Notes on the cars at Monza

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A study of the cars in the new paddock at Monza made one aware of the frenetic pace of Formula One racing. Checking on what cars the various teams were using revealed that some had already sent a spare car off to the United States of America for a Goodyear tyre-testing session at Watkins Glen due shortly after the Italian GP, the drivers and team personnel following the cars hot-foot after the race. Team Lotus had three Type 79 cars at Monza, numbers 79/5, 79/4 and 79/2, while 79/3 was on its way across the Atlantic. The heavily modified cars were as raced (sic!) at Zandvoort, with all three having the central-pillar rear aerofoil mounting. The Ligier team were using JS11/01, JS11/02 and JS11/03, while JS11/04 was on its way to America, and Team McLaren had sent M29/1, keeping M29/2 and M29/3 for Monza, with M28/2C as the spare car. The Williams team were due to send one of their cars off directly after the Monza race, Michelin had no intention of involving their teams in pre-race tyre testing, other than the day before official practice begins at Watkins Glen. There is no pre-race testing for the Canadian GP, as the Montreal circuit is on public roads.

There were three brand new cars in the paddock, one each from Fittipaldi, Rebaque and Alfa Romeo. The Copersucar sponsored Brazilian team had constructed a second car to their revised 1979 specification, the work of the Italian designer Caliri and his FLY-Studio in Modena. This second car was F6A-1/2 and arrived incomplete, the team mechanics finishing it off during practice, though it was not used as there was more than enough work to keep everyone busy with F6A-1. Hector Rebaque’s team, financed and supported by his father, have arrived at a critical point in their Formula One activities. They have been using ex-works Lotus cars, with support and help from Team Lotus, in an entirely satisfactory arrangement except that the Ecclestone/Mosley rules of the Formula One Constructors Association prevents the Rebaque team from ever qualifying to join the Association and to enjoy the practical and financial benefits. Much against their will they have been forced to turn “constructors” and build then own car, in order to try and qualify for FOCA. As an interim move aimed to get the team into the idea of becoming constructors they commissioned the Penske organisation to scheme up a modified Lotus 79, using a redesigned monocoque and side-pods but making use of as many Lotus 79 components as possible. This meant the car could be built in the shortest possible time and give them experience at operating totally on then own. Although the car was on view at Zanvoort it was not ready to run, so Monza was to be its official debut, and this meant that an all-new design could be started in readiness for 1980 while the team learnt about running their own car in the final races of 1979. Needless to say the Rebaque HR100 as it is known looks very much like a Lotus 79 tothe casual glance, especially as it is painted in the Rebaque team’s chocolate brown, but it differs in details and aerodynamic principles underneath. The “skirt” mechanism is different, as is the cooling system layout for the Cosworth DFV, and the basic shape under the side-pods is different.

The third new car in the paddock was the latest car from the Autodelta branch of Alfa Romeo (179/001) using the latest version of the V12 engine, as used by Brabham. It follows all the accepted principles for a 1979 “ground-effect” car, with inboard front suspension, side radiators, inboard rear suspension and so on. Compared to a Williams FW07 it looked a big car, but if the 520 b.h.p. claimed at 12,000 r.p.m. by Alfa Romeo from the 77 x 53.6 mm. bore and stroke V12 engine is true, then it can afford a bit of bulk; Bruno Giacomelli was to drive this new car, while Vittoria Brumbilla was making a welcome return as number two in the works Alfa Romeo team using the old original car (177/01) with the flat-12-cylinder engine.

The Scuderia Ferrari were out in force for their home Grand Prix and had four cars in the paddock. Two were to normal specification, except for two low-level exhaust pipes and two high-level ones in place of the more usual four high-level ones, while two cars were to B-specification. Both Scheckter and Villeneuve had one of each, their normal cars being 312T4/040 and 312T4/041, respectively, the French-Canadian’s car actually being the one he damaged at Zandvoort. The other two cars were 312T4B/037 and 312T4B/038 respectively for Scheckter and Villeneuve. The principle alteration to these two cars was the use of twin-caliper brakes in place of the normal single-caliper layout, and the mounting of the rear brakes outboard of the wheel-hub carriers, instead of being buried within the rear suspension. The twin-calipers and outboard mounting were in line with “fashion”, as set by Williams and Renault. To aid the cooling of the new rear brakes the rear of the bodywork was altered considerably with sunken ducts feeding air into tall scoops running down to the discs.

Brakes were to prove quite a problem at Monza and Renault were experimenting with different front calipers and drilled discs on their twin-turbo cars, while the Ligier cars had resorted to air scoops for the front brakes, whereas they normally can manage without such appendages. — D.S.J.

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