From his teenage years, Enzo Ferrari advanced in life over the course of misfortune – the death of his father then that of his older brother – and his route in the racing world knew no more respite. Fatality has drawn its intimate web, surely the most invisible; that of suffering. In his first sporting career, that of a pilot from 1919, he saw countless colleagues disappear. The death of Giuseppe Campari, in September 1933 at the Monza autodrome, was the first that really challenged him.
"He was not only a pilot of exceptional dexterity, but also an indomitable wrestler, a man who, in order to win, did not shrink from any risk.", remembers Enzo Ferrari in his memoir" Piloti, che gente ". The perfect definition of" Garibaldien ", supreme caste of pilots of his own definition, who according to him had no sense of measure at the wheel or spirit of subordination in adversity.
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He had just given up piloting to favor the role of boss of the Scuderia, and suddenly saw the pre-war peloton fade away, gradually disappear in favor of a new one. This death was a marker of time, a chime ringing deep inside, "the end of a cycle, especially since those years saw the explosion of the second generation", he added. Indeed, the brothers Maserati, Nuvolari, Varzi, Chiron and others Trintignant were arriving.
The wheel of misfortune turns. Fate often strikes, at random, blindly, and Enzo Ferrari is sometimes the beneficiary. Thus, in 1949, the grim reaper claimed Jean-Pierre Wimille and Felice Trossi. Suddenly, the glorious Alfa Romeo team finds itself plunged into an abyss of despair, abandoning the leading roles to Ferrari. On deserted terrain, the Scuderia seized the opportunity to sign their first Grand Prix victory.
The Tragedy of a Thousand Miles
However, no pain was greater for Enzo Ferrari than that of the disappearance of his beloved son in 1956. He nourished the greatest plans for Dino, who died of muscular dystrophy at the age of 24. This is where the "Commendatore" really failed to drop everything. For years he has been exhausted by the declining developments in Dino's health, which he takes stock of himself every day.
Enzo Ferrari with, on his desk, a portrait of his son Dino, who died in 1956
Credit: Getty Images
For this reason, in 1952 and 1953 he did not enjoy his first two victorious world campaigns. Until the idea of withdrawing from Formula 1 perspired. Enzo forced himself to continue, becoming a homebody. But Dino had left a V6 in the works at Maranello and it had to be worthy of it. On the circuits, the open roads, tragedies unfold and the notion of helplessness still lulls the conscience. The times are immature, irresponsible. Careless because it protects neither its heroes nor its admirers. Unbearably.
On March 14, 1957, the racing world lost another brave man. Ejected from his Ferrari, Eugenio Castellotti smashed his skull against a low wall in Monza. Unfortunately, it is a down payment… The most atrocious occurs less than two months later: in the last kilometers of the Thousand Miles, Alfonso de Portago and Eddy Nelson leave the road near Brescia, without forgiveness.
At 250 km / h, their Ferrari 335S failed in the midst of trees, people… The machine sputtered, bounced all over the place in its deadly rage. There are nine other victims, including five children. This tragedy will at least put an end to this test on the open road. Not the rampant massacre, which will come back to prowl the circuits.
Enzo Ferrari is particularly affected by this misfortune. His life rests on something ultimately futile, ridiculous. Useless, if it is to lead to this. However, fate has not yet inflicted everything on the man of Modena, far from it. A new emotional and emotional shock awaits him …
Collins or the second death of the son
Distraught, Enzo and Laura Ferrari have indeed made a transfer of affection to the driver Peter Collins after the death of their son Dino. The Englishman is a champion in the making, of a rare class revealed in a beautiful gesture during the outcome of the 1956 season.
In the lair of Monza where the tifosi shout with "Forza Ferrari", he crowned his teammate, Juan Manuel Fangio. In the middle of the race, he judged his chances of being world champion – quite theoretical it is true – too hypothetical to insist. During a pit stop, he has Voluntarily gave up his wheel to the Argentinian, waiting for the repair of his car stopped by a steering problem.At this time, carpooling was still allowed against distribution of points.
Enzo Ferrari loves go-getters and, of course, he was surprised by this spontaneous, sacrificial, magnificent gesture of sportiness, entered into the legend of his team and of the entire history of Formula 1. He does not, however, pay a driver for put oneself at the service of another, let alone a Fangio who left full of shared resentment. So, inevitably, he wonders.
"I don't want you to give up on Fangio's profit, I haven't asked anyone for anything like that because I too have been a runner and I know what that means", he will ask her later."I never thought that a 25 year old like me could take on such a big responsibility, replied the Briton. I have a lot of time ahead of me: Fangio must remain world champion for this year again because he deserves it and I will always be ready to give him my car whenever it can help him. "He will never have time.
Enzo Ferrari and Peter Collins, September 2, 1956, during the Italian Grand Prix – Photo by Bernard Cahier
Credit: Getty Images
At 26, Collins kills himself in a cabriole completed in a tree bordering the Nürburgring – nicknamed Green Hell – and for Enzo Ferrari it's the son's second death and tears that few people like Phil Hill have. seen pouring. Shaken, "Ingeniere" will pay tribute to the pilot: "I had a deep regard for him, both in sport and in human terms. Peter was that man who got into a car and, from the first lap, knew the exact rpm of maximum engine torque, the maximum rpm at which to operate and shift gears to get the best performance, and so on.. "
You have to be strong to resist!
The burgeoning glory of Ferrari is written like a noir novel. The years 1956 and 1957 were abominable, 1958 will be of the same barrel because at the Grand Prix of France, a month before, on the circuit of Reims-Gueux, Luigi Musso added his name to the blacklist of the red pilots, to 250 km / h in the Calvaire bend. With Musso, it's a bit of Italy that leaves an increasingly international peloton. He leaves behind a hybrid record, adorned with a strange victory, shared thanks to a ride by Juan Manuel Fangio at home, in 1956.
But trying as it is for the Scuderia, this season is still marked by the tragic in a surplus of indecent when, in January 1959, its new world champion Mike Hawthorn, retired at 29 years old because too affected by the deaths of Luigi Musso and Peter Collins, are killed near London during a chase with Rob Walker, boss of one of the most prominent private stables. This is insane: in less than a year, Ferrari has just buried its three drivers at the start of the 1958 season.
In three seasons, the lives of the Red Drivers have fueled a macabre chronicle, and one wonders if it will all come to an end. "Enzo Ferrari's life has been dotted with such events. The death cohort has been getting tougher", underlines Jean-Louis Moncet, journalist specializing in Ferrari."You have to be strong to resist!"
The most terrible thing is that we have to move forward, which Enzo Ferrari knows how to do. That's right, he is sometimes rude. He can alternate compliments and scathing criticisms because that is the only way to remind the pilot that the institution goes above and beyond. The year 1959 was at least an opportunity for the boss to prepare for the future, to see Phil Hill and Wolfgang von Trips at work before certifying them as holders.
In 1961, the engine, available in a version for slow circuits and fast circuits – a refinement – promised glory to the German. In any case, he arrives at the Italian Grand Prix for that. In front of the crowd of tifosi now fully committed to the cause of the only Italian team in the running – Maserati withdrew in 1960 – Monza must dedicate it rather than his American teammate, the ultimate challenger.
Surtees champion of shattered happiness
The "Temple of Speed" will ultimately be his tomb, as well as that of 14 spectators. Entering the parabolic on the second race lap, he got caught up with Jim Clark's Lotus and caused the worst crash Formula 1 has ever seen. His car took off on an embankment, spun three times in the air and then stopped against a fence. On the next pass, Phil Hill saw that a Ferrari was involved, and saw the sign on his stand telling him that it was "Taffy".
Wolfgang von Trips and Phil Hill, the two Ferrari drivers, at the 1961 Belgian Grand Prix
Credit: Getty Images
While the carabinieri, Italian law requires, were looking for anyone involved in the accident to stop him, Hill crossed the finish line, fist raised … Winner, world champion on restraint: "I was wondering what to do. I wasn't smiling. I wasn't sure Von Trips was dead, but I feared him. "
The worst part is that these images looked like a flashback. "I was at Le Mans in 1955. I had already experienced these moments, and everything that surrounds them. When we read the press the next day, we measured the tragedy. We then decided to come back to the circuit. This appalling event had destroyed all the happiness a world title could bring. "
In retrospect, one will realize that the Scuderia was pursued by the curse. All the pilots she had introduced in the preamble to the 1957 season – Castellotti, De Portago, Hawthorn, Musso, Perdisa and von Trips – were now dead, with the exception of Perdisa.
At Monza, she had lost Von Trips but she had surely found her next star, Ricardo Rodriguez, qualified in second place for her very first Grand Prix. The Mexican, revealed in the Sport category on a Ferrari of the North American Racing Team, had the build of a great. He will compete in four more Grands Prix before being killed at the age of 20, aboard a Lotus entered by Rob Walker, the same one with whom Hawthorn had made his final race … This death was revolting, unbearable. It was in 1962, at the Mexican Grand Prix, a non-championship event …
Lady luck finally seems to have looked at the red mark
It was in this same year that Enzo Ferrari published his first memoirs, entitled "Mes joys terribles". This period will correspond to the beginning of a lull for him, the particular flavor of having become the sole flag bearer of Italy too. He will stand proudly on the continent as the only bulwark of English "mechanics", according to his expression full of condescension. For "Ingeniere", a brand should not be content to assemble its chassis with an engine of any other brand, it had to force itself to do everything, under its roof, otherwise it had no value.
He castigates the "mechanics" but they are there, more and more urgent! After the Cooper threat of 1959 and 1960, a new challenge looms for the Scuderia against the emerging teams BRM, Lotus and Brabham. The beginning of a new era in which Maranello will have a hard time fighting with innovations. "Il Grande John" Surtees opened a happy parenthesis in 1964, after four crownings in the motorcycle speed world championship.
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By the way, the Englishman received a big helping hand – or rather a steering wheel – from Lorenzo Bandini, who cleaned up the wheels of Graham Hill (BRM) in the Mexico final. Surtees will admit: "There is no doubt that Bandini's maneuver was deliberate. "The lesson is that Lady Luck finally seems to have looked at the red mark since two laps from the consecration, Jim Clark (Lotus) emptied the Climax engine of all its oil.
Villeneuve – Pironi, the heartbreak
This triumph will only be a reprieve because Ferrari will soon pay a new tribute. In Monaco, in 1967, this same Bandini did not survive more than three days to his burns and multiple fractures. The accident, in all its brutality, its cruelty, took on a universal dimension never before understood because it was in front of their televisions, live, that the witnesses saw the Rossa burn upside down, in front of inexperienced rescuers, helpless, that volunteers had to assist. The young Italian hit the chicane at the port on the 82nd lap. He attacked hard to catch the leader, Denny Hulme. Fatality will be blamed on fatigue, the Ferrari being difficult to control and brutally powerful.
His stable for a time forgotten by fate, "the Old Man" will discover, in the twilight of his life at 79, Gilles Villeneuve, the ultimate "Garibaldien" in his trompe-la-mort repertoire. He was fascinated to see this daring little Canadian relentlessly subject his machines to torture. He congratulated himself on this for his engineers in charge of ensuring the solidity of his cars. He was devastated by his tragic and preventable end at Zolder in 1982, in a comeback lap at the pits, which was carried out in practice. A final caper at the end of a flamboyant artist's life, a man also cornered by the betrayal of the accomplice of his most senseless trips.
Didier Pironi had played his personal card to Imola two weeks earlier, flouting Ferrari's team instructions, renouncing the friendship that the other believed to be eternal in exchange for a sulfur-scented world title dream. At the end of one of those seasons in hell he had known too much, Enzo Ferrari should see the French suffer martyrdom at Hockenheim, catapulted in all directions to the highest peaks. In this all to be rebuilt once again, he should soon choose Michele Alboreto, the Italian he wanted to see world champion driving a Ferrari before his death. In vain.
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