#197 1970 Mexican Grand Prix

2021-10-21 01:00

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#1970, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Marta Suman,

#197 1970 Mexican Grand Prix

On Sunday 11 of October 1970 Clay Regazzoni graduates himself as European Formula 2 Champion. On the German circuit of Hockenheim, the Swiss comes sec


On Sunday 11 of October 1970 Clay Regazzoni graduates himself as European Formula 2 Champion. On the German circuit of Hockenheim, the Swiss comes second in the last round of the championship, preceded by the Austrian Dieter Quester, but Derek Bell, the only driver able to fight Clay, has to settle for sixth place. So, Regazzoni finishes at 44, while Bell scores 36 points. The race ends in a long, exciting duel on the 200 km/h thread between Quester, at the wheel of a Bmw, and Regazzoni, on Tecno. Bell is unable to play the lead role. The Englishman, in Saturday’s practice, went off the track with his Bmw ending up against a guardrail. The car had suffered irreparable damages and Bell was forced to resort to using an uncompetitive Barbham. Quester and Regazzoni alternate themselves to lead the race in a fight to the agony, which is resolved in the last lap, a few hundred meters from the finish line. The two drivers enter very fast in the series of S-turns and counterturns in the centre of the circuit that precede the finish. The couple is in front of the Brabham of the late Vittorio Brambilla and, in overtaking, no one is spared. Bmw and Tecno touch, and the German car lifts on the wheels and then falls back, while Tecno ends up spinning. A cloud of dust, a moment of fear, but the area is flat, free of obstacles, and the two cars return to the track. Between the two, however, the quickest is Quester, who wins the round. After Jackie Ickx, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Johnny Servoz-Gavin, here is the name of Clay Regazzoni in the European Formula 2 Championship. By winning this title, the Swiss became the champion of the B series drivers. Of course, a B as it were, since in it appear the best riders, starting with Mario Andretti. It’s all about regulations. The A series drivers are those who can boast of having won a World Championship, having ranked at least twice in the first six races in Formula 1 World Championship, having ranked at least two times in the top three of the Sportscar World Championship, having won the European Formula 2 Championship with at least three partial successes. At the moment they are twenty-three, and among them there is no Italian. Regazzoni enters the category of champions, considering that not only he won the Formula 2 title, but he also won the Italian Grand Prix, finishing second in Austria and Canada. It is the official consecration for this 31-year-old Swiss driver that this year, thanks to Ferrari and Tecno, has finally reached the summit of his sporting career. This was neither short nor easy, indeed often made harder by controversy over Regazzoni’s driving style. 


"He risks too much, and makes others risk too much".


It was said, forgetting that minor formulas - both Formula 3 and Formula 2 - are a severe, bad training ground for everyone. Accidents are countless, improprieties neither, drivers must defend themselves to assert themselves, even to survive. And Clay never backed down, and he did well. In Formula 1, it’s another matter. The drivers know each other thoroughly, each knows how the other will behave in that circumstance. The races are dangerous and even rookies quickly learn their lesson. Regazzoni has learned it so well to obtain excellent results, and above all has proven to be able to juggle with the A series drivers without bravado, but also without humility. Married, with two children, a garage in Lugano, Regazzoni out of racing is a serene man, of few words. Someone who knows how to think, who appreciates the work of mechanics, who distinguishes friends from enemies, and it is not always easy. He seems almost intimidated by the popularity he found himself surrounded by after winning Monza. A driver who knows modesty and humour. Next year he will race only for Ferrari, leaving his Formula 2 Tecno to others. He will be a racer in the A series, with the hope of achieving the same results of this year, when he was in B. Remaining in the theme of A series drivers, Friday, October 16, 1970 Enzo Ferrari denies the news of the engagement by the Maranello team of the Scottish driver Jackie Stewart, already given for certain by several parties.


"I haven’t seen the current World Champion for three years. Stewart met with Mauro Forghieri in Monza and Canada, expressing his desire to race with our Formula 1. From an interview granted in America, in the occasion of the United States Grand Prix, I also learned that the Scotsman considered his transition to Ferrari at 70% concluded. As far as I am concerned, I have not started any negotiations, let alone discussions with the person concerned. I add that an agreement would be difficult also because Ferrari can already count on the collaboration of Andretti, Giunti, Ickx, Merzario and Regazzoni".


At the same time, Jackie Stewart, interviewed at the London Motor Show, says that, contrary to rumours, even for 1971 he will race in Formula 1 with a Ford engine, in fact confirming what Ferrari said:


"Although some details of the agreement are still to be decided, also next year I’ll remain with Ken Tyrrell and Ford".


Therefore, Jackie Stewart will not lead the 312-B next year. The team, however, is already there: the Belgian Jacky Ickx as first guide, the Italian American Mario Andretti as external flanker with Andy Granatelli’s STP team, the Swiss Clay Regazzoni and Ignazio Giunti as luxury backup. Merzario could also debut in Formula 1, but for now his use seems limited to racing for sports cars. As far as it turns out, the agreements with Ickx and Andretti have already been officially signed. An interesting detail is this: Andretti, who enjoys great trust and sympathy at Ferrari, will not limit his participation to a few Grands Prix, but will take to the track in ten of the thirteen races scheduled for the 1971 Formula 1 World Championship. The Stewart-Ferrari affair had begun in Monza (the Scotsman had had a conversation with Forghieri, Ferrari’s technical director) and had a following in Canada. Stewart was dissatisfied with March’s performance, so much so that his owner Ken Tyrrell had prepared a new car for him, again with a Ford engine. The Scottish driver had made it known that he would have liked to race with the 312-B, and these statements had not left indifferent Ferrari. But, in the end, this program did not develop. Although there are no fewer than 27 Formula One cars assembled at Watkins Glen, the Mexican organisers said earlier in the season that their budget was limited and they could only afford 18 cars. This is fair enough; the only problem is that the organisers are somewhat reluctant to inform the teams who are going to be the unlucky ones. When their selection is announced it is much as expected with places for two works cars from Ferrari, B.R.M., Matra, McLaren, March, Lotus and Brabham. Naturally former World Champions Stewart, Hill and Surtees also have places, and the eighteenth and final slot is given to GPDA President Bonnier. Hardly a Grand Prix regular any more, Bonnier has in fact raced his McLaren M7C briefly at Watkins Glen.


Incidentally, the history of the car is not quite as involved as Motor Sport’s Watkins Glen correspondent would have us believe, for this machine was built in the early months of 1969 and used by Bruce McLaren throughout that year. Anyway the other entrants thinks that the choice of Bonnier is totally unfair and, after a certain amount of invective about boycotting the race, sense prevails. Stewart’s team-mate Francois Cevert, who gave such a sensational performance in Canada with Tyrrell’s old March, takes the vacated place and no doubt Bonnier is compensated for his disappointment. Even so the field lacks the interest that could have been provided by a third B.R.M. driven by Eaton, a second Surtees for Bell, Peterson’s March, Schenken’s De Tomaso and De Adamich’s McLaren Alfa-Romeo. The cars arrive in Mexico City without any drama after a long road journey on the giant trucks illustrated last month. Meanwhile the majority of the mechanics have what are probably the easiest couple of weeks since the season started. Most of them go to the famous Mexican seaside resort of Acapulco although Tyrrell’s men return to the cold of England. B.R.M. are allowed to bring a spare car for Mexican Pedro Rodriguez, so in total there are 19 cars in the extensive pits-cum-garages which, ten years ago, were widely acclaimed but now are showing their age. Naturally if you have a major modification on hand you are hardly going to show it in Mexico so there is little new of technical interest. However, Matra tried the Marelli ignition system on Beltoise’s car, which is affixed in a very temporary manner and is finally discarded, but they successfully experiment with large airducts to the injection. Otherwise the general preparation includes fitting fresh engines in many cases and checking everything over after the ravishes of Watkins Glen. The rarified air due to Mexico City’s altitude necessitates the fitting of different fuel cams, this problem being well sorted by people with Cosworth engines although those with 12-cylinder engines have to do some experimenting before they hit the right answer. It is interesting to note that every car in the paddock is designed and built for the 1970 season, the winning Ferrari actually being the oldest machine present. Last year the race was also won by the oldest car but that had almost three hard seasons behind it.

Practice is scheduled for the afternoons of Friday and Saturday with a four-hour session each day. The weather is warm without being tropical and the track is in good condition. Thus drivers have to aim for a time of 1'42"9, which is Jack Brabham’s pole position winning time last year although the official lap record is to the credit of Jacky Ickx’s 1'43"0. The session gets under way fairly slowly as drivers alter their cars to suit the circumstances with several people changing gear ratios while others sort out brake ratios and roll bars to their liking. Competitive times are first posted by Stewart in the Tyrrell, quickly followed by the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni. In fact these three totally dominates both practice days and make the rest look like also-rans. By the end of the session it is lckx fastest at 1'42"41, which demoralizes everyone further as his Ferrari had a full load of fuel aboard at the time. His mature Swiss team-mate is a little slower at 1'42"93. As has been the feature of the late 1970 races, Stewart leads the chase of the Italian machines with the Tyrrell Special. He finishes with a time of 1'43"64. Working together, Amon and Brabham clock the next two fastest times of 1'43"71 and 1'43"92, although Wisell, who is in with them, is unlucky not to get a similar time. Unfortunately the Mexicans’ time-keeping isn’t much better than their crowd control. Further down the field the Matras (particularly that of Pescarolo) is going quite well, the B.R.M.s aren’t and Lotus are in terrible trouble with engines. Brabham, who is just about to announce his retirement, is very lucky to escape uninjured early in the session when a top pulles off a shock-absorber and the rear suspension collapses on one side. Fortunately he brings the car to a halt and a repair is effected. In the McLaren camp Hulme is soon sidelined by a defective fuel pump although Gethin is going quite well on his first visit to the circuit, as is Cevert in the Tyrrell March. Surtees has an engine blow up early in practice, as does Fittipaldi. Friday night sees a crop of routine engine changes with Brabham, both Marches, Oliver, Stewart, Hill, Cevert and Regazzoni (whose engine have done the US GP) all having freshly rebuilt motors installed. Naturally Surtees and Fittipaldi also have new units fitted. Saturday sees another episode of chase the Ferrari with the Italian team strong favourites despite Ickx’s motor blowing up.
At least that is better than a similar thing happening in the race. Meanwhile Stewart has got motoring with a vengeance. The Scot really wound it up to lap in 1'41"88, his latest-type Cosworth engine obviously revving higher than the others. This looks good for pole but Ferrari still has things in control despite Ickx’s blow up and Regazzoni is sent out to retrieve the situation. This he does by recording 1'41"86, thus nudging the Scot off pole position. Brabham, intent on remaining competitive to the end of his career, comes out fourth fastest while Amon’s previous day’s time puts him on row three alongside Beltoise whose shrill Matra is now right on form. Rodriguez is seventh fastest although his B.R.M. does have several problems while Graham Hill, with the Walker Lotus 72, is surprised to find himself eighth fastest with a time he certainly never achieved. Saturday is a day of woe for both March and Lotus. Both the freshly serviced engines in the 701s fails to last the session: Siffert’s has just been rebuilt with a new cylinder block so the bill must have come to over £2.000 but it only lasts ten laps. Expensive business this Grand Prix racing! Both Marches have to be fitted for race day with engines which have already done a lot of work. Lotus are equally in trouble. The engine in Fittipaldi’s car has fluctuating oil pressure and various remedies are tried but it soon blows up, as does WiseII’s. Hill and Stommelen also have fresh engines for the race as does Hulme. McLaren Racing collects an engine from the airport on race morning and as this has all the latest tweaks it is rushed to the circuit and hastily fitted there. The results of practice indicates a three-car race, for the others are hardly on terms. The event is really catching the imagination of Mexico City and with a population of 8 million close at hand a good crowd is expected. But the organizing committee never envisaged that over 200.000 people would pack into the Autodromo on the outskirts of the city close to the airport. Three club races are run off without incident, the crowd growing all the time. As the start of the Grand Prix draws nearer, excitement grow to fever pitch. Every Mexican wants to get a better view than his neighbour and that means watching from the roadside. Thousands disregard the restrictions of the spectator areas as they smash down fences and crowd onto the safety banks. Some of the braver ones even take up positions sitting on the Armco barrier. 

It can be argued that similar conditions exist at the Targa Florio every year and that there no one gets hurt, but a long-distance sportscar race is somewhat different from a Grand Prix with 18 closely matched cars dicing it out wheel to wheel. So close are the spectators to the track that a spin could wipe out 20 or more while an accident similar to the fiery incident between Oliver and Ickx at Jarama earlier this year could have meant the death of 200 people. The repercussions of an accident of that nature could be the total ban of motor racing in several countries. Naturally the start is delayed while various appeals are made to the crowd to see sense. Pedro Rodriguez, Jackie Stewart and the Secretary of the GPDA all make appeals for the crowd to go back behind the safety banks. After an hour and a quarter, including an additional delay to sweep up the broken bottles thrown on to the circuit by the impatient spectators, conditions are a little better but the crowd is now very restless. If the race was cancelled a full scale riot could be expected, so after a lap of inspection the drivers agrees to start. In the circumstances it is the only decision but, nevertheless, a brave one. The slightest mistake can spell major disaster and every man knew it. Once the final decision was made the start was swift and thankfully without incident. Regazzoni powers into the lead from pole position followed by Stewart and Ickx. At the end of the first lap these three are still in front, followed by Beltoise, Rodriguez, Amon, Brabham, Hill, Hulme, Surtees, Gethin, Pescarolo, Cevert, Siffert, Oliver, Fittipaldi, Wisell and finally Stommelen. But lckx is the Ferrari team leader and his position should be at the front. On lap 2 he stormes by Stewart who latches on behind as lckx then also slipps ahead of Regazzoni. So now the order is Ickx, Stewart, Regazzoni, and soon these three break away from the pack. Meanwhile Fittipaldi’s unhappy week-end comes to an end when a third Cosworth DFV engine take a dislike to Lotus 72C/R5. Graham Hill too is out of the running almost as soon as the race begins, his engine overheating badly. By lap 10 the Marches of Siffert and Cevert also fall by the wayside as a result of engine failure. It is an unhappy end to Siffert’s Formula One season with March, for during the year he has failed to score a single World Championship point. At the front Ickx is piling on the pressure although Stewart is hanging on well and, in turn, dropping Regazzoni.


Behind it is Beltoise in fourth spot from Brabham, with Amon sixth ahead of Rodriguez, a hard-charging Hulme, Gethin, Surtees, Pescarolo, Oliver with Stommelen and Wisell already trailing. Wisell is late to make three pit stops, first with gearbox trouble and later with oil pressure problems. Stommelen’s race also finishes prematurely when his engine blows up. With 14 of the 65 laps run, Ickx comes round alone and six seconds later is followed by Regazzoni. Next up, and tearing into the pits, is Stewart for his Tyrrell’s steering column is shaking dangerously loose. A bush is adrift where it holds the column to the dashboard. It takes just a lap for the Tyrrell mechanics to remedy the fault and Stewart re-joins behind the two Ferraris and Brabham, who have overtaken the Matra of Beltoise. Stewart is in no mood to hang about and quickly he passes and thus unlaps himself from first Brabham and then Regazzoni. However he can not reel in Ickx at the same rate although he appeares to be catching up slowly. Brabham is still third ahead of Beltoise while Hulme and Amon are in contention with the French car. The two B.R.M.s are now running eighth and ninth for Gethin has dropped back, soon to retire with overheating, and Oliver overtakes Surtees who is struggling with the gears as his clutch operation had disappeared. Pescarolo stops at his pit on lap 21 with only 3rd gear working. His mechanics finally sort out the mixture of hot oil and broken split-pins and he returns to the race four laps down. By half distance Ickx is 15 seconds ahead of Regazzoni whose engine will later be said to be misfiring slightly, although we can’t detect it, while Brabham is a firm third. The Hulme-Beltoise-Amon battle is where most of the excitement lay unless you pretend Stewart is on the same lap as Ickx. In fact he is tenth on the road, a situation that comes to an end on lap 33. The Tyrrell is sadly retired to the pits with a right-hand front wishbone mount damaged, a wheel bent, and the monocoque rippled locally in that area. The Scot reports hitting a large dog and despite reports to the contrary the animal was eventually found, very dead and a long way from the track. It is the end to one of Stewart’s best drives of the year although it will no doubt go unremembered. The second half of the race loose much of its interest as Ickx is running unhurried to victory.


Nevertheless the crowd creep closer and closer to the track side and some fools even try running backwards and forwards across the track. Several drivers have near misses but miraculously no one was injured. Ickx has pulled out his lead to almost half-a-minute, while Brabham is 17 sec. behind Regazzoni and Hulme, in fourth spot, is closing on Brabham. Beltoise is still leading Amon and this pair, who might be team-mates next year, are really charging hard. Finally, after numerous thwarted attempts, Amon passes Beltoise on lap 53. It is a significant lap for Jack Brabham too. His third-placed Brabham throws a rod, bringing his race and a distinguished career to a sudden end, this being his last Grand Prix. All that is left is for Ickx to reel off the remaining laps with Regazzoni following him into second place. Hulme, now in third spot, is having trouble with the McLaren jumping out of gear and Amon and Beltoise are closing on him at quite a rate. But as the last few laps are run the circuit gets progressively narrower as the crowd surges forward. Then, as Ickx takes the flag, everyone milles onto the road, completely blocking it, and all the following cars have to screech to a halt as they crosses the line. Ferrari has repeated his one-two results of Austria and Canada and it is also the Italian firm’s fourth win in the last five races. Hulme holds on to his third place ahead of Amon and Beltoise. Rodriguez takes sixth place well ahead of team-mate Oliver, who has been lapped, while Surtees struggles home in eighth place with his recalcitrant gearbox. Pescarolo and Wisell both complete the distance well in arrears. The result moves Ickx and Regazzonii into second and third places in the 1970 World Championship. If there is to be another Mexican Grand Prix the blind enthusiasm of the spectators will have to be curbed in one way or another, whether by high fences or the butt of the rifle. Meanwhile most people would rather forget Mexico 1970. The Formula One World Championship ended with the Mexican Grand Prix and an exciting new success for Ferrari: as in Austria and Canada, Ickx was first on the finish line followed by team-mate Regazzoni. It is the confirmation, if still needed, of the superiority of the Maranello cars that announce themselves as the cars to beat in the 1971 season. With this result, the World Championship ranking sees poor Rindt in first place (and the title in memory will be given to the wife Nina), Ickx in second and Regazzoni in third. The technicians of the English teams comment:


"We’ll have to work hard to get back on the same footing with Ferrari".


The race had no history. It translated in a monologue of the two Ferraris which dominated it from start to finish. The dramatic and exciting aspect of the Grand Prix was offered by the incredible behaviour of the public, estimated between 300.000 and 500.000 people. Thousands of wild fans turned over on the track, overwhelming the small and insufficient public order service. Everything happened. Just think that Jackie Stewart, who was behind Ickx and Regazzoni, was forced to retire on lap 35 of the 65 scheduled for hitting a dog with his Tyrell-Ford. The Scotsman returned to the pits pale and visibly shaken.


"Damn circuit".


Jackie Stewart screams, before walking away disgusted. At the end of the race all the drivers turn against the organizers of the race. In particular, the Scottish driver says:


"It went well. If the car had skidded after hitting the dog, I would have ended up at a point where 400 spectators were standing, beyond the barrier. It would have been a massacre".


And Jacky Ickx adds:


"At a certain point I seemed to do the slalom. I avoided measuring several times people crossing the track as if nothing happened. The circuit is nice but running like this is crazy".


Jack Brabham concludes by saying:


"In twenty-three years of racing, I’ve never seen crazy shows like this".


Actually, the drivers had thought to retire. At the time of the start, the crowd was already on the track after having ran over the barriers. Until three years ago, order was maintained by the army. Then, the organizers decided to lighten the protection systems, and the consequences were seen. After 40 minutest of confusion Stewart had left the cockpit, declaring:


"I’m not starting, I don’t want to kill anyone".


The other drivers were of the opinion of the Scotsman, and at this point an incredible episode happened. The organizers made it clear to the drivers that they would have let them without protection in the hands of the most frantic fans if they hadn’t decided to start.


"Get by, they’ll destroy your machines and we, you’ll understand, won’t be able to intervene".


So, after another 50 minutes of hesitations and chaos, the eighteen drivers lined up at the start. It is to be hoped that what happened in Mexico City will remain an isolated episode of disorder and disorganization. Does it seem incredible that a Grand Prix should take place in such conditions? And it would be desirable for the FIA to take proper action against the organizers. Concluded the chronicle of the World Championship, Wednesday, October 28, 1970, during the traditional reception offered by Carrozzeria Pininfarina to representatives of the international press, the executives of the Company, engineers Sergio Pininfarina and Renzo Carli, communicate the forthcoming start of work for a wind tunnel, that is a gigantic plant for the study and research on the aerodynamic performance of cars in scale 1:1. It will be the first such realization in Italy (up to now this kind of tests happened in small tunnels with small scale models, and indications necessarily incomplete). With this courageous initiative, which will complete his famous Study and Research Centre, Pininfarina will be at the forefront also in this type of research, very important, in terms of aerodynamic efficiency of vehicles and their comfort. And it is also announced that by the end of the year a new 16.000 square meters department will be in operation, which will allow a more rational distribution of production facilities in even better environmental working conditions. During the cordial meeting, the now famous Modulo is discussed, a novelty for the Italian public, presented in pride of place at the Pininfarina stand at the Salone, alongside no less than six models in production on behalf of Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari and Peugeot. The Modulo, a futuristic study of shapes, was chosen to represent the Italian bodywork at the recent world exhibition in Osaka. Two weeks later, Tuesday, 17 November, 1970, Nina Rindt, wife of the Austrian driver Jochen Rindt, who tragically died at the Monza circuit during practice for the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, receives in London the 1970 Drivers' World Championship trophy won by her husband. This is the first time that the title has been assigned to memory. The ceremony was attended by Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham, Denny Hulme, Graham Hill, John Surtees and other drivers. A few weeks later, exactly Friday, December 4, 1970, the annual conference of the Automobile Club sports commissions opens in Bologna, Italy, chaired by engineer Alberto Rogano, the new man of the CSAI. After greeting the participants, including Enzo Ferrari and the drivers Giunti and de Adamich, Rogano illustrates the program of the CSAI not only for 1971 but, judging by the commitment shown, for several years to come. The aim is, in essence, to initiate a process of reforming motor sport through greater executive efficiency, streamlining procedures and the creation of subcommittees composed of representatives of the various sectors. In particular, it was recommended the formation of teams supported by the provincial Automobile Clubs. Engineer Rogano then touched on the issue of safety. 


An action is needed - Rogano says - which develops towards the headquarters, that is tracks and fixed installations (abandoning the races on road circuits), the drivers control (both from the medical point of view and from that of the excessive fatigue resulting from the proximity over the time of important and distant races) and the regulations (the dangerous spiral of lightening must be stopped). A program of construction and modernization of the racetracks is underway, which over the space of three years will make it possible to count on the following facilities: Monza (modernized), Modena (new), Imola (modernized), Misano Adriatico and Mugello (new), Vallelunga (modernized), Putignano (new and almost finished), Pergusa (modernized). It is hoped that the project of a Piedmontese circuit will be set up, which would not only have the power to attract the sport of Piedmont or Liguria, but could serve as a useful tool for the important local production activity. The CSAI is aware of the important economic commitment, but will not cease to stimulate the ACI, the CONI, the central and regional governments to obtain the necessary support, taking into account the favourable moment with the spectacular recovery of Ferrari in Formula 1 and the good successes of Tecno in Formula 2, of Ferrari, Alfa and Abarth in Prototypes and Sports, and of Lancia and Fiat in Rallying. After the CSAI president, Enzo Ferrari intervened, recalling the difficulties that the manufacturers encounter in following the constantly changing standards as regards the number of exemplars, weight and engine capacities; this defect derives from the fact that the CSAI is made up of competition organizers and not technicians. Ferrari asks that A series drivers do not compete in Formula 2, that anti-doping checks are carried out for the protection of drivers and that there are at least six days between two races, and in the technical field he expresses himself against the proposed limitation of cylinders in Formula 1, hoping for a distinction between manufacturers and assemblers, also for scoring purposes; finally, Ferrari asks for the presence of a delegate of the CSAI to competitions held abroad. The meeting continues with the various sections of speed, technique, rally and karting, where the particular problems are discussed with the qualified interventions of the representatives of the car manufacturers, of Anfla, of the drivers and of the technical commissioners.


"This is not the usual conference, it is a meeting motivated by the need to clarify certain situations, now I am only a pensioner, maybe it is the last time you see me".


Here are the words that Enzo Ferrari had whispered in an almost tired tone in 1969, in the first days of November, when he wanted to finalize the famous Amon case with a group of journalists. To be honest, no one believed these claims. And rightly so. A year has passed, and Ferrari is more than ever in the breach. The agreement with Fiat turned out to be excellent, the cars concluded the season in fantastic fashion by winning Grand Prix on repeat and proclaiming themselves as the cars to beat for 1971. So, here is Ferrari returning to the tradition of the end of the year press conference. It is scheduled for Saturday, December 12, 1970, with a visit to the Maranello plants, which are under expansion, and to the land on which a test and inspection track will be built. With Ferrari there will be the CEO Bellicardi and the general manager Dondo, the Fiat man who are fans of the Scuderia cars like few others. What will the Modenese manufacturer say? Ferrari will talk about relations with Fiat, will trace a precise and detailed picture of the sporting and commercial season, will present a new car, the 312 prototype with the boxer engine of the Formula 1 single-seater, a new driver, namely Mario Andretti, who in these days tried Formula 1 in France, and the team for 1971 (Andretti, in fact, and Ickx, Regazzoni, Giunti, Merzario). He will announce the decision to give up the world championship for prototypes, to bet everything on Grand Prix, but he will specify that the 312 prototype will still take part in some endurance races to prepare for the 1972 world championship, reserved for the three-litre. Perhaps, he will announce that he will lend Giunti and Merzario to Abarth for some races. These, in summary, are the arguments that Ferrari will present. There is a lot of matter and there will be no lack of polemical hints, such as the issue of the safety of racing cars, the inadequacy of the regulations, the prospects offered by the new CIS and the plan of racetracks in Italy.

Ferrari's press conferences once gave rise to violent invectives, to stinging bickering with journalists considered little friends. The controversy will be contained in calm tones, both because Ferrari, despite always being a lion, has taken on milder tones in recent years, and because Ferrari is now linked to Fiat, and certain attitudes do not suit the Turin company. Ferrari is heading towards a serene future, as the Modena-based manufacturer wanted. This is demonstrated by the plans to expand the plant, which now also houses the Fiat Dino assembly line, and the development prospects of the Dino Ferrari. He had to retire, retire and disappear into the shadows, and instead Enzo Ferrari is more active and combative than ever. The tradition of the press conference at the end of the year is renewed, he presents the book edited by Franco Gozzi and Marcello Sabbatini on the sports seasons 1968, 1969 and 1970, he proudly exhibits his latest creature, the three-litre 312-P spider with the boxer engine of Formula 1, announces its programs in the presence of the Board of Directors of the company, the CEO Bellicardi and the general manager Dondo. The man is sure of himself, he is calm for the future of his company to which the agreement with Fiat has given new impetus, he knows that his cars are still the ones to beat. In one year, Ferrari went from an area of 40.000 square meters to one of 90.000 square meters, the number of employees has grown from 500 to 710, production rose from 650 to 1.000 units, a figure close to what will be the future size, estimated at 1500 units per year. Ferrari in 1971 will turn its efforts to Formula 1, three 312-B single-seaters will participate in each Grand Prix (perhaps four at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza). With the new 312-P prototype, fitted with the same horizontal 12-cylinder engine as the 312-B, the 1972 Sportscar World Championship operation will begin. The car will be fielded in some races reserved for Sports Prototypes in order to prove its efficiency. 


"We’ll do a few samples and when the results are positive, we’ll stop. We are only interested in being ready by 1972, when the unified three-litre formula will come into force".


The five-litre Sport 512-S, castrated by the new CIS regulation, will be entrusted to private teams and customers, to whom the factory will ensure assistance and upgrade operations. Finally, a presence in the Can-Am Cup is not excluded, that is in the rich series of races that take place in Canada and the United States and that, so far, have been dominated by McLaren. Ferrari is building a new seven-litre 12-cylinder engine, while the chassis has already been designed. The 712 will also be on track in the European Interseries Championship. The debut will probably take place on Sunday, May 2, 1971 in Imola. As can be seen, Ferrari concentrates its activities, focuses on the sector in which it knows it is stronger, and thinks ahead to the future. This has not always been the case in the past. The driver team will be formed by Andretti, Ickx, Regazzoni, Giunti and Merzario, with Vaccarella as a flanker at friendly stables. The first three are destined for Formula 1 cars. Andretti will race directly for Ferrari. The Italian-American will not be able to participate in all the rounds of the World Championship, as some (3 or 4) will be concomitant with races of the US Championship, which Mario does not want to give up (for dollars). In these Grands Prix will be replaced by Ignazio Giunti, of whom Ferrari says:


"He has shown to have those fighting skills and grit that Amon lacked".


Ickx is missing from the meeting: the Belgian is in Paris for the 1970 award ceremony by the CIS, and subsequently leaves for South Africa, where in the next few days, on the Kyalami track, the 312-P will carry out some tests. Not many figures are expressed during the meeting with Ferrari, however it is known that the turnover of the factory is around lire. In 1968, 750.000.000 lire had been spent on sports management. Ferrari only provides these data, meagre but significant: a Formula 1 single-seater costs 31.000.000 lire; the new three-litre prototype 35.000.000 lire; the car for the Can-Am Cup 43.000.000 lire.


"Multiply by the number of cars and you’ll have an idea of the expenses to be faced, just as machine building".


Five 312-B (three fixed, one for stock, one perhaps for Giunti in Monza) are 155.000.000 lire; two Can-Am-interseries are 86.000.000 lire; two 312-P are 80.000.000 lire. Total: 321.000.000 lire in cars. Then, there is everything else (travel, stays, driver contracts, etc.). Racing costs money, especially when you call yourself Ferrari and you have to win. For years there has been talk of a Ferrari participation in the famous Indy 500. It is likely that the attempt will take place in 1972, also given the availability of a driver like Andretti, with a car equipped with a 4500cc engine. Ferrari - a full-cycle factory - has to resort to external sources for certain accessories (18 in all) and, given the lack of sensitivity of Italian industry, turns to foreign companies. Now, a serious problem opens up, that of the tyres. The Maranello factory is linked to the American Firestone, whose competition policy seems destined to cool down. 


“Firestone threatens to withdraw; we are on the eve of the 1971 season and still do not know if we will have or not tyres at our disposal”. 


If Firestone were to abdicate, an intervention by Michelin is likely, which has been carrying out tests and trials with Ferrari for some time both with gran turismo and racing models. Ferrari intends to allocate 30 hectares of land in the municipality of Fiorano, near Maranello, to a 3200-metre track, ten wide, reproducing a sample of the most difficult corners on the World Championship circuits. The project is only awaiting approval. 


"The plant will be used for testing gran turismo cars and racing cars. It is neither Fiat nor Ferrari, it is personal property. That means I’ll ask Bellicardi for a reasonable rent".


Given the absence of Ferrari from the 1971 World Championship for prototypes, it seems that Porsche has advanced the hypothesis of not participating in the 1972 one out of a sort of spite. Ferrari answers: 


"Let them do what they want. We are committed to beating them. And if they want to compete in Formula 1, we wait for them".


The challenge is still open. And it is perhaps with a certain malice that the Dino Ferrari Journalism Prize is being awarded this year to Athos Evangelisti, author of an article entitled Why Porsches always win. The wish, now, is this: that at the end of 1971 a service titled Why Ferrari always win can be awarded. While waiting for the World Championship to start again, the grandstands are deserted, the track is silent. Wind, rain, snow. Bright cigars on four wheels rest. The engines will roar again in March, with the South African Grand Prix: only then will the Formula 1 Circus resume its journey. Drivers, mechanics, friends, crowd. Only he will be missing, the World Champion Jochen Rindt, the ace of aces, will not be able to defend the 1970 title with his Lotus. That Saturday in Monza seems a long way off. The test laps, the crash of the car gone mad, the piercing hiss of the ambulance, the frantic useless intervention of the doctors, the petrified face of Nina Rindt, the anger of Jackie Stewart. Images and sounds of an afternoon of pain and anguish, now transformed into the legend of the pilot eliminated by the fate (or by someone else’s mistake?) in the most beautiful moment. Rindt driver: career started in 1962, transition from touring cars to Formula 2, domination in Formula 2, first victory in a Formula 1 Grand Prix in 1969, five successes this year, above all the maturation of a style. Vain improvisation and impetuousness, more technique and experience. Intimate Rindt: 28 years old, reserved with strangers, open with friends, a lively sense of family, a keen business spirit. A sometimes rebellious and protesting driver to defend the man. Last year a bitter disagreement with his manufacturer, Colin Chapman, for certain too bold solutions in terms of spoilers and suspensions, this season the campaign for safety. But Rindt was not one to give up. For example, on circuits with many bends and ups and downs he suffered from nausea, from carsickness. At Clermont-Ferrand in 1969 he felt ill and had to retire. This year he adopted an old-style helmet to be able to breathe better, abandoning the full-face one, which completely protects the head but is less ventilated. He hit a stone on his face in practice, ran with plaster on his face, but did not put on his full-face helmet and won. Nor did he give up Lotus, despite everything. And Monza came. A lucky dispute, from which perhaps other drivers will benefit. At least this hope stays.


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