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Fog at the 1973 Canadian GP: who was the winner?

Fog at the GP Canada 1973
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M osport was not an inviting place. A dangerous and run-down rumble run in a hilly landscape northeast of Toronto. Especially not on a cold and gray autumn day like this September 23, 1973

But the penultimate round of the world championship, which had long been decided in favor of Jackie Stewart, has a firm place in the history of Formula 1. It was the race that nobody knows who won it. The first Grand Prix in which a pace car went onto the track, although it didn't even exist back then. And Jackie Stewart's last GP start, which was not planned that way.

Three drivers claim victory for themselves

The scenes at the finish line were not without a certain comedy. Lotus boss Colin Chapman threw Emerson Fittipaldi's black corduroy hat in front of the car. This is how he received every Lotus winner. Jackie Oliver put his fist out of his Shadow. But the race director was waiting for someone else with the black and white checkered flag.

McLaren driver Peter Revson was crowned the winner in a race that overwhelmed all timekeepers. After three hours of calculating and comparing the lap tables, they found out: The most likely winner was Peter Revson. To this day it is not clear whether it really was him.

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Peter Revson in the McLaren M23: Is he really the real winner?

Rain, fog, an inflation of pit stops on a drying track and the first use of a pace car paved the way for the confusion. The fastest in training, Ronnie Peterson, was only able to enjoy his lead for two laps. Then Niki Lauda rushed up from behind. An absolute sensation back then. The B.R.M. was not a winning car in 1973 and Lauda was not yet a winning driver.

But for the wet road, Firestone had better tires.Carlos Pace in Surtees and Laudas B.R.M. colleague Jean-Pierre Beltoise also benefited from the Firestone advantage and moved forward. The Goodyear faction struggled with severe oversteer.

From the 33rd lap, chaos broke out

When the track began to dry up, B.R.M. his man at the top turned to intermediates. The guide was gone. Lauda later had to pit again to change tires. This time from intermediates to slicks. A damage to the power transmission brought Lauda's great ride to an undeserved end.

Lauda was followed by Emerson Fittipaldi as the new front runner. But from the 33rd lap, chaos broke out. In the middle of a series of tire changes, Francois Cevert and Jody Scheckter crashed so hard in the third McLaren that the ambulance, a tow truck and, three laps late, the pace car deployed. Officially, that didn't really exist in Formula 1. It was common in North America. The race management needed an emergency solution in order to organize the field and regain an overview. In fact, it only created more question marks.

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Niki Lauda drove a terrific race until he retired .

The lead car sat in front of Howden Ganley's Williams. At first he was surprised by the free lead, but grew with the new task and even kept Jackie Stewart in check for a while after the race was open. In the passenger seat of the Porsche 914 sat Peter MacIntosh, the secretary of the FOCA team association. He radioed the race management that they had chosen the wrong one. Answer from the control center: “Stay in front of starting number 25.” That was Ganley.

One lap behind or one lap?

The teams interpreted the events on the slopes differently. For them, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Jackie Oliver and Peter Revson were at the top. Since the three of them were driving in front of the pace car when it hit the track, they were either a full lap behind or they were ahead of the field. If it was a lap behind, it was quickly made up for with the slowly rolling convoy. Within two laps, the three were back at the tail of the field.

EmersonFittipaldi, stuck behind Ganley and Stewart, had to do this job at racing pace once the race was open. When the Brazilian managed to do that and overtook Oliver and Beltoise on the penultimate lap, Lotus assumed that his driver would win.

A pit stop that nobody noticed

The race management saw it different. For them, Peter Revson had led from the 49th lap. The McLaren driver therefore had a 32-second lead over the Fittipaldi-Oliver combat group at the finish. Jean-Pierre Beltoise was downgraded to 4th place. He is said to have made a pit stop in the mess that nobody noticed.

To explain the result plausibly, Jackie Stewart and Howden Ganley were each deducted one lap. Stewart was surprised that he was even awarded fifth place: “How is that possible? I was in the pits three times. ”

The new world champion only played a minor role in training on the Mosport mogul slope. The Scot complained of problems with the road holding. Perhaps the imminent resignation, of which no one suspected anything, played a role in the back of the mind. Actually, Stewart wanted to drive his last Grand Prix two weeks later in Watkins-Glen. But that didn't happen. After the fatal accident of his teammate Francois Cevert during training, Tyrrell withdrew the entry. Stewart experienced the US GP as a spectator.

auto motor und sport is celebrating the 1,000th. Formula 1 races this season with a large series in 100 parts. In the daily countdown we provide you with an exciting story and interesting video features from the history of the premier class. You can find all previous articles on our >> Overview page for the big anniversary Grand Prix.

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