The year 1979 was the year of the Alfa Romeo comeback to Formula One racing as a team.
We could have seen the Autodelta 3.0 litre V-8 engines in a McLaren in 1970 and in various March chassis in 1971.
These were engines derived from the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 sports car engines of these years.
From 1973 onward Alfa Romeo, through its sporting arm Autodelta, started to build 12 cylinder flat 3.0 litre engines for their cars in the sports car world championship. These engines were powerful and attracted the attention of Bernie Ecclestone, always on the search for an advantage for his Brabham team over the Cosworth-powered opposition and Ferrari, the only other team with an 12 cylinder engine.
The cooperation between Alfa Romeo and Brabham started in 1976 and ended in 1979 with an win for Niki Lauda in the Gran Premio Dino Ferrari at Imola on the 16th of September 1979. This was a non-championship race but most of the Formula One teams were entered. For the last two races of the Formula One season Brabham replaced its Alfa Romeo engines and in their place started with Cosworth powerplants.
The reason for the split with Brabham was the appearance of the first Alfa Romeo Formula One car since 1951, the Alfa 177.
The participation of Autodelta in sports car races ended in 1977 and Ing. Carlo Chiti intensified his thoughts about a return of Alfa Romeo - Autodelta to Formula One racing as a team.
We should not forget, however that Carlo Chiti had achieved great success in Formula One during his years with Ferrari. Winning the world championship with the Ferrari 156, well known as the "sharknose" Ferrari, was the work of Ing. Chiti.
The first test chassis of an Alfa 'Alfa' was built and tested in 1978, the car was named F 177 and only one was chassis built. Testing was carried out mostly on the Alfa Romeo test track at Balocco, driven by Vittorio Brambilla, but Niki Lauda also did some tests.
Spy pictures of the car appeared in the motoring press and showed an light blue car, the Autodelta color.
The first quite surprising race event for the car was the Belgian Grand Prix on the Zolder (Belgium) race circuit on 13th of May 1979.
And I was there!
Years before, I had the chance to see the Alfa Romeo March cars of Andrea de Adamich and Nanni Galli at the German Grand Prix 1971 and the Autodelta touring car squad at the Zandvoort European touring car championship race in 1972 but I never saw Autodelta cars at the sports car races and regret this up to this very day.
But now comes Formula One.
I had read rumours about an possible Alfa 'Alfa' start at Zolder in the British specialized press (I subscribed to Autosport and Motoring News during these years) but nothing was certain.
I went to Zolder together with an friend... we used my friend's VW Beetle which had the ideal color to celebrate a possible return of Alfa Romeo Autodelta to Formula One...light blue.
The race started and the Alfa 'Alfa' was there! The car was red, nearly without sponsorship.
It looked quite large in comparison to the other cars but driven by the young Bruno Giacomelli it did well indeed.
Giacomelli qualified on position 14, one place behind Niki Lauda in the Brabham Alfa Romeo.
The race ended with an collision with Elio de Angelis in an Shadow Ford who missed his braking point and hit Giacomelli.
The car was stranded very near to my viewing position where I could take my first pictures of the Alfa 177, although these were pictures of an damaged car.
All the pictures are of quite modest quality, but it was the time of manual focus cameras and you never knew what you got on the film.
Copyright Ulrich Zensen 2017
It was always possible at Zolder to enter the paddock after the race and watch the teams packing the equipment.
As I reached the position of the Alfa Romeo Autodelta team the biggest surprise was the transporter.
It was the old heavy transporter of Alfa Romeo Deutschland that was being used, as the purpose build new Autodelta transporter was not ready as I learned from an Autodelta team member years later.
Everything was a little bit on the unfinished side and it was clear to see that this entry was more of a test session than an planned race entry.
But nevertheless I was enthusiastic to see the car and the team and it was a very special experience.
Looking at the details of the car with it's thin aluminium panels made clear that the drivers of these cars were brave heroes.
Copyright Ulrich Zensen 2017
Years later I made my first visit to the Alfa Romeo museum in Arese. At this time the place was very difficult to find as there were no signs to show the way and the area was nearly abandoned.
Once inside the museum, I was completely alone...no other visitors could be seen! I could walk around and look at all the wonderful machines. I came into the racing car department and in the most distant corner I recognized the car, I had seen years before... the Alfa Romeo Autodelta F 177-001...the first Alfa Romeo Autodelta Formula One chassis.
Copyright Ulrich Zensen 2017
It was slightly changed with an different nose cone and the color scheme of the Monza Grand Prix, but as I could lean into the car and check the chassis number shown in the cockpit, it really was AR 177-001!
I had never heard anything about the car since 1979 and I was really overjoyed about the fact that this car was still in existance.
The car is not on exhibit at the present time in the newly opened museum... but the Alfa Romeo museum offers changing exhibitions from time to time...
...and I am excited to visit chassis AR 177-001 again some day.
Policy of this Website in Regard to the Use of Images Whose Ownership is Not Known or is Otherwise Unidentifiable.
AutodeltaGoldenYears.com. and RobertLittle.US contributes collection images where the Website Content is described as having “no known copyright restriction.” The phrase “no known copyright restriction” means that AutodeltaGoldenYears.com and RobertLittle.US has determined, to the best of its ability based on available information and belief, that the Website Content is unlikely to be protected by copyright interests and, in all likelihood, is in the public domain.
However, copyright is often difficult to determine with certainty, so the phrase is intended to say that AutodeltaGoldenYears.com and RobertLittle.US is unaware of any copyright restriction, but such restrictions may still exist.
In addition, even if the Website Content is unrestricted from a copyright standpoint, there may be other considerations that would limit your use, such as “Right of Privacy” or “Right of Publicity” of the individuals featured in the images, or other contractual restrictions.
For these reasons, AutodeltaGoldenYears.com and RobertLittle.US makes its content available for personal and non-commercial educational uses consistent with the principles of “fair use”.
If you decide to use the Website Content for commercial or other purposes without undertaking to clear all rights, you will be responsible if someone else owns the rights and the owner objects to your use.
Of course, the use of images identified as being the copyright property of the named individuals or groups identified on each page or attached to each image… is prohibited and is subject to the penalty of law as provided by the United States Copyright law and The Bern Convention among other relevant laws and protections.
Richtlinie dieser Website in Bezug auf die Verwendung von Bildern, deren Rechteinhaber nicht bekannt oder anderweitig nicht identifizierbar ist:
AutodeltaGoldenYears.com. und RobertLittle.US stellen Abbildungen, insbesondere Fotos, zur Verfügung, die als "keine bekannte Copyright-Beschränkung" bezeichnet werden. Die Formulierung "keine bekannte Copyright-Beschränkung" bedeutet, dass AutodeltaGoldenYears.com und RobertLittle.US. nach bestem Wissen und Gewissen festgestellt haben, dass die Abbildungen/Fotos wahrscheinlich nicht urheberrechtlich geschützt sind und sich aller Wahrscheinlichkeit nach in der Public Domain befinden.
Allerdings ist es oft schwierig, das Urheberrecht mit Sicherheit zu bestimmen, so dass der Satz besagt, dass AutodeltaGoldenYears.com und RobertLittle.US keine Kenntnis von urheberrechtlichen Beschränkungen haben, aber solche Beschränkungen dennoch bestehen können.
Darüber hinaus kann es, selbst wenn der Inhalt der Website aus urheberrechtlicher Sicht uneingeschränkt ist, andere Erwägungen geben, die Ihre Nutzung einschränken können, wie z.B. das "Recht auf Privatsphäre" oder das "Recht auf Öffentlichkeit" der auf den Bildern abgebildeten Personen oder andere vertragliche Einschränkungen.
Aus diesen Gründen stellt AutodeltaGoldenYears.com und RobertLittle.US seine Inhalte für persönliche und nicht-kommerzielle Bildungszwecke in Übereinstimmung mit den Grundsätzen des "fair use" zur Verfügung.
Wenn Sie sich entscheiden, den Inhalt der Website für kommerzielle oder andere Zwecke zu nutzen, ohne sich zu verpflichten, alle Rechte zu klären, sind Sie dafür verantwortlich, wenn jemand anderes die Rechte besitzt und der Eigentümer Ihrer Nutzung widerspricht.
Natürlich ist die Verwendung von Bildern, die als urheberrechtliches Eigentum der auf jeder Seite genannten Einzelpersonen oder Gruppen gekennzeichnet sind oder die jedem Bild beigefügt sind, verboten und wird entsprechend dem Urheberrechtsgesetz der USA und der Berner Konvention neben anderen relevanten Gesetzen und Schutzmaßnahmen geahndet.
Politica di questo sito web riguardo l'uso di immagini la cui proprietà non è nota o è altrimenti non identificabile.
AutodeltaGoldenYears.com e RobertLittle.US forniscono immagini, in particolare fotografie, alle quali si fa riferimento come non aventi "nessuna restrizione di copyright nota". La definizione "nessuna restrizione di copyright nota" sta ad indicare che AutodeltaGoldenYears.com e RobertLittle.US hanno determinato, al meglio delle proprie capacità e sulla base delle informazioni e conoscenze disponibili, che è implausibile che le immagini siano protette da copyright, e che pertanto con ogni probabilità sono di dominio pubblico.
Tuttavia il copyright è spesso difficile da determinare con certezza, per cui con tale definizione si intende dire piuttosto che AutodeltaGoldenYears.com e RobertLittle.US non sono a conoscenza di alcuna restrizione sul copyright, sebbene tali restrizioni possano comunque esistere.
Inoltre, anche nei casi in cui il contenuto del sito web sia privo di limitazioni dal punto di vista del copyright, ciò non esclude che possano esserci altre considerazioni che ne limitino l'utilizzo, come il diritto alla privacy o il diritto all’immagine delle persone presenti nelle fotografie, o restrizioni di tipo contrattuale.
Per questi motivi, AutodeltaGoldenYears.com e RobertLittle.US rendono i propri contenuti disponibili per usi educativi personali e non commerciali, in conformità ai principi del "fair use".
Qualora decidessi di usare il contenuto del sito web per scopi commerciali o di altro tipo senza la previa acquisizione di tutti i diritti, sarai responsabile se qualcun altro detiene tali diritti e si oppone al tuo utilizzo.
Naturalmente, l'uso di immagini contrassegnate come protette da copyright di cui sono titolari individui o gruppi identificati in ciascuna pagina o allegati a ciascuna immagine, è proibito ed è soggetto alle sanzioni previste dalla legge sul copyright degli Stati Uniti e dalla Convenzione di Berna, oltre che dalle altre leggi e protezioni pertinenti.