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#193 1970 Austrian Grand Prix

2021-10-25 00:00

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#1970,

#193 1970 Austrian Grand Prix

Dopo l’ottimo risultato registrato in Germania, culminato con il secondo posto, il pilota della Ferrari Jackie Ickx decide di aggiungere un altro moti

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After the excellent result recorded in Germany, culminating with a second place, the Ferrari driver Jackie Ickx finds another reason to celebrate. Tuesday, August 4, 1970 the Belgian gets married with Catherine Blaton, daughter of one of the largest entrepreneurs in Brussels. Before the religious ceremony, the newlyweds go to Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, a Belgian municipality located in the Brussels-Capital Region, where they pronounce a timid “oui” in front of the burgomaster. In Belgium, in fact, the civil marriage must precede the religious one. From the town hall, a very long line of luxury cars is headed towards the church. The guests are more than two hundred.

 

On the churchyard of Notre Dame, a small crowd awaits the arrival of the couple and, when Ickx gets out of the car, beaming, he is greeted by the applause of the fans. Someone even asks for his autograph. Catherine, on the arm of her father and followed by her mother, brother and sister, appears visibly excited and moved. She wears a splendid white dress made by a well-known tailor in the capital. The bride is nineteen years old and has recently finished the Academy of Fine Arts with a diploma in interior design. This was the condition set by her father at the wedding:

 

"You can marry Jacky as soon as you finish your studies, not before".

 

Ickx, who turned twenty-five in January, met Catherine three years ago during a Grand Prix at Francorchamps. At the time, the young man seemed a very promising driver already, even if he had not reached his current fame yet. Catherine was a shy student with a passion for motor racing. A few months later they were officially engaged and today they exchanged rings in front of Franciscan Father Poirot who invited the couple to pronounce the new ritual formulas of Catholic marriage and declared them husband and wife. The little church is literally packed. Inside it is stiflingly hot. The witnesses for the groom are two Belgian car racers: Hugues de Fierlant and Jean Beurlys.

 

In the afternoon, in the residence of the Blatons, there is a big reception in which also Eddy Merckx and his wife Claudine participate. Jacky and Catherine leave, then, on their honeymoon on the French Riviera. It will be a very short honeymoon, because Ickx will have to run, on Sunday, August 16, 1970, the Austrian Grand Prix, on the new Osterreichring racetrack where he will meet his great rival Jochen Rindt. This will be the occasion for Ferrari to redeem itself after years of defeats. Three drivers will drive for Ferrari: Ickx, Regazzoni and Giunti. Will the Rindt-Lotus monologue continue on Sunday in the Austrian Grand Prix, or will someone be able to break the spell?

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This is the theme of the ninth episode of the Formula 1 World Championship, scheduled on the brand new panoramic circuit of Zeltweg. In 60 laps – 354 kilometers – the fate of the 1970 title will probably be decided, because, mathematically speaking, a new victory of the Austrian would put an end to any fight. So far, Rindt has won five times: Monaco, Zandvoort, Clermont-Ferrand, Brands-Hatch and Hockenheim. He is at the top of the standings with 45 points, followed by Jack Brabham at 25. There are three factors that have determined this enviable situation: the Austrian driver's skills, who has the makings of a champion, the excellent performance of the Lotus 72, certainly at the forefront in terms of chassis and aerodynamics, his luck or, if you like, the misfortunes of others.

 

In any case, the Zandvoort and, above all, the Hockenheim victories have legitimized the supremacy of Rindt and Lotus. In Germany, Rindt found himself caught in the grip of Ickx and Regazzoni’s Ferraris, yet he managed to win, showing his great determination. Now he needs to make use of it again in Zeltweg, because his strongest opponents are still the Belgian and the Swiss. Not only that, but now there is a third force, Ignazio Giunti, who had given his Ferrari to Regazzoni after Clermont Ferrand. Having three Ferraris in a Grand Prix had not happened for a long time, and it gives good hope.

 

The Osterreichring circuit was inaugurated last summer with a gathering and competition between sports cars of the Constructors' Championship. It is a circuit carved out of grass, which sits on a fir-covered slope. Following the contours of the terrain, it abounds with steep climbs, sharp descents and sweeping turns. It has five completely blind hilltops beyond which are fast turns, where riders must show utmost concentration and great awareness of where they are. On each peak, then, there are lighted signs that light up to warn in case of accidents. The only thing the circuit lacks of is a slow curve or a sudden change of direction that requires braking skills. Other than that, it is a pleasant circuit to drive on. The pits and paddock are large and spacious.

 

For this appointment, eleven hours have been set aside for the tests, three of which will be held on Thursday afternoon and four, respectively, on Friday and Saturday. As this is the first Formula 1 event on the new circuit, there is no defined lap time to draw inspiration from. The drivers, therefore, keep as reference the models of the previous sports car race, in which the fastest lap was 1'46"6. However, the drivers only need the first afternoon of practice to lower the average time to 1'40"4, with an average speed of over 212 km/h. Setting these rhythms is one of the Ferrari drivers, Clay Regazzoni. He is followed by Ignazio Giunti, who sets the second best time (1'40"9), while Jochen Rindt and Jackie Stewart have to be content with a third and fourth best time, respectively 1'41"6 and 1'41"8.

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A new version of the 312B is brought to Zeltweg, renewed in particular from the point of view of the suspension geometry and aerodynamics. Jacky Ickx skips the first day of practice, as he is still on his honeymoon in Saint-Tropez, and when he arrives in Austria, on Friday, August 14, 1970, he is very cold. But he is not the only absentee on Thursday. The Yardley-B.R.M. team, due to a delay in transportation, is unable to take part in practice, with the exception of George Eaton, whose car arrived on time with a trailer. There are twenty-six drivers registered for the trials, but only twenty-four show up in Austria. The two quitters are Graham Hill and Ronnie Peterson. The first one had to retire at the last moment, finding himself without a car: his new Lotus 72 is not yet ready, while the old 49C has been withdrawn. The second one, instead, cannot take part in the race because the engine of his March 701 is missing.

 

Most of the teams using a Cosworth engine run with the hope that there will be no hiccups or breakdowns, as there is a shortage of supplies from Northampton, although some teams have managed to get spare engines. The pace that the two Ferraris impose in the early afternoon is a bit demoralizing for the opponents: some results are destined to change in today's and tomorrow's training, however this is a  further confirmation of the high level reached by the Italian cars. There won’t even be a direct competition with Mario Andretti, as the Italian-American - or better his patron Andy Granateli - has not yet fully defined the agreement with Ferrari. Mario will be at the wheel of a March-STP. Among the comprimarios, Tim Schenken's debut on the De Tomaso should be mentioned. Meanwhile, Brian Redman stayed home.

 

During the second day, the Maranello team is joined by Jacky Ickx. Jochen Rindt arrives a little late to the second tests, since Lotus-Ford had to tighten the lateral radiator intakes of the Lotus 72, after an opposing team protested that the overall width of the car did not meet the guidelines approved by the FIA. However, once again, the Austrian is the only possible challenger to the Ferrari, even if Regazzoni is confirmed as the fastest for a long time, with 1'39"7, followed by Ickx, a bit slower, with a time of 1'39"8. Shortly before the end of the session, however, Rindt records a lap of 1'39"2. They are the only three to break the 1'40"0 mark, although many have come close.

 

Among them, Stewart and Giunti both turn in 1'40"2. Jean-Pierre Beltoise, Chris Amon and François Cevert follow. The young Frenchman, the second driver of the Tyrrell team, took advantage of the rise of one of the Ferraris and, thanks to this strategy, managed to set a time of 1'40"9. Except for the mentioned drivers, the tests of the other competitors are marked by chaos. Jack Brabham begins the session using the new car of Rolf Stommelen, but the engine breaks and the driver is forced to take his teammate’s single-seater. George Eaton goes off the track, breaking the B.R.M. John Miles crashes against the barriers with the last Lotus 72, bending the engine. John Surtees, however, decides not to participate in Friday's practice. He is satisfied with the results of his TS7, so he wants to preserve his only Cosworth engine. At March-Ford, on the other hand, Mario Andretti is far from satisfied with the performance of his STP-March 701 modified by the McNamara factory in Germany.

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The Tyrrell team does not seem to be very active: the single-seaters of Cevert and Stewart spend a lot of time at the pits, and the spare car of the Scotsman, the 701/2, is left in the transporter. Different the situation of the Matras that appears, as usual, far from disappointing. Even the McLarens seem to be in good shape. The three single-seaters are entrusted to Hulme, Gethin - both powered by Cosworth - and De Adamich, whose car mounts the Alfa Romeo engine, handled by the former Ferrari engineer Marelli. The Australian Schenken makes his debut in Formula 1 with Williams team, at the wheel of the De Tomaso. The driver takes the place of Redman, who is currently racing for Chevron elsewhere.

 

About 20.000 people are present, Saturday afternoon, to attend the last training session. This brings a huge financial benefit to the organizers and backers of the Austrian Grand Prix. After Eaton went off the track, during Friday's session, the Yardley-B.R.M. team decides not to repair his car. The driver would have used one of Rodriguez's two, the one not chosen by the Mexican. The afternoon starts in a rather cautious way, but then it turns into a real race. Among the drivers there was a fight not to secure a place on the grid, but rather to secure the highest ones. The Austrian Club, in fact, has agreed to have twenty-four starters in Sunday's race.

 

Once again the Ferraris set the pace, with Regazzoni lapping at 1'40"0 and Ickx following at a distance of 0.2 seconds. In the middle of the afternoon it starts to rain hard, and every hope that the weather will be clear and that the circuit will dry in time for the end of the session vanishes in a short time. The drivers, therefore, soon give up even the attempt to record their best time. As soon as the rain subsides, all activity ceases. The first to go out to test driving in the wet is Surtees, followed by Regazzoni and Giunti. Subsequently, the three are joined by Schenken, Rindt and Pescarolo. All the cars are equipped with rain tires. Rodriguez, Andretti, Oliver, Miles, Moser and Amon also join them. Before the end of the session it stops raining, but the track is very wet and, although the drivers continue to fight, it is very difficult for them to record fast times.

 

In the meantime, the Brabham's problems persist. Stommelen goes on track with the new car on which another engine has been mounted, but he does not have time to warm it up because this one breaks down too. Also the engine mounted on Jack Brabham's car has problems. To fix it, the mechanics have to unbolt it from the monocoque in front of the pits. Rehearsals, on the other hand, go a little better for the Lotus team, which is able to repair the new Lotus 72 that Miles had damaged during Friday's practice. The session ends on a somewhat bitter note, in light of the initial expectations, especially for Rindt. It almost seems that the Austrian is surrounded by Ferraris. For the race on Sunday, the organizers decide to change, in addition to the number of participants, also the layout of the grid. It goes from the classic 3-2-3 structure to a 2-2-2 layout.

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At the moment of deciding the starting positions, the timekeepers had some difficulty in establishing the positions of Stewart and Giunti, because their results were very similar. In the first case, a time of 1'40"2 was recorded, and in the second 1'40"21. However, since the chronometers are manually operated, the organizers refuse to consider the second decimal place, and decide to establish the positions of the two based solely on a chronological factor. As Giunti went on track at 3:09 p.m., he will be in front of Stewart, who instead started at 3:54 p.m. This means that, thanks to the new arrangement, Stewart will have to start from the third row and no longer from the second. Thus begins a big protest by the Tyrrell team to the organizers concerning the fact that if the stewards had also marked the second decimal places, they should stick to the data.

 

The scene begins to look a lot like the one that preceded the Spanish Grand Prix, but everything calms down and Stewart is inserted in the grid in the second row, in front of Giunti, who slips in the third one. Even if the Ferrari team does not agree, its men think positive: the three cars occupy each of the first three rows, with Regazzoni next to Rindt in the first. The crowd that had turned up on Saturday to watch the last practice session was nothing more than a hint of the one that flocked to the race on Sunday 16 August 1970. The warm, sunny weather and the ever-increasing interest in motor racing in Austria attracted thousands of people, who began to cover the hills surrounding the circuit. To entertain the spectators, a short Formula Ford race is held at noon, which is won by Peter Lamplough. Immediately afterwards, the Grand Prix drivers are paraded around the circuit.

 

A few minutes later, it is time for the warm-up lap and to position the cars in pairs on the grid, offset from each other. Rindt and Regazzoni will start on the first row. In the second row, Ickx and Stewart, who took the place, after several protests, of Giunti, who starts from the third row with Amon. Beltoise and Brabham are seventh and eighth, ahead of Cevert and Hulme. Sixth row for Miles and Surtees, ahead of Pescarolo and Oliver. Fifteenth and sixteenth position for De Adamich and Fittipaldi, ahead of Stommelen and Andretti. And again, in the tenth row the new entry Schenken alongside Siffert. In the penultimate and last row, Gethin, Rodriguez, Eaton and Moser. Everything is ready to face the next 354 kilometers for a total distance of sixty laps. Shortly after 3:00 p.m., the starter lowers the Austrian flag and the twenty-four competitors start very fast, with Regazzoni in the 312/003 taking the lead and Ickx in the 312/001 following close behind.

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Rindt, Giunti, Beltoise and Amon follow. Stewart, on the other hand, is forced to return to the pits, standing outside the single-seater because some fuel is leaking from the cockpit. To worsen the situation for the Tyrrell team, on the second lap, the engine of Cevert's single-seater suddenly explodes, spilling oil along the track. Regazzoni feels he has the situation under control, so he nods to his team-leader and allows Ickx to take the lead of the race. Rindt is not far away, but overtaking two Ferraris is not the same as overtaking one; moreover, the third one follows him at a short distance. As soon as, on the third lap, the group reaches the oil slick left by Cevert's March, Rindt is reached by Beltoise, Giunti and Amon, who push the Lotus driver to slip into sixth position. The Austrian's engine begins to show signs of malfunctioning. Now there are four cars equipped with a 12-cylinder engine in the first four positions, and the first three start to get a good advantage.

 

Regazzoni follows Ickx at a short distance; the two of them stand shoulder to shoulder, followed a little further back by Ignazio Giunti. Rindt in this moment follows the group, remaining isolated, because Miles is not able to match the Austrian's pace. And he will not be able to try any further because during the fourth lap the Englishman is forced to retire, since one of the rear brake shafts breaks, putting the new Lotus 72 out of action. While the trio at the head of the race is busy running the sixth lap, the fuel leak on Stewart's car is repaired and the Scottish driver can come back, even if his hopes to be competitive again are slim, just as it had happened in Clermont-Ferrand.

 

After recovering from the third lap défaillance that cost him three positions, Rindt starts to increase the pace again, managing to reach Amon and, on the tenth lap, Giunti. At this point, Ickx, Regazzoni and Beltoise are eight seconds ahead, and are traveling at an average of 209 km/h. This trio is getting closer and closer to catching up with Stewart who, however, cannot keep up the pace. Before they can reach him, however, during the seventh lap the Scotsman returns to the pits, this time to retire. The fuel supply pipe from the tanks to the engine has broken. The cockpit is flooded with fuel, as the driver himself points out once in the pits:

 

"Look, my suit, it's soaked in fuel".

 

During the tenth lap the first twelve positions are occupied by Ickx, Regazzoni, Beltoise, Rindt, Giunti, Brabham, Amon, Hulme, Surtees, Pescarolo, Oliver and Gethin. Further back, aboard the B.R.M. 153/06, Eaton is ahead of Schenken and Moser, who in turn overtook De Adamich, who was forced to return to the pits on lap 13, when the radiator of his McLaren began to leak. He had had an accident on his way to the circuit, escorted by a police car. The damage had been repaired quickly, but not well enough. Then, during the eleventh lap, Andretti increases the pace but the STP Oil Treatment Special ends up against the wire mesh, demolishing itself. Luckily, the Italian-American driver does not suffer any damage and gets out of the single-seater without any particular problems.

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The race stabilizes with Regazzoni who keeps some distance from Ickx, showing great maturity, unlike other second drivers who, in order to impress, decide to stay close to their teammates. Beltoise is behind the two Ferraris, but the maximum he can aspire to is to maintain the third position. Meanwhile, his gap with Rindt gets smaller and smaller, with the Austrian shortening from 7.8 seconds to 7 seconds in the following laps. At the eighteenth lap, the Lotus of Rindt records another fast lap, 1'42"0, but after three laps, during the twenty-first, the Cosworth engine breaks down. Withdrawn to the pits, the driver vents himself saying:

 

"I knew it would end up like that sooner or later. I just hope it doesn't happen again".

 

His mood is not the best and the fact that he lost in Austria, the country where he grew up, hurts even more. One less danger for the Ferraris that, with the fuel level dropping, are always faster and more manageable, unlike the Matra that doesn't take any advantage from the weight reduction. Halfway through the race, the gap between the Ferrari and the French single-seater increases. In the meantime, the Cosworth engines continue to break down: the one of the De Tomaso driven by Tim Schenken fails during the 25th lap, the one of Surtees on the 27th lap and the one of the McLaren driven by Hulme on the 30th lap. Giunti's Ferrari, still in fourth position, begins to feel the pressure from Brabham, but the Italian does not get discouraged and makes life difficult for his adversary.

 

There are many stones on the inner edges of the track that are lifted by the tires: one of these hits and breaks Brabham's radiator just when the Australian driver tries to overtake Giunti during the thirty-fourth lap. The Australian returns to the pits where, in little more than five laps, the mechanics do an extraordinary job, replacing the broken radiator with a new one, and Brabham returns to the race. Earlier, on the twenty-third lap, Pescarolo's Matra had also been hit by a stone lifted by Hulme that struck the rear suspension, bending a shock absorber. Forced to return to the pits, the driver lost all hope of finishing the race in a good position. At the thirty-eighth lap, the Maranello cars set a lap record of 1'40"9, which drops further by half a second as the race progresses.

 

In the meantime, a piece of tread comes off Giunti's left front tire. The Italian driver, therefore, goes immediately to the pits to replace it. The unforeseen incident, however, costs him a whole lap and he is overtaken, in order, by Stommelen, Amon, Rodriguez, Oliver and Gethin. The young German driver of the Brabham team, after a slow start, is the author of a very good race. When he re-enters the race, Giunti is in ninth position, one lap behind the leaders. His car is literally behind that of his teammates who pull him a bit to make him recover positions. With fifteen laps to go, Ickx and Regazzoni are quiet and show great team spirit and discipline.

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This is the proof that Ferrari has returned to its former glory. The Italians in the crowd, thousands in Austria, now hold their breath, anxious that something could go wrong and ruin the performance, so far perfect, of the Maranello cars. As the fiftieth lap approaches, Chris Amon is lapped by the two Ferraris. The New Zealand driver of the March, at the end of last season's tests, had underestimated the potential of these cars, considering them harmless. To overstate the situation, the March is also overtaken by the third Ferrari, which takes the seventh position and drives away. Ickx and Regazzoni are now in the process of lapping Oliver and Rodriguez.

 

In the middle of the fifty-sixth lap, Jean-Pierre Beltoise’s Matra starts to have problems as the fuel system is unable to draw the last 25-45 liters of gasoline in the tank. Beltoise returns to the pits to refuel, but when he returns to the track the leaders are a lap ahead, and also the B.R.M. are far ahead of him. However, the Frenchman still manages to position himself ahead of Giunti's Ferrari. Meanwhile, Stommelen finds himself in third position, thus defending the name of Brabham and the Cosworth engines. As soon as the two Ferraris cross the finish line and the chequered flag officially announces the end of the race, the Italians in the audience begin to rejoice, scream, applaud and cry for joy.

 

They came from all over the world, taking with them the banners  of the Ferrari Club. At the award ceremony, the public is in delirium and an hour after the end of the race the applause and cheers still resound. On the podium, in third place, there is Stommelen. The B.R.M. of Rodriguez and Oliver finish in fourth and fifth place, followed by Beltoise. Giunti has to be satisfied with the seventh place. Had it not been for the tire problem that forced him to return to the pits, the Ferrari driver would have finished third, completing an all-Ferrari podium. Amon, Siffert, Gethin, Eaton, De Adamich, Brabham, Pescarolo and Fittipaldi follow. Of the twenty-four cars that started, only fifteen reach the end. The Austrian Grand Prix marks a historic moment in modern Formula 1.

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All eight of the twelve-cylinder cars that started made it across the finish line. The Ferrari, B.R.M. and Matra teams finished the race in full. On the other hand, of the fifteen cars equipped with Cosworth engines, only six made it to the end. It is since the summer of 1968, since the success obtained in Rouen in the French Grand Prix, that Ferrari had been waiting for a day like this. There have been two years of bitterness, but in recent months the feeling of a return to the role of protagonist was in the air. In Austria the Maranello cars dominated every opponent. In practice, only Rindt managed to be faster than them. In the race, however, the power of their twelve cylinders was evident. Following phone calls from a friend in Milan, journalists and acquaintances who wanted to congratulate him, Enzo Ferrari confessed:

 

"With today's affirmation I begin to repay all those who have believed in Ferrari even when I was losing. To them go the thanks of my collaborators and my gratitude".

 

In the last two years, the hours of waiting at Maranello have rarely ended in happiness. But Enzo Ferrari, who joined Fiat last year, has been able to prepare his revenge. The fine-tuning of the 312B was long and a bit of responsibility fell on Jacky Ickx, who left the testing work to Regazzoni and Schetty - who had never raced in Formula 1. At least a couple of months have been lost, but the car is now in place, the drivers line up is strong and it will become even stronger next year with Mario Andretti. Ferrari needs to take advantage of this moment. Ickx is undoubtedly a champion. The young Belgian does not have a docile character. He has little love for testing work, which is as boring as indispensable. He prefers to race to win and, if the car responds, he catches up with anyone. Regazzoni and Giunti, instead, are the two revelations of the 1970 Formula 1 season. They proved to be great teammates and, above all, to know how to be a team player. Some time ago people wondered why Ferrari fielded only one car. The answer is simple: at Maranello they knew that the car was not yet perfect, hence it would have been useless to waste some effort, work and money in building two or three examples of a model that needed to be modified.

 

Then, as the preparation of the 512S of the Marche Championship was abandoned and the technicians could devote themselves only to the development and the tuning of the 312B, the progressive refinement of the single-seater of Maranello started, and here are the cars driven by Ickx, Giunti and Regazzoni. The result of Zeltweg is now a good omen for the next appointment of the world championship: the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, in September. Rindt is unreachable, thanks to the 45 points obtained thanks to his skills and also a bit of luck. However, the men from Maranello have the chance to take further revenge. The twelve-cylinder engines have overtaken the eight-cylinder engines and, among the first engines, the Ferrari is the most powerful. The future, at last, has cleared up and it is even rosier if we look far ahead to 1971. Those who had faith in Ferrari, in its choices and in its politics (and at a certain moment there were only a few left) were right.

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The two protagonists are Jacky Ickx, the youngest Formula 1 driver, and Clay Regazzoni. The Belgian driver, son of an automobile journalist, was born in 1945 in Brussels, where he resides. He married a young Belgian heiress Catherine Blaton on Tuesday, August 4, 1970, and spent a brief honeymoon on the French Riviera between the German and Austrian Grand Prix. Ickx began racing in 1961 on a motorcycle, then switched to four wheels in his twenties. After driving a Formula 3, in 1966 he experienced a Formula 2 car, with which he won the European title the following year. In 1967 he debuted at Monza with a Cooper-Maserati in the Formula 1 Grand Prix, and in 1968 he was hired by Ferrari, with which he won the French Grand Prix in Rouen and was removed from the fight for the world title by an accident in which he broke his leg.

 

The following season, Ickx moved to Brabham, imposing himself in Germany and Canada. He won at Le Mans with Ford. This year he returned to Ferrari. He is an eclectic driver, who is skilled both at the wheel of a single-seater and of a big sports car. He is a virtuoso in the wet. Sporty and likeable, he has only one drawback: he doesn't like to test the cars for tuning. Clay Regazzoni, with Ignazio Giunti, is Ferrari's new man in the Formula 1 World Championship. He was born in Lugano on September 5, 1939 and, as a good Ticinese, speaks two or three languages. Married, he has two children. He didn't approach the races at an early age: until the age of twenty he preferred to drive the attack of a third league soccer team and only with the military service he began to pilot motor vehicles.

 

In 1962 he met Silvio Moser, Swiss gentleman of the wheel. Moser persuaded Regazzoni to follow a career as a driver. Clay bought an Austin and had it prepared by his father, owner of a body shop-garage. In 1965 he obtained the international license of conductor, in 1966 he alternated with Formula 2 competitions, putting himself in the spotlight in both. Two years later, he became a driver for Tecno, the young Bolognese company of the Pederzani brothers. This year, the Swiss racer participated in Formula 2 races with Tecno and in Formula 1 races with Ferrari. At Le Mans he also drove the 512-S Sport. He is a man with grit and many have compared him to Rindt. Almost shy, gentle in his private life, at the wheel he has neither complexes nor fears.

 

It is splendid the triumph of the Ferrari in the Grand Prix of Austria: first Ickx, second Regazzoni. A result that speaks for itself and that lights up with enthusiasm hundreds of Italian spectators, who come to Zeltweg with every means. At the end, shouts of joy, carousels of cars, frantic waving of huge banners with “Forza Ferrari” and “Viva l'Italia”. Finally, Jochen Rindt is on the winners' podium. The Austrian of the Lotus left the race at the twenty-first of the sixty laps: his eight-cylinder Ford-Cosworth could not stand the infernal rhythm of the Ferraris of Ickx and Regazzoni. And only the failure of a tire, with the consequent stop at the pits for its replacement, prevented the third driver of the Maranello team, Ignazio Giunti, from obtaining the fourth place.

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Giunti arrived seventh, drowning his sorrow in the joy of his teammates, technicians and mechanics. It was from the summer of 1968 that Ferrari was waiting for such a day, that is from the success obtained in Rouen, in the French Grand Prix, by Ickx. Twenty-five Grand Prix in the dry, two long years full of bitterness. But in the last months the sensation of a return to the role of protagonist, and the sensation is translated in happy reality in Zeltweg, in that race that was disputed only once, in 1964, and that saw another Italian affirmation: the unforgettable Lorenzo Bandini triumphed. In the trials, only Rindt was able to be faster than the Ferrari trio.

 

But behind the Austrian, Ickx, Regazzoni and Giunti were ready for the battle, and they unleashed it immediately, using the power of their twelve-cylinder engine on the two straight stretches of Zeltweg. The circuit is one of the fastest, presenting a couple of Esse so wide as to be considered almost straight and nine curves that select the competitors, making the game of wakes difficult. However, only in one of them it is necessary to use the third gear, the others are for fourth and fifth gear, therefore they allow for over 3 of the 5.911 kilometers of track to proceed at full throttle. Little by little, Grand Prix after Grand Prix, the Maranello car emerged, its engine proved to be the most powerful: 460 horsepower at 11,600 rpm, even 470 in the version entrusted to Ickx for the race.

 

The Ford-Cosworths began to crack. To get to the 436 horsepower of Rindt's eight-cylinder, Cosworth worked miracles, but to the detriment of grip. So, in the last races, the English engines suffered serial failures, and only Rindt's class, the aerodynamic and chassis qualities of the Lotus 72, the not yet perfect set-up prevented Ferrari from asserting itself. But Zeltweg did not bring another disappointment. For Ferrari, the Austrian Grand Prix opens a new (and ancient) chapter. A chapter of technical supremacy, that is, as it happened at the beginning of the Sixties or, again, in 1966, when the twelve cylinders of Maranello had about thirty horsepower more than the British engines. The car is now in place, but by now the World Championship belongs to Rindt, and it is useless to delude oneself, even if, in theory, Ickx could reach 46 points against the Austrian's 45.

 

In racing, patience is needed; it is difficult to obtain positive results in an instant. Ferrari is now on top. It must know how to take advantage of it. As always, Enzo Ferrari spent most of Sunday in his office in Maranello. A solitary afternoon in the heat of the Modenese plain, waiting for a phone call or a telex from Austria. Long hours, perhaps thinking about the past, about the six world titles won by his cars in Formula 1, about the 42 Grand Prix won by his drivers, certainly thinking about the future. Even if he says so, Ferrari is not a pensioner. In these days, for example, he has often gone down to the workshop to beg his mechanics to postpone their vacations, to stay in the factory to prepare the machines for the big comeback. An active, industrious man who has never given up the fight.

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At Zeltweg, in the ninth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, a beloved name returned to the scene, sometimes hated, more often feared. Two years away from success were not enough to obscure twenty years of sensational eliminations, the conquest of six world titles and 42 Grand Prix. Today, with Ickx and Regazzoni, Ferrari has resumed its role as a protagonist. It has the strongest car of all, a strong and valuable team of drivers. Ickx is a champion, no question. The young Belgian has not a docile character, he doesn't like the testing work very much, indispensable but very boring. He prefers to run, to win. Regazzoni and Giunti are the two revelations of the 1970 season in Formula 1. The Swiss offered his collaboration to Ickx in Germany and on Sunday in Austria, braking Rindt. Giunti did the same task and this responsible teamwork honors both of them.

 

The merit - it must be underlined - is of the wonderful set of mechanisms called 312-B. Let's be honest: how else could a beginner like Regazzoni have been able to fight on equal terms with Ickx or Rindt? This must be said without taking anything away from the Swiss driver's determination and generosity. Again, how could Ignazio Giunti have obtained in the Zeltweg trials the same time of the World Champion Stewart? A few months ago people were wondering why Ferrari was only fielding one car in the race. The answer is simple: in Maranello they knew that the car was not yet ready. It would have been a waste of efforts, work and money to build a model to be modified in two or three examples.

 

Then, as the preparation of the 512-S of the brands championship was abandoned and the technicians could devote themselves only to the development and to the tuning of the 312-B, the progressive refinement of the Maranello single-seater started, and here came the cars driven by Ickx, Giunti and Regazzoni. The result of Zeltweg is now a good omen for the next round of the world championship, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Rindt is unreachable thanks to the 45 points obtained with great skill, however the men from Maranello have the possibility to take other revenge. The twelve-cylinder engines have overtaken the eight-cylinder engines, and among the former, the Ferrari engine is the most powerful of all. The future, at last, has cleared up, and it is even rosier if you look far ahead to 1971. Whoever had faith in Ferrari, in its choices and in its politics was right.

 

Chiara Conca

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