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#367 1982 British Grand Prix

2021-04-15 00:00

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#1982,

#367 1982 British Grand Prix

On Monday 12 July 1982 everything is ready for the British Grand Prix, the tenth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The local sportsmen already consider

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On Monday 12 July 1982 everything is ready for the British Grand Prix, the tenth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The local sportsmen already consider the car race scheduled for Sunday, July 18, 1982 a rematch of the World Cup. The English teams against the Italian national team, represented as the top team by Ferrari. The Maranello cars undergo the last test at Fiorano, at the end of which Didier Pironi confesses to be satisfied: there will be two cars with transverse gearbox and one with longitudinal gearbox. The Frenchman hopes in this race to overtake Watson in the world ranking.

 

"I was cheering for Platini right up to the end, but I'm happy that Italy won: it amply deserved the title of World Champion. Even in soccer, experience, the habit of fighting at the top, a certain type of mentality, have a determining weight. In Formula 1 it's the same: unfortunately a lot depends on the car you have at your disposal, and on many small details that, put together, always condition the results. However, it is important to have the conviction of one's own means, the certainty of being competitive, not to fear the opponents more than necessary. It is in this psychological situation that I will leave for Brands Hatch, with the certainty of being able to get at least one more good placement, of being able to fight at a high level".

 

Didier Pironi is calm: the victory in Zandvoort has recharged him completely, it has made him overcome the complex of bad luck that had accompanied him in recent times. He had never had any doubts about his chances, not even in the most difficult periods, but it is clear that it was necessary to have a concrete counter-evidence, which arrived punctually.

 

"Now we must not get head over heels, it is better to stay with our feet firmly planted on the ground. In England on Sunday it will be tough, because nobody gives up before the start to aim for a success. There are too many reasons for my direct rivals, and not only them, to give up the fight. A Piquet who re-emerges, Prost and Arnoux who are obliged to aim at the full success because otherwise Renault would be in big trouble, the Williams that doesn't give up, all the Italians who chase another victory after the one of Patrese in Monte Carlo. In short, the fight is wide open".

 

In a recent analysis of Pironi, man and driver, a French newspaper attributed to the 30-year-old Parisian an armor of steel, having highlighted his ability to resist any attack, and to have a temperament and a desire to emerge second to none in Formula 1. And this is, for sure, one of the winning weapons of the solid French driver who, in addition to driving the three hundred per hour racing cars, drives with equal skill the airplane or the offshore motorboat, the motorcycle and the bicycle, and in all sports manages to emerge.

 

"Sunday's race could be a tactical race for me. We've been testing on the fast Brands Hatch circuit, which has yielded erratic results. We were less fast than the Williams by about a second and a half, which worries me. But these were tests carried out with the weather constantly changing, and with cars that we don't know how regular they were. So I'll start with caution: my minimum goal is to enter the points zone, that is among the first six, and to stay ahead of Watson who is ahead of me in the world ranking. I hope to overtake him in the world ranking. Then we'll see. A lot depends on the conditions we will find on the circuit, on the tires we will have available. In any case, I am confident. The Ferrari is progressing from race to race, and the presence of Patrick Tambay at my side offers me a valid help. In short, I'm in the best condition".

 

The World Cup has also infected Formula 1. It's all anyone can talk about as the teams arrive at the Brands Hatch circuit, where the British Grand Prix will take place. The mechanics play with the ball in the pits, even if the rain disturbs the fun. On the wave of the resounding victory of the Italian team in Spain, therefore, all that is being discussed is Ferrari, considered the great favorite at this point in the race for the title. However, there are those who try to avoid any easy enthusiasm, and it is an authoritative voice, that of Mauro Forghieri, technical manager of the Maranello team:

 

"Formula 1 is not comparable to soccer. There are too many elements that affect the results, and above all the adversaries do not meet one at a time but all together, every race. There are no tactics, there are no tricks that count. From time to time the cars progress and regress depending on the changes that are made to the circuits. And it's just when you're convinced you've reached the top that even a triviality can deprive you of the points you thought you already had in your pocket. If we want to be realistic, we say that Ferrari is ready to seize the propitious opportunity, but we do not speak of certainty, of established superiority. Let's wait and only in two days, after the race, we will be able to take stock and draw conclusions. For the moment, let's just consider that this test could be the crucial point of the season".

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The first appointment is set for Friday, July 16, 1982, on the track located in South-East London. A very beautiful and interesting track with wide, fast curves and some spectacular ups and downs. The program is the usual one: free practice in the morning from 10:00 am to 11:30 a.m., first qualifying session from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., and identical program the next day, while the race will start on Sunday, July 18, 1982 at 3:00 p.m. At Brands Hatch, for the first time, the Italian drivers and competitors will have a doctor, Dr. Bertoletti, who will be hired by Csai for the entire championship. Before the eve of the Grand Prix, the Spaniard Emilio de Villota abandons the commitment in Formula 1 because of the poor competitiveness of the March car at his disposal, and will sue the team for damages for breach of contract; the British company will continue the championship lining up only the two cars of Boesel and Mass. While Nigel Mansell returns at the wheel of the Lotus, in place of test driver Roberto Moreno.

 

"If, after its success in the World Cup, Italy is now counting on winning the Formula 1 World Championship, it will first have to come to terms with us".

 

This is the warning of John Watson, leader of the world championship with only one point ahead of Didier Pironi's Ferrari, the McLaren driver, leader of the constructors' championship with ten points more than Ferrari. In the British Grand Prix Watson and the McLaren will try to repeat the success obtained a year earlier in the same race at Silverstone.

 

"Brands Hatch is a track where overtaking will be harder than ever. This means that a good grid position will be of huge importance on Sunday. And although it is believed that the supercharged cars will be the fastest in practice, we, with our naturally aspirated engines, will perhaps have some advantage in the race. The turbos will have to start with a higher fuel load, and choosing the right tires will probably be crucial. The physical preparation will also be very important. A success of mine can be decisive for the effects of the conquest of the world championship, since in ten of the last thirteen seasons of the world championship the driver in the lead at this point of the championship has then won it. Sunday's race will therefore be crucial for me".

 

Concludes Watson, who spent the short break between the Zandvoort and Brands Hatch races at his seaside cottage in Bognor Regis, on Britain's south coast.

 

"If Ferrari wins the British Grand Prix, it will be done".

 

This is what they say, on the eve of the official practice of the tenth round of the Formula 1 World Championship. All eyes, of course, are on Didier Pironi, who, after the initial part of the championship, is second in the world championship standings, behind Watson. The victory at Zandvoort has left all the opponents of the Italian-French duo annihilated. There is only one, a disenchanted boy, who still harbors hopes of being able to counter the Maranello team's offensive. He is Nelson Piquet, reigning World Champion. In the past, that is, since the beginning of the new championship, the Brazilian had not expressed any intention of regaining the title. Having to test the new Brabham with BMW turbocharged engine, the South American had made it clear that the race for the title this year was not a deal for him.

 

"I'm a test driver, so I can't compete at a high level. I will come back, of course, but next year".

 

But now Nelson has changed his mind. His surprise success in Montréal, and second place in Holland, have galvanized him and his team. Bernie Ecclestone is already doing the math and sees the possibility of new gains, while the driver has regained confidence in himself and the car.

 

"Now we are competitive again. These placings did not come by chance, but results that reward the work of the technicians and - modestly - of my staff. The engine is very powerful and the car, as always, is up to the situation. We can still improve, and at this point we will be at the same level of Renault and Ferrari as performance. We, therefore, are also candidates for success. The Brands Hatch track is one of those with characteristics that are very suitable for a powerful engine. The curves are very fast, the average is very high, so it's suitable for a car like mine that, in addition to having an engine with a lot of horsepower, also has an excellent chassis and a very good aerodynamics".

 

Piquet therefore proposes himself as Pironi's alternative rival, waiting to see what John Watson, the current world leader, can do. The Northern Irishman appears to be rather dejected, even though in the previous days, as we said, he had let himself go in battling declarations. The reality is that McLaren, although with the favor of tradition here in England, starts quite beaten: the impossibility of having a turbo engine leaves with a small margin of possibility the British team, which will obviously count on the usual Niki Lauda, great regularist. But it must be taken into account that at Brands Hatch, in the previous weeks, unofficial tests were carried out, with very strange and interesting results: in fact, the fastest car of all was the Williams, but there is the suspicion that the cars driven by Rosberg and Daly were slightly underweight. The truth will be known soon, but in the meantime Ferrari is working hard to provide Pironi and Tambay with two competitive cars.

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At Maranello they know very well that this is the crucial moment of the championship, so they do not want to make any mistakes. Pironi is very cautious and says that he will aim at a placing, but it is clear at this point that the Frenchman will attempt the en-plein. In order to prepare for this important event Ferrari has further developed the car that won in Holland; no changes but small adjustments, always important. Three cars are brought to Brands Hatch, two traditional ones with transversal gearbox and one, the reserve one, with longitudinal gearbox. In the meantime, the rivals are not unprepared, so much so that during the course of the days a statement by Ecclestone bounces back, announcing a Brahbam equipped with a revolutionary system, some kind of device that will make the single-seaters of Piquet and Patrese much more competitive than they were in the last races with the Bmw turbo engine.

 

If we consider that the Brazilian won the Montreal race with this engine and came second at Zandvoort, we have to be worried. For the moment, however, it has not yet been possible to understand what the secret mechanism is. The Brabhams, carefully checked by many observers, apparently have only one change from the past. On the right side of the body, at the height of the tank, there is a new nozzle, the same as the one at the top, for refueling gasoline. It is hypothesized that Gordon Murray, technician of the English team, has found a system similar to the one adopted by Ferrari, which injects water into the engine injection to cool the high temperature caused by the turbo, but Patrese confesses that there are two novelties. If there are revolutionary novelties or however determinant for the performances, it will be seen only when the tests will start.

 

In the meantime, after a preliminary meeting held on Wednesday 14 July 1982, the Formula 1 commission that should decide on the regulations meets all day on 15 July 1982. Apparently all the discussions have not led to any positive result, that is nothing has been decided because the opinion and the intentions are discordant. The only news that has been leaked concerns next year's calendar, and it seems confirmed the possibility that a Grand Prix will be held in Moscow. Friday, July 16, 1982, Formula 1 proves once again that predictions about the results of tests and races are always risky. On a circuit with an average speed of over 200 km/h - it was said on the eve of the British Grand Prix - it would be easy for the cars equipped with turbo engines to triumph.

 

And here's the surprise: after the first qualifying round, which could also be the only valid one, given that it rains or threatens to rain every day, Keke Rosberg's new Williams FW 08, equipped with the usual, old, timeless naturally aspirated Cosworth, is firmly in first position. Brands Hatch is a circuit where not only the power of the engine counts. The wild Finn put the Ferrari of Pironi and the Brabham-Bmw of Piquet behind him. The Frenchman and the Brazilian, in an attempt to overtake their rival, open to the maximum the pressure valve for the supercharging of their cars, but without obtaining positive results. Another fact is the clear superiority of Goodyear conventional tires over Michelin radial tires: to find a car equipped with the French company's tires in the time classification, in fact, we have to go back to the seventh place of the evergreen Niki Lauda. This supremacy had already been revealed in free practice two weeks earlier, and was widely confirmed during the tests, especially as Rosberg set the new unofficial track record with 1'09"540 on the 4207 meter lap - at an average speed of 217.748 km/h.

 

We cannot say, however, that the games are already done: in fact the tests may have shuffled the cards, and changes in the values on the field are not excluded for the race. It is well known that some teams use cars much lighter than the minimum allowed of 585 kilos, while the turbos are pushed to pressures that cannot be used in the race. In short, the fight seems very open. The first day, on the other hand, also reserves some small news as the return to the top of the Lotus Elio De Angelis, who brings the JPS 91 equipped with the new front suspension in fourth place. On the other hand, Renault, probably due to the radial tires, does not go beyond the eighth place with Prost. It should also be noted the continuous progress of Toleman-Hart, which uses special Pirelli tires of the narrowest series. The Italian manufacturer prepares for Brands Hatch tyres with two compounds, softer on the outside and harder on the inside, a solution that should ensure better use in the very fast corners of this track that has short straights.

 

"It is precisely this particular type of track that has caused the leveling off between turbocharged and aspirated engines".

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Says Didier Pironi, who gets his time with the new car equipped with longitudinal gearbox, but in all likelihood he will use the old car in the race, because...

 

"I am convinced that it is faster. In practice I had a problem with the injection, otherwise I could have done better. If the atmospheric conditions will allow it, I will try to attack Rosberg to snatch the pole position".

 

The Alfa Romeo's performance is discreet, in ninth place with De Cesaris and tenth with Giacomelli. It is also good the time of Patrese, sixth, and satisfactory the eighteenth place of the Osella, driven by Jarier. Not too brilliant the Tyrrell, since Alboreto marks the thirteenth time. The negative series of Talbot continues: Cheever, second in Detroit, now has a car that does not allow him to be on a par with his teammate Laffite, twenty-first, and therefore, for the moment, he is not qualified, as well as Baldi, Salazar and Boesel. Never, since the beginning of the season, had so much tension been felt before a race. Finally, a healthy, sporty wait with great competitive motives. The British Grand Prix promises to be a decisive race, the result of which will clarify who the real title aspirants are and which are the best cars.

 

Until now, in an environment that continues to be troubled by controversy and that cannot find a unanimous agreement to establish the rules for the future, there has been a lot of confusion and uncertainty. We must not forget that some disqualifications have changed the outcome of some races. This time, however, it will not be possible to play on the misunderstanding, even if there is still a big question about the decisions of Brabham, which is preparing to implement its plan of flying supplies during the race. On a technical level, it will be the behavior of Patrese and Piquet's cars that will eventually condition the final classification. Secrets in Formula 1 are short lived and often last the space of a day. In fact, in the space of a few hours we discover what the winning weapon announced by Bernie Ecclestone for his Brabhams is: the nozzle placed on the side of the tank would allow a very fast refueling. What will be the tactic that Piquet and Patrese's team will try to put into action?

 

It's simple: the two cars will start with a minimum load of petrol, let's say about sixty liters, in order to have an advantage over their rivals who, on the other hand, will bring their full tanks from a minimum of 180 liters to a maximum of 220 liters, depending on the cars and the engines. With a lower weight of about 100 kilos, the Brazilian and the Paduan will be able to get away at the beginning of the race and gain a good gap. After that, according to a pre-established plan, they will stop alternately for refueling in the pits. It has been calculated that the whole operation will last between twelve and fourteen seconds, and about this, special secret tests have been carried out on the Donington track. It remains to be seen if between deceleration and departure the attempt will be positive: only in race we can see if this maneuver will have real advantages. However, it is certain that, in case of success, from the next race we will see many pit stops, with the result of making the mechanism of the Grand Prix more complicated.

 

In the meantime, the starting grid presents a novelty: for the first time, after forty-four Grands Prix, Keke Rosberg is in pole position. On Saturday, July 17, 1982, the 33-year-old Finnish driver of the Williams keeps, in the second qualifying round, the best time obtained on Friday, since not even the Finnish driver was able to improve. Behind him, overtaking Pironi and Ferrari, are the two Brabham-Bmw drivers, Riccardo Patrese and Nelson Piquet in that order. The Ferrari tries to do everything possible to keep at least the second place, but it doesn't succeed. In the last laps of the time trials Pironi, who in the race will use the traditional car with the transversal gearbox, goes down the track determined to set a good time, to attack the pole position. But a bit for the traffic that he finds on the circuit, a bit because of the left rear tire that loses pressure, the attempt is in vain.

 

For the rest, the changes are minimal: Lauda rises to the fifth place and Arnoux to the sixth, making De Angelis slip to the seventh position. Net improvement also for Alboreto, ninth, while Alfa Romeo, always troubled by a lot of troubles, doesn't improve its performances. In the morning, during the free tests, due to the sudden detachment of the rear wing, Giacomelli loses control of his Alfa Romeo at about 270 km/h at Hawthorne Bend, a very fast curve that seems almost a straight. The car of the driver from Brescia crashes against the protections, but miraculously Giacomelli remains unharmed: the Italian driver goes down a little bit dazed, but unharmed, while the single-seater is smashed. An unknown factor is represented by Renault, which continues to go through a negative period. The single-seaters of Prost and Arnoux, usually faster than all, seem to have taken a step backwards, and they also show to have problems with brakes and grip. Most likely these difficulties were caused by the use of Michelin radial tires, which on the Brands Hatch asphalt seemed to deteriorate rapidly.

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This inconvenience could also condition the test of Niki Lauda and John Watson who will run in a waiting position, trying to take advantage of favorable opportunities. The Osella advances slightly, while Cheever, in order to qualify, is forced to use the old Talbot-Ligier, because the new one is a disaster for the moment. The Toleman-Hart are also recovering, with Teo Fabi ahead of his teammate Warwick. In the middle of the grid, with the thirteenth time, there is Patrick Tambay with the second Ferrari. The Frenchman continues his apprenticeship period, and clearly he is not yet at one hundred percent in the knowledge of the car; moreover, he lacks the physical preparation to drive these cars that are completely different from those he was used to drive. Sunday 18 July 1982, at the time of the reconnaissance lap, the Williams of the poleman Keke Rosberg is stopped because of a problem to the feeding; the engine doesn't turn on not even using the compressed air of the big external cylinder brought on the trolley. On the contrary, the car will start pushing thanks to the Williams mechanics, but Keke will be forced to start from the bottom of the grid. A few minutes later, tragedy struck again at the start due to the failure to start an engine, that of Patrese's Brabham.

 

"I put it in first gear, but the gearshift went into neutral again and I couldn't engage it anymore".

 

All ends well, but only because the driver from Padova raises an arm to signal the problem, Didier Pironi manages to avoid contact, while René Arnoux, who sees the car stopped at the last moment, crashes into the Brabham, but fortunately not at high speed. Watson passes on the grass, the others avoid the two cars stopped on the left, but a wheel, detached from Arnoux's Renault, crosses the track and is hit by Teo Fabi's Toleman, so that all three drivers are forced to retire. There is still the problem of the inadequacy of the starting systems: the fact is that for some years, to save weight, all manufacturers, except Ferrari - which continues with the traditional and more powerful electric system - have applied the pneumatic starter. This type of starter is lighter because it is not needed; in fact, it is not only a question of the capacity of the on-board cylinder, which is small, but even of the pneumatic motor itself, a mini-motor no bigger than those used for mechanical tools, which can therefore develop only a rather limited speed and torque.

 

The same thing will happen to John Watson, who will stop with the McLaren along the circuit after a risky maneuver with another competitor, and will not be able to start the engine again. However, in the meantime Nelson Piquet takes the lead in the race followed by Niki Lauda, Didier Pironi, Elio De Angelis, Michele Alboreto and Andrea De Cesaris. At the third lap, at the entrance of the Hawthorn curve, Chico Serra runs into Jean-Pierre Jarier: the Osella leaves the track, while the Fittipaldi overturns and catches fire. The Brazilian, surrounded by smoke, risks to suffocate in the car, but the rescuers, very fast, turn the car around and Chico is able to get out, with a painful leg and half-fixed, but safe. In the meantime Watson arrives, who is late: the Northern Irishman tries to brake, but ends up in a spin, the engine does not restart, and the driver is forced to retire. During the race, all eyes are on the Brabham box. When Piquet starts very fast in front of everyone, the laps are counted to see when he would have stopped to do the flying refueling.

 

In the morning, the mechanics had still been practicing: eleven seconds or so to change the tires and put a hundred liters of fuel into the tank from the nozzle on the right side of the bodywork. The English team had done things right. Two huge drums with a compressed air cylinder to pump the gasoline into the car through a large pipe, and two large metal trolleys containing the tires to be replaced to allow the drivers to start with warm tires, because cold would have been dangerous, equip the box. But all this equipment remains unused, as Piquet is forced to retire during the ninth lap due to a fuel problem. Certainly the experiment will be repeated in France, since Ecclestone is not the type to abandon an idea that he considers winning, but to realize this operation will be difficult and complicated. The only positive data for the English team is the confirmation that the car with little fuel goes faster, of course, but as Pironi rightly says, you must also get to the bottom.

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In the meantime, on lap nine Derek Daly overtakes De Angelis to take third place, behind Lauda and Pironi, while from the back Derek Warwick, in his Toleman, is the protagonist of a great comeback: tenth at the end of the first lap, he is already sixth on lap six, while on lap 12 he overtakes De Angelis and on lap 18 Daly. The Englishman then follows Pironi for three laps and tries to attack at Druids Bend, but Pironi closes the trajectory. The next lap, on the finishing straight, Warwick manages to take Pironi's slipstream and overtakes him at the braking of Paddock Hill Bend, moving into second position. The Englishman continues to push and begins to recover on Lauda, but on lap 40 he returns to the pits, retiring due to the breakage of the axle shaft. Lauda now leads over Pironi, De Angelis, De Cesaris and Patrick Tambay. The French Ferrari driver, called to replace Villeneuve, passes De Cesaris on lap 47, who then gives up a position to Daly. Twelve laps later Alain Prost overtakes the Alfa Romeo driver. The race of the Roman driver ends at the sixty-sixth lap for an electrical problem.

 

Pironi rises to the second place and resists to the attacks of Daly and De Angelis; then the Irish driver stops at the pits to change the tires and starts a great pursuit, while De Angelis seems sure at least of the third place, when his Lotus begins to lose ground because of some fuel problems, that will prevent him from bringing the attack to the French driver. At the penultimate lap the Italian driver will be passed by Tambay, who has the joy of accompanying Lauda and Pironi on the podium. In front of 140.000 spectators, an absolute record for this circuit, Niki Lauda wins his nineteenth world title, Didier Pironi comes second with the Ferrari, and his teammate Patrick Tambay gets the third place. Following, Elio De Angelis, Derek Daly and Alain Prost arrive at the finish line, while Brian Henton, with his Tyrrell, conquers his first and only fast lap in the race.

 

Pironi, with this placement, overtakes John Watson in the challenge for the Formula 1 world title, and becomes the new leader of the championship with 35 points, against the 30 of the Northern Irishman, who retired during the second lap. The Ferrari driver, who seems to have found a new maturity, runs an intelligent race and is now the number one candidate to succeed Nelson Piquet. The French driver can thank Maranello's men, who have been able to realize in a short time a turbocharged car with excellent performances and incredible reliability; and the next circuits, Le Castellet, Hockenheim, and Zeltweg, are favorable to the power of this specific engine. Among other things, a small part of the merit for the form reached by Didier goes also to the care that he received from the doctor Benigno Bariletti, the sports doctor hired by Csai for the Italian drivers who also controls those of Ferrari.

 

The specialist has prepared for Pironi a special diet and therapy that allows him to have the maximum lucidity in the race (exemplary was Pironi's reflexes at the start when he avoided Patrese's Brabham stopped), and to overcome the physical and nervous stress without too many problems. Previously the Ferrari driver had to have a container of water installed in the cockpit to quench his thirst, as he was often subject to dehydration and finished the races really tried. Pironi is therefore ready for the battle, and he knows very well that it will not be easy because his rivals have not yet lost hope of fighting to the end. Even if things went badly for Brabham in England, Piquet and Patrese mathematically have the possibility of overtaking. All the more so since the English team seems intent on trying out the system of flying petrol refuelling in the next tests as well, which in theory would give them an advantage in terms of performance.

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It must be said, however, that even in this field Ferrari does not sleep on its laurels. Having found the reliability of the turbo engine, the Maranello team is focusing on other solutions. It should be in the final stage of development, and therefore ready for a possible use, that famous gearbox of which we have already spoken in the past: semi-automatic controlled electronically by buttons, to engage the gears. If the system will be able to work, Ferrari will give once again a big contribution to the most advanced automotive technology. This solution would allow to save fractions of second in the gears, which would translate into a quite consistent chronometric advantage. The second place of Pironi and the third of Tambay are therefore a more positive result than the Maranello team expected from this race. The balance is drawn up by engineer Mauro Forghieri:

 

"Before the race we would have signed for the fourth position. The track is favorable to naturally aspirated engines with its continuous curves. I have to congratulate Pironi for the skill he showed. With the car he had at his disposal, and with the tires that Goodyear provided us with, we honestly couldn't do more. I am convinced that if Didier could have attacked Lauda he would have done it, but it was not possible. So our driver drove with intelligence. That's how you win world titles. Lauda himself proves that. On the fact of the tires, if you look at the lap times you will see that Prost at the end of the race, despite having problems with a damaged miniskirt, was among the fastest. This shows that the Michelin radials were competitive".

 

Didier Pironi, with his suit soaked with sweat, is stormed by the radio and television reporters, but the Frenchman calmly explains his race:

 

"I had a problem with the throttle that stuck when I released it. This prevented me from driving regularly. For the rest it was quite easy. Lauda, however, was uncatchable".

 

Is the world title closer now?

 

"Closer, but not yet secured. I'm in front, I didn't expect so much. I started out with the goal of finishing in the top six, and now I find myself second. It also takes luck. But you can't say it's done yet. There are too many races to go and too many points up for grabs".

 

And now come the turbo-friendly tracks:

 

"This is also true, and it will be an advantage. At Le Castellet, in the French Grand Prix, next Sunday I will start to win. That's for sure. Here it went doubly well, because none of my direct opponents took points".

 

But Lauda you don't consider him?

 

"Niki is very good, but he doesn't have a turbocharged car and therefore he should be cut out of the fight. The battle is still open with Piquet, Patrese and possibly the Renaults".

 

Especially because Brabham will still try to take advantage with the supplies, which Piquet and Patrese could not implement. The Brazilian, however, as long as he was in the race for nine laps took almost ten seconds off the pace because he started with a half-empty tank.

 

"It is not necessarily the case that the system invented by Brabham is positive. Maybe having more gasoline available, with the eventual refueling they closed the turbo valve giving more pressure. That's why the Brazilian may have stopped. In any case, if the trick will work, we will be ready to take action. I'm more and more convinced of having done things right: when I started racing cars I wanted to reach the Formula 1 world title. Now I realize that I have made the right move: I have chosen a winning team".

 

That Ferrari is always at the top, at least in terms of theoretical possibilities, is demonstrated by Patrick Tambay, who came third at the finish line after a four-year career in which he had never reached the podium.

 

"I started cautiously, then I got confident with the car and I could push hard. I had promised a point to the Ferrari engineer in Holland. I got four here. I feel like I've settled the score. I would be even happier if I had taken a place from some of Didier's rivals. I'll try to do that in some other race".

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It was supposed to be the race of truth, a turning point in the Formula 1 World Championship, and at least three truths came out of the British Grand Prix. One concerns Niki Lauda, the great winner for the second time in the season of his sensational comeback, after his success in Long Beach. Niki Lauda is enthusiastic, happy, and dedicates the victory to his athletic trainer Dungle, who has a birthday. Then he says that he will leave immediately for Ibiza, where his wife Marlene and his children are on vacation:

 

"I had said on Saturday that I would attack the turbos from the first laps to force them to surrender. So it was. The tactic was successful. This time I didn't even get the tires wrong. I never had any problems, the car was fantastic. Only at the start I risked a little bit to avoid the accident. When Piquet stopped, it proved that my theories were not wrong. Supercharged engines, if pushed to the limits, eventually give out in some way. I attacked hard for five laps. So I got the pace right by pulling away from everyone. When I had more than a forty-second lead, I pulled the oars. It was useless to ruin the car. I'm third in the world championship, there's a chance. But it's hard to think about the title with the tracks ahead of us. We will have to wait, wait for the others to make mistakes. In short, it doesn't depend on me. Unfortunately, because with the turbos, except for a few occasions, there is nothing to do".

 

For the Austrian this is the nineteenth victory in Formula 1: fifteen victories, obtained with Ferraris, two with Brabham-Alfa Romeo, and as many now with McLaren.

 

"Who knows, maybe next year I won't add something to my roll of honour".

 

A sibylline phrase referring perhaps to the Porsche Turbo, which should arrive in Formula 1? For the moment Lauda is content, and to those who ask him for his opinion on Brabham's decision to carry out flying refueling, he replies:

 

"I would never want to stop in the pits. Much better to arrive first without these stops, as he did yesterday. A stop is always dangerous, you can lose concentration or make some mistakes. Anyway, we will see. I always consider Pironi the favorite for the fight for the world title".

 

The other one speaks in favor of Didier Pironi and Ferrari. The Frenchman, with his second place, moves firmly into the lead of the World Championship, now five points ahead of Watson and eleven ahead of his Austrian rival. For the house of Maranello a brilliant race, consolidated by the placement in third position of the newcomer, Patrick Tambay, for the first time in his career climbed on the podium. Now the road to the title seems paved for the Italian team and its driver, even if there are still six tests to the end of the championship. The third consideration concerns Brabham. The English team, probably for the fear of not finishing the race because of the excessive consumption of gasoline, devised the operation of the flying refueling. It could have been a good idea, but there was no counterproof. Patrese could not run, blocked at the start by an accident that could have been serious, but fortunately had no consequences for the drivers, while Piquet stopped for a water pump failure after nine laps.

 

Lauda won, with his regularity, with his usual inimitable skill. On the eve of the race it was feared that Michelin tires could not stand up to the comparison with Goodyear. Instead, the French company, if it was inferior in practice, in the race, thanks to an accurate choice of compounds for the Austrian's McLaren, proved to be more than competitive. Niki Lauda performed one of his masterpieces, and without running excessive risks on a circuit that proved to be favorable to naturally aspirated engines, he led with authority, putting his opponents to sleep with a constant progression that brought him, lap after lap, to put an unbridgeable margin of advantage between himself and his pursuers. Lauda's feat had the help of luck, but in the balance of a race it is necessary to put this element too. So we are at the start. When the start is made for the reconnaissance lap, Rosberg, who has to take pole position, is unable to start his Williams, not even by pushing. The line-up moves, but the Finn remains stationary. In short, the championship continues with great interest.

 

Fulvio Conti

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