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Ronnie Peterson - Beater of the World Champions!


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#1 holiday

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 08:33

I just stumbled over a brief summary of Peterson's career. The guy fared very well against three world champions as team-mates with a total of 6 wdcs and was himself two times runner-up in the seventies but seems to be pretty forgotten nowadays. But why?

Now, the thought which crossed my mind was that he, Ronnie Peterson, lacks a nick-name, some title which sums up his achievements and under which he still would be recognized today.

Take for example Stirling Moss. He lost four world titles but he is still remembered and not even for his incompetence. Why? Because he - or maybe rather his aficionados - soon have given him a title: 'Best driver ever without a title' which was a much more invaluable title than a simple world championship which would put him on a level with Hawthorn, Hill and the like or rather make him to be known as the man who gave away three world championship, that is - another Nigel Mansell. How much more ingenious was it to accuse the system (or fate itself) that it had withheld a deserved title from the man and to invent a title exclusively for Moss - under which he is still renowned.

Berger who is very quick to grasp these kind of things subsequently has invested some pr-effort to bring himself alongside with Moss but ultimately only with a limited success (a variation of his title was: 'driver who racked up the most points without being world champion', a title which was formally correct but would rightfully belong to Coulthard by now....)

So, it`s perfectly clear what Peterson lacked so far: He needs a handy title easy to pass from mouth to mouth to make him stand out against his peers and hereby he has one now: Ronnie Peterson - Beater of the World Champions! - and a more deserved one than those of the others, too.

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#2 another moaner

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 10:08

I consider Ronnie to be one of the greatest drivers ever. He's my favourite ever anyhow. The fact that he could drive around a cars short comings pays testement to his ability. His only downfall was that he wasn't the best at setting up a car or giving technical feedback to his enngineers.

#3 DOHC

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 12:06

Originally posted by holiday
seems to be pretty forgotten nowadays.


Just started a thread showing that he is remembered. He will be honored with a bronze statue in his home town of Örebro, Sweden.

#4 Vitesse2

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 12:24

Originally posted by holiday
Now, the thought which crossed my mind was that he, Ronnie Peterson, lacks a nick-name, some title which sums up his achievements and under which he still would be recognized today.


Anyone who owns the updated version (paperback, black cover) of Alan Henry's "Ronnie Peterson - the story of a search for perfection" will know what Ronnie's nickname was:

SUPERSWEDE

:up: :up:

#5 holiday

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 12:31

DOHC;

come on, where in God's name is Örebro?!

;)


Vitesse2,

I know but what does it mean? I mean, the average American you have to tell where Scandinavia exactly is, so I really can't see any use in such a name (however much affection it might carry).

#6 fines

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 12:33

holiday;

come on, who cares for the average American?!

;)

#7 Vrba

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 12:59

Originally posted by fines
holiday;

come on, who cares for the average American?!

;)


Exactly! Who cares for America at all?
:-)

Hrvoje

#8 scheivlak

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 13:06

Originally posted by holiday
I just stumbled over a brief summary of Peterson's career. The guy fared very well against three world champions as team-mates with a total of 6 wdcs and was himself two times runner-up in the seventies but seems to be pretty forgotten nowadays.


Don't think Ronnie is forgotten; a quick search learns that there were no less than 718 threads in this BB alone with the name Peterson in it and 13 threads with his name in the thread title.

Compared to his WDC teammates, his results show that he beated Lauda convincingly in 1972; but of course Niki was a rookie in a difficult car (like Ronnie in '70) and very much in #2 role (more than Ronnie ever had to face, I guess!).
In 1973 WDC Emmo beat Ronnie 55-52, in 1978 WDC-to-be Mario was superior.
So calling him '"Beater of World Champions" doesn't make sense.

I remember Ronnie not so much because of his WDC points statistics but because of something else - his attitude, his guts, driving style.
Plus the fact that he's one of the few people that more than once won a GP with a rather inferior car ('74 Lotus, '76 March) - perhaps the real proof of greatness.
And of course his stunning 1973 qualifying record: 9 poles in 15 races!

Super Swede, indeed.

#9 David M. Kane

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 13:23

I can't remember another driver who got taken back by two team a second time. Did not Ronnie get a second shot at both March and Lotus? That in itself is an exceptional strong statement by the guys who sign the paychecks.

#10 Vitesse2

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 13:27

Oh come on scheivlak! In 1978 Ronnie dutifully played number 2 to Mario - that's what it said in his contract. He was finally in a car which did his talents justice but had to let his team-mate take the glory - he could and would have outdriven Mario if he'd wanted to.

But yes - guts, attitude, style: he had it all!

#11 Pedro 917

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 13:38

From the "What's your priceless moment" thread :

Another big moment was at Silverstone 1973 when, for 2 laps, I was Ronnie Peterson's passenger in a Lotus Europe. I had a deerstalker like Pedro and asked many drivers at the time to pose with it for a picture. I had Ronnie's picture from Zolder and also one of Maria Helena Fittipaldi wearing an orange blouse standing in front of the JPS logo of the team's van. We went to Silverstone on Tuesday to find a good spot for our small tent. We saw all kinds of activities in the pits and went down for a look. Peterson and Fittipaldi were giving rides to guests and journalists in a Lotus Europe and Elan 2+2. Fittipaldi's wife was sitting on the pit guardrail and I gave her a copy of the picture I took in Zolder. We got into a conversation as all of a sudden, Peterson stopped and invited someone for a ride. As there was nobody around, I lifted my finger and he said OK. The door was closed and I was already fastening my seatbelts as somebody knocked on the window. It was Peter Warr asking me if I was a journalist. I said no and he said "out". Then came Fittipaldi's wife and said merely "give the boy a ride" I had to sign a paper releaving them from all responsability in case of an accident but I couldn't care less...... It was an experience never to forget. Here was I sitting next to Ronnie Peterson and having a conversation while racing around Silverstone. After the ride, I gave him the picture with the deerstalker and got out. For the rest of the week, I hung around the Lotus pits most of the time and got several thumbs up from Ronnie. Those were the days....

A truly nice person and great driver, never to be forgotten.

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#12 scheivlak

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 14:06

Originally posted by Vitesse2
Oh come on scheivlak! In 1978 Ronnie dutifully played number 2 to Mario - that's what it said in his contract. He was finally in a car which did his talents justice but had to let his team-mate take the glory - he could and would have outdriven Mario if he'd wanted to.


Well, he was outqualified by Mario 11-3; do you think Ronnie didn't go flat out in qualifying? That would be very strange.
Mario clearly had the upper hand at the start of the season, later on it levelled out. So, clearly Mario's experience with this very peculiar kind of car played a role. But I don't think Mario had the upper hand because Ronnie inhibited himself.
BTW I was simply reacting to the term 'WDC Beater' - you have to beat a WDC to qualify for that, and not just in an imaginary way.

#13 Wolf

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 14:18

Originally posted by holiday

Take for example Stirling Moss. He lost four world titles but he is still remembered and not even for his incompetence. ... How much more ingenious was it to accuse the system (or fate itself) that it had withheld a deserved title from the man and to invent a title exclusively for Moss - under which he is still renowned.

...

So, it`s perfectly clear what Peterson lacked so far: He needs a handy title easy to pass from mouth to mouth to make him stand out against his peers and hereby he has one now: Ronnie Peterson - Beater of the World Champions! - and a more deserved one than those of the others, too.


Must resist the urge to comment. Must restst the urge to comment.

What the hell! Holiday, saying such things will not make Ronnie look any better, it will only make You look dafter... Denigerating achievements of driver who undoubtedly belongs to top 10 drivers of modern GP/F1 era (since '50), and (not so stretched, even according to stats) even top 5, does You no service.

#14 Felix Muelas

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 14:26

Originally posted by Wolf
...Must resist the urge to comment. Must resist the urge to comment...

Thanks for not resisting.;)
Felix

#15 Vitesse2

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 14:42

Originally posted by scheivlak


Well, he was outqualified by Mario 11-3; do you think Ronnie didn't go flat out in qualifying? That would be very strange.
Mario clearly had the upper hand at the start of the season, later on it levelled out. So, clearly Mario's experience with this very peculiar kind of car played a role. But I don't think Mario had the upper hand because Ronnie inhibited himself.
BTW I was simply reacting to the term 'WDC Beater' - you have to beat a WDC to qualify for that, and not just in an imaginary way.


If you look more carefully, once Ronnie got equal machinery (ie a 79) he was on Andretti like glue. Admittedly the 79 was the class of the field, but Ronnie usually had something in hand, as demonstrated by the way he dutifully followed in Mario's wheeltracks.

Wolf: :up:

#16 DOHC

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 14:53

Originally posted by scheivlak
And of course his stunning 1973 qualifying record: 9 poles in 15 races!

Super Swede, indeed.


Right! And having seen a few of those pole laps with my own eyes, I can assure you it was a treat! :up:

Pedro 917 welcome! Wonderful story too! I wonder how many such stories there are out there...

#17 Roger Clark

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 15:45

Originally posted by Vitesse2


If you look more carefully, once Ronnie got equal machinery (ie a 79) he was on Andretti like glue. Admittedly the 79 was the class of the field, but Ronnie usually had something in hand, as demonstrated by the way he dutifully followed in Mario's wheeltracks.


Peterson may well have had something in hand, but why assume that Andretti didn't?

I agree that Wolf showed remarkable restraint.

#18 Jeroen Brink

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 16:28

Ronnie: The last of the Late Brakers.

#19 David M. Kane

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 17:25

In fact things were getting dicy enough going into Monza that Chapman deliberately put him in a Lotus 78, saying they couldn't get his 79 fixed in time, to make sure he didn't beat Mario! If that hadn't been done, there
is a chance Ronnie would still be with us today as the 78s front end was
particularly fragile. If you look at the accident photos, the entire front
of the car was ripped off...NOT good!

If Ronnie wasn't such a gentleman he could have won the championship.

In fact Mario didn't even want Ronnie in the team because he didn't think
it was fair for Ronnie to have to run as a #2 as Mario considered him a
#1. BUT, since he had developed the car, he wasn't about to share his hard
work, it was his BEST shot at being WC.

Don't get me wrong, Mario is a GREAT, GREAT driver; but he ain't no Ronnie
Peterson!

Ronnie was so frustrated he had already signed with McLaren for the next
season.

Lastly, the reason he left Lotus the first time is because he was driving
Fittipaldi crazy. Emmo would spend all weekend setting his car up while
Ronnie bombed around sideways, until someone would decide to put Emmos
settings on Ronnie's car and he would go out and set pole.

Emmo would go through the roof!

I'm not sure who was more evil in playing with drivers minds, Enzo or
Colin?

Lets remember that Ronnie started out with March in both F2 and F1 even
a little F3, so he never had a proper engineer and/or mentor to teach him
how to set-up a car. As a result, he always drove a car like a go-kart until he got into the 79. You change the angle of attack on a grounds-effect car by more than 13% you can lose up to 70% of your ground-effect (source: Parker Johnstone- ex-Indy driver, graduate in
Mechanical Engineering- University of California-Berkeley). So you have to
be very smooth.

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#20 Roger Clark

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 17:41

Originally posted by David M. Kane

Lastly, the reason he left Lotus the first time is because he was driving
Fittipaldi crazy.


Almost true, but Fittipaldi left first.

#21 Roger Clark

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 17:49

Originally posted by David M. Kane
In fact things were getting dicy enough going into Monza that Chapman deliberately put him in a Lotus 78, saying they couldn't get his 79 fixed in time, to make sure he didn't beat Mario!


Is this true? Peterson crashed his 79 in the pre-race warm-up so it's not surprising that it wasn't ready for te race

#22 Gary C

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 19:57

'himself two times runner-up in the seventies but seems to be pretty forgotten nowadays.'
Forgotten?? Are you mad?? Certainly not on here!!! And....................I've had my Historic Formula Ford painted in Ronnies' national colours in honour of him!!

#23 DOHC

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Posted 12 January 2003 - 21:20

Gary :up:

#24 Jeroen Brink

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 12:07

Originally posted by David M. Kane
... saying they couldn't get his 79 fixed in time, to make sure he didn't beat Mario! If that hadn't been done, there
is a chance Ronnie would still be with us today....


The real scandal here was obviously the performance of the hospital afterwards. Had the crash happened in e.g. Hockenheim, Ronnie would probably have survived. (Earlier, maybe Jochen as well, by the same token).



#25 LittleChris

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 12:33

Originally posted by Jeroen Brink


The real scandal here was obviously the performance of the hospital afterwards. Had the crash happened in e.g. Hockenheim, Ronnie would probably have survived. (Earlier, maybe Jochen as well, by the same token).


According to Sid Watkins first book, the medical facilities at Hockenheim consisted of a tent !!

#26 David M. Kane

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 13:29

What happened to the mobile hospital that Lou Stanley had put together? Had
that been abandoned by that point in time? What year did Dr. Syd Watkins come on board? I need to get off my butt and get his book, I bet it is a
real eye opener.

#27 Mohican

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 14:11

Whatever the merits of the Andretti vs Peterson discussion re 1978, let us agree that they were both GREAT drivers - whereas Mario for various reasons had more formal success in F1 than Ronnie did; he was World Champion in '78 after all.

However: my point is this - and I am a card-carrying member of the Peterson fan club:

to my mind Mario never had the same lasting impact on the F1 scene as Ronnie did, he did not command the same fan base. Respect for the man, yes; for the results, yes - but nowhere near the same excitement. Ronnie's legacy is SPEED, pure and simple. Do we really need to care whether he was better or worse than Mario or Emerson at setting up the car when he was so much more exciting to watch ?

Anyway, it was not only Ronnie who found himself in bad cars. Admittedly the March 721, Lotus 76 and Tyrrell P34 were underwhelming vehicles - but what of the Parnelli, Lotus 77 or Lotus 80 that Mario had to drive ?

in fact, the world tends to forget that 1978 was the second time Ronnie and Mario drove the same cars. The first time was in 1970 when they were both in private March 701s - and I would argue that it was Ronnie who made the greater mark that year in spite of being in his first season in a hopelessly underfunded team (which could not be said of the STP Granatelli operation).

Mario's record is there for the world to see, and he is a truly great guy. But Ronnie was something else again.

#28 Jeroen Brink

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 15:06

Originally posted by LittleChris


According to Sid Watkins first book, the medical facilities at Hockenheim consisted of a tent !!


Ronnie had to be brought to a hospital anyway. The hospital in Heidelberg is rated among the best in the world.

Anyway, even a medician in a tent (or out in the open for that matter) could reason what sort of complications could be in the making with the injuries at hand - something the Italian doctors reportedly did not timely acknowledge.

#29 DOHC

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 19:58

Ronnie's injuries were life-threatening already from the beginning. Most people aren't aware of it, but massive leg fractures are always life-threatening, and such patients are intensive-care patients. Today, chances are better when it comes to prevent the fatty embolism Ronnie suffered, but I don't believe the rumours saying that he got inadequately treated. Treatment today is different (think of Zanardi, who was held in an artificial coma) but such a condition is indeed not to be taken lightly. I think it's impossible to claim that the doctors that night were incompetent unless one is medically qualified to evaluate what they did. But they were certainly under pressure. Sid Watkins was there, Chapman and Andretti too, and media wanted to know. People came and went. It was not the best working conditions for treating an intensive care unit patient. He had life-threatening injuries. Maybe the worst deficiency at that hospital was security: that they couldn't keep people who didn't belong there out?

The tragic event caused a great stir, and there were many attempts to put the blame not just in one place, but anywhere. It couldn't just be bad luck or fate, someone must have done wrong. First there was Patrese, then the starter who didn't wait until the grid was at standstill, then Chapman was accused of building fragile cars, then of not letting Ronnie have the spare 79 that was set up for Mario. Then the doctors at the Niguardia hospital were said to be morons, and if they weren't, it sure was malpractice. Later blame was laid on Hunt, because Patrese wasn't hitting him at all, then Patrese again, because he crossed the white line from the banking, then the stupid idea of having a high-speed starting straight one mile wide that suddenly shrinks to a narrow track leading into a chicane.

Personally I think those many theories and stories only reflect the shock people felt. And I think the shock was greater because Ronnie was "only" suffering leg fractures and was alive in the late evening. Hearing the next day that he had died fueled new theories.

It was indeed a very sad day.

#30 Jeroen Brink

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 20:54

Originally posted by DOHC
Today, chances are better when it comes to prevent the fatty embolism Ronnie suffered, but I don't believe the rumours saying that he got inadequately treated.


I do not know whether to believe these rumours. However: after a delay of nearly twenty minutes, an ambulance was sent to the accident scene, and Peterson was taken to the Monza medical centre. After having stabilized the condition it took another 10 minutes to the Ospedale Maggiore at Niguardia. But the risk of an embolism forming is higher the longer the patient is left untreated.

Besides, Martin Donnelly survived from similar injuries at Jerez in 1990.

#31 Leif Snellman

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 21:47

Originally posted by David M. Kane
Chapman deliberately put him in a Lotus 78, saying they couldn't get his 79 fixed in time

I saw recently an interesting variant in Pierre Menard's "Great Encyclopedia of Formula 1":

"(Chapman) refused to face reality and it brought him into open conflict with his own staff. Chapman acusing them more or less openly of having failed to prepare a 79 that would have meant Ronnie didn't have to start so far back. the crisis was deep and it was resolved later by the dimissal of a number of competent workers."

That story is new to me and I don't know how much to trust it . Comments anyone?

Anyway, at Brands Hatch Chapman certainly refused Ronnie any qualifers. So he went out and took pole on race tyrs and then sat in the pit watching Mario struggle with the qualifiers. Swedish reporters said it was the only time they ever heared Ronnie boast. "The one who takes pole here on race tyres is a damn good driver! A damn good driver!"



#32 Leif Snellman

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Posted 13 January 2003 - 22:05

Originally posted by holiday
come on, where in God's name is Örebro?!
;)

150 km West of Stockholm. Population: 125 000 (seventh largest in Sweden)
http://www2.orebro.s...glish/index.htm

#33 Roger Clark

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 01:18

Originally posted by Leif Snellman
I saw recently an interesting variant in Pierre Menard's "Great Encyclopedia of Formula 1":

"(Chapman) refused to face reality and it brought him into open conflict with his own staff. Chapman acusing them more or less openly of having failed to prepare a 79 that would have meant Ronnie didn't have to start so far back. the crisis was deep and it was resolved later by the dimissal of a number of competent workers."

That story is new to me and I don't know how much to trust it . Comments anyone?


I don't think you should trust it at all.

There were three qualifying sessios at Monza. Peterson used the 79 in the first and the third. His grid position was determined by his time in the first session (in the 79). As I said earlier, he would have raced the 79 but he crashed it on race day morning.

#34 Mohican

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 11:03

Again, people tend to forget how very much more dangerous racing cars were before carbon fibre moncoques were introduced.

Have you ever taken a close look at a Lotus 72, for instance - and any car of a similar vintage ? If you do, you will be horrified to see how little metal there is in front of the driver's feet, and what there is has all the crashworthiness of aluminium foil.

And there are so many instances; take just a couple where the drivers were so very lucky to survive: Hailwood at the Nürburgring in '74, Lauda at the same track in 1976, Regazzoni at Long Beach in 1981. And a couple where the drivers sadly did not survive: Rindt, Siffert, Koinigg, Cevert, Revson and Depailler just to mention a few cases from the 70's.

And remember drivers who clearly had seen these things happen and who came to the conclusion that survival was more important than racing: Hunt and Scheckter, neither of whom made any bones about their reasons for retiring.

I am sure that the Lotus 78 or 79 was fundamentally no different, and the fact remains that Ronnie was desperately unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong instant. Personally, have always believed that such an impact in such a car was not really survivable. The thing was not that he survived into the night, it was that he survived the initial impact in the first place. The track layout - a factor which often gets overlooked - killed him by having the track width narrow so drastically into the chicane.

But the fact remains: his death was a terrible loss and a terrible waste.

#35 LittleChris

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 11:44

Originally posted by Leif Snellman
I saw recently an interesting variant in Pierre Menard's "Great Encyclopedia of Formula 1":

"(Chapman) refused to face reality and it brought him into open conflict with his own staff. Chapman acusing them more or less openly of having failed to prepare a 79 that would have meant Ronnie didn't have to start so far back. the crisis was deep and it was resolved later by the dimissal of a number of competent workers."

That story is new to me and I don't know how much to trust it . Comments anyone?


In his autobiography, Tony Rudd says that Chunky was furious that some 6 months after the 79 was introduced, there were not sufficient spares in stock to enable Ronnie to start the race in the 79 rather than the much more fragile 78.

#36 petefenelon

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 12:33

Originally posted by David M. Kane
I can't remember another driver who got taken back by two team a second time. Did not Ronnie get a second shot at both March and Lotus? That in itself is an exceptional strong statement by the guys who sign the paychecks.


Gerhard Berger?

ATS-Benetton-Ferrari-McLaren-Ferrari-Benetton?


pete

#37 Mickey

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 12:36

Originally posted by DOHC
The tragic event caused a great stir, and there were many attempts to put the blame not just in one place, but anywhere. It couldn't just be bad luck or fate, someone must have done wrong. First there was Patrese, then the starter who didn't wait until the grid was at standstill, then Chapman was accused of building fragile cars, then of not letting Ronnie have the spare 79 that was set up for Mario. Then the doctors at the Niguardia hospital were said to be morons, and if they weren't, it sure was malpractice. Later blame was laid on Hunt, because Patrese wasn't hitting him at all, then Patrese again, because he crossed the white line from the banking, then the stupid idea of having a high-speed starting straight one mile wide that suddenly shrinks to a narrow track leading into a chicane.


Oh and don't forget Regazzoni blaming Prof. Watkins for being a drunken at the bar rather than a medic at the GP...

#38 David M. Kane

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 14:30

Injuries of the sort are very serious even today, but in 1978 few hospitals in the world could cope period. I remember also being totally shocked when
a very, very promising running back for the Kansas City Chiefs had an off-season knee surgery. He developed the same complications and died.
Apparently, to prevent those complications you need drugs that weren't
available at the time. I'm sure other developements evolved along the way
from the lessons learned from these and other surgeries.

Sounds like there were a lot of people to blame starting with organizers
and the owners themselves for allow a start at that part of the track.

Face it, you didn't want to have a high-speed crash in ANY chassis of that
era. The worst was the Lola T-332 F5000 car which led to the nickname
"the Lola limp". If you crash one of them at anything around 100mph, you
would end up with a broken bone or two...at least!

#39 DOHC

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 21:29

Originally posted by Jeroen Brink
However: after a delay of nearly twenty minutes, an ambulance was sent to the accident scene, and Peterson was taken to the Monza medical centre. After having stabilized the condition it took another 10 minutes to the Ospedale Maggiore at Niguardia. But the risk of an embolism forming is higher the longer the patient is left untreated.


The delay was inexcusable, I agree. But the medical facilities at the track weren't better. Also, the fire had to be put out, and I also think there were considerable amounts of petrol on the tarmac.

But how long time does it take to take a driver away? It depends on the driver's condition. Remember Luciano Burti at Spa in 2001? That also took a long time, even though the medical team was there quickly. And IIRC, it took considerable time to extract Schumacher at Silverstone in 1999. Of course, a great advantage today is that medical treatment starts at the site.

I have a brother and a sister who are both doctors, one an ICU doctor. She tells me massive leg fractures are very serious, and even today patients do die from embolisms caused by such conditions.

Ronnie was operated on at an early stage; this is not necessarily considered correct today. In some cases the patient's condition must stabilize first, as he/she always suffers a physiological shock; it is a severe trauma. And in some cases, like Zanardi's, they choose amputation as soon as operation is possible; that removes much of the risk of embolisms.

We all know somebody who broke a leg or two, but that's a different thing. That's usually a single fracture. But I think Sid Watkins wrote that Ronnie had more than 20 fractures. I can't remember, but I think I read it was 28. And when it's that complex, you don't even know how to count the fractures.

In any case, Leif has a good point that it was surprising that Ronnie survived the initial impact at all. But medically, he was certainly in a life-threatening condition. Maybe the treatment could have been otherwise, maybe not, but also doctors act under uncertainty of what the best thing to do might be. I think it sounds much more plausible that the Niguarda doctors did what they could and to the best of their ability. Doctors have lost such patients before -- and after. It happens. It's not proof that the doctors are incompetent.

As for the stories in Menard's encyclopedia, I have seen a number of major inaccuracies in it, and I don't trust it for details.

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#40 DOHC

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 22:16

Originally posted by Mickey
Oh and don't forget Regazzoni blaming Prof. Watkins for being a drunken at the bar rather than a medic at the GP...


I think mikedeering responded in that thread that Watkins at that time did not have any formalized role. That came later, and although I'm uncertain about it, I believe that Bernie Ecclestone pushed to create that particular function as a consequence of the 1978 Monza accident. Maybe somebody knows more about that?

Anyway, Watkins was certainly neither in charge of the treatment nor supposed to have been in charge. But he was allowed to examine Ronnie at the hospital. I remember reading that Watkins examined Ronnie's eyes, in particular for neurological response. And I think he mentioned that he saw bad signs, clots in the retinal blood vessels or something like that. Such signs are of course most serious as they usually indicate irreversible damage to the central nervous system.

If he then went away to have a stiff drink, I could very well understand it. He probably knew it was hopeless.

#41 MattPete

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Posted 14 January 2003 - 22:27

Originally posted by holiday
I mean, the average American you have to tell where Scandinavia exactly is....



Isn't Scandinavia near Minnesota?

:drunk:

#42 David M. Kane

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 00:21

The reasons American don't know where Sweden is, I believe, is because we
have taken the money out of our school systems and put them into social
programs, so we can BE like Sweden...just kidding!

28 breaks, I agree how did he survive the impact! Clearly, IF he had survived I don't see how he could've driven again. How many breaks did
Pironi have? I know his injuries were very, very bad to his legs also.

#43 DOHC

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 07:40

Originally posted by David M. Kane
28 breaks, I agree how did he survive the impact! Clearly, IF he had survived I don't see how he could've driven again. How many breaks did
Pironi have? I know his injuries were very, very bad to his legs also.


Another strange thing is that after this and similar accidents where the front of the tub was torn off, the driver position continued to move forward in the car; this development continued well into the 80s, when the driver's feet were placed ahead of the front axle.

As Mohican points out, a car like the 72 had precious little material in front of the driver, but it went on to be reduced to a piece of plastic fairing. Just look at the Ferrari 126c or the Renault RE20 (off the top of my head). IMO this was a design feature that came from the wing car idea: to make room for the venturi tunnels, fuel tanks could no longer be located in the tub sides or sidepods but had to be placed in a huge center tank. Still, when the venturis were banned and the flat bottom cars appeared, designers were probably caught by that idea. The 1986 cars had pretty much the same outline, with all of the car's essentials on the center line and only radiators in the sidepods, with the driver on the lookout well ahead of it all. Of course, they had to stop it when the driver had been placed well ahead of the mirrors...

Eventually the sport became safer, but I'm not so sure if development went in a straight line.

#44 Mohican

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 12:34

Yes, I agree entirely - but would again like to make the point re what a difference carbon fibre monocoques have made. Regardless of driver positioning within the chassis, a late 80's F1 car was for this reason alone so very much safer than a late 70's one. And this has of course been improved much further since the mid-90's.

Drivers are walking away from accidents today that in terms of severity are probably sometimes much worse than Ronnie's accident at Monza.

#45 DOHC

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 12:55

Originally posted by Mohican
what a difference carbon fibre monocoques have made.


Very true!

#46 David M. Kane

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 13:21

Remember that most of the teams got sold on carbon fiber tubs after Watson's suspension broke at Monza and he hit the armco head-on at 150mph
and basically scratched the paint. This stunned the people at Ferrari, so
they did their first carbon tub and replicated the accident with basically
the same results. So they decided to make it a double impact accident, upon second impact the chassis shattered. That's when they realized that it
was how the fibers were laid at planned angles that gave it the strength.

#47 Rediscoveryx

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 14:46

There was a documentary about Peterson on Swedish TV about five years ago, in which a leading Swedish doctor was interviewed about Ronnie's damages, and he said that today, the chances of Ronni surviving would be around 99%.

However, he stressed that the situation was a bit different at the time, but basically, with the knowledge that they have today, the doctors did pretty much the opposite of what would have been the optimal. He didn't put any blame on the doctors themselves for the way they conducted the operation and - as far as I can remember - he concluded that they had done the best they could based on the information that was available in 1978.

One thing that came up in that documentary has not been adressed in this thread as far as I know: There was a bit of a political struggle between the different hospitals in the Milano area about who was going to have Peterson as their patient, and when the Niguarda hospital received him, they didn't want him to be transferred to another hospital (with apparently better facilities), so they chose to operate on him basically in order to make sure that Peterson stayed at Niguarda. I'm not sure if this is true or not.

Sid Watkins was not an official doctor of Grand Prix racing until 1979, but he was on the scene of a couple of races in 1978, including Monza.

#48 Vrba

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 20:28

Originally posted by Rediscoveryx
....
One thing that came up in that documentary has not been adressed in this thread as far as I know: There was a bit of a political struggle between the different hospitals in the Milano area about who was going to have Peterson as their patient, and when the Niguarda hospital received him, they didn't want him to be transferred to another hospital (with apparently better facilities), so they chose to operate on him basically in order to make sure that Peterson stayed at Niguarda. I'm not sure if this is true or not.
.....


This sounds incredibly horrible but oh so human....unfortunately. Without any further knowledge I would say I'm prepared to believe it's true.

Hrvoje

#49 CADBLACK

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 20:57

Guys,

A lot of this implies that Peterson was better than his teammates; that bad luck and dutifully following team orders kept the real greatness from showing.

Well, there is such a thing as bad luck. No one in the sport ever saw as much as Mario Andretti. But those who said that Peterson was beaten by Mario merely because of team orders (and contracts) just doesn't make sense. Mario was a fantastic driver. Also, in qualifying, it is often even adantageous to have the second drive ahead of the first...a tortoise to the hare. Then, why is it that Mario was able to out qualify Peterson 11-3 as scheivlak so astutely points out?

Peterson was a very fast driver -- and showy (in his style). But I'm troubled by the implication that he may have been a better racer than Mario. How many of those who aligned themselves behind that concept ever saw Mario in the other aspects of his career? Who ever saw him throw a Sprint Car sideways on the Indianapolis Fairgrounds at 130 mph, on one occasion, I believe, on the night before the (then) all-important 500. Add to this his acumen in stock cars, long-distance cars, Dirt Champ cars...almost anything with four wheels. Great in the Fangio or Nuvalri sense. He was a real race driver...not just a road-race, open-wheel ace.

So: Peterson was great. Mario was greater, I believe. It's funny, today it's very hard to measure drivers, in that they tend to stay in their very narrow areas of expertise and are rarely measured against other drivers with specific expertise in a given area of the sport. Mario proved that he could race with the best from F-1 through USAC Midgets.

Know what I'd love to see? MS in a Midget...or a rally car...or a NASCAR stocker...even an F-3000, these days. I think you'd see that he functions in a very narrow band-width. He's a grat F-1 driver. But a flat-out, all-around race driver (as Mario was?) totally unproven. Clark, Fangio, Andretti...a lot of others were fast in anything. And THAT's what proves a race driver great, in my book.

Peterson was great in an F-1 car. Not as fast as Mario. And what would Ronnie have done in a sprinter or a stockcar or a rallye car or a road-racing sedan? Well, we'll never know...

Spectacular guy. No question. But as proven as Mario was? Not in the same league!

Regards,

CADBLACK

#50 DOHC

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Posted 15 January 2003 - 23:44

Originally posted by Rediscoveryx
around 99%.


For every opinion, there's an expert! ;)

But in most cases, "99%" is just a popular euphemism for "almost certain" or "likely." It still implies that some don't make it, even today. Look at Zanardi: for several days there was real concern about whether he'd survive his huge accident in September 2001. In the end he did, but he lost his legs. I don't mind if people are optimists, but there's no point in fooling oneself.

I've also read about the political struggle between the hospitals. I'm sure there could have been one, but it sounds a bit contrived that they were actually trying to shove the patient around without regard for the patients needs.