Chris Amon's greatest drive - 1972 French GP

In 2011 Chris Amon told Autosport magazine about his greatest race for our 'Race of my Life' feature. Following his death, Autosport is republishing the story in tribute to the former grand prix driver and Le Mans 24 hours winner:

Chris Amon's greatest drive - 1972 French GP

The race that sticks in my mind is the 1972 French Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand with the Matra. It was the first race for the MS120D.

We'd been having all sorts of problems with the engines and when we got to Clermont there were no F1 engines available so we had to use a sportscar engine. It had three-ring pistons, while the F1 engine had two-ring pistons, and a few other differences.

The F1 engine was quoted as having 30 or 40 more bhp, but once in the chassis the sportscar engine was probably giving more power because it allowed the oil to scavenge better.

The MS120D felt very good straight out of the box. Right from early on I knew we had a pretty good chance. I was right up there in practice and got pole position.

The big worry I had was that we carried so much more fuel in the V12s than the [Cosworth DFV] V8s - 30 to 40kg more at the start. The first few laps were always a battle because you were fighting that extra weight.

I managed to get away in front, just, albeit under a lot of pressure from Denny Hulme [McLaren M19C] and Jackie Stewart [Tyrrell 003]. Then, as the fuel burned off, I started to pull away a bit and it was feeling really good.

Then Denny dropped back and I had a reasonable cushion back to Jackie. I thought I could afford to ease back a bit and I got a bloody puncture. There were a lot of loose stones - they were all over the track, you couldn't pick a line through them.

It was a comedy pitstop. The wheel jammed and I was in the pits for a minute and a half or so.

From that point I just went for it. I drove as quickly as I could and I lapped almost as quickly as my pole time. I managed to pass Francois Cevert [Tyrrell 002] and Ronnie Peterson [March 721G] on the same lap, which I was quite pleased about.

With one lap to go I was eight or so seconds behind Emerson Fittipaldi [Lotus 72D] and I ended up four seconds behind in third. One more lap and I'd have got past him. I was 30 seconds behind Jackie at the end - I'd taken a minute or so out of him, though he might have backed off.

I really felt nobody could touch me that day. I had a clear margin over everybody. I wish I knew why - I'd have done it every time!

Originally published in April 7, 2011 issue. Chris Amon was talking to Kevin Turner

shares
comments
Sauber F1 team set to introduce front wing from new concept at Spa

Previous article

Sauber F1 team set to introduce front wing from new concept at Spa

Next article

Mercedes F1's Wolff missing having to fight Ferrari this season

Mercedes F1's Wolff missing having to fight Ferrari this season
Load comments
How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’ Plus

How Lotus F1 uncovered, then squandered its last ‘unfair advantage’

Cast in the mould of its founder Colin Chapman, Lotus was powerful and daring but 
flawed – as it proved through further soaring peaks and painful troughs into the 1980s. DAMIEN SMITH examines a game-changing era

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address Plus

The core problems Yas Marina’s long-awaited tweaks won't address

OPINION: Changes to the layout of Abu Dhabi’s circuit aim to reverse the trend of insipid Formula 1 races there - the promoter has even described one of the new corners as “iconic”. And that, argues STUART CODLING, is one of this venue’s abiding failings

Formula 1
Jul 26, 2021
How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't Plus

How Ferrari offered Britain's next F1 prospect what Red Bull couldn't

Last year's Formula 2 runner-up Callum Ilott could be on his way to becoming the first Briton to contest a grand prix in an Alfa Romeo since Reg Parnell in 1950. But, says OLEG KARPOV, the Ferrari Driver Academy protege is having to temper his ambition at the moment – outwardly at least…

Formula 1
Jul 25, 2021
The signs that point to F1's rude health Plus

The signs that point to F1's rude health

OPINION: Formula 1's calendar might still be facing disruption as the pandemic affects travel but, says MARK GALLAGHER, the business itself is fundamentally strong thanks to the epic rivalry taking place on track and the consistent arrival of new sponsors

Formula 1
Jul 24, 2021
The unexpected benefit of F1’s sprint race repeat Plus

The unexpected benefit of F1’s sprint race repeat

OPINION: Formula 1's sprint race trial at Silverstone drew mixed feedback on Saturday, but there remained the true test of how it would impact Sunday's Grand Prix. While fans were busy marvelling at Fernando Alonso's progress, a key lesson was being learned that would directly contribute to the dramatic lap one clash at Copse the following day

Formula 1
Jul 22, 2021
The off-track considerations that led to F1’s Hamilton/Verstappen Silverstone shunt Plus

The off-track considerations that led to F1’s Hamilton/Verstappen Silverstone shunt

OPINION: Formula 1’s 2021 title fight turned ugly last weekend when Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton collided at the start of the British Grand Prix. Verstappen thankfully walked away unharmed, but this had been a clash long-since coming

Formula 1
Jul 21, 2021
Will 2022's all-new cars look like F1's concept model? Plus

Will 2022's all-new cars look like F1's concept model?

Formula 1 provided its clearest example yet of what the 2022 cars are set to look like when it presented a full-scale concept to the world during the build-up to last weekend’s British Grand Prix. Underneath the special shiny livery was a design that hinted at the future, but teams will be digging into key areas that may reap differing results

Formula 1
Jul 20, 2021
British Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

British Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The 2021 British Grand Prix will live long in the memory for the dramatic clash between Formula 1's two title protagonists, which opened the door for other drivers to capitalise. One did so in spectacular fashion, while others fluffed their lines

Formula 1
Jul 19, 2021