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1971 United States Grand Prix

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1971 United States Grand Prix

  1971 United States Grand Prix
Race details
Race 11 of 11 in the 1971 Formula One season

Date October 3 1971
Official name XIV 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 Dry


Pole position
Driver Jackie Stewart Tyrrell-Ford
Time 1:42.642
Fastest lap
Driver Jacky Ickx Ferrari
Time 1:43.474 on lap 43
Podium
First François Cevert Tyrrell-Ford
Second Jo Siffert BRM
Third Ronnie Peterson March-Ford

The 1971 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One race held on October 3, 1971 at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course in Watkins Glen, New York.


Summary

Jackie Stewart's domination in 1971 clinched his second Driver's Championship with three races remaining, but the final round belonged to his Tyrrell teammate, François Cevert. The Frenchman took the lead from Stewart on lap 14 and went on to claim his only career win, the first GP victory for a French driver since Maurice Trintignant in 1958.

As usual, the American race attracted a large field of entrants, despite it being the last race of the year and both Championships having long been wrapped up. It seemed nearly every spare works F1 car and quite a few independents, as well, were present to try for a share of the $267,000 in prize money, easily the richest purse in F1. Unfortunately, the two most popular American drivers, Mario Andretti and Mark Donohue, who was fresh from a stunning third place finish in Canada in his Formula One debut, were committed to drive on Sunday in a USAC race which had incomprehensibly been rescheduled to the GP weekend after a previous rainout. The two drivers qualified, Andretti in a Ferrari and Donohue in a McLaren shared with David Hobbs, hoping for more rain in New Jersey and the chance to return for the race on Sunday. Since the previous year's race, the course had been resurfaced, widened and, most significantly, lengthened by a mile to 3.377 miles with an entirely new section at the southwest corner called the "Boot" or "Anvil". The pits were also moved from the north end straight back before the right angle turn known as "The 90," which now became Turn One.

Friday was sunny and hot (105°!), and Stewart jumped immediately to the top of the charts with a time of 1:42.844, as the times were recorded to a thousandth of a second for the first time. On Saturday, with the temperature now 110° and both Goodyear's and Firestone's qualifying tires breaking down after a few laps, Emerson Fittipaldi pipped Stewart's time from the day before, but the Scot returned to the track and grabbed the pole by .017 of a second. Denny Hulme joined them on the front row in his McLaren, followed by Clay Regazzoni's Ferrari, Cevert and the soon-to-be-absent Andretti. American Peter Revson qualified nineteenth in the third Tyrrell. It was his only race for Tyrrell and his first Grand Prix since 1964.

Sunday was dry in both upstate New York and Trenton, and word came that the USAC race would go on, dismaying both the crowd and the organizers, who were robbed of seeing the country's two best road racers. At the start, Hulme jumped into the lead, ahead of Cevert and Stewart, but by the end of the first lap, Stewart led Hulme, Cevert, Regazzoni, Jo Siffert, Jacky Ickx, Chris Amon and Fittipaldi.

At first, Stewart was able to open a gap back to the following group, now headed by his teammate, but after ten laps, his tires began to go off and the gap closed. The Scot realized that Cevert's Goodyears were holding up much better in the heat, and when Cevert closed up right behind him, he waved him by on lap 14. Hulme was now struggling with a terrible vibration in his tires and was passed, first by Ickx, then Regazzoni and Siffert. On lap 15, American Sam Posey, in his first Grand Prix, retired from a fine run with a blown piston in his Surtees. By the time Ickx could get around Stewart on lap 17, Cevert's lead was 5.7 seconds.

At about half-distance, Cevert finally began to struggle with the same understeer that had plagued Stewart much earlier. Ickx was closing, and his Firestones were getting better as the race went on. On lap 43, the Belgian set the fastest lap of the race, and the gap was down to 2.2 seconds. Then, on lap 49, the Ferrari's alternator fell off, punching a hole in the gearbox and spilling oil all over the track! Hulme hit the oil and spun into the barrier, bending his front suspension. He was standing beside the track when Cevert came by and also hit the barrier, but kept going, now 29 seconds in the lead!

Jo Siffert was now in second place and 33 seconds clear of Ronnie Peterson. With four laps to go, however, Siffert began to run low on fuel. The Swede took huge chunks off the gap as Siffert jerked the BRM from side to side, trying to use every remaining drop of fuel. Cevert coasted home, taking both hands off the wheel to wave as he crossed the line, and Siffert weaved his way around to hold second place by four seconds over Peterson's March.

After taking the checkered flag, Cevert gave a nod to his teammate. "I feel pretty good with a $50,000 win. I followed Stewart in the beginning and was flagged on ahead. Jackie Stewart is a very sensible driver and a very good teacher. He let me go through." While it was the first race on the expanded Watkins Glen track, it was the third year in a row that The Glen had rewarded a driver with his first career victory.

Classification

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 9 François Cevert Tyrrell-Ford 59 1:43:51.991 5 9
2 14 Jo Siffert BRM 59 + 40.062 6 6
3 25 Ronnie Peterson March-Ford 59 + 44.070 11 4
4 16 Howden Ganley BRM 59 + 56.749 12 3
5 8 Jackie Stewart Tyrrell-Ford 59 + 1:00.003 1 2
6 5 Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 59 + 1:16.426 4 1
7 22 Graham Hill Brabham-Ford 58 + 1 Lap 18  
8 12 Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra 58 + 1 Lap 10  
9 15 Peter Gethin BRM 58 + 1 Lap 21  
10 31 David Hobbs McLaren-Ford 58 + 1 Lap 22  
11 27 Andrea de Adamich March-Alfa Romeo 57 + 2 Laps 26  
12 11 Chris Amon Matra 57 + 2 Laps 8  
13 17 Helmut Marko BRM 57 + 2 Laps 16  
14 28 John Cannon BRM 56 + 3 Laps 24  
15 20 Mike Hailwood Surtees-Ford 54 Accident 14  
16 29 Jo Bonnier McLaren-Ford 54 Out of fuel 28  
17 18 John Surtees Surtees-Ford 54 + 5 Laps 13  
NC 33 Skip Barber March-Ford 52 Not Classified 25  
NC 32 Jacky Ickx Ferrari 49 Alternator 7  
NC 2 Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus-Ford 49 Not Classified 2  
NC 30 Pete Lovely Lotus-Ford 49 Not Classified 29  
Ret 7 Denny Hulme McLaren-Ford 47 Accident 3  
Ret 23 Tim Schenken Brabham-Ford 41 Engine 15  
Ret 24 Chris Craft Brabham-Ford 30 Suspension 27  
Ret 19 Sam Posey Surtees-Ford 15 Piston 17  
Ret 21 Henri Pescarolo March-Ford 23 Engine 20  
Ret 26 Nanni Galli March-Ford 11 Wheel 23  
Ret 3 Reine Wisell Lotus-Ford 5 Brakes 9  
Ret 10 Peter Revson Tyrrell-Ford 1 Clutch 19  

Notes

  • The win, naturally, was the high point of Cevert's career, which would end at The Glen two years later, just as he was set to take over the Number One drive at Tyrrell from the retiring Stewart.
  • This was Jo Siffert's last race, as he was killed violently 3 weeks later in a non-championship race at Brands Hatch in the UK.
  • It was also Jo Bonnier's last race, as he would die next year at the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Championship standings after the race

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Only the best 5 results from the first 6 rounds and the best 4 results from the last 5 rounds counted towards the Championship. Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.

References

  • 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, 1972). "13th U.S. Grand Prix: A First For Number Two". Road & Track, 39-43.
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1971 Canadian Grand Prix
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