Posts Tagged ‘Francois Cevert’

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(Jarnoux)

Jack Brabham and Francois Cevert ecstatic after winning the 1970 1000 Km of Paris at Montlhery on 18 October, Matra MS660…

Its interesting to look at the absolute delight they have and reflect on their relative careers right then and there; for Jack it was his last ‘International’ win before his ‘retirement’. Yes he did have a few appearances in touring cars in Oz in the 1970’s, not to forget his works Porsche 956B drive at Sandown’s World Endurance Championship race in 1984 but in reality 1970 was ‘it’ after a long, vastly successful career.

For Francois it was the year he broke into F1, Johnny Servoz-Gavin’s premature retirement with an eye injury gave Francois his opportunity in Ken Tyrrell’s March 701, one he embraced with both hands and capitalised upon. The world was at the talented Frenchman’s feet.

I wrote articles about Jack’s 1969/70 seasons and Francois’ early years, click on these links to read the articles which remain amongst my ‘most read’; https://primotipo.com/2014/09/01/easter-bathurst-1969-jack-brabham-1970-et-al/ and; https://primotipo.com/2014/11/07/francois-cevert-formative-years/

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Brabham in the works Aston DBR1 he shared with Stirling Moss at the Nurburgring 1000Km in 1958, JB very much in a support role that day (unattributed)

I don’t think of Jack as a sportscar driver although he started his professional sportscar career with a bang really; first in the 1958 Nurburgring 1000Km with Stirling Moss and second in the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood with Roy Salvadori in works Aston Martin DBR1’s.

But he was such a busy boy in the 1960’s he simply didn’t have the time for sporties; driving and testing Coopers, then forming Motor Racing Developments with Ron Tauranac. Brabham Racing Organisation entered and raced the F1 cars, he had garage and conversion businesses, ghosted magazine articles and depending upon the season raced in F1, F2, Indy not to forget the 7 or 8 Internationals/Tasman Series events he did in Australasia in January/February. Commercially it also made sense, other than the BT8, MRD didn’t build sportscars, so why not focus on what you sell?

So, his events in two seaters are relatively rare in the pantheon of his long career, a good obscure topic for an article actually!

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Monaco collage 1970, 2nd in the race won by Jochen Rindt’s Lotus 49D Ford. Brabham BT33 Ford (Schlegelmilch)

1970 was his ‘last racing season’ though. He had promised his wife Betty he would retire at the end of 1969 and having got the ‘leave pass’ which was pretty much forced upon him when Jochen Rindt decided to stay at Lotus, had one of his busiest season in ’70.

Jochen told Jack he was returning to Brabham but changed his mind when Colin Chapman made him an offer too good to refuse. So Jack raced on, a rethink forced upon him as by that stage no other number 1 drivers were available. So Jack made every post a winner; he raced F1, F2, Indy and most of the endurance events Equipe Matra Elf contested in 1970.

It wasn’t a ‘cruise and collect’ year for Jack though, he was still razor sharp, famously winning the season opening South African GP in Tauranac’s first monocoque F1 car, the Brabham BT33. He lost Monaco to Rindt after a last lap fumble under pressure from Jochen and the British GP to Jochen again, when, leading and driving away from the Austrian’s Lotus 72, he ran light on fuel, an error ‘credited’ to Ron Dennis, then his mechanic.

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Nice portrait of Jack at LeMans in 1970; at 44 he was as fast as the ‘quicks’ of the era, anyone who can hang onto Rindt at the peak of his powers is not too shabby, at 44 Jack was still ‘up there’ to say the least (Getty)

Brabham spoke about the pleasure of just ‘rocking up to drive for Matra’ in the biography he wrote with Doug Nye; ‘…to drive a car someone else had to develop and prepare was a rare luxury, which i really enjoyed’.

In 1970 Matra contested the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours in America, then in Europe the Brands Hatch and Monza 1000Km events and of course the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. They elected not to race Targa, the Spa and Nurburgring 1000Km events and the championship season ending Watkins Glen 6 Hour back in North America on 18 October.

The endurance championship that year was dominated by the 5 litre, 12 cylinder Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S, the dominant ‘small car’, the 3 litre Porsche 908/3 which mopped up the events on circuits so suited; Targa and Nurburgring.

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Brabham in the MS650 he shared with Jean-Pierre Beltoise to 12th, Pedro Rodriguez beat the rest of the field in a blinding Porsche 917 display . Brands 1000Km 1970 (Schlegelmilch)

 

Matra’s primary 1970 tool was an updated 1969 Matra MS650, the new MS660 made its debut in the hands of Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo at Le Mans. The car raced at the Sarthe by Brabham and and Francois Cevert was the earlier MS650, both cars retired with engine failure within 3 laps of each other (laps 79 and 76 respectively)

Brabham was paired with Cevert at Daytona, the duo bringing the V12 engined car home in 10th place, the race run on 31 January/1 February 1970. Brabham didn’t contest the next round at Sebring, ‘his car’ paired Dan Gurney with Francois in a one-off drive. Henri Pesccarolo and Johnny Servoz Gavin achived the best championship Matra result for the season in 4th place, the race won by the Ferrari 512S of Ignzio Giunti, Nino Vaccarella and Mario Andretti.

The Brands Hatch 1000Km on April 12 was a famous demonstration of driving mastery by Pedro Rodriguez, the Mexican sportscar ace flinging his demanding, fidgety 5 litre Porsche 917K in the wet as though it were a Merlyn Formula Ford from one of the support races. Jack was paired with JPB, the duo were 12th.

At Monza later in the month the duo were 5th in the race won by the Rodriguez/Kinnunen JW Automotive Porsche 917K.

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Brabham ahead of a Lola T70 Mk3B Chev, Montlhery 1970 (Jarnoux)

With the Manufacturers Championship decided in Porsche’s favour from Ferrari and Alfa Romeo the Montlhery race was a chance for Matra to win in front of its home crowd.

The annual enduro wasn’t a Manufacturers’ Championship round, as stated above, but always had a good amateur entry. Matra entered two cars, the Linas-Montlhéry circuit only a few miles from its Velizy home base. Both cars were MS660’s, Beltoise and Pescarolo, drove a ‘sprinter’ variant, lightened a lot compared to Le Mans spec. The weight loss was achieved by deletion of lights, the charging system and the use of a Hewland gearbox rather than heavier, stronger ZF unit. The engine was the GP variant of the V12, able to use 11,000 r.p.m. against the normal 10,500 r.p.m. endurance limit. The other heavier ‘Le Mans spec’ car was driven by Jack and Francois.

There was no factory opposition to Matra but the Martini International Racing Team/Team AAW, had a 917 Porsche driven by Gerard Larrousse and Gijs van Lennep, as well as their Porsche 908’s, piloted by Rudy Lins/Helmut Marko and Claude Ballot-Lena/ Guy Chasseuil, the other 29 cars were private entries.

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‘MotorSport’s’ race report said; ‘A circuit of 7.821 kilometres long was used, comprising half of the banked track, with chicanes at each end of the banking, and part of the road course, and the race was over 128 laps and was run in warm and fine weather. Beltoise set the pace with the lightened Matra 660 and only van Lennep proved to be any sort of challenge, but the 917 engine broke early in the race leaving the Beltoise/Pescarolo car unchallenged. Robbed of his drive in the 917, Larrousse took over the 908 of Ballot-Lena/Chasseuil, and after a slow start Brabham and Cevert moved up into second place.

The leading Matra ran into trouble with its Hewland gearbox, due to the oil breather system not being right, and after some delays at the pits the car was forced out of the race by horrid noises in its transmission, this letting the second Matra take command. In second place was the carefully driven, privately-owned Ferrari 512S of the Spaniard José Juncadella, with the young French driver Jabouille as his partner. In spite of retiring, the lightweight Matra was classified in fourth position’.

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Matra MS660…

The MS630/650 had multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, the 660 one of Velizy’s famed aluminium monocoques clothed in a very sexy, swoopy aerodynamically clean and efficient Spyder body.

The 2993cc 60 degree, all aluminium, quad cam, 4 valve, Lucas injected V12, ever evolving in detail spec, engine was a common element of both cars and gave circa 400bhp. The ZF 5 DS25 5 speed gearbox was also a common element although the Hewland FG400 unit was also used.

Ventilated brakes used ATE calipers, steering was Matra rack and pinion, the suspension period typical; upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/shocks at the front and single top link, twin parallel lower links, two radius rods and coil spring/shocks at the rear. Adjustable roll bars front and rear. Weight was circa 700Kg dependent upon spec.

Credits…

MotorSport December 1970, Patrick Jarnoux, Rainer Schlegelmilch

Tailpiece: Francois Cevert caressses the sleek, swoopy MS660 around Montlhery, 1970…

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The ever innovative Derek Gardner with an ‘aero-tweak’ being tested on Francois Cevert’s Tyrrell 002 Ford during Italian GP practice at Monza on 10 September 1972…

This huge sleeve over the exhausts is cowled from the oil coolers back, the idea being to harness the exhaust gas energy to entrain air through the sleeve and enhance airflow and hence better cooling thru the oil rads.

Francois hadn’t done too many laps when the ‘prophylactics’ parted company with the car at very high speed, bouncing their way into lightweight schrapnel around the famous autodrome, fortunately ‘002’ was well clear of any following cars at the time!

The shot below shows a standard ‘006’ rear end to give an idea of how the car appeared sans ducts. Ken Tyrrell and Jackie Stewart discuss the sublime weather before Francois is sent on his way. These cars evolved a lot throughout 1972/3, the Tyrrells arguably (Lotus 72 pace duly noted!) the quickest cars of the era from the time ‘001’ first raced at Oulton Park later in 1970 until Stewart’s retirement and Cevert’s death at Watkins Glen at the end of 1973.

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Date and place unknown, 1973 Tyrrell 006 Ford, Cevert up (unattributed)

Monza ’72 wasn’t a good race for the ‘Boys in Blue’ at all though, JYS popped a clutch on the line and was lucky not to get ‘whacked up the clacker’ at a million miles an hour and Francois’ engine ‘popped’ on lap 14. Emerson Fittipaldi took the race and the ’72 title in his Lotus 72D Ford.

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FC looking very ‘chillaxed’ prior to the ’73 British GP at Silverstone, Tyrrell 006 Ford (unattributed)

You might find this story about Cevert’s early career of interest if you haven’t already seen it;

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/07/francois-cevert-formative-years/

I wrote an article a while back about Team Tyrrell and innovation, have a read of it if you haven’t. Its amazing just how ‘edgy’ Ken’s boys were over the years given their resources relative to bigger, better funded teams;

https://primotipo.com/2014/09/16/tyrrell-019-ford-1990-and-tyrrell-innovation/

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Roll on into mid-1973 and Derek was considering his overall design and aero alternatives for his 1974 car…

Here Francois is testing ‘005’ during British GP practice at Silverstone in mid July, JYS did a few laps in the same car carrying #42. It looks remarkably cohesive for a car designed originally with a totally different bluff nose aerodynamic concept!

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Compare and contrast the ‘normal’ bluff nose Tyrrell ‘006’ Cevert races here in front of James Hunt’s March 731 Ford at the British GP, Silverstone in 1973, with the ‘005’ chisel nose he tested in practice above. Hunt was a splendid 4th, Cevert 5th, Revson took his first GP win in a McLaren M23 Ford (unattributed)

It was a good year until the USGP, JYS took his third title in the ‘low polar moment of inertia’, short wheelbase, twitchy but very quick in both Stewart and Cevert’s hands, Tyrrell 005/006 cars.

Click on this link for a short story about those cars;

https://primotipo.com/2014/08/25/jackie-stewart-monaco-gp-1973-tyrrell-006-ford/

Gardner had a pretty handy additional test pilot in Chris Amon who was contracted the drive the spare Tyrrell 005 in the end of season North American GP’s at Mosport and Watkins Glen. Chris was always rated as a test-driver by all he raced with from Ferrari’s Mauro Forghieri ‘down’.

Amon raced 005 in side radiator/chisel nose spec in Canada, he didn’t race it at Watkins Glen after Francois’ fatal accident on the Saturday resulted in Ken Tyrrell withdrawing the teams cars for the race, which would have been the retiring Stewart’s 100th GP.

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Chris Amon 10th in Tyrrell 005 Ford in the Canadian GP, Chris has ‘modified’ the cars nose during the race. JYS was 5th in 006, Cevert DNF after a collision with Scheckter, Peter Revson won the race in a McLaren M23 Ford (unattributed)

Derek Gardner tested the ‘chisel nose, side radiator’ aerodynamic approach pioneered by the Lotus 56 at Indianapolis in 1968.

After the history making changes at the 1973 seasons end Derek Gardner threw out the conceptual approach he had decided upon for 1974. The car was to be a ‘highly strung thoroughbred’ from which maestro’s Stewart and Cevert could extract every ounce of performance. His change was to a much more forgiving chassis attuned to the developmental needs of ‘cub drivers’ Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler for 1974, his ‘007’ design the very effective result.

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Tyrrell 007 Ford cutaway; aluminium monocoque chassis, Ford Cosworth 3 litre DFV V8, Hewland FG400 5 speed transaxle, disc brakes inboard front and rear, wishbone front suspension with coil spring dampers, rear suspension by single upper link, lower parallel links, radius rods and coil spring/damper units, adjustable roll bars (unattributed)

Tailpiece: The ’74 Tyrrell 007 Ford in Depailler’s hands, Swedish GP in which he was 2nd and Scheckter’s 1st, winning the South African’s  first GP. Evolution of Derek Gardner’s aero thinking clear from ’73-’74, mind you he went back to a bluff nose for his outrageous P34 6 wheeler for 1976…

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(unattributed)

Credits…

Rainer Schlegelmilch, Doug Nye ‘History of The GP Car’

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…

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Fantastic shot of JYS on his way to victory throwing around the ‘twitchy’ , low ‘polar moment of inertia’ Tyrrell 006…

 The win was Stewarts 25th, equalling the number of Championship wins achieved by his friend and compatriot Jim Clark.

Stewart started the season in his trusty 005 but raced 006 from the International Trophy at Silverstone , the car carrying him to 5 victories and the world title that year.

Whilst Stewart won the drivers title the manufacturers championship went to Lotus, reigning champion Emerson Fittipaldi and teammate Ronnie Petersen scrapping and taking wins between them , which, in the absence of team orders , stopped Fittipaldi winning a pair of titles ‘on the trot’…team orders, and some times their absence are not new in F1!

Lotus were not the only team with 2 ‘number ones’ that season.

Stewart had Francois Cevert as his Tyrrell teammate again ,they were close friends as well as competitors with the master freely acknowledging Cevert had his speed , and then some , that season. But Francois was a team player and knew his turn , and time would come.

Sadly, it didn’t with his death in an horrific accident in practice at Watkins Glen, the final GP of ’73.

Stewart did a couple of laps in 006/2 in the final session to try and work out what happened to Francois, pitted his car and walked away from F1, as a driver , as he had planned earlier in the season , for good.

Jackie retired with 27 championship wins from 99 races, Cevert perished not knowing he would have been Tyrrells team leader in 1974…

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Jackie Stewart leads Francois Cevert, Monaco 1973. First and fourth respectively. (Pinterest)

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Francois Cevert & Jackie Stewart in 1973 (Pinterest)

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Werner Buhrer cutaway drawing

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Photo Credits…Werner Buhrer, Michael Turner

Tailpiece…

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(Michael Turner)