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Brands Hatch, July 20th: Britain's World Championship qualifying round arrived at Brands Hatch for its 1974 edition, the bumpy and undulating Kent circuit being just about as far removed from Silverstone's wide open spaces as it is possible to get. The one common factor which this year's race shared with the 1973 Grand Prix was major sponsorship from the John Player tobacco conglomerate, and although the apparently never-ending pressure from their "public relations" men to call the event by a different title was present as usual, their advertising efforts around the country ensured that this year's British Grand Prix attracted enthusiasts and casual onlookers in their droves. Financially it must have proved rewarding for Motor Circuit Developments and fortunately there was very little unruly back-biting between the sponsors, so it was left to the Royal Automobile Club of Great Britain to provide the major talking-point of the weekend with an unparalleled display of incompetence in the closing stages of the race.
Amidst the biennial arguments as to just whether the 2.65-mile Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit is a suitable or desirable meeting point for Formula One machinery, practice got under way on the Thursday prior to the race, the CSI having ruled that everyone who wished to come along should "have a crack of the whip" in an attempt to qualify. Whilst the Formula One Association feared that there would be too many cars on the circuit at one time for official practice to be conducted safely, it became pretty obvious from an early stage that the "aces" would sratch round the circuit quicker than the "no hopers" no matter what was in the way and, in any case, everyone would be under the same handicap. Admittedly the pits were rather crowded, but the erection of some temporary structures on the paddock approach road to accommodate the non-Formula One Association members who were not regular members of the Grand Prix circus catered for everyone who wanted to have a try at being a Grand Prix driver: In Sweden one could measure the stature of an individual driver by whether or not the Ferrari timekeepers considered him worthy of one of the free buttons on their complicated, electronic Heuer timing equipment; at Brands Hatch one could judge the people who had been accepted as full-time members of the "circus" by whether they had proper pit facilities or not!