Giancarlo Baghetti: Lotus 49 Ford: Italian Grand Prix 1967…

Posted: May 8, 2015 in F1, Features
Tags: , , , , ,

baghetti lotus 49

Giancarlo Baghetti relaxes during the Italian Grand Prix weekend, he had a ‘one off’ drive of the Team Lotus spare ’49, backing up Jim Clark and Graham Hill…

He qualified well back on the grid, 17th, and retired on lap 50 whilst running 6th with an engine failure. John Surtees took a fabulous last corner win from Jack Brabham, winning Hondas’ first Grand Prix since Ginthers’ victory in the last race of the 1.5 Litre Formula in Mexico, 1965.

Baghettis’ career started with immense promise, famously winning his first championship Grand Prix, the French in a great dice with Dan Gurney (Porsche) in a Ferrari 156 in 1961….

Baghetti French GP 1961

The stone chips on the nose of Baghettis’ 156 bear witness to the closeness of the race, third place went to Jim Clarks’ Lotus 21 Climax. (sutton images)

French GP finish 1961

Toto Roche waves the chequered flag for Baghetti, winning a famous victory over Dan Gurneys’ Porsche 718, French GP Reims 1961, his championship race debut. (Unattributed)

Baghetti started racing in 1956 in an Alfa Romeo 1900Ti and built a solid reputation as he moved into Formula Junior in 1959. In early 1961 he was selected to drive for the Italian FISA team, an organization formed to promote young Italian drivers by entering them in Non-Championship Grands’ Prix.

FISA struck a deal with Scuderia Ferrari to run a 1960 F2 Ferrari Dino 156 (in effect the prototype of the 1961 F1 car) in the first non-championship races of 1961. The results were amazing, Baghetti, not necessarily the best credentialled candidate won on his GP debut in Syracuse in front of Gurney, Surtees, G Hill, Brabham, Moss, Salvadori, Ireland and Bandini.

syracuse GP baghetti

Giancarlo Baghetti ahead of Dan Gurney Syracuse GP April 1961. Ferrari Dino 156 from Porsche 718. The first of Giancarlos’ wins against stong opposition. (Unattributed)

He followed up with another win in the Napoli GP in May beating Ashmore, Lotus 18 Climax and Bandini Cooper T53 Maserati 2nd and 3rd as well as Roy Salvadori, Andre Pilette and Tim Parnell.

FISA persuaded Ferrari to hire them a 1961 ‘Shark Nose’ for their driver to make his championship GP debut at Reims, he was allocated the car which was to be driven by Equipe National Belge driver Olivier Gendebien, the car quickly repainted from yellow to red.

Phil Hill took pole from Ferrari teammates Von Trips and Ginther, Baghetti 12th fastest. The 3 works Ferrari’s disappeared at the start, only Moss managed to stay near them. Even a quick spin by Ginther dropped him behind the Lotus, but he was soon able to re-pass Moss such was the Ferraris’ power advantage.

Baghetti had made his way to the front of the chasing pack. When Moss was forced to pit with brake problems, the four Ferrari’s lead, this didn’t last as Von Trip’s engine died in the heat.

Hill spun on the melting road surface. The American lost over 2 laps as he tried to restart his hot engine. This left Ginther in the lead with Baghetti fighting the Porsches of Dan Gurney and Jo Bonnier to hold on to second place, a battle that became even more significant a couple of laps later as Ginther pulled off the track with no oil pressure.

Baghetti recounts the last laps …’It was a very hard race. It was hot. The asphalt was melting, the radiator was blocking up and I saw the temperature starting to soar. Luckily I was behind the two Porsches of Gurney and Bonnier and relied on getting a tow along the straights. What you must remember is that this was my first Grand Prix and both Gurney and Bonnier were trying to frighten me by running on either side of me, but I thought that if they could do things like that and get away with it, then I could do it too.

Three laps from the end Gurney and I were fighting for the lead and I realized that to finish first I needed to be in the perfect position to slipstream. Going into the last corner I was right behind Gurney so that as we came out I was on his tail. He sat right in the middle of the track because he obviously knew what I was going to try to do. I waited and when I saw him glance in his mirror when I was on his left, I quickly switched to the right and got past him to win the race.’

Giancarlo Baghetti became the first man in history to win his debut World Championship Grand Prix.

ferrari 156 cutaway

James Allingtons’ cutaway drawing of the 1960 Ferrari 156 F2 car, chassis ‘008’ the car used by Baghetti at Syracuse and Naples was the prototype 1960 car fitted with ’61 ‘Sharknose’ body. Multi-tubular spaceframe chassis, suspension by upper and lower wishbones front and rear. 1476cc 65 degree DOHC 2 valve Weber carbed V6, 185bhp@9200rpm. 5 speed ‘box. Later spec ’61 cars had the 120 degree V6 190bhp@9500rpm. (James Allington)

Baghetti qualified mid-grid for the British GP, spinning off the wet Aintree circuit during the race. For his home GP at Monza he qualified 6th, the other four Ferrari’s were faster. This was the day that von Trips was expected to win the world title, but it was not to be, ‘Taffy’ crashed to his death after contact with Clarks’ Lotus 21, the car flew into the crowd killing 11 spectators on lap two. Baghetti raced at the front until his engine blew on lap 14 and Phil Hill won the race to seal the first World Championship for an American driver. Giancarlo set the fastest lap.

His season ended with his 4th and last GP win, he took victory in a little known event to decide the ‘Prima Coppa Italia’ (Italian Championship for Drivers) at Vallelunga, Baghetti won the 2 heats in a Porsche 718 when his Ferrari was not available for the event. Lorenzo Bandini and Baghetti were tied for the Championship , this event was organised to decide the winner.

What a debut GP season!

ferrari 156 drawing

1961 spec Ferrari 156. (Scuderia Ferrari)

For 1962 Baghetti joined Phil Hill, the ’61 champion in the works Ferrari team (Rodriguez driving a third car occasionally). Enzo rested on his laurels thinking that the 156’s didn’t require evolution to continue their dominance but the Brits had caught up.

BRM, Lotus and Cooper produced cars to beat the Ferrari’s. Lotus debuted the epochal monocoque chassis Lotus 25 at Zandvoort and Coventry Climax produced their FWMV 1.5 V8 in quantities, the BRM team also built a V8, the Type 56 available to customers as well as the ‘works’ BRM P57’s. The British teams shortcomings in 1961 were their engines, the relatively old 1.5 litre variant of the Climax FPF not ‘man enough’ for Ferrari’s powerful V6. It was different in 1962 when their engine power was equivalent to their chassis mastery…

Baghetti scored points at Zandvoort and Monza, but Ferrari was in total turmoil and for 1963 he joined Hill in the mass exodus to Carlo Chiti’s ATS team, an unmitigated disaster for all involved, it effectively destroyed his F1 career. Baghetti drove Centro Sud’s old BRM P57 in 1964, he returned to race in F2, F3 and sports and touring cars, also making an annual apperance at the Italian GP, his last in the Lotus 49 in 1967.

baghetti spa

‘Hitchin a ride’: Baghettis’ BRM P57 gives Phil Hill and Bob Anderson a lift at the end of the 1964 Belgian GP, Spa. Giancarlo was 8th in the race won by Clarks’ Lotus 25 Climax. Hill raced a Cooper T73 Climax and Anderson a Brabham BT11 Climax (G Clayton)

baghetti brabham 65 italian

Brabham entered a third car for Giancarlo at the 1965 Italian GP. He qualified the BT7 Climax poorly in 19th, the engine failed on lap 12 in the race won by Stewarts’ BRM P261. (Unattributed)

baghetti targa 1965

Baghetti at the wheel of a factory Ferrari 275 P2 during Targa 1965, DNF with Jean Guichet. (Unattributed)

After a huge accident at Monza in a Ferrari Dino 166 F2 car in the ‘Monza Lottery GP’ in June 1968 he retired from driving, working as journalist and photographer. He succumbed to cancer in 1995 age 60.

No-one has ever repeated the feat…a quasi factory Ferrari drive on the results of a ‘journeyman’, won his first 3 GP’s, 4 for the year, one of them a championship event and then so rapidly disappeared from sight…

baghetti italian gp 1966

Baghetti at the wheel of a Ferrari Dino 246, Monza, Italian GP 1966. Q16, raced Spences’ Lotus for 5th until the car failed in the race won by Scarfiottis’ Ferrari 312. Car was lent to him by Scuderia after his Parnell  Lotus BRM failed in practice. (Unattributed)

Baghetti Ferrari 156 1962

Giancarlo Baghetti, Ferrari 156 1962. The class of the field in 1961 were at best also-rans in 1962. He is smiling so it must be at the seasons commencement… (Unattributed)

Photo and other Credits…

Mel Turbutt, motorsportretro.com, Sutton Images, James Allington, Scuderia Ferrari, The Auto Channel

Finito…

Comments
  1. graham64 says:

    But who is the pretty girl sitting on the wheel of the Lotus?

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