The 1975 Monaco Grand Prix, otherwise known as the XXXIII Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco, was the fifth round of the 1975 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Circuit de Monaco on the 11th May. The race, staged just a fortnight after the miserable events of the Spanish Grand Prix, would see Niki Lauda dominate until the closing stages.
Lauda's domination would begin in qualifying, with the Austrian claiming pole by over six tenths of a second from the Shadow of Tom Pryce. Elsewhere, Championship leader Emerson Fittipaldi claimed ninth ahead of Carlos Reutemann, while eight of the twenty-six entrants failed to qualify.
A rain swept race morning meant it was a wet start to the race when the start's flag dropped, with Lauda immediately sprinting away from the grid to lead. Pryce made a dreadful start and slipped out of the top five, although his teammate Jean-Pierre Jarier fared little better when he buried the second Shadow into the barriers at the chicane.
With Ronnie Peterson and Pryce having to weave their way around Jarier's ruined car, Lauda's advantage grew to a comfortable one before the end of the opening lap. The race soon settled into a steady rhythm, with Lauda calmly pulling clear from Pryce and Peterson. Indeed, the only major change to the order in the opening stages came when Mario Andretti retired with a mechanical issue on the Parnelli.
A spin for Pryce on lap 19 finally brought the monotony to an end, a pirouette that allowed Peterson, Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter through, and signalled that the track was drying. A few laps later and the field were all on dry tyres, with Lauda briefly losing the lead to Peterson before the Swede himself stopped.
Peterson's late stop meant he dropped from second to fifth after the stops, although a puncture for Scheckter promoted the Swede back into the top four. Lauda, meanwhile, continued to hold a fair advantage, although as the laps ticked away it became clear that the Austrian was having to battle a major issue.
Fittipaldi was soon closing in on the Ferrari, and as the pair started the 75th lap, the Brazilian was just 2.5 seconds behind. However, before the McLaren could launch an attack, the two hour limit expired, bringing the race to an end three laps before it should have done.
Lauda was duly declared as the winner from Fittipaldi, while Pace completed the podium after a quiet afternoon. Peterson dragged the five year old Lotus to fourth, while Patrick Depailler elbowed his way past Jochen Mass on the penultimate tour to claim fifth.
In the fortnight since the horrible afternoon in Barcelona the organisers of the Monaco Grand Prix had been busy, making sure that the famed Circuit de Monaco was up to spec. The major changes saw a third tier of Armco added at specific points of the circuit, while every joint received a reinforcing plate to prevent any split ends. Sainte Devote, meanwhile, had been resurfaced with grippier tarmac, which also eliminated any camber, while the organisers reluctantly agreed to Enzo Ferrari's proposal to reduce the starting grid to eighteen slots.
The Spanish Grand Prix aftermath had also had an effect on the entry list, as a badly shaken Rolf Stommelen recovered from his injuries. Graham Hill duly took the German's seat in his own team, although he was back to using a Lola T370 after Stommelen's car was written off. François Migault was pencilled in for the surviving Hill GH1, but the Frenchman did not arrive.
Other new and returning faces could be found at Surtees, who brought in Henri Pescarolo to partner John Watson, although the former would not actually complete any running. Another returning driver, who actually would get some time on track, was found in the form of Jacques Laffite, back to partner Arturo Merzario at Williams. Hesketh, meanwhile, had brought a second driver to Monte Carlo to double their chances, handing a debut to Swede Torsten Palm alongside James Hunt, albeit running in different, sponsor defined, colours.
Elsewhere, Emerson Fittipaldi judged the Monaco alterations worthy enough for him to take part, meaning he would partner Jochen Mass at McLaren as usual. Ferrari unloaded a trio of their latest cars for Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni, all of which arrived with marginal differences in bodywork. Brabham were the other race winners in 1975, and had their usual trio of cars for their pair of Carloses, Reutemann and Pace.
At Tyrrell it was to be business as usual, with Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler using the team's three surviving 007s. Lotus continued to campaign the venerable, but fading, 72, Ronnie Peterson and Jacky Ickx content to sit and wait for the new car to appear. In a seemingly far stronger position were Shadow, who would field Tom Pryce and Jean-Pierre Jarier in the ever impressive DN5.
March had been busy during the two week break to bring Lella Lombardi parity with lead driver Vittorio Brambilla after both claimed points in Spain. They arrived with the single BRM effort for Bob Evans, who had two cars to try out, while Alan Jones would get his second shot in F1 with his privately entered Hesketh. The Parnelli and Penske entries, for Mario Andretti and Mark Donohue respectively, arrived in their usual immaculate conditions, although the former did have a new car to try. Wilson Fittipaldi Júnior was back with his self built effort, while Roelof Wunderink got another run out in the Ensign to complete the entry list.
There was only one major change to the standings after the horrific afternoon in Spain, with Jochen Mass leaping into the top four with his half-win. Emerson Fittipaldi continued to lead by three points from Carlos Pace, who was joined on the tally of twelve by teammate Carlos Reutemann. Jody Scheckter was a half point behind Mass in fifth, as four drivers added their names to the scorers list in Spain.
If the Spanish Grand Prix had done anything positive it was to close up the fight in the International Cup for Manufacturers, for Brabham-Ford Cosworth and McLaren-Ford Cosworth could not be closer. Indeed, just half a point separated the pair after the first European race of the season, before an eight and a half point gap opened to third placed Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth. Ferrari were in fourth ahead of Hesketh-Ford Cosworth, while Lotus-Ford Cosworth were finally on the board in sixth, ahead of Shadow-Ford Cosworth and March-Ford Cosworth.
The full entry list for the 1975 Monaco Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice/qualifying were to run across Thursday and Friday morning around the Circuit de Monaco, with Saturday devoted entirely to the Formula Three support races. A threat of rain throughout Thursday ensured the entire field was on their toes, although a bright and warm Friday gave every driver the chance to make the qualifying cut. The circuit record was in the sights of the top drivers, currently held by Niki Lauda after the Austrian claimed a 1:26.3 on his way to pole in 1974.
A one and a half hour delay to the first practice session was made on Thursday morning, a late change to the schedule to allow a full and final inspection of the barriers to take place. Fortunately, no faults were found and so the twenty six strong field were released for a three hour session, with two different approaches taken by the field. The more novice drivers, those who had only a handful or fewer laps around the Principality, opted for caution, while the veterans immediately went for speed to counter the ever present threat of rain.
The first incident of the day involved two of the early pushers, as Clay Regazzoni pitched himself into a spin on the harbour front, causing John Watson to hit the barriers while trying to avoid him. As Watson's car was pushed behind the Armcos, Mario Andretti left bits of gearbox across the circuit after a failure, leaving him in the older Parnelli. Jacques Laffite was the next to hit some strife, slamming into the barriers and damaging the new Williams, while "Mr. Monaco" himself Graham Hill rolled to a stop on the run to Mirabeau with an engine failure.
Hill's failure brought the first session to a temporary end just a few minutes before the scheduled break, with the marshals deciding that it was best to collect all of the ruined cars. However, the officials decided to restart the first session for a final few moments, allowing Carlos Reutemann to send himself skating down an escape road. A dejected Argentine was left to walk back to the pits as his Brabham refused to restart, while Watson clanged into the barriers for a second time before the chequered flag waved for lunch.
It would be a much quieter start to the second session, with pace slowly creeping up as the first hour passed, but with no action of note. Then, Lauda set a quick series of laps to distance himself from the rest of the pack, ending the session with a 1:27.16, while teammate Regazzoni claimed second spot provisionally with a 1:27.22, set in the first session. Most attributed these times to the F12 engine that Ferrari had developed, an attribute that seemed to have been well founded once Lauda crashed into the barriers where Regazzoni had spun earlier in the day.
Elsewhere, Ronnie Peterson seemed to be having a rare moment of enjoyment in the old Lotus, the Swede ending the day as the best of the Ford Cosworth drivers on a 1:27.93. Furthermore, come sessions end, the Swede was one of the few drivers to have an immaculate car, as everyone had caressed the barriers, some much harder than others. Most were replacing body panels and bending others into a presentable shape, while others were replacing gearboxes or engines.
After a lot of work in the pits, the entire field would pour onto the circuit early on Friday morning, the locals getting a brief fifteen minute respite after the 8:00am scheduled start time. The elite drivers soon began exchanging times in the 1:27.00s, including Vittorio Brambilla and James Hunt. Others were simply fighting to qualify, Alan Jones sitting on the bubble for most of the session, before Mark Donohue stole the show.
Unfortunately, it was not the American's pace that broke the session's flow, more his accident at Sainte Devote that left his Penske and the Armco with matching dents. A temporary halt was called as one of the massive cranes was used to pick the Penske up off the circuit, although the exuberant operator managed to swing the wounded car into a lamp post. A long delay then followed as the fire brigade were called to remove the lamp post, which had been left hanging over the circuit by the levitating Penske.
The final half an hour would be a dramatic blast at both ends of the field, with Watson sneaking into the top eighteen in the dying moments to deny both Williams drivers a spot on the grid. Out front, meanwhile, Tom Pryce and Jean-Pierre Jarier got on terms with the Ferraris, only to have their best efforts shattered by a flying Austrian. Indeed, Lauda would complete a late run to end the session with a 1:26.40, six tenths quicker than Pryce, to leave the sceptics to question whether all of the #12 Ferrari's pace was down to its F12 engine.
The full qualifying results for the 1975 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||16||Tom Pryce||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:28.91||1:29.05||1:27.09||+0.69s|
|3||17||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:29.18||1:28.33||1:27.25||+0.85s|
|4||5||Ronnie Peterson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:27.93||1:29.13||1:27.40||+1.00s|
|5||9||Vittorio Brambilla||March-Ford Cosworth||1:29.99||1:28.80||1:27.50||+1.10s|
|7||3||Jody Scheckter||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:29.52||1:27.96||1:27.58||+1.18s|
|8||8||Carlos Pace||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:29.57||1:27.95||1:27.67||+1.27s|
|9||1||Emerson Fittipaldi||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:30.03||1:29.72||1:27.77||+1.37s|
|10||7||Carlos Reutemann||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:30.55||1:29.25T||1:27.93||+1.53s|
|11||24||James Hunt||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:29.23||1:29.46||1:27.94||+1.54s|
|12||4||Patrick Depailler||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:28.61||1:28.60||1:27.95||+1.55s|
|13||27||Mario Andretti||Parnelli-Ford Cosworth||1:30.32||1:28.96T||1:28.11T||+1.71s|
|14||6||Jacky Ickx||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:29.95||1:29.02||1:28.28||+1.88s|
|15||2||Jochen Mass||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:29.25||1:28.61||1:28.49||+2.09s|
|16||28||Mark Donohue||Penske-Ford Cosworth||1:31.38||1:28.83||1:28.81||+2.41s|
|17||18||John Watson||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:32.15||1:31.03T||1:28.90T||+2.50s|
|18||26||Alan Jones||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:30.82||1:30.23||1:29.12||+2.72s|
|DNQ*||21||Jacques Laffite||Williams-Ford Cosworth||1:33.71||—||1:29.28||+2.88s|
|DNQ*||20||Arturo Merzario||Williams-Ford Cosworth||1:32.00||1:30.29||1:29.32||+2.92s|
|DNQ||23||Graham Hill||Hill-Ford Cosworth||1:40.00||1:34.27T||1:29.49||+3.09s|
|DNQ||31||Roelof Wunderink||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||1:33.52||1:31.60||1:33.06||+5.20s|
|DNQ||25||Torsten Palm||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:36.13||1:34.92||1:31.95||+5.55s|
|DNQ||10||Lella Lombardi||March-Ford Cosworth||1:33.55||—||1:32.20||+5.80s|
|DNQ||30||Wilson Fittipaldi||Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth||1:33.19||1:33.22||1:33.02||+6.62s|
|WD||19||Henri Pescarolo||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD||22||François Migault||Lola-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
- 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 and Merzario were list as first and second reserves.
Race morning dawned wet and windy on Sunday, although as the start time approached conditions did improve. That said, the organisers had little choice but to declare the start of the race wet, meaning every one of the eighteen starters would have to use the full "wet" spec Goodyear tyres. Some were concerned that the blast through the tunnel would destroy the tyres early on, particularly as the circuit appeared to be drying relatively quickly without the aid of the Grand Prix cars.
In spite of the conditions it would be a clean blast for all at the start, with pole sitter Niki Lauda immediately sprinting into an early lead through Sainte Devote. Jean-Pierre Jarier followed the Austrian up the hill into Mirabeau, as the sister Shadow of Tom Pryce slipped down to the back of the top five. The rest of the eighteen starters also pulled cleanly off the line with only minor delay, meaning Jacques Laffite's Williams was wheeled back into the paddock.
Unfortunately the relative clam in spite of the treacherous conditions would only last so long, and as the field streamed onto the harbour front the first accident of the day got underway. Having already glanced the barriers on the exit of Mirabeau, Jarier clipped the inside of the chicane, breaking the left front corner off his Shadow. The Frenchman's car would continue to skid on, ricocheting off both sets of barriers all the way to the Swimming Pool section.
Come the end of the opening lap, race leader Lauda had established a significant advantage, for the rest of the field had had to weave through Jarier's accident at a much reduced speed. Ronnie Peterson was the man to emerge from the Frenchman's accident closest to Lauda, with Pryce tucked in just behind as the pair passed the start/finish line. Jody Scheckter led a fast starting Emerson Fittipaldi and Carlos Pace across the line next, with James Hunt leading the rest of the field.
The race soon settled to a sedate pace after the opening tour, the conditions simply too treacherous for anyone to try and make a move. Indeed, only an opportunistic move by Jochen Mass had a major effect on the order, the German slithering his McLaren past Jacky Ickx as the Belgian was waved past Carlos Reutemann. Mass' opportunistic style gain him further ground on the fifth tour, diving past Mark Donohue and John Watson to claim a spot in the top ten.
Fortunately, with the sun just beginning to poke through the clouds, the circuit began to dry, allowing the more adaptable drivers to get on terms with their opponents. Fittipaldi was one of them, getting his McLaren dancing in Scheckter's mirrors as the circuit dried, although the Brazilian was unable to make a move stick. Pryce, meanwhile, was performing admirably to keep on Peterson's tail, the Welshman's rear wheels locking every time he touched the brakes, while Clay Regazzoni dived into the pits with a puncture.
However, as the circuit dried and drivers took more risks, the barriers became an ever increasing threat to the sloppy. Regazzoni would be the first to take a hit, pitching himself into the Armco on the harbour front before recovering to the pits, moments after Mario Andretti suffered an oil fire on his way to the pits. Their incidents almost shielded James Hunt's visit to the pits, with the Brit having a set of slick tyres bolted to the Hesketh on lap seventeen.
A chaotic period for the timekeepers followed, with the field slowly trickling into the pits for slicks, meaning several drivers lost a lap, only to regain it seconds later. In the midst of this, Pryce finally paid the toll for his out-of-balance brakes, pitching himself into a spin that left him in fifth. He soon dived into the pits on the twenty-first tour, while Lauda, Scheckter and Fittipaldi held out to the end of lap twenty four.
All this left Peterson in the lead, although the Swede's decision to stop a lap later than the rest ultimately ended his shot at the win, for his wet tyres disintegrated on the largely dry circuit. Lauda duly retook the lead with an even bigger advantage, while Depailler and Ickx carried on with their wet tyres for another couple of laps. When they disappeared it was Fittipaldi who moved into second, with Pace, Scheckter, Peterson and the opportunistic Mass completing the point scoring positions.
Another procession soon developed on the Monegasque streets after the final stops, with Lauda pulling clear from Fittipaldi, while Scheckter threw some half-hearted moves at Pace. Peterson was another driver fighting half a rear guard action, batting away the attentions of Mass and Hunt, while Depailler could be seen inching his way onto the entire trio. Behind, Vittorio Brambilla and Watson were having a chess like battle in the lower reaches of the top ten, although it would ultimately come to an end when the Italian spun and forced Watson into a race ending spin of his own.
More drivers threw themselves out of contention throughout the field, Regazzoni pirouetting into the barriers at the chicane to finally terminally break his new Ferrari. As one of Monte Carlo's huge cranes lifted the #11 Ferrari out of the way, Pryce crashed into the sea-wall before the tunnel ending a promising display rather inauspiciously. Elsewhere, Scheckter's hopes of a podium spot were slashed by a puncture, while Alan Jones disappeared from the running when his left rear wheel detached itself at Casino Square.
At the 60 lap mark the entire field were grouped together, the leaders lapping the midfield runners, while the midfield pack lapped the "also-rans". At this point it became clear that the race would have to end at the two hour limit rather than the 78 lap race distance, although that soon became a trivial matter for Hunt and Donohue. Indeed, the Brit and the American would crash out of the race within three laps of one-another, albeit in unrelated visits to the Armco barriers.
Depailler had become the centre of attention once Hunt disappeared, the Frenchman now appearing glued to the back of Mass who himself was breathing in the exhaust fumes of Peterson. Their fight would see Depailler claim fastest lap with a 1:28.67, before the Frenchman slipped himself into fifth on the penultimate tour. Mass, for his part, had been caught unawares by the Frenchman's late charge, having been too focused on elbowing his way past Peterson as the race passed the two hour mark.
Lauda, meanwhile, had eased off the pace having been signalled by his pit crew that the race had hit the two hour mark. This allowed Fittipaldi to rapidly close the gap between himself and the Austrian, so it was fortunate for the #12 Ferrari that the chequered flag appeared at the end of the 75th lap. Just over two seconds separated them at the flag, while Pace cruised home in a comfortable third. Peterson used Depailler's late move on Mass to solidify fourth, while the Frenchman fended off a late lunge by the German to claim fifth.
The full results for the 1975 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
- First entry for Torsten Palm.
- Graham Hill made his 179th and final entry.
- Niki Lauda earned his third career victory.
- Ferrari claimed a 53rd win as a constructor and engine supplier.
- 30th podium finish for Emerson Fittipaldi.
- Patrick Depailler earned the 75th fastest lap set by a Ford Cosworth powered car.
With the halfway point in the season fast approaching, it was still Emerson Fittipaldi who led the way in the Drivers' Championship, pulling five points clear of the rest of the field. Carlos Pace remained his closest challenger in second, while victory for Niki Lauda had moved the Austrian to third, seven points back. Carlos Reutemann slipped to fourth, while Jochen Mass was the first of those with half a point in fifth.
It was a 1.5 point lead for McLaren-Ford Cosworth after the opening five rounds of the International Cup for Manufacturers, the British effort leading their compatriots Brabham-Ford Cosworth with two wins apiece. Ferrari moved into a solid third place thanks to Lauda's win, while Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth held their own in fourth. Hesketh-Ford Cosworth remained a point ahead of the fallen Champions Lotus-Ford Cosworth, with Shadow-Ford Cosworth and March-Ford Cosworth the only other scorers.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: MONACO GP, 1975', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr255.html, (Accessed 10/09/2017)
- D.S.J., 'The 33rd Monaco Grand Prix: Lauda all the way', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/06/1975), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/june-1975/26/33rd-monaco-grand-prix, (Accessed 10/09/2017)
- 'Monaco 1975: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1975/monaco/engages.aspx, (Accessed 10/09/2017)
- 'Monaco 1975: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1975/monaco/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 10/09/2017)
- 'Monaco 1975: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1975/monaco/classement.aspx, (Accessed 11/09/2017)
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