Ferrari: As with many other teams curing the winter, the Ferrari factory took three of their 1979 cars and dismantled them down to the last rivet and then built up new and redesigned cars from the bare bones. The cars they dismantled were 312T4/037, 039 and 041 and the new cars that resulted were 312T5/042, 043 and 044 of which Scheckter took the first, Villeneuve the second and third was the T-car. The driving position was moved further forward, the side pods were wider aided by more compact cylinder-heads and a narrower front track was used, while the upper surface of the body was smoothed out. While seeming to be an improvement over the 14, according to the drIvers, the advance was .01 aS much as the T4 had been over the T3.
Tyrrell: Not too many changes on the Tyrrell cars. During last season the original 009 design was modified with “outboard” mounted rear brakes and a central-pillar rear aerofoil on the lines of the Williams FW07, and the cars are ostensibly the same this year. Experiments were made in the winter with automatically operated suspension variables, but Ken Tyrrell’s only comment on that and a new car was “. not talking about that . . .”. Jean-Pierre Jarier used 009/3, which he raced last year and Derek Daly had 009/6 which Pironi raced last year when it was a new car using the number 009/4 which had been destroyed at Monaco. The spare car was 009/5 from last year which had taken the identity of 009/2 that was destroyed at Kyalami. These two cars should be written 009/6(4) and 009/5(2).
Brabham: The BT49 series that made its debut at the end of last season was so obviously right from the word go that there was no need for major changes. Two brand new cars ready for this season, BT49/4 for Ricardo Zunino and BT49/5 for Nelson Piquet, with BT49/2 as the spare car. The cars are now a tasteful blue and white.
McLaren: The M29 cars had revised rear suspension and “outboard” rear brakes and various detail improvements changed them into M29B models. John Watson used a new can M29/4B and Alain Prost used M29/2B, with M29/3B as the team spare.
ATS: The Williams-inspired D3 can (or D4 model depending on whether you count in English or German) that appeared mid-way through last season began to show promise, so it is retained for this year and a second car was made as the team are running two cars this season. Marc Surer was in D3/02, the brand new car, and Jan Lammers was in D3/01, the car that Stuck raced last year.
Lotus: After the disastrous season last year when the Lotus 80 failed to come up to expectation and the Lotus 79 got left behind, Team Lotus experimented with the best bits from both designs and did a lot of winter testing with a car that was a cross between the 79 and 80 and was referred to as 79″X”. When this was finally proven two new cars were built which became Lotus 81/1 and Lotus 81/2. Elio de Angelis had the former and Mario Andretti the latter, while 79″X” was the spare car. The new cars were more like the Lotus 79 than the Lotus 80, using the Lotus version of the Hewland gearbox, rather than their own gearbox, and having straight-sided skirts rather than curved ones, and conventional nose fins. The new cars took on an entirely new colour scheme that can only be described as multi-coloured. Nigel Bennett’s place has been taken by Malcolm Jones from the Wolverhampton Goodyear racing department. It is interesting that Chapman took Bennett when he left Firestone, and has now taken Jones when he left Goodyear. Nothing like having a tyre technician on your own staff!
Ensign: The reconstituted Ensign team, with financial backing from Unipart, allowed Nunn to expand his workforce and they completed a brand new design in a matter of weeks. Ralph Bellamy and Nigel Bennett were asked to “produce a Williams copy . . . as time is short”, but they did better than that and produced their own version of a “ground-effect” car. It ran briefly just before being flown to South America, so that it arrived virtually untried and untested. This design is N180 and the car is MN10 in the Ensign Formula One series.
Renault: As already announced the Renault team dismantled their 1979 cars until all that was left was the floor pan of the monocoque and the rear bulkhead of the fuel bag container, and reconstituted cars were built up from there. The basic design was not changed, but detail design was totally different, aimed principally at greater ease of manufacture and maintenance. Last year the cars carried the denomination RS, standing for Renault-Sport, the official name ot the competition department of the Regie-Renault. This year the cars are denominated RE. standing for Renault-ELF, in appreciation of the great support given by the ELF petroleum company. Jabouille drove RE22, Arnoux drove RE21 and the spare car was RE20.
Shadow: The Shadow team arrived in South America with everything new, except the owner Don Nicholls. The DN9 models used last year were already a year behind in current Formula One thinking, even though they were uprated during the season. During the brief winter break the team built three new cars to the DN11 design, which brings them more up to Williams FW07 thinking. Apart from new cars the team had two new drivers making their debut in Formula One World Championship racing, with no one to lead the way. Irishman David Kennedy had DN11/2 and Swedish F3 driver Stefan Johansson had DN11/3 while the prototype or DN11/1 was the team spare.
Fittipaldi: As already reported Fittipaldi Automotive, the firm owned by the Brazilian brothers Emerson and Wilson Fittipaldi, bought all the tangible assets of Walter Wolf racing and to start the season they built new cars from the bones of the WR series of Wolf cars and the F6 series of Fittipaldi cars. Last year, in Canada, Rosberg crashed Wolf WR9 pretty comprehensively and for the USA Grand Prix a car was built up using the monocoque-tub of WR8 with the salvageable bits from the wrecked WR9, the resultant car being WR8/9. During the winter the crashed monocoque of WR9 was totally rebuilt and formed the basis on which the first of the new Fittipaldi F7 cars was constructed. WR7 was similarly used to construct F7/2 while F7/3 was built new from scratch, to the same design. Emerson Fittipaldi used the first car, Keijo Rosberg the second car, and the totally new car was the team spare.
Alfa Romeo: Having only introduced their new V12 car at the Italian GP last year it was natural that the Alfa Romeo team should start the season with the same design. Two new cars were built in the winter, 179/003 for Patrick Depailler and 179/004 for Bruno Giacomelli, the only major change being to move the rear brakes “outboard”. Car number number 179/002 that was brand new in Canada last year was the team spare. The nationalistic red of Alfa Romeo has been changed to white and bright red in deference to Marlboro cigarettes who have put money into the team to appease those Alfa Romeo factory workers who feel their hard-earned money should not be squandered on motor racing!
Ligier: This is another team who took their 1979 cars to pieces, looked at all the points that could be improved, and rebuilt them to become virtually new cars. The main alteration was to the rear suspension and the mounting of the rear brakes “outboard” and the reconstituted cars were JS11/15/04 for Laffite and JS11/15/01 for Pironi, while JS11/15/02 was the team spare. In case anyone has forgotten JS stands for Jo Schlesser, who was killed in a crash at Rouen some years ago; he was a great friend of Guy Ligier, the team owner. They were planning to build racing and road cars so odd numbers were used for racing projects, i.e. JS7, J59, JS11. Superstition (as in the Renault team) has caused JS13 to be missed out.
Williams: The two new team cars were FW07B/5 and FW07B/6, both being of 1980 B-series specification as regards aerodynamics, suspension layout and geometry and general construction of the monocoque and various components. Jones had number 6, which was constructed totally new during the winter and Reutemann had number 5 which had been built up around the basis of the fifth monocoque made last year, but never used. As the spare car they had FW07/4 to 1979 specification. The revised cars use did not come up to expectation so Alan Jones used FW07/4 to win the race. Reutemann’s car was converted back, as far as possible, to 1979 spec, which involved a lot of air-freighting of parts and a lot of all-night work for the mechanics.
Arrows: Tony Southgate and Dave Wass came up with the Arrows A3, a simpler design than last year’s A2, but using some of the more workable ideas from those cars. Aerodynamic thinking follows more conventional lines, with fins on each side of the nose and a rear aerofoil mounted on a central pillar. Patrese had A3/1 and Mass had A3/2, while one of last year’s A2 cars dismantled in a crate was carried in case of disaster.
Osella: This was a totally new car on conventional lines, using Cosworth power and Hewland transmission, from the Italian sports one and Formula Two constructors who derived their original inspirations from the defunct Abarth concerns. FA1/1 was driven by Eddie Cheever, the young American who lives in Rome and who has featured strongly in F2 in recent years.