#263 1975 Italian Grand Prix

2021-12-19 23:00

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#1975, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Maria Vitiello,

#263 1975 Italian Grand Prix

The Article 52 of the Road Traffic Act prohibits auto racing in Switzerland. It's been since 1955, the year of the Le Mans tragedy, that the Swiss nat


The Article 52 of the Road Traffic Act prohibits auto racing in Switzerland. It's been since 1955, the year of the Le Mans tragedy, that the Swiss nation no longer competes on four wheels. After more than 21 years, however, a Swiss Grand Prix is held, organized by the section of Lausanne of the Automobile club. It is the first breaking action against a prohibition that not everyone agrees with. You can't race in Switzerland and so you come to Dijon, on the mini-circuit of Prenois where almost all the best Formula 1 drivers are present. Among the greatest are missing Lauda, Scheckter and Reutemann, who have already taken part in the non-championship round at Silverstone. However the news are many. Of course, everyone's eyes are on Clay Regazzoni and on his Ferrari. What better occasion for the driver from Ticino, at the height of an unlucky season, to stand out by winning the Swiss Grand Prix? Clay goes to Dijon very determined, ready to have a good race and fight for first place. Unfortunately, he is not yet accompanied by good luck. After obtaining the best time in free practice (59"4), on Saturday 23 August 1975 he was forced to settle for third place in the official practice, behind Jarier who conquered the pole position, and Fittipaldi, who set the second best time. The Frenchman, at the wheel of the UOP-Shadow which still mounts the Cosworth engine and not the 12-cylinder that Matra has just prepared, laps on the 3289 meters of the very fast French circuit in 59"25, while the Brazilian World Champion is only detached by 0.02 seconds. Regazzoni sets a time of 59"76 in the first round of practice, and promises to lower the limit in the second. As soon as he enters the track, however, he is forced to stop due to transmission problems. His Ferrari returns to the pits and is entrusted to the mechanics, remaining inactive for the entire duration of the training sessions. Clay will however start from the second row, with ample chances of success. But on this circuit you ride at around 195 km/h on average, and it certainly won't be easy to set a prohibitive pace for the other competitors. In the sixth row there is also Vittorio Brambilla who had set-up problems and only managed a time of 1'00"63. However, the Monzese doesn't make any problems and appears as always combative. The race, after a parade of vintage racing cars driven by well-known champions including Manuel Fangio, will start at 1:00 pm, over a distance of 60 laps, equal to 197.340 kilometres. Sunday, August 24, 1975, Clay Regazzoni becomes a prophet in homeland, or rather in France.


The Ferrari driver from Ticino finally wins, after a long time: it was in fact since last year's German Grand Prix, at the Nurburgring, that Regazzoni hadn't tasted the joy of a first place, of a success that revived his fame. Clay had accumulated such a dose of bad luck that he couldn't fail to win and so it was, rightly so, at the end of a very fast race set on pace. And so, Ferrari won a total of six Formula 1 races, two of which are the non-titled ones, at Silverstone with Lauda and at Dijon with Regazzoni. An exact division, outside of the World Championship, between the two riders of the Italian team. For Regazzoni, success is not easy to obtain, because Jean Pierre Jarier with the UOP-Shadow #17 starts immediately well, and it could not have been reached again if he hadn't broken the left rear suspension. The Frenchman perhaps forced too much and after 33 laps (out of 60) in the lead he had to abandon, leaving the green light to Regazzoni and the #11 Ferrari, which from now on has had no more problems, except to control Depailler who was in second position, but quite detached. Ferrari had come to Dijon convinced they could achieve a good result. The rather fast circuit, Clay's will to return to victory, were the ideal conditions for another triumph and in fact, all things considered, everything went as planned. Also because the opponents who had proved more dangerous in practice, Jarier dropped out of the race and Emerson Fittipaldi was unable to do more than one lap. The Brazilian burned the clutch at the start. He tried to do a slow lap to try to limit the damage by cooling it down, but then had to abandon his McLaren-Ford out of action. Shameful, because Fittipaldi had every intention of giving it his all and conceding nothing to his rivals. Someone, excessively malicious, spreads the rumor that success was given to Regazzoni to make him win the Swiss Grand Prix. It is a groundless hypothesis: the prize up for grabs was coveted by too many and in Formula 1 there are such interests that no one feels like giving anything away to rival drivers. Indeed, precisely because it was a race suspended for some time, and won the last time in 1954 by the great champion that Manuel Fangio has been(present as a guest in Dijon where he rode the Prenois circuit aboard that same Maserati from the Grand Prix he had led at the time), the fight was heated.


As the checkered flag went down, the joy of the Ferrari team exploded, with engineer Forghieri and Ghedini celebrating with the mechanics, accompanied by the great jubilation of the many Swiss present on the Prenois circuit. At the end of the race, the crowd surrounds Clay, letting off steam in the usual demonstrations of happiness, and the driver from Ticino struggles a lot to regain the road to the pits. For Ferrari, yet another confirmation of the particularly brilliant moment, waiting to officially conquer the world title with Lauda at Monza, Sunday 7 September 1975, the date on which the big appointment with all Italian motoring fans is set. Three days later, on Wednesday 27 August 1975, the Ferrari drivers test some types of tyres, wings, front fairings and suspensions at Monza in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix. The best lap time is set by Niki Lauda in 1'34"23, however far from the track record of 1'33"6. Meanwhile, the Canadian Grand Prix is cancelled. This was announced by Harvey Hudes, president of the Mosport Park circuit. Tuesday 2 September 1975, the so-called Grand Prix of the century begins. Despite the rain, thousands look at cars that are imitations of those in Formula 1, but they are not even disappointed, basically, of having paid 1.000 lire to get nothing in return, because they ask for nothing except to somehow experience this atmosphere of the eve. It has already happened other times that around the Italian race there was enthusiasm and passion, but this year there are feverish peaks, so as to put the organizers, although happy with the success, in the uncomfortable role of sick people. Every year, the Tuesday meeting is the first official approach of the Italian Grand Prix to the public, with journalists acting as intermediaries. Rhetorical words are said or not,according to the personality and age of the speaker, but the interventions are more concrete and positive than usual. In all there is the fear that an invasion of the plant will occur, that casual enthusiasts, added to those of all time, end up creating a problem that is difficult to manage. Hence the exhortations to order, to a self-discipline that also helps those who have to control to carry out their task better, to renounce low-value means, such as shears to cut nets and ladders to pass walls. The limits of the Monza plant, strenuously defended, and also with good reasons, by the Automobile Club Milano, risk emerging on this exceptional day. The usability of the racetrack is officially 100.000 people, not one more.


Calculating two people behind the net on both sides of the track along the entire perimeter, excluding prohibited areas, a total of 50.000 people, as many as can purchase a lawn ticket. The other 40.000 are spread out in the various grandstands, on the earthen elevations arranged in several points, wherever there is an elevated position. The trouble is that the real turnout inside the circuit can be considerably increased by the entry of illegals and that paying (and non-paying) spectators all concentrate in key points, causing a blockage, a real traffic jam of pedestrians. The Automobile Club of Milan is keen to underline how precarious the situation is for an organizer who is forced to mobilize 4.000 people to get the event underway. The expenses are enormous and dry up the takings, which will also be equally large. However, they reduce the margin and above all they do not dispel the fears which are becoming increasingly pressing on this eve. Of course, if there was a plant built from scratch, a modern layout located in the most suitable area, now we wouldn't be talking about doubts and uncertainties. Unfortunately, the other racetrack doesn't exist and this one, with its delights, also has the merits of a company well established on the market, a goodwill confirmed precisely by the presence of thousands of people who came to see nothing. An anachronistic committee chaired by an architect has also been created in favor of Monza. It is a sort of assault patrol against the specialized departments of Italia Nostra, whose ultimate objective is to drive the plant out of the park. The Christian Democrat mayor listens to one voice and then the other too, and for now he's mostly just waiting to see, not having been reconfirmed in the office so far, given that the left-hand turn has also reached Monza, indeed, to remain in character with the car which is a symbol of Monza, was even an oversteer. Here, then, that even with the most beautiful Grand Prix just around the corner, there is talk of the end of the concession scheduled for 1978, of the lack of permits for the construction of the bend variant, of the assault that new organizers give to this Italian Grand Prix monopolized by the Monza track. However, many races have been held, this too will be held, hopefully only well, with the expected 100.000 people and no more. To facilitate access and sorting inside, the organizers recommend arriving early. Tickets are on sale at the motorway exits, then in the avenues leading to Monza and, finally, at the gates of the racetrack. It is hoped that everyone will buy them before arriving at the gates, to reduce the formalities of entry.


To get away after the demonstration, different routes have been prepared from the usual ones and the traffic police will try to channel the different traffic currents. Focusing on the race. On Wednesday 3 September 1975, the English teams, Tyrrell, McLaren, Hesketh and Lotus, will arrive and install themselves in the garages of the racetrack. The March will be based in the Brambilla workshop, which fortunately is a bit out of the way, otherwise it would be even besieged by enthusiasts these days. Ferrari should arrive on Thursday evening with the drivers and mechanics, while the vans with the cars will move to Monza early Friday morning, directly from Maranello. The tests are scheduled for Friday and Saturday with times distributed throughout the day. Lauda is half a point away from winning the World Championship. The Italians are rooting for Ferrari and for the blond Austrian. But there are those who will also support Vittorio Brambilla on Sunday, the home driver, who has all the characteristics of a champion of the wheel, unscrupulous and daring as well as an expert driver. Around the pits there is animation, a convulsive coming and going of people, technicians and mechanics, drivers who give the last frantic adjustments to their respective cars. Monza catalyzes the attention of sportsmen and women who are interested in cars. The Grand Prix is a colossal commercial as well as technical and sporting phenomenon, and Monza, itself, benefits from it and Milan for the movement for tourists it entails. One hundred thousand people who will fill the central grandstands, those on the curves, especially Lesmo and the lawns move capital. In the enclosure of the Autodrome there is the fervor that precedes the big race on Sunday.


It is estimated that the proceeds will exceed 200.000.000 lire. The Auto Club of Milan has not increased the prices. As mentioned, on the other hand, the order service has been reinforced so that everyone respects the rules, but twists are not excluded. For example, there is the threat of a big sit-in that the workers of the Italian metalworking industries on layoffs would intend to implement to delay the start of the Italian Grand Prix by an hour. At the head of the delegations of workers on layoffs will be those of Leyland Innocenti. A demonstration, this, which would be of great effect to raise public awareness of the delicate situation of car companies. The Grand Prix, however, as the spokesmen of the metalworkers assure, is not in danger. Thursday, September 4, 1975 a man is perched on the cab of his big truck, which occupies half of the road that leads from Modena to Abetone and Lucca. He looks over a thick hedge, oblivious to the traffic slowing down and almost stopping. In a few minutes, dozens of cars park on the sides of the road. Binoculars and cameras emerge. Beyond the hedge is the Fiorano track, the facility that hosts Ferrari's trials and tests. The mighty voice of a twelve-cylinder boxer rises from the track: after Niki Lauda, it's up to Clay Regazzoni to complete a few laps with the car he will drive on Sunday at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix. It is the last check before the official tests for the race, which will begin on Friday morning, the last test to verify the efficiency of this 312 T which is about to give Lauda and Ferrari the Formula 1 world title and which has allowed two weeks ago the Swiss to impose himself in Dijon in the Swiss Grand Prix. Among the spectators there is enthusiasm, an air of celebration. Says a farmer who stops his tractor:


"Sunday we are champions again".


For these people who live between Maranello and Fiorano, among orchards, Lambrusco vineyards and ceramic factories, Ferrari is their own thing, a personal heritage to be proud of. Whether it's Lauda or Regazzoni or someone else who wins the title doesn't matter: what matters is Ferrari. At the test by Regazzoni, who arrived in Maranello around 11:00 a.m. after a sprint in 131 with his wife Maria Pia and their children Alessia and Gian Maria from Vallo di Lucania, where he had spent a few days of vacation, he assists Enzo Ferrari. He is calm, smiling, but reserved. He lets it be known that before making statements, comments or interviews he awaits the outcome of the Italian Grand Prix. Before Zeltweg's race, he had said that it was legitimate to hope for Lauda's success. Now the Austrian is only half a point away from being World Champion. The wait, therefore, is peaceful, even if Ferrari would like to close the topic with a ringing affirmation. There is also Lauda, who on Wednesday tested his 312 T and the T-Car, i.e. the reserve single-seater, for Monza.


"Today I'm resting, I'm flying to Salzburg again and tomorrow I'm going to Milan. I confess that I'm a little afraid of the fuss I'll find at Monza and of the expectation that has built up around the Italian Grand Prix. I'll try to win this blessed point, but I'd like to get more, maybe nine".


Nine are the points that are assigned to the winner. Naturally, Ferrari is vigorously committed to this latest leap and the tests are part of a program that is more intense than usual in view of Monza. The two drivers carried out private tests at the Monza racetrack in July and August, in addition to the Fiorano tests. The engineer Mauro Forghieri explains:


"We fine-tuned the 312 Ts based on the characteristics of Monza, paying particular attention to tyres, aerodynamics and ratios. The qualities that count are road holding, recovery and braking. The two chicanes, with gear changes from fifth to second gear, and the Lesmo curves are critical points. The greater effort will be borne by the gearbox, while the engine should breathe more than on other circuits, such as Zeltweg. For us, Monza is an average track, neither too favorable nor too difficult".


The tests, which Ferrari's engineers and drivers carried out on the Fiorano track and on those of almost all the Grand Prix circuits of the championship during the season, are one of the factors in the happy season of the Maranello team.


"Fiorano is to us what Goodwood or Silverstone are to the British. Now, however, we have the advantage: the Plant is ours, a stone's throw from the factory, we can go there whenever we want".


At Fiorano Ferrari tests new solutions for the development of its cars, and carries out 70-80% of the tuning of the 312 T before each race. The bulk of the work, therefore, is carried out in-house, allowing Lauda and Regazzoni to take to the track at Monza as well as at Le Castellet, at Zolder and at Zandvoort, with the cars almost ready. On-site tests, on the other hand, are mainly used to choose the most suitable tire solutions. An intense work, a methodical and orderly planning, therefore, are behind the red cars of Maranello. And the programming also concerns the fleet and engines. Five 312 Ts were built this year: three for each race and two to be overhauled at the factory or to be prepared for subsequent engagements. The round of engines is made up of 12 units: 6 for each Grand Prix (3 in the cars and 3 as spares) and 6 in Maranello; 3 engines are always at least 70% new. However:


"Actually, considering the spare parts, we have so far made well over twelve engines".


During the afternoon, the rumble of Regazzoni's car died down. The Swiss and Lauda have a little discussion together.


"Everything OK".


Clay says as his children crowd around him. The two drivers are invited to lunch at the Ferrari restaurant Cavallino. Luca Montezemolo must rescue them from the embrace of the fans who move from the street to the square in front of the factory. The young lawyer feels a lot about every Grand Prix, let alone this one.


"For heaven's sake, what to say? Nothing, nothing, it will be superstitious, but I'll shut up. It is clear that we have prepared ourselves, technicians and drivers have worked with their usual commitment. Half a point is enough for us, we hope to have it on Sunday evening. Ferrari and Lauda deserve it".


If, therefore, the conquest of the title by Lauda and Ferrari, and how this will happen, constitute the main theme of the Italian Grand Prix. Other interesting reasons for this historic race (for the spectators who will attend it, due to the fact that it could be the last Monza) can be identified in the presence of five Italian drivers Brambilla, Merzario, Lella Lombardi, the rookies Zorzi and Pesenti-Rossi, from which one, Vittorio, could impose himself, in the debut of new cars such as the Hesketh 303 C, and in the umpteenth confrontation between Ferraris and British single-seaters. John Watson will not race at Monza on Sunday in the Italian Grand Prix. The Surtees team, in serious financial crisis, renounces the Italian trip. In this regard, John Surtees declares: 


"We will resume the activity when we manage to cash in the 250.000.000 credits we have towards the 1974 sponsor".


It is almost a foregone conclusion that Lauda would be setting the pace with the works Ferrari, but nobody envisages him having a dominating lead of more than 1.5 seconds over the nearest Cosworth V8 car by the time the first practice session has finished. It seems as if everyone has given up and are merely going through the motions of being competitors to the two Ferraris, but in fact there is a lot of hard trying going on and some pretty desperate breakages among some of the teams. The McLaren team are in such a shambles after an hour of practice that it seems unbelievable and they are smiling, knowing they have reached rock- bottom and things can only improve. Fittipaldi has not been going long before his Cosworth engine blows up and he has to abandon the car on the far side of the circuit. Barely has he got going in the spare McLaren than Jochen Mass comes into the pits with his Cosworth V8 blown up and as his car is wheeled away to have a new engine installed, Fittipaldi bounces himself off the far chicane and bends the right front corner and crinkles the monocoque of the spare car. From a thriving team they are reduced to spectators in less than an hour. Depailler is going well in his Tyrrell and the two South American Brabham drivers are beginning to get to grips with the situation, even though they both suffer spins in their attempts to challenge the speed of the Ferraris. For the general run of the entry it is the old, old story of too much of this, or too much of that or not enough of the other, but the facts are that everything is looking pretty normal with the usual car/driver combinations being in the front half of the field and the rest in the back half. In the short afternoon session the McLaren team gets half way back to normal with the spare car repaired sufficiently for Fittipaldi to continue practice while his own car has an engine change, and before the session ends Mass is out again. Lauda improves on his morning time of 1'32"94 to 1'32"82 and he is alone in this bracket, Regazzoni being next fastest with 1'33"11. The only driver to get in the second-class Ferrari bracket is Reutemann who scratches a lap in 1'33"99, which can hardly be called getting into the thirty-threes which is everyone’s aim. Some drivers are not even in the thirty-fours, so that Lauda has as much as 2 seconds lead on some quite good runners. Needless to say a large crowd has taken time off on this Friday afternoon and there is continual applause and cheering for the Ferrari pair and quite a lot for Brambilla as well, even though he is not in the running. 


When the single-seaters driven by Lauda and Regazzoni, accompanied by the mechanics from Maranello, left the garages to enter the track, there was a long, warm applause from those who watched them clinging to the fence in the pit area. There were 30.000 people in the stands. Ferrari responded to the enthusiasm of new and old fans with a formidable performance: Lauda lapped in 1'32"82 at an average speed of 224.175 km/h. Regazzoni in 1'33"11, both broke the unofficial record (the official one, i.e. registered during the race, is set by Pace, with Brabham, in 1'34"2) established last year by Lauda himself in 1'33"16. It goes without saying that the Austrian and the Swiss obtained the first and second best times of this first day of training, inflicting a heavy gap on their rivals equipped with single-seaters with Ford-Conworth engines.Monza, with the introduction of the two chicane, which took place in 1973, is no longer the circuit of dense groups, with seven-eight single-seaters in a row, but the gaps between the drivers are still small. In 1974, for example. Carlos Reutemann lapped in 1'33"27, Pace in 1'33"53, Watson in 1'33"63, Regazzoni in 1'33"73, and so on. Lauda has a considerable advantage over Reutemann, that is to say over the only opponent left to him, by half a point, in the race for the world title, who lapped in 1'33"99. The others have suffered even more significant gaps. The Tyrrell duo , Scheckter and Depailler, set a time of 1'34"34 and 1'34"36. Pace lapped in 1'34"46, 0.03 seconds less than Emerson Fittipaldi. Vittorio Brambilla, with the March, failed to drop below 1'35"0. It is an indicative list of times, to evaluate the performance of Lauda, Regazzoni and the Ferrari 312 T. A demonstration - susceptible to further confirmation on Saturday and above all Sunday, at least as regards the Italian Grand Prix - which must be underlined with sincere admiration. The time of Lauda and Regazzoni is the compendium of a dozen gear changes, braking and accelerations, human concentration and stupendous mechanical performance. An overall performance, because Monza is not tender towards these cars: engine, suspension, transmission, chassis, everything must be perfect. And power must be accompanied by good road holding. Nor should it go unnoticed that the times of the Austrian and the Swiss have been repeated several times. So, not isolated exploits, but constant supremacy. Emerson Fittipaldi, who first broke an engine and then damaged a suspension in the T-Car at the first chicane trying to pass Jarier's Shadow, says:


"Lauda overtook me at the exit of the first chicane and disappeared over the horizon, incredible. It seemed to me that I was driving on 7 and not on 8 cylinders".


And Vittorio Brambilla adds:


"Lauda passed me after Lesmo in such a way that I was tempted to jump out to see if my March was stationary. The Ferrari engine is exceptional".


Reutemann continues, saying:


"Niki must have a 515-520 horsepower engine".


But the Maranello drivers and technicians retort, to those who report these judgments:


"Calm down, calm down".


Lauda, smiling and relaxed, explains:


"Everything normal, everything logical. We had carried out many tests here and at Fiorano and today the cars performed well right away. They were already ready. The others will still have to work. I think someone will improve tomorrow, but I have enough margins to spare. On Sunday I would like to win the title and the race. I will study the situation in the first ten laps: if Reutemann is late, fifth or sixth, with little chance of success, I'll go on the attack, otherwise I'll wait, possibly aiming to win the championship".


Regazzoni, who turned 36 today ("But I only feel twenty of them on me"), says:


"Everyone talks about the engine, but our 312 T isn't just about the engine. There are people who travel with excessive understeer, which breaks down when exiting corners. I noticed that we are faster in the chicanes: the car is braked and balanced, we can then accelerate earlier. Of course we'll detach the other single-seaters".


He thinks about it for a moment, then adds:


"Sunday I'll win: I'll give Niki and me a nice present, all that matters to him is that Reutemann doesn't assert himself".


Methodical preparation and order! The birth and technical characteristics of the 312 T are therefore the basis of this wonderful day at Monza for Ferrari. Engineer Mauro Forghieri says:


"The only problems consisted of a loss of grease from a driveshaft on Regazzoni's car and the need to try numerous sets of tires to identify the best ones for the race. In production - and it has already happened - uncompetitive tires can also occur. At Clay, for example, a front cover was deteriorating".


The lawyer Luca Montezemolo concludes:


"The outcome seems positive to me. Niki's advantage is from the Nurburgring, not from Monza. Once again the best pairing is the Lauda-Ferrari one, reinforced by a very strong Regazzoni. It's legitimate to be optimistic for Sunday: we're here for the title, but we'll try to get it by not speculating on half a point. We just wish we could keep today's performance going".


The Italian Grand Prix, therefore, in a Ferrari key, would be the logical and beautiful conclusion of the World Championship on the most famous Italian track. Monza, among other things, has perhaps not reached the last act with regard to this race. The 1976 Grand Prix was destined for the Autodromo in the calendar launched in Milan by the CSI. Another Formula 1 round not valid for the World Championship will be hosted at Imola, probably pending the succession. This should take place in 1977. Smiling faces at Ferrari, dark faces in the other teams. The funniest comment comes from Carlos Reutemann, the Argentine from Brabham who can still aspire to the world title by half a point:


"Let's not joke, between Niki and me there are at least 50 points. He races one way, I race another. He has an exceptional car, a large organization behind him, I have a decent car, and let me keep quiet about the rest".


Then he adds:


"I propose that the Italian Grand Prix be held in two stages. First they let Lauda and Regazzoni go for Formula Ferrari, then all of us for Formula Ford. At least we will have fun. However, it's not just the engine: Ferrari have been superior to the British teams in every respect this year, and they deserve the championship. Thanks to Fiat, the Commendatore also had a lot of money to invest. Lucky him".


Similar comments are made by Emerson Fittipaldi, who lost the 1975 title in Zeltweg three weeks ago.


"I hoped until the end that I could fight Lauda. You saw last year: in extremis, but I beat Regazzoni. When I learned that the Canadian Grand Prix was going to be cancelled, I knew it was all over. However, in the current season the men from Maranello have been better. Lauda and Ragazzoni had a superior class car, while I got through my troubles. Brakes, suspension, tyres: what could I do? Now McLaren is doing well, but the gap with the Ferraris is too high. Did you see that stuff on the first day of rehearsals? I broke an engine, I lost time with the T-Car after hitting a curb at the first chicane, I worked hard to set up my car".


Lauda and Regazzoni immediately marched like lightning. However, McLaren is finalizing the preparation of a new single-seater. It will be a conventional type car, but at least lighter than this model, weighing almost 635kg against the 575kg limit in Formula 1. Both Reutemann and Fittipaldi are expected to remain in their respective teams. The Brazilian will sign a two-year contract renewal next week. He hoped in vain to be able to switch to Ferrari, with which he had established cautious contacts in Zeltweg. he engineer Enzo Ferrari preferred to stay with Lauda and Regazzoni. The announcement of the reconfirmation of the Austrian and the Swiss should be given immediately after the Italian Grand Prix. Even Vittorio Brambilla didn't have the opportunity to worry the duo from Maranello. The Monzese in Austria amazed everyone by winning a fantastic race in the rain. But then two elements had worked in his favor: the rain-like attitude with which the March had been prepared, and having nothing to lose in the Zeltweg storm. At Monza, Formula 1 reproposed its equations and, in a normal situation, Ferrari came back to light with its men. Sunday, aside from Reutemann's playful proposals, we could seriously have a two-man race in the family. Lauda says:


"If possible, I want to take the title with a win at Monza. It would be the best way to end the season. I'll be careful of Reutemann's race: if after the first laps Carlos is late, I'll attack to take not half but 9 points".


And Regazzoni, who is now 36 years old, replies:


"I win at Monza. What does Niki care anyway? It's enough for him that Reutemann doesn't assert himself, then he's fine. In fact, I'm doing him a favor. I had an unlucky season, I think it's time to make up for it".


The two drivers will have the opportunity to compete freely. No tactics, no recommendations, except the - obvious - never to forget the interests of Ferrari. Lauda against Regazzoni, then? Probably, but beware of third parties. Last year's disappointment still weighs on the spirits of the Maranello fans, who first saw Lauda and then Regazzoni retire while they were in the lead. The Grand Prix gives anyone a vigorous shock at first impact, let alone racing it, to enter the small group of the best in the class who can start in Formula 1. Renzo Zorzi, 28 years old, Pirelli test driver, leading man in Formula 3 and winner of the Monte-Carlo race, he makes his debut in Formula 1 and does not do it in the best conditions as he finds himself driving the second Williams. Yet, for Zorzi, getting to Formula 1 is already a goal. On Wednesday morning, while Fittipaldi was reinvigorating by playing golf and Lauda and Regazzoni tested at Fiorano, Renzo Zorzi drove a truck around the ramps of the Gotthard to try new tyres. The leap from the Gotthard to this stage in Monza, already crowded today, is quite strong, and to top off the bad luck, the rookie ended up in a box near the Ferrari men, so that he plays his role of Calimero without any effort. Not very young, married, Zorzi already has his own small court, the companions of Formula 3, plunged a little lost in this new world. He guides everyone with discreet authority, prevents them from bothering the Williams team mechanics who are neither too numerous nor exactly the best. Zorzi rode in the first practice session practically leaning on his hips, as the cockpit of the car - too narrow - did not allow him to slip completely into the seat. It doesn't have to be a pleasant feeling, especially when cruising at 200km/h. He also had mechanical problems, especially a blown engine, as expected. Ultimately, he found only one opponent to beat, Tony Trimmer who did only two laps with the Maki. Modest outspoken as he is, he says:


"I couldn't do much more, but it's really difficult".


He laughs, already relaxing, seeing the amazement of those who listen to him and continues:


"What do you want me to say, that I win? No, I'm here to do a test, even a personal test. Of course, if I find someone to support me, I could also make a global commitment and hope for complete results. In these conditions, it is enough for me to be able to appear".


What is your impression of running among the champions?


"They're good, all good, and then there's more fairness than in Formula 3, perhaps because everyone knows exactly what they have to do".


And among the champions, even Renzo Zorzi goes to get his slice of glory pressed by requests for autographs, yanked and jostled by people who may not recognize him but identify him as a star thanks to the overalls he wears. Beside, unnoticed, another young man passes by, Alessandro Pesenti Rossi, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and a grungy, hard face. He too was aiming for his debut in Formula 1 at Monza, and to do so he had rented an old model Hesketh from the Austrian Herald Ertl, priced at 10.000.000 lire, no joke. Pesenti Rossi, winner last Sunday in Formula 3, had found the money, but not the car in return, because Mr. Ertl, a driver himself, turned out to be a reverse knitter. Angrily, the fifth Italian rider remains out, and with Zorzi Lella Lombardi, Vittorio Brambilla and Arturo Merzario will instead be in the race. It's hard to become a character and still be yourself. Lella Lombardi did it better than many men, fellow drivers - but also from different careers - who didn't accept her in their hunting reserve for glory. The others, the drivers, pose as champions, while she stands in a corner almost in a trance and if you ask her a word she replies shy but courteously. Lella always remains the same, despite the celebrity she has now achieved and the habit of formal contact, of the interview that is reserved for her not in her true and real role as champion, but in the much more fictitious one of itinerant phenomenon, a woman who runs among men, an exception to be accepted as such, woe to imitations.


The car environment is exclusive, it imposes ferocious handicaps on the mechanic who grows up on his own without too many protections, it favors those with money, power and ruthlessness. Imagine how he welcomed a girl with no special merits, if not her ability, which if she had ever established herself would have risked bringing with her a trail of imitators, possible mass rivals for the man driver. Well Lella passed unscathed in the midst of everything. She is there today, at thirty-one years old, with that same perpetually amazed young face, her hair cut short neatly unkempt, the sweet gaze that constantly follows whoever is in front of her. Alongside an evident shyness, hardly overcome by the exercise in contact with the public, she is a little surprised that she always maintains her gaze, that confident replying. Perhaps she alone explains the reason for an ever-increasing success. She must be a girl capable of deciding for herself in her life, secure even when personal relationships could create difficulties, she is tenacious in reacting to difficulties. These are qualities that you sense because she tenaciously defends herself, and it is precisely for this reason alone that she has remained the same over time. According to her everything happens quite easily. First dad's car, then the meat truck and brother's motorcycle, all between the ages of nine and twelve. After her came the license, purely formal, and the uphill races before trying racing with the Formula Monza cars.


"After that I went to England, because I understood that nothing gets done here, we stayed there cooking in a bain-marie without ever becoming a nobody".


t was a difficult step and not everyone would have taken it without having robust capital behind them, and Lella, just to dispel any doubts, has only the money she earns. After three years she finds the right path with Formula 5000, cars as powerful as the Formula 1, tempered however by a much greater weight. If the girl gets along with the 5000 why shouldn't she go to Formula 1? The first who made this reasoning was Ron Tauranac who made a Brabham available to her and had her run at Brands Hatch in practice for that Grand Prix. She didn't qualify but probably never achieved such great success, forced as she was to perform laps of honor as a winner. Then came March, a rather weak contract at first, and then the solidity given by the combination with Lavazza. Now that she drives a March, Lella has much greater bargaining power over the British company and her results should grow proportionally to the commitment that the March itself will produce in providing her with an increasingly competitive vehicle. She shyly says: 


"I am happy that they have reconfirmed me".


His sponsor, the industrialist, politely replies:


"We hired her focusing mostly on curiosity. Now we have realized that we have a trump card in hand".


These are accolades that matter, especially for a girl who had seen herself set up against a driver committee assembled to prevent her from racing in Indianapolis. After all, Clay Regazzoni made her lose an advertising contract, and Andrea de Adamich, pontificated from above:


"That's an exception, then she's not even that good, but women are physically and psychologically inferior...".


To all this outcry, Lella has never opposed anything other than her sincere smile and her results in the race.


"I would like someone to come and say something to my face, I don't think I am a suffragate, but at that point I think I could be taken as a leader, because I would punch them in the face".


The sentence surprises, it gives a different image of the girl, but she immediately presses:


"These are things that I have had inside for a long time. Before, I didn't tell them just because I was more shy. Now I've learned to move forward, beyond shyness and I feel so much freer".


She then takes the microphone in her hand, and with a quiet pronunciation she calls her sponsor, Niki Lauda, Vittorio Brambilla, Emerson Fittipaldi next to her. She gives her speech, she plays her role well and her colleagues next to her, at least at that moment, fully accept her. Only when she returns to the table does she snort contentedly at a thankless task now over.


"Something like drying the cutlery when at home it was finished eating".


Women entered the garages of the racetracks around the Sixties, and it was the English-speaking drivers who brought them there. They were friends or girlfriends, and to justify their presence in a place hitherto off limits to strangers, and especially women, they placed a stopwatch in one hand, a pencil in the other and a notebook on their knees. At first these women in the pits, all beautiful, showy and eccentric and on hot days also very undressed, pretended to read the times of their boyfriend’s or friend's car during practice and the race; now they are skilled and expert timekeepers, and of some teams they are an integral and almost irreplaceable part. Old friends have disappeared, true wives and girlfriends have remained. The stopwatch that ticks off their man's speed has been called the tick-tock of love.

There is a particular literature on these women, even a book has been dedicated to them, but fictional stories have often been told far from a human reality which is above all suffering. Their man's risky job feeds a continuous state of tension in their soul and probably only that chronometer they hold in their hand prevents them, in some moments, from getting on their knees and praying as did the wife of Gonzalez, the Argentine champion of the Fifties , during the dramatic final laps of a 24 Hours of Le Mans. Helen Stewart was the queen of the pits for several years. Slim ,slender, blond hair in the wind, she was a girl admired and envied because she seemed happy, cheerful, carefree. Her husband won races, won world titles, earned lots of money. Yet she had sad and always frowning eyes. The eyes of fear that even his Jackie would make the tragic end of Jim Clark and many other aces of the steering wheel. At a certain moment she no longer cared about her husband's successes, her money, her wealth, and she began her great battle. She won it on Christmas evening 1971 that the Stewart spouses and their children spent together with Nina, Rindt's beautiful widow, and Sally Courage, a woman who still hadn't stopped mourning the tragic death of her husband in a racing accident. Jackie Stewart says: 


"In that moment I understood why Helen always looked sad. I told her: next year I'll stop".


It is true that Helen had an ulcer as an ally which afflicted her husband; however, he kept his word and today he has found a companion with a sweet and smiling face, from whose soul the fear has disappeared. As Helen Stewart had never revealed her torment to her husband, so all the other women of the champions manage to mask their suffering from others. They asked Maria Helena Fittipaldi: are you afraid? Don't you find that the moments of joy you feel at the finish, after a success, are too quick and fleeting compared to the hours of suffering you must endure in the garage? She answered:


"No, I have immense faith in Emerson's ability and I know that he drives in a reasoned manner, that he never lets himself be carried away by impulse, not even when there's a tussle. He is calm and he transmits his tranquility to me".


On Sunday, Maria Helena will be in a garage at the Monza racetrack with a stopwatch and notebook, despite the fact that she is expecting a child. Her husband wished she had stayed in their beautiful home in Switzerland, but she replied:


"I'll have to stay home when we have the baby. My place is still next to you".


Barbro, Ronnie Peterson's beautiful wife, whose eternal girlfriend she has been for years, is also expecting a son. Swedish, blonde, blue eyes, small features, and a model physique, she is considered the most beautiful girl in the pits. While Maria Helena Fittipaldi is exuberant and showy in her clothing, where the contrast between red and black predominates, Barbro is instead reserved and of few words. They say that there is bad blood between the two ladies, in reality Peterson's wife is always seen in the company of Catherine Ickx, who instead does nothing to hide her suffering while her husband is on the run. She still has the scene of Jacky's car on fire in her eyes. The drama, for Catherine, was magnified by the commentator who could not say what the conditions of the driver were. For once her father's money was really useful to her. She rushed to the airport and on the family private plane she flew to Madrid to assist Jacky, with whom she was still engaged at the time. Ickx's wife has a terrible memory of that dramatic Sunday, and as if the accident had happened yesterday, she says: 


"It was a painful journey. I had seen the whole scene on television and I could not erase that image that haunted me. It was a nightmare".


Since then she continues to wonder: why does Jacky race? Is it really worth it? Yet he married him anyway and for nine months of the year she lives in anxiety. Mariella Reininghaus, like Catherine Ickx, doesn't see herself as a boxing lady. Coming from a very rich and noble family, the twenty-four year old girlfriend of Niki Lauda defines herself as collaborator of the Ferrari driver. To those who ask her if she enjoys going to the pits, she replies:


"It's not necessary for it to amuse me. I agreed to take pass times like any job to help Niki win. The fun things are other, and they are found outside of work".


Then she, thinking about it for a moment, adds:


"I'm not just a collaborator of Niki: I'm close to him, affectionate. It's normal isn't it? Yet everyone bothers to ask me about it".


While Friday has been comfortably warm, Saturday is grey and dull and there is a more determined atmosphere around the pits. McLarens are back to square one, virtually starting all over again and Fittipaldi is trying hard and looking confident. Hunt is trying the spare Hesketh, though not despairing of the new C-type, the Brabham team looks good and Peterson is going quite well in the Lotus, but his new team-mate is out of his depth, as are a number of other drivers. Brise is really having a go at the Monza Autodrome and looking a bit on the ragged edge, but he is getting results and Graham Hill does a big shuffle round of his cars to let Brise try Stommelen’s car, while Stommelen drives the spare car, which is one of the old Lolas. Engines are still breaking under the strain of the efforts to achieve a lap at more than 220 k.p.h. average (around 137 m.p.h.) and Regazzoni loses the oil pressure in his Ferrari engine after getting down to 1'32"79, continuing practice in the spare car and Depailler breaks the engine in his Tyrrell, taking over the spare Tyrrell, but it is not sounding too healthy. In general brakes are coping with the heavy and frequent applications, or rather Ferodo disc pads are coping, but one or two teams are keeping a watchful eye on disc temperatures, for with the two chicanes there is not much time for things to cool off after each heavy application. Tyres seem to be completely trouble-free at this race, though care is being taken to ensure that rear ones are matched pairs and remain that way after some fast laps. The fourth and final practice session starts with only Lauda and Regazzoni in the 1'32"0 bracket, and Brambilla, Reutemann, Fittipaldi, Mass and Scheckter in the thirty-threes with one or two more not far off, but Fittipaldi, who is third fastest is still three-quarters of a second behind Lauda, and at 140 m.p.h. that is a long way. In the closing stages of practice Brise and Hunt join the elite in the thirtythrees and Regazzoni makes his best time of all in the spare Ferrari. It all seems as if Sunday would be a mere formality for the Ferrari team, except for two important points, one being the fact that they throw the 1974 race away when in a similar position of apparent domination, and the other that they have not won a major race since the French Grand Prix, failing in the British GP, the German GP and the Austrian GP. It is these two facts that are keeping the rest of the competitors going. 


"We have done our duty. Tomorrow, please, it's your turn".


The invitation of the president of Alfa Romeo, Cortesi, to the Ferrari’s friends, who he wanted to visit in their garage bringing a model of the glorious P2 as a gift, perhaps sounds useless. The men of Scuderia Ferrari have the very firm intention of fulfilling this duty in the Italian Grand Prix. A very clear duty: to win the world title, and if possible the Monza race, to offer his team and the Italian car industry another splendid success. The premises are extremely favorable for Ferrari. Lauda and Regazzoni will start from the front row, while Carlos Reutemann, who in the by now famous story of the half point has remained Lauda's only rival in the challenge for the second title, will start from the fourth row. The Italian team confirmed the superiority shown on Friday, even if many drivers reduced the distances, such as Emerson Fittipaldi, who dropped from 1'34"49 to 1'33"08 (third best time), Scheckter (from 1'34"34 to 1*33"27), Mass (from 1'35"20 to 1'33"29), Brise (from 1"34"69 to 1'33"34). Reutemann himself went from 1'33' 99 at 1'33"44. Progress averaged around the second, and it is also logical that it should occur: the fine-tuning work carried out in the first two and a half hours of training has given its results. The single-seaters made in England were certainly not prepared like the Italian ones, immediately very strong thanks to the private tests carried out at Monza and the tests at Fiorano, therefore Lauda and Regazzoni countered with a further improvement in the record times. The Austrian and his 312 T lapped in 1'32"24 (Friday in 1'32"82), at an average speed of 225.585 km/h, obtaining the eighth pole position of the year, the Swiss in 1'32" 75 (Friday in 1'33"11). Clay achieved this time with the reserve car: in the race car, the engine began to vibrate and the oil pressure to fluctuate, so Regazzoni preferred to stop and change car. Mauro Forghieri explains:


"Be careful, let's not make a drama out of it. It was a 12-cylinder that in trials and tests had completed over 110 laps, double the distance of the Italian Grand Prix. I would say that the situation has remained the same as on Friday as regards values on the field. Lauda also carried out tests with a full tank, lapping at a pace of 1'34"0. In the tire sector we are quite calm. We have identified two sets of good tires and the Goodyear specialists have assured us that, barring punctures, we should not have problems. Let's hope".


A duel, therefore, between Lauda and Regazzoni, with the disheartened rivals as spectators? Luca Montezemolo exclaims scared:


"Let's not talk about duels, each of the two drivers is free to make his own race, but it is logical that both take to the track first of all for Ferrari. Regazzoni will immediately be able to commit himself to the maximum. Lauda will have to study the situation with Reutemann in mind. However, it's all talk. On Sunday, facts count. We want the title, we would like it in the best possible way. Here we have two cars in the front row, the only ones to have dropped below 1'33"0. It seems to me a justified aspiration".


While Lauda says:


"Tomorrow I prefer to win the world title. My handicap is called Reutemann. If, for example, the Argentine stops at the start, then I will compete fully, trying, at all costs, to establish myself at Monza. I want to add, however, that for me it will be a Grand Prix like any other. I'm not particularly excited. As for Regazzoni, if Clay asserts himself, I'm happy all the same: I'd still be the champion".


And Regazzoni states:


"Tonight they're changing my engine, tomorrow I'll race with the usual car. I have nothing to lose, I will try to take the lead immediately and repeat the success of 1970. Lauda is of age and should know how to behave. In his place, I wouldn't worry about Regazzoni, on the contrary, I would immediately send him to the lead. However, if everything is normal, in a few laps we should pull away from every rival. We have a consistent advantage".


Fittipaldi and Reutemann already seem to have given up. The Brazilian driver, who worked hard to set the third fastest time, says:


"I had some problems with the tyres, especially towards the end of practice, and with the engine, which was scratching in fifth gear. However, my McLaren is quite good. I hope to finish third tomorrow. My prediction is Lauda first and Regazzoni second".


Reutemann, who in an attempt to get close to the fastest ones made a spectacular as well as harmless exit from the track at the parabolic, going into the sand, explains:


"Road holding was worse than on Friday, and the reports were wrong. I start from the fourth row, with the two Ferraris unleashed. I have no chance of winning, I just hope to finish the race. Lauda is already starting up as a champion. He deserves it".


Brambilla is also convinced of this.


"Lauda and Regazzoni have that something extra, given by the car and the preparation. I'll settle for a good placement. They could lose only for some abnormal episode, for some breakup. But the 312 T has shown this season that it's also a robust machine".


In short, it is a plebiscite for Lauda, for Regazzoni and for their two cars. On Sunday the crowd of Monza awaits them, the cheering of 200.000 people who in an hour and a half of racing want to vent their disappointments and bitterness, not just sporting ones. In the Ferrari team there is the serene awaiting of the strong. And thoughts run to the old gentleman who is preparing to experience another glorious page of his wonderful story, in the silence of the beyond loved factory.


"Why did you lose?"


The question takes the riders and technicians by surprise, if only because it arrives twenty-four hours before what everyone considers only the formal act to deliver the world title to Niki Lauda, but for this very reason it is interesting and not obvious. The game is fun, above all because it is played out in the midst of the chaos of the tests, a kind of game of truth that does not allow for too deep reflections and thus reflects true sensations. It starts with the managers. Colin Chapman was the first to invent the assembled car and his Lotuses have always been protagonists of the World Championship until this year, when they gradually disappeared from the standings with Peterson, and from the starting order with Jacky Ickx. Chapman is an expert engineer and embarks on a technical explanation relating to the eight-cylinder engine and its alleged difficulty in transmitting ever greater power to the wheels. Going more brutally into the details, the question is asked: Are you the ones who have stopped all research, all improvement? For what reason, perhaps the money? Chapman hesitates, then replies resolutely:


"I have all the money I need".


And he walks away annoyed. Shortly thereafter, however, he will announce that the new Lotus will be presented at Silverstone in a month's time and anyone who investigates a little more deeply discovers that the 1975 contract with John Player's was renewed only 15 days ago, and therefore also the money arrived very late. Ken Tyrrell, the patron of Jackie Stewart, the man who invented the champions, this year hasn't been able to do much either for Jody Scheckter or for Patrick Depailler.


"We've had a number of different problems, and we've never been able to put a fully efficient car on the track. I don't think the 8-cylinder engine is finished, on the contrary, I think that the Cosworth, after this interlude, will once again dominate precisely because it has a simpler formula and therefore easily improved".


Counterpoint is Jody Scheckter who, perched in the middle of a train of tyres, listens carelessly.


"All nonsense. The eight-cylinder is finished, because fractionation corresponds to an increase in power. If you close the displacement, you have to increase the fractionation, it's mathematical. Then you eliminate the major breakage probabilities and you're done. The trouble is that where do we get a twelve-cylinder?"


All around the cars come and go with deafening noises. At Brabham the Cosworths are running like clocks, but that sprint is missing, that extra bit of power that could still give Reutemann hopes of recovering the world title in extremis. The Argentine says bluntly, and he is the first, that all speech has been cut short since mid-season.


"At Le Castellet Lauda won the world title. Everything Ferrari had done from the start of the season up to that moment would have been enough to live off the income. We notably lost because we started getting the cars in order very late, but still I don't think we could have reversed the final result. We give Ferrari credit for a better engine, a car that is well balanced in every part, and excellent organization. To beat them you have to adapt".


And to adapt quickly, Brabham signs a contract with Alfa Romeo for the twelve-cylinder Boxer, which has so many points of contact with Ferrari that it looks like its younger brother. Bernie Ecclestone, general manager of the British team, makes a diplomatic intervention to explain how the Cosworth is doing very well, and in any case it is abandoned. A three-card game that doesn't turn out so well. Why did the March lose?


"Ours is a young team, it took us some time to find an optimal performance. Then gradually the results came. Of course Ferrari is something else: big organization, big team. Lauda did like me, he has drove the car well, putting it in perfect condition, only that his car has done more. What they have behind them is a jet, of course".


And Emerson Fittipaldi, the most classy driver, the man with the most charm, the now crownless World Champion, what does he think? Emerson smiles a couple of times before answering, and the bush sideburns move each time, because the Brazilian is like one of us when he smiles. Finally, having found the joke, he dismisses the problem there with his usual verve:


"You can win the championship one year without a car, not the second".


Why did you win, Attorney Montezemolo?


"For heaven’s sake, I'll tell you tomorrow, not today".


He replies, winking, to play the part well to the end, but just as the others accept that they have gotten beat up , he knows very well that he has hit the mark. Changing the subject, the workshop is down at the bottom of a ramp and water is trickling down the little concrete teeth. It's water from Monza, or rather from Birona, but Vittorio Brambilla is frowning as he looks out and finds himself in the midst of another rain, that of Zeltweg. That success changed many things, perhaps not in substance, but certainly in appearance, and Vittorio does not like this invasion of his sanctuary, the contamination between those of the clan who call home to Birona and the new ones who have to ask eight times to get there , but then on the spot they become the masters of the scene. Everything is fine on the track, it's acceptable outside, not at home. And he says it abruptly, for no apparent reason, after Tino explains for half an afternoon how the main difference between him and his brother was precisely in his character, his too harsh, Vittorio's soft and accommodating. All this introduces the Brambilla clan in the most sincere and real way, this strange Monza institution on which journalists from half of Italy and all over Europe have been practicing since mid-August. In Monza there is a workshop at the Birona farmhouse, among meadows and a few trees. Carlo runs it, and makes it work almost alone. Then the boys, Tino and Vittorio, grow up and they too go to work. At fifteen, Tino is already an expert on a motorcycle and sitting behind a steering wheel. He goes on the track shortly thereafter and is an official rider for MV, Bianchi and Gilera. Then, he changes roles, moves on to cars and gets to the seat of a Ferrari Formula 1 single-seater, after having been a protagonist in Formula 2. Not many love him, perhaps only Enzo Ferrari, and Tino from Formula 1 gets off even before racing.


At that point, Vittorio also arrives on the scene - the same process - he goes fast and above all he loves big engines, he would be the ideal rider for MV Agusta, and strictly speaking he is never hired. He navigates between the good and the mediocre, starts the first car races and soon they run in two. Tino and Vittorio, in Formula 2. This time they have found a sponsor, Beta working tools, and the qualitative growth is rapid. For the final step, however, something more is needed and, once the accounts are done, Tino sacrifices himself: he no longer races and by putting his strength together, Vittorio can have a Formula 1. The rest is a chronicle of the past months up to the victory in Austria. At Birona a lot has changed since it was only Carlo who worked. There is a three-floors house story ("One for each, otherwise we'll get confused"), a large workshop equipped with all the machinery ("Machines and machines! The most beautiful motorcycle I've ever owned was the house's MV which however, I had prepared: I had made the combustion chamber with a hose, nothing but bullshit") and at the bottom the hole for racing, which came up from the basement where it was at the beginning but remained with the same nickname. 


"We did all of this by working, certainly not with racing. Now that Vittorio has his salary from March I don't even know if it's worth it, because he's forced to travel around the world and here the work doesn't go on".


Around there are several motorcycles, then a Ferrari and a Dino. The real clan, that of the Monzese, has expanded from a little by incorporating young industrialists who are looking for a dip in authenticity by buying entry into the business. While I'm discussing with Tino, there is, for example, a certain Giudici, a Formula 3 driver, but certainly better known in recent times as the son of the owner of Wayne Eden, the one who was kidnapped in Cesena. He has a certain aggressiveness, almost the arrogance that sometimes characterizes the Brambillas, but you immediately see that a mask is stuck on him. Tino cuts short:


"Of course, many believe that because we are the Brambillas we charge more for a repair but no, the same price and maybe we work better. Look at this Autobianchi here: the whole muffler needs to be changed, it would be better to change the car. Other than rich and rich! Who is richer now?"


The Brambillas could thus appear somewhat conservative, attached to what the society of the rich has left them too. But then Tino talks about his past and Vittorio's beginnings, and the image is reversed:


"You can be good, capable, but more than that they don't let you get on. You are the mechanic and you don't enjoy protection, the journalists attack you, they destroy you. You try to climb up and they cut your legs off underneath you. But we are the Brambillas and the game fails with us. Sure, they killed me, they hindered Vittorio, but now we've done it. They continue though. Look there, the other day a guy from Monza phones, a guy from here who works as a journalist in Milan. He says to Vittorio: is it true that you hate Ferrari? And Vittorio asks if he's crazy, that if there's one person he admires it's the Modena builder. The next day it was written: Brambilla crushes Ferrari. It ends up that I have to get a few more by the neck. I've done it before and I'm ready to do it again".


And Vittorio is no different. One evening at a dinner party, one of the snobbish and boring ones that delight car experts, Vittorio was asked what he thought of Stewart as a driver. He thought about it for a moment, then decided he said:


"It's the fourth. First there's me, then there's Tino, then Fittipaldi...".


And off he rattled off, as if he were reading it, the classification up to tenth place. From Birona to the Autodrome there will be a couple of kilometres, and when the wind blows from the east, the roar of the engines on the track reaches right into the house. Only that there won't be anyone at home on Sunday. Everyone will be at the racetrack to see Vittorio try to get a win to a Brambilla at Monza. On the other hand, however, going from worker to worker, it must be said that the Formula 1 title, which Ferrari is about to regain after eleven years with tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix in Monza, represents a reward for the many sacrifices endured, an acknowledgment of the refined Italian industrial technique and the affirmation of a young pilot, Niki Lauda, who drove  his racing car, with intelligence and scruple, to worldwide recognition. But the victory of Lauda and Ferrari, beyond the sporting triumph, has a second, important meaning in this particular moment: the more strictly productive one, which invests a good portion of Modena's employment. For this reason, perhaps for the first time in the history of sport, the trade union representatives were also asked for an opinion on the great Italian victory. Ferrari resumed work just over a week ago, after the summer parenthesis, but until next Monday (ie for two weeks after the reopening) a good half of the employees - 600 out of about 1200 - were on layoffs. Furthermore, a stock of 470 cars, exactly double the normal, will lead to further layoff days (we are talking about 40) by the end of the year. The world title could therefore mean an opening towards a better future. The trade unions say:


"If Ferrari wins the title, we can hope for an improvement in the situation. We have already reached an agreement with the managers of Maranello according to which, starting next year, Ferrari will also produce cabs for Fiat tractors to ensure maximum employment. The world title certainly wouldn't solve all the problems, but it would help a solution. In short, bread for many families also runs behind Lauda's racing car".


A world title, therefore, for a major industrial problem, which should and could help solve an ugly question: what will happen to the large sports car industry, which has always been considered one of the most valid expressions of Italian technology and work? The response, up to now, has been dramatic: the liquidation of Maserati by Citroen and the difficult recovery through the De Tomaso-Gepi operation; the uncertain fate of Lamborghini; the layoffs at Ferrari, a company which, both in the sports and in the industrial field, has never made mistakes and, therefore, a clear demonstration that something is not working. Proving that something really doesn't work is easy. On the one hand, the car crisis, linked mainly to the increase in oil prices, clearly affected the grand touring cars; on the other hand, an absurd government policy against such cars considered luxury and even anti-social has brought this type of industry to its knees, sinking the hopes of those who, on the other hand, were expecting help. To understand the absurdity, it will be enough to recall some punitive measures: speed limit on roads and motorways (respectively 100 km/h and 120 km/h); VAT increase to 30% for cars over 2 litres; imposition of a very high one-off fee; driving license restrictions. Furthermore, the international crisis has imposed difficulties for imports in countries that were important outlets for GT cars with tax increases and technical and economic burdens (see ecological standards) such as to disarm any initiative in this field. Enzo Ferrari is convinced that there are still good possibilities for GTs (the new eight-cylinder Dino 208 of just 1991 cc and of which over 250 units have already been sold is the confirmation of this faith), but the moment is not easy. You need to have the strength to resist to be able to overcome it. If Sunday 7 September 1975 is truly the last Italian Grand Prix held at the Monza racetrack, an era, a cycle, a world will come to an end. And yet it is perhaps inevitable, in the face of the conflict between the champions of greater safety on the tracks, the defenders of the environment, organizational interests driven by enthusiasts: a compromise today seems difficult to implement, an Italian solution undesirable, because it would only be the postponement of a problem whose roots go back to ancient times. Rereading the first page of the history of the racetrack built in 1922 inside the park of the royal villa of Monza, one discovers that at that time competitive motor racing, which in a much more incisive way than today constituted a precious support to the consolidated car industry after the difficult conversion from war production, was entering a season of great popularity, which the public - a poor and agitated mass, astronomically far from the possibility and perhaps even from the desire to own a car - lived it as a fact purely sporting, as an escape.


The creator of the idea of a permanent racetrack was a man of initiative, Arturo Mercanti, manager of the Automobile Club of Milan. Mercanti (who was also a discreet racer, under the pseudonym of D'Annunzio-like Friar), at the end of 1921 set up the Society of motoring and sport development , who chose and rented an area in the immense royal park of Monza, recently sold to the Opera Nazionale Fighters, and had the project prepared for the facility: a runway 8 to 12 meters wide, 10 kilometers long and made up of a ring of two straights connected by as many moderately banked curves (12 degrees) for a total of 4500 metres, which intersected with a so-called road circuit of 5500 metres. The works began in February 1922 (a photo of the time shows two famous pilots, Felice Nazzaro and Pietro Bordino, giving the first symbolic blows of the pickaxe). After a few days, however, the order to suspend everything arrived from the Ministry of Public Education, for reasons of artistic, monumental and landscape conservation (who says ecology is a modern-day invention?). After two months of discussions, modifications to the project, pressure, the definitive go-ahead arrived, and work resumed in mid-May, with the commitment to complete it by 10 September, the date set for the 2nd Italian Grand Prix ( the first edition was held the previous year on a road course near Brescia). In the Napoleonic measure of one hundred days, 3,500 workers, 200 carts, 30 trucks and a 5-kilometer Decauville railway succeeded in the miracle. On Sunday 10 September 1922, punctually, in the presence of an enormous crowd, the Grand Prix was disputed, marked by the triumph of the Fiat cars, first and second with Bordino and Nazzaro. Thus began the tradition, the legend of Monza, which for over half a century, except for a few exceptions and the war years, punctually accompanied history itself, technical progress, the evolution of the automobile, sports and otherwise, through the enthusiasm , the loyal rivalries, the comparisons suggested by the various technical formulas that followed one another. Monza is identified with the names of famous brands and drivers who at various times have ignited the imagination and the sports chronicles Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Bugattì, Mercedes, AutoUnion yesterday, Ferrari, Cooper, Vauxall, B.R.M., Lotus, Brabham, McLaren over the past two decades. And among the protagonists, Bordino and Salamano, Antonio Ascari and Chiron and Campari, the great Tazio Nuvolari and Achille Varzi, Caracciola and Rosemeyer, Fagioli and Trossi, Wimille and Farina, Alberto Ascari, Fangio, Moss, Clark, Surtees, Stewart, Rindt . Even the circuit has had its evolution over the years, dictated by technical or safety requirements, or by the ravages of time.


Apart from the subsequent protection measures for the public, in the second half of the Thirties, to reduce the dangers of the high speeds reached by machines which, according to the technical formula in force at that time, had powers close to 600 horsepower, artificial variants, and subsequently the dangerous banked curves of the speed ring were demolished and the road layout in the southern area modified. After the war, during which the racetrack had been completely abandoned and later used as a camp for war surpluses, there was a long restoration work, and in 1955 a radical transformation which in a certain sense marked a return to the origins with the construction of a new high-speed loop with two inclined bends, a track which, however, soon revealed in turn serious safety limits. But the Monza racetrack has also experienced days of tragedy. Like in 1928, when Emilio Materassi's Talbot went off the track right in front of the grandstands, mowing down the public: in addition to the driver, twenty-seven spectators lost their lives, and twenty-one were injured; as in 1933, when in the Monza Grand Prix following the most important Italian Grand Prix, Campari, Borzacchini and Czaikowski went off the road and died at approximately the same point on the circuit; as in 1961 with the tragic end of von Trips and fifteen people, or in 1970 when World Champion Rindt passed away during the tests for the Grand Prix. And yet, this too belongs to the history and destiny of Monza, to the archive of many September Sundays spent on the side of the track by three generations of enthusiasts, while on the exhilarating and ruthless asphalt of the circuit men in helmets and overalls set off in pursuit of a dream of glory, perhaps ephemeral but significant of a certain type of civilization. or them, other more obscure but no less worthy men prepared and cared for, yesterday as today, marvelous machines with a frightening appearance, almost a sublimation - pardon the rhetoric - of the automobile. Which, to the competitions of Monza has been the most fascinating goal for 53 years, owes much for its technical evolution, for its diffusion and popularity. As we celebrate today the forty-sixth edition of the Italian Grand Prix, that we all fervently hope will coincide with the conquest of the world title by our Ferrari, it makes us sad to think that perhaps it will be the last round, deafening and festive, exciting and intense, with the old, famous racetrack. The Italian Grand Prix, which will most likely see Niki Lauda become World Champion with his Ferrari, will attract a peaceful army of enthusiasts. Sunday the racetrack will be crowded to witness the triumph of the Austrian driver and the Italian car.


In the wings of an electrifying show that lasts two hours, and often, even less, thousands of people move and hide weeks and months of meticulous organizational fine-tuning so that everything goes right. Everything has been prepared to prevent any emergency situation for the safety of the pilots and the public. The safety factor requires the greatest attention from the organizers and Monza, due to the vastness of its park, requires a macroscopic prevention apparatus: about 4000 people, each with a precise task, have been prepared and will be employed by ACI Milan for the success of the race; among these there are 1500 agents and carabinieri, 100 traffic policemen, 200 soldiers, 200 commissioners staggered along the edges of the runway with signal flags, 400 controls. The firefighting  service deploys 100 specialists, many of whom are equipped with asbestos suits and, along the runway, there are 19 vehicles capable of instantly firing masses of fluobrene, fire-fighting foam: nine with spears, six Maseratis equipped with a cannon for ultra-fast interventions and four airport vehicles. To these are added 45 fire extinguisher trolleys. On three of the six Maseratis, as many doctors on board with resuscitation equipment. Translated into figures, 9.000.000 Italian lire. The health service has a helicopter connecting the racetrack and the hospitals, three resuscitation centers with a specialist, a mobile hospital, 8 ambulances and 35 patient carriers, while three tents located in the Lesmo area are provided for the public. behind the pits and in the Mirabella area. The estimate for the Italian Grand Prix is around 350.000.000 lire, but - the organizers say - it will probably exceed them. The salary of the drivers and constructor teams alone amounts to 150.000.000 Italian lire, depending on the quotation of the pound, the official currency of the Formula 1 circus. The remaining 200.000.000 Italian lire are spent not only on improving the equipment supplied to the racetrack, but above all on the personnel employed. In addition to the order service, which has been in action for three days now inside the park (among other things, there were about forty night guards, flanked by the police to prevent access at night to the innumerable smart which every year, it has become customary, climb over the surrounding walls to secure the best observation posts), to supervise the pits, cars and trucks, tomorrow 50 guards will be in circulation with as many police dogs who will serve to keep the public away from particularly dangerous areas.


Measures made necessary to avoid any manifestation of intemperance: 350.000.000 lire to organize a Grand Prix is a lot, especially if we consider that every year the number of cunning people increases, it seems, by 30%. But it is not the only damage to which those responsible for the demonstration are facing. Two years ago, on the night before the race, one of the three tubular tribunes intended for photographers was even stolen. Sunday the SIAE (Italian Society of Authors and Publishers) will also be present and the Finance will not be missing, which will try to stop the scalping. That's not all: Monday at dawn a team of men will come into operation and will take care of putting the racetrack in order. The company that manages it also bears costs: about 150 people and about fifteen technicians, but, in cases like this, it is necessary to hire extra personnel, employed by four private companies. Tomorrow, around a hundred kiosks, four bars and restaurants will operate inside the park for a total of 220-230 people, 12 tobacconists and around fifteen small shops. About forty toilet workers. The setup costs are high. To close the profits, the two companies that organized the Grand Prix would have to collect over 700.000.000 lire, given that taxes account for about 33%. It is clear that a certain return will not be lacking, given that caravans of thousands of people are expected, including from abroad. The highest number of paying spectators was in 1970: 70.000 tickets sold. The premise is there, given the people who crowded Monza to attend the tests and the appeal that this edition of the Italian Grand Prix offers. The hotels in and around Monza were sold out, in Milan itself it was a problem for many to find hospitality for the night. Admission tickets have been snapped up, the last ones will be sold out tomorrow at the motorway exit tollbooths, along the route and at the park entrances. It should be a memorable Italian Grand Prix. Sunday 7 September 1975 the day of Lauda and Regazzoni begins early. Wake up at 7:30 a.m., abundant breakfast with coffee, milk and ham, briefing with Luca Montezemolo and, around 9:30 am, departure for the racetrack. Then the storm, with the fear that the race would have to be suspended, as had been the free practice which continued for only three or four laps.


It all begins under the rain that a gloomy sky from the morning begins to unload in gusts on the first cars that test new tires on the track, precisely in anticipation of the rain. Water, like for an April storm, only that we are in September and already smelling of autumn. The park suddenly becomes hostile like any other forest, the ground drenches underfoot, the earth becomes mud, and the asphalt becomes a lake because the manholes overflow, unable to fulfill a function for which they were created too many years ago and for the which would now require at least decent maintenance. The old system of the Monza racetrack under water reveals all its problems, the few covered areas ooze drops everywhere, and in any case there is room for very few. Every year, on the occasion of the Italian Grand Prix, there are spectators who enter on Saturday, if not even on Friday, camp in the meadows or in the woods and await the big day of the race. They grab coveted seats, and often manage to attend rehearsals and the final race with just one initial ticket. In this circumstance, given the exceptional nature of the event, the number of these long-stay spectators has increased dramatically. According to the deputy commissioner, Dr. Di Rosa, responsible for internal public order, during the night there were 30,000 people inside the racetrack or in the cars camped around the perimeter. This means many people sheltered in small tents, but the vast majority simply lying on the grass. Already during the course of Saturday evening the weather did not promise anything good and at 10:00 p.m., preceded by thunder and lightning, the storm had broken out: a very violent, torrential rain that continued until 3:00 a.m.. All those seeking shelter went to the few tunnels that underpass the circuit where hundreds of people were already sleeping. But soon the underpasses were invaded by the water which rose up to half a metre, so everyone found themselves facing the storm under the trees, in the dark. Dawn has shed light on pale, destroyed faces. Boys and girls (certainly there aren't many fifty-year-olds who have chosen such an adventurous program) who shrug their shoulders and stamp their feet to at least shake off the cold. It is easy to understand that when at 10:10 a.m., at the beginning of the Formula 1 free practice, the sky opened up again in a deluge, many of those who had already been sorely tried by the night, decided to give up and they went away. But others came to replace them and swell the number of those present; fans who come from distant cities, even from Southern Italy. A Sicilian, who had left Ragusa two days before, says:


"I'm a simple worker, father of five children, for me this trip is a sacrifice, but Ferrari makes me boil".


The park is transformed from early morning into a large fair. Not so much for the nearly two hundred shops, kiosks and stalls selling sandwiches, drinks, jerseys with champion decals, as for the variety of clothing, for the boisterous clamor of the colours, for the voices, the shouts, the songs that are submerged by the roaring scratches of the engines of the various minor races or trials. And there is also the eye-catching spectacle of the makeshift grandstands, erected with steel pipes of the kind used by bricklayers and painters to work on the facades of houses. Dozens, if not hundreds of these installations dot the circuit especially along the central straight and near the Lesmo curves. Unfortunately, scaffolding is also raised with large branches cut from the oaks and acacias of the forest. Some people, found in possession of hatchets, are stopped. The most rowdy even storm the pylons of the big billboards, destroying them. In recent days they had climbed them, and had marked the points in the back where the holes should have been drilled, and early Sunday morning, they install themselves on the bars and never move from those observation posts so as not to lose them. Someone even climbs onto the roofs of the grandstands; two young men fall into the crowd below, from the grandstand at the exit of the parabolic curve, without damage. Faced with such an invasive tide, even 2000 men of public order - police, agents, traffic policemen, race commissioners, even 200 military personnel employed, these, on the outer edge of the circuit - can do little to prevent irregularities, improprieties, real and own crimes of damage. 50 Alsatian dogs are also on duty, led by their handlers, a collaboration that has been leased by a French private police association. They mainly serve to keep the public away from the dangerous points of the path; the intervention of these men, assisted by their menacing dogs, is in vain when in the course of the morning they try to charge a new ticket for those who have spent the night at the racetrack. Bad weather also turns ice cream vendors into sellers of nylon raincoats. Thousands are sold. The most current type is offered at 1.000 lire, 1.500 lire when the rain beats more violently; but there are also anoraks with the colors and emblem of Ferrari, from 14.000 lire up to 30.000 lire; as there are, for the less wealthy, garbage bags, at a cost of 300 lire.


The rain turns the meadows into a swamp, little by little everyone becomes ugly not only from tiredness, but also from the mud, which splashes everywhere. One of the underpasses that intersects the central straight line remains flooded even in the afternoon, and in fine weather the public will cross it in both directions, walking very slowly, in two rows, elbow to elbow, with their feet on a sidewalk that emerges from the water and which is just 40 centimeters wide. Those in a hurry can use the shoulders of a couple of young Neapolitan fans who wade barefoot into the flood and bring the customer back to dry land for 500 lire. Technically all this water can mean many things. If you race, there are carburetion problems due to the different temperatures, the set-up of the cars with wet tires, and more generally the choice in case of uncertain weather. But who said that the race will take place? There are disputes at the highest level to establish what the regulation imposes, but the same regulation as any self-respecting code leaves the way open to all solutions. The basic problem of the public who has paid for the ticket remains, but it probably wouldn't be a real problem because by now there are queues towards the exit: those who have already taken the night's water cannot bear the second universal flood and leave. In the meantime, around 1:00 p.m., in Agrate Brianza, on the square of the Star company, two employees of the PAIS (Personnel in charge of sports facilities), Ivano Bozzetti, 36, resident in Bollate, and Arnaldo Corbetta, 43, resident in Milan, who are selling access tickets to the Monza racetrack, are attacked by two robbers intending to obtain, obviously without paying, tickets to attend the Italian Grand Prix. Suddenly a Mini Minor stops, with two young people. One of the two gets out, and pulls out a pistol ordering the vendors to give him two tickets. In the bag, which Bozzetti hangs around his neck, there are the proceeds of the sales made in the morning, about 2.000.000 lire. Ivano Bozzetti, frightened, reacts by fleeing. Corbetta, on the other hand, throws himself on the armed bandit, preventing him from carrying out the robbery. An hour later, around 2:00 p.m., with the weather fine, the track dry, preparations for the race began. At around 3:00 p.m., behind the pits, the small Ferrari trailer is besieged by autograph hunters and amateur photographers. Clay at the door signs the pieces of paper they hand him. On the track, on the other hand, the acrobatics of the Formula Italia cars are amusing, as they rarely walk straight, more often they go sideways, backwards, with accumulations that are not bloody but pleasing to the eye. The water, meanwhile, has stabilized in a fine drizzle that promises to last a long time.


The more experienced journalists continue to debate the regulation, the more astute ones find accommodations ranging from the princely to the dignified. Arpino feigns a Libyan war wound in order not to give up the seats of the Ferodo fiefdom (full of Englishmen and friends of Mondovì) who hosts journalists in a retreat that is not too humid and stocked with plenty of foodstuffs. Every once in a while a pilot happens to have his say about him. Peterson says that in Sweden it's like this and worse, Reutemann argues that the American rule should be respected. In the meantime, the Formula Renaults were racing, more disciplined on the asphalt because they were more equipped on a mechanical level. Once also this race is over, everyone looks at the sky which suddenly, against all logic, opens up glimpses of serene. There's also a little wind blowing from the mountains, the asphalt dries up little by little. Work in the garages is feverish because we need to go back to set-ups and dry tyres. Logically, whoever is more organized and who has more men prevails, so coincidentally Ferrari, first in this field in an absolute sense.


"Enough guys! I've been writing for three days. I made more signatures than kilometers by car".


Montezemolo asks him to stay calm, but Clay replies:


"Not easy, I'm quite agitated, I'm going to win".


Lauda applied the sticker to his helmet. At 3:05 p.m. it's sunny. Niki goes into the garage followed shortly after by Clay, and five minutes later the mechanics, under the guidance of Cuoghi, Lauda's chief mechanic, and Borsari, responsible for Regazzoni's car, replace the rain tires with slicks. Clay confabulates with Tomaini, the technical expert, and with Borsari, while all around there are numerous people not involved in the work, who are disturbing. The deployment on the track takes place with a small variation on the pre-established program. The cars will complete two laps so that the drivers can personally check the conditions of each point of the track. Around 3:16 p.m. the engines of the two Ferraris are started. Clay puts foam plugs in his ears. The cars are still jacked up at the rear and the newly changed wheels are checked. Cuoghi is seated in the cockpit of Lauda's #12. At 3:20 p.m. Clay takes the helmet and fire cap. The motors run for a few more seconds, then are turned off. The Ferrari mechanics polish the wings, while others also bring the third car, the T-Car that Montezemolo has kept ready for any eventuality. Mauro Forghieri warns that there will be two laps before the start. At 3:31 p.m. Lauda and Clay climbed into the cockpits and started the car. Regazzoni starts first, Lauda queues up for the two laps to warm up the engines and tyres. But in the meantime the Marlboro girls are already lined up on the track and the carousel takes on hilarious aspects, because the beautiful girls scamper around in the midst of the racing cars that splash from all sides. On the track there are the usual hundreds of people, more or less typical of an Italian demonstration. Shortly after all the competitors stop for alignment. Clay and Lauda arrive last, having started in this position. In the warmup, Lauda punctured the left front tyre, which was quickly replaced. He will start with this last cold tyre. Sante Ghedini sets up the warning signs. At 3:46 p.m. the cars start. The start has taken place on the left side of the wide pits straight and at the end of the opening lap, with Regazzoni leading Lauda, the field streams up the right-hand side of the track, heading for the chicane in single file. Scheckter is in third place but overshoots his braking and then everything happens at once and there are cars bouncing in all directions. When the dust has subsided Andretti is seen climbing out of a damaged Parnelli and Peterson is also out, while Mass, Brise, Stommelen and Crawford all stop at the pits at the end of lap 2, the Lotus with its left rear tyre a mangled ball of rubber. Amon is also in the pits, having stopped on the opening lap, with a flat-sounding engine in the Ensign. At the end of the first lap the crowd applauds, while Forghieri holds his chin looking anxiously at the exit of the parabolic already waiting for the second lap. The return to the pits of some competitors with punctured tires alarms Forghieri, who tells the mechanics:


"There is a lot of debris on the track carried by the water, anyone can puncture. Be very careful".


When the two Ferraris take advantage of their opponents, Mariella, Lauda's girlfriend, and Maria Pia, Regazzoni's wife, keep track of the laps, while Forghieri jokingly tells the mechanics:


"Always be ready to change tires in two seconds".


But Cuoghi replies:


"If they stay on the trajectory, they don't puncture".


It only needs two laps to sort things out, with the two Ferraris drawing away, Reutemann in third place, followed by Fittipaldi and Hunt. Then come Depailler, Pace, Laffite and Pryce and a while later come Stuck, Scheckter, Ertl, Merzario, Jarier, Lunger, Zorzi and Lombardi. Brambilla has just managed to creep round for one lap and then disappears. As a result of the pushing and shoving at the chicane, Mass, Brise and Stommelen are forced to retire with various suspension parts bent and the field is already looking a bit thin, though Crawford eventually rejoins the race. Before ten laps are completed Laffite has retired with a broken gearbox and Pace has retired with a broken throttle linkage and the order at the front is unchanged except that Depailler has caught Hunt and takes fifth place from the new Hesketh on lap 10. There is nothing to stop the Ferraris and Lauda has to be content with second place as Regazzoni is clearly out to win. Depailler now has his sights on Fittipaldi who is in fourth place, but the falling World Champion wakes up to the fact and overtakes Reutemann into third place. When Fittipaldi passes Reutemann, Forghieri warns Montezemolo and tells him:


"Ferrari is rooting for Fittipaldi today".


Around 4:20 p.m., with an ominous creak, the roof of a grandstand in front of the pits yields about fifty centimeters under the weight of the fans who have climbed up there, who descend in great haste. Some fall down without getting hurt. In the following five minutes Forghieri shuttles between Campiche, the Heuer timekeeper, and Luca Montezemolo. After a few minutes Ghedini warns Montezemolo that Fittipaldi is making a worrying move. Luca has Lauda report it and the latter regains something. On lap 15 Depailler’s efforts are completely nullified when he overshoots the chicane and goes up the escape road, rejoining the race a long way back in seventh place, behind Pryce and ahead of an unhappy Jarier for the Matra engine is popping and banging with fuel feed trouble. As half-distance approached, Regazzoni begins to open the gap between him and Lauda and it creeps up from 3 seconds to 6 seconds, to 10 seconds and it is clear that Lauda is, in fact, dropping back, for Fittipaldi now has the future World Champion in his sight. All the time Regazzoni is setting up new fastest laps, showing no signs of easing up and behind him it looks like stalemate between Lauda and Fittipaldi, with the McLaren driver unable to see any way of getting past the Ferrari and never getting really close enough to worry Lauda. Almost by surprise Fittipaldi overtakes the Ferrari as they brake for the chicane at the start of lap 46, and it is all over. Around 4:49 p.m. Cuoghi fears for a tire from Lauda and approaches with Borsari at the edge of the track, to get a better view. It's nothing, but in the meantime Emerson is getting closer and after a few laps he overtakes the Austrian. Montezemolo gets slightly nervous, but in the meantime Regazzoni has still gained on the two who were fighting. As he passes, Luca motions for him to slow down. He remembers last year's unfortunate race and doesn't want to repeat it. Lauda has no need to fight back for all he wants is a championship point to make him World Champion and he has given up all idea of actually winning the race. Not so Regazzoni, he just drives on and on, his average speed rising all the time. At 5 laps it has been 210.096 k.p.h. and it roses steadily to 218.034 k.p.h. by the end of the 52 laps, with a new lap record on lap 47 into the bargain. In mid-field there has been a slight reshuffle when Hunt overshoots the chicane and loses fifth place to Tom Pryce, but it is only temporary, for he gets it back in ten laps. 


Arrived at 5:04 p.m. three laps to the end. Montezemolo shakes his arms and breathes deeply to release his nerves. With one lap to go to the end of the race, Clay passes and Montezemolo raises his fists, then sits down on a low wall with his legs on the track, with Ghedini standing beside him, and the photographers all around. When Regazzoni, Fittipaldi and Lauda cross the finish line, the confusion is great. The Ferrari mechanics raise their pneumatic guns and make them work as a sign of joy. Cuoghi and Borsari shake hands, while Montezemolo, with tears in his eyes, embraces Forghieri then Ghedini. Then he kisses Mariella on the cheeks and then Maria Pia. The whole Ferrari team has teary eyes, the fans climb over the nets and overcome the police barriers. Lauda and Regazzoni enter a small enclosure with the two 312 Ts to escape the crowd. It's 5:10 p.m. and the story, this time, has a happy ending. Clay Regazzoni wins the Italian Grand Prix, while Emerson Fittipaldi - second - delivers the title to Niki Lauda while Reutemann is fourth. The wait is over, Sunday 7 September 1975 is Enzo Ferrari's Ferrari day. Remaining calm and objective on a day like this takes some effort. Around there are many shining eyes, sometimes joy explodes loudly. For the Maranello team, the Formula 1 World Championship could not have ended in a better way. It's Lauda's moment, since the most prestigious and spectacular championship in motor sport rewards the driver, the man who, over a long and exhausting season, was best able to dominate his car with 500 horsepower in the engine, but it is also the time of Ferrari and Enzo Ferrari, since without the help of Italian work and the driving force of a 77-year-old gentleman who does not know the meaning of the word surrendered, and believes and lives as if he were thirty, Niki would not be number one. An inseparable pair, even if, in reality, there is Lauda on one side and hundreds of specialists and long-standing experience on the other. But it would be foolish now to divide the merits, attributing more of them to the manufacturer or to his racer. There was an exemplary integration, one can thank the other and the Italian fans, like the Austrian ones, say thanks to both of them for these splendid, exciting hours. Lauda must, in particular, thank today's Ferrari, efficient at a technical and management level as perhaps never in the past, and who, working for eleven years without ever giving up, have prepared this happy day of his. Eleven years: it had been since 1964 that a driver from Maranello - at the time it was the Englishman John Surtees - had not established himself in the Formula 1 World Championship.


Niki, at this moment, must turn his thoughts to Enzo Ferrari, who has never given up to the sporting commitment, even when his cars did not fly as proudly as the 312 T, to the engineers who lived on the drawing boards of the factory - Mauro Forghieri, Franco Rocchi, Gian Carlo Bussi, Salvarani, Caliri, Ed Enzo Ferrari can congratulate himself for choosing Lauda in 1973, when it was a question of rebuilding the team after a bitter season full of disappointments and controversies and starting over. Lauda brought exemplary commitment and seriousness to Maranello, he approached Ferrari with admirable intelligence and dedication, setting up his life in and out of racing with a specific goal: the conquest of the title. Ferrari needed a driver of this kind, who combined a remarkable natural talent with a strong professional sense: racing like working as a bank teller. Niki is Austrian, but in this key, he is English: don't think that the famous Jackie Stewart behaved so differently from Lauda. Maybe, he was just better at public relations, but he's a matter of character, of temperament. By now, it is appropriate to say that Lauda takes up the legacy of Stewart, to whom he is very similar in style, class, operating methods (while he is very different from Emerson Fittipaldi, who relinquishes the title after winning it last year at the end of a very uncertain challenge with Regazzoni). The Austrian is a true champion because he is an exceptional driver and a very fine test driver: even those who have only seen him on television must have realized his ability, his tactical intelligence, his tenacity. In practice he is able to get into the car and set the time; in the race, he calmly waited for the right moment to have every part of the car perfectly run-in. Engineers and mechanics know his fussiness and meticulousness in checking and setting up: if something is wrong for Lauda, no one questions the driver's word. For this ace driver, here is a formidable single-seater, a car that occupies a special place in the noble vein of racing cars built in Maranello. The 312 T (the acronym, we recall, means three liters of displacement, 12-cylinder engine, transverse gearbox) proved to be competitive on every circuit, even if the Ferrari technicians had made it to measure for mixed-type tracks, that is, with many curves and some straight lines, which predominate as test venues for the Grand Prix.


A car that beat the coalition of those made in England (in each race two Ferraris against 6-8 formidable rivals, of which, in turn, 23 in a leading position depending on the characteristics of the track), valid in terms of chassis, suspension, transmission, engine and - particularly valuable - reliable, robust both in terms of driver safety and in terms of resistance to the exhausting pace of the races. Man and machine were accompanied in their difficult undertaking by a technical and sporting staff who aroused the admiration of their British rivals, who are considered masters of the sector. And it is right to underline the contribution of Luca Montezemolo, who is not an engineer but a lawyer, a manager with strong managerial aptitudes, a programmer and a diplomat. Montezemolo coordinated the work of Ferrari, regulating its enthusiasm and the inevitable internal friction, creating a truly positive atmosphere of concord, as a team. With him all the others, from Sante Ghedini, incomparable sports assistant, to Tommaso Tomaini, precious trait d'union Between the track and the design, from the chief mechanics Ermanno Cuoghi and Giulio Borsari to all the mechanics, generous and passionate supporters of their team, including Scaramelli, Gambaretti, Iseppi, Corradini, Levoni, Piccioni, Bartolini, Muzzarelli, Vezzali, Artoni, Castelli, Di Stefano, Pignatti and Bellentani. On loan from Magneti Marelli, as a wizard of electrical systems, Vittorio Tramonti, Vezzali (for Lauda) and Muzzarelli (for Regazzoni) carried out the delicate task of signaling while Pignatti drove the truck for thousands of kilometers carrying the Ferraris from Maranello to circuits. Bellentani, chief mechanic of the sport-prototype team two years ago, was entrusted with the tire sector in agreement with the Goodyear technicians. For these men, for these people who believed in Ferrari, who fought bearing concrete testimony to the capabilities of Italian work, it is an exhilarating moment, perhaps more so than for Lauda himself.


And it is a doubly happy moment: first, because Scuderia Ferrari, the only real factory in the world of Formula 1 assemblers, finally sees its commitment and that of the Fiat Group rewarded, to which it is linked in many aspects, but still exceptional importance on the advertising and spectacular level; secondly, because the success is linked to that of Alfa Romeo in the Sportscar World Championship, Lancia and Fiat in the Rally championship, so that the Italian car industry emerges reinvigorated: the sporting results may not sell more, but at least they are an expression of technique, of courage, of trust, the sign of a presence. This is, beyond the joy for Ferrari, an important meaning of the affirmation of Lauda and the team. The first thought of the winners is for Enzo Ferrari. The builder is in his Modenese cave; the years, the successes and the defeats, the joys and the pains, have taught him to live alone the good and bad moments of the cars that bear his name, his daughters. Enzo Ferrari is not in Monza, but it is as if he were present, because Luca di Montezemolo turns to him in praise of victory, the thoughts of gratitude of Niki Lauda, World Champion at 26 and after two seasons of growth at Ferrari, are towards him, and Clay Regazzoni thinks of Ferrari in his reasoning as winner of the race, who deserves to be reconfirmed in the Scuderia Ferrari team for next season. Everything ends up in this arena of engines as it was in the unanimous votes of automotive Italy and in the forecasts of insiders. A Ferrari driver World Champion after eleven years of exhausting waiting, a red fireball that whizzes victorious on the black and white chess of the legendary track and it is the same man, who only has a Stalinist mustache above his lips, who drives it. There are so many reasons to praise Enzo Ferrari, to surround the two red cars from Maranello in an affectionate grip that overwhelms the protagonists. Who's stopping these people crazy with joy? Not the policemen and not even the wolf-dogs who, kept on a leash, sniff the muddy jeans and refuse to bite into them, will stop the tide. Six majestic mounted policeman surround Lauda to protect and escort him. Niki would like to run and embrace Mariella, who has taken refuge in the Scuderia Ferrari trailer; first love then his friends, and his friends are the technicians and mechanics of Ferrari, who helped him win the title of World Champion.


"I dedicate my champion title to Ferrari and to them".


They are the first words of a man whose head is surrounded by the iris, and his smile is a row of protruding squirrel teeth. Lauda replies that nothing has changed in his life and in his soul to those who ask him what this race and this success represent:


"I'm always the same".


Then, the technicality of the driver takes precedence over feelings, and in mechanical terms he describes and defines third place in this Grand Prix. Half a point was enough for him to become champion, while he won three and a half more than necessary. Why after Fittipaldi? A shock absorber that caused oversteering effects to the car. But it is not to Fittipaldi that Lauda turned his thoughts on the run, but to Reutemann.


"When they told me from the pits the advantage I had over Reutemann, the oversteer effect didn't cause me any further troubles".


Lauda expresses himself in a language somewhere between Italian and English, and Luca di Montezemolo abruptly calls him back to Italian. He is asked if it was a particular race:


"Particular now that it's over".


Because he gave him what Lauda wanted and deserved: the world title.


"And now let me go. I have to thank my friends".


Friends are the technicians, mechanics, sponsors of Ferrari. Acclaimed perhaps as never before, not even in 1970 when he brought a red horse car to triumph on this same track, Clay Regazzoni gives himself up to the journalists. Beyond the net, people spell out his name:


"Clay! Clay! Rega! Rega!".


The face of the champion from Ticino inspires sympathy, and his way of doing is equally captivating. Literally snatched from the seat of the car and carried in triumph to the race direction, then, under the escort of the agents in the press room, Clay was unable to embrace his wife, Maria Pia, who lived her race in the Scuderia Ferrari pits , stopwatch in one hand, pencil in the other and notebook on his knees. He will then. He now he exclaims:


"So guys let's get started".


And in an atmosphere of mutual sympathy, Regazzoni tells everything, neglecting absolutely nothing: the bad weather in the morning which worried him not a little, the drift towards the parabolic curve during the span of the free practice times.


"I ended up on the sand for about ten meters and that warned me".


In the eyes of the large crowd, Clay Regazzoni rode beautifully, taking advantage of the horsepower and qualities of the Ferrari 312 T, but he had a few stumbles: he felt some vibrations and the front brakes didn't respond as he would have liked.


"The car was oversteering and jumpy".


But Clay is certainly not a driver who is influenced by these little things: he is a type of champion who, if he were to be left without the steering wheel in a race, would still be able to control it, as Tazio Nuvolari did in the legendary days of motor racing. This victory is revenge for the mustachioed champion from Ticino. A revenge on the adverse fate that stopped him in other races this season, and a denial to those who considered him a car wreck. Overcoming the impression of the oversteering effect, and having mastered the nervousness of the car, he drove away calmly until the end, adjusting his race on the table that they displayed from the pits at each lap. A very regular pace: 1'34"0-1'35"0 each lap, and never beyond this period of time:


"I only pressed on the accelerator when they warned me that Fittipaldi was advancing".


Will he stay with Ferrari?


"I don't know, but there's no doubt".


And why should he have any now? Going from winners to losers, Carlos Reutemann, the beauty of the track, opens his arms and says:


"Everything as I expected".


While Fittipaldi honestly states that both Regazzoni and Lauda got what they deserved. But what if he had a Ferrari in his hands? Cleverly, the Brazilian replies with the question:




But with heartfelt honesty, he concludes by saying:


"Ferrari deserved the title because they were the best of all, working hard and well. There are no discussions. Throughout the championship Niki drove without making any mistakes and when the performance of a driver, equipped with a vehicle that doesn't cause headaches, is constant throughout the season, victory is mathematical".


Have you ever thought, during the race, of being able to catch up with Regazzoni?


"If I had started behind the Ferraris and not behind Reutemann perhaps I could have reduced the gap. Clay, however, was very good and never made a mistake. I had a bad start and lost a lot of time behind Carlos before being able to overtake him. I passed Lauda but I think he had some grip problems and I managed to get under him because, the previous lap, he hadn't done the parabolic well. Anyway he finished third and took the title and I'm sad. Perhaps I had had Ferrari... However, with McLaren the only thing missing is the signing of the renewal of the contract".


And without regret the scepter is passed. After John Surtees, Scuderia Ferrari returns to victory with Niki Lauda. In between eleven long years full of joys, disappointments, bitterness. Miki Mouse, the Computer, just to mention some of the nicknames given to Lauda, brought back to Maranello, to Enzo Ferrari, the most beautiful title, the one with the greatest prestige in motor sport. And if the Formula 1 World Championship is intended for the driver, at the same time it rewards the manufacturer, since the man-machine combination is inseparable. But speaking of the man, of the young Austrian from a good family with a serious and efficient air, with polite but hasty manners, we are speaking of a manager who does not have a desk but a steering wheel, who speaks of acceleration and tires and not sheets with costs, which operates on a track and not on a market: the applications are different, but the method for tackling and solving problems is that of an industrial manager in the 1970s. A lot of intelligence, a lot of diligence, a lot of calculation. A lot of enthusiasm, too, but, perhaps, little communicability. In his judgments he is peremptory and hasty, he hates silly questions that waste time unnecessarily: when he is at work there is no room for anything else. A difficult character, a man, in some ways, uncomfortable. A sincere man, however, who answers simply, who doesn't try to color his own businesses. What does the world title mean for Lauda, what will change in his life? He could have said a thousand things, maybe beautiful. Looking the journalists in the eye, as if to give greater strength to his words, he replies:


"Nothing in particular, just having achieved a result that I had set myself. A beautiful and pleasant result for me and for Ferrari, but a normal result, because it is the right and regular result of work. Everything will continue as before, maybe I'll have more commitments, maybe I'll earn a little more money. That's all".


Mariella Reininghaus ,his girlfriend, 25, with a model's physique, says that for Niki the maximum outward manifestation of irritation is a stiffening of the face, but once - in practice for the Swedish Grand Prix - he was seen jumping out of his Ferrari and beating fists on the cockpit with anger and another - in Germany - getting unsettled at this question: they say that Lauda is a computer-driver, what does the Austrian driver think?


"I think that is, to say the least, an inaccurate definition. I am not a machine. No one programmed me, I freely set my plans and chose a certain path, with all the sacrifices that it entails. I'm just a person who has dedicated himself with commitment to a certain job and who tries to do it in the best way. To be serene, it is enough for me to be convinced that I have done everything possible, regardless of the result".


Lauda began planning his life after the first races, after realizing that he has a natural talent that can be improved with experience. Born in Vienna on February 22, 1940, Niki learned to drive on the estates of his father, owner of some paper mills on the outskirts of the capital.


"I started with a tractor".


He confesses to his Ferrari friends. He was eleven years old. At fifteen he bought a Volkswagen for 1500 shillings, earned working for his father, then dismantled it and studied it piece by piece.


"I wanted to understand how it was built".


It is an episode that anticipates today's Lauda, the driver who knows every detail of his 312 T and who can give the technicians valuable information for setting up and developing the car. Engineer Mauro Forghieri claims:


"Niki has an exceptional ear and ability in this field".


In 1968 Lauda made his debut with a small Mini, soon replaced by a Porsche and, in 1969, by Formula Vee and Formula 3 single-seaters and a three-litre sports car. Two years later he was already driving a Formula 2 March and was about to make the big step into Formula 1. A very rapid career, despite the opposition of his family.


"My parents didn't want me to run. My father would have preferred me to do some industrial activity, but I didn't like it. They have hindered me in every way, even getting a bank to deny me a loan. I went to another institution and, in 1972, took £35.000 at the rate of 6%, covered by life insurance. In this way I was able to have a Formula 1 from the March".


A season with the March and, in 1973, the Austrian pilot landed at the B.R.M. together with Clay Regazzoni. A disastrous year for British single-seaters, but not for Lauda, who stood out for the care with which he prepared his recalcitrant car and for the driving skills he showed off. Enzo Ferrari noticed him, Regazzoni - already called to Maranello to replace Jackie lckx - recommended him. Luca Montezemolo appreciated him for his seriousness and intelligence. And so Niki came to Ferrari, making a decisive contribution to the Scuderia Ferrari's recovery: first the 312 B3, then the 312 T are the result of teamwork which, probably, would not have been so quick and effective without the contribution of the Viennese. Hours, days, months of training, testing, trials on the track that Ferrari owns in Fiorano, a stone's throw from the factory, and on circuits around the world, according to a strict program established by that other young manager who operates in Maranello, Luca Montezemolo.


"In life you have to know how to evolve, grow. We need to improve, take advantage of the experience. If you're wrong, don't make the same mistake again. It's the same in racing. This year I didn't repeat certain ingenuities of 1974, and I didn't make a mistake in the race. I worked well, all of Ferrari worked well".


Lauda always talks about work and, in fact, for him racing is not a hobby or a leisure activity.


"It's a profession, even if I like it. There's a fun side to driving, but also a lot of effort and concentration. There is no time to get excited or distracted. At most there is the pleasure of driving a car perfectly under the most difficult conditions. It's not a profession for everyone. You have to know how to calculate the smallest detail, inspiration and imagination don't count for anything, I calculate above all the risk. I go as far as my calculation can tell me to go. And, if it is true that racing is dangerous, knowing it is a great advantage".


The champion, therefore, enjoys racing, but not too much. And he marvels at the amazement of others when he says this.


"A boring job, but necessary, because in this way the foundations for success are laid. The really fun things are other: being with friends outside the world of work, swimming, skiing, flying".


Lauda's passion is airplanes: he is getting his pilot's license and already owns a Cessna. He doesn't drink alcohol, he doesn't smoke, he jogs 20 minutes a day so as not to exceed 65 kg of ideal weight, he sleeps ten hours a night, he likes tortellini and Italy. He lives in Salzburg with Mariella in a nice house, or in a hotel in Modena when he works at Ferrari. He is a cautious driver who respects the speed limits and fastens his seat belts. His car is a Fiat 131 Mirafiori. In Austria. Lauda has become more famous than Toni Sailer or Klammer. He is an idol to whom anything goes. The success of Niki Lauda and Ferrari in the 1975 World Championship made John Surtees happy, the last driver from Maranello to win a title before the Austrian. The Englishman established himself in 1964, at the age of 30, finishing second in the last race of the season, the Mexican Grand Prix. Jim Clark and Graham Hill, candidates for the title like Surtees, were unlucky: the Scotsman retired on the penultimate lap while leading, Hill finished eleventh (a third place would have been enough for him to be champion) after a collision with Lorenzo Bandini's Ferrari. All calculated, all programmed and, as logic dictated, here was Ferrari back in 1974 on the crest of the wave. Already last year, Niki Lauda could have won the world title. Instead, partly due to bad luck, partly due to inexperience, he was eliminated from the battle which came down to a duel between Regazzoni and Emerson Fittipaldi. The Brazilian won and Lauda swore to himself that he would succeed in the barely touched feat.


"I am very pleased that the title is back in Maranello. Lauda deserves to be World Champion: he is a serious and capable driver, a true professional who has been able to improve himself and the car entrusted to him. are two or three riders stronger than him ever, but Niki has been able to integrate with the 312 T and form a winning combination. And this is what counts. I'm also happy for Enzo Ferrari. The Commendatore worked very hard to achieve this result : his team, today, is well organized and acts at a professional level. His 312 T is the best single-seater of the season. Well designed, robust, with a very successful engine and chassis. It is not possible to compare my victory then and that of Lauda, or between me and him. Many things have changed. However, I must say that Niki's affirmation was certainly easier than mine: the 312 T, compared to its rivals, is much better than the 158 of 1964. I have only one regret: having left Ferrari in 1966. I was leading the World Championship, the Commendatore and I could have won another title. Too bad for both of them".


Luca Montezemolo, in addition to being a perfect assistant to Enzo Ferrari, is also an excellent public relations expert and as such he rushed to the press room, as is his habit however things go.


"I wanted to thank you all for the support you have given us. You have sensitized the public and his support has spurred us on to conquer the world championship. I swear that, three quarters into the run, I got very scared remembering last year's unfortunate run. Someone, on that occasion, said that it was our fault, that first Lauda and then Regazzoni broke the engine because they had battled each other. That's not true, it was a broken water hose, a very trivial failure that can happen to anyone, even when driving on a motorway. This year bad luck left us and we proved it".


Similarly, the President of Fiat, the lawyer Giovanni Agnelli, releases a happy statement, after the conquest of the Formula 1 World Championship by Niki Lauda and Ferrari.


"Winning means being first: if Ferrari is the first in the world in such a technically sophisticated field as Formula 1, the image of Italian industry derives an enormous benefit from it. For us Ferrari is above all a sentimental fact, if we are close to it today it is because we have always believed in what this name means for the Italian automotive tradition. This afternoon in Monza we saw an enthusiasm that we thought possible, only for a world victory of our national football team. As industrialists, being part of a success like this convinces us that we made the right choices at the time: the policy of giving up never leads to success, not in sport and even less in industry. Engineer Ferrari trusted us and we trusted him even in the less happy moments. Today the commitment to continue on this path is at least obvious".


Why did he win the Italian car?


"What is a Ferrari 312T? It is a perfect product, of absolute excellence, an optimum of human creativity and industriousness. Here is the image that even a layman can get from it".


Giovanni Agnelli smiles, and with a quick gesture he draws the model of the winning Formula 1 at Monza in a few centimeters of space. The Monza victory has a Turin reflection. On talks about it in bars, workshops, on the tram, between legitimate satisfaction and some amazement. So what does Ferrari's victory mean for Fiat?


"A big sigh of relief. Finally, between us, we can exchange a look of satisfaction. And the look that others give us, from abroad, underlines the values of this result. Formula 1 requires extremely sophisticated commitments, the two Ferraris had to fight alone with top-level brands and drivers. Magnificent challenge: with that Lauda who has the coldness of a chess player, precisely those masters who can play the game like a mathematical problem, and with that Regazzoni who runs and burns for his male and female supporters, very Italian in short. It must be said that the victory of this 1975 does not make us forget 1974, when Ferrari should have won even more easily. But it's the procedure that counts: it's the times that strengthen a conviction. This: the experience of Italian industry, the experience of Ferrari, guarantee a certain period of supremacy".


We need to talk about the milestone created with the victory in Formula 1, but also with the results obtained by Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo in the various championships, from that for sports cars to the Rally. The years of crisis and conjuncture marry an image of successful Italian models: the man who speaks and acts with the machine has not yet dispelled the myths of him. What does this Italian Grand Prix in Monza give us hope for, does this Italian supremacy over very fierce competition, in a world that is looking for new measures of itself?


"Lancia greatly expanded its prestige at the time of the carrera in South America. Ford, by winning at Le Mans many years ago, brought its brand, barely known here, to Europe. When Francesco Agello obtained the speed record, still unbeaten, in 1934, with a Mucchi MC 72 seaplane and Fiat 3200 HP engine, and his aircraft had a wingspan of eight meters, he aroused extraordinary attention. And perhaps it is not easy to say, but technically it is flawless: the Atlantic crossing of the Savoia-Marchettis in those years was an event of exceptional significance, both in terms of mythology and technical capabilities. That's the power that gets a win, that comes with a record".


To some, the ideal engagement between a certain perfectionism from Turin and a certain perfectionism from Modena, that is the alliance between Fiat and Ferrari, may seem curious.


"Pure matter of trust".


Giovanni Agnelli smiles again:


"Ferrari operates in total freedom, occasionally requesting assistance for some aspects of its work: measurements, controls, which are not possible in Modena. We shook hands with mutual intent and loyalty. And the Maranello team proceeds in an excellent way, from the technical triad headed by Mauro Forghieri to the youngest or very young specialists. The same air of home has helped them, unified them. And a man like Luca Montezemolo has contributed to the blend, now smoothing now sharpening the psychological joints. Not to mention him, Enzo Ferrari".


A man who really has, and not just like in certain television headlines, the charm of solitude.


"Oh, absolutely. An unforgettable character".


He looks fifteen years younger than his seventy-seven years.


"Exactly. I phoned him before the Grand Prix. To wish him well and tell him: I will certainly repeat them to him in eleven years. But there is also this component to underline: our assistance to Ferrari has yielded in a few years like no other. It worked for Maranello and it worked for us. A rare example".


And we go back to talking about Monza, the big Sunday party, a thousand little episodes that the obligatory haste of reports and comments had to overlook.


"As in certain American sportsmen who fly with bat wings or jump huge obstacles on a motorcycle, Clay Regazzoni is an example of bravery, which is why people prefer him even if the chess player Lauda is a champion of absolute modernity. To succeed, a car must win. We did it in the distant post-war period, in 1918. Then we had to think about manufacturing and selling".


But that dream of winning, which remained deep in his veins, acted as the propellant for the current 312 T, a car that the world envies and applauds.


"There are enthusiasts who guarantee hearing even the quietest noise. It is technical ear, and also sporty. Think: I was a child, my father took me to the stadium, and some of his friends, hands over their eyes, swore, according to the impact of the shoe with the ball, what that hit was, could only be from Rosetta. The way it was born soft, clean. True or not, isn't it splendid?"


In the meantime, the engineer Enzo Ferrari, as is his habit, followed the race from Modena on television, in the company of his wife, Laura Garello. After the triumph of Lauda and Ragazzoni, the Modenese manufacturer says:


"The result is the demonstration of what can be achieved with diligent fidelity to an idea, and it is also the reward for preordained human situations. In this moment of happiness, we feel indebted to Lauda, Regazzoni, the technicians, mechanics, suppliers and all the Ferrari enthusiasts, who for thirty years have inspired in us the determination to continue".


If the curtain really fell forever on the legendary Monza track, the last performance was unforgettable, triumphant. Fittipaldi says that he too likes this asphalt ring:


"We will not return to Monza until the Lesmo curve has widened".


Fittipaldi speaks not only for himself, but for all the drivers of the great car circus. Widening the Lesmo curve, in which there has also been someone who risked their life (Lella Lombardi), is equivalent to cutting down trees and the ecologists, who are already agitating to restore the whole large park to its natural beauty, never they will allow. But can a racetrack disappear on the very day it takes a dip in the splendor of the past? Around the track, before, during and after the race, time seems to have jumped back to the 1950s, when the crowds caught fire at the deeds of Italian champions. Those champions have disappeared, burned by their passion, the names of some of those cars have been devoured, at least for this type of race, by adverse circumstances. Ferrari became great in those years, then luck fluctuated, but returned very great especially in this beautiful season of the championship which crowned right on his track with the conquest of the world title. And the alliance with Fiat has contributed to rediscovering its splendid greatness in recent years. To get to Arcore you have to go around the perimeter of the Monza park, now quiet and peaceful after the great fair of the past few days. In the industrial traffic of the morning, still a couple of colored vans, the words Elf, UOP-Shadow, but by now life has resumed regular and monotonous, everyone at work, even if there is little work and the crisis in this hyper-industrialized area it is something even palpable. Arcore brings to mind the Gilera of heroic times, but from the photos of the past you wouldn't even recognize the facade of the factory, other than the town that has concrete cubes and cubes in no way different from those of Cinisello or Vimercate. Here was the Ferrari hotel, busy and besieged headquarters, and here it remains even now but almost deserted and forgotten. In the park a Vienna-registered car, and a dozen tenacious kids standing guard, at 7:00 a.m. forward, they see everyone leave, the mechanics with the big trucks, Forghieri, Tomaini and all the technicians. Regazzoni had already escaped on Sunday evening, after the party, and therefore only Lauda and Montezemolo remained. They are inside having breakfast, the two of them and Mariella, a silent extra who has the responsibility of the absolute protagonist. Niki is the same as yesterday and identical to tomorrow, but already a little more relaxed and in any case more at ease without all those people around. It could be a problem to find something new, it would perhaps be easy to fall back into the all obvious questions and answers of yesterday and the days before, especially the official interview is embarrassing for the interviewed but also for the other party. Niki is polite:


"Today is no different from yesterday, but I feel satisfied. It's a small sensation, I barely feel it, but it's clear that I feel I've achieved something, above all I understand that I've closed a cycle and have to reopen another one. Maybe I was already prepared for victory, honestly I had no doubts, but I still had to do something first. Now I understand that I have everything to do to start over and focus on next year. The title itself means a lot and a little, a lot because there are plenty of drivers who try every year and for a long time and never make it, a little because it's a finish line, after that, you have to start another race".


Mariella listens and what at other times seems like a haughty detachment is now appreciated as a pleasant confidentiality. The two must love each other in a complete way and Niki is nonchalant, introducing her as his partner, in Italian.


"She's all I have outside of the car".


Then he resumes the discussion on racing:


"It will be much more difficult to stay on top than to make the climb. Now we had a point of reference, the others feared us, but they looked at who had the title. We have revealed our cards, they will copy what they can, then they will have new ideas and technical means. Someone may be better than another and we will have to be better than everyone. Difficult, really difficult".


Lauda split the glory in half with Clay's victory, yet he told everyone that he was fully satisfied: is that true?


"Of course he is. I don't know, sometimes I feel like I can't explain myself. He won a Ferrari and that's fine with us, for me and for everyone else, because the concept of the clan is what keeps us together. Woe to you if one throws water at one's mill: the time of the champion who plays the part of the star is over. Should I be envious of Borsari who signs as many autographs as I do, or of people who spell Lu-ca, Lu-ca?


Who said he has cold eyes? Lauda fixes his eyes, but he winks, gestures, smiles or frowns in a moment. But Clay, doesn't the Clay character feel a little prevailing?


"Popularity in one sense is something extremely dangerous. They take you to the stars it's true, but then woe if you're not always at your best. They let you go and you fall from above, I'd rather win my trust, grow in sympathy rather than make people fall in love with me".


Who is more popular in Austria, Klammer or Lauda? The Austrian rider remains baffled for a moment then smiles in amusement at the comparison.


"I don't know, I think me right now, but him when he wins the Olympics".


He doesn't say that for two years now his image has been camping on the walls of houses, appearing on television carousels in everyone's homes, occupying entire pages of the newspapers supporting the goodness of Agip petrol. What did Fittipaldi say up in the grandstand while the prizes were being handed out and the people below were shaking wildly?


"Nothing special, the usual stuff".


But aren't you friends?


"I would say no. We know each other, we meet, but less often than one might think, I only have Clay as a friend, maybe that's also why I was pleased that he won. I said, I only have Clay because he's the only one that I’m always with. Work binds us a lot, first to B.R.M., now to Ferrari. Then I don't race in the other formulas, I don't drive the prototypes, and when we are on the eve of the championship races I have too much to think about to establish new relationships".


Let's go back to the cars. What will change next year?


"It can change a lot. In the meantime, Cosworth is by no means finished for me, in fact I think it will be the one that will give us the most trouble. I don't believe in Alfa Romeo. You've seen the Matra, invincible in prototypes. In formula it's a landslide, and the Alfa can end up the same. It takes a lot of things to make a car go well, and the engine has to tie in with the mechanical parts. Everything must be studied in detail and our strength lies precisely in this meticulousness".


Is it true you asked for $100.000 to reconfirm your contract?


"No. That's too much money. If you ask that much later you have to give, and what can I give worth a hundred thousand dollars?"


How will he do next year without Montezemolo?


"Let’s not even joke. Luca stays with us. In Turin, for Fiat, they'll hire his brother. No sir, Lauda doesn't fit without Montezemolo".


The chats keep going, then Niki comes out among the kids. One gives him the notebook for the autograph, he takes the marker and writes: Broom, broom, Niki. He and the boy laugh, who is dark and says sir, and they are already old friends. But who said that Lauda is cold? However, the matter is clear: Niki Lauda says that without Montezemolo Ferrari can't do it. Luca Montezemolo, twenty-six years old, sporting director of Ferrari, has gone from non-places to the iris, a rising star in the Fiat firmament, and he speaks for once in the first person. For two years now they've been nailing him in front of the Ferrari trailer or van and asking him the most obvious things; for two years alone he has been keeping up with the pack of opponents who are not builders and therefore have different interests; always in these twenty-four months he has relaunched a name, he has rebuilt a myth, so quickly that now no one even remembers the black moment. Eight hundred and many days plus one, today, and he finds himself having to solve a completely personal problem, choose for his own tomorrow, which is connected to that of many other people.


"I studied like many others, then at university I committed myself. I made law to stay as far away from numbers as possible, and some engineers still won't forgive me for this. I've always been a friend of Cristiano Rattazzi, and it's thanks to him, who had much more money than me, that I was able to have some fun, do rallies and create a small name for myself. Small yes, but that's where my current career came from".


Montezemolo speaks well, without too much preciosity, he tells - always, not only now that he is practically telling the story of his life - the things that have happened or his thoughts in the best tone for the interlocutor. He likes to talk, it's obvious, but he never listens to himself smugly.


"Cristiano and I went to the radio to do Rome 3131, when it was still a light and fun broadcast. One day we start talking about Ferrari, we talk about the admiration we have for him, for his cars, for the whole myth of the little horse. We were two boys with boy weaknesses. The Commendatore appreciates it, writes a letter, says he would like to meet us, and I promise myself to go to Maranello as soon as I can. At that point I was a graduate, and practicing in an international law firm. A bore. Essentially I had to find the best way for clients to evade taxes, bring capital and set up companies abroad without risk of jail time. I had aside, won immediately after graduation, a scholarship at an American university, and after a little boredom I left for New York. It was once, on a short repatriation trip, that I stopped in Modena, and from there I went to see the Commendatore. Talk and discuss, he tells me that if he didn't know that I already have who knows what brilliant commitments, he would offer me to go and work with him. I reply that I have no commitments, and the proposal takes its course regularly. It makes me laugh or anger, depending on the moment, when they say that Gianni Agnelli put me there as an authority: it's only true that he knew me, always through Cristiano, and when they suggested my name to him he found nothing to object".


One almost suspects that the whole discourse, the return to the origins, was done to get rid of this weight. Lauda has his computer which is indigestible, and Montezemolo a recommended driving licence. Yet in the face of recommendations he has done a lot since he joined Ferrari. Who rules in Maranello, Montezemolo or Enzo Ferrari?


"Ferrari has the last word, but obviously he only deals with the most important issues. I do the rest, or whoever helps me. We have modernized ourselves, and the commendatore has left me carte blanche on many parts, playing blindly on me. Sometimes it happens, when a person gets old and wants to delegate to someonelse, it goes by sensation, it then depends on whether the sensation was good".


Montezemolo is clearly on the rise, so it means that the work has been judged excellent. We had started from the choice, however, that was the basic problem.


"Of course, I now have a role in Fiat but to fulfill it I would have to be full-time. I should take care of relations with everything outside of a similar complex, but how can I manage by staying ten days in Kyalami, or fifteen in America? The choice has to be made, and on the other hand I realize that I’m needed at Ferrari. With Niki I found a wonderful relationship of trust, and with Clay I get on well. The technicians gladly entrust themselves to me now, and the mechanics basically work better in an environment that is a little more orderly. Niki always says Ferrari chaos because he remembers what it was like at the beginning, when he arrived: it is clear that now he fears that if I leave everything will go back to the way it was before. The beauty is that there is no recipe for avoiding chaos, because in the end it was nobody's fault".


But how do mechanics work now, do they have the passion of the past, the technical preparation, the will to do?


"I know times have changed, but basically there has been an improvement. Our mechanics follow the parable of all workers: they are more balanced as men, and feel that they have enough responsibility to be satisfied. They work well, and with desire. They are not exceptions, however. Note that at Ferrari as a factory the relationship with the workers is very good. We are in a red region, where the economy is at its best, there is a precise point of reference for everyone in the public administration, and a certain frankness in the relationships between the various components. It will be because of the size, probably. This is why I would be interested in starting to re-establish a certain image of Fiat: it would be a question of acting squarely, on an example that already exists".


Lauda has personal needs to satisfy. The other day he said: Here I have had everything with the world championship. I can't go and be sporting director at McLaren. Yet racing is exciting, and soon after returning with the speech at Fiat, Montezemolo talks about the future of Ferrari as if it were something personal.


"I tried to lose a championship I had already won for a year, losing it every Sunday. Then we won this in little changed conditions. The hard part comes now, with all the others who will dig the ground under our feet, with those who will copy us in the best parts and keep their edge in other sectors. There is only one hope: the British boast that they are even better than us in terms of sealing: if it is true, we will catch up with them this winter".


The discussion moves on to the city of Turin, which has many problems and a certain social stratification. The conversation drifts away from racing and a particularly interesting topic has just begun, when the journalist who is interviewing Montezemolo is stopped by the police. The choice is strange because everyone continues to run away along the large avenue, while around the car there are about ten agents, all young, nervous, with weapons too ready for use. Journalist Goletti gets out of the newspaper car to photograph the unexpected scene, and attracts anger and unjustified prohibitions. It takes a while for the skein to unravel and it's not a pleasant experience.


"There are so many things to re-establish, so many altered relationships. Something has to be done".


Yes, but what? Continue to win with Ferrari or try with Fiat?


"When you have successfully completed a task, there can be a feeling of emptiness. And, after so much joy, the fear of what the future may hold for us. But I have decided to fill this void, and to predict what will happen. We won the World Championship, we will do everything not to lose it".


The confession is sincere, the man - 77 years old - has no intention of abdicating. Tuesday 2 September 1975 Niki Lauda was testing the 312 T on the Fiorano track for the Italian Grand Prix. On Wednesday it was Clay Regazzoni's turn and the traffic on the narrow road that leads from Modena to Abetone and Lucca came to a halt. Tuesday 9 September 1975 the rumble of the 12-cylinder boxer does not rise towards the sky, getting lost in the orchards saddened by the fumes of the ceramics industries. At Fiorano they are silent because the work done has brought good results. The harvest was plentiful: Regazzoni won at Monza. Lauda became World Champion and Ferrari returned to being the first in Formula 1. Instead, there was talk in the Cavallino restaurant. An informal restaurant, almost a country trattoria, which has the enviable advantage of being located in front of the Ferrari entrance gate. Enzo Ferrari's office is 50 meters away and he, partly out of convenience and partly out of habit, is often at lunch at the Cavallino. He goes there with collaborators, with friends, mostly business lunches, keeping an eye on the clock. On Tuesday 9 September 1975, the Cavallino restaurant was chosen to hold an important meeting, a meeting between Enzo Ferrari and journalists. There are many of them at the tables in a small room that is hastily transformed into a sort of press room. But with Ferrari there is no need for formal relationships, decorations, hostesses: he is enough. the old gentleman with the air of a young man. Nearby is the engineer Piero Fusaro, the new general manager of Ferrari, the lawyer Luca Montezemolo, the assistant, and Franco Gozzi, who for years has taken on the heavy honor of being the link between Ferrari and his friends-enemies which have a more or less corrosive pen.


"This is not a press conference, but a conversation. I am indebted to you because with your encouragement, with your applause and with your criticisms - perhaps due to your bitterness at the fact that the results did not coincide with your wishes, which in fact were ours - you contributed to the statements of 1975. On this occasion I present to you engineer Fusaro. that he is 36 years old and has always been a Ferrari fan. We will be able to look to the future with industrious tranquility".


The 1976 sports program will be defined by mid-October, and therefore the topics of conversation concern more the past, that is this splendid season which will formally end on October 5 with the United States Grand Prix, than the future. However, some anticipation emerges. No doubts about the Formula 1 program:


"And how could it be otherwise, after the declarations of the lawyer Agnelli?"


And there is no doubt about the names of the drivers: Lauda and Regazzoni will still be driving the cars. Ferrari says:


"They haven't signed the contract yet, but here, in this club, before Monza we shook hands. Enough. And I want to emphasize that both of them did not ask for any changes. It's their credit, especially at a time when certain sponsors who have no direct link to motoring have enlivened the market with inconceivable offers. Our champions are conscious and modest men".


The 312 T should be succeeded by a new version, the T2. It is already completed on paper. The start of the construction program should be given in the first days of October. The car will continue to mount the 12-cylinder, no one thinks of using an eight-cylinder, as the usual well-informed wanted to anticipate.


"It would be ridiculous not to remain faithful to the 12-cylinder, especially now that those who didn't have one built it in the wake of our results".


And. speaking of engines, a curious story emerges. The British teams, after the exceptional results obtained in the Monza tests by the Ferraris of Lauda and Regazzoni, would have had half an idea on eight cylinders, such as asking for a check on the engine capacity, assuming a possible increase of the same, Then they would have given up to continue on this path. It is only a matter of rumors, of course, maliciously collected or invented, to which Ferrari replies as follows: 


"I will tell you the truth. It was a mistake. We had mistakenly assembled two engines, also of three liters, but of a new type, from the series that we are preparing for 1976. The person in charge was on vacation, among eight ready engines we chose the two that constituted a prefiguration of those we are realizing for the 312 T2".


Engines more powerful than the current ones. Ferrari's explanation smacks of teasing to the listeners. Reality, probably. it's much simpler. No one was wrong at Ferrari in the pre-Monza, Enzo Ferrari simply wanted to test the engines ready for 1976. It is known that the manufacturer has always checked at the end of the season, on the Monza track, more or less important news in sight of the next one.

Still on the prospects for 1976:


"We have no intention of directly participating in the next brand championship. However, we have studied three solutions for a silhouette-type car. We do not intend to remain unarmed. Eventually, our work will be donated to private teams, individual customers or our representatives".


Questions and answers flock together. Ferrari, after having proudly stated that from 1951 to today his House has won 21 titles, of which 7 in F1 and 14 in the Sports, Constructors and Brands championships, Ferrari keeps everyone at bay. Steady voice, often sharp jokes and arguments, dark glasses to protect himself from the lashes of photographers and cameramen, Ferrari proves that successes are good for him. He's in great shape. We report the main questions and their answers. For example, how did the now famous transversal gearbox of the 312/T come about?


"It is the compendium of distant experiences, which date back even to wartime, to the machine tools we manufactured over 30 years ago and which had a small diameter conical crown. We then made a car with a transverse engine and gearbox: the part concerning the gearbox remained from that project".


And down a long, detailed technical explanation that demonstrates the high level of the Ferrari school. Did you see the Grand Prix on TV?


"Yes, I experienced the usual emotions of a Sunday race, but this time the anticipation was more intense. I immediately reassured myself: Clay was in great shape and I knew that Niki, risk accountant, would not have made any mistakes".


Why does one race?


"To progress, to capitalize on technical discoveries which, over time, will be applied in series production and to prevent others from advertising themselves with sporting successes. By now, almost all automotive companies carry out a competitive activity. It is a satisfaction that repays me with compound interest for the humiliations and accusations of those who have thrown themselves against me, portraying me as a man seized by a senseless passion, like a modern Saturn. The factories have understood that laboratory tests alone do not allow a complete verification of certain solutions, of certain organs. In competitions it is possible to spend 3-4 years without apparent results, in reality something accumulates which then explodes. That's why I don't believe in luck or bad luck".


How are the successes of 1975 reflected in the GT production?


"We need to keep Ferrari's image alive. At the Paris Motor Show you will see a new Ferrari, for example, which will use some element of our most recent activity".


It will be a two-seater car with bodywork by Pininlarina. What do you think about the tire problem?


"Even normal tires are tributaries of racing. Now, with Goodyear we are carrying out a program to create an all-weather cover, valid for Grands Prix, in order to relieve drivers of anxiety about changing weather conditions".


And, on the subject, Ferrari has very bad lines for Pirelli. What about assemblers?


"It's a profitable way of doing the sport. I was too at the beginning. Ferrari's success is not achieved at the expense of a team, or against a Ford that gives its name to the engine that almost all Formula 1 teams use 1, but it is valid against the specialized English factories that supply them".


Does Sunday's triumph have a special meaning?


"Things are not going too well in Italy, when a breath of good comes, everyone likes it. Perhaps this victory was not the most exciting, certainly the most desired. Like when you want a beautiful woman...".


The contribution of Fiat?


"It was remarkable, both financially and technologically. With our own means we could not have built the winning machines. In the technological field, the connection with the electronic brain of Turin is fundamental, which has allowed us to solve complex problems lasting weeks in just a few minutes".


And the Passatore team and the Italian drivers?


"I loaned a B3 and now I'll lend a 312-T. Let them do it, choose the most suitable elements for them. If they want to run one, I won't object. However, I no longer throw anyone on the track. I don't want to have dead people. The progressive training and apprenticeship system in Formula 2 gives guarantees that a lightning debut does not offer".


The situation of the car?


"It seems to me that people realize that they cannot do without it".


CSI and security?


"They have frozen some chatter, I would go back to the origins, to the 600 km Grand Prix with refueling".


Another judgment on Lauda.


"Niki is a serious professional, a man who acts according to a preordained calculation. His greatest passion is the car, he lives for it. He does by calculation what others can do by enthusiasm, but he has one advantage: he prepares himself conscientiously".


The reasons for the triumphs are, according to Ferrari, of a human and technical nature.


"Everyone in the team had his job and everyone worked loyally and harmoniously. A family".


After mentioning Luca Montezemolo and the Forghieri technical troika. Rocchi and Bussi, Ferrari points out the supremacy of the 312 T:


"The arc of use of the engine: 6.000 rpm, ie from 6.500 to 12.500, the transversal gearbox, the adaptability of the machine to 90 of the circuits".


The conclusion of the dialogue is, like the beginning, directed towards the future.


"The difficult part begins now that we are World Champions again. We know how we got there, but we don't know what we'll have to do to stay".


Is Enzo Ferrari really sure of this?


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