With the 1974 world ??? championship still wide open after 12 races, the first practice?
GV Main stand on Monza circuit
SCU PAN ALONG Ronnie Peterson's car, No. 1, (John Player Special) through pits
GV Emerson Fittipaldi's car, No.5, (Texaco Marlborough) pushed into pit position
SV Carlos Reutemann puts on helmet
SV PAN ALONG Denny Hulme seated in car No.6 (Texaco Marlborough) as mechanics make final checks
SV Clay Regazzoni (on right) checking car, No. 11, (Brabham BT44)
CU Mechanics looking over Peterson's car as Peterson looks on(2 shots)
SV Henri Pescarolo seated in car, No.15, (BRM) as mechanics look on
SV PAN Vittorio Brambilla leaving pits in car, No. 10, (March Beta 741)
SV Jackie Ickx leaving pits in car, No. 2, (John Player Special)
SV James Hunt leaving pits in car, No.24, (Hesketh Ford 308)
SV Spectators look on
SPORT: CAR RACING
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: With the 1974 world ??? championship still wide open after 12 races, the first practice held on Friday (??? September) for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix did little to clarify the situation or pick out the potential champion.
The driver who put in the faster lap was Carlos Reutemann of Argentina, who ???on the Austrian Grand Prix in convincing style three weeks ago in a Brabham BT44. He lapped in 1 minute 33.27 seconds, a speed 138.52 mph -- the fastest lap ever achieved on the Monza circuit with its two chicanes.
The official lap record stands to Jackie Stewart in 1 minute 35.3 seconds.
Four men are still neck-and-neck for the Championship lead. They are: Clay Regazzoni of Switzerland, South Africa's Jody Scheckter, Brazil's 1972 Champion Emerson Fittipaldi and Niki Lauda, who is determined to be the second World Champion from Austria.
The Monza circuit has been slightly modified on its speed-reducing chicanes following drivers' criticisms. This has marginally increased the circuit's length to 3.61 miles, (5.78 kilometres), but has also improved the lap time.
Second faster in Friday's trials was Lauda (1 minute 33.63 seconds), third was Regazzoni (1 minute 34.02 seconds, fourth Carlos Pace of Brazil (1 minute 34.06 seconds) with Fittipaldi lying fifth (1 minute 34.15 seconds.)
Last year's Italian Grand Prix winner was Sweden's Ronnie Peterson. But his chances this year seem slim -- driving a British-built Lotus JPS 72 he clocked a disappointing 1 minute 35.53 seconds, coming fourteenth on the day's timings.
SYNOPSIS: Monza in northern Italy where, on Friday, the world's leading drivers began practicing for the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday. The ??? World Championships are still wide open with twelve races to go and four top drivers neck-and-neck for the lead.
Carlos Reutemann of Argentina clocked the fastest time on Friday.... New Zealand's Denny Hulme was way down the field.
Switzerland's Clay Regazzoni is one of the four leading contenders for the Champion's title.
Ronnie Peterson of Sweden was last year's Italian Grand Prix winner....but came fourteenth on Friday.
France's Henri Pescarolo, driving a B.R.M. was also placed low down the field....as was Vittorio Brambilla, the Italian.
The official lap record is still held by Scotland's retired ace Jackie Stewart in one minute thirty five point three seconds Reutemann's practice lap time was a healthy minute and thirty-three-point-two-seven seconds.
This year the Monza circuit has been slightly modified at the drivers' request. The track's two slow chicanes have been marginally stretched. And, although this has lengthened the distance a little to three-point-six-one miles, it has speeded up lap times. Practice continued on Saturday for the big race with the blood-red Ferraris of Regazzoni and Niki Lauda being willed along by the intensely partisan Italian crowd.