The XII Grosser Preis von Österreich, otherwise known as the 1974 Austrian Grand Prix, was the twelfth round of the 1974 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged on the original layout of the Österreichring. Held on the 18th August, the race would see Austria's new hero Niki Lauda fight for the win as he tried to recover the Championship lead.
It had been a rather popular pole position for Lauda in qualifying, his Ferrari seeming to be perfectly set up for the sweeping Österreichring. Second went to Carlos Reutemann, the second row was shared by Emerson Fittipaldi and Carlos Pace, while Championship leader, and Lauda's teammate Clay Regazzoni started down in eighth.
Unfortunately for those wanting a home win it was Reutemann who surged into the lead at the start, although Lauda trued to challenge throughout the opening lap. A stunning start for Regazzoni, meanwhile, had seen him shoot up to fourth, dragging James Hunt along with him. Other highlights of the opening lap saw Arturo Merzario shoot up the order, while Ronnie Peterson had to stage a comeback after a dismal start for Lotus.
The following laps would see Regazzoni barge his way past Pace to claim third, while Scheckter similarly elbowed Hunt out of fifth. Peterson was also making ground, using Fittipaldi to make further progress up the order, before attention returned to the front of the field. The cause of the commotion was Lauda, whose Ferrari was suddenly limping after developing an ultimately terminal misfire.
With Lauda out, Reutemann was left with a sizeable advantage over Regazzoni, who was only just able to keep the Argentine in sight. Yet, all was not well with the Swiss racers' Ferrari, a slow puncture causing him handling issues that ultimately caused his pace to slowly decline. Pace was able to catch and pass him with minimal effort, forming a Brabham one-two at the front of the field.
Unfortunately for him a split fuel pipe ended his race moments after he snatched second, handing the position to Peterson. However, the Lotus was about to disappear with a gearbox failure, and as Regazzoni dropped behind Denny Hulme, the Swede came to a stop in the pits to retire.
With that the race was run, with Reutemann sweeping home to record his second career win. Hulme held onto the cursed second placed spot without encountering any mechanical strife, while James Hunt was one of those to mug Regazzoni in the closing stages, claiming third. John Watson also passed the Ferrari to claim fourth, while Vittorio Brambilla just fell shy of the limping Ferrari, leaving him in fifth.
The Österreichring remained unchanged in 1974, with the now annual visit to the Styrian mountains a popular one among the drivers. It was also expected to be a well attended Grand Prix too, for an Austrian racer was in the hunt for the World Championship, and had been in fine form throughout the season. Home hopes would also be increased by the inclusion of some other Austrian nationals among the entry list, which had been modified after a punishing weekend at the Nürburgring two weeks earlier.
The most significant of these changes came at McLaren, who had to bring David Hobbs out of his pseudo-retirement from single seaters to take over the injured Mike Hailwood's car. The "Yardley" McLaren effort was without a spare, having been written off during Hailwood's accident, although Hobbs was expected to qualify for the grid regardless. The two "Team Texaco" drivers Emerson Fittipaldi and Denny Hulme had no major concerns, their cars having been fitted with skirts along the lower edge of the monocoque to prevent air from getting underneath the car.
Their title rivals Ferrari had the majority of home hopes on their shoulders, as they fielded Austrian title pretender Niki Lauda alongside Championship leader Clay Regazzoni. Those two had three cars at their disposal, although Luca di Montezemolo decided it would be best to bring four spare engines in hopes of avoiding any mechanical strife. In terms of bodywork the trio of cars were unchanged, all three running with different rear wing positions as they had on the Nordschleife.
More Austrian interest was to be found at Surtees, whom had a three car effort split into two different teams. A miserable few weeks since Carlos Pace's departure had seen tensions rise between John Surtees and Jochen Mass, with the German duly quitting in the buildup to the Austrian Grand Prix. Without a recognised Grand Prix star, title sponsor Bang & Olufsen decided to withdraw their backing, leaving the team in financial limbo for the foreseeable future. Hence, Surtees decided to hire pay driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille to partner Derek Bell in the factory team, while also loaning out the spare car to self-funded racer Dieter Quester, whom had his personal sponsors plastered over his car.
A third Austrian was fielded by privateer effort Scuderia Finotto, who put Helmuth Koinigg in their old BT42 for the weekend as they continued their search for a new lead driver. The sister car owned by Hexagon of Highgate, however, would not be raced at the Österreichring, for John Watson was armed with the newest of the BT44s as per their deal with the Brabham team. The other privateer effort of Leo Kinnunen arrived without incident, having been rebuilt since the British Grand Prix, although the Finn was not expected to qualify.
The Brabham team themselves seemed to be quietly confident ahead of the Austrian round, with Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace armed with their usual compliment of three completely white BT44s. BRM arrived with a reduced effort after another boardroom reshuffle, only fielding Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo, although François Migault was brought along just in case. Their recent strife seemed to have replaced that of the March team, who were squeezing more sponsors onto their mismatched pair of 741s for Hans-Joachim Stuck and Vittorio Brambilla.
Lotus had been busy un-fusing Ronnie Peterson's 72E from the team's spare 76, with both cars fighting fit ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix. Teammate Jacky Ickx was also armed with a 72 and a 76 for the weekend, with all four cars being brought up to spec with Colin Chapman's latest rear suspension design. Rivals Tyrrell had no changes to their trio of 007s for Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler, and seemed to be far more confident than the Norfolk squad.
Full time entrants Shadow had Tom Pryce and Jean-Pierre Jarier back in action for them, thankful that those two seemed more content with racing cars rather than crashing them. Frank Williams' Iso-Marlboro effort fielded an unchanged lineup of Arturo Merzario and Jacques Laffite, recent form suggesting that they could both make the cut in qualifying. Hesketh, meanwhile, decided to expand their effort at the Österreichring, fielding Ian Scheckter in the older 308 to back up lead driver James Hunt.
There were changes at Lola, with Graham Hill having to employ Rolf Stommelen in the second car as Guy Edwards was still struggling with his wrist injury. Ensign owner Morris Nunn, meanwhile, had fallen out with Vern Schuppan's backer Teddy Yip, and so the Australian racer was replaced by Mike Wilds. Elsewhere, Tim Schenken used the Trojan, Ian Ashley raced the Token, while Maki were still listed as an entrant, despite having their only car in pieces and driver Howden Ganley still in hospital after his Nürburgring crash.
A second career victory for Regazzoni on the Nordschleife saw the Swiss racer shoot to the top of the World Championship standings, the first time he had led the title charge since the Spanish Grand Prix. Scheckter had also made progress, leaping into second after his continued good form, while Lauda and Fittipaldi slipped to third and fourth respectively. With just seven points covering the quartet it was anyone's guess as to who would claim the crown, with everyone else from fifth placed Peterson down realistically out of the fight.
Ferrari and McLaren-Ford Cosworth swapped places at the top of the International Cup for Manufacturers' standings, the Italian firm establishing an eight point lead over their British rivals. Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth managed to close the gap to the leaders to remain as outside challengers for the title, with Lotus-Ford Cosworth, like lead drivers Peterson, out of the fight bar a complete reversal in form. Elsewhere, Brabham-Ford Cosworth pulled clear of BRM for fifth, while Shadow-Ford Cosworth moved closer to the elite after Pryce's maiden points finish.
The full entry list for the 1974 Austrian Grand Prix is outlined below:
Two glorious days played host to practice/qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, with Friday and Saturday both scheduled to hold three hours of running. Each day's running would be split into two, a half hour break allowing stranded cars to be recovered without interrupting the sessions themselves. As for target times, the lap record of 1:37.29 set by Carlos Pace was a minimum target for the top teams, with the "aces" attempting to best Emerson Fittipaldi's 1973 pole time of 1:34.98.
The first session of the weekend saw most teams complete a series of runs with different aero-setups, trying to find the best balance between cornering and top speed. For others, it was a case of getting used to new equipment, although Ian Scheckter's first European F1 weekend got off to a poor start with an engine failure. A similar issue affected the fearsome Ferraris, with Niki Lauda only getting in a handful of laps before his car had to be retrieved from the circuit during the break.
Elsewhere, there was a surprise at the top of the timesheets, for Carlos Reutemann topped the times in the lead Brabham, as both he and teammate Carlos Pace stole the show. An early run for Lauda saw him as the closest challenger to the bright white cars, a hundredth of a second faster than Denny Hulme. The rest of the top ten was largely formed by times in the 1:37.00s and 1:38.00s, although there was room for improvement all round.
The second session on Friday saw Lauda relegated to the spare car as his usual charger had its engine replaced, although he did manage to improve. Indeed, most of the field did managed to refine their times, but increased temperatures caused vapour locking problems for most of the field. The high temps also caused complaints of understeer as front tyres overheated and lost grip, a fact that enhanced the natural tendency for a car when sweeping along the curves of the Österreichring.
Despite universal temperature issues for the Ford Cosworth crews it was Reutemann who again set the pace in the second session, ending the day with provisional pole and a 1:35.56 for his efforts. Mechanical strife saw teammate Pace relegated to the less refined spare car, meaning he failed to improve, while a late run for Fittipaldi saw him leap up into second. There were also improvements among those fighting to qualify, although all four Surtees drivers seemed to be struggling.
The first Saturday session was even hotter than the second Friday run, although overnight work had seen most teams manage to find solutions to the issue of vapour locking. Adding to the driver's woes would be the track surface itself, which was beginning to melt with the strain of high-grip Grand Prix cars and intense summer heat. However, even this universal issue was better than the goings on at the Surtees team, who had both of their factory cars suffer engine failures, with no spares to be found.
These were not the only major issues of the day, with Tom Pryce crashing early on and bending the front of his Shadow, meaning he had to use the spare. At the top of the times, meanwhile, it was Pace who set the pace, getting into the 1:35.00s for the first time as teammate Reutemann chose to focus on race pace instead. Lauda was a fraction slower in his more familiar Ferrari, while James Hunt made significant ground, only to missout on the final session of the weekend with a total gearbox failure.
Into the final session and the final corner track breakup was getting increasingly worse, with drivers pushing harder than ever to either snatch pole or qualify at all. This caused an uncharacteristic accident for Clay Regazzoni, who skated into the catch fencing trying to run off of the broken tarmac, meaning he had to use the ill-fated spare Ferrari for the rest of the afternoon. The other casualty was Mike Wilds, who had a more spectacular accident in the Ensign trying to avoid the ever expanding damaged part of the circuit.
The fight for pole intensified throughout the session as well, with Lauda putting together a lap in dying moments of the session to snatch pole from Reutemann, much to the delight of the home fans. Fittipaldi threatened to take the Argentine too but just fell shy, while Pace failed to improve during the final run. Other highlights saw Jacques Laffite impress in the Iso-Marlboro, qualifying alongside John Watson on row six, Rolf Stommelen thrash World Champion teammate Graham Hill in the Lola, and Dieter Quester make the grade in his loaned Surtees. Indeed, the Austrian was the last of those to make the cut, with Ian Scheckter, Helmuth Koinigg, Wilds, the two full time Surtees drivers and privateer Leo Kinnunen all left as spectators.
The full qualifying results for the 1974 Austrian Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||7||Carlos Reutemann||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:36.61||1:35.56||1:38.92||1:35.75||+0.16s|
|3||5||Emerson Fittipaldi||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:37.23||1:36.17||1:36.27||1:35.76||+0.36s|
|4||8||Carlos Pace||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:37.02||1:37.57T||1:35.91||1:36.67||+0.51s|
|5||3||Jody Scheckter||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:37.36||1:35.95||1:36.36||1:35.94||+0.54s|
|6||1||Ronnie Peterson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:38.43||1:37.45||1:37.07||1:36.00||+0.60s|
|7||24||James Hunt||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:37.25||1:36.11||1:36.94||—||+0.71s|
|9||20||Arturo Merzario||Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth||1:39.32||1:37.94||1:37.03||1:36.35||+0.95s|
|10||6||Denny Hulme||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:37.18||1:37.29||1:36.39||1:42.90T||+0.99s|
|11||28||John Watson||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:37.29||1:36.64||1:36.57||1:36.52||+1.12s|
|12||21||Jacques Laffite||Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth||1:37.90||1:37.88||1:36.86||1:37.25||+1.46s|
|13||27||Rolf Stommelen||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:38.67||1:37.98||1:37.45||1:37.18||+1.78s|
|14||4||Patrick Depailler||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:38.14||1:37.59||1:37.25||1:27.41||+1.85s|
|15||9||Hans-Joachim Stuck||March-Ford Cosworth||1:39.85||1:40.02||1:37.84||1:37.37||+1.97s|
|16||16||Tom Pryce||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:38.37||1:38.06||1:37.39T||1:38.36||+1.99s|
|17||33||David Hobbs||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:43.84||1:39.89||1:38.63||1:37.41||+2.01s|
|19||23||Tim Schenken||Trojan-Ford Cosworth||1:38.46||1:38.15||1:38.01||1:37.43||+2.03s|
|20||10||Vittorio Brambilla||March-Ford Cosworth||1:39.24||1:39.50||1:37.85||1:37.47||+2.07s|
|21||26||Graham Hill||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:38.28||1:37.80||1:38.26||1:37.54||+2.14s|
|22||2||Jacky Ickx||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:38.31||1:38.45||1:38.09T||1:42.11||+2.69s|
|23||17||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:39.65||1:38.18T||1:38.17||1:38.92||+2.77s|
|24||35||Ian Ashley||Token-Ford Cosworth||1:41.41||1:38.67||1:40.11||1:38.86||+3.27s|
|25||30||Dieter Quester||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:44.63||1:41.30||1:39.63||1:38.88||+3.48s|
|DNQ||31||Ian Scheckter||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:52.77||—||1:39.21||1:39.17||+3.77s|
|DNQ||43||Leo Kinnunen||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:46.22||1:42.95||1:40.95||1:39.47||+4.07s|
|DNQ||18||Derek Bell||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:41.78||1:40.47||1:39.53||—||+4.13s|
|DNQ||22||Mike Wilds||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||1:40.89||1:39.96||1:40.34||—||+4.56s|
|DNQ||19||Jean-Pierre Jabouille||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:42.19||1:40.10||1:41.17||—||+4.70s|
|DNQ||32||Helmuth Koinigg||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:44.26||1:41.15||1:40.60||1:41.06||+5.20s|
|WD||25||Howden Ganley||Maki-Ford Cosworth||Injured|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- * Laffite started from the pitlane.
After two incredibly hot days of practice/qualifying, the organisers decided to schedule the start of the race for 3:00pm in hopes that the midday heat would have time to bleed off the circuit. A trouble free warm-up session was staged during the morning, before teams completed final preparations prior to sending their cars onto the grid. Twenty four of the twenty five qualifiers ultimately lined up on the grid for the start, as Jacques Laffite got stuck in the pits with a locked wheel nut and had to pushed back into the garage.
A strong start for second placed Carlos Reutemann broke the hearts of the home fans, for the Argentine surged past the Ferrari of Niki Lauda on the run to turn one, before throwing his Brabham into the corner to secure the lead. Carlos Pace pulled an identical manoeuvre to take third away from Emerson Fittipaldi, while James Hunt shot past Ronnie Peterson and Jody Scheckter to claim fifth. The rest of the field shot away from the line in a huge bundle, while Laffite's mechanics swarmed around the front of his car to try and cut away the locked nut.
End of the opening lap and Fittipaldi had been elbowed down the order, with Clay Regazzoni sweeping up the order to take his place behind Pace. Reutemann still lead from Lauda, while Hunt had Scheckter for company as he remained in fifth. It was an otherwise uneventful opening tour to the race, with overnight repairs to the final corner proving up to the task of resisting twenty four Grand Prix cars going at full tilt.
The following laps were incredibly tame, the only action of note coming when Regazzoni swung past Pace to claim third and join teammate Lauda in the hunt to catch Reutemann. Those three steadily pulled away from Pace and the rest as, elsewhere, Tom Pryce stopped in the pits with a misfire. Others in early strife included Graham Hill, in after just nine laps with a severe lack of front tyre grip, while Scheckter dropped out with an engine failure having endured a very quiet start to the race.
Out front a pattern quickly emerged, whereby Lauda would close right onto the back of Reutemann on the brakes, only to see the Brabham pull out of reach on the exit. Their stalemate was of little aid to Regazzoni whose early climb stalled in third, while Pace had been repromoted to fourth when Scheckter's engine blew up in his face. Elsewhere, tyre worries were beginning to affect the mid-pack as Hunt disappeared for a new front left on lap thirteen, followed by John Watson a couple of laps later in the privately entered Brabham.
Despite the stalemate out front, the pressure of the #12 Ferrari on the #7 Brabham was beginning to tell, although it was not the Argentine who was being affected. Ultimately, it was the Austrian who suffered, his car developing a misfire that dropped him out of the race on lap sixteen much to the dismay of the home fans. His demise was due to a damaged valve that could not be replaced despite the best efforts of the Ferrari mechanics, as Regazzoni inherited his fallen teammate's second position.
Almost unnoticed amid the Lauda dramas, Frank Williams' Iso-Marlboro crew finally completed the work on Laffite's car, despite the fact that it was now impossible for the Frenchman to complete the minium race distance to be classified. Regardless, the Frenchman's pace was immediately on a par with those in the points and even saw him threaten to unlap himself against several back markers. Elsewhere, Hunt and Watson were picking their way through the back markers after their early stops, while Pryce had spun and stalled during his recovery drive.
As other events came to the fore, Pace had somehow slipped behind Peterson and Fittipaldi, although the Swede and the Brazilian were unable to drop the Brabham meaning they were running nose-to-tail in a no thrills "fight" for third. A small resuffle saw Peterson drop behind Fittipaldi, before succumbing to a resurgent Pace a few laps later as the entire trio kept within striking distance of second placed Regazzoni. Then, suddenly, Pace and Peterson vaulted past the Ferrari to claim the final podium spots, moments after Fittipaldi suffered an engine failure that distracted Regazzoni as the Swiss watched the group behind in his mirrors.
It was therefore a Brabham one-two at the front of the field, with Pace quickly getting out of reach from Peterson who was briefly had to fend off the attentions of a wound up Regazzoni. Sadly the stirring sight for Bernie Ecclestone's team was short-lived, for Pace's race came to an end with a fuel leak to leave a distraught Brazilian in the pits. Peterson and Regazzoni were therefore left to spar for second, while Jacky Ickx was enjoying a quiet resurgence as he swung the #2 Lotus past Denny Hulme at the tail end of the points.
That move by Ickx left him right on the tail of Patrick Depailler, who was beginning to struggle with fatigue in an overheating Tyrrell cockpit. On lap 43 the Frenchman's increasingly wayward Tyrrell slid across the circuit, and as Depailler tried to get the car back under control he veered straight into the path of Ickx, who had no choice but to hit the side of the Tyrrell at near-full speed. Depailler was elimited on the spot, having had a hole punched into the Tyrrell's monocoque, while Ickx limped a fatally wounded Lotus into the pits with ruined suspension.
Regazzoni's lack of pace was ultimately revealed to have been a lack of tyre grip, with the Swiss racer stopping on lap 45 for a fresh left rear having dropped off the back of Peterson after Pace's demise. Unfortunately for him the Ferrari crew were not ready to receive him, and in the resulting chaos, Regazzoni lost enough time to drop outside of the points. He rejoined well behind sixth placed Watson, although he was soon put back among the scorers when Peterson's Lotus pulled off the circuit with a broken driveshaft.
The remaining laps were about the Regazzoni fight back, as he charged onto the back of Vittorio Brambilla and Watson, who were squabbling over fourth. Their fight had allowed Hunt to escape into a solid third place, while Hulme was already a lonely second once Peterson disappeared from the race. The soon-to-be three way fight for fourth therefore became the focus of attention for the 150,000 strong crowd, although many had lost interest with the demise of their newest hero Niki Lauda.
Into the closing stages and Watson finally made a move stick on Brambilla with three laps to go, several false starts having allowed Regazzoni to sweep onto the back of him. It took the Swiss racer until the end of the penultimate lap to take Brambilla's March and move into fifth, although Watson had already escaped up the road to secure fourth. They were over a minute behind dominant race winner Reutemann, while Hulme and Hunt were in an ultimately lonely second and third places for McLaren and Hesketh.
The full results for the 1974 Austrian Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Stuck retired before the end of the race but could still be classified as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- † Ashley and Laffite, in contrast, could not be classified as they failed to complete 90% of the race distance.
- Formula One debut for Dieter Quester.
- Debut for Helmuth Koinigg.
- First race for David Hobbs since the 1971 United States Grand Prix.
- Second career win for Carlos Reutemann.
- Brabham claimed their fifteenth victory as a constructor.
- Denny Hulme earned his 33rd and final podium finish.
- James Hunt claimed the 200th podium spot for a Ford Cosworth engine.
- Maiden points finish for Vittorio Brambilla.
As Championship leader Clay Regazzoni was the only one of the four title pretenders to score in Austria, the Swiss racer would head to Monza with an inflated five point lead, with just three races to go. Jody Scheckter remained in second, while Niki Lauda was eight points back in third, still a point ahead of Emerson Fittipaldi. Race winner Carlos Reutemann was still mathematically in the hunt, having overtaken Ronnie Peterson, although with a 23 point deficit to Regazzoni the Argentine would need a miracle to take the crown.
In the International Cup for Manufacturers' it was still advantage Ferrari, although McLaren-Ford Cosworth had managed to reduce the gap to four points courtesy of Denny Hulme's late podium. Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth were still within striking distance, albeit now fourteen points behind, while Lotus-Ford Cosworth were officially out of the fight in fourth. Elsewhere, Hesketh-Ford Cosworth climbed up the order, and looked set to take the fallen giants BRM, while Lola-Ford Cosworth and Iso-Marlboro-Ford Cosworth held station at the foot of the table.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: AUSTRIAN GP, 1974', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr247.html, (Accessed 04/05/2017)
- D.S.J., 'The Austrian Grand Prix: Reutemann all the way', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/10/1974), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/october-1974/44/austrian-grand-prix#, (Accessed 05/05/2017)
- 'Austria 1974: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1974/autriche/engages.aspx, (Accessed 04/05/2017)
- 'Austria 1974: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1974/autriche/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 05/05/2017)
- 'Austria 1974: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1974/autriche/classement.aspx, (Accessed 06/05/2017)
|V T E||Austrian Grand Prix|
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