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Monza 1978 - the Peterson incident


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#1 engin

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Posted 02 March 2000 - 09:14

hi everybody

that pile up which happened in 78 italian gp was regarded as worse if not the worst in the f1 history after that shunt ronnie peterson has died and also brambilla was off of racing for maybe one year .

now what i have read is that in 78 a group of drivers gathered themselves and decided that if ricardo patrese took part in the next event they wont race and so ricardo was banned from racing in the next race but ..

what was the real cause of 78 pile up lots of resourses said that there was no clear reason of what or who caused that pile up .

any ideas or opinion ?


have a nice time .

[This message has been edited by engin (edited 03-02-2000).]

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 March 2000 - 10:15

Opinion only - Riccardo Patrese was copping a lot of flack that year.
A part of the reason, I believe, is because the Arrows he drove owed a lot to the Shadow design that carried over with some of the staff into Arrows. He had a couple of minor incidents, but they seemed to be blown up out of all proportion by some of the drivers. Hence, I believe, he was primed to be blamed for the Peterson accident.
Another reason was that such a 'new boy' was so quick from the outset...
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#3 Dennis David

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Posted 02 March 2000 - 10:27

When he first started he was not the same person we saw at the end of his career. Had a chip on his shoulder did he. I know that Hunt had it in for him but to be honest that was the low point for me in all of F1 so I would rather not go any further on this subject. Put me off the sport for 10 years.

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#4 Ray Bell

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Posted 02 March 2000 - 11:26

According to Alan Jones writing at the time, the green light was put on just as the third row was coming to a stop - the cars behind them still had some steam on and that was a recipe for disaster.
He says Brambilla and Patrese charged down from the rear and were looking for a place to slot in when the track narrowed - with the result that Peterson went into the guardrail. Hunt tried to get Ronnie out of the burning car. Patrese was running fifth for much of the race, but dropped out.That's all I have.

#5 Keir

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Posted 02 March 2000 - 21:00

As I remember, it was just a racing accident
more the fault of the "ever inconsistant"
Monza starter, than Ricardo. And yes, the mood at the time was that Ricardo was a bad boy who needed spanking. Later on, a few of his more vocal critics, decided that they might have been wrong that sad day in racing.

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#6 ZippyD

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Posted 03 March 2000 - 00:44

If I remember correctly(always a problem) it was Niki Lauda who was rousing the troops to get Patrese banned from F1.
I also remember(?) Piquet had a go at Patrese in Spain(maybe). He felt that Patrese ruined his 2 qualifying runs and proceeded to brake test him at the end of qualifying. Patrese's front wheels hit the rears of Piquet and the Arrows went flying over the Brabham. After both cars came to a rest and both drivers got out of their cars Piquet went over to Patrese and proceeded to show the world wide audience why soccer(football) is the national sport of Brazil by repeatedly kicking Patrese in the seat of his pants. Pretty funny stuff although not a good image of F1 sportsmanship.

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#7 BRG

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Posted 03 March 2000 - 01:52

ZippyD, unless Nelson made a habit of arse-kicking (which is entirely possible given his excitable nature) I think you are maybe thinking of Germany 1982 when Piquet tripped over Eliseo Salazar in the Ostkurve chicane at Hockenheim when trying to lap him and gave a demonstration of kick boxing.

As you say, entertaining, but NOT really the spirit of sportsmanship! But still going on to this day if Giles Panizzi's assault on Rpberto Sanchez for not moving over on the Safari Rally is anything to go by.

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#8 Leif Snellman

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Posted 03 March 2000 - 02:27

Monza 78 was only Piquet's forth GP start. However Peterson and Patrese had a minor verbal fight on the winner's stand after the Swedish Grand Prix as Patrese had employed some ugly weaving tactics during the last laps to keep his second position from Peterson (That was the race that Lauda won with the Brabham fan car).

#9 ZippyD

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Posted 03 March 2000 - 02:48

BRG,
You are probably right.
As my good friend Keir will attest my memory for such details like places and dates have never been that good. If I were home I could consult my books however, here in work the only book I have handy is Murray Walker's Grand Prix Challenge. Good book, not a lot of information.

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#10 Duane

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Posted 03 March 2000 - 08:24

Because of the screwed up start procedure at Monza 78, the field arrived at the chicane in a huge bunch. Patrese was beside Hunt who was beside Peterson. There was not enough room for three side by side, but neither gave way. Hunt was concentrating on Patrese, they touched and Hunt went inton Peterson sending him into the fence. Hunt and Lauda (firm friends) rallied the forces against Patrese. I liked Hunt, but the aspect of his character that went about attacking Patrese was senseless and weak, and I have a feeling it never occurred to him that he was wrong.

#11 Keir

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Posted 04 March 2000 - 01:52

I believe that Hunt and Lauda say as much later on in their careers. That's why hind sight is always 20/20.

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#12 Maldwyn

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 15:34

I've just read Ewan Tytler's article "What Really Happened at Monza in 1978" in AtlasF1.

In it he states that "Riccardo Patrese's Arrows, which had qualified 12th, touched James Hunt's McLaren, which started from 10th position. The McLaren was spun into Peterson's Lotus and the Lotus was spun into the barriers..."

Not only was Riccardo blamed by his fellow drivers for causing the accident but he was also charged with manslaughter in the Italian courts. This case was concluded years later with Patrese being cleared of all charges. During the case photographic evidence was produced to show that the Arrows did not touch the McLaren. I recall a suggestion at the time that Reutemann's Ferrari was involved at the beginning of the accident and he can be seen sideways in the grass in one of the photos used to illustrate the article.

James Hunt consistently blamed Patrese and he continued to criticise the Italian while a BBC commentator.

The treatment of Riccardo at the time was disgraceful, but the fact that he ended his F1 career as one of the most respected figures in the sport speaks volumes.


#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 16:49

So a full-blooded member now, eh? This issue was mentioned not long ago, with much the same input. Riccardo was put into a bad light right from his first GP drive, I never understood it.

#14 Leif Snellman

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 19:36

A good article but I think one thing was missing. Wasn't it the Monza 78 crash that led to the standardized starting procedures and the official starter?






#15 Maldwyn

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 20:18

Ray - hard work and dedication gets rid of junior - still have to learn not to repeat topics though!! I attended a few GPs with Arrows in the late 70s early 80s and so followed Patrese's career closely and he deserved better than the treatment he received.

Leif - you may be right. The start was a shambles and I think the starter of the race may have faced the same charges in Italy as Patrese.



#16 Wes

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Posted 06 September 2000 - 23:35

Leif brings up a good point. Based on my reading of accounts over the years, I've always held the belief that the entire episode can be traced back to the ineptitude of the starter. When the green light was switched, there were still back markers coming down the straight at higher speeds (one article put some of them at 2nd and 3rd gear speeds!) while the front rows were stationary. These back markers (e.g. Patrese and Brambilla) got a tremendous jump start and were able to pass several cars on the outside where the track was widest. However, as the track narrowed after the pit exit and along the straight to Curva Grande, these back makers, traveling at higher speeds, had to go somewhere. The inevitable accordian effect triggered the accident. Furthermore, if Brambilla had started from stationary, he would have been traveling at a lower speed and, therefore, likely would have had more time to avoid Peterson's Lotus.

I never knew the Italian government sought manslaughter charges against Patrese. Remind anyone of a similarly pathetic and spineless charge in 1994?

#17 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 00:25

That was nothing new... the same happened to Clark in 1961, it was the normal procedure. Chapman, for one, hated the place, and I think he was even put in gaol once.

#18 Mike Argetsinger

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 04:24

Ray, It was Zandvoort where Chapman was put in jail. But you're right, he hated the Italian authorities for what happened in '61. Lots of bad things happened at Monza for Team Lotus drivers and who can ever forgive the way Jochen Rindt's post crash care was handled?

#19 Barry Lake

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 05:40

A racing driver friend was at that Monza meeting when Rindt died and gave me an in-depth first hand account of the post-crash debacle.
I am not sure if I wrote it down, I hope so. It could be in one of my dozens of note books, filed away somewhere.
Mike
You sound as though you have read a detailed account. If so, where was that?

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 06:06

Was it just that Clark and Chapman had to be spirited away then, as the police came to get them at - probably - the 1962 Italian GP?
What did Col get put in the boob for in Holland? Making his cars too light?

#21 Maldwyn

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 07:43

Didn't Champman enter Lotus as "World Racing" (or a similar title)for the 1971 race at Monza to avoid possible arrest?
I think at Zandvoort he tried to thump a policeman or steward and was locked up for his troubles.

#22 Peterson

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 12:29

Did nothing really happen to the starter?

I am only 33, but i saw it live and can never, ever forget the feeling of an 11 year old megafan almost crying the day after when he died.
And i remember my mother even back then talking about it as the starters fault.

What was the rules in these days about the starters job?


#23 Huw Jenjin

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 12:30

I think i proffered an opinion on this race during an earlier thread.
damned if you do, damned if you dont. overtake and race for position , that is.
it is a shame to speak ill of the dead, and I loved James Hunt for all his faults, but it is my opinion that Peterson's car was destroyed because Hunt moved over on him.
Hunt moved over because he saw Patrese barrelling down on his right side. Hunt therefor blames Patrese in an effort to deflect the spotlight from himself.Hunt clearly was very shocked by it all, and organised a possy.
The truth of the matter is, that a racing driver was not responsible for Peterson's death, it was more likely to have been a lack of attention from medical staff at the hospital, or just shear misfortune.
Either way Patrese was mauled by his colleagues and the press, and if ever there was an apology due, this was it.Patrese was a racer, but he was also a gentleman, not a quality his contemporaries could aspire to.

#24 Maldwyn

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 13:05

Good points well made Huw.

Many drivers took advantage of the shambolic start and a wide start/finish straight. A tragic racing accident followed.

Drivers, including Peterson, had criticised Patrese earlier in the season (Ronnie was apparently speechless with rage after the Swedish GP)and some used events at Monza put a newcomer in his place. Significantly Mario Andretti was not one of them.



#25 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 13:29

That's two gentlemen in one team... must be a record!
I couldn't believe it when the news came throught the following night. I had pulled up at the lights just after leaving work, Max Stahl (the Editor) pulled up alongside me and wound his window down: "Peterson died." was all he said.

#26 Dave Ware

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 16:50

>>What did Col get put in the boob for in Holland? Making his cars too light?

Ha, he should have been. I actually remember this one off the top of my head. The enthusiastic Dutch gendarmes wouldn't let Colin on the starting grid because he didn't have the correct credentials. Some struggles ensued. Others joined. Mrs. Chapman got punched in the face by a policeman. That policeman got punched by Mr. Chapman. Thus did Colin go to jail, although I believe they let him wait until the race was over before dragging him off.

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#27 Ray Bell

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 21:45

I'll bet Mrs C remembers every detail!
Anyone got more on the time he was nearly arrested in Italy... It was either 62 or 63... did they run any races other than Monza? Perhaps Enna? Is that in Italian jurisdiction?

#28 RedFever

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Posted 07 September 2000 - 23:57

"I never knew the Italian government sought manslaughter charges against Patrese. Remind anyone of a similarly pathetic and spineless charge in 1994?"

It is extremely innacurate. The Italian government has really nothing to do with this. There is a law that forced the local Distric Attorney to investigate possible manslughter in case of a violent death such as in car racing. The government can't care less about the possible responsibilities in either Ronnie or Ayrton's deaths, but the local DA must open the case or get in trouble himself.


Riccardo was proven completly innocent thanks to Autosprint. The Italian magazine collects its own pictures plus invited fans to send any pictures they had taken. Thanks to a photographic sequence from an elevated position, the entire start was analyzed and Riccardo had merged back inside the line a good 9 feet ahead of James Hunt (to give you an idea, maybe three times more space then you normally find between DC and Schumi when they chop each other).


I liked James Hunt, but it was quite clear that he was mostly responsible for the change in direction in Ronnie's car. Just seconds before impact, with Ricky already well ahead of both, James tyres are clearly between Ronnie's tyres. James car was moving toward the inside, he touched poor Ronnie. This was absolutely a racing accident with no intentionality. But the post accident was disgusting, Hunt and Lauda above everyone else.

Curiosly enough, James was the first to rush to assist Ronnie, a normal reaction for someone who knows he had a role in the crash. Lauda, with no evidence to support his point of view, embraced Hunt's attack of Ricky and they convinced the rest of the lot to ban Ricky. Autosprint called it a "double black day for F1 racinf: one driver dead, one innocently crucifixed". I was in Monza that day, but I was at the outside of the first chicane, so i saw Gilles and Mario come by and then smoke, dust and Reutemann spinning, plus a wheel bouncing around. It was madness, but the marshalls did a great job estinguishing and helping Ronnie immediately.

It is also incorrect to accuse Italian doctors at Niguarda for being responsible for Ronnie's death. The sda truth is that Roniie had very minor burns (like Berger years later) and fractures in his legs, but otherwise OK. What happened is an "embolo" formed (I don't know the English word), it's a bubble in your blood and killed him when it reached his brain. It is alway a possibility in such traumatic accidents and there was nothing that could be done to prevent it. Ronnies was destined to die that day.



#29 Peterson

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Posted 08 September 2000 - 05:18

Thanks for the info guys.

But do no one really know anything about what was said -officially- about the starters role in this accident?


#30 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 September 2000 - 07:49

I think you'll find that's called 'fatty embolisms' which is bone marrow floating around in the blood and getting to places it shouldn't and causing clots. Nearly killed Warwick Brown and also Allan Tomlinson.

#31 Scorcho

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 00:00

I think the starter was convicted in some way. Don't know the sentence. As I see it Patrese tried to hard and it was no way clear for him, causing Hunt touching Peterson's car. As I recall the other drivers opinion was that he should have known this and not tried to do that pass on the outside.

I believe the Patrese thing might have started in the race in Sweden, where Patrese clearly blocked Peterson in a way that wasn't all fair play. I saw that race myself and I know that Peterson was very upset afterwards. Very unusual. I believe Patrese got better as he got older.

#32 Buford

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 00:44

I have the wreck on video tape. ABC had it from 3 cameras including a helicopter, and I had a VCR in 1978, years before most people got one. Tapes in those days were $35.00 each.

The cars at the rear were not stopped when the starter started it. But despite the advantage of still rolling slowly (over being at a dead stop) they had nowhere on the track to go to take advantage of this because of the field ahead that was at a dead stop. But to their right there was another paved lane marked off by a line indicating this is not legal race track surface. It is a lane that originally led onto the banking and had a barrier down near the end that forced anybody on that lane (which should have been nobody) to either stop or merge left back onto the official track.

Patrese whipped to the right and stood on it and blasted up on the non track lane passing the just starting rows of cars until he was up near the front, perhaps row 3. The cars to his left were now racing and spread across the track and when faced with the fast approaching barrier, instead of braking and waiting for the cars on the actual track to pass before merging in he simply tuned left and forced his way in. The evasive action required of the cars on the legal track caused wheel banging and that turned Peterson right head on into the barrier where his car exploded and others piled up behind. Wheels went everywhere and cars spun wildly and in the middle of it all was an enormous fireball with thick black smoke and flames extending across the entire track. It was similar to the Sachs-MacDonald fireball though not that big. But pretty damn big.

They switched to the helicopter shot directly above the fire. Peterson was totally exposed in the flames. The front of the car was gone. You could see his white uniform all the way down to this feet. He was not moving and fuel was running out and the fire increasing. Hunt and others immediately arrived in seconds and either Peterson's belts were already gone or Hunt was easily able to release them but they quickly picked him up and drug him away and layed him down on the track away from the fire. You could not see his upper body at that point due to the drivers around him, but you could see both legs were badly broken in multiple places and Jackie Stewart was commentating it was good they had gotten him out of the fire, but he seemed to have some leg injuries, at least.

To say this was not totally the fault of Patrese is absurd. Had he not used illegal surface to make passes and then crowded in with no regard to the cars on his left who were on the legal racing surface, it would not have happened.

#33 MattFoster

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 01:59

Well considering Buford has the video evidence and I have never seen the footage of the incident I think Buford makes a strong case against Patrese. I however believe he couldn't have been sorely responsible.

It was a tragic and regretable page in the history of F1.

#34 Buford

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 02:03

I do not believe he was criminally responsible. But he was racing responsible because he went off the legal track, passed a dozen or more cars off the legal racing surface, and then crammed his way back onto the legal surface in the midst of a pack of cars. Whether he had a couple of feet of room to do that or not, it was an unsafe and illegal move and therefore, anything that results from that move his his responsibility alone.

#35 MattFoster

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 04:10

If that is what happened then Patrese should take the lions share of the blame for what happened.

#36 Buford

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 04:36

Yes and this is why the drivers were blaming him. Regardless of who hit who and then caused Peterson to go into the wall, nobody would have hit anybody had it not have been for Patrese's initiating it with his off track, coming back on into the pack maneuver.

#37 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 04:56

Originally posted by Buford
Yes and this is why the drivers were blaming him. Regardless of who hit who and then caused Peterson to go into the wall, nobody would have hit anybody had it not have been for Patrese's initiating it with his off track, coming back on into the pack maneuver.


Agreed that he initiated the problem, and without detracting from that responsibility in any way, could it have been that the negative attitude of others toward him made it worse by them trying to prevent him getting back on the circuit?

I wish I'd known of this film a long time ago.. never heard it mentioned before.

#38 Buford

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 06:28

I don't know if they had a negative attitude about him prior to the Monza issue or not. I was not privy to any info on that. But the reason they wanted him banned was his actions at Monza, as far as any quote I ever read.

This is not film. It is the ABC American network video tape they ran at the time when they showed an edited version of the race. They did not do full race live coverage in those days, but the commentators were doing the action live, to be shown later. Whether it was available to the Italian authorities or not I do not know but it was shown at the time on the ABC network and was shown on subsequent ABC Wide World of Sports specials like 20 years, 25 years etc. Very few people have it other than ABC I imagine because very few people had VCRs in 1978. My first VCR was $1200.00 and as I said, the tapes which are now about $2.00 or less were then $35.00. I have every single race and racing special type show that was shown on American TV from mid 1978 through the mid 90's when I decided 1000 VCR tapes were enough and because racing sucks now.

#39 unrepentant lurker

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 06:38

Is there a clip on the internet? The only angle I've seen is the head on shot from the chicane. All of what transpires is hidden in by the front runners.

Or if Redfever could post those shots from Autosprint, I would appreciate it.

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#40 Peterson

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 06:49

I was eleven years old. I rememeber seeing it all live on Swedish tv.
Still makes me shiver when i see it, I dont like to se it.

Buford did quite a good job of telling us what happened.
Made me think about SPA -98 and how many (few) people was injured in that accident, i think RB was limping a bit, thats all.

I think its harsh to blame a racing driver for racing hard when given the opportunity.
I don´t know about his previous actions though.
But what do you expect, "You first, gentlemen!"?

All racers race hard when given the green flag/green light/red lights out (what a silly way to start a race).
And the one giving the green flag was the starter.
He was the one making THE big mistake this sunday afternoon.

#41 Buford

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 08:39

I think Patrese's initial reaction to the green coming out when he and others were still rolling was probably instinctive. He nailed it, being all keyed up for the start. But he immediately realized he was going to run into cars ahead just getting started. It would have required an immediate lockup, or a swerve to his right onto the open lane, so he swerved. But at this point he did not slow down and merge back onto the track. He chose to continue for several seconds at full throttle on a portion of the track that was not legal racing surface, while passing many cars on his left.

He had more than enough time to reconsider what he was doing which had there been no accident would have probably gotten him disqualified anyway. Had he gotten on the brakes after a couple seconds of madness, and let the cars to his left proceed before cutting left near the back where he was when he started, and at a safe time, it may have not been a disqualifying offense. That is if he had gained no on track advantage from an instinctive move to avoid an initial collision caused by a bogus start instruction when the field was not set.

But he did not do that. He chose to continue blasting down the off track lane trying to pass as many cars as he could before he ran out of road, and then when that was iminent, he just forced his way over to the left with no regard to any form of legal passing maneuver. He was a rookie, he was young, he was all keyed up... but he was also dead wrong and it caused a fatality. No way it was the fault of the cars that had to take evasive action, even if Patrese did not actually hit any of them. What he did was cause them to alter their straight line intended course and a couple or more touched wheels and that caused the disaster. They would not have had to alter their straight lines had a car not appeared out of nowhere off the racing surface and surprised some of them who probably were looking ahead and certainly did not expect a phantom car to suddenly appear from a place no one had ever seen a car appear from before.

#42 Peterson

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 08:50

You got the video :up:
Cant argue with the facts.
The track design didnt help either.

But, was he the only one to do this, or was he just the first and most unlucky of the backmarkers getting a flying start?

#43 Buford

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 10:49

I just went and pulled the tape. ABC was showing the Michigan 150 Indy Car race and then they cut away at a yellow to go to the GP Italy report. Jim McKay and Jackie Steward started the broadcast telling of the ironic parallels of the first American World Champion whose teammate had died at Monza at the race he won the championship and how it had now happened again. Then they showed the Von Trips crash in black and white footage. Then they said what a festive atmosphere it was the weekend before and how expectant they were but it had all gone terribly wrong. Then McKay said "Lets go back in time to our coverage of the race as Jackie and I called it last weekend in Italy."

They show a helicopter shot of the grid and are talking about the Hill victory and a seven year old boy a few years before that who was at Monza when Ascari won who dreamed of racing some day. That boy was Mario Andretti who today has a chance to win the World Championship. They explain only his teammate has a chance to win the championship and if Mario wins today and Peterson finishes no better than 4th Mario will clinch. They interview Mario who is hoping for a clean start and is worried about the chicane and they interview Ronnie telling of his morning accident, "No brakes from very high speed." Peterson says he has to drive the old 78 and then Chapman arrives and Peterson smiles and Chapman puts his hand on Ronnie's shoulder and points to the grid. Then they show the warm-up lap.

Tambay goes to the pits as the cars roll up slowly. Stewart explains they have a light system now. They show the front row stop. It is just five seconds before they take off so clearly the rest of the filed had to be still moving. Most of what I described from memory above was accurate but now looking at it after 20 years it is even more blatant than I described when Patrese moved over. He not only was not ahead of Hunt, he was directly along side and just squeezed him left. It appears he hits Hunt but the cars are going away and seen from the rear. If he didn't hit him, he forced Hunt at least a lane to the left into Peterson who hits wheels and spins to the right directly into the barrier. Then it switches to the chicane view looking back up the track showing cars and wheels and wings flying around and the entire horizon behind that filled with black smoke.

They are yelling “There’s an accident. It’s a big one. These cars are full of fuel. It’s a black car, it could be Ronnie Peterson.” Then they switch to the helicopter which is approaching from the chicane side of the crash on the grandstand side. Stewart says “There’s a driver, it looks like James Hunt running to the car that’s burning there, he’s running to that car…” and McKay jumps in “Word Jackie that it’s Peterson. Peterson in the burning car. A number of other cars and we’ll pick them up as we can but that is bad, very bad and he’s still in that car and oh, this is terrible.” Then the helicopter arrives directly above and just off the track from the fire and the smoke clears and there is a direct shot down on massive flames. Two drivers are there and two firemen. One is pouring on an extinguisher and another from the safety vehicle which has the trunk open and he has a long hose. The car is enveloped in flames and two drivers are standing near making feints
to go in but there is too much fire. A third driver with a mostly red helmet with white ovals all around arrives with an extinguisher but it doesn’t work and he turns away. A 4th driver in a red suit and mostly red helmet with white striping is a ways back waving his arms. The second driver to the scene has a white suit and his helmet appears to be blue at the top third, then white in the middle third, and red around the bottom third. Hunt has a dark helmet and has red shoulders. Those are the two trying to get in.

Here is where it differs from my earlier description from 20 year old memory. Peterson is in a yellow suit and he was in fact moving. He amazingly appears out of the front of the flames with his dark helmet pointed away from the car. You could not see it through the inferno but he has apparently lunged forward through the open front of the car and ends up sitting on the ground outside the missing front, the opposite way he was sitting in the car. The two firemen see this and stop spraying the car and start spraying him and while he was totally enveloped in flames, they beat it down so you can see him lying on his back up on his elbows with his legs from knee down back in the wreckage and fire. Seeing this Hunt and the guy in the blue and white and red striped helmet get inspired and move in. Stewart says “They are fighting the fire. They are very quickly onto it. There’s James Hunt. There’s another driver. Patrick Depallier is in there. The other guy (Depallier apparently) is kicking the wreckage around Peterson’s legs three kicks and then Hunt kind of shoulders him out of the way from his left and bends over and grabs his legs and after a couple big pulls he starts dragging him away by the legs. The guy in the red suit moves in as does a guy in a blue suit and the three of them drag him a short distance away. Depallier (spelling?) is just to his left. He had done a heroic job though it was Hunt who got a hold of him and drug him away and the others joined in after he already had him extracted.

McKay says “They’re getting him out of the car!!!” and Stewart says “He’s out of the car now and thank goodness for that. They’re getting the fire under control.” He says some other things about other cars. Hunt walks away taking off his gloves. Other drivers surround Peterson. Then his legs are visible horribly mangled, and he raises the left one. Stewart says “That is Ronnie Peterson we are looking at. He’s got leg injuries there I’m afraid as well as anything else.”

They continue to show the helicopter shots of the overall area, then the red flag, then show and comment on Brambilla laying on the ground next to his car. Then they show the replay. They are blaming the starter for the cars not fully stopped. They show it full speed. They then zoom in, in close up and Stewart says, “The slow motion here, it seems to me as I read it in fact the driver Patrese seems to have come into contact with James Hunt in a red and white car. He bounced across; it looks like he has hit Ronnie Peterson in the rear wheel. Ronnie then veers right down, crashes into the barrier, the front end of the car has got the barrier. The car then leapt across the road, hit the Tyrrell car of Didier Pironi and that was a heavy impact as well…”

Stewart interviews Andretti. He says the track encourages passing and then funnels down. He said “I am really worried about Ronnie. It is very bad.” They show the ambulance taking Peterson away. They go away to commercial and when they come back they have a voice over by McKay saying it was clear at this point the multiple injuries to Peterson had given Andretti the title. “Later Peterson would die, but not until the next morning. Victory so long anticipated and so much earned, now tasted like ashes in Mario’s mouth.”

They go to a before the restart interview with Mario who says “It is no time to feel like celebrating and it has lost it’s impact. Everything was going so well for both us.” Etc.

#44 MattFoster

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Posted 23 January 2002 - 11:05

Thank you Buford for that insight.

You are very lucky to have such a brilliant resource at your fingertips.

I have a few been watching some old races from the late 70's and early 80's and it was great to see real racing again. These races were the reason I am so passionate about this sport

#45 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 January 2002 - 02:45

Originally posted by Buford
I don't know if they had a negative attitude about him prior to the Monza issue or not. I was not privy to any info on that. But the reason they wanted him banned was his actions at Monza, as far as any quote I ever read.


Patrese had hit the scene like a bombshell with the first Arrows, and there was quite a bit of controversy about him from the start.

Whether it was the result of concerns over the Shadow/Arrows rift or his driving, or simply the fact that he hit the front so quickly, I don't know... but there was certainly jealousy, distaste and ire in the air.

#46 Slyder

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Posted 24 January 2002 - 04:50

To Blame Patrese for the accident in my opinion is totally stupid.

From my point of view, it was a racing accident, nothing more. Patese was racing for positions, and he took the risk by going wide and try to beat James Hunt from the wide side of the track. Anyone would, because you have momentum, and you don't want to throw it away, you have to make good your start.

Heck all the time when I'm on the freeway and want to pass some other car that's slower, I move to a lane quickly because I'm already at speed, but when I move and in the other lane there's another guy slower than me or the car that I try to pass, I have to back off, and keep behind.

Patrese did this, and at those speeds he didn't have time to back off, he just couldn't, and he had nowhere else to go. But he didn't intend break all hell loose, much less be involved in an accident that would claim the life of Ronnie Peterson. And to be blamed for the death of somebody just because he was doing his job, just because he was racing for position, just like any other driver would, is ridiculous.

I feel sorry for James Hunt for blaming Patrese for the accident, reminds me of Rubens Barrichello's anger for Heinz-Harald Frentzen for causing the death of Marshall Paolo Gilshimbertti two years ago. They had no blame whatsoever for the accidents they were involved with. Hunt's attitude was childish, and he had no right of destroying Patrese's career like that over a simple but tragic racing incident which nevertheless, despite the death of a driver, remains a racing incident.

That's my opinion. Riccardo Patrese was unfairly treated, and he deserved a rightful apology, we in the racing community owe him that still today.

And lets not forget that the MAIN reason why Peterson died wa because the incompetence of the doctors in the Hospital, who failed to detect the embolia that was developing in his badly crushed legs when they were splintering them.

#47 Buford

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Posted 24 January 2002 - 07:59

Under the rules of racing, the ultimate responsibility for making a pass safely lies with the driver trying to make the pass. This does not preclude the driver being passed from also acting safely. Since Patrese was the driver attempting to make the pass, acting safely does not include using an illegal lane that is not part of the official track, and when that lane runs out, forcing your competitor over by turning left into him, especially when he was on the legal track surface and traveling in a straight line. You can't take away his road he is running on by forcing him to veer to avoid you, or have an immediate high speed collision with you. Doing that makes any resulting accident that results from your action, your fault. That is not only the rules of race car driving, it is also the rule of common sense.

No I do not think he was responsible for the death as the medical staff may not have done their job properly. It also does not make him criminally responsible since there was no intent to injure anybody. But it does make Patrese guilty of causing the accident that killed somebody because he was the one who started it. You can't write that off to just doing your job. Your job description as a race car driver does not give carte blanche permission to turn into cars beside you and force them to dodge you, or crash with you right now.

#48 Peterson

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Posted 24 January 2002 - 08:23

Well, i guess we can agree to disagree here... :

But Buford, you got the tape. Did anyone else do what Patrese did and use that part of the track?

#49 Buford

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Posted 24 January 2002 - 09:22

Actually yes. There was a blue and white car that got away a little slower. Somebody behind him cut right - across two lanes (on track lanes) and did go around in the same area as Patrese. Patrese was a few car lengths behind. The front guy was a half car width closer to the left though but it appears was also in the non track lane, for the time it took to clear the car and then he pulled in front. Patrese however did not have room to clear and just crowded Hunt over with a turn left maneuver that either actually hit Hunt (as it appears on the tape and Stewart thought in the commentary but testimony at the trial said was not the case), or at least forced Hunt to veer violently left into Peterson. It is not clear from the distance away on the tape even zoomed in if Patrese hit Hunt. But when they came together if he didn't hit him it at least forced him to the left where he wouldn't have had to go had somebody not come up on his right in a non legal lane and forced him over a lane to his left. Since the camera is follong the front frow as it pans left, and then the following cars come into screen and almost immediately they collide, you cannot see if there were additional cars behind Patrese doing the same thing.

#50 unrepentant lurker

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Posted 24 January 2002 - 09:39

Originally posted by Buford
No I do not think he was responsible for the death as the medical staff may not have done their job properly.


I don't think the medical staff was in anyway negligent. IIRC, back almost 25 years ago, this phenomenon was not fully understood. It was just at that time that medical technology was advancing to the point that somebody with the kind of injuries Peterson had could have survived extraction, triage, transport and a lengthy surgery. Fatty embolisms were something fairly new.