Preparations are underway at the Monza racetrack for the upcoming Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, the third final round of the Formula 1 World Championship. The impressive circuit updates have finally brought the glorious track up to the level of the best, making it, above all, safer and more functional, as requested by the pilots. The engineer Giuseppe Bacciagaluppi, plant manager, was invited to explain the changes made. They consist of two parts, one concerning the circuit, the other the pits and the paddock, rather the area intended to host the large trucks carrying the team cars.
"Behind box we have created a large, completely enclosed car park with an area of around 8,300 square meters. Alongside the existing boxes, which were insufficient, we built others, and now there are a total of 48. Moreover, in view of a future internal expansion, they have been combined to obtain ten groups of three boxes and nine groups of two boxes each. By moving the signaling platform two meters towards the track, we widened the pit lane from 9.5 meters to 11.5 meters. In this way we obtained three lanes: a 4.5-metre rest and work lane, a 3.5-metre acceleration and deceleration lane and a 4-meter flow lane".
The most important work concerned the route. Bacciagaluppi clarifies an important detail:
"On the starting straight, to prevent the riders from being tempted to cross the white stripe that delimits the track, we have inserted small rubber signs into the asphalt. These should be enough, because they could hardly pass over them without causing damage to the cars. But, to avoid repeating what happened last year, we have included a clause in our race regulations, naturally approved by the sports authority, which establishes that anyone who crosses the famous white line is automatically penalized by one minute. We made the first change to the track near the point where Peterson's tragedy occurred in 1978. The runway was widened by 1 meter and the shoulder on the right by 2.5 metres. In this way we eliminated the funnel and obtained greater visibility. At the big bend we extended the external shoulder by about 10 metres, naturally also moving the guardrail back. At the first corner of Lesmo, one of the points that had raised other controversies in the past, we obtained a space on the outside ranging from 10 to 14 meters (previously it was around 2 metres). The same widening was carried out on the short straight leading to the second Lesmo corner. In this section, to ensure a greater braking barrier, a sand bank has been created. Even exiting the bend is safer".
Furthermore, in the most dangerous points of the track, the Autodromo technicians have installed barriers made of tires linked together and detached from the guardrail in order to increase the absorption effect in the event of a collision. This system has proved to be more effective than traditional containment nets, whose support poles always represent a danger.
"Finally, six trees were cut down inside the Ascari curve, to increase safety and obtain greater visibility, and the guardrail was set back by 6 meters, to obtain a sufficiently wide shoulder. At the exit of the parabolic dish, we moved the barrier and shortened it by about fifteen metres, to better connect the curve with the grandstand straight, which is now perfectly aligned".
Even the councilor for sport of the Municipality of Milan visits the circuit. Paride Accetti says he is satisfied with the work completed and hoped that:
"Politicians agree as soon as possible to resolve the situation and allow a peaceful coexistence between motor racing and the park".
The deputy public prosecutor, Federico Pomarici (in place of doctor Spataro. momentarily absent), will be in Monza on Friday and Saturday to interrogate the drivers who were involved in the carom at the start of the 1978 race that cost Ronnie Peterson his life. The racing and collateral problems will also be dealt with in a meeting of the new Formula 1 Commission, which will meet at the headquarters of the Automobile Club in Milan at 2:00 pm on Thursday 6 September 1979. For the first day of testing of the Gran Formula 1 Italian Prize, Ferrari will bring four cars to Monza. A massive expedition by the Maranello team, if we consider that three cars have always been used in all previous championship races. A clear sign of the technical commitment of the Italian team which has every intention of placing the decisive blow in the fight for the world title. If Jody Scheckter wins and his main opponent Jacques Laffite fails to qualify in the top six, the South African will mathematically be champion. Even if the two points won at Silverstone are discarded, the Ferrari driver would rise to 51 in the standings, while the Frenchman would have a maximum of 50 points even if he manages to finish first in the two remaining races, in Canada and in the USA. We are obviously in the field of hypotheses, because every race makes history and easy predictions cannot be made. The fact remains that maximum effort has been made in Maranello in recent days to put the two drivers in the best conditions to aim for success. Thus Scheckter and Villeneuve will each have two single-seaters at their disposal, a traditional T4 with the usual small modifications dictated by the latest experiences and a substantially different T4 in terms of aerodynamics and mechanics. The latter car had already made its debut at Zandvoort, in the Dutch Grand Prix, completing a few laps in practice. Then the tests had been set aside to think about the race, carried out with the old model for greater safety. In the almost two weeks that have passed, the new car has been subjected to new, accurate tests, including those carried out at Monza and culminating in the record obtained by Gilles Villeneuve who lapped in 1'36"1, the track's unofficial record (which belonged, with a time of 1'36"8, to Jones's Williams). Mauro Forghieri says:
"We are convinced that we will need to go below this limit to start from the front row. For this reason we have developed various solutions which, however, will only be able to fully evaluate in tomorrow's and Saturday's qualifying sessions. These are aerodynamic and mechanical changes that affect the chassis, suspension, brakes and bodywork. The biggest change regards the rear brakes which in the new version have been placed outside, directly on the wheel hub. Together with the relocation of the exhaust pipes, which are now grouped around the engine, this modification has made it possible to create more free space under the car for air to exit. So you have a more pronounced ground effect".
Scheckter and Villeneuve will evaluate during the qualifying which will be the car with the most guarantees of competitiveness. However, there are problems, especially as regards the choice of tires for the race. The Michelin technicians, after the previous week's tests, say they will have to wait for all the cars to hit the track to get precise indications. In fact, we must not forget that the tires of the French brand suffer a lot when the residues of the Goodyear compounds, which are in the clear majority, are deposited on the asphalt. While waiting to get to the heart of the race, anticipation is growing. Tickets are practically sold out and fans storm the racetrack. On Wednesday 5 September 1979, a couple of hundred people stopped for a long time in the central grandstands in the afternoon, arguing animatedly in the hope of seeing some cars being tested. Maybe they are waiting for the last test of Alfa Romeo which, however, is not seen. The Milanese company, however, officially announces that it will take part in the race with two cars. The new 179 will be entrusted to Giacomelli, the old one to Brambilla. After so much conflicting news, the last of which gave the Milanese company's participation in the eagerly awaited tender as uncertain, all doubts had already been dispelled by Vittorio Brambilla, who on Sunday 2 September 1979, in the Lombard circuit, attending the test of the Italian Formula 3 championship won by Piercarlo Ghinzani, authorized by Autodelta to issue a similar statement, had said:
"From Friday we will be in Monza with two cars. A new car of the wing-car model with the 60° V twelve-cylinder engine, and an old one with the traditional boxer".
Brambilla, who appears particularly happy with this decision which will allow him to return to racing exactly one year after last season's tragic accident, did not clarify who will drive the most recent car. If the previous programs are respected, it will be Bruno Giacomelli's turn at the wheel of the 179, while the old single-seater will go to the Monza driver. The confirmation of Alfa's presence is a more than positive starting point for the race in Monza. After so many vicissitudes, the glorious circuit modernized in record time and made safer in the points considered most dangerous is preparing to become the scene of the key race, the most important of the season. And it was an appreciable act of courage, that of the Milanese company not to give up on the appointment. The fans who had shown themselves so irreverent and harsh three weeks earlier, during the tire tests that marked the 179's first outing on the track, will have the satisfaction of seeing Giacomelli and Brambilla driving the Italian machines. However, the race will live on the duel between Scheckter, Laffite and Villeneuve. While the South African will try to contain the onslaught of the French from Ligier (a victory by Jody could almost give the mathematical certainty of the world title conquest by the Ferrari driver, if his rival were to leave the points zone) the Canadian will try to last card to get back in contention in the world championship battle. Recent episodes, which also include the Monza track record obtained last Wednesday with a time of 1'36"1, place Gilles Villeneuve in the role of great protagonist of the Italian Grand Prix. Although contested and threatened with disciplinary measures by the commission of drivers' safety, the little boy from Quebec has already entered the hearts of motoring enthusiasts.Ferrari supporters are now divided between the surprising Scheckter, who has become the mature and calculating driver, and his young companion team, certainly less positive in terms of results, but much more spectacular and courageous.In this fight of aspirants to the title, however, we must not forget Williams which once again proposes itself as the car to beat, even if the Monza track has characteristics ( the very fast corners are missing) which could make the Ferraris and the Renault-Turbos more competitive.
Jones is chasing his fourth consecutive win or. Regazzoni a victory that could earn him a signing for a good team next year if the English manufacturer finally decides to change drivers and leave the Ticino driver on foot. Riccardo Patrese is also expected among the protagonists. However, the Paduan who confirmed to Varano that he had renewed his contract for 1980 with Arrows does not seem to have a competitive car to stand out as his fans, who are very numerous, would like. The numbers are all in favor of Jody Scheckter. From calculating probabilities to looking back on what happened in the past. In fact, it has rarely happened that a rider leading the championship with three races to go has lost the world title. And there are other considerations to be made, even if not purely mathematical. Not least that Ferrari hasn't won the Italian Grand Prix since 1975, when Clay Regazzoni won. Without forgetting that on the Monza track in the 1970s a driver with little experience never established himself. The names speak for themselves: Gethin, Fittipaldi, Andretti, Lauda, Regazzoni (twice) and Ronnie Peterson (three times) were the winners of the previous nine editions of the race. And the fans seem to feel the flavor of a new Ferrari success in the air. Never like this year, despite the energy crisis and the heavy economic difficulties, the most famous track in the world seems to attract the general public. There will most likely be 150,000 people crowded along the 5800-metre track to witness what could be the decisive duel between Scheckter, his teammate Villeneuve and the combative Jacques Laffite. It is true that Williams and Renault will try to cancel interest in the top trio in the championship standings. But Jones and Regazzoni, Jabouille and Arnoux will in any case not be able to do anything other than put on a separate show, in an attempt to conquer a platonic victory. Says Jody Scheckter, on the eve of the Italian Grand Prix:
"Mine is a huge responsibility. I feel the weight of the passion that millions of Italians pour into Ferrari. It's like being the goalscorer of the national football team who has to take a decisive penalty for the result of a very important match. And yet, at the same time, I have confidence. My team has done everything possible to allow me to race in the best conditions. I have a car that should be more than competitive, technical and mechanical assistance that is unmatched. The game could be over. What I don't he succeeded with the Tyrrell and the Wolf is within nano's reach. I'll have to be very careful, try not to make mistakes. But I won't be conditioned: the world title is too close not to grab it".
For the first time, the Ferrari driver lets himself go to optimistic forecasts. Maybe it's the regularity demonstrated in all the races held this season (ten useful results out of twelve races), maybe it's the guarantees provided by the new T4B that throw him off balance. The fact is that Jody seems sure of his stuff, even if Villeneuve will try to take advantage of his possible missteps and if Laffite has sworn that he will not give up until the last meter of the Italian Grand Prix, at the cost of racing with the wheel among the teeth. This is the dominant motif of the thirteenth round of the World Championship, in which Alfa Romeo is finally entering massively. Engineer Carlo Chiti says about it:
"We opted for yes to honor the 50th edition of the Italian Grand Prix and to please the many supporters of our two drivers. It took courage because in Formula 1 you can't improvise and because Giacomelli's car could pay the price for a hasty debut. We hope to be understood and encouraged to continue".
It is therefore a cautious return for the Milanese company, which is not looking for surprising results but only to be able to develop the new machine with a probative comparison in the race. However, an exhilarating duel can also be expected in this debut. Giacomelli will want to demonstrate that he deserves the trust granted to him in entrusting him with the 179 while Brambilla will try to show that there is still a place for him in Formula 1. A battle within a battle, albeit with different means, which already in the first qualifying round will delight the palate of motor racing enthusiasts. In Formula 1 there are also stories of failures, of bitter disappointments, of burning defeats. The world of Grands Prix consumes its protagonists rapidly. Sometimes the fault lies with the man, who miscalculates or makes mistakes, more often than the car: if the car is not competitive, even a champion faces difficult times. This year there are four exemplary cases, those of Niki Lauda, James Hunt, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti. Four World Champions who have become supporters, as Jody Scheckter, Jacques Laffite and Gilles Villeneuve fight for the title, and new names have come to the fore. Lauda, 30 years old now, twice World Champion with Ferrari (1975 and 1977), loved and hated by the fans of the Maranello team, has so far obtained only one point in the world standings, equivalent to a sixth place. He is a victim of his own bad choices and the shortcomings of Brabham-Alfa. Hunt, 32, retired mid-season, because it wasn't worth risking his life with a car that isn't competitive. For Fittipaldi, who is the same age as Hunt, World Champion in 1972 and 1974, at the base of a seemingly unstoppable sunset, there is the choice of having preferred the adventure of his own team to an efficient team and the millions of Brazilian sugar sponsor. But the most emblematic case is that of Andretti. The 39-year-old Italian-American was preparing to take part in the Italian Grand Prix last year with the prospect of becoming World Champion: Now he has just 12 points in the standings, in Holland he mathematically lost the title, and presents in Monza with the fear of another bad impression. He, who in 1978 had won 6 of the 16 Grands Prix, now finds himself with a third place in Spain as his best performance. Andretti didn't make any particular mistakes, he simply found himself behind the wheel of a new car, the Lotus 80, full of defects and problems. In this regard, Mario Andretti said on a visit - to Pessione - of the Martini wine museum:
"Now in Formula 1 only the car counts. I'm fed up, tired, disappointed. It makes me angry to go home to the United States after a European Grand Prix and have to say to my children: Guys, I did ten thousand kilometers to complete three laps of the track. I like running, winning, at least fighting. This is agony".
Andretti will remain in 1980 with Lotus, then counts on leaving Formula 1 and ending his career in the United States.
"In American races, a driver can still emerge: experience counts, because these are very fast races and you don't risk being made fun of by the latest recruit".
And, in the wake of these considerations, here is a severe judgment on Gilles Villeneuve.
"Gilles, in the last few races he had behaved well, instead in Holland he had a baby".
Then, what we want to consider a joke, a way of saying:
"I wonder what pills he took in Zandvoort".
A bitter, sad, angry Andretti, an Andretti who would have liked to defend the title to the end and not stay still in the box most of the time. Did you have excessive faith in Colin Chapman, in the Lotus 80, in his ability as a test driver? Perhaps, and now he just has to adapt an old proverb to his world.
"Formula 1 is a spinning wheel".
Thursday 6 September 1979, as if by magic, the passion for Formula 1 explodes. From the great animation of the days preceding the tests, we move on to frenzy: thousands of fans huddled at the gates and along the sturdy railings of the racetrack witness the arrival of the vans of all teams. The pilots present are invoked at length. Who wants an autograph, who just wants to see the protagonists of the World Championship up close. On Friday, with the start of free practice at 10:00 am and then timed practice at 12:30 am, the race will enter the executive phase. For the moment we have to limit ourselves to predictions and discussions. Everyone turns their gaze towards the Williams garage. After the results of the last four races, we can't do without him. But Frank Williams is not so sure he can win at Monza:
"This track, as it has been modified, is certainly not in favor of our car. Cornering has become very easy and can benefit powerful cars such as Ferraris and Renaults, especially Italian cars which have good torque at low revs. We have done everything possible to live up to the situation, to continue on the path we have taken. The cars have undergone small changes, improvements in details, especially as regards reliability. However, it will be very difficult to repeat the previous results".
While Clay Regazzoni is unbalanced:
"I turned 40. The best way to celebrate them would be to win at Monza. After all, I've already finished first twice on this circuit, in 1970 and 1975. Who knows if I'll be able to keep faith with the famous proverb, there's no two without three".
Even Scheckter wonders if he will be able to make it three, after the successes in Belgium and Monaco. The South African knows very well that the world championship can be decided in Monza and that the fight with Laffite could be over. But the Ferrari driver doesn't talk and just works. Neither Jody nor Gilles Villeneuve show up at the circuit. The two Ferrari drivers remain at Fiorano to carry out the final tests of the new cars, which will receive a very hot baptism on Friday. Scuderia Ferrari employed all its technical resources to put the drivers in a position to block any attempt to attack by Ligier, the only remaining rival. Attack that Jacques Laffite announces with great sincerity:
"I can't play tactics or become an accountant. At this point I just have to try to win. It's the only solution left for me to still hope. We too worked hard, no one in the team spared themselves. We still don't know with what results. I will give you an answer after the tests. Of course, trust is starting to fail and only one positive test could lift my spirits".
The unknowns are there for everyone. Above all for Alfa Romeo, which has finally decided to come to Monza to please its fans and to honor the fiftieth edition of a race in which it has seen it as a great protagonist many times in the past. The cars arrived late in the evening. A sign that the cars, the new 179 and the old one placed in the hands of Brambilla, were finished at the last minute. Vittorio Brambilla, who returns to racing exactly one year after the serious accident in which Peterson died, is divided by the great and irrepressible pleasure of this return to the world he loves most and the bitterness of the controversies that have arisen around Alfa Romeo in recent times.
"I just want to drive, everything else doesn't interest me. I'm sorry to have been involved in the discussions these days. I would have liked to stay in peace, calmly think about resuming the activity. I hope to be calm on race day".
Bruno Giacomelli talks about the machines:
"Compared to our first outing on the Monza track, when we lapped in more than 1'42"0, the new car has made considerable progress. I don't have exact parameters to make predictions, but I am convinced that we will easily go below 1'40"0".
Arturo Merzario is also in search of qualification (28 drivers are registered, only 24 will be able to start) which he hadn't succeeded in the last few races. The driver from Como is making the utmost effort to make his car competitive and is ready to accept all the help that can come to him, including a new sponsor: we are talking about Onoranze Funebri La Varesina, whose writing stands out on the side of the Merzario's spoiler . The passion is great, and any means is good to try to race at Monza. Everything points to the success of a wonderful sporting celebration, however, on the eve of the fiftieth Italian Grand Prix runs the risk of not being held. During the day on Thursday, in fact, a large group of fans threatened to throw bottles onto the track to prevent the smooth running of the event. The eventual success of the event, and therefore the lack of action by the latter, will depend on the decisions that the managers of the racetrack and the police authorities will take. This is because a delegation of spectators asks permission to erect a scaffolding, of limited height, to be able to see the race: the circuit is particularly thankless for those with popular tickets. During the evening, for this reason, scuffles occur, and we are close to guerrilla warfare. At 9:30 pm, after numerous searches carried out by the police in an unorthodox manner, over a hundred enthusiasts show up at an entrance gate to reach the race direction and explain their reasons. The less rowdy manage to stop them, to allow a small group to take a moderate initiative. But, in the meantime, the surveillance dogs of the usual French paramilitary corps arrive behind them, which for several years has been employed in Monza with surveillance tasks. Dogs attack indiscriminately, let off the leash, sowing panic and terror. It also seems that their guardians have distributed truncheons.
Someone - there are also some kids among those present - seems to have been bitten, others receive a blow. The supporters challenge the racetrack management for this type of authority which, being made up of civilians, cannot be legally recognised. If an agreement is not found, the Grand Prix will probably be cancelled. As if that weren't enough, news arrives of an anonymous phone call made at the racetrack bar which heralds the explosion of a bomb on the track. Will it be the usual joke in bad taste? On arrival at Monza the most noteworthy thing to see is the first-class job the Automobile Club of Italy has made of the pits and paddock facilities. By very clever pruning of the existing pits and the wall between the pit road and the track they have effectively made the pit road three cars width in place of the previous two. Openings have been cut in the pit counters to facilitate the passage through the pits into the paddock behind, and the area behind the pits have been totally transformed. A vast clearing out of existing buildings and fences have been replaced by an enormous tarmaced area big enough to house all the team transporters, motor homes, caravans, tents and all the paraphernalia that seventeen teams bring with them to a Grand Prix. Everyone working within the pit area is delighted with the improvements while out on the circuit the drivers are all delighted with the tree clearing carried out around the Lesmo corners and the run-off areas provided. On the driver front there is one change and one return: the Ensign team are giving the Formula 2 champion Marc Surer, from Switzerland a try in MN09 in place of Patrick Gaillard. There are works Alfa Romeos entered and the second one is driven by Vittorio Brambilla, making a most welcome return after exactly one year away. It will be recalled that he is involved in the big accident that killed Ronnie Peterson last year.
Improvements are expected, but not so much. It has been obvious all season that the pace being set by Renault, Williams, Ferrari and Ligier is a furious one and the continual improvements we keep getting in lap times indicates just how hard they are all trying, but it does mean that anyone not on the pace is getting left embarrassingly far behind. Rosberg is set back when the water pump on WR8 cracked, and he has to use the slower WR9, and Laffite tries the spare Ligier which has a different spring-rate set-up. Newcomer Surer ends practice abruptly when the engine in the Ensign seizes up and there is no spare car. Jabouille is out in the spare Renault, but lapping a second slower than Arnoux, though Regazzoni is not too tar behind Jones. Picquet tries the spare Brabham BT48 and then Tambay moves across too soon and collides with Jones who is just overtaking him. The Williams has been obscured by Fittipaldi’s car, for which Tambay has moved out of the way. A rear wheel of the McLaren hits the side-pod of the Williams which bounces if off into the rough, leaving it there slightly damaged, while the McLaren carries on. With Regazzoni using the spare car, and going well, there is nothing for Jones to do except stand around and watch the others. Both the Ligier and the Wolf teams are having trouble with their cars behaving like porpoises at maximum speed, which is very unnerving for the drivers, and Laffite is getting very short-tempered with the situation. In spite of having to miss the last part of the timed session Alan Jones is still second to Arnoux, but only a fraction ahead of Villeneuve, these three being the only drivers to get below the 1'35"0. Some are not even below 1'40"0 and quite a lot are nowhere near to last year’s fastest practice time. Once again Renault, Williams and Ferrari are in a class on their own. The damage to Jones’ Williams is not very extensive and is soon put right after practice, but on Saturday morning when the car is being warmed up the mechanics find that the fuel bag has sprung a leak.
While a new one is installed Jones uses the spare car for the morning test-session, Regazzoni being back in his own car with a new engine fitted. Replacing a rubber fuel bag within the monocoque is a long and tedious business, it having to be done through a relatively small cover plate on the top of the tank space. Having squeezed the rubber bag through the hole it then has to be spread out in the tank space and then filled with special sponge foam, all in the interests of safety. The days of fuel tanks being aluminium containers sitting on rubber mountings, in which 40 or 50 gallons sloshes about inside are long gone, today’s fuel cells are integral parts of the monocoque and the liquid is contained in a special rubber bag, surrounded by anti-leak and anti-fire devices. Ferrari can win the Italian Grand Prix. It is not an optimistic forecast, but a reality. The times obtained in the tests speak for themselves. Villeneuve is just 0.007 seconds behind the Williams of Jones who got the second fastest time. It is true that Arnoux's Renault was fairly quick. But it wouldn't be the first time that the test results of the very fast French turbo don't match those of the races. Anyone who has seen the Ferraris go through the most difficult points of the circuit claims, without a doubt, that the Maranello cars are clearly the best in terms of grip, braking and acceleration. On Sunday, if Scheckter wins or even finishes second, and his rival Laffite does not score any points, the world title win would be worth it for him. The victory would allow the mathematical achievement of the iris, the second place not the mathematical one, but not only the theoretical certainty.
"I know very well that this is the most important race of the season. I can't wait to deliver the decisive blow in America. But I'll be forced to do a reasonable race so as not to risk too much. It wouldn't suit me".
The one who will be able to let loose to the end will be Gilles Villeneuve, who has nothing to lose. Some argue that the Canadian will not have the green light from the team, which will have to control the race so as not to possibly favor his opponents and not to damage his teammate. If Ferrari can be considered one of the favourites, we must not forget Williams. Clay Regazzoni, who obtained the fourth fastest time, thinks he can achieve his third success in the Italian Grand Prix.
"Up until now, my colleague Jones has always been fine. I don't see why it can't be me this time. I know the track better than everyone else, it's like I'm at home. I am convinced that I can have a good race and that I can fight for success if I don't have some accidents like what happened in Holland".
Alfa Romeo also hopes to make a good impression. The machines entrusted to Brambilla and Giacomelli performed quite well in the first tests. We could not have expected more than the sixteenth place of Brescia and the nineteenth of Monza. It may be that in the last qualifying round, the results are even better. That would already be a good start. Then Sunday we'll see. Giacomelli is an excellent regularist and Brambilla, a few steps from his home, will do everything to demonstrate that, at 40, he is not yet to retire. Ferrari thought that the time set by Gilles Villeneuve in last week's tests (1'36"1) would not be sufficient to obtain pole position in the Italian Grand Prix. And they were right: an hour and a half of timed trials for the ground effect cars to demolish every record held at the Monza racetrack.Little René Arnoux, with his hissing Renault turbo, was the fastest, lapping in 1'34"704. at the fantastic average of 220.476 km/h. The previous limit (1'37"52) was set by Mario Andretti, who last year with the Lotus had lapped at an average of 214.160 km/h. Even taking into account the changes made to the track, with the widening of some corners, an improvement of almost three seconds on the lap is exceptional, confirming the progress that the wing cars have made since the beginning of the season.Arnoux, however, was not the only one to beat Andretti: six drivers managed to overtake the previous record. In addition to the Frenchman, they achieved very important times, finishing in order. Jones, with the always very fast Williams, Villeneuve himself, Regazzoni, Scheckter and Jabouille. Just above, but very close, the two Brabhams remained -Lauda and Piquet's Alfa, with the Austrian finally ahead of his young teammate. The gaps between the men in this ranking are minimal. However, the fight seems limited to three types of cars: Renault. Williams and Ferrari, which will be divided presumably the chances of winning the thirteenth round of the World Championship. Jacques Laffite appears in difficulty, with the tenth fastest time, two seconds behind Arnoux and one and a half seconds behind his great rival Scheckter. If the Parisian driver fails to solve his problems, he risks losing a decisive round of his difficult match with the South African and with Villeneuve for the world title. However, Laffite remains optimistic:
"We know what our problem is, we are always grappling with springs that don't prove to be suitable. My Ligier jumps on the runway like a motorboat on the waves of a rough sea. It may also be the suspension. We have twenty-four hours to fix this mess. I still hope".
It cannot be said, however, that the problems to be solved are exclusive to Ligier. Almost all the teams, bringing modified cars to Monza, found themselves grappling with various questions. Ferrari, for example, faces a dilemma caused by the abundance of cars available. Villeneuve was fastest in the new T4 with rear wheel brakes, while Scheckter set his fastest lap in the previous version with internal brakes. Engineer Mauro Forghieri declares:
"However, we are very satisfied, because we are close to the marvels that are the Williams. Sure, with different cars to test, ideas can get confused and it's not possible to focus on a single solution. We'll see if we can put everything in order in the last tests on Saturday".
Another small inconvenience was discovered on Ferrari's miniskirts after qualifying. It has been ascertained that the very abrasive and wavy asphalt of Monza has caused cracks in the ceramic terminals which allow the side strips to slide on the ground. If these protections are damaged, the aluminum parts are also consumed by friction, causing a loss of adherence of the side skirts themselves which leave gaps in the air and reduce the ground effect. Obviously the technicians of the Maranello team immediately got to work. The first qualifying round was good for the Italian colours. The Italian-American Andretti, with the Lotus, for the first time in several races has moved far enough forward in the standings, resulting in ninth, while Patrese gave a good blow to his teammate Mass. Riccardo detached him by two and a half seconds , placing in P14. As mentioned, the long-awaited return of Alfa Romeo to Formula 1 is also positive. Engineer Carlo Chiti says:
"We hoped to do even better, at least for Giacomelli, but the rider wanted to fit harder springs which turned out to be wrong and we lost precious time. Also, Goodyear only provided us with one tempo set per car. Tires that were found to be less good than the normal ones. Today we should take a few steps forward".
And Vittorio Brambilla appears so satisfied that he has started running again that he has no other words to say than: I'm here to comment on the event. Again to talk about national issues, to record the last qualifying time for Elio De Angelis with a Shadow, which becomes less and less competitive from time to time. When the first driver, Vittorio Brambilla, took to the track, an authentic ovation erupted from the stands, which perhaps repaid the president of the Milanese company, Ettore Massacesi, for the bad reception he had at the beginning of the month when the cars built by 'Autodelta came to carry out some test runs. If the duel between Scheckter, Laffite and Villeneuve constitutes the dominant motif of the race, the return to strength of Alfa Romeo has created another pole of attraction in Formula 1. Bruno Giacomelli, the young driver from Brescia, European champion of Formula 2 last year, underlines how difficult this return to racing is.
"Sooner or later we will start from pole position. When Renault entered Grand Prix racing two years ago, not many believed it. After much work and great sacrifices, the French team has reached the top. I don't see why we couldn't repeat the same route. The new machine undoubtedly has very good qualities. It is a new wing car though. It will be necessary to wait some time to have the opportunity to study it, to understand it and fine-tune it. As far as I'm concerned, I'm very happy to be with Alfa Romeo and I don't envy any other driver, not even those who currently drive the Williams or the Renaults".
Just Renault officially announces that it has confirmed Jabouille and Arnoux for next season. Sports director Gerard Larrousse says:
"So we put an end to all the indiscretions that wanted this or that rider to be hired by our team. In 1980 we will aim for the world title without hesitation. We have good cars and very good drivers. Why not take advantage of the situation?"
While Renault finally reveals its plans, there are no clarifications from the other formations. Rumors of the transfers continue to circulate, but everything seems to be stalled. The situation will only clear up when Lauda decides who to go with, starting a series of marriages and divorces. Among those suspended, there is also Clay Regazzoni, who has not yet renewed his contract with Williams. The Ticinese continues to attract sympathy and is the subject of an unusual celebration for his 40th birthday, which fell last Wednesday. The driver most likely to sit at the wheel of the new Formula 1 Osella in 1980 is Clay Regazzoni. The Turin-based manufacturer confirms its presence in next year's circus, but does not specify who it will entrust its car to. The name of Regazzoni was mentioned in the environment when it became known that the sponsor of Enzo Osella will be a company producing a line of men's cosmetics, belonging to one of the major European multinationals. This company is lobbying in favor of the Swiss, in whom they would see not only a good driver but also an excellent showman. At the same time, perhaps Pirelli has missed the good opportunity to return to Formula 1, hesitating in concluding the contract that could have linked it to the new Osella. It was in fact burned in time by Goodyear which, at least for now, has signed the agreement with the new manufacturer. The speed with which Goodyear moved was also caused by the fact that. In formula 2, Pirelli annoyed the Anglo-American manufacturer. With this contract, Goodyear has linked Osella also for Formula 2. Meanwhile, Bemie Ecclestone, the owner of Brabham, in his capacity as president of the Constructors' Association (FOCA) seems to have lost his battle with the sporting authorities and in particular with his great rival, Jean Marie Balestre, the president of FISA. The formal capitulation of the English manager took place on Thursday in a press conference held by the new Formula 1 working committee in which the programs and decisions agreed for the future were announced. Balestre also spoke on behalf of the SEAL: Ecclestone, seated at his side, remained silent. The president of FISA was able to win his battle thanks to the decisive support provided to him by the major car manufacturers (Ferrari, Renault and Alfa Romeo), which united against the request of the majority of small manufacturers to defend technical development, and in particular turbocharged engines. The main points covered in the conference are four. First.
The Grands Prix held this year will also be held in the next season. FISA received two nominations, from Mexico and Las Vegas, to obtain two world trials. La Foca agrees to comply with both requests. If the safety regulations are respected in Mexico, this race will be added to the 1980 calendar after the one in Long Beach. For Las Vegas it is a political question: it will be unlikely that the United States will be granted a third Grand Prix. It will therefore be up to American leaders to make a choice. Second. Following the problems that arose with television in Austria, a delegation from FISA will meet the leaders of Eurovision with the task of finding an agreement that ensures the widest possible coverage (speaking of televisions, as many as eleven television cameras have been course of the Monza circuit, plus a twelfth in the helicopter and a thirteenth will be in the studio for interviews and comments. It will be up to the director to ensure that the race comes alive on the television screens; in addition, between one practice session and another, Bernie Ecclestone will fly by helicopter to Imola, to check the advertising panels of the Grand Prix, not valid for the World Championship, which will be entirely broadcast live on television). Third. On the technical regulation of Formula 1, and in particular on the problem of engines, the commission registered the opinions of FOCA regarding a new regulation on propulsors starting from 1 January 1982, from Ferrari, Renault and Alfa Romeo, and the statement of the 18 manufacturers adhering to the BPICA (Bureau permanent international automobile constructor) who oppose any change to the current regulation, and ask the sporting power to guarantee stable rules for a long time. In a congress to be organized between 15 and 20 October we will try to find a valid solution Quarto. In 1980 the regulation provides that in the two days preceding the race two sessions of one and a half hours each of free practice are carried out and, in the afternoon, one hour of qualifying practice. In practice, half an hour more than the current system for the former and half an hour less for the latter. The 1980 standings will be drawn up by adding the five best results of each half-season. The score of each race for the moment remains the one in force.
In conclusion, during the trials the deputy public prosecutor, Dr. Federico Pomarici, goes to the circuit to continue the investigation into last year's tragic accident which caused the death of Ronnie Peterson. It seems that Doctor Pomarici interrogated three pilots: Fittipaldi, Pironi and Reutemann. The investigation, however, continues and will have other developments in the coming days. For the second practice session, Jabouille has decided to use the older of his two Renaults, so RS11 has been abandoned, partly dismantled, and RS10 has been built up as the number one race car. Villeneuve has settled to use his T4B Ferrari, but Scheckter is still dodging from his T4 to his T4B. Likewise Laffite is still undecided about which Ligier to use and is alternating between 02 and 03, while Ickx is getting on with just the one car. Jones stays with the spare Williams for the afternoon session as it is going perfectly, and his other car is due to have a brand new engine installed ready for the race. Team Lotus are feeling a lot more confident and felt that they are beginning to make headway, after a lot of alterations to this and that, but their times are still way off the pace. Renault begin to show their hand as Jabouille first of all equalled Arnoux’s time of yesterday and then improves on it, getting down to 1'34"58 as they get into the swing of things with the best Michelin tyres. Arnoux has only done a handful of laps when his engine shows signs of sickness and before it actually blows up he stops and the car is wheeled away. This means no more practice for Arnoux as there is no spare car for him, but his time from Friday still keeps him on the front row of the grid, alongside his team-mate. Jones is below 1'35"0 as is Scheckter, but Villeneuve can not repeat his Friday time, and eventually decides that the engine in his T4B is getting tired, so he switches to his T4. Scheckter is doing his fast laps in his T4, so the Ferrari engineers are a bit confused, though satisfied with the results. After a tyre change Jabouille sets off again, does a lap at 1'35"0 and then promptly goes off the track at the first chicane and bends the front of RS10. With RS11 all in bits, and RS12 with a sick engine, the Renault practice comes to a complete stop. They are both on the front row of the grid, Jabouille with 1'34"58 and Arnoux with 1'34"704 and there they stay, without doing anything. While everyone else tries all they know, and Goodyear and Michelin feed their top runners with the best tyres available, the two Renault drivers stand around aimlessly.
The engine in Watson’s McLaren M29 blows up, so after sitting patiently on the pit counter for a time, he takes over Tambay’s car, as the team spare is an M28 and really destined for the forthcoming race at Imola, rather than for serious practice. Right at the back of the field there is drama, for of the twenty-eight drivers out practising only twenty-four are to be allowed to start. Both Merzario and Surer are out of the running due to mechanical bothers, and the Rebaque team are still sorting out their new car, unable to get many consecutive laps in, and last place is being fought for by the two Shadow drivers, with Lammers proving to be the faster. This is not very popular for the organisers want the Italian driver de Angelis to qualify in preference to the young Dutch boy. After a hub bearing brakes upon his own car, de Angelis tries the spare car, but the engine is poor, so then there is a flap to alter everything on Lammers’ car so that the Italian can drive it, which is not at all popular with the Dutchman and his friends. Eventually de Angelis does a time in Lammers’ car, but at first it is not fast enough to qualify, but then the time-keepers shuffle through their times and discover that Lammers’ time is not as good as they have announced, and give him a slower time, which just put him out and de Angelis in. Quietly getting on with things at one end of the pits is the Alfa Romeo team, and both Giacomelli and Brambilla qualify comfortably. Brambilla’s effort with the old car being particularly praiseworthy after a year lay-off, Laffite’s number one car JS11/02 brakes a drive-shaft so he spends most of the practice in the spare car, while Jones in the spare Williams feels he has never really got with it, and that he should have gone faster. There is nothing wrong with the car, he just feels dissatisfied with his afternoon’s work, even though he has put in a best lap of 1'34"914 which puts him on the second row of the grid. The thing that hurt most people is the fact of the two Renaults being on the front row of the grid, even alter missing the best part of the last practice session. In the end five drivers get below the 1'35"0, these being Jabouille, Arnoux. Scheckter, Jones and Villeneuve; good runners all. No matter what anyone says Monza is still popular with the Italian public, and the Autodromo is very full on Sunday morning when preparations are being made for the 30-minute warm-up period. Renault have reassembled RS11 for Jabouille and abandon RS10, the spare car. Williams have FW07/4 ready for Jones, Ferrari have prepared Scheckter’s T4 and Villeneuve’s T4B, as they request.
Laffite has settled for JS11/02 and de Angelis is in his own car once more. But how many spectators are there in Monza for the tests? There is a human hedge, a colorful and heterogeneous world that has its gaze fixed on the track. A forest of eyes surrounds the 5800 meters of asphalt laid between the secular trees of the park. Almost everyone has a rolled up flag in their hands tucked behind their backs. It is the red and white checkered flag of Ferrari. They are present at Monza with the hope of witnessing the 78th Formula 1 victory of the Maranello team, and that this success will also award the ninth world title to a Scuderia Ferrari driver. The Maranello team did everything to please its very numerous fans. But to say that the 50th Italian Grand Prix sees Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve as the favorites would be presumptuous. We will have to deal with the very fast Renault, with the always formidable Williams and also with Jacques Laffite's Ligier, who hasn't given up yet. The starting grid sees Jabouille in pole position, flanked by his teammate Arnoux. The turbo engines have shown that they like the straights and the now increasingly rapid corners of Monza and the two Frenchmen did quickly, in the last practice session, to put in thrilling laps, until they came up with the most expert Parisian at the same time of 1'34"580, which constitutes the absolute track record at the remarkable average of 220.765 km/h. Scheckter installed himself with good confidence behind the pair of yellow single-seaters. The South African also demonstrated his class and knowledge of the circuit, while Villeneuve (who was third in Friday's practice) failed to improve and dropped, albeit with minimal gaps, to fifth place The Canadian was also overtaken by Alan Jones, who had already overtaken him after the first qualifying round. All these pilots are contained within a few tenths of a second, and it is not said that the same pilots can maintain such a superiority in the race as to avoid the attacks of those behind, starting with Clay Ragazzoni (who has had the mishap of having his license revoked in Switzerland for yet another traffic violation) to continue with Laffite, Piquet, lauda, Andretti, Ickx and Pironi, who followed quite closely. Laffite, above all, recovered a good part of the gap that divided him from the best on the first day of practice. His penalty went from over 2 seconds to less than 0.7 seconds from Jabouille and that says it all. From the Frenchman who commands the ranking of times to Piquet (who is eighth) there is a perfect second.
Too little to think that there won't be a very open battle. However, there are very specific reasons to believe that Ferrari will have a good chance of victory, especially with Scheckter. By analyzing what happened in the previous races and what we saw in two days of hard training, we can make some considerations. Meanwhile, the Renaults, despite being the fastest cars, had two distinct problems. Arnoux broke an engine, Jabouille went off the track at the Ascari chicane. Jean-Pierre practically destroyed his car, which ended up in the safety nets, had two wheels detached and the chassis damaged. Therefore, Jabouille will have to start with the spare car. A car that the driver himself doesn't consider equal to the one he lost in qualifying: pole position could be of little use to him. And the same can be said for Arnoux; René will start with a new engine, which the half hour of testing available this morning will not allow him to test with due precautions. The suffocating heat of these days, assuming the weather remains stable, also suggests that many cars will have overheating problems. Mauro Forghieri warns:
"It could be the retirement race. This circuit puts the machines to the test. Engines, gearboxes, suspensions are stressed to the max. I wouldn't be surprised if a maximum of four or five cars arrive with full wineskins".
A problem that could also create difficulties for Ferrari, but the Italian team has so far excelled in terms of reliability. This is demonstrated by the series of victories and placings obtained during the season. In the twelve races held so far, at least one Ferrari has always finished in the top six. And this is one of the reasons why the fans are hopeful. Scheckter and Villenueve have chosen two different cars for this very important race. Both opted for the model that proved to be the fastest for each of them. Jody, also for greater safety, will start with the traditional car, the one with internal rear brakes, while Gilles will drive the new one, with the brakes on the wheels. With two solutions available they will have even more possibilities. So much for the fight for victory. The Italian Grand Prix, however, will have other themes worthy of arousing enormous interest. In the ninth row, for example, two former Formula 2 youngsters will start side by side, Patrese with the Arrows and Giacomelli with the new Alfa Romeo. The Milanese company will also have the returning Brambilla in the running, located in the penultimate row but equally satisfied. Elio De Angelis will also be in the race. The young Roman qualified with the last time, this time at the expense of his teammate Lammers. In fact, after breaking an axle shaft on his Shadow, De Angelis set the time in Lammers' car, excluding him as first reserve from the race. At first, the Dutchman had been credited with a better result, but the Italian himself went up to the timekeepers and discovered they had been wrong. With four cars to fine-tune in order to find both the best speed solutions and the most valid compromise for the race, the Ferrari mechanics and technicians created a non-stop show. Continuous tire changes, adjustments of all kinds, refueling done in an instant. And then checking the various temperatures, top speeds, tire wear. In short, an even greater commitment than what the Maranello team puts into each race. Says the engineer Mauro Forghieri, technical manager of Ferrari:
"We are happy with the results obtained. We have a car ahead of Jones' Williams and, above all, our T4s didn't register any particular problems. Now it's up to the drivers to choose the car model they think will be most competitive for the race. Just as the Michelin experts will have to tell us which tires will be the most valid for a good Grand Prix".
To those who ask him what he will do from the garage if Villeneuve precedes Scheckter, perhaps damaging him for the world title, he replies diplomatically, however, making it clear that there will be no drawbacks.
"As far as the riders' tactics are concerned, ask the sports manager, Marco Piccinini. However, it is obvious that Gilles will not go crazy. We are at the decisive moment, the most delicate of the championship. I don't think we will be able to close the account at Monza, but it would already be a big advantage to increase the gap on Laffite. In this sense Scheckter is in a better position than his partner and will have all the possible support".
The confirmation of how everything is clear within the Maranello team comes from Villeneuve himself.
"If there are no complications I will try, as far as possible, to help Jody. I hope, however, to have a good run. I tried both types of machines I had available and I didn't find big differences. I expected Renault to finish in the front row. On the other hand, I was a little disappointed by Williams who, however, is always one of the biggest favourites".
Jody Scheckter seems to reflect the atmosphere that is felt in the team. There is a bit of tension, it's normal, but the South African also appears confident, without particular worries.
"I know very well that this is an important race, perhaps decisive, however I will race as if it were any race. Imposing the absolute objective of victory could be counterproductive".
If the situation seems to be favorable for Ferrari, Ligier has not lost all hope. Laffite made a big leap forward in the starting grid and, above all, seems to have found the solution to the aerodynamic problems that had plagued him in recent races.
"Now my car has become competitive again. I think I brought it back to the level that allowed me to take third place at Zeltweg, when I overtook Scheckter on the last lap. Today will be a very tough race, one of the ones I like the most. For the championship, I will absolutely have to finish ahead of Scheckter, whatever his position".
To those who ask him what he will do if his South African rival takes the lead, Jacques replies, after thinking for a moment:
"Then I'll really have to perform a miracle...".
These championship problems do not affect Alfa Romeo for now. The Milanese squad is already satisfied to be racing with both the old and new cars. After all, this return had created several dangers, not least that of not being able to qualify. Instead everything went well. The engineer Carlo Chiti states:
"We apologize to our fans if we are not yet at the top. We hope to get there soon. Both riders did their duty by giving their all. 179 can be considered a newborn, a baby who needs a lot of care to grow well. We will take it to the next races in Canada and the United States. The old 178 will instead end its career at Monza. Only a generous man like Vittorio Brambilla could have managed to qualify a car that - all in all - is outdated".
With the new car, Giacomelli is confident that he will be able to compete in an honest race.
"During practice we realized that for the moment the car travels better with the hard tyres. If it's very hot, this could be a good advantage".
"Good luck, although I'd hate to lose this fight".
The two vigorously shake hands, while the fans shout bravo to the French. Before starting the news, it is necessary to reveal a background that apparently might seem insignificant: a few minutes before the sighting lap, the Ferrari mechanics realize that the South African's T4 is leaking fluid from the front braking system. A quick check reveals that a caliper gripping the disc is faulty. Then it is changed and when the pilot reaches the place foreseen for deployment, the mechanism is adjusted again, draining the oil. The red light comes on, the noise rose to fantastic heights, accentuated by the huge concrete grandstand, and then on came the green and Scheckter makes a copybook start round the outside of Jabouille, with Villeneuve hard up behind him. Arnoux makes a good getaway but Jones is slow off the mark and is passed by all sorts of people before he is out of sight. It looks as though he has cooked his clutch, but in fact the engine has gone all woolly and it would not pick up cleanly, though it has been perfect on the warm-up lap. There is no need to ask who is leading as the cars appear out of the Parabolica curve to stream up the straight past the pits, the noise from the crowded grandstands told us it is a Ferrari, and Scheckter is leading Arnoux, but then there is consternation among the public for the Renault puffs out and powers past the Ferrari as they start lap 2. Later Arnoux explains that he can have gone past down the back-straight, but there is no need to hurry about taking the lead. Behind them come Villeneuve, Laffite, Jabouille, Regazzoni, Piquet and Andretti; a pleasant sight to see a green Lotus somewhere near the front once again. While Mass brings his Arrows into the pits Alan Jones goes by near the back of the field, still going slowly. He has hoped that his trouble is vapour-lock in the injection system, or an over-rich mixture and that it would clear itself and come on song, but it is obviously something more serious. Even though he picks off Patrese, Stuck and Ickx his car is not going properly and at the end of lap 5 he pulls into the pit lane. Meanwhile the scene at the front of the race has settled down with Arnoux looking indecently comfortable out in front, followed by the Ferraris of Scheckter and Villeneuve, with Laffite doing a great job hanging on to them, while Jabouille is just about keeping up. Then comes a gap before Regazzoni appears, running on his own, for Piquet has tried to go round the outside of the Williams on the Curva Grande and has been forced off line, getting onto the loose edge and spinning into the guard rail.
The impact rips the entire back end off the Brabham, the Alfa Romeo V12 engine, the gearbox and all the rear suspension smash itself into a ball, while the monocoque and the front suspension skate down the road and stop. Piquet steps out totally unharmed and walks back to the pits. Andretti is leading the rest of the field, in which Giacomelli is going well with the new works Alfa Romeo. While the leaders are on their seventh lap Jabouille begins to lose contact with them, and Alan Jones takes off from the pit lane like a scalded cat. His mechanics have changed the battery and the ignition unit and the engine is on full song once again. It later transpires that the battery, which is brand new that morning, has developed a dud cell while it is sitting on the starting grid. Just as a precaution they also richen the fuel mixture a fraction before he takes off. Jones is not one of those drivers who sits around whining if things go wrong, or withdraws behind the darkened windows of a motor-home, he believes in getting on with it, and this is what he does even though he is a lap and a half behind the leaders. Lauda has found himself running in company with Giacomelli in the opening laps and his pride comes to the fore and he pulls his finger out and passes Watson, the two Tyrrell drivers and Andretti, to put himself at the head of the second part of the race. Although Jabouille has lost contact with the leaders he is still managing to stay ahead of Regazzoni and at lap 12 everything seems to have settled down. But not for long. On lap 13 the leading Renault’s engine suddenly gives a great hiccough and all the power dies away and Arnoux waves the Ferraris and the Ligier by, but then the power comes back in again and he finishes the lap in fourth place and apparently going well. On lap 14 it happens again and this time does not pick up and he coasts into the pits to retire with something very obscure having happened to either the injection system or the ignition system. While he has been out in the lead the bright-eyed little Rene Arnoux has looked remarkably secure, obviously well able to deal with the Ferrari team without getting flustered. Down in midfield Watson has stormed past Jarier’s Tyrrell and then gone off into the sand. After a slow start Fittipaldi has gathered himself up and passes Rosberg in the Wolf, Brambilla in the flat-12 Alfa, and de Angelis in the lone Shadow, and now has his sights on the ATS of Stuck, which is sounding awful with a broken exhaust manifold pipe, but still going well. Way down the back Jones is setting up new lap records and lapping about one second quicker than the Ferraris, which he is finding some consolation from on his lonely drive.
As a race it is now all over, for Scheckter knows he is safe out in front, with Villeneuve dutifully keeping station behind him. Though Jacques Laffite is driving his heart out all he can do is stay with the Ferraris, he can not challenge them. These three are way out on their own and pulling away from the rest all the time. Jabouille is holding fourth place but it is only a matter of time before Regazzoni catches him, which he does on lap 24 much to the joy of the populace, for Regga is popular no matter what he is driving. In the midfield Giacomelli is going great guns with the new Alfa Romeo and after passing Jarier and then Andretti, he begins to close up on Lauda, the Alfa clearly being as good as the Brabham, but glory is not to be for the little podgy Italian and before he can get to grips with Lauda he has spun off into the loose stuff at the Ascari chicane and broken the rear suspension. Meanwhile Brambilla is soldiering on with the old Alfa Romeo, and keeping just ahead of Rosberg in the penultimate position of those who has not stopped, for Pironi and Jones are still behind after pit stops. Laffite is having cockpit trouble, which causes him to lose contact with the two Ferraris. His rear brakes are fading so he wounds the knob that adjusts the brake balance bar, to put more braking on the front wheels. Unfortunately the mechanism fouls the clutch pedal so that when he puts the brakes on the clutch pedal goes down as well. It does not take the engine long to object to this treatment and on lap 41 it sounds awful as he passes the pits, and next time round he is in to retire with severe internal engine trouble. This lets Regazzoni up into third place, while Jabouille now inherits fourth place and Lauda finds himself fifth and Andretti is sixth. There are now only eight laps to go in this minuscule Grand Prix, and Scheckter has virtually used up all his brakes, though Villeneuve is very comfortable in his dutiful position behind the South African, but Regazzoni is getting wound up and responding to pit signals.
Until this point Alan Jones has been the fastest man on the track, with a string of new lap records, but now Regazzoni begins to equal them as he closes on the Ferraris. It looks as though the Maranello cars are easing off to coast home a convincing 1-2, but it is not as simple as that, for though they are running at the same pace as Fiittipaldi, whom they have just lapped, they can not go much faster, or at least Scheckter can not. On lap 46 Regazzoni sets a new lap record in 1'35"6, which is remarkable compared with Jones’ best of 1'36"21, and with two laps to go he is a mere 2.1 seconds behind the Ferraris and still gaining. Then his engine coughs, cuts out, cuts in again, and his lap time drops to 1'38"0 and it is all over. The Williams is running low on fuel and the triumphant pair of Ferraris cross the line with nearly 5 seconds in hand. On the slowing-down lap Regazzoni runs right out of petrol and stops, and as Alan Jones crosses the line in ninth place after a really hard drive his car also runs out of petrol. It picks up again briefly and he stops to give Regazzoni a lift, but then it stops altogether and the two Williams boys hijack a course marshal’s car and drive back to the pits. Two red shadows, the Ferraris of Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve, fly triumphantly towards the world title. The last moments of tension are experienced in the Maranello team's garage. Above all, with the precision and timing of an orchestra conductor and with the human and passionate charge that distinguishes him, Mauro Forghieri dominates and conducts the last bars of this winning symphony. The loudspeaker announces that Regazzoni has moved menacingly in Villeneuve's wake, Forghieri shouts to the signalmen:
"Tell Gilles to increase the lead".
The 312 T4s, almost linked by an invisible thread, pass in perfect synchronism in front of the pits and begin the last lap. In the stands the fans sway, when Scheckter and Villeneuve emerge from the parabolic the stands explode. A roar of cheers covers the roar of the engines. The Ferrari mechanics leap onto the track with arms raised. Tomaini, the technical manager, can't hold back the tears. Pamela, Scheckter's wife, cannot find words to express her happiness. In an instant, hundreds of fans force Mannello's men into a rapid retreat in order not to be overwhelmed and, in their escape, they pass under a cascade of sparkling wine, naturally Ferrari. Scheckter, to take his car to parc fermé, couldn't avoid hitting some overly ardent fans and ended up slightly ruining the nose. Then, with a police escort worthy of a head of state, the tiring march to the podium. When Scheckter emerges on the award ceremony terrace, the track is already invaded by thousands of people who have overwhelmed the police cordons. Every gesture by Jody inflames the human tide, which becomes uncontainable when the South African waves a Ferrari flag. Villeneuve is not forgotten in the euphoria. Indeed, Scheckter is the first to express his thanks to the little Canadian, raising his arm several times. After the podium, when the South African returns to the Ferrari van, the protective cordons falter. Everyone wants to see, touch the winner. Even for insiders, reaching Scheckter is an arduous undertaking. Says Jody Scheckter, with a hint of emotion:
"I can't convince myself that I have won the world title. Sometimes I feel like I'm dreaming".
"I dedicate this victory to Enzo Ferrari, who gave me the possibility of obtaining a title that I have been chasing for seven years".
What did Laffite feel when he stopped?
"The pits had told me that Laffite was out of the race, but at that juncture I didn't have time to think about other things than keeping maximum concentration on the race".
What does it mean to win at Monza?
"It's wonderful, it represents a point of arrival in my life".
Will he try to win in the last few races too?
"I would like to try to help Villeneuve who has been an outstanding teammate".
Villeneuve also has words of praise for his teammate:
"Jody is the worthy winner, and while it may have looked simple it has been a very tough ride. I'm happy for Jody who is an extremely sincere and loyal man".
Could he have surpassed Scheckter?
"There was nothing we could do against Jody, I did my race, but I would never have been able to pass him because Scheckter was very strong today".
Piero Lardi, Ferrari's head of sports management, was also present to witness the conquest of the title.
"I didn't expect the championship to finish in Monza; I was confident in our victory, but I thought I'd have to wait for the American races".
What value does this title have for Ferrari?
"For us it is everything, because we have worked only for this".
The joy for this double victory can be clearly seen in Forghieri's eyes.
"With two riders like ours it was practically impossible to lose the title. Today Villeneuve proved to be a true professional, and put Laffite in difficulty, forcing him to give up. About Jody to say something is superfluous. On the track, he showed what he's worth".
"I spoke to the engineer Ferrari, and I can interpret his feelings. At this moment, the two pilots who collaborated with each other should be remembered. Villeneuve really lived up to the situation, while Jody fully responded to the team's expectations. One must also remember the mechanics; not only those who come to the races, but also their colleagues who work in the factory, the technicians and managers who have played their part. Not to forget all our suppliers, and in particular Michelin. They are simple things, which may seem trivial; but that they are true and heartfelt".
Ferrare won the Italian Grand Prix and the world title: a welcome victory, but above all deserved because the Italian car is one of the few true racing cars built entirely in-house, and not an assembly of bought parts. Victory for Italian technology, therefore, from the design carried out by the technicians headed by engineer Mauro Forghieri to the construction, testing on the track and in the Turin wind tunnels of Fiat and Pininfarina. Enzo Ferrari can be satisfied with his men and his cars. Mauro Forghieri says, at the end of the race:
"The Michelin radial tires (the only non-Italian component) worked well; still having believed in the boxer engine and in the famous transversal gearbox, when there were many who said that the engine had to be V-shaped to power a wing-car and that the transversal gearbox absorbs more horsepower than a longitudinal one, are proofs of courage and of trust in the technicians".
But above all there is reliability. Ferrari's rivals sometimes took the lead, but it was short-lived, as points were scattered as Ferrari with Scheckter and Villeneuve piled them up. Certainly the refinement and fine-tuning work has been good, even if sometimes slower than expected. But, as Forghieri says shortly before the race, with the clear conscience of someone who has done everything possible:
"We at Ferrari cannot copy, because our philosophy is to create something new, to move forward; we are a group of technicians who make research the purpose of life, unlike those who have to build winning cars at all costs in order to get money from the sponsor".
All things considered, the World Champion machine is traditional. The connecting mechanisms between the front and rear suspensions have also disappeared, and only the adjustments of the bars remain; the engine is the tested 12-cylinder and the gearbox has 5 gears. The aerodynamic device of the lower part of the bodywork, enclosed by the famous side skirts, is perhaps less effective than in other cars, but a virtue has been found precisely in this limit to dynamic downforce; in fact, many manufacturers have already learned the hard way that if you want to overdo the wing-car concept, you end up losing rather than gaining. There are still two races to go, and we will probably have confirmations for some points and variations for others. In any case, the Ferrari 312 T4 was the best single-seater of the year. Laffite, Jody Scheckter's direct opponent in the fight for the title, saw his ambitions fade at Monza. A trivial failure, the brake pedal bent against the clutch pedal, caused him trouble, until he ran into an over-rev that broke the engine. Although beaten, Laffite does not appear demoralized at the end of the race.
"Scheckter won with full merit, and it's only right that I congratulate him. To be beaten by Ferrari, a great team with a great tradition, is in a sense an honour. It was worse to finish behind another team, like Williams".
Did you sincerely hope you could beat the Maranello cars?
"Yes, I think if I had the chance to finish the race, maybe I would have finished ahead of Scheckter and Villeneuve. We had tires that turned out to be faster than the Ferraris in the end. Just look at the lap times set by Regazzoni, who used the same type of tyres, to evaluate my chances".
"Clay is crazy, he kicked me out".
Contrasting, of course, the version of the Ticino:
"Nothing is true. Piquet complained against me saying that I was going in a zig-zag, that at the exit of the chicane I made the wrong gear and that I still hindered him in the corner. All stories. The race director saw very well what happened and said nothing. A sign that what Piquet said didn't happen. One, if he wants to pass me, must come in front of me. And the Brazilian has never succeeded".
The Swiss appeared calm. Also because he had positive news from Williams at Monza.
"Ninety percent I stay with the Arabs. I'll still have fun".
To see him on the podium at Monza. while raising Villeneuve's arm as if to acknowledge part of the credit for his victory, Jody Scheckter seems the embodiment of happiness. Everyone dreams of being able to arrive on that podium, that of the World Champion. Fruit money, the blade and the admiration, which have always been the cornerstones of the life and hopes of Jody Scheckter. To explain why he decided to be a Formula 1 driver, Scheckter never spent many words. Running is nice, but if you can earn good money by running, it's even better. Like many of his colleagues, he grew up among the engines, the oil stains, the dream cars that his father kept in the garage in East London, South Africa, where he was born on January 29, 1950. One day the garage was used by the Ferrari to keep the cars that were to participate in the Grand Prix. Scheckter was in his early twenties. Given the Ferraris, he thought it was absurd to stay in South Africa if somewhere in the world there were cars like those to drive. He left for England aged 21, with £300 in his pocket and little else. The process was the one common to many: Formula Ford, Formula 3. Formula 2, many useless races done only in the hope that sooner or later someone will notice that you are the best. It only took Scheckter a year to prove it: in 1972 McLaren offered him a car for the US Eastern Grand Prix and confirmed him for the following season. Jody was in a hurry, she thought she had already learned all there was to learn, and of course she was wrong. Everyone still remembers his accident in France with Fittipaldi in 1973 (and Fittipaldi almost punched him) and the one at Silverstone, when nine cars were involved in an incredible tangle. And then rear-end collisions, going off the track, endless mistakes.
They said then that he had no brains and that the only thing he cared about was keeping the accelerator fully pressed all the time, even when it wasn't necessary. And yet, already in those years, Enzo Ferrari liked that driver. He saw him on television and appreciated his courage, his mad determination to arrive before the others anyway. In 1974 Tyrrell called him to replace Stewart, and the first victories rained down. In 1977 he switched to Wolf and finished second in the World Championship. Ferrari tried to sign him, but it was not possible. He booked it for the following year, and in Monte-Carlo Scheckter signed the contract in great secrecy. He said later that he accepted for a very simple reason, he wanted to win the Formula 1 World Championship. He was 28 years old and had little time to waste. The only team that for seriousness, ability, organization, prestige could guarantee him this result was Ferrari. He knew, he said, that he should have worked harder, engaged in long, interminable tests that break your bones and make you never want to drive. But it is just that, in any field. The price of success. He refined his longshoreman's language, learned to behave like a civilized person who must represent not just a Formula 1 team, but one of the most famous industries in the world. It's truly amazing how much Scheckter changed that after just one year at Ferrari. Not only in character, but also in driving style, which has become more cautious, more attentive. Married, happy father of Toby, born last year, lives in Monte-Carlo, where he has opened an office which he uses to invest his money. And while the office telexes buzz and business goes on, he runs to the beach to keep in shape. And to those who approach him to ask if he is really Jody Scheckter, he replies:
"No, I look like many people have already said that".
"I'm happy for Jody, who deserved this title as he has been very consistent throughout the year. He's a friend and I could only let him win the title. I hope to have my chances next year. I haven't been very lucky in this championship. Suffice it to recall the Monte-Carlo, Zolder and Zandvoort races. I lost precious points that would have allowed me to stay in contention. Now there is nothing more to do. Let's celebrate champion Jody Scheckter".
Naturally the next two races will not be tackled in the same spirit by Ferrari, even if the Maranello team will show up on the track to honor the prestigious title they just won. Most likely, engineer Forghieri, the team's technical manager, will no longer go to the races to stay in the factory and prepare the cars for the future. What does this future hold for Ferrari? The answer is quite simple. There has been a lot of talk about it in recent days. The famous 312 T5 is in the pipeline and is beginning to take on a precise configuration. There is talk of the turbo engine and even more advanced aerodynamics. In a couple of months, this car could almost certainly make its debut for testing on the Fiorano track. Will it be the winning weapon for the next championship? Maybe. Ferrari has got used to us well by now and with two drivers like Scheckter and Villeneuve it can reach any goal. At the age of forty, celebrated on Wednesday 5 September 1979, the most popular, folkloric, funny guy is still him, Clay Regazzoni. It seems that the Swiss driver is experiencing a second youth, and he still proves it with the third place conquered in Monza, despite the problems he ran into during practice which had made him nervous a lot. In the two days preceding the race, few would have bet on his placement. At pit stops Clay waved his hands, palms down, to indicate that his Williams didn't want to be on the road. Contrary to usual, he replied with abrupt monosyllables to those who questioned him on the developments of the situation. The withdrawal of his license for speeding by the Swiss policemen must have irritated him quite a bit, so much so that Regazzoni, who has never shied away from controversy, once again did not deny himself, racing the Italian Grand Prix with the helmet without the Swiss cross. He must have been beside himself because; seeing Regazzoni without the red cross helmet is like waking up in the morning and discovering that the Statue of Liberty in Manhattan no longer holds the torch. Then, in the race, he was the only one who gave the impression of giving the two Ferraris trouble, even setting the fastest lap. This placement probably definitively closes the period of uncertainty during which the Swiss had spoken bitter words towards the team sponsored by the sheikhs, making it almost certain that the mutual relationship will break.
"Almost certainly I will stay with Williams, with whose executives I will have a meeting on Monday evening to define a possible contract for 1980. There remains a ten percent negative possibility in which case I will have to see if I can marry someone else".
"It's like to make love, it takes two. We don't know how things will go anyway even if we wanted it, he must want it too".
How much interest, this year, for the new forty-year-old Formula 1 playboy. Speaking of Alfa, which here in Monza is making its debut with Giacomelli, during the race, after the enthusiasm of the public raised by the passages of Scheckter and Villeneuve at the finish line was always followed by a moment of silence, before the applause flared up again when Bruno Giacomelli appeared, closely following Niki Lauda's Brabham-Alfa in his Alfa Romeo. Up until the time of his retirement, the Lombard driver led an exciting race. He was seventh, and could have overtaken the Austrian (from whom, on lap 28, he had reduced the gap to just over a second) when he made a braking error at the entrance to the Ascari chicane. Some say that Giacomelli dared too much, caught up in his enthusiasm, when he arrived close to Lauda.
"Instead, I ran into a trivial mistake, which had already happened to me a couple of times before. Taking my foot off the accelerator the toe touched under the brake pedal. An infinitesimal fraction of time that delayed my braking action. It was enough to go long and end up in the sand".
Despite this - given the retirements and if the overtaking had succeeded he could have been fourth - Alfa Romeo does not complain, on the contrary there is satisfaction, as admitted by the engineer Chiti himself:
"We consider it a more than positive debut, after all I don't care if Giacomelli had finished sixth, fifth or fourth. The important thing is to have seen that the car is competitive in terms of engine and chassis. and that the pilot is there. I told Bruno to pull and not let go and he was one of the few to overtake. In any case, it's good that Lauda got to the bottom of it: he still has an Alfa engine, doesn't he? As for Giacomelli, it must be said that the eighteenth time he obtained in qualifying does not reflect the truth. With only one set of time-tested tires that Goodyear gave us, Alfa Romeo not being a preferential team, and which Bruno perhaps didn't know how to exploit properly, his position in the ninth row was not the real one. We will be able to do much more if the Anglo-American company treats us better in the future".
Giacomelli, who started with a perfect choice of timing, only began to progress in the twentieth lap:
"At the beginning I lapped slowly because the car understeered excessively in the fast corners. Then things got better. The new Alfa needs to be improved, but it has already demonstrated what it's worth today. Perhaps, in 1980, we will be able to start in the very first positions. The way it went, I'm just mad at myself. I never delayed braking and, where I went out, I regularly braked at 130 meters before the chicane, as I always have".
The president of Alla Romeo, Ettore Massacesi, is happy:
"Nice race by Giacomelli, too bad it ended early. Well done also Vittorio Brambilla".
"It turned out better than I hoped. I had problems with the non-slip gummed paper placed on the pedal board, which melted with the heat, sticking to the soles of my shoes. No psychological problems, I consider my return to be positive. As for the rumors that Regazzoni gave to Alfa in 1980, I don't know what to say. I think I have given a lot to the Milanese house, the Alta has done the same for me, and my return today confirms it. I feel like racing again, and I think I've always done my duty. If they don't want me anymore, I'll be immensely sorry."
Maranello. At Ferrari the day after the triumph. It would be a day like any other. Workers in their usual places. At least a smile:
"Yesterday it was strong".
Then, the usual work. This seems to be the style of the factory. Ferrari thinks that a man must know how to win and must know how to lose, and in any case he must start over every morning with the same commitment and courage. He too, the day after his triumph, was the first to arrive at the factory as always. He's a man approaching eighty-two, he's just won his twenty-third World Championship and it's highly probable that he's already working towards his twenty-fourth title.
"He is a hard worker. An extremely demanding man: he gives his best and asks for the best. Accept only perfection".
Remember Mario Andretti. The factory is as if besieged by journalists, photographers and commentators from all over the world. But Ferrari is in his office as in a bunker, he doesn't receive, he makes the courteous Dr. Franco Gozzi, head of the press office say:
"Thanks for so much attention, but there is no official communication or comment from either Enzo Ferrari or Ferrari".
No one in the world, at a time like this, would renounce a statement. Nobody, except Enzo Ferrari. It's done like this. Meanwhile, in Maranello it is a day like any other, with the Ferrari fans who come as if on a pilgrimage. About fifty Englishmen from the Ferrari owner club arrive by bus, visit the factory and who knows what they would give to see the great old man, even if only for a moment. But he doesn't show himself, and someone imagines him in his office just enjoying the triumph. He said about himself:
"In the joy of an hour I have always found a thousand reasons not to be happy. My joys have never given me happiness. Each victory carried with it an indelible specter. Either the victory was only the alleviation of my pain, or it was already a cause for concern for what awaited me next".
Franco Gozzi says:
"It's always a coming and going. Then on Saturday, 1200-1300 people arrive: associations, delegations, Ferrari clubs from all over the world".
Luca di Montezemolo was also present on Sunday, but he is at home and the doors are open to him. A comment on Sunday's run?
"Not since 1975, with Regazzoni and Lauda, first and third at Monza, has there been a day like this".
"Job. Ferrari wins and sells more".
"It is the recognition of the work of our factory, of all of us. Today we think we make the best cars in the world".
But they don't have much time to talk, soon the siren will call for the resumption of work. A word with engineer Mauro Forghieri. Which pilot from the past does Scheckter remind him of?
"Nobody. Scheckter is Scheckter. He is a rider who has tried to get the most out of it and has succeeded. He also knew how to seize luck the moment it presented itself. And this too is a great merit for a rider".
"He is the first driver who reminded me of Jim Clark. He is truly the man who has the taste for victory".
A joking question: how many Grands Prix will Villeneuve have to win before paying Ferrari for the damages caused, all those smashed cars? Forghieri replies seriously:
"I think he has already amply repaid us".
How did Ferrari discover Villeneuve?
"He saw it on television two years ago at Silverstone. He liked it immediately, and then the boy didn't cost much".
While Gilles Villeneuve prepares for the race scheduled for Sunday 19 September 1979, in Imola, Tuesday 11 September 1979 Jody Scheckter spends his first real day of rest for a long time now. In his home in Monte-Carlo, together with sweet Pamela and his little son Toby, the new Formula 1 World Champion savors a day of family intimacy without talking to anyone. On Monday 10 September 1979, in great secrecy, in order not to be surprised by photographers and journalists, Jody was in Maranello in the afternoon to meet Enzo Ferrari. What the manufacturer and the South African driver said to each other will remain a secret, perhaps noted only in the diary that Ferrari compiles every day. Scheckter awaited the moment to meet Ferrari with deep emotion.
"I have to thank him for the opportunity he gave me to drive his cars".
"Gilles and I, despite the right rivalry, are true friends. On Sunday, after the Italian Grand Prix, we had dinner together, side by side, with the mechanics and team managers. There was bad for my victory. He confessed it to me quietly. Now I can say that the Canadian and I had engaged in a kind of game that in the end proved to be correct for the award of the title. During the qualifying tests, depending on our placement, we gave ourselves the same score that is assigned in the race. Well, before Monza I was leading by 2 points. However, when they assigned Gilles a better time on Saturday morning than he had actually achieved, I told him: this doesn't count. And in fact then the jury of the timekeepers had canceled it".
Can you tell what exactly are the rules of conduct for two Ferrari drivers in the race?
"Of course. There is only one fixed rule. We don't have to fight stupidly against each other, as indeed our predecessors did. It would be stupid to do the opposite and so far we have respected this team requirement".
What's in the future of Ferrari on a technical level?
"An answer that engineer Forghieri should give. Of course, if we had a turbocharged engine available, it would be better for a wing-car type car".
Are you thinking of a Formula 1 of small manufacturers or of big car manufacturers?
"It will become increasingly difficult for private teams to stand out. Better a Formula 1 with the big manufacturers like Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Renault. However, it must be recognized that in the last 7-8 years racing has lived on the shoulders of small teams".
Does it matter more today the driver or the car? Lauda maintains that the conductor determines the results in a higher percentage than the car.
"Lauda's is a subjective opinion, albeit a respectable one. In my opinion, in the past a good driver could do well even with a moderately good single-seater. Today it is impossible to emerge if you don't have a competitive car available for the whole season. And this is Ferrari's main merit: always being at the top".