The 1974 German Grand Prix, otherwise known as the XXXVI Großer Preis von Deutschland and the 1974 European Grand Prix, was the eleventh round of the 1974 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Nürburgring on the 4th August 1974. The weekend would be marred by a career ending accidents for Howden Ganley, during practice, and Mike Hailwood in the race, despite further safety improvements to the fourteen mile circuit.
The Kiwi's career came to an end at Hatzenbach during the first session of the weekend, a suspension failure at high speed meaning he could do little to prevent his Maki from destroying itself in the trees. Fortunately the rest of practice/qualifying passed without any incidents of a similar size, with Niki Lauda sweeping to pole once again, ahead of Ferrari teammate Clay Regazzoni.
A poor start from Lauda allowed teammate Regazzoni to sprint into the lead, while also leaving the Austrian vulnerable to an attack by third placed Jody Scheckter into turn one. Behind, title pretender Emerson Fittipaldi failed to pull away cleanly from the grid, and in the resulting squeezed to get around the slow McLaren, the sister car of Denny Hulme duly charged into the back of him. Hulme was out on the spot, while Fittipaldi limped into retirement after a brief visit to the pits with a puncture.
The long opening lap at the Nürburgring saw the race ultimately decided, as Lauda tried to re-pass Scheckter, misjudge the gap and bounce of the Tyrrell before sliding into the barriers. The South African continued but Regazzoni had already escaped up the road, while Carlos Reutemann and Jochen Mass battled for third.
Mass' strong start to the race in the Surtees saw him eventually fall behind Jacky Ickx and Ronnie Peterson in the two Loti, although the German did scrap with the Swede for a small while. Their fight rather stole the show until Mass retired, while a small mistake from Ickx allowed the Swede to move back ahead.
There would also be a late change for sixth, as Mike Hailwood inherited the position from Mass, only to crash at Pflanzgarten on the penultimate lap. Tom Pryce duly swept past to claim the final points paying position, but still had to survive another lap around the Nordschleife.
Out front, meanwhile, Regazzoni remained unchallenged to the chequered flag, collecting his second win of his career and the lead in the World Championship. Scheckter claimed fastest lap and second place, moving into the same position in the title standings, while Reutemann had a relatively quiet afternoon to finish third. Peterson and Ickx were next, while Pryce was a jubilant sixth for Shadow to pick up his first World Championship point.
The ever fearsome Nürburgring played host to the German Grand Prix once again in 1974, a surprise to some given the relatively recent demise of Spa-Francorchamps as host of the Belgian Grand Prix. The circuit itself, however, was being updated every year to keep the F1 circus visiting each year, with resurfacing in some areas, widening in others, and refitted facilities, the Eifel circuit's future in F1 was in no doubt. In doubt was the number of starters after a 31 driver strong entry list was submitted, although any limit to the grid would seem strange given that the organisers had been inviting Formula Two cars as recently as 1969.
The reason for the recent increase in entries was the increasing presence of the single car constructors, who once again turned up in significant numbers with backing from the FIA. Ensign and Trojan were the most familiar of them, bringing their Australian drivers Vern Schuppan and Tim Schenken. Token also arrived, fielding promising Formula Three racer Ian Ashley, while Maki were able to field Howden Ganley for the second race in a row.
Completing the single car efforts was Chris Amon's self built chassis, although the Kiwi brought Australian racer Larry Perkins along to test out the updated design. After its last appearance in Monte Carlo, the Amon had been refitted with inboard front brakes, mid-mounted radiators and a new set of wings, although Amon was keen to point out that these were only the headlines of their development. Time would tell whether the changes would have any real impact, with Amon and his crew expected to be among the better of the "kit-car" teams.
There were changes at some of the smaller full season efforts too, with Frank Williams fielding French F2 star Jacques Laffite alongside Arturo Merzario. Guy Edwards, meanwhile, was back to full fitness after his Formula 5000 accident before the British Grand Prix, with the Brit rejoining team boss Graham Hill in the Lolas. Surtees also had a relatively fresh line-up, Derek Bell deciding to spend the rest of the season with the team alongside Jochen Mass, in a pair of cars sporting new full width front wings.
However, it was business as usual for Championship leaders McLaren, whom fielded their trio of Emerson Fittipaldi, Denny Hulme and Mike Hailwood and armed them with five M23s. Fittipaldi would use the newest car, which was sporting a new rear suspension design, with a similar update applied to the "Team Texaco" spare. Both Fittipaldi and Hulme would share that car, while Hailwood continued with the pair of M23s still running in Yardley colours.
Rivals Ferrari, in contrast, decided to go experimental at the Nordschleife, deciding to reverse the direction of their vee shaped rear wings. The edge of the vee had originally pointed towards the rear, but after some private testing in Italy, the Italian squad found that they gained some performance by running the wing with the vee forwards. The change was made to both Niki Lauda's car and the spare, while Clay Regazzoni's brand new car arrived in the old layout.
Elsewhere, BRM had their trio of Frenchmen at the wheel of three different specs of BRMs, with Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Henri Pescarolo in the newest P201s, while François Migault continued to use the last of the P160s. Lotus decided it was finally time to try out their 76 in a race after their recent renaissance with the 72E, although only Ronnie Peterson would run a 76. The Swede ultimately chose to use his 72E, however, meaning he and Jacky Ickx would continue to use a car that was in its fifth season of racing.
Tyrrell had a trio of cars for Patrick Depailler and Jody Scheckter, with the latter getting priority on the newest of the three 007s, which was brought as a spare. Brabham had been busy building a fourth BT44 for their customer team Hexagon of Highgate, although John Watson was stuck with his old BT42 in the Eifel Mountains. A second BT42 was entered by Scuderia Finotto for local racer Manfred Mohr, who never arrived, while the factory BT44s of Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace arrived in their usual pristine white paint.
March had no real changes ahead of the battle at the Nordschleife, yet lead driver Hans-Joachim Stuck was optimistic ahead of his home race. Teammate Vittorio Brambilla seemed content, although they were expected to be overshadowed by their old customer team Hesketh who had their newest car out for James Hunt. Completing the full season field were the two black Shadows for Tom Pryce and Jean-Pierre Jarier, with both cars getting reinforced chassis after their mutual failures at Brands Hatch.
After the late shuffle to the order after the British Grand Prix, Lauda's advantage at the top of the World Championship standings had been cut to a single point. Fittipaldi was the man to close the gap after finishing second, while Scheckter continued to entertain hopes of the title by claiming victory. The South African found himself ahead of Regazzoni, three points off the lead fight, with a sixteen point gap back to fifth placed Peterson.
McLaren-Ford Cosworth and Ferrari swapped places in the International Cup for Manufacturers' standings in Brands Hatch, the former retaking the lead with Fittipaldi's second place. Their private scrap since the start of the season was now being briefly threatened by the good form of Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth, Scheckter's victory getting them within ten points of the leaders, although the Surrey squad remained dark horses for the time being. Lotus-Ford Cosworth looked to have secured themselves in fourth, bad luck and poor reliability costing them points once again, while Brabham-Ford Cosworth moved into the top five.
The full entry list for the 1974 German Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice/qualifying would be staged over Friday and Saturday at the Nürburgring, with a single session each day lasting for three hours. Those two sessions would have a brief break at the halfway point to allow stranded cars to be recovered from the fourteen mile circuit, for no amount of polishing could make the Nordschleife anything less of a punishment for a racing car. In terms of target times, Ferrari were expecting break the seven minute barrier, a feat achieved by Niki Lauda during a private test earlier in the year.
It was a dry Friday morning as the drivers flooded onto the circuit for the first session of the weekend, with almost everyone heading out to complete a run on the "South Loop". This "loop" incorporated the pit straight, first corner, and the short run to the Nordkehre, at which point the drivers could turn right before entering the Hatzenbach complex to start a run on the full Eifel circuit. This handy cut through, in existence since the first Formula One race at the Nürburgring meant that cars could complete a shakedown before venturing onto the full Nordschleife circuit, minimising the possibility of getting stranded elsewhere on the Eifel mountain and have to wait to be picked up.
A steady trickle of drivers ventured over the bridge at Hatzenbach at the end of the first hour, with most of the field completing at least one lap of the Nürburgring before the break. The exception proved to be an unfortunate Howden Ganley, whose Maki was proving decidedly troublesome on the "Loop". The issue was cured and Ganley sent out to complete a full lap, only to suffer a suspension failure as he charged over the bridge at Hatzenbach that threw the car into the Armco barriers a few yards away. The Maki was a wreck, the front end ripped apart by the force of the impact, while Ganley needed medical assistance to get out of the car, before heading to hospital with both of his ankles broken.
The break was called early so that Ganley could be extracted, a decision which proved fortunate for Hans-Joachim Stuck whose Ford Cosworth engine had expired at Adenau. Afterwards the field headed back out to tackled the Nordschleife again, although there were more shattered Grand Prix cars to be recovered before the end of the session. The first, and most spectacular, was Mike Hailwood's ruined McLaren after it had suffered a suspension failure and slammed into the barriers on the rise before the start/finish straight. Ronnie Peterson failed to come around at the end of the session when a wheel failed on the run to the Karussell, sending the Swede into some catch fencing, while Chris Amon took almost half an hour to get round with his engine cutting out every couple of miles.
Time wise, it was a positive day for pre-race favourites Ferrari, with Lauda ending the day in provisional pole at 7:00.8, while Clay Regazzoni claimed a 7:01.1 to finish second. It was a pretty decisive gap back to third placed Jody Scheckter, a 7:03.4 seeing him end the day as best of the Cosworth powered cars for Tyrrell, with everyone else struggling to break 7:10.0. There was also a lot of work for the mechanics to complete overnight too, although Maki, Lotus and McLaren were quick to decide it was not worth rebuilding the wrecked racers of Ganley, Peterson and Hailwood.
Yet, come Saturday morning, Peterson was back out in his 72, despite the fact that the Norfolk squad had only brought a single 76 as a spare. Incredibly, Colin Chapman had decided to salvage the monocoque, rear suspension, engine and gearbox from the 72, and mate them with the front end of the unloved 76 to create a technically interesting "special" for the Swede. Given that the "Ringmeister" Jacky Ickx seemed to be under-performing at his favourite, Team Lotus needed Peterson to bond with the hybrid #1 car very quickly if they were to truly challenge the scarlet cars at the top of the time sheets.
Elsewhere, the Maki mechanics had packed up the remains of Ganley's car and began the long trek back to Japan, while the Amon crew had completely rebuilt the team boss' car overnight, only to have him put F1 rookie Larry Perkins in the seat for the rest of the weekend. The flawless Ferraris, meanwhile, were looking set to dominate the timesheets on Saturday and smash the seven minute barrier, only to have Regazzoni's engine expire with a huge gout of flame out of the exhausts. The Swiss racer was quick to hit the master electric switch and shut the car off, his throttle having jammed wide open after a fuel metering issue, and was fortunate to be heading down the Dottinger Hohe when the unit failed. He would be towed back along with several other victims of the Nordschleife during the mid-session break, which ended with the first of a series of showers that concluded qualifying for the German Grand Prix.
A quirk of the Nordschleife's timekeeping equipment meant that any driver who failed to improve on a time set earlier in the session had their latest effort go unrecorded. That fact, combined with the Saturday afternoon downpour, meant that it was Lauda who would start from pole ahead of teammate Regazzoni based entirely on their best Friday efforts. Emerson Fittipaldi moved into third late on Saturday morning ahead of a non-improving Scheckter, while Carlos Reutemann and Patrick Depailler shared the third row.
The full qualifying results for the 1974 German Grand Prix are outlined below:
- 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.
- * As Watson and Beltoise set times that matched to the nearest tenth, the timekeepers provided lap times to the nearest thousandth.
- † Ashley was to be allowed to join the back of the grid as "first reserve" after qualifying.
- † First Reserve.
Sunday dawned with a thick band of cloud hanging over the Eifel Mountains, although the threat of rain did little to deter over a hundred thousand fans from gathering around the fourteen mile circuit. After a trouble free warm-up session the FIA held a meeting of the team bosses to come up with a solution if the race was affected by rain, with an agreement to end the race prematurely if rain fell after the eighth lap. Any stoppage before the eight lap mark would see the race restarted when the circuit was deemed safe, although as the twenty-five qualifiers pulled onto the grid for the start the circuit was still bone dry.
A recent trend of start-line troubles had seen several accidents before the first corner in 1974, and when third placed Emerson Fittipaldi struggled to find a gear the German Grand Prix became the latest race to be affected. Patrick Depailler dodged around the #5 McLaren with lightning fast reactions, a move that Denny Hulme tried to mimic a few moments later. Unfortunately for him a fast starting Jacky Ickx had jinked into the space the Kiwi was about to occupy, and in reacting to the Belgian, Hulme swung back into the path of teammate Fittipaldi, leaving both Team Texaco McLarens with damaged suspension.
Hulme was out on the spot, and left stranded in the middle of the start/finish straight, although the rest of the field managed to squeeze past the #6 McLaren without incident. Fittipaldi finally found a gear once the pack had disappeared and duly roared off to join the fray, while first reserve Ian Ashley screamed out of the pits to take Hulme's spot in the field. The Brit's Token had suffered a suspension breaking puncture on the warm-up lap, although quick work from his mechanics meant that he could join onto the back of the grid as the starter waved the field away, despite the fact that all twenty-five qualifiers had officially started.
Out front, meanwhile, pole sitter Niki Lauda had had a miserable start, the only reason the Austrian had only dropped down to third being the McLaren accident behind. Clay Regazzoni and Jody Scheckter had shot past the #12 Ferrari into the Sudkehre, although as the leaders approached the entry to the Nordschleife, the Austrian was mounting a comeback. A dive on the brakes and Lauda was up the inside of Scheckter, only to lose control and spear onto the grass, before glancing off the side of the Tyrrell to complete his slide into the barriers.
The collision behind left Lauda with a ruined front end and Scheckter with a slightly misaligned rear corner, although the South African racer was able to continue in second. It also allowed Regazzoni to escape up the road to an unassailable lead during the opening tour of the Nürburgring, the #11 Ferrari completing a standing start lap of the Nordschleife in 7:15.0. Behind Scheckter came Carlos Reutemann, Ronnie Peterson and Jacky Ickx, while Tom Pryce led the next batch of cars that had been delayed by the McLaren clash.
The drama of the opening lap was not over, however, for Hulme was back in action having jumped into one of the spare McLarens before the officials could stop him. Fittipaldi, meanwhile, had made it halfway round the opening tour before suffering a puncture, caused by the original collision, meaning he dropped well away from the pack he had just caught. John Watson was also out of the action after a suspension failure, while Jacques Laffite seemed to have picked up a similar issue in the Iso-Marlboro.
The following laps saw Reutemann close right onto the back of Scheckter, with the wounded Tyrrell and the factory Brabham entering into a private duel for second. Behind them, Jochen Mass was a surprise fourth after battling past Peterson's hybrid Lotus on the second tour, while Depailler, Ickx and Mike Hailwood fought for the final point. Arturo Merzario led the next batch of cars, Fittipaldi retured with suspension damage, and Hulme was finally disqualified for using his spare car without permission.
As the race wore on towards half distance the fight between Scheckter and Reutemann provided the only real entertainment, for mechanical woes were beginning to break up the other fights. Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Merzario dropped out while fighting in the top ten, the former falling to an engine failure while the Italian had a throttle link break. Depailler was next, skating into the barriers after getting caught out by a late defensive move by Hailwood saw the McLaren drift right across the path of the Tyrrell.
Indeed, the latter incident was part of a five way fight for fourth, as Mass' pace was not as strong as it had been during the opening laps. The German duly became a bottleneck, and as Hailwood and Depailler came together at the back of the group, Ickx and Peterson swept past the Surtees for fourth and fifth. One lap later and the now four car group had shuffled again, with Ickx ahead of Mass, Hailwood and then Peterson as a light shower swept across the Eifel mountains.
Fortunately, the shower was incredibly light, only enough to make a couple of the Nordschleife's slower corners slightly more tricky than they were in the dry. As such there was no threat of the race being stopped before it was scheduled to, although for race leader Regazzoni this was of little concern. The Swiss racer hardly needed to push to pull away from the duelling Scheckter and Reutemann behind, and was consistently lapping around the old lap record of 1:11.4 without straining his Ferrari at all.
Into the closing stages and Mass' excellent race came to an end in a cloud of smoke, his Ford Cosworth engine expiring in dramatic fashion as he charged out onto the Dottinger Hohe with the two Loti and Hailwood. His demise left Pryce on the verge of the points, the Brit having swept past teammate Jean-Pierre Jarier as part of a mid-race charge through the field, while Hans-Joachim Stuck was promoted into the top ten at his home race. There were also some last minute visits to the pits, James Hunt dropping out of the race with a gearbox failure, before Ashley stopped to have his second punctured tyre of the afternoon replaced on his Token.
A dramatic final lap saw Reutemann's aerofoil begin to fall apart, meaning the Brabham driver had to limp around the Nordschelife to stay on the circuit at all. Scheckter had managed to escape over the preceeding laps, setting a new lap record in the process, although race leader Regazzoni was untroubled by the South African's sudden improvement. The two Loti were then on their own for fourth and fifth, Peterson ahead of Ickx, while Pryce started the final tour in sixth for Shadow.
Missing from this list was Hailwood, who had disappeared from the race order partway through the penultimate lap. The Brit's McLaren was ultimately found in pieces along the road from the jump at Pfanzgarten, Hailwood stuck in the remains of the cockpit with badly broken legs. It was later revealed that the McLaren had suffered a suspension failure when landing back on the circuit after taking off on the bump, which pitched Hailwood straight into the Armco barriers. It ultimately proved to be a career ending accident for the Brit, and ended a rather miserable day for McLaren on the Nordschleife.
After that the race was run, with a jubilant Ferrari team, unknowing of Hailwood's huge accident, swarming to the pitwall to greet race winner Regazzoni, who had dominated the race to take the Championship lead. Scheckter was a very lonely second after the final tour, while Peterson just missed out on the podium, having closed to within a second of the wounded Brabham piloted by Reutemann. The second Lotus of Ickx was fifth ahead of Pryce, while Stuck took Jarier on the final tour for seventh.
The full results for the 1974 German Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Hulme was disqualified after crashing out of the race, for using his spare car instead of using the car he had originally started the race with.
- Maiden Grand Prix starts for Ian Ashley and Jacques Laffite.
- Howden Ganley entered a Grand Prix for the final time.
- First entry for Larry Perkins.
- Manfred Mohr's one and only entry as a driver.
- Fiftieth (and final) Grand Prix start by Mike Hailwood.
- Clay Regazzoni claimed his second career win.
- It was also the Swiss racer's first win since the 1970 Italian Grand Prix.
- Ferrari claimed their 52nd victory as both a constructor and engine supplier.
- Carlos Reutemann earned the 60th podium finish for Brabham as a constructor.
- Maiden points finish for Tom Pryce.
A second career victory for Clay Regazzoni 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. Jody Scheckter had also made progress, leaping into second after his continued good form, while Niki Lauda and Emerson 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 Ronnie 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 Tom Pryce's maiden points finish.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: GERMAN GP, 1974', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr246.html, (Accessed 30/04/2017)
- D.S.J., 'The German Grand Prix: Well done Regazzoni', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/09/1974), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/september-1974/21/german-grand-prix, (Accessed 30/04/2017)
- 'Germany 1974: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1974/allemagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 30/04/2017)
- 'Germany 1974: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1974/allemagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 30/04/2017)
- 'Germany 1974: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1974/allemagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 29/04/2017)
|V T E||German Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Nürburgring (1951–1954, 1956–1958, 1960–1969, 1971–1976, 1985, 2008–2013*), AVUS (1959), Hockenheimring (1970, 1977–1984, 1986–2006, 2008–2014*, 2016, 2018–2019)|
|Races||1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 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|
|* Nürburgring and Hockenheimring alternated between each other during these years.|
|V T E||European Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Brands Hatch (1983, 1985), Nürburgring (1984, 1995–1996, 1999–2007), Donington (1993), Jerez (1994, 1997), Valencia (2008–2012), Baku (2016)|
|Races||1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969–1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978–1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986–1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013–2015 • 2016|
|Non-Championship Races||1923 • 1924 • 1925 • 1926 • 1927 • 1928 • 1929 • 1930 • 1931–1946 • 1947 • 1948 • 1949|
|v·d·e||Nominate this page for Featured Article|