Today, September 10, marks two Formula One World Championship anniversaries at Monza from the 1970s. Emerson Fittipaldi (1972, pictured at Monaco) and Mario Andretti (1978) each clinched their first World Championships on this day all those years ago.
Fittipaldi’s win in the 1972 Italian Grand Prix secured the title for Lotus with two races remaining in the season. It was a modified Monza circuit, chicanes appearing for the first time after the 1971 race.
“Emmo” became the youngest World Champion at age 25 and 273 days, a mark that stood for more than 30 years. However, since Fernando Alonso usurped that title in 2005, that’s been beaten twice, by Lewis Hamilton in 2008 and by three-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel in 2010. Fittipaldi won a second championship for McLaren in 1974.
Andretti, meanwhile, who served as a guest analyst for NBCSN’s coverage of the Italian Grand Prix this weekend, took his first and only title under somber circumstances in the 1978 Italian Grand Prix. Andretti’s Lotus teammate, Ronnie Peterson, was caught up in an accident past the start line and died from complications after surgery.
The fatality ensured Andretti had enough of a gap the final two races of the 1978 season to where he was not overtaken. It was the second and thus far most recent World Championship by an American driver (Phil Hill, 1961) in F1 history.
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”