The 1973 Brazilian Grand Prix, otherwise known as the II Grande Prêmio do Brasil, was the second round of the 1973 FIA Formula One World Championship, held at the Autódromo de Interlagos on the 11th of February 1973. The race, which would go down as the first Brazilian Grand Prix to be staged as part of the World Championship, saw a popular figure emerge victorious, amid a weekend dominated by a single team.
Lotus and Tyrrell had been the teams to beat in Argentina, having spent the entire race locked together, yet it was the former who reigned supreme in qualifying. Ronnie Peterson was the man setting the pace, beating teammate and home hero, Emerson Fittipaldi to pole by just 0.2s, before a huge 1.3 second gap back to third placed Jacky Ickx for Ferrari. Clay Regazzoni and Denny Hulme completed row two, while Jackie Stewart was best of the Tyrrells in a lowly eighth.
Raceday dawned warm and dry with a huge crowd flocking to see their hero Fittipaldi fight for victory, with the Brazilian slithering into the lead at the start. The home crowd went wild at the sight, with the atmosphere going up again once everyone realised that Carlos Pace had had an electric start to take second in the Surtees.
The following laps saw Pace slowly tumble through the field, taken by a fast starting Stewart and a slow starting Peterson. The Scot and the Swede then began to fight it out for second, a terrific scrap that ended prematurely when Peterson suffered a wheel failure and smacked into the barriers at high speed.
Pace's race would be over soon after when his rear suspension collapsed, moments after Ickx had barged past to claim third. Hulme was exciting the fans by climbing up the order, taking Ickx for third on lap fifteen, with the Belgian having to stop to replace a punctured tyre a lap later. Jean-Pierre Beltoise inherited fourth until an electrical problem ended his race early, while Regazzoni briefly held the position until his BRM chewed through what was left of his tyres, putting Arturo Merzario into fourth.
But, out front, Fittipaldi was in imperious form, duly sweeping home to record an eighth career win in front of a jubilant home crowd, having led every lap. Stewart was able to cruise to the flag one Peterson disappeared, while Hulme had settled for third once those behind began to drop out of contention. Behind Merzaario came Ickx and Regazzoni, the latter having made a late charge to deny Howden Ganley a maiden point for Iso-Marlboro.
The emergence of Brazilian star Emerson Fittipaldi had caused interest in Formula One to reach heights not seen since the days of Juan Manuel Fangio, so there was little surprise when the FIA decided to cash in and arrange a Brazilian Grand Prix. The 1972 edition of the race had been a popular experiment as part of the non-Championship calendar, so much so that it was only a formality for the Autódromo de Interlagos to host a World Championship round in 1973, as part of the early season tour of the southern hemisphere. The circuit itself was an eight kilometre roller-coaster inside a natural amphitheatre, creating spectacular viewing areas and excellent on-track action, fortunate as the pit complex was rather substandard by comparison to other venues. Unfortunately for the teams, a recent heatwave had followed the F1 circus north into Sao Paulo, with the wind restricted circuit meaning temperatures were set to soar for the cars during the weekend.
The entry list remained almost unchanged from season opener in Argentina, although there would be one additional car on offer at Team Surtees. Indeed, joining full time peddlers Mike Hailwood and Brazilian Carlos Pace would be another home favourite in the form of Luiz Bueno, who was given Hailwood's old TS9B for the weekend. Bueno had been brought in on the basis of his performance in the 1972 non-Championship race in Brazil, claiming sixth, and, with a fair amount of financial backing, secured a third seat with Surtees for his home race, although the likelihood of the deal being further extended was poor at best.
Lotus-Ford Cosworth had started the season almost perfectly in Argentina, with Emerson Fittipaldi sweeping to victory ahead of major rivals Tyrrell in the closing stages. Indeed, the Brazilian World Champion was the major attraction at his home race, prompting Colin Chapman to bring his team to the circuit almost a week early to complete an extensive test programme to give Fittipaldi his best shot at victory. Both he and teammate Ronnie Peterson would have two 72Ds at their disposal throughout the weekend, which had been updated with a marginally enlarged airbox to counter the coming heat.
As for Tyrrell, the two week break since Argentina had left them with little to do, although both Jackie Stewart and François Cevert would receive a rebuild of their engines ahead of the weekend in Interlagos. The Tyrrell team had also conducted tests at the circuit, albeit in the off-season on behalf of Goodyear, which revealed that their cars struggled on the bumpy track surface. Designer Derek Gardner decided to counter this by installing a spacer between the chassis and engine in Stewart's car, effectively increasing the wheelbase by six inches (a trick used before by the team), although only time would tell whether this was the solution to the problem.
Elsewhere, Ferrari arrived with their two scarlet cars for Jacky Ickx and Arturo Merzario, with nothing being done to the cars before the weekend. March and Brabham all arrived in a similar position, all with unchanged line-ups, while BRM had replaced two engines in two of their cars. They retained the same trio of drivers from Argentina: Clay Regazzoni, Niki Lauda and Jean-Pierre Beltoise, with hopes that their outright pace in Argentina was not a flash in the pan.
At McLaren, work between the Grand Prix had revolved around installing parts onto the old M19Cs of Denny Hulme and Peter Revson. This was part of the develop programme for the new M23, and included a new rear-suspension mounting and larger diametre tyres from suppliers Goodyear. Otherwise the cars were unchanged, with sponsors Yardley reducing the amount of orange on the cars race by race.
Completing the field would be the Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworths run by Frank Williams Racing Cars, which had been nothing short of a disappointment during their debut. Drivers Howden Ganley and Nanni Galli had been less than impressed, and little had changed during the fortnight gap, other than the addition of another minor sponsor. Another difficult weekend was expected for the team, a fact not aided by the new cars' poor reliability, which was expected to deteriorate in the Brazilian heat.
The only other expected change to the field should have been in the form of the American based Shadow team, only for the team to fail to appear at all during the weekend. There was little surprise in this, despite the fact that they had entered Jackie Oliver and George Follmer to the factory team, while Graham Hill was known to have purchased a DN1 for himself over the winter. Their absence would only be a sidenote however, with practice getting underway amid a huge crowd on Friday, all out to see the Brazilian contingent claim a historic victory.
Victory at the season opener for Fittipaldi ensured that the defending World Champion had started his title defence in excellent form, leaving Argentina with nine points. Cevert and Stewart were next having completed the first podium of the season, while Ickx sat in fourth. Ex-World Champion Hulme had two points to his name in Argentina, while Wilson Fittipaldi Júnior completed the scorers list.
The Lotus-Ford Cosworth/Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth scrap for the International Cup for Manufacturers had seen the former claim first blood in the 1973 campaign, courtesy of Fittipaldi's victory. Cevert's second place left Tyrrell in second, three points down on the Norfolk squad, while Ferrari sat in third thanks to Ickx. McLaren-Ford Cosworth and Brabham-Ford Cosworth were also on the scorers list after the opening bout.
The full entry list for the 1973 Brazilian Grand Prix is outlined below:
Four separate practice/qualifying sessions were scheduled for the second Brazilian Grand Prix, with two sessions a day on both Friday and Saturday. The same timetable was identical for the two days, an hour and half long session following a one hour run just after lunch, for a combined total of five hours of running. The target time for the field would be the pole time from the non-Championship race, where Emerson Fittipaldi recorded a 2:32.4.
Given their time testing in the week prior to the race meeting, Team Lotus emerged as the clear favourites for pole, setting an incredible pace right from the get go on Friday. The pace of drivers Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson almost instantly dipped below the old circuit record, with the latter claiming provisional pole with a 2:31.5. Fittipaldi finished the session just a tenth of a second slower, while the rest of the field were two or more seconds back, Carlos Pace the closest to the Loti conquerors.
The second session on Friday saw much of the same from Team Lotus, with Peterson finding a second on his early time to take provisional pole, claiming a 2:30.5. It was a staggering time, particularly as Fittipaldi could only manage to match his time from the earlier running, with the two Lotus 72Ds running faultlessly throughout. Fortunately for the non-Lotus fans there was a general increase in pace, Jacky Ickx closing the gap to the black/gold cars when he recorded a 2:32.0.
The first session on Saturday proved to be incredibly hot, so much so that the drivers opted not to push their cars to limit. The two Loti still held a second or so advantage over the rest of the field, Peterson with a small advantage over Fittipaldi. The only exception to this rule would be Carlos Reutemann in the Brabham, who finished the session in third, just three tenths away from Fittipaldi.
A drop in temperature during the final minutes of the final session saw several drivers record their best times, with Fittipaldi really pushing for a home pole. The Brazilian would finish the day fastest, but his time of 2:30.7 was two tenths shy of Peterson's best lap from Friday, meaning that the Swede would start from pole. Ickx's time from Friday was enough to earn him the third front row slot, while row two was to be made up from Clay Regazzoni and Denny Hulme.
The full qualifying results for the 1973 Brazilian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||2||Ronnie Peterson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||2:31.5||2:30.5||2:34.0||2:32.7||—|
|2||1||Emerson Fittipaldi||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||2:31.6||2:31.6||2:34.3||2:30.7||+0.2s|
|4||14||Clay Regazzoni||BRM||2:34.7||2:32.4||No Time||No Time||+1.9s|
|5||7||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||2:34.5||2:32.7||2:35.8||2:36.2||+2.2s|
|6||6||Carlos Pace||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||2:33.8||2:33.2||2:36.2||2:32.7||+2.2s|
|7||17||Carlos Reutemann||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||2:34.6||2:32.9||2:34.6||2:34.6||+2.4s|
|8||3||Jackie Stewart||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||2:36.3||2:33.5||2:35.3||2:33.3||+2.8s|
|9||4||François Cevert||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||2:36.7||2:33.4||2:35.5||2:34.1||+2.9s|
|11||18||Wilson Fittipaldi||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||2:35.9||2:34.3||2:36.4||2:36.1||+3.8s|
|12||8||Peter Revson||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||No Time||No Time||2:35.4||2:34.3||+3.8s|
|13||16||Niki Lauda||BRM||2:37.8||2:35.1||No Time||No Time||+4.6s|
|14||5||Mike Hailwood||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||2:39.7||2:37.5||2:35.5||2:35.8||+5.0s|
|15||11||Jean-Pierre Jarier||March-Ford Cosworth||2:39.6||2:37.6||2:39.3||2:38.9||+7.1s|
|16||19||Howden Ganley||Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth||2:42.5||2:40.3||2:38.6||2:37.6||+7.1s|
|18||20||Nanni Galli||Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth||2:49.3||2:39.3||2:39.0||2:38.7||+8.2s|
|19||12||Mike Beuttler||March-Ford Cosworth||No Time||2:40.9||No Time||2:39.9||+9.4s|
|20||23||Luiz Bueno||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||No Time||2:42.5||2:54.6||2:42.7||+12.0s|
|WD||21||Jackie Oliver||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD||22||George Follmer||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
Although Team Lotus had turned up the heat in qualifying, it was the sun that raised the temperature on Sunday, a baking hot day greeting the Grand Prix cars as they were wheeled out onto the grid. At over 90°F in the shade most of the drivers were found hiding away under parasols, while the 100,000 fans were sprayed with water by a fire-engine, although that was not enough to cool their spirits. The drivers were all eventually forced into their cockpits for the race start, with all twenty cars up and running to take the race start.
The starter's flag wall fall to an eruption of noise from the home fans, who released almost immediately that home hero Emerson Fittipaldi had got a perfect start. The Brazilian racer dived into the first corner well ahead of teammate Ronnie Peterson, who suddenly found himself down in fourth. It had been another Brazilian, Carlos Pace, and double World Champion Jackie Stewart, who managed to split the two Loti, those two have got electric starts from the third row of the grid to leap into second and third respectively.
The opening lap developed into an outright fight behind Fittipaldi, with Pace not quite having the pace to keep with his compatriot. Yet, he was more than capable of fending of Stewart, who was under assault from Peterson, while Jacky Ickx battled back to fifth after a poor start. Wilson Fittipaldi was another to make a good start to reach sixth, making it three Brazilians in the top six, followed by Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Peter Revson, whom had the rest of the field strung out behind him.
Lap two would see the elder Fittipaldi (Wilson) drop out of contention with a split water pipe, leaving a hole between Ickx and Beltoise at the lower end of the points. Ickx was therefore able to join Peterson and Stewart in attacking Pace, with the Scot elbowing his way through before the end of the second tour. Beltoise was left to defend from Revson, François Cevert, and another fast starter in Mike Hailwood, with the rest of the field headed by Carlos Reutemann.
The first mechanical troubles of the race would appear after the opening bout, largely affecting those scrapping around the backend of the points. First to hit trouble was Revson, a gearbox failure ending his race on lap three, limited to using just the two highest gears, quickly followed by the elder Fittipaldi brother, his split water pipe a symptom of a much larger issue in the Brabham. Hailwood also looked to be on his way out when his engine started to run poorly, retiring on lap five, allowing Cevert and Reutemann to move through, only for the latter to hit throttle trouble and pit.
Then came the first high-profile retirement, as Peterson climbed out of a rather second hand Lotus 72D after hitting the barriers. The Swede was right on the tail of Stewart as the pair got on the throttle out of turn two, only to be thrown sideways and into the Armco, having fought to keep the car under control. The cause of this accident was proved to be a failure on the right-rear wheel, which had come apart near the rim, with Peterson walking away from the scene unharmed.
This would not be the last of the retirements either, with Jean-Pierre Jarier stopping out on the circuit with a broken crown-wheel and pinion on lap six. Next out went the fast starting Pace, who had been struggling on his ultra-soft Firestones since the second lap before a suspension failure ended his day on the ninth tour. There would be a small break before another two retirements were confirmed, with Mike Beuttler and Beltoise also failing to see the chequered flag.
At a quarter race distance the destiny of the race victory already looked settled, with Fittipaldi still pulling away from Stewart in the sole remaining Lotus. The Scot himself looked set for second, the combined demise of Peterson and Pace leaving the Tyrrell racer with a sizeable advantage over Ickx. For Ickx, however, the race was far from done, with the Belgian engaged in a three way scrap for the final podium spot, Beltoise and Denny Hulme providing ample headaches for the scarlet Ferrari.
Indeed, the fight for third came to the fore as the rest of the race settled down, with both Hulme and Beltoise getting ahead of Ickx, only to be relegated back down a few moments later. It was a furious fight, although it soon developed into a duel when Ickx had to stop to replace a punctured tyre. That left Hulme and Beltoise to dice it out for the final step on the podium, although it soon became clear that the McLaren was coping far better in the heat, allowing Hulme to pull clear of the BRM as half distance ticked by.
As this scrap was going on, Clay Regazzoni was climbing through the order, moving into the points when Cevert had to stop with a suspension issue. The second Ferrari of Arturo Merzario would also be promoted into the points when Ickx pitted, whose pitstop had not gone well. During the Belgian's stop the mechanic responsible for the tyres picked up the wrong spare, meaning Ickx's car was fitted with the rear-right from Merzario's car. Under normal circumstances this would not have been an issue, but the two teammates were using different wheel designs, leaving Ickx with some tricky handling characteristics for the rest of the race.
Merzario's day would further be improved in the following laps, with two quick fire problems relegating the BRMs in fourth and fifth just ahead. Beltoise went first, a stray stone getting fired into his engine and destroying the electrical circuits, before Regazzoni was forced to stop with a badly worn front tyre. Merzario was therefore up into fourth as the three-quarter race distance mark approached, with Ickx soon promoted back into the points as Luiz Bueno had to stop with an electrical issue.
The closing stages of the race would see Reutemann match the pace of the leaders, largely due to the fact that he was pushing as hard as he could, still three laps down. Fittipaldi was cruising, taking fastest lap before signalling to the pits that he was finding it a relaxing Sunday drive, while Stewart's pace could hardly be described as flat out. In all the excitement few had noticed that Howden Ganley in the lowly Williams run Iso-Marlboro had been promoted into the points, and looked set to score a maiden point as the final laps trickled away.
The final lap proved to be a parade lap for Fittipaldi, the Brazilian sweeping home to record a famous, if somewhat dull, victory at his home race. Stewart and Hulme cruised across the line, the latter the last of those on the lead lap, while Merzario and Ickx came across the line almost together in the two Ferraris. Then should have come Ganley, who had almost missed the start when a scrutineer accidentally set off a fire extinguisher in his car before the start, only for the New Zealander to hit fuel problems. That issue did not aid his attempts to keep a charging Regazzoni at bay, and just a few corners from the end a freshly shod BRM swept past the Iso-Marlboro for the final point, rather cruelly denying Frank Williams his first point as a constructor.
The full results for the 1973 Brazilian Grand Prix are outlined below:
- First Brazilian Grand Prix to be staged as part of the World Championship.
- Shadow entered a Grand Prix for the first time.
- Ferrari made their 200th Grand Prix start.
- Maiden pole position taken by Ronnie Peterson.
- Emerson Fittipaldi claimed his eighth career victory.
- 49th victory earned by a Lotus chassis.
Two victories in the opening two races meant that defending World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi had made the perfect start to the season, eighteen points already on the board for the Brazilian racer. Jackie Stewart left Brazil with ten points, the only driver able within striking distance of the Brazilian racer, while François Cevert sat in third, level with Denny Hulme. Jacky Ickx sat in fifth ahead of teammate Arturo Merzario, while Clay Regazzoni and Wilson Fittipaldi Júnior completed the scorers.
Lotus-Ford Cosworth had maximum points after the opening two rounds thanks to Fittipaldi's victories, six clear of arch-rivals Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth. Ferrari and McLaren-Ford Cosworth had six points apiece in third, the latter effort ahead, while Brabham-Ford Cosworth and BRM shared fifth with a single point each.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: BRAZILIAN GP, 1973', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr222.html, (Accessed 14/02/2017)
- A.R.M., '2nd Brazilian Grand Prix: Another comfortable Lotus victory', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/03/1973), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/march-1973/25/2nd-brazilian-grand-prix, (Accessed 12/02/2017)
- '2: Brazil 1973', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/bresil.aspx, (Accessed 12/02/2017)
- 'Brazil 1973', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/bresil/engages.aspx, (Accessed 12/02/2017)
- 'Brazil 1973: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/bresil/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 14/02/2017)
- 'Brazil 1973: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1973/bresil/classement.aspx, (Accessed 14/02/2017)
|V T E||Brazilian Grand Prix / São Paulo Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Interlagos (1972–1977, 1979–1980, 1990–present), Jacarepaguá (1978, 1981–1989)|
|Races (Brazilian GP)||1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • |
|Races (São Paulo GP)||2021 • 2022|
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