De Angelis: Dream Driver

He burned all the stages (except with Tyrrell) not only because "the gentle sex likes" the twenty-year-old Roman

Translated by this website

ROME – From a market survey carried out at the time by Parmalat, when it seemed that de Angelis had to sign with Brabham Alfa, it turned out that the driver was very pleasing to the gentle sex, who embodied in him a typical image of the hero pilot with all the right requirements “to make you dream”. Last but not least, the beauty that until now seemed to be a requirement of some French drivers.

What do you think when you get a marriage proposal by letter?

Apart from the fact that they are very nice letters, I always laugh. Many times it is a joke, but it makes those who live from the outside think how romantic and exciting this world of F1 can be, while instead it has very hard implications for those who live it firsthand. It’s a bit of irony…

Don’t you think that to be so successful in your twenties, to have tried an F1 Ferrari, to have put your foot, even if you found yourself excluded, in the “circus” of F1, can make you “mount your head”?

No, never. When I do a good corner, however, I say I am good because I feel that it is personal merit to have been able to fine-tune the car for that corner: it is something of mine, so I feel satisfaction.

Elio de Angelis was, as never before, at the center of attention for the episode which at first wanted him to be married to Tyrrell and later “dumped”, with an excuse, by the English patron. The dazzling career of this 20-year-old seems to have come to a halt. De Angelis began his escalation at a very young age, when he made his debut in 1972 with the karts that were his school until 1976, when he graduated as European champion.

In 1974 he won the Italian championship and the following year he finished second in the world championship behind Goldstein. His car career began in 1977 with F3: he was the first to take advantage of the concession granted by the CSAI to kart drivers to immediately switch to F3.

At the end of the season, in the very last race in Magione he won the Italian title after a race he won by moving from the back row to the front, but not without bitter controversy over his alleged inability to start in the final.

From here, for ’78 Elio found himself behind the wheel of a Chevron with a Ferrari engine, which was an unfortunate experiment, leaving other controversial aftermaths and therefore the divorce from the Everest team, which managed the car, for the ICI team when the season was over. It was almost over. Then the contract with Tyrrell for 1979 liquidated by the English manager.

You were about to enter F1 with Tyrrell after just three years of racing in a car. Don’t you think there is a little experience you can have, at least in the opinion of “qualified” people?

If one finds at a certain point in his career to be able to take the step to enter F1, he must not discard this possibility, because one “does not have the experience”. I thought I had it and having the possibility to take this step I did it because they are possibilities that do not happen every day, also because the places are what they are and therefore have to throw yourself head down without being to calculate too many things and see the whys and hows.

Do you prefer to try the F1 road again, perhaps with an uncompetitive car, rather than repeat the F2 season?

I would like to race in F1 and possibly also in F2 because even if the F1 is not a very competitive car from an advertising point of view, F1 gives you more than F2, and perhaps making you noticed with a car that it is not the best you can get into a more competitive team. If you are not in the environment, you can do all the F1 races you want, be good in other categories, but getting into F1 becomes difficult. This is the Giacomelli case docet.

How did you get in touch with the F1 “circus”?

I really went out before I got in. However, one day I asked myself what my goal was and since it was F1 I thought it was useless to waste time and continue to think about which is the best car in F2 or other category.

Weren’t you afraid that some of the senators of this formula would raise the shield of “security”, or of inexperience?

No, because I think it is something that should have a very discretionary criterion. It depends on case to case, such as that of Brancatelli which seems not to be included among those of series A. Of course, a scoring process is right for obtaining this license, but as I said it must not be something with a rigid mechanism. But upstream of this I would like to say that before blocking those who get permission to race in F1 and who have not yet done anything bad, it would be necessary to revise the licenses of those who run in F1 and regularly cause situations of danger to themselves and to others.

Is this an attack on the senators?

I say that measures should be taken in this direction and not trial those who still have to race in this category.

At first there was talk of a match with the Brabham Alfa…

Yes, thanks to Jaime Manca, a mutual friend who is also my manager, I met Lauda who was very nice to me. Niki told me that he saw his twenty years in me, when he was looking for a car to race and promised to give me a hand by letting me join Brabham.

Some newspapers reported that this approach with Niki was a coldly prepared thing, indeed according to a sports newspaper you would have said that you had maneuvered Lauda in this direction by proposing in return to enter into business with him with an airline…

I didn’t take Niki on a trip for offering him a deal: I invited Niki to Sardinia and from there we also talked about other things. The idea of proposing me to Brabham came from him, and I have not made any counterproposals.

What caused the Brabham operation to fail?

A bit of this gossip from the newspapers, which however failed to crack my friendship with Lauda, then above all the fact that I did not carry a penny despite the rumor that I brought a dowry of vertiginous numbers. Unfortunately to enter F1, given the scarcity of places, you have to look for a way, to be “nice” to Ecclestone, to “oil some wheels”. Obviously, it was not in my interests and moral to do such a thing. I’ll leave the rest to you.

Don’t you think this talk of yours without skin on the tongue can provoke reactions like: de Angelis is doing this because his shoulders are covered?

I do not think so at all, because even if I hadn’t the financial contribution of my father I would have started racing anyway, perhaps I would have arrived later at the results I have obtained now, however even now I can have a seat in a high-level F2 without problems. Let’s say that I have already gone out of the number of those drivers who are looking for and have to fight to get into F2. I would like to enter F1, I had reached this goal, but I fell back, not my fault, but the fault of an English “gentleman” who gave me this sting. I signed the contract with Tyrrell on September 25th after having made the first contacts with him through Stewart who had noticed me on occasion of my victory in Monte Carlo.

I was supposed to debut in Canada, but the third car wasn’t ready. Then he mentioned to me the licensing problem, which he had already asked me if the CSAI would make a communication about it, which was done via telex, with the intention of confirming it for 1979. I then asked when I could start the program of tests, but he was no longer resented. Then the termination of the contract with the excuse of the license. And I think this is the clearest demonstration that I hadn’t bought a seat in F1, as it was said.

You deny that you are a guy with a suitcase…

If I had brought in $ 800,000, I wouldn’t be in this situation. They are all lies and all inventions, which at this point I do not know what to attribute, if not to a real “class hatred”. Otherwise, I just don’t know how to define it. For me, you can’t prove the ability in the car with the thousand bills.

You are preparing a lawsuit against Tyrrell. What could you use such a thing for? Aren’t you afraid it will backfire?

I think things like that have already happened in F1. I know that I am taking a risk, coming out of what has been defined as the silence of this formula and making everyone aware of what happens in the circus.

Do you want to raise public awareness?

It’s not that I want to raise public awareness of my personal case. It seems right to me to make known what happened to me and it is up to the others to get an opinion of the matter.

Isn’t it to get compensation?

No, it is not a purely venal fact, but a moral question. That is, one who manages to put his foot in such a strange world after pains and sacrifices, after having worked hard, is excluded like this. I wanted to create a precedent so as not to make others commit my mistake. This world is tightening more and more around a circle of people who for their interests do not respect pacts, contracts and none of those rules of civil life.

Now that you know that Giacomelli will race for Tyrrell, do you feel even more dethroned of your place?

I don’t feel dethroned dethroned at all if anything I would feel it from Jarier. Bruno has more experience than me and he deserves F1 more than me. I would have liked to team up with him, with the Italian sponsor Martini it would have been a real national team. It would have been a team that finally spoke in Italian.

But wouldn’t you have liked to speak Italian in an Italian team also with Italian cars?

Of course, this is certainly the case. Ferrari is everyone’s dream.

Do you hope one day to be able to make it happen?

It is a very difficult speech. Of course, if they asked me to run with them I would do it regardless of conditions or anything. I would accept immediately, with the box closed. After all, my relations with the Commendatore, to whom I am bound by deep esteem and affection, and with the team I owe a lot to, have not been in the least damaged by the experience of F2.

Don’t you feel disheartened to have been on the verge of entering F1 first with Ferrari and then with Tyrrell and then seeing everything vanish into nothing?

There are two types of reactions in the face of adversity: either to become disheartened or to charge yourself more to overcome them. Adversity on me has the effect of encouraging me to continue with more energy, not to give up. I am assuming that all evil does not come to harm. If events occur that put you in the condition of not being able to race, it means that you will find something else to do or if you have made a mistake once it does not mean that you will always do it.

Are you a fatalist then?

I wouldn’t say fatalistic, but there is a certain percentage of these things in life.

Are you superstitious?

Enough not to say what they are for.

Do you do other jobs besides that of the racing driver?

It is not a real job, I make myself useful in my father’s company, I deal with public relations and advertising, always compatibly with the time that my job as a driver leaves me. After all, it is a type of experience that I can also use in my life as a driver. However, I follow other sectors of the company because I like to realize the difficulties and problems of this business that one day I could make my own. I don’t want to find myself one day with nothing in my hand.

So you are not sure to make it in F1?

I do and I will do everything to do it, but the world of F1 is like a short-lived dream that some manage to realize and others do not, remaining with a fistful of flies in hand. It is a world one meter above the ground.

In what sense?

Amazing prices, fabulous cars, competitive spirit, many beautiful ideals or frightening interests. In other words, a world in which everything is oversized. That’s why I say it’s not down to earth, it’s not actually real. You know it is there, that it is there today, but that it could disappear at any moment.

Aren’t you afraid you missed the train to enter this world?

Absolutely, even for the sake of age. Drivers who have been vegetating for years in F1 will get “tired” of continuing and will create spaces.

F1 has become a big show in which the values of sport are often betrayed. Does it still have good content in your opinion?

I always have competitive content in my heart and I think there is something very valid also in F1, beyond the interests, the desire for competition in the pure sense of the term. Otherwise, I would have lost the desire to get there and it is not the case.

© 1978 Autosprint • By Gaetano Dima • Published here for entertainment and educational purposes, no copyright infringement is intended.

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