Il dottor Guido A. Zacch, chief of the Paraplegie Center, one of the most specialized and well-equipped spinal cord injury clinics in the world, explains the situation of the Swiss pilot immediately after his long journey during which he was transported from Long Beach to Basel.
"Clay Regazzoni has every chance of recovery. But predictions cannot be made at the present time. It depends on his situation. And comparisons should not be made from one case to another. Each patient has their own story. We can assure, however, that we will do everything possible to bring him back to perfect normality".
The pilot arrives in Switzerland at 8:22 p.m. aboard a Swiss Air Ambulance Lear Jet after the transoceanic flight with a Lufthansa plane. At Basel airport, a helicopter loads him and transports him to the hospital, which is just a few hundred meters away. With Regazzoni, there are only Dr. Berchtoldt, a nurse, and his wife Maria Pia. The pilot's children and his brother Mauro go directly to Lugano from Frankfurt. Clay, supported on a stretcher, secured with straps, and wrapped in a blue blanket, appears almost asleep. Then he barely nods and utters a few words, revealing his usual optimism:
"I'm fine, now I'm home. I'm so optimistic that I even had them bring me a pair of shoes".
His long journey of hope and sacrifice has just begun, but as usual, Regazzoni demonstrates extraordinary strength of character. He will surely spend quite some time in this specialized clinic. But he does not give up the idea of a complete recovery, of regaining the use of the legs he temporarily lost. The latest news from Long Beach reports a stable situation. American doctors have discovered that Regazzoni also had the displacement of two toes on his left foot in the accident. Not having sensitivity in his lower limbs, Clay had not felt the injury, and now he will also need treatment for this. But the fracture in the right leg and this latest problem are the least worrisome. Above all, efforts must be focused on making him walk again as before the serious accident on March 30, 1980. In the meantime, on Sunday, May 4, 1980, Formula 1 will make its European debut at Zolder, Belgium, with the fifth race of the World Championship. A significant race for many reasons: the battle for supremacy between the Renault of Arnoux and the Brabham of Piquet, currently tied with 18 points in the championship, needs clarification. There are also ambitions among other contenders for the world title, such as Jones with Williams, Pironi and Laffite with Ligier. It will also be a decisive opportunity for Ferrari, still practically stagnant after the disappointing results in the early races of the season. Above all these questions, however, a technical novelty stands out, namely a new regulation for tire use that will come into effect with the Zolder race. For cost and consumption reasons, each car will be allowed to use only two sets of tires during the two official qualifying sessions. Each driver will then have to choose the fastest tires for the race and will be credited for the starting lineup with the best time, obliged to use the same tires for the race that were used for the best performance. Ferrari's technical manager, Engineer Forghieri, says on Tuesday, April 29, 1980, at Fiorano, following the testing of the car that will be used at Zolder by Gilles Villeneuve:
"This new situation will pose many problems for us. Apart from the fact that we have always had difficulties warming up the tires on the Belgian track, we risk finding ourselves in front of cars that, caring little about Sunday's race, will adopt soft compounds for qualifying. Our drivers may find themselves in the condition of possibly making many overtakes, and the Belgian Grand Prix will be more difficult than any other race. In the tests we conducted last week at Zolder, we already encountered several problems. The cold, an off-track excursion that filled Villeneuve's car with sand, did not allow us to test the T5 as we would have liked. In any case, on the Belgian circuit, we will present cars with some modifications suitable for the track, namely an enlarged braking system and a new type of front suspension. We hope it helps".
The tire selection novelty will certainly be the most interesting technical issue for the race, also because it remains to be seen how the team of commissioners in charge of the difficult controls will work. However, it seems certain that Renault, thanks to the dominance of its turbo engines, will be the least restricted team. The times set on Wednesday, April 23, 1980, by Arnoux, who was the fastest in private tests, still indicate the French cars as the top favorites for victory. Moreover, whoever wins the Belgian Grand Prix also becomes the World Champion. This is the tradition based on the results of recent years: Fittipaldi, Stewart, again Fittipaldi, then Lauda, Andretti, and Scheckter. All World Champions have achieved success on this challenging Belgian track, where it is almost more important to brake well than to go fast. However, the observers' goals, since the resumption of the Formula 1 World Championship in Europe, are not all focused on the sporting outcome. At the moment, and still today, everyone is looking at the ongoing cold war between FISA, the sports authority, and FOCA, the Association of Constructors. On Friday, May 2, 1980, Jean-Marie Balestre, president of FISA, will hold a press conference. It is not yet known what the executive will talk about, but it is certain that he will respond to Bernie Ecclestone's attempts to overthrow his authority. On Thursday, May 1, 1890, FOCA meets for a long time in the afternoon. All constructors are represented: no drastic decisions are made, but the focus is mainly on anticipating FISA's decisions for the coming years: new regulations for tire distribution in practice and in the race, chassis, and skirts. Ecclestone continues his politics, and in the end, he will try to win the battle again. On the competitive side, however, many teams decide to try to turn the tide. Everyone thinks that Renault could make it even at Zolder. Arnoux declares that he feels confident that the car is now good on all circuits. A rather challenging statement because many opponents will try to beat him. Among others, there are also the Italian teams of Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. At the Maranello team, a lot of work has been done to fine-tune the T4: Scheckter and Villeneuve have just made an appearance, but they said they will do their best to achieve a prestigious result, even if they think there won't be much to do in qualifying due to tire problems. The South African driver says:
"We mainly rely on the race; last year we didn't start very well, I was in seventh place, but then I ended up winning. Let's hope it can happen again".
There is also a lot of optimism within Alfa Romeo. The Milanese team presents a partially renewed car with a slightly narrower and lighter engine. Now the car weighs 583 kilograms and is almost at the limit of the regulations. With its powerful engine, it could achieve a great result. Among those vying for victory on Sunday is also Nelson Piquet with Brabham. The Brazilian is convinced that he can fight for the world title and is in a sense the successor to Fittipaldi and the heir (he was his teammate) to Niki Lauda. Too presumptuous? No, Piquet knows he has a very competitive car and has confidence in his driving skills. We'll see if the race confirms these impressions. While Ferrari continues to go against the current, on Friday, May 2, 1980, the star of Williams shines again. In the first qualifying session for the Belgian Grand Prix, Alan Jones sets the fastest time, ahead of the two Ligiers of Pironi and Laffite, teammate Reutemann, and the Renault pair, Jabouille and Arnoux, credited with the same result to the hundredth of a second. For the Maranello team, however, there is a worsening, doubling the placements of the previous year on the same circuit. Villeneuve and Scheckter, who were sixth and seventh in 1979, have now moved to twelfth and fourteenth positions, respectively. Ahead of them, in addition to the aforementioned drivers, there are Piquet, De Angelis (excellent ninth), Jarier, Depailler, and Daly. It should be a day of clarifications, but in reality, little is understood. It should be a battle between Renault and Brabham, but Williams and Ligier emerge again. An ultimate judgment on the new tire use regulation cannot yet be given: each car uses two sets of tires, that is, in practice, eight tires in total. And since the same compounds used on Friday (or those used in Saturday's qualification) will then have to be used for the race, a general deterioration of times compared to the past was expected. Instead, everyone improves significantly, and eight drivers go below the limit that a year earlier allowed Laffite to start in pole position. Renault, despite Arnoux and Jabouille having some trouble slowing down their very fast turbocharged cars in the braking zones, are saved by the power of the engines. In a straight line, in fact, Arnoux is clearly the fastest of all, reaching 269 km/h compared to Jones' 250 km/h, who evidently goes much faster in the corners.
The top speeds of the French cars partly explain the Ferrari's less brilliant results, which still improve their times both compared to 1979 and in comparison to the free practice of the previous week. Despite giving their maximum effort, Villeneuve and Scheckter (who perform real miracles of balance and driving skill) cannot break into the top performers: the T5s seem to travel on oil with very little grip on the asphalt. The Canadian driver says:
"We're back to the usual situation, the machines are perfect but they absolutely lack grip".
One might think of an unsuitable chassis or an inadequate ground effect system. However, there's the impression that Ferraris run on tires that are too hard, with a massive and heavy construction. Arnoux himself admits that the Michelin tires currently used by Renault seem too stiff to him. Meanwhile, when Jean Marie Balestre, president of FISA, and Bernie Ecclestone, president of FOCA, meet at the circuits, they seem like old friends. In reality, there's an underlying struggle between the two, with no holds barred. As mentioned, during the FOCA meeting held on Thursday, it was decided to adopt a kind of code of honor: the constructors (who certainly did not appreciate the FISA's provisions after the Rio de Janeiro meeting regarding safety, calendars, and other regulations) agreed to establish a sort of independent program to create less dangerous cars. Perhaps they hoped to appease Balestre. But the president of FISA didn't take the bait. On Friday, in a crowded press conference, the French manager reiterated that the decision-making power lies with the sports authorities, and the championships are owned by the FIA. This is a summary of the points reiterated by the French executive, whose decisions will almost certainly provoke a reaction from FOCA and perhaps a rift between the two organizations: confirmation of the abolition of skirts from 1981; from January 1, 1981, adoption of safety measures in the construction of single-seaters, with deformable structures, cockpit reinforcements, reduction of winglets, increased minimum weight (30 kilograms more); from 1982, tires must be narrower with a tread pattern; from 1983, for a duration of four years, engines will have a flow meter, i.e., a device for controlling consumption, and the use of titanium will be regulated; all organizers are recommended to increase safety measures on the circuits; and, for the next year, a safety prize of $30.000 will be instituted for the constructor who has built the car best meeting the required specifications.
But in Belgium, the topic of the day also concerns the new regulation on tire use, actually just a gentlemen's agreement between Goodyear and Michelin to limit tire usage. However, the new system lends itself to foul play. The key points of this agreement are: on each of the two official practice days, Friday and Saturday, each car has eight tires marked by the commissioners with special paints and symbols half an hour before the start; qualified cars are lined up at the start of the race based on the time obtained but must race with the same tires they used for the performance; in case of rain, wet tires can be used without limitation of number or type. If all practices take place in the rain, obviously, the times obtained with the grooved tires are valid. In case one of the two qualifying sessions takes place in dry conditions, the best time still counts. This procedure has been adopted to prevent the use of qualifying tires and contain costs. However, someone could still use time tires: they could gain a good advantage and then stop to change them. And this is just one of the hypotheses. The rule, therefore, adding to the confusion that already exists, has complicated things for everyone and lends itself to continuous violations. Wouldn't it have been better to study the issue more carefully? Waiting for an answer to this question, on Saturday, May 3, 1980, Alan Jones definitively secures the pole position with the same determination, the same chances that had brought him dramatically into the spotlight in the second part of the 1979 World Championship. The others will have to chase him angrily, hoping not to see him slip away. This is the forecast and the dominant reason for the race if everything proceeds regularly because the threat of rain looms over Zolder, which could overturn every prediction. On Saturday, the wind changes that had kept the Limburg sky clear, the area about sixty kilometers from Brussels where the circuit is located. The temperature drops suddenly, getting very close to zero, and a cold, continuous rain begins to fall, practically nullifying the second qualifying session. The times and the starting lineup remain the same as Friday.
Eddie Cheever with the Osella doesn't even have the opportunity to attempt an entry, and with him, the two Shadows of Lees and Kennedy are left out. The non-participation in the race unnerves the young driver, who has a disagreement with the Turin manufacturer. Understandable tensions. In the morning's free practice, few dare to take to the track, like the Dutchman Lammers, then in the official ones, almost everyone completes a few laps. Only Reutemann, who doesn't have his Williams ready, Mass with the Arrows, and Zunino with the second Brabham don't take to the track. The fastest, even in the wet, is Jones, ahead of Pironi and Jarer. Ferrari tries different solutions for the cars, but it doesn't seem that significant progress has been made. The judgments of the two Ferrari team drivers are rather strange, very different from each other. Scheckter says:
"On wet ground, the car continues to be uncompetitive. I have found the same handicaps as in normal conditions".
On the contrary, Villeneuve states:
"The T5 has made a good impression on me as a whole, even if it's not very fast".
Jody Scheckter, usually affable and smiling, is rather tense. Then he explains the reasons for his nervousness:
"I'm annoyed by the news that is published about me. They say I ask Ferrari for a lot of money to stay in Maranello. The truth is that I haven't talked about contracts yet. I haven't decided on my future because we are only at the beginning of the European season. When the time comes, I will make my requests. There is no reason to create unpleasant and unnecessary controversies now".
However, these are discussions that do not concern today's race. A race in which Ferrari does not seem to have many chances to repeat last year's success, starting with Villeneuve in twelfth position and Scheckter in fourteenth. They can only hope for luck or for others' troubles. The same speech applies more or less to Alfa Romeo, which has Depailler in the fifth row and Giacomelli in the ninth, although the Italian cars have the chance to provide at least decent performances. Fortunately, on Sunday, May 4, 1980, is fine and dry though a cold wind is blowing all the time. The half-hour warm-up period before lunch is well used by everyone, Piquet trying his own car and the spare Brabham in quick succession, the spare car having different suspension settings to his own car. He decides to race his own car, 8149/6. Andretti is sticking with the spare Lotus, which is 81/1 in long-wheelbase form like that of de Angelis. The American has started practice on Friday with 81/2 in short-wheelbase form, but soon decided he didn't like it, but is not much happier with the spare car. Depailler’s Alfa Romeo has developed a persistent misfire which could not be traced so the spare car has been made ready for him. The engine in Laffite’s Ligier has blown-up and there has been a mad panic to change it, which has been done in 1 hour 20 mint. He doesn't take the spare car as the side-pods and skirts are different and he doesn't like the handling as much as his own car. Removal of nose fins is the order of the day for most teams and Brabham, Lotus, Williams, Ligier, Fittipaldi, Tyrrell and ATS have all removed them. Zunino is all set to give the new Weismann gearbox its first race and Needell is ready to make his Grand Prix debut. When the cars begin to line up to leave the pit, to be driven round to the start the spare Alfa Romeo is still being worked on, but Depailler is at the head of the queue in 179/03. He shoots off on the warm-up lap and returns down the pit lane, hoppes out and into the now-ready T-car 179/01, and quickly rounds the circuit again to join the starting grid. The start is due at 3:00 p.m. and shortly before this Jones led the field away on a parade lap, all 24 cars being ready for the 72-lap race. Back on the grid they all stop, the red light is switched on, revs rose, clutches begin to bite and as the green light glows Pironi makes a super start and beats Jones away, leading the Williams comfortably down to the first left-hand corner. Laffite is right behind Jones, with Reutemann following.
The middle of the grid has to indulge in some pretty desperate dodging because Jabouille’s Renault clutch has failed and he is creeping along with an arm raised. In the melee on the rather narrow track Andretti has to swerve to the right and this forces Giacomelli over into the pit wall, but everyone go, away. At the end of the opening lap Jones is the meat in a Ligier sandwich, with Pironi first in the lead. As the pack brakes heavily for the left-hander to start lap 2, the golden Arrows of Mass suddenly spins off into the catch-fences without collecting anyone, and meanwhile Jabouille creeps into the pits to retire. One lap gone and two cars out is not a good start. During the next lap, the Ligiers and the leading Williams pull out a small lead over Reutemann, who has Arno, (Renault), Piquet (Brabham), Jarier (Tyrrell), de Angelis (Lotus) and Villeneuve (Ferrari, hard on his heels. Zunino, NeedeII and Fittipaldi are bringing up the rear, with Giacomelli falling back among them, convinced that his Alfa is bad after its contact with the pit-wall. By lap 5 a pattern has developed, with Pironi, Jones and Laffite pulling away steadily and the leader actually getting away from the other two. Then Reutemann, Arnoux, Piquet, Tarter, de Angelis and Villeneuve. with a gap to the use bunch led by Lammers in the ATS, ahead of Scheckter, Daly, Depailler, Andretti, Patrese and Watson, with Prost, Rosberg, Giacomelli, Needell and Fittipaldi bringing up the rear, the total now being twenty-one cars, as Zunino has retired the experimental Brabham. Already the race has settled into a high-speed procession, the only changes at all likely being those occasioned by pit stops or trouble. Pironi is pulling steadily away, looking extremely confident, though Jones is driving as hard as he knows how. At Its laps the Frenchman has 4 seconds lead over the Australian, and it is increasing all the time, while Laffite is just hanging on to Williams. Reutemann, Arnoux, Piquet and Jarier are still tight together, the Tyrrell driver excelling himself and these four are pulling away from de Angelis and Villeneuve, while Jan Lammers is covering himself with glory by staying ahead of World Champion Scheckter and not giving way to some pretty heavy pressure from the Ferrari driver. Andretti is about to be passed by Patrese and John Watson has gone into the pits to have his brakes looked at. Prost is also lacking brakes on his McLaren, but keeps going.
During the next ten laps we loose Giacomelli, who retires his Alfa Romeo when he spins off the track, blaming damaged suspension sustained in the start-line melee, Needell when the Ensign engine failed and Fittipaldi, whose yellow car lust died on him out on the circuit with what seems to be electrical failure. On lap 17 Arnoux has a big spin at the Bianchi-corner, but gathers it all up and keeps going, and dropps from fifth place to tenth place, just behind Lammers and ahead of Andretti. This damages the left-hand side-skirt, which affects the handling a bit, but it does not stop Arnoux getting on with his race. Lammers is now having trouble changing gear and he ends up finding only second and fifth gears and has to cane the engine to keep going with only two speeds. Arnoux and Andretti soon pass the ATS and it rapidly dropps back, but is still well ahead of the Arrows of Patrese which ia leading the also-rans, having clambered past one or two of the slower cars, while the brake-less Prost has dropped to the back of the field, and eventually retired when his transmission has broken. For a brief moment it looks as though Pironi may have used up his tyres or brakes, for Jones has gained on him for a lap or two, but it doesn't last and there is obviously nothing wrong with the leading Ligier or the driver. However, there is something wrong with his team-mate’s car as Laffite is finding his brakes becoming less effective and is losing ground on Jones. Around this tune Villeneuve gets past de Angelis but the Ferrari is not doing justice to the French-Canadian’s driving ability. Depailler in the remaining Alfa Romeo is not having a very good race and is forced into the pits with a puncture on lap 22. Pironi ia now beginning to lap the tail-enders, one of whom is a very miserable Andretti. The other Lotus is still hanging on to Villeneuve’s Ferrari, basso lap 27 de Angelis gets very sideways and very nearly spins. In mid-field Reutemann, Piquet and Jarier are still keeping station on each other but the Brabham is wearing out its front tyres and to try and ease the strain Piquet alters the fore-and-aft braking ratio with his cockpit manual control. On lap 33 this catch him out as he brakes for her first corner, the rear wheels locked. The can goes sideways and slides into the catch-fences not far from the derelict Arrows which have crashed them on the second lap. The Brazilian walks back to the pits furious with himself for his own stupidity.
This leaves Reutemann with no pressure on him, for Lee is not close enough to worry about, but third place for the Argentinian is almost a certainty for Laffite’s Ligier is slowing visibly and inevitably beheads for the pits after 40 laps. The brakes bleed and he comes storming out again, but he has lost nearly two laps. Pironi is steadily lapping everyone, driving very consistently and not being troubled by back-markers. Jones is still pressing on as hard as he can and losing no time as he laps slower cars, driving down the inside of Andretti at one ‘ point and shaking his fist at him for not getting out of his way properly. Depailler and Andretti disappear almost unnoticed but Arnoux now begins to go really hard and moves up ahead of de Angelis and closes up on Villeneuve and they have a blood battle for few laps, but eventually the Renault gets by and pull away, the Frenchman setting his sights on Jarier blue Tyrrell now. Scheckter has run out of brake and is dropping back to be lapped yet again by Pironi and Lammers has his engine blown-up as he passes the pits standing lap 65 while Patrese has spun off in a cloud of dust. In the closing laps there is a flurry of excitement for Arnoux is right up behind Jarier and de Angelis is trying to pass Villeneuve. With two laps to go the Lotus driver gets his front just too close to the Ferrari as they brake for the chicane before the pits and runs up over a rear wheel, gets all sideways and goes off the road. Pironi has lapped everyone except Jones and Reutemann and as he completes his final lap Arnoux is outbraking Jarier as they go into the chicane on the back straight, to snatch fourth place as they finish one lap behind the winner. The fifth race of the Formula 1 World Championship and the fourth winner. After Alan Jones in Argentina, René Arnoux's double triumph in Brazil and South Africa, and Nelson Piquet's success in Long Beach, it's the turn of Didier Pironi, who wins the Belgian Grand Prix. For the first time in his still short career, the young Frenchman stands on the top step of the podium, looking down at Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann, who finish second and third, much to the joy of Frank Williams. A new contender for the world title emerges (René Arnoux, a magnificent fourth, now leads the championship, closely followed by Jones, Piquet, and Pironi himself), and the Ligier, which struggled at the beginning of the previous season, is back in the spotlight. A sign with the inscription "Bravo Didier!" is displayed by a mechanic, while the sports director Gerard Ducarouge and the team owner, Guy Ligier, jump for joy, welcoming Pironi after the finish for his first Formula 1 victory. The 28-year-old driver of Friulian origin, born in the suburbs of Paris and living in Neuilly (at home, his parents still speak the Friulian dialect, but he only understands it), clinches success in his third season at the highest level after competing in 36 Grand Prix races.
"It wasn't very difficult; I just had to make sure not to push the brakes too hard".
After this victory and the points he has accumulated, is it unthinkable to aim for the World Championship?
"No, absolutely not, because Ligier is a team that has the potential to compete for the title. In any case, the competition will be tough because Williams and Renault won't easily give way. I don't believe Ferrari can be ruled out either. However, this success will not change my position in the team: Laffite is always number one, I just hope to be followed with attention".
Pironi's victory in Belgium, Arnoux leading the World Championship, Renault with two wins out of five races, and Ligier returning to the top. The magical moment for the French continues. Guy Ligier now seems to have become a bit more cautious and avoids playing the victim. He simply says that an occasional victory is good for his health, calms his nerves, and takes a few years off. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that the young drivers seem to have definitively ousted the veterans. Jean-Pierre Jabouille (unlucky), supposed to be the leader of the Renault team, has yet to score a point, and Laffite is already significantly behind Pironi. Although decisions are not yet official, both Renault and Ligier will likely have to rely on their second drivers. The only one who stands out among the older drivers is Jean-Pierre Jarier, who completed the French team's success (with Pironi first and Arnoux fourth) with a fifth-place finish. The grumpy 33-year-old Parisian, overtaken by rival Arnoux in the final laps, immediately after getting out of the car, launches quite heavy accusations:
"As long as they let these turbocharged cars run, there won't be room for drivers to emerge. Arnoux, whom I kept well behind in the turns, passed me on the straight like a lightning bolt. I think Renault has at least 100 HP more than my Tyrrell, and this doesn't seem fair. There's no point in fighting for the whole race and then having to battle against a monster".
It's a World Championship that proves to be interesting and balanced, although, for various human and technical reasons, there isn't a standout personality or machine to focus on. Even though the young lions are doing their best, there's a longing for a Niki Lauda, a James Hunt, or a Clay Regazzoni—people who somehow managed to monopolize attention. The race wasn't particularly exciting either. When the winner, as Didier Pironi did, stays in the lead from start to finish, and only three cars complete the race without being lapped while all the others are lapped one or more times, it means there wasn't a great battle, at least for the victory. The day (favored by splendid sunshine but chilled by a cold wind that forced the seventy thousand spectators to protect themselves with sweaters and jackets) is lived through some incidents, some good duels among the pursuers, or in the midfield. There wasn't even a highlight from Ferrari, which earned a point with Villeneuve's sixth place (Scheckter finished eighth, but had an anonymous race, battling with Lammers' ATS rather than Rosberg's Fittipaldi). In short, the not-so-brilliant period for the Maranello team is fully confirmed: the reconquest of the world title becomes increasingly distant. While the blue flags of Ligier and the yellow ones of Renault wave, the Italian fans (quite numerous) sadly leave the circuit with the Prancing Horse flags rolled under their arms. The atmosphere within the team is not cheerful, although no one is making a drama. Engineer Mauro Forghieri says:
"You can't always win; this is not our year. We indulged in satisfactions in 1979, and now we have to take a step back. With the cars we have at the moment, we can't do more. We had grip problems. We are also disadvantaged by the new tire regulations. And I have to admit that other teams have progressed more than we have. Don't tell me, however, that the T5 is a wrong car: we've achieved better results than with the T4. If anything, we haven't been able to improve as our opponents have".
Gilles Villeneuve seems resigned. He got the first point, and maybe that's enough for him. It's not in his temperament, but for now, you have to accept what comes.
"I gave my best, and I believe no one could have done better. I tried not to overdo it at the beginning and defend myself at the end of the race. The car didn't have major problems, but it wasn't competitive. Let's hope the future holds something better, at least some partial satisfaction".
Jody Scheckter seems a bit more worried. The South African sees the possibility of regaining the world title slowly but inexorably slipping away.
"At the beginning of the race, I had a lot of trouble with the front brakes. That's why I struggled a lot to pass Lammers and Daly. In the end, however, the car was deteriorated, and especially the grip problems intensified. All I can say is that we are slower than our rivals, and we'll have to work a lot to make up ground. I'm willing to make any sacrifice to contribute to the team and return to the top. Of course, it won't be quick, but let's hope that Ferrari can perform better in the next races. It's in everyone's interest".
Around the Ferrari team, the men from Michelin don't seem concerned about the situation in Maranello. Perhaps, they are content as long as Renault is competitive. At least, that's the general impression. However, things cannot continue like this; something must be done to make Villeneuve and Scheckter's cars more competitive. The final result is also totally disappointing for Alfa Romeo and the Italian drivers.
Bruno Giacomelli was almost immediately out of the race due to an incident with Andretti's Lotus:
"He squeezed me against the wall of the pit straight; for a moment, I hoped nothing serious had happened. I needed to have a good race. Instead, I felt the car giving way, and after a few laps, I had to retire due to a suspension failure. It's a shame because I was really confident I could have a good race".
And Patrick Depailler, after a spin, first had to stop for a flat tire, then for the exhaust pipe's breakage. Elio De Angelis and Riccardo Patrese would have deserved something more. The two, despite not having great chances, had managed quite well, but both went off the track in the final stages of the race. During lap 59, the Paduan had overtaken the Roman in seventh place, then hit the guardrail. In turn, the Lotus driver spun out on the last lap while trying to attack Villeneuve for sixth place. Riccardo Patrese says:
"My front brakes were completely worn out; I should have slowed down to try to finish the race. But it seemed to me that the car was doing well overall. I ended up on a curb that threw me into a spin, and there was nothing more to be done".