Another great stage race is about to begin. With the Argentine Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday 12 January 1975 at the Buenos Aires Municipal Circuit, the Formula 1 World Championship will begin, a very long championship (the conclusion is scheduled for 5 October with the United States Grand Prix) which is one of the most tormented of the post-war period. The economic and energy crisis has severely tested constructors and sponsors, creating many difficulties, but once again optimism has prevailed and everything seems to be ready for an exciting season. The novelties are not many, but they are enough to revive the interest of fans who, not only in Italy, after the return of Ferrari last year, have regained their enthusiasm. In the first days of this new year, Argentinean Reutemann had to alienate himself at 6:00 a.m. to avoid the fans.
Ferrari tries again the world adventure with the hope that the sort will be more friendly than the end of the last season, when it saw the title slipping away, which seemed already acquired. The Maranello factory will be present at the Argentinean Grand Prix with Regazzoni and Lauda at the wheel of the renewed 312 B 3. On Wednesday, 7 January 1975, Luca Montezemolo, Ferrari's assistant, and Niki Lauda with his girlfriend left Fiumicino for South America, while Regazzoni, with his wife, has already been in Buenos Aires for two days.
On Thursday, the team of mechanics will embark with the sporting director, engineer Ghedini and technicians Tomaini and Degoli. In the Ferrari team there is a climate of renewed optimism that stems from the flattering results obtained in the recent moths long tests with the B 3, 1975 version. According to the programme established by the Maranello factory, the same cars will take part in the Brazilian Grand Prix on 26 January 1975 and in March they will compete in South Africa. The debut of the 312 T should take place in April, on the Spanish Grand Prix.
"I don't like talking about results before they've been achieved. All I can say is that Ferrari faces its debut in South America aware of the work done in the autumn. We hope that everyone's commitment will be rewarded with results. The world championship will be particularly difficult. Ferrari has two very good cars. But the lot of competitors promises to be fierce, both qualitatively and numerically. It would already be a success to repeat last year's exciting season. I think that the Brabhams of Reutemann and Pace deserve the role of favourites in the Argentinian Competition".
Before setting off, Lauda is also keen to express his cautious optimism about the season ahead:
"It's going to be a particularly challenging year for Ferrari, which looks like one of the best prepared teams. Brabham has made progress too. Emerson Fittipaldi, with his McLaren will have to be on his guard because there will be many of us making an assault on his crown".
For the 1975 season, the championship will consist of fifteen round to be contested all over the world. It would also be run on circuits deemed to be extremely dangerous, such as Clermont Ferrand in France. That is, if the drivers don't want to make their voices heard and if interests don't get the better of safety and common sense. It seems yesterday that Clay Regazzoni and Emerson Fittipaldi took to the track for the decisive duel of the 1974 season, and already the new Formula 1 World Championship, the twenty-sixth in the series, was underway. The start took place in Buenos Aires, with the Argentinean Grand Prix, followed by Brazil and South Africa. Only at the end of April, with the Spanish Grand Prix, will the roaring single-seaters, arrive in Europe. Last year, the championship began amidst a thousand fears due to the oil crisis and austerity, while this time - despite the fact that the moment is certainly not a happy one - it is starting with greater serenity.
The money is there, at least to compete with dignity, and a few teams that retired from the competition have been immediately replaced. The names are basically the same, drivers and cars, with no major changes compared to 1974. The 1975 technical and sporting theme repeats that of last season and is centred on Ferrari. Will Niki Lauda and Regazzoni, first with the updated 312 B 3 and then with the new 312 T, manage to beat the British front and give Ferrari the world title? The feat failed in 1974, yet Regazzoni came close to success and, in general, the team performed splendidly, offering itself as the protagonist of the year. If we consider that 1973 had been very difficult for the men from Maranello, there is the premise for a 1975 finally winning the title.
Ferrari's opponents are the usual ones, but someone become more stronger. These include Emerson Fittipaldi with McLaren, Scheckter with Tyrrell, Peterson with Lotus and Reutemann with Brabham. The Argentine driver's team received a substantial subsidy from an aperitif company originally from Turin but now a multinational, a company that, every now and then, appears cloaked in very Italian garb and, every now and then, goes international, naturally to suit its own convenience. In this case, the fact remains that the English Brabham can thank it.
Ferrari with Lauda and Regazzoni, with its technical staff practically unchanged (the only engineer Giacomo Caliri left the task of track manager for a delicate and important assignment concerning studies and projects of new cars), carried out in autumn and winter the usual hard work of preparation. Grit, desire to win and team understanding are the weapons that accompany the high competitive level reached by the B 3, which only in Spain will give way to the 312 T. With a bit more luck than in 1974 the en plein that escaped last year shouldn't be missing this time.
Enzo Ferrari is calm and cautious about this. He knows that his cars and his men are there, but he knows too that the sums are drawn at the end, in this case after fifteen races. Now Ferrari is trying again. The superiority of the Maranello's 12-cylinder boxer engine is still undisputed. More powerful, definitely competitive, last year Ferrari's engine only had seal problems. The Italian technicians have been working again to improve the car which, in the 312 B3 version, now presents itself with a modified bodywork design and with some innovations that make it even more reliable, as the new suspensions suggest. Shortly before the start of the new racing season, Enzo Ferrari is interviewed and makes some very interesting comments. The automotive world starts 1975 in a difficult way: does Ferrari think that sport and, in particular, the Formula 1 drivers' championship, can play a useful promotional action in favour of the automotive industries?
"Certainly. It's precisely in times of crisis that I think it's necessary, I'd say indispensable, to revitalise the image of the car in general and, obviously, that of Ferrari in particular".
Do you think Ferrari's success matters more now than it used to?
"I think it's a necessity for Ferrari to be present at these global comparisons today as it was in the past".
After the brilliant 1974 season, what did you ask at your employees, technicians and drivers for 1975?
"I asked them to diligently continue the efforts undertaken in 1974 in view of the task ahead of us. In fact, we mustn't forget that in each Grand Prix two Ferrari engines have to face the efficiency of 22-24 Ford-Cosworth engines and that the normal selection in the Grand Prix is around fifty percent in each race".
What are the essential factors for competing at a high level in Formula 1 today?
"Every Sunday, taking advantage of the lessons learned from the races, which point out to the technicians evolutionary solutions that will determine progress. This is the essential objective, which logically requires adequate human and financial resources".
Ferrari has confirmed the 1974 team, Lauda and Regazzoni, and has launched an initiative in favour of young Italian drivers, but it doesn't have an Italian driver in his team: this has created controversy and induced the Csai to an unpleasant measure. What do you think about the affair?
"I've already had occasion to say that the problem of the Italian driver in a national car will not be solved by don't putting up a prize for the best constructor, even if it is conditional on participation in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Something else is needed, and it certainly can't be provided by a company like Ferrari, which is already responsible for the study, construction and management of Formula 1 and even prototype cars".
Is it getting harder to win in Formula 1? And if so, why?
"Yes, winning in Formula 1 is becoming more and more difficult, mainly for technical reasons and also because of that numerical disproportion that I have already mentioned".
Which cars and drivers will be the most dangerous for Ferrari?
"In the 26 starters, the two Ferraris will have to watch out for at least ten competitors. It's difficult to anticipate which ones they will be, not knowing the technical progress they have made during the winter break and the fitness of the drivers who start the 1975 season in Argentina".
With what spirit are you looking forward to this racing season?
"Waiting is my job, with the firm hope of doing well and obtaining a higher or at least equal amount of points than in the 1974 championship".
If you could, what would you like to change in the world of Formula 1?
"To give Grand Prix an even more technical function, increasing the mileage, limiting the capacity of the cars' fuel to 120 litres in total to force competitors to refuel, excluding from the World Championship those circuits organised on suitable routes with the sole aim of creating a spectacle that is mainly profitable for the organisers. Imposing a four-month break between championships to allow for research, experiments and evolutionary constructions that are difficult, if not impossible, to carry out when the competitors are harassed by the fortnightly calendar deadlines".
In your life and in your career, Ferrari has had sad moments and exciting moments, he has seen happy periods and black ones: how do you judge the current moment and what would you like from 1975 for Ferrari and the Italian car?
"I've already lived through moments like this; the current one would lead me to ask who should I believe in and what can I hope for? But that would be simplistic and defeatist. Amidst the many existing difficulties, and the sudden ones that are becoming more and more apparent, I repeat my faith in the car, not just for Ferrari but for the whole of Italian industry. Because, above and beyond any political exercise, I believe in the religion of work".
Carlos Reutemann, with Brazilian Carlos Pace, is part of the Brabham team that races under the colours of Italian Martini and Rossi. This team, together with the Lotus with Peterson and lckx, the McLaren Texaco - Marlboro of Fittipaldi and Mass, the Tyrrell of Scheckter and Depailler, enjoys the favours of prediction in the company of Ferrari. Tyrrell, McLaren, Brabham, Lotus there is a small group of old and new comprimarios, among them the Parnelli Jones of Mario Andretti (and Al Unser?), who in the last two rounds of the 1974 championship had well impressed, and Mark Donohue with Penske. The Brazilians lined up Wilson Fittipaldi, Emerson's brother, with a national car, the Copersucar (Sugar Patch), which cost twice as much as any other rival (they talk about 180,000 dollars).
It would be a good thing if the sporting aspect of the initiative didn't conceal the regime's national-publicity designs, as if the exciting image of a glittering single-seater could conceal certain bitter social realities. Three Italian drivers took part in the championship, Merzario in a Williams (ex-Lso), Vittorio Brambilla in a March and Lella Lombardi, again in a March. Lella will only take to the track in Spain. A folkloric presence perhaps, but the girl has class and grit, certainly more than many male colleagues, and deserves sympathy and admiration. In total there are seventeen teams with thirty-two drivers (including Lella Lombardi), who will compete in a duel without frontiers, on the edge of 300 km/h.
With the first round of the 1975 World Championship taking place only three months after the chequered flag fell at Watkins Glen to end the 1974 season, it cannot be expected that many teams will turn up at the Argentine Grand Prix with many new cars. So when the two cargo planes are finally unloaded in South America and the cars are brought to the circuit, the cars look very similar to those seen last October in North America.
In last year's Argentinean Grand Prix it looked as if Carlos Reutemann might score his first Grand Prix victory. Unfortunately, however, the car succumbed to mechanical problems less than two laps from the end and the wildly enthusiastic crowd was robbed of a much-needed victory. Clearly with this kind of form it seemed inevitable that Reutemann would win a Grand Prix during 1974 and so it was. The Brabham driver scored three decisive victories at Kyalami, Osterreichring and Watkins Glen.
Midway through the last season Reutemann was joined at Brabham by Brazilian Carlos Pace, who had just left Surtees after a huge crash. One of the things that had left some puzzled was the fact that Bernie Ecclestone had not attracted any commercial sponsors to pay his team fees, and although it was nice to see these elegantly prepared cars in white livery, one tended to wonder how and why some much less efficient teams had instead obtained financial support. Well, this year things have changed. Ecclestone has struck a deal with the Martini drinks company that had already sponsored Tecno Grand Prix. Their discreet and tasteful colour scheme will be carried by Ecclestone's team's rebuilt Brabham BT44s, now dubbed the BT44B.
The differences between the BT44 and BT44B are minimal and, in fact, Pace's BT44B/2 and the stock BT44B/3 are actually BT44/3 and BT44/1 respectively having been stripped down and built to new specifications. Although the monocoque retains its familiar triangular profile, it has been substantially stiffened and now weighs significantly less than last year. The familiar semi-inboard front suspension is retained at the front and there are some detail to changes to the bodywork.
The World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi remained with the surviving McLaren team, which has two cars still sponsored by Marlboro and Texaco fuel. For 1975, the second driver will be Jochen Mass. The M23/9, to be driven by Fittipaldi, is a completely new car, with a narrower rear track and a new front suspension, similar to the Brabham BT44B, while Mass relies on the M23/8, the car driven by his team boss in the second half of 1974.
Team Lotus brought along its pair of old but faithful Lotus 72s, Peterson in the R8 and Ickx in the R5, exactly the same cars they had used at the same event twelve months earlier. Slight changes have been made to the car's front suspension, but apart from a few detail changes, the most important of which are larger front brakes with stronger shafts and a different strap drive system, the cars are vitally the same as last year. The lightweight 72/R9 is not yet completed and the planned new design, which Lotus badly needs to stay in contention this year, will not be ready until the European season.
Two other cars running with more or less the same set-up used in last October's US Grand Prix are the Tyrrell cars. However, Derek Gardner makes a fundamental change by moving the front brakes to an outer position, as in the past Tyrrell cars have had a couple of nasty belt breaks on their inner discs. The Tyrrell designer is not convinced that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and, as none of his drivers could honestly say they felt an appreciable difference, the change is retained.
Throughout the winter, the Ferrari team was busy testing at their own Fiorano circuit, as well as at Ricard and Vallelunga, to try out the new transverse gearbox on the 312 T. It may therefore seem surprising that the Italian team did not take one to South America, preferring instead to concentrate on their tried and tested and generally reliable 312 B 3. While Clay Regazzoni would drive the 014, Niki Lauda would have a new 312 B 3 numbered 020 at his disposal, although both cars were prepared to identical specifications. The main detail changes for 1975 involved fitting larger brakes, modifying the front suspension in the light of what they had learned from the 312 T project, and fitting cast brackets on either side of the rear suspension deck to carry the top mount of the coil spring/shock absorber unit. It will be recalled that this was previously a tubular bracket and the breakage of a single tube was the cause of Lauda's retirement in Sweden last year, when the increased weight on the drive shaft caused damage to the sprocket and pinion and eventually overloaded the gearbox.
Other new cars include the Singleton Shadow DN5 for Jarier, Tony Southgate's design that showed substantial improvements over the DN3 design during testing at Paul Ricard. The front suspension, operated by rocker arms, is the main difference between this new design and the promising DN3 version. Frank Williams' pair of cars for Merzario (FW/03) and Laffite (FW/02) look different to the past, with new nose sections and cockpit covers, but they are actually the same cars that were used by the British competitor last season.
Similarly, the Graham Hill Lola team brought two of its 1974 T370s for veteran Hill (HU2) and Rolf Stommelen (HU3). The latter chassis was used as a reserve car in 1974. The T370/HU1 returned to Hill's workshops where it was fitted with a flat-12 Alfa Romeo engine (as a result of Stommelen's good relations with the Italian team), in preparation for a proposed deal with the Italian team. Neither Lola looked any different from how it had appeared at Watkins Glen and they certainly weren't any more effective.
A full season as a constructor obviously left Hesketh Racing feeling that something was missing. Their reliability record was absolutely appalling. Nevertheless, during the winter Hunt tested both cars, the 308/1 and the race car, the 308/3, now fitted with side radiators and the full-width front wing first seen in Canada last year. Harvey Postlethwaite has developed a progressive rubber suspension system for the front end of the 308/3, replacing the traditional coil spring with 3 shafts operating on a platform carrying a rubber bearing. Instead of the spring compressing as the suspension takes the load, this rubber pad takes the strain, and variable characteristics can be made by simply changing to a thicker or softer rubber pad. Its main advantages are that it is easy to adjust, light and uncomplicated. For this reason, the team has all the necessary parts on hand to convert 308/1 to the latter specification if required.
The Surtees team decides to try a steady, reasoned approach with a single revised TS16 for John Watson, in an attempt to undo all the damage found last year. This chassis is now numbered TS16/04-4, has its radiators angled like the March on the side of the monocoque rather than resting on the rear wings and is fitted with totally revised suspension. Surtees is on hand to direct operations, but decides not to enter a second car until Watson is completely satisfied with the current car. Having made an inelegant U-turn on their plans for Formula One, March Engineering hastily prepared Brambilla's old 741/2-4 for the Italian to drive with Beta Tools sponsor, while the revitalised B.R.M. organisation plucked up courage and lined up Mike Wilds in the BRN1 P201/04 in the new colours designed by Mrs Jean Stanley and her husband.
After arriving and trying to learn what Formula 1 was all about in last year's two North American races, both Roger Penske and Parnelli Jones left and produced two new examples of their Grand Prix chassis with some detail changes, although they were both very much the same on the outside and driven by Mark Donohue and Mario Andretti respectively. Penske pruned the PC1/02, to be driven by Donohue, while the Parnelli, which had set some very encouraging times during testing at Ontario Motor Speedway, carried the name VPJ4/002.
Finally, Wilson Fittipaldi, older brother of the World Champion, is planning to make his Formula 1 debut with his new Brazilian-built Grand Prix car, which is financed by the sugar company Copersucar. Built almost entirely from components made in Brazil, Fittipaldi's car is striking to say the least and although it is basically a standard British kit car, using a Cosworth engine and a Hewland gearbox. The car is unusually clad in an almost completely wrap-around body that was designed in a wind tunnel and carries its water radiators right at the rear, hanging below the rear wing, fed by huge air intakes that extend forward along the sides of the car. Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle in practice is the fact that you have to bleed the radiator and cooling system to change gear ratios. This will compromise testing operations on the first day of practice.
Under a cold and persistent rain, which suddenly sweeps away the first heat of this austral summer, on Friday 10th January 1975 the practice for the Argentine Grand Prix begins. In the morning the track is semi-flooded, so much so that a postponement of the practice is feared. Then the atmospheric situation improves, so much that in the first session Carlos Reutemann, with Brabham, improves the record of the Buenos Aires municipal circuit: 1"49"93, at the average speed of 195.447 km/h.
"It seems to me that he is to be considered the most formidable opponent, even if I am very worried about the Ferrari".
Emerson Fittipaldi admits. The vigil of the race, rain apart, is animated by Ronnie Peterson. According to some rumours the Sweden would like to leave Lotus for the American Uop-Shadow, whose driver Tom Pryce in turn would join the English team. Peterson wouldn't have received from Lotus the sum stipulated in July in the contract (£60.000). Peterson's partner, former Ferrari driver Jackie lckx, says he can neither confirm nor deny this.
"Personally, I can neither confirm nor deny it. Nobody, in fact, knows the truth. What I can say is that there is a certain problem with Peterson, but you cannot predict whether he will continue with Lotus or not".
Ickx, who finished third in last year's Brazilian Grand Prix and then collected a long string of dropouts, says his Lotus is quite old.
"They don't feel it will be able to deliver a good performance in Buenos Aires. However, we will have a new one for the South African Grand Prix".
The Belgian Lotus driver, as he himself has made clear, is certainly not in the small group of favourites for both victory in Buenos Aires and the title. Rather, the prognostication says Jody Scheckter, the young South African driver of Tyrrell, Emerson Fittipaldi, the Brazilian who with the McLaren will defend the world title won last year, Carlos Reutemann, who with Brabham will have the advantage of running at home, the formidable couple of Ferrari, Clay Ragazzoni and Niki Lauda.
Enthusiasm and anticipation surround the Maranello team. Drivers and managers are looked upon with great sympathy, because Ferrari has many fans in Argentina, especially among the Italian emigrants who have been working and living here for few or many years. A great performance is expected from the Austrian and the Swiss driver in view of a revenge after the unlucky conclusion of the 1974 championship, in which Regazzoni was overtaken in extremis by Fittipaldi and the McLarens. Everyone's eyes will be especially focused on Lauda, who last year brilliantly won the Spanish and Dutch Grands Prix, proving to be one of the fastest drivers of the season.
The howling of the twelve-cylinder Ferrari 312 B3 driven by Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni is the only one that doesn't lose its tone as it approaches the big bend named after the late Alberto Ascari. The crowd at the Autodromo Municipal de Buenos Aires, favoured by a very hot sun that had shone after Friday's violent storm, broke through the fence at a couple of points the following day and came dangerously close to the track. Gendarmes on horseback intervene to chase back the imprudent spectators, but the Ferrari men are mainly concerned with tuning their updated 312 B3.
"It's better to have the car in order than to risk setting a good time straight away".
What immediately jumps to the public's attention is that Ronnie Peterson has remained with Lotus. It seems, however, that the Sweden and Colin Chapman have only reached a provisional agreement. Peterson would remain in the English team only for the South American races (Argentina and Brazil), then he would leave unless Chapman didn't find a financing to honour the contract drawn up last season. The surprise of practice came from the Shadow-Ford Cosworth, that with Jean-Pierre Jarier took the first pole of its history (first pole for the driver too), ahead of two South Americans, Carlos Pace and Carlos Reutemann, both of Brabham. Only fourth and seventh were the Ferraris, with Lauda and Regazzoni, while the reigning World Champion, Emerson Fittipaldi, started from the fifth position.
As usual, there is a half-hour no timed session in the morning, before the start of the race, to test the brakes, the new engines and the gearbox ratios. Just to make sure everything was in place for Jarier, the Shadow mechanics fitted a new sprocket and pinion, so one can only imagine the feeling of surprise when the car stopped almost before it had started its warm-up lap, just a few meters from the pit exit. The mechanics, led by Alan Rees, rushed down to assist their driver, but a quick examination revealed that the new pinion had completely destroyed all his teeth. Having got out of the car, Jarier is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, justified by this incredible turn of events.
Before the race there is an almost dramatic moment, due to an accident involving Peterson with the Lotus and an Argentinean photographer. The Sweden, while going on the track, runs over an operator of Parabrisas Corsa, who has a fractured leg. The single-seater is not damaged and can participate in the race. In front of 100,000 spectators, including 8,000 Brazilians who had come to cheer on World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi in picturesque fashion, under a hot sun the Brazilian Grand Prix got underway at 4:30 p.m. Reutemann and Pace, in their Brabhams, took the lead. The two South Americans are followed by Lauda (Ferrari), Hunt (Hesketh), Fittipaldi (McLaren), Peterson (Lotus), Regazzoni (Ferrari). At the eighth lap Hunt overtakes Lauda. After ten passages, Reutemann had two seconds' lead over his teammate, while Hunt gained slightly on Lauda and the other competitors following him. In the middle of lap 14, Carlos Pace attacked Reutemann and overtook him on the bend, but the manoeuvre was too reckless: his Brabham skidded and Reutemann ran away again, while Hunt, Lauda, Fittipaldi, Regazzoni and Depailler (Tyrrell) took advantage of it to pass Pace, who went down to the seventh position.
At this point, Fittipaldi increased his pace and, on lap 22, managed to overtake Lauda, who was struggling with a stuck shock absorber. At mid-race, between lap 26 and lap 27, Hunt overtook Reutemann, who was passed by Emerson Fittipald too. Reutemann seemed to suffer some mechanical problems, but he tried to keep the third place, threatened by Lauda and Regazzoni. Pace, after recovering from the mistake that cost him many positions, conquered the sixth place, and afterwards overtook Regazzoni too.
During the 36th lap Fittipaldi crowned his fantastic run-up by overtaking Hunt right in the middle of the most difficult bend of the circuit, the one called the Horquilla (the hairpin). Emerson's brother, Wilson, was much less lucky (or able). During the twelfth lap, his Copersucar leaves the track due to a puncture. After a spin, the Brazilian car crashed into a protective wall and caught fire. The driver freed himself from the safety belt and emerged from the cockpit before the flames enveloped his single-seater. In the wake of the first three Pace persists in his spectacular comeback, managing to climb position after position. The Brazilian steals the fourth place from Lauda and the Austrian lets himself be overtaken by Regazzoni too and then by Depailler. Pace stopped on the 45th lap, with a broken engine: it was the last twist of the race, that ended with Fittipaldi's triumph.
It ended as usual. With Emerson Fittipaldi and his wife Maria Elena forced to flee, protected by the police from the enthusiasm of the crowd, from the municipal racetrack. A dazzling start for the Brazilian World Champion. His race was perfect, further proof of Emerson's skill and exceptional timing. Starting from the third row and despite the disadvantage of a fifth place finish, on lap 46 Fittipaldi managed to take the lead and never gave in to the onslaught of his rivals. Second to cross the finishing line was the English, James Hunt, in his Hesketh, third the Argentinean Carlos Reutemann in his Brabham, fourth Clay Regazzoni in his Ferrari, fifth Depailler in his Tyrrell and sixth Lauda in the other Ferrari.
At the start Reutemann was the fastest, followed by Pace with the second Brabham. The two drivers held the position until the fifteenth lap when Pace went off the road in the attempt to overtake his team-mate. Then, on the 27th lap, also Reutemann had to give in because of engine troubles, being overtaken by Hunt. On lap 35 Fittipaldi unleashed his attack and overtook everyone, while Lauda, who was third, lost positions due to suspension problems and Regazzoni, who was eighth, came back up to fourth place. So the Brazilian continued his victorious race, while Hunt ended up in a grassy area, but recovered immediately. Pace, on the contrary, went off the track and could not come back. Shortly after half the race, meanwhile, Wilson Fittipaldi, due to a puncture, ended up against a protective wall, destroying his new Coopersucar. The car caught fire but the driver was quick to get out of the car before being caught in the flames.
The Argentine Grand Prix, the first round of the Formula 1 World Championship, ended with the success of Emerson Fittipaldi, as if to underline a sporting and technical continuity with the 1974 season. The South American newspapers extolled the success of the Brazilian, who was only able to escape the all too warm enthusiasm of his fans - a good 8,000 from Brazil - thanks to the intervention of dozens of agents and soldiers. Fittipaldi, who had already won this race two years ago, naturally expressed his joy.
"My McLaren didn't have the slightest problem. It was relatively easy to go from fifth to first place. I am only happy, however, because my brother Wilson was unhurt in the accident in which his Copersucar caught fire. They told me from the pit lane that everything was fine, but it was only at the end of the race when I could give him a hug that I was completely reassured. Please, let's not talk about winning the title again. The road is very long: there are still fourteen races to run".
Moderate satisfaction in the Ferrari pits too, where Luca Montezemolo says:
"The result is not exciting, but still positive. Lauda had the shock absorber of the left rear wheel blocked. This made the car oversteer and caused exaggerated tyre wear. Regazzoni had to deal with an oil leak which forced him to reduce speed. Our cars are old but they had a good run until the problems arose. It should be noted that Fittipaldi hadn't managed to overtake Lauda until the shock absorber broke".
However, to counterbalance Montezemolo's moderate satisfaction, the Austrian driver looks rather dark in the face.
"I'm satisfied with my performance but not with the car's. These Ferraris have done far too much in the past. However, these Ferraris have done far too much in the current racing conditions. We believe a lot in the 312T, which we hope to have on track for the Spanish Grand Prix. You have to consider that our cars have set better times than last year. This means that the others have made greater progress. I'm sure that with the new Ferraris we can't only catch up but exceed them".
Already on Tuesday, the Ferrari team, like all the other competitors, will move to Sao Paolo. In fifteen days, the Brazilian Grand Prix, the second round of the season, is scheduled to take place at Interlagos. For Friday 17th January 1975, the lawyer Montezemolo books the circuit for a series of private tests. He tries to beat Emerson Fittipaldi at home (Emerson was born in Sao Paulo and started racing at Interlagos). It would be a magnificent coup for Ferrari, but will he make it?
Ioana Alexandra Sandu