The Italian Grand Prix of 1975 was highly anticipated by Scuderia Ferrari and all its fans. It had all the ingredients for a great party: the Italian team could cement both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships which had been out of reach for the Maranello squad for eleven years. Following the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix due to the organisers’ financial difficulties, Niki Lauda needed only half a point to take the title. Winning the Constructors’ title would require a victory and for Brabham to finish no higher than fourth, otherwise the fight would go on to the last race, the USA Grand Prix on 5 October at Watkins Glen.
From the Friday, thousands of fans converged on Monza to cheer on the team and its two drivers, Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni. The only other fans’ favourite was Vittorio Brambilla, the man from Brianza who was at the wheel of an orange March. Every time the 312 T went out on track, a roar rose from the stands and when the number 11 and 12 cars darted over the finish line, they were greeted by loud cheers. As always, the track was a tough test for the Formula 1 engines which had to run at maximum power for far longer than at any other track on the calendar. The worst to suffer were the 8 cylinder engines. The suspension systems were also under pressure due above all to the considerably high kerbs at the first chicane.
In qualifying, the Ferraris were the only cars able to complete a lap in less than 1.33 minutes. Lauda took pole with a time of 1.32.24, while Regazzoni posted a 1.32.75. Emerson Fittipaldi in third was the only one who came within a second of the Austrian: in fact the Jody Sheckter’s Tyrrell was 1.03 seconds down. The first of the Brabhams was only in seventh with Carlos Reutemann. A heavy storm hit Lombardy on the Saturday night and on Sunday morning it seemed that the rain would still not desist. The race directors decided to allow the drivers to get used to the wet track with a test lap, but in some areas the track was undriveable due to the puddles. At the end of the session, teams of people were sent onto the track to try to brush away the water but the drivers and race directors decided to set a deadline. At two o’clock a decision would be taken as to whether to start an hour later or whether to cancel the race completely.
At one o’clock at last the weather seemed to improve, it stopped raining and during a support race the sun even came out. Fittipaldi and Lauda, representing all the drivers, carried out an inspection: if the storm didn’t return, the Grand Prix would go ahead, to the joy of the spectators who had packed the stands from the morning despite the bad weather.
Only 15 minutes late, and with a dry track, the Italian Grand Prix got under way. Regazzoni pulled off a perfect start, while Lauda had a lot of wheel-spin on his 312 T, losing precious time and had to try to catch his teammate. But Lauda had nothing else in mind that day other than the half point that would give him the title.
Regazzoni, who was cheered on from the first to the 52nd lap, was in a state of grace: he beat the lap record and didn’t make a single mistake. Lauda quickly realised that victory was out of the question and soon gave up on trying to keep up with his teammate. When Fittipaldi also caught the Ferrari, the Austrian did not put up any resistance, whilst from the pits they told him that behind him was Reutemann in the Brabham whom he needed to keep behind him for the Scuderia to also win the Constructors’ title.
Regazzoni crossed the finish line to take his third victory in Formula 1, the 57th for Scuderia Ferrari who once again won both titles, as they had done in 1961 and 1964. Lauda, third behind Fittipaldi, was the well deserved champion, having been able to showcase his class and speed as well as a sharp mind. The fans went mad with joy and, as Monza had already seen so many times before, invaded the track to try and get to the men from Maranello. Mauro Forghieri was carried triumphantly, his 312 T having proven to be a very powerful weapon in bringing Ferrari back to the pinnacle of motorsport.
Race 239: Monza - 7 September 1975 DRIVER CAR POSITION Clay Regazzoni 312 T 2nd Niki Lauda 312 T 3rd