Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Carlos Reutemann: 1942-2021

As another Scuderia Ferrari driver crosses the finish line…


By now, Y’all have probably heard of Carlos Reutemann’s passing at the age of 79 on July 7th. And perhaps I’m wrong, since the Argentinian raced before my Formula 1 Baptism. But I’ve always considered him to be what my late Awnty’ Harriet called a Fat Head! Presumably from reading how he tangled with Niki Lauda and ignored team orders at Williams to gift team-mate Alan Jones a victory.



Since what did Bloody ‘Ol Churchill say about History being Kind to the victors? Whom after all get to write the History…


And I’m not gonna try giving a Blow-by-blow recap of his Formula 1 career, albeit he drove for three of the sport’s most luminous 1970/1980’s teams, i.e.; Ferrari, Lotus and Williams, along with beginning his F1 career driving for some bloke known as Uncle Bernaughty here on No fenders, aka Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham outfit.


Reutemann claimed his first four Grands Prix victories driving Gordon Murray’s brilliant Brabham BT44 machinery, which I’ve always considered one of the best looking F1 chassis in it’s sparkling white Martini livery.


Then he moved to la Scuderia in 1976 originally as Niki “The Rat” Lauda’s replacement, as the Austrian struggled for his life after his near death experience at the “Green Hella,” nee Nordschleife!


As things got off to less than a rosy start when Niki miraculously returned quickly to the cockpit at Monza, where Ferrari was obliged to run three cars for it’s two regular season drivers Lauda and Clay Regazzoni, plus Reutemann who’d jump ship from Brabham and it’s unwieldy Alfa Romeo V-12 lumps in ’76 to Deputize for the injured Lauda.


And you’d have to say he had a pretty turbulent time at Ferrari, albeit he finished third overall in ’78 with four victories before an ill-timed move to Lotus the following year as Ronnie Peterson’s replacement.


Sir Frank then convinced Carlos to move to Team Willy’ between 1980-82 in what was another acrimonious campaign vs. World Champion team-mate Alan Jones, who vowed not to help Reutemann’s title defense at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 1981, where the Argentine ironically lost the title by one point to Brabham’s Nelson Piquet.


Reutemann abruptly quit Formula 1 after just two races in 1982, partially due to the Falklands War and being an “Outcast” in a staunchly British F1 team!


As Carlos capped his Formula 1 career with 12 Grands Prix victories and 6 Poles in 146 races, ironically the very same number of wins to his tally as somebody named SuperMario’, aka Mario Andretti. Not to mention his Bosom Buddy Jones, while Reutemann’s the last Argentine to win a Grand Prix.


Yet I was unaware that Reutemann dabbled in the World Rally Championship, (WRC) making two starts, first for FIAT in 1980 and then again in ’85 for Peugeot. And impressively finished third overall in his home rally of Argentina for both manufacturers. He was the only Formula 1 driver to score points in both Formula 1 and the WRC until Kimi Raikkonen finished 8th in the 2010  Jordan Rally.


I also didn’t know that Carlos contested the 24 Heurs du Mans once for Scuderia Ferrari with Tim Scheken as Co-driver.


After his racing career, Reutemann went into politics, first becoming the Governor of his native Santa Fe and then later as a Senator.  


 But the part that most interests me about Reutemann I suppose is a Wee bitamyte’ maudlin, but I’m intrigued over how the Argentine becomes the fourth Scuderia Ferrari driver to die from la Scuderia’s 1970’s Flat 12 renaissance years. Joining Lauda, Clay regazzoni and Gilles Villeneuve. Along with Gilles Arch Nemesis Didier Pironi, the latter two leading another Ferrari resurgence in the early 1980’s Turbo era. Whilst arguably the greatest Ferrari F1 driver known here as Der Terminator’, aka Michael Schumacher’s still Asleep At the Wheel, wherever he is…