Carlos Reutemann, former Argentine F1 and Ferrari driver, died at the age of 79. The memory of the champion, defined by Enzo Ferrari as “tormented and tormenting”, who came close to the world championship title in 1981
The World of F1, after the electrifying double weekend of Zeltweg, falls into despair at the news of the death at 79 of Carlos Reutemann, “El Gaucho Triste”, a protagonist of the Maximum Formula between the seventies and eighties. A profitable career but not fully crowned with success was that of the Argentine, who emerged in the early seventies with the Touring cars and the F2s of the Temporada, at the time the main single-seater championship in South America. The Argentine Automobile Club decided to support him in the European F2, then his F1 debut came in the 1972 home GP with a Ford-powered Brabham BT 34.
The debut and the transition to Ferrari
It was immediately a great debut embellished by the pole position, even if due to technical problems Reutemann only finished seventh at the finish. With the Brabham Reutemann stayed for four years and in 1974 he achieved his first partial success, in Kyalami, followed by three other victories until 1976. In that season he was hired “by token” by Ferrari for the Monza GP to replace Niki Lauda, still struggling with the after-effects of the horrendous crash of the Nordschleife, and immediately obtained a very convincing performance to the point that in the following 1977 the Maranello team put Clay Regazzoni at the door to insert the Argentine on a permanent basis. It seemed like the season of consecration for Reutemann, with a Niki Lauda who, after the defeat of the Fuji, seemed already on the avenue of sunset. And in the first GP of the season in Brazil, the “Hollywood star-faced driver” immediately won his first success. What on paper was supposed to be a triumphal ride soon became an ordeal of technical problems and retirements, while Lauda rose from his ashes and peremptorily won the title despite the atmosphere of “separated at home”.
A whisker from the title
In the following 1978, with Lauda passing to the unrealistic Brabham-Alfa Romeo, Reutemann became the first driver of the “Red” and performed very well with four wins, but Mario Andretti’s Lotus 79 was impregnable for anyone and the title speech ended with a great deal advance in favor of the Italian-American. It was only the beginning of a curse that always precluded the joy of the world title for the Argentine: either due to the lack of competitiveness of the car that had also won the title before his engagement, or due to the conflictual climate that was established with his teammates. team. In 1979 Reutemann was therefore hired by Lotus, but Colin Chapman’s cars were no longer the triumphs of the previous season and the Argentine only got a few sporadic podiums. It fared relatively better at Williams, where, however, a climate of conflict was established with the Australian Alan Jones. In 1980 Reutemann was a valid shoulder to Jones in the conquest of his only world title, but the following year the “gaucho” decided to go his own way by mocking Jones in Brazil and throwing himself into the fight for the title. Reutemann remained in contention until the decisive round in Las Vegas in which he took a one point lead over the emerging Nelson Piquet’s Brabham, but the hostile climate within Didcot’s team proved deadly for his chances for the title. Reutemann was not helped by Jones and also the team showed a renouncing attitude in the pit stops, so that the Argentine missed the connection to the points and Piquet, with the fifth place, overtook him by only one length to win his first title. The troubles did not leave only what was now for everyone “El Gaucho Triste”.
The return to Argentina
The Falklands War attracted generalized hostility from both the Williams staff and the British population, and Reutemann sadly returned to Argentina after the first two rounds of 1982 putting an end to his career in top Formula and dedicating himself to his farms. His last “sharp” was in 1985, when with a legendary Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 he managed to get a good third place at the Argentine Rally, repeating the third place in 1980 with a Fiat 131 Abarth. After that, Reutemann devoted himself to politics and was also elected governor of his native province of Santa Fe under the colors of the “Front for Victory”. The last appearance of Carlos in a “Circus” event was in 1995, at the return of the Argentine GP in Buenos Aires, in which Reutemann made a lap in a Ferrari 412 T1 decorated with the 12, the number he used at the time. of his militancy with the Maranello company. The public paid him an immense “standing ovation” demonstrating that, despite having failed the race for too bad luck, Reutemann had nevertheless become a “great” of the maximum Formula, as popular as legends such as Senna and Prost.
The “tormented and tormented” champion
After that “Lole” spent her old age in Santa Fe, even allowing herself some presence as a “guest of honor” in some Argentine television series before the health problems that occurred in recent years. Problems that in recent days have led him to intensive care at the hospital in his city for yet another intestinal haemorrhage, which unfortunately turned out to be fatal despite the efforts of doctors. A driver passed away, according to Enzo Ferrari, “tormented and tormented”, a cyclonic personality in the days of grace and almost irritating when the results did not arrive. He was perhaps one of the most talented drivers of all time in the greatest Formula, but unfortunately “Lole”, like other champions such as Amon and Peterson, never had luck on his side. A fact that did not prevent him from becoming a Legend in his own way …
July 7, 2021 (change July 7, 2021 | 22:36)
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