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The opening event in the European Grand Prix season was the Spanish Grand Prix, held on the "mickey-mouse" circuit of Jarama, north of Madrid out on the barren plains with the Guadarrama mountains away in the middle distance. An enormous entry was received, there being 29 drivers in the list for the allowed 25 on the starting grid. The numbers were reduced by one before practice began for Silvio Moser, the little Swiss driver, was in hospital following an accident in the Monza 1,000 kilometre sports car race. Practice was held on the Friday and Saturday before the race and many of the lesser lights did their best to eliminate themselves from the competition by having a variety of accidents, while some of the cars tried to destroy themselves, but hardworking mechanics kept slogging away and the charging pace was kept up throughout the two days. From the word go the Ferrari team were in a formidable and confident mood and on the Thursday evening, while many teams were finishing off their new cars, or getting others ready for the first practice, the Ferrari team were paying social visits to the paddock garages in their best suits, watching the activity of the others. As soon as practice got under way Niki Lauda was setting the pace in a brand new 312B3 Ferrari, with Regazzoni not far behind. The destruction-derby began with von Opel, replacing Robarts in the Ecclestone Brabham team, having his engine spray oil all over the place and Brambilla spinning off on it and damaging the second of the works March 741 cars. Hulme found himself understeering off the track on a fast uphill left hand bend, and on his way to hitting the guard-rail he ran over a flag marshal who was doing his best to warn drivers about von Opel's oil and Brambilla's slight excursion off course. Hulme came to rest against the guard-rail with the right front corner of his McLaren sadly bent.