French GP 1974

French GP, 1974

The French Grand Prix continued to be a race in search of a home and arrived in 1974 at Dijon-Prenois. It was the sixth different circuit in nine seasons. The 2.0-mile track was not really up to standard and with 30 entries the paddock was packed. There were several important changes. Carlos Pace had found a job with the Hexagon of Highgate Brabham team, alongside John Watson, while his place at Surtees had gone to Frenchman Jose Dolhem . The Iso Marlboro team rented out its second car to another Frenchman Jean-Pierre Jabouille, while the Finnish Colt Surtees reappeared in the hands of Leo Kinnunen and Gerard Larrousse was back in his Finotto Brabham. The organizers decided that only 22 cars should start and so eight failed to qualify. Attempts were made by FOCA to get the organizers to restrict the entry and these caused considerable discontent amongst the small teams.

Pole position went to World Championship challenger Niki Lauda (Ferrari) with Ronnie Peterson alongside him on the front row in his Lotus. Third on the grid was the very impressive Tom Pryce (Shadow) alongside the second Ferrari of Clay Regazzoni while World Championship leader Emerson Fittipaldi was fifth, just beating his McLaren team mate Mike Hailwood. The top 10 was completed by Jody Scheckter (Tyrrell), Carlos Reutemann (Brabham), Patrick Depailler (who had to race in an old Tyrrell after crashing his 007) and James Hunt (Hesketh).

At the start Pryce was worried about his car overheating and was watching his gauges when the flag was dropped. Reutemann made a good start and tried to pass the cars ahead of him and ran into Pryce, punting the Shadow into the path of Hunt. The two British drivers were both eliminated as they had been a fortnight earlier in Holland. Reutemann also retired at the end of the lap.

At the front Lauda was head of Peterson and Regazzoni with Hailwood and Scheckter giving chase. Further back Fittipaldi made rapid progress through the field and overtook Jacky Ickx (Lotus) for sixth place on the fifth lap. Next time around Scheckter overtook Hailwood for fourth. Hailwood then dropped behind Fittipaldi as well, the Brazilian then closing up on Scheckter. he overtook the South African on lap 15.

Two laps later Peterson was able to dive ahead of Lauda and take the lead. He quickly pulled away from Lauda, who was suffering from a vibration problem. Regazzoni was left alone in third place while fourth-placed Fittipaldi closed in on the Ferrari but then went out with engine failure on lap 28. This promoted Ickx to fifth and Denny Hulme (McLaren) to sixth. The order remained unchanged for the last 50 laps although Scheckter provided some excitement by closing right up to Regazzoni in the closing stages. The pair finished just two-tenths apart. Ickx and Hulme also crossed the line separated by tenths.

The result meant that Lauda took the lead in the World Championship with Regazzoni moving up to second place ahead of Fittipaldi.

Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Cosworth 72E 80 1h21m55.020s  
12 Niki Lauda Ferrari 312B3 80 1h22m15.380s  
11 Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 312B3 80 1h22m22.860s  
Jody Scheckter Tyrrell-Cosworth 007 80 1h22m23.130s  
Jacky Ickx Lotus-Cosworth 72E 80 1h22m32.560s  13 
Denny Hulme McLaren-Cosworth M23 80 1h22m33.160s  11 
33 Mike Hailwood McLaren-Cosworth M23 79  
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth 006 79  
20 Arturo Merzario Iso Marlboro-Cosworth FW 79  15 
10 14 Jean-Pierre Beltoise BRM P201 79  17 
11 10 Vittorio Brambilla March-Cosworth 741 79  16 
12 17 Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow-Cosworth DN3 79  12 
13 26 Graham Hill Lola-Cosworth T370 78  21 
14 37 Francois Migault BRM P160E 78  22 
15 27 Guy Edwards Lola-Cosworth T370 77  20 
16 28 John Watson Brabham-Cosworth BT42 76  14 
Emerson Fittipaldi McLaren-Cosworth M23 27 Engine 
Carlos Reutemann Brabham-Cosworth BT44 24 Handling 
19 Jochen Mass Surtees-Cosworth TS16 Clutch 18 
15 Henri Pescarolo BRM P201 Clutch 19 
16 Tom Pryce Shadow-Cosworth DN3 Accident 
24 James Hunt Hesketh-Cosworth 308 Accident 10 
nq 22 Vern Schuppan Ensign-Cosworth N174   23 
nq 34 Carlos Pace Brabham-Cosworth BT42   24 
nq 21 Jean-Pierre Jabouille Iso Marlboro-Cosworth FW   25 
nq Hans-Joachim Stuck March-Cosworth 741   26 
nq 18 Jose Dolhem Surtees-Cosworth TS16   27 
nq Rikky von Opel Brabham-Cosworth BT44   28 
nq 23 Leo Kinnunen Surtees-Cosworth TS16   29 
nq 43 Gerard Larrousse Brabham-Cosworth BT42   30