1975 United States Grand Prix
|Race 14 of 14 in the 1975 Formula One season|
|Date||October 5, 1975|
|Official name||XVIII United States Grand Prix|
|Location||Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course
Watkins Glen, New York
|Course||Permanent road course
5.435 km (3.377 mi)
|Distance||59 laps, 320.67 km (199.24 mi)|
|Weather||Partly sunny with temperatures reaching a maximum of 69.1 °F (20.6 °C); wind speeds up to 14 miles per hour (23 km/h)|
|Time||1:43.374 on lap 43|
The 1975 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One race held on October 5, 1975 at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course in Watkins Glen, New York. It was the 25th United States Grand Prix since the first American Grand Prize was held in 1908 and the 18th since the first United States Grand Prix at Riverside in 1958.
The race was won by the new world champion, Austrian driver Niki Lauda driving a Ferrari 312T. Lauda took his fifth win for the season by a four second margin over outgoing world champion, Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi in a McLaren M23. Fittipaldi's West German team mate Jochen Mass finished third. The second place allowed Fittipaldi to confirm runner's up position in the points race after a half-season long battle with Argentine Brabham driver Carlos Reutemann, although Fittipaldi's McLaren team would fall one point short of overhauling Brabham in the Constructors battle to be second behind Ferrari.
With eight poles, five wins, the Drivers' Championship and the Constructor's Championship already in the bag for 1975, Ferrari had but one piece of unfinished business at Watkins Glen, which was once again the last race of the season. It seems that none of the "old man's" cars had ever won the United States Grand Prix. Nor had any driver ever won the American race in the year he claimed the title. First-time Champion Niki Lauda had something to say about both of these "statistics," however and convincingly won both pole position and the race.
There were already controversial rumblings in the paddock before practice even began. The Canadian Grand Prix had been cancelled and the organizers had arrived in the paddock with a writ to freeze the prize money over legal wrangles. There were also disputes with the Grand Prix Drivers Association over transfer fees and wages. On a more lighthearted note, Lord Alexander Hesketh sported a rather ample T-shirt urging fans to 'Save the Whales.'
The track had been modified for this race by the addition of the "Scheckter chicane" at the bottom of the hill entering the esses. After François Cevert's fatal crash there two years earlier, the corner was deemed to be too fast. Named for the Tyrrell driver who suggested it, the chicane was expected to add nearly five seconds to the lap times, making the previous year's pole of 1:38.9 unapproachable.
Sadly, as practice began, a rising American star was absent from the field. Mark Donohue had been fatally injured in practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, and John Watson had replaced Donohue on the Penske team. Lauda was quickest from the start, as the drivers got accustomed to the new layout. Vittorio Brambilla briefly registered in with quickest time on Friday, just .01 of a second better than Lauda, but the Austrian hopped in his spare Ferrari (his regular car had an engine vibration) and beat the March's time by almost a full second. On Saturday, it was Emerson Fittipaldi who briefly held the pole at 1:42.360, but Lauda answered his challenge as well, ending the discussion at 1:42.003. Carlos Reutemann, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Mario Andretti and Brambilla took the rest of the top six positions on the grid.
On Sunday, briefly sunny and very warm, two cars and one driver were thwarted before even reaching the grid. Watson's Penske suffered electrical problems in the morning warmup. As he was being towed in, the crew retrieved the display car from the First National Citibank podium in the paddock and prepared it to enter the race! Not a proud moment for Citibank, the sponsors of the race; and the car still had settings from the French Grand Prix, where it had last run! The Williams team disappeared completely when Lella Lombardi's car also had electrical failure, and her teammate Jacques Laffite mistook visor cleaning fluid for his eyedrops! He turned out to be okay, but was unable to race. Determined to become the first female driver at The Glen, Lombardi tried to get in the Frenchman's car, but she didn't fit.
Lauda led the field away from the grid and through the new chicane for the first time, followed by Fittipaldi, Jarier, Brambilla, Reutemann and Andretti. Carlos Pace and Patrick Depailler went out of the race together on lap 2 when Pace tried to sneak his Brabham inside the Tyrrell at the end of the back straight. Depailler did not see him, and the collision put them both into the catch fence.
The gap between Lauda's Ferrari and Fittipaldi's McLaren settled at about one second. Mass, who had moved up to sixth, suddenly lost three places to Andretti, James Hunt, and Ronnie Peterson when he accidentally switched off his engine. On the next lap, with Jochen Mass now immediately in front of him, Clay Regazzoni smashed his nose against the rear wheel of the McLaren and lost more than a lap as he pitted for a new one. On lap 10, Reutemann's engine expired and Andretti's front suspension collapsed. This left Lauda and Fittipaldi twelve seconds ahead of Jarier, who was five seconds clear of a group containing Hunt, Brambilla, Mass, Peterson and Scheckter.
Lauda's teammate Regazzoni was caught by the leaders on lap 18, after his lengthy pit stop. He let Lauda by, but went out of his way to hold up Fittipaldi. Regazzoni continued to slow through the chicane and weave across the track as Fittipaldi shook his fist and the marshals waved their blue flags for six laps. When the blue flag turned to black, Regazzoni finally allowed the Brazilian past. He hoped that would be it, but Clerk of the Course Berdie Martin insisted on bringing Regazzoni in for a warning. This incensed Ferrari manager Luca di Montezemolo, who actually got into a bit of a scuffle with Martin, and then withdrew Regazzoni from the race in protest.
Back on the track, Fittipaldi was now 15 seconds behind Lauda, Jarier had retired with a seized rear wheel bearing, Brambilla dropped back to seventh as he was being tossed about because of loose seat supports, and a terrific battle for third place was raging between Hunt, Mass, Peterson and Scheckter. Mass pushed Hunt hard for several laps, and was able to get by the Hesketh on lap 33. With nine laps to go, Peterson also passed Hunt, who was struggling with his gear selection and brake balance. Just three laps from the flag, Mass felt his brakes fading, and Peterson smelled a chance for the podium. As he closed on the McLaren, however, he locked up his left front tire under braking. The resulting flat spot made it very difficult to get through Turn One, and slowed him enough for Hunt to retake fourth on the last lap.
Lauda allowed his lead to dwindle to just under five seconds at the finish, and savored the fitting climax to his first Championship season. He said he did not care a bit about his statistical achievements as the first World Champion and first Ferrari driver to win the United States Grand Prix, but he did care about the prize money!
|2||1||Emerson Fittipaldi||McLaren-Ford||59||+ 4.943 s||2||6|
|3||2||Jochen Mass||McLaren-Ford||59||+ 47.637 s||9||4|
|4||24||James Hunt||Hesketh-Ford||59||+ 49.475 s||15||3|
|5||5||Ronnie Peterson||Lotus-Ford||59||+ 49.986 s||14||2|
|6||3||Jody Scheckter||Tyrrell-Ford||59||+ 50.321 s||10||1|
|7||9||Vittorio Brambilla||March-Ford||59||+ 1:44.031||6|
|8||10||Hans Joachim Stuck||March-Ford||58||+ 1 Lap||13|
|9||28||John Watson||Penske-Ford||57||+ 2 laps||12|
|10||30||Wilson Fittipaldi||Fittipaldi-Ford||55||+ 4 Laps||23|
|NC||16||Tom Pryce||Shadow-Ford||52||Not Classified||7|
|NC||6||Brian Henton||Lotus-Ford||49||Not Classified||19|
|WD||11||Clay Regazzoni||Ferrari||28||Black Flag||11|
|Ret||17||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Shadow-Ford||19||Wheel bearing||4|
- During the race, Clay Regazzoni was holding up Emerson Fittipaldi for six laps, until Regazzoni was blacked flagged and Fittipaldi had some heated words to say to the Ferrari driver after the race.
- This was the final race for Tony Brise and Embassy Racing with Graham Hill. On the evening of 29 November 1975, double-world champion Graham Hill was piloting a Piper Aztec light aircraft from France to London. His passengers were team manager Ray Brimble, driver Tony Brise, designer Andy Smallman and mechanics Terry Richards and Tony Alcock. They were returning from Circuit Paul Ricard where they had been testing the GH2 car being prepared for 1976. They were due to land at Elstree airfield before onward travel to London to attend a party. Shortly before 10pm, the plane hit trees beside a golf course at Arkley in thick fog. In the ensuing crash and explosion, everyone on board was killed. As the team now only consisted of the deputy team manager and two mechanics. It was impossible to continue, and so the team was closed down.
Standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Only the best 6 results from the first 7 races and the best 6 results from the last 7 races counted towards the Championship. Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.
- "Weather information for the "1975 United States Grand Prix"". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
- BBC, This day in history-- 1975: Graham Hill killed in air crash.
- Graham Hill, 46, Retired Racer, In Fatal Crash Piloting His Plane. UPI News Service. December 1, 1975 (Monday) New York Times archive
- "Motor racing legend Graham Hill killed in a plane crash". The Guardian (London: Guardian Newspapers). 2 December 2008. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Bardon, P. "Report on the accident at Arkley Golf Course". AAIB Formal Reports. Air Accidents Investigations Branch. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
- Doug Nye (1978). The United States Grand Prix and Grand Prize Races, 1908–1977. B. T. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-1263-1
- Rob Walker (January, 1976). "17th United States Grand Prix: Ferrari's First World Championship Formula 1 Win In America". Road & Track, 70–73.
1975 Italian Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
1976 Brazilian Grand Prix
1974 United States Grand Prix
|United States Grand Prix||Next race:
1976 United States Grand Prix