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#330 1980 Brazilian Grand Prix

2022-08-27 00:00

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#1980, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Margherita Urpi,

#330 1980 Brazilian Grand Prix

The Formula 1 circus takes a few days off. While technicians and mechanics are already in São Paulo, calmly tuning the cars in preparation for the fre

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The Formula 1 circus takes a few days off. While technicians and mechanics are already in São Paulo, calmly tuning the cars in preparation for the free practice sessions of the Brazilian Grand Prix scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 24, 1980, the drivers scatter around the world. Laffite, Jabouille, and Regazzoni, as has been their habit for some years, are in Bariloche, an Argentine mountain station, fishing for trouts. Jochen Mass is on a fazenda in the pampas, a guest of a friend, enjoying horseback riding. Patrese and Cheever (the latter on his honeymoon with his very young wife) are in Rio. Scheckter, with his charming wife Pamela, is in Johannesburg to pick up their son Tobia and bring him to Monte Carlo. Gilles Villeneuve has returned to Canada and in the coming days will follow his younger brother Jacques, who will participate in a snowmobile race in Wisconsin as part of the World Championship. Before leaving South America, however, the Ferrari driver speaks at length to explain his race and once again clarify his relationship with the team and with Scheckter.

 

"Jody and I have truly become friends. We spend time together with our families and get along well. However, that doesn't mean we won't compete on the track. In the early practices of the season, we'll be free to fight each for ourselves. Then it will depend on how the situation develops, on what others do as well. I don't think, however, that Scheckter is satisfied with the 1979 world title. He is no less aggressive than last year".

 

But Gilles hasn't softened either, and in Argentina, he narrowly missed a good result...

 

"I was unlucky. The race was very difficult, and I had problems with the tires. Jones was faster in the fast corners, while I did well sometimes and struggled at other times. When I followed the Australian closely, I noticed that the car smoked during gear changes. I thought he had problems, and I stayed behind him to put more pressure on the Williams and possibly force him to make a mistake. But it didn't work out, a bit like what happened in Montreal".

 

Is Gilles sure he could have attacked him?

 

"It was very difficult because with those tires, we couldn't go very fast. The T5, however, has progressed. When the incident that took me out of the race happened, I thought it was a suspension failure or a damaged tire. The steering wheel was already pulling to the left on the straight. I'm sure I'm not to blame for this retirement".

 

What do you think the future holds for you?

 

"I think I'll have some good races. But I can't predict whether I'll become World Champion, even though I hope so".

 

You'll soon have a Ferrari with a turbo engine. Are you afraid of the novelty?

 

"No, certainly not. When Ferrari introduces the turbo, it means they are sure they can do it. Some argue that we will have to change our driving style for the compressed engine, but it's not true. I'm convinced that this engine will give us immediate responses and not with a fraction of a second delay. Ferrari is working to make the engine perfect".

 

A few more days of rest before the curtain rises on the second act of the Formula 1 World Championship, the Brazilian Grand Prix scheduled for Sunday, January 27, 1980. While the drivers are still on vacation (except for Emerson Fittipaldi, who tests his car at the Jacarepagua circuit, about thirty kilometers from Rio on January 18 and 19, 1980), the mechanics in the controversial Interlagos circuit boxes begin the car setup. Apart from Osella, which never stopped working, for now, the teams of Williams and Ferrari are in action. 

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In the Maranello team, there has been some concern because the new chassis requested in Italy to replace the one damaged by Villeneuve in Buenos Aires has not yet arrived. However, it seems that the piece will reach São Paulo airport within a few hours, and the team will be able to assemble the car in time. The greatest attention is reserved for Williams, with Jones and Reutemann's cars. Fifteen mechanics and technicians from the English team, led by an increasingly demanding and nervous Frank Williams, take care of every detail. The attention towards Williams is more than justified because if Jones manages to repeat the success in Brazil as he did in the first race, he will gain points over his opponents and be psychologically advantaged. However, cars number 27 and 28 will be monitored with special interest: after demonstrating a clear supremacy at the end of the last season and now also at the debut of the 1980 World Championship, various rumors have emerged, as usual, when there is a winning team. There has been suspicion of lightening the car below the allowed 575 kilograms, talk of an oversized or irregularly installed rear wing. It is clear that these are just speculations that currently have no basis. The only certain thing is that technical checks will be carried out with extreme precision before and after the race. Among the favorites for the Brazilian Grand Prix, however, Formula 1 bookmakers who have already taken action do not only mention Alan Jones and possibly Carlos Reutemann. Concrete winning possibilities are also offered to the Brazilian Nelson Piquet, the second-placed in Argentina, considered by all as one of the best talents of the new generation. No longer very young (Piquet is 27 years old, born in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 1952), this driver who comes from karting (he started in 1970) and does not have much money, being one of the lowest-paid in Formula 1, as Ecclestone tied him last year to a contract for less than $100.000 per season, can be considered the true heir to Emerson Fittipaldi. Assertive but not clumsy, endowed with great temperament, Nelson Piquet has certainly benefited from the school of Niki Lauda, who was his teammate in 1979. The car he has, the Brabham BT49, is one of the fastest on the straight, and the characteristics of the Interlagos circuit seem to guarantee good performance for the car. Regarding the Brazilian circuit, the latest news reports that the asphalt has been almost completely redone, while protections and safety measures have been reinforced. 

 

However, the drivers maintain their attitude already decided by the safety committee: they will race but protest and unload all responsibility for any accidents on organizers and sports authorities. Staying on the competitive level, therefore, the Brazilian Grand Prix presents itself with a quite interesting leitmotif: a head-to-head duel between Jones, Reutemann, and Piquet with the possible inclusion of Ligier's Laffite and Pironi and Ferrari's Scheckter and Villeneuve. The cars from Maranello are not considered favorites, but as usual, they are seen as potentially dangerous outsiders. The largest industrial city in South America, a megalopolis of about 11.000.000 inhabitants, hosts the disputed Interlagos circuit, located in the vast suburbs, for a Brazilian Grand Prix that is rich in suspense and questions. Formula 1 drivers continue to protest, saying that the track is very dangerous, but when it comes to racing, they no longer care about anyone and unleash a resounding carousel that already excites the numerous spectators present. On Thursday, January 24, 1980, the first round of unofficial practices takes place. Three hours of training and car setup, carried out under overcast skies and a relatively low temperature, gave rise to close duels, immediately surpassing Jacques Laffite's track record of 2'23"07 set last year during qualifying by 0.01s. Once again, the fastest cars on the twisty and challenging track are the Ligiers. Young Didier Pironi precedes Laffite and the surprising Elio De Angelis, who records the third time. The highly favored Williams cars are a bit behind, with Reutemann outperforming Jones, while for Ferrari, it is an interim session, so the cars are quite distant. If everything goes well for Ligier, Williams, and partially for Lotus, in preparation for the first qualifying round, it must be said that almost all the other teams have to face and solve many problems. The bumpy track, full of bumps, creates difficulties for the skirts, which break by hitting the asphalt. However, official timing will have to be awaited to see if the initial indications will be respected. Ferrari tests with hard tires and a full tank of fuel, while the fastest almost certainly use qualifying tires, running with a semi-empty tank. Villeneuve cannot complete more than five laps because the engine of his T5 (the same one he used in Argentina for the race and that almost certainly was damaged in the off-track excursion) fails. 

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Even the Alfa Romeos of Giacomelli and Depailler will need to be revised for the test. Hard tires and gear ratios that are too long prevent the cars from being pushed to the maximum. Patrese has understeer problems, while Cheever, with the Osella, does not complete more than three laps, blocked by the engine's overheating failure. The only Italian driver who manages to stand out is De Angelis. Although the Roman manages to stay on the track for a very short time due to a gearbox failure. There is only one off-track incident. Fittipaldi destroys his car by crashing violently at the exit of the Ferradura corner. In essence, the much-feared Interlagos circuit doesn't create too many problems, and it is believed that in the coming days, the drivers will not stage protests. The only threats seem to come now only from photographers and cameramen, to whom FOCA has requested a fee ranging from $1.000 to $5.000 to enter the circuit and work. Someone wanted to organize a sit-in on the track to prevent the qualifying sessions, but in the end, no one took action. Ecclestone, however, released a statement to clarify the situation, stating that he asked for money only from those who profit from Formula 1 by selling images or videos without being professionally associated with newspapers, magazines, or official television entities. On Friday, January 25, 1980, just one hour of official qualifying sessions was enough to change the situation. The Renault turbo took the lead in the timesheet for the starting grid of the Brazilian Grand Prix, while Ligier and Williams partially dropped back, and Ferrari showed notable improvement. Under a sky with gray clouds and acceptable temperature, Jean-Pierre Jabouille's yellow Renault set a new Interlagos track record with a time of 2’21"40, averaging 200.470 km/h. This outstanding performance was notable, especially considering that the previous record was set just a day earlier by Didier Pironi at 2'23"06. The factors that led Renault to dominate the first round of qualifying were neither random nor mysterious. The French car was already known to be formidable - the Elf 20 was carefully prepared, lightweight, aerodynamically interesting, and equipped with an engine significantly more powerful than its rivals. In almost ideal conditions (the circuit is situated at about 850 meters above sea level, resulting in slightly rarefied air), Renault's technicians were able to adjust the compressor valve to very high values, obtaining an impressive amount of horsepower, reportedly at least 50 more than conventional, more potent engines. 

 

This was evident in the top speed recorded at the midpoint of the pit straight, with Ferrari clocking 278 km/h while all other cars were registered below 270 km/h. In the standings, Jean-Pierre Jabouille was followed by his teammate René Arnoux, the talented Didier Pironi, Jody Scheckter with Ferrari, Jacques Laffite, and Gilles Villeneuve, ahead of Jones, Andretti, De Angelis, and Piquet, all within two-tenths of a second. Notably, the top six positions featured cars with Michelin radial tires, indicating a significant advantage. The cooler temperature allowed the French team to use softer tires, while Goodyear, for the moment, seemed a bit surprised. There were positive developments for Ferrari, with Scheckter making progress and the T5 showing better performance. However, Villeneuve faced several issues and miraculously secured the sixth position. The last hour of qualifying would be crucial, and Ferrari seemed well-placed for a strong race, considering Renault's uncertainties about its reliability over the long distance. Jabouille's record-setting performance was achieved with only one flying lap available, as he encountered problems afterward. It's interesting to note that Renault's best performance was achieved with an unusual setup, described by French technicians as illogical and not conforming to normal standards and data observed so far. Among other observations, there was a slight improvement for Alfa Romeo, but the cars were still challenging to drive and relatively slow in terms of pure speed, despite efforts from Giacomelli and Depailler. De Angelis, despite spending considerable time in the pits to adjust the side skirts, stood out with the ninth fastest time and attracted protests from some track marshals for a risky overtaking maneuver under yellow flags. There were technical checks on the weights of two Williams cars and a Ligier at the end of the qualifying sessions, with the results showing compliance with 591 kg for the Williams and 623 kg for the Ligier. Yellow for Renault, blue for Ligier, red for Ferrari, silver for Lotus, and white for Williams. What color will the Brazilian Grand Prix be painted? Indicating a favorite is practically impossible. At least eight drivers are capable of winning. It can only be predicted that the race will be highly competitive, with many protagonists vying for victory. The weather adds complexity to the situation, as Interlagos has experienced intermittent rain for at least ten days.

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The rain threat also looms over the final qualifying session, with speculation that the grid from Friday's sessions may remain unchanged. After a furious storm flooded the area the previous day, on the morning of Saturday, January 26, 1980, rain begins to fall. A monotonous and dense rain covers the Interlagos circuit, seemingly never-ending. The free practice sessions serve only to test wet setups and tires. Then, miraculously, a ray of sunshine appears, drying the track, and for an hour, drivers unleash a whirlwind dance in which no one holds back. Out of 28 competitors, thirteen manage to improve their lap times. Pironi, Villeneuve, Reutemann, Laffite, and De Angelis make progress in the top positions, while Jabouille, Arnoux, Scheckter, Jones, and Andretti remain behind. Renault maintains pole position with Jabouille, but Ligier with the formidable Pironi, Ferrari with the determined Villeneuve, and Williams with the resilient Reutemann narrow the gap significantly. Pironi will start in the front row alongside Jabouille, and Villeneuve will be in the second row, alongside Reutemann. Laffite, Arnoux, De Angelis, and Scheckter follow. The gaps between the top eight drivers in the lineup, especially considering the length of the track (7875 meters), are quite small, and a fierce battle at the front of the race is foreseeable. Ligier achieved a splendid one-two last year with Laffite and Depailler, and now attention is focused on Didier Pironi, who appears particularly suited to this circuit. Much will also depend on weather conditions and tire choices, causing concern for all teams, including Ferrari. In Maranello, there is overall satisfaction with the outcome of qualifying. Villeneuve's third place indicates that the 312 T5 is progressing rapidly. The Canadian driver says:

 

"The car is much easier to drive now. I hope to have a good race, although I have to be careful with many competitors and a rather treacherous track".

 

To set the time of 2'22"17, earning him a spot on the second row, Villeneuve resorts to one of his usual tricks. When he realizes at the beginning of the practice that he couldn't improve with a normal aerodynamic setup, he quickly returns to the pit and has the rear wing lowered to offer minimal air resistance. Then he returns to the track and, risking the impossible, achieves an excellent performance. It's noteworthy that Gilles, in an attempt to gain an advantage, was the first to go out on the still damp track at the beginning of qualifying and had a frightening spin. Scheckter also tries to improve his time but is unlucky. Just when he pushes hard with worn tires, he is forced to slow down due to yellow flags displayed by track marshals signaling a sideways Tyrrell after a daring overtaking maneuver on a McLaren. Jody is not pleased with this setback and returns to the pit visibly furious. But there are only a few minutes left until the end of the sessions, and there's nothing more to be done. Carlos Reutemann has good chances, having already achieved a major satisfaction by outpacing his teammate Alan Jones by 1.5 seconds, who faced some issues. Regarding second drivers, another low blow is delivered by Elio De Angelis to Mario Andretti. Driving perfectly, the young Roman inflicts a one-second advantage per lap over the former World Champion. Apart from Ferrari and De Angelis, the Brazilian Grand Prix doesn't look particularly promising for Italian teams. Alfa Romeo will have to hope for rivals' self-elimination to aim for a good placement. Neither Giacomelli nor Depailler manage to improve, and the cars still seem rather slow. Patrese continues to have problems with his Arrows and risks everything to improve by a second. Finally, Osella misses its second qualification: a half-shaft breaks during practice, and Cheever's story ends here. Today's race, therefore, will unfold on two parallel stories. At least eight drivers eager for victory and all the others in a waiting position, hoping to reap the rewards of a cautious strategy. There is much fear about the start, both due to the characteristics of the circuit and because the Renault Turbo, which usually experiences starting problems, will be at the front. Jabouille says:

 

"I hope they don't pass me right away".

 

On Sunday, January 27, 1980, a staggered one-by-one start lineup was employed at Interlagos, just as it had been in Argentina, giving Jabouille's Renault a slight advantage before the starting signal was given. However, the French turbo car was tardy getting off the line, and Pironi was alongside it as they drew alongside the pit wall. 

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But both Frenchmen's efforts were eclipsed by the never-say-die Villeneuve, who was quickly gaining a reputation for the best starts in the Grand Prix business. His Ferrari came rocketing up between the Renault and the Ligier, diving into the left-hander after the pits well in the lead. Jabouille initially dropped back to fourth behind the two Ligiers. The McLaren mechanics wondered whether a new driving position might improve the performance of their tame Irishman, but he powered back into second place as they hurtled down the first long straight and was right with Villeneuve as they came up through the infield loops and out onto the start/finish straight to complete the opening lap. Third was Pironi with Laffite right on his tail, and the remainder of the field was already spacing out after that hectic five-mile opening lap. Already there was one casualty, Reutemann's Williams having broken a driveshaft as the Argentinian snatched second gear accelerating off the grid. He limped around a single slow lap before pulling in to retire, just in time to meet a rather flustered Mario Andretti walking back to the pits after spinning his Lotus 81 off through the catch fencing at the first corner at the start of the second lap. The Lotus had tipped onto two wheels during its crazy excursion, and the American briefly feared that it would tip over—fortunately, it landed on its wheels but very much the worse for wear. Jabouille closed up on Villeneuve as they went into lap two, passing the Ferrari at the end of the long straight and streaking away as the French Canadian eased up suddenly, dropping back quickly as he sensed something was wrong with his car's handling. On lap five, Pironi, who had dropped back behind his teammate, came into the pits to investigate a violent understeer problem, which made him suspect that one of his Ligier's skirts had stuck up. By the time he stopped, the skirt had fallen down again, so his team softened up his front roll bar and sent him back into the race for a game chase back through the field. Further back in the field, Regazzoni's Ensign was fading after a promising start, dropping away with acute understeer and a misfiring engine, while Villeneuve was soon back to sixth place in close company with teammate Scheckter. Arnoux was up to third ahead of de Angelis, and then came Jones's ill-handling Williams in fifth position, the Australian racing as best he could despite his problems. 

 

On laps seven and eight, respectively, the two Ferraris dove into the pits for fresh tires, emerging at the tail of the field. Scheckter didn't have to worry for much longer, as his flat-12 lost its oil pressure midway around lap eleven, and he rolled to a silent standstill out on the circuit. The Ferraris' problems helped promote Piquet's Brabham BT49 into sixth place behind Jones, while the Arrows of Patrese and Mass were next, followed by the two McLaren M29Bs (Watson briefly ahead of Prost after a superb start) and the Fittipaldi F7s of Emerson Fittipaldi and Rosberg. Both Arrows were understeering very badly and soon dropped away to be passed by their immediate pursuers, while Watson was soon dealt with by his young teammate. Prost's car showed a peculiar tendency to misfire at low revs when the fuel tank was full, and this problem apparently cured itself after ten laps or so. Once Prost was through and away, Watson fell back to be challenged by the two Fittipaldi drivers who were running in close formation with Rosberg pressing his team leader hard. It didn't take long for the determined Finn to have a go at Fittipaldi, diving inside him on the left-hander at the end of the long straight with a forcefulness that sent Fittipaldi wide over a curb, resulting in damaged skirts and a resultant pit stop for the Brazilian. After the race, there was an air of tension between the two Fittipaldi team drivers when they returned to the pits, both uncompromisingly differing in their interpretation of the incident. Laffite's challenge for the lead ended on lap 14 when a high-tension lead came adrift from his Ligier's distributor, stranding him out on the circuit and leaving Jabouille to consolidate a commanding and very comfortable advantage. Arnoux was now second, with de Angelis pressuring him determinedly. The young Lotus driver gradually realized that if he pressed too hard with the understeer he was suffering, then his front tires would not last the race distance. After working himself almost into Arnoux's slipstream, a couple of lurid moments convinced de Angelis that it was more important to be in the race at the finish. So, he eased off very slightly, and Arnoux pulled away. Further back, Pironi and Villeneuve were showing real spirit as they carved their way up through the midfield runners, with Riccardo Patrese proving particularly difficult to pass. Pironi took four laps before he found a way past the hard-driving Arrows pilot, and Villeneuve's determined efforts to get past Rosberg resulted in the Fittipaldi surviving a high-speed spin at the fifth gear Curva de Sol, which badly flat spots its tires and takes its driver aback somewhat. 

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Jabouille's confident run towards victory came to an abrupt end midway around lap 26 when one of the 0.5-liter engine's turbochargers failed, and he was left to limp into a disappointed retirement. But for Regie Renault, there was the consolation that Arnoux, running strongly in second place, could now take over at the head of the field. The Grenoble driver kept control, and with de Angelis falling away over the remaining fifteen laps, Arnoux scored his first Grand Prix victory by a convincing margin of more than twenty seconds. Third place was earned doggedly by Alan Jones, while Pironi, still hampered by acute understeer, finished fourth. Prost, driving with great maturity, refused to be ruffled by Patrese as he raced the Arrows for fifth place, eventually picking his moment and passing the Italian in an extremely confident fashion after he had watched and learned where the Arrows had handling problems. Finally, even for René Arnoux, the former mechanic of the Turin-based preparer Virgilio Conrero, the day of glory has arrived. The thirty-one-year-old Frenchman, born in Grenoble, who had worked as a mechanic in Turin before becoming a driver, with a judicious race performance, deservedly triumphed in the Brazilian Grand Prix and achieved his first victory in Formula 1. In the final lap, the Renault driver crouched on Patrese's car because his car had stopped just after the finish line. In an instant, the Regie mechanics swarmed around him, and in this joyful embrace, the eyes of the Frenchman sparkled like diamonds in the sun, unable to hold back tears of joy. After the champagne, celebrations, and pats on the back, Arnoux is ready to recount the highlights of his magical race.

 

"It was, all in all, an easy victory because the car responded perfectly until the finish line".

 

Why did you return to the pits with Patrese?

 

"My Renault betrayed me at the last turn. Probably, it ran out of fuel, but fortunately, the victory was already mine".

 

When did you feel confident about stepping onto the podium?

 

"I had a good start, and in a few laps, together with Jabouille and the Ligiers, we managed to create a gap behind us. For more than half of the race, I remained in a waiting position, mainly trying to save the tires. When Laffite stopped, I was already sure of achieving a good placement. Then, when my teammate Jabouille had to retire, the victory was within reach, although I was very scared because I felt the entire responsibility of the team on me, and it was the first time I found myself in this position".

 

Were you afraid of being caught by De Angelis?

 

"No, absolutely not. Elio had closed in because I had to lap other competitors. Overtaking was the real danger. Several times, other drivers hindered me while overtaking, and on one occasion, I even risked ending up head-tail".

 

René Arnoux smiles happily beside his wife. The memory of the last-lap battle with Villeneuve in the French Grand Prix last year, which saw him surrender, has been erased today on the Interlagos podium. Elio De Angelis manages to bring a smile to Colin Chapman's face. The second place is enough to ignite the heart of the Lotus boss and American financier David Thiene, the sponsor of the English brand. At the end of the race, Chapman and Thiene run towards the young Roman to express their satisfaction. The team principal says:

 

"It was simply fantastic, and he showed great maturity. He raced especially with his head, without overdoing it, actually trying to overcome the problems his car was facing".

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De Angelis heads towards the podium, embraced with joy by Chapman, but his face is gloomy.

 

"When victory is within reach and slips away by a little, inside, you feel a disappointment that you can't hide".

 

During the race, were you sure you could win?

 

"When I saw Jabouille stop, I thought it was the right day. I easily kept Arnoux's pace, actually paying attention to saving the engine and tires to launch the attack in the second part of the race. Unfortunately, from lap 25, the tires started to degrade so much that I had to make a slow lap and a fast one to reach the end. Anyway, I'm satisfied because I've shown that I can fight".

 

Is the appointment with success only postponed?

 

"I think so, even though in South Africa, our biggest problem will still be Renault".

 

In the day that brought the new talents of Formula 1 into the spotlight, the balance is positive for Riccardo Patrese, who secured a well-deserved sixth place. The Italian driver defended the fifth position until a few laps from the end but eventually had to yield to the young Alain Prost.

 

"My car was clearly inferior, and I couldn't resist the attacks of the Frenchman anymore. In sixth place, however, I didn't hope for it after the many problems in the practices".

 

A less favorable day, instead, for Bruno Giacomelli, who, only thanks to his determination, managed to finish the race in thirteenth place.

 

"On this track, our Alfas were clearly inferior to the other cars, also because we couldn't rely on previous experiences. My goal was to finish the race. Unfortunately, in the first few laps, I had to brake violently to avoid colliding with a Tyrrell that had spun, and I restarted in the last position. Then, a puncture forced me to pit. Honestly, I couldn't do more than that".

 

Ferrari takes bad luck in stride. Certainly, there is no need to dramatize after two poorly finished races; the Maranello team has accustomed its fans to miraculous comebacks. And you can't win all the time. With the 312 T5 of Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter, something similar happened to what had happened two years ago at Paul Ricard when the two drivers (back then, there were Carlos Reutemann and Villeneuve himself) of the Italian team were forced to stop several times in the pits to change tires. In Brazil, the problem was less glaring but certainly influenced the entire race of the Italian cars. Explaining why Michelin's radial tires, almost always excellent and often victorious, didn't work well at Interlagos is difficult, especially considering that the same tires led Arnoux's Renault to victory. Not even the technicians can explain the causes of this incompatibility; otherwise, they wouldn't have been taken by surprise. When, just before the start, the cars went on the track, engineer Mauro Forghieri said with a smile:

 

"The sun has come out; we just had time to change the tires and put on those more suitable for higher temperatures".

 

Apparently, the choice was not perfect, as both cars immediately had grip problems. And even when the tires were changed, the situation only became barely acceptable. Scheckter, who retired immediately, said:

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"The car didn't stay on the track and didn't have traction on the asphalt; everyone easily overtook me. After the change, it went a bit better, but I noticed that the oil pressure wasn't steady. Indeed, shortly after, the engine started losing power, and I had to stop".

 

The World Champion did not make any further comments. Gilles Villeneuve, on the other hand, is much more nervous; he made a great comeback and found himself on foot just when he had the chance to reach Patrese and Prost.

 

"Write down all the swear words that come to mind; they will never explain enough my anger and disappointment. The tires absolutely didn't work, but it wasn't just the lack of grip that caused the problems; there was probably something in the car too".

 

In the morning, during the free practice, the Canadian had to interrupt the training due to another engine failure. Since the beginning of the season, the Ferraris have stopped eight times for troubles related to the engine or lubrication. Forghieri says that five engines have seized, and this is already enough to create concerns for the future.

 

"Of course, we are alarmed, but we don't know what causes the breakdowns. Only when we get home can we do a thorough analysis and try to fix things. The engines are identical to those of last year, which never broke. It could be defective materials in the latest supplies. We will check everything".

 

Regarding Renault's victory, there is nothing to object to at Ferrari.

 

"At about 800 meters above sea level, it's not a surprise that turbo engines perform well. And you can't compete with those who, on the straight, travel with a 20 km/h advantage".

 

If Ferrari is not laughing, there is no cheerful atmosphere at Alfa Romeo either in Buenos Aires. The major problem of Giacomelli and Depailler's 179 seems to concern the rear suspensions that are not suitable for the car. One could not have seen a more opaque performance from the Italian team. One can only hope that the new model under construction is more competitive.


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