Vittorio Brambilla

Born:
11th November 1937
Monza, Lombardy
Died:
26th May 2001 (Aged 63)
Camparada di Lesmo, Lombardy, heart attack
Nationality:
Italian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

The "Monza Gorilla" was a hard, tough racing driver who drove the wheels off his car and rivals off the track. His 74 Grand Prix starts translated into one glorious but chaotic moment in the Austrian rain in 1975.

Early racing career

Born in Monza, Vittorio Brambilla first worked for his brother Tino as a mechanic in a workshop just outside the circuit gates. The younger Brambilla had racing ambitions of his own and started on motorcycles – winning the 125cc national title in 1958. It was 10 years before his car racing career began in earnest. That was in Formula 3 and he won the 1972 Italian title with the family-run team – starting the year in a Birel-Alfa Romeo before also driving a Brabham BT35-Ford.

Brambilla had raced a Brabham BT23-Cosworth in Formula 2 in 1970 during which time second in a non-championship race at the Salzburgring was his best result. A fulltime return to the series in 1973 was in the orange and black colours of Beta Tools who proved to be his long-term sponsor. Brambilla’s private March 732-BMW won twice late in the season to secure fourth in the championship.

Formula 1 winner with March

Beta money eased Brambilla into Formula 1 in 1974 with a works March 741-Ford. Despite an early career littered with accidents, he finished sixth in Austria and was retained for a second season. There were still incidents aplenty during 1975 but the Italian qualified on pole position in Sweden and twice scored points before his greatest day.

That came in the 1975 Austrian GP when heavy rain at the Osterreichring forced organisers to abandon the race early with only half points awarded. Gleaming out of the gloom was Vittorio Brambilla’s orange March 751-Ford and the Italian celebrated victory by crashing into the pitwall! Brambilla was a GP winner in his 23rd start, even if his car was battered and bruised amid the celebrations. 11th in the 1975 World Championship, Brambilla also won that year’s F2 race at Vallelunga.

Sports car success for Alfa Romeo

F1 success in 1976, in between the inevitable accidents, was limited to non-championship placings at Brands Hatch (fourth) and Silverstone (second). Sixth in the Dutch GP, he moved to Surtees for 1977 when fourth in the Belgian GP was a rare finish. However, he helped Alfa Romeo win that year’s World Championship for Sportscars by winning four times with a T33SC/12.

But the pattern of occasional F1 finishes and bent machinery continued in 1978. Worse was to come at Monza when Brambilla was seriously injured in the Italian GP startline accident that claimed the life of Ronnie Peterson.

Recuperating for a year, Brambilla eventually recovered from his head injuries. He started four GPs for Alfa Romeo in 1979 and 1980 as that marque returned to F1. Those were his final races at that level and this formidable character soon retired from the sport altogether.

He may have survived the 1978 Italian GP debacle but he still died before his time. Only 63 years old, Brambilla was in his garden when he suffered a fatal heart attack in 2001.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
1980 F1 World Championship
Marlboro Team Alfa Romeo
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1980 World Championship of Makes
Scuderia Torino Corse
Osella Squadra Corse
6 2 0 0 0
1979 F1 World Championship
Autodelta
2 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1978 F1 World Championship
Team Surtees
12 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 1
1978 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 0
1977 F1 World Championship
Team Surtees
17 0 0 0
0% win rate
15th 6
1977 European F2 Championship
Willi Kauhsen Racing Team
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1977 World Championship of Sportscars
Autodelta
7 6 5 4 95
1977 World Championship of Makes 1 0 0 0 4
1976 World Championship of Sportscars
Autodelta
2 1 1 0 15
1976 World Championship of Makes 1 (2) 0 0 0 0
1976 European F2 Championship
Vittorio Brambilla
Project 4 Racing
1 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1976 F1 World Championship
March Engineering
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
19th 1
1975 F1 World Championship
March Engineering
14 1 1 1
8% win rate
11th 6.5
1975 European F2 Championship
Project 3 Racing
6 0 1 1
17% win rate
13th 9
1975 World Championship of Makes
Willi Kauhsen Racing Team
3 0 1 0 15
1974 F1 World Championship
March Engineering
11 (2) 0 0 0
0% win rate
18th 1
1974 European F2 Championship
Brian Lewis Racing
1 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1974 World Championship of Makes
Autodelta
1 0 0 0 8
1973 European F2 Championship
Beta Racing Team
12 2 5 2
17% win rate
4th 35 (44)
1972 European F2 Trophy
Vittorio Brambilla
2 0 0 0
0% win rate
0
1972 Italian F3 Championship 1st -
1971 European F2 Trophy
Scuderia Ala d'Oro
Vittorio Brambilla
4 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
18th 2
1970 European F2 Trophy
North Italian Racing Developments
Scuderia Picchio Rossa
Scuderia Ala d'Oro
5 (1) 0 0 0
0% win rate
13th 3