How is the Ferrari doing? On Sunday, January 9, 1977, in the Argentine Grand Prix unexpectedly won by Jody Scheckter with the new Wolf, Niki Lauda retired (like Hunt), and Carlos Reutemann finished third, behind Pace, whose Brabham-Alfa demonstrated a good level of competitiveness. The question needs to be directed to engineer Nosetto, who, with Ghedini (who returned to Italy due to the death of his father) and Tomaini, is responsible for the Maranello team. Here is the response:
"Lauda had handling problems. Then, after the first laps, the engine experienced vibrations and lost power. The driver stopped to avoid destroying it completely. Also, Reutemann had handling problems until he changed the tire; it was our major problem even in the three days of practice. Then, after changing the tire, which, by the way, did not prove to be faulty, the situation improved. Reutemann told me that the car was the best he had driven in these four days. And his lap times, more than a second faster than the others, confirm his statement".
Before entering the pits to replace the tire, Reutemann had a spin. Did he explain the reasons?
"No, he made the replacement because he couldn't drive the single-seater".
So, how do you judge the race?
"It seems to me that we had neither luck nor misfortune: we finished third because the others stopped, but when someone stops, it means something is not right. Niki cannot say he was unlucky either. You are unlucky when a piece of the audience loses the newspaper, and it ends up right on the driver's face. But when a car has an engine vibration, you can't blame bad luck".
In light of this experience, what do you plan to do to eliminate these problems?
"Work, work a lot. Now we will go as soon as possible to Interlagos, where we plan to carry out tests".
But will they let you test?
"I will personally check, because some say yes, others say no, as they argue that the road surface must still be renewed".
Tires were one of the question marks before the race. What can you say now?
"There are single-seaters that work well with these tires. If all the tires were performing, then it would be their fault. But since this doesn't happen, before blaming the tires, let's wait a moment. This, of course, does not mean it's our car's fault: we can only say that these tires are not ideal for Ferrari".
What will you focus your efforts on?
"We will have to work on the entire car. The chassis, the engine, the suspension, and aerodynamics. Clearly, this is a practical remedy, not to win the World Championship but to return from South America with some points".
What do you think of Scheckter's car?
"Scheckter and the Wolf, designed by an engineer who had already created the Hesketh, should not be underestimated".
Your opinion on the Martini Brabham-Alfa?
"It is undoubtedly one of the candidates for victory in the World Championship".
Did the heat affect the race?
"I would say yes. Reutemann, for example, was very exhausted when he arrived because the temperature inside the cockpit was unbearable. The first modification we will have to make in Brazil is to let more air into the cockpit".
What do you think of Lauda?
"In these days, I realized that Lauda is a great driver, both from certain things he told me and from certain observations made by other teams. I could see that Niki has a great sensitivity in driving. In fact, every note of his was accurate".
Was he upset about the retirement?
"He was certainly not happy. But you know very well that the championship is difficult, and you have to try to get points on every occasion".
Changing the subject, Keith Duckworth, the brilliant creator of the Cosworth V8, recalls the origins of that engine that Ford ordered eleven years ago.
"Originally, the contract was for five engines that we had to develop and assist for a Formula 1 team. We didn't have any particularly original concept in mind for this engine".
Since then, the three-liter Cosworth DFV, the most successful racing engine, has won 97 victories in as many Grand Prix races and hopes to celebrate the hundred before next summer. In a high-tech sport like Formula 1, it is extraordinary that an engine still victorious after a decade. And Duckworth believes that it is not yet time to retire his DFV because it still has something more to give.
"We are building sixteen units in magnesium, with a saving of almost 16 kg compared to the aluminum type. Considering that 500 grams less roughly equals 0.015s per lap, the gain could be 0.5 seconds".
Enzo Ferrari recently stated that a tenth of a second less would be enough to dominate the field this season. So, is it a red flag for Italian cars? In a noted English specialized magazine, Emerson Fittipaldi writes that Ferrari's superiority last season was due to its higher horsepower.
"There is no doubt that Ferrari was the car of the year, thanks above all to the power of its engine; Ferrari has more horses than us with the Cosworth".
"The success of the Ferrari 12-cylinder prompted us to counterattack. So we undertook an intense development program to achieve higher speeds with our engines. Ours, however, is only a small industry. We build 30 to 40 units per year that we sell at a very reasonable price. The engines are so far the same for any customer who requests them. When we introduce a modification, we have to do it for all customers".
After ten years, Cosworth finds itself at a crossroads, the most difficult it has faced since it started its activity:
"If we want to quickly create something new, we cannot do it at the same time for all the teams that rely on us; we will necessarily have to favor only some teams, which means changing direction completely. Production costs will rise, and sales will decrease. It was a difficult decision to make. We will, however, take the new path because otherwise progress will be much slower".
As a result, radical changes will be introduced, but Ford, whose name will continue to appear on these special engines, refuses to reveal who they will be destined for. In the meantime, the World Championship continues with the second race of the season, which will take place on Sunday, June 23, 1977, in Brazil. A few days before, precisely on Wednesday, January 19, 1977, the Formula 1 World Champion, James Hunt, remains locked in his luxurious room at the Hilton hotel in São Paulo throughout the day, due to an illness that he hopes to overcome by Sunday. The Englishman suffers from intestinal colic and vomiting, the result, according to doctors, of dietary indiscretions committed on the island of Guarujá, where Hunt spent a few days of rest with other drivers. Hunt is also involved in another misadventure: he was stopped for driving without a license. An officer took him to the police station because Hunt had passed a long line of cars waiting to board a ferry, without knowing that they were cars waiting, and that he too would have to wait his turn. And at the police station, it turned out that Hunt didn't even have a license. It was stolen in Italy.
"I only had my racing driver's license, and I showed it. I had to explain that it's impossible to have a racing driver's license without first having a regular driving license".
Hunt's detention lasted 20 minutes until the police verified the pilot's identity. Meanwhile, the twenty-two competitors of the Brazilian Grand Prix are already in São Paulo. Before heading to Interlagos for free practice, Niki Lauda has a brief conversation with journalists.
"The Ferrari cannot be considered the absolute favorite, as it was last year. At that time, we had a car superior to all others".
Moreover, the incident of the fire extinguisher that occurred during the Argentine Grand Prix practice on Mario Andretti's Lotus has triggered a reaction from IATA. In fact, the officials of this association, which gathers airlines, have advised their affiliates not to transport Formula 1 cars on commercial flights, fearing that the explosion of an extinguisher placed on the single-seater could cause the plane to explode in flight. Transport can only be done if the cars are disassembled and the extinguishers are emptied. On the other hand, the Formula 1 Constructors' Association is now considering the possibility of transporting cars using charter flights. The Brazilian Grand Prix, the second race of the Formula 1 World Championship, is eagerly anticipated. It will take place on the challenging Interlagos circuit, near São Paulo. Jody Scheckter's surprising victory in the Argentine Grand Prix left a bitter taste for the teams that were favorites, and thus, McLaren, Brabham, Ferrari, Tyrrell, and Lotus are seeking quick redemption in this second South American race. As mentioned, James Hunt, during his vacation in Guarujá, suffered from poisoning and has not fully recovered yet. The World Champion, who on Thursday, January 20, 1977, acts as a spectator in the pit and, according to the doctor's advice, should remain in complete rest, declares that he is not yet physically well but hopes to fully recover for the official practice.
This seems unlikely, especially if he continues to disregard what his treating physician tells him. Among the main protagonists of the Brazilian Grand Prix, there will likely be the two drivers of Martini-Brabham Alfa Romeo, Carlos Pace, and John Watson. The Brazilian driver says:
"I will race at home, on a familiar track where, with Brabham, I have already won in 1975. On this circuit, the current car should perform very well".
Also, his teammate, John Watson, aims for a great performance. After an excellent debut in Argentina, the driver is in high spirits and is confident of achieving a positive result. The Brazilian Grand Prix will also reveal the actual competitive conditions of Ferrari. In the Argentine race, the Maranello machines had the usual defects and did not live up to their reputation. In these days, the Italian team's personnel have worked extensively on the 312 T-2, but it was not possible to conduct the planned tests. Ferrari's management, joined by engineer Forghieri, who arrived from Italy, is not enthusiastic because the rain prevented them from verifying the changes on the track. The Tyrrell drivers, Depailler and Peterson, do not hide their ambitions either. The French driver was the fastest in the free practice, indicating the high competitiveness achieved by the six-wheeled car. Small problems for Andretti, whose Lotus has not yet undergone the requested modifications after the opening race. However, the Italian-American will compensate with his driving skills for the shortcomings of his team. Among the outsiders are Jody Scheckter, Regazzoni, and Brambilla, who seem more determined now that they have become familiar with the new equipment. On Friday, January 21, 1977, Brazilian Carlos Pace, with the Martini Brabham-Alfa Romeo, is the fastest on the first day of practice for the Brazilian Grand Prix. After the rain in the previous days, the sun shines again on Friday, and the practice takes place in optimal conditions. Pace intelligently exploits his perfect knowledge of the track and, thanks to a car that improves from race to race, sets an excellent time of 2'30"57, which remains the best of the day. The second-best performance of the day is from Mario Andretti. The Lotus driver had already set the sixth time in the early practice sessions; then, after resolving some minor setup issues, in the last hour, he taps into his resources and manages to come within 0.26s of Pace. The day is also positive for the McLaren team, which records the third and fourth times, respectively with Hunt and Mass. The World Champion is not fully recovered physically, but with his usual confidence, he declares:
"I will be fine on Sunday, and I will win. After all, I am the king".
Clay Regazzoni is also in the spotlight, who with the Ensign manages to achieve the fifth time.
"It's a car that you can drive with one finger. But I have a weak engine, so much so that everyone passes me on the straight. However, I'm ahead of the Ferraris, and that already seems like a good result".
Not-so-happy news for the Ferrari team. Reutemann and Lauda cannot run for long because they are plagued by grip and roll problems, and they set the sixth and eighth best times. For the Ferrari drivers, it is a continuous back-and-forth from the pits to replace springs, shock absorbers, and anti-roll bars, trying to find the best compromise. After the practice, the Italian box remains closed for over two hours, with officials gathered to discuss the problems and seek alternative solutions to adopt in the final Saturday practice. It is hoped that the two drivers can record better times, allowing them to reach the front positions on the starting grid and have good prospects for a positive result. Brambilla, in the early practices, finds himself with an uncontrollable car due to vibrating suspension trapezoids causing noticeable oversteer. After the replacement, the Italian driver accelerates to set a valid time, but he hits a curb, and a radiator jumps. Zorzi, on the other hand, faces fuel and sealing problems.
During the final timed session that counts for grid positions on Saturday morning, Hunt really excels himself with a tremendous and well-worked-out 2'30"11 to ensure that pole position is well beyond doubt. Reutemann joins him on the front row with 2'30"18, the Ferrari’s revised rear wing helping matters enormously. Andretti clings on to the inside of the second row with a good 2'30"35, a time achieved despite his Lotus having to run with several gallons of dead fuel in its tanks owing to a pick-up problem, while Mass backs up the World Champion magnificently with a 2'30"36 best. Pace fails to improve, so his best Friday time of 2'30"57 leaves him in fifth place but Depailler lifts Tyrrell spirits with his car softer springs than before and moves up to sixth place with 2'30"69, the last contestant to break the 2'31"0 barrier. Watson and Peterson share the fourth row ahead of Regazzoni-his Ensign’s engine smoking a little-Nilsson, Brambilla and Pryce. Down in 13th position on the grid is a disgruntled Lauda, his regular car springing a fuel leak into the cockpit during that crucial final session in which he was hoping to make up all the leeway he lost messing about yesterday. There is nothing left for Lauda but to switch to the muletta and he has to rely on his 2'32"37 time from the first session for his grid position. Further down than expected, Jacques Laffite has a miserable two days with the Ligier-Matra JS7, one engine blowing up during pre-practice testing and another during the first timed session. The team then has to chase to Sao Paulo’s international airport to collect another fresh V12 which has been sent from France. The problem with the French-built engines surrounds the valve clearance in the cylinder heads, and Ligier is left with just the single unit for both the final timed session and the race. Laffite gets down to 2'32"43 in the final session which is better than both the Scheckters, both the Copersucars, Zorzi, Binder, Ribiero and Perkins in the B.R.M., all of whom have been practising intensely ever since the track opened. Mention of Perkins brings us to the subject of the B.R.M. P207, that new car from Bourne which has been designed by Len Terry. Barely ready to move, let alone race, the BRM predictably overheats madly in the Brazilian heat and minor problems with certain aspects of its fuel system cann’t detract from the fact that the whole team was in a state of total unreadiness.
Perkins can only manage 2'42"22 with the B.R.M. and, since we saw him qualify 12th out of 24 at Watkins Glen in a Brabham BT45, we feel we know what conclusion it would be accurate to draw. Some people never learn; or perhaps they don’t want to. During the untimed session at the end of Saturday afternoon Andretti is the centre of attention once more when his Lotus bursts into flames whilst negotiating an infield hairpin, the result of a leak somewhere deep in the engine’s fuel system. The American leaps out hurriedly with only a few superficial burns on his overalls while the car coasts to a halt on the grass, and marshals quickly extinguish the blaze. Andretti thumbs a lift back to the pits on the side of his mate’s car, Nilsson looking a little bit apprehensive when he sees the other Lotus going up in flames because he thinks he might be relegated to the role of spectator again. On Sunday, January 23, 1977, at a couple of minutes to 12:00 p.m., the 22-car field moves slowly up from the dummy grid to await the starting light. At mid-day precisely, the starting light blinks green and the Brazilian Grand Prix is on with Pace jumping the start from the third grid and rocketing up the inside of Hunt as they go into the first corner. Reutemann chops across from the outside and just leads the Brabham-Alfa out onto the long downhill straight, but Pace has the bit between his teeth and doesn’t have any intention of being shown the way round Interlagos by an Argentinian. At the bottom of the hill, on the entrance to the slightly banked double left-hander which is to cause to many people so much trouble later in the race, Pace pulls out and slices into the lead to the accompaniment of ecstatic cheers from the crowd, leading the Ferrari up into the infield loop and out onto the start/finish straight to complete the first lap. Third is Hunt ahead of Mass, Andretti and Regazzoni, while there is already a gap opening back to Depailler, Laffite, Jody Scheckter, Peterson, Brambilla, Pryce, Fittipaldi, Watson, Lauda, Ian Scheckter, Nilsson (heading for the pits to change a rear tyre damaged after a slight nudge), Binder, Ribiero, Hoffman and Zorzi. Totally unnoticed by most of the spectators, the B.R.M. crawls into the pits to retire with all its water blown out after just a single lap. Although Pace is very much in command during the opening stages, Hunt is in fine form and slipps into second place on the third lap, but he isn’t able to do much about the Italian-engined car in the lead. Hunt later will remark that he was amazed by the speed at which Pace got away from him along the straights, but he isn’t giving up worrying the Brazilian as hard as he knows.
Just behind Reutemann, Mass is striving might and main to fend off Andretti while the cheeky Regazzoni simply hangs onto the back of this little elite group and watches the action, quite able to keep up with them in the car that Mo built. Brambilla is already in the pits having a water radiator repaired after humping over yet another kerb, lan Scheckter has stopped with gearbox trouble on the second lap (the oil filter mounting broke, severed an oil line and starved the box of its lubricant) and Nilsson is back in the fray driving as hard as he can from the rear end of the field. A small grass fire suddenly starts on the edge of the circuit on the outside of the corner before the pits, causing the leaders to moderate their speed for a couple of laps, but that is soon extinguished. By the end of the sixth lap the first half dozen are still in close contact, but lap seven spells disaster for Pace as he rounds the double left-hander at the bottom of the hill after the pits. The circuit surface at this point has only recently been relaid and, as the race wears on, adhesion was minimal if drivers allow their cars to deviate too much from the prescribed line. Pace allows the red Brabham to run a fraction too wide as he leads the field into this comer and suddenly Hunt is presented with the sight of the red Brabham sliding down the circuit almost broadside right in front of him. Hunt pulls the McLaren into the corner as tightly as he can, slipping past Pace on the inside, but his right rear wheel runs over the Brabham’s left front water radiator, smashing the cowling and cascading water all over the place. Pace then regains control, but the whole nose section flies off a few hundred yards later and, bitterly disappointed, the Brazilian is obliged to stop at the pits at the end of that lap. Thus the order at the end of lap seven is Hunt from Reutemann, Mass and Andretti with the German driver trying as hard as he can to keep the determined American behind him. On lap 11 Jody Scheckter pulls to a standstill with a seizing engine in his blue Wolf, then two laps later Mass loses control in front of Andretti at that comer, finds himself unable to retrieve the situation on the slippery surface and slides headlong into the catch fencing. The fencing promptly falls down across the track, collected Regazzoni’s Ensign - which has also run slightly wide - and spins the Swiss’ car round in its own length before wrapping it up in chicken wire so that it is completely trapped.
Hardly has Regazzoni stopped when Depailler arrives on the scene, spinning wildly, but the Frenchman keeps his Tyrrell away from the fence and is able to restart after losing several places. Peterson, by contrast, simply doesn’t seem to see the pile-up and, to the amazement of the following Tom Pryce, simply ploughs straight off into the catch fencing. Brambilla is already there (having spun off a lap before Mass) while Watson and Lauda just avoid sliding off to join them. It was just like black ice, remarks an amazed Lauda after the race is over. This wholesale decimation rather splits up the field, Hunt now a few seconds ahead of Reutemann with Andretti right behind. Pryce’s Shadow has moved into fourth place ahead of Laffite with 15 laps completed, but the French car lasts there only six laps before making a pit stop to change cracked sparking plugs (a repeat of the problem that dogged Laffite in Argentina) and that means that Lauda and Watson inherit the two remaining positions in the top half-dozen. At the front of the field Hunt is clearly in problems as his McLaren has been adjusted to develop slightly too much understeer as the race wears on. Gradually Reutemann closes in on the McLaren as it wears its front tyres down and, despite trying extremely hard to fend him off, Hunt is forced to concede the lead on lap 23. Immediately Hunt takes the decision to stop for two fresh front tyres, rocketing back into the race in fifth place and quickly re-passing Lauda and Watson. Two laps ago, Andretti’s strong challenge evaporated when a small electrical short circuit in the wires behind the Lotus’ instrument panel caused him to stop out on the circuit, leaving Reutemann with a tremendous lead over Pryce with Hunt catching up fast in third place. Even Pryce isn’t without his problems, for his Shadow’s oil temperature is soaring, so the Welshman eases his pace slightly, hoping that the engine will last. Unfortunately, just over six laps from the end of the 40-lap race the engine goes ragged and Pryce has to stop, so Hunt is back in second place behind Reutemann’s reliable Ferrari. Depailler is further delayed after his spin with a deflated rear tyre and damaged water radiator (both of which had to be replaced) and the Frenchman caps Ken Tyrrell’s day by crashing very heavily into the remains of Mass’ McLaren, writing off both cars and braising his knees quite painfully. Watson, who never features in the high places at all, finds his Brabham BT45 understeering far too violently, and joins the happy throng in the catch fencing on lap 30.
When he arrives and climbs out of his car he finds that Laffite has slammed the Ligier-Matra into Brambilla’s Surtees and three laps later comes the crowning stupidity when Pace (many laps behind the leaders) slides off into this Formula One graveyard as well. In all this excitement hardly anybody notices Hans Binder sliding off further round the circuit after a front brake of his Surtees TS19 locks on. As the seven drivers in amongst the catch fencing dust themselves down, the closing lap order of the Brazilian Grand Prix must leave rather than a trifle embarrassed. Reutemann, driving as smoothly as clockwork, reels off the final miles to a comfortable and convincing victory over Hunt by over 10 sec. while Lauda, who carefully avoided the pitfalls and snares other people found so attractive, ends up a solid and lonely third. Despite making a pit stop to change a deflated tyre, Fittipaldi brings the Copersucar home fourth (one lap down on Reutemann), while Nilsson survives to fifth (despite a second stop to take on fuel) and Zorzi is sixth simply by dint of plodding on. In Formula 1, miracles are possible. Ferrari seemed destined for a disappointing performance in the Brazilian Grand Prix, the second act of the World Championship, but instead, they achieved a sensational triumph: Carlos Reutemann finished first, and Niki Lauda third. Between the two Ferrari drivers was the formidable James Hunt with McLaren. The Brabham-Alfa Romeo, considered by some to be at the top of the field, suffered a bitter defeat. Races, especially Grand Prix events, are beautiful for these turnarounds and situations that are always risky to consider as definitive.
"Sick Ferrari, Ferrari in crisis, trial of Ferrari".
Who, in recent days, had given up on considering the Maranello team as a friend in need of prompt care? There were, of course, those who had joked about it or decisively declared the end of the Ferrari era and the rise of Alfa Romeo. Bold predictions. Ferrari has returned to victory after about eight months. The last on-track victory was in May at Monte Carlo by Niki Lauda (excluding the one awarded to him for the British Grand Prix). A long hiatus during which Ferrari went through many bitter experiences, especially the dramatic accident involving Lauda with all its direct and indirect consequences. It has resurfaced with the new acquisition, Reutemann, who, after staying on the sidelines in the final races of the 1976 World Championship, engaged in rigorous testing and understanding of the 312-T2 at Fiorano, is now confirming himself as a class driver deserving the trust placed in him.
"He lacks character".
Said Clay Regazzoni about Carlos a few days earlier, once again proving to speak out of turn too many times. At Interlagos, Lole showed a lot of character, decisiveness, determination, and a beautiful victory. And now the Argentine, third in the Argentine Grand Prix, leads the World Championship standings with 13 points against Jody Scheckter's 9, who did not repeat his brilliant performance in Buenos Aires. Lauda is also in the standings with 4 points against Pace's 6. Fittipaldi and Hunt have 13 and 9 points, respectively. This, too, is a pleasing comeback. Certainly, if a crisis or illness in Ferrari brings its two drivers to the first and third positions in such a selective Grand Prix, one might wish a thousand such crises for the Maranello team. In reality, just as it was not appropriate to consider the Maranello team defeated, it is now important not to get too excited. Like all other teams, it goes through ups and downs, perhaps having excessively spoiled everyone in the last two years. The car is still among the best, but not being the absolute best and subject to problems, issues arise due to various factors: tires, circuit characteristics, and so on. Ultimately, the best news from Interlagos is this: trust in Ferrari and its men can continue. Reutemann's victory is a reward for everyone and also for Enzo Ferrari, who followed the race on TV. Ferrari is slightly unwell; perhaps such a success is the best medicine. For Ferrari, the most dangerous opponent remains Hunt. The World Champion's race in Interlagos was formidable. Skillful and daring, Hunt violently got rid of Pace, but collisions in the race are part of the game. What happened at turn number 3 of the circuit, on the other hand, is not normal: the newly paved asphalt turned into a trap for an incredible number of cars. Much talk about safety, then no one refuses to race. But this is an old conversation.
Happy for his first success with Ferrari, Carlos Reutemann comments on his race:
"It was a very tough, hard-fought race. Such a beautiful victory repays me for all the sacrifices, both financial and moral, suffered in recent years. It is undoubtedly the most beautiful day of my racing life".
The winner's wife, with tears in her eyes, says:
"I am bursting with joy. It is the victory that Carlos and I have been waiting for so long".
Niki Lauda adds:
"In these days, I worked hard, did test after test, and today I finally had the satisfaction of seeing the first results of this work. It's a pity that the car wasn't perfectly fine because I had to adopt Carlos's setup, as I didn't have time during the test days to fine-tune one that better suited my driving style. I am still very happy with the result".
Engineer Mauro Forghieri, present at Interlagos to assist the team, says:
"It is a victory that repays us for the intense work done in these months, and especially in these days, at Interlagos. This success stems from the tenacious will of the entire team. We are particularly happy, both for Reutemann's triumph and for Niki's excellent placement, who once again proved to be a great champion. Niki wasn't in perfect physical condition today, but he didn't miss a beat: he always fought, gained position after position, and his third place is undoubtedly a point of merit. Winning in Brazil doesn't mean that Ferrari is reborn, just as the outcome of the race in Argentina was not at all a demonstration that Ferrari was no longer competitive. This year there are four or five teams that are very strong, and every race will be tough and must be faced with commitment due to its particular characteristics".
James Hunt says:
"Today's second place is a result equivalent to a victory. The car started at a certain point not to perform normally due to tire wear, and that prevented me from maintaining the lead".
While Carlos Pace admits:
"I am sorry about the course of the race because the brilliant start had made me hope for victory. I consider myself hindered by Hunt: in fact, I had entered the trajectory first".
Renzo Zorzi is visibly happy too. The Italian returned to Formula 1 this year and in his second race has already achieved a sixth place and a point in the World Championship standings. The Shadow driver says:
"I could have done better. It's a pity that after twenty laps, the safety belts loosened, causing cramps in my arms. However, I am very happy with the result".
At the moment of the ascent to the podium of the top three finishers, there are applause for Reutemann and boos and shouts for Hunt. The World Champion arouses indignation among spectators for his reckless overtaking of Pace. Hunt's gesture, which many describe as indefensible, elicits many protests. Some even talk about a possible disqualification. The mechanics of the Brabham-Alfa Romeo say:
"There is grit, the will to win, and there is recklessness that jeopardizes human lives to achieve a sporting victory".
Reutemann and Ferrari settle the scores they had pending. Many claimed that Ferrari was a finished machine, needed replacement. Instead, the car is not to be replaced; at most, it needs to be updated and adapted according to the characteristics of different circuits. Of course, there is much work to be done because the competition is fierce. However, the technical capabilities of the Maranello team are proven, and the leaders will not rest on their laurels because the results in Argentina and Brazil were too hard-fought. Carlos Reutemann, with the success in Brazil, has settled several accounts. The first with himself. The Argentine driver had insisted, left Brabham to go to Ferrari, convinced that with the Maranello team, he could demonstrate his abilities and win the world title. Now he's on the right track. The second with Ecclestone, who never gave him much confidence and forced him to seek credibility elsewhere. He also won his moral battle with Pace, even though this confrontation did not bother him, unlike the opponent who, eager to prove superiority, made the usual mistakes, ruining the good he had done, depriving the Martini-Brabham-Alfa Romeo of a placement that the current competitiveness of the vehicle allowed him to achieve relatively easily. And finally, he also won over the public, which on Friday mocked him because Pace set the fastest time but had to applaud him when he passed Hunt and took the lead. Relaxed, smiling, strangely talkative, and with happiness painted on his face, usually serious Reutemann willingly accepts to talk about his success. What does it feel like to be the leader of the World Championship for the first time after 68 Grand Prix races in five years of racing?
"I think it's too early to talk about the championship. Of course, I can't help but think about it, but it's too early to talk about it".
When you joined Ferrari, did you expect to gather thirteen points in just two races?
To what do you attribute the credit for these points?
"I don't know precisely. Yesterday the car performed very well after facing several problems in qualifying. I had a steady race, without pushing too hard at the beginning because I remembered that in 1974 and 1975, I had pushed early, and the races had ended badly. The Interlagos circuit is very challenging and treacherous, but I was happy because during the race, I stayed with the leaders without pushing too hard".
On this particularly tough track, many drivers went off the track. Did Reutemann adopt any special precautions to avoid making any mistakes?
"I was worried the entire week about the famous turn 3 because it's very dangerous. At that point on the track, I never pushed; in fact, I slowed down to take it easy, also because it was possible to find, without knowing it, another car involved in an incident not well signaled since the track is very wide and it's difficult to see the yellow danger flag".
Many say that Carlos has a fragile morale. Did the placement in Argentina lift it?
"I think we need to wait for a few races to judge and be so drastic in my assessment and say whether I am one way or the other. It seems fair to wait a bit before evaluating myself".
After the third place in Argentina and the victory in Brazil, do you think Ferrari will pay more attention to Reutemann or will he continue to be on par with Lauda?
"Ferrari is a team that can assist both drivers very well, so I think the attention will be equal for both. In any case, any decision is up to the team, but I believe that we will continue to receive the same treatment".
Carlos left Brabham for Ferrari because he was sure he could achieve great things with them. Are you satisfied?
"It's hard to say. On Friday, everyone laughed because Pace set the fastest time. Today it's me who has the proof of having made the right choice, while Pace had it on Friday. In South Africa, Brabham could win, and everything can change. Anyway, with Ecclestone, it's a closed chapter because, regardless of the car, my personal relationship with the Brabham team manager was over. Maybe I made a mistake in racing with him in 1976; my cycle with that team was over in 1975".
In light of the first two results, who will be the toughest opponents?
"Hunt and McLaren".