Jackie Ickx in the Ferrari 312B2 driving to a 5th place finish in the 1972 U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, won by Jackie Stewart over teammate Francois Cevert for Tyrrell.
Courtesy of Old Racing Cars.
Jackie Stewart, having just lost his World Champion’s crown to Emerson Fittipaldi in 1972, asserted his intentions to get it back, as he dominated the entire U.S. Grand Prix weekend with pole, win and fastest lap and completed a sweep of the North American races. It was the 22nd victory of the Scot’s career, and his fourth in 1972.
There was a huge field of 31 cars for the final race of the 1972 season — due in part to then-staggering amount of $275,000 in prize money — with many teams entering third cars. McLaren ran its spare car for a youngster named Jody Scheckter. Surtees loaned out one car to Sam Posey while running Tim Schenken, Mike Hailwood and Andrea de Adamich. Qualifying saw Stewart fastest with Peter Revson and Denny Hulme alongside him on the front row in their McLarens. Francois Cevert shared the second row with Carlos Reutemann’s Brabham, while Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari), Chris Amon (Matra) and the impressive young Scheckter were on the third row. Emerson Fittipaldi (Lotus) and Mario Andretti (Ferrari) completed the top 10.
Sunday began bright and sunny, but by the time the cars assembled on the grid, the skies were threatening rain. Stewart jumped quickly from P1 and immediately began to pull away from the rest of the field, Denny Hulme hanging on for second. Mario Andretti charged from a 10th place starting position up the inside of the first corner in his Ferrari, banging wheels with Carlos Reutemann’s Brabham and Revson’s McLaren. Andretti continued, to the delight of the crowd. But Regazzoni shunted into Reutemann and Revson. This enabled Fittipaldi to grab third place with Scheckter fourth, a fast-starting Jacky Ickx (Ferrari) fifth and then the recovering Regazzoni. Both Revson and Reutemann had to stop for repairs. On lap five Fittipaldi had to pit because of a slow puncture and so Scheckter moved to third place. Cevert now began to charge and after passing the Ferraris he was able to catch and overtake Scheckter for third place. At half distance Cevert caught and passed Hulme to give Tyrrell a 1-2. On lap 40, a brief shower suddenly soaked Turn One. Scheckter, running marvellously in fourth place, was caught out by the slippery surface in the downhill, 90-degree right-hander and spun his McLaren up onto the bank. Ickx, in the meantime, repassed Peterson to take P4 vacated by Scheckter.
On the last lap, Stewart coasted home 33s ahead of Cevert (Hulme another 5s back). One minute from the flag, Ickx’s Ferrari began trailing smoke. Peterson pulled alongside him and signalled frantically at the back of the car. The Swede’s gamesmanship worked, as Peterson beat the Ferrari to the line by just over 1/2 second to take fourth place.