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1973, Chris Amon and March


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#1 f1steveuk

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 09:17

I did a search, honest, and couldn't see any reference, so my question, which I don't think will take long to get answered is.

I am told, on very good authority, that Chris had a signed and sealed contract with March for 1973, but a massive falling out saw him sacked and the drive going variously to Jarier, Pescarolo and Williamson etc

Did they fall out,, did Chris change his mind, did Max change his mind? Chris has never been "money driven", although they did have STP money, so what happened?

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#2 Mallory Dan

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 09:21

Its all in the March book, Steve. Money I believe, though its implied MM wanted Amon out.

#3 Nanni Dietrich

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 09:55

It was definitely money.
In a recent interview (by MotorSport if I remember well), Amon said that Mosley offered him a ridiculous amount of money and he accepted the offer by Martini Racing to drive the problematic Tecno.
You remember, Chris drove two different Tecno cars during the season, built by two different teams, and managed to finish a fine 6th in Belgium, earning one championship point.

Edited by Nanni Dietrich, 02 July 2013 - 09:56.


#4 MCS

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 10:10

Did Jarier receive payment for the drive, or did Marcel Arnold pay for it? Or did he get the drive because the F2 seat was paid for?

I assume Tom Wheatcroft paid for Roger Williamson's two entries at Silverstone and Zandvoort whilst Jarier was engaged elsewhere in F2, but did Pescarolo pay in Spain? Again, I assume Wisell did in Sweden (Picko Troberg).

Also, when did STP pull out? Was it after the Zandvoort tragedy?

#5 f1steveuk

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 10:10

It was definitely money.
In a recent interview (by MotorSport if I remember well), Amon said that Mosley offered him a ridiculous amount of money and he accepted the offer by Martini Racing to drive the problematic Tecno.
You remember, Chris drove two different Tecno cars during the season, built by two different teams, and managed to finish a fine 6th in Belgium, earning one championship point.



I instantly thought "money" but as a I say, Chris wasn't money driven, and March had a budget to pay him. So they cannot have fallen out because Chris asked for more, that wasn't in his nature. Max cutting the amount, I could see that. So if the deal was done, how did money become an issue?


The E731 Tecno was quite a good concept, I believe Chris said it was the best chassis he ever sat in, the PA731 designed by Alan McCall was their first go at a monocoque (because of the reg's) but the engine needed a lot more spending on it!

#6 Tim Murray

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 10:22

Here's how Dr Mike explained things in the book:

In the meantime if March was to stay in F1 it needed a top-line driver, someone whose name might attract more sponsorship, and Max began to court a driver of enormous talent whose team had decided to call it a day. Please welcome the return of Chris Amon. After the dramas of 1970, Chris and Max had buried the hatchet and had become quite good friends. Chris needed a berth, Max was persuasive, and declarations of intent were made on both sides. There was no money in the kitty (March made a profit of just £3000 in 1972) and Chris would not receive a retainer but Max would do his best to raise sponsorship, which would be shared. Originally Howden Ganley was pencilled in for the number two seat, but March couldn't afford that so he was erased and as part of the deal Chris sold his engine-building facility at Reading, which had been a fairly disastrous operation, and that then became March Engines.

Everything looked rosy until Chris wrote Max a letter in which he expressed the hope that Max was doing everything he could to find sponsorship because he, Chris, was mindful of life's little luxuries such as food. Max took this entirely the wrong way and thought Chris was looking for a way out and would happily skip to another team if the money didn't arrive. Chris denies this, but it was a classic case of miscommunication. "I was surprised to hear on the radio I'd been dropped. Later Max more or less admitted he'd made a mistake, but I can't for the life of me think why he did." Amon eventually found a seat with the disastrous Tecno project, which effectively ended his career, while March faced 1973 with neither a star driver nor a new car. As things turned out, it was a blessing in disguise.



#7 f1steveuk

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 12:27

This sort of contradicts what a March insider told me. As I said in post one, firm contracts had been signed, and STP money was in the bank. I suppose it's possible that the STP money simply paid off the 1972 season, but STP were in for the year, so to all intents, Chris could have been paid in full, up front. I am suspecting maybe someone had been a little economical with the truth of the situation. 1970 didn't go well, but as I was told, STP staying on for 1973 was sort of dependent on Chris being the driver.

It looks to me like the money arrived, but may have gone elsewhere.................

As I was told, STP did indeed leave after Zandvoort.

#8 Mallory Dan

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 12:38

Wasn't there also an issue about who should pay for Chris' Life cover, team or driver?

#9 mfd

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 13:03

Chris could have been paid in full, up front.

I'm pretty sure, from what I heard, he's still owed money

#10 alansart

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 14:07

I'm pretty sure, from what I heard, he's still owed money


I seem to remember reading that - MotorSport? I believe it was from the 1970 season and wasn't peanuts!


#11 f1steveuk

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 14:39

I think those last two comments may hold the key, I wonder if the past reared it's head?

#12 mfd

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 15:05

I think those last two comments may hold the key, I wonder if the past reared it's head?

When I read the thread Steve, considering Amon was believed to be one of the very best, it struck me that apart from being offered less for 73, he might have thought of it as an affront if indeed he was still owed for 1970 (which is what I was thinking)

#13 f1steveuk

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 15:34

When I read the thread Steve, considering Amon was believed to be one of the very best, it struck me that apart from being offered less for 73, he might have thought of it as an affront if indeed he was still owed for 1970 (which is what I was thinking)



Which begs the question why he even considered signing for them again? This is at the root of why I asked the question I did, there seems to be more too it, as not a lot of it makes sense.

Maybe he was promised the World, and it all failed to appear! I can't believe that after being left out of pocket in 1970, and falling out with them over that, he would sign a firm contract for 1973, yet he did. I wouldn't consider Chris naive, once bitten and all that, so the offer for '73 must have been a good one? My guess is, Chris sensed it going wrong before the season even started and confronted MM. Whatever I am convinced there's a lot more to this!!

#14 charles r

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 15:55

What other realistic options were open to Chris at the start of 1973?

#15 f1steveuk

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 17:08

What other realistic options were open to Chris at the start of 1973?


None, but the March deal is supposed to have been put in place before the end of the '72 season, and the contracts signed well before the end of the year, so it wasn't a rush deal, like the Tecno one, which suddenly became the only empty seat.


#16 MCS

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 17:25

None, but the March deal is supposed to have been put in place before the end of the '72 season, and the contracts signed well before the end of the year, so it wasn't a rush deal, like the Tecno one, which suddenly became the only empty seat.


He finished the season at Tyrrell of course. Given what happened at Watkins Glen, it is perhaps surprising he didn't stay there for 1974.

Don't forget that STP sponsored the works F2 team and the blighted F3 factory effort.


#17 Tim Murray

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 17:40

According to Dr Mike's book STP had pulled out at the end of 1972. They were later persuaded to reconsider, but came up with only £15,000 to cover the whole year.

#18 f1steveuk

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 17:53

According to Dr Mike's book STP had pulled out at the end of 1972. They were later persuaded to reconsider, but came up with only £15,000 to cover the whole year.


I wonder if that was just the F1 budget, or for all three, either way, not much for a title sponsor. I am getting the impression MM promised Chris more than he could deliver, for a second time, so a bit unfair to sack him, if that was the case of course!

#19 MCS

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 21:17

I wonder if that was just the F1 budget, or for all three, either way, not much for a title sponsor...


Hence my earlier question about whether or not Marcel Arnold put something in the kitty for Jarier and if he did was that one of the reasons Amon lost the drive?




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#20 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 03:00

This is the press release put out by Chris and published in the January 1973 edition of Competition Car.


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#21 Milan Fistonic

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 03:22

Chris followed the above with this in his first regular column in Competition Car March 1973.


Well, this has been some six weeks, one way and another. After all, it's not every day you put the radio on and hear that you're out of a job! That was quite a shock, and at first I was completely mystified. A little while after, I got a telegram from March Engineering telling me the same thing, and still things weren't very clear.

It said that the Press had been told that the agreement had been cancelled due to difficulties with the driver. I got very upset when I saw in the newspapers that the implication was that I had been sacked because I had asked for more money. It was at this point that I asked Competition Car to put out a statement on my behalf, in which I tried to clarify things a little.

The main point in the March statement which had me worried was this thing about "more" money, as if there had been "some" money in the first place; Mosley is absolutely right on that point, I did ask for more money as a retainer. Anything is more than nothing, after all. The sort of money for which I was asking would barely have paid my hotel bills. Also, I see he was making great play of the fact the March were paying my life insurance premium, and therefore "it is not true to say he was getting no retainer".

Two things here. The cost of the policy is about one-fiftieth of a normal retainer, and I won't drive for anyone who won't insure me. Neither, I am quite sure, would anyone else in Grand Prix racing. It's standard practice, or has been in my case: Ferrari always paid it and so did Matra. And I really don't think March can accuse me of greed, especially after my experience with them in 1970.



#22 BRG

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 10:01

It all makes you wonder why Mosley wasn't outed as a monumental s**t long before he got his hands on the whole sport?

#23 mfd

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 10:20

This is the press release put out by Chris and published in the January 1973 edition of Competition Car.

Brilliant! This reads as if written by the driver, a personal pov. I can't imagine this happening today...

Edited by mfd, 03 July 2013 - 10:21.


#24 Macca

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 10:51

The other source was the 'Lunch With..' CAA in MS, when he said he'd never received most of his 1970 retainer and that MM had given him a spiel about how hard it would be for all the staff at March if they went under.........

Probably MMarch were looking for an excuse to get a budget driver on board for 1973.


Paul M



#25 f1steveuk

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 10:54

That is brilliant, I can see the "common thread" of the story that I was told, though it sounds more likely that the documents signed were actually simply letters of intent. My "source" said that at the time, they were all lead to believe Chris had "become greedy, to pay him we'll have to cut you chap's wages" (as it was said to a workshop meeting).

Max not playing with a straight bat, who'd have thought......................................

#26 alansart

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 11:36

The other source was the 'Lunch With..' CAA in MS, when he said he'd never received most of his 1970 retainer and that MM had given him a spiel about how hard it would be for all the staff at March if they went under.........

Probably MMarch were looking for an excuse to get a budget driver on board for 1973.


Paul M


I thought I'd seen it in MotorSport.


#27 Keir

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Posted 03 July 2013 - 17:30

The same old "Max" story. How one of that era's best drivers got involved not once, but twice with "Mad Max" is a thing of legend.

#28 charles r

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 12:45

"If only" he had stayed at Maranello for 1970 things would have been very different...

#29 MCS

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Posted 04 July 2013 - 20:50

There are a lot of unanswered questions on here. That's unusual.

More questions: I have now read that that the STP sponsorship of the F1 team ended/ran out after the French Grand Prix.

We all know of course that Tom Wheatcroft did a deal for Roger Williamson for the British and Dutch GPs, but was the deal actually initially arranged for longer...?