Arturo Merzario

Full Name:
Arturo Francesco Merzario
Born:
11th March 1943 (Age 75)
Civenna, Lombardy
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

The five-year Grand Prix career of "Little Art" ended at the wrong end of the grid in hopeless self-creations. But with sponsored cowboy hat and ever present cigarette in hand, Arturo Merzario was still a star.

Early racing career and Formula 1 with Ferrari

The son of a builder from Como, Merzario came to the fore driving a Fiat Abarth in GTs and hillclimbs during the late 1960s. Success in Italy was rewarded with a works Ferrari contract for 1970 and he developed into a successful sports car driver – winning at Spa-Francorchamps and in the Targa Florio in May 1972.

That he would become something of a cherished Formula 1 joke was not apparent at the 1972 British GP. Regular Ferrari driver Clay Regazzoni broke his arm playing football and the team promoted its young sports car ace to make his F1 debut. Merzario qualified ninth and impressed by finishing in a points-scoring sixth position.

Retained for 1973, he scored career-best fourth place finishes in the Brazilian and South African GPs. That was enough for 12th position in the championship but not to keep his ride for the following season. Replaced by the little known Niki Lauda in 1974, Merzario joined Frank Williams’ fledgling Iso-Marlboro team and switched to Alfa Romeo in endurance racing.

Formula 1 switch to Williams

Williams was far from established at the time but the combination began well enough with third in the non-championship F1 race in Brasília and sixth at Kyalami (having qualified third). He was also fourth in the Italian GP and won the Monza 1000Kms when sharing an Alfa Romeo T33TT/12 with Mario Andretti.

While his partnership with Alfa Romeo flourished (Merzario winning four times as it won the 1975 World Championship of Makes), his F1 career was on the wane. Two partial seasons with Williams, a one-off for Fittipaldi and seven appearances in an Ovoro-sponsored March 761-Ford all yielded nothing but frustration during 1975 and 1976.

Team Merzario in F1 and F2

He returned to F1 at the 1977 Long Beach GP with a recently acquired March 761B-Ford and Team Merzario was born. He also helped Alfa Romeo to the World Championship for Sportscars that year after another four victories.

By the end of the season, Merzario announced that he was becoming an F1 constructor himself. He attempted to qualify his angular, agricultural and under-resourced DFV-powered cars in 1978 and 1979 but Merzario accepted his F1 career was over after a run of 10 DNQs in a row. Undeterred, the Italian stepped back into the 1980 European Formula 2 Championship. At least he got to race but the team was scarcely more competitive.

Merzario retired from driving to concentrate on team management after 1981. He ran a March 812-BMW for Piero Necchi that year and his compatriot gave Team Merzario its best result when third at Mugello and Pau. Those were rare successes and Art withdrew from international racing at the end of 1984.

His team was the epitome of optimism over science and finance. He continued to race in national sports cars into his sixties and enjoyed a one-off race in the 2006 Italian GP-supporting Porsche Supercup race. The trademark cowboy hat was still in evidence.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1983 European F3 Championship
Team Merzario
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1981 European F2 Championship
Team Merzario
2 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1980 BMW M1 Procar
Team Merzario
BMW Italia Team Merzario
6 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 8
1980 European F2 Championship
Team Merzario
8 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1979 F1 World Championship
Team Merzario
2 (12) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1978 European F2 Championship
Chevron Cars
Fred Opert Racing
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1978 F1 World Championship
Team Merzario
8 (8) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1977 World Championship of Makes
Jolly Club
1 0 0 0 10
1977 F1 World Championship
Team Merzario
Shadow Racing Team
5 (4) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1977 World Championship of Sportscars
Autodelta
8 2 6 4 110
1977 European F2 Championship
Fred Opert Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1976 World Championship of Makes 1 (1) 0 0 0 0
1976 World Championship of Sportscars
Autodelta
4 1 1 0 15
1976 European F2 Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
Willi Kauhsen Racing Team
0 (2) 0 0 0 0
1976 F1 World Championship
Walter Wolf Racing
March Engineering
11 (3) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1975 World Championship of Makes
Willi Kauhsen Racing Team
8 2 8 4 140
1975 F1 World Championship
Copersucar-Fittipaldi Automotive
Frank Williams Racing Cars
6 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1975 European F2 Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1974 European F2 Championship
Osella Squadra Corse
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1974 World Championship of Makes
Autodelta
2 1 1 1 28
1974 F1 World Championship
Frank Williams Racing Cars
14 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
17th 4
1973 World Championship of Makes
Scuderia Ferrari
7 1 3 0 78
1973 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
9 0 0 0
0% win rate
12th 6
1972 European 2-litre Sports Car Championship of Makes 1st -
1972 F1 World Championship
Scuderia Ferrari
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
20th 1
1972 World Championship of Makes
Scuderia Ferrari
4 1 3 2 65
1971 European F2 Trophy
Racing Team IRIS
1 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1970 International Championship of Makes
Scuderia Ferrari
4 2 1 0 9