Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, Monza September 9, 1979
A renewed Monza hosted the 50th Italian Grand Prix on September 9th, 1979. The Formula 1 teams took their place in the new paddocks, built behind the boxes building, while ProCar Championship Teams with their BMW M1 cars, were placed in the area of the old garages. The fight for the title of drivers world champion, was restricted to the two Ferrari drivers, Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve with the Ferrari T4 and to the French Jacques Laffite with the Ligier JS11, thanks to a particular attribution of scores. While between the two Ferrari drivers the solution was already obvious as Villeneuve had been assigned the role of Scheckter's bodyguard, Laffite fought until the lap 41, when due to a wrong gear change, the engine suffered an overspeed and a return spring of a valve of his Ford Cosworth DFV yielded. The Ferrari one-two therefore, world title for Jody Scheckter and third place for Clay Regazzoni.
In the picture the Tyrrell 009, built for the 1979 season and driven at Monza by Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jarier. It was called the blue Lotus because basically it was an almost perfect copy of the Lotus 79 that won the World Championship the previous year. It was a classic wing-car that during the season obtained a series of good placings that brought the Tyrrell Team to the fifth place in the constructors' ranking. At Monza, Pironi and Jarier qualified 12th and 16th respectively and ended the race with a sixth place for Jarier and a tenth place for Pironi who was delayed for a pit stop on lap eight due to a badly working miniskirt.
The McLaren M29 was introduced mid-season to replace the disastrous M28. The new car had a monocoque chassis built with aluminum panels instead of honeycomb panels that constituted the M28 chassis that suffered from serious problems of lack of rigidity. Despite the new car the McLaren season was a season to forget. At Monza Patrick Tambay qualified in 14th place and in the race he retired on the third lap due to the engine failure. John Watson in practice did not go beyond the 19th place and in the race he retired, due to out of track at the first variant after only 12 laps thanks, according to John, to a wheel hit given by the aggressive Jarier. In the picture the mechanical historian of James Hunt in McLaren, "Kojak" Ray Grant (the one with lots of hair).
The Arrows A2 was designed by Tony Southgate and Dave Wass for the 1979 season and debuted at the French Grand Prix in Dijon. The car was a total wing-car with extreme aerodynamics with the sides extending to incorporate, with a wing profile, the upper rockers of the front suspensions. The rear wing was very low with side supports connected to the bodywork. The engine and the gearbox were the usual Ford Coswoth DFV and Hewland FGA 400 but they were inclined 2.5 degrees towards the rear of the car to get more space for the extractor. The aerodynamic load was really remarkable but the overall balance of the car was precarious and the problems of porpoising made the driving very difficult so that on several occasions the car of the past year was used. Riccardo Patrese and Jochen Mass qualified for 17th and 21st. The Mass race ended on the third lap due to suspension problems while Patrese retired two laps from the end due to the detachment of the lower engine fairing.
After forcibly abandon of the 80 model, Team Lotus returned to use the updated version 79. In reality, Carlos Reutemann never used the Lotus 80, always preferring the 79 while Mario Andretti used it only in 3 Grands Prix. At Monza Andretti and Reutemann qualified 10th and 13th and finished respectively 5th and 7th.
The ATS D3 was the car of the German team headed by the despotic Hans Gunther Schmidt who was introduced, in mid-season, in a single model and was a development of the D2 model that suffered from serious handling problems. The car designed by Nigel Stroud had a new monocoque and new suspensions. Hans-Joachim Stuck with the only car in the race qualified in 15th place and finished 11th. In the picture we see Gunther Schmidt, with glasses and Morris Nunn of Ensign talking together.
The Fittipaldi F6 Copersucar was designed by Ralph Bellamy, it was a wing-car with a slim chassis built with aluminum honeycomb panels produced by Embraer and characterized by very short side pods and very backward so as to move the pressure center towards the rear so that the initial design did not foresee the use of the rear wing. Initially the car was equipped with a system of bellows miniskirts that never worked. After the South Africa Grand Prix debut, at Kyalami, due to the obvious problems of handling and lack of speed, the car was withdrawn and developed in the F6A version. In the meantime the car of the previous year was used, the F5. The car in the picture is the F6A chassis #2, brought to Monza as a spare car and not used. Emerson Fittipaldi used the car with chassis #1, also this one, equipped with different aerodynamic solutions and modified side pods. Fittipaldi qualified in 20th place and finished the race in eighth position.
The Merzario A4 of the brave Arturo who unfortunately failed to qualify for the Grand Prix. The car was derived from the Kauhsen WK1 / 004, because in mid-season Merzario took over the Willy Kauhsen materials that had ceased its activity in Formula 1. The A4 Merzario, replaced the A2 and A3 versions that had not proved competitive. The A4 also was not competitive, and the 1979 season, after a series of missed qualifiers, marked the last season of the Merzario in Formula 1.
The Shadow DN9B by Jan Lammers. The Dutch driver missed the qualification. The DN9B, developed on Tony Southgate's original project a couple of years earlier, was never competitive enough to allow his drivers to get honorable placings. The only points scored in the season derived from a fourth place obtained by Elio De Angelis in the last Grand Prix of the season at Watkins Glen.
The Mexican Héctor Rebaque, tried to qualify the debutant Rebaque HR100, a car inspired by the Lotus 79 with which he had started the season. The car, designed by Geoff Ferris and built in the Penske factory in Poole in England, was finished to assembly in the pits and was forced to give up the first free practice session, then due to obvious problems of lack of preparation, he failed to qualified. Rebaque ran the last two Grand Prix of the season with the HR100 qualifying only at the Canadian Grand Prix where he was forced to retire due to the engine failure.
Elio De Angelis intent to sign autographs. The Shadow's driver, managed to qualify his DN9B in last place, less than two tenths from his teammate Jan Lammers, first of not-qualified. His race was stopped on lap 34 due to a puncture to a front tire that forced him to had a pit-stop. At the time of leaving, the clutch burned and he was forced to retire.
BMW M1 ProCar Championship
In the biennium 1979-80, a mono-brand championship called the BMW M1 ProCar (Production Car) Championship was organized by BMW, following the idea of the founder of the racing department and former driver Jochen Neerpasch. The Formula 1 drivers, Makes World Championship drivers and European Touring Championship drivers took part in the championship. The cars were the BMW M1 prepared, according to the specifications of Group 4, by teams chosen by BMW itself. The cars were prepared by the BB Fabricatons (the 5 samples taken on the track directly from the BMW) by the Osella and by Project Four. The engine was the six-cylinder in-line 3.5-liter M88 / 1 capable of over 460 hp. The races, in 1979, took place on Saturday in the same Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend. At Monza there was the last race, decisive for the title awarding. The victory went to Hans-Joachim Stuck and Niki Lauda, with the second place, obtained the title of Champion ProCar 1979 with the car prepared by Team Project Four, third was the German Marcus Höttinger and in the fourth place ended Helmut Kelleners. Very pleased was Bernie Ecclestone who obtained, as agreed, the Lauda end of season award: A brand-new BMW M1 road car.