- 1975 United States Grand Prix
Infobox Grand Prix race report
Type = F1
Country = United States
Grand Prix = United States
Official name = XVIII United States Grand Prix
Date = October 5
Year = 1975
Race_No = 14
Season_No = 14
Location = Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course
Watkins Glen, New York
Course = Permanent road course
Course_mi = 3.377
Course_km = 5.435
Distance_laps = 59
Distance_mi = 199.24
Distance_km = 320.67
Weather = Partly sunny, very warm
Pole_Driver = flagicon|Austria
Pole_Team = Ferrari
Pole_Time = 1:42.003
Fast_Driver = flagicon|Brazil
Fast_Time = 1:43.374
First_Driver = flagicon|Austria Niki Lauda
First_Team = Ferrari
Second_Driver = flagicon|Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi
Second_Team = McLaren-Ford
Third_Driver = flagicon|West Germany
Third_Team = McLaren-Ford
With eight poles, five wins, the Driver's 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 Laudahad something to say about both of these "statistics," however, and convincingly won both the pole and the race.
There were already controversial rumblings in the paddock before practice even began. The
Canadian Grand Prixhad 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 Associationover 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 Donahuehad been fatally injured in practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, and John Watson had replaced Donahue on the Penske team. Lauda was quickest from the start, as the drivers got accustomed to the new layout. Vittorio Brambillabriefly 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 Fittipaldiwho 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 Andrettiand Brambilla took the rest of the top sixpositions 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 Laffitemistook 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 Depaillerwent out of the race together on lap 2 when Pace tried to sneak his Brabhaminside the Tyrrell at the end of the back straight. Depailler didn't see him, and the collision put them both into the catch fence.
The gap between Lauda's Ferrari and Fittipaldi's
McLarensettled at about one second. Mass, who had moved up to sixth, suddenly lost three places to Andretti, James Hunt, and Ronnie Petersonwhen he accidentally switched off his engine. On the next lap, with Jochen Massnow immediately in front of him, Clay Regazzonismashed 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 12 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!
F1 race report
United States Grand Prix
Year_of_race = 1975
1975 Italian Grand Prix
1976 Brazilian Grand Prix
1974 United States Grand Prix
1976 United States Grand Prix
* 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.
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