United States GP 1974

United States GP, 1974

It had been only a year since the death of Francois Cevert and the retirement of Jackie Stewart and yet the new generation of drivers had made that seem like ancient history. The World Championship had been a four-way battle between the Ferraris of Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni, the McLaren of Emerson Fittipaldi and the Tyrrell of Jody Scheckter but there had been seven different winners.

The World Championship had boiled down to three men: Fittipaldi with 53 points, Regazzoni with 52 and Scheckter, the outsider with 45. In pre-race testing Regazzoni had a huge accident and bruised his leg and Ferrari had to fly a new chassis out from Italy. Scheckter too needed a new car having demolished his at the Canadian GP. The only changes in the driver lineup were that Jose Dolhem had been brought back at Surtees after Derek Bell's failure to qualify in Canada, Eppie Wietzes did not reappear in a the Brabham he had raced in Mosport and Tim Schenken was being given a run in one of the troublesome Lotus 76s, while regular drivers Ronnie Peterson and Jacky Ickx concentrated on the ancient 72s.

Practice began with another big accident which left Jean-Pierre Beltoise with a cracked bone in his foot after he demolished one of the recalcitrant BRMs. He played no further part in the activities.

Pole position was taken by Carlos Reutemann (Brabham) with an impressive James Hunt taking second position in his Hesketh. Also impressive was third-placed Mario Andretti in the new Parnelli while Carlos Pace underlined Brabham's challenge with the fourth fastest time. Then came Lauda, Scheckter, John Watson (Hexagon Brabham) and Fittipaldi with his championship rival Regazzoni right behind him. The top 10 was completed by Jean-Pierre Jarier in his Shadow while behind them Jacques Laffite did a good job in the Iso-Marlboro to qualify 11th. More impressive was Chris Amon's 12th place in the only BRM. Further back Denny Hulme was starting his last Grand Prix from 17th on the grid and Peterson was a depressed 19th.

At the start Reutemann led Hunt into the first corner while Andretti's hopes ended with electrical troubles. This left pace third ahead of Lauda, Scheckter and Fittipaldi. Regazzoni was next but the Ferrari was handling terribly and in the laps that followed the Swiss driver dropped slowly back behind Watson and Arturo Merzario (Iso-Marlboro). All Fittipaldi had to do was to keep an eye on Scheckter.

On the tenth lap Helmut Koinigg crashed his Brabham head-on into the barriers. The car split the rails and the Austrian was killed instantly. Surtees withdrew Dolhem from the race when the news reached the pits.

But the race went on and at the front Reutemann still leading Hunt and Pace. Then came Scheckter and Fittipaldi. Regazzoni went into the pits to change tires but rejoined and found his Ferrari to be no better. He would continue to run for the rest of the afternoon but his World Championship hopes were over. Even if Fittipaldi retired he was unlikely to win the title.

In the mid-race Lauda began to suffer from handling trouble and dropped behind Scheckter, Fittipaldi and Merzario. He retired on lap 39. Hunt was in trouble in the closing laps and Pace closed up and took second place with four laps to go to give Brabham a 1-2. Hunt finished third while Fittipaldi's World Championship was secured when Scheckter retired on lap 45 with a fuel leak, leaving the McLaren driver to collect three points. Merzario also disappeared and so Watson took fifth and Patrick Depailler (Tyrrell) sixth.

Carlos Reutemann Brabham-Cosworth BT44 59 1h40m21.439s  
Carlos Pace Brabham-Cosworth BT44 59 1h40m32.174s  
24 James Hunt Hesketh-Cosworth 308 59 1h41m31.823s  
Emerson Fittipaldi McLaren-Cosworth M23 59 1h41m39.192s  
28 John Watson Brabham-Cosworth BT44 59 1h41m47.243s  
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth 007 59 1h41m48.945s  13 
33 Jochen Mass McLaren-Cosworth M23 59 1h41m51.451s  20 
26 Graham Hill Lola-Cosworth T370 58  24 
15 Chris Amon BRM P201 57  12 
10 17 Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow-Cosworth DN3 57  10 
11 11 Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 312B3 55  
12 27 Rolf Stommelen Lola-Cosworth T370 54  21 
Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Cosworth 72E 52 Fuel Line 19 
nc 22 Mike Wilds Ensign-Cosworth N174 50  22 
nc 16 Tom Pryce Shadow-Cosworth DN3 47  18 
Jody Scheckter Tyrrell-Cosworth 007 44 Fuel Line 
20 Arturo Merzario Iso Marlboro-Cosworth FW 43 Fire Extinguisher Discharge 15 
12 Niki Lauda Ferrari 312B3 38 Suspension  
21 Jacques Laffite Iso Marlboro-Cosworth FW 31 Wheel 11 
66 Mark Donohue Penske-Cosworth PC1 27 Suspension 14 
18 Jose Dolhem Surtees-Cosworth TS16 25 Withdrew 26 
10 Vittorio Brambilla March-Cosworth 741 21 Mechanical 25 
19 Helmut Koinigg Surtees-Cosworth TS16 Fatal Accident 23 
Jacky Ickx Lotus-Cosworth 72E Suspension/ Accident 16 
dq 31 Tim Schenken Lotus-Cosworth 76 Started Unofficially 27 
Denny Hulme McLaren-Cosworth M23 Engine 17 
dq 55 Mario Andretti Parnelli-Cosworth VPJ4 Push Start On Grid 
nq Hans-Joachim Stuck March-Cosworth 741   28 
nq 42 Ian Ashley Brabham-Cosworth BT42   29 
nq 14 Jean-Pierre Beltoise BRM P201  Accident/ Injury 30