The 1970’s saw the end of long stretches which no longer met increasing safety requirements, with courses affected including the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps. Racing courses such as Le Mans, Monza and Silverstone were slowed through the addition of chicanes. Efforts to increase protection for drivers were simultaneously accelerated, with fire extinguishers becoming compulsory in 1970 and safety belts in 1971. Regulations for fuel tanks and roll bars were introduced as of 1972.
Further technical revolutions followed at the end of the 1970’s, with Renault introducing turbo engines from 1977 which won their first victory in 1979. However, naturally aspirated engines maintained their superiority until 1982. The so-called ground effect was exploited, with sidepods with inverted aerofoils and flexible skirts contributing to the sealing of the gap between the underside of the car and the ground and generating a greater dynamic downforce. Racing cars could, theoretically, drive head down. Audi constructed an engine with anuneven number of cylinders in 1977 and conducted research into 4-wheel drive for production vehicles. The result, the Quattro, would soon be seen at rallies.
Major innovations also occurred in road traffic. In Germany, a speed limit of 100 km/h was introduced on roads in 1972. The German Federal Motor Transport Authority launched the penalty point system in 1974, and safety belts became obligatory as of 1976. American cars even included an airbag as a standard fitting by the end of the 70’s.