#372 1982 Italian Grand Prix

2021-04-10 00:00

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#1982, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Monica Bessi,

#372 1982 Italian Grand Prix

For Ferrari, the matter of the Formula 1 world title is officially over: the fight is between Rosberg, who is the top favourite, and his rivals Prost,


For Ferrari, the matter of the Formula 1 world title is officially over: the fight is between Rosberg, who is the top favourite, and his rivals Prost, Lauda and Watson. Ferrari can just aim for eventual success in the two races left, winning the Constructors’ Title that sees them still in command with a four-point lead over McLaren. However, it will not be easy for the Italian team to reach some positive results because they are lacking one driver, who is hospitalised in Lausanne for a cervicobrachial inflammation that stopped him from racing in Dijon. The news that is coming from the cantonal university centre, neurology department headed by Prof. Regli is encouraging. Diagnoses are confirmed and, according to what some Swiss journalists are saying, the Frenchman should be cleared to race in Monza. Anyway, he has to stay in the hospital until Wednesday, September 1st, or until Thursday, September 2nd, at most. The fact that the driver won’t recover quickly makes Ferrari think that these cars, which are constantly evolving, need many tests both off and on track, maybe even where the Italian Grand Prix will be held. Before the last race, it seemed reasonable that Ferrari, trying to defend Pironi’s position, who was leading in the standings, would have tried to hire some other driver alongside Tambay. For this reason - and even due to a complete lack of direct information, which maybe were limited because these types of contracts require some discretion - , several names emerge over the course of the days. But on Monday, August 30, 1982, Ferrari with an official statement flatly denies an interest in the drivers mentioned before.


"In response to the many news reports that attribute to Marco Piccinini interventions with various drivers, Ferrari specifies that the only driver that the sport director has contacted is Alan Jones, with whom a common and equal agreement was reached but that couldn’t continue due to one of his promotional commitments. Different drivers talked with Piccinini in Dijon and to all of them was replied that Ferrari had a different orientation. Whoever, other than Jones, claims to have been contacted by us is lying".


This statement that settles things once and for all was written by engineer Enzo Ferrari himself because in Maranello the press office was closed and it hasn’t been possible to find the technical staff. This means either that they aren’t searching for drivers anymore or that any negotiation will be open during the next few hours. The only thing that is in contrast with what is stated above is that the sport director Piccinini had literally declared in front of several journalists:


"We are in contact with many drivers and some of them are actually racing in Formula 1".


Meanwhile, on September 1st and 2nd, 1982, there are two free practices at the Monza circuit, to which Elio De Angelis with Lotus and the championship leader Keke Rosberg with Williams will be taking part. Practices should be important for Alfa Romeo too, that in the afternoon will take part with a conventional car driven by Bruno Giacomelli. During tests, Elio De Angelis does the best lap time, 1'34"72, but the most interesting news concerns Alfa Romeo, which in Balocco tests the new eight-cylinder turbo engine car driven by Giorgio Francia. If there won’t be any problems, the car will be carried in Monza on September 2nd, where between 12:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., in the break between the two practice sessions, a more detailed test will be run. The car will surely be tested during the Italian Grand Prix, but it is too early to tell if it can be driven in the race. The track is booked by Ferrari too, but at the moment they don’t have drivers available, despite the news from Lausanne on Tambay’s conditions being positive. The Frenchman should be cleared to race by the end of next week. The last medical report of Tuesday, August 31, 1982, talks about a radicular syndrome that won’t leave after-effects, while a pre-existing cervical spine injury is excluded. The hours pass and it turns out that Ferrari will let Mario Andretti drive one of its Formula 1 cars in Monza for the Italian Grand Prix. The Italo-American driver, who is currently in the United States racing in Formula Indy, will arrive on Friday, September 3rd, in Milan. Then, he will immediately go to Maranello where he will probably drive on the Fiorano track to test the car. The tests will continue until the day before qualifying for the fifteenth race of the world championship, at the end of the following week. There was only one choice because for Ferrari it was necessary to find an experienced driver who was free in the required days. Mario Andretti, with his usual excitement, answers positively to the Italian team. His hiring is surely the best solution to the problem that was pressuring Maranello: defending the possibility to conquer the Constructors’ title and, above all, not letting the tifosi down in Monza. Patrick Tambay’s car is also entered for the race, but his presence is not yet one hundred percent sure. Mario Andretti, interviewed by phone while in the United States, declares:


"I defined my contract this morning. I’m very happy about this call. Racing with Ferrari is always the culmination of a driver’s career and even for somebody like me that has already covered all the stages of a long career. I’m confident in the car which, as I understood, is very competitive these days. I will try to free myself even for the Las Vegas race, which is at the same time as an Indy test in Michigan".


Now it cannot be expected that Andretti, who had already been employed with little success in Long Beach by Williams in the spring, will do wonders, even if the fast Lombard circuit is as congenial to him as the city tracks are difficult. But the combination between Ferrari and a driver who was World Champion and who, although he lives in the United States, is always of Italian birth and heart, can only create an evocative expectation. Mario had already done ten races with the Modenese cars in 1971 and 1972, and in the second season the driver from Trieste won the South African Grand Prix. This comeback is casual and probably won’t be extended; however, knowing the very experienced champion’s skills and his preference for the speed tracks, it is easy to expect a positive result. Meanwhile, on Thursday, September 2nd, 1982, Fiat president Giovanni Agnelli, together with doctor Romiti, engineer Ghidella and lawyer Montezemolo, visits Enzo Ferrari and Ferrari. The president arrives from Turin in Maranello around 12:00 p.m. by helicopter, landing on Fiorano’s track. Agnelli had not seen Ferrari for a long time: in the spring he had visited the factory, and had completed a few laps of the track in a BB berlinetta driven by Villeneuve. Fiat’s president, who is welcomed by Enzo Ferrari, talks quickly about motorsport problems, especially those of Formula 1, and about regulations and Ferrari’s present and future technical choices. In the conversation between Agnelli and Ferrari a possible partnership between the Modenese team and Lancia is mentioned. The following day, Andretti arrives in Maranello, too. The Italian-American driver landed in the morning at Malpensa airport wearing a red cap of the Modenese team. After having answered some questions to the crowd of journalists and fans that almost blocked him, and having repeated what he had already said the day before, he immediately leaves to go to Maranello. Then he meets Enzo Ferrari and his son Piero Lardi Ferrari, the technicians and the mechanics and, despite his long journey, he starts working.


"It’s a wonderful adventure".


It will be a hard weekend of work for Mario Andretti, the Italian-American driver who arrives at Malpensa airport at 9:00 a.m. on September 3rd, 1982, on an Alitalia flight from New York, as he is expected to train full time on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th September 1982 on the Fiorano track.


"Mine is like a pilgrimage to the Makkah of motorsport. Not to be rhetorical, but we must recognise that for a driver racing in Monza with Ferrari is the best thing. If they had asked me to choose a track and a car to return to Formula 1, they could not have satisfied me better. I’m waiting to meet Enzo Ferrari and I’m as excited as a rookie. It’s wonderful".


Does Mario feel like a rookie?


"Just from an emotional point of view. As for the rest, I’m ready and in shape as in the days when I came to Italy for the first time to race. I’ve always said that I would retire when I wouldn’t enjoy racing anymore. If I haven't done it yet, it's because I still have the same motivation, the same passion of many years ago".


However, this year the results haven’t been brilliant…


"I haven't had much luck for several seasons; since 1978 to be precise, when I won the championship with Lotus. Unfortunately, this year too with my Wildcat in Formula Indy I haven’t had luck. I could have won the American championship and I find myself in fourth place instead. Penske and March are more competitive. Plus, I retired many times when I was in the lead due to failures".


Will the sudden change from Indy cars to Formula 1 be very difficult?


"I don’t think so. Cart cars are extremely rigid and have engines with higher powers than those of the best Formula 1 cars".


What can you promise to Ferrari’s tifosi?


"If I were a magician I would like to guarantee a good win. But it’s not easy, there are too many unknown factors and the moment is too delicate. I promise that I will do my best, that I will race as if I were fighting for the world title. I like Monza, it’s my favourite track, the car - as they told me - is very competitive. The chance to give great satisfaction to Ferrari’s fans is there. I hope to take advantage of it. Now enough with words. I want to do as many laps as possible in Fiorano and to arrive at the Italian Grand Prix with a good knowledge of the car. See you in Monza".


September 3rd should be devoted to meeting the Modenese constructor, to setting up the car with the seat and pedals adjustment and the first talks with the technicians. But Mario Andretti is impatient and in the afternoon he tests the Ferrari. After adjusting the car to his measures, Andretti goes on track in Fiorano at dusk and does eleven laps with the best lap time of 1'11"0. The following day at 9:30 a.m. the driver starts the work that will last for the whole day; the 42-year-old driver from Trieste wanted to carry the car to Monza to make more in-depth tests, but this is not technically possible because on the Lombard track there is Formula 3 and the regulations state that they can’t practice on a circuit in the same week of the race. Many excited tifosi are watching the long day of testing around the Fiorano circuit. The Italian-American driver does seventy-five laps on his car number 28, getting interesting results even on a speed level. The best lap time is of 1'07"78, not far from Pironi’s record; if we consider that Andretti drives Maranello’s turbo engine car for the first time and that the temperature is very high, his job is positive. The tests continue also in the following days and on Monday, September 6, 1982, Andretti runs an entire Grand Prix on the Fiorano circuit.


The Italian-American driver completes one hundred and ten laps of the 2,976-metres track, for a total of three hundred and thirty kilometres, the length of an official race. Andretti's return to Italy arouses the enthusiasm of those who remember the most beautiful races of the Italian-American driver, and at the same time worries those directly involved, that is, the favourite drivers for the win, including Rosberg. Patrick Tambay, who should have recovered from the inflammation that struck him, is expected in Maranello, too; the Frenchman should be back on track for the last tests. Meanwhile, on September 3rd, 1982, the new Alfa Romeo turbo completes in Monza the first laps on track in front of a pretty good crowd. Driven by the young Roman driver Andrea De Cesaris, the Formula 1 car, that should be the trump card of the Milanese team for 1983, completes three laps pitting two times because of some adjustment. The best lap time is quite slow, 1'38"24, but we cannot expect more from a car that has just been built. Visually, the 182 turbo isn’t much different from an aspirated engine car: only the rear shell is a little bit higher. The chassis, instead, is completely new, even if similar to the previous one, and incorporates the supercharged 8-cylinder. Its construction is very refined and with attention to details. Both De Cesaris and Giacomelli will have the chance to try it again, however it is confirmed that they will not be driving the new model on course. De Cesaris admits:


"It’s normal and I would like to drive it. Having one hundred horsepower more is a great advantage, especially on this track: the supercharged engine will have from six hundred to six hundred and fifty horsepower for practices and the race, but at the bench test it reached nearly seven hundred horsepower".


The day before the race weekend René Arnoux and Elio De Angelis’ conditions - that in Como on Sunday, September 5, 1982, remain injured for different reasons - get better. During a motorboat race, René Arnoux jumps from the seat of the motorboat, and will rest in the hotel in Villa d'Este, where he will be treated by Doctor Benigno Bartoletti. More worrying, however, is the fact that Elio De Angelis, always busy with motorboats, complains of a very similar inflammation but less severe to that which struck Tambay; however, unlike the French driver, the Roman is immediately subjected to a cortisone and anti-inflammatory therapy, which fortunately gives a positive result. Meanwhile, news from Argentina reports that Carlos Reutemann has chosen to definitively abandon motorsport, especially after that in the last months it was rumoured his possible link with Ferrari.


"I have nostalgia, but for nothing in the world I would go back on track".


So, given that a comeback of the Argentine driver at Maranello is excluded, on Wednesday, September 8, 1982, Enzo Ferrari announces René Arnoux. But what is sensational is the fact that, even though Ferrari will still speak French in 1983, the road is no longer barred to Italian drivers, as there is a name in the heart and in the future of the Modenese constructor, that of the 25-year-old Michele Alboreto, Milanese, who is currently driving for Tyrrell. It is Enzo Ferrari himself that declares:


"Our lineup will be René Arnoux and Patrick Tambay. There is a seat which is ready even for Didier Pironi and we hope that one day he will be able to come back. We’ve chosen Arnoux for his long experience with turbo engines and because he is a very quick driver. He is the right driver for our Ferrari".


Ferrari, together with Piero Lardi, the sport director Marco Piccinini, Forghieri, Postlethwaite, Caruso, and the head of the press office Franco Gozzi, anticipates the usual end-of-season conference by a few days. There, Ferrari talks also about a new technology, studied in collaboration with the Italian Agip concerning an emulsifier that inserts fuel and water into the combustion chamber.


"Competitions continue to be an indispensable testing ground for progress. They are a guarantee of a product’s behaviour. I'll just say one thing: today a Formula 1 Ferrari consumes just 345 grams of oil between practice and race. It’s our contribution to ecology and economy".


Angelo Pileri, Agip’s president, focuses on the characteristics of this peculiar liquids association. Pileri says that this idea isn’t new because it has been used in aeronautics in the past and today it finds applications in thermal power plants and heating systems for civil buildings. Then, he states:


"It is a special emulsifier that mixes water and fuel. Basically there is an injection of water in the combustion chamber with a better cooling of the same, and of the entire fuel system. The result is a reduction in exhaust pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide, unburned hydrocarbons, as the fuel burns better, and consumption. At the same time, with the same reliability, the performance of the engine is increased".


The emulsifier, which weighs around seven hundred and eight hundred grams and is linked to a little water tank, is mechanical. This first creates a coarse mixture, then more refined, making sure that every droplet of fuel that goes into the combustion chamber contains, inside, particles of water, which explode and turn into steam. The percentage of water is around 5-10%. Mauro Forghieri, Ferrari’s technical director, affirms:


"In one of our Formula 1 cars there are 230 litres of fuel, and twenty litres of water".


While Ferrari says:


"This year we can’t give our drivers the championship that we wanted, but we’ve built the most reliable and quickest Formula 1 car. This is shown by the results, the 346 km/h reached in Le Castellet and the 342 km/h in Zeltweg. Unfortunately, many tragedies stopped us from reaching some results that were within our potential. But from this we learn, too. This means that from now on, we’ll try to have a backup plan".


The reference to a third driver is clear: the Modenese constructor doesn’t name anyone, but it is clear that he wants to instruct a young guy to keep ready in case of need. Then, he goes back talking about Michele Alboreto and tells an unknown fact:


"We’ve tried to sign Alboreto. We contacted him in Monte Carlo, but there was nothing we could do, he has a contract with Tyrrell until the end of 1983. Three years ago he sent me a letter and I understood that I was facing a driver of rare humanity. I understand the fact that, to make his way, he was forced to accept certain links. But my sympathy for him is still the same and, when the moment is right, Ferrari will find a car for him".


The only doubt concerns the permanence of the Maranello team in Formula 1 because, once again, Ferrari is very harsh.


"Formula 1 has become a cesspool of money, where every prevarication is legit. A driver had the courage to take us to Lausanne’s Court for an arbitration since we had to enforce the law and file a complaint. This kind of people deserve a life-lasting ban from racing".


In fact, on Thursday, September 9, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Renault, Toleman and Osella will have to present themselves with their lawyers in Switzerland to defend the FIA ruling that had eliminated Piquet's Brabham and Rosberg's Williams from the Brazilian Grand Prix, which were found under weight at the technical checks, despite this task would be up to the Fisa.


"If Formula 1 continues on the path of courts and controversies, our team will be ready to move on to the World Championship for Makes. We were commissioned by the Fiat Group to prepare an engine for Lancia's Group C. We are studying a chassis, and we could quickly leave a sector that we no longer like as it is managed. At the moment, however, we cannot commit ourselves on other fronts, not even in that of the Rally, where we limit ourselves to assisting our customers".


Then, Enzo Ferrari talks about other things, attacking Nelson Piquet and saying that he is a former champion and a pseudo-engineer, given that the Brazilian driver has expressed many doubts on the safety of the Modenese cars, showing also a voluminous dossier on the tests and studies carried out to ensure the safety of the drivers.


"These accusations were so stupid that Ecclestone himself apologised to us".


About the 1983 strategy, the constructor states that in Ferrari there won’t be a first driver, but Arnoux and Tambay will have the same possibilities until the situation is defined in the championship. Lastly, Ferrari remembers Gilles Villeneuve with emotion.


"They said he was an aviator and crazy. Gilles, instead, taught us a lot with his daring and his generosity. He broke cars, drive shafts and tyres, but he led us to build a winning car. I loved him as a family member and I will never forget him. When he arrived here, he was a stranger and he succeeded in increasing Ferrari’s popularity. This means that my huge nose still has a bit of a sense of smell. Lauda was a stranger, too, when he signed for us...".


Some years later, it will turn out that on September 8, 1982, René Arnoux met Enzo Ferrari in Maranello. This will be told by the Frenchman himself:


"The most beautiful memory that I have - and I have plenty of them - is the first time that I went for breakfast with engineer Ferrari. That day I was very selfish. I arrived by myself, I didn’t want any lawyer or manager. I really wanted to talk to a person who had made me dream all my life. I think that he appreciated my simple approach. We had dinner in Fiorano’s tiny house. The chef knew how to prepare extremely good dishes, it was not easy not to binge. We talked about places, people, sports and other drivers. Only at the end, did we talk about my future at Ferrari. We agreed straightway, because driving for the Scuderia had always been my dream and we left without having signed anything. For me, Enzo Ferrari's handshake is worth more than a scribble on a piece of paper".


In the meantime, while everyone is waiting for the start of the practice session in Monza, on September 8, 1982, the autodrome is already full of writings and Ferrari’s tifosi are impatients. Everyone waits for the Maranello team and hopes for a result that will cheer up this unlucky season full of drama and uncertainty. Somebody is also interested in the fight for the world championship and in the fight that could occur between Rosberg and his rivals, Prost, Lauda and Watson, but the main interest of the Italian Grand Prix, as we have already said, is almost exclusively for Ferrari. In this regard, Andretti trained very seriously and is ready to fight:


"I’ve driven this car for the first time eight days ago and I have found it incredible. The engine is ready to answer and the road holding is excellent. Compared to the American cars that I’m used to driving, the acceleration isn’t great, doesn’t come suddenly, but progressively. There aren’t any problems, I will do my best to please all these wonderful fans that have surrounded me with affection since my return to Italy".


Patrick Tambay, who recovered from the injury that affected him before Dijon, on Wednesday, September 8, completes a few laps on the Fiorano track.


"I’m convinced that our car will be very competitive. I regret I wasn’t able to train during all these days and to have lost a bit of my physical form that I conquered after I was at Ferrari, but at the same time I’m sure that I can do a good race. We could have gotten remarkable results also in Dijon; unluckily, we had to forfeit. It’s an unlucky season, but now that I’m confirmed for next year, I’ve also found motivation and confidence to fight on my own, at least until the positions won’t be defined".


Tambay thinks about the championship, at least for next year, but for now his entry at the top of the standings is delayed.


"When I signed for Ferrari at the end of the year, I clearly had to respect some rules and all I had to do was help Pironi. Now I will have my autonomy, too, and maybe even some surprising result, the dream of a lifetime".


On Sunday, the race will be tense because Rosberg has to get some good result and Prost has to win. Lauda and Watson need a good result too to continue hoping. It’s a tough fight that could decide the championship. Above all, it will be necessary to see what the turbo cars, which are the referees of the situation, will do. Piquet and Patrese, with Brabham, also want to succeed, but if they took it away from Prost, they would definitively end the fight for the title. In Monza, the Formula 1 fever touches very high levels, increasing by the hour and almost reaching forms of collective madness. The inevitable rising of ticket prices and the economic crisis are unable to extinguish the enthusiasm of the fans who will be able to attend the first practices of the Italian Grand Prix. Already when the teams arrive, the crowd is huge and people, clinging to the fencing nets, wait with infinite patience, under a scorching sun, hoping to see a car or a driver. There is also some speculation, but this - in Italy - is inevitable: the usual stalls sell posters with photos of Andretti and Tambay, and the car of Gilles Villeneuve with the inscription ‘we will race for you’. However, Monza, being one of the last races of the season, does the drivers that have to renew their contract for the next year the possibility to show off their skills: for example, Renault seems willing to sign Cheever to replace Arnoux, while McLaren have to decide whether to confirm Watson or look for other drivers to be alongside Lauda.


Given the fact that the negotiations - that were already advanced - with the Englishman Derek Warwick, who remains at Toleman, failed, it seems that the French team has now reached an agreement with Eddie Cheever. Thus Renault, which has many interests in the United States as the owner of American Motors, would achieve the dual purpose of having a great driver, liked by Prost, and a good advertising in the United States. Meanwhile, Arrows confirmed Marc Surer, while Mauro Baldi would have some chance to sign for Ligier, that could have a Renault turbo engine like Lotus. On September 10, Techniques d’Avant Garde, Williams’ sponsor - a society owned by the Arabian businessman Mansour Ojjeh - , officially announces to have formed a new group that has to build a turbo engine for next year. This engine, an 80° V-six cylinder with four valves per cylinder and four camshafts, will be developed in collaboration with Porsche and given to McLaren, which will be setup with Niki Lauda's tests. The injection will also be Bosch-Porsche with KKK turbo supercharger. As for Williams, the English team, given that probably the agreement with BMW has vanished, will try to talk to another constructor to have a supercharged engine. Michele Alboreto is calm, but not too optimistic for Sunday’s race. He has become the most wanted driver by journalists, following the statements made by Ferrari, which opened a door for him for 1984.


"I’m very happy of course and a bit surprised, too. All this esteem gives me immense pleasure, however I have to face reality. I’m here to race with a Tyrrell and this won’t be easy. I want to make a good impression in front of the tifosi, but it will be difficult with so many turbo cars, with Williams, McLaren, Alfa Romeo that, on paper, are quicker than us. I have to think about fighting and working hard. These factors will be key. Then, if and when Ferrari will write it down with a violet pen - as it is known, the Modenese constructor writes only with a violet ink - , we’ll see. I will try to prove myself".


It seems that Bmw, having failed the negotiations with Williams - which is contacting Honda again - will be able to supply its turbo engines to the Alboreto team next year: if so, the Milanese will have the opportunity to seek more satisfactory results. Among other innovations, Ferrari brings a new chassis, number 063, entirely built in honeycomb, more rigid and lighter, and there are rumours of Alfa Romeo's choice to try to qualify its new turbo car, driven by Andrea De Cesaris, arousing the discontent of Bruno Giacomelli, as the Brescian considers himself the veteran of the team. While we are waiting for the winning number of the championship (the favourite is number 6 of Keke Rosberg), and so a great race is expected, constructors and Foca’s teams meet to decide the regulations that will be applied from 1985. In this regard, on Thursday, September 9, an important decision is taken, even if it is not announced officially: starting from 1985, the engines can only be of 2000 cc, whether they are aspirated or supercharged. If so, how will this new balance be achieved? It is simple: every team will have the possibility to sweep over the engine design but, in order to maintain a certain balance, the fuel consumption will be limited. There are different systems to achieve this, such as the reduction of the fuel tank or the limitation of liquid flow in the engine. The smaller tank solution can cause some issues, for example during free practices where, since it is not necessary to cover many kilometres, the cars could be so sophisticated to get exceptional performances.


 What is certain is that Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Renault, Toleman and Osella send Fisa a telex where they require some simple changes which can be applied at the last moment: among them, the reduction of the front and rear spoilers, the reduction of skirts that would be shorter and of greater ground clearance. Technicians talk for hours, but for the moment an agreement is not reached. Days pass, practices begin, and on Friday, September 10, 1982, Tambay makes Ferrari’s tifosi dream with the track record: when spectators hear the speaker announce this exceptional lap time, they go crazy. Tambay’s credit, of course, but also a great show of force from Ferrari, that can also let a driver who has returned from a two-week stop drive its car, obtaining incredible results. And to think that the Maranello team has even had its own troubles, given that Tambay himself has some problems with a turbine at the end of the first qualifying session, while Andretti is unable to fully exploit the two sets of tyres available. The Italian-American driver is first impeded by De Cesaris in a fast lap, then - due to the anticipated deterioration of a tyre - he doesn’t insist before the end. However, Tambay’s biggest problem still is the physical resistance to distance, even if Monza does not put the drivers to the hardest test. Rather pale, the Frenchman confesses:


"I undoubtedly will start the race with the handicap of this inactivity which did not allow me to prepare myself as I wanted. Unfortunately, they stuffed me with medicines to allow me to recover and certain substances such as cortisone leave their mark. I hope to make a full recovery for the Grand Prix. Making a few laps with this Ferrari is not difficult, we'll see for the rest".


After qualifying, Patrick cannot even walk a metre without being surrounded by hundreds of people. Even Mario Andretti is in the same situation; he is back in Monza driving an Italian car, after his disappointing previous season with Alfa Romeo.


"I’ve not been very lucky, but I think that I can do a good race anyway. I’ll try to make up some positions at the start, but I believe that I can race with the first drivers. The car is perfect and easy to drive. I’ll not let the tifosi down. In the only fast lap that I’ve been able to do I found De Cesaris in a corner and he impeded me. Then, when I went back on track to try and improve my lap time, a tyre degraded before time. But I will improve soon. Today I believe I will do better".

It is still a surprising result for everyone: it was known that Maranello’s cars have been preparing well for this race, but nobody could imagine such supremacy, with the record of 234 km/h on average. The most affected are Reanult’s drivers, Prost and Arnoux, who thought they were starting from the front row as they were used to doing in the last few races, to the point that Alain is really down and even thinks he can't fight for the world title.


"It’s really a waste of feats because Rosberg is good and we have two Ferraris that can be ahead of us, together with Brabhams. Until today we’ve been unlucky, I just hope that it won’t affect us anymore, that we can have a quiet race, without problems. Then, if I will be lucky and I finally succeed in arriving first, then we’ll talk about it. Until that moment I’m pessimistic".


Arnoux, instead, is happier because he doesn’t have any responsibility and is already thinking about the future. The Frenchman thinks about his race to try and win and to show that he is one of the strongest drivers. Patrese is fifth, Andretti sixth, De Cesaris eighth, Jarier ninth and Alboreto tenth. It is the first time that Osella’s car - the constructor from Turin - gets within the first ten cars in a race in which every team has a full line up. The car is better than before but, above all, they found an exceptional balance thanks to Pirelli’s narrow tyres and the narrower track. Jarier’s performance surprised to the point that the engine displacement is checked. However, it turns out to be perfectly regular. Osella also enters a second car driven by Johnny Cecotto, but the Venezuelan driver, who won even the 350cc World Championship of the Motogp in 1975 and is currently driving in Formula 2, doesn’t take part in the race. Something more was expected from Alfa Romeo, at least that it would be ahead of Rosberg’s Williams, but De Cesaris is too busy setting up the new turbo car that could be the key of next year. Lauda and Watson have troubles; they are two candidates for the title that, if there are no surprises, can be out of the fight. Elio De Angelis remains there until late and is even the victim of an accident at the Parabolic curve, resulting in a breaking of a suspension of his Lotus. Finally, Arrows lets Mauro Baldi drive an A5, while Marc Surer uses an A4 model again.


Toleman brings the TG183, driven by Derek Warwick, to its debut, and March goes back to using Pirelli tyres, abandoning Avons’. After the incredible lap time done by Tambay on Friday, it seemed impossible to go even faster, but on Saturday, September 11, 1982, in front of 100.000 people - 70.000 of which are paying people - Mario Andretti wins pole position. At the start, Nelson Piquet sets a lap time of 1'28"705, but it isn’t enough. Andretti, who was already up from sixth to fourth, changes tyres, sets the turbo to its maximum and starts his lap. While Patrick improves his lap time with 1'28"803, the Italian-American’s Ferrari drives around the variants, Lesmo curve, Ascari and gets to the Parabolic curve touching the ground with the roar of the engine that tears the ears: everyone’s eyes are on the car number 28. At the finish line the photocells are triggered, while an unreal silence falls on the circuit. Andretti sets a record lap time of 1"28"473 with an average of 236.004 km/h. Patrese with Brabham will try again, as well as Renaults, but Andretti is unbeatable. It is the thirteenth Ferrari’s pole position in Monza, the ninety-second since the Maranello team is in Formula 1, while it is the eighteenth for Mario.


"I have a perfect car, the easiest to drive that I've ever had in my career. I’m amazed and excited. But it’s too early to celebrate, there is still the race left. I will do my best to achieve success for the tifosi and for Ferrari that has had faith in me. Finishing the race is important. I’m happy to be here. The cheering, the pressure and the spectators excite me. It is something that can be suffocating there and then, but when you think about it, it is something beautiful and precious. Something that does good, to be lived to the fullest. It is a fever that is good for health, a fever of growth. It is higher, more violent, more exciting than the fevers of other situations. I like to see that Italy has this fever, which is vital. We live more intensely here. I remember when I was in Monza with Lotus: Mario, Mario, they told me, but not with the affection of today. Something has changed. I have not lived through the whole story of Ferrari, by now I was far from this world for a long time. However, I feel a great love throbbing, I hope to be up to an expected thing full of fervour and faith. A comparison with the other period when I was in Ferrari? I don't think it can be done. Times have changed, motorsport - and Formula 1 especially - is something else entirely. I thought I had seen it all by now and instead Monza, these people, this expectation, surprises and moves me. It is nice to be able to try new and always beautiful experiences and for this I am very happy to be at the Monza Grand Prix inside a Ferrari".

The first to congratulate with his teammate is Tambay, who jokes with Mario and hugs him saying:


"You wretch! You’ve beaten me".


Patrick will start from second row, in third place, despite not having fully recovered yet.


"I will try to finish in the points, we need them to win the constructors’ championship. Then, we will finally think about the future, about next year when we could fight for the title again".


This year’s title could be won by Rosberg, the best driver with an aspirated engine. The Finnish driver will start the race behind six turbo cars, in order: Andretti, Piquet, Tambay, Patrese, Prost and Arnoux. Behind him, he will have people determined not to give up for many reasons, including the two Alfa Romeos, with Giacomelli ahead of De Cesaris. The cars will be the usual ones, because the supercharged one, still in the setup phase, makes only a few laps on Friday: various problems, including the breaking of an aerodynamic belly and the compressor's air intake lead the Milanese team to postpone the debut. Keke Rosberg did everything to keep on racing: he opened a casual-clothing shop in Helsinki to pay for travels, he slept for months in a camping, he used his knowledge of computer systems, which he learned to use during his military service, to find a job between one race and another. The Finnish driver, sweating, has climbed every necessary step that led him to lead the Formula 1 drivers’ championship. He surely would have the right to act like a misunderstood champion, forced for years to play the part of the second driver, but Rosberg doesn’t like looking back because if life was difficult in the past, now it is wonderful.


A good bank account, a residence in England, in Monte-Carlo, in the United States, at the Bahamas, a Piper Seneca that he personally drives, Yvonne, a beautiful Swedish girlfriend, and the world title at hand. In order to have all this, he doesn’t stay late in night clubs anymore and he has changed his lifestyle which was not regular at all. In 1978, after having done all the traditional steps of a Formula 1 driver, he raced in five continents, completing forty-one races in thirty-six weekends: too many races to get some positive results, but useful enough to get noticed. In the same year, when he started racing in Formula 1 with Theodore, he got noticed already at his second race: the International Trophy of Silverstone, which was not valid for the championship. They raced under rain, a storm during which everyone sooner or later went off the track. Imperturbable, Rosberg resisted until the end and won. I was good, he said to himself, but also lucky. But he has the same skills and the same luck this year: everyone looked at Renault or Ferrari, while Rosberg, calmly, got points in almost every race. Out of thirteen Grand Prix, he didn’t finish between the first six just in three of them and, in the Brazilian Grand Prix, he lost six points due to his Williams’ irregular weight.


"Thanks to the mechanics and engineers of my team".


In these years of Formula 1 with Theodore, Ats and Wolff, Keke learnt to not mistreat his cars too much, even when they don’t go as fast as he wants; staying behind on the starting grid can be humiliating, but it can teach you a lot.


"When I won my first race in Silverstone I thought that everything in Formula 1 was easy, but that’s not true".

With the start of the 52-lap race not due until 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, the half-hour warm-up session do not start until 12:30 p.m. and iust when it all seems to be running smoothly trouble cropped up. Tambay’s Ferrari die on him out on the circuit and there is a rush to get the spare car onto race-tyres and with the tank full and then Piquet arrives at his pit to say he thinks his BMW engine is going on the blink. There is nothing obviously amiss so he goes out again and before he leaves the pit-lane run-out the engine cut dead! It seems the Brazilian has a very sensitive feel for an engine. Everyone else is in pretty good order, the Renault team confident that they have arrived at a good race set-up, McLaren and Williams as confident as they could hope to be with an 80 horsepower deficit and the Toleman team in a hopeful muddle, having put both their cars, the old and the new, back onto the old-type Pirellis. Not only has Ken Tyrrell painted his cars green but he is now trying to do a deal to use turbocharged BMW engines ncxt year. While the BMW engineers are trying to find the electrical fault on Piquet’s car the spare car is get ready, and both drivers are planning to make pit stops for petrol and tyres. Ferrari find the trouble in Tambay’s engine and while the spare car (063, is prepared just in case, an engine-change is carried out on his race car (062). When the pit lane open to allow the cars out on their lap round to the grid it is seen that Piquet has been forced to use the spare Brabham-BMW, but Tambay is in his own car and everyone else is fit and ready. Amid such excitement from the populace, and there is a lot of them, the popular President of the Republique Sander Pertini has arrived and take his place on the balcony of honour in the centre of the huge grandstand. His welcome is onlymatched by the roar of applause for Tambay and Andretti as they left the pit-lane in Ferraris numbers 27 and 28 and messages painted on the track overnight implore them to go out and win for Gilles. It was all very emotional if you love Italian motor racing and Ferrari.


Tambay’s car need some final adjustments while it set on the grid and the cool and control Frenchman steal quietly by while this is done. Shortly before 3:30 p.m. all is ready, everyone is started, the covers protecting the tyres on the Brabham is removed and as the signal Andreni led the field off on the parade lap. Very slowly, so that the tailenders do not get too far behind, he leds the impressive field back to the grid; everyone is in position, the marker boards were down, the red lights came on, then the green and all twenty-six cars surge away. Andretti spins his wheels a fraction too much which let Piquet draw alongside and the others close up and Arnoux does a really searing start from the row down the outside. Although Piquet led briefly, Tambay is soon by, followed by Arnoux and obviously all is not well with the Brabham. Out of the Parabolica curve it is Tambay and Arnoux side-by-side and they finish the lap with the Renault just ahead. Behind them came Patrese, Andretti, Piquet and the two V12 Alfa Romeos. Rosberg is leading the Cosworth brigade ahead of Watson, and Prost is behind them having made a bad start and get boxed in at the first chicane. While the leaders have raced away cleanly on the opening lap the tail-enders have got into an awful mess. In the first chicane Guerrero in the Ensign has run into the back of Daly’s Williams and brakes one of its rear suspension members and while the Ensign limp slowly along Daly and the rest headed for the second chicane unaware of the damage. As the Iriskunan brake the car whipped sideways and clobbered Henton’s Tyrrell which put the green car into a spin and as it goes out of control it hit the new Toleman in the left side. Poor Henton’s Tyrrell is left derelict at the track side while Daly and Warwick joines the limping Ensign and all three struggles back to the pits. The Williams and the Toleman are beyond immediate repair but the Ensign is repairable and ten laps later Guerrero restarts the race. Three cars out and the race barely begin.

On lap 3 the second Toleman pulls off the track when its engine dies and another one is out. Arnoux is pulling away steadily and though Purese takes his Brabham-BMW into second place on lap 25c is not really getting away from Iamb, and he is certainly not making any impression on the Renault so the Brabham-BMW’s progress is doomed with a pit stop planned for around half-distance. The other Brabham-BMW is in dire trouble with a slipping clutch and on lap 2 Piquet is down to thirteenth place and is two more places back on the next lap. On lap 6 the same trouble hit Patreses’ car and he dropped back from second to sixth and then disappeares into the pits to retire. while one lap later Piquet does the same. It normally takes five or six laps for a race to settle down into some sort of pattern, once the dust of the start has settled, but this race is simply falling apart before it even gets under way. By ten laps it is all over as far as a serious race is concerned for Arnoux is running away from everyone, Tambay is holding a gallant second place. Prost has clambered his way up to a poor third and is followed discreetly by Andretti. Following these front runners come a small group comprising de Cesaris, Giacomelli, Rosberg and Watson, having the semblance of a battle for fifth place, but it is not very convincing and the rest are struggling along behind in the order Alboreto, Lauda, Cheever, Jarier, de Angelis, Mansell, Surer, Salazar, Baldi and Serra, with Guerrero about to join in. Laffite has retired the number one Talbot with gearbox trouble and on lap 11 de Cesaris is in the pits with a misfire which is cured by changing the ignition coil. Between the Renaults and the Ferraris, stalemate has set in, Tambay could not catch Arnoux and Andretti could not catch Prost so it is just a matter of everyone keeping going. Watson passes Rosberg and Giacomelli so that he leads the mid-field runners, but that is all that is going to happen and the whole affair have become rather boring, which is a pity as Saturday afternoon have augured well for a good three-cornered battle.


Finding he is getting nowhere, de Angelis stops for a change of tyres, but it doesn’t do him much good, and Lauda gives spas his McLaren was handling poorly and the front brakes were snatching. Jarier had no alternative but to give up with the Osella when something breaks at the rear end and the left-rear ‘wheel parted company from the car. There is a little bit of excitement when Rosberg goes by with the rear aerofoil hanging-drunkenly from its mounting as he overtakes Giacomelli, but as the Alfa repass, the Italian pointes violently at the rear of the Williams and Rosberg thinks he has a flat tyre. He drives fairly cautiously rotmd to the pits and amid much confusion and Misunderstanding the mechanics manage to unbolt the broken mounting and attach a new aerofoil, whereupon Rosberg charges out of the Ints and back into the race and nearly collect Tambay’s Ferrari which is passing at 185 m.p.h. The stop has cost Rosberg two laps so anything he could do is going to prove pretty Witless to him, but none-the-less he does  not give up, unlike some drivers might have done. Half-distance is approaching and the only excitement have involved people who are not likely to win or are right at the back. At the front Amoux’s Renault is sounding very Pnrixiseful and Renault fans keeps their fingers crossed that it would go on that way. The Ferraris we have come to expect to be reliable for the Maranello engineers seem to have come to grips with the high-performance turbo-charged engine better than anyone else and today is proving no exception. While ruminating on this aspect of Formula One as we passes the hallway mark there is a sudden cheer from the crowd; Prost is and the Renault is seen heading for the pit lane while Andretti goes by into third place. Half-way round the lap the engine on Prost’s Renault have hiccoughed and he has slowed dramatically and struggles round to the pits. Nothing is obviously amiss so be set off again and only get as far as the first chicane before the engine die on him and he pulls  off onto the grass. He doesn’t spin off as many Fleet Street reporters wrote, except the one in the Guardian who takes the trouble to find out.

The electronics bad gone wrong and the injection timing is all out of phase, so that when the car is retrieved after the race the engine started and ran, but would not rev, or produce any power. Armin is still looking very healthy and confident, while Tambay is relieved that the pressure Prost has been applying is now gone as he is far from 100, fit and is beginning to suffer a bit. Andretti is a distant third but safely ahead of Watson, Giacomelli, Alboreto and Cheever, the rest already having been lapped by the leading Renault. Apart from Giacomelli having to give up when one of his side-pods broke away, nothing is expected to happen and nothing did happen. Arnoux just goes on and on, relentlessly. lapping everyone except Tam., Andretti and Watson and is overjoyed when he wins, not so much giving a parting gilt to Renault, but more making a welcoming gift to clearly that bets a determined racer and a natural winner. Next year he will be trying to repeat the effort, but in a Ferrari. Renault is pleased to have won, but openly admits that the wrong car have won. Second and third by Tambay and Andretti are no disgrace and it annexes more points for the Constructors Championship, which Enzo Ferrari would always like to win. Watson has driven a good, unemotional race with a sound fourth place as a result and could hardly have hoped to do any better with his under-powered Cosworth engined McLaren. After his pit stop Rosberg has driven hard to pass some of the slower cars and with retirements have moved up from fifteenth place to eighth by the end. Of the remainder who finishes Mansell has had a rough ride as the Lotus 91 is pitching badly due to aerodynamic instability, but nothing like as bad as the ATS of Salazar that has pitched and bounced so badly that the engine Cover Flow off. By any standards it has not been a memorable Italian Grand Prix but it is significant that the three drivers on the victory balcony overlooking the start line have been, are or are going to be Ferrari drivers and the Italian Press are not slow to praise Arnoux as Ferrari’s driver for 1983, almost totally ignoring that he has won their race driving a Renault.


"Races are races, this is the sport. I wanted to get the esteem of the Italian people and I think that by winning I presented myself in the best possible way as a Ferrari driver for next year. People know that I signed for Maranello and they saw me in the photographs with my next teammates and of work. I don't think I took something away from Ferrari by winning at Monza, in the sense that I gave something to the sport and to myself and the sport and Arnoux are two entities that are of great interest to Ferrari. I dedicate my win to Gilles Villeneuve, who was a great friend of mine and a great champion. Monza made me realise how and how much he was loved. I saw some posters for Gilles, blankets with his face drawn. I really felt the love".


Then, the Frenchman goes to his mother, an old and thin woman. What follows are hugs, kisses, and a conversation with his mum, to whom he addresses in a formal way, as he is used to in France.


"Comment allez-vous maman?"  [How are you mum?, N.d.T.]


And then he tell her about the race, when he went sideways:


"Mais je ne me suis pas blessé". [But I didn't hurt myself, N.d.T.]


He tells her also about his lower back burned by the fuel that entered the cockpit and passed through the suit, irritating him.


"No, I’m not coming back home straightaway. I have to get my car which is in Milan. I’m taking it slow, given how many people there are. It’s a wonderful chaos".

This scene takes place in a room that was like suspended over the crowd, next to the podium, where he had exclaimed shortly before:


"Here we are, three drivers of Ferrari".


Later on, Tambay, too, speaks about his impressions on the Monza race:


"Monza is fabulous, the crowd is fabulous, this human wall keeps you company and at the end of the race it moves, it comes towards you, takes on new life for you. Next year, Arnoux and I - and I hope Pitoni too - will make these people go crazy with joy".


And Andretti adds:


"Arnoux drove beautifully. I envy him, in a certain way. My career with Ferrari is ending, or it is already ended, and his’ is about to start. I think that in his career there could not have been a more beautiful thing".


But there is also a triumphant Arnoux for Renault who says:


"The car was perfect, quicker than Ferrari in long turns but slower in the chicanes. I absolutely had to win, too many times this year the victory slipped away at the end of the race: in Monte-Carlo and in Dijon above all".


Then, he goes back to calm his mum, always speaking to her in a formal way:


"I’m a bit tired. It’s because of the hot weather, but everything passes quickly. I will drive carefully on my way home".


After the race, Ferrari’s tifosi with their flags, caps, t-shirts gather around the team so warmly that this ideal embrace seems like a tumultuous siege. It can’t be said that they are disappointed because they have accepted the race result with philosophy, embracing second and third place like a win. Mauro Forghieri admits:


"Renault got the tyre choice right. With radial tyres it is more difficult, but when you find the right solution you have big advantages. Moreover, we’ve had some problems. However, I’m very happy with Tambay and Andretti’s behaviour. We couldn’t ask them to do miracles".


The protagonists, the two drivers, make calm statements, without looking for excuses.


"It wasn't easy like that either, with this heat I would have liked to still be a skier in the snow. In the morning, during free practice, my engine broke and I had to run three kilometres to get to the pits. The unexpected footing, with suit and helmet, knocked me out physically. Maybe I was wrong not to take some medicine to replenish the salts lost in fatigue. Anyway, the car was not perfect. A skirt had broken since the first few laps. I don't know if it was my fault, if I hit a kerb without realising it, or if it was the mechanics who didn't fit it perfectly. They worked so fast to change my engine that anything was possible. I am very happy, however, for the points we have taken. We are clearly leading the Constructors’ Championship, and I believe that with the Las Vegas race we will achieve this goal".


To whom is asking themselves if Tambay is happy to have signed with Ferrari for next year, the Frenchman answers:


"Where can I find another team that makes me score twenty-five points in five races? Unfortunately, the Italian Grand Prix didn’t go our way. This road holding problem, caused by a defective skirt, didn’t allow me to attack Arnoux. I had neck pain, especially at the Parabolic and Lesmo curves. In the Parabolic curve I also had some road holding problems, and between me and my Renault rival there was a clear difference to his advantage".


Mario Andretti is calm, too:


"Don’t ask me if I’m happy. At my age, a second or third place doesn’t mean very much, the only thing that matters is winning. I had two problems during the race. The first was my fault, at the start. I forgot to remove the engine rev limiter and so I was unable to start as fast as I would have liked. After two kilometres, I fixed it but I realised that I couldn’t press the throttle to the fullest. I was afraid it would break, making me look like the kind of driver who does not know how to use the car. And so I settled for it. Now I don't know if I will take part in the Las Vegas race with the Maranello team. Nobody can help me, not even Enzo Ferrari. The American sponsors have to give me the freedom to race. I hope so very much".


Maybe the brilliant and controversial victory of René Arnoux wasn’t even necessary to confirm his skills; everyone knows that the Frenchman is very talented. Five pole positions and three wins during this season show that the thirty-four-year-old driver from Grenoble has what it takes to be a champion and wants to win the world title at all costs, with an anger and a determination that not everyone has. It is for this reason that Arnoux left Prost and his team to drive for Ferrari in 1983.


"In the life of a Formula 1 driver, money matters. If a good tennis player or a high-level golfer earns millions without running any risk, it seems fair to me that we, too, want to be paid well. But what drives us to race, the real goal to reach, is the world championship dream, the pleasure of showing everyone that we are the best, the fastest. Ferrari is a myth, the point of arrival. In the last few years I have driven for Renault with all my heart, hoping to reach the goal for me and for the team, which has worked to its full potential. Unfortunately, we were not lucky and I come to look for this luck where I know it is easier to have it. At the same time, I realise that next year, with so many turbo cars on the list, it will be even more difficult to reach the world championship. However, I feel that in Maranello I will have every chance to make my wish come true".


Arnoux is not an easy character and his determination has caused many problems to his teammate Prost. When at Le Castellet he disobeyed the team orders and beated Alain, he showed to have an uncontrollable character. However, this brings him very close to the driver who was a great friend and rival of his, Gilles Villeneuve, of whom he seems the natural heir for recklessness, the ability to feel the racing car and knowing how to exploit the possibilities to the limit more than any other driver.


"I liked Gilles because he was very talented and pure. He believed in the sport, in rivalry and in skills. Him and I - but especially him - have been criticised because we’ve always tried to do our best, overdriving the car at times. But this is the philosophy with which you have to approach races. I think that being too controlled during the race is a betrayal for the tifosi. We’ve to be smart without taking unnecessary risks, of course. And I know very well that driving for Ferrari is a responsibility not only for myself".


Arnoux’s promises are clear: make every effort to win the world title with Ferrari. For this reason, René doesn’t lose any time. On Monday, September 13, 1982, the Frenchman is hosted by Enzo Ferrari late in the afternoon. A courtesy visit, an exchange of opinions and compliments, but the occasion is also useful to work for the future; the driver's measures are taken, and the seat is prepared for the car with which he will race in 1983. What the Frenchman and the Modenese constructor are saying is unknown, however, Ferrari can only like a driver capable of beating Tambay and Andretti at Monza. The results of the Italian team in the Italian Grand Prix are positive. We cannot complain about a second and a third place, even if we have come very close to victory. However, the final result shows a change in the race philosophy: on some tracks the pole position is not important, what really counts is the setup of the car. The tyre choice is the key and it is time that the tyres’ constructors, instead of seeking the ephemeral glory of speed performance, thought more realistically about racing. This matter is part of the more general and very important topic of security. After the end of the championship there will be a great debate to define the regulations for 1983 and the hope is that the constructors, the sporting authorities and the drivers will work together to try to solve at least part of the problems. A hope that up to now has been thwarted by the game of interests. If no solution is found, all parties will have to assume their responsibilities.


©​ 2024 Osservatore Sportivo


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