Classic F1 Cars – The Amon F101 (Part 2)

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Classic F1 Cars – The Amon F101

Classic F1 Cars – The Amon F101

Three pole positions out of the first five races of the 68 season produced just a solitary point; mechanical problems continued. Outside of F1 Amon raced well and took many victories in a variety of events; it was F1 his luck was at its worse. Into the 1970s and a change of team saw March Engineering become Amon’s new home and victory at the non-championship round at Silverstone begged the question would his luck now change. The answer would be ‘no’; qualifying 2nd at the season opener in South   Africa only resulted in a non-finish after his engine over heated. The season continued in the same vain but a fall out between team owners Robin Herd and Max Mosley at the end of the season meant 1971 would be spent with new boys Matra; the Italian GP of this year must have been very difficult to recover from. After qualifying on pole and looking on for a great finish and most likely his first win, the visor on Amon’s helmet became detached and whilst trying to refit or drive around the problem he lost five places and left Monza with just 1 point. 1972 was a repeat of 71 but victory at another non championship round in Argentina showed the world Amon was not to be ignored;  Matra then quit F1 at the end of the season and a seat in the new Techo team for 1973 turned into a total disaster.
Amon F101 Formula One Car

Amon F101 Formula One Car

After all this it is little wonder Chris Amon Racing teamed up with Gordon Fowell to design and build an F1 car for the 1974 season. The AF101 was not ready for the start of the season but did have some unusual features including a fuel tank tucked between the driver and the engine, torsion bar suspension and side radiators. Cosworth power was employed and at the 4th round of the season, the Spanish GP, after qualifying a lowly 23rd; brake vibration became so bad that eventually a drive shaft failed after 22 laps. Qualifying in a respectable 12th at the Monaco GP looked promising but the AF101 failed to make the start line with mechanical issues. Illness forced Amon to miss several Grand Prix and was only entered in two other events that season and failed to qualify in both; Chris Amon Racing ran out of money and ceased to exist after Monza. The AF101 was raced at the Brands Masters in 2013 where the pictures were taken; in the hands of Ron Maydon it is a stunning looking machine that certainly performed well on the day. Qualifying in 9th with a 99mph lap the AF101 went on to finish 7th in the race. Amon went on to race for Ensign and Wolf but after witnessing a series of accidents including in the infamous Niki Lauda crash in 1976 he drew a curtain on a F1 career that had covered 13 years. Documented history shows  96 GPs with 5 pole positions, leading 183 laps in 7 races, 11 podiums and 83 points; ESPN says ‘this was a waste of talent’ I think he was just terribly unlucky. Images and text Grant Ford