1973 SPANISH GP
MONTJUICH PARK LOTUS 72E (RETIRED)
Jackie Stewart and Tyrrell was the best combination of 1973, but the fastest was Peterson and Lotus, as shown by his nine poles from the 15 rounds. Reliability was a problem though and nowhere was this better demonstrated than in April’s Spanish GP at Montjuich Park.
Peterson was still looking for his first win and took pole on the punishing street circuit by 0.7s from Denny Hulme’s Mclaren M23. The Jps-liveried 72 held the lead at the start and then drove a controlled race that sounds very much like the ‘managed GPS’ of the modern day.
“Colin Chapman had instructed Ronnie to reach and hold a 4s advantage; he was fitted with a hard compound on the right-front only and tyre life was to be achieved by subdued driving and reliance on the JPS’S demonstrated superiority,” wrote Autosport reporter Pete Lyons.
Even running a conservative pace, Peterson edged away, with troubles befalling many of the cars behind.
“Ronnie showed complete mastery of the race,” added Lyons. “Whatever the eventual outcome he had proven himself the moral winner.”
But that is all he would be. Peterson started losing gears and retired shortly after two-thirds distance. It was thus team-mate Emerson Fittipaldi who scored Lotus’s 50th victory, putting it ahead of Ferrari to top the all-time constructors’ wins list at the time.