and driven some horrid ones, the Ferrari’s he raced in 1968 and the BRM’s in 1969 prime examples.

Pedro visited Tony Southgate after racing the P154, Southgate recorded in his book ‘Pedro raced the car later in the season and afterwards came to see me in my office at Bourne to talk about the experience and told me in its present form the car was horrible to drive.

I had great admiration for Pedro, so I knew it must be really bad. I was very embarrassed and immediately set about re-engineering it and fixing all the problems. The revised car, the P167 went on to be very good in 1971 but it was still a low budget operation’.

The BRM Can Am program was minimal in 1971, two events plus Interserie races for Pedro at Zolder and wins for Brian Redman at Imola and Hockemheim, after Pedro’s death at the Norisring in a Herbert Muller owned Ferrari 512M.

In terrible irony Pedro took the Muller ride only after a testing engine failure in the P167 meant he could not race the BRM and therefore took the Ferrari drive.

Brian Redman raced the P167 at Laguna to 4th, and Howden Ganley the same chassis at Riverside to 3rd, proof positive that progress had been made.

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George Eaton in the BRM P154 Chev, Q6 DNF wheel bearing in front of Gary Wilson’s Lola T163 Chev 6th, at Edmonton on 26 July 1970. Denny Hulme won in a McLaren M8D Chev. Lots of available wheel arch a function of the P154 being designed for 19 inch wide wheels but only 17’s available- unsuitable suspension geometry one of the cars many issues (John Denniston)

But Bourne were not in a budgetary position to offer George another Can Am season in 1971, one he deserved.

Another season in F1 was a different thing, he had not done enough to keep that seat. As it was BRM were very competitive in F1 in 1971, Siffert and Rodriguez both taking a win apiece before their untimely deaths. Peter Gethin took another at Monza in the drive of his life in one of THE great GP finishes.

Into 1971 and 1972 George raced in endurance events although he was invited to guest drive a P160 BRM in the ’71 Canadian Grand Prix, qualifying 21st, slowest of the four BRM’s entered, he finished 15th.

George Eaton was a very fine driver and quicker than he is given credit for in Can Am cars at least. He extracted more from the very ordinary BRM P154, in qualifying in three consecutive events than an ace like Pedro Rodriguez could produce from the same chassis, a pretty ordinary one at that…

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George in the ‘Klondike 200’, Edmonton pits awaiting chassis changes in 1970. BRM P154 Chev, Q6 and DNF, wheel bearing. Fundamental issues with the car were the late decision on doing the program, one forced upon designer Tony Southgate- and lack of testing miles and development before it left the UK for the US. George did the development miles in the races, lots of stuff breaking as a consequence. Article on the P154 and P167 coming soon (Denniston)

Credits…

GP Library, The Enthusiast Network, classiccars.com, John Denniston, Dick Darrell

Tailpiece: Monaco 1970, this time from above. The BRM P153/P160 are wonderful cars, in reality the great Bourne marques last really consistently competitive hurrahs…

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Such beautiful and fast cars, one of the surprises of 1970, Tony Southgate’s BRM P153, Eaton at Monaco, DNQ (Schlegelmilch)

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(Schlegelmilch)

Peter Gethin subbing for Denny Hulme in the tragic 21 June 1970 Dutch Grand Prix, McLaren M14A Ford…

1970 was a tragic season for driver deaths, Piers Courage perished in a gruesome fiery accident in his De Tomaso 505 Ford in this race.

Peter was drafted in the McLaren team after Bruce’s death at Goodwood on 2 June. To make matters worse Denny Hulme burned his hands at Indianapolis so McLaren were represented at Zandvoort by Dan Gurney, Gethin with Andrea de Adamich in an Alfa Romeo V8 engined M14A, the other team cars Ford Cosworth DFV powered.

What draws the eye to this shot is the helmet, Gethins and Jackie Olivers designs were so similar to Jim Clark’s at the time.

McLaren’s weekend was poor; Andrea DNQ and both Dan and Peter retired with a mechanical problem and accident respectively. John Surtees M7C was the best placed McLaren in 6th, the race won by Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 72 Ford, the iconic car scoring its first win. Surtees drove the ex-works 1969 car until his own Surtees TS7 made its debut later in the season.

Credit…

Rainer Schlegelmilch

tim

‘Don’t worry about the T-Shirt Tim, it was the only one in the cupboard this morning! Go quicker than him and I’ll  make some with your name on them!?’…

FW exhorting Tim Schenken to get more speed from his steed.

Frank Williams raced the De Tomaso 505 Ford in 1970, a car designed for him by Gianpaolo Dallara. But it was shitbox, nowhere near as fast as the second-hand Brabham BT26 Frank ran in 1969 for his great friend Piers Courage. He drove with skill and conviction, second place the seasons highpoint at Watkins Glen in the US GP.

The De Tomaso was slow, too heavy amongst other shortcomings from the start, Piers Courage died in it at Zandvoort. I’m not suggesting a component failure was the accident’s cause but perhaps trying too hard to compensate for its lack of pace was.

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Piers Courage, De Tomaso 505 Ford, Zandvoort, 21 June 1970. He qualified the car 9th, was in 7th place on lap 22 when he ran wide into a sand bank, hit a post, overturned the car which then caught fire. Rindt won, the Lotus 72’s first win, no joy for Jochen, his close friend died (unattributed)

 

Brian Redman raced the car for FW at Clermont Ferrand and Hockenheim, Tim took over the drive at  the Osterreichring, Monza, Mosport and Watkins Glen. He retired in every event except Mosport where he was not classified but qualified 17th, his best ‘result’.

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Schenken, 16 August, Zeltweg, Austria 1970, DNF on lap 25 with engine failure, Q19. Ickx won in a Ferrari 312B (unattributed)

Schenken made the most of the opportunity FW gave him, he was recruited by Ron Tauranac for 1971, Jack Brabham retired that winter, Tim was teamed with Graham Hill who drove the problematic BT34. Tim raced the year old but still very quick BT33, his best placings 6th and 3rd at the Nurburgring and Osterreichring respectively.

Bernie Ecclestone bought Brabham during 1972, Tim was uncertain about Bernard Charles ability to run the team and left for Surtees, he was later to rue ’twas not the best career decision i ever made’…

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Schenken in the Williams De Tomaso 505 Ford in the rain, Zeltweg 1970 (unattributed)

Credit…REX Shutterstock

Francois Cevert, Tecno 68 Ford F3 1968

Francois Cevert applies some gentle correction to his Tecno 68 Ford F3 car, Rouen, France 1968…

I was researching another article and tripped over some photos of a very young Francois Cevert in an Alpine in his F3 days…

It reminded me of how many talented young drivers were killed before their prime well into the 1970’s, Francois, Tom Pryce, Gerry Birrell, Roger Williamson, Piers Courage and Tony Brise all spring readily to mind.

The monocoque chassis’ of the 1970’s were far stronger than the spaceframes of ten years before but as the width and grip of tyres, and the aerodynamic downforce the cars produced improved, meant that accidents, when they occurred at the higher cornering speeds were particularly horrific.It was a collision with an armco fence of this type, when his Tyrrell got away from him, which killed Francois at Watkins Glen in 1973.

John Barnards’ pioneering use of a carbon fibre chassis in the first McLaren MP4 in 1981 was a driver safety ‘game-changer’.

Francois Cevert 1968

Cevert in his ‘Bell Magnum’ 1968 (unattributed)

As a young teenager just getting interested in racing, to me Cevert ‘had it all’; dazzling film star looks, talent aplenty and he was in a team which was carefully nurturing his talent.

Ken Tyrrell recruited Francois into his Elf sponsored team…after the retirement of Johnny Servoz-Gavin due to an eye injury. Jackie Stewart spotted Cevert in 1969 when contesting F2 races and suggested to Tyrrell he keep an eye on him.

Stewart immediately clicked with the young Frenchman, they had a remarkably mature relationship as teammates by the standards of today (Piquet/Mansell, Prost/Senna, Rosberg/Hamilton for example!) with Stewart mentoring the younger man, exactly as Graham Hill had done for him in 1965, and Francois fitting into the ‘family team’ that Tyrrell was. Norah and Ken, Jackie and Helen Stewart, Derek Gardner and the mechanics a famously friendly place to be. Albeit a very competitive one.

Cevert made his Grand Prix debut in the teams March 701 Ford at the 1970 Dutch GP, by the end of 1971 he won his one and only GP victory at Watkins Glen, ironically the circuit at which he would lose his life.

Stewart freely admitted Ceverts’ equal or superior speed in 1973, the team leading role Cevert was to play in 1974, when JYS retirement was planned, cruelly stolen from him.

This article and photos celebrate his time in his formative years in F3 and F2…Cevert, born in 1944, originally became interested in racing via Jean Pierre Beltoise, his sister was dating the future French champion at the time.

Francois Cevert, Alpine A280 Renault, Brands Hatch F3 October 1967

Francois in the Brands Hatch paddock for the ‘ER Hall Trophy’ Meeting October 29 1967. Alpine A280 Renault, DNF in a race flagged off after 10 laps due to the conditions…the top 10 finishers included future F1 drivers Henri Pescarolo, John Miles, Peter Gethin, Reine Wisell, and Derek Bell…the field also included future F1 drivers Ian Ashley, Gijs Van Lennep, Jean -Pierre Jaussaud, Dave Walker, Clay Regazzoni, Piers Courage, Howden Ganley…a field of some depth! (unattributed)

After two years doing National Service he enlisted in a racing school at Magny Cours, winning the Volant Shell competition, the prize an Alpine A280 Renault F3 car.

Francois’ Magny Cours drive was funded by a married woman ‘Nanou’, he had met at 19, and fell for him, on holiday who also did the course. The shot below is of his wet, winning drive in a Martini.

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(unattributed)

Patrick Depailler also contested the final, finishing second, here are the pair of them looking very sodden after the race.

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Francois and Patrick, Volant Shell 1966 (unattributed)

The Winfield Racing entered car was underfunded and relatively uncompetitive in 1967 but Francois did enough to be offered a works Alpine drive for ’68, he turned this down and talked his way into the Tecno team, a much more competitive car.

Francois Cevert , Pau F3 1967, Alpine A280 Renault

Early in the 1967 season, April 2 with the Alpine A280 Renault, at Pau. DNF in the race won by Jean-Pierre Jaussaud’s Matra MS6 Ford (unattributed)

He missed five rounds of the French Championship but won the first he entered at Monthlery on May 12, immediately competitive in his Tecno. A strong fourth place followed in the  Monaco F3 GP put his name into prominence, Ronnie Petersen placed third, he too would make his F1 debut in a March 701 in 1970.

Francois took further wins at La Chatre, Nogaro and Albi winning the French F3 championship that year.

Francois Cevert, Albi 1968, Tecno 68 Ford F3

1st place in the 1968 French F3 Championships’ final 1968 round at Albi. Tecno 68 Ford (unattributed)

He progressed to a factory F2 Tecno in 1969…the Ford FVA powered Tecno 69 a very competitive car also driven by fellow 1970 F1 ‘newbee’ Clay Regazzoni. The class was hotly contested by drivers including Jochen Rindt, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Piers Courage, the class containing both pretenders to the thrones of current champions and the champions themselves.

Johnny Servoz-Gavin won the European F2 Championship in 1969 in a Matra MS7 Ford from Hubert Hahne in a Lola T102 BMW/ BMW 269 from Francois in third, it had been a strong debutant F2 season in a field of great depth.

Francois Cevert, Tecno 68 Ford FVA, Pau 1969

Francois Ceverts Pau 1969 was more successful then his 1967 visit…4th in the F2 race in the Tecno 68 Ford FVA  won by ‘F2 king’ Jochen Rindts’ Lotus 59B Ford FVA. High wings banned shortly thereafter by the FIA during the 1969 Monaco GP weekend (unattributed)

Francois Cevert, Tecno 69 FVA, German GP 1969

Francois in the Tecno 69 Ford FVA F2 car during the 1969 German GP. He qualified 16th, and second quickest of the F2 cars in a field of 26 cars. DNF after 9 laps with gearbox failure (unattributed)

Into 1970 Francois continued in F2 and was also picked up by Matra for their endurance program, the 3 litre V12 Sports Cars a taste of real power. Cevert drove for the team for the rest of his life…Servoz retired and the rest, as they say, is history…and one of Grand Prix Racings’ great mighta-beens…

Francois Cevert , Matra MS660, Monthlery 1970

Jack Brabham and Francois Cevert teammates at Matra in 1970…Jack in his last year of F1 and Francois in his first. Winners of the Paris 1000Km at Monthlery in 1970, Matra MS660 (unattributed)

Francois Cevert, March 701 Ford, Dutch GP 1970

First Grand Prix, the Dutch in 1970, Team Tyrrell March 701 Ford. Q 15 of 24 cars, DNF with an engine failure on lap 31 of the race won by Jochen Rindts’ Lotus 72 Ford, and the tragic race in which Piers Courage lost his life in a high speed crash in his DeTomaso 505 Ford (unattributed)

Francois Cevert, TecnoTF71Ford FVA , Imola 1971

Cevert continued to do the occasional F2 race after he had broken into GP racing, here in a Tecno TF/71 Ford FVA, in the ‘City of Imola GP’ in July 1971. He was non-classified 10th in the race won by Carlos Pace March 712M Ford FVA…’Tyrrell nose’ quickly adopted by others after appearing at the French Grand Prix earlier in July!

Brigitte and Francois 1971

Francois and Brigitte Bardot, Paris Racing Car Show 1971. By this time Cevert is a GP star if not an ‘ace’. The car is Graham Hills F1 mount of 1970, the Rob Walker owned Lotus 72 Ford…make an attractive couple!

 

Etcetera…

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Cevert F3 victory celebration with parents, Tecno 68 Ford , 1968

Francois celebrates a 1968 F3 victory with his parents, circuit not disclosed. Tecno 68 Ford F3 (unattributed)

Monaco F3 pit scene 1968

Ceverts # 44 Tecno in the Monaco F3 paddock 1968. #39 Francois Mazet also Tecno 68 Ford mounted and #40 Etienne Vigoureux Martini MW3 Ford

Francois Cevert, Tyrrell 002 Ford, USGP 1971

Francois Cevert first GP win at Watkins Glen 1971. Tyrrell 002 Ford (unattributed)

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Credits…

Automobile Year 16, DPPI, The Nostalgia Forum, F2 Index

Finito…