The 1975 United States Grand Prix, officially known as the 18th Grand Prix of the United States, was the fourteenth and final round of the 1975 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at Watkins Glen on the 5 October, 1975. The race, which came a month after Niki Lauda and Ferrari wrapped up the titles in Italy, would never be deemed a classic, with a reduced entry list and dominant performance by the new Champions.
Indeed, Lauda's dominance had been outlined in qualifying as the Austrian stormed to an eighth pole of the season. Out-going Champion Emerson Fittipaldi would share the front row with the #12 Ferrari, while Carlos Reutemann and Jean-Pierre Jarier claimed the second row.
The start would see Lauda shoot into an early lead ahead of Fittipaldi, with the pair quickly getting out of reach from third placed Jarier. Behind the Frenchman came Vittorio Brambilla, Reutemann and Mario Andretti, while James Hunt shot into eighth from fifteenth on the grid.
Lauda soon built a small lead over Fittipaldi out front, with both pulling a second a lap clear of the third place train behind Jarier. Unfortunately those within Jarier's train were so evenly matched that no-one could overtake, meaning the only changes to the order came via retirements. Reutemann and Andretti were among those to lose out to mechanical strife, while Brambilla lost pace and tumbled out of the fight.
Those incidents, combined with a wheel failure for Jarier, meant that Hunt was promoted to third before half distance, well clear of the next clump of cars. However, as the race wore on Jochen Mass broke clear of his scrap with Jody Scheckter and Ronnie Peterson, and would duly slide past the Brit for third.
Into the closing stages and Peterson was seen shooting past Hunt, although the Brit would retaliate on the final lap to re-claim fourth. As they fought to the line, Lauda cruised home to claim his fifth victory of the season ahead of Fittipaldi, while Mass rounded out the podium in third. Behind Hunt and Peterson came Scheckter, just falling shy of the duo, with Brambilla the last man to finish on the lead lap.
The build up to the US Grand Prix of 1975 had been overshadowed by the fallout over the cancellation of the 1975 Canadian Grand Prix at Mosport Park, which meant that the organisers at Watkins Glen would have to fund all transport costs themselves. Despite attempts to prevent a legal challenge to the situation, the organisers at the Glen were forced to take $130,000 out of the prize fund to pay for the shipping costs. This, combined with the fact that the Championship had been decided a month earlier in Italy, meant that there was a much reduced entry list and severe lack of interest at the season finale.
As for the circuit itself, the Glen had received some more attention since F1's previous visit, the uphill chicane where François Cevert suffered his fatal accident in 1973 made slower and tighter. Furthermore, the chicane was lined with unnecessarily high kerbs to prevent drivers from taking to the grass, a modification made after some consultation with the Grand Prix Drivers' Association. However, it would be the G.P.D.A. that ultimately got rid of the kerbs ahead of the race, complaining that they were causing too much collateral damage during practice.
Into the entry list and there would be some notable absentees, as BRM and Surtees both opted against the trip across the Atlantic. Surtees' absence meant that John Watson could look elsewhere, with the Brit ultimately deciding to run with Penske, who returned for their home race after the death of Mark Donohue in Austria. They would fly the US flag alongside Parnelli once again, who fielded Mario Andretti as they had all season long.
Elsewhere, new Champions Ferrari arrived hoping to round out their Championship winning season in style, bringing along a three car compliment for Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni. Brabham likewise had a three car effort for Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace to try, knowing that a good result would see them end the season as runners-up to the Italian firm. Brabham's challengers McLaren only shipped two cars to the States, with Emerson Fittipaldi and Jochen Mass hoping to end the season on a high.
Tyrrell were another team with a three car compliment, although they decided to add Michel Leclère to their usual driver line-up of Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler. Their fourth place rivals Hesketh also brought three cars to the States, although they would only have James Hunt and American Brett Lunger on hand to try and secure their best ever end-of-year position. However, both teams were set to lose one of their star drivers, with Hunt eyeing a move to McLaren, while Scheckter was being considered by Ferrari.
Frank Williams Racing Cars would field another revised driver line-up at "the Glen", bringing in Lella Lombardi to partner increasingly familiar runner Jacques Laffite. Lombardi's arrival and cash injection opened a potential deal for Frank Williams to sell his team, with Canadian businessman Walter Wolf considering an investment in the team. Lombardi's former team March, meanwhile, were down to two drivers in the form of Vittorio Brambilla and Hans-Joachim Stuck, but still shipped Lombardi's car to New York State to use as a spare.
Norfolk based Lotus arrived in the States with the last two remaining 72s in existence for Ronnie Peterson and Brian Henton, with Henton using the cobbled together "F-spec" 72. Hill were down to a single driver in the form of Tony Brise, but shipped their newest pair of cars, with Rolf Stommelen racing elsewhere. Wilson Fittipaldi, meanwhile, was back in action for his self entered team Fittipaldi, while Ensign sent a single car over for Roelof Wunderink as Chris Amon refused to drive for them again.
Finally, there would be the Shadow team, which would compete under a US licence for the final time. The Anglo-American effort represented the best chance for an American backed team to win at "the Glen", with Shadow bringing along all of their Ford Cosworth engined cars, as well as their Matra powered creation. Jean-Pierre Jarier would run the Matra powered car as he had previously, while Tom Pryce ran his familiar Cosworth creation.
The Championship, meanwhile, had already been decided ahead of the US Grand Prix, a third place in Monza proving to be more than enough for Lauda to become Austria's second World Champion. Emerson Fittipaldi arrived sixteen and a half points back having lost his crown, although he was still in the midst of a fight for second. The Brazilian would duel with Reutemann for the runner-up spot at the season finale at "the Glen", with Hunt unable to best the Brazilian's score on count back.
Regazzoni's Italian victory ensured that Ferrari had claimed the International Cup for Manufacturer's crown in front of the adoring tifosi for the first time in over a decade, much to the delight of team boss Luca di Montezemolo. Their nine and a half point lead over Brabham-Ford Cosworth meant it was a decisive performance from the Italian firm, which had barely managed to score double figures prior to di Montezemolo's appointment as boss in 1973. Brabham, meanwhile, had a seven point advantage over McLaren-Ford Cosworth heading to the finale, with Hesketh-Ford Cosworth fighting Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth for fourth.
The full entry list for the 1975 United States Grand Prix is outlined below:
Practice/qualifying would follow the now standard format of two sessions a day across Friday and Saturday, providing a combined total of six hours of running. Weather-wise there would be no concerns in New York State during either day of running, with all four sessions run in dry, warm conditions. In terms of a target time the tighter chicane and high-kerbs meant that the old 1973 circuit record of 1:39.657, set by Ronnie Peterson en-route to pole, would likely remain untouched.
Niki Lauda would go out and dominate qualifying from the first session, ending Friday morning with a 1:43.493, almost a full second faster than his nearest challenger. That man proved to be Vittorio Brambilla in the March, the Italian racer opting for brute force over refined driving in his pursuit of performance. This was a stark contrast to their teammates, with Clay Regazzoni suffering tyre problems in the #11 Ferrari, while Hans-Joachim Stuck simply lacked enthusiasm.
Also among the strugglers on Friday morning would be Williams's new signing Lella Lombardi, who only completed a handful of laps in her new car. Jean-Pierre Jarier looked impressive in the Matra engined Shadow, although a race run revealed that their fuel consumption was less than four miles per gallon, well below the required efficiency. The Matra engined car was duly wheeled away at the end of the session, with Jarier taking over his old Ford Cosworth powered car for the rest of the weekend.
Friday afternoon proved to be more of the same out front, with Lauda once again topping the charts by a significant margin, while teammate Regazzoni was a non-factor. Indeed, such was the Austrian's dominance that he swapped to the "muletta" spare car and went even quicker than before, ending the day on provisional pole with a 1:42.423. The only other men to get into the 1:42.000s proved to be Brambilla and Emerson Fittipaldi, although the former was to suffer a huge accident while trying to catch the Austrian.
Having just recorded his best effort of 1:42.846, Brambilla carried more speed then ever before into the new chicane, braking a few metres later than he had before. Unfortunately the greater speed saw him lock up his wheels, sending him straight across the new kerbs, which duly launched the car into the air. The car landed nose first before pirouetting across the circuit into the catch fencing, with Brambilla escaping uninjured by shaken by the accident. The car, however, was a write off, although the March mechanics would work for 36 hours straight to get a new car built in the paddock around a repaired monocoque.
Saturday morning would see Fittipaldi briefly take pole position away from Lauda, the Brazilian recording a 1:42.360 to take provisional pole. Lauda, however, had plenty of time to respond and duly did so, a 1:42.173 set in the "muletta" putting the Austrian back at the front of the grid. Elsewhere, Tom Pryce and Jarier got into the 1:42.000s for the first time, with the Frenchman ahead of the Brit.
Elsewhere, Brambilla took over teammate Stuck's car for the morning, although confidence seemed to be missing from the Italian after his Friday crash. Brabham, meanwhile, were making up for a miserable Friday, which had been compounded by the Martini liveried cars coming together at the chicane, contact which had sent Carlos Pace skating across the kerbs. Likewise, rivals Lotus were making up for lost time, as both Peterson and Brian Henton suffered damage from the high kerbs, costing both valuable practice time.
The final session of the weekend would see Lauda set his best time of the weekend, a 1:42.003 set in his usual Ferrari putting him clear at the top of the timesheets. Fittipaldi conceded defeat and so focused on race pace, while Carlos Reutemann got to grips with the new circuit to vault into third. Jarier was another to find time in the final run of the weekend, as would Mario Andretti in the Parnelli.
With only 24 entries there was no threat of failing to qualify, although Williams were disappointed to be at the back of the pack. Splitting new teammates Laffite in twenty-first and Lombardi in twenty-fourth would be the returning Wilson Fittipaldi and Roelof Wunderink in the Ensign. Debutante Michel Leclère struggled to adapt to the his new 460 bhp Tyrrell and so started from twentieth, just behind Henton who had been coached by teammate Peterson whenever both Loti were healthy enough to run.
The full qualifying results for the 1975 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
|2||1||Emerson Fittipaldi||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:44.471||1:42.990||1:42.360||1:42.715||+0.357s|
|3||7||Carlos Reutemann||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:46.925||1:44.195||1:43.466||1:42.685||+0.682s|
|4||17||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:45.167||1:44.120||1:42.827T||1:42.759T||+0.756s|
|5||27||Mario Andretti||Parnelli-Ford Cosworth||1:45.339T||1:43.691||1:43.698||1:42.822||+0.819s|
|6||9||Vittorio Brambilla||March-Ford Cosworth||1:44.442||1:42.846||1:43.334T||—||+0.843s|
|7||16||Tom Pryce||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:45.966||1:44.086||1:42.960||1:43.271||+0.957s|
|8||4||Patrick Depailler||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:45.244||—||1:44.975||1:43.032||+1.029s|
|9||2||Jochen Mass||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:46.443||1:45.084||1:43.100||1:43.551||+1.097s|
|10||3||Jody Scheckter||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:45.248||1:43.825||1:44.471||1:43.127||+1.124s|
|12||28||John Watson||Penske-Ford Cosworth||1:46.885||1:43.892||1:43.410||1:44.619||+1.307s|
|13||10||Hans-Joachim Stuck||March-Ford Cosworth||1:46.771||1:45.630||—||1:43.417||+1.414s|
|14||5||Ronnie Peterson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:45.753||1:44.538||1:43.570||1:43.885||+1.567s|
|15||24||James Hunt||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:45.651||1:45.017||1:43.820||1:44.315||+1.817s|
|16||8||Carlos Pace||Brabham-Ford Cosworth||1:47.398||1:45.443T||1:44.054||—||+2.051s|
|17||23||Tony Brise||Hill-Ford Cosworth||1:48.979T||1:45.856T||1:44.206||1:44.064||+2.061s|
|18||25||Brett Lunger||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:47.720||1:46.204||1:45.359||1:45.236||+3.233s|
|19||6||Brian Henton||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:50.295||1:47.134||1:45.244||1:45.435||+3.241s|
|20||15||Michel Leclère||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:48.464||1:47.317||1:46.023||1:46.123||+4.020s|
|21*||21||Jacques Laffite||Williams-Ford Cosworth||1:48.125||1:46.705||1:46.819||1:46.032||+4.029s|
|22||31||Roelof Wunderink||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||1:51.877||1:51.045||1:47.752||1:47.224||+5.221s|
|23||30||Wilson Fittipaldi||Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth||1:50.165||1:49.657||1:48.896||1:48.226||+6.223s|
|24*||20||Lella Lombardi||Williams-Ford Cosworth||2:00.058||1:54.165||1:49.734||1:50.641||+7.731s|
|WD||22||Rolf Stommelen||Hill-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 Lombardi would be unable to start the race.
- * Laffite and Lombardi would be unable to start the race.
Raceday dawned overcast and relatively warm ahead of the season finale, with very little chance of rain affecting proceedings ahead of the 3:00pm start time. There were no major overnight issues heading into Sunday, although the March mechanics had a late night preparing Vittorio Brambilla's car for the race, after the Italian's huge accident on Friday. Regardless, the orange March would be up and running in time for the morning warm-up, which started at 10:00am.
The pre-race warm-up session saw several minor incidents, including an engine failure for Carlos Pace, putting him in the spare Brabham, while Lella Lombardi picked up a terminal misfire in her Williams. Indeed, it was to be a miserable day for Frank Williams' squad, with lead driver Jacques Laffite mistaking visor cleaning fluid for eye drops just before the start, meaning the Frenchman had to be taken to hospital for treatment. Elsewhere, Tony Brise swapped to the older of the Hills after the session, while John Watson had to run the undriven spare Penske after developing a misfire on the newer PC3.
The field was down to twenty-two starters when Niki Lauda lined up on the grid from the start, although given the Williams' lack of pace their absence was hardly deemed noteworthy. As for the start, no-one could stop the Austrian pole sitter from sweeping into the lead, the #12 Ferrari pulling cleanly away from the grid with the barest hint of wheel spin. Emerson Fittipaldi almost mustered a challenge into turn one but instead opted to slot in behind, while the rest of the field filtered through the first corner without issue.
The opening tour ended with the order largely unchanged after the start, with Lauda leading from Fittipaldi, before a gap back to third placed Jean-Pierre Jarier. The Frenchman was proving to be a road-block already in the Shadow, with Vittorio Brambilla, Carlos Reutemann, Mario Andretti, James Hunt, Jochen Mass and Patrick Depailler glued to the back of him without any hope of getting past. Ronnie Peterson, Clay Regazzoni and Carlos Pace were also within touching distance at the end of the first tour, while Jody Scheckter was picking his way through the back markers after his miserable start.
Lauda and Fittipaldi would duly disappear up the road over the opening laps, the Austrian trying all he could to break the determined Brazilian's spirit. As they duelled by proxy, Depailler and Pace made contact in the middle of the Jarier train, the pair tangling with each other in the Chute and duly spinning into the catch fencing. Both drivers were left to climb out of substantially damaged cars, but would return to the pits without incident or injury.
Away from the Jarier jostle, and there were dramas at the back of the field, debutante Michel Leclère adding to Tyrrell's woes when he retired on lap five having lost all his oil pressure. Brian Henton, meanwhile, sent himself spinning at the first corner on lap five, collecting Tony Brise as the Hill protege tried to squeeze past the spinning Lotus. The result was a frustrated Brise, out with a rear-wheel torn from his car, while Henton continued on with a disjointed nose on the "Franken-Lotus".
As the laps wore on the Jarier train began to break apart due to mechanical strife. First to go would be the Frenchman's teammate Tom Pryce, disappearing into the pits with a misfire, before Brambilla lost pace while running in fourth, the result of a broken seat. The Italian began to slip down the order as he slid around in his cockpit, while Clay Regazzoni disappeared into the pits with an unspecified issue.
Further issues behind Jarier saw Andretti and Reutemann disappear from the race, the former breaking his suspension while the latter suffered an engine failure, both on lap nine. Jarier himself succumbed to a wheel bearing failure ten laps later, disappearing into the pits just as Regazzoni reemerged. The Frenchman's retirement promoted Hunt up into third, with day light between himself and the now fourth placed Mass.
Back with the leaders and Lauda had failed to break away from Fittipaldi over the opening laps, the Brazilian doggedly hanging onto the back of the Ferrari as the pair pulled over a second a lap out the ex-Jarier train. However, this would all change when the pair came to lap Regazzoni, for the Swiss racer allowed teammate Lauda to pass with ease, before easing himself back onto the racing line through turn two before Fittipaldi could pass. The Swiss racer's intervention persisted for five laps, allowing Lauda to pull an insurmountable lead, before Regazzoni was shown a black flag by Clerk of the Course Bernie Martin.
What followed in the pits was nothing short of bizarre, with Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo confronting Martin in the start/finish gantry to complain about Regazzoni's impending disqualification. Such was the furore in the pits that the whole Ferrari team were on the verge of being chucked out of the race, although some outside intervention saw the issue resolved. Having allowed Fittipaldi past, Regazzoni slithered into the pits for a penalty, although he and Ferrari agreed to withdraw his car a few laps later with the Swiss racer no where near the front of the field.
With the fight for the lead over the race became an issue of who would finish third, as Hunt was being hunted down by Mass as the race came towards its conclusion. The German, who had been scrapping with Peterson and Scheckter in the first part of the race, dragged the trio onto the back of the Hesketh just after half distance, leading to a terrific scrap between the quartet. Peterson briefly looked like taking the final podium spot when he sent the Lotus up the inside of the Hesketh, although his successful lunge damaged his front tyre. Mass, meanwhile, took the opportunity to pass the pair of them, before disappearing up the road in the final ten laps.
Indeed, Peterson, Hunt and Scheckter would fight for fourth until the flag, with the Brit finally managing to elbow the Swede out of the way on the final lap, much to the delight of the Hesketh team. The Hesketh, Lotus and Tyrrell would finish within a second of each other across the line, with Mass only a couple of seconds up the road. The German had opted to cruise to the flag knowing that teammate Fittipaldi was out of reach, with the Brazilian trailing race winner Lauda by five seconds at the flag.
The full results for the 1975 United States Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Pryce and Henton could not be classified as they failed to complete 90% of the race distance.
- † Regazzoni withdrawn after receiving a warning from the race officials for his race conduct.
- ‡ Laffite was unable to start due to his self inflicted eye problem.
- § Lombardi could not start after an ignition issue in the warm-up.
- Michel Leclère made his Grand Prix debut.
- Tenth and final entry for Tony Brise.
- Eleventh and final entry for Hill as a constructor.
- Seventh victory for Niki Lauda.
- Ferrari claimed a record 58th victory as a Constructor.
- It was also the Italian firms 58th triumph as an engine builder.
- Sixth and final fastest lap recorded by Emerson Fittipaldi.
A fifth victory of the season cemented Niki Lauda's position as the best driver in Formula One in 1975, the Austrian ending the season with a final tally of 64.5. Emerson Fittipaldi would end his title defence in second, nineteen and a half points back from the Austrian and ruing his mid-season slump. Third place went to Carlos Reutemann, while James Hunt and Clay Regazzoni completed the top five.
Ferrari had been the dominant team in 1975, picking up six victories and eight pole positions en-route to their first International Cup for Manufacturers title since 1964. Their final total of 72.5 meant they beat Brabham-Ford Cosworth by eighteen and a half points, with the British effort just a point ahead of McLaren-Ford Cosworth in third. Hesketh-Ford Cosworth enjoyed their best ever season by finishing fourth, ahead of Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth, while fallen giants Lotus-Ford Cosworth finished the season down in seventh.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: UNITED STATES GP, 1975', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr264.html, (Accessed 10/01/2018)
- A.H., 'The United States GP: Lauda rounds it off', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/11/1975), http://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/november-1975/26/united-states-gp, (Accessed 10/01/2018)
- 'USA 1975: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1975/etats-unis/engages.aspx, (Accessed 2 October 2017)
- USA 1975: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1975/etats-unis/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 10/01/2018)
- 'USA 1975: Result', Statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1975/etats-unis/classement.aspx, (Accessed 11/01/2018)
|V T E||United States Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Sebring (1959), Riverside (1960), Watkins Glen (1961–1980), Phoenix (1989–1991), Indianapolis (2000–2007), Austin (2012–present)|
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|See also||United States Grand Prix West • Indianapolis 500 • Detroit Grand Prix • Caesars Palace Grand Prix • Dallas Grand Prix • Questor Grand Prix|
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