French GP 1972

JULY 2, 1972

French GP, 1972

As the Dutch Grand Prix was canceled because safety work had not been done, there had been a month-long break between the Belgian and French GPs. In that time there had been a rather curious Grand Prix of the Italian Republic at the Vallelunga circuit, in the hills outside Rome. Ferrari did not bother to compete and there were only seven cars in the race after Niki Lauda had a big crash in his BRM in practice. The race was won by Emerson Fittipaldi from the Surtees of Andrea de Adamich. and Nanni Galli third in the new Tecno.

The Clermont Ferrand track had been improved to meet the new safety standards and there was a big field with Jackie Stewart back in action after missing the Belgian GP because of a stomach ulcer. Tyrrell had a new 005 chassis but this was crashed early on by Francois Cevert. The team ran a third car for Elf protege Formula 3 driver Patrick Depailler. McLaren again ran Brian Redman in its second car as Peter Revson was busy in a USAC race in Pocono. With Mario Andretti also away and Clay Regazzoni having broken his arm playing football, Ferrari took on Tecno driver Nanni Galli for the weekend. The Tecno was therefore driven by Derek Bell.

Qualifying saw the latest version of the Matra on pole position in the hands of Chris Amon with Denny Hulme second for McLaren. The second row featured Stewart and Jacky Ickx (Ferrari), while Tim Schenken (Surtees) and Helmut Marko (BRM) caused some excitement by qualifying on row three head of Francois Cevert (Tyrrell) and Emerson Fittipaldi (Lotus). Galli was disappointing in the Ferrari, qualifying only 19th while local hero Jean-Pierre Beltoise having to start at the back of the grid in Howden Ganley's car after his own broke down on Sunday morning.

Amon took the lead from Hulme and Stewart with Ickx and Marko chasing. In the opening laps Fittipaldi moved ahead of Hailwood, Schenken and Marko to take fifth place. On the ninth lap Marko's race (and sadly his career) ended when a stone thrown up by Fittipaldi's car hit him in the left eye. He lost sight in that eye and never raced F1 again, but did help to develop the careers of many young Austrian drivers in the years that followed, notably Gerhard Berger. Peterson inherited sixth place, having overtaken Hailwood. Stewart overtook Hulme on lap 17 and then Amon had to pit because on a puncture, caused by the flying stones and so Stewart took the lead. Hulme stopped for new tires and dropped down the order, leaving Ickx in second place. The Ferrari than had a puncture and Ickx had to pit and so Fittipaldi moved to second place ahead of Peterson and Cevert. In the closing laps Amon recovered, repassing Peterson (who had been overtaken by Cevert) and then Cevert himself to grab third place.

Jackie Stewart Tyrrell-Cosworth 003 38 1h52m21.500s  
Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus-Cosworth 72D 38 1h52m49.200s  
Chris Amon Matra Simca-Matra MS120D 38 1h52m53.400s  
Francois Cevert Tyrrell-Cosworth 002 38 1h53m10.800s  
12 Ronnie Peterson March-Cosworth 721G 38 1h53m18.300s  
26 Mike Hailwood Surtees-Cosworth TS9B 38 1h53m57.600s  10 
Denny Hulme McLaren-Cosworth M19C 38 1h54m09.600s  
19 Wilson Fittipaldi Brabham-Cosworth BT34 38 1h54m46.600s  14 
11 Brian Redman McLaren-Cosworth M19A 38 1h55m17.000s  13 
10 18 Graham Hill Brabham-Cosworth BT37 38 1h55m21.000s  20 
11 Jacky Ickx Ferrari 312B2 37  
12 20 Carlos Reutemann Brabham-Cosworth BT37 37  17 
13 30 Giovanni Galli Ferrari 312B2 37  19 
14 28 Andrea de Adamich Surtees-Cosworth TS9B 37  12 
15 Jean-Pierre Beltoise BRM P160B 37  24 
16 10 Rolf Stommelen Eifelland March-Cosworth 721 37  15 
17 27 Tim Schenken Surtees-Cosworth TS9B 36  
18r David Walker Lotus-Cosworth 72D 34 Transmission 22 
15 Mike Beuttler March-Cosworth 721G 33 Out Of Fuel 23 
nc Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth 004 33  16 
24 Reine Wisell BRM P160B 25 Gear Linkage 18 
17 Carlos Pace March-Cosworth 711 18 Engine 11 
25 Helmut Marko BRM P160B Hit By Flying Stone 
14 Niki Lauda March-Cosworth 721G Drive Shaft 21 
ns 16 Henri Pescarolo March-Cosworth 721  Accident 25 
ns 23 Howden Ganley BRM P160B  Car Raced By Beltoise 26 
ns 22 Peter Gethin BRM P160B  Accident 27 
ns 21 Derek Bell Tecno PA123  Chassis 28 
ns 29 Dave Charlton Lotus-Cosworth 72D  Car Unprepared 29