At the end of the year 1971 B.R.M. team principal Louis Stanley had pulled out the Bourne based team of the industry group of his father-in-law Sir Alfred Owen. B.R.M. had scored two unexpected Grand Prix wins that year with Siffert in Austria and Gethin in Italy with also some further good positions to their credit. But they also had lost both their top drivers. Pedro Rodriguez had been killed in a sportscar accident at German Nuremberg in July, Jo Siffert had died in a non-championship event in October.
B.R.M. also had lost their tittle sponsor for the past two years, cosmetics company Yardley, who belonged to the British American Tobacco group. They joined McLaren for the next 3 years. US-American food and tobacco group Philip Morris with their cigarette brand Marlboro had been recruited as his personal sponsor by Swiss racing driver and businessman Jo Siffert back in 1970. Marlboro had also co-sponsored Siffert´s private Porsche 917/10 in the 1971 CanAm sportscar series, that´s main sponsor, also in red colours, was oil company STP Oil Treatment.
At the beginning of the seventies, cigarette advertising had been banned more and more from the television screens. Back in 1968 Colin Chapman of Team Lotus had introduced the British-Canadian tobacco company Player´s with their brand Gold Leaf into Grand Prix Racing. That was considered the second popular spectator sport after leading football worldwide with excellent television ratings in most the Western countries. Grand Prix Racing with the image of adventure and danger, was the ideal platform for the cigarette firms to present their products.
So Marlboro entered Grand Prix Racing as the second tobacco company overall to sponsor the team of British Racing Motors Ltd., that was renamed into Marlboro-B.R.M. They signed a contract with Jean Pierre Beltoise from France for being their new number one driver. That was a difficult task for the Frenchman, because, in contrast to his predecessor Jo Siffert, he had got defieciencies in the knowledge of the English language. No way of being the same great fighter, Beltoise was not the moral authority in leading a Grand Prix team.
Further troubles came from the fact, that Louis Stanley had intended to send up to 7 cars to the tracks to earn a maximum of prize money, becoming the greatest team in motorracing ever. That was a plan never been able to be realized, because the team had never so much cars avaliable to be raced. So in the most cases 4 or 5 B.R.M.´s were brought to the grid and none of the 10 drivers overall competed in all 12 Grand Prix of the 1972 worldchampionship. At the beginning of the season, at the Argentine round held at Buenos Aires, Beltoise had to leave out, because the year before, he had caused the fatal accident of Italian Ferrari driver Giunti, during the 1000 kms sports car race the same place. The lack of cars was so serious, that the drivers sometimes had to compete in 3 different models in the same race. These models, the P153, the regular P160 and the new P180, different versions or specifications were found of, so that set up finding became extremely difficult and the technical development ended in chaos. When Spaniard Alex Soler-Roig left the team after the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona not to be replaced, the things became a little better. Stanley ordered the crew to be re-organized and also signed up with additional personell.
The situation seemed to have changed at the 4th round of the 1972 worldchampionship, the Monaco Grand Prix at Monte Carlo. Beltoise qualified the best B.R.M., a P160 B-type, 4th on the grid, to take the lead immidiately under very wet conditions to keep it until the finish line. The most popular race of the year became the maiden Grand Prix victory for the new sponsor Marlboro. The crisis earlier that year seemed to be over after a very short while and the things looked promising again.
But the next drama was not far away. In the French Grand Prix at Clermont Ferrand Dr Helmut Marko, for the first time out in a P160, qualified 6th position on the grid, and in the race he had been near to the first worldchampionship points of his career, when a big stone from the rim of the track was thrown off by the March Ford of Swede Ronnie Peterson. The stone hit Marko´s vizor like a gun´s bullet to break through it and kill the Austrian´s left eye to make him retire from active competition some weeks later.
Only 5 further championship points were added to the nine ones of Beltoise in Monaco. The Marlboro B.R.M. armada was defeated teribbly in their debut year, in spite of Beltoise could win the non-championship Worldchampionship Victory Race of Brands Hatch with the P180 at the end of the season, which generally was considered only a succès d`estime.
But in spite of these difficulties, the Marlboro officials showed absolute loyalty for the 1973 Grand Prix season. Team boss Louis Stanley ordered a complete reorganisation of his company and the racing team. As Ferrari one year later, B.R.M. retired from sportscar racing and closed their CanAm project, to concentrate all their efforts on Formula One. Only 3 cars were brought to the tracks with 3 permanent drivers. Jean Pierre Beltoise remained in the team with a deeply cut salary. Former Ferrari driver Clay Regezzoni, the Swiss with the fighter image being out of any compromise when driving, became B.R.M.´s new team leader. Austrian novize Niki Lauda, who had had a very troubled debut year at March in 1972, would buy into the Bourne team by a personal sponsor. But this was a feint, Lauda and his manager had invented, because this had been the last chance for the young man from Vienna to stay in Grand Prix Racing. Lauda never had a personal sponsor of his own at that time, but he hoped to convince Louis Stanley by good performances, before the first bills of his not existing sponsor had to paid in spring 1973. This was a risky, but very clever idea, because after the Monaco Grand Prix Lauda had got a works driver´s contract by Louis Stanley - without the necessity of having paid a single penny before.
At the beginning of the season the old P153 types were sent into a museum and also the time of the P180 was over, earlier than expected, because it could not be adopted to the new safety regulations, that demanded a crash structure protecting the lateral fuel tanks from the Spanish Grand Prix on. Revised versions ( C to E types) of the Tony Southgate designed P160 were produced by Mike Pilbeam for the domestic made V12 engines, bringing also the Tyrrell inspired characteristic sportscar noses to them. While the chassis were in good condition, the engines were not as strong as the other V12s of Ferrari and Matra. At the opening round of the 1973 worldchampionship in Argentine Buenos Aires, Regazzoni took pole position and a 30 laps´lead. But in South Africa the Swiss was involved in collision with Jacky Ickx´s Ferrari and Mike Hailwood´s Surtees Ford caused by a spin of Lucky Strike Lotus privateer Dave Charlton. The B.R.M. caught fire in the last Grand Prix under the old technical regulations, but the driver, having lost his consciousness, was rescued by former motor-cycle worldchampion Hailwood. Regazzoni did not feel very well within the B.R.M. team after that accident, and that was also caused by the tyre situation. Firestone delivered their rubber to only 3 teams in 1973, while all the top teams relied on Goodyears, and their budget had been cut dramatically. But while Regazzoni lost a lot of his motivation, young Niki Lauda was on the way to become a great star.
Lauda scored his first ever worldchampionship points with a fine 5th place at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder and it easily could have been a 3rd one, if he had not come into the pits for an extra fuel stop shortly before the finish line. In Monaco he gave Jacky Ickx in the Ferrari a fine battle for 3rd place, until he had to retire with gearbox troubles in the second half of the race. In the wet practice for the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort he entered 1st position for the first time, followed by his maiden lead in the Canadian Grand Prix held at Mosport. This excellent performances qualified him for signing a Ferrari contract for 1974, in spite he had suffered by a broken wrist for 3 weeks caused by a slow puncture shunt at the Nuerburgring.
For Regazzoni the end of 1973 became a nightmare, because when he had demanded a great part of his salary to be paid, as it had been agreed by his contract, to express the threat to take legal action against the Bourne company, he was banned from taking part in the Canadian Grand Prix by Louis Stanley. In this race he was replaced by Peter Gethin and everybody in the business was laughing about this scandal.
The 1973 Grand Prix season was the second disappointment for Marlboro B.R.M. in a row. Jean Pierre Beltoise became their best driver with 9 points overall and position no. 10 in the worldchampionship, while Regazzoni and Lauda only finished the year 17th and 18th. So the Monaco win remained the 17th and last victory in the long history of British Racing Motors, a series, that once had begun in Zandvoort back in 1959 with a win of Joakim Bonnier. As 13 years later at Beltoise, it also remained the only career win of the Swede.
In winter 1973/74, an epoque that was characterized by the first energy crises, Marlboro switched to the McLaren team to sponsor the world champions Emerson Fittipaldi and Denny Hulme for 1974, to make the Brazilian champion again. Lauda and Regazzoni joined Ferrari for becoming their strongest rivals. The only driver of the 1973 B.R.M. trio to stay in Bourne, was Jean Pierre Beltoise to be re-installed as the team´s leader and joined by two other fellow countrymen, Henri Pescarolo and Francois Migault, because of the team´s new title sponsor, French oil company Motul. 1974 was the last season for British Racing Motors to compete in completely, the once so proud British team disappeared step by step, when the organizers of the Monaco refused the acceptance of their 1977 entry followed by permanent non-qualification.
Drivers: Jean Pierre Beltoise/F, Peter Gethin/GB, Howden Ganley/NZ, Dr Helmut Marko/A, Alex Soler-Roig/E, Reine Wisell/S, Jackie Oliver/GB, Brian Redman/GB, Vern Schuppan/AUS, Bill Brack/CAN
Cars: B.R.M. P153, B.R.M. P160, B.R.M. P180
Wordchampionship Position: 7th (of 9 teams)
Drivers: Clay Regazzoni/CH, Jean Pierre Beltoise/F, Niki Lauda/A
Car: B.R.M.P160 (C-E version)
Worldchampionship Position: 7th (of 11 teams)
Team Presentation 1972
Grand Prix of Monaco 1972
Marlboro B.R.M. Album 1972
Marlboro B.R.M. Album 1973
graphics by project * 2000
© 2001 by researchracing
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