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Vittorio Brambilla (November 11, 1937 - May 26, 2001) was a Formula One driver from Italymarker who raced for the March, Surtees and Alfa Romeo teams. Particularly adept at driving in wet conditions, his nickname was "The Monza Gorilla", due to his often overly aggressive driving style and sense of machismo.

Career

Born in the town of Monzamarker itself, Brambilla began racing motorcycles in 1957 and won the Italian national 175 cc title in 1958. Before becoming a mechanic he also raced go-karts.

Formula Three, Formula Two, Sports cars

He returned to racing in 1968, in Formula 3 and won the Italian championship in 1972; by the time he was already racing Formula 2, where he won several races and bought his way into Formula 1. Brambilla was 2nd to Jacky Ickx in a 1970 2-heat Formula Two race at the Salzburg Ring in Salzburg, Austriamarker. He drove a March BMWto 4th place in Hockenheimmarker, in a 1973 Formula Tworace. There were two 10-lap heats covering . Brambilla won the City of Ennamarker Cup, the 5th 1973 event in the European automaker's championship for 2,000 cc cars.He averaged 121 miles per hour (195 km/h) over . He drove an Abarth-Osella. Brambilla captured the pole for the Monzamarker 4-hour auto race in a BMW 3.5 CSL.

Formula One, March 1974 – 1976



In his first year of Formula One, Brambilla was as quick as his teammate Stuck, but was a bit accident-prone. In the Swedish GP he ran in fifth until an engine problem. Brambilla finished tied for 18th, last, in the Formula One World Championship standings. He amazed many at the 1975 Belgian GP, where he led; and at the 1975 Swedish Grand Prix, where he secured pole position. But his great day came at the Österreichringmarker in 1975, when he won a wet Austrian Grand Prix. He is best remembered for spinning off and wrecking the nose of his car as he took the chequered flag and completing his slowing down lap with the front of the car destroyed and waving madly to the crowd. As the race was shortened, he only received 4.5 points instead of 9 for the win. In fact, the chequered flag was flown in error for the red. The race was halted on the 29th lap, with 60% of the race completed. He drove a March. Brambilla crashed his March through a new curve at Watkins Glenmarker during qualifying for the 1975 United States Grand Prix. He backed into a guard rail afterward but was unhurt. The session ended at that point with Niki Lauda leading. Before his accident Brambilla was second fastest with a lap of . During 1976 he suffered several accidents and mechanical retirements, collecting only one point, while his teammate Ronnie Peterson won the 1976 Italian Grand Prix. He qualified his March in 8th position for the 1976 United States Grand Prix West. In the race Brambilla was tapped from behind by Carlos Reutemann before they reached the first turn. Brambilla skidded off the course and was stationary, sitting near the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Linden Avenue. He lost the right rear wheel on his March on the 35th lap of the 1976 United States Grand Prix after holding fifth place for a time.

Surtees 1977 – 1978



In 1977, Brambilla moved to the Surtees team, where he scored six points. At the same time he also drove for the Alfa Romeo sports car team, achieving the World Championship for the team. Brambilla posted a time of 1:59:01.41 in qualifying his Surtees 8th for the 1977 Monaco Grand Prix.

He was known for his 'Punch and Crunch' routine, in which, he would greet the unfortunate victim with an extremely strong handshake. He enjoyed watching the recipient wince whilst they were shaking hands. He would then follow this up with a rabbit punch to the back of one's neck.

Brambilla continued with Surtees in 1978. At the 1978 United States Grand Prix West he placed 17th in qualifying, with a time of 1:23.212. His #19 Beta Surtees TS 19 finished 14th afterexperiencing engine failure on lap 50.

In a multiple pileup at Monzamarker in the 1978 Italian Grand Prix, in which Ronnie Peterson died, Brambilla suffered serious head injuries. Brambilla was hit by a flying wheel and returned to race in the 1979 Italian Grand Prix. In reaction to that race, it was announced in October 1978 that the Italian Grand Prix would moved to the Autodromo Dino Ferrarimarker circuit in Imolamarker for the next three years although this did not actually happen and the 1979 Italian Grand Prix was at Monza again.

Alfa Romeo 1979 – 1980

Brambilla drove briefly for the AlfaRomeo Formula One team in 1979 and 1980. On the first day of qualifying for the 1979 United States Grand Prix Brambilla was timed at 83.87 miles per hour (134.98 km/h). Heavy rain caused a slick track and slower times. In December 1979 Alfa Romeo revealed its Formula One race car for the 1980 season. The company named Patrick Depailler, Brambilla, and Bruno Giacomelli as its drivers. The racer was nearly identical to one driven by Giacomelli in the 1979 Italian Grand Prix. It was a wing car design with a V-12 engine that generated more than . Alfa Romeo announced that it was working on a 1,500 cubic centimeter turbocharged engine which was to begin track testing in a Formula One car in the summer of 1980.

Death

He died at Lesmomarker, near Milanmarker, of a heart attack at the age of 63 while gardening at his home. He reportedly collapsed while mowing the lawn. [98451], [98452]

Complete Formula One results

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)
Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 WDC Points
1974 Beta Tools / March Engineering March 741 Cosworth V8 ARG

BRA

RSA

10
ESP

DNS
BEL

9
MON

Ret
SWE

10
NED

10
FRA

11
GBR

Ret
GER

13
AUT

6
ITA

Ret
CAN

DNQ
USA

Ret
18th 1
1975 Beta Team March March 741 Cosworth V8 ARG

9
BRA

Ret
11th 6.5
March 751 RSA

Ret
ESP

5*
MON

Ret
BEL

Ret
SWE

Ret
NED

Ret
FRA

Ret
GBR

6
GER

Ret
AUT

1*
ITA

Ret
USA

7
1976 Beta Team March March 761 Cosworth V8 BRA

Ret
RSA

8
USW

Ret
ESP

Ret
BEL

Ret
MON

Ret
SWE

10
FRA

Ret
GBR

Ret
GER

Ret
AUT

Ret
NED

6
ITA

7
CAN

14
USA

Ret
JPN

Ret
19th 1
1977 Beta Team Surtees Surtees TS19 Cosworth V8 ARG

7
BRA

Ret
RSA

7
USW

Ret
ESP

Ret
MON

8
BEL

4
SWE

Ret
FRA

13
GBR

8
GER

5
AUT

15
NED

12
ITA

Ret
USA

19
CAN

6
JPN

8
16th 6
1978 Beta Team Surtees Surtees TS19 Cosworth V8 ARG

18
BRA

DNQ
RSA

12
USW

Ret
19th 1
Surtees TS20 MON

DNQ
BEL

13
ESP

7
SWE

Ret
FRA

17
GBR

9
GER

Ret
AUT

6
NED

DSQ
ITA

Ret
USA

CAN

1979 Autodelta Alfa Romeo 177 Alfa Romeo Flat-12 ARG

BRA

RSA

USW

ESP

BEL

MON

FRA

GBR

GER

AUT

NED

ITA

12
NC 0
Alfa Romeo 179 CAN

Ret
USA

DNQ
1980 Marlboro Team Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 179 Alfa Romeo V12 ARG

BRA

RSA

USW

BEL

MON

FRA

GBR

GER

AUT

NED

Ret
ITA

Ret
CAN

USA

NC 0
* Half points awarded for shortened race

References

  1. Ickx Wins Honors In Salzburg Race, New York Times, August 31, 1970, Page 48.
  2. Mass Captures Formula Two Race, New York Times, June 18, 1973, Page 41.
  3. Brambilla Is Victor, New York Times, August 16, 1973, Page 75.
  4. Merzario The Fastest, New York Times, March 23, 1975, Page 206.
  5. Final Driver Standing, New York Times, October 7, 1974, Page 45.
  6. Brain Surgery for Driver, New York Times, August 18, 1975, Page 17.
  7. Lauda, in 'Training' Car, Paces Qualifying At Glen, New York Times, October 4, 1975, Page 22.
  8. Regazzoni Takes Coast Race Pole, New York Times, March 28, 1976, Page 175.
  9. Good Turn For Brambilla? Drivers In Grand Prix Get A Fresh, New Start, Los Angeles Times, March 29, 1978, Page E1.
  10. Hunt Takes U.S. Grand Prix With Lauda Third, October 11, 1976, Page 47.
  11. Auto Racing, New York Times, May 23, 1977, Page E36.
  12. At Long Beach, Calif., New York Times, April 2, 1978, Page S8.
  13. Complete Results of 1978 Long Beach Grand Prix, Los Angeles Times, April 2, 1979, Page H10.
  14. 2 Reported Indicted In Fatal Crash, New York Times, October 3, 1979, Page D18.
  15. Italian Grand Prix Moved From Dangerous Monza Track, Los Angeles Times, October 27, 1978, Page SD_B4.
  16. Rain Sets Back Prix Qualifying, Washington Post, October 6, 1979, Page D2.
  17. Alfa Romeo Racer Shown, Los Angeles Times, December 11, 1979, Page D8.


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