The 1972 Spanish Grand Prix was held on May 1, and was the third race of the 1972 Formula One Season. Emerson Fittipaldi in a Lotus led most of the way for a solid victory over the Ferraris of Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni.
Normally the teams looked forward to returning to Europe, but the race at Jarama had always been marred by poor organization and official incompetence. In particular, the memories from 1970 of local police forcibly removing drivers from the starting grid, and the inability of the course marshals to put out the flaming cars of Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver for most of the race, was of concern.
The organizers assigned the car numbers roughly corresponding to the final 1971 standings, which meant that most teams had wildly dissimilar numbers.
- Brabham: While driving in the Thruxton Formula 2 race, Carlos Reutemann crashed and suffered a broken ankle that was to keep him out of racing for about two months. Wilson Fittipaldi, older brother of Emerson, had already contracted to run the team's old BT33 on a rental basis, and made his debut here. Graham Hill debuted the new BT37, which was the first design effort of Ralph Bellamy and Gordon Murray. The BT37 was a very basic and simple design, with a front radiator and boxy monocoque. It was intended to keep the team competitive, while allowing for experimentation and modifications for the 1973 design, already under development. And while it wasn't pretty, it did the job well enough.
- BRM: The team had two examples of their brand new P180s on hand for Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Peter Gethin. The cars were very angular, and looked similar to Lotus 72s (but with the water radiators moved to the extreme rear, instead of the sides) and leaving only a sharp wedge point at the nose. The rear of the car was completely covered by bodywork, channeling the air to the radiators and the rear wing. The intent was for a better handling car through a lower polar moment of inertia, but the car needed development. A distinguishing feature was a hole in the front cowling, where the steering wheel and drivers gloves could be seen sticking up. After driving the car in practice, Beltoise opted to use the spare P160B, but as the team only had one spare car, Gethin was stuck with the new model. Reine Wisell rejoined the team for this race, as there was no rental driver for the fifth car. Alex Soler-Roig retired from Formula 1 after this race, focusing on touring car racing until his retirement became complete at the end of 1972.
- Ferrari: Clay Regazzoni was at the wheel of a brand new chassis. The team tried both the full-width noses used at Kyalami, and the conventional ones, and opted for the latter, which provided more grip in the corners. All of the cars had had the oil coolers moved to either side of the gearbox, and new rear wings moved slightly further back.
- Lotus: The cars had the rear wings moved back about 12cm, putting them in cleaner air for greater efficiency. The team arrived in better spirits and with more confidence since before the 1970 Italian Grand Prix, after victories in both the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch, and the Daily Express International Trophy at Silverstone. The only fly in the ointment was the performance of Dave Walker, who was never less than two seconds behind Emerson Fittipaldi's pace, and whose only finish in the top six so far was a fifth at the Brazilian Grand Prix, an event with only 12 starters.
- March: Both drivers now had examples of the new 721X model, with Ronnie Peterson driving the newest car, and Niki Lauda using the one seen two weeks earlier at Silverstone. The cars were notable for having a more rectangular monocoque, Tyrrell-style full width noses, large engine air boxes, inboard rear suspension and an in-house custom Alfa Romeo-Porsche hybrid gearbox that was mounted ahead of the rear axle. This was another attempt at a lower polar moment of inertia, but both drivers were unhappy with the handling, and found gear shifting to be much harder than with the previous Hewland units. And the mechanics were finding the car difficult to adjust or repair.
- Frank Williams turned down an option on the 721X model, feeling that it relied too much on unproven technology. Ron Tauranac was working with the team again, and the cars appeared with Tauranac-designed air boxes that prevented most dirt and grit from entering the engines.
- Rolf Stommelen's Eifelland car arrived, finished in a sharp blue/white color scheme. The absence of high speed corners at Jarama meant that the car's questionable aerodynamics were less of a disadvantage here.
- Mike Beuttler's sponsors wanted to buy a 1972 car from March, but also refused a 721X. Supposedly in the space of nine days, the factory took a 722 Formula 2 chassis and front suspension, added fuel tanks and a strengthened rear bulkhead and pickup points, grafted a Ford Cosworth engine on the back with the suspension from the original 721, and added the radiators from a 721X. They even managed to retain the wheelbase and track of the Formula 2 car. The car was called a 721G, and was delivered to Jarama less than a week after completion. The car had teething troubles, and failed to qualify in Spain, but later turned out to be light, nimble, reliable and fast. It eventually was deemed such an improvement that it formed the basis for all March Formula 1 cars for the next several years. What is also notable is that including the 721G, the Eifelland car and Carlos Pace's 711, the March factory was assisting with five separate models this weekend.
- Matra: Chris Amon's main car showed up about 35 kg lighter, and with some slight revisions to the bodywork, the car was both smarter looking and quicker on the track than in recent memory.
- McLaren: No changes to the regular cars, but the team had the new (but unsorted) M19C as a spare.
- Surtees: John Surtees was absent from the race, having accepted an invitation to compete in the Formula 2 Japanese Grand Prix, amid rumors that the Japanese were going to request a Formula 1 date in the future. Tim Schenken was driving the latest chassis.
- Tyrrell: Other teams were surprised to see nothing new from Tyrrell other than four-pot brake calipers on François Cevert's car.
The full entry list for the 1972 Spanish Grand Prix is shown below:
There were 26 entries for 25 possible spots on the grid, so one car would go home early.
|13||26||Andrea de Adamich||Surtees-Ford||1:20.79||+2.36|
|3||6||Clay Regazzoni||Ferrari||89||+1 Lap||8||4|
|4||26||Andrea de Adamich||Surtees-Ford||89||+1 Lap||13||3|
|5||20||Peter Revson||McLaren-Ford||89||+1 Lap||11||2|
|6||29||Carlos Pace||March-Ford||89||+1 Lap||16||1|
|7||22||Wilson Fittipaldi||Brabham-Ford||88||+2 Laps||14|
|8||12||Tim Schenken||Surtees-Ford||88||+2 Laps||18|
|9||21||Dave Walker||Lotus-Ford||87||Out of fuel||24|
|10||18||Graham Hill||Brabham-Ford||86||+4 Laps||23|
|11||14||Henri Pescarolo||March-Ford||86||+4 Laps||19|
|Ret||1||Jackie Stewart||Tyrrell-Ford||70||Accident damage||4|
|Ret||7||Mario Andretti||Ferrari||24||Oil Pressure||5|
Following the race, one of the Lotus staff was boarding a flight to London with the team's prize money. He did not know that it was illegal to remove Spanish Pesatas from Spain, and should have converted the cash to Pounds. He was arrested, and another Lotus staffer had to fly back to Madrid to pay his fine. In Swiss Francs, of course.
- First race for Wilson Fittipaldi
- First points for Carlos Pace
- Debut race for Brabham BT37, BRM P180, March 721X and March 721G
- Final race for Alex Soler-Roig
Standings after race
Only point scoring drivers are shown.
Only point scoring constructors are shown.
- Pritchard, Anthony (1973). The Motor Racing Year No4. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.. pp. 58-65. ISBN 0-393-08677-1.
|V T E||Spanish Grand Prix|
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