The Formula 1 is back in that circuit of Jarama where, last year, the war between FISA and FOCA began. The first episode was the dispute of the Spanish Grand Prix that was not recognized by the Federation. From there the situation has changed. Bernie Ecclestone, the number one of the constructors and patron of the Brabham and Jean-Marie Balestre, president of the Sports Federation, seem to have found the agreement: Sunday, June 21 1980, except for unforeseen events, the race it should take place without any problems. The organizers of the Reale Automobil Club, lead by Don Fernando Falco y Fernandez, marquis De Cubas (the ineffable manager who, rebelling against the Spanish sports authorities, in 1980 wanted at all costs the Grand Prix), they tried to buffer the possible problems, in an effort to avoid protests and polemics. For example, to satisfy the mechanics, that they were asking to to be able to work in more decent conditions, showers were built at the pits. And to encourage the spectators (the best tickets it costs 107.000 lire apiece) a new, spectacular grandstand was built in front of the most interesting part of the track. The problem is of the local champion remained, Emiliano De Villota, that with his presence was an attraction for the Spanish fans. His subscription would have required a turn of pre-qualify. The regulation requires that, to the max, only 30 drivers can attend at the practice. And he was the thirty-one. So De Villota is officially considered a reserve, of the Spanish Grand Prix. So, if someone for some reason it can’t get on track, the young driver will be ready to replace it. It’s probable. There are some teams with financial problems (as Fittipaldi, March, Ensign) and who pays is well accepted. De Villota has behind his back the strong Banco Occidental, and we know that sometimes the money is decisive. At Jarama, the Argentine millionaire Ricardo Zunino was supposed to be driving the Ensign instead of the poor (in the economic way) Swiss Marc Surer, then, he gave up, but Surer still doesn’t have a car because the rich Colombian Eliseo Salazar showed up with a check. These demeaning events do not affect the most important teams, because they only think to the race and for the World Title. It is the case of the Williams and of the Brabham, decided to make up in Spain for the defeat suffered at Monte-Carlo. The circuit of Jarama is placed about thirty kilometers to the North of Madrid, it’s short and not too fast. There’s only a straight, in front of the pits, for the rest is all a turn , almost a toboga. Just what is normally considered a disadvantage for supercharged engines. And when you say turbo, you say Ferrari. The Maranello team does not present any great news: many improvements, but the cars are practically those of Monte-Carlo. The engineer Harvey Posthlethwithe, the English technician hired by the team of Maranello to take care of the details of the chassis, he will start the work only on Saturday, June 22 1981. Enzo Ferrari, maybe stimulated by the victory of Villeneuve in Monaco, but he cornered his men.
"You are very good and, since you know how to do it, double ration of work to progress even more".
And judging by the drawn faces of the Ferrari men’s, in Maranello they are working day and night. The engineer Mauro Folghieri explain:
"The circuit of Jarama is not good for our cars. We don’t have to expect much, after the victory in Monte-Carlo, another victory. With a good placement I will be already happy".
The Modenese engineer does not want to create illusions. Moreover, the Spanish Grand Prix it was always a problem for the Ferrari, in twenty-seven editions, the Maranello cars they win only two times, in the far 1954 with Mike Hawthorn on the track of Pedrabaldes, in Barcelona and in the 1974 at Jarama with Niki Lauda. But, Villeneuve and Didier Pironi have always more competitive cars. In the last few days, almost always to the max, without any problems: this means that with the reliability of the turbo it was also possible to intervene on the other components of the single-seater. Ferrari, now, is not just an outsider. Now a lot of people are afraid of her, and they have a point.
"That’s enough. The time to play is over: it’s the right time to close the line, definitely. We have to win, and to get the crucial points for the World Championship".
Who talks like that is Carlos Reutemann. The Argentine champion is arrived in Spain and he appears immediately decided. Who gave him this charge? Perhaps the loneliness of Cap Ferrat, where Carlos spent the days waiting for the competition on Sunday.
"I had the intention to win in Monte-Carlo, to make things clear. Unfortunately I went bad, even if I was the best. It is not my presumption, but the security to have an excellent car and to have a very good shape. If it didn’t happened that the trouble stopped me, I would have been able to rank in the top six even if I had an accident at the beginning. Instead I struggled for nothing. But, for this, I want to close the discussion about the Spanish Grand Prix. Waiting for more times it could be very dangerous. The Ferrari is growing up and from now it will be difficult to win as we were doing until now, when me and Jones, in every race, we shared the first and the second place".
That’s the problem, the Ferrari. The team of Maranello scared everyone. The success of Villeneuve in Monte-Carlo it was a warning call: the turbo is ok, he can also win. So Reutemann thinks to hurry, to win immediately to not regret it at the end of the season. But the Ferrari can get the first place also in Jarama? In the team of Maranello there’s confidence but no one has any illusions. The same Villeneuve is rather cautious about the predictions.
"We won in Monaco, but it was also a lucky one. Now we have to deal with the response of our opponents, and with a circuit that is certainly not suitable for supercharged engines. We settle for a placement. And if we get something else, all to the good. Obviously, if we will win also in Jarama, everything can change. I could start to think about the World Title. But I don’t want to think too far. We are already happy with how the things are".
Villeneuve, so, it is prudent. But his rivals - as we said - they are in a alarm state. The Ferrari is sight-seeing and, if today they should do a good time, there could be many who could be afraid. Mainwhile, the Williams is not Saudia anymore. The World Champion Team, from the Spanish Grand Prix, it’s called Tag Williams Team. This brand was for a long time on the chassis of the cars of Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann, but now takes over the Saudi airline. The Arabs, however, do not leave. The Tag (Techniques d’avant sarde) is a French company owned by Mansour Ojjeh, a Middle-Eastern manager. The company produces high-tech equipment for electronics, telecommunications, ship building. All that Frank Williams needs to have excellent specialists for studies and projects and the best advanced materials. Changing the subject, the Alfa Romeo is developing a new chassis for its Formula 1 cars. It is a carbon fiber body similar to those already used by McLaren and Lotus. This shell should ensure greater lightness and less twisting. In the same time, the company of Milano is developing the Turbo program. An 8 cylinders engine supercharged is around for a long time into the garage of the Autodelta. It’s not excluded that Mario Andretti and Bruno Giacomelli (or one of the two) can use a car that is more competitive and modern than this one. The new model can could make his debut in August, at Hockenheim, for the German Grand Prix. Finally, it seems that Toyota, the largest Japanese car manufacturer, has reached an agreement in principle with the British car manufacturer, Lotus. The announce is made by the president of the Toyota, Eiji Toyota, which said that the agreement concerns cooperation in design, production and other areas. It was from last year that the two carmakers were negotiating to reach an agreement and in December the Japanese company sent Lotus many examples of engines to test. It is the first time that Toyota ends an agreement with an European house. The supply of engines is considered only the first step in the collaboration between the two houses. The regular morning test-session takes place on Friday, starting a bit late due to the tardy arrival of the medical helicopter and while the pace is not particularly hot the weather certainly is. Lap times are anything up to two seconds slower than last year and while some people would like to ascribe this to the ban on sliding-skirts, and its reduction in the down-force generated by ground-effects, it is more likely due to the fact that everyone, apart from Toleman-Hart, is running on production-racing Michelin tyres rather than the best that Michelin or Goodyear use to supply.
"In case that the Spanish authorities did not comply with the conditions laid down by the FISA and the Formula 1 Committee, already announced yesterday, for the terms of the participation of the driver De Villota, the FISA declares that, in case of a violation of the “accordo della Concordia”, the Spanish Grand Prix will not count for the World Championship".
A fast consultation, present Ecclestone, and at the end the Race Director, to avoid a new shocking rift, he had to yield. For the official practice has participated the radiant Borgudd, while De Villota had to get back home. Before, another major problem was faced. The rescue helicopter was missing and some protection along the circuit was not in place. But above all there was in the air a protest of the mechanics who wanted special insurance: the memory of what happened in Zolder is alive. The leaders of the Automobil Club had to sent in Madrid a fast car to take insurance certificates and reassure men in overalls. It was, in a sense, the first real union success in Formula 1. In the official practice have been the fastest: Jones and Reutemann, with their Williams, in front of Lafitte, Prost, Watson, De Angelis, Andretti and Patrese. Because of the track that was dirty and for the hot weather, every team have been a lot of problems to fine tune their cars. It’s the case of the Brabham with Piquet and of the Ferrari with Pironi and Villeneuve. While the Brazilian gets a 17 place, the two drivers of Maranello are in P12 and P13. The French broke a turbo in the morning and one in the afternoon; for the Canadian there have been many setbacks, among which the greatest was the system of lowering the springs of the car that still does not work as you would like. Everyone will work hard, particularly the Osella. Gabbiani has been removed from the ranking because his car, during a control, was lower, than allowed, of 6 cm from the ground. The same thing happened to Reutemann, but he has got to recover quickly. Mario Andretti, with the car of Milano, has proven that with a good work and a good effort you can arrive in high position. The car with some little effort has proven to be able to use the powerful engine very well and Andretti has made 26 laps during the practice (31 the one of Giacomelli) without any big problem.
"I’m sure that before the end of the year we will take great satisfaction. We get through a very difficult period. Maybe we take a road that wasn’t the right one. Now we came back and the results are immediately visible. We will try to make a good race and to be into the battle for, at least, the podium".
The same speech was faced by Giacomelli, that is a little far from his teammate (sixteen) and he has to do everything to try to start in a good position. Of Gilles Villeneuve they don’t say that he is the biggest and even the strongest. They say that he is the fastest. He accept this definition:
"I think, yes, that i’m the fastest, the one you can bet money of an hyphotetical bets: the car is the same for everyone, we will see who is the fastest".
"Money is important, hypocrite who says no. I’m one who started in Canada, with the motorhome and with Joanne made my wife early, from a circuit to another, now I can start to think to finish my life in Monaco, in the Europe of my grandparents. My kids, now, they want to go back in Canada".
The glory, the success, they have neither hardened nor softened it, it is guaranteed by mechanics who know of him as of his engine. He says:
"I think I am the same of before, I control my children, they are the one that they could say that i’m different".
Just in Madrid, when Gilles Villeneuve was in his first months of Formula 1, his son Jacques had said:
"But dad, why you don’t win anymore?"
He remember the races in Canada, the easy victory. Now Jacques follow his races, he know about the many problems.
"The day when my son would say to me, you are not same as before, you are nervous, you are different, I’d start to worry".
The Ferrari mechanics They say he works very well. Joanne says about him all the good she can and also what is impossible, the perfect love. One day he said about Joanne:
"She has the right to have understood me, and in time. She knows that if she hinders me in my profession with her problems as a woman, I could also stop it, force her to leave".
She is loyal, when she can she holed up in the house.
"Some habits I had to change it, now that it seems, that I am famous. But just a little, little".
Into the pits he receives visits and tributes from the other drivers. He has no fear of any speech, not even those of deaths.
"I believe in God. We can say of a God, but I think that he has a lot to do so I ask him nothing, I feel responsible for myself. I’m ready for the idea of an hospital bed, of many months still for an accident, everything is part of my job".
"I haven’t done miracles, I was already familiar to start ahead in the deployment".
The 179, with a little change, it grew up all of a sudden and gives hope. To find the Ferrari we have to go up (or down) to the seventh place of Gilles Villeneuve. A step back compared to the last few races, but we already know that the Turbo of Maranello would not have easily adapted to the Jarama circuit. An hot climate, that with the supercharged engines is not good and with so many little problems makes believe that the race of Villeneuve and Pironi will not be easy. The Canadian said:
"Our tires, maybe not for their faults, they degrade before the others and we must do miracles to stay on track".
"I can be into the points zone, but only if someone in front of me stops".
His friend Pironi it’s even more far, because he had problems with the clutch. In any case, the leit motiv will be offered by Lafitte and by the Williams. The Talbot-Ligier, according to Jones, could be an inconvenience for all, also for the run to the World Title. The tracks of the next four races will be favourable for the French car which has perfect aerodynamics and a competitive engine. The 12 cylinders Matra it is renewed and refined by the company that produces it. Lafitte let know, super happy, all smiles:
"There’s no secret, we worked a lot. And now the Talbot-Ligier travels on rails, better than the others. The race can be a lottery, but we are on the right way".
It seems, however, that our exceptional performances of the white and blue single-seater due to the perfect arrangement of the side strips, that is, the small skirts currently allowed by regulations. They are strips that produce an excellent ground-effect and consume little, touching the ground, unlike those of other cars. The one who risks a lot (in terms of ranking) is Nelson Piquet. At the end of the two days of practice is only in ninth place. For the Brazilian, he used to start in the top row, this regression is a true mistery.
"I don’t understand, but the car is no longer good. Maybe they gave me a Cabala. Now they will be happy who claimed that my Brabham is not regular".
Piquet is not the only driver on track who is in a bad mood. Also the Italian drivers (except for Giacomelli) they are unhappy. Patrese and De Angelis have cars that they don’t look competitive.
"Everything goes wrong, I don’t know where to start. The breaks are catastrophic and I have too much understeer".
The driver from Rome, after he have gone very strong during the practice, could not repeat this time. At the moment the Lotus does not honor the advertisement appeared in newspapers around the world to celebrate the return of the John Player Special as sponsor. Andrea De Cesaris will start in thirteen place with the McLaren, it could be in a better position if he hadn’t gone off the track on lap three. Better not to talk about the Tyrrel of Cheever (20 seconds): it is not good at all, so much so that the young Alboreto, less experienced than his teammate, has not even managed to classify. Out also the Osella. And we had to say that Gabbiani and the rookie Giorgio Francia, they gave it their all. Gabbiani even made a spectacular flight for the detachment of a wheel. A guy in shorts and a shirt, good face, during rehearsal says:
"I was here as a vulture, hoping that right before the official practice something could happen so he could take his place. For me was ok also a poisoning from damaged fish, I wasn’t asking for an accident. Nothing, I will go back at home".
This person was Marc Surer, 29 years old, a Swiss-German, son of a not rich farmer. He is, or was, in Formula 1 at the start of the 1980. With the ATS he had an accident in South Africa, four months of inactivity, the return on track, a contract with the Ensign 81. A fourth place in Brazil, sixth in Monte-Carlo, a lot of talent and an intelligent drive. Daniele Audetto, who was also Ferrari’s sports director, says:
"Maybe the best between the new one".
"You are good, but now get out of the car, we are gonna take it to Salazar".
Eliseo Salazar, 27 years old, Chilean, his father is a political power in Santiago. Salazar attempted with the Arrows, his father offered a government bet of 10.000.000 of dollars to the Ceramica Ragno, as the sponsor of the car. The Ragno held on Patrese, also for moral reasons, Salazar father offered to buy 300.000 dollars of tools to the Beta that is the sponsor of the other Arrows, the one of Storh. Until now also the Beta held on. So Salazar father gave to the son, from the Chilean state, 60.000 dollars, to pay at least one race: to the Ensign that had no money, they take it, they take Salazar with an helmet with the inscription: Visit Chile, and he qualified with the last time, 4 second worst of Lafitte, a big difference. Not even among runners, in a race from the 1'13"0, the time of Lafitte to make a lap, a similar waste is acceptable. The Formula 1 drivers are in two groups: the one that pay a lot to race, the one that they are paid a lot to race. Out of thirty, twenty are in the first group. They are looking for sponsor, they arise to the teams with the money in the month. Or they can have the family money: Rebaque, Mexican; Serra, Brazilian; last year Zunino, Argentine; now Salazar, Chilean. Rebaque pays 1.000.000 dollars per year to have a Brabham. Because it has been decided that the car matter the 80%, also a driver less gifted is accepted, if they have the money. It can means that racing in Formula 1 is easy if you are rich. You don’t need a great sports career behind their shoulders. Or their own richness or tha favor of the sponsor. Alboreto, Italian driver, first of the excluded, has even found the patron: a great name of the Italian economy, one that now has problems with justice and so far away, would have given him, out of sympathy, something like 250.000.000 lire. De Angelis and De Cesaris are sponsored by themselfs. The first is the son of a great construction manufacturer, the second one of a distributor, in Italy, of cigarettes Marlboro. De Angelis, however, is a special case: in a fast way he convinced everyone to be really good, and now is among those paid, no longer among those who pay. Gabbiani is the son of an industrialist of Piacenza: the sponsor of the dad also for him. During the practice he broke his Osella, they gave him the one of Francia, stranded (even if Gabbiani didn’t qualify).
Francia is the test-driver of the Alfa Romeo, he was doing races by himself and Chifi, the big boss of the Alfa Romeo, didn’t know that he had a true driver under his hands. So Francia has been removed. A career like the one of Giacomelli, all from the gavetta up to the Alfa Romeo. A little similar is the career of Nigel Mansell, of the Lotus, the only English driver of the Formula 1. But they are rarer example. The witch hunt is an habit in F1. It’s enough that a car provides excellent performance to arouse suspicion and indiscretions, many times unjustified. This time is the turn of the Alfa Romeo. The cars of Giacomelli and Andretti are in progress, as shown by the results of the practice of the Spanish Grand Prix and immediately there is the talk of mysterious outside aid from the Autodelta. A visit of Gordon Murray, designer of the Brabham, at the Autodelta is exploited. Murray - has crept in - helped engineer Carlo Chiti in the development of the cars. On the other hand, he will have some details of the turbo Alfa for the supercharged Bmw. The English technician, in fact, was visiting Milan for a collaboration that is last for a long time between the Brabham and the Alfa Romeo of the constructions and realization of the gearbox of the cars of Formula 1. In view of the possible midday heat and the attendance for the race of the King of Spain, it is planned to hold the 80-lap race in the afternoon, indeed late in the afternoon, at 4:00 p.m. This means that the half-hour warm-up period is due at 1:10 p.m. after some Alfa-Sud saloon car racing, but due to cars demolishing catch fences it is 1.25 p.m. before the Formula 1 cars are allowed out for their final session. The Brabham team is still searching in the dark for ways of making Piquet’s car (BT49C/11) more competitive, Laffite is instructed to keep the Matra V12 down to 12.500 r.p.m., at least in the opening stages, the March team is in a new world, having to work on a Sunday, and there is consternation in the Williams camp when Alan Jones is missing. He appears after about five minutes to report that a nut has fallen off the throttle linkage on top of the engine, and the operating arm has become detached. By borrowing a screwdriver from a marshal and jamming the throttle slides partly open he has driven it back on the ignition switch. His only comment to his mechanics is better to happen now than in the race. Patrick Head’s feelings are it should not have happened now.
Hot is the word for the weather and at the Jarama autodrome there is precious little cover and not a shady tree within sight, for the track is built on open scrubland. The royal helicopters arrive majestically (they are big ones) and settle in the paddock area, raising clouds of dust and rubbish as well as blowing down advertising material and once the King and his party are ensconced in the air-conditioned control tower the 24 starters set off on their warm-up lap to form up on the grid, with a very confident and happy Jacques Laffite on pole-position. Everything is going smoothly and on time. The scintillating blue and white Talbot-Matra V12 leads the field round on the parade lap in an orderly fashion and back on to the starting grid, where they pause and at that point the Talbot clutch begins to drag and to stop the car creeping forward Laffite has to juggle his right foot between throttle pedal and brake pedal. The green light comes on as Laffite is off balance and he muffs his start, but the rest does not, and in particular a little French/Canadian driver in car number 27 in the seventh row. Jones leads away, Reutemann swerves round the Talbot and as the two Williams cars shoot into the first corner there is a scarlet Ferrari with them! (And turbo-charged engines are supposed to be difficult to get off the line.) Round the back and into the twisty bits it is Jones, Reutemann, Villeneuve, Andretti, Prost, Watson and the rest and quite a few nose fins and nose wings have been pushed out of shape in the opening scramble. Villeneuve’s rear wheel has clipped the nose wing on Prost’s Renault, Pironi has bent his Ferrari’s nose wing on the rear of Patrese’s Arrows, and the Arrows catch its front on someone’s rear wheel. Everyone keeps going. At the end of the opening lap it is still Jones, Reutemann, Villeneuve, Andretti, Prost, Watson, Giacomelli, Piquet, Patrese, Pironi and the luckless Laffite, but into the braking area for the first corner the Ferrari nips by the Williams into second place. Alan Jones is in terrific form and waiting for no-one; with a clear track ahead of him he pulls away at half-a-second a lap and is in a class of his own. Equally, Villeneuve and Reutemann are pulling away from the rest of the runners, but the Ferrari is not getting away from the third place Williams. An interesting little bunch, comprising Andretti (Alfa Romeo), Prost (Renault), Watson (McLaren), Piquet (Brabham) and Pironi (Ferrari), are in the running for fourth place and Laffite is just beginning to gather himself together after his appalling start, picking off Giacomelli and joining the back of the queue for fourth place, albeit actually in ninth place on the road.
Tucked well down in the cockpit of his Williams, Alan Jones looks unassailable, increasing his lead steadily and remorselessly so that a runaway victory seems certain. Villeneuve is throwing the Ferrari about with abandon, enjoying himself while he can for there is no certainty that it would last out 80 laps, while Reutemann sits solidly in third place, as menacing as ever. In the queue behind, Prost does an audacious bit of overtaking going into the tight left-hand hairpin behind the pits, and gets away with it, to Andretti’s surprise, and Piquet has long since dealt with Watson and has his beady-eye on the Alfa Romeo. Salazar in the Ensign in last place is about to be lapped by the leader. Approaching the end of lap 14 Jones suffers brain-fade (he could not put it down to anything else) and goes into a corner a fraction too fast and under-steered himself off into the rough stuff! Fifteen cars go by before he can extricate himself and get back on the track, many of the drivers smiling to themselves as they go by, others wondering what on earth could have gone wrong with the World Champion. From his seventh row starting position Villeneuve finds himself in the lead, the idea of having fun with the Ferrari while its tyres or engine lasted is now gone, there is victory to be had and that is serious business, with sixty-six laps still to go. He knows he can out-speed anyone down the straight, and there is nobody who is braver on the brakes, but round the twisty bits the Ferrari is no match for the handling of a Williams, Brabham, Talbot or Lotus. One of the key corners on the circuit is the steep downhill left-hand hairpin that exits steeply uphill, to begin the run round the double right-hand bend that leads on to the main straight. If he can hold off any opposition into this hairpin he can lead onto the straight and pull out six or seven lengths on maximum speed, which would be enough to keep ahead through the twisty bits on the back of the circuit. By adjusting his fore-and-aft brake-balance control in the cockpit Villeneuve gambles on extra braking on the front wheels, taking advantage of the downhill weight-transfer to the front tyres. He goes to the point of locking-up the front wheels, for as he says later: I can live with front brakes locking-up, but rear-brakes locking on no way. There is a long way to go and behind him is a row of determined, frustrated, slightly angry men all out to win, or at any rate some of them are.
Reutemann is beginning to lean on the Ferrari and there is nothing more unnerving, while Piquet is all around Andretti’s Alfa Romeo, trying to get by. Laffite is pressuring Watson and de Angelis is corning into the picture. Prost is still holding a good third position, in spite of his front wing being all out of shape. Well over half a lap behind Jones is picking off the tail-enders one by one and has that look about him that suggests that he is going to be up into third place at least before the end of the race. With twenty laps completed there has only been one retirement, that of de Cesaris who has spun his McLaren MP4 off into the dirt, but Patrese is on his way out as smoke is pouring from the engine in his Arrows on the over-run. Cheever is in the pits having his throttle pedal linkage on the Tyrrell repaired, and Daly (March) and Tambay (Theodore) have also been in for repairs, while Jabouille is in for brake adjustments. Pironi has an off into the rough stuff and stops for new front tyres and a new nose wing. In his endeavours to get by Andretti’s Alfa Romeo, Piquet makes a complete nonsense of it and cannons into the Italian car and both go off the road momentarily, which allows Watson and Laffite to go by, Piquet rejoining the race before a very angry Andretti, so that the order behind the first three is now Watson, Laffite, Piquet, Andretti and de Angelis, any one of whom can be fourth and it is Laffite who is out to do just that. Jones is now in eleventh place and closing on Giacomelli and Mansell, and at this point, Pironi rejoins the race, but four laps down after his long pit stop. Up at the front there is no change, Villeneuve is running the race at his own pace, which is relatively slow compared with practice, lapping around 1'19"0 to 1'20"0; but that is not important, the main thing is that Reutemann is totally unable to do anything about the fast-slow tactics of the Ferrari. Suddenly third place becomes available as Prost misjudges his braking, locks his wheels and slides off into the dirt, being unable to restart his engine, and Watson finds himself in third place, but Laffite wants it even more. After the thump from Piquet’s Brabham, Andretti’s Alfa Romeo does not go so well and de Angelis overtakes him and shortly afterwards Mansell does likewise. Jones has passed Giacomelli’s Alfa and is soon to overtake Andretti, which puts him into eighth place. Stalemate now settles in more or less right through the field, Villeneuve still leading and not putting a wheel wrong anywhere, nor giving an inch to the pressure Reutemann is applying through the twisty parts of the circuit.
Each time down the straight the power of the turbo-charged V6 Ferrari pulls out a sizable gap and there is nothing Reutemann can do, for after all Villeneuve is leading the race, and that is as a result of his meteoric opening lap. It is no use being in sixth place when the leader spins off into the dirt. While Reutemann is suffering frustration watching the Ferrari pull away from him down the straight, Jones is suffering in the same way, for he has caught up with Pironi, who is four laps down, and try as he might he can not get by, which stops his progress up through the field, for by now he should have caught Mansell’s Lotus. To add to the difficulties of the Williams driver, both are suffering gearbox trouble, or to be more precise both gearboxes are showing signs of suffering at their drivers’ hands. Reutemann is having to hold his in third gear, steering with his left hand, and Jones can not make second gear stay engaged, so dispenses with it altogether and consequently drops back from his Ferrari. Reutemann is staying with his Ferrari, but even when lapping slower cars he can not find a way by, or rather, Villeneuve doesn’t give him the opportunity. It is now half-distance, with 40 laps still to go. Reutemann is still up with Villeneuve, Laffite is hard behind Watson, who is sitting it out well, Piquet is a lonely fifth, followed by de Angelis, Mansell, Jones, Andretti, Arnoux and Giacomelli all spaced out, with the rest straggling along behind. For no apparent reason Piquet suddenly shoots straight off the road and out of the race on lap 44, and a short while later his young teammate Rebaque retires with a broken gearbox. He has been worried that his brakes are not up to scratch and has been using the gearbox heavily to assist his stopping, and the gearbox has cried enough. Piquet’s disappearance elevates the Lotus lads into fifth and sixth places, and just when it seems settled Laffite out-smarts Watson and takes third place. Almost immediately the Talbot begins to draw away from the McLaren and closes up on the leaders, as Laffite lets the Matra V12 run over its 12.500 rpm limit. At the front Villeneuve is still in command and completely unruffled, running the race at his own pace, which might not have been as fast as people want, but there is nothing they can do about it. At the end of each lap, a third of the way down the main straight, the Ferrari is leading by three or four lengths and pulling away.
Laffite is now worrying Reutemann, who has enough to do with the tantalising red car in front of him, without having the blue and white car dodging about from one rear-view mirror to the other. By lap 60 the three cars are nose-to-tail through the twisty bits and with a rush Laffite is past Reutemann, putting him so off balance that Watson goes by before he recovers, and Laffite is now right under the Ferrari rear wing. When he gets roused Jacques Laffite is a real fighter, like a terrier, and now he is roused, but the cool Villeneuve is still unimpressed. He has lapped the slow tail-enders, but is now in sight of the not so slow ones and next in line to be lapped is Giacomelli in the Alfa Romeo V12, so the French-Canadian cunning comes into play. He knows that if he catches up with the Alfa Romeo that is nearly as quick as he is it will upset his rhythm and makes opportunities for a slight misjudgement. The pack behind him is waiting for one false move, one muffed gear-change, one deviation off line, an error of an inch or two on a corner, a foot or two on braking, that is all they want. But he is not giving in to them and rather than take the chance of getting embroiled with Giacomelli the little Cannuck eases the pace ever so slightly. By lap 65 we now have five cars nose-to-tail, the Ferrari, the Talbot, the McLaren, the Williams and the Lotus, and they are in sight of Giacomelli’s Alfa Romeo on the back part of the circuit. But five laps later they have still not caught him, and indeed are not so close, and to be sure Giacomelli has not speeded up! For the final ten laps Villeneuve gives as fine a display of self-control as you can wish to see, with four cars pushing hard he picks his way through the corners without deliberately baulking them, but making quite sure there is not quite enough room anywhere for another car. On the straight he unleashes the power of the turbo-charged 1 1/2-litre and pulls out six or seven lengths before the next corner. It is frustrating but beautiful to watch. It is all over. From the final corner he is gone, before Laffite has time to think about pulling out of the slipstream. A well-deserved tactical victory if ever there is one. We need to go back in ten years, exactly at September, 5 1971, to find an arrival so excited as the exceptional Spanish Grand Prix of Formula 1. Five cars in few meters, a sprint of over ten laps that leave the suspense between the spectators: a type of bull fight who has seen Gilles Villeneuve control in order: Jacques Lafitte, John Watson, Carlos Reutemann and Elio De Angelis.
The Ferrari of the Canadian held the opponents in check in an incredible way, gaining a victory, the second in row after Monte-Carlo, another time unexpected and for this biggest. We were saying about the historical cycles. It has been a decade since when, in Monza, Pether Gethin, with a B.R.M. beats in a sprint Ronnie Peterson, François Cevert, Mike Hailwood and Howden Ganley. At that time they were racing on a street track, with an average of over the 240 km/h. The first five came out the “Curva Parabolica” almost side-by-side as in a cycling race or of horses. They were racing for the fotofinish to establish the winner: Gethin gets the victory with an hundredth of a second on Peterson. Between the first and the fifth we’re timed 61 cents, a flow. With the right proportion (the circuit of Jarama is much lower, the average is just 149 km/h) It was the same thing. The protagonists of the sprint were on the finish line in a row, one behind the other. The audience were waiting for an overtake of the last moment, also a reckless attempt. But the cars were like train cars, glued: Villeneuve held on and between the Ferrari driver and De Angelis, the last of the row, there’s a gap of 1.024 seconds. At the eve of the race, no one, not even the men of Maranello, they wouldn’t bet on the victory of the Ferrari. While Villeneuve with a race by master, take again the 126 Ck to the victory. A success made by a car totally reliable and from a driver that knows how to capitalize any kind of possibility. A textbook start take him from the seventh to the second place, behind Jones. Then, from the 14 lap, when the Australian, pulling like a damned, it came out clamorously at the Curva Ascari (a mistake that made him go through the first place to the sixteenth place). Gilles has saved his car, he didn’t make any craziness to get away from Reutemann that was close to him. At the end has effortlessly rejected the attacks of the Argentine and he fought with a refined skill against those more insidious of Laffite, that he was in second position at eighteen laps to the end. The victory can be given to the driver and not to the car. This time the human factor has prevailed and also the engineer Folghieri, with much honesty, give full credit to the driver. The chronicle of the race is close. At the start Jones surprised easily Lafitte that started from the pole like a snail that brought him from the first place to the eleventh place. Villeneuve was amazing and also Pironi. The two Ferrari drivers, with a fast start, even with a slow start of the turbo engine, they started from the seventh and the thirty position, were immediately transited in second and in eighth position.
Then the French had to return to the pits at the twenty-six lap bacause he bumped into another car and he went off track: his Ferrari had the front wing looking up. During the pit stop the mechanics changed the aerodynamic detail and also adjusted the engine that was not working well. So Didier lost four laps that he could not recover, finishing in fifteenth position. When Villeneuve gets the lead, chased by Reutemann, behind the two the battle turned on. Lafitte started to reassemble, till he overtake Watson that was in third position and then he chased him like a shadow. From the back it came out, successfully, also by Elio De Angelis, with a capital race . If the driver from Rome had not been delayed by the same Laffite at the start, perhaps his placement would have been higher than the fifth place. In any case in the last few laps, with Villeneuve that front-end, a quintet has been formed, that everyone can win. But drivers and cars, that maybe were already to the point of exhaustion and Villeneuve, without any mistakes even with the great tension, has granted nothing to the adversaries. Now the World Championship is more open than ever. Reutemann is always the leader with 37 points but, behind the Argentine, while Jones and Piquet have stuck, Villeneuve and Lafitte have recovered very well. We can’t talk about big favorites. The season starts in France in fifteen days. The fastest driver of the world, Gilles Villeneuve of the Ferrari, he won the Spanish Grand Prix, that has been a fast race, a race of madmen and madmen, with five drivers at the finish with only a few cents between them. The show was one of the greatest of the world (of the sport). Who was at the Jarama circuit, think: who knows how it is this beautiful race in TV. Who has seen it must have thought what a beautiful thing it was to be there, on the circuit, waiting, in the mystery of waiting that seems to be one of the main components of the sport, especially the one from the downhill curve that leads to the straight, appeared before the red Ferrari of Villeneuve or the blue Talbot-Ligier of Lafitte. The narration of the race, of the victory of Villeneuve, starts with the sentence of Jacques Lafitte, one of the few gentlemen (and an absolute gentleman, not relative) in the world also stinky of the Formula 1. Lafitte says:
"I did my best to get in the wake of Villeneuve after my bastard start. Then to overtake him, to win, I needed his mistake. I didn’t have any hope".
Near, Gilles Villeneuve says, by answering, from pit to pit, to Jacques Lafitte:
"I didn’t make the mistake, the big one, the one that you pay dearly, I made two little mistakes of the locking brake. Otherwise, my race has been perfect".
Villeneuve spoke jumping between the French to the English and also the Italian, still inside the fireproof suit wet with sweat. He is talking into the greased shadow of the box, with the crowd that is waiting for him outside. Gilles reveal his only fear:
"I was afraid to remain without gasoline, that’s it. At the end I tried to stand on the right, to get me overtake. I was stuck with the thought of that, I also gave up some more adventurous and perhaps more profitable trajectories. From the box I was reported that two laps were missing, I slowed down a little to keep everything myself, and the last petrol, for the sprint. But there was just one lap to go. I crossed the finish line thinking about one more lap, happy because I had some petrol. I saw the checkered flag, I saw the one of the Ferrari explode, so I knew I had won".
The Canadian is talking while he was trying to fix his hair that, long and bathed in sweat, they descend to thick strands on his forehead.
"If I have to praise myself, I think it’s mainly for the start, fantastic. Then, how I kept well the car even if, after ten laps, I was out of tires. My Ferrari was amazing, but I have a lot of work to do into his miracle. Again in the morning, few hours after the race, we messed up a bit, to find the new balance, to have the guarantee of a little more tires".
Villeneuve tells also of a kind of dream, of nightmare.
"A thing so strange, don’t scare me. I had never happened before, it must have been a special echo game, or maybe it was my fantasy, with this sun, that warm. When Lafitte got behind me, I started to feel him also phisically, as if it touched me. But not car against car, skin against skin. And at some point, at the end of the turns, I feel him accelerating, I feel the sound of his engine and I was trying to feel again the sound of my engine, also because the turbo It’s slow to take turns. About this: I won, but also the Ferrari Turbo won, write it".
The journalists are asking to Gilles what Lafitte told him, finally on the podium, in front of Juan Carlos, the king of Spain, managed to touch him after nineteen laps in his wake.
"He told me good, he gave me his hand".
Villeneuve will have a few days to rest and meditate. The Canadian doesn’t goes to her head, he keeps saying that he live the day. But he also know that he can’t be considered only a winner of Grand Prix but also a candidate for the victory of the World Championship.
"The victory gave me much satisfaction because it was difficult. I’m still of the opinion that we need to wait before we can point to the World Title. There are too much drivers, right now, that they have possibility in this regard. Even in Digione, in the next race in France, we could get another success, I admit that we are in the race for the legacy of Alan Jones. But until now I was never able to win three races in a row. So I don’t have so much hope".
Villeneuve is a pretactist and a cautious one. But in his heart the Canadian is now convinced that the time is ripe for a return to the top. But who is disappointed is his teammate Didier Pironi. The French has been bumped at the start of the race by Patrese, he was forced to stop to the pit and then he was last of the group, finishing fifteenth.
"It’s possible that I can’t drive like I used to do? But i’m always the same person and the car is pretty good. It’s an unlucky period that I will try to get through it, and you will see that I’ll get on the top step of the podium".
So the Ferrari has two drivers with different goals. Pironi wants to win a race. Villeneuve, instead, can think about the World title, even if he doesn’t officially admit it. In any case the team of Maranello is now feared by everyone. No one believe to the engineer Folghieri anymore, the technical manager of the Maranello team, when he says that his cars are not competitive. At the start the Canadian had opened the accelerator, before the start, with violence, even if Folghieri had told him to stay calm, as a sign of the fuel problems. After the end , for the poor refilling, it turned off his engine, into the lap on the impulse and I had the fear that the system of lowering of the frame was blocked: it would have been the disqualification, passing to the verification. Then slowly he ended the lap, the car was high the right. This was the biggest risk. At the Spanish Grand Prix, without local driver, a very large audience did not take part. Yes, it is estimated that were not present more of 40.000 people. Into the control tower there was the King of Spain, Juan Carlos of Borbone, have come to the circuit of Jarama driving, by himself, a big helicopter of the military aviation with onboard his wife Sofia of Greece and their three children. The monarch followed all the race and before leaving he gave the award to Villeneuve. Mauro Forghieri, forty-six years old, in charge of the Ferrari cars that they began to win Formula 1 Grand Prix, ex basket player. Tall 1.88 meters, with glasses by Harold Lloyd, Lauda called him a fool, but also a genius. He graduated one session early, and then he took to doing, in life, other important things. In Ferrari for twenty years, two sons, all thickness emiliani, Forghieri had to answer, after the second success in a row in Formula 1 of the cars of Maranello, also to this question: why the Ferrari was really slowly on Friday, slow on Saturday and won in Sunday? Question if you want eminently technical. Forghieri seeks the hijacking on screw, then dialogue almost serene. He’d just finished to read the last laps, waiting for an appearance, up to the last corner of the circuit, of Villeneuve, was going to see the race with fake calm, car after car. He had screamed, immediately after the final passage of Villeneuve:
"Thanks to everyone, you all have done a good job".
Talking to the mechanics as to Joanne Villeneuve, timekeeper. But that’s the answer:
"Honestly I don’t know: we have to check, with calm, every little innovations that we made on the car a few hours before the race, during the unofficial tests of the morning. On Friday the tires kept only for two laps, Saturday for three, today technically for ten laps. The rest has been gained with assorted devices, weightlifting, balancing, and then with Villeneuve, who was prodigious. I know that others had problems with the tires, especially Piquet. At the end the first five, Villeneuve, Lafitte and Reutemann. Watson and De Andelis were without tires and for that they do not lapped Giacomelli".
Folghieri loved the two entity of Ferrari:
"Villeneuve and the turbo, or the turbo and Villeneuve. Our car was fastest than the one of Lafitte into the straight, the fastest in two turns, with the fighting spirit in others. Credit to the engine or to the driver. I can’t remember a most beautiful race: maybe Silverstone 1978, Reutemann in front of Lauda, maybe. A great Lafitte has as it pushed a great Villeneuve: Laffite always starts badly, in four laps he made five overtake, then a mistake of Reutemann he helped him to go after Gilles".
A new project will be made to win the 1981 World Championship for the Ferrari, after two consecutive victories?
"Technically the next circuit, the one of Digione, is ok for us. Yes, if in Digione our progress continues we had to start to think to the Championship".
Forghieri continued to thank everyone calmly postponing the enthusiasm to who knows what secret party, if there will be. A few meters further, into the Alfa Romeo box, the engineer Chiti, do not love Forghieri and he is not love by him. Says:
"Great Villeneuve, I would love to have him. But in Ferrari they worked very well. The turbo road is the right one, we are also into the journey".
Elio De Angelis took the new Lotus 87 into the points. But, even if the final result is better of what we were expecting after the practice. The Roman driver didn’t have much luck.
"I reached the fifth place and I should be satisfied. But I’m not, i’m happy only for half. We get to the finish line all togheter, in the sprint. But there was nothing to do to try to earn few positions. The overtakes were possible. We all traveled in the same way. And that’s why I have some grievances to do. If I was in the group before, maybe I could’ve gotten past Reutemann. At the start everything went wrong. The fault was of Lafitte that did not move in time, blocking me. They passed me in many, between them also Patrese, I had to work seven shirts to recover the disadvantage".
Opposite situation for the Alfa Romeo who promised a lot in qualifying and kept little in the race. The engineer Carlo Chiti says:
"We could have got the second place if Andretti has not been rammed by Nelson Piquet at the 24 lap, when he was in fourth position. He hit him in a side and knocked him off the track, ruining a side strip of the car. From that moment the car lost the grip and Mario has been already good to take the car until the end".
For Giacomelli, instead, the race never existed. The native of Brescia remained entangled in a series of crashes at the start, into the first turn after the start. In this collisions, who paid the highest penalty with Pironi, has been Prost. The French driver of the Renault even if he had the front wing bent, has been in third position for 28 laps. The engine of his car was maybe the most powerful and the only weapon that could have fight Villeneuve and his turbo Ferrari. But Prost, deceived by the precarious grip of the car, tried to adjust the braking to compensate for the handicap and did not realize that he had arrived too long at the Ascari corner (the same one where Jones has been outlawed) and he ended up off the track. The things, however, except for De Angelis, it didn’t go well for the Italians either. The young De Cesaris, at the tenth lap, has been the protagonist of a scary accident at the end of the straight of the pits. His McLaren was seen burst in to over 250 km/h straight into the guards, ending in the sand, after leaving a furrow where it passed.
"Suddenly the car lost grip. Maybe the suspension it was bent".
Also for Riccardo Patrese the race it didn't last long. Unexplained that his Arrows it didn't go well into the practice and the native of Padova didn’t have so much hopes to do well. About this problems, at the start, it was added the slight blow suffered by Pironi’s Ferrari who slipped inside in the first corner. Patrese, with the curved wing, tried to hold on for some laps, but his Arrows had to give in for the engine failure and problems of the overheating at the brakes. Little luck also for Siegfried Stohr and Eddie Cheever. The native of Rimini was immediately stopped by the faulty operation of the electronic control unit and could no longer recover because the engine of his Arrows has also failed. The American of Rome, instead, has immediately broken the throttle wire and the mechanics of Tyrrell have taken a long time to repair it. A new storm of controversy, the consequences of which for the moment are not ascertainable, affects Formula 1. The damage may also be very serious. Many teams, risks to remain without the required tires for the rest of the season. The danger was clear on Sunday morning, when after some rumors of the official return to the races of the Goodyear, already from the next French Grand Prix in Digione, on Sunday July, 5 1981 they released the following statement.
"After the retire of the Goodyear from the Formula 1 in December 1980, with the promise of some manufacturers to give the tires during the season, to observe our contracts and to assure the normal course of the races, we have decided to make the necessary effort to permit the start of the World championship. For the sporting fairness we provided to all the teams the same tires, selected according to the circuits, for the Grand Prix of: United States, Brazil, Argentine, San Marino, Belgium, Monaco and Spain. This helped to know better existing relations between tires and cars with different concept and it allowed, by the way, the Williams to totalize 58 points on the World Championship before the race of Jarama. We’ve been informed of the presence of tires of other brands from the French Grand Prix, so we are released from the commitment made at the beginning of the season and we will dedicate ourselves in the future to equipping a limited number of cars. If necessary, the other teams if they will make a request, we could help them with the available tires".
A message, signed by the race management of the Michelin, is more than clear. The French company, after their contribution to the global climbing of the Williams it doesn’t feel, rightly, to not pass the torch to the Goodyear, leaving his American rival to reap the rewards of the work done so far. That’s because the return of the tires that in the 1980 had equipped every Formula 1 team, is reserved for Williams and Brabham. The two English teams from the French Grand Prix they will have, formally, at their disposal the tires made by Akron in the United States. The news was not communicated in writing but was confirmed by the interested parties. And this explains, at least in part, even the modest result achieved in the qualifying of the Spanish Grand Prix by Nelson Piquet. The Brazilian, during all the week, had tried on his Brabham, in England, the Goodyear and he was in trouble with the Michelin at Jarama. Now the Michelin will concentrate its efforts on his four official teams, that is Renault, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Talbot-Ligier. The new situation, by the way, will allow to Pirelli to widen its horizons in Formula 1. The Italian company, currently in difficulty with the Toleman that fails to qualify, had renounced, despite pressing requests, to equip some teams for a matter of fairness towards Michelin. Now they will be free to provide their radial tires, between them also the Arrows. And the others? The Michelin granted a little help to those who will not be officially equipped. But also in this case, as long as some teams remain without tires, obviously they will not race on a equal basis. The Championship can be distorted by favoritism or difficulties in which you will find some stables. In conclusion, Gilles Villeneuve, could have been the heir of Niki Lauda in the 1978. The Austrian abandoned the Ferrari, leaving behind him a wake of controversy, and Enzo Ferrari placed a bet: hire a very talented but inexperienced driver, and take him to the top of the Formula 1.
The years have passed, Grand Prix after Grand Prix, accident after accident, Villeneuve became an excellent driver. His determination, his crazy bravery in some situation, that his never giving up has become the symbol of a certain way of running, an ancient way, if you will. And the comparison with Tazio Nuvolari has flourished. But Villeneuve it was not, already, perfect, because he was driving more with the heart and not with the brain. Wonderful improviser, magnificent fighter he lacked that tactical ability, that knowing how to administer that turn a great driver into a true champion. The Canadian has finally reached this goal today. The two victories of Monte-Carlo and of Jarama, the ability and the intelligence with which was able to drive the 126 K, that is the Turbo that the Ferrari has managed in a few months to transform into an enviable reality with an admirable example of what can realize the Italian work. And, just today, three and a half years later, Villeneuve can be considered the heir of Lauda. A totally different heir, as personality, style, lifestyle inside and outside the races. An heir most loved or loved in a total way: Lauda had many enemies, the little Canadian has joined the Ferrari fans. Ironically, Villeneuve achieved this goal disproving the initial assumption of Ferrari. Because Villeneuve, in Monte-Carlo as in Spain, he was better than the car, of his car and the one of his rivals. People wonder what he can do in better tracks. After Lauda-Ferrari is the time of Villeneuve-Ferrari. While the myth of Maranello continue, driver after driver. Because the drivers under the wheel they can change, but Ferrari is always the same. The prowess of Villeneuve and of the Ferrari 126 CK of the Monaco Grand Prix and the Spanish one, brought the supercharging to the attention of the automotive world. It was argued that a car with a turbo engine had no chance of success in a winding and slow circuits as the one of Monte-Carlo and of Jarama on the other hand, the Canadian driver was able to impose himself, his ability apart, mainly for the performance offered by the 6-cylinder Maranello. I mean, the turbo is maturing. It’s not anymore a thing that can improve the power of the engine but it’s delicate and tough to control it, with natural handicap as the delay in the response to the throttle, but a reliable and intelligent technical solution that can solve some problems of the car, both competition and series.
The two sectors always go hand in hand. An agreement, a collaboration on the practical level as on the advertising one, with an exchange useful to the progress. It is curious to note how the boost (this word includes devices as the real turbo, working with the recovery of the exhaust gases, or the compressor, volumetric or not), born with the competitions and linked to aviation, has been abandoned in the past by the world of racing and has found only in recent years at the big manufacturers. Easy reasons: years 50 and 69 make supercharger engines was complicated and challenging for technical problem of many nature; the use of supercharging in the various racing formulas was prohibited by regulations or linked to highly penalising sports coefficients; the company during the last decade have had to face with a bad crisis energy-efficient, with the need to renew models and to follow modern market trends (comfort, low consumption, always lively performance, at least in terms of acceleration) without having to spend hundreds of billions to design, for example, new engines; the entry into the electronics scene. The houses, so, they have focused on the turbo, with a solution that is practice and economic, while the men of the races, particularly the one of the Formula 1, but the conversion has been rapid. If the Porsche can be considered the precursor of the endurance races, if the Saab it was the first that threw itself into the Rally, the Renault has opened the doors of the Grand Prix to the Sprint cars. And the front has widened. In Formula 1, to remain in the most prestigious sector of racing, to the Renault and Ferrari has been added Brian Hart, an English specilist for the Toleman, the Bmw presents itself to provide the Brabham, the Alfa Romeo will soon get on track with his eight cylinders. And Honda is working for the Williams, the Matra for the Talbot, the Ford for the Lotus. We can say that the new automotive frontier is becoming truly the turbo, a favorite solution from the manufactures. Obviously, now the sports claims will give new impetus to the spread of this technical solution that, in some aspects, seems destined to change - if it is not already - a trend. But people have a taste for novelty and supercharging, with these promises of power and contained consumption, looks very tempting. Who has, but, the ability to control themselves and not to taste too often the pleasure of waking up horses waiting in the engine, sacrificing the saving of gasoline on the altar of speed?