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Maranello, 7th July, 2021

Carlos Reutemann has passed away shortly at 79, in Santa Fe, Argentina. From when he was a very young boy, he’d already acquired his nickname of “Lole”, which had to do with his love of animals, in particular pigs or “los lechones” in Spanish, which he mangled into “lolechones”, hence “Lole”. He and Enzo Ferrari’s paths crossed for the first time in 1973, when he partnered the Australian driver Tim Schenken in some endurance races in a 312 P, while also racing for Brabham in Formula 1. Reutemann was well aware of Ferrari, because his mother was Italian and his parents made sure he knew all about the greatest Argentinian driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, who won the World Championship with the Prancing Horse in 1956.

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Formula 1
In 1976, after Niki Lauda’s terrible accident at the Nürburgring, the Scuderia called in Reutemann to replace the Austrian for the Italian Grand Prix, but Lauda’s recovery was so rapid that the Scuderia ended up running three cars for the first time since 1972, putting the number 35 for the first time on Carlos’ car. He returned to the team for 1977 and, at the wheel of a 312 T2, won in Brazil, his third race for the team, helping the Scuderia to take its fifth Constructors’ title and proving that he had what it takes to be a number one driver. The team indeed handed him that role in 1978, alongside the young Gilles Villeneuve and the Argentinian duly won four times, (Jacarepagua, Brazil, Long Beach, United States West, Brands Hatch, Great Britain and at Watkins Glen, United States East). He finished third in the championship behind the Lotus pair of Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson. In fact, at the end of 1979, Reutemann opted to leave Ferrari for Lotus.

The most successful

Carlos competed in 34 race for Scuderia Ferrari, winning five, which makes him the most successful Argentine driver for the Maranello marque. Juan Manuel Fangio only managed three wins, while Jose Froilan Gonzalez won twice, memorably securing the Scuderia’s first ever Formula 1 victory on 14 July 1951 in the British Grand Prix.

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Over the years, Reutemann often returned to Maranello, in 1991 and four years later when he tried out the cockpit of Jean Alesi’s 412 T1. In December 2004, he drove a Ferrari Formula 1 car again, when he completed around 20 laps of Fiorano in Rubens Barrichello’s F2004.

Enzo Ferrari held Reutemann, who went on to a brilliant political career in his native Argentina, in high regard. But in his book “Piloti, che gente…”, Ferrari did not hold back: “An athletic highly skilled driver, with a tormented and torturous temperament. Able to resolve difficult situations and to make up for mechanical shortcomings, but sometimes his emotions got the better of him and lost him the result that seemed possible at the start.” Carlos Reutemann raced in Formula 1 from 1972 to 1982, with four major players, Brabham, Ferrari, Williams and Lotus, competing in 146 Grands Prix. He won 12 and finished second in the World Championship in 1981, and third three times in 1975, 1978 and 1980.

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