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#328 1979 United States Grand Prix

2021-12-02 00:00

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#1979, Fulvio Conti,

#328 1979 United States Grand Prix

While Niki Lauda buys aeroplanes in Los Angeles for his business and thinks about a future without a Formula 1 single-seater, avoiding risks and contr

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While Niki Lauda buys aeroplanes in Los Angeles for his business and thinks about a future without a Formula 1 single-seater, avoiding risks and controversies, the World Championship is getting closer to the end. There is only one Grand Prix left, the United States-East Grand Prix, scheduled on Sunday at Watkins Glen, which will be the end of season 1979. The title has already been secured by Jody Scheckter and Ferrari, which conquered it at Monza three weeks ago by winning the Grand Prix of Italy. It only has to be decided who will be the vice-champion, but the current situation leans towards Gilles Villeneuve. The Canadian, with the second place gained in Montreal, almost reached his goal: he only needs that Jacques Laffite does not win in the United States. Probably, Villeneuve does not care much about closing the championship behind Scheckter, he would have liked to win the title, but a Ferrari one-two in the final world championship standings would be very important. The one-two, together with the victory in the Constructors' Championship, would mean the best confirmation of the global dominance of Maranello's team throughout the season. This is today's topic: the 1979 World Championship is composed of fifteen races, planned between January and October in circuits with very different features, under very different weather and climate conditions. There is no other team like Ferrari that can boast such a number of wins and results: five victories, seven second places, nineteen times in the points. Williams, which has been very competitive in the second half of the season, with Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni, collected a similar number of results, but only two second places and thirteen times in the points. It is clear, though, that a very difficult 1980 is coming for Ferrari. Williams and Renault's competitiveness, even if not supported by an adequate reliability, are indeed a clear sign for the next championship. Today, Jones's white single-seater has something more than the 312 T4, and it has been noticed on Sunday even in Montreal, in a street track that is favourable to Ferrari: Scheckter and Villeneuve would be upset if this gap were not closed. In Maranello, the work for the next championship started in June. The two main technical areas of interest are the aerodynamics and the turbo engine. It would not be a surprise if these two areas had collided in a single craft, that is a new, original car. It can be said that those who will have worked better in the last few months, will already have a solid base for 1980.

 

Two important elements are still to be defined: the drivers' market, which Lauda's retirement will make very eventful with a long series of changes between teams, and the role of the international sports authorities. Either FISA will dominate once and for all in its war of power with Bernie Ecclestone and the small British constructors or Formula 1 will definitely stop being a sports and technical matter and will be considered a mere show. The first untimed session is due at 10:00 a.m., by which time a steady rain is falling and most of the cars in the pit lane is under tarpaulins. There is no changes in the entry from Canada and the track licence permit thirty cars to practice, but only 24 would qualify for the starting grid. As 18 of the entry venture out in the rain it is easier to list those that don't go out at all. They are Andretti, Stuck, Ribeiro, Surer, Merzario, Patrese, neither of the Ligier drivers, neither of the Williams drivers, and neither of the regular Tyrrell drivers; they let Derek Daly be the guinea-pig. Nobody do anything heroic for there is nothing to gain other then experience, but poor Giacomelli crash his V12 Alfa Romeo on his slowing-down lap when he hit a new sheet of water streaming across the track. Fortunately the car don't suffer too much damage and it is repairable. When the timed session is due to begin at half-past twelve the rain is really pouring down and the first to venture out is Brambilla in his V12 Alfa Romeo, going round in 2'25"0 on a lap that is normally covered in under 1'40"0. After a short while he execute an enormous spin out of the right-hander leading on to the pits straight. He keep the engine going and the car came to rest in the middle of the track, pointing the right way, so he let in the clutch and carry on to a round of applause from everyone in the pits. Next time he appear he is heading for the pits minus his rear aerofoil! He has spun again and wiped the aerofoil off on a barrier. For a time there is no further activity and the rain keep pouring down and paper cups float by in the pit lane. Then a Cosworth V8 start up and to everyone’s surprise Reutemann set off into the rain in the spare Lotus (79/3) that he has raced in Canada. He goes round once and returned to the pits, having seen all he want to, so he don't get a lap time and officially Brambilla is holding pole position! Then a Ferrari engine start up and we all cock our ears. When we see number 12 splashing its way down the pit lane we all set up and take notice, for number 12 is Gilles Villeneuve. His speed down the hill past the pits was phenomenal and mightily impressive.

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The flat-12 engine was well on song and the streams of water from the tyres were awe-inspiring and he seemed to be going as fast as some people had been going in the dry. What is more, the slope down past the pits leads into a falling-away right-angle bend. If it had been anyone else you would have deemed it foolhardy, but Villeneuve is fast becoming superman, in the wake of Stirling Moss and Jimmy Clark. He put in a lap of 2'01"437 in the pouring rain, and no matter how good the wet-weather Michelins are or how good the Ferrari is, it was impressive. This sort of thing you cannot see or appreciate by sitting in front of a television set, no matter how good the cameraman is. Next to go is Scheckter, and it is obvious that the Ferrari team is taking the whole scene very seriously. The 1979 World Champion goes round in 2'11"089 and then another Cosworth V8 is heard warming up. It is the spare Williams that is being warmed up, ready for Alan Jones who has decided he has better find out about the conditions as it might be the same on Sunday. Huddled figures in green water-proof suits help him out of his water-proof boots and ensure that he get into the car with dry racing shoes, while Frank Williams said: Just go however fast you feel like going. And Patrick Head, who has rejoined the team at this race, look on with admiration, for there is nothing better for a designer than a driver who is prepared to have a go. The best wet-weather Goodyear is fitted to FW07/3 and as Jones set off into the unceasing rain there is a splutter and a popping from the Renault pit as mechanics start up the turbo-charged V6 of Renault RS12 for Arnoux; it is the same story as in the Williams team. Alan Jones is finding it impossible to give the Williams anything like full-throttle, even on the straights, for the rear wheels spun hopelessly even in top gear. Clearly Michelin has something over Goodyear when it come to really heavy rain. The best Jones could do is 2'37"742. Hans Stuck does one lap in the ATS and come back saying it is impossible and Jan Lammers bravely do some slow laps. Meanwhile Scheckter has stopped and is trying to tell the organisers to cancel practice officially, but they are interested in watching the impressive Gilles Villeneuve who is still circulating. Arnoux do a few slow laps and then spun off and damaged a side-skirt, so that is that.

 

Practice finish when the hour-and-a-half is up, not when Scheckter think it should and afterwards Villeneuve is asked about his performance. Next morning the weather is dry, very windy and turning very cold, so everyone prepare for snow to come next. That’s all we need, said some people. Luckily for the other 29 drivers the snow don't came and the sharp wind dry the track, and help to dry the soggy tents and sleeping bags of the campers. The morning test-session is 10 minutes late in starting as some catch fences need repairing after celebrities in Toyota coupes has practised for a publicity stunt. Everyone is soon out and thrashing round trying to make up for less time, and many of those who has not even run their engines the day before are in trouble. Jabouille is in the spare Renault, Zunino has to change to the spare Brabham as his own car sprang a petrol leak, Regazzoni suffered a broken engine and was stranded out on the circuit, the Ensign broke the lower rear wishbone on the right-hand side, and Villeneuve’s Ferrari engine went sick with suspected valve trouble and was hurriedly rush back to the workshop hangar to have another engine installed. Daly’s Tyrrell is towed in after practice finished having stop out on the circuit when the fuel pump driving belt broke. Laffite has a wheel come off his Ligier without causing too much damage. The last practice session begin a bit late and it is now or never for a grid position, with six of the competitors guaranteed to be unlucky, but which six remain to be seen. The Ferrari mechanics has completed the engine change in Villeneuve’s car in an incredibly short space of time and he is all set to go. The Williams team decide to let Regazzoni use the spare car, (FW07/3) rather than attempt a rush engine change and Daly is in the spare Tyrrell (009/5) while his own car is being repaired in the pits. Jabouille is in RS14 and Reutemann is still in the spare Lotus (79/3). Piquet is in the spare Brabham (BT49/01) as his own car is down on power and need an engine change, and everyone else is in order, including the two works Alfa Romeos. The pace has barely get under way before the chequered flag is waved and it all stopped.

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Pironi and Laffite has stopped out on the circuit and a breakdown lorry is sent out to tow them in; the Tyrrell has broken its engine and the Ligier has died with ignition failure. Laffite is able to take over the spare Ligier (JS11/04) but Pironi has to stand around and watch everyone else as Daly is out in the spare Tyrrell and the Irishman’s own car is still being screwed back together. It is taking a long time for the front runners to really get going for the icy wind that is blowing is keeping tyres and brakes too cool for optimum performance. However, Jones and Villeneuve are the pace-setters, with Regazzoni doing his best to keep up, but the Renaults are comparatively slow, which is a surprise for they are very fast down the back straight. Piquet is beginning to shine in the Brabham-Cosworth V8 and his new team-mate is not disgracing himself. Andretti is having an awful time in his home Grand Prix, and is managing very few flying laps and then the engine brake pretty drastically with bits of valve gear in the inlet tracts. As Reutemann is using the spare Lotus it take some time to alter the pedals and seat of the Argentinian’s normal car (79/4) so that Andretti could drive it and even then he don't fit properly. Reutemann is so much happier in 79/3 as the monocoque is stiffer and it feel better over the bumps, and he is beginning to put in some encouraging lap times. Andretti’s task is pretty hopeless. Scheckter decide to try the spare Ferrari (038) to see if it would go any better than his own (040) and down at the Tyrrell pit they are preparing to call Jarier in and let Pironi have a go in his car. Due to the late start and the delay to collect broken cars this time session is extended until 2:30 p.m. and shortly after this announcement Zunino goes flying through the catch fences at the corner before the pits. He is quite unhurt and equally undisturbed, blaming himself for an error of judgement. Up to this point he has made the very respectable time of 1'38"509, which compare well with Jones and Villeneuve who are in the 1'36"0, and he is actually seventh overall at the time of his crash. He is on a set of super-sticky special Goodyears, which is a new experience for him, and he is unable to discern when they are at their optimum temperature, which is made more difficult by the intense cold. He goes too fast too soon.

 

The gearbox on Watson’s McLaren brake and he has to transfer to the spare car, and then Pironi go out in Jarier’s car (009/3). After only a handful of laps he is back in the pits with the most evil looking mess of water and oil coming out of the inlet trumpets on the left-bank of cylinders and from the exhaust. While everyone is peering gloomily through the smoke Jarier roared away in Daly’s repaired Tyrrell (009/5) and the team begin to feel they has lost control of the situation. The Rebaque has stopped out on the circuit as had Laffite’s Ligier, the French car having a minor fire around the inlet trumpets, but damage is slight. One couldn’t help thinking that perhaps two races on the trot at the end of the season is asking too much from over-worked machinery and over-worked teams. While all these disasters are being enacted Alan Jones is going faster and faster and has out-distanced Villeneuve’s Ferrari comfortably, but a new combination is appearing on the scene. It is Nelson Piquet and the Brabham BT49, for Cosworth DFV power is beginning to show what has been wrong with the Ecclestone team these past few years. In the final count Jones is well over a second faster than his nearest rival, which prove to be Piquet who is a mere whisker ahead of Villeneuve, but it is enough to put the Brabham BT49 on the front row of the grid alongside the Williams and to relegate the Ferrari to the second row alongside Laffite’s Ligier. The new number two in the Brabham earn himself a big A (for effort) as he end up ninth overall in only his second Grand Prix, well ahead of a lot of drivers who have been at it for a long time, perhaps too long in some cases. Regazzoni does his best and ended up fifth overall, on the third row of the grid with Reutemann alongside him. Now that the Argentinian feel happy he is driving the way he should and while he is in a good sixth position it has to be realise that he is well over two seconds slower than Alan Jones! In the fourth row are the two Renaults, disappointingly well off the pace of the leaders. Only one Alfa Romeo qualified, that of Giacomelli; Brambilla is first reserve, the other non-qualifiers being Mass (Arrows A2/2), Lammers (Shadow DN9/4B), Rebaque (Rebaque HR 100-001, Ribeiro (Fittipaldi F6A-1/2) and Merzario (A204).

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The rain has held off on Saturday and everyone has their fingers crossed for Sunday, but the morning dawn with ominous grey skies and a temperature that seem hell-bent on dropping to freezing point. The pre-race warm-up half-hour should have taken place from 9.30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. but a series of old-car club races delayed things and in the final one a car overturned and spread oil on the track and damaged the catch fencing, so there was more delay while the mess was cleared up. It was gone 11:30 a.m. before the track was open to the Grand Prix cars and with the start having been brought forward from 2:35 p.m. to 2:02 p.m. to satisfy the television moguls, time was going to be short for anyone who has last minute trouble. Piquet is back in his own car (BT49/02) while Zunino is using the spare car (BT49/01); Ken Tyrrell has got his three drivers back in their right cars, Reutemann is still in the spare Lotus (79/3) but Andretti is back in his own car (79/5). Everyone else is in their correct car, the usual enormous amount of work done on a Saturday evening rectifying the ravages of practice and taking precautionary measures against trouble in the race. Before the 30 minutes are run Jarier’s engine is in trouble and Villeneuve’s Ferrari has an incurable oil leak, so that the Tyrrell mechanics and the Ferrari mechanics has to accomplish engine changes in half the normal time and there are some dark words about old cars putting the schedule behind time and television making it even more difficult. By reason of incredible teamwork both cars are completed in time for the opening of the pit lane, but rain is already on its way. Some slight play in the front wheel bearings of Regazzoni’s Williams cause the team to change both front hub and upright assemblies, as a precautionary measure, otherwise everyone is ready to go. Patrese had tried Jochen Mass’ Arrows A2 as well as his own but decide he preferred his own. Before anyone has left the pit lane the rain arrive and come down in a healthy downpour, so that most of the cars leave on heavy treaded rain tyres. However, Ecclestone decide to gamble on the rain stop pretty soon and he sent Piquet out on dry treadless tyres, and Colin Chapman take the same gamble with Andretti.

 

By the way the rain is streaming across the track it seem a bit of a futile gamble and put Piquet in a very dangerous situation as he is on the front row of the grid and would have precious little grip until the rain ceased. As it is his first time at Watkins Glen it seem like sacrificing a lamb to appease the gods. On the way round to the grid both Zunino and Arnoux are in trouble on the water-logged surface, but both managed to gather things up without hitting anything. While the 24 starters are lining themselves up in orderly pairs the rain is pouring down and few of them could have been looking forward to the 59 laps ahead of them. As they set off on their pace-lap behind the Williams of Alan Jones the rain stop bouncing off the track and turn to a light drizzle, but show no sign of stopping altogether. They return to the grid in orderly fashion, the red light come on and then the green light shone and all 24 cars disappear in an enormous cloud of spray. Just before the spray envelope them we could see Piquet’s Brabham virtually stationary with its slick tyres spinning helplessly, while Jones in the Williams shot forward with a streak of red close up behind and about to go by. Then the scene disappear and it is a miracle that the Brabham isn't punted up the back by those behind. The awful weather is the biggest disappointment this season, for on a dry track we would have had a monumental few opening laps, with Jones, Piquet, Villeneuve, Laffite, Regazzoni and Reutemann in the first three rows. All hard-chargers more interested in racing than talking. As it is, the weather and the big difference between Goodyear and Michelin wet-weather tyres put paid to any hopes for a battle, and Villeneuve made the most of the clear road ahead and pulled out an enormous lead over Alan Jones on the opening lap. He is so far ahead that his spray has settled and dispersed before the Williams arrived. Giacomelli didn't complete the first lap, ending up off the track in the lone Alfa Romeo, while Scheckter is lucky to still be in the race. He has overtaken some cars before the first corner and then lost it and taken to the grass in a big way. Fortunately there is enough grass for him to skitter about on before he find his way back onto the track.

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Reutemann, Regazzoni and Laffite follow Alan Jones, but not for long as the Frenchman spin his Ligier at the end of lap four and finish up in the catch fences, only to find that Ickx has done the same thing with his Ligier on lap 2 and the two French cars are out of the race and park within sight of each other! Scheckter is galloping through the field after his excursion onto the grass and by lap six is between the two Renaults in sixth place. By lap eight Jones has come to grips with the conditions and Villeneuve is no longer pulling away, the Williams seem to have the measure of the Ferrari, but that is all. Reutemann has spun off the course on the previous lap when the dry-battery pack, that energises the fire-extinguisher system in the cockpit, fell from its mounting and drop between the Argentinian’s knees just as he is taking a corner and the interruption to his concentration is enough to make him lose control of his Lotus. It gives you some idea of the knife-edge on which the leaders are balancing. Scheckter has now passed Jabouille’s Renault, so he move up in fourth place and begin to close up on Regazzoni. With the rain showing little sign of abating Lotus call Andretti in on lap 10 and put him on wet-weather tyres and two laps later Piquet is in at the Brabham pits for the same treatment; both of them has already been lapped by the leader. Scheckter take Regazzoni’s third place from him on lap 13 and the Swiss manage to hang on to the tail of the Ferrari for two laps, but no more. Down in midfield the blue Tyrrells has been running in formation, Jarier, Pironi and Daly, but the Irishman feel happy to go faster and overtook both of the Frenchmen. This obviously don't please Jarier and he speed up and press Daly until they has a coming together on lap 19, which left Daly with a damaged skirt on the left-side and Jarier off the track and out of the race. Andretti has already disappeare from the scene when a tooth brake off fifth gear and jammed the selector mechanism in the gearbox. The rain has now stopped and the strong wind and the wide tyres are drying the track remarkably quickly, so that on lap 20 Scheckter storm into the pits to change to dry-weather tyres and he is followed in by Regazzoni for the same reason, and then Rosberg bring the Wolf in for a tyre change.

 

All these are done with the engines keep running, and Scheckter rejoin the race in fifth place, once more behind the two Renaults. The leaders have gone by before Regazzoni is back in the fray but he is in seventh place, behind Daly. The Wolf never goes out again, for while the mechanics are changing the rear tyres they notice some irreparable damage to the gearbox, occasioned by Rosberg having gone off the road on the lap on which he stop so the engine is switched off and that is that. The situation now is that Villeneuve is still leading Jones and they are  both using the wet parts of the track rather than the racing line which has dried out, to try and preserve their wet-weather tyres as long as possible, each waiting for the other to make a move towards the pits. The Ferrari driver is a bit anxious as the engine that has been installed just before the start is a practice one and not a meticulously prepare race-engine, and the oil pressure is not as high as he would have liked. Jones, on the contrary, is quite happy for all is well with his Williams-Cosworth. It begin to look as though Scheckter and Regazzoni has changed tyres a bit too soon for they are not making up ground at all and Daly pass the Ferrari and Stuck in the ATS passed the Williams, and then Scheckter is lapped by the leaders. At 25 laps Jabouille disappear from third place when the Renault engine fail and this let Arnoux up into third, while Daly is now fourth, though one lap behind. So the order is Villeneuve (Ferrari), Jones (Williams), Arnoux (Renault), Daly (Tyrrell), Scheckter (Ferrari), Stuck (ATS), Pironi (Tyrrell), Regazzoni (Williams), de Angelis (Shadow) and a long way back, but still in the race, Watson (McLaren), Fittipaldi (Fittipaldi), Surer (Ensign), Zunino (Brabham), Patrese (Arrows) and Piquet (Brabham). At 29 laps Regazzoni appear to suffer from brain-fade for he charged past Stuck going down the hill past the pits, not realising that Stuck is behind Piquet and that his overtaking manoeuvre is going to have to take two cars when there is only time and distance to overtake one car. It is a foregone conclusion that the Williams is going to go off the road, and so it is, but not before it has punted the Brabham up the back. Pironi and de Angelis stop for dry tyres, then Watson do likewise and Piquet as well.

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The track is now nearly completely dry and Jones is right up the tail of the Ferrari as they start lap 32 and before the end of the lap he has gone by into the lead. They has lapped Arnoux and are now on their own and searching desperately for damp patches to cool their overheating tyres. At the end of lap 34 Jones goes by on his own and Villeneuve head down the pit lane. In something like 20 seconds he is on his way again, still in second place and the Williams mechanics are standing at the ready awaiting the arrival of their man. They have rigged up a tubular gantry to carry the air-line for the outside front wheel well clear of the front of the car, and all four wheel-nut spanners are held at the ready. At the end of lap 36 the green and white Williams could be seen heading for the pits and everyone is tense to equal or beat the Ferrari team’s 20 second stop. The quick-lift jacks slid under the front and rear, the wheel-nut spanners chattered, the car is up in the air, the old wheels are off, the new ones are on, but the right rear hub-nut has not spun off instantly, it has tended to seize on the threaded hub, and this put the mechanics on that wheel a few seconds behind the other three. Jones has the engine revving, three of the mechanics jump clear of their wheels, arms raise, the jacks started going down but the mechanics on the fatal right rear wheel are still a few seconds behind and as the car touch down and the jacks slid away Jones let in the clutch and is gone before the nut on the right-rear wheel has been locked tight. It is too late to stop him and despair overtake the team for they knew that only a miracle could keep that wheel-nut in place. In no time at all the circuit radio announce that the wheel has come off and the Williams has skated to rest on the grass verge. The Williams team has made a complete up, and given the race to Ferrari. For the first time for a very long while the boys in green and white packed up all their gear before the race is over. Not since the Belgian GP at Zolder last May has the Williams team fail to have at least one of their cars running at the end of a race. There is little doubt in anyone’s mind that Jones would have beaten the Ferrari on the dry track, and as it turns out with the Ferrari oil pressure fading fast it would have been easy.

 

But the facts are that Villeneuve is now unchallenged, though as yet no-one other than he know about the fading oil pressure. Scheckter has overtaken Arnoux, while Daly and Stuck has stopped for dry tyres and once Jones is out Villeneuve eased right back and let the second and third cars unlap themselves, though Arnoux stop to change tyres which immediately put him a lap behind again. It is now all over, with Villeneuve almost a lap ahead of Scheckter, the Renault in third place, follow by Pironi, Daly, de Angelis, Stuck and the rest. Although he is a long way behind Piquet is driving the Brabham BT49 very hard, and record the fastest lap of the race on lap 51. His new team-mate has spin off the track and bent the right front suspension, the Ensign has broken its engine and the lone Arrows has broken the rear suspension. On lap 49 Scheckter has the left rear tyre burst and the flailing rubber damaged the rear suspension as he keep the car under control and pull off the track. All this time Daly is struggling with unbalance handling on his Tyrrell and is getting tired and on lap 53 the car get away from him and he spin out of the race. With only five laps to go a drive-shaft brake on Piquet’s Brabham and he pull off the track, leaving only seven cars still running. Villeneuve has been going slower and slower and when he let Pironi, de Angelis and Stuck go by, to put themselves back on the same lap as the Ferrari, it is pretty obvious that the French-Canadian is in real trouble. With an unchallenged victory in front of him it is natural to ease the pace, but he has eased more than was reasonable. To the great joy of the many Ferrari fans in North America he nurse the car home to the chequered flag, comfortably ahead of Arnoux’s Renault and Pironi’s Tyrrell-Cosworth. Three different makes, three different engines and three different nationalities of teams in the first three, which is a fitting way to wind up the 1979 season of Formula One motor-racing, as distinct from driver-racing. Afterwards Villeneuve explaine that his oil-pressure has been falling for the last 25 laps of the race and he has really nursed the engine to the finish, otherwise he has had no problems. He said how he has gone into the first corner from the start side-by-side with Alan Jones and has nearly lost it. 

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Un unstoppable, raging Gilles Villeneuve concluded his season with a triumph. The Ferrari driver won the last race of the World Championship, the Grand Prix of United States East, a race full of emotions and surprises, filled with incidents caused by the slippery asphalt due to the torrential rain fallen in the first twenty laps. Then, the sun came out, making things difficult for everybody. It is his third win in the championship, after Kyalami in South Africa and Long Beach in California, and so he conquered the second place in the drivers' championship behind Jody Scheckter, completing a golden year for the Italian team. Exactly one year after his first win in Formula 1 (even in the past season, the hot-headed driver won the last championship race in Montreal), Villeneuve confirmed his skills as a generous and reckless driver that made him a great protagonist in the world of motorsports. At twenty-seven years old, after becoming snowmobile world champion and Atlantic Championship title owner, and debuting in the Grand Prix circus in 1977 at Silverstone on a McLaren, the French-Canadian represents one of the main talents appeared in Formula 1 in the last decade. This additional victory carries once again Ferrari's signature, which, as already said, ended an exceptional season with their two drivers in the first two places in the World Championship and the success in the Constructors' Championship from Williams and Ligier. An important contribution to the Italian industry with the final success obtained in the United States, the home of the biggest car market in the world. It was indeed Maranello's team mechanics who built Villeneuve's victory, first handing him a highly competitive car and then in race, with one of those record performances which they are used to make. The decisive turn of events was on lap 34, when Gilles, who was leading, after the usual fast start that allowed him to overtake Jones and Piquet who started in front of him, had to stop in order to switch from rain tyres to slick ones, since the track had dried out. While the Canadian had to make his forced stop, Jones's Williams took the lead. The four tyres were replaced in 18.87 seconds and Villeneuve could quickly return on the track. In the following lap, Jones makes his pit stop for the same reason. Williams's mechanics, though, were not as good as Ferrari's ones. The replacement has been made in 33.48 seconds in an imperfect way, so much that they caused a serious danger to the Australian driver.
 
As soon as Jones came back on track, one of the rear tyres of the car #27 fell out of the hub (it probably had not been fixed well) and he was involved in a 300-meter-long swerve that almost hit Piquet in a nasty accident. Ferrari could have gained an exceptional one-two if Scheckter, while he was second, had not been forced to retire due to the detachment of the tread of a rear tyre on lap 49. On Sunday, the new world champion led a meeting of the drivers' association, which confirmed the intention to manage the races technically, standing out as an alternative to FISA and FOCA. This great day for the Italian colours, however, was also completed by an extraordinary fourth place of the 20-year-old Italian Elio De Angelis. Alfa Romeo was not very lucky. After only five corners, on the first lap, Bruno Giacomelli spun due to the rain and damaged his car. The same fate, anyway, went to many other competitors, among which Laffite and Ickx with both their Ligier. Meanwhile, in Paris, while the United States-East Grand Prix was unfolding at Watkins Glen, the FISA executive board held a meeting in the FIA headquarters in order to examine many issues related to Formula 1. Among the most important decisions to be made, there is the one about extending the Formula 1 calendar from 16 to 18 Grands Prix for the 1980 season. Substantially, the applications of Mexico City and Las Vegas to join the calendar have been accepted, which will host a race respectively in April and in early November. Clay Regazzoni is about to join the English team, Ensign. According to some rumours, Williams allegedly asked the popular Swiss driver to wait a couple of weeks before confirming or cancelling his contract. After some disappointing results in this season, the British team may have found a new sponsor, Unipart (who financed March in Formula 3). There is also news for Vittorio Brambilla. Since Alfa Romeo may already have chosen the Frenchman Depailler and confirmed Giacomelli, the driver from Monza is making plans for the next championship. One of the possibilities offered to Brambilla is going to Shadow. The most interesting side of this move, anyway, is a new, rich sponsor for this team. There are rumours on an Arab financial group. Gilles Villeneuve champion of America. It is the title that the Ferrari driver gained after winning at Watkins Glen. Besides this third seasonal win, enriched by three second places and a series of unfortunate retirements while he was sitting in the very first positions, there is the anger with which Villeneuve always races. A desire to win that no other driver showed recently. The only thing that matters for Gilles is being first, the best, the fastest of them all. 
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If it was not like this, his raging end of championship could not be explained. After all, in order to conquer the second place in the championship behind Scheckter, he could have just checked his direct rival Laffite. Gilles's fever for victory also explains the craziest episode of the year, that is the race on three wheels at Zandvoort, in the Netherlands. In that occasion, the Canadian had a really strong restart after going out of the track after a puncture, as if the car were completely OK. Probably, as time passed, with more experience, even Villeneuve could become a managing driver. But, at the moment, he is still the most unrestrained among Formula 1 protagonists. Just like the mild Doctor Jekyll transforming into the wild Mister Hyde, Villeneuve is a man with a dual personality. His private life was actually completely devoted to his family, his wife Joanne and their two wonderful children, Jacques, 8, and Melan, 6. With his slim appearance, his serious teenager-like face, Gilles never shows the incredible temper that he shows during the race. Even in public life, the Canadian is very different from the other drivers. While Clay Regazzoni and the others love mundane life, luxury hotels and supercars, Villeneuve loves simplicity. In order to travel from a Grand Prix to another, he bought a long motorhome in which he lives his daily life, mixing with the mechanics, the least known men in Formula 1. It is a way like the others to focus better, to be closer to what he considers his job. Gifted with an excellent technical preparation and a certain creativity (it should not be forgotten that he was the first man in the world to personally build a snowmobile with four independent skis, the one that he used to win a world championship in the category), the Ferrari driver is also a good test driver. He likes cars and engines so much that his only hobby is focused on this direction. In the rare moments in which he manages to go back home, near Montreal, his main free time activity is to go out in the countryside with a four-wheel drive van. Also, those who saw him in action state that he runs like crazy even in the woods. Everything, according to Ferrari, is done by following precise schedules. Gilles Villeneuve must be paid back after what he had done in Monza when, leaving his personal ambitions behind, he only escorted Jody Scheckter to the victory in the Italian Grand Prix, and, thanks to this, the world championship title. The Maranello team managers said in that occasion that they would give their best support to the Canadian driver for an exciting final stage of the season. And so, it was. The second place in Montreal and the win of last Sunday in Watkins Glen are the prize that Villeneuve received from Ferrari. It is the result of his skill, but also a confirmation of what a serious, competitive and well-prepared team can do. This year's global success, in fact, for Ferrari, has already been archived. Much happiness in Maranello (it is said that Enzo Ferrari was particularly happy for Villeneuve), a few toasts and nothing more. No triumphant tones, as tradition. There is a lot of work to be done, the plans are overlapping. The drivers now will only have three weeks of holidays, and then, in early November, the tests will resume on the Fiorano track. Engineer Mauro Forghieri, Ferrari's technical manager, did not even join the USA East race, but he stayed home in order to develop his experiments.

 

"We followed by phone the two races in North America and we have all been happy for Villeneuve. He deserved it, on a human and professional level. It is a great driver, and so is Scheckter. There have never been frictions between the two during the whole season. The season balance was very positive. Someone said that this has been the best season for Ferrari since they joined Formula 1. Probably, this is true. Do you want to know what was our secret? It may be summarized in this idea: we won when we were the strongest and we defended ourselves when the others were stronger. Ligier had their moment at the beginning of the season, Williams at the end. We had a better consistency. As of the car, the T4, I believe that the numbers speaks better than me: it won at the debut in South Africa and won five other times. Six first places and seven second places are results that no one else can claim this year". 

 

Forghieri still does not spare some criticism: 

 

"When Ligier and Williams dominated, it was hailed as a miracle. Our successes, according to people who are never happy, are determined by the sun or the rain and when the weather could not be blamed, they gave credit to the tyres. It was forgotten that the social struggles (i.e., the renewal of the collective contract of steelworkers) made us have a difficult period between May and June. Here the sacrifices tolerated by the industry workers must be recognized, who behaved with balance and comprehension". 

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And now the most urgent question. What future lies ahead Ferrari? 

 

"We have been experimenting two different types of supercharge for the last two years. It is difficult to say when we will be ready with this solution. We are discussing this topic together with Fiat, but I don't know when we will reach positive results. Renault's example that, with their technical potential, had to wait for long before getting a positive answer, is clear. In any case, we must wait for the meeting scheduled in Paris next week in order to have some hints. Everything will depend on the technical decisions that will be made". 

 

As usual in Ferrari, Engineer Forghieri does not anticipate anything, but Villeneuve speaks for him. The Canadian driver lets a revealing sentence slip through: 

 

"In January we'll have a turbo on track". 

 

An update that is confirmed, after all, by the attitude that Maranello's team had when they released in the last few months a joint statement with Renault and Alfa Romeo in which they defended the supercharged engine. Of course, that is not all: the T5 is getting closer and there are a lot of new solutions on this car. Enzo Ferrari's joy for the victory obtained at Watkins Glen vanishes on Tuesday, 9th October, 1979, as some unknown criminals vandalize with a scalpel in the night the gravestone in the San Cataldo graveyard in Modena that belongs to the tomb of his late son Dino, buried in 1956. The coffin has also been opened. Enzo always had a special affection and bond with his son, which never faded away, even more than twenty years after his death. Dino died at 24 years old, right after he graduated in Mechanical Engineering in Switzerland, when he started to help his father in the management of Ferrari. Basically, every morning, Enzo Ferrari, when he left Modena, where he lives, in order to go the Maranello factory, never missed the chance to pay a visit to the chapel in the town graveyard of San Cataldo, where both his son and his wife, deceased one and a half years ago, lie. Now the police are looking for the authors of this deplorable act and, above all, tries to understand what their motive was. The most likely theory is that it was an attempt to smuggle the remains of the young boy in order to do an extortion. The criminals, after forcing the gravestone of the tomb, opened the lid of the coffin, then cutting the zinc case and finally abandon the misdeed leaving two black plastic bags on the place. Dino Ferrari's corpse has not been touched. It cannot be excluded, though, that it could have been an act of an insane person. The gruesome discovery is made on Tuesday morning by an elderly visitor of the graveyard, who, while walking next to the private chapel of Enzo's family, placed near the main entry of the graveyard, sees that the gate is open and, on the inside, notices the pieces of the marble gravestone on the ground. The graveyard keepers immediately alert the town authorities and the police. The town officials reach the place immediately. The body is untouched and it is supposed that the criminals might have desisted from the infamous act either because they were disturbed or because they understood that it was too risky to commit it.

 

The graveyard is protected only in the day hours. The keeper, anyway, uses a wolfdog in the night, who may have been the element that made the criminals desist. At about 10:00 a.m., even Engineer Ferrari goes to the graveyard. This new hard hit is taken all by himself as usual, just like the other tragedies that involved him before. Ferrari does not release any statement, nor speaks to the phone with anyone. He is seen while entering the graveyard in silence, with a great courage, and leaving with his right hand covering the face, pressing his temples. Right after leaving the graveyard, Ferrari gets in his car and goes to Maranello. Meanwhile, in San Cataldo, the healthcare and mortuary police authorities handle the formalities of the case. At 2:15 p.m., the remains of Dino Ferrari are placed in another wooden coffin and buried again. It is said in town in Modena, even if the news has neither been confirmed nor denied, that Mr. Ferrari is planning on installing a bulletproof door in the round chapel of the graveyard. Ferrari, as is known, dedicated to his son Dino one of his most prestigious GT cars that has been mass produced for years, the Dino exactly. He gave his son's name to the Imola racetrack, which Ferrari not only financed but also contributed with great passion to its creation. The news of the tomb desecration of the son of the great engineer spreads quickly in town in the morning, which causes more disdain that pain. Hundreds of people visit San Cataldo. The graveyards entry points, anyway, stay locked by the town authorities and by the police right since the moment in which the alarm was given. Nobody is allowed to get closer to Ferrari's chapel. Ten days later, on Monday, 19th October, 1979, Enzo Ferrari concedes a breakfast with journalists, in a motel on the Abetone road, between Modena and Maranello. A great hall, caring waiters, Lambrusco wine, tortellini with cream, roasted meat and coffee ice cream. There are about twenty tablemates. The main topics are drivers, cars and Formula 1. Ferrari, this man with white hair, born in 1898, with a heart and a brain that look like they belong to a young man, immediately says, wearing a brown suit, a colourful tie, and a serene face:

 

"No conference, you ask questions and I will give you the facts". 

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So are many topics tackled, from Scheckter to Villeneuve and Lauda, from the highs and lows of Ferrari to the case of Patrese and the new cars for 1980. A recap of the freshly ended World Championship and with a look towards the future. Here are the most important topics, discussed by Ferrari with a verve and a hint of sparkling wit in two hours of table conversation. Enzo urges to highlight that Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve received the same treatment in this championship, in which the South African conquered the title and the Canadian the second place in the championship. 

 

"We care for both. Will they ever agree? I don't know. It's difficult to tell for a family, imagine for a sport, in which everyone will impose their personal dominance". 

 

Scheckter was not privileged, also because Ferrari would have preferred to show that, with Villeneuve, not only cars but also drivers are made in Maranello. Enzo does not state who has got the best personality ("One is a young man projected to the conquer of international fame, the other is a complex of skills and interests, their way to behave is different") nor who has been better in testing ("Their indications have been equally useful: sometimes Villeneuve tested Scheckter's car, and vice versa"). He says on Villeneuve: 

 

"I admire in him the product of a bet I made. Who would have bet a dollar on Gilles? Anyway, who was Niki Lauda when he joined us? Sometimes Villeneuve makes mistakes, but he wants to finish first at all costs. He has been criticized, maybe rightfully, but let's not forget that his enthusiasm reminds us of one of his famous predecessors, Tazio Nuvolari. In my opinion, some mistakes from a snowmobile champion cannot be considered as such".

 

On Scheckter: 

 

"We were looking for a fighting, unstoppable man and we found a wise manager of his own forces and of his car, a driver who invested on saving or, probably, sought to the final result of the championship. But, when he had to run, he did". 

 

Ferrari wonders if the South African driver will follow the arc of the champion, that is if he will lose determination and humility, desire to win, turning into a secondary driver which focuses on economy. It is a topic that constitutes the theme of a book that Mr. Ferrari will present soon. The retirement of the two-time world champion Austrian with Maranello's cars offers Mr. Ferrari the chance to soften the tones of the old controversy. 

 

"His decision was honest. I made a similar one when Dino was born, maybe Lauda did the same to his son Lucas". 

 

The engineer, who declares himself happy for the success of his former driver in Imola, where everybody was convinced that it would have been a walk in the park for Ferrari and it was confirmed, instead, that the law of the sports is the only one that applies in races, spreads his answer letter to Niki for the congratulations received after the win at Monza. 

 

"Thanks for your message, which gave me a bitter thought: if Lauda had stayed in Ferrari, he would have equalled Fangio's record". 

 

Then Mr. Ferrari adds:

 

"Cars are not only made with money, the factories are born with men, machines and walls. Man is irreplaceable". 

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Enzo then explains some highs and lows of Scuderia Ferrari in the races. You cannot always win; many elements can mix together. But he adds with pride: 

 

"From 1950 on, Ferrari collected 23 world titles and 5000 wins".

 

Speaking of 1980 cars, Ferrari says:

 

"Ferrari is making two different single-seaters for the 1980 World Championship: the 312 T5 and the Turbo. The first one is an evolution of the T4, with changes to the engine, which will be smaller, and all new frame and bodywork. The car will be presented in December and will debut in Argentina. In case the T5, as likely, will not resist the joint attack of their opponents, here is the Turbo, an entirely new car. An engine with 120°, 6-cylinder, 4 valves per cylinder, 1500 HP. It delivers additional 50 HP at 10,000 RPM compared to the NA engine". 

 

It is almost certain, and this will be the first time in Formula 1, that Ferrari may use the T5 or the Turbo based on which circuit. In the circuits where more power is needed, Scheckter and Villeneuve will drive the supercharged single-seater. All in all, two cars made for winning, an exceptional technical and economical effort. Other topics tackled by Ferrari are the Imola Raceway ("The region Emilia has the right to the Italian Grand Prix"), the points system in the championship ("We would have won even if the rules were different"), the relations with FOCA and FISA, the 1980 World Championship ("Eighteen races are crazy"), Alfa Romeo ("You can progress only with technical dualism"). This meeting, after all, is just an appetizer: the best will come in December, with the actual press conference. In conclusion, on Peterson's tragedy, the enquiry of the magistrates and the accusations towards Riccardo Patrese, Ferrari states: 

 

"The justice must intervene: I don't do judgments; I only remember what happened in 1957 after De Portago's incident at the Mille Miglia. I'm surprised, though, by the letter send by Patrese's colleagues to Milan's judges. Those are the same drivers that last year in Watkins Glen tried and convicted Patrese". 

 

Two weeks later, on Monday, 29th October, 1979, Riccardo Patrese will be interrogated for two and a half fours by deputy prosecutor Armando Spataro, who investigates on Ronnie Peterson's death. The driver from Padova, who received a judicial notice together with the Imola race director of the time Gianni Restelli, hands a video to the investigators. It can be clearly seen in the film that his Arrows is not liable in the tragic accident. After leaving the judge's room, Patrese does not release statements. It is only acknowledged that he repeated his reconstruction of events. 

 

"I had already overtaken Hunt, who then hit Peterson, and my re-entry did not disturb him". 

 

According to Patrese, it was the British driver who should have braked instead. Dr. Spataro acquires the film handed by Patrese. The deputy prosecutor summons the experts for Monday, 12th November, 1979, so that they analyse it. After Patrese, Restelli, the starter of that tragic Grand Prix, appears before the judge. He also declares himself not guilty, claiming that he was forced to give the green light since Villeneuve and Andretti jump-started, causing the start of all other drivers: blocking everyone, according to Restelli, would have been too dangerous. The days pass by and on Tuesday, 13th November, 1979, the big car brands (Renault, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari) basically win the first round and probably the entire match against the British constructors who wanted the abolition of turbo engines in Formula 1. The team that tackles the issues regarding the maximum expression of motorsports, which involves the representatives of the federal authorities, the constructors’ association, the organizers the sponsors and drivers does not approve, during a meeting, the proposal of the British teams to ban the supercharged engines in Formula 1 starting from 1983 or to change the ratio with aspirated engines by enhancing it. This ratio is currently 1:2 (1500 cc for the turbo engines, 3000 cc for the conventional power units). Accepting the British proposal would have made supercharged engines no longer competitive and as a consequence this kind of engine would have been abandoned. According to the rumours, out of the twelve members, Schilds (FOCA) and the Dutchman Corsuit are absent, four agree on keeping the current formula, five are against and one did not answer. It is substantially a defeat for the enemies of turbo, who sought to collect seven votes. Together with the British Ecclestone and Max Mosley, the anti-turbo group consists of the sponsor Hogan (Philip Morris-Marlboro), the Belgian organizer Bellien and the French Jean Marie Balestre, while Fabrizio Serena, the other representative of FISA sports commission, Marco Piccinini, member of FOCA but also Ferrari's sporting director, Maffezzoli, the organizer of the Automobile Club Milano and one of the sponsors representatives, Guiter from Elf (which supports Renault) are the group in favour of the turbo.

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Jody Scheckter, president of the drivers' commission and Maranello team manager, does not vote. The voting, however, does not have an immediate and legal value. Formula 1 working team will have to communicate their decisions to FISA, which on Thursday, 13th December, 1979, will prepare the new regulations. It appears obvious, anyway, that the turbo engine will still be used. Few other updates and confirmations come out of the meeting. Among the others, the cancellation of the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen and the Swedish Grand Prix, which will be replaced by the Mexico Grand Prix, who will be held one week after the Long Beach Grand Prix, on Monday. It is also proposed that drivers must be required to obtain a specific super-license in order to race in Formula 1. Only 78 days after the mathematical win of the world title, and 50 after the end of the Formula 1 World Championship, Ferrari has already got his weapon from 1980. Breaking a tradition that has lasted for years, with the debut of the new cars when the season has already started, generally in March, in Kyalami, on Monday, 26th November, 1979, the 312 T5 is presented on Scuderia Ferrari's private circuit in Fiorano. A day characterized by a shining sun accompanies the simple ceremony which sees all the team staff reunited, from Enzo Ferrari to the youngest mechanics. Enzo Ferrari, with his navy-blue jacket, grey vicuna tube trousers with lapels, according to the latest fashion trends, makes his appearance for about ten minutes near the car. Just the time for some photos and a toast, obviously made with Ferrari spumante. The engineer, looking in great shape, comes over on his Lancia Delta and shows himself giving handshakes and smiles. In some of his jokes, he says, approaching the car with Marco Piccinini under his arm:

 

"Let me go with my sports director. The T5 is ready. You all see it. It will run for the whole week at Paul Ricard. Last year, when the T4 was presented, everybody said that it was ugly, looked like a sandal. This looks much more beautiful. We hope that the results will be directly proportional to the look".

 

There is no way to make him express other impressions. Someone tries to make a discussion away, referring to Ferrari that he has been seen driving on Fiorano track, being the fastest of them all, the new Fiat Panda. 

 

"It was all a scene; I had an enhanced car. I was also advantaged by using the World Champion Michelin tyres. Look at my Delta, it has special tyres".

 

On the other hand, engineer Mauro Forghileri, designer of the T5, and the two drivers, Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve, chat for a long time. The New Ferrari vaguely reminds of the previous model in terms of stylistic setup, but it is different in terms of many technical and aerodynamic details. The outline looks cleaner. The car brought to Fiorano received a particular make-up: on one hand, it brings the #1 and Scheckter's name, on the other the #2 and Villeneuve's name. Mauro Forghieri explains:

 

"The T5 is the natural evolution of the T4, but not only the product of few changes. The previous model had some weak points in the fast tracks with long corners. In order to solve these issues and be more competitive compared to our rivals, we made a new, more rigid and lighter chassis. The front suspensions are all new while the engine, with redesigned cylinder heads, is shrunken. In other words, the T5 should have more downforce and better air flows in the area between the wheels and the engine, improving the efficiency of the required ground effect. Also new materials have been used, such as carbon fibre, with which the side skirts and part of the bodywork are made. Carbon fibre allows more lightness and higher rigidity". 

 

Many of the parts of the T5 have already been tested by Scheckter and Villeneuve on a test T4 used in Fiorano tests. Anyway, none of the two drivers had the chance to test the definitive version of the car that on Tuesday, 27th November, 1979, will be on track on the French circuit of Paul Ricard (halfway between Marseille and Toulon), where the first comparison data can be collected. Jody Scheckter states:

 

"The T5 will of course be a good car. I'm sure, for example, that the braking will be better than the one on the T4. I can't wait to try it. Many are convinced that, since I won the world championship title, I will live on my laurels. It’s totally wrong. Those who are expecting an idle Scheckter will have bad surprises". 

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Gilles Villeneuve gives a more accurate opinion on the new Ferrari:

 

"I think that this car will be more handy, easier to drive and to set up. These are considerable advantages. Of course, we must see what the others did. I will try my best while taking advantage of an extra year of experience. But I won't be the calculating driver. When I will start to race for points or places, it will mean that I will be too old and that it will be time to stop". 

 

The two Ferrari drivers are also talking about the next Italian Grand Prix. Jody Scheckter starts:

 

"The race will be in Monza since Imola is too dangerous. I said it to Mr Ferrari too. It's a dispassionate opinion, as a conscious driver".

 

Gilles Villeneuve echoes him:

 

"Imola is more fun to drive, but Monza has better structures and more charm. However, it's not me who decides".

 

The fight between Scheckter e Villeneuve is already on. Now it is just the time for cracking jokes, but it is to foresee that, once on track, the drivers will fight each other: starting right since the first race of the 1980 season, planned on Sunday, 13th January, 1980, in Buenos Aires. Before starting a week of difficult tests, Scheckter and Villeneuve unveil their plans for the fight for the next season. Jody's war declaration is plain and simple:

 

"No one must think that I'm happy with the title won. I still have much desire to win. Last year, Gilles was my strongest rival. So, this alert involves him".

 

The answer of the small but aggressive Canadian driver is much harder: 

 

"The public opinion is convinced that last year I helped Scheckter. That’s totally wrong. There were some circumstances that made me miss the chance to fight with even weapons. The retirement in Monaco and all the other troubles that I faced during the Championship excluded me from the fight for first place. I am accused of being too aggressive, that I don't preserve the car. It's the only way in which I conceive racing. Every time I start in order to win. But it's not true that I drive with heart and without brain. My exits off the track always have a logical explanation. They occur when the car doesn't behave normally or when there are issues. Everything is calculated naturally, under my and my car's limits".

 

Jody is a very fast driver, certainly between the best five or six in Formula 1. I don't think, anyway, that he is better than me and I'll try to prove it. Right since 1980 races.

 

"I don't need to physically prepare to racing. I just need to train my driving. Everyone thinks that I lose my mind at every start. It's not true: I'm very cold-minded and conscious about my possibilities".

 

It is clear that these words do not touch the sense of responsibility and the mutual respect of the two drivers. They will fight each other with chivalry and sportsmanship, as Marco Piccinini, sports director of Ferrari, admits:

 

"We're convinced of this. Our team has two authentic champions even in terms of professionality and two drivers that are certainly among the strongest in all Formula 1. Probably it will be difficult to repeat the exceptional results obtained in 1979, but we will do our best to live up to the situation. As long as Williams, Brabham, Ligier, Lotus and Alfa Romeo allow that. These are, in our opinion, the main rivals of Ferrari, of Scheckter and Villeneuve".

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In a ceremony held on Friday, 30th November, 1979, at Palazzo Civico, the President of the Automobile Club d'Italia, Mr Carpi de Resmini and the Mayor of Modena, Mr Bulgarelli, celebrate Enzo Ferrari. On Saturday, 1st December, 1979, the constructor from Modena celebrates his 50 years of Scuderia Ferrari. 

 

"It's an exceptional occasion, and so is the man".

 

Says the mayor while he gives Ferrari a marble miniature of Modena's Romanic cathedral.

 

"We from Modena recognize in Ferrari all the virtues of our people". 

 

In his turn, the president of ACI hands Ferrari the card of honorary member of the association, which qualifies the most eminent protagonists of Italian motoring; in they pass, Tazio Nuvolari, Senator Giovanni Agnelli e Leopoldo Pirelli received it. Carpi recalls Ferrari's entrepreneur skills and his attention to the problems in the sport. Ferrari answers the mayor and Dr. Carpi, with whom he then stops to have a chat. Ferrari is honoured by the acknowledgments, who feels that he does not deserve, because he only did what he liked to do. 

 

"The credit still goes to my collaborators, who were able to interpret my ideas and my needs. I'm not a technician but an agitator of people. I overcame long ago the peak of the mountain and I know what lies ahead: I wish that two of my dreams come true, the first is to work until the last day of my life, the second is that all Italians will recognize themselves as children of a single mother, that is our country, Italy".

 

Ferrari is asked what kind of changes he has noticed in the job world and why that violent climate that can be found anywhere else is not present in his factory. Ferrari answers that he established a mutual respect relationship with his workers, even when it comes to discussing, because there is no doubt that there can be quarrels, and harshly when it is the case. 

 

"Who came to Ferrari after me kept my own way, and the result is that there have never been writings on the walls in Maranello, or violence or intimidations. Of course, this is possible when the factory has humane dimensions. Another secret of this business cohesion is that the employees are member of the same family, fathers, sons, nephews, brothers-in-law: it is a sane nepotism, which stimulates emulation".

 

Winning the 1980 Formula 1 world championship title. This is Renault's ambitious project for next year. After entering the Grand Prix world in 1977, choosing for first the hard way of turbo engines, the French brand claims that it concluded its period of apprenticeship. With a new car, the Elf 20, the two confirmed drivers, Jean Pierre Jabouille as first drive and René Arnoux as valid second drive, the team directed by the former racing champion Gerard Larrousse does not hide his plans of aiming at the prestigious goal. Renault's one is not a declaration of war to Ferrari or the other teams that fight for the title, but the logical conclusion of a vast planning in which they employed a lot of resources, technical and financial commitment. In order to reach such an important and difficult goal, the team had to collect forces and present itself at the start of the season as a compact, determined group. After Ferrari, which in order to honour their role of title defender presented their new T5 before all the others (waiting for the new turbo car that may hit the track in March) and before Alfa Romeo, which will reveal their plans on Thursday, 6th December, 1979, in Arese, Renault Sport wants to reveal its physiognomy through a thorough visit at the new factory in Vry Chatillon, where the headquarters of all sports activities are based. Two buildings in a complex that is about thirty kilometres far from Paris, near the Autoroute du Sud, where the atelier of the late famous engine wizard Amedeo Gordini was, covering a total of 5.000 square metres, divided in four core branches (engines, with five benchmarks, chassis, gearboxes and assembling-selling), constitute the operative centre of Renault Sport. There are 141 employees, among which, besides twelve engineers and fifteen designers, six women. Gerard Larrousse, general manager of Renault Sport, says:

 

"With this small army, we will do our first attempt of winning the world championship. We prepared a new car, the Elf 20, by design similar to the previous model, the RS11, but with important changes that we hope they will solve the issues had so far".

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These are the new features: a chassis that is changed in the details, with a removable nose and now made in carbon fibre. New brakes and callipers, lighter engine and gearbox, redesigned circuits for water and oil and heat changers, shorter exhausts and smaller rear wing.

 

"With these solutions, we obtained a weight reduction of about 30 kilos and an improvement of the car's stance by 50% in terms of resistance. In other words, our car should be more agile, have a greater acceleration and, most importantly, allow quicker starts". 

 

The Renault Elf 20 already hit the track the week before the presentation at Le Castellet for a brief test. In the next days, the car, driven by Jabouille, will be tested first in Argentina and then in Brazil: 

 

"If everything goes well, we will be competitive right since the first races. Even if we believe that Ferrari will still be the car to beat, we place ourselves right after Williams among the candidates for the title". 

 

The activity of the French car maker will not be limited to Formula 1, though. Renault will still bring materials for Formula 3 to private clients and, most importantly, they will start a new adventure in rallying with the R5 Turbo. Right in the last few days, it was officially stated that Renault will launch in spring a R5 Turbo with 185 HP on the market. By building five units of this car every day, they will be able to homologate this car in Group 4 in May and in Group 3 in November. Driven by Jean Ragnotti with the co-driver André, the powerful hatchback with 250 HP will join many races of the French championship and probably the world stage of the Tour de Corse, waiting for making an attempt to climb the ladder of the world championship in 1981 even in this category, if the results are positive. The following day, Alfa Romeo confirms that it will participate to every race of Formula 1 World Championship, with two cars led by the Frenchman Patrick Depailler and the Italian Bruno Giacomelli from Brescia right since the first race in Argentina, with a third one starting from the European stages, for Vittorio Brambilla. It will be, then, the only team with three drivers. The driver from Monza will also have special tasks as test driver. In order to execute such an ambitious plan, not in terms of results, because Engineer Chiti clearly said: "Don't expect miracles, because this is for us the real first year of activity), but as an engagement, the old and glorious factory of Portello had to do a great sacrifice. It left out the traditional red livery of its cars painting their single-seaters for 1980 white and orange, with Marlboro billboards, a munificent sponsor, whose figure is not revealed but it is said to be of over 2 billion lire, which will give financial stability to the team. Ettore Mossaceli, president of Alfa Romeo, affirms:

 

"It wasn't a hard decision, because we would have preferred to keep certain traditions. But, in order to respect the rebalancing plan of our industry, a help will surely be the best. The important thing is having understood that the fans wanted to see us on the grid, and we couldn't give a negative answer. I accepted this effort when, in Monza, I saw how much interested there was towards us".

 

The Alfa 179, anyway, will not only bring the colours and the signs of the tobacco corporation but also those of the technical sponsors. From Scaini, who continues to follow Bruno Giacomelli with passion and affection, to Magneti Marelli, by now essential collaborator of all Formula 1 teams, and then Agip, Goodyear, Plasmon, which came to promote a new diet line of products, Misura, and Personal, which supplies the steering wheels. There is also a small contribution from the friendship that the Autodelta have bound with the acrobatic patrol of the Italian Air Force for five years, with the adoption of the symbol of the Frecce Tricolori. Alfa's plan is defined. On Wednesday, 12th December, 1979, Depailler will hop on the car for the first time at Le Castellet. The French driver, who is recovering from a hang-glider accident, is held to be decisive for the setup of the car. It was pointed out, not randomly, that the absence of Patrick from racing coincided with the downfall of Ligier. This means that he is a necessary man for the development on track. Patrick Depailler states:

 

"I will be waiting six months in order to give a rating".

 

With Bruno Giacomelli, who is absent due to a stop in Argentina in order to continue some tests before the first race, the team from Milan will count on two very valid drivers, obviously together with Brambilla. The cars will be continuously updated, based on the results obtained, waiting for the debut of the turbo car that will start its activity in June. Engineer Chiti, anyway, does not share many details on this solution. 

 

"Don't ask me if I'm already thinking of the turbocharged engine. Now let's see how the current car works". 

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The presentation of the Alfa team for 1980 in the splendid historic museum of the company from Milan, where many protagonists of the present and of the past, among which it is sufficient to mention Luigi Villoresi, is also an occasion to celebrate fiftieth anniversary of the most glorious car of the Quadrifoglio: the 1750 Sei Cilindri, which dominated the races from 1929 to 1931. On Thursday, 13th December, 1979, the Executive Board of FISA, gathered in Paris, decides to keep the current regulation in Formula 1 about turbo engines. Therefore, they may be used at least until 1st January, 1983. This is not what the big teams who were in favour of turbo hoped for. Renault, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari asked for five years, but FISA, even refusing to engage for such a long time, found a compromise. The board asked the small teams, in majority British, against turbo, to build and test the device that regulates the flow of gasoline proposed by them as an alternative and anticipated a future examination of the issue, extended to other problems, such as tyres and aerodynamics, in a meeting that should be held in October 1980. But if in this meeting FISA should declare itself theoretically against keeping, the decision will only become executive two years later. As of the calendar of the next Formula 1 Grands Prix, the United States-East Grand Prix at Watkins Glen is scheduled around 13th April, but it is not completely sure. The Mexico Grand Prix was postponed to 1981 for safety reasons, since the structure is not OK. The issue with the Brazil Grand Prix is still very delicate, after the contrary standpoint. The representative of constructors, Bernie Ecclestone, and the representative of drivers, the World Champion Jody Scheckter, are clashing. The date for the Germany Grand Prix will change, and it is scheduled for 10th August, 1980, in order to avoid concurrency with the Moscow Olympics. The Italian Grand Prix, instead, is still tied to the traditional date in September, on the 14th, exceptionally in Imola. In Paris, Scheckter and Ferrari are awarded for the victory of the Formula 1 World Championship. An acknowledgement is also assigned to Lancia, which won the Sport Prototypes World Championship, 2000 cc category, with the Beta Montecarlo Turbo. A latest update from the French front. Patrick Depailler drove the Alfa Romeo, but it appears that the test was not so positive. The driver suffered much pain in the lower limbs, fractured in June in the horrible crash with his hang-glider. Depailler may be replaced in the first two races of the season by Tambay.

 

Meanwhile, it is revealed that the American Don Nicholls, patron of Shadow, who at his time won the cause against Arrows for plagiarism, started an injunction procedure against Lotus. Nicholls wants to prevent Elio De Angelis from joining Colin Chapman's team, thus breaking the contract that would have tied him for two more years to Shadow. During a hearing preliminarily held at the High Court of justice in London on Friday, 7th December, 1979, the Roman driver engages himself in not signing any contract for Lotus or any other team in the period before Tuesday, 11th December, 1979. In that date, the legal action promoted by Shadow will be debated before the British magistrate. From his side, Lotus engages itself in not doing negotiations before the established date with De Angelis for seasons 1980 and 1981. With this legal proceeding, the drivers' situation is obviously blocked not only for Shadow and Lotus, but also for Williams, which, as is known, was trying to take Carlos Reutemann from Lotus. Starting from Friday, 21th December, 1979, a new team officially enters the Formula 1 world. It is a new Italian team, the one owned by Enzo Osella. In almost fifteen years of activity in sports, ranging as Formula 2 constructor, Osella had some important wins in the international scene with cars driven by a large number of drivers. Such a business had to result into the goal of racing in Grands Prix, the highest expression of motorsports. The dream of Osella has come true at the price of an enormous effort and a generous technical and organisational engagement. Everything is due to the passion and seriousness of a man who learned the basics of a hard job in his father's workshop in Via Guastalla, one of the most popular suburbs of Turin. It is even redundant to say that Osella's entry into Formula 1 is full of recurrencies and historical links with the city that was and still is the house of Italian motorsports. It is enough recalling a precedent of a team from Turin, Lancia, who entered Formula 1 in the 50s and left the circus in 1955, leaving all his precious materials to Ferrari. It is sufficient to notice that Osella himself had a long period of apprenticeship at Abarth, a business in which he has now become the natural heir in this field. And, if this were not enough, for those who do not believe in the value of some predestination of names. Osella is called Enzo, just like Ferrari. Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Osella: now there are three Italian teams in Formula 1, four if we consider Arturo Merzario, who, even focusing on Formula Aurora and Formula 2 for 1980, did not still completely abandon the highest formula. Of course, the plan of the constructor from Turin (he was born in Cambiano on 26th August, 1939) is not presumptuous. 

 

"The next championship will be used as experience. Don't expect exceptional results, because you can't improvise here. We analysed what was done by the competitors, translating it into a production adapted to our artisanal environment. The car is more than traditional: we needed it in order to run as many kilometres as possible. It's useless to try to do more than we can. We installed a Cosworth engine and a 5-gear Hewland transmission. As of aerodynamics, we delved more into what we already did on the Formula 2 car. Let's say that we took inspiration from Williams but I don't know how far we succeeded. Unfortunately, we had very little time, since we had to debut in Belgium mid-season instead of doing it in Argentina on 13th January. We will certainly have a lot of issues. We also need to think that, in Formula 2 and sportscars, we have always been working with Pirelli and now we have to use Goodyear tyres. We weren't able to work enough on aerodynamics, too. The car is very clean underneath, a real wingcar, but above we can't fully understand its performance. We hope Pininfarina let us do some tests in the wind tunnel".

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A car for racing in all championship races, starting from the Argentine Gran Prix. Then, maybe, a second car that will debut in the European races. The first driver will be, as is known, Eddie Cheever, the same driver who won three races in the past Formula 2 season. A serious guy, a professional who makes an impression with his determination and his desire to succeed. Born in Phoenix, Arizona, on 10th January, 1958 - he will turn 22 only in the eve of the Buenos Aires stage - living in Rome since he was 4, Cheever acquired the Italian nationality. 

 

"I started to race at 12 with karts, and I believe that I have a good amount of experience, even if I still need to learn a lot, especially when it comes to get to know tracks and opponents. I don't think that I can identify with other drivers. I'm not a Villeneuve, for example. Last year I didn't break a single car. I go to bed every night at 11 PM, I get up at 8:00 a.m., I exercise". 

 

Subsequently, after Cheever, another driver will be hired. There are advanced talks with Piercarlo Ghinzani, Italian Formula 2 champion, one of the best products of the national youth. At the moment, anyway, Osella will bet all on Cheever and on one single car. With the aerospace engineer Giorgio Stirano, who curated the car's design, the team will Gianfranco Palazzoli as manager. There is still something to say about the car. The Osella FA1 is a wingcar with ground effect, powered by a Ford Cosworth engine; the line is very interesting, it looks a bit like the Ligier one. It has a tubular frame. It will bring a white and blue livery with #30. Moreover, as Enzo Osella reminds, since the budget for a Formula 1 is around 1.15 billion lire, the livery comes from the two sponsors, Demin perfumes and the Monopolio Tabacchi (Italian tobacco monopoly), who catches the opportunity to reassert the name MS, the best-selling Italian cigarette in the world. Few days later, on Wednesday, 26th December, 1979, on Boxing Day (Saint Stephen), in Roncadelle, a small town in the plains of Brescia, the door of the town hall is destroyed with a blowtorch in order to let a race car come through in the council room, the Formula 1 Alfa Romeo model 177, and for a public interview to Bruno Giacomelli, who, in fact, lives in Roncadelle, and that in 1980 will be the official driver of the Milan factory. In the small town hall, 600 people gather, while other two thousand people stay out in the rain. Bruno Giacomelli, 27, former mechanic, coming from a very modest family, answers the greetings from the mayor and the fans' questions. What is the relationship between car and driver? 

 

"Now it's 70% for the car and 305 for the driver. The ideal thing is having perfectly equal cars, then the man will have supremacy again".

 

If Alfa didn't have sponsors, may it still race in Formula 1? 

 

"I don't know exactly, but I think that they may, because Formula 1 stimulates you to always find new solutions, which are useful in road cars too". 

 

How many chances does Alfa have to join the race for the World Championship? 

 

"Few, because it has been far from races for 28 years and now it has to follow the others. In 1980, I would be happy to win at least one Grand Prix".

 

When will Alfa have ha turbo engine? 

 

"I don't think before 1981. Now we're already working on a 4-, 6- and 8-cylinder engine".

 

Which driver inspired you? 

 

"No one ever in particular. I always try to improve the qualities that I driver must have, intelligence and courage in the right balance: it's not true that we're crazy".

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What does Giacomelli think about himself? 

 

"Until now, everything went too well. I'm only missing winning the title of Formula 1 World Champion. I know that it's very hard: it takes a sum of many factors. I'll still do everything to win, even if it'll take five years. In 1980, I'll be an apprentice. So, I'm not rushing".

 

Was it hard to join Formula 1? 

 

"If I was a billionaire, I would have joined before, of course".

 

What was your worst day? 

 

"There were a lot, but the worst one was the Monza incident of last year, where Peterson lost his life. I was there in the middle, I didn't touch anyone, but I passed through a hell and I was very scared".

 

And your best day? 

 

"Every time I won. The success that made me the happiest, though, was the one at Hockenheim, in Formula 2, on 24th September, 1978. I dedicated that to Peterson".

 

While the teams refine the setup of their cars, it is already time of predictions. One of the main protagonists of the 1980 season will still be the Canadian Gilles Villeneuve, together with Jody Scheckter, behind the wheel of Ferrari. A driver that was often contested in the past season due to his reckless driving, and eventually excluding himself from the fight for the World Championship right after some of his suicidal race tactics, Villeneuve now announces again that he is running for the title:

 

"Even in 1980, my goal will be the World Championship win, using the same racing style. The temper is something that I can't manage, so in 1980 you'll see the same Villeneuve, exactly the one who raced on the kerbs".

 

This behaviour certainly did not make him popular among the majority of the Italian fans, but there is still someone who appreciated his aggressive approach, contrasting with the cold and rational style of his teammate Scheckter. Villeneuve confirms the intention of battling with everyone, even the South African driver: 

 

"If the other drivers will be faster, I won't fight with Scheckter, but it we are on the same level, I will attack him too, even if beating Jody won't be easy at all".

 

The cars are always faster and the circuits are always less safe. GPDA's standpoint does not completely find Villeneuve's agreement: 

 

"We can't change tracks forever, so the cars change. First things to do? Remove skirts, add weight to the car and change the position of the wings".

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The Formula 1 World Championship, which will start on Sunday, 13th January, 1980, in Argentina, appears with two faces. On the agonistic level, at least on paper, the 1980 season will undoubtedly be one of the most interesting in the last few years. There will be multiple themes dominating this long series of races in schedule. Briefly, Ferrari will try to defend the win obtained in 1979, but it will be attacked by many teams that are charged with revenge spirit. The other face, not les captivating in terms of interest, but much more obscure and full of unknown sides, will be the different issues that have to be tackled. Rules and circuits will end on the dock of the accused and other surprised are expected, which certainly will not help the highest expression of motorsports, even if they may lead to a better desirable clarity. Starting from the schedule, that initially should have included eighteen races. After the definitive cancellation of the Swedish Grand Prix due to financial issues, the dates of some races are still not confirmed. It appeared, before the FIA meeting, that the Mexico Grand Prix would be resumed, planned on 14th April, 1980. This stage, instead, has been postponed and probably would be held in 1981. On the contrary, the much-discussed United States East Grand Prix in Watkins Glen stayed on the schedule. If this race will be held, there will be three stages in the United States. The most likely solution is that Watkins Glen will be cancelled from the calendar. In this case, Las Vegas will replace it, which, anyway, would be anticipated on 19th October, 1980. This situation is still pretty confused. Much will depend on the decision of the Drivers' Association. These, this time, are led by Jody Scheckter, president of the Safety Committee, ready to defend their own decisions. The same drivers anticipated a kind of contestation already in the first two races in the schedule, Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. The two South American circuits are considered dangerous, the former because the asphalt is old and very slippery, the latter because there have never been the necessary works that are needed to lower its dangerousness.
 
The Argentinian organisers promised that by 13th January, 1980, the asphalt of the track will be new and completely redone. If the promise will be kept, every problem will be solved. The situation in Brazil looks more difficult instead, where the updates to be made are much more expensive and there is not enough time. It is likely that the race will be held, but it is certain that the drivers, supported by the majority of the teams, will do a demonstration in order to raise their voice in other occasions. In conclusion, there will be contestations right from the start. Obviously, everything will depend on the situation that will be determined in the first race. That is because even the drivers talk a lot, but when there are points for the World Championship to obtain, they will shut up. Of course, the championship comes before everything else. Nobody is really the favourite, since there are a lot of unknown issues to tackle and solve. All teams, the new and the old ones, those who hire new drivers and those who held the same from 1979, will have their headaches. Starting from Ferrari. In Maranello's team, the South African Scheckter will still be the number one, and he wants to win the title again. Gilles Villeneuve, anyway, does not hide his ambitions. He never did, actually, and of course he will attack his teammate, even if he will do it with conscience. Always theoretically, although there are a lot of teams that aim high, Ferrari might have Williams as its main antagonist, which was the team which dominated in the second part of last season, but the British team may have made a mistake that can cost dearly. Placing next to Alan Jones a man of high value but troubled like Carlos Reutemann may have been a reckless move. Between the two drivers, there have already been a few remote quarrels. During some tests done in Argentina, Jones states verbatim: 

 

"I don't want troublemakers in the team".

 

This was not the best way to start. Only if Williams will appear clearly better than all the other cars, the issue will be solved in an internal fight. If this supremacy will not happen, instead, there will be a lot of trouble. Ferrari and Williams, in any case, will have to deal with many other antagonists. There is a completely renewed Brabham, with two very young drivers, which puts itself as third party. Piquet is very strong and is considered a potential future World Champions, and Zunino might be a dangerous outsider when he will have adapted to the environment and to the car. Neither Renault should be underrated, which with its Elf 20 turbo will aim at the World Championship victory. With two close-knit and skilled drivers such as Jabouille and Arnoux, and with the value of the supercharged engine, the French house, which has large resources, may be considered as a high-level candidate. This season may also be full of possible surprises: a return to peak performance can be expected for Lotus, which put together the expert Andretti and the young Italian driver Elio De Angelis, but also for Tyrrell, which is always competitive, and for Ligier, which did not forget the bitterness of last year. There is also much curiosity about the debut in Formula 1 of many young new drivers, which are skilled but, most importantly, very aggressive. From Piquet to Prost, to the already expert but not yet lucky Rosberg, to Daly, everyone will try to make forget the exit from the circus of Hunt and Lauda. last few words for the two Italian teams, Alfa Romeo and Osella. It should be the year of adjustment for the team from Milan, and an apprenticeship season for the team from Turin with Cheever. With the hope that many efforts will be rewarded.


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