The Swedish Grand Prix scheduled for Saturday 17 June 1978 is being highly anticipated, because if Andretti and Peterson confirmed the superiority shown in Zolder and Jarama, the Formula 1 World Championship would practically be over, turning into a Formula Lotus. In fact, the last two successes of Colin Chapman's team were enough to throw panic in the Grand Prix circus, powerless in front of the superiority of the black single-seaters. A kind of inferiority complex has arisen, which ends up affecting the drivers and technicians of all the opposing teams. Another en plain in Anderstorp, and nobody would be strong enough to react, at least in the short term. Not only would Lotus race on rails as they currently say, but on velvet, as things would become even easier for the Italian-American and the Swede, who are now leading the standings. This speech is long and difficult though. Beating the fastest men right now (moreover, the rivalry between Mario and Ronnie is proving to be useful as it increases the competitiveness of both drivers) and the best car is hard, especially on their favorite turf, as it will happen on the Swedish track. Helped in a decisive way by Goodyear which supplies them with the best tyres, Lotus actually have the possibility of obtaining an exceptional third consecutive win and putting a mortgage on the title, also taking advantage of the disorientation of its opponents. Let’s see the reasons that led to this situation. Colin Chapman has worked really well with the Lotus 79. Based on the experiences obtained with the 78, which had already proved to be extremely competitive on certain circuits, the English manufacturer has developed a car which does not appear to have any more vulnerable points. The two best features of the new machine are the weight distribution with aerodynamics and the braking system. By moving the cockpit forward, Chapman achieved a perfect balance for the Lotus, the best compromise for fast and slow tracks. Furthermore, with exceptional braking, Chapman was able to use the Cosworth engine. The best demonstration was in Jarama, when Andretti overtook James Hunt.
The Englishman was forced into braking and when he tried to stay close to the Italian-American for a few laps he ended up deteriorating the efficiency of his McLaren's engine. A sign that he had to push more than allowed to follow the pace of his rival who was turning with great ease. Even though the result in Spain does not lead to positive considerations, Ferrari remains Lotus' fiercest rival. At this point, however, some clarifications need to be made. The Italian team won't have the chance to make up for the technical and psychological gap it currently has with the English team if it can't work serenely. Two failures were enough, after the exaltation of the victories in Brazil and Long Beach, to immediately unleash a series of controversies. The Michelin tyres, which had been praised beyond what was permitted, suddenly became inferior to the Goodyears, the Ferrari became an outdated car, the two drivers became two incompetents who must be replaced within a very short time. In addition to this, it turned out that the Maranello team doesn't have a real team manager who knows how to solve all the problems. It seems to us that everything is a little exaggerated. Of course, if we start saying that Ferrari is contacting Scheckter and Hunt, Reutemann won't be happy, as will Villeneuve. Reutemann needs to be encouraged, followed up, advised. This is the only way to avoid another sensational defeat in Sweden. As far as the car is concerned, we can be sure that the technical staff led by engineer Mauro Forghieri is working hard to bring Ferrari back to the level of Lotus. Meanwhile, Enzo Ferrari is looking for a driver for next season. It is no mystery that the Modena-based manufacturer does not seem too satisfied with the results obtained since the beginning of this season, therefore he would be willing to replace at least one of the two drivers at his disposal in 1979, either Reutemann or Villeneuve. In the days leading up to the Swedish Grand Prix, Scheckter and Hunt are named as candidates to drive the cars from Maranello. But the most sensational name seems to be that of Niki Lauda, who could make a sensational return to Ferrari. It's unbelievable but true. It all originated from a sudden trip that the Austrian champion made to Bologna with his personal jet.
As in the old days, when he went regularly to Maranello, Niki landed in the Emilian city and disappeared for a few hours. Then he came back, took the plane again, destination Salzburg. What did he go to Italy for? Talking to his Parmesan sponsor? Or was he at Alfa to solicit better preparation from Brabham? The trip was probably due to one of these reasons, but it is also possible that Lauda went to Ferrari to talk about the future. The World Champion is disappointed by Brabham: he wanted to demonstrate that even with a car other than Ferrari he would have been the best but he didn't succeed. Therefore, it would be logical for him to rethink his attitude towards the Maranello team. Jody Scheckter, one of the drivers considered interesting, asked by Enzo Ferrari is said to have requested a scary engagement. Without considering that the South African, it seems, would be willing to start his own business, completely taking over the team from Wolf who seems willing to leave Formula 1. There is also talk of James Hunt, but the Englishman's position is not the best. The fact that he is eventually released by McLaren does not speak in his favour. The name of Mario Andretti has also made a comeback. However, if the Italian-American wins the world title with Lotus, who will be able to snatch it from Colin Chapman's team? To sum up, the hypothesis of a return of Lauda does not seem so remote. It is true that the Austrian has a contract that binds him with Parmalat-Brabham until 1979, but even these obstacles can be overcome when somebody wants it. In any case, however, these rumors will end up putting Carlos Reutemann in a hard position, seeing the possibility of a confirmation slip away. While talking about future events, Thursday 15 June 1978 Formula 1 goes up North. The appointment for the eighth race of the 1978 World Championship is in Sweden, on the Anderstorp circuit, lost among woods and lakes. Every year, 100.000 fans gather there to see the aces of the wheel at work.
The Anderstorp circuit (in fact, it is an airport runway connected to a track that is used only for the occasion) is 4031 meters long, 13 meters more than in previous years due to a modification requested and obtained by Niki Lauda for safety reasons (one additional curve at the end of the straight opposite the garage). The course record is held by Patrick Depailler (Tyrrell, 1974) in 1'27"2 (average 165.785 km/h). The change made this year would suggest higher times, but this will almost certainly not be the case. In fact, during trials performed about twenty days earlier, Ronnie Peterson set a time of 1'23"1 at an average speed of 174 km/h. After Peterson go Lauda, Scheckter, Depalller, Patrese, Alan Jones, Reutemann, Jabouille and Vllleneuve. The various teams that came to Anderstorp before the Belgian Grand Prix tested not only the new circuit but also and above all the tyres. The two Ferraris, with the radial Michelins, set times of 1'24"8 (Reutemann) and 1'24"7 (Villleneuve), while Jabouille, with the compressor-equipped Renault RS 01, did not go below 1' 29"9. Ferrari fans shouldn't have too many illusions: Anderstorp is traditionally a difficult circuit for the cars of the Maranello team, with the exception of 1975, which saw the triumph of Lauda, who started in the third row and finished first on the finish line, ahead of Reutemann (who had tyre problems in the final), Regazzoni and Andretti (Lauda's average 161.600 km/h, his fastest lap was also in 1'28"2, at an average of 163.875 km/h), In in fact, this circuit with fast corners is not too suitable for Ferraris, which suffer from set-up problems. Practice begins on Thursday and continues on Friday. The Grand Prix will take place on Saturday, to avoid coinciding with the football World Cup in Argentine. Twenty-seven riders went around the track this morning, twenty-two of whom directly qualified; the other five will have to compete for the remaining two places available. The Lotus aces Andretti and Peterson are more than favorites and will be looking for the third consecutive one-two on Saturday. On Wednesday evening, during a press conference, Peterson confirmed that he was in perfect shape and that he was more than certain, together with his teammate, of being able to be faster than any opponent by at least half a second per lap.
"Our cars go like rockets, and hardly ever have any mechanical problems. On this circuit, with fast corners and a flat track, winning will be very easy".
Anderstorp's characteristics that favor Lotus, on the other hand, result in a handicap for Ferrari which, as mentioned, has never achieved significant results in Sweden. Among the reasons of greatest interest is Lauda's behavior for the first time here at Anderstorp at the wheel of a non-Maranello car. The Austrian, who has often had arguments and disputes with the Ferrari executives in Sweden, will be able to show what he can do with the Brabham Alfa Romeo BT46, a car that will have to win at one time or another. The test of the Tyrrell team is awaited, which instead has always competed very well. For some reason Anderstorp is congenial to the British team, which in 1976 paraded to the finish line with Scheckter and Depailler first and second. Many eyes were also focused on Brambilla who arrived here in Sweden to even conquer a pole position. The Italian driver on the Surtees TS 19 has several reasons, also thinking about the future, to look for a good placement on a circuit on which he feels comfortable. Patrese on the Arrows is also eagerly awaited while Merzario, on the car that bears his name, will have to seek qualification. Of course, the list of those who can get good placements includes Hunt in the McLaren M26, Watson in the other Brabham Alfa Romeo BT46 and good old Regazzoni in the Shadow DN8. In the Swedish Grand Prix as a whole, we must not forget the Michelin-Goodyear competition, which is taking on ever more dramatic aspects. At Anderstorp, in any case, the Goodyears have always been a negative element for Ferrari. We can hope for better results from Michelin. As always, the unknown factor of the impact that weather has on the race.
There was one storm after another on Wednesday and into the night and it's not hot at all. The forecast for the next few days is for a slow improvement in atmospheric conditions. Once practice is over, as expected, the domination of Mario Andretti and Lotus in Formula 1 continues. The Italian-American was the fastest on the first day of practice, inflicting gaps of more than 1.5 seconds on everyone. Andretti, with the new model 79, laps in 1'22"058, at an average speed of 176.8 km/h. An excellent performance, which recalls those of Belgium and Spain, later crowned by just as many victories. Jody Scheckter, with the Wolf, sets the second best time (1'23"628) in this provisional classification, while Ronnie Peterson, with the second Lotus, sets the third (1'23"710). Also Jean-Pierre Jaboullle's Renault-Turbo manages to get into the top of the standings, as he found himself at ease on the Swedish circuit. However, his time remains slow compared to Andretti's: 1'23"963. Ferrari and Brabham-Alfa have confirmed that Anderstorp is not a suitable track for their single-seaters: Carlos Reutemann, with the 312-T3, lapped in 1'24"237 (more than 2 seconds behind Andretti) obtaining the fifth position, Lauda, with the BT 46, in 1'24"833 (ninth time). For Ferrari, Gilles Vllleneuve finished in seventh place (1'24"473). Brabham-Alfa showed up on the track showing off a new device inspired by the American sports car Chaparral of a few years ago. A large rear fan draws air under the underbelly of the car, improving its grip on the ground and therefore cornering speed. However, the device has already been contested because it would constitute a mobile aerodynamic element, prohibited by regulation. For now, however, Lauda and Watson have not drawn any results from it. But as Niki Lauda's chief mechanic at Brabham, Ermanno Cuoghi, will recall:
"We start the car in the pits and something disturbing happens. There is so much suction from the fan that the BT46 lowers and touches the ground when stationary. In order not to destroy it in the strikes, so much it scratches the ground, we had to remove the 1000lb springs and adopt the 300o ones. Before qualifying Gordon Murray came to me and asked for a full tank of petrol and wooden tires to be loaded. Did I misunderstand? I asked him to repeat. I want a full tank of fuel. We are too strong. We have to bluff, go slower, otherwise we will be disqualified. Said and done. With 210 liters of petrol we are second and third on the grid...".
Once again Riccardo Patrese, with the Arrows, has won the right to have the best treatment in the choice of tires by Goodyear. The Italian obtained the tenth absolute time (1'25"196), and seventh among the drivers driving cars with tires from the American company. The other selected will be Alan Jones, with Williams, eleventh with a time of 1' 25"375. In the afternoon the sun disappears, the wind begins to pick up and it begins to get cold; a meteorological situation that in theory should have favored Ferrari. Instead, the Lotus went wild and the times dropped dramatically. At the end of the session with a broad smile, Mario Andretti says:
"I'm fine, no problem".
Behind him follows Ronnie Peterson. The Swede's times, about a second higher than those of his teammate, are in any case sufficient for second position. Only on the last lap, when everyone is looking at their watches and waiting for the siren announcing the end of the hour of practice, did Scheckter record a slightly inferior performance to that of Peterson. Team Lotus boss Colin Chapman comments on the team's test with a few laconic words:
"We have no reason to complain".
Ferrari, which had given much hope in the morning (Vllleneuve had also gone well) were unable to keep up with the others. Reutemann sails for a long time in eighth place and only at the end he climbs up three positions. The mechanics of the Maranello team state:
"We are more or less in the positions we expected".
But Reutemann is more optimistic:
"I have the impression that we can improve a lot".
Lauda doesn't get the hang of it and loses one position after another. In the end, almost three seconds separate him from Andretti. Very tense, the Austrian says at the end of the rehearsals:
"A few problems, we'll see tomorrow".
As for the Italians, Riccardo Patrese says:
"I started badly and ended up growing up".
While Vittorio Brambilla:
"I'm not satisfied".
"I count on managing to qualify".
On Friday 16 June 1978, one and a half hour of practice will take place in the morning without official timing and one hour of official practice in the afternoon. We will see if Reutemann and Vllleneuve will be able to improve. Andretti, however, seems unattainable. It is highly probable that after the Swedish Grand Prix the Lotus mechanics will be forced to change jerseys. In fact, the current ones, inaugurated here in Anderstorp, bear the sentence: Lotus team - won two one two, which will almost certainly no longer be current. Unfortunately, three would no longer allow phonetic equality (won-one) or rhyme (two-two). Seriously, everything points to a new clamorous victory for the English team which seems to have no opponents, not encountering any difficulties, not suffering the slightest mishap or annoyance. Andretti and Peterson are driving perfectly, and it is everyone's opinion that Scheckter's second fastest time is nothing more than a singular coincidence. The Anderstorp circuit has always been congenial to the Lotus, which, however, never reached the finish line first due to a series of fatalities, from the violent tirades that broke the engines to the lack of petrol one lap from the end. Chapman's cars, however, this year are pulling and resisting and since they are decidedly faster than the others, they have the best chance of finishing first. Possibility, of course, and not certainty because anything can happen in a race. However, if, as it seems possible, Andretti and Peterson leave on their own (and, by contract, they won't be able to battle each other) the game will be done. The reaction of the other teams to this Lotus superiority is interesting. From Ferrari to Brabham, from Renault to Tyrrell, the fact is accepted almost immediately. There is a kind of resignation around, which is even disheartening. They're going faster, everyone says, and that they naturally includes cars and drivers. Logically, the various competitors still work hard and do everything possible, but it is as if they had realized that the battle is lost. And, undoubtedly, today, the Lotus team is the most competitive and for reasons of pride and prestige also the most aggressive. All of this, despite some surges: yesterday, for example, on the first day of practice, both Reutemann and Lauda fought really conscientiously and for a long time, even obtaining brilliant results at the beginning. One issue hasn't come up, at least for now. That of the tires because the type of tires used, at least as we have seen, was not really decisive. So what's wrong with the other cars?
Probably nothing in particular, just that the Lotus are faster. As widely expected, Mario Andretti, with the Lotus 79, will start on pole position at the start of the Swedish Grand Prix. On the other hand, it was not expected that he would have John Watson's Brabham-Alfa Romeo at his side instead of teammate Ronnie Peterson's car. In the second row another Brabham Alfa, that of Niki Lauda, and Peterson, and then, in the third row, Riccardo Patrese, with the Arrows, and Jody Scheckter, with the Wolf. Finally here are the Ferrari of Gilles Vllleneuve and Carlos Reutemann. The tests therefore brought confirmations (Andretti and, in a minor key, Peterson) and news (the incredible relaunch of the Brabham-Alfa Romeos and Patrese's exploit). For Ferrari it is something in between. The Maranello team came to Sweden without too many pretensions, given that the circuit is traditionally hostile to them, and training reaffirmed that it was a logical attitude, extinguishing any hope of improvements. On Friday, the fans mounted on the cars of Lauda and Watson are at the center of attention which, according to Andretti, are an attack on the safety of those traveling behind the Austrian and the Irishman. In fact, the fan sucks in air from underneath the car and therefore also stones, oil and tire particles, then spits them out on those who follow. Representatives of manufacturers have discussed whether the system is legal or not in a series of meetings and for the moment nothing has been done about it. It may be that someone files a complaint (probably Lotus) and then there would be something really fun to watch. In fact, there are those who deny that the fan is regulated (considering it actually an aerodynamic element), while others interpret the regulation in a completely different way and say that there is nothing to complain about in this regard. Ferrari declares that it will not protest. Merit or not of the fan (an invention, even if not new, entirely Brabham, specifies the English team), the cars of Watson and Lauda have improved their positions by a lot (even 2 seconds compared to Thursday), suggesting that on Saturday it could be a battle for victory. Behind Andretti, of course. Peterson (again at Anderstorp) was very unlucky. He was going very well (third time overall), when a small stone (from the fan of a Brabham?) broke his radiator. He returned to the pits with the water thermometer showing 130 °C and the impossibility of continuing with the tests. In the Lotus garage you can breathe optimism, but not excessive, perhaps out of prudence or superstition. Instead, Patrese rejoices.
"I did very well: I could have improved by a few hundredths of a second if I hadn’t been slowed down by several competitors".
The Italian driver (the fifth place he obtained is the best of his career) hopes to have a good race if the car resists. At Ferrari - "This year we have much fewer problems than in the past" - we are not under any illusions. The results given by the Michelin tires are interesting - "They offer us more, and perhaps we are not far from the optimal point which could also occur during the race" - given that Vllleneuve was by a hair's breadth faster than Reutemann. We'll see if the Canadian manages to make it to the finish line with the car intact on Saturday. The Argentinian is not too optimistic. We must not forget that this year the Ferrari start in a much better position than in 1977 (at the time Reutemann had qualified twelfth and Lauda fifteenth). The one who disappoints is Scheckter, overtaken by no less than five riders compared to Thursday's practice.
"I gave my best, but it’s evident that the others are faster than me".
Vittorio Brambilla was also disappointed, hoping for a better result. In his eagerness to place himself, he went off the road a couple of times, without consequences, but was unable to go further than P18. Arturo Merzario, who starts from the penultimate row, is pleased to have managed to qualify. For Italian motorsport enthusiasts it is pointless to have too many illusions. The starting line-up, with the Lotus and Brabham-Alfa Romeo ahead of the Ferrari, more or less says it all: the cars from Maranello, for the moment, are hardly making it anymore against the competitors. The only hope for the Italians lies with Patrese, who in Sweden seems to have found the form and the always necessary pinch of luck when racing in a Formula 1 race. In the meantime, in the paddock we learn that Colin Chapman says that Andretti, if he wins the world title, will in all likelihood leave Formula 1 and that in this case Peterson will take his place as lead driver at Lotus. The Swede, usually of few words, declares himself flattered, but at the same time sets up a controversy against Villeneuve, defining him as a wild madman who has excellent driving skills but who deserves to be knocked down, as he is dangerous for himself and for others. Violent contrasts, then, for the Brabham-Alfa Romeo fans, whose presence at Anderstorp was accepted by force of circumstances, but who will have a very difficult life, it is supposed, in the future. As often happens, everyone interprets the regulation differently and each denies what the other says. What is certain is that these fans, with the outline of the side skirts (as the mechanics call the plastic edges that suck the air from under the car like a vacuum cleaner) seem to have to be the main topic for quite some time. It is interesting to note that Brabham claims paternity of the invention against Alfa Romeo (which is then a return to a solution already adopted and then abandoned for safety reasons) that Alfa Romeo, while accepting the improvement that the car has made to record, seems to want to leave all responsibility in this regard to the British team.
It should also be noted that in Sweden there have not been, at least until now, the big and well-known problems with the tyres. Michelin does its own business and so does Goodyear, and everyone seems happy. As happy the Ferrari executives seem for the starting position on the fourth row, an improvement from 1977 but undoubtedly not adequate for the prestige of the Maranello team. Happiest of all, and rightly so, was Riccardo Patrese, who prayed that the car would hold on until the end of the seventy laps. To make it go fast, he assures us, he will take care of it. Shares on the rise, of course, at Brabham-Alfa Romeo, with the exploits of the last round of tests. It may or may not be the miniskirts, it is certain that today Watson and Lauda start in an excellent position. In any case, the one who sails safely is Chapman, with Andretti and Peterson that are unleashed. The only doubt is about the new engine of the Swede instead of the one knocked out by the usual stone (perhaps ejected from the fan of a Brabham?). On the other hand, there is an air of discontent at Tyrrell (a team that has always done very well in Sweden), and the same goes for Jabouille, who was hoping for a better result, not to mention Brambilla. One thing needs to be highlighted: even though we continue to believe that Andretti will do the race on his own, we think that an interesting fight could ignite behind him. Peterson's new engine, the grit (or fan) of the Brabham-Alfa Romeos and Patrese's determination leave us hopeful. Finally, not even the Lotuses are invulnerable (and Peterson's bad luck proves it), which is why one can always hope. It should be noted that Theodore Racing abandons the World Championship, at least temporarily, given the lack of competitiveness of its single-seater. The hypothesis was raised that the Hong Kong team could continue its commitment by purchasing an Arrows, or by falling back on the use of a McLaren M23; however, its driver, Keke Rosberg, had to find a steering wheel at ATS, replacing Alberto Colombo. In this Grand Prix Dr. Sid Watkins makes his debut as official race doctor. In the end, a melancholic note: Gunnar Nilsson, Patrese's teammate, had promised to be present, but the doctors wouldn't let him leave the hospital. The cancer that is destroying him little by little, as it doesn't allow him, in fact, to submit to such an overwork. Formula 1, the race of great aces, of beautiful women from the brilliant and famous jet set, evidently also has its tragic and very sad side.
Raceday arrives with another political cloud hanging over the F1 paddock, with Lotus leading a quintet of protests against the Brabham cars. Their protests are, however, to be wave away by the organizers without hesitation, meaning both Niki Lauda and John Watson will take the start. They duly lines up betwixt the two Loti of Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson, with the American racer awaiting the flash of the starter's lights from pole position. Mario Andretti just manages to fend off Niki Lauda through the first corner. Unfortunately for Watson his hopes of a victory are instantly destroyed, for a mix-up with his gear selection sees him limp away from the grid. The Ulsterman's poor getaway duly balked Peterson, but gives Lauda some space on the outside of the circuit to challenge Andretti around the outside of turn one. The American realizes this and subsequently allows his Lotus to run out wide, while Riccardo Patrese sneaks his Arrows into third as Watson got himself together. The rest of the opening tour pass without issue, meaning Andretti still lead Lauda at the end of the first lap and a half at the Scandinavian Raceway, with a noticeable gap opening up between them down the straights, only to close to nothing through the corners. They already have a fair gap back to Watson, whom has smuggle his Brabham back into third, although Patrese and Peterson are hounding him relentlessly. A few yards behind them comes Jody Scheckter leading the two Ferraris and Alan Jones, while the two McLarens are still running outside of the top ten. Early on the second lap and Patrese slips the Arrows back ahead of Watson's Brabham, the Ulsterman seeming to be lacking top end speed at the end of the straights. Peterson will also slip past the Brabham, with Watson ultimately running wide trying to respond and duly fill his radiator with gravel. That will hamper his attempts to get back into third, with Patrese and Peterson still fighting hard. Indeed, all the action during the early laps will come from the three way tussle for third, for Andretti and Lauda at the head of the field had simply disappear. Both the American and the Austrian are pushing as hard as they can to try and break the other's car and/or confidence, and are pulling almost a second a lap ahead of Patrese and co. with every tour of Anderstorp.
The pair seems to be evenly matchs, with the Lotus seemingly superior in a straight line, while the Brabham is able to sweep back onto its tail through the longer. Peterson, meanwhile, will eventually force his way ahead of Patrese, lunging past the Italian into turn one before trying to sprint clear. Unfortunately for the home fans, however, the Swede will pick up a puncture during his escape, and duly drops to seventeenth as he has a new set of Goodyear tyres apply. He soon begins to battle back through the field, while Patrese continues to defend third from Watson. Elsewhere Jones is putting in a terrific display, battling past both Gilles Villeneuve and Carlos Reutemann to claim fifth once Peterson disappears. The young Australian racer is soon out of reach from the two scarlet cars, leaving Reutemann and Villeneuve on their own. Behind them, Scheckter iis steadily slipping down the field, while Vittorio Brambilla and Didier Pironi remove each other from the race by bouncing into one-another. Scheckter soon drops out of the race with his engine so hot it’s literally melting its internal components, before one of the Brabhams suddenly goes bouncing off the circuit. That BT46B proves to be that of Watson, who manages to trash his cooling system as he runs onto the dirt attacking Patrese. The Ulsterman should be able to keep going, but a lot of luck he manages to jam the throttle slides shut, leaving the #2 car without any power. Out front, meanwhile, it seems as if the Andretti/Lauda fight will go on until the checkered flag, with both in fine form. That is, until Andretti drifts wide through the re-shape Norra curve, giving the lead to Lauda on lap 37. The American ace tries hard to get back on terms with the Brabham, but his race is over just eight laps later as his Ford Cosworth expires in a dramatic cloud of smoke. With Andretti gone, Lauda is left to claim an imperious victory for the Brabham BT46B. Lauda is therefore left on his own out front, while Patrese is running in a lonely second. That is, until Jones goes charging past the Arrows, only for Patrese to nudge the back of the Williams on the brakes into turn one. That put Jones into a spin, with the Australian racer recovering just ahead of an interesting brawl for fourth. Indeed, with the Ferraris making another double pitstop for fresh Michelin tyres, Patrick Tambay leads a terrific fight involving six drivers. That number soon becomes five when Peterson scythe through the pack, the Lotus simply able to brake later and harder than those in the Tambay train.
Chiti says. But even between Chiti and Ecclestone the hug is sincere, and we even get a kiss on the cheek. Ecclestone is not used to this Italian celebration, but today that's fine. Finally everyone is happy.
An enraged Mario Andretti declares:
"Lauda's victory is irregular. When you follow it, it throws so much dust and debris at you that you have to stop to clean yourself. When the track started to have tire debris left by all the cars and grip became problematic, Brabham with their fan didn't blame anything because the air sucked in from under the car meant the car didn't lose grip".
But despite the controversy, the victory at Anderstorp naturally has a particular flavor for Alfa Romeo because it repays so many efforts.
"I dedicate this race to Doctor Cortesi and Doctor Moro".
In his place comes Ettore Massacesi, a man who knows little or nothing about cars. His is an even more political choice than Cortesi's. A long-time Christian Democrat who is also liked by the Italian Communist Party, Massacesi was personally chosen by Vittorino Colombo, one of the most prominent Christian Democrat exponents in Italy in the 1970s. Massacesi was political secretary in Milan and served for a long time in the CISL, the Christian Democrat union. He is fifty-seven years old, is a student of sociology, organization, and trade unionism in state holdings. In short, everyone was waiting for Mario Andretti and Lotus in the Swedish Grand Prix. Instead, Niki Lauda won with the Brabham-Alfa Romeo equipped with a fan, a device that has aroused lively protests from many teams, who consider its use illegitimate. Given the ongoing complaints, given that the CSI reserves the right to examine the matter, it is not excluded that the Austrian could be disqualified. Riccardo Patrese would take advantage of it, brilliant second with Arrows. The Italian drove perfectly, attacking at the right moment and defending vigorously when attacked by Ronnie Peterson. The Swede finished third, making Lotus’ Day less bitter after Andretti's retirement. Negative notes for Ferrari, grappling with problems of all kinds: from the tyre-suspension complex to the poor performance of the engines, to the distrust of Carlos Reutemann. And a moment of bewilderment seems to invest the entire team: the Argentine finished tenth, preceded in ninth position by his teammate Gilles Villeneuve. If Patrese is second, the situation is less happy for the other Italians. Brambilla is the first to retire due to a collision with Pironi's Tyrrell. The driver from Monza smashes a wheel and a suspension of his Surtees. Merzario has problems with the accelerator and fails to classify. For Niki Lauda it’s a triumphal arrival, while Patrese blocks Peterson's last attack right on the finish line. Then the usual interviews. Lauda, who is in a hurry to get on the plane:
"Today the car went really well. I checked Andretti well and when I felt it was appropriate, I passed him. I had more acceleration and stability. The fan cooled the engine very well and helped me to win".
Riccardo Patrese, just second at the finish line, says that:
"Everything went perfectly, me and the car. I'm very happy. Peterson? He tried to overtake me incorrectly and I defended myself".
"Patrese didn't let me pass closing me in the corner. Incorrect. For the rest, I had bad luck".
While Mario Andretti, unlucky in this circumstance, admits:
"Sweden always brings me bad luck; It's the second time I've changed the engine and another time I ran out of gas. I was overtaken by Lauda, that's true, but the Austrian's car isn't compliant with the rules".
Chapman is also of the opinion that Brabham-Alfa Romeo should be disqualified. Some teams (Surtees, Williams, McLaren) presented complaints against Lauda's car but the stewards of the Grand Prix did not accept them. The CSI, for its part, after a meeting of its delegates, issues a statement, deciding to deal with the matter in the next few days. At Ferrari they only care about their own problems.
"We can't find the tyre-suspension balance; the cars did not meet our expectations".
More or less veiled accusations are addressed to Michelin. Carlos Reutemann admits he went the extra mile:
"I did everything I could, but the car absolutely didn't work. Perhaps it's best that you leave us alone so that we can discuss our problems and see the right solutions".
While Gilles Villeneuve says:
"It seems to me that I raced well and I'm sure that the right moment will come for us too".
On Sunday 18 June 1978, the Swedish press dedicated much space to the Swedish Grand Prix, giving prominence mainly to three topics: the fan of Niki Lauda's Brabham-Alfa, Riccardo Pastrese's race and Ronnie Peterson's test. Opinions are mixed on the fan. Many technicians are of the opinion that it is a justifiable and acceptable device while other experts consider it a dangerous element and not in compliance with the current Formula 1 regulations. Bernie Ecclestone, owner of Brabham, appears even euphoric after the race, serene. Ecclestone is convinced that the various complaints (up to now five have been presented, all rejected, by Lotus, Tyrrell, McLaren, Surtees, and Williams) will inexorably be forgotten. Brabham insists on the theory of the Alfa Romeo 12-cylinder engine cooling and states that the cars presented overheating problems during the season. The fan, according to the technicians of the English team, has now solved the problem. Gordon Murray, designer of the Brabham BT 46 and inventor of the impeller, confirms that this is the main purpose of the contraption. Of course, nobody takes these words at face value, which seem a rather elegant explanation to hide the truth: that the fan sucks air from the belly of the car and creates downforce, improving - due to aerodynamic effect - road holding. The final decision on the legitimacy or otherwise of the system belongs to the CSI, which should define the matter within the week. Meanwhile, the competitors either accept that the Brabhams run cornering glued to the ground or they will try to imitate them, also adopting the famous fan. Mario Andretti, when questioned on the matter, says he does not want any fans in the Lotus and lashes out at Lauda who accepted it with grave danger for the other competitors.
"This was done by him who says he is fighting for the safety of the drivers".
"For once Ronnie was authorized to win (after Andretti's retirement. Ed) he had bad luck".
It is written in the Swedish newspapers, and it is undoubtedly true. Nothing to complain - it is clear - about Lauda's victory. He did his duty as always, making the most of the means available. Few words, Finally, are spent on Ferrari,
"The Italian team has many problems to solve and Reutemann will unlikely be able to compete for the world title".
For the Italian fans, all that remains is to hope that it is a wrong prediction. The Brabham-Alfa with which Niki Lauda won the Swedish Grand Prix on Saturday raises many concerns about its fan. Is the device, according to the Formula 1 regulation, legal or not? It is recalled that the 1970 Model 24 Chaparral was outlawed, but Jim Hall's system on his sports car was different. There was an auxiliary engine of no less than 50 HP which activated two fans which simply sucked in the air from the belly of the car and expelled it from behind, creating a partial vacuum which increased grip. In the Brabham BT 46 a passage channels the air towards the horizontal rear radiators, then the same air exits the rear, sucked in by the fan. This is driven by a shaft coming out of the gearbox. The fan has a diameter of about half a meter and rotates at a significantly lower speed than that of the engine, so as to absorb only about twenty horsepower. The advantages of this solution are many. In the first place, Gordon Murray, Brabham's designer, eliminated the front radiators, which he had been forced to use when he realized that the original futuristic solution (the one with aerodynamic type surface radiators) could not work. However, the BT 46 was born to not have that extra weight in the front and so it got worse. Now it has returned at least to its design conditions, albeit with a higher weight than expected and with less power available to the wheels. The second advantage is that of having a cleaner line, as there are no external radiators. The power absorbed by the fan would still be spent in some way on cooling, so there can be no question of total loss. If anything, there will be a leak in the transmission of motion to the fan, but the Alfa Romeo engine is so powerful that it still leaves a good speed margin. Lauda in Sweden took the lead when he wanted to, then pulling away from Andretti's Lotus thanks to the car's higher speed on the straights. As for the advantage due to the depression under the BT 46, it certainly exists. This is confirmed by the performance of the car itself. And it is an advantage at least equal to that obtainable from Lotus with airfoils. Considering that the vacuum acts on a surface area of a square meter pole, a pressure difference of even one hundredth of a bar represents a load of 200 kilos, sufficient to create a significant additional adhesion. But it could be even more, it all depends on how the Brabham's belly is arranged. The in-depth and almost obsessive reading of the technical regulations, and in particular of article 3.7 on aerodynamic devices, had caught Gordon Murray's attention.
"Devices whose primary function is aerodynamics must remain stationary and fixed with respect to the suspended mass of the car".
"Any specific part of the car having an aerodynamic influence on the stability of the vehicle shall be mounted on the fully sprung part of the car and shall be firmly fixed when the car moves".
Williams indicates in Murray's fan a clear infringement of this rule and declares that he believes the fan mounted in the rear part of the cars is a mobile aerodynamic device, because its primary function is to influence the aerodynamic performance of the car. Frank Williams says that if the complaint is not upheld, he is determined to appeal. On Monday 19 June 1978, Bernie Ecclestone went to Maranello, where he met Enzo Ferrari, also because in the meantime, in Italy, the press wrote about the Brabham:
"You don't gain a second and a half from Spain to Sweden just because the oil and water temperatures drop".
And he accuses Ecclestone of having now also transformed himself into a flying carpet seller, Niki Lauda.
"That he certainly cannot think that he has repaid for the ten-month fast with a return to victory that adds nothing to his qualities as a driver, in case he confirms his reservations on those credited to him".
And the innocent Alfa Romeo, which in the question of the fan only played the role of observer:
"Nor can the Swedish result satisfy Alfa Romeo, if in order to return to victory twenty-seven years later in a Formula 1 Grand Prix it had to wait for the competitive cohabitation between single-seaters-cars and single-seaters-fans to be allowed. Instead of dancing in the Anderstorp pits, kissing Ecclestone and (verbally) attacking the young Ferrari sporting director, perhaps guilty of discussing the possibility of disqualification, engineer Chiti should honestly ask himself whether motorsport, for which he has done so much, must and can be distorted with inventions that smack of knitters of the technique if only because they don't have the courage to admit them".
"Look, my position is this: we can race until the end of the year and certainly win the World Championship. But I think the Constructors’ association is more important".
Ecclestone summons the team principals to discuss together the position to be held in the sports court. The British constructors meet on Thursday 22 June 1978 in London. When he learns about it, Enzo Ferrari condemns the meeting, which effectively creates a separation between the Formula 1 teams because it gives shape to a united front of the English teams against all the other constructors. On Thursday afternoon, FOCA sent a telex to CSI informing it of the decision so that it would take it into account at the meeting to be held in Paris the following day, during which a definitive decision would be taken. In fact, that of the FOCA is a non-binding decision since the Formula 1 constructors can naturally express convictions, but not determine the regulations.
"Having considered the matter in detail, FOCA has decided that certain aspects of the new Brabham fan may not be in accordance with the spirit of the existing regulations. Apart from that, FOCA's predictions of further developments of this principle would result in an increase in cornering speeds of such magnitude that safety precautions on existing circuits would be rendered ineffective".
On Thursday afternoon, in Paris, the FIA took note of the FOCA decision while waiting for its CSI to meet the next day to deliberate. Ferrari dissociates itself from the FOCA note since, despite being part of the Constructors' Association, it was not invited to the London meeting and announces that it will send engineer Forghieri to the Paris meeting the following day. In Rome, the CSAI officially stigmatizes Murray's fan and announces that it has mandated its representative in Paris, engineer Alberto Rogano, to act accordingly. But following the FOCA decision and after the official statement by CSAI, surprisingly, Carlo Chiti reverses the position of Autodelta and Alfa Romeo and claims to have changed his mind. In his opinion, Murray's ventilator needs to be used. If not, he says he hopes that at least the FOCA proposal will be implemented, namely: approval of the victory in the Swedish Grand Prix and the possibility for the BT46 to express itself for three races until the ban on the fan on August 1st. Naturally Chiti doesn't limit himself to hoping but calls Rogano and asks him to at least support the decision of FOCA. But the Italian press writes:
"The major fault of Ecclestone and of the engineer Chiti, who endorses it, is to have promoted a technical misunderstanding with the subterfuge of a banal disguise. Not even having the shame to admit the real purposes of a technical choice, by itself illegitimates the content of the initiative".
"Currently the Austrian rider's victory is taken for granted. In any case, in the event of a complaint from drivers or teams, Lauda's success could be contested. In this case, however, Lauda could in turn present a petition to the FIA tribunal of appeal, which usually meets in the month of October".
In this first meeting, the five discuss for just over two hours. But the discussion is in fact an end in itself since the topics proposed by the constructors are only of a political-sporting nature and not of a technical nature, as the CSI hoped and as Balestre continues to ask while the minutes pass and the time of the other reunion, the one that really matters, is inexorably approaching. Guests of the Automobile Club de France, which has its headquarters here, at 10:30 a.m. The members of the Bureau of the CSI, the body that has the power to decide the course of the Formula 1 season, meet. The agenda leaves no room for interpretation:
"Examining the consequences of the appearance of new aerodynamic systems on motorsport".
Five of the eight members are present: the president Pierre Ugeux, Belgian, and the Frenchman Jean-Marie Balestre, the Englishman Dean Delamont, the German Huschke von Hanstein and the Italian Alberto Rogano. From North America, they let it be known that the American Bindford and the Canadian Hanna cannot make it to Paris, while from Monaco Michel Boeri communicates that he has given power of attorney to Balestre. The meeting is by no means a smooth one, and the outcome is not necessarily obvious. For two and a half hours the five diplomats argue animatedly without finding unanimity. The only thing on which the five are almost in agreement is to discard the proposal made by FOCA, considered illogical. And when in the end it comes to the secret vote, the five vote according to lines that are not technical, but purely of a political-sporting nature. Balestre and Rogano, Italian member of the CSI, vote in favor of the suppression of the fan, who, in spite of Chiti's personal request, votes according to the indications of the CSAI and the changed will of Enzo Ferrari. Delamont and von Hanstein declare themselves against the suppression of the ventilator. And if the former's decision appears obvious given the position taken by the English teams within the FOCA, the latter's decision seems to have been taken thinking about the possibility, or rather the hope, that the Nurburgring will return to the list of circuits where the rounds of the World Championship are held because if it is true that FOCA does not decide on the regulations, it is equally true that FOCA has in fact total freedom in choosing the circuits on which Formula 1 Grand Prix are held. Counting the votes it is two against two even though, it must be said, thanks to Boeri's delegation, Balestre's vote is worth double. But it is a fact that the vote of Ugeux, who is the president of the CSI Bureau, could bring the position back to a tie, three against three, and to a stalemate that could have lethal consequences for Formula 1, such as a freeze on the season in progress, with all that it could entail. But since motor racing has always been a great and in some ways paradoxical role-playing game, the Frenchman Ugeux votes and decrees the end of the very short life of the Brabham fan.
"Following the Swedish Grand Prix an inquiry was ordered, in which the views of the manufacturers and drivers were heard, and the Brabham car was appraised. Faced with the problems posed by these new techniques in terms of safety in general and in particular on the infrastructure of existing circuits, the Bureau of the CSI has decided to ban fans with immediate effect".
After the meeting, Bernie Ecclestone does not seem upset by the decision of the CSI.
"I accept and I'm fine with it".