1970 United States Grand Prix

The 1970 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on October 4, 1970 at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course in Watkins Glen, New York. It was race 12 of 13 in both the 1970 World Championship of Drivers and the 1970 International Cup for Formula One Manufacturers.[2]

1970 United States Grand Prix
Watkins Glen International Track Map-1960-1970.svg
Race details
Date October 4, 1970
Official name XIII United States Grand Prix
Location Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course
Watkins Glen, New York
Course Permanent road course
Course length 3.78 km (2.35 mi)
Distance 108 laps, 408.2 km (253.8 mi)
Weather Cloudy and dry with temperatures reaching up to 50 °F (10 °C); winds gusting up to 15.9 miles per hour (25.6 km/h)[1]
Pole position
Driver Ferrari
Time 1:03.07
Fastest lap
Driver Belgium Jacky Ickx Ferrari
Time 1:02.74 on lap 105
First Lotus-Ford
Second BRM
Third Lotus-Ford

The 108-lap race was won by Emerson Fittipaldi, driving a Lotus-Ford, after he started from third position. Fittipaldi achieved his first Formula One victory, and the first for a Brazilian driver, in only his fourth Grand Prix start. Mexican driver Pedro Rodríguez finished second in a BRM, having led before a late pit stop for fuel, while Fittipaldi's Swedish team-mate Reine Wisell, making his F1 debut, finished third, which would turn out to be his only podium finish.

Belgian driver Jacky Ickx finished fourth in his Ferrari, having started from pole position before pitting to repair a broken fuel line. This result meant that Jochen Rindt became the first and, to date, only posthumous Formula One World Champion.


The Ferrari of Jacky Ickx was fastest in the initial practice session on Friday with a time of 1:03.07, but expectations were high for the Tyrrell 001 of Jackie Stewart, which had nearly won in its first outing in the previous race in Canada.[citation needed] The final session on Saturday was marred by a downpour that left only fifteen minutes of dry track time, and it was not enough for Stewart to knock Ickx off the pole. Emerson Fittipaldi, who spent the first half of the season in European Formula Two, was just five hundredths behind Stewart in third.

On Sunday, with a crowd exceeding 100,000 for the second straight year,[citation needed] black clouds and a shower 20 minutes prior to the race caused a lot of excitement among the crews on the grid, as many teams changed to rain tires and back again.[citation needed] By the start, however, all but Clay Regazzoni and Derek Bell had reverted to slicks. Stewart took the lead off the grid, ahead of Pedro Rodríguez, as Fittipaldi dropped to eighth behind Ickx, Regazzoni, Chris Amon, John Surtees and Jackie Oliver.

By lap 17, the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni had passed Rodríguez, but by that time, Stewart's lead was nearly twenty seconds. Graham Hill, in a privately entered Lotus 72, came into the pits on lap 30 with fuel leaking into the cockpit,[citation needed] as a fitting had come loose under the seat. The team took 10 minutes to fix the leak, threw some water on Hill, whose overalls were soaked in fuel, and sent him back out. Several laps later, Hill returned to request they find him some dry overalls, as the gasoline was burning his skin. When he stopped again to change clothes, the team said they had not been able to locate any new ones. Hill, however, saw John Surtees, who had retired on the seventh lap, sitting on the wall, and borrowed his overalls and undergarments. The two former World Champions were naked in the pits as Hill was doused with water before donning Surtees' clean clothes and returning to the track,[citation needed] only to retire on lap 72 with a broken clutch.

At half-distance, Stewart was nearly half a lap ahead of Ickx, with Rodríguez in third and Fittipaldi about to be lapped in fourth. Ickx suddenly pitted on lap 57 to repair a broken fuel line, and he rejoined in twelfth place. He fought his way back up to fourth, setting the race's fastest lap three laps from the finish. Ickx had needed to win to have a chance of overtaking Jochen Rindt in the Championship; his fourth-place finish meant that Rindt became the first posthumous Formula One World Champion.

On lap 76, with a one-minute cushion, Stewart's Tyrrell began trailing smoke from its left-hand exhaust pipe. The smoke slowly grew worse, and Rodríguez tore into Stewart's lead, taking off five seconds a lap, while the Lotus teammates unlapped themselves. On lap 83, with its oil gone, the Cosworth engine in the Tyrrell seized, leaving Rodríguez with an 18.8 second lead over Fittipaldi, who led team-mate Reine Wisell by another 46 seconds.

At the end of the 100th lap, Rodríguez coasted into the pit lane having run out of fuel. BRM refueled the car, but Rodríguez had lost 38 seconds to Fittipaldi, who took the lead. Rodríguez rejoined ahead of the second Lotus of Wisell.

Fittipaldi recalled later, "I took the lead and, going over the finish line, I saw for the first time Colin [Chapman] jumping and throwing his hat, something I'd seen him do for Jim Clark and Graham Hill and Jochen, and I kept saying to myself, 'He's doing that for me. I won the race. I won the US Grand Prix!' It was unbelievable."

His victory was the seventh American win for Lotus, and it clinched the Drivers' Championship for the team's dead leader, Jochen Rindt, and the Constructors' Championship for Lotus and Colin Chapman.[3]

This was the final Grand Prix to be held on the 2.35-mile (3.78 km) layout of the track, in use since 1956. Watkins Glen underwent extensive renovation over the course of 1971, including the lengthening of the track to 3.377 miles (5.435 km) in time for that year's Grand Prix, with an interim layout adopted for the Six Hours sports car race beforehand.


Qualifying classificationEdit

Pos. Driver Constructor Time No
1 Jacky Ickx Ferrari 1:03,07 1
2 Jackie Stewart Tyrrell-Ford 1:03,62 2
3 Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus-Ford 1:03,67 3
4 Pedro Rodríguez B.R.M. 1:04,18 4
5 Chris Amon March-Ford 1:04,23 5
6 Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 1:04,30 6
7 Jackie Oliver B.R.M. 1:04,37 7
8 John Surtees Surtees-Ford 1:04,52 8
9 Reine Wisell Lotus-Ford 1:04,79 9
10 Graham Hill Lotus-Ford 1:04,81 10
11 Denis Hulme McLaren-Ford 1:04,84 11
12 Henri Pescarolo Matra 1:05,00 12
13 Derek Bell Surtees-Ford 1:05,00 13
14 George Eaton B.R.M. 1:05,14 14
15 Ronnie Peterson March-Ford 1:05,18 15
16 Jack Brabham Brabham-Ford 1:05,29 16
17 François Cevert March-Ford 1:05,30 17
18 Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra 1:05,44 18
19 Rolf Stommelen Brabham-Ford 1:05,77 19
20 Tim Schenken De Tomaso-Ford 1:06,08 20
21 Peter Gethin McLaren-Ford 1:06,12 21
22 Gus Hutchison Brabham-Ford 1:06,22 22
23 Jo Siffert March-Ford 1:06,23 23
24 Jo Bonnier McLaren-Ford 1:06,46 24
DNQ Peter Westbury B.R.M. 1:07,20
DNQ Pete Lovely Lotus-Ford 1:07,45
DNQ Andrea de Adamich McLaren-Alfa Romeo 1:12,24



Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 24   Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus-Ford 108 1:57:32.79 3 9
2 19   Pedro Rodríguez BRM 108 + 36.39 4 6
3 23   Reine Wisell Lotus-Ford 108 + 45.17 9 4
4 3   Jacky Ickx Ferrari 107 + 1 Lap 1 3
5 12   Chris Amon March-Ford 107 + 1 Lap 5 2
6 18   Derek Bell Surtees-Ford 107 + 1 Lap 13 1
7 8   Denny Hulme McLaren-Ford 106 + 2 Laps 11  
8 7   Henri Pescarolo Matra 105 + 3 Laps 12  
9 11   Jo Siffert March-Ford 105 + 3 Laps 23  
10 15   Jack Brabham Brabham-Ford 105 + 3 Laps 16  
11 29   Ronnie Peterson March-Ford 104 + 4 Laps 15  
12 16   Rolf Stommelen Brabham-Ford 104 + 4 Laps 19  
13 4   Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 101 + 7 Laps 6  
14 9   Peter Gethin McLaren-Ford 100 + 8 Laps 21  
Ret 1   Jackie Stewart Tyrrell-Ford 82 Oil Leak 2  
Ret 14   Graham Hill Lotus-Ford 72 Clutch 10  
Ret 2   François Cevert March-Ford 62 Wheel 17[4]  
Ret 30   Tim Schenken De Tomaso-Ford 61 Suspension 20  
Ret 27   Jo Bonnier McLaren-Ford 50 Water Pipe 24  
Ret 6   Jean-Pierre Beltoise Matra 27 Handling 18  
Ret 31   Gus Hutchison Brabham-Ford 21 Fuel Leak 22  
Ret 20   Jackie Oliver BRM 14 Engine 7  
Ret 21   George Eaton BRM 10 Engine 14  
Ret 17   John Surtees Surtees-Ford 6 Engine 8  
DNQ 32   Peter Westbury BRM        
DNQ 28   Pete Lovely Lotus-Ford        
DNQ 10   Andrea de Adamich McLaren-Alfa Romeo        


  • The following winter, for the second time, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corporation was honored by the Grand Prix Drivers Association with the "Best Organized Race Award", shared this time with the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  1. ^ "Weather information for the 1970 United States Grand Prix". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  2. ^ "1970 United States Grand Prix Entry list". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "USA 1970". StatsF1. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  4. ^ Lang, Mike (1982). Grand Prix! Vol 2. Haynes Publishing Group. p. 137. ISBN 0-85429-321-3.
  5. ^ "1970 United States Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on 31 October 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  6. ^ "United States 1970 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 21 March 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Doug Nye (1978). The United States Grand Prix and Grand Prize Races, 1908-1977. B. T. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-1263-1
  • Rob Walker (January, 1971). "U.S. Grand Prix". Road & Track, 84-88.
  • Gordon Kirby (October, 1995). "Emerson Who?". RACER, 70-72.

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