Italian Grand Prix – 1979 F1 World Champion Jody Scheckter will perform demo runs at the wheel of his title winning Ferrari this weekend at Monza.
This weekend marks a number of occasions and celebrations for the Ferrari team. Their home race this weekend marks their 90th year of racing, as well as their 70th year of racing at the Italian Grand Prix in Formula 1.
It’s also 40 years since Jody Scheckter won the 1979 title at this event, driving the Ferrari 312 T4. This weekend, the South African will take the wheel of that car once again as he performs a series of demonstration runs at Monza to mark the anniversary.
“I have done a lot of preparation.” said Scheckter, now 69 years old. “As soon as I knew we were going to do this, I had the car sent to Italy. The same mechanic who was my mechanic went through it. It then came back for an event here in South Africa at Laverstoke Farm and I have a little track here so I drove it and it felt fine. Now it’s gone back to Monza, so we’ve done quite a bit of work.”
As for how emotional he might feel getting behind the wheel of the car he defeated teammate Gilles Villeneuve with, Scheckter said: “I don’t know how it will feel. I think I’ll get a similar feeling to 40 years ago. Obviously I’m not as confident as I was when I was racing, but maybe by the third day I’ll go a bit quicker, just because I’m stupid. When the visor goes down, you just get a bit more stupid!”
“I have to say it is just a massive privilege for me to go to Monza.” Scheckter enthused. I think it’s been five years since I went to a Grand Prix. I have friends in F1 and I still enjoy watching all the races, so it is going to be fantastic to be back at Monza in that car. One thing I know is it that with the flat 12 engine it will make a beautiful noise.”
Praising the car’s reliability as playing a major part in how he won the title, Scheckter explained: “It was definitely a step forward, but I don’t remember feeling it that way at the time. Every track was very different. You went to one and it was brilliant and then at the next track it was not so good. We also had Michelin tyres, and they were the first radials and I think that was a big factor in our success. In terms of the car we had a wide flat engine and we couldn’t get the air underneath it like the Fords, which was a narrow, so we were disadvantaged there. But the car was incredibly reliable and it finished every race – and that’s how we won the championship.”