#320 1979 Monaco Grand Prix

2021-12-09 23:00

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#1979, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Alessia Bossi, Martina Marastoni,

#320 1979 Monaco Grand Prix

The show has begun. The Principality offers its annual gala show reserved for motoring, and for the occasion it brings out a splendid sun and a port f


The show has begun. The Principality offers its annual gala show reserved for motoring, and for the occasion it brings out a splendid sun and a port full of ultra-luxurious yachts that ignore (except perhaps sailing yachts) the oil crisis. From Thursday morning, the Monegasque citizens who love tranquility will have to move to the hills for a few days, but their place will be taken by tens of thousands of Formula 1 fans. Never before have we seen so many people around, and so many cars and so much confusion. A sign that the approval rating has increased further, that the Ligier-Ferrari duel is considered too delicious a dish not to be tasted directly on the spot. Predicting a duel on this circuit between the cars of the French and Italian teams, all of which have so far won the six races held, is quite easy even if we shouldn't underestimate some opponents who are growing, such as Williams, like the new Lotus 80 by Andretti, like the Tyrrell, which last year won with Depailler on this track and which in the last race, at Zolder, climbed to third place with Pironi. Unfortunately, a question hangs over this predictable fight, relating to the physical conditions of Patrick Depailler and Jacques Laffite, both injured and with a sore right wrist. Patrick was injured in Belgium in a road exit and has undergone intensive care in recent days. But when he got into the car at Le Castellet on Tuesday for a series of tests, he managed just four laps. Laffite, on the other hand, completed 500 kilometers with the Ligier, but precisely because of this long training session, he subjected his wrist already tormented by chronic tendonitis to too violent an effort. In short, both Ligier riders are now in the hands of doctors. Probably with injections of novocaine everything will be resolved for the race. But it is certain that taking to the track in these conditions, the two Frenchmen will not be in top form. And it would be a pity if the fight didn't take place on equal terms, also because Scheckter and Villeneuve, on the contrary, are in great shape, intending to fight to the last meter for victory. Both Ferrari drivers now live in Monte-Carlo and consider themselves honorary citizens of the Principality. For them it's like running at home, more so than for Laffite and Depailler. Gilles and Jody's morale seems to be very high also because a press release released on Wednesday 23 May 1979 by the Maranello team informs that the South African and Canadian have already been confirmed for 1980. Commenting on the various rumors and hypotheses on the transfers of the drivers in sight next season, Marco Piccinini, sporting director of Ferrari, prefers to clarify the situation immediately.


"This doesn't concern Ferrari, in fact I can already confirm that our sporting collaboration with Scheckter and Villeneuve will continue in 1980 as well".


This means that the Canadian and the South African can work with complete peace of mind. Regarding the Monaco Grand Prix, however, Villeneuve and Scheckter are certainly not calm. Villeneuve says:


"Half the race we'll fight for it in qualifying. Objectively, it is difficult to overtake on this circuit and you will have to fight hard to secure a good starting position. Some stretches of the track, such as the Casino curve and the Mirabeau curve. they have been recently asphalted. Together with the hairpin bend of the swimming pool, these are the most delicate points of the circuit, where the race can be decided. We will have to be precise to the centimeter because every mistake will be paid dearly. I am already indebted to luck, after stopping 400 meters from the finish in Belgium when I was about to finish third, and therefore I am hoping for a positive result".


Jody Scheckter, like the Canadian driver, believes that the race will be very balanced and that it will be very important to have a front row seat at the start. The South African does not skimp on compliments to the organizers. On the contrary, no pilot talks about safety. Scheckter even goes so far as to state:


"I think Monte-Carlo is one of the best examples of how a Grand Prix is organized professionally and by now the safety standards are in line with those of most permanent circuits, also because the corners are rather slow even though they require very demanding driving . In fact, here even more than in Long Beach it is essential to launch the car on a continuous and very precise trajectory that allows you to navigate the winding sequences of bends in the best possible way".


However, all the pilots said they feared the start very much. Mario Andretti declares:


"The start in Monte-Carlo is one of the most dangerous and difficult of the whole season. After the start straight we will find ourselves in a funnel, and we will have to be very careful not to cause an accident. I hope that all my colleagues are careful and that the race can finally take place on a regular basis, so that the strongest really wins and that there isn't an elimination already on the first lap, as has happened on other occasions".


In the early hours of Thursday 24 May 1979, 24 pilots participated. The twenty officially admitted by law by the FOCA, plus the two invited by the organizers, who are Patrese and Arnoux. The twenty-third and twenty-fourth will be designated by the pre-qualifications between the young Italian Brancatelli, the German Mass and the other German Stuck, at the helm of the ATS. However, it is a highly debatable fact that three riders have to fight for two places just before taking to the track for official practice. After that, free practice for everyone will begin at 11:00 a.m. and the first one-and-a-half-hour qualifying session will begin at 12:30 a.m., which will give indications on the starting positions for Sunday. Due to jollifications, parties, Renault 5 practice and Formula Three practice all taking place on Friday, the Formula One practice is held on Thursday and Saturday, starting with a test-session between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and timed practice from 12:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. hours on Thursday. This test hour is vital, because there is no possibility of pre-practice testing or tyre-testing sessions through the streets of the Principality and lots of things like gear ratios and tyres have to be guesstimated beforehand. The two Ferraris of Scheckter (040) and Villeneuve (039) are using forward mounted rear aerofoils, both the Renaults are using twin turbochargers on their V6 engines, Lotus is still running their one Type 80 (Andretti) with three Type 79 cars to back it up, one (79/2) for Reutemann and a spare for each driver. Ligier has a brand new JS11 being held as the team spare, the 1979 Ensign re-appears for Daly, but Fittipaldi is still using his old F5A/1. Brabhams have their usual three cars for Lauda and Piquet, with the prototype BT48/01 in a box as spares. Frank Williams’ team has a third FW07 model nearly completed and Hunt is concentrating on the Wolf WR7, with the newer car WR8 as stand-by. McLaren is having another stab at being competitive with a C-version of the M28 for Watson and Tambay had the B-version. Mechanically the scene is pretty strong, but there is weakness on the driver front. Nelson Piquet stops and gets out of his Brabham-Alfa feeling decidedly queasy, which is just as well for his engine has developed an oil leak underneath.


The Ligier team is in a sorry state for Depailler’s accident in Belgium, that has left him with a weak wrist, and Laffite’s right wrist has given way while doing some test-driving, the cause being an old injury from some time ago. The two Frenchmen seem to spend most of the time explaining how they are being brave and courageous and doing very well, in spite of the injury, and suggesting that the other one is exaggerating on the extent of his pain. The afternoon session sees a lot of frantic activity for the Monaco circuit calls for a lot of do-or-die action, rather than scientific softly-softly progress. You can either drive over the limit, bouncing over the bevelled kerbs, brushing the steel barriers, locking up the brakes, powering out of corners on opposite lock, and generally being pretty unruly, in the hope of keeping it all together for a whole lap, with a subsequent fast time, or you can practise care and judgement, conserving the car and remembering the race has to be over 76 laps. Most drivers seem to be desperate. Tambay walks back, having run out of petrol, Jabouille stops out on the circuit with no drive to one rear wheel, because of trouble with the studs that transmit the drive to the wheel, Piquet is still losing oil from his Alfa Romeo V12 engine, Lauda is having his front springs changed, Scheckter is trying the rearward mounted rear aerofoil on his Ferrari and Arnoux is stuck at the pits with the same trouble as Jabouille. This loosening of the driving studs is no doubt due to expansion problems in the alloy hub carrier because of the brakes being outboard, and integral with the hub carrier. From the wiggly bit of the circuit on the harbour front, around the swimming pool, comes a sickening thud as Reutemann hits the steel barrier and stoves in the left-front corner of Lotus 79/2. He walks back to the pits and 79/4 is made ready, but he only does a lap in it as the left front hub developes trouble, so it is a very disgruntled Argentinian that ends the afternoon. Meanwhile the Lotus 80 has also gone missing, but this is merely a shortage of petrol, luckily just before the pits, so the Lotus mechanics are able to take a churn of petrol to the car and get it going again. Daly is plagued by a misfiring engine in the Ensign, which much later is traced to foreign matter in a fuel filter, and Alan Jones prangs his Williams on the far side of the circuit and ends his practice quite early on with a bent monocoque.


Pironi also prangs, damaging the monocoque of his Tyrrell, and has to transfer to the spare car. Before practice is finished Piquet’s engine blows up, Stuck walks in from engine trouble on his ATS and takes the spare ATS and Lauda has given up trying. From the times being recorded it is obvious that something is wrong, for the two Ferraris are some two to three seconds faster than the rest of the fast runners. The reason is tyres. Michelin are feeding the Ferrari drivers with all the tyres they wanted, from hard race-tyres to super-soft short-life tyres, while Goodyear are in trouble as their supplies of soft tyres had not arrived, and everyone is having to use cooking tyres. With Jones out of the running quite early due to the accident, the two Renaults in trouble, the two Ligier drivers nursing their wrists, and no super-sticky Goodyear tyres, the results of practice are confused to say the least. With Fittipaldi in fifth place, Regazzoni in fourth place and Lauda third, behind the two Ferraris there is obviously going to be some changes made on Saturday. For a long while Scheckter is holding FTD in the mid 1'27"0 area, but just when it all seems settled his young team-mate Villeneuve shatters everything with 1'26"91, saying he is lucky to have everything come right on that one lap. Even so, he has to be ready for such a lucky break and he has to drive hard, luck or no luck. It is a good thing that there is no practice on Friday as it allows the teams time to repair or replace the ravages of the afternoon. New engines are installed, new gearboxes, gear ratios and brakes are changed, air ducts to cool the brakes are modified and a lot of work went on. The Williams lads complete FW07/003 for Alan Jones, the Tyrrell team abandons 009/1 and settles on 009/4 for Pironi and Lotus abandons 79/2 and fettled-up 79/4 for Reutemann. Things start in earnest again on Saturday morning with another hour test-session, held a bit earlier in order to pack in the full day of Renault 5 racing, Bmw racing, historic practice and F3 racing.


Reutemann is in Lotus 79/4, Pironi Tyrrell 009/4, Piquet has a new V12 Alfa Romeo engine, Stuck has another Cosworth in the newer ATS, the Renault team has solved their loosening stud problem, Ensign has found the cause of their misfire, and Alan Jones has a brand new Williams FW07, the third to be built. Goodyear’s supply of practice tyres has arrived and with only sixteen cars on the Wolverhampton rubber it is decided to give everyone some sticky go-faster tyres. Whether everyone, and that means designer, team-manager and driver, is capable of making the best use of these special tyres, normally reserved for the chosen few, is another matter. Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter, driving two freshly painted Ferrari T4s, with a beautiful flaming red, gave a big blow to the questions that the seventh round of the Formula 1 world championship posed on the eve of the start of qualifying. In the hour and a half available for the first round of timed qualifying, the Canadian and the South African crushed all their rivals under times that left many speechless and which, in a moment of despair, even made Guy declare Ligier that the fight for the title is already over in favor of the Italian team. Villeneuve, who was once again the fastest, lapped in 1'26"91, improving by exactly 1.043 seconds the record with which Carlos Reutemann had obtained pole position last year, bringing the average lap to 137.191 km /h. A fantastic performance, even if we consider the progress made by wing-car type cars. The Monte-Carlo circuit, in fact, does not allow the records to be shaved too easily. The small Canadian obtained the record in the last laps, after Scheckter had been leading the timesheets since the beginning of practice.The two then engaged in a fight to the hundredth which however did not lead to variations, as Villeneuve broke an axle shaft and the South African he is found involved in a series of very dangerous overtakings Jody Scheckter says at the end of the tests, protesting lively:


"Maybe I could have done better if Depailler hadn't closed me in an irregular way right on the fastest lap. The French ami risked sending me crashing into the guardrails, and I also got quite scared".


Apart from this episode which had the impetuous Patrick Depailler as protagonist, the Ligiers came out clearly defeated from this first confrontation. At the end of the tests Depailler is in P7, and Laffite is even confined to P17. The two French riders had serious physical problems due to the sore right wrist that both had already reported on the eve of the arrival in Monte-Carlo. It must be said, however, that apart from this inconvenience, the Ligiers also had problems with grip and adaptation to the circuit, as well as tire problems. Jacques Laffite competed in all the tests with a showy bandage on his wrist and at the end of the qualifying sessions he showed that the limb was completely swollen.


"If practice had continued I wouldn't have been able to ride anymore, and I don't even know how I'll be able to do tomorrow in the last hour of qualifying. I hope that the doctors and my personal physiotherapist will be able to solve the problem at least in part".


No one could have foreseen such a debacle for the French team, which has attracted thousands of fans to the Principality of Monaco. The Goodyear tires also had a small fault in this surprise result, which was unable to get the special qualifying tires to the Principality due to strikes in the English factory. The real confrontation with the Michelins, however, will take place in tomorrow's final tests, as the French team also plans to test new tires built specifically for Monte-Carlo. However, the lack of soft tires from qualifying did not prevent some drivers from emerging behind Villeneuve and Scheckter, who were also able to take full advantage of the very flexible engine and the particularly quick gearbox of the Ferrari. We find the most experienced champions in the very first positions, in a ranking that recalls past times. Niki Lauda obtained the third fastest time (1'28"32, against 1' 26"91 of the Canadian and 1"27"35 of the South African) with the Brabham-Alfa, leaving teammate Piquet far behind who had beaten him in the previous trials. In fact, the Brazilian, who also broke an engine, didn't feel good in the Monaco corners, to the point that he felt physically ill, reporting nausea and a general malaise. Behind the Austrian were Regazzoni (his placement with the new Williams was predictable, while Jones was unable to imitate him due to an off-road trip that didn't allow him to do many laps) and, for the first time in a long time, also Emerson Fittipaldi. The South American preceded a whole series of experienced riders such as Jarier, Depailler, Hunt and Watson. Protagonists of other accidents that didn't have consequences for the drivers but only damages to the cars were Reutemann, who practically destroyed his Lotus, and Pironi, who ended up against the guardrails at the Rascasse. Niki proved once again to be a driver of great value where the precision of the trajectory and the agility in commanding the car count.


"This doesn't mean that I will be able to get a good position in the race. But at least starting in front will already be a satisfaction and a facilitation. In fact, the thing I fear the most is the departure. Here in Monte-Carlo, at the first chicane, in the passage in front of S. Devota, anything can happen. If you're in front you can pass, if you're behind you risk getting caught up in a possible tangle of cars".


Lauda's forecast isn't very optimistic, but there are dangers on this circuit and they mustn't be forgotten. A cry of alarm was raised by Clay Regazzoni, who despite everything obtained the fourth fastest time.


"I called a meeting of pilots not only to discuss safety issues in Monte-Carlo, but to talk about safety in general. Nobody showed up. This means that everyone thinks only of themselves and is willing to intervene only if touched personally. Now I will watch from the window and wait for someone to come and protest to answer in the way I deem most correct. I will not tire of repeating that with current ground effect machines, the risks have increased considerably. These cars are too fast cornering and are prone to strange behavior if the side skirts are left up. If something should happen during the race or during practice, no one will be able to come and complain. The only thing I don't think is right is the audience. We riders are basically paid to race and we take our risks based on good salaries. The fans, on the other hand, don't have to risk it and they are perhaps the ones who run the greatest dangers. If a wing were to come off in an accident or if a car were to go off the track, where the grandstands are, I dare not imagine what could happen".


Andretti is also far away, always grappling with problems with the Lotus 80, and the Italians Patrese and De Angelis are detached. The debut of the new Renaults was also disappointing. The French company mounted a double turbocharger on the cars driven by Jabouille and Arnoux, but the system proved to be imperfect for the time being. The engine discharged too much power onto the wheels and a serious problem occurred: the pins of the rear right wheel came off and the two French riders were unable to get good times. The situation therefore sees the Ferraris clearly ahead of everyone, even if on Saturday someone will be able to recover something. Villeneuve and Scheckter, who traveled with two T4s with the spoiler moved forward, larger than the one usually used, will try to improve further and for this reason they are studying to change the ratios which in certain points of the circuit have put them in difficulty with the change. If the testes produce results and if Michelin supplies even faster tyres, the Ferrari's torque will hardly be surpassed. Formula 1 constructors certainly don't sleep at night. Their technical commitment is so pressing, the evolution of the machines so rapid that, if they stop even for just one day, they risk being left irreparably behind. Furthermore, it is sufficient to make a few mistakes in setting up a new car to see the results of years in vain. The case of Colin Chapman, grappling with the Lotus 80 that not even Mario Andretti can develop, is quite indicative. For this reason Ferrari is not satisfied with the results obtained on the track by the T4 which made its début at Kyalami. In the Maranello workshops work is done intensely on the development of new projects, in various directions, with the aim of always being at the highest level of competitiveness. Of course, the results of these works are kept secret. On some occasions, however, something can leak out. It happened in the last few days and on Wednesday evening, among the usual rumors circulating in the pits, there was also the one that the Modena-based company already had the T5 ready and that the new car would be tested within the next week on an unspecified circuit. For more precise information, the journalists ask engineer Forghieri, Ferrari's technical manager. After being surprised by the leak, the designer confirmed, at least partially, that an experimental single-seater is now ready.


"It is not a real new car, i.e. a T5 but a T4-B, essentially the natural evolution of the model we currently use. In reality, the solutions we have prepared are at least three, and one we had already discarded previously".


The engineer does not reveal what the new solutions are, nor if the news that tests of the new machines will take place next week at Dijon and Silverstone are true.


"In a few days we will carry out some tire tests. In general, we always test the new cars at Fiorano, and before that in the wind tunnel".


As for the rumors about the technical innovations of the T4-B, there is once again talk of a special system for creating the maximum vacuum under the car, in order to obtain greater ground effect. It seems that a revolutionary gearbox is also under construction, superior to the electro-hydraulic one that was envisaged for the T4. Among the various rumors circulating, there is also that concerning the future of Niki Lauda: in Monaco there is the hypothesis that the Austrian driver, who in recent days had fiercely criticized his team, will remain at Brabham. However, it seems that Lauda has asked Ecclestone to abandon the collaboration with Alfa Romeo which supplies the English team with engines, as he does not like the commitment that the Milanese company has made by having its own car raced. In this regard, it is said that Brabham would return to using Ford engines from next season. During the morning while everyone gets themselves tweaked-up for the all-important hour-and-a-half of timed practice in the afternoon, Reutemann finds his back hurting, as a result of this Thursday accident, the two Ligier drivers are being brave and trying to out-psyche each other, and Lammers is out in the spare Shadow as his own car has broken a driveshaft, a not unusual breakage in the rough and tumble of Monte-Carlo. While everyone is lining up to leave the pits Villeneuve’s Ferrari is strewn all over the place. A leak has developed in the bottom of the fuel tank, requiring the Ferrari mechanics to work blind with arms stretched down through the top inspection panel. The little French-Canadian sits quietly in the pits while everyone else begins to aim for good grid positions. There is the spare Ferrari (038) available but he prefers to wait until his own car is finished. The work is tedious and slow and the first half hour soon ticks by. Scheckter is really trying hard and soon improves on Villeneuve’s Thursday time, to take pole-position, and a couple of Ferrari mechanics are despatched across the pit lane to get the T car ready for Villeneuve, just in case. While Scheckter is holding pole position and Villeneuve is in second place all is well, and for some time none of the others looked like approaching the 1'27"0 barrier, let alone getting below it. However, when Depailler got his Ligier round in 1'27"11 the warning bell is ringing and Villeneuve joined in the practice with the spare Ferrari T4. It is nearly halfway through the session before his proper car is finished and he then comes in and transfers to it, soon getting below 1'27"0 and approaching Scheckter’s FTD of 1'26"45. 


Next door to the Ferrari pit is the Renault team and they are in terrible trouble once again, for Jabouille is stranded out on the circuit with a broken transmission. He walks back to the pits and Arnoux is brought in, and after a bit of a squeeze Jabouille is fitted into Arnoux’s car and goes off to try for a grid position. Meanwhile this spare Renault, the single turbo RS01/03 is made ready for Arnoux to drive. Before he does so Jabouille is back to report that he can’t get comfortable enough in his little team-mate’s car to drive it properly so he has to give up. Arnoux gets back into his own car and the RS01 is abandoned for in no way could it go as fast as the car Jabouille has abandoned out on the circuit. The Brabham team are not much better off for Piquet’s car breaks its Alfa Romeo engine, a brand new unit only installed the day before, and Lauda is sitting waiting for an opportunity to try and get a clear run. The spare Brabham is made ready for Piquet, but somehow Monaco is not being a good event for the rising star from Brazil. His compatriot is also in trouble for the F5A Fittipaldi breaks a drive-shaft joint as it is leaving the pits, which is fortunate in a way because it means the mechanics can wheel the car back up the pit lane and attend to it. Another car that comes to rest at the pit exit is Tambay’s McLaren M28B, but this is only a stalled engine and not enough air in the on-board starter system to restart; the McLaren mechanics are soon to the rescue. As this all important timed session progresses the pace becomes almost frantic, but the overall scene is making more sense than Thursday’s practice. The two Ferraris are still in a class of their own, both drivers being in the 1'26"0 bracket, due to a combination of all things being right. The right tyres, the right engine characteristics, the right handling, the right brakes, the right gearbox and both are driving brilliantly. However, all the other hard drivers are well down in the 1'27"0 bracket, though none looks like knocking the two Ferraris from their position at the front. The Monaco grid is arranged in staggered form, to such an extent that it is virtually a one-by-one grid, so Scheckter is in row one, Villeneuve in row two, Depailler in row three, Lauda in row four, Lafitte in row five and so on. There is so much excitement up at the front of the grid that the back gets hardly any attention at all, even though there are six or seven drivers trying desperately to avoid being left out. The Renault team’s troubles are not over, for Arnoux now stops at the pits with a split in an exhaust manifold, which of course means a loss of pressure for driving the turbine on that side, and a loss of boost from the compressor. As Jabouille and Arnoux are now in nineteenth and twentieth places in the times, it is a precarious situation for the French team, with de Angelis, Tambay, Lammers and Daly all trying to get on to the grid.


Shortly before the chequered flag puts a stop to everyone’s efforts Lauda stops at the pits and gets out and explains to Gordon Murray that he has banged a guard rail with the left-rear wheel, and he isn’t joking; he has been trying very hard. As the whole thing reaches its climax, Villeneuve gets very close to Scheckter’s time as he does his last flying lap, recording 1'26"52 to the South African’s 1'26"45. While Scheckter’s time is heroic you can’t see him driving at that pace for 76 laps, or the Ferrari standing up to the hammering over the kerbs and the fierce opposite-lock slides for that distance, whereas Villeneuve’s performance looks more likely to go the distance, nonetheless, Scheckter is securely on pole-position and in great fighting form. Almost overlooked in mid-field is the performance of Jochen Mass, who is a bit peeved at being made to pre-qualify, and this needle really gets him going in the Arrows. He is eighth fastest overall, ahead of Jones, Hunt, Reutemann, Stuck, Andretti, Watson and his own team-mate Patrese. Truly an effort deserving an A. As practice ends and everyone’s fate is sealed, especially the last four drivers, Derek Daly hits the barriers and the Ensign ends practice dangling from a breakdown lorry with a bent left-rear suspension. Until last year, the Monaco Grand Prix could be considered an Italian race. At least eighty percent of the spectators arrived in the Principality from the Italian peninsula, right from the most remote places: fans who took on the twenty-four-hour journey, saw the race and returned home, engaging in hallucinatory away trips from Sicily.


The French, despite having this round of the Formula 1 World Championship practically at home, didn't even make up the majority of non-Italians, perhaps overtaken by the Germans, Austrians and Swiss who had come to see their champions. This year's ratio of perhaps the public seems to have changed. The enthusiasts who have come from Italy are still numerous but the relative percentage has decreased: the transalpina descended en masse on Monaco by storming campsites, boarding houses and luxury hotels. You see cars with license plates from Alsatian, Parisian, Burgundy, Brittany cities. The credit for this sudden change certainly belongs to one person: Guy Ligier, the Parisian manufacturer who after just three years of Formula 1 has brought his team to the top, engaging in a very open battle with Ferrari since the beginning of the season. After six races, the result is tied. Three victories each for the French and Italian teams. The newspapers extol this battle, they speak of David against Goliath, of the struggle between a former pilot who came from nowhere and became an artisan builder, driven only by passion, and an industrial giant. A workshop with thirty-seven workers and technicians, two worthy drivers, Patrick Depailler and Jacques Laffite, and that's it. They take the liberty of battling with Ferrari, the man who has a large company behind him (Fiat, of course) and who alone represents a good portion of motor sport, backed by decades of experience, a top-level industry which has always been building racing cars and grand tourers. Gerard Ducarouge says. sporting director of Ligier:


"We wanted to try the Formula 1 route, and now we have to dance. Winning has become an obligation for us, not a hobby as it might be for some other prestigious teams. We need money. Despite the funding of around 400.000.000 lire promised by our Ministry of Sport, we lack a similar amount to close the balance sheet for the season. Otherwise we will not be able to pay salaries to team employees. For this reason we are fighting with clenched teeth, strong in our work".


In reality, Ligier, although poor, did not skimp on means to prepare their cars, the JS11, built with very expensive light alloys, built after studies and research in which considerable capital was employed. The brakes are made of carbon, the cars boast valid aerodynamics on all circuits, and are by far the lightest of all those taking part in the world championship. These qualities, which are expressed in great agility and excellent acceleration, should have allowed Ligier to play a leading role also in Monte-Carlo, a circuit that exalts small and easy-to-handle cars. So far it hasn't been like this, but more for problems related to the physical conditions of the riders than for technical reasons. Full confirmation, however, for Ferrari, which has always had a good tradition on the city streets of the Principality. Last year Reutemann, who then made an unfortunate start which ended in a collision with Lauda that compromised his race, obtained pole position with some ease. The new T4s emerged overwhelmingly on the initial day of testing and should be the cars to beat. Except, of course, for a return of Liger and the inclusion of dangerous outsiders, and without forgetting that precisely in 1978, among many litigants, a driver and a car ended up winning (Depailler with the Tyrrell) which on the eve did not enjoy the favors of the forecast . The Ferraris will enjoy another advantage. Michelin's radial tires seem to provide great guarantees on this slow and twisty track.


They have already given a demonstration on similar circuits, such as Long Beach. It will certainly be a great show, worthy of the huge audience that has flocked to Monte-Carlo. An unprecedented crowd, which still hopes in the duel between the French and Italian teams. This is a very special race, even in the programme: while in any other circuit you travel on pre-established calendars that are the same for everyone, with practice sessions on Friday and Saturday and races on Sunday, here there is also a rest day. It is a ploy to force those interested to stay one more day in the Principality, and to pay hard cash into Prince Rainier's coffers. Thus Formula 1 leaves room for the tests of the surrounding races and the pilots have a day of relaxation, some at home (like Scheckter and Villeneuve, who live in Monte-Carlo), others on a boat (like Jochen Mass. who owns a magnificent sailing ship ), who in the pool. Three, however, cannot sleep peacefully: the two from Ligier, Patrick Depailler and Jacques Laffite, and one from Lotus, Carlos Reutemann. The two Frenchmen go to the doctor to treat the pain in their right wrist that tormented them in the first qualifying round. For Patrick the situation improves markedly, and the passing of the hours plays in his favor. Jacques, on the other hand, is forced to undergo intensive therapy to deflate the limb, which on Thursday was truly in abnormal condition. Jacques Laffite says:


"I did some long ice packs, and actually the pain and inflammation subsided a little bit. Unfortunately, my tendons are now worn out and this inconvenience will repeat itself in the future. With an anesthetic injection I hope to be able to pass both the last practice session and the race without too many problems".


Laffite's veiled optimism is not only due to the improved health situation, but to the fact that Ligier has great hopes for the tires that Goodyear has been rushing over from England for some time now. With softer tyres, the French team thinks it can make much better use of the qualities of its cars. The tire problem, as always in recent times, haunts all the teams, not excluding the Italian one. There are also those who have other types of problems such as Lotus, which is unable to balance the 80 model for Andretti and now also finds a Reutemann in crisis. The South American, who went off the track on Thursday in practice, had to seek medical attention. Reutemann, due to the recoil he suffered when he hit a guardrail, suffered severe pain in his back and will start in precarious conditions. However, on Saturday, from 12:00 am to 1:30 pm, we will have the proof of the truth with the last and decisive qualifying round. Surely there will be the inclusion of Alan Jones in the top positions, as the Australian had only done a few laps on Thursday before ruining his Williams in an accident. In theory, the Ferraris of Villeneuve and Scheckter, credited with the first and second times, appear unassailable due to the gap achieved (the South African, who is second, has 0.097 seconds on the third in the standings, Niki Lauda). On Friday, the mechanics of the Maranello team are working hard, under the guidance of Mauro Forghieri, to replace the gear ratios, as requested by the two drivers, who weren't completely satisfied with those used on the first day of practice, and for the usual tuning. Forghieri, however, is not optimistic.


"There are too many unknowns in a race like this to be calm. Side skirts that fail, gearboxes that are subjected to incredible wear, engines stressed to the maximum, drive shafts that can break at every corner: it's all an ambush. Honestly, I would already sign for a good position in the race. It's clear that tomorrow I could change my mind and recriminate if we didn't win, if our superiority was reconfirmed and success eluded us due to bad luck or for causes beyond our control".


The comparison may be obvious, but we are still dealing with roulette. After all, all races are like this, and it's better: if everything were predictable and obvious, you'd have to look elsewhere for fun. The Monte-Carlo circuit, unique of its kind, imposes an exceptional effort on the drivers and on the cars: the sinuous track requires the driver to make a very high number of gear changes and constant attention not to touch the steel guardrail which wraps completely the track. In certain places there are concrete curbs that put a strain on the suspension. The man and the machine that wins in Monte-Carlo must have all the best qualities. For the car, the brakes, the suspension, the gearbox and, to a lesser extent, the aerodynamics and the engine count. The latter is not required so much as a very high power as the ability to accelerate lightning fast after each curve. In Monte-Carlo the turbocharged engine is clearly the underdog, while for the eight and twelve cylinders we can speak of at least parity: if the former has maximum torque at a lower speed, the latter has less inertia in the moving parts. And speaking of engines, we can mention the fact that Italian technology is regaining the upper hand after years of English superiority. Not only do we have four cars on the track with 12-cylinder Made in Italy engines (two Ferraris and two Brabham-Alfa Romeos), but by now almost all of them are fitted with Magneti Marelli ignition, which ousted Lucas over the English Cosworths and also equips Renault Turbo, a sign of undoubted superiority in a field as difficult as electronics. 


With Alfa Romeo's return to strength and with all the Italian sponsors in Formula 1, the Italian language should once again be heard more often in the pits. As in the old days, brakes, gearbox and suspension play a decisive role (not to mention the tyres). Given the configuration of the circuit, it is very difficult to overtake an opponent, so first of all it is necessary to make the most of the car to get one of the best times in practice, which allows you to start among the first; then, in the race to pass you need to be able to count on very efficient brakes to slow down a few tenths of a second behind your opponent and thus burn him out in the corners, where it is essential to have the right gear to accelerate faster. The very special pads that Ferodo produces for racing cars are slightly larger than the standard ones. As for the tires and suspension, it is clear that road holding is essential on a circuit full of bends and ups and downs. Nor, on the other hand, can one expect much from the downforce obtained with the famous ground effect of modern single-seaters, because this circuit has the lowest average speed of all (about 130 km/h) and therefore the ground effect must be completed by the ailerons are appropriate. All in all, it can be said that the Monte-Carlo circuit, despite the limitations posed by its location in the city, has the advantage of highlighting the technical qualities of the chassis. And not only from a mechanical point of view, but also from a human point of view: the car that offers better driving conditions (less fatigue with the gearbox, effective ventilation, contained vibrations, etc.) allows the driver to concentrate more incisively and continuously and the ultimately assigns a greater probability of success. There are the tires: as is well known by now, a race is won or lost if the technicians who built the car and those at the tire factory have found the right type for the particular circuit conditions, working together. If some element of the problem has escaped the calculations or if there is no agreement on the coverage to use, they are pains. Monte-Carlo presents, among other things, the possibility of sudden changes in the weather, with alternating rain and sun. In these cases it is not enough just to change the tires (a clear operation for everyone, easy to follow even on television), but it is also necessary to adjust the suspension. In the case of transition from dry to wet, the suspensions need to be softened and the opposite happens when the weather changes in the opposite direction. However, the adjustments are not always perfect and therefore there is one more unknown factor, especially if it is sunny during practice and the rain falls only at the start or during the race.


And then you need a bit of luck: you don't have to get caught up in the scramble at the start or be involved by an opponent in crisis. But this too is Monte-Carlo, home to one of the most famous casinos in the world. Ticket prices for the Monaco Grand Prix are relatively low. It may seem absurd, but a seat in the grandstand with a panorama of the Principality, the sea on one side and that of the race on the other, is cheaper than it was in Argentina or South Africa. The minimum cost of a ticket, the circular one, which allows you to cross almost the entire track but not stop at the most interesting points where the grandstands are located, is 150 francs. A numbered seat in the grandstand, in the best positions, can be bought for 370 francs. After all that the Renault 5 saloon racing and the BMW Pro-Car M1 racing are all a bit of an anti-climax and almost light relief. With the Grand Prix not due to start until half past three o’clock on Sunday afternoon there is adequate time for race preparation of the twenty cars that have qualified, while the two Shadows and Tambay’s McLaren are prepared in case anyone runs into trouble in the Sunday morning warm-up period. In fact, there is trouble on Sunday morning, but it does not allow any of the reserves to start. First of all the day is wet and grey and some people are recalling the time when Beltoise won in the pouring rain with the B.R.M., but by breakfast time things are improving rapidly and the roads dry quickly. During the half-hour warm-up session at 11:30 a.m. everyone is going fine when suddenly there is a big cloud of smoke along the pit straight and Villeneuve’s Ferrari can be seen ahead of it. The Ferrari has broken an oil pipe and unbeknown to the driver, until the oil warning light comes on, the precious lubricant is spraying all over the back of the engine instead of circulating inside. It gets back to the pits but the damage is done, so without more ado the car is rushed to the paddock to have the engine changed, his supply of flat-12 engines seemingly inexhaustible. As there is three and a half hours before the start there is no desperate panic. Eventually there are signs of the Grand Prix beginning to happen, for Prince Rainier and his Princess arrive and officially open the circuit and the twenty starters are all warmed up and queueing up at the pit lane exit ready to go. They go round the circuit more or less in grid order and then line up opposite the Royal box, with Alan Jones nipping into the pits for a quick adjustment and then going round for another lap before taking up his position. 

Scheckter leads them all round on the pace lap in orderly fashion, they pause on the long grid, the red light comes on, then the green and Scheckter makes the most superb start and rockets away towards the Ste. Devote chicane. Lauda is equally quick away from fourth position and passes both Depailler and Villeneuve before the corner and leads the pack up the hill in pursuit of Scheckter. The South African isn’t waiting for anyone and drives that first lap as if it is going to be his last, sliding out of corners on opposite lock and really giving the throttle a boot-full. The result is that he opens up a sizeable gap before some of his rivals are really under way. Remarkably, in view of some of the recent races, everyone survives the opening lap and are all still there on lap two, the order being Scheckter (Ferrari), Lauda (Brabham), Villeneuve (Ferrari), Depailler (Ligier), Lafitte (Ligier), Pironi (Tyrrell), Jones (Williams), Mass (Arrows), Jarier (Tyrrell), Reutemann (Lotus 79), Andretti (Lotus 80), Hunt (Wolf), Patrese (Arrows), Stuck (ATS), Regazzoni (Williams), Watson (McLaren), Fittipaldi (Fittipaldi), Piquet (Brabham), Arnoux (Renault) and Jabouille (Renault). Starting the third lap Villeneuve decides he has been behind Lauda long enough, and desperate situations call for desperate action. In an audacious bit of out-braking he bounces over the kerbs and past the Brabham-Alfa as they start the lap, and get away with it more by reason of Lauda’s co-operation than anything else. By this time Scheckter is almost out of sight, but the French-Canadian soon begins to close up on him, leaving Lauda far behind. Following Lauda in a very close nose-to-tail crocodile are Depailler, Lafitte, Pironi, Jones, Mass, Jarier, Reutemann, Andretti and Hunt, the rest already being left behind. In quick succession Patrese and Hunt disappear, the Arrows coming into the pits with its right-hand wheel leaning drunkenly and the Wolf stopping up the hill to the Casino with a broken drive-shaft joint. None of this affect the main issue, which is the way Villeneuve is closing up on Scheckter and the obvious way Lauda is not going fast enough for the eight cars that are queuing up behind him. At the back of the field Piquet and Arnoux have a slight coming together, which results eventually in the front end of the Renault bodywork collapsing, and there being no spares available for the RS10, Arnoux has to retire. By lap 13 Villeneuve is right up behind Scheckter, though not looking for a way by, and they are ten seconds ahead of Lauda and the streaming mob that are following him.
Pironi is in the middle of this lot and being swept along by the tide, possibly a bit out of his depth, and on lap 16 he collides with Laffite, which sends the Ligier into the pits for a new wheel and tyre and drops it to the back of the field because the engine is reluctant to restart. Laffite storms back into the race just ahead of the two Ferraris, so that he is virtually two whole laps behind, and he then drives really hard, pulling away from the Ferraris in the same manner that Villeneuve had done after his pit stop in the recent Zolder race. Anyone who has gone into a bar for a drink could be excused for thinking Laffite is leading the race when they came out! Fittipaldi retires with a broken Cosworth engine. Not content with elbowing Laffite out of the way, Pironi now nudges Depailler into a spin, which puts him almost to the back of the field, and then starts to pressure Lauda. All the time he is being hard pressed by Jones, Mass, Jarier and the two Lotus drivers, though Reutemann begins to lose ground when a split exhaust manifold pipe loses him a few hundred revs. As Lauda and Pironi start lap 22 the Tyrrell nose is right under the Brabham gearbox, and that is the last we see of them. Down the hill from Casino Square to Mirabeau corner Pironi gets the Tyrrell down the right-hand side of the Brabham and as Lauda turns into the corner the Tyrrell launches itself off the rear wheel and almost bounces on Lauda’s head as it sails over the top, taking off the Brabham rear aerofoil. The Tyrrell crashes down and destroysitself while the crumpled Brabham limps back to the pits to retire. All this leaves Alan Jones in third place, followed by Mass, Jarier and Reutemann, for while the dust is settling from the Pironi-Lauda incident the Lotus 80 is feeling very odd, with a rear wheel steering as well as the front ones. Andretti pulls into the pits to find part of the rear suspension broken. We now have a completely new scene. The two Ferraris are still nose-to-tail with Jones ten seconds behind, but with Lauda and Pironi out of the way the Australian can really give the Williams its head and he storms up on the cars from Maranello in a splendid fashion, at a second or more per lap. Mass and Jarier are left behind, and Reutemann is dropping back with the harsh-sounding Lotus 79. Then comes Regazzoni on his own, followed by Stuck leading Piquet, Watson and Depailler. Jabouille is all on his own at the back and Laffite is still storming along making up lost ground. It has taken Jones ten laps to catch the Ferraris, but now he is with them there isn’t much he can do, for they are not going to let him go by.
For eleven laps Jones sits tight behind the two red cars, and Villeneuve is wishing Scheckter would go a bit faster. A stalemate is developed when suddenly the two Ferraris are on their own, with an air of relief about them. The Williams is heading for the pits for Jones has thumped a barrier with his right front wheel and the steering arm is bent. After a magnificent effort the Williams is out due to driver error, but the team’s Saudi Arabian sponsors who are watching are not too depressed for it has been a great moment for them as the Williams car challenged the Ferraris. This now leaves a big gap to Jochen Mass who is still driving hard and has inherited third place for the Arrows team, because Jarier has disappeared with a pretty spectacular boom and a cloud of smoke. While bouncing over the kerbs at the exit of the Rascasse corner the right rear upright of the Tyrrell has burst asunder, letting the wheel lean inwards and the drive-shaft run at a steep angle. As Jarier gives it full power and changes up a gear the universal joint breaks and the grease hits the exhaust pipe and the car stops, so Regazzoni moves up to fourth place when his Williams’ team leader retires. One of the front brake cooling ducts on the Arrows is coming adrift and the brake is overheating, causing Mass a lot of anguish, so that Regazzoni is closing on him and on lap 50 goes by into third place, while Mass visits the pits to see what can be done for him. Behind him Reutemann is now fourth but is being hard pressed by Piquet, while close behind Watson has Depailler trying to scrabble by. At the end of lap 54 Scheckter goes by on his own! The transmission on Villeneuve’s Ferrari has broken and he coasts into the pit lane and out of the race. Once again the scene has changed and Regazzoni is now in second place and is starting to put all he has into this driving, handling the Williams neatly and tidily, while Scheckter still looks a bit rough and unruly. Watson is being so pressed by Depailler that the two of them are closing up on Piquet and Reutemann and this quartet are really having a go. Regazzoni is down to eight and a half seconds from the Ferrari by lap 58 and everyone is urging him on with terrific enthusiasm, for everyone loves Regazzoni. He suddenly loses four seconds on lap 59 as the Williams gearbox selectors play up and he can’t get second gear. Undeterred the swarthy Swiss makes do without it and starts to close the gap once again. From thirteen and a half seconds the gap comes down to ten, then eight, then five, but the end of the race is not far off, there are but five laps to go and Scheckter has it all well in hand. Behind the Williams the Lotus 79 is still ahead of the Brabham-Alfa, but Depailler has at last got his Ligier past Watson’s McLaren, the Ulsterman then almost giving up with exhaustion.
Laffite’s brave drive all on his own ends when the gearbox in his Ligier breaks, and then the Brabham pit urges Piquet to go faster, which means try and overtake Reutemann. In his anxiety to please, young Piquet nudges the back of the Lotus 79, without damage, but it puts him off his stroke and he nearly stops. Banging in bottom gear he makes a storming restart and promptly breaks a drive-shaft! This leaves only five healthy runners in the race, but they are all on the same lap and within seconds of each other. Mass and Jabouille are still circulating, but many laps behind after pit stops and with three laps to go Regazzoni is only three seconds behind Scheckter. With two to go he is right behind the Ferraris, losing ground on power up the hill, but gaining it back on handling through the wiggly bits. With one lap to go Depailler’s Cosworth engine breaks and relieves Reutemann cruised on to third place. There is nothing Regazzoni can do unless Scheckter makes a mistake, which is unlikely after 75 laps in the lead, and though the Swiss dodges about a bit behind the Ferrari and makes feints as it to try and pass, Scheckter has it all nicely sewn up and they finish lap 76 mere feet apart. The thousands of Italians are confused, not knowing whether to cheer for Ferrari or for Regazzoni; most of them cheer for Regazzoni. The stolid Reutemann notches up another good place for last year’s Lotus, and a grateful Watson finishes fourth to give the McLaren team some encouragement, but only thanks to Depailler’s last minute engine failure. Ferrari returned to winning ways in Monte-Carlo on the lounge circuit, overcoming the pitfalls of an always very tough Grand Prix with Jody Scheckter and the 312 T4. In 1975 it was this race that projected Niki Lauda and Scuderia Ferrari towards winning the world title, now the same thing could happen while the decidedly unlucky Austrian must by now eat anger and get lost in controversy. Scheckter is now alone in command of the World Championship. Three elements lead to optimism for the second part of the season, which will open in a month in France, the land of the Ligiers, defeated in the Monaco Grand Prix: first, the advantage acquired in the standings by the South African, not large but nevertheless already substantial, given the formula of the tournament; secondly, the qualities of Jody, who is emerging after a delicate period of acclimatization with the T4 and who is demonstrating that he has now reached perfect understanding with his car, blending grit, experience and driving maturity; thirdly, the qualities of the single-seater made in Maranello, which has reached its fourth success in this World Championship. In the match between Ferrari and voiture bleu, i.e. between Ferrari and Ligier, the result is 4 to 3.

But one gets the feeling that, while our team manages to maintain a high level of performance continuity, the French one has high and staggering bass. And meanwhile, from race to race, the competitiveness of Williams grows with Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni, the only English team in evidence in the general disaster of Lotus, Tyrrell, Brabham, McLaren, Wolf. Scheckter's success must now make Enzo Ferrari reflect. Perhaps it's time to bet decisively on the South African driver, without - of course - abandoning Villeneuve to his fate. The little Canadian doesn't deserve it: in Monaco, for example, apart from the uncertainty at the start, Gilles was very good, also offering exemplary proof of professionalism. Glued to his teammate's wheels, he never pushed, never attempted an attack. A perfect follower. But Scheckter, due to his experience and his position as championship leader, must have all possible support and something more. Let's not forget what happened in 1974 between Lauda and Regazzoni for wanting to insist on the two drivers without choosing just one. He had to take refuge on one of the many yachts moored in the port, escorted with difficulty by the French gendarmerie, to escape the embrace of the Italian fans who immediately after arrival, with the overwhelming force of a tide, poured onto the track to see the winner. Jody Scheckter. a Monegasque citizen who races with a license issued by the Automobile Club of Monaco, with his victory on the Monte-Carlo circuit he confirmed the tradition that always sees him ranked in the first three places on this tormented and fascinating circuit. After a shower, the South African happily talks about this new hit:


"I got a good start, and after fifteen laps to the maximum I set up the race to save money so as not to take unnecessary risks".


Did you fear at some stage of the race that you might compromise the final result?


"Never. We agreed with Gilles, as had already happened in previous races, that whoever was following shouldn't try to overtake whoever was in the lead between us. Jones, who had come close at one point, never worried me because, despite slipstreaming, he wasn't pushing and so I could easily maintain a perfectly safe pace. The one who surprised me was Clay Regazzoni, who has launched some dangerous attacks on me in the last few laps. To defend myself, I had to press hard".


What does this victory mean?


"It's an important success because the Monaco Grand Prix is a particular race, which all the drivers care about and which has the same resonance as a World Championship. I had already won on this track with Wolf, but today's victory is more important because it was obtained with a major and therefore more prestigious brand".


After this success, is the world title now closer?


"It's still early to talk about the world championship. With this race the first part of the championship ends, and I'm leading the standings. It is without a doubt the best position to face the second round of competitions".


For the technicians and mechanics of the Italian team, the race was a pain. After an all too easy start, it looked as if the Ferrari drivers could score another one-two. Then, three quarters into the race, the unexpected retirement of Gilles Viileneuve brought tension and the fear of seeing a statement that by now seemed certain to vanish. At the end of the race, engineer Forghieri, technical manager of the Italian team explains:


"In my opinion we have never been in danger. Jooy at each lap signaled that everything was working properly, and for more than half the race we had always signaled prudent race conduct. It's a pity for Gilles, who on this occasion too, like in Zolder, was unable to obtain a positive result which he largely deserved".


In this joyful atmosphere, the only one with a dark face, even if he tried to appear serene, is Gilles Villenuve, annoyed by this new setback that compromises his aspirations for the title. The Canadian, after following Scheckter like a shadow for 54 laps, had to leave because the transmission failed him at the Rascasse bend. In vain a group of marshals pushed the red car from Maranello to the pits to try to repair the fault. Gilles, visibly annoyed, as soon as he got out of the car, explains:


"Something broke in the transmission or gearbox. I had immediately overtaken Lauda because he was much slower. We got along well with Jody and I never bothered him".


There isn't much time for celebrations for the Ferrari men. The Italian mechanics hurriedly packed the cars and tools to be able to return to Maranello as soon as possible. Antonio Tomaini, technical director of the Maranello team explains:


"Even if the championship stops for a month before resuming in Dijon, there will be no respite for us. We have scheduled a series of tests that we will carry out on Friday and Saturday at the French track to test the tires for the French Grand Prix. Then, we'll go to Silverstone where we'll test the tires and the car on Monday and Tuesday of the following week".


Will the car be the modified T4?


"We have too many problems to solve and we don't know if we will be able to complete this modified single-seater".


In parallel, the comment of the Ligier men towards the young Tyrrell driver, Didier Pironi, is very harsh:


"Pironi was our downfall".


The thing that most annoyed the French manufacturer and its two drivers (namely Laffite and Depailler) was due to the fact that it was a compatriot who caused the accident which in practice put Ferrari's opponents out of the race. Laffite says:


"Didier behaved very badly, like a rookie. It seemed it was his first ride, and that the excitement and the desire to overdo it had made him forget how to drive. It went well for him that he didn't make a mate in the fearful collision with Lauda. Let's hope that the reproaches that will certainly come to him from various quarters will serve to make him meditate. For us, now, however, the question of the world title becomes very difficult, even if we haven't lost all hope".


The accused does not speak of the episodes involving Depailler and Laffite. However, he defends himself for what had him as a protagonist with Lauda.


"I had seen an opening to pass and Niki was much slower than me. He had braked sharply. When I got halfway up his Brabham, however, he squeezed me and I could no longer avoid running into him. Lauda had already been blocking us for several laps while we were trying to make up ground on the Ferraris".


Lauda didn't go too far in judging Pironi, even if he appeared rather annoyed.


"I don't like one anymore. I was traveling quite calmly in third position and I didn't want to force it, because I knew there would be a lot of trouble for everyone. I thought that sooner or later even the Ferraris would have to slow down. That's why I saved the tires, reserving the right to attack in the final stages. Instead it all ended in an instant. I was setting the ideal trajectory in the corner when I saw myself almost flanked on the inside by Pironi. I could do nothing more and the French came over me. In that instant I no longer understood anything. I only realized that I only had half the body, with the wing completely sheared off".


Also very disappointed Mario Andretti, who with this new forced retirement feels cut off from the fight for the World Championship.


"The championship is over for me. At most, I'll be able to get some satisfaction in the next races if Colin Chapman prepares me for a competitive car, perhaps putting this blessed Lotus 80 right. Otherwise there won't be anything to do. For the title, I think it will be difficult to counter Ferrarli's pace. Even for Jones what could have been a good day ended badly. The Australian, who had caught up with the two Ferraris, was the only one to cause the Maranello fans to shiver. always very numerous. When I had already been in the wake of Scheckter and Villeneuve for a few laps, and was waiting for the right moment to overtake, I ended up in an oil spot. I couldn't control my Williams, I hit a guardrail and bent a suspension arm. In any case, the car is going well and I hope to be luckier in the remaining races''.


The only Italian in the race, Riccardo Patrese. he only did four laps.


"After a good start I was in the middle of the pack. I wanted to run a careful test, but at the Rascasse corner my right front suspension opened and goodbye hopes. We will now have a month off and the new Arrows should be ready in about ten days. We will do some tests and I am convinced that starting with the French Grand Prix in Dijon. on July 1, I will be able to fight again among the first".


Forty years old in September, married, father of two children, from Ticino. Clay Regazzoni is the oldest of the Formula 1 drivers. Old age, however, doesn't weigh on him, as he demonstrated with the splendid second place obtained behind Jody Scheckter. He hadn't achieved such a result since the Dutch Grand Prix in 1976: at the time he was racing for Ferrari. In Monte-Carlo, a circuit that despite the negative characteristics of every city track continues to be one of the toughest tests for a driver and the most prestigious showcase of the Formula 1 World Championship, even a second place takes on particular value. It is not for nothing that the Ticino is radiant.


"If there had still been two more laps, maybe I would have made it. When I got behind Scheckter for a moment I believed it. In any case, the undertaking would have been extremely difficult because, with 20 laps to go, I was left without second gear".


On the first day of practice there was talk of a revival of older drivers. The times had highlighted Fittipaldi and Regazzoni himself. Does Clay feel outdated by now?


"I would say no, and this result confirms it. It is true that many retired in front of me, but it is also true that the pace I kept until the end gives the exact idea of how I competed, I always run like this and I remember that in 1975, right here in Monaco, I did a race like this even if the result, in the end, was different. The problem was to start from the eighth row and in this circuit it is extremely difficult to overtake the rivals. It would have been enough for me to be on the second or third line at the start and things would have gone differently".


Isn't there a little bitterness left in his mouth for coming close to Scheckter and his Ferrari without being able to do more?


"Really not, I'm satisfied with my performance. Of course, we always start to win, but from how things went I am more than satisfied. Too many factors influence a race: after days and days of testing and fine-tuning, maybe you're forced to retire for a trifle. As I said, the second one broke, but it could have been worse. Just take a look at the retirees and consider that only four cars finished full laps".


Does this mean that Williams has become reliable and competitive?


"Undoubtedly yes. Look, the flame retardant shirt isn't wet with sweat. This means that I drove in peace, without having to do absurd things or too much effort. It hasn't happened to me for a long time. When I raced the Shadow, I'd get to the finish line - if I got there - wet as a chick and completely haggard in my face. Today I feel fresh, a sign that the car has given me a certain leeway, without ever putting me on the corner. I hope it won't remain an isolated result, but that more will come".


As is tradition, the Monte-Carlo circuit has made a very tough selection. Among the cars that soon disappeared from the scene, Mario Andretti's Lotus 80 should be mentioned. that car the manufacturer presented twisted too hastily. The Lotus 80 is a car in which ground effect has been taken to the extreme with a full underbody fairing and a new suspension design. Andretti, although not completely satisfied with the car from the outset, opted to carry on with the development, which is proving to be laborious. It is noted that the Lotus 80 has problems with road holding and overheating of the rear brakes (completely closed in the body). The speed, moreover, is no higher than that of the type 79. Before the Monaco Grand Prix, Colin Chapman sat thoughtfully in the garage. The English engineer looked at the front end of his 80.


"Yes. we still have some problems to solve".


He had commented with a friend. Then, the breakage of the upper right rear suspension arm must have highlighted another problem, that of reliability. This break must worry the builder a lot. If what Andretti claims is true, namely that he did not hit any curb (and there is no reason to doubt the driver's honesty), then it means that the suspension of the Lotus 80 is fragile, to the point that it can give way even the least stressed one. In Monte-Carlo you mainly turn right and therefore the most loaded suspensions are those on the left side. From the point of view of aerodynamics, a paradoxical fact could also have happened: Chapman. after leading the way for the ground effect car with his Lotus 79, he may have gone in the direction he thought was right, but he wasn't while his rivals have set up cars in which the total aerodynamic effect is more favorable than in single-seaters of the English coach. A solution should come from the new Lotus 80 MK 2, i.e. from the second version. This model, set up as the team's second car, has now been largely modified on the basis of the indications that emerged in the last few races and could be aligned in the French Grand Prix in Dijon. But for Lotus and Andretti the hopes of winning back the title have now foundered. Thursday 7 June 1979 James Hunt, former Formula 1 World Champion in 1976, and current Wolf driver, officially announces his immediate retirement from racing.


"It was my wish to get some victories this season, but the competition is too strong and I could not achieve the desired results without taking advantage of the withdrawals of the others. Racing in Formula 1 is extremely dangerous, and racing in a car that isn't competitive doesn't justify certain risks".


For the third time in five years, Ferrari has won the Monaco Grand Prix with one of its drivers, proof that - rightly or wrongly - it is considered the most important and spectacular of the Formula 1 World Championship. It happened in 1975 and in 1976 with Niki Lauda, and now with Jody Scheckter. This affirmation (Ferrari's number 75 in the history of the tournament, which began in 1950) projects the team from Maranello and the South African driver to the top of the standings and confirms the continuity of performance of the Italian team. No other team has managed in recent years to maintain prestigious positions like Ferrari. And now the prospects of seeing a man from Maranello as World Champion again are becoming increasingly solid. But, one wonders, at this point should Ferrari stake everything on Scheckter, the leader of the World Championship, or should it entrust Gilles Villeneuve with the same chances as before? On this topic and on others arising from the Monte-Carlo events, the journalists asked Enzo Ferrari a few questions. You certainly followed the Monaco Grand Prix on television: what considerations or observations did you draw from it?


"I witnessed a beautiful filming of the Monaco Grand Prix and followed the prompt and impartial reporting of Tele Monte Carlo. That circuit always represents an examination of stylistic skills for the drivers and technical skills for the cars, particularly as regards suspensions and brakes, not to mention the tyres, which as the track conditions change during the race take on a crucial role".


Scheckter and Villeneuve: has the time come to bet on one of the two for the title or would you prefer to wait?


"Ferrari, in my opinion, must aim to win and cannot rely on just one driver, in consideration of the relevance of the technical and sporting values in the field which does not allow for any preordained classification. I repeat, the manufacturer entrusts the defense of its corporate image to the drivers' sense of professionalism. And also in the race, the Ferrari drivers showed that they deserve all our trust".


Ferrari is once again proving to be a factory of drivers: Villeneuve, who came out of nowhere or almost, and Scheckter himself, an already established but sometimes impetuous champion, have matured. What does this creative ability of Scuderia Ferrari depend on?


"The maturation of these riders, and of those who preceded them, is the consequence of the availability of technical material and of a track equipped with modern criteria, which offers them prolonged training sessions, making them truly masters of the vehicle which they will then have to dominate in the race".


Which teams and drivers can now be more formidable in the world challenge?


"I've already had occasion to state that five or six riders are potentially aspiring to the world title. I count that among these there are also our two".


If Enzo Ferrari doesn't say too much about the candidates for the title, the judgment on Scheckter and Villeneuve is very clear: two serious professionals who work for themselves, but also and above all for the Maranello team. The manufacturer speaks of trust, a fundamental factor for him in relations with his riders. The point is simple: Ferrari does not expect behavior from the Canadian and the South African that jeopardizes the team's chances of winning, so it still places them on the same level for the purposes of the title. Those Ligiers, those Williams commands respect. Better, then, to play with two aces and not just one. It is a choice, and a well-motivated one. Scheckter and Villeneuve are not the Laudas and Regazzonis of 1974. While Enzo Ferrari talks about his drivers, Jody Scheckter leaves Sporting, one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, wearing an elegant black tuxedo and patent leather shoes (but the light blue, is in very modest terital). The South African driver participates, as a guest of honor, at the Gala of the Monaco Grand Prix. Dinner at Prince Rainier's table with his ever-fascinating wife Grace and daughter Caroline, with Constantine of Greece and other important exponents of jet-society, then the award ceremony (with music and fireworks over the sea) and finally, last but not least, the presentation of the sparkling Ferrari 312 T4 with which the South African won a thrilling race. People swarm from the hall, smiling. Tanned faces, clothes you only see in American movies. Outside, liveried chauffeurs and a slew of Rolls, Mercedes, collectors' cars. Scheckter snorts, breathes fresh air deeply. The evening must be hard for a man like him, used to a more genuine kind of life, to deal with etiquette and etiquette with a certain nonchalance. Only some time ago, probably, Scheckter would have protested or expressed unflattering appreciation. Now, however, he holds back, perhaps trying to make people forget that immediately after his appearance in Formula 1, at the end of the 1972 season, he had been nicknamed the bear. Almost nine years have passed since the then twenty-year-old Jody (he was born in East London, South Africa, on January 19, 1950) showed up to race in Europe, after making his debut on karts and taking part in a Formula 1 championship in his country. Ford. His was a very fast escalation. He is now an experienced, matured driver: on Sunday he competed in his 91st Grand Prix and obtained his ninth victory in Formula 1.


"It was a difficult race, I've never been calm. Jones didn't scare me because I was running with a margin of safety. When I saw Regazzoni behind me, however, I began to have doubts. Honestly, I was just thinking about finishing the race. I was more confident when I had Villeneuve behind me as a buffer. Then I saw it disappear from the rear view mirrors and I started to worry because, with the dirty track, the car was less easy to drive and the slightest mistake could have been fatal. It went well".


Being leading the World Championship with a good score at the end of the first period, do you think you have 50% of the title in your pocket?


"I don't want to think about it, until the last race. I think we can win if we don't make mistakes. Now, however, I have to sit down at the table and do the accounts".


When asked if he considers the Ligier riders or teammate Villeneuve more dangerous, Jody changes the subject. But with that we will be able to win, he makes it clear that Gilles is still in the game. Relations with the Canadian don't seem to worry him much. On the contrary, he speaks enthusiastically about the team.


"When I moved to Ferrari, everyone told me that I would have quarreled with Mauro Forghieri, that I would not get on well with the Italians. All wrong predictions. At Ferrari there was none of this. Indeed, so far I have enjoyed working with the people of Maranello. My relationship with Forghieri is excellent. Compared to the previous teams, I found more warmth, great professionalism and enormous technical resources".


It seems that Ferrari has almost ready a car with substantial modifications...


"I have only seen models. In any case, if they are preparing something new, there will be something more".


What has changed in your life now that you have moved to Monte-Carlo with your wife and child and have also opened an office?


"I learned new things, dealing with a different education. I think I've matured a lot. I set up the office only to count the money I earn. A pilot's career is not long. And I will retire as soon as I understand that I am not paying one hundred percent. Now I have a contract until 1980 with Ferrari and I intend to get some satisfaction".


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