Friday, March 14 1975 the sports sector find wide space also in Geneva, where a dozens of race cars are present into the stand to advertise their normal models or in the special lounge, where they celebrate the twenty-five years of Formula 1. Twelve single-seater are lined up: from the Alfa Romeo type 159 with which Fangio won the World title in the 1951 to the McLaren who won last year with Emerson Fittipaldi. Two days later, on the circuit of Brands Hatch, in England (invalid for the World Championship), it’s won by the English Tom Pryce, on UOP-Shadow, in front of Watson, Surtees; Peterson and Ickx, JPS Lotus; Fittipaldi finished fifth at the finish line and Merzario seventh. It withdraw Scheckter and the Italian Lella Lombardi, Nicholson, Shuppan, Donohue, Mass and Belsø. The Ferrari are absent, while Flamini does not take part in the race. At the start Jacky Ickx takes the lead, in front of Ronnie Peterson, while in the middle of the line up Belsø get buffered, and so he is forced to retire, by Jochen Mass; also the German decides to retire, despite not having major damage to the car. After the accident it will be decided to prohibit races with the simultaneous precence of cars of Formula 1 and of Formula 5000 (one of the more opposed to racing with F5000 cars is the new World Champion, the Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi, he only qualified in P17, behind all the four F5000 drivers). Jody Scheckter take the lead at the end of the first lap, in front of Pryce. The two are the only drivers to mount the slick. To the 26 lap the Sudafrican driver of the Tyrrel-Ford Cosworth breaks the engine, this gives the green light to Pryce, since all the other drivers are forced to stop to change tyres. The other driver of the Shadow, Jarier stand in third position until the lap 36, but later, a technical problem forced him to the retire. Scale to third position Peterson, which however, two laps from the end gets overtaken by John Watson to the Druids Bend. The best with the F5000 cars is David Purley, eleventh but six laps behind the winner. Of much more interest is the race which will take place on April 13 1975. Two days before, Friday April 11 1975, Niki Lauda and the new Ferrari 312 T are in big trend during the last day of practice for the International Trophy.
The race is invalid for the World Championship of Formula 1, but it is very important for the indications that it will be able to offer in sight of the British Grand Prix to be held in July in the same circuit of Silverstone. Lauda overcome the other 19 contestants (18 of which they use Cosworth engines 8 cylinders and one with a B.R.M. 12 cylinders), confirming its class, and highlighting the skills of the 312 T, whose debut in South Africa was quite disappointing. The Austrian gets the time-record of 1'17"4, with an average of 219.04 km/h, improving by a tenth the performance achieved two years ago by Peterson with the Lotus. The Sweden performs well, but his 1'17"6 it is considered by all the teams as a kind gift from the timekeepers. Emerson Fittipaldi turns in 1'18"0 with the McLaren, Hunt (Heaketh), Depailler (Tyrrell), Pryce (Shadow) and Reutemann (Brabham) they do worse: 1’18”5. Merzario, with the Williams, marks a modest 1'20"0 and Lella Lombardi (March) 1'20"0. The Austrian repeat three times his time-record and he turns nine or ten times under the 1'18"00. Needless to say that into the Maranello’s team the faces are happy. Lauda reiterates about how he is enthusiastic about the car (that now has an increased air intake and slightly modified brakes) and Luca Montezemolo points out, rightly, the comforting indications from this round of training, whishing, obviously, that the one of Saturday does not change the situation. The tests are lively by two incident, fortunately resolved without damage for the drivers. Crawford, which replaces Ickx on the second Lotus, and the Brazilian Wilson Fittipaldi with the Copersugar goes off track. The two single-seaters report serious damage. The International Trophy will take place on Sunday April 13 1975 with the start at the 3:00 p.m. A short, but very fast, race, which Prince Philip will also attend, and he will inaugurate the new modern equipment in the pits, the cost of which is around the 200.000.000 Italian lire. In the second day of practice for the International Trophy the Ferrari of Lauda is overcome in extremis by the Hesketh of Hunt. The English conquered the new unofficial lap record with the time of 1'17"3 (to average of 219.38 km/h), lower than the official record established two years earlier by the Lotus of Peterson. For the second consecutive year Hunt will start from the pole position. But this time by his side there will be Lauda (absent last year), after he earned, with his new 312 T, a price of 100 pounds for the best time of the day of Friday (1'17"4), it does not go below the 1'17"8 that is equaled by Emerson Fittipaldi on the McLaren.
Lauda in the final stage of the tests, when everyone goes wild in search of an exploit, it is slowed down by an oversteer at the front end. It seems that the cause of the incovinience is the assembly of the tires of different diameters. Beyond the World Champion and to Hunt, noticeable progress has been made, regard the times of the first day, from Pryce, recent winner in Brands Hatch on the Shadow, from Reutemann on the Brabham. Also, Andretti, behind the wheel of the Parnelli, that he is in his first race in Europe, improve his time. In regression Arturo Merzario, that scores the worst time of the day, due to repeated mechanical failures. Lella Lombardi behaves with onor his first appearance at Silverstone in Formula 1, leaving behind eight rivals. Merzario and the Lombardi will start in the seventh row: 1'20"0 and 1'20"1 their times. At the end of the practice Hunt declares:
"The race will be able to be resolved already by the first minute. If Lauda will be able to click for first will be, for me, very difficult to overtake him, because he has an excellent car. I’m convinced that the race will be harder and fought than the one that I won last year".
Sunday, April 13 1975 Ferrari get back to the top of the Formula 1. It comes back with Niki Lauda with the brand new 312 T, extinguishing, with the force of the facts, the discussions that arose after the debut of South Africa Grand Prix. In Italy there are really curious people. Before they throw mud on the old B3 and they ask loudly the debut the T, but then when this happen well in advance on the scheduled time and it doesn’t offer immediately a sensational result, it cries foul. Almost crept in that the new single-seater of Maranello is trash. Calm. If today it is legitimate to appreciate the splendid result of Silverstone without being too excited (into the race you can win and you can lose, it’s normal), from the other side they cried foul because Lauda and Regazzoni hadn’t torn up everyone in South Africa, and this is not fair. The 312 T needed to mature. Apparently it did and, once again, we have to appreciate the commitment of the team of Maranello and of Enzo Ferrari, that calm and imperturbable (but maybe with so much anger itself) he deals with the events of this sport that he love in which he believes. Silverstone reveal that we can believe in the competitiveness of the 312T. The race is invalid for the World Championship of Formula 1, but there are all the protagonists of this challenge, particularly Emerson Fittipaldi, and what’s more a very fast race took place. Thank goodness that a loss of 25-30 CV was assumed for the transversal arrangement of the bridge-gearbox group. It’s clear that, at this point, the Ferrari with his Lauda and Regazzoni duo can look with confidence to the Championship, the next race is planned on Sunday April 27 1975, in Barcelona, the Spanish Grand Prix. We will be at the fourth round of the season after those of Argentine, Brazil and South Africa. Emerson Fittipaldi is at the top of the standings followed by Carlos Pace. Lauda and Regazzoni are a bit behind, but the points distributed are still few: Fittipaldi is at the top with 15 points and there are still 12 races to go. The victory of Lauda it will restore vigor and tone to the team of Maranello, who did not enjoy such an happy moment since August of the last year, that is from the victory of Regazzoni at the Nurburgring. They are back on the right track, now they must continue like this.
The Ferrari, for the first time since 1967, come back to win, in Silverstone, the International Trophy. Already from the first day of practice, Lauda had made it clear that his car would play a leading role. The English coalition was very strong and determined more than ever to win in their own house, specially with the Hesketh of James Hunt, who had to defend his success of one year ago in the same race. From the first position, at the start, Hunt take the lead with Lauda in the wake. They don’t show up Ronnie Peterson, which he hadn’t had time to replace the engine of his Lotus after he broke it during the free practice in the morning and Arturo Merzario, left without engine after have damaged two in only three laps of trainings between Saturday and Sunday. With Hunt in command, Lauda behind and Fittipaldi in third position, the situation remains unchanged until the lap 27 of the 40 laps of the race. The trio runs to itself, having clearly detached the others, head over by Andretti, to his first race in Europe with the Parnelli. Fifth is Depailler on a Tyrrell and in sixth position the amazing Watson, that one month ago brought his Surtees at the second place in the Race of Champions of Brands Hatch. The Hesketh of Hunt disappears from the race while the English was in the lead with just a twenty-meters ahead of Lauda. Hunt must stop on the turf for an engine failure and Lauda, who was patient until halfway through the race waiting for the right moment to take the lead, finally has the green light. Behind his back Fittipaldi look for a free opening to overtake. From a race with three protagonists than we move on to a hard-fought duel between Lauda and Fittipaldi. The World Champion makes a vigorous attack right on the last lap, with great ability and cold blood before checked and then shut down by the Ferrari driver in the last hundred meters of the race. Silverstone has already had, as the tradition, an arrival to the fotofinish. Just a tenth of a second divides the first two who arrived at the finish line. Thunderous applause: Lauda is most of all acclaimed, last year he was undeservedly deprived by the victory of the British Grand Prix in Brands Hatch. Lauda naturally, confirm his positive judgement about the 312 T.
"Now we hope in the World Champion".
Luca Montezemolo adds:
"For the moral of the Ferrari this is an important victory and rewards the great work done by all. Lauda was great".
Drivers and cars of the United States gets flattering results, at their debut in Silverstone. Andretti gets the third place, to 15 seconds from the head pairs and Donohue ends in the sixth place. Regular race for Lella Lombardi, that in his third race in Formula 1 and in her first in Silverstone, it ranks at the twelfth place. Enzo Ferrari, after the success of Niki Lauda in Silverstone with the new 312 T, release a brief and significant comment.
"The result of Silverstone it’s the explanation that my collaborators wished to offer explenation to the many questions read after the debut of the 312 T in the South Africa Grand Prix".
Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni conquered last year, in the Spanish Grand Prix, an uplifting double, bringing back Ferrari into the role of protagonist of the Formula 1. The team of Maranello, with that victory ended a dark period, made of defeats, of disappontments, of bitterness. This time too, the Spanish race - which is disputed in Barcelona and not in Madrid like in 1974 - it falls at a particular moment for the men of Maranello. The start of the season aroused some controversy, the old single-seater 312 B3 it was replaced earlier by the new 312 T, which it debut in South Africa in an honorable but not exciting way and what then, in Silverstone, with Lauda under the wheel, it proved to be a thoroughbred horse in a race unfortunately invalid for the World Championship. Now we are at the fourth appointment, won last time by Emerson Fittipali and by the McLaren flying up Regazzoni, and the same Brazlian driver is at the top of the list with 15 points. Regazzoni has 6 and Lauda 5. Including the Iberian one, there are still 12 rounds to go between the Europe and the North America. Talking with Niki Lauda, revelation of the 1974, considered by the technicians as the most prepared of the nouvelle vague of the drivers of this heavy single-seaters that it is less than 600 kg, with engines of 450-500 CV and accelerations of a jet, important considerations arise. Last year the binomial Lauda-Ferrari has received much praised, is called to a more demanding task. From the man and from the car great things are expected. The Austrian knows, but the fact does not break up, at least the blond mask with amiable smiles thoughts and emotions.
"I have more experience: in 1974 I learned a lot, I think to be able to avoid certain mistakes. The new Ferrari is decidedly higher than the valid one 312 B3: on one side it’s nervous, brilliant, on the other it’s easy to drive, safe. Regazzoni and I can enter the turns and get out faster. I think its a great beefit. So, I trust, even if I believe that this championship will have a similar trend to the past one. It will be decided in the end. Points need to be made, always".
It seems that in Austria they have recommended you to leave the Ferrari for some other team. What do you think about that?
"Nonsense, I will leave the Ferrari only when the engineer Ferrari tells me that he no longer needs my collaboration. In Maranello I’m very good and to the Ferrari I owe a lot. But this small talk, this controversy, they don’t surprise me. I await others, they will talk again about disagreements with Regazzoni and then who knows what they will invent. The important thing is to pay no attention and to continue on your own way".
And certain malicious statements of Fittipaldi, that is always evil with the Ferrari and his drivers?
"Mah, I don’t know. Maybe Emerson fears us and does some psychological warfare. He is a great driver, a true champion and he has an excellent car, but if he spoke a little less, mostly of problems that he does not know, it would be better".
While he took his revenge in Silverstone, where he forced the Brazilian to stay behind his back until the end of the race.
"Yes, I showed him the exhaust pipes of the 312 T. It was a great satisfaction, made even greater by the fact that in the final stages I was slowed down by vibration from the front tyres. The main problem for the Ferrari it’s the Ferrari. If on sunday, for example, we will be able to use the covers we have been working with and on which we set the tune of our single seaters, we should be calm, otherwise...".
About Barcelona, with what spirit partecipates to the Spanish Grand Prix?
"The victory of Silverstone it calmed me down and it gave me back the pleasure of winning. On the circuit of the Montjuïc the 312 T it should perform even better. The track is one of the most difficult and challenging for a single-seater and for a driver. The car must have a considerable road holding, progressive acceleration, good brakes, whoever is behind the wheel must know how to drive and not just press on the accelerator. It’s important to get a good time during the practice, like in Monte Carlo: the overtaking are not easy. On paper Regazzoni and I should be the favourites. Obviously, today it takes nothing to lose. You say I plain everything. It’s not true: I havent’t managed to book the luck yet".
Who fears more?
"The Shadow of Jarier and Pryce and the Brabham of Reutemann and Pace. The Shadow is strong on mixed circuits like the Montjuïc and the Brabham with his drivers is a competitive binomial everywhere. And, naturally, Fittipaldi, hat it’s always dangerous if no the most dangerous at least for the title. I really wish h could look at the drain of my Ferrari on Sunday".
The Spanish Grand Prix will records the record of attendance in a single race of Formula 1 for the Italian drivers. They will, indeed, present Arturo Mezzario, Vittorio Brambilla, Lella Lombardi and Giorgio Pianta. For this one, 40 years, Milanese, test driver, official of the Abarth, it’s the debut in a single-seater of Formula 1. This as expected at the start, since the place of the Italian driver will be taken by the English Tony Brise. The opportunity had been offered to him by Frank Williams that, having to do without Lafitte, busy in Germany for the European of Formula 2, had entrusted him with one of his cars to flank Merzario. The driver of Como, unlike the compatriot, he can have a Williams partially renovated. The car indeed presents itself with a redisigned body, with modifications to the front suspension, the oil radiators moved and with the bodywork revised to have better aerodynamics. Vittorio Brambilla and Lella Lombardi instead they will have the usual March available. News for Fittipaldi, whose McLaren Texaco adopts suspensions of different designs from usual. There is a lot of waiting for the Ferrari. After the victory, in the sprint, of Niki Lauda in Silverstone we returned to talk about the remarkable performaces of the Italian car, the 312 T. Already during the practice we will have to see if the same Lauda and Clay Regazzoni will have a competitive single seater on the street of Montjuïc. In Spain Graham Hill wont be there and he will be replaced by the French Francois Migault. From London the news is that the English driver will leave the competions. But the official announcement it should not be given before the May 11, after the Monaco Grand Prix.
We should have seen the writing on the wall when the transporters carrying the Formula One circus cross the frontier into Spain with little or no trouble, unlike previous years when there had been long delays and muddles over paperwork. Best trip we’ve ever had, said the UOP-Shadow crew. One man who did have a bit of a bother was the driver of the Texaco entertainment caravan which was full of food and drink. The customs officials want assurance that it will all be taken out of Spain on the return trip and that nothing will be left behind. There is some delay cause by discussing the whys and wherefores of returning empty bottles and tins and in what form the food will probably be left in Spain. The very scenic Montjuic Park is envelopes in Armco barriers and wire netting, the entire circus is ensconce in the big sports stadium just beyond the start area and Jean-Pierre Beltoise has make a ﬂying visit to inspect the circuit for the Grand Prix Drivers Association a little while before. The sun is shining and everything seems set for a superb Spanish Grand Prix on the exciting circuit on the very edge of the City, and enthusiasts from all over Europe are heading towards Barcelona to witness the opening of the European Grand Prix season. It’s going to be a great occasion. The ﬁrst rumblings of discontent are heard coming from Switzerland where Emerson Fittipaldi is hear to say that he is against racing on the Montjuic Park circuit as it’s impossible to take adequate safeguards in the manner of Paul Ricard or Nivelles-Baulers, which is a sound enough statement of fact, like saying climbing a Swiss mountain is more dangerous than taking a walk through the English countryside! Previously at the Montjuic Park the paddock has been squeezed into the gardens behind the pits and many people had looked at the enormous Olympics sports stadium, built for the 1936 World Olympics but never used, as Spain decided to have a Civil War instead of an International sporting competition, wondering what it could be used for. This year the great rusty iron gates are open and the transporters range around the running track with more space than they know what to do with. The Vel’s Parnelli Jones team are having to curb the enthusiasm of Mario Andretti who is eyeing the outer loose-cinder oval with a glint in his eye and saying:
"Just sprinkle a bit of water on it and it will make a great midget speedway, and we can use the Formula One cars".
Practice is due to start at the reasonable hour of 2:00 p.m. on Friday, April 25th, and all the teams are ready to go, the Texaco-Marlboro sponsor McLaren team has M23/9 and M23/8 ready for Fittipaldi and Mass, respectively, with M23/6 as a spare; the ELF Team Tyrrell has 007/2 for Scheckter and 007/4 for Depailler, with 007/5 as a spare; the John Player back Team Lotus has 72/R9 for Peterson and 72/R5 for Ickx, with 72/R8 as a spare; the three Brabhams, sponsor by the Rossi family’s giant Martini empire, are B1, B2 and B3, for Reutemann, Pace and a spare in that order; March Engineering has the brand new car 751/3 for Brambilla in Beta Tools orange, and 751/2 for Lella Lombardi in white. The Scuderia Ferrari has three immaculate 1975 cars line up in front of their transporter, all three with the transverse gearbox layout. Lauda has 022, Regazzoni 021 and 018 is the spare. Behind the cars is an equally impressive tool cabinet provide by Beta Tools. The Stanley family’s BRM team has two of their red, white and blue cars for Bob Evans to drive, P201/05 as the number one car with an engine with revise crankcase layout, and P201/02 as the spare car. Universal Oil Products Shadow team of wicked-looking black cars, with multi-colour ﬂashes on the nose ﬁns and monocoque sides, are DN5/1A, 2A and 3A, for Jarier, Pryce and spare, respectively. They also have two neat little trolleys, one for each driver, to carry a full set of wheels, jacks and wheel-nut spanners for emergency last-minute starting-line panics on tyre decisions. John Surtees’ Matchbox-support team are running TS16/04-4 for John Watson, with /02-4 as a stand-by and a variety of nose cowlings and aerodynamic devices for experimentation. The Frank Williams team are in ﬁne form, with a brand new car, FW/04, basically like the previous cars, but of new design in many details, such as cockpit shape, air-box, nose cowling, anti-roll bar layout, overall size and so on. The cockpit is much smaller than previous cars and the skinny Merzario is muttering that it’s possibly too small, even for him.
The other Williams car is FW/03, to be driven by Tony Brise, making his Formula One debut, going in at the deep end from Formula Atlantic, so to speak. Graham Hill is managing his Embassy-sponsor team of 1975 cars, build by his own small group, Stommelen having the latest car GH2 and Francois Migault being re-introduce to Formula One with the ﬁrst Hill car, that start life as a Lola T371. Wraps up in a canvas bag is one of the 1974 Lola cars as a spare in case of emergency. The small Hesketh team is looking quite large, and certainly very impressive, with 308/2 and 308/3 for James Hunt, both equipe with the Harvey Postlethwaite rubber-cone front suspension medium and the very forward extend front aero-foil. Alongside, in dark blue and advertising Harry Stiller’s enterprises and Rob Walker’s garages, is 308/1, similar to M’Lord’s cars, except for the rubber front suspension, it has the older coil-spring layout. Alan Jones is due to make his Grand Prix debut after a good showing in the International Trophy at Silverstone recently. The two American teams, by courtesy of English designers, are sparkling as usual, both having a pair of cars for their drivers, Andretti and Donohue, and while the Vel’s Parnelli Jones team are making very big forward strides, with Andretti a serious racer’s-racer, as ever, the Penske team, sponsor by First National City Travelers Checks, seem to be standing still. Poor Wilson Fittipaldi’s little team, sponsor by Brazil’s sugar industry seem to be the poor-relation in the circus, while Morris Nunn’s equally small one-car team look very healthy, the once-green Ensign looking smart in white with the Dutch HB-alarms system colors and lettering on it, the Dutch driver Reolof Wunderink being responsible for the sponsorship. The European season of Formula 1 it started today with a sensational episode, never happened in twenty-seven years of World Championship. The drivers, except for Jacky Ickx and Vittorio Brambilla, at the circuit of Montjuïc in Barcelona, where Sunday April 27 1975 it is planned the Spanish Grand Prix, refused to take to the track. Under accusation are the guardrail. Emerson Fittipaldi admits:
"The barriers are set up badly, we risk killing ourselves in case of incident".
The organizers, which they see disappear the 150.000.000 of lire put into the race, they promised for Saturday a series of jobs, calling for help an army of one hundred skilled worker. If the situation will remain unchanged or it will not be changed satisfactorily - and the international sports commission was called as a witness to the deal - we will have a new no from the drivers, so the race will not be disputed. It is a new moment in the campaign promoted by the drivers for years for a major security on the circuits. It is supported by the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA), which in these matters is represented above all by Fittipaldi. The World Champion it replaced Jackie Stewart, as a standard bearer of his colleagues. And Stewart, today, gave him his authoritative endorsement.
"This action had to be taken, because racing with the guardrail badly fitted that would be too dangerous not only for the one behind the wheel but also for the crowd. A tragedy, a serious accident would have had a negative repercussion for the entire motorsport, which already has its problems".
The precedents date back to a few weeks ago. The circuit is derived on the hill above Barcelona and the pire, its semi-permanent like the one of Monte-Carlo. For the Spanish Grand Prix, that takes place every two years alternately with the Madrid racetrack of Jarama, grandstands and fences are built, and far the 3790 meters of track - obtained from the avenues that cover the hill - the guardrail are places to the right and to the left. The steel barriers form the only protective veil between the cars and the trees, houses, sidewalkes. Just weeks ago came to Barcelona Jean-Pierre Beltoise, delegate of the GPDA for the safey on the circuits and the engineer Giuseppe Bacciagaluppi, agent of the CSI. The two asked to stand up the guardrail with a third band at the points of greatest danger, the installation of nets and the creation of escape routes. At this point the barriers they have not yet been placed it. Upon their arrival in Barcelona the drivers immediately wanted to make sure if the recommendations of the two correspondents were followed. Thursday evening Fittipladi has accomplished a lap in the circuit with his Mercedes, he discovered a much more serious flaw. The metal bands of the guardrail have been only partially secured with nuts and bolts, so that they swayed under the simple push of the hands and the stakes were poorly anchored to the ground.
"I kicked one out. An increadible fact. You can think if a car leans violently against the barrier: instead of being held by the hands, everything breaks. You run the risk of being guillotined. This isn’t a political issue, of money or of blackmail. It's a matter of skin here. And it’s our".
The Brazilian and his colleagues recall the drama of the Australian Koenigg with the Surtees in Watkins Glen, in the 1974 United States Grand Prix. The drivers gathered this morning in a gigantic camion-roulotte and they investigated the problem. An ultimatum has been sent to the organizers, the Real Automobile Club de Catalunya.
"Or you arrange barriers to be rigid and effective, or we don’t get in track".
The times for the work (it is calculated that it needs to be fixed 22.000 between bolts and washers for almost eight kilometres) it’s too little and the day of practice it went empty. There were two shifts scheduled: from the 2:00 p.m. to the 3:00 p.m. and from the 4:00 p.m. to the 5:30 p.m. the first one it was suppressed. The second one disputed. The meetings followed by the practice. The builders let it known that they leave their drivers free. Luca Montezemolo, for the Ferrari, explains:
"When Lauda tells me he doesn’t feel like going on the track, what should I do? I duty him? And with what responsibility? Sure, I don’t understand why in Spain they insist on racing here the Grand Prix when there is a national track like the Jarama one. The racing drivers are right to protest. In these conditions they would really risk their lives".
The GPDA tried to get interested in the case of the CSI, rappresented by the secretary Le Guezeq.
"We asked them to put it in writing and to sign a paper with which he declared that the circut was safe. But he was careful not to do it. We invited him on Saturday to check the works of the guardrail to give us an official opinion".
In these circumstances the CSI shines for absenteeism. His representatives slip away or, if they can’t go away, they hide behind lies or disinterested. It’s, however, a serious inconsistency that Le Guezec refused to sign the safety license for the Spanish circuit, but he agreed to carry out the second turn of practice. For him, in short, the Montjuïc it was safe or not? To this session of practice it only attended: Ickx, with the Lotus and Brambilla with the March, out of twenty-six registered drivers at the Spanish Grand Prix. Ickx has controversy with the GPDA, of which he is not a partner, and he was keen to point out
"We are all wrong, they have not completed the works in time, we should set up our battles differently with more calmly and differently. I’d like to know why some of my colleagues have nothing to complain about Monte-Carlo: maybe because the starting prize is much higher".
Will be, but at Monte-Carlo, where they start to work on the circuit with a month in advance and not two or three days before as in Barcelona, at least things like that don’t happen. Brambilla, more resolute, he declares:
"We are here to race. Until no one got on the track, I was fine with it. Now there’s Ickx, why I gotta watch him. And then if we don’t go at the Montjuïc, there are a thousand other places where you can stay stand".
For the record, Ickx was the best with the time of 1'32"10, with the average of 148.168 km/h (a time very modest) against the time of 1'48"90 of Brambilla, who was immediately struggling with a loss of gasoline into the cockpit. The Real Automobile Club de Catalunya appeals to the sporting sense of the drivers, ensuring that was in curse the works required. Tomorrow at midday a final inspection of the circuit is fixed. If Fittipladi and partners will be fulfilled, probably the lost time will be recovered lengthering the second session of trainings, otherwise on Sunday the people will only see the bullfighting. Maybe, with a lot of money at stake, a balance will be reached, even if it is implied that the Brazilian (and, overall, all those of the English team) would have good reasons not to race and to skip this race: the Cosworth, supplier of the engines, had long strikes that have prevented the normal work of revision of the group of the power units and the ships: also, this track would lend itself to exalt the characterisics of the new Ferrari 312 T. But this should only be malicious rumors. Or not? A thing is clear: these semi-permanent tracks must be abbandoned. Races must be done inside real racetracks.
The Spanish Grand Prix will be played, Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni, with their new Ferrari 312 T, will start in the front row. The beautiful test of the Italian single-seaters is however clouded by the events that came before of this exploit: the drivers were forced to get on track under the threat of the confiscation of the cars from the organizers of the Real Automobile Club de Catalunya. A true blackmail, whom Emerson Fittipaldi, animator of the safety campaign, with much coherence he opposed as he could. The Brazilian, that with his colleagues had remarked that the works carried out in the night were not enough, has complete a few laps of training and announced that in the race will perform only one or two laps. The CSI for its part, did not have the strenght to accept the requests of the GPDA and he roported that the circuit of the Montjuïc, even not perfect, it was fit to use it. A long day and depressive for the motor sport. It all started at the 11:00 a.m., when a group of drivers with some delegates of the CSI it start with a circuit ispection. On foot: Fittipaldi, Lauda, Jarier, Graham Hill, guided by Pierre Ugeux, vice president of the CSI and with Erasmo Saliti, officer of it CSI for this case, examining the work of fixing the bolts and nuts, which is still ongoing. But the assembly is imperfect, some bend still sways and in many places the anchor is missing. Fittipadi shake his head.
"It’s not good, it’s not good".
Said, and hastens to point out to Ugeux and colleagues the weak points. Also, the delegated of the CSI seem conviced of the validity of the assembly of the guardrail. Lauda clarifies that into the fast part, before the box, the bolts were closed only on the outside side.
"And if you spin it?"
The Austrian is wondering. After an hour the ispection ends. Ugeux said to Fittipaldi:
"Let us know your decisions.I’ll meet you back at the 1:00 p.m.".
The plan of this second day of practice includes a first round, from the 2:00 p.m. to the 3:00 p.m. and a second one from the 4:00 p.m. to the 5:30 p.m. The twenty-six single seaters registered to the race are taken to the pits at midday from the near Football Stadium where they were hosted. Until now we don’t know the choices of the drivers, but each team regularly carry out the preparation. Luca Montezemolo, sports director of the Ferrari, has an quarrel with a police man, that prevents him from staying into the box Ferrari, and is arrested. Then they let him go half an hour later. This is increadible, but every abuse is now allowed. While, at the 1:00 p.m. the drivers of the GPDA end their meeting into the big camion-roulotte into the stadium. A board made up of Fittipaldi, Lauda and Scheckter is instructed to speak with representatives of the CSI. Lauda anticipates:
"Mainly we decided not to practice in these conditions. It’s too dangerous".
We learn that Andretti and Donohue, instead, they would be willing to race, as the other dissidents not affiliated with the association: Ickx with the Lotus, Evans with the B.R.M and the Dutch Wunderink with the Ensign. The county slips in a pulman of the Real Automobile Club de Catalunya. It follow lengthy discussions between comings and goings of executives, drivers and organizers. At the end, around the 1:30 p.m., the bus doors it open wide. Fittipaldi, Lauda and colleagues, livid, get back to the stadium. The reason of their bad mood is soon explained. Ugeux said:
"The works of tonight allow the carrying out of the practice. The circuit is not perfect, or safe a hundred percent, but which circuit is it".
So, the work is done badly, but they can get on track the same. Shortly after, in the usual camion-roulotte all the twenty-six drivers present in Barcelona gathered. The discussions continue. Wunderink moves away, followed by Evans and by Ickx. The three decide to make some good lap of practice and, at the 2:00 p.m., they occur to the box with suit and helmet. The crowd applauds them. The first session of training ends without the other drivers imitating them. At the 3:00 p.m. two hours have passed since the beginning of the meeting, that they can be seen behind the blued glass of the camion. Executive, technicians, journalists, photographers and friends are placed on the chair of the grandstands of the stadium. It’s a strange match to which they assist. The jokes bloom.
"It’s worth than the Concilio di Trento: let’s take off the air conditioning".
Then, quick, the solution of the case. There is a vote: we must decide wheter, despite the approval by the CSI, we should continue in the dispute or not. Eight (Brambilla, Bryce, Peterson, Andretti, Lella Lombardi, plus the three dissidents already on track) wants to race, the others are stuck to their positions. A democratic vote, that is overwhelmed by the force. The organizers let the drivers know and to the rappresentative of the teams that, in case they are gonna dissert the second session of trainings (that would lead to the impossibility to dispute the Spanish Grand Prix), the civil guard will intervene to seize the cars. They let known, coldly courteous the directors of the Real Automobile Club:
"Before the civil court will pass at least two or three months".
It’s a dirty blackmail, and not every builders have the strenght to oppose to them. Ken Tyrrell, for example, hisse at Scheckter:
"Jody, if you insist, I take away the car from the pit, but you know how it ends. Then we will fix our contract".
The drivers give in, Luca Montezzemolo, for the Ferrari, confirms to Lauda and Regazzoni a complete freedom of decision, but the Austrian and the Swiss do not feel to harm their team. Niki Lauda says:
"I would not race for me, but I can’t stop our single seaters in Spain".
Fittipaldi is disgusted. Reutemann wispered:
"We were subjected to too much pressure".
At 4:00 p.m. the drivers, one by one, reach the stadium and they get into the cars. They have an hour and a half to set up the cars, a ridiculosly short time. Fittipaldi appears more than half an hour late after a close dialogue with its patron, Teddy Mayer.
"I’ll make four or five laps to qualify officially, otherwise they seize my McLaren, I’ll go easy and tomorrow I will retire right away".
"They pulled a gun on us".
The Austrian, anyway, he does his job with the usual skill and Regazzoni echoes (althought there is some doubt about the accuracy of the time of the Swiss, maybe timed with a bit of magnanimity): 1'23"40 and 1'23"50. A woderful pairing, especially on this circuit where the overtake are difficult. It was since the Italian Grand Prix that a Ferrari does not conquered a pole position. The two 312 T are fine and the drivers, despite everything, are satisfied. Good practice also for Hunt, Andretti and Vittorio Brambilla. Lella Lombardi and Merzario are in trouble: the girl has issues with the gearbox. Arturo protest with Frank Williams (the two are close to the break), because the new single seater it’s not tidy and the cockpit it’s too skinny even for him who has the measures of a jockey. The French, Depailler with the Tyrrell experience the strenght of the guardrail with an amazing spin. The barriers become deformed slightly, but they hold up, at least at the point of the impact. Fittipladi leave early the track between the whistles and the slurs of the spectators. His time: 2'10"20. The World Champion is just true to his conscience. More man than a driver. The motorsport had one of the most depressing and disgusting days today. Maybe, we can say that he was immoleted on the altar of commercial interests. This is the logical point of arrival of a continuos denigration, the constant sacrifice of human and sporting value to advertising and spectacular. The drivers must get on track althought they judge the Circuit of Montjuïc unsafe and dangerous for their lives and to partecipate to the Spanish Grand Prix. They have to do it because the system has been stronger than them, especially in this country where democracy does not exist neither in name nor in fact. The weapon of legal threats has been fired on them, from the action of the Guardia Civil to the seizure of the cars. Sanctions not sports, as the case would possibly have imposed, but related to the civil code. But we joke, cars stuck in Barcelona for two or three months? And on that cars there live so many people, a world not only artificial but made of workers, the drivers give in on this form of legal terrorism. Neither builders nor leaders of the CSI were able to support them. Only Luca Montezzemolo, the young and combative of the Ferrari, has generously committed himself with Lauda and Regazzoni
"Guys, do it, whatevers you choose".
But how could Lauda and Regazzoni put the red single seaters in police custody? What has happened is the counterpart of the established commercial contracts by the pool of the builders with the organizers of the Grand Prix. The signatures of applications triggers a complicated system of rewards and compensations, overlapping the sport law. According to this one, the strikers drivers should be reffered to their respective federations for their punishment. We wonder with what spirit the drivers will get on ttrack. They also have great responsabilities, in the end they are the ones who pay. The others are watching, in first place the sponsor, who need to see the cars on the track to propagate their products, the organizers, the public in the stands, the seraphic leaders of the CSI, now exhausted, bound by a thousand intrigus, conditioned by the strongest who walk in the pits and know nothing about motorsport, they who should protect it. It is worth, beyond the points in the championship and of the technical indications, to win - if it will win - a Grand Prix like this. The clouds over the Montjuic Park clears slightly on Saturday evening and workmen continue to check the safety barriers, so that on Sunday morning the stewards of the meeting are satisfy that all was well. Everyone is ready to take part except Emerson Fittipaldi and he has returned to his home in Switzerland saying that he considers the safety precautions inadequate, not that the circuit is dangerous. His brother Wilson and Merzario make it clear that they will drive but not race, and one or two others are still emotionally muddle, not sure what they are suppose to be doing. The start of the 75-lap race is suppose to be at 12:30 hours, but a display of music and dancers in front of the main grandstand delay things a bit, but eventually all is ready. The cars made a warm-up lap, line up on the dummy-grid, and then Lauda and Regazzoni lead them up to the start line. The 30-second signal is raise, but almost immediately the ﬂag drops and 25 cars make a superb start, with Lauda just leading Regazzoni up and over the brow of the hill leading to the ﬁrst left-hand hairpin. Andretti is on the right with the Ferraris and Brambilla is going up the outside on the left.
Down to the hairpin it all happens as Lauda breaks late and heavily, trying to dive into the apex, but Andretti got his right-front nose-ﬁn under a rear wheel of the Ferrari and is inadvertently pushing Lauda offline and into the path of Regazzoni’s Ferrari. Watson’s Surtees collide heavily with Andretti’s car and a lot of others are bouncing off one another. Hunt sees a gap in the melee and dive through into the lead, follow by Andretti, Watson, Stommelen and Brambilla and the rest follow, some bearing scars, while Lauda’s race is over with his right front suspension broken against the guard-rail and Regazzoni is limping along with a crumple front and a smash front wheel. He makes it to the pits where a new nose-cowling is ﬁt and new front wheels and tyres and he joins in the race having lost four laps. Wilson Fittipaldi retires discreetly in the pits and Merzario gives up on the circuit, but Hunt is really getting stuck in, but isn’t getting away from Andretti. The Parnelli car has its right-front nose-ﬁn inoperative and its left rear wheel leaning in due to the top link inboard mounting having been bent on the ﬁrst corner. As Andretti explains:
"The two faults kinda even each other out, and I soon learn to live with the new handling, even though the car is crabbing on the straights".
John Watson is in a very healthy third place, follow by Stommelen in Graham Hill’s new car, Brambilla and Pace, while Peterson is catching them. Hardly had the dust of the ﬁrst lap settle then there are clunks and bangs as cars bounce off the guard-rails as if the GPDA are deliberately putting the safety-barriers to the test. Scheckter’s engine blew up in a big way and Jones spun his Hesketh out of the race on the resultant oil patch. Donohue does likewise and Reutemann has a spin which causes Wunderink to dodge and bang a rear wheel on the Armco, but he continues. After the Penske car is remove from where it stops, Hunt lost his Hesketh and the lead on the slippery surface and change to a stop against the rails and now Andretti is leading the race in the out-of-line Parnelli. All is going well for the little Italian and he leads the race conﬁdently, with Watson now in second place, trying hard to close on the American car. At one point the Irishman locks his left-front wheel under braking and unknowingly puts a ﬂat on the tyre and a little later when the front starts to vibrate he thinks a wheel-bearing wheel is breaking up. At 11 laps he pulls into the pits for a check of the wheel-bearings and suspension and a lot of time is lost before the faulty tyre is discovere. This let Stommelen into second place with Pace and Peterson hard on his heels, for Brambilla has stop to have his car checks as it feels odd and there is the thought he may have bend something in the ﬁrst corner fracas. Jarier has also stop to have a tyre change and Evans is out with the drive to the fuel-injection unit on the B.R.M. engine seize. Andretti’s gallant drive ended suddenly as the left-rear suspension link mounting, bent in the accident, now broke and left the wheel collapse, the car damaging itself on the steel barriers as it slid to rest. This left Stommelen in front, with Pace and Peterson now racing him for the lead, which is much more serious and Peterson begins to make signs of forcing his Lotus past the Brabham. Down the ﬁeld Brise is leading Migault and Pryce, until the Frenchman damages the nose of the Hill car and makes a pit stop, and then the two young British drivers have a dice on their own.
This ends when Brise hesitates coming out of a corner and Pryce runs the nose of his Shadow into the rear of the Williams. Brise stops to inspect for damage and the Shadow had its nose cowling bent and the oil cooler inside it’s rubbing on the road. On lap 24 the leading trio are lapping Migault, who has rejoin the race, and as they go into a corner there is room for the ﬁrst two to go by but not the third, and Peterson collide with the Hill car and bounce into the barriers, breaking a front suspension link bolt, which left the Lotus leaning on its elbow. Jochen Mass is now third and Ickx fourth, follow by Reutemann and Jarier. Stommelen is still leading as he starts lap 26, with Pace right on his tail, and the two cars go by the pits and up the hill past the paddock stadium at 150 m.p.h. The road up the hill is a long left curve as it approaches the brow, where the cars are almost air-borne and without warning the rear aerofoil separated the company from Stommelen’s car. With a left bias already on the car, the instant removal of all down-thrust on the rear wheels cause it to veer across the road and hit the barriers on the left. They don’t collapse, as predict, but stand ﬁrm and deﬂect the car across the road at something like 130 m.p.h. and Pace breaks furiously to avoid it but the Brabham is nudge into the barriers and career down the hill smashing wheels as it goes. Stommelen’s car continue on its natural horizontal path from its point of contact on the left, but by sheer bad luck this path is across the brow of the hill, so that when it reaches the barriers on the right, they and the road surface are already at a lower level so that the crashing car skate along the top rail, take down a lamppost and a length of wire debris net as it destroy itself. The car is launch up in the air by the left-hand rails as some people say, nor had the right-hand rails collapse. In fact, all round the circuit the guard-rails are trying and testing and not found wanting. Miraculously, Stommelen is still alive, but with many broken bones but a ﬁre-marshal and four other people are kill, while some nine or ten are injure. When the extent of the injuries is ascertain there is nothing to be done except stop the race, principally in order to get ambulances and a breakdown truck to the scene of the accident.
"Andretti was like a Formula 3 driver. Crazy among us".
The Italian-American admits to having hit the Austrian, but he said, as an excuse, of having in turn received a blow from Watson. His denies, and the television confirms:
"I touched him, but after he had already rammed by Lauda".
Then, Andretti will say that:
"The brakes had not behaved well".
In the accident Depailler was also involved, with the Tyrrell, that to avoid the tangle is finished against a barrier and he is forced to retire. But in Barcelona, the race is over after the car of the German Rolf Stommelen, 32 years old, went off the track mowing a group of spectators. Says the Italian journalist, Gianni Rogliatti, present on site:
"After they have been covered 25 of the 75 laps planned, and while I was going back to the pits, I heard a strong blow while it was passing the car of Stommelen: the rear wing has been detached while, at full speed, into the uphill straight that leads from the box to the turn: at this point the slope changes from uphill to downhill with a bump fairly pronounced. For a car to the limit of adherence at this point of the track and suddenly the support of the wing means only one thing: the catastrophe. On the track it remains the signs of the desperate braking of Stommelen while he was trying to control the crazy car: I see a smoke rise and I run for fifty meters, maybe less. I realized later that while I was running I had climbed over five bodies, maybe someone already dead. I get to the car that no longer exists, the engine is on the ground detached, the body is wrapped in ten meters of metallic net that he carried with him when he flew by the stretch ripping the net. I can’t find the driver in the smoke that begins to invade everything, then the cops come and they all turn back. Is it then that, returning to my footsteps, I notice that there are bodies on the ground, dead: one was already on the gurney and partially hidden, but from under it appears a red journalists bracelet, a colleague, an “Italo-Canadese” they will tell me later. The cars continue to pass because the order to stop the race was not given, this order will be done only four laps after the accident as noted by the ranking that Stommelen figure with 25 laps and the others with 29. For four times the drivers passed through the pieces of the car and the smoke that came from the destroyes car. It is due to the fact that today we use safety tanks that had prevented the formation of a fire. Then the usual scenes in which the people who come to see and so it is even more difficult the work of the rescuers, finally cars are stopped and ambulances arrive. To this moment ten minutes have passed since the accident, which seem like an eternity, then it’s all over and the timing takes the regular course and they begin to make report but these I make to do to the others".
An official statement of the stewards, delegate and members of the CSI present, where they say that the accident cannot be attributed to the security measures, returns, at least in part, paece of mind to the organizers of the Spanish Grand Prix. It is confirmed that the temporary balance of the disaster is four deaths, the number of the injured climbed to twelve, of which at least three are life threatening. Fortunately, the public at the scene of the accident was poor, but there were many photographers. Sadly, to lose their life are: Mario De Roja, 31 years old; Joaquim Mocra, 52 years old (firefighter): Antonio Font, 28 years old; Andreas Ruiz, 30 years old (the victim was not identified at the beginning), while the injured are: Sergio Gil, 21 years old, of Spanish Television, serious; Georges Bertolotti, 42 years old, press office of the Principality of Monaco, in a worrying state; Habs Jurben, German journalist and photographer, 28 years old; Pedro Arquer, 35 years old, serious; Xavier Figueros, 11 years old, mild; Federico Rodriguez, 21 years old, mild, Montsellato Masip, 21 years old, mild; Joaquim Flaquer, 9 years old, serious; Carmelo Villetore, serious. At the Soler Roig clinic where Stommelen was admitted, they denied his death, circulated after the testimonies of an envoy of Argentine television. Mario Pena, thinks that there’s no way he got out of that scary accident alive. Stommelen has suffered numerous fractures, especially in the lower limbs, but the doctors, who have undergone a long and delicate surgery, they hope that he will survive. The race was suspended for rescue operations and then permanently closed. The victory : even if unsual it’s important in this painful moment – was given to Jochen Mass, in a McLaren, that was in the lead at the moment of the stop. This umpteenth drama in motoring happens just when it was questioned by the drivers the safety of the Montjuïc circuit. There was some talk about the guardrail, who had been accused for the poor assembly, but they also were talking about the nonsense to make race the single seaters of Formulla 1 (cars with engines of 3 litres, 400-500 hip power, weight below the 600 kg, acceleration of a jet and 300 km/h of speed) into a city circuit. The track is made into the avenues of the amusements park overlooking Barcelona from a green hill. The drivers had to bow to the dictatorial ultimatum addressed, on Saturday, from the rganizers of the Real Automobile Club de Catalunya: or you race, or the car will be seized by the police and they will remain inactive for three months. Only the Brazilian World Champion, Emerson Fittipaldi, has give up the race, fourth appointment of the World Championship, to leave for Geneva, where he lives.
"I do not approve this citycircuit. I tried with my association to make it reject them, but some colleagues accused me of braking a tradition. So I had to give up".
The race was immediately animeted from several accidents, which they involved various cars, between them the Ferrari of Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni. Things that were minimal compared to what had to happen. The tragedy happened at 1:33 p.m., during the 26 lap of the 75 planned. Stommelen and Pace had crossed the finish line one after the other. At this point the stands and the pit rise. There's a short straight, then the track It’s turning to left, line with large threes and to uphill, on the right, there was a parking space that was of the old football stadium, now abbandoned, that in the last few days hosted the trucks of the Formula 1 teams. The access of the stadium is opened on the tracks right above the uphill. A footbridge crosses the road, that begins to go down, flanked by the sidewalk and by a cliff, interrupted by a monumental staircase that take to the institute of for the celebral palsy, placed higher. A guardrail with three metallic bands and anchored to the ground by support feet and a support net with normal mesh, high three meters, separating the cars from the public. A ridiculous protection. Stommelen is in the lead, therefore, then Pace. Suddenly the big rear wing of the Embassy of the German is detached by the failure of the suport and is splashed on the right side of the track. The wing is an important dynamic element for the the held on the street for the single seater: the airflow presses on the wing and still holds the car on the ground. Without this help, the single seater of Stommelen bent to the left unless the driver, surprised about that rapid change, without being able to intervene and he beat on the guardarail. The barrier resists to the violent impact, pushing the Embassy to the other side of the track: in a crazy swirl of plastic and of metal parts. Carlos Pace will say at the end of the race:
"I saw the wing blow and the car of Stommelen hitting the barrier. He was flying through the air and i had the sensation to being passed over. I don’t think I touch it and then thrown to the right side of the street. The debris punctured two tires of my Brabham, I ended up against the guardarail, I craweled for about thirty meters and I stop. I didn’t think I was alive".
Hit by Pace or - how it’s more likely - thrown in the air from the elastic effect of the barrier. The Embassy has gone over the top slipping under the catwalk and leaning to the guardrail, where he continued for some meters, up to drop over the protective fence right up over the staircase. And there’s the massacre. A firefighter and some photographer - this is the right point for spectacular shots - they are between the barrier and the net, in a passage one and a half wide they get wiped away first, then the spectators who were behind them. Cries, blood everywhere, groans, between the general panic, the stewards waved the yellow flags to slow down the drivers. The Embassy, is a mess, without tires, suspension and the engine partially detached with a fire start, immediately extinguished. On the ground, death and wounded. A men was crushed under the engine. The police, to clear the area, intervened heavely, using the trancheon also who was around in shock and dazed. Six minutes after the race was suspended. Dozens of ambulances have entered into the track and it started the rescue operation. The others victim, between the howling of sirens and the shock of everyone, they have been taken to different hospitals. A climate of general mobilization. The death are: the photographer “Italo-Canadese”, Mario De Roja, 31 years old, a contributor to an Italian weekly, a firefighter, Joaquim Morera, 52 years old, Antonio Forte and an old man. Between the injured, a editor of the Spanish television, he had a broken leg, Georges Bertellotti, belonging to the press office of the Principality of Monaco, a little boy of 11 years old and a girl of 21, that was there for her onomastic. The stewards, while the cars were going back to the pits, have gathered to establish if the Spanish Grand Prix was to resume or not, Fortunately, they have had the good sense to consider this tragic race over with the 29 lap. And in two weeks there’s another Grand Prinx in a city circuit, the one of Monte-Carlo. Until when the Formula 1 will allow to race between sidewalks and houses? The drama of Barcelona should have made it clear that the races has to be made into the racetracks, without take care of the traditions and the atmosphere. Too many people are crying cause of who ccould not make certain decision in time. Alberto Rogano, president of the Italian Sport Commision, declares:
"But how could you think that the submitted of the CSI could ban the race? I'm here, guests and friends of the organizers".
No, it’s not ok, the future of the motorsport is compromised, if they don’t take energic decisions, they don’t revolutionize schemes stiffed by the time. The city circuit are a legacy from the heroic age, dinosaurs survived to the past. And the reasons are mainly technical, related to the respect of the drivers life as the one of the spectators. The modern car of Formula 1 are extremely rxaspereted: advanced suspension, engines with 500 Cv, a ridiculous weight, monstruos performances. They are also weak and they breaks easly. The collisions are common enough and the tyres are big and they fly away as bullets. The risk of fire is costant. For this reasonsit is necessary that the races must be made in special places, that are the racetrack. To reduce the concequences of an accident, caused by a human mistake or from a mechanical failure, from the trackside there must be large areas clear of any obstacle. The car in difficulty can slow down, reduce his speed. Then, far from it, the guardrail and the grids as a final protection. And, even more far from it, the spectators. How is it possible to make this things in a city circuit, where there’s no space. We can’t demolishing houses, trees, steps. There's no way: abolish, drastically, without any respect these traditions, this improvised tracks. Also the problem of the rescuers it’s terrible: the ambulances could access to the place by tragedy only by entering by track. And if the Embassy of Stommelen caught fire irremediably? What would it be the seize of the accidet? This are anxious question that the drama of the Montjuïc offers. It's the time of the nerve, of the decision. If the motorsport will continue to bend to this blackmails, it will eliminate itself.
"We had the proof that the organizers care above all about money and not about the human lives".
Present in the studios of the RAI (Italian televisio) in Milano, Arturo Mezzario, just back from Barcelona, makes it understand with the phrase:
"At the start some of our colleagues forgot the arrangements and who had more chances went away...".
That there was an agreement between the protagonists not to force; an agreement not respected. It's sure, and the shoot commented by the same Merzario, confirm it. It was not a bargain: Mario Andretti, that he went to wipe off Lauda right after the start: in slow motion the dynamics of the accident is very clear, and we saw how with the Ferrari of Niki Lauda It ended sideways right in front of the one of Clay Regazzoni. By that logic, nor the wipe off to Lauda nor the other accident, worst, in which Stommelen was seriously injured and the death of four person (the German driver has lost the wing) can be attributed to the circuit, but Merzario explained that into the United States, in a no street circuit so more secure, if you lose the wing it can better absorb the consequences of the impact. The controversy goes beyond, and it arrives to the street circuit - the one of Monte-Carlo where the Formula 1 cars will race in two weeks. Both Fittipaldi, from Swiss, and Merzario have specified that the difference exists. In Monte-Carlo the circuit is dangerous, but the organization makes every effort to reduce the possibility of accidents. A thing that in Barcelona did not happen. As we said, Emerson Fittipaldi did not partecipate to the Spanish Grand Prix. At 11:00 a.m. he left the circuit of Montjuïc with his wife, Maria Helena, and at 12:10 went up on a D.C. 9 direct to Geneva, where he leaves.
"I’m proud of him, Emerson has shown to be a men first and then a driver. Between all the woman who live into the racing world, today i’m the only one who can stand tall".
It’s true, the Brazilian proved to be consistent with himself and with the action brought in this crazy day for a more security on the track of Barcelona. Saturday said he wanted to do some race laps and, them, to withdrawal, but he change his mind.
"My time was humble and not enough to qualify myself. However, as the settlement, the stewards had granted me to race. Thank you. I’m formally in place, none can confiscate the car to the McLaren, so I prefer to accept this gift. I took the decision quietly. I think that what we’ve done in Spain can be helpful for the future of the Motorsport. The circuit of Montjuïc is worse than two years ago and the safety conditions are insufficient. Why why not oppose? The organizers have subjected us to blackmail. It was inevitable to not damage our teams. But we agreed to make only a few laps as practice and with a relaxed pace. I made it, the others, as Lauda, no. It’s a thing that upset me so much, but I respect the decisions of the others: everyone has their problems. I understand that the young drivers wants to partecipate to the Spanish Grand Prix. For them it’s a good opportunity. I wanted to be consistent until the end with what I said. I’m sorry to have to give up a possible victory. I fight for the World title and nine points could have used. But, it was worth making this sacrifice?"
You will give up also to the Monaco Grand Prix, that will take place in a semi-permanent circuit and, maybe, dangerous as this one?
"No, I will go at Monte-Carlo, even if is another big problem and I don’t know if in the future I will come back. This city circuit have to disappear. But I have to admit that in the Principality perform the work of protection to perfection. Here, my last review, we were just wondering that the guardrail were mounted well".
What saddened you especially these days?
"The attitude of some driver, that make me doubt the validity of our association and the one of the CSI that did not help us in our battle. But it doesn’t seem like an important part of the sport".
About that Fittipaldi had longs talk with the prince Paul Alfons von Metternich-Winneburg, president of the CSI. Metternich said:
"On the human level I appreciate the attitude of Fittipaldi. But I have to say that such a question is difficult to solve, and in such a short time. I promise to myself to gather soon the CSI to discuss the case, and to have closer contacts with the GPDA. I’m sure that in long term the city circuits will disappear. But, today it’s more complicated to find a compromise valid for all. Too many elements are around our sports: sponsor, builders, organizers. One thing is for sure: this was an ugly and unpleasant business".
Three days after the end of the Spanish Grand Prix, Wednesday April, 30 1975, after the tragedy of Barcelona, the Italian delegation at the CSI makes in Milan a meeting to consider the initiative to take in the international plan. The president of the CSAI, Alberto Rogano, that is the chief of the Italian delegation, issue a statement with the summary of the most important points.
"We believe that the protest of the drivers must be attributed to a general discomfort and to the growing distrust of sports authorities. In the same way it can explain, according to us, the position of the organizers and their unacceptable threat. About the reason of the accident (the disconnection of the wing from the car of Stommelen) we could only regret the dilatory attitude of manufacturers, tolerated by the international body towards the CSAI proposal for a new Formula 1. In conclusion, we believe that what happened in Barcelona are due to an only factor: the the objective institutional weakness of the CIS, and thus its inability to solve the major problems of our sports, first of all the one of major security".
Between the initiative to solve the situation, Rogano proposes a reform of the Statute that make to strengthen operational structures of the CSI; an urgent modification of the International Sport Code in a way to give to the CSI, at least for the race of the International Championship, greater powers: the rispect for the standard valid for all sports, according to this the only authority competent to settle any disputes is the sports authority; the relaunch of the CSAI proposal for a new regulation of Formula 1 (elimination of wings, reduction of the tyre section, weight gain), are interesting. A doubt is arose: the CSAI president it’s not the only Italian member of the executive board of the CSI, and Erasmo Sasempre of the CSAI, it’s not between the CSI delegates who rejected the drivers' objections in Barcelona? Rogano criticism himself. The hypothesis are two: or into the CSI doesn’t matter or he has a certain weight, in that case this intervention has the air of an indirect defense to criticism, or an election shooting. About the technical ideas, we have to make a relief: Rogano and his staff did not even take the trouble to consult Enzo Ferrari, which at least is a racing car builder.