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#111 1962 South African Grand Prix

2021-08-30 00:00

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#1962,

#111 1962 South African Grand Prix

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The 1962 racing season is drawing to a close, even though the most important race of the fall - the South African Grand Prix, the last and decisive round of the Formula One World Championship - will wait until the end of December. In Europe, however, we are coming to the end. The race that will close the International Constructors' Cup for Grand Touring cars (equivalent to a World Championship) in the over 1800 cubic centimeter class (already largely won by Ferrari). The 1000 kilometers of Paris, disputed on Sunday, October 21st 1962 on the Montlhéry track, collected the entries of an impressive number of aces, especially in the larger displacements. First of all, in the top class, there will be a confrontation between the unofficial Ferraris of the brothers Petro and Ricardo Bodriguez and Mairesse-Lucien Bianchi on one side, and the Aston Martin piloted by Jim Clark and John Witemore on the other, a duel in which the famous G.T.O. of Mannello will be clearly favored.

 

The 1000 Kilometers of Paris, a car race reserved for touring cars from 850 to 3000 cubic centimeters of displacement, is now part of the traditions of the Parisian sporting season, with a great popular success. Tens of thousands of fans, in fact, flock to the Montlhéry circuit on Sunday, October 21st , 1962, where many of the most prestigious drivers - from Jim Clark to Surtees, Bandini, the Rodriguez brothers, Mairesse, Abate, Vaccarella, Scarfiotti, etc. - i.e. forty-eight crews of two drivers each, compete for victory. Ferraris dominate from the beginning of the race and it is the car n. 1 driven by Riccardo Rodriguez to take the lead immediately, followed by those driven by Surtees and Mairesse.

 

Abate's partner, Vaccarella, is in fifth position, also with a Ferrari. Since the first kilometers, in short, the fight is limited between the Ferraris only. Progressively the Rodriguez increase their advantage and at the halfway point of the race they have more than two minutes of advantage on Mairesse, in the meantime passed in second position. Abate, meanwhile, who has replaced Vaccarella at the wheel, is forced to retire due to a broken differential. In the meantime, the lap record (of 7.784 meters) is beaten and beaten first by Rodriguez and then by Mairesse who sets the best time of the day, establishing the new record. Mairesse's Ferrari, meanwhile, which is in third position, is forced to retire due to a clutch failure. Twenty kilometers to the end and Ludovico Scarflotti, also on a Ferrari, takes his place and with Colin Davis conquers one of the most flattering positions, the one on the lap.

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On Thursday, November 1st 1962, Mexico is in mourning: Ricardo Rodriguez, a 21-year-old promising car driver, loses his life when his Lotus overturns and catches fire during practice for the Mexican Grand Prix to be held on Sunday, November 4th 1962. Ricardo had achieved, together with his brother Pedro, great victories at the wheel of Ferraris sport and gran turismo, imposing himself, among other things, with a car of the Italian company in the Thousand kilometers of Paris. Ricardo, just 21 years old, was also building a splendid career as a racing car driver. Fate struck him down on the last bend of the track in his city, after he had faced and overcome dangers all over the world.

 

The tragic accident threw the country into consternation. Mexican sport is going through a period of great satisfaction: the tennis team has just earned the right to the Davis Cup final, with India, beating the very strong Sweden here. And the Rodriguez brothers had made the notes of the Mexican anthem echo on all or almost all the racetracks around the globe. Sunday's race will be (but it's not sure yet if it will be run: someone says that due to Ricardo's death the Grand Prix will be suspended, and those in charge have not yet made any statement) the first Grand Prix of its kind to be held in Mexico. Pedro Rodriguez - who is twenty-two years old - is also entered. Both brothers had gotten married in recent months, Ricardo in December. All the local fans were getting ready to encourage their favorites. Lightning fast instead came the tragedy.

 

Shortly before the accident Ricardo stopped at the box, complaining of fuel defects. A brief check by the mechanics and then the car restarted very quickly. Rodriguez has already completed one practice lap and is about to complete the second, when he takes the last corner before the finishing straight. This is the most difficult point, a 180-degree turn. The Lotus of Ricardo Rodriguez, for reasons not yet ascertained, skids and collides against the protective fence, turns over doing two somersaults, and catches fire. Hundreds of people witnessed the dramatic episode. Immediately the rescues started. A fire engine deployed at the control tower of the curve - called Peraltada - arrived in a few moments at the car. The daring firefighters jump towards the smashed car and pull Rodriguez out, who is still alive and exclaims:

 

"Don't let me die, please don't let me die".

 

Ricardo Rodriguez passes out in an ambulance as they drive him to the hospital. Another rider who followed Rodriguez in circuit practice and watched helplessly as the tragedy unfolded - Dutch-born Mexican Fred Van Buren - would tell reporters:

 

"Ricardo took the curve at a speed that was certainly excessive and I myself was clearly surprised".

 

The lack of caution of the young and unlucky driver is also confirmed by the head of the press office of the Mexican Grand Prix, Manuel Alonso, who affirms that Rodriguez proceeded at a speed of about 200 km/h while entering the curve. Ricardo Rodriguez, who in his unfortunately short career had already been noted for his impetuous and decidedly reckless race conduct, may have been betrayed by his lack of knowledge of the Lotus car that he pilots instead of the usual Formula 1 Ferrari.

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The English car has a very particular driving position: the cockpit for the driver is very narrow and low, and he must drive almost totally lying down. This position has been chosen by all the manufacturers, with the exception of Ferrari which has maintained the classic seat, to increase the aerodynamic possibilities of their cars, and although it gives a full guarantee of safety after adequate training, it could be a serious handicap for a driver who is not used to it. The Mexican could have found it difficult to downshift gears and this hypothesis would be validated by the fact that it would be difficult for a driver, by now an expert on Grand Prix cars - for three years Rodriguez had been competing in all international courses - to have taken a curve, beyond the safety limit, during the tests.

 

The technicians have not yet been able to accurately examine the remains of the car, and it is not to be ruled out that a more thorough search may reveal a mechanical failure such as to justify the loss of control of the vehicle by the driver. The following day, an emotional and impressive crowd paid homage to the body of Ricardo Rodriguez during the afternoon. In the funeral chamber set up in the hospital where Ricardo had already been brought dead the previous day, friends, other drivers entered in the competition and a host of sportsmen and women followed one another. The mother and brother of the deceased, Pedro, did not leave the hospital for a moment. The father Hagard was forced to stay at home, as his heart could not stand the pain of the serious misfortune. Since the previous day he has been repeating almost continuously:

 

"It is not possible, it is not possible".

 

And he has been seized twice by collapse. The doctors kept a watchful eye on his health. The previous evening, reporting the first news of the accident, the Mexican newspapers come out in a special edition. In the meantime, technicians are examining the remains of the Lotus that the driver was driving at the time of the disaster, and try to establish the causes of what happened. Difficult and search, also for the conditions in which the car is found, the causes of the accident. For Mexican sportsmen, the cause of the disaster is of no importance: it is the tragic death of the pilot that arouses condolences and enormous impression. Ricardo Rodriguez was born in Mexico City on February 14th 1942, so he was just over twenty years old and had been married for four months. Since the previous year, he was already considered one of the best touring car drivers.

 

Ricardo Rodriguez had only been involved in motor sports for a few years, or rather in official racing activities. But he must have been very precocious if at the age of eighteen he had already won several races in his native Mexico and in the carretera trials so popular in Latin America. He ran, in these stage races for touring cars, together with his brother Pedro, a year older. They looked like two kids (and they were), but they were not afraid of the older and more experienced drivers. One day, Luigi Chinetti, a former racing driver, Ferrari's representative in the United States and owner of the North American Racing Team, a racing team that uses Ferrari cars, saw them racing. With Chinetti, Pedro and Rlcardo Rodriguez crossed the Atlantic three years earlier to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. They were respectively nineteen and eighteen years old, accompanied by their father and mother (very wealthy landowners from Mexico City), and the public watched them run, amazed at such bravura. But also of so much, too much impetuosity, especially in Ricardo, who was also endowed with more class.

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They both ended up at the Scuderia Ferrari, hired for the cross-country races, as a pair, and became very popular everywhere, noisy and carefree with their small court of parents and friends (last year their wives joined them) who cheered like crazy; a bit reluctant to team discipline, but always generous, brilliant in the race. Last year, at Le Mans, the two Rodriguez were in command in the second half of the race: a small mechanical problem stopped them. Ricardo cried like a child (after all, he was a child, with his twenty years of age and that smooth face without a trace of beard) and it took the great uproar of his family to make him smile again.

 

But the sport and grand touring races were not enough to satisfy the passion of the younger of the two brothers, Ricardo, who had the great opportunity to be invited, again by Enzo Ferrari, to test the Formula 1 single-seater. We are at the end of the 1961 season, and Ricardo promises himself great things, while in the hot Mexican winter he keeps himself in practice with every kind of race, even Kart. When the 1962 Grand Prix begin, Ricardo Rodriguez is in the official Ferrari team, but he finds it hard to get along with his single-seater, because his almost aggressive temperament pushes him to risk beyond all limits. At Zandvoort he ends up off the road, he fails to qualify in the Monaco Grand Prix, he still has accidents.

 

"He is not mature for Formula 1, the driver who has too many inacidents will never be an ace".

 

He sentences himself. And instead he took so many risks also to compensate in some way the inferiority of the Ferraris of this year, generously. He didn't think about the mortal dangers he was running. Very religious, before starting the race he was absorbed and kissed a gold medal that he wore around his neck.

 

"With this protection nothing can ever happen to me".

 

Poor Ricardo, his youthful confidence was not enough to save him. The terrible toy that was, unfortunately, the main purpose of his life, took his hand, like too many others. Of Ricardo Rodríguez, responding to a journalist's question, Ferrari had dictated these words:

 

"He is a wild kid, driving with a frightening recklessness and an unparalleled squandering of physical energy. I think if this young man learns to contain his eagerness and refine his style, his success will be very significant".

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He had expressed them in this perhaps somewhat crude form so that what he had said to him verbally after the 1962 Dutch Grand Prix could be repeated to him in writing. In that race, according to Ferrari's opinion, the Mexican driver had not behaved like a professional driver: he had had a collision with Jack Brabham, he had restarted with the car repaired and three laps from the end, seventh in the standings, two laps behind, therefore with illusory possibilities of recovering decisively, he had gone off at a curve due to excessive speed. Luckily he didn't get a scratch, but he had practically destroyed the car.

 

"Dear Riccardo, these things should not be done. You see, pilots are divided into two major categories: professionals and the ambitious, who are the amateurs. You want to be a professional. And then you have to do the races thinking about the future, about the race that will take place next Sunday. The risk, therefore, must be measured, coldly calculated. You feel capable of going fast, but your still immature experience can betray you at every turn, at every overtaking. You have to reason, distribute the effort, yours and the car's. Ricardo, let's be clear, I say that you will really become, as you hope, a great driver, only if you are able to control yourself. Otherwise, I don't know if your improvisation skills will be able to save you for much longer".

 

Ricardo gave him his overgrown boyish smile, saying yes: he understood. But Ferrari watched him with concern: he could see that the lust for success was eating away at him. A noble ambition, as a man, but dangerously lurking. The manufacturer from Modena knew that Ricardo did not find water for his fire in his family, but gasoline. He then wrote a letter to Ricardo's father, repeating the speech. Unfortunately, in vain. For the record, the race will be held, and will be won by Jim Cark, on Lotus, after inheriting the car of his teammate - with whom he will share the triumph - during the tenth lap. Even one of the founders of the A.T.S., Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata, is impressed by this episode, and decides to withdraw all his sporting commitment. To the French newspaper Le Figaro, he tells:

 

"We give the champions of the steering wheel the means to kill themselves: I renounce. The death of Orellier had already struck me deeply, that of Armagnac, although I did not know him personally, had invited me to reflect. Afterwards I had spent in Paris, with the Rodriguez brothers, the three-four days preceding the 1000 Kilometers, the race that they won this year for the second consecutive time, and we had made joint plans for the following season. When I heard about the fatal accident that Ricardo Rodriguez was the victim of, I suddenly realized that we motorsport people live in a false world. The racers are carried away by their passion, we builders, stable owners, race organizers, give these young people the means to kill themselves and encourage them to launch themselves on this deadly path. I have decided to give up, it's over for me. I chose Le Figaro to make my thoughts known, because I hope that the moral authority of the newspaper will give this gesture the value of an example. I wish that all those who participate in competitions would dwell on the responsibilities they face. While my thoughts return reverently and movingly to the deceased drivers, I would like to emphasize that what some have called rebellion means nothing more in my intentions than a heartfelt and sincere appeal, made in the light of a lived and suffered experience, to reconsider on a truly new basis the problem of motor racing and the relationship between the driver and the car. The driver must be guided by expert people, technically and spiritually prepared, who are aware not only of man's insurmountable limits and of the irreplaceable value of human life, but also of the tremendous responsibility they assume by leading a team on the race track. Today, too many races have become death-giving for a misunderstood and silly feeling of primacy or pseudo progress: all this is unbearable and it is against this system, which involves many responsibilities, that I wanted to say a resolute enough. This is the hour in which everyone must assume their responsibilities even at the cost of disavowing the past. I disavow mine. The Scuderia Repubblica di Venezia should have ceased its activity at the end of 1962. Now this closure is anticipated by me. We have forfeited the international races in Puerto Rico, Nassau, Vallelunga, Sandown Park and South Africa, ending the competitive activity that has lasted over two years".

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These words, obviously open new scenarios for the A.T.S. Serenissima. In the following days, Count Volpi speaks with Giorgio Belli, to whom he confesses:

 

"Whoever builds Formula 1 is a killer. We cannot go ahead with the project".

 

But Billi replies that the A.T.S. Tipo 100 is already practically finished and is strictly necessary to make itself known as a company, so that it can then maintain itself economically with the production of the road car.

 

"We can't, this sport kills people, drivers and spectators".

 

At the base of this choice, however, it seems that there could be also a scarce possibility of being able to continue the collaboration with Billi, due to differences of ideas. What bothers Belli is the fact that the Count spoke to the French newspaper Le Figaro in the first person, almost as if it were only his, and not as a shareholder.Therefore, Count Volpi clarifies to the Italian press:

 

"I spoke only in my capacity as the owner of the Scuderia Repubblica di Venezia. The company A.T.S. Serenissima will continue to carry out its activity in harmony with these principles of protection, of safeguarding the safety of the drivers and of the public, and of renewal of the competitive sector, with the sole purpose of creating new products with their own characteristics and as such only able to favor the installation of industries adhering to the constant progress of modern technology".

 

In the meantime, we learn that the Japanese factory Honda, whose motorcycles have gained worldwide fame by winning the main international competitions and two world titles, has announced its intention to start producing sports cars and light trucks. The first models of its automotive production will be launched on the market next spring. The Japanese manufacturer will produce two small-displacement sports cars, the Honda Sport 800 and the Honda Sport 360. These are two two-seater cars, with four-cylinder engines, the first with a displacement of 492 cubic centimeters and the second with 356 cubic centimeters, with three gears and reverse (however, a four-speed gearbox will be available for both models). The 492-cubic centimetre model will have a top speed of 180 km/h, will weigh 830 kilograms and will have a wheelbase of two metres, while the 356-cubic centimetre model will have a wheelbase of 1.80 metres and a weight of 810 kilograms. No official announcement has been issued regarding the sales prices of the two cars in Japan, but according to unofficial information the 500 model will be sold at around 800,000 yen ($1.390) and the 360 model at about 480.000 yen ($1.280).

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On Saturday, December 1st 1962, the usual meeting that Ferrari promotes between one season and another is slightly anticipated this year, and held at the Palace Hotel in Modena, so as to coincide with the presentation of the book that the owner of the famous Modena-based company, Enzo Ferrari, wrote after many second thoughts. The book, published by Cappelli, is entitled: Le mie gioie terribili. More than an autobiography, it is a story of episodes lived and often suffered by this unique manufacturer of racing cars, who made the sport of driving his reason for living, battles, pain and satisfaction. The traditional meeting between Ferrari and representatives of the press presents an important variation with respect to previous years: it is not preceded by a visit to the Maranello factory, where it was customary to see the new cars being prepared for the following racing season.

 

But the reason for this can be guessed from the statements made by Ferrari during the Q&A interview, which the manufacturer himself likes to substitute for conventional conferences. Ferrari, which this year has had a brilliant season with its sports and grand touring cars, has not been as competitive in the Formula 1 world championship, which is the pinnacle of racing. The main cause was the union unrest that at times paralyzed the racing department of the company; there were many accessory causes regarding the technical situation, the drivers and the imposing financial commitment that the competitions required. In addition to this, Ferrari institutes for the first time the journalistic prize named after his son Dino, to be awarded - says Giovanni Canestrini, who is part of the jury - to the Italian journalist, professional, who has written, between January and October of each year, the article on motorsport judged the best among those submitted to the jury of the prize, which condidte in 500.000 lire, a substantial amount. In addition to Giovanni Canestrini, doyen of automobile journalists, the other members of the jury are the writer Carlo Montella, winner of a Viareggio prize, and Carlo Cappelli, the Bolognese publisher of Ferrari who published his first book, which was then given to the journalists at the end of the meeting.

 

"In recent years, more than once, I have been invited to write the story of my case, but I never joined. The sum of my daily commitments, which I felt were not to be postponed, did not allow me to think about rearranging in my memory the men, the things, the facts, which had determined my life, and which had led me to build cars with my name on them, the last act of a cycle that began with the dreams of adolescence".

 

Ferrari writes in the book's foreword, adding that everything changed following the event that shocked and marked his life.

 

"The disappearance of my son Dino made me painfully pause and reflect. And after so much panting, turning back, I was able to glimpse the perspective of my existence. So I decided to give vent to this conversation with myself, perhaps too much delayed. A conversation in solitude, accompanied by the greatest pain of my life".

 

A beautiful black and white photograph of a smiling Dino welcomes the reader. On the back of the page with the picture of the boy, Ferrari asks you to write a few words:

 

"Dino Ferrari, my son

He was born on January 19, 1932

he died on June 30, 1956".

 

In presenting it to the press, Cappelli confesses that the book was edited with a speed equal to the speed of Ferraris, revealing the fact that the book was done in about twenty days. However, to tell the truth, the twenty days are those between the closing of the text and the printing, which had to be finished for the meeting with the journalists on December 1st 1962. As for the drafting of the text, the work had been long and had begun more than a year before. The first to take note of Ferrari's memories had been Fiamma Breschi in various trattorias in the Apennines of Emilia in the summer of 1961. Sitting at the table with her, Ferrari would probe his own memory and dictate, she would diligently take notes.

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Soon, however, Ferrari realized that, while he enjoyed the girl's stimulating company and the diligence with which she took notes on his memories, if he wanted to shape a real book, he would need a professional. Incidentally, the courting of Fiamma Breschi continued throughout the spring, summer, and fall, but the young woman continued to refuse the advances of the Modena builder. With each refusal, however, Ferrari's court became more passionate, his letters more heated, his counterproposals more concrete. Ferrari was sure that sooner or later Fiamma would give in and agree. To have her by his side, he would have left his wife, to whom he would have given a payment of 900.000.000 lire, even going so far as to ask his lawyer to study the possibility of drawing up a real marriage contract, as is done in the United States.

 

But Fiamma does not give in; she is fascinated by Ferrari, but does not love him. On the other hand, she had already once challenged social conventions, but then she had done it for love, and she had no intention of replacing Luigi Musso with Enzo Ferrari. The Modenese constructor, therefore, in order to continue the work related to the production of the book, decided to turn to a young journalist from Turin. Gian Paolo Ormezzano was little more than a boy when, in 1960, he interviewed Ferrari for Tuttosport, the Turin sports newspaper. When the interview was over, Ferrari had invited him to write the piece directly in Maranello, asking if he could read it before he returned to Turin that evening. Ormezzano obeyed. Back in the editorial office, he passed the piece on to Ferrari, who read it and approved it, from which, given the length of the text, two articles were born. But then he published a third, in which he told the story of the other two, or how Ferrari had pretended to approve them.

 

Ferrari, who usually demands blind obedience, but at the same time finds irresistible whoever dares to challenge him, decides that Ormezzano is the right person to give shape to the book. Tracking him down, however, is not easy. The young journalist, fearing the wrath of the Modena builder, is not to be found for days. But when he finally agrees to talk to Ferrari, he is offered the opportunity to assist him in the writing of his memoir. Ferrari is clear from the outset: he is not looking for a ghostwriter, but rather for a journalist capable not only of organizing the material born from his memories, but above all of formulating the right questions. For his own memoirs, Enzo Ferrari thought of a dialogue in the form of an interview. Armed with a small tape recorder and a lot of patience, Ormezzano took time off from his daily routine and spent his days in a small room near Ferrari's office. There he waits all day long to see him and record his memories. For hours she feels only his presence, without seeing him.

 

Then, at the end of the day or often later, Ferrari summons him and together they leave for some trattoria where, between one dish and another, with Peppino the driver in the corner, the Modena manufacturer dictates and the journalist takes notes. Ferrari's ability to dictate is extraordinary, as is his capacity for synthesis. His slow speech allows him to mentally compose the sentences he utters, so that all Ormezzano has to do is put punctuation on words that, as they come out of Ferrari's mind, directly create sentences that could have gone into print as they were spoken. Ormezzano discovers at one point that he has used up all of the back days of vacation in his possession, even though he has not finished the job. He is therefore reluctantly forced to tell Ferrari that, as much as he regrets it, he would have to return to the newspaper. Nevertheless, Ormezzano suggests a colleague, a peer, Gianni Roghi, who would work alongside Ferrari until the end of the writing of the text.

 

"My book will have to be published only after my death. Otherwise I would spend the last years of my life in jail".

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Enzo Ferrari used to say this when, long before publication, he began to make no secret of the fact that he was trying his hand at being a writer. The book is in fact characterized by severe judgments on drivers, organizers and public figures, but Gozzi's censorious hand, under whose eyes the proofs must have passed before publication, softens or sometimes even deletes these very comments. The harshest ones are dedicated to Fangio, since the year before the five-time World Champion had published his own memoir and almost talked about sabotage by Ferrari himself to make him lose the world title. Ferrari, therefore, responds by dismantling Fangio's thesis, ridiculing the accusations made by the Argentinean driver who had mentioned possible commercial strategies behind some team decisions, but who had actually spoken more about bad luck than anything else.

 

However, in Maranello new mechanical means are being prepared (in particular three new Formula 1 engines with 6, 8 and 12 cylinders respectively): the agonistic plot of the 1963 vintage is therefore conditioned to the concrete possibilities that the cars will show. For this reason the team of drivers has not been reconstituted: only two test drivers have been initially hired and they will defend the colors of the House in the races: the former World Champion of motorcycling John Surtees and Willy Mairesse; another Englishman, Michael Parkes, has been called to Modena for the tuning of the prototypes.

 

"If the machines go well, it is not excluded if we can make some available only to deserving Italian drivers".

 

There is no lack of polemical hints from the Modenese constructor towards certain environments and interesting news has been learnt, such as, for example, the one concerning Ford, which is about to start its sporting activity by entering the scene already next March at the 12 Hours of Sebring; such as the expenses sustained by Ferrari for the management of races during 1962 (almost 400.000.000 lire); such as the number of prototype engines made in the Maranello workshop from 1946 to today: 131. After all, keeping up the good name of Italy through sport entails enormous costs. Ferrari's racing department is made up of 94 people - workers, drivers, clerks and engineers - and to keep it going requires 23.000.000 liras per month in 1961, which becomes 36.000.000 liras in 1962. It is not, therefore, an explosive meeting as in recent times, but perhaps the precise meaning of Ferrari's statements today will be better understood in a few months. On the other hand, Ferrari can still celebrate a total of 163 victories achieved by the official team and by clients that he now boasts all over the world and that run and win for him Sunday after Sunday. But of course, the impossibility of competing on equal terms with the rivals in Formula 1 due to the union unrest has not been forgotten. In Italy, a new national labor contract has been waiting for four months.

 

"Customers may wait, but racing has fixed deadlines. I would consider abandonment a desertion, worse, a betrayal of all those who have worked, suffered and died for racing, whose results are identified with automotive progress".

 

But he warns the press, saying:

 

"We cannot continue to give you what you expect. We gave it to you as long as we could. We can no longer give it to you".

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The political forces and above all the Italian trade unions, which no longer grant him the impunity that he had carved out for himself as long as it was possible, are not the only polemical targets, however, but also the drivers are included, especially those who, having won a World Championship, have begun to make claims of various kinds:

 

"When someone says I am champion, I don't come for training anymore, I don't lend myself for testing anymore, but I only come the day there is time to be done so I can get the starting spot, that is no longer a racer".

 

Referring to Phil Hill, with whom he interrupts the collaboration relationship at the end of the season. Enzo Ferrari announces that he will not form a drivers' team, entrusting his cars to test drivers. With which drivers will he face the 1963 season?

 

"In 1963 Ferrari will not constitute a drivers' team, but will entrust the Formula 1 and Prototype GT cars that it has decided to realize, to its collaborators. We can no longer submit to the conditions suffered this year and previously. This is a return to the past, as in the days of Campari, Bordino, Salamano, Nazzaro and many others. Our collaborators are John Surtees and Willy Mairesse. In addition, a 31 year old engineer, Mike Parkes, will join our company in the sports management department and he will take care of the prototypes".

 

For participation in the Formula 1 World Championship, is there any program on the part of Ferrari?

 

"The sporting activity in 1963 is conditioned to the technical results of the built cars, but however, we trust, since now, to participate to all the most important races of the Formula 1 Championship and of the World Trophy Prototypes and GT".

 

Do the two young Italian drivers Baghetti and Bandini still have ties?

 

"Baghetti and Bandini have an agreement that will expire at the end of December. If the Formula 1 and GT prototype cars they build will show, through the tests of our testers - tests that they will do also in some competitions - probable possibilities of affirmation, I will be glad to put at disposal of the Italian drivers, from that moment, the cars of the Company. And these drivers will be those who, obviously, will be free".

 

Is it foreseen with which cars you will participate in the GT championship and in the prototype championship?

 

"The international calendar provides for four main activities, namely: Formula 1, Prototype GT, GT Brands Championship and European Mountain Championship. As far as Formula 1 and GT Prototypes are concerned, the Company intends to take part in them directly if and insofar as the cars it will build, as soon as possible, will give satisfactory results. As far as the Brands Championship and the European Mountain Championship are concerned, this will be an activity to be reserved exclusively for drivers-customers. It's possible that Ferrari will also sell cars type 196 S, the 2 liter 6 cylinders, with which Scarfiotti, already in the first year of appearance, was able, participating only in five races out of the eight on the calendar, to be four times first overall and to win the European Mountain Championship".

 

He seems to have glimpsed some of Scuderia Ferrari's difficulties in carrying on racing, at least economically:

 

"I think the difficulties always consist in size, in proportions. Let's see: how much do you spend to maintain a racing department with an official team of drivers? In the first year of its sporting management, from July 1, 1960 to December 31, 1961, that is, for eighteen months, Ferrari spent more than 425.000.000 liras - with an average monthly expense of more than 23.000.000. The department consists of 94 units including workers, drivers, technicians, clerks and engineers. In the second year of the same sports management, from January 1 to December 31, 1962, i.e., for twelve months, it sustained, for eleven-twelfths, over 397.000.000 lire, with an average monthly expense of approximately 36.000.000 lire. The racing department still consists of 94 units. For a company, with the limited production it has, and provided that the work is carried out normally, it is not possible to sustain such a burden; it is necessary, therefore, to resize it. What did Ferrari get out of these accessory expenses in 1962? All in all, less than 100.000.000".

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Speaking of Indianapolis:

 

"I don't think we can talk about Indianapolis because that would mean an enlargement of the program not a downsizing. On the other hand, it is a problem that the day it has to be faced will require a lot of effort, which would stifle other initiatives. In fact, it is well known that the technicians, workers, and specialists in general who deal with these projects are few and far between and cannot easily be increased, even for those who have large resources. Therefore, the day that a decision is made to participate in Indianapolis, which I dream of (I dream because the last thing that abandons man is hope), I think I would have to give up, at the very least, either Formula 1 or the prototypes, that is, something very important. It will be necessary to send down technicians to see what the others do, because there is no one who invents everything, but everyone copies, even if by copying we normally arrive late".

 

If Enzo Ferrari for 1963 had to choose a driver and only one from the past or present times, who would he choose?

 

"Let's talk about the man, let's not talk about the past times, because obviously it is not possible to judge the drivers apart from the epoch in which they have acted, but if today I had to hire a driver, and I make a wish, I would hire Moss, because he is the man that resembles more Nuvolari. As far as an ideal team of drivers to drive Formula 1 cars is concerned, I think that first of all it is necessary to create a car with 20-30 horsepower more than the competitors, after that my task and that of the sporting director will become extremely simple. That's why we discuss the environment, managers, technicians, and a bit of everything, because when there are no longer cars with 20-30 horsepower more, we need Nuvolari or Moss who give the two seconds! Like a driver who legitimately aspires to have the best car, it is obvious that a manufacturer also tends to have that driver who, in a moment of technical deficiency, can give him a decisive help. We have had these men, they were called Nuvolari, they were called Moss, there are men who have given more than the famous sharecropping. I will remind you of the episode of the Montenero circuit, when there were German cars and Pintacuda, a great Mille Miglia winning driver, was running. One fine moment Nuvolari, who had a 12-cylinder car while Pintacuda had an 8-cylinder, stopped; why? He broke an axle shaft in the 12-cylinder and the Germans were all ahead. Absolute frost! Then the Minister of Foreign Affairs was Galeazzo Ciano, who was close to the director of the ACI, Eng. Ivo Magnani, he sent for me and asked: "How come you gave Pintacuda, now the last one, the car that went less? Every time Carletto passed he complained that the brakes didn't work. I said: You can really see that the brakes don't work. Nuvolari arrives near the pits and asks me: Can't you stop someone and give me his car? And I said: Look, there is Pintacuda who is signalling that the brakes are not working. So he says: I don't want the first one, I want the last one; Pintacuda's, because the others had better go ahead. So Pintacuda stops, Nuvolari jumps into the car muttering: To go fast you need brakes. The moral is this: Nuvolari after four laps had overtaken everyone and won the Montenero. The 8-cylinder was not a superior car to the Mercedes, to the Auto Union, but he won! This is the truth; and we tend to have Nuvolari as the racers tend to have the cars, the best ones! Fangio succeeded, he always had the best car. As much as he wrote the opposite, he always had the best car".

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The Formula 1 car races for the 1963 season promise to be very interesting, with the predictable redemption of the Italian constructors in front of the English ones, triumphant in all the trials held this year. It is necessary to say constructors, because the tenacious Ferrari, always on the cutting edge and silently, almost humbly, preparing for future struggles, will soon be joined by A.T.S. (Automobili Turismo Sport), a new Bolognese company whose president is a well-known industrialist from Florence, Dr. Billi. The new single-seater makes the voice of its engine heard on Saturday 15 December 1962, in Bologna, during a meeting of authorities, journalists, technicians and sportsmen.

 

In the presence of Minister Preti, drivers Consalvo Sanesi, Ludovico Chizzola, Geki Russo, Piero Taruffi, Giuseppe Farina, Mimmo Dei, Jack Fairman, Giancarlo Baghetti, and other authorities, the first example of the Formula 1 racing car built by the new company A.T.S. was presented in the lobby of the Baglioni Hotel. President Billi - after reading a joint communiqué from Count Giovanni Volpi di Misurata and A.T.S, in which it is announced that, as Count Volpi himself had resigned from the company, the latter's partnership was transformed from Automobili Serenissima into A.T.S. - outlines the program of activities of the new Bolognese organization. This activity includes on the one hand the construction of racing and touring cars in the Pontecchio Marconi plant, and on the other the participation, starting from the next season, in all Formula 1 races.

 

Dr. Billi announces the hiring of the English driver Jack Fairman as chief test driver, while he declares that he will be able to announce the names of the riders of the official team only in the first days of January. However, it seems to be understood that the driver most likely to enter the ranks of the team should be Giancarlo Baghetti, but the name of Phil Hill was also mentioned. The new Formula 1 car - whose debut is scheduled for April in the Grand Prix of Syracuse - is designed by engineer Carlo Chiti and designed by Alfonso Galvani, and has a rear engine with 8 V-cylinders of 1494 cubic centimeters (diameter 66, stroke 54), with an expected power of 190 horsepower at 10.000 rpm.

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The gearbox is six-speed and is in block with the engine, the frame is a latticework of tubes - assembled by a former factory of airplanes in Palermo, the Aeronautica Sicula - with independent suspension on four wheels in magnesium alloy, the wheelbase of 2.32 meters (and no coincidence to the journalists present seems very long, but Chiti, with a meter made specifically to fool those present, measure the car making believe that it is equal to the competition), the front axle of 1.35 meters, and the rear of 1.32 meters. The car is very thin, low (only 43 centimeters from the ground) and extremely profiled. This has two side tanks and a rear tank of 120 liters total. Its dry weight barely exceeds the minimum limit of 460 kilos. There are several technical innovations, starting with weight distribution and suspension.

 

This car will soon take its first steps at the Monza circuit, tested by Jack Fairman. These are the programs of the very young company, which enters the automotive sector in a particularly delicate moment both for economic and commercial aspects (the lively international competition, which tends to cover every smallest area of the market), and for the situation in the competitive field. British manufacturers, specialized in Grand Prix machines, largely dominated the situation in 1962. The British school - in the field of competition car construction - had had its first successes with the search for low weight through the wide use of light materials and the application of concepts taken from aeronautical technique; then, returning to the solution of the engine on the back proposed many years before by the Germans.

 

The new A.T.S. was actually inspired by the English school - and it could not be otherwise - but its designer, engineer Carlo Chili, probably went even further, rethinking the issue of weight distribution in relation to the moment of inertia of the machine, bringing innovations to the geometry of the suspension arms, and creating an engine of singular compactness, therefore very light: 112 kilos, including the starter motor. A few years later Alfonso Galvani will tell us:

 

"The presentation was an event that created great interest at the time. The presence of the local press and drivers who came to study the opponents was really massive. I had already adopted in Stanguellini, in particular with the Junior, original solutions with particularly tapered profiles: luckily I was gifted with a natural talent, I drew very well freehand and for this reason I was much appreciated. At the time I also collaborated with some specialized journalists, to whom I supplied newspapers and magazines with cutaways of the cars that participated in the World Championship. The design of the A.T.S. Tipo 100 came spontaneously, and even today that single-seater maintains a splendid profile and a great capacity for aerodynamic penetration, without using a wind tunnel. We worked well and quickly, and the single-seater was born in just five months. The vernissage at the Baglioni Hotel was a good sounding board for the team, the car met with a lot of approval and the contrast with Ferrari came about almost naturally. In fact, the commander did not see eye to eye on the matter, as he did not underestimate the potential of those men who had helped the Maranello company to win the 1961 world title".

 

And Giorgio Billi also remembered:

 

"Ministers, drivers and the creators of the Mille Miglia came. It was truly a great presentation. The only remark I made to Chiti was about the construction of the bodywork, which I wanted in monocoque and load-bearing. I told him: let's take the project to Ambrosini to build it there, rather than having a tubular trellis frame that looked like a chicken cage to me. Colin Chapman had the intuition to create a monocoque chassis, the Lotus was 50 kilos lighter than the A.T.S. and, despite having about sixty horsepower less, it always won. I told him that we had to rely on aeronautical engineering, but Chiti replied that there was little time ahead and we had to participate in the races right away. At the time there was a lot of confidence that we would become the anti-Ferrari par excellence. There was also a lot of enthusiasm among the fans for the great novelty of another all-Italian team, capable of building a road car. Chiti's resentment towards Ferrari meant that they dedicated themselves above all to Formula 1, neglecting the other aspects, and in the end Bizzarrini left, he who had to develop the Gran Turismo project".

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Waiting for the debut of the A.T.S., in Maranello they discuss which is the technical way to go in order to return to success in the Formula 1 World Championship in a short time. Despite the fact that Enzo Ferrari would have preferred to build a monocoque car, taking the example of the new Lotus 25, because he was advised by his men (including Rocchi and Salvarani, who came from the Officine Reggiane, where the Re 2000, a remarkable fighter plane, had been built), Forghieri managed to impose his idea, because to create a monocoque car would have taken a long time, to the point that the engineer hypothesized that its eventual realization would have required even more than an entire season.

 

So, Mauro Forghieri - supported by Vittorio Jano - proposes to Ferrari to split the work of the technical department, which would have studied the project of the monocoque car entirely in Maranello, while the same Forghieri and the designer Farina would have studied a more traditional chassis but able to be competitive already at the beginning of 1963. This is how the 156 called Aero will be born, with a 6-cylinder engine combined with Bosh direct injection, equipped with a tube chassis, but rigid and very modern, with triangulations to distribute the stresses and an aluminum cladding riveted on tubes. Pending Ferrari's return to racing, the fate of the 1962 World Drivers' Championship will be decided in East London, South Africa, which will host a Formula 1 Grand Prix for the first time. The two title contenders, Jim Clark and Graham Hill, had never before won the world title. Both are British drivers driving for a British team, and it will be the first time in history that the World Champion will be a Briton in a British car.

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Lotus will enter three cars in the Grand Prix, including a new monocoque model that will be driven by Clark, while Taylor will be at the wheel of the single-seater used in the United States and the third will remain in the pits as a spare car. Also the B.R.M. presents itself at the circuit with three single-seaters, for Graham Hill and Ginther; neither car has undergone important changes since the last Grand Prix, if not a small aerodynamic update on Hill's car. Lola and Cooper entered two cars for their two drivers, the same ones used in America three weeks earlier. Finally Ferrari and Porsche are missing, as they have no chance to win the Grand Prix in favor of local drivers. The first practice session takes place on Wednesday afternoon, under a warm sun and a light wind. Hill and Clark are the first to go on the track, but shortly after Clark returns to the pits complaining about the slowness of his car on the straights, while Hill completes good laps without encountering difficulties.

 

The B.R.M. driver decides to go back to the pits to change car and, back on the track with the new one, he manages to complete only three laps before the engine of the single-seater turns off. Hill is therefore forced to use again the old single-seater, with which he records an excellent time of 1'33"4, the best of the first day. The situation at Lotus is anything but calm, with the two Clark cars stopped at the pits, the first one for an incessant oil leak and the second one for an engine failure, without the mechanics being able to repair them. Many of the drivers are still waiting for their cars to arrive at the circuit from Europe, including McLaren and Taylor, making the session rather monotonous and uncompetitive. At the end of the day Hill is on provisional pole position, followed by Ginther and Clark, but the classification could be reversed in the next qualifying session.

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On Thursday, at the same time as the previous day, the drivers take to the track under a cloudy sky, which will begin to drop a few drops of rain towards the end of the session. The participating cars start to record good laps right away, with the aim of the drivers to improve their performance before the rain arrives, and Graham Hill sets the new track record in 1'33"0. The Lotus is still in difficulty, but in spite of this Clark manages to complete a lap in 1'28"9, while the two B.R.M. run at 1'32"0. The rain begins to fall on the track, making it impossible for anyone to improve their times and so the drivers return to the pits, confirming the provisional pole position of Clark, who is ahead of Hill by a few tenths of a second. The last session starts at 6:00 a.m., so that the marshals can go to work regularly after the end of the tests. The sky is clear, the temperatures are lower than in the afternoon and lower times are expected compared to the previous two sessions. Hill goes on track, but after a few laps the oil pressure of his single-seater falls: back to the pits, the mechanics discover some aluminum particles among the oil. Therefore Hill, waiting for the car to be repaired, gets behind the wheel of the spare car and completes a lap in 1'30"2.

 

Once all the problems of the car have been solved, Hill goes back on the track, but soon he notices the engine malfunction, which allows him to record only one lap before going back to the pits, a lap that he runs in 1'29"6, only three tenths of a second slower than Hill. The times do not improve during the remaining time of the session and Clark will start in pole position for the last race of the season, followed by Hill. The track is not very wide, so the rows of the starting grid will be composed of only two cars; behind Clark and Hill are Brabham and Ireland, followed in turn by Surtees and Maggs. Sunday, December 29th 1962 presents the drivers with a sunny day, with a strong wind blowing on the main straight that will keep the drivers' times higher than in practice. Approximately 90.000 spectators are in the stands and nearly 20.000 are lined up around the circuit to watch the final Grand Prix of 1962 and the capture of the world title. At 3:00 p.m. sharp the mover's flag is waved and the cars slide quickly forward down the straight. Clark maintains the first position and immediately moves away from Hill, who in the meantime slips on the grass, losing important moments and raising a large cloud of dust and dirt.

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At the end of the first lap, Clark has already a one second lead over his direct opponent, who is followed by Maggs, Surtees and McLaren, engaged in a wonderful fight for third position. During the third lap Surtees overtakes McLaren and Maggs and moves up to third position, while Clark has a three second lead over Hill, who is unable to get closer again. The Lotus driver gains a second per lap, so that he has a ten second lead over Hill after just ten laps: the fight for the title seems to be over. The concentration of the public is directed towards the first two classified, but in the rear the race seems to be more exciting, with McLaren that conquers again the third position and the great Salvadori's recovery, that recovers positions after a terrible start that had relegated him in fourteenth position. If not for some sporadic overtaking, the positions remain frozen for several laps and at the fortieth passage Clark has twenty-seven seconds of advantage on Hill. It seems that the Scottish driver only needs to complete the remaining laps to win the Grand Prix and consequently become World Champion, but the same bad luck that has haunted Clark throughout the season comes back to haunt him one last time. The decisive one.

 

During the 61st lap a bluish cloud rises from the Lotus: after returning to the pits, the mechanics discover a hole in the lubrication system and that the car's components are covered with oil. Clark gets out of the car and retires from the Grand Prix, abandoning the hope of winning the drivers' title and bringing the constructors' title to Lotus. In this way Hill wins the race without any rival being able to catch up with him and is elected World Champion for the first time in his career, while the crowd of spectators pours onto the track to celebrate the victory of the B.R.M. driver. Completing the podium are the two Coopers of McLaren and Maggs, with Brabham following in fourth position. Hill, with the laurel crown around his neck, drives a last lap of the track, but in the confusion he hits the leg of a fifteen year old boy, who had positioned himself in front of the car to take a photo.

 

Subsequently the marshals force the fans to leave the asphalt, so that no other incidents are repeated. In the moments after the end of the race a heavy rain starts to fall, but nobody leaves the circuit and, even without umbrellas, the fans sing and dance on the edge of the track, celebrating Graham Hill's triumph. This is a double victory for B.R.M., which manages to win the constructors' title after thirteen years of attempts. A season that saw the English teams immediately superior to the Italian ones ended with a fight between B.R.M. and Lotus, the latter penalized by many unfortunate events. In the meantime, at Maranello Ferrari is finishing the single-seater for 1963 and rumors describe it as a car capable of fighting for the title and to put Lotus and B.R.M. in difficulty. 1963 has all the characteristics to be an interesting year for racing, with the comeback of the Italian teams and the defense of the British ones.

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The fight was over, and the rainbow helmet went to Graham Hill, who thus wrote his name in the golden book after Phil Hill. On few occasions has the World Championship reserved for drivers had such an uncertain ending as in the last race held in South Africa. Englishman Graham Hill was seriously threatened by Jim Clark in winning the world title, despite the fact that he led the standings by a fair margin of points. But the second dominant reason was also the duel between B.R.M. and Lotus, which arrived in South Africa with modified cars compared to the models that had competed during the season. In fact, Colin Chapman had prepared a couple of Lotus cars with fuel-injected engines, while B.R.M. had prepared Formula 1 single-seaters with a six-speed gearbox, a new type of suspension and retouches to the transmission, as well as an increase in power and a reduction of about twenty kilos.

 

The race proved Graham Hill right and he won, while Clark was forced to retire after having tried, with a desperate race conduct, to secure the rainbow helmet. Clark's Lotus, which remained in the lead for over two-thirds of the exciting competition, highlighted its exceptional acceleration, lightness and maneuverability, but was less able to hold its own against the rival car B.R.M. In fact, apart from the victories obtained in the Belgian, British and US Grand Prix and the fourth place in the German Grand Prix, in the other races of the season Clark's Lotus was forced to retire. Graham Hill's B.R.M., on the other hand, showed a greater continuity of performance and results, winning at Zandvoort, at Nurburgring, at Monza and placing in all the championship races, which would be an important progress compared to the model 25 of 1962.

 

Also the B.R.M. designers didn't make mystery that in Bourne's workshops a new Formula 1 is already being studied with some innovations, such as the cooling system with new air intakes and small lateral radiators, the four-speed gearbox and the suspensions have already been tested with satisfaction in East London. Undoubtedly, the English are determined to maintain their supremacy in Formula 1 by studying new solutions and insisting on injection engines and the lightness of the cars. The South African Grand Prix was an excellent test bench. Lotus was able to test the innovation of fuel injection, the Coventry-Climax 8-cylinder V engines, and the new suspensions. It seems obvious that Colin Chapman was already at a good point in the design of the Lotus model 32 that should have, among other things, a new type of chassis and other innovations.

 

But for the moment we can only archive the 1962 World Championship with the well-deserved success of Graham Hill who succeeded Phil Hill, to whom, with Ferrari, it was impossible to defend the title, obtaining the second place in the Monaco Grand Prix and the third in the Dutch and Belgian ones. The other placings of the Ferrari drivers were a fourth and fifth place of Baghetti, a third of Bandini, a fourth and a sixth of the poor Ricardo Rodriguez and a fourth of Mairesse. Now drivers and cars will meet in the spring at the first world test of the Monaco Grand Prix where, in addition to Ferrari, which are announced with belligerent intentions, will be in contention the new Italian Formula 1 A.T.S., designed by Carlo Chili.

 

Olivia Carbone

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