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01 mai 2015

Quatre après-midis de chien... (*)

ayrton senna,gilles villeneuve,luigi musso,jochen rindt,roland ratzenberger,imola 1er mai

Il y a tout juste vingt ans, la formule 1 connut à Imola un de ses week-ends les plus noirs, perdant simultanément son leader déjà mythique et aussi, ne l'oublions pas, un pilote autrichien prometteur et débutant, prémices d'une année sombre.

Beaucoup se remémorèrent alors des images déjà vues douze ans auparavant en Belgique avec la disparition presque en direct du petit prince de la discipline, au sein d’une année elle aussi  passablement tourmentée.

Certains un peu moins jeunes revirent aussi les images de la tragédie ayant eu pour cadre le Parc de la Villa Reale à Monza, là encore douze ans avant Zolder, où le presque champion du monde charismatique perdit soudainement la vie, aggravant ainsi le bilan d’une année qui fut elle aussi terrible.

Enfin les plus anciens ne purent s’empêcher de se rappeler la tout aussi dramatique année 1958, avec comme point d’orgue le très richement doté Grand Prix de l’ACF à Reims qui fut fatal à un bel italien au regard ténébreux, ultime représentant de son pays dans la formule reine. Ces faits se déroulèrent une fois de plus douze ans avant Monza.

J’avoue avoir appréhendé l’année 2006. Mais au passage du XXIe siècle, le sortilège fort heureusement semble enfin avoir été rompu.

Reprenons ces quatre épisodes dans l’ordre chronologique.

(*) Réédition de la note du 30 avril 2014

Lire la suite

05 septembre 2014

Autodromo Nazionale di Monza

Des Houches – entrée de la vallée de Chamonix - à Monza, il n’y a jamais que 261km, ceci depuis que le Tunnel du Mont Blanc a récemment été terminé. C’est nettement moins que la distance du Grand Prix d’Italie 1970, qui lui en totalise 391. C’est la fin des vacances, Monza c’est notre ultime récré avant la rentrée au « bahut », départ le 4 septembre.

- Voir aussi: Monza, septembre 1970

monza 1970,jochen rindt

 par Francis Rainaut

monza 1970,jochen rindt

L'année dernière on a levé le pouce pour se rendre dans le parc de la Villa Reale. Mais cette année j'irai avec le cousin Jo au guidon d'une vénérable DKW Rt250, on a  rendez-vous avec les autres venus en stop devant le paddock. La décavée, ancêtre de toutes les japonaises 2 temps, a été relookée orange papaye et noir mat, ce qui bien évidemment change tout ! A se demander d'où nous est venue cette inspiration... Et puis DKW c'est aussi Auto-Union, la marque aux anneaux, il est vrai qu'à cette époque on s'en fiche un tout petit peu.

Question permis, je me suis inscrit à la licence moto pour la rentrée, mon pécule gagné cet été à la Saviem a été réinvesti dans une Moto Morini, en attendant je peaufine mon expérience sur les routes italiennes, E basta con carabinieri !

Mes cousins et moi on va à Monza en espérant surtout voir gagner une Matra. On ne sait pas encore que le châssis MS120 est loin d’être à la hauteur du MS80, on imagine encore que ça n’est qu’une histoire de moteur qui peut toujours progresser en puissance et en fiabilité.

monza 1970,jochen rindt

Après tout, les BRM étaient bien à l’agonie il y a quelques mois. Puis tout s’est mis en place : nouvel ingénieur, nouvelle livrée « classe » et pour finir victoire éclatante sur le juge de paix qu’est le circuit de Spa, le vrai, celui de quatorze et quelques kilomètres, celui qui « différencie les hommes des petits garçons » enfin d'après Dan Gurney. Quant au boxer Ferrari, il ne fait que monter en puissance, comme ses pilotes, l'ancien et les deux italiens (ou peu s'en faut), quatrièmes tous les deux dès leur premier Grand Prix. Les douze cylindres sont bien là, on parle en coulisse d'un futur V12 Ford Weslake, les jours du V8 sont comptés.

monza 1970,jochen rindt

Alors ça pourrait bien être le jour de l'équipe Matra-Elf, c'est peut-être bien pour un futur podium, ou bien encore parce qu'il fait vraiment très chaud que JPB se fait rafraîchir la coupe à l'intérieur du paddock, celui avec les pavés rouges et les portes vert olive. Et nul besoin de tirer un rideau de fer, « notre » Beltoise n'a rien à cacher, Bernie n'est encore « que » le manager d'un pilote largement en tête du championnat du monde, il ne gère pas encore les accréditations et encore moins les « Hospitality », un mot qui de toutes façons n'existe pas encore dans l'univers de la Formule 1, encore moins chez les amateurs de sport.

monza 1970,jochen rindt

Le paddock pour le moment, on en fait notre affaire. Deux méthodes au moins: escalader le grillage, ou encore distraire l'attention de l'un des deux cerbères - ou plus exactement gardiens, le paddock est tout sauf l'enfer - postés à l'entrée principale, c'est la deuxième qui a notre préférence. Pour la tribune au-dessus des stands, c'est la méthode italienne, génie et inventivité : un même billet attaché à un fil peut ainsi donner l'accès à une vingtaine au moins de tifosis dont nous faisons partie, évidemment.

"Le soir tombe sur cette route
En passant vous souriez
Vous vous amusez sans doute
De ce que je suis à pieds..."

Mon frère arrivé plus tôt assiste aux essais du jeudi, ceux où les Formule 1 n'ont pas encore oté leurs ailerons. La DKW nous joue en effet un tour à sa façon en serrant peu avant d’arriver sur Milan. Qu’à cela ne tienne, nous sommes au paradis de la mécanique et le patron jovial d’un petit atelier nous assure qu’il aura le nouveau piston en début de semaine, qu’il se charge de le remonter après avoir réalésé, il nous promet aussi que nous pourrons repartir en France sans trop de retard, rentrée oblige ! Prendi la cosi... D'ici là la vieille dame sera bien au chaud. Première séance loupée, donc.

monza 1970,jochen rindt

Il fait beau ce samedi 5 septembre, cela promet d'être une belle journée. Première étape, le paddock : t'as vu, Jean-Pierre, il ne veut pas avoir les cheveux aussi longs que Johnny (Servoz). A l'époque, la longueur de cheveux, c'est un sujet sérieux avec lequel on ne blague pas. D’un garage à l’autre, on touche de très très près notre passion. C'est normal, nous sommes dans le temple de la vitesse. Tiens, regardes, Regazzoni n’est pas encore passé à l’intégral.

Un peu plus tard: alors tu l'as vue la Tyrrell ? C'est vrai qu'elle ressemble à la MS80 ? Et Fittipaldi, qu'est-ce qui lui est-il arrivé ? La F1 c'est pas la F3, même si Ronnie...

Ensuite on est monté sur la terrasse au-dessus des boxes, pour voir la deuxième séance d’essais « in situ ». Les Ferrari, à l’inverse des Matra, paraissent très en forme, oubliée la débâcle de 1969. Certains pilotes ne sont pas sûrs de se qualifier, elle n'est pourtant pas vilaine cette M7D Alfa...

monza 1970,jochen rindt

Et puis soudain, le volubile commentateur italien se mit à parler d’une voix plus solennelle, mezzo forte,  nul besoin de parler italien pour comprendre qu’il venait de se passer quelque chose de très grave. On devina les mots Rindt, Lotus, grave incidente, Parabolica…

Alors en très peu de temps une chape de plomb s’abattit sur le circuit. Je ne me souviens plus comment, mais rapidement la nouvelle du décès de Jochen Rindt a circulé dans le Parc de Monza. A la fin de l’après-midi, l’information était devenue officielle. Nous étions choqués et même atterrés d'apprendre qu’un champion qu’on était tranquillement en train de filmer quelques heures avant venait de perdre brutalement la vie.

monza 1970,jochen rindt

Lentement les qualifications reprennent… On retrouve cinq V12 dans les trois premières lignes, mais aucun qui puisse nous faire entendre le chant du coq, chez les gaulois seul le « débutant » François Cevert s’en sort à peu près bien avec sa rustique March 701, après une grosse frayeur lors des premiers essais. Ne parlons pas d'Amon, quelle folie d'avoir lâché Ferrari !

Le dimanche est comme on le sait un autre jour, nous étions venu voir un Grand Prix de Formule 1, lo spettacolo deve continuare...

Le quasi italiano (1) Gian Claudio « Clay » Regazzoni saisit crânement sa chance, un peu à la manière d’un Daniel Ricciardo en 2014. Une nouvelle fois Beltoise tira le maximum de sa MS120 pour accrocher le podium. Cette victoire arrangea tout le monde, les tifosis fêtèrent comme il se doit la victoire Ferrari (2), Jochen lui gardait toutes ses chances d’être sacré champion du monde, du moins à titre posthume. Champion du monde il l’était incontestablement, il avait ébloui la saison de toute sa classe. On était loin des débuts turbulents du blouson doré de Graz, s’en rappeler nous avait rendu le personnage d’autant plus sympathique, pas vraiment conforme aux standards de la profession. Pas une pop star, mais presque. On n'oublia pas de se joindre à la marée humaine qui déboula sur le tarmac, pour fêter les héros du jour. Au sein d'un temple, il est important de communier.

 

©Motor Racing Diary Vol10

En quittant Monza le lendemain, on avait tous vieilli de quelques années en un seul week-end. La faucheuse cette fois, on l’avait vue à l’œuvre presqu’en face de nous, elle n’avait plus la forme d’un communiqué abstrait lu dans les potins de Sport-auto ou entendu à la radio. Peu de temps après le grand Jimi tira sa révérence, s’en fut alors bien fini de l’enfance et de son innocence.

On récupéra la DKW réparée avec un peu de retard, Ma scusi !, on occupa le temps en flirtant un peu avec la fille du mécano, et dans l’affaire j'arrivais en retard pour la rentrée scolaire.

Mais quelle importance cela pouvait-il bien avoir, à coté tout ce que l’on avait vécu en quelques jours...

"Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away..."

monza 1970,jochen rindt

 

Epilogue:

monza 1970,jochen rindtLors d'un récent voyage touristique à Milan, j’ai tenu - en plus de la célèbre Scala - à rendre visite à ce cher « Autodrome Nazionale », même en l’absence de toute manifestation sportive. Sitôt arrivés nous nous sommes dirigés vers l’ancien paddock afin de retrouver le décor et un peu de cette ambiance des 60’. Exercice difficile, pour autant les garages sont toujours là, même si leurs portes ont troqué la couleur vert olive contre un plastique blanc nettement plus vulgaire. Au sol toujours les mêmes pavés rouges, il ne leur manque que la parole pour nous raconter toutes ces histoires de 12 cylindres Ferrari, de Surtees, de Pedro, de Jackie, de Niki et de tous les autres bien sûr, parmi lesquels figurera toujours en bonne place l’autrichien Jochen Rindt (3).

 

Cela ne dérangerait probablement ni les joggeurs, ni les familles, encore moins les calmes promeneurs arpentant les allées majestueuses du Parco Di Monza.

monza 1970,jochen rindt

 

monza 1970,jochen rindt

 

(1) Originaire du Tessin, seul canton suisse exclusivement italophone.

(2) Après quatre années d'abstinence.

(3) Revoir Nina Rindt l'année dernière à Montlhéry, accompagnée d'Helen & Jackie Stewart, fut un autre grand moment d'émotion.

 

- Photo 9 ©D.R..

- Autres photos ©Rainaut Frères

30 avril 2014

Quatre après-midis de chien...

Il y a tout juste vingt ans, la formule 1  connut à Imola un de ses week-ends les plus noirs, perdant simultanément son  leader déjà mythique et aussi, ne l'oublions pas, un pilote autrichien prometteur et débutant, prémices à une année sombre.

Ayrton.jpg

Beaucoup se remémorèrent alors des images déjà vues douze ans auparavant en Belgique avec la disparition presque en direct du petit prince de la discipline, au sein d’une année elle aussi  passablement tourmentée.

Certains un peu moins jeunes revirent aussi les images de la tragédie ayant eu pour cadre le Parc de la Villa Reale à Monza, là encore douze ans avant Zolder, où le presque champion du monde charismatique perdit soudainement la vie, agravant ainsi le bilan d’une année qui fut terrible.

Enfin les plus anciens ne purent s’empêcher de se rappeler la tout aussi dramatique année 1958, avec comme point d’orgue le très richement doté Grand Prix de l’ACF à Reims qui fut fatal à un bel italien au regard ténébreux, ultime représentant de son pays dans la formule reine. Ces faits se déroulèrent une fois de plus douze ans avant Monza.

J’avoue avoir appréhendé l’année 2006. Mais au passage du XXIe siècle, le sortilège fort heureusement semble enfin avoir été rompu.

Reprenons ces quatre épisodes dans l’ordre chronologique.

 

Acte 1. 1958 - Reims, Le tout pour le tout

ayrton senna,gilles villeneuve,luigi musso,jochen rindt,roland ratzenberger,imola 1er maiLuigi Musso arrive à Reims très déterminé. Face à une paire de britanniques ligués contre lui (Hawthorn et Collins), le champion italien veut reprendre le leadership du championnat, il tient surtout à empocher la super-prime de dix millions de francs – cinq fois le montant normal - attribuée au vainqueur du Grand Prix de l'A.C.F. , la course des producteurs viticoles champenois.

Juste avant la course, Musso a reçu un télégramme de son associé Mario Borniglia, mi-sérieux mi-blageur : « Gagnes, the IOU (la dette) doit être réglée demain ». Ses affaires d’importation de Plymouth (ou Pontiac) américaines vont mal - certains évoqueront la « Pieuvre » -  sa vie sentimentale, qu’il partage avec la belle Fiamma, est un peu compliquée, il a laissé femme et enfants à Rome et leur doit à juste titre une pension conséquente.

Bien placé sur la ligne de départ, Luigi ne tient surtout pas à se faire distancer par ce « garagiste anglais » mieux parti que lui. Survient le 9e tour (ou 10e, selon certaines sources), où Musso s’est rapproché mètre après mètre de la Ferrari de Mike Hawthorn.

 Il tente alors de mettre en pratique les conseils du grand Fangio sur la façon de prendre les virages le plus vite possible, et négocie la courbe du Calvaire complètement « flat-out » en débordant un attardé. Il perd alors le contrôle de sa Ferrari N° 2 qui s’envole dans un champ;  Musso est éjecté, tout s'est joué en un instant, c’est fini. Le pilote romain s’en est allé rejoindre son ami Castellotti, parti quelques mois auparavant seulement. L'année précédente, Musso avait gagné ici même au volant d'une Ferrari portant également le N°2.

La course ne fut pas interrompue pour autant. Il importait qu’elle eut un vainqueur, Mike Hawthorn en remportant l’épreuve pris une sérieuse option sur le titre.

Dès lors l’époque des campionissimo toucha à sa fin. Plus personne, excepté l’américain Phil Hill, n’allait pouvoir empêcher la mainmise des sujets de sa gracieuse majesté sur le championnat du monde des pilotes, jusqu’à ce qu’un autrichien talentueux...

collins.jpg

En cette maudite année 1958, la liste des disparus ne fera que s’allonger : Peter Collins allait se tuer un mois plus tard sur le circuit du Nürburgring, ensuite ce fut le tour de Stuart Lewis-Ewans à Casablanca dans des circonstances plutôt horribles. Le nouveau champion du monde Mike Hawthorn ne bénéficiera lui que de quelques mois de sursis.

Quant au sort de la ravissante Fiamma Breschi, le Commendatore prendra soin d'elle, mais ceci est une autre histoire qu'elle nous a elle-même racontée dans un livre intitulé « Il Mio Ferrari - Memorie di una Signora della Formula 1 ».

 

Acte 2. 1970 – Monza, Assurer la dernière levée

Jochen-und-Nina-Rindt.jpg

Tout autre etait l’état d’esprit de Jochen Rindt en abordant la course de Monza. On pourrait le rapprocher de celui du joueur de bridge qui sait qu’il est en très bonne voie pour réussir son contrat, mais qui pour cette même raison veut absolument remporter la levée décisive de peur que la chance ne lui tourne le dos. En  se positionnant en haut du classement ici-même en Italie,  Rindt aborderait les Grand Prix de fin de saison outre-atlantique d’une façon totalement sereine.

Jochen en effet n’est déjà plus le jeune chien fou qu’il était encore quelque temps auparavant. Il a trouvé en Nina son point d'équilibre, il commence à se projeter au-delà de sa carrière de pilote, il pourrait diriger une équipe à son nom, il a déjà eu des projets avec Matra et même avec Robin Herd.

Seulement rien ne fonctionne comme prévu. Un nouveau châssis Lotus comportant de nombreuses améliorations techniques dont des freins avant repensés est prévu pour lui, c'est le 72/5. Afin de l'aider dans sa tâche, un Cosworth plein de chevaux ira avec. Las, aux essais du vendredi, le néophyte Fittipaldi chargé de dégrossir les réglages du nouveau châssis part à la faute et entre en collision avec Giunti. Exit la 72/5, Jochen conduira son habituelle 72/2.

rindt.jpgOn sait ce qu'il advint le lendemain, l'accident fut très certainement dû à la rupture de l'arbre de frein avant droit, pièce qui comportait un défaut de fabrication, aggravée par le fait que Rindt n'utilisait que des harnais quatre points au lieu de six.

J'étais présent à Monza ce 5 septembre 1970, nous nous étions, mes cousins et moi, introduits - subrepticement - dans le paddock comme nous le faisions habituellement  pour côtoyer au plus près nos héros. J'ai encore en tête l'image du Gold Leaf Team Lotus au complet parlant technique dans l' « hospitality » du Team dont la plus grande partie se trouvait alors en plein air.

Lorsque le speaker annonça la funeste nouvelle, nul besoin de parler italien pour comprendre, ce fut comme une chape de plomb qui s'abattit sur le circuit.

 

ayrton senna,gilles villeneuve,luigi musso,jochen rindt,roland ratzenberger,imola 1er maiCette terrible saison 1970 avait vu disparaître successivement Bruce McLaren, Piers Courage et maintenant c'était au tour de Jochen Rindt ! Sans même parler des deux espoirs français tués le même jour de juillet en Formule 3 à Rouen.

Nous avons malgré tout suivi la course le lendemain. Les tifosi avaient quant à eux déjà tourné la page et fêtèrent comme il se doit le succès de « l'italien » Clay Regazzoni au volant de la « Ferrari ». J'ai à ce moment-là pris quelques distances avec la course automobile et rangé au vestiaire mes rêves de devenir un jour pilote de course.

Les accidents ne cessèrent pas pour autant. Ajouté aux retraits multiples, c‘est presque la totalité de grille de départ qui fut renouvelée en l’espace de trois-quatre ans. Comme le résume parfaitement la citation attribuée à Jack Brabham, à moins que ce ne fût à Jackie Stewart, « I remember when sex was safe and motor racing dangerous ».

 

Acte 3. 1982 – Zolder, La soif de revanche

gilles.jpg

Nous ne nous appesantirons pas sur des faits que les fans de Formule un connaissent trop bien pour qu'ils soient  détaillés ici : Gilles Villeneuve avait quitté Imola dans un réel état de fureur, dépité par ce qu’il considérait être une trahison, et bien décidé à ne plus se laisser grignoter un mètre de terrain par son encombrant équipier Didier Pironi.

Deux semaines plus tard en Belgique, il sent que son équipe le lâche, que son directeur sportif Marco Piccinini soutient le pilote français, en bref que Ferrari n’a plus la fièvre Villeneuve.

Dernière séance d’essai, Gilles est juste derrière Didier en qualifications. Dans son tour de rentrée aux stands, il fonce comme un damné, il arrive sur Jochen Mass qui s’écarte devant lui, Gilles a déjà choisi la même trajectoire, l’accident est inévitable. Le choc est terrible, la Ferrari s’envole, le pilote est éjecté, c’est déjà presque fini.

Villeneuve est celui qui ne baissait jamais les bras, en exagérant à peine on pourrait dire que par moments il torturait ses voitures, sa fin fut à l’image de son style, à fond et sans le moindre calcul.

Tout ceci ne put en aucun cas nous empêcher de vivre intensément la course derrière nos écrans. En ces temps éloignés où les Renault-elf crevaient l’écran, nulle dîme n’était perçue pour assister en direct au spectacle. Gilles était un kamikaze, voilà tout.

pironi_villeneuve.jpg

L’année 1982 allait être fertile en épisodes de toutes sortes mais surtout en drames. Elle avait commencée par une grève des pilotes, suivie par le boycott de la course d’Imola par les écuries liées à la FOCA.

PalettiRiccardo.jpgAu Grand Prix du Canada le néophyte italien Riccardo Paletti disparût à son tour ; arrivant à pleine vitesse après le signal du départ, il ne put éviter la Ferrari de Didier Pironi placée en pole qui avait calée.

Peu de temps après Didier devait payer un lourd tribut à sa passion. On se réjouissait déjà de voir un français devenir enfin champion du monde. Comme Rindt quelques années avant, Didier ne voulut pas laisser la moindre part au hasard. Il partit sous la pluie lors des essais tenter de régler sa Ferrari dans l'hypothèse où les conditions seraient restées humides pour la course. Plus jamais Pironi ne participera à une course de Formule 1, il gardera de sérieuses séquelles de son crash, quant au titre de champion du monde…

Cet accident marqua le début d’une longue période de disette pour la Scuderia. On commençait à penser que l’écurie avait fait sien l’adage attribué à Coubertin « l’important c’est de participer ». Et ce n’est qu’après l’arrivée de Jean Todt suivie peu de temps après par celle du bien nommé « Baron rouge » que les choses évoluèrent.

 

Acte 4. 1994 – Imola, Un mauvais pressentiment

Ayrton-Senna-Imola-1-Maggio-1994.jpg

En 1994, la saison de Grand Prix débuta de façon étrange, rien de ce qui devait immanquablement arriver ne se produisait. La super star Ayrton Senna Da Silva, libérée de son plus grand rival Alain Prost et ayant récupéré le volant de l’invincible double championne du monde Williams-Renault n’aurait dû faire qu’une bouchée de tous ses adversaires, risquant par là même de semer l’ennui sur les courses à venir. Certes on comptait bien sur le jeune Michael Schumacher pour mettre un peu d’animation, mais il ne risquait pas de marcher sur les plates-bandes de « Magic Senna ». C’était du moins l’avis de la majorité des spécialistes. En quoi on se trompait.

On eut un premier démenti dès les premiers Grand Prix, celui du Brésil puis celui du Pacifique où Ayrton est, disons-le,  « dominé » par le jeune allemand. Pire, il aborde Imola sans un seul point au compteur.

Roland-Ratzenberger.jpgLe week-end du 1er mai démarre de façon violente. Aux essais déjà Rubens Barrichello effectue une cabriole terrifiante, les images des télévisions nous font peur, il se passe un certain temps avant que l’on puisse être rassurés sur l'état du pilote brésilien « junior ». Roland Ratzenberger n’aura pas cette chance et n’accédera à la notoriété qu’en y laissant sa vie, comment oublier ces images d’un casque aux couleurs autrichiennes ballotté dans l’élégante Simtek bleue ?

1994-Senna_Watkins.jpgDes bruits dans le paddock disent que Senna ne veut plus participer a cette épreuve, qu'il n’a plus la « grinta ». Le professeur Watkins lui suggère de partir à la pêche. Quoiqu’il en soit Ayrton a un mauvais pressentiment.

Inutile de vous raconter la course du lendemain dont les images sont encore gravées dans toutes les mémoires. Seulement pour ajouter que comme pour l’accident de Rindt, c’est encore un tube en métal creux qui a cédé, ce qui aurait pu avoir des conséquences beaucoup moins dramatiques si un petit morceau de métal provenant de la suspension n’avait pas traversé le casque jaune.

De fait, cette course marqua la prise de pouvoir de celui que personne ne surnommait encore  « le Baron rouge ». La question devenant alors : qui pour s’opposer à Schumacher ? Nous sortions juste de l’ère « Prost vs Senna », nous n’avions pas encore ajusté nos repères, pour cela il nous faudra attendre dix ans.

Quinze jours après ce week-end tragique se déroula le Grand Prix de Monaco. Aux essais Karl Wendlinger percuta les barrières à la chicane du port avec une force inouïe. Ce nouveau drame plongea un peu plus la Formule 1 dans la torpeur, on crut que plus jamais le cauchemar ne s'arrêterait. Le pilote Sauber devait rester 19 jours dans le coma, plus deux semaines en état de « sommeil provoqué ». Mais les dieux de la course décidèrent alors de l'épargner.

Cette fois les nuages noirs avaient bien voulu s'éloigner. Depuis, et grâce aux actions menées en faveur de la sécurité, on ne compte plus les disparus mais plutôt les miraculés.

Et c'est beaucoup mieux ainsi.

Signé Francis Rainaut

ayrton senna,gilles villeneuve,luigi musso,jochen rindt,roland ratzenberger,imola 1er mai

 - Photo 2: Luigi Musso, Fiamma Breschi ©Life

 - Photo 6: Piers & Sally Courage ©HISTORIC RACING

 - Autres photos: ©DR

 - Autres photos: ©DR

01 février 2014

Jochen Rindt & Co: 50 ans après les débuts de Jochen en GP (face A)

jochen rindt,emerson fittipaldi

Les amis, les rivaux, les contemporains : ce qu’ils sont devenus ...

Remarques de Klaus Ewald, traduit de l'anglais par Francis Rainaut

- voir aussi le texte original en anglais Back to the roots

Quem di diligunt, adulescens moritur (Plautus, Bacchides, IV, 7, 18)

Le James Dean de la Formule Un. La première pop star jamais vue en Grand Prix. L’homme le plus rapide qui ne se soit jamais assis dans le cockpit d’une monoplace de Grand Prix, de tous les temps. Plus charismatique que Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart et Graham Hill réunis. Tué et malgré cela devenu champion du monde quelques semaines plus tard. Le premier parlant allemand. Karl Jochen Rindt (1942 – 1970) était le fils du fabriquant d’épices allemand Karl Rindt et de son épouse autrichienne Ilse Martinowitz. Né dans la ville allemande de  Mainz et de citoyenneté allemande pour la vie, Rindt a perdu ses deux parents lors d’un bombardement aérien sur Hambourg en 1943 – la fabrique d’épices Klein & Rindt avait une succursale dans le fameux Speicherstadt d’Hambourg qui fait désormais partie de la nouvelle ville d’Hafen.

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30 juillet 2012

Back to the roots

The Gods let those die early who they love (Plautus, Bacchides, IV, 7,18)

jochen rindt

Pioneers and adventurers, romantics and technocrats, gentlemen and playboys - in the most exclusive group of sportsmen of the so far 31 automobile driving world champions until 2010 there are nearly all kind of guys to give enough support to all clichès of this planet. Twenty of these 31 world champions are still alive. The senior among these aces is Australia`s Sir John Arthur Brabham, born in 1926. Jack Brabham is also the only man to win drivers`and constructors`s worldchampionship in personal union: In 1966, the first year of the 3-litre- formula. Youngest Grand Prix world champion became Lewis Carl Hamilton, Briton with roots in Grenada and also the first black in this elite group, back in 2008.  In 2007 Hamilton had become the first rookie champion in history, if he had been able to cope with his tyres in a better manner in the decisive period of the championship, something he is not really able to do until now. The world champions Dr Nino Farina and Mike Hawthorn, the last one already suffering under uncurable kidney cancer, died in road accidents. Graham Hill crashed with his private aircraft. Juan Manuel Fangio and Phil Hill passed away as old men. Denny Hulme and James Hunt died, suffering under extreme private problems, by broken hearts: Fatal infarctions at the age og 56 and 45 years. The great Alberto Ascari was killed at a less important sportscar test, Jim Clark lost his life at a Formula 2 race at Hockenheim. Only two of the all-time best  in professional automobile racing died in a Grand Prix racing car: Ayrton Senna and Jochen Rindt. Both in British cars. Both caused by technical defects. Both in Italy. Men and fates. There are a lot of parallels and repeatings in the bizarre history of Grand Prix. Senna and also Rindt had got two chances to be killed, but no one to survive. Senna`s steering column, modified by his personal initiative, had broken at Imola in 1994. But the fatal injuries were caused by a piece of metal of a size of some two centimetres broken from the front suspension when the car was crashing into to the concrete wall and this fragment went through the gasket of the vizor into the helmet. At Rindt  the right front  brake shaft , the connection between the wheel and the brake disc inside the chassis, had broken; the Lotus Ford 72 went leftward in an acute angle when braking for the Parabolica to crash into the safety barrier to hit a post behind, spun and did another frontal crash into the barrier. Then the car came to a halt in the run out area. Despite being a fighter for more safety in motorsport together with his friend Jackie Stewart and the drivers`union GPDA, Rindt had go two pretty counterproductive qualities. Very often, but not at Monza, he was using an open helmet as one of the last drivers at that time, because he was not able to get enough air to breathe with the closed version after having sustained a nose fracture earlier in his career. And he used only seat belts fixed on four points instead of the available six, because the most courageous Grand Prix driver of all times had a panic fear of not being able to leave the cockpit quickly enough in the case of a suddenly breaking out fire. The crash into the safety barrier made Rindt slip under the belt and the dash board made out of sharp metal  to be executed like by a guillotine. It does not matter for the reason of the accident, that Rindt had driven without the normally usual wings for better speed at the long straights at Monza (until 1971 without the chicanes installed later): The Lotus Ford 72 had gone off the track because of the unilateral effect of the brakes. From the very beginning the design of the car had been made that way to bring 70 per cent of the brake effect to the front wheels. Colin Chapman and his designer  Maurice Phillippe had decided to use inside brake disc to reduce the weight not being supported by the springs (heavy disc made out of steel inside the wheel). Depending on the circuit length the advantage of inside brake discs could be up to 7/10th of a second. By the way light carbon fibre brake discs have made this design unneccessary meanwhile. The - on a torsion base used ,  brake shafts of the Lotus Ford 72 were hollow, because  higher torques can be transmitted on pipe-like cross-sections than by solid ones. The real reason for the defect had been, as it was explored some decades later, a production mistake made by a supporting company, not a design failure at Lotus. Concerning the consequences of the accident this fact  is out of any importance. Rindt, being the legal heir of his parents`company , had  pro forma registered for economics (main subject: world trade) at the University of Vienna, but he had not got any techical education. In spite of this fact he was not  able to be convinced of the plan of inside lying brake discs, because instinctively  he was knowing the risks: I will either become world champion or getting killed in a  Lotus,  he already had said in 1969. Having got the clear target of winning the title very early before the overseas races in Canada, the USA and Mexico, Rindt wanted to drive the type 49, his Monaco winning car, for a definitely last time to be completely  in a safe position on the high speed track of Monza. But in contrast to early promises Team Lotus had brought no  more 49 type, only driven by novice Emerson Fittipaldi at that time, to the Royal Park. Instead of doing so Chapman had ordered to build a third 72 type for the works team, the 72/5, while Graham Hill now was driving the first ever 72 type constructed in the team of Rob Walker, freshly revised, in midnight-blue livery and now named 72/4. Racing drivers are, despite highly paid, only orders obeying clerks of their teams. It is like at a normal job: Who refuses to do what his employer wants will be fired sooner or later. Chapman, sometimes a chum, sometimes a boss cold as ice, and also concerning other circumstances full of contradictions, but no doubt the greatest genius  the entire world of racing car construction has ever seen, had taken a lot of time to get familiar with the continental European Rindt. But then he adored him like he once had done to Jim Clark. Chapman had made the 72/5 to be constructed as the second car for Rindt beside his regular 72/2: With modifications at the tanks and the fuel system, but above all with revised front brakes - the blower for cooling them in the pits was no longer neccessary. Later also the NACA intakes in the nose scone were able to be taken away. Young Emerson Fittipaldi, not John Miles risen from a test to a number two driver, should do the roll-out of the new car on the for the Brazilian unknown circuit. After that Rindt should  take the 72/5 to decide, which car he would prefer for the race. Ford had a Cosworth V8 with some extra horse powers available for the coming world champion to be installed in that chassis chosen by Rindt. But already on Friday unexperienced  Fittipaldi made a typical rookie mistake, crashed into the third Ferrari of Ignazio Giunti  in the Parabolica and destroyed all plans at Team Lotus. Catastrophes in Grand Prix Racing in many cases show, like  heavy thunderstorms, signs of warning, but very often these signs are, consciously or not, ignored.

RindtetNina.jpg

His famous quotations seemed to be presentiments. Maybe I will  not to reach the age of forty. But until that time I will  have experienced more things in life than anybody else. Or: Nobody knows, how long he will live. Because of this fact you have to do as much as you can as fast as you can. Jochen Rindt was not determined to grow old and to analyze, supplied with an enormous amount of honours and decorations, the current Grand Prix scenery like today  it is done by his friend and neighbour Jackie Stewart. No doubt, there a lot of competent elder statesmen  full of integrity in this sport, but also some senile gerontocrats not knowing, that their time is definitely over. The character of Jochen Rindt is timeless, charismatic and heroic, bringing us now to those personalites sharing more than a common period in life with him.

Before their wedding in March 1967 Nina Rindt had worked as a model, she was seen in many international fashion magazines and she was also a friend of famous Twiggy. Nina Rindt is a Finn of Swedish and Russian origin; her father Kurt Lincoln also had been a racing driver and he was also the owner of the Keimola circuit. Jochen and Nina Rindt`s only common child Natascha was born in 1968. In 1972 Nina Rindt married a friend of Jackie Stewart,  Briton Philip Martyn, who was said to earn his money being a gambler. Martyn was the father of her daughter Tamara.  For a while, after being devorced from him, she was the girl-friend of Grand Prix driver and Eurosport commentator John Watson (Penske, Brabham, McLaren) from Northern Ireland. In 1979  Nina Rindt married Scottish investment banker Alexander Hood Viscount of Bridport, who is the father of her son Alexander. This marriage was devorced in 1999 and then Nina Rindt more and more disappeared out of the public and she also is not, against her original intention, with the organizers of the Essen Motor Show, that once had become famous all over the world named Jochen Rindt Show. During the nineties Nina Rindt, a heavy smoker for many years, sustained a break of her aorta; she only could be rescued by an emergency operation and a lot of luck.

Natascha Rindt had grown up in the even  by her father designed villa in Begnins at the Lake Geneva and she is very, very similar to her famous father not only concerning her appearance. Before working for the Formula One Group as a television director and a pilot, she had been involved in sport management, for example for the 1992 Winter Olympics at Albertville and the agency IMG of Mark McCormack, who had Jackie Stewart, Francois Cevert and Peter Revson among their clients. Meanwhile she also became a mother, the name of her daughter is India.

 

jochen rindtTwo years after Rindt`s death Lotus boss Colin Chapman again won both worldchampionships with Emerson Fittipaldi and the Lotus Ford 72 now in the colours of black and gold of cigarette brand John Player Special.  In 1974 the Mk 72`s    successor Lotus Ford 76, designed by Ralph Bellamy (former McLaren and Brabham) with it`s semi-automatic gearbox, the double rear wing  and the four pedals was too much ahead in time  of the technical development in Grand Prix Racing, so  Team Lotus had to go back to the meanwhile five years old 72 type until the end of 1975.

 

In 1977 Team Lotus returned into the victory lane with the several times modified Mk 77. Then Chapman again succeeded in establishing another technical revolution together with his engineer Peter Wright: The Lotus Ford 78 and 79s were the first ground effect cars in history; Mario Andretti won the 1978 worldchampionship in a superior manner, while his team mate Ronnie Peterson lost his life at the start of the Italian Grand Prix by a driving error made by James Hunt. Then Chapman drove the development of the ground effect car with the  80 and 88 models  in such an excessive  direction, that could not be technologically and juridically controlled anymore leading  to this technology being banned by the F.I.A. at least. This fact lead to a certain stagnation at Team Lotus where they  always being related on their own power of innovation. But Chapman, who only was interested in winning and not in collecting points, lead his team back to victory at Zeltweg in 1982, when Elio de Angelis was able to beat Keke Rosberg in the Williams Ford by only a few inches. With the background of the turbo era beginning Chapman had negotiated an agreement with Renault and he also had signed a contract with his long years` sponsor John Player & Sons to create a secure financial base for the future. But at this time Chapman and some employèes already had been personally involved in the De Lorean scandal; there had been  massive fraud at millions of subventions and, in the case of John De Lorean,  big style cocaine dealing. The explorations of the prosecution authorities had already been in a high developed status, when Chapman died in the age of only 54 years in the headquarters of Team Lotus, Ketteringham Castle, in December 1982. It was said, that his death was caused by a cardiac infarction.

rindt2.jpgJohn Miles immidiately retired from Grand Prix Racing after Rindt`s fatal accident and  only competed in some touring car racing from time to time. Later he worked as an engineer for Lotus and as a journalist for different media. 

After the year 1970 at Rob Walker Rindt`s team mate at Team Lotus in 1969, Graham Hill, drove for the works team of Brabham in 1971 and 1972 before establishing a team of his own from 1973 on under the name Embassy Racing with Graham Hill, first supplied with customer cars from Shadow and Lola, from spring 1975 on as constructor in his own rights. Hill retired from active competition after he had not been able to qualify for the 1975 Monaco Grand Prix, the race he had won fivetimes in his career. Shortly before succeeding in taking the breakthrough also as a constructors with young Briton Tony Brise driving he and nearly his complete team lost their lives in a crash of the private aircraft flown by Graham Hill himself.  Despite very tough conditions in his youth  as the result of the accident Hill`s only son Damon became Formula One world champion  in a Williams Renault in 1996.

 

Emerson Fittipaldi secured Rindt`s world champion title by his victory at Watkins Glen in 1970; he himself won the worldchampionship in 1972, and, after his switch to McLaren, again in 1974. Fittipaldi retired from active competition driving for the team of his own in 1980, but as a constructor in his own rights he only had got average success between 1975 and 1982. From the middle of the eighties Fittipaldi was successfully competing in the Indy Car Series to win twice the Indianapolis 500.  Later he came very close to getting paralyzed at two accidents, one time each in a racing car and in an ultra-light plane. Today the Brazilian is one of the former Formula One  drivers, working as F.I.A. Stewards at the Grandes Prix.

Predecessor but also successor of Jochen Rindt in the office of the world champion was his close friend Jackie Stewart, who won the title in 1971 and in 1973 in a Tyrrell Ford to establish an until 1985 lasting world record of 27 Grand Prix wins before he realized his long time ago scheduled retirement as a driver at the end of 1973. After that the Scot worked as an advisor  for Ford, Goodyear and other companies and also as a journalist for US-American television programme ABC and other media. In 1997 he established a team of his own with the support of Ford to score his only win as a constructor with Johnny Herbert at the Nuerburgring in 1999. Stewart Grand Prix became Jaguar Racing from 2000 on and later Red Bull. Meanwhile Jackie Stewart  had received a honorary doctorate and he also had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Today he is working as a representative for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The designer of the revolutionary Lotus types 49 and 72 Maurice Phillippe left Team Lotus in spring 1971; at that time the company was in a deep moral crisis, because many experienced empolyèes had disappeared after the death of Rindt. Chapman looked being disillusioned, not to say depressive,  and young Emerson Fittipaldi was still too unexperienced being a number one driver on the one hand, and on the other  he was  seriously confronted with private difficulties: He had been involved  - without any personal responsibility -  in a road car accident in France that year to sustain pretty serious injuries; his wife Maria Helena sitting on the passenger seat had  been expecting the couple`s first baby, that became a stillborn child as the consequence of the crash. Phillippe had accepted an offer from Rufus Parnell Jones in California. The team of the US- American had got, thanks to super sponsors like Viceroy and Samsonite etc., never to be seen financial ressources available for their Indy Car project in 1972. The daring Parnelli Jones, Indianapolis 500 winner in 1964 and a hero of the Baja 1000, and his partner Vel Miletich (that explains the model designation VPJ) bought everything they could to make their credit cards glow: The star drivers Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser and Joe  Leonhard, NASA specialists for titanium processing, FBI agents for the guarding of the factory and the best designer in the world at that time: Maurice Phillippe. He worked behind some metres thick walls being the protection against industrial spies and within bugproof rooms and showed to be  much more creative without Colin Chapman`s  supervision: He invented the aerodynamically nearly perfect trapezium-shaped  monocoque (that later got enormous glory with Gordon Murray at Brabham) and the  lateral aerofoils in the form of a V  instead of conventional wings belonging to that chassis concept. The Viceroy Special with the Offenhauser four cylinder turbocharged engine had a handling like being screwed tight to the tarmac, as Mario Andretti said after the car`s first ever test. But it was a pity, that the officials banned the V-wing, essential part of the design concept, for safety reasons as they said. So Phillippe had to improvize and to make compromises, a fact, that prevented the car from  having the ultimate success. On the other side there had been enough money from Viceroy (a cigarette brand) for constructing a Grand Prix racing car of theirown. Phillippe simply designed a modernized version of the Lotus Ford 72. When the Parnelli Ford VPJ4 gave it`s debut  in Canada 1974 with Mario Andretti in the cockpit, not only the Lotus people, who were pretty near to desperation with their Mk76, very much shaken, but also the rest of the motorsport community. But it was a shame no international sponsors could be found the following years for the so promising US-American Grand Prix team (Viceroy was only interested in the US market, where Formula One traditionally is playing a minor role); after Kyalami 1976 Parnelli F1 was de facto bankrupt and Mario Andretti immidiately joined Team Lotus after the United States Grand Prix West held at Long Beach. Maurice Phillippe went back to Europe, too, where he, after a short guest appearance at Copersucar Fittipaldi, replaced Derek  Gardner at Tyrrell, who had been made responsible for the failed P34 six-wheel  racing car. Phillippe lead Tyrrell`s technology back to the way of success, before in the middle of the eighties a young race engineer suddenly had been put in front of him as the team`s chief designer despite all the good results he had reached. Again Phillippe took a job at the Indy Cars, but senior designer at MARCH Alfa Romeo was too little for the pensive, sensitive, but also risk-taking Phillippe, who  never had been a star for the media as men like John Barnard or Gordon Murray had been despite Phillippe  being on the same level with them. When the depressions, he obviously was suffering under for a longer time, had become so unbearable, he put an end to his life in deep seclusion.

Jacky Ickx had been the only driver to be able to take Jochen Rindt away from the throne after Monza, but when Fittipaldi made that impossible by his win at Watkins Glen, the Belgian was visibly relaxed. Scoring one Grand Prix win per year both in 1971 and 1972 he was no real challenger for those years`world champions. After a quarrel Ickx left Ferrari in the middle of the 1973 season; later he had to leave at Lotus (1975) and Wolf (1976) under similar circumstances to make only sporadic starts for Ensign until 1978. The Belgian made his final Grand Prix appearance at Ligier  as a replacement for Patrick Depailler being hurt at a hang-glider crash. From that time Ickx concentrated on his job of being a Porsche works driver for endurance racing and he was very successful doing so. The Baby Face in the Racing Car and The Man, Who is not Growing Old also had to go through a time of serious illness taking a long time to recover from. Jacques Bernard Ickx, born in 1945, had made a career of extraordinary success: He was twice vice world champion (1969 & 1970),  is winner of eight Grandes Prix and six times of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and he also triumphed at the Dakar Rally and the CanAm. His daughter Vanina, a biologist, took part in the DTM and also is competing in great sportscar races as well as Le Mans.

Jochen Rindt had two school friends also later becoming Grand Prix drivers. Lawyer Dr Helmut Marko also had won at Le Mans before and he was a works driver at B.R.M. in 1971 and 1972, when his young  career was immediately stopped by an incurable eye injury caused by a stone thrown off by Ronnie Peterson at Clermont Ferrand in 1972. Despite officially only being a motorsport advisor for the Red Bull group, today Marko is one of the most powerful men in Grand Prix Racing, because de facto he is the boss of two Formula One teams: Red Bull Renault and Toro Rosso Ferrari. A little younger than Rindt and Marko was Harald Ertl, who worked as a journalist parallel to his sporting career. From 1975 on Ertl drove private Hesketh Fords and sporadically for Ensign and ATS. In 1982 Ertl was killed in a crash of a private aircraft.

Sir Jack Brabham, Rindt`s real challenger in the 1970 season and also his team principal in 1968, decided to end his career both as a driver and as a constructor at the end of 1970 to sell his team to his designer and fellow countryman Ron Tauranac (who himself sold the company one year later to Bernie Ecclestone suffering under excessive demand). Brabham did not want to be only  a team boss . In his home country Australia he later did jobs in aviation and agriculture, sectors, that were familiar to the aviation engineer and son of a Sydney greengrocer. From 1994 on Sir Jack was involved in the Simtek Formula One team with his son David and the unforgotten Roland Ratzenberger in the cockpits of the cars. All three sons of Brabham had become racing drivers. Geoffrey, the oldest, competed in the Indy Car Series, Gary and David had come up until Formula One, but also without scoring successes worth to be mentioned. Sir Jack Brabham, born in 1926, avoids journeys to foreign counties for some years, because meanwhile he is a dialysis patient, but in spring 2010  he attended the Grand Prix of Bahrain  for the 60th Anniversary of Formula One like all other world champions alive.

Jochen Rindt`s first team boss at his Grand Prix debut with a Brabham B.R.M.  at Zeltweg in 1964, Rob Walker, was running his private Formula One team until the end of the 1970 season and then he did a merger with Team Surtees. But this cooperation existed for only three years. For 1974 Walker and his driver Mike Hailwood switched to the team of Yardley McLaren. At the beginning of 1975 he entered, for only a few races,  a private Grand Prix car in the tradtional midnight-blue livery for the last time in his career, a Hesketh Ford 308, together with Harry Stiller and for Australian Grand Prix novice Alan Jones. After that he worked as a journalist for many years, in most cases for American magazine Road & Track. Robert Ramsay Campbell Walker died in 2002 in the age of 84 caused by a loung desease.   Today his whiskey brand Johnny Walker belongs to the Diageo group, one of the sponsors of McLaren.

In the fifties the team of John Cooper, was the most modern Grand Prix team  because of the mid-engine concept introduced by Alf Francis and Jack Brabham, but Brabham and later his junior driver and engineer Bruce McLaren set up on their own giving their careers decisive impulses both as drivers and as constructors. The things, that remained at Cooper were, except tradition, a great lack of interest, a team manager expected too much in the person of Roy Salvadori, a unreliable Maserati V12 and with John Surtees and Pedro Rodriguez two drivers using the too old structures as a springboard for higher tasks. Rindt had  got neither enough money nor sufficient chances for a greater career during this extremely tough years caused by the team`s desperate situation, but there was a lot to learn not only concerning the technology but also about the business methods in Grand Prix Racing. At the end of this period Rindt got offers of nearly all teams and he chose that one of Brabham, the drivers`and constructors` world champions  of 1966 and 1967. In the last great interview of his life  with charming Nisha Pillai from the BBC  John Cooper expressed being pretty proud: You know, Ron Dennis was my apprentice.  In 2000 John Cooper died of cancer in the age of 1977.

Later Ron Dennis had not been  really happy, when people were talking about his time being a mechanic at Cooper, because at the beginning of the nineties he was chosen England`s best manager ahead of all the big groups`bosses. Dennis had merged McLaren with his Project 4 team during the crisis at the end of the seventies, he had brought the first ever carbon fibre racing car to the grid in 1980 and he had definitely created McLaren to be the British universal rival of Ferrari. After his retirement from the pit wall and handing over his office to Martin Whitmarsh some time ago, Dennis is the president of the complete McLaren group.

Compared to today`s  megalomania on the personal sector the structure of empolyèes of the Grand Prix teams four decades ago was pretty clear. In 1970 Team Lotus only had twelve men at the race track. Dick Scammel was the team manager, chief mechanic was former Rob Walker employèe  Gordon Huckle and at the car of Jochen Rindt worked Eddie Dennis and the at that time 21 years old Herbie Blash,  whose real name is Michael and who is the son of a farmer and a fan of famous football club Manchester United. Later Blash switched to Brabham, where he met their team boss Bernie Ecclestone. When Ecclestone sold Brabham once founded by Sir Jack to shady Swiss businessmen, he supplied his old mate Herbie with a job at the F.I.A. When the first three  drivers have to bring their cars to the Parc Fermè obeying the strict regulations of the protocol after the chequered flag has fallen, millions of spectators in front of the television screens are watching a meanwhile a little plump and white-grey haired  gentleman with a modern kind of the Beatles hairstyle wearing a light blue shirt: It is Herbie Blash, who is organizing the ritual procedure according to the precise rules like a master of ceremonies at court.

During the fifties Bernie Ecclestone had been a team owner for the first time. It was Connaught. After he had sold the company later, he became a manager of his driver Stuart Lewis- Evans, an at that time 28 years old Briton of enormous talent and sensivity, who later  joined the most successful team of his home country, Vanwall. In 1958 all teams with the exception of Cooper  still had got front engine cars available and, of course, there were no fireproof overalls. During the final round of the worldchampionship at Casablanca Ain-Diab the Vanwall of Lewis-Evans caught fire, the Briton sustained heavy burns to die of them three days later, because of a lack of seats within the few commercial aircrafts he could not be brought to the necessary medical treatment in London. After the death of his driver Ecclestone did the job of a used car dealer, because he neither was a successful racing driver nor a constructor. One day during the middle of the sixties he had met Jochen Rindt, who had hit the British Formula 2 elite, nearly consisting out of active Grand Prix drivers, like a flash of lightning driving a  privately entered Brabham Cosworth, that had been bought by him. Rindt`s principle in business always had been: I am managing myself. But after leaving Winkelmann, there had been the necessity to have a team manager and a fifty per cent shareholder for the Formula 2 team he had founded. And that was Ecclestone. Rindt also was was pretty near to the foundation of a Grand Prix team of his own having got three opportunities to do so. Two of these chances had been with Robin Herd as the team`s designer, but the Briton had  not shown as a gentleman despite an elite education at the Oxford University, to express these problems in a moderate way. But for the case of these projects being realized it had been likely Alan Rees, the second driver in the old Winkelmann days, to come into the office of the team principal. By the way Rees was not much better than Ecclestone concerning his behaviour in business affairs: First he had been involved in the awful circumstances leading to the foundation of M.A.R.C.H., eight years later he was one of the driving forces to install A.R.R.O.W.S. under similar conditions. In winter 1971/72 Jack Brabham`s friend and fellow countryman Ron Tauranac, modest technician in the background and no businessman loving appearances in public or media,  was confronted with the problem, everything being pretty near to collapse within the Brabham team. Ecclestone never had been something else than a very clever seller, making money out of things that do not really exist or he invented commercial rights on things that had to be created later. Bying Motor Racing Developments Ltd. (M.R.D), what is the real name for the Brabham team, became something like a licence for printing money for Ecclestone during the following decades. At the beginning  Ecclestone`s team  competed the first three years (1972, 1973 & 1974) without a main sponsor in contrast to all their British rivals; fifty per cent of the team`s budget was paid by their owner`s private wallet. Looking like the traditional project of a wealthy motorsport enthusiast,  it really was a long term business strategy even in these early days. On the one hand Ecclestone used these three years to create a technological and personal base for making Brabham a title candidate again, but above all to organize the constructors` association FOCA in such a manner to be, of course, under his personal leadership, his base of power for his political and financial aims. In reality Ecclestone was nothing else than one of up to 15 team bosses at that time. He had not got a special legitimation in the shape of being democratically elected for instance.  From that time on rules and financial affairs in Grand Prix Racing  were decided by only one person: Ecclestone. Very early he had got a vision of Formula One being a global and multi-media sport adventure with turnover of  billions of dollars, if possible bigger than the Olympic Games or the Football World Cup. On the top: The world sport dictator Ecclestone. The other team principals and also the growing old functionaries of the F.I.A. were happy to earn their money and otherwise not be confronted with any business affairs. Only in 1975 Ecclestone signed a contract with a commercial advertising partner, Martini. Parmalat and Olivetti, also Italian groups, should follow. Ecclestone showed the same bad behaviour in dealing with his engine partners Alfa Romeo and later BMW as he did with his personnel. The drivers Reutemann, Watson, Zunino, Stuck and later very likely also Lauda and Piquet sen. were pretty near to resignation,  enthusiastic Pace died in an air- crash. Only one man kept faith with Bernie: Designer Gordon Murray from South Africa, the former assistant of Ron Tauranac. Nelson Piquet sen. won the title in 1981 and in 1983 (as the first ever turbo-powered world champion) and  the Brabham team  was pretty successful the following years, but the bad design of the Brabham BMW BT55 including the fatal accident of Elio de Angelis when testing at Paul Ricard in 1986 brought deep crisis to the company. Designer Gordon Murray had to leave the team, and Bernie Ecclestone did absolutely nothing to prevent them from the ruin. He had got the possibility to shelter Brabham, he had got the duty  to take away all the bad things being under way. But Ecclestone was not interested in doing so; after some 15 years he had come pretty near to his political and financial aims. A team of his own was bothering under those circumstances; Ecclestone sold the Brabham team to a Swiss businessman very quickly showed to be an extraordinary intensive criminal on the economic field. Later the active Japanese Middlebridge group and patriotic drivers like Martin Brundle, Mark Blundell and Damon Hill were not able to rescue the lifework of Sir Jack Brabham, who in far away Australia was suffering like a poor devil under these negative developments happening for years at that period, from bankruptcy. Ecclestone had been able to rescue his former team, but he did not want to do so, because FOCA already had risen into the top of the international sport organizations like IOC or FIFA. Ecclestone  twice had driven fights for power within his empire until the limits of it`s existence: There was the struggle with Jean Marie Balestre and the former F.I.S.A. as the sport`s governing body of the F.I.A. at the beginning of the eighties and in 2009 the quarrell with the team`s association FOTA. Bernie Ecclestone never starts arguments if not being sure to win them. Later Ecclestone publicly said Senna`s death had been good for the publicity of Formula One and he also considered Hitler being a good leader in an interview - those statements need not any comments. The real problem with Ecclestone is: His plans and ideas are fundamentally good, but the realization is inhuman in most cases.

After the death of Colin Chapman Team Lotus, now under the lead of Peter Warr, Chapman`s adjutant for many years, helped young Ayrton Senna to score the first Grand Prix wins of his career from 1985 to 1987.  Later the hopes being connected with signing up with Nelson Piquet sen. had not become reality. A little later main sponsor Camel  followed Piquet switching to Benetton. The struggle for financial survival had begun. Once again Team Lotus created a world star: Mika Häkkinen. When   the 1994 season  was over there was the end as an independent team, for 1995 a pro forma merger with Pacific Grand Prix was made. Then definitely everything was finished. Clive Chapman is cultivating the great tradition in racing car construction and also the heritage of his father with Classic Team Lotus still having their headquarters in Ketteringham Castle - and they are also earning money by doing so. In autumn of 2009 the Proton group from Malaysia being meanwhile the owners of Group Lotus and businessman Tony Fernandes, who had made a successful low cost airline out of the renovation case Air Asia within a very short time, had decided to bring Lotus back to the Grand Prix tracks of the world. In a few weeks Fernandes found sponsors and created an acceptable budget, bought the former Toyota and Audi factory at Hingham, signed contracts with Mike Gascoyne (former Tyrrell, Renault, Toyota and others) as technical director and the star drivers Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, both already Grand Prix winners. The result is the most beautiful Formula One car in 2010: The Lotus Cosworth T127 is connecting tradition with innovation. Hazel and Clive Chapman were guests of honour at the car`s presentation before the start of the 2010 season. The name of the team is Lotus Racing , but Tony Fernandes is working on the task to give them back the name Team Lotus; the rights for this name are owned by David Hunt, no matter for the reasons may be.

The Lotus Ford 72  definitely was in it`s last  worldchampionship competition at the 1975 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen after five exciting years running in a time the world of Grand Prix Racing had dramatically changed. Ronnie Peterson in the 72/9 finished 5th place, Brian Henton in the 72/5 retired after a collision with Tony Brise in lap six. Rindt`s in the accident involved car 72/2 first had been confiscated by the Italian public prosecution authorities, then it disappeared under  dubious circumstances in a pretty rotten garage near Milano, before brought back to England after a quarter of a century. A little later John Miles wrote in a magazine article, it should be put into a scrap metal press. A better alternative would be to bring it on exhibition at Donington in an unrestored shape, to show this historic document to the public. Now the car seemed to be  put into it`s original condition, all important design and construction documents are well-kept. Already the life of Jochen Rindt is the topic of an opera, the premiere was at the Salzburgring and the complete performance is available on DVD, maybe be classic one day.

The biography of Jochen Rindt is neither an adventure story nor a telenovela. It is the story of a child in war from Mainz at the river Rhine. Jochen Rindt became only 28 years of age. But the most children in war had not got as much luck as he had. 

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©2010 by researchracing

Remarks by Klaus Ewald