#375 1983 United States Grand Prix West

2022-09-04 01:00

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#1983, Fulvio Conti,

#375 1983 United States Grand Prix West

Alan Jones had left slamming the door at the end of 1981 after being the World Champion the previous year. Like Niki Lauda, he too had felt the loss o


Alan Jones had left slamming the door at the end of 1981 after being the World Champion the previous year. Like Niki Lauda, he too had felt the loss of the passion, the interest in racing. He left Formula 1 with an image of a tough, aggressive, ruthless driver: by winning the last race in Las Vegas, he managed to destroy his teammate Carlos Reutemann, leaving everyone behind, including Frank Williams, who offered him 2.000.000 dollars to stay. Now, Alan Jones, Australian, 36 years old, slightly heavier, apparently less unpleasant than before, is returning to racing. Unless surprises occur, after some tests at Willow Springs, he will be racing on Sunday in the United States Grand Prix West, the second race of the World Championship. Why this change of direction?


"I was tired of being a farmer; I felt the call of racing. I'm not doing it for money but for love. I agreed to race for Arrows, a team that is certainly not among the most competitive, even though it achieved excellent results in Rio. I will be paid race by race. I have a contract that expires in Imola, then we'll see. The team doesn't have money; my presence might help find a sponsor and continue the whole season".


As a former World Champion, he had received several offers before. A month before the start of the season, however, he broke the femur head of his left leg falling from a horse:


"There were two negotiations almost concluded; I had to close them. Now, I have the option of Arrows. Honestly, I have to say that I should have come back earlier. Last year, I should have accepted Ferrari's invitation to replace Villeneuve. If I had done that, probably, I could have won the world title or at least helped Pironi defend it. I have great regret for this refusal. I had a great opportunity, and I let it slip away. Unfortunately, I had some advertising commitments to fulfill, a commitment to television that I couldn't cancel. I will regret this refusal for a long time".


How will the new Alan Jones be?


"I don't think I've changed. I've trained: last year I won the Australian championship with a Porsche 935, a car with over 700 HP. One of the reasons that convinced me to come back is the abolition of the side skirts. The driver now counts a bit more in Formula 1, and I will try to prove it, even with a less competitive car than others, that I didn't steal a world title. I just hope the injured leg doesn't give me problems because I'm not yet 100% healed. In any case, it's just a matter of time".


Almost certainly, on Sunday, March 27, 1983, Formula 1 will give its last show on the city circuit of this large commercial port that is the Los Angeles harbor. Chris Pook, the race organizer, has done everything to keep the World Championship event, but the expenses overwhelmed him. FOCA, the constructors' association, asks for 1.750.000 dollars plus transportation costs. In addition, there are the costs of preparing the track, bringing the total burden to 3.600.000 dollars, a sum that cannot be covered by income. Before leaving, however, Long Beach will be one of the most interesting stages of the Formula 1 World Championship. The layout, inserted in the city center, has been substantially modified compared to the past (the climbs and descents that were one of the most dangerous points have been removed), but it is clear that it maintains characteristics different from those of a permanent circuit. It will be interesting to verify the possibilities of turbo engines in this type of race and see if any team will try to refuel on the fly with gasoline, which was successful with Brabham in Rio de Janeiro. The new pits are quite wide and would allow the operation, although the problem of overtaking remains, which is more demanding and does not allow a great recovery on each lap. Last year the race was a real massacre for turbo engines: only Villeneuve managed to finish third but was disqualified for an irregular wing of the Ferrari. For the rest, the top ten positions were all occupied by cars with aspirated engines. But Niki Lauda, who returned to victory in 1982 right in Long Beach, after a spectacular race, states:


"This time, however, the race will be a total unknown. The layout has changed, and I think it's faster. It could allow the turbos to have advantages compared to the past".


Niki Lauda doesn't smile; he seems worried. But at the same time, he is very determined, confident in his abilities. The third place obtained in Rio has given him a considerable boost:


"I'm in great shape, and I think I can run an attacking race. In Brazil, I was an idiot. I made a mistake in choosing the front tires, and this influenced my result. If I hadn't made the mistake, probably, I would have fought for the first place. I will try not to make wrong assessments. One thing, however, is certain: I don't intend to give anything away. Favorites for the race? It's impossible to name names. It's too early. I can only count on myself because I've returned to being the Lauda of the old times, and the car is competitive".


Blocking the city streets, from Friday, March 25, 1983, the largest commercial port in the United States turns into an automobile circuit. The layout, partially modified, does not allow references with the previous year. In any case, turbo engine cars should not have significant advantages over those with naturally aspirated engines, while radial tire cars should adapt better to this track. Renault will field the new RE40 car that Prost successfully tested on Wednesday, March 23, 1983, at Willow Springs. A lighter car and therefore perhaps more competitive. Ferrari has committed to aerodynamics: it should test large wings to be able to unload as many horses as possible from its exuberant engine. The atmosphere is polluted by the usual controversies. There is still talk of in-race refueling, which, contrary to what was thought, will probably be implemented by numerous teams. Since the regulations do not prohibit this operation, it is obvious that someone will take advantage of it to travel with less weight, even if here everything will be more challenging due to space reasons and overtaking difficulties. The usual voices speak of Williams and the fact that they would use gases to increase the power of the engines. As for the circuit, there is not much tranquility either: the abolition of the two curves in the upper part of the track has practically replaced a tortuous part with a high-speed straight. At the end of this straight, there is a runoff area just thirty meters long, with an impressive concrete wall at the bottom. A real danger for the drivers, who could contest the circuit this morning in free practice. Moreover, there is also the threat of bad weather: intermittent rains and storms are expected throughout the weekend. 


An additional complication that everyone would gladly do without. On Friday, March 25, 1983, surprisingly, during the first day of practice, Michele Alboreto, with Tyrrell, laps in 1'29"02 and sets the best time. A result that cannot be compared to last year's, as the track has changed significantly. In any case, the Italian driver shows remarkable determination and manages to precede, by just one hundredth of a second, the Frenchman Alain Prost with the Renault Turbo. In third place, and it's a novelty, the Colombian Roberto Guerrero with Theodore. Obviously, this car, previously always uncompetitive, finds its balance on the American city course. Fourth and fifth are the two Ferraris, with Arnoux ahead of Tambay. The Maranello cars demonstrate good tuning, and the Maranello team takes advantage of it to use the different types of rear wing it has. The best time set by Arnoux (2'30"23) is indeed achieved with a new aerodynamic appendage consisting of four wings attached to the car's fins. It is a rather bulky wing, but evidently effective. The track proves to be quite fast and with some problems at the end of the new straight, where there is a depression that makes the cars jump dangerously. Several teams still need to adapt their cars to the circuit. This is demonstrated by Brabham, which for the moment has Nelson Piquet in twentieth position and Riccardo Patrese in twenty-second. Despite these first encouraging results, René Arnoux seems absent, thoughtful: he stares, perhaps without seeing, at the cars, the drivers, the mechanics working methodically in the Convention Center garage. There are a few minutes left until the first qualifying session of the United States Grand Prix West, the examination of the stopwatch. A test that even the most established champions must undergo at every race.


"It's true, we start over from scratch, race by race. It's a continuous comparison, with the teammate, with the rivals. Everything you did before doesn't matter. If you make a mistake, you're immediately stupid. Ours is a ruthless sport. We are paid well, pampered, and flattered, but remaining cool, not feeling the stress is practically impossible. The nervous system of the drivers is always put to the test".


Arnoux seems a bit disappointed. He hoped a lot for the Brazilian Grand Prix, thinking he could debut with Ferrari more brilliantly. Instead, he had to suffer, fight against opponents who usually were kilometers behind him, collecting a handful of flies.


"It's this helplessness that bothers me, not being able to prove every time that you are strong, that you can drive well. The truth is that racing on equal terms is rare. Do you remember the duel with Villeneuve at Dijon? It was one of the most beautiful days of my career, even though I lost".


Thousands of kilometers at Fiorano and Le Castellet. Risk, effort, commitment. Why is Ferrari struggling at the beginning of this season?


"It's simple, ours is not just a Formula 1 team. It is also a prestigious car manufacturer. It cannot afford, does not want to, by philosophy, by fairness, to cheat on the regulations, to seek some kind of deception to gain advantages. The same happens with Renault. For years, I have to compete with people who present you with a fait accompli. Once it was the side skirts, then the hydraulic lifters, then the irregular weight, now the in-race refueling. And we are always chasing, tasting bitterness, trying to recover in some way".


But does this Ferrari have any chance of competing at the top with Brabham, Williams, and McLaren?


"Right now, it's hard to answer. We'll have to wait, see the new car, ready in just over a month. For now, we have to give our best under inferior conditions. We have an unparalleled engine. But starting each time with a load that can be up to 100 kg higher than others is a significant handicap. The power-to-weight ratio is crucial in racing cars, more than aerodynamics. And being heavier also means consuming tires more, which are very important, subjecting the brakes to excessive stress, giving up more competitive solutions".


A truth, as stated by Arnoux, that has already been confirmed in Brazil. The Frenchman is an attacking driver, and perhaps his temperament is an additional problem: Patrick Tambay knows how to be calmer.


"I am convinced, however, that here in Long Beach, I can start climbing the standings. I am ready to give my all, to give everything. I don't feel inferior to anyone, and I am sure the team will put me in a position to have an excellent race. Let's start collecting some points, even if not in the top positions, and then we'll see. I'll try to secure a good place on the starting grid: on this track, it can be decisive. Above all, I will try to fine-tune the car, choosing the right tires, to have a race that is not disappointing. For the fans and especially for myself".


The organizers of the United States Grand Prix West were excellent at repairing the track overnight. With a milling machine and quick-setting cement, American technicians smoothed out the part of the track that had caused serious problems to the cars with a frightening jump that broke the suspensions. However, in the free practice session on the morning of Saturday, March 26, 1983, numerous incidents and troubles occurred for everyone. Ferrari broke the gearbox with Arnoux, while Tambay, due to a tire deflation, lightly hit a wall, bending a suspension. Two gear lever breakages and a nasty impact against the wall for Johnny Cecotto, an incident also for Alboreto, who bent a rear suspension. Problems for Alfa Romeo with Baldi (three turbines out of order) and De Cesaris in a spin. Winkelhock is also involved in a dangerous spin on the track, while the Renaults do not run at full speed due to engine problems and to seek further refinement of the car. 


Formula 1 is probably playing its decisive card to captivate the Americans. The outcome of the second race of the World Championship depends on the possibility that in the coming years, the United States will continue to import this motorsport spectacle from Europe. Only if the show lives up to the situation, if the attendance of fans and TV ratings proves to be a success, the race will be confirmed in the future. Otherwise, it will be replaced by the more popular IndyCar series, which - according to what the organizers have already stated - will take the place of the Las Vegas Grand Prix scheduled for Sunday, October 9. Unless FOCA significantly reduces the fees, now close to $2.000.000. The race promises to be full of tension and uncertainty. The city circuit certainly has significant attractions but also poses considerable risks, both in terms of safety and the competitive challenges it can offer. Twenty-six cars launched between two concrete walls constitute a serious danger, especially because overtaking is very difficult, and the slightest incident could be very serious. On the sporting front, given the data, it can be seen that Long Beach offers constants. In seven editions held from 1976 to today on this track, champions have always won. Furthermore, only drivers starting in the front row have triumphed: Regazzoni, Reutemann, Villeneuve, and Piquet starting in pole position; Andretti, Jones, and Lauda who had started in second place. And it is a demonstration of how difficult it is to make your way from the rear. And it is precisely based on this consideration that the team managers will decide only at the last moment (this obviously concerns Brabham and Williams) whether to make in-race refueling. The temperature, much lower than in Rio, will allow all cars to use softer tires, reducing the advantages that can come from stopping at the pit to change tires. 


In short, a lot of uncertainty, difficult predictions. It had been almost four years, exactly since May 27, 1979, that Ferrari had not conquered the entire front row in a World Championship Grand Prix. On that occasion, in Monte Carlo, it was Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve who obtained the first and second positions. The last pole position, on the other hand, had been achieved by Mario Andretti last year at Monza. In the special record book of first positions at the start, Ferrari is in the lead with 94 victories. On Saturday, March 26, 1983, Ferrari conquers the front row during the decisive qualifying session of the United States Grand Prix West, with Patrick Tambay in the first position and René Arnoux in the second position. It is clear that there are many contenders for victory, as much will depend on the technical choices made after the trials. The battle is centered between the turbo Ferraris, Renault, and Brabham on one side, and Williams and McLaren on the other. In the role of outsiders are Tyrrell, with an in-form Alboreto, and the surprising Theodore, with the great revelation Johnny Cecotto and the Colombian Roberto Guerrero. Many will wonder how Ferrari has been able to significantly improve compared to Brazil, even using the same cars. The explanation is simple: on this circuit, the average speed is around 130 km/h, and the Maranello team has been able to increase the aerodynamic load (with the four-element rear wing), obtaining better grip, and above all, fully exploiting the qualities of the engine, which has unmatched elasticity. At the beginning of the pit straight, with just over 150 meters of momentum, Arnoux and Tambay reach 240 km/h, ten more than the other turbocharged cars, 20-30 km/h more than those with naturally aspirated engines. It is logical, therefore, to expect Ferrari to be a protagonist even though, as usual, the men of the Maranello team are cautious in their predictions. Arnoux and Tambay say:


"We can certainly have a good race, but it won't be easy. It's always like playing roulette, even though here we can bet on a few more numbers".


Not to forget that the characteristics of the track, very irregular, could provide surprises, and probably few cars will not have more or less serious problems. Alan Jones says:


"The asphalt changes at least five times along the circuit. If it ever rains, we'll see some interesting things".


The former World Champion is one of the major attractions of the race, a nice curiosity. But he has to race in a car with a cockpit too narrow for him, where he can hardly maneuver the gearbox. A difficult return for Jones. The Ferrari team does not include engineer Mauro Forghieri in the Californian trip. As has happened on many other occasions, when a new car is being prepared, the technical director of Maranello stays at home. His presence is essential for decisions that must be made very quickly while his direct collaborators, Tornami and Carletti, work with the drivers on setting up the cars for the race. Forghieri, after research carried out in wind tunnels and studies also carried out on computers at Ferrari's research and development centers, should be well underway, as the Modena-based manufacturer had announced the probable debut of the 126 C3 for the San Marino Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, May 1, 1983. According to some rumors, the car would have the main characteristic of having eliminated the front part of the body, which would be replaced by the same chassis. The unprecedented single-seater would also be narrower and therefore lighter, perhaps at the limit of 540 kilograms. Most likely, the car will have incorporated a system for fast refueling during the race. It will have a large filler on the side of the tank with the vent for the gas of the safety system. However, this precaution could be mounted on current Ferrari models in advance, for the French Grand Prix to be held in Le Castellet on Sunday, April 17, 1983. The sports director, Marco Piccinini, does not exclude this hypothesis:


"Even though, as a principle, we are not very favorable to pit stops for refueling and tire changes, it does not mean that we do not consider the possibility of implementing the strategy already used by Brabham and Williams. If the method proves advantageous on certain circuits, we will adapt to the circumstances. Certainly, the pit stops of many cars in the race will create dangers and problems, but Ferrari, let's not forget, has a lot of experience in this field. Years of racing in the World Sports Car Championship".


However, it seems that some nations, including France, will prohibit refueling during the race. There are precise laws regarding this...


"We will, of course, respect the decisions that will be made. If I'm not mistaken, it seems that in Monte Carlo, for example, it is prohibited to bring more than fifty liters of fuel to the pit. However, it must be recognized that the regulations of the Formula 1 World Championship for 1983 allow for the possibility of mid-race refueling.


Why did Ferrari and other manufacturers agree to the prohibition of refueling only from 1984?


"You couldn't achieve everything at once and in such a short time. The goal of Formula 1 is to reduce fuel consumption. From next year, tanks can hold a maximum of 220 liters of fuel. Now there are some cars that need to use 250-liter tanks to finish a race".


Why has your team, along with Renault, Alfa Romeo, Toleman, and Osella, spoken out against city circuits?


"We are not fundamentally against this type of track. We have nothing against organizers who have a tradition of seriousness and preparation like Monte Carlo, which has over fifty years of experience. We are opposed to those who only attempt adventures and want to advertise with Formula 1 for a few years, then abandon the field. There are also moral and safety issues: permanent circuits certainly offer more than just a hotel parking lot. These are investments that teams must take into account. And I say this even though our cars have often had excellent races on city tracks".


Osella, eliminated from the United States West Grand Prix with both its drivers, Corrado Fabi and Pier Carlo Ghinzini, expected this type of result. Unfortunately, the Turin-based team does not have competitive cars, as they are last year's models just modified. 


Also, the Michelin tires are a significant contributor to the elimination, as they prove particularly ineffective for qualifying times on the U.S. city circuit. Osella, however, is already preparing for the future: the Volpiano manufacturer has hired the English designer Tony Southgate full-time, who has ended his relationship with Ford, which withdrew its team from the World Endurance Championship. Southgate is building the new car, which should be ready for the San Marino Grand Prix and will be equipped with the naturally aspirated Alfa Romeo twelve-cylinder engine. While the trials are taking place, an agitated fan enters the pit without permission. The man is intercepted by a police officer who tries to drag him away. The fiery young man rebels, and a scuffle ensues with the security officer who is in trouble. Jacques Laffite intervenes with a well-aimed punch, literally knocking him down. The unfortunate fan is handcuffed and taken away by the police who then arrive in large numbers at the scene. On Sunday, March 27, 1983, at the start of the United States Grand Prix West, Patrick Tambay maintained the lead; Keke Rosberg, starting from the second row, immediately tried to slot in behind the two French drivers of Ferrari. The Finn also made contact with René Arnoux's car, dropping him to fourth place, behind Rosberg and Jacques Laffite. The following positions were held by the two Tyrrells of Michele Alboreto and Danny Sullivan, and the two Renaults of Alain Prost and Eddie Cheever. Keke Rosberg spun during the first lap while attempting to pass Patrick Tambay but managed to continue, holding onto the second position. Also during the first lap, René Arnoux lost a position to Michele Alboreto. In the second lap, Danny Sullivan, in sixth place, was passed by Riccardo Patrese. However, Sullivan lost two more positions in the next lap, being overtaken by the Renaults. Alain Prost, plagued by an ignition issue, lost several positions until he pitted on lap 16 for a tire change. Arnoux also suffered from tire degradation, slipping down the ranks. By lap 16, the leaderboard, still led by Patrick Tambay, featured Keke Rosberg in second, followed by Jacques Laffite, Michele Alboreto, Eddie Cheever, Riccardo Patrese, Jean-Pierre Jarier, and René Arnoux. Another Renault driver, Eddie Cheever, went to the pits for a tire change but found the mechanics busy with Prost, forcing him to continue the race away from the leading positions. The top six drivers were closely packed, with Rosberg pressuring Tambay while being pressed by Laffite. 


On lap 22, Jean-Pierre Jarier collided with Michele Alboreto in an overtaking attempt, forcing the Italian driver to return to the pits with damaged suspension. In lap 26, Rosberg tried to overtake Tambay, resulting in contact that sent the Frenchman into a spin, stopping in the middle of the track. Rosberg avoided Tambay's car but, at the final chicane, faced the closely following cars of Laffite and Jarier (who had passed Patrese). First, the two Williams collided, and then Rosberg's car was hit by Jarier's, ending up against the wall. The Finn retired immediately, and shortly after, Jarier was forced to abandon the race with a damaged wing. With Laffite in the lead, the race saw Riccardo Patrese, Marc Surer, and the two McLaren drivers, Niki Lauda and John Watson, climbing through the ranks despite starting from the back. By lap 28, the McLaren drivers passed Marc Surer, and five laps later, John Watson overtook Niki Lauda to claim third place after the Shoreline Drive. Soon after, Johnny Cecotto passed Marc Surer, reaching fifth place. On lap 44, taking advantage of a mistake by Riccardo Patrese, both John Watson and Niki Lauda passed the Italian driver. One lap later, with Jacques Laffite struggling with tires, Watson and Lauda found themselves leading the race. Laffite was also overtaken by Riccardo Patrese on lap 52. Johnny Cecotto lost positions due to a loose gear lever on the Theodore, dropping behind Eddie Cheever, René Arnoux, and Marc Surer. René Arnoux, after a second tire change, fought with Eddie Cheever for fifth place and eventually passed Jacques Laffite on lap 67, climbing to fourth. Eddie Cheever also passed Laffite but retired a lap later due to a gearbox failure. Three laps from the end, the standings changed again due to Riccardo Patrese's retirement while in third place. In the final part of the race, Niki Lauda suffered from cramps and couldn't attack John Watson. If Formula 1 were football, the United States Grand Prix West would have seen at least two expulsions for unsportsmanlike conduct: Keke Rosberg and Jean-Pierre Jarier. Being determined and aggressive is a necessary component to excel in sports. However, when certain limits are crossed, it becomes foolish and self-destructive. The Finn and the Frenchman demonstrated how one can drive without a minimum of intelligence, being carried away only by dangerous determination for oneself and others. Their scandalous and risky behavior deserved the intervention of sports authorities and disqualification. 


If it didn't determine the race's result, it certainly influenced it. The victory achieved by John Watson ahead of Niki Lauda and René Arnoux had a triple origin: the accidents that eliminated at least four potential contenders, tire performance crucial for the final standings, and, of course, the skill of those who managed to emerge in such a heated battle. The McLaren's double win undoubtedly bore the Michelin signature. The French radial tires, inferior to Goodyear in qualifying, had a performance below expectations during the race. If that's the technical aspect of the Long Beach Grand Prix, the competitive aspect was even more evident. Rosberg and Jarier were the diabolical instigators of a race that ultimately deprived Ferrari of a possible victory. The Maranello team had started with two cars in the front row and had long led the competition with Tambay. René Arnoux says:


"Rosberg behaved like a madman, he came right at me on the straight after the start and broke a wheel rim on my car. At the twelfth lap, I had to come in to change both front wheels. I tried to recover, but they mounted tires that were too soft, a failure. I went back to the pits to change the tires again and then start a very tiring comeback. Third place is a positive result compared to what we had done in Rio. But if it hadn't gone this way, we could have fought for the victory".


Patrick Tambay, it must be acknowledged, accepts Rosberg's collision with much philosophy. Immediately after the incident, he expresses harsh words towards the World Champion, but later, with a clear mind, specifies: 


"It's true, Keke eliminated both Ferraris this time. I don't understand what hurry he had to overtake me in an impossible turn. Perhaps I couldn't have resisted his attacks, and sooner or later, he might have found the right gap to pass me. Rosberg, on the other hand, knocked me out irregularly. Unfortunately, there are no more starter motors on the cars. Maybe I could have restarted. In any case, we return to Maranello with a positive balance. The cars have shown progress. You will see that in the next races, we will achieve even better results".


Frank Williams himself admits that Keke Rosberg went overboard, that he was too nervous. And for no particular reason, considering he started with a full tank, without the need to push for a certain margin of advantage and refuel. The Finnish driver, grim-faced, simply says:


"Jarier hit me head-on". 


Then, he harshly criticizes his teammate, Jacques Laffite: 


"If he hadn't tried to overtake for the lead, nothing would have happened. Tambay left me a gap by widening the curve, and I took advantage of it".


Quite audacious. Even Jean-Pierre Jarier doesn't admit any responsibility and, on the contrary, has the courage to say:


"Alboreto came at me". 


With such candor that someone might even believe him. The Italian driver didn't even notice what happened. He was in front, and the Ligier swooped down on his Tyrrell without giving him a chance. And it's fortunate that nothing serious happened. In such a bizarre day, the only example of courage and skill comes from Arnoux and Cheever. The Frenchman and the Italian-American engaged in a beautiful and chivalrous duel from lap 58 to lap 67, surpassing each other multiple times. However, everything happened in full respect of the rules, demonstrating how to race in a car using intelligence. Who could have expected a winning duo from McLaren in Long Beach? 


The most surprised are indeed John Watson and Niki Lauda, finishing on the podium together with René Arnoux. The Northern Irish driver, 36 years old, achieved a genuine feat: he won (his fifth career victory) starting from the 22nd position, while the Austrian came in second from the penultimate row. A true chasing record. Probably no one had ever managed to succeed in such a situation. And to think that Watson had risked being left without a ride this year. McLaren had contacted Alan Jones, and only when the Australian broke a leg falling off a horse and was forced to withdraw, did they decide to fall back on old John. A contract that was somewhat of a trap: a not too high base salary (relative to other drivers) and then a bonus for every point earned, in dollars. However, Watson rejected the idea of racing for money: 


"Winning is more satisfying than anything else. Even though it's right to be paid since we are professionals. I wouldn't have believed I could finish like this, given the times in the qualifying. I chose the right, hard tires. I think I repeated the race from last year in Detroit. It was even more challenging and beautiful then. It's too early to say, but obviously, I aim for the world championship. It's the goal of my racing life".


Niki Lauda is leading the World Championship. The Austrian is satisfied but doesn't spare self-criticism:


"I made a mistake with the tires, choosing them too soft. The car had crazy vibrations. I certainly couldn't attack Watson. At one point, I even had a cramp in my right leg. I feared I might have to stop. Anyway, two races and two good placements: the start is not bad".


Second Grand Prix in Formula 1, first point, a splendid race, competed with skill and great caution. Driving with one hand for almost half the race, he finished sixth. Johnny Cecotto, a 27-year-old Italo-Venezuelan residing in Treviso, former world motorcycle champion, quickly gained sympathy and respect in the world of Grand Prix. At the end of the race, he is very happy and receives the embraces of his partner, the beautiful Martina Wagner. But it wasn't easy. Cecotto could have placed better, but his Theodore didn't allow it.


"Towards the middle of the race, the gearbox broke. I could only keep one hand on the wheel because the other was busy holding the lever. Otherwise, the gears came out. The car was jumping like a goat, and I suffered a lot. Only the desire to finish among the top allowed me to continue".


Once again, for the Italians, it was a disappointing Grand Prix. Michele Alboreto, who theoretically could have won, was eliminated by a bizarre maneuver by Jean-Pierre Jarier. Riccardo Patrese had success within reach, but perhaps he made a miscalculation. In an attempt to overtake Jacques Laffite, who was in the lead, the Italian driver overshot with his Brabham at the end of the straight of the pit lane on lap 44, slipping to fourth position. Then he recovered. Unluckily, while he was again in third place, three laps from the end, the turbo suddenly failed. For De Cesaris, De Angelis, and Giacomelli, the race was a real ordeal. The Alfa Romeo driver, with an unmanageable car, was stopped by a gearbox failure. The Lotus driver had to retire after changing tires twice because he couldn't stay on the track. Giacomelli raced with the Toleman's stuttering Hart turbo, and the car seemed to skate on ice. After a pit stop, the engine didn't restart. A lot of fear, however, for Baldi, who ended up against a protective wall with the throttle stuck open.


"I understood how tough the concrete is".


The Emilian says with a certain spirit, bruised in one elbow, one leg, and one foot. In short, they expect results and only disappointments come. Alan Jones's return to Formula 1 was positive. The Australian fought well. At one point, he was ninth, but a small incident delayed him. Speaking of the former World Champion, there is an interesting fact: a group of American fans raised money to help him, collecting a few thousand dollars. The amount was rejected by the Arrows team manager, Jackie Oliver, and donated to charity.


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