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Monte Carlo

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to fit the Monaco circuit.
Another happy story of practice was
the relative improvement of Emerson
Fittipaldi. After failing to qualify in
Belgl.um, the Copersucarteam got down
to something they hadn't been getting
around to since they left Brazil-hard
testing. After several days flogging
around Paul Ricard designer Richard
Divila came up with new front
suspension geometry and modified the
rear to suit. The car began turning into
corners better and getting its power down
better, and Emerson was seventh on the
grid in Monaco.
The grid for some reason was to number
20 cars this year, up from 18 the year
before; new FIA guidelines dictated that
only five more entries could be accepted
so there were but 25 drivers trying for a
place rather than the 30 or so that are
regulars this year.
Five of them were therefore to be
eliminated, and they turned out to be:
Jacky Ickx once again ("I have no
excuses, the car was running perfectly,"
he said with a tight smile as he packed his
bag), Henri Pescarolo (whose new team
has purchased Brett Lunger's Surtees;
Brett, who will have a new chassis for
Sweden, was not on the entry list at
Monaco), Larry Perkins and Harald Ertl,
plus Merzario 'who was too slow even
before he crashed. In a normal GP with 26
starters these would have all found a
place to race, but at Monaco they were
spectators.
The happy 20 lined up, as last year, in a
staggered pattern with Lauda on pole all
alone, Regga also alone 12 meters behind
on his left quarter, Peterson a further 12
meters behind that on the right, and so on.
In most cases, grid places reflected the
way cars were handling; for once there
were few mechanical disasters.
Not long before the start, a friend of
Superswede's overheard him muttering
to himself, "I must beat Clay into the first
corner, I must beat Clay into the first
corner, I must beat Clay ... "
Everything his nerve ends knew about
controlling racing cars went into
Peterson's getaway, and he had made up
the 12 meters and one or two besides by
the time he and Regazzoni arrived at the
funnel into the Ste. Devote Chicane.
Lauda, naturally, was first through,
Peterson thankfully was second, Regga
resignedly fed himself in third. Then
came-WOW!
Depailler had started those 12 meters
ahead of Scheckter, but that advantage
had vanished by the time the pair of blue
six-wheelers arrived at the decision
point. Absolutely abreast, traveling the
same speed, eight front wheels aimed into
the same narrow slot as two right feet
squeezed 24 brake pads hard. It was going
tobe almighty: both Tyrrells taken out on
the first corner of the first lap and 15 more
cars piling up behind! ... Jody, on the
rightJ with the chicane curbing square
across his nose, made the right decision
at the last possible instant, relented and
let Patrick through first.
"If it had been anybody else but him I
wouldn't have allowed him to get away
with it," Baby Bear growled afterward.
The shunt when it came fortunately
came at the back of the pack. Somehow
Reutemann and Jones, charging up from
the last row, collided and stopped at the
entrance to the corner, both with enough
damage to put them out.
Just as in Belgium, Lauda settled
himself in for a couple of laps and then
began to pull away by himself. Peterson
held on to second place from Regazzoni
and the two Tyrrells, aU of them pulling
away from the high-speed parade where
Fittipaldi was energeticly. protecting his
sixth place from Stuck, Laffite, Brambilla
and, after they both got by J arrier, from
Mass and Hunt.
Hunt's not very good day got worse
after eight laps when he spun off at the
Tabacand couldn't rejoin until everybody
else had gone by. He quickly caught up to
the tail of the last parade in the race and
joined fnto it, but had only improved his
posi tion by one (at the expense of Leclere)
when his engine blew up.
On the oil it laid down Regazzoni went
down the Old Chicane escape road-so did
Leclere-and dropped behind the
'Pyrrells. A lap later Peterson spun off at
the Tabac and crunched the biwk of the
March into the rail, so suddenly it was
just a matter of watching Lauda's Ferrari
steadily drawing ever farther away from
the only fast Ford Cosworth cars left, the
six-wheelers, and wondering if
Regazzoni could ever catch up again.
He was making a valiant try at ii, and
because Depailler began to ease off with a
gradually breaking rear suspension
(same trouble as had slowed Scheckter at
Zolder) Regga got up to third again and
began closing on Scheckter. But five lap!;
from the end of the race, only a couple of
lengf.1s behind J ody, Regga clipped a
barrier with a front wheel and spun, doing
enough damage to the nose of the second
Ferrari to retire it.
It was a race of constant excitement
farther down in the pack, and right at the
end it reached its peak. Fittipaldi had
finally given way, when Laffite made a
particularly desperate outbraking move
on the outside of the Ste. Devote chicane
and miraculously made it work. He and
Stuck then had a keen struggle until the
Ligier driver lost his first gear, much
used on this track, and dropped back. But
in the closing stages of the race Laffite
began putting on pressure again, closed
up on Stuck once more, and as he told his
team manager afterward "I was actually
alongside him three times on the last lap
before I crashed." For crash he did. He
Continued On Next Page
Lauda And Ferrari Mirror
State Of Formula One Art
If you want to know about the state of
Grand Prix racing today you can watch
Niki Lauda drive his Ferrari to work.
First thing you hear is the crowd
perched up -en the hillside above the
Rascasse burst into cheers, and then you
pick up the heavy organic sound of the 312 .
engine itself, and then the car rolls into
sight, red and polished and mean. Niki's
put his big leather satchel full of his
racing gear up onto the back wing, and he
looks for a surrealistic moment like a
young millionaire sportsman arriving
for a holiday on the Cote d'Azur in the
latest Mk. III Whatsit sportsmodel.
But you will notice his face, which
behind the black sunglasses is lean and
sharp and white. This is not a young man
who lies about in the sun. You will see too
the practiced gentleness with which he
maneuvers the. long winged machine into
its slot in the pits. Most drivers let their
mechanics take their car up from the
paddock, but our perfectionIst World
Champion does even that himself.
The fact is clear that he comes to Monte
Carlo to do a. jOQ of work--to win another
motor race. You can't call this a sport for
him, not at the level he's reached and not
with the modern Ferrari team. They're
both simply too good. Lauda and Ferrari
al:e in a position these days where they
have to win the races. Anything less is
complete failure. Maintaining perfection
at an intensity like this. is simple hard
work.
Even though it sometimes looks easy.
So easy that during the final practice
session at Monaco Lauda stopped early
and spent the last 20-odd minutes just
swanning around the pits, visibly
enjoying the sight of his ever more
frustrated rivals thrashing round and
round. They hadn't a prayer of matching
his speed and everybody knew it. Such
moments are rare in an F -t driver's career
and you can forgive his milking a bit of
pleasure from them.
It was the only period of time at Monte
Carlo this year when Niki Lauda
appeared to be engaged in Sport.
JUNE 12, 1976 AUTOWEEK PAGE 11
Depailler, here with a growing lead on Regazzoni, had the rear suspension crossmember on his six-wheeler
break-the same problem that stuck Scheckter's sister car at Zolder two weeks ago.
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