The 1975 German Grand Prix, otherwise known as the XXXVII Großer Preis von Deutschland, was the eleventh round of the 1975 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Nürburgring on the 3rd August 1975. It would be a typically torturous trip to the Eifel Mountains for the F1 circus, with a high drop-out rate across both practice and race.
Qualifying had seen Niki Lauda produce one of the greatest pole laps of all time, a 6:58.6 making him the fastest man to ever lap the Nordschleife circuit before it was remodeled in the early 1980s. Carlos Pace would share the front row, just falling shy of the seven minute barrier, although these efforts were overshadowed by a huge accident for Ian Ashley at Pflanzgarten, who had to be extracted from his Williams with severe ankle injuries.
It was pole sitting Lauda who took the lead at the start of the race on Sunday, fending off a half challenge from Pace before disappearing off onto the Nordschleife for the first time. Third place starter Jody Scheckter, in contrast, went to the back of the field after making a mess of the start, leaving teammate Patrick Depailler to chase after Pace and Lauda.
The opening lap would see the second big accident of thje weekend, as Jochen Mass' McLaren was thrown into the barriers at Fuchsrohe by a front tyre failure. As he clambered out unharmed, Mark Donohue had an identical failure but somehow kept his March on the tarmac, while Ronnie Peterson crawled back to the pits with terminal gearbox failure.
The order soon settled as the opening laps ticked past, with Lauda leading from Depailler, Pace, Carlos Reutemann and Clay Regazzoni. Emerson Fittipaldi was briefly up with them until he suffered a puncture, before ultimately retiring with suspension failure as a result, while the rest of field was thinned by mechanical strife.
It took until the fifth lap for the plague of attrition to hit the front of the field, as Pace dropped out of the running with a suspension destroying puncture. Scheckter, meanwhile, had just got the lead pack in his sights before his Tyrrell threw itself into the wall with a puncture, just before Depailler dropped out of contention with collapsed suspension. Regazzoni was therefore promoted to second having elbowed out Reutemann, although his time behind Lauda was shortlived as his Ferrari F12 expired in a cloud of steam.
It seemed inevitable that there would be more failures as the race entered its final stages, and so there was no real surprise when Lauda came crawling into the pits as the latest victim of a puncture. Reutemann duly inherited the lead with James Hunt hunting him down, only for the Hesketh to suffer a hub failure, while third placed Tom Pryce had to slow as fuel was leaking into his cockpit.
Reutemann duly cruised home to claim victory for Brabham after fourteen laps, over a minute and a half ahead of Jacques Laffite, who scored his and Williams' first podium finish by taking Pryce in the closing stages. Lauda also took the Welshman to claim third and extend his Championship lead, with Pryce, Alan Jones and Gijs van Lennep completing the points.
The Nürburgring had been gradually brought up to the safety standards of other smaller circuits in the early 1970s, although all of the minor changes made to the Nordschleife each season only made the circuit faster. 1975 had seen some more barrier rails erected and trees moved further from the side of the circuit, while some resurfacing work had been completed after the Karussell. Yet, while the Nordschleife was looking more refined than ever, it would be hosting a Formula One field still carrying bruises from a brutal British Grand Prix a fortnight earlier.
The big victims at Silverstone had proved to be Team Surtees, whom had lost both cars to heavy damage in the closing stages and lacked the budget to repair them quickly. Lead driver John Watson was therefore loaned out to Team Lotus for the German Grand Prix, with the Ulsterman slotted in the #6 car alongside Ronnie Peterson. Post-Silverstone repairs at Lotus, however, had forced them to use all of their experimental parts, and so Watson would race a 72 designated as a "72F".
Elsewhere, the relatively unscathed Ferrari team arrived with a familiar trio of cars, Clay Regazzoni and Niki Lauda hoping that the 312T would be suited to the Eifel Mountain torture. Brabham arrived with a trio of ever smart cars for Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace, as did McLaren for Emerson Fittipaldi and Jochen Mass. Another three car/two driver effort were Shadow, who were relieved that Jean-Pierre Jarier had been deemed fit to take on the Nordschleife after a knock to the head at Silverstone. Tom Pryce would also race as usual.
March used the money from selling a car to Penske to fund their post-Silverstone rebuilds, meaning they could once again field a trio of Vittorio Brambilla, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Lella Lombardi. The Penske team had also had Mark Donohue's 751 rebuilt in time to take on the Nordschleife, while rivals Parnelli had had little to do on Mario Andretti's pair of cars. Other non-European entries arrived in the form of Wilson Fittipaldi's self built creation, and the Maki in the hands of Tony Trimmer.
Hesketh, meanwhile, were back up to a two car entry, two chassis arriving for James Hunt while the older 308 was loaned out to Austrian journalist Harald Ertl, whom had sponsorship from the Warsteiner Brewery. Williams were also back up to a two car effort, drafting in Ian Ashley to actually partner Jacques Laffite. Hill arrived with Tony Brise and Alan Jones in the hotseats yet again, the former still carrying some of his Silverstone facial wounds, while the latter was simply happy to have finished a fortnight earlier.
Tyrrell had their usual pair of Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler in action, as hopes of entering a third driver disappeared after Silverstone. Completing the field should have been the BRM of Bob Evans, which actually made it to the circuit, only to be loaded back into the transporter within minutes of its arrival.
Victory in Silverstone had moved Emerson Fittipaldi into second place in the hunt for the World Championship in 1975, although he was still fourteen points off the lead. Lauda had remained the man to beat in-spite his first non-score in five races, with the rest of the field running out of time to close the gap. Reutemann and Hunt arrived in Germany level on points for third, while Pace completed the top five.
Ferrari would lead the International Cup for Manufacturers' charge into Germany, although their non-score at Silverstone had allowed Brabham-Ford Cosworth to close the gap to eight points. McLaren-Ford Cosworth had also edged closer, moving within three points of Brabham, while Hesketh-Ford Cosworth cemented their position in fourth ahead of Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth. March-Ford Cosworth, meanwhile, had moved ahead of Penske-Ford Cosworth thanks to Mark Donohue's recent change of allegiances.
The full entry list for the 1975 German Grand Prix is outlined below:
Other than a brief shower to open the weekend, the Eifel Mountains were uncharacteristically warm for the German Grand Prix weekend, with practice/qualifying held in particularly pleasant weather. Four sessions were scheduled ahead of the race on Sunday, with two sessions of two hours apiece staged on both Friday and Saturday. As ever, the constant revisions to the Nordschleife meant that times were once again expected to plummet, meaning Niki Lauda's 1974 pole time of 7:00.8 was the target for the "aces" at the front of the pack.
The first session on Friday would see the conventional start to a weekend at the Nürburgring, as drivers completed multiple "install" laps around "the loop" at the start of the lap. Because of the Nordschleife's gargantuan size, the organisers allowed drivers to use a small section of the circuit, running past the pits to Sudkurve before looping back to the Nordkurve at the back of the paddock. At this point drivers had the option of cutting back onto the start/finish straight, or taking the "North Curve" properly and disappear off onto a full lap of the Nordschleife.
With most of Friday morning spent, circuit record holder Lauda was the first to set a serious time of the Nordschleife, quickly getting down to a 7:00.6. As he set the standard, Patrick Depailler hit trouble in his Tyrrell, a suspension failure leaving him stranded on the Nordschleife for the rest of the morning. Or at least it should have, but the resourceful Frenchman put his engineering skills to the test by borrowing a spectator's tool kit, slackened off the shock-absorber on the diagonally opposite corner, before tightening up the opposing pair. The result was a lop-sided Tyrrell with the damaged corner hanging in the air, but Depailler did manage to limp back to the pits for repairs.
Most of the field had completed a representative lap around the Nordschleife before the lunch break, meaning the afternoon session on Friday was far more relaxed than usual. Pace setters Lauda and teammate Clay Regazzoni spent the afternoon focusing on their race setups, meaning it was Vittorio Brambilla who ended the session fastest, but was almost six seconds slower then Lauda's morning effort. Others to stand out were John Watson in his loaned Lotus, beating temporary teammate Ronnie Peterson's morning effort, while Jochen Mass showed some strong race pace ahead of his home race.
However, things would not go so well for the German on Saturday morning, as the #2 McLaren went flying into the trees towards the end of the session, leaving Mass with the spare. As he awaited a lift back to the pits, Regazzoni set the pace with a 7:01.6 to share the provisional front row with Lauda, with the rest of the field struggling to break 7:03.0. Indeed, the only men other than the two Ferraris to break that barrier would be Emerson Fittipaldi, Jody Scheckter, and local racer Hans-Joachim Stuck.
The final session would see Ferrari almost get caught out by the chasing pack, as the two Tyrrells of Scheckter and Depailler went got inbetween the two scarlet cars towards the end of the session. Regazzoni was unable to respond, but Lauda somewhat stole the show, becoming the first man to officially lap the Nordschleife in under seven minutes, recording a 6:58.6 right at the end of the session. His efforts overshadowed an equally late run by Carlos Pace for Brabham, as the Brazilian came from nowhere to record a 7:00.0 lap, putting him second on the grid.
The full qualifying results for the 1975 German Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||8||Carlos Pace||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||7:26.7||7:13.3||7:07.6||7:00.0||+1.4s|
|3||3||Jody Scheckter||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||7:11.6||7:07.2||7:02.3||7:01.3||+2.7s|
|4||4||Patrick Depailler||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||—||8:12.5||7:02.7||7:01.4||+2.8s|
|6||2||Jochen Mass||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||7:01.8||7:06.3||7:04.2||7:03.0T||+3.2s|
|7||10||Hans-Joachim Stuck||March-Ford Cosworth||7:08.5||7:08.3||7:02.9||7:02.1||+3.5s|
|8||1||Emerson Fittipaldi||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||7:02.7||7:14.7||7:02.8||7:03.6||+4.1s|
|9||24||James Hunt||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||7:13.7||7:14.6||7:04.2||7:02.7||+4.1s|
|10||7||Carlos Reutemann||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||7:21.8||7:10.8||7:04.0||7:04.7||+5.4s|
|11||9||Vittorio Brambilla||March-Ford Cosworth||7:15.5||7:06.0||7:10.9||7:07.4||+7.4s|
|12||17||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||7:15.1||7:07.6||7:07.1||7:16.6||+8.5s|
|13||27||Mario Andretti||Parnelli-Ford Cosworth||7:14.9||7:16.6||7:08.3||7:08.2||+9.6s|
|14||6||John Watson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||7:14.1||7:13.3||7:09.4||7:14.1||+10.8s|
|15||21||Jacques Laffite||Williams-Ford Cosworth||7:20.3||7:22.5||7:10.8||7:10.0||+11.4s|
|16||16||Tom Pryce||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||7:12.2||7:25.7||7:10.1T||7:25.5T||+11.5s|
|17||23||Tony Brise||Hill-Ford Cosworth||7:21.3||7:16.2T||7:13.3T||7:10.9||+12.3s|
|18||5||Ronnie Peterson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||7:13.3||—||7:11.6||7:12.1||+13.0s|
|19||28||Mark Donohue||March-Ford Cosworth||7:26.6||7:27.6||7:18.9||7:11.8||+13.2s|
|20*||20||Ian Ashley||Williams-Ford Cosworth||7:26.3||7:21.8||7:15.9||7:18.7||+17.3s|
|21||22||Alan Jones||Hill-Ford Cosworth||7:41.3||7:43.7||7:18.6||7:19.3||+20.0s|
|22||30||Wilson Fittipaldi||Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth||7:21.5||7:27.3||7:22.0||7:19.1||+20.5s|
|23||25||Harald Ertl||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||7:32.0||7:28.8||7:19.5||7:30.5||+20.9s|
|24||19||Gijs van Lennep||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||7:40.2||7:28.1||7:20.4||7:25.0||+21.8s|
|25||29||Lella Lombardi||March-Ford Cosworth||7:42.3||7:51.2||7:36.4||7:44.5||+37.8s|
|DNQ||35||Tony Trimmer||Maki-Ford Cosworth||8:50.4||8:24.1||7:53.4||7:43.1||+44.5s|
- 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.
- * Ashley was unable to take the start of the race due to his accident in qualifying
|______________||Gijs van Lennep|
- * Ashley was unable to start the race due to his injuries from qualifying.
Sunday proved to be a cloudless day for the race around the Nürburgring, drawing a reported 400,000 strong crowd to the Eifel Mountains before the start. The thirty minute warm-up session saw everyone bar Carlos Pace and Harald Ertl complete a full lap, although they would join the twenty-two drivers to complete a lap that morning on the grid. The only absentees from the start would be Ian Ashley, whose Williams was beyond repair, and Tony Trimmer who had proved too slow to be safely considered.
Given his performance in qualifying there was little surprise when pole sitter Niki Lauda shot off into the lead at the start, leaving Pace to fend off a fast starting Patrick Depailler. Jody Scheckter, meanwhile, mistimed his start and burned out his clutch causing him to drop towards the back of the field. Ronnie Peterson had a similar issue in the Lotus, although his slipping clutch meant he was left behind completely as the rest thundered into Sudkurve.
Onto the Nordschleife for the first time and it was Lauda leading from Depailler and Pace, the Frenchman having elbowed his way past into Nordkurve. Behind them came Carlos Reutemann and Clay Regazzoni duelling for fourth, while Jochen Mass led the rest of the field through until Fuchsrohe. It was at that point that the #2 McLaren suffered a front tyre failure, putting Mass heavily into the barriers as the rest thundered through the debris field. Fortunately, Mass was able to escape the destroyed M23 without injury.
The rest of the opening tour proved to be less eventful, as Lauda led Depailler, Pace, Reutemann, Regazzoni and the rest past the line. Scheckter was making his way up the order smartly after his messy start, already back into the top fifteen, while Peterson crawled round at the back of the field to have his clutch looked at. While he was receiving attention, Mark Donohue dragged his customer March into the pits having picked up a puncture from the Mass wreckage.
Suspension damage soon became the issue throughout the field, as Emerson Fittipaldi became the next victim of his teammate's early accident and picked up a puncture. As he limped round, Donohue charged out of the pits, only to suffer a rather more spectacular puncture en-route to Aremberg, littering the circuit with rubber chunks. The failure also destroyed the March's rear suspension, leaving him stuck at the side of the road for the rest of the afternoon.
Fittipaldi rejoined well of the back of the pack, but called time on his race with a bad vibration, a symptom of imminent suspension failure. Peterson had already called time on his race with an incurable clutch slip, while the sister car of John Watson lasted until lap three when his suspension collapsed. Indeed, the Ulsterman had been heading towards Aremberg when his 72F threw itself across the track, narrowly avoiding Donohue's abandoned March, although he slid right into the path of Scheckter. Fortunately, the South African racer was on top form in the midst of his recovery drive, and miraculously found a space past the terminally damaged Lotus.
Out front, meanwhile, it was Regazzoni who provided the entertainment, moving past Reutemann and Pace before beginning to hunt down second placed Depailler. As he disappeared up the road, Pace's race effectively came to an end when he picked up a puncture, which, like most of those that came before, would damage the Brazilian's suspension to the point of failure. He duly crawled back to the pits for a new tyre, only to stop out on circuit barely a lap later with collapsed suspension.
Back with the leaders, and Depailler was nothing short of stunning in his fight with Lauda, remaining glued to the back of the Ferrari regardless of whether the pair were crawling through the Karussell, or dancing through Schwedenkreuz at over 160mph. As they continued to pound around the Eifel Mountains, Regazzoni established himself in third, while Reutemann was moving clear of fifth placed James Hunt, whose Hesketh was misfiring at high-revs. Behind them came the recovering Scheckter, who was being shadowed by both Shadows of Jean-Pierre Jarier and Tom Pryce as the race blasted past half-distance.
Unfortunately for the spectators, the Scheckter charge would end soon after this point, the Tyrrell suddenly disappearing into the barriers as "something let go at the back". Jarier was the first man on scene and duly picked up a puncture from the remains of Scheckter's car, beginning another slow limp to the pits. He, however, would not make it back for repairs as the disintegrating tyre wrapped itself around a driveshaft and broke it.
As Scheckter went out, teammate Depailler had dramas of this own, a front suspension failure on lap eight meaning he had to limp back to the pits for repairs. This allowed Regazzoni to move into second, although before he could settle into position behind teammate Lauda, his Ferrari engine expired in a cloud of smoke. However, attention would be drawn away from the smoking Swiss as Tony Brise hit the wall at high-speed, the Hill having suffered a rear suspension failure on the run from Bergwerk.
Having seen all of this, Lauda's pace had dramatically dropped off out front, Depailler's failure in particular prompting the Austrian to settle his pace down. Yet, that was not enough to make him immune to failure, and with a certain inevitability the dominant #12 car finally hit some errant stones and picked up a puncture, making him the latest man to crawl back to the pits. Reutemann duly inherited the lead from the Austrian towards the end of the lap, with Hunt, Pryce and Jacques Laffite also flashing past.
The rather surprised Reutemann would ease his pace from this point on, aided by the near immediate departure of Hunt, who sensed an imminent failure of his clutch and so smarty used "the loop" to pull into the paddock. Pryce briefly threatened until his fuel-filler cap developed a leak, meaning his cockpit was beginning to fill with petrol and fumes. His pace duly collapsed as he simply sought to finish, allowing Laffite to pass with ease on lap 12.
That move by Laffite left him in prime position to pick up a maiden victory for himself and Frank Williams, although it would have to come as a result of an issue for Reutemann. Time was running out, however, and as they began their final tour of the Nordschleife, a recovering Lauda dived past Pryce for third before storming off to chase a lost win. With a huge gap behind to Alan Jones, Pryce decided to undo his safety harness and complete the final lap half-standing having picked up some petrol burns.
Ultimately, Reutemann was not to suffer a failure, and so the Argentine cruised home to record his second win of the season. Laffite was a delighted second, over a minute and a half behind, while Lauda was a little frustrated in third. Pryce was a heroic fourth ahead of an unnoticed Jones in the sole surviving Hill, while Gijs van Lennep drove a solid race to score the final point in the new Ensign. Lella Lombardi, Harald Ertl and Depailler completed the finishers list, while Mario Andretti was classified despite having to stop with a fuel leak.
The full results for the 1975 German Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Andretti was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- First entry by Harald Ertl.
- 50th Grand Prix for Carlos Pace.
- Tenth and final entry for Gijs van Lennep.
- Niki Lauda claimed his fifteenth pole position.
- Ferrari earned their 76th pole as an engine and chassis constructor.
- Fourth career win for Carlos Reutemann.
- Brabham won for the eighteenth time as a constructor.
- Maiden pole position (and first points finish) for Jacques Laffite.
- Williams earned their first podium finish as a constructor.
- Alan Jones claimed the first points finish of his career.
Victory allowed Carlos Reutemann to move back ahead of Emerson Fittipaldi in the World Championship standings, but Niki Lauda's third place was enough to draw his lead out to seventeen points. James Hunt retained fourth ahead of Carlos Pace, both still in the fight for second, while Jody Scheckter remained in sixth. Elsewhere, Jacques Laffite was in the top ten after his maiden podium, while Alan Jones and Gijs van Lennep broke into the top twenty.
Ferrari saw their lead over Brabham-Ford Cosworth cut to just three points in Germany, the attritional race meaning the British squad still had real hopes of taking the International Cup for Manufacturers. McLaren-Ford Cosworth had lost ground in third, while Hesketh-Ford Cosworth were still fending off Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth for fourth. Shadow-Ford Cosworth, meanwhile, moved ahead of Lotus-Ford Cosworth, leaving the Norfolk squad level on points with new boys Williams-Ford Cosworth.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: GERMAN GP, 1975', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr261.html, (Accessed 25/11/2017)
- D.S.J., 'The German Grand Prix: Reality', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/09/1975), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/september-1975/26/german-grand-prix-reality, (Accessed 25/11/2017)
- 'Germany 1975: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1975/allemagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 25/11/2017)
- 'Germany 1975: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1975/allemagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 25/11/2017)
- 'Germany 1975: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1975/allemagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 25/11/2017)
|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)|
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|* Nürburgring and Hockenheimring alternated between each other during these years.|
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