1979: Brabham BT48 and Alfa 177 / 179
The 1979 Formula One season saw two teams with Alfa Romeo engines; The Brabham BT 48 and the Alfa Romeo 177. During this season, Brabham decided to stop the cooperation with Alfa and from the Canadian GP they entered the BT 49 with a Cosworth V8. Alfa Romeo entered halfway through the season at the Belgian GP at Zolder with the Alfa Romeo 177 with the new V12 engine that was upgraded to the Alfa 179 at the Monza GP. Lauda and Piquet were the Brabham pilots, Bruno Giacomelli and Vittorio Brambilla drove the Alfa Romeo 177.
The Brabham performed very poorly during the seaon. Both Lauda and Piquet only managed to finish two of 13 races. The Alfa drivers did little better. Brambilla did not qualify for the first GP at Zolder; Giacomelli retired from the race after 21 laps. In France Giacomelli finished 17th, at Monza with the new 179 he did not finish and retired after 28 laps. Brambilla finished 12th at Monza in the old 177. At the Canadian GP the Alfa’s were forced to participate in a pre-qualifying round, infuriating Carlo Chiti and Autodelta withdrew from this Grand Prix. No points were scored during the season.
1980: The Alfa Romeo 179 B
For the 1980 season the Alfa Romeo team contracted Patrick Depailler as a replacement for Vittorio Brambilla. Depailler had been quite successful with Ligier the year before.
The season started in Argentina with Giacomelli qualifiying 20th and Depailler 23rd. Depailler retired from the race with engine problems but Giacomelli finished 5th.
The second race in Brasil saw Giacomelli starting from the 17th position and Depailler from the 21st. Depailler did not finish due to electrical problems and Giacomelli finished 13th.
For the South African GP Depailler qualified 7th and Giacomelli 12th. Both did not finish the race. At Long Beach Depailler qualified 3rd and Giacomelli 6th. Depailler broke a suspension and had to retire from the race. Giacomelli crashed with Jones. The fist race on the European continent resulted in a 10th starting position for Depailler while Giacomelli had to start the race from 18th place on the grid. Both cars did not finish the race; Depailler broke his exhaust manifold and Giacomelli had a broken suspension.
At the Monaco Grand Prix, Depailler qualified 7th and Giacomelli 9th. Derek Daly pushed Giacomelli from the track during the start of the race. Depailler blew his engine while running in 5th position. The race at Le Castellet France marked the end of the first half of the season. Giacomelli qualified 9th and Depailler 10th but both cars did not finish the race due to handling problems. Things didn’t get better at the British GP; after qualifying 6th and 8th both cars did not finish. Depailler blew his engine and Giacomelli spun off the track after 42 laps.
During testing on the Hockenheim track Patrick Depailler lost his life after his car went off the track in the notorious Ostkurve. After qualifying 19th, Giacomelli finished the Hockenheim GP in 5th position.
For the next GP in Austria Autodelta only entered one car. Giacomelli qualified 8th but did not finish the race due to a broken suspension. Vittorio Brambilla replaced Depailler at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. Both cars didn’t finish, just like in the next race at Imola. After Imola, Andrea de Cesaris took over from Brambilla for the GP of Canada. Qualifying went well, with de Cesaris 8th and Giacomelli 4th on the grid. De Cesaris blew up the engine during the race and Giacomelli had problems with his chassis, causing both cars not to finish.
The last race of the season at Watkins Glen, Giacomelli took pole position while de Cesaris qualified 10th on the grid. After 32 laps in the lead, Giacomelli had to retire with electrical problems; de Cesaris crashed his car. The 1980 Formula One season ended with 4 championship points.
1981: The Alfa Romeo 179 C / 179 D
For the 1981 season Alfa Romeo managed to sign up former world champion Mario Andretti. Andrea de Cesaris went to the other Marlboro-sponsored team, McLaren. After the fatal accident of Depailler, the FIA banned aerodynamics that created a vacuum underneath the car for the 1981 season. Alfa was one of the few teams to build a legal car; other teams used so called active suspension to bypass FIA regulations. Of course this had a negative effect on Alfa’s competitiveness. Autodelta started testing a new 1.5 litre V8 turbo charged engine for the next season.
The first race at Long Beach saw Andretti starting from the 6th position on the grid; Giacomelli started from 9th position. Andretti finished 4th in the race but Giacomelli crashed his car. The next Grand Prix in Brasil, Giacomelli qualified 6th and Andretti 9th but both cars did not finish the race. At the third race in Argentina Andretti started from the 17th position and Giacomelli from 22nd. Andretti finished 8th and Giacomelli 10th. The San Marino GP with Giacomelli starting from 11th and Andretti from 12 position on the grid ended with a broken gearbox for Andretti and a crash with Eddie Cheever for Giacomelli. At the Belgian Grand Prix Giacomelli trained a 17th postition on the grid and Andretti took 18th place. Both cars managed to finish the race; Giacomelli finished 9th and Andretti 10th. In Monaco Andretti started from the 11th position on the grid and Giacomelli from the 18th place. Andretti crashed with de Cesaris at the start of the race, Giacomelli crashed with Alboreto in the 50th lap. In Spain Giacomelli finished 6th after qualifying 6th; Andretti finished in 8th position after qualifying 8th. For the French Grand Prix Andretti took 10th place on the grid and Giacomelli 12th. Both cars finished, but did not score points. At Silverstone Andretti broke his throttle cable in the 59th lap after starting from 11th position. Giacomelli broke his gearbox in the 5th lap after leaving the starting grid from the 12th postition.
The reliability of the cars improved and at Hockenheim, one year after Autodelta lost Patrick Depailler on this track, both cars finished the race. Andretti in 9th place and Giacomelli crossed the finish line in 15th position. However, at the Austrian GP at Zeltweg Giacomelli’s car caught fire in the 34th lap and Andretti retired with an engine problem in the 46th lap. The Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort saw Mario Andretti qualifying 7th and Giacomelli 14th. Andretti crashed during the race and Giacomelli retired with tyre problems. At Monza Andretti retired after 41 laps after qualifying 13th. Giacomelli finished 8th after starting from the 10th place on the grid. At the Canadian GP Giacomelli scored 3 championship point with his 4th place. Andretti finished 7th. Giacomelli also scored championship point in the final race of the season in Las Vegas. Giacomelli finished 3rd. Andretti retired after 29 laps with suspension problems.
1982: The Alfa Romeo 182
Alfa Romeo’ racing division Autodelta signed up racing car constructor Gerard Ducarouge for the 1982 Formula One season. Decarouge turned the Ligier team into a winning team in the past few years. 1982 also saw Andrea de Cesaris return to the Alfa Romeo team, replacing Mario Andretti. With the return of de Cesaris sponsoring by Marlboro was secured for the new season. The first race of the 1982 season the team had to use the old 179-D cars with a V8 engine; the new chassis and V12 were not ready yet.
The first GP at Kyalami (South Africa), de Cesaris qualified 16th and Giacomelli 19th. Both cars finished the race, with Giacomelli finishing 11th and de Cesaris 13th. The new 182 was ready for the second race in Brasil, but the old V8 still had to be used. De Cesaris qualified 9th and Giacomelli 15th. Both cars did not finish; Giacomelli broke his cluth and de Cesaris damaged his rear wing. De Cesaris took pole postition for the Grand Prix of the USA at Long Beach, Giacomelli started from the 6 position on the grid. De Cesaris raced in first position for 14 laps, after which he was overtaken by Niki Lauda in his McLaren MP4. De Cesaris managed to keep up with Lauda until he hit a wall in the 35th lap. Giacomelli crashed into Arnoux’s Renault in the 6th lap.
In the GP of San Marino Giacomelli started from the 6th position on the grid, de Cesaris started from 7th place. After 4 laps of racing de Cesaris had to retire with a broken fuel pump. Giacomelli had to retire after 25 laps after he lost oil pressure. During practice at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, Formula One lost one of its famous drivers; Gilles Villeneuve died after crashing into the car of Jochen Mass. De Cesaris qualified 7th and Giacomelli 15th. Giacomelli crashed with Salazar in the first lap of the race. Running in 2nd position, de Cesaris had to retire in the 37th lap due to transmission problems.
At Monaco, Giacomelli started from the 3rd position on the grid. De Cesaris qualified 7th. De Cesaris would have won the race if the his car had consumed a little less fuel. Half a lap before the finish it was game over for de Cesaris, who was eventually classified 3rd. Giacomelli broke his transmission in the 3rd lap and retired. Detroit was next and de Cesaris lived up to his newly acquired reputation of being a strong street-track driver by qualifying 2nd, just behind Niki Lauda. Giacomelli qualified 6th. De Cesaris had to retire after just 3 laps with a transmission problem; Giacomelli ran into Watson in the 31st lap and lost a wheel. In Canada Giacomelli qualified 5th and de Cesaris 9th. A terrible accident at the start of the race caused by the stalling of Didier Pironi’s Ferrari and killing Paletti, lead to a restart. Giacomelli crashed during this restart with Nigel Mansell and broke his wrist. De Cesaris was running 3rd when his car ran out of fuel in one of the last laps of the race. He was classified 6th.
Back in Europe de Cesaris retired from the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort after 35 laps with electrical problems. Giacomelli finished 11th. At Brands Hatch de Cesaris qualified 11th and Giacomelli 14th. De Cesaris retired after 66 laps, again with electrical problems. Giacomelli finished 7th. At the French GP de Cesaris qualified 7th and Giacomelli 8th. De Cesaris crashed in lap 26 and Giacomelli finished 9th. At the German GP in Hockenheim Didier Pironi crashed during training. His leg injuries caused him to end his racing career. De Cesaris qualified 7th and Giacomelli 10th. De Cesaris damaged his gearbox in lap 9 by hitting John Watson’s car and had to retire in lap 9. Giacomelli finished 5th. In Austria de Cesaris started from 10th position on the grid and Giacomelli 12th. At the start of the race both Alfa’s hit each other and retired. The Swiss Grand Prix, held in Dijon France, saw de Cesaris starting from 5th place on the grid, Giacomelli was 9th. De Cesaris finished 10th, Giacomelli 12th. At Monza de Cesaris finished 10th while Giacomelli retired after 32 laps with a broken fuel pump. The last race of the 1982 Formula One championship was the Las Vegas Grand Prix. De Cesaris finished 9th after starting from the 18th position on the grid; Giacomelli qualified 16th and finished in 10th position.
1983: The Alfa Romeo 183T
Alfa Romeo had big financial problems and decided to outsource all racing activities to Euroracing, ending the era of Autodelta. Giampaolo Pavanello was the new team manager. Designer Gerard Decarouge was replaced by technical director Luigi Marmirolli and chief designer Mario Tolentini. At the end of the season, Andrea de Cesaris left the team together with sponsor Marlboro. The team would eventually score 18 championship points, ranking 6th in the constructors championship. Andrea de Cesaris scored 15 points and new Alfa driver Mauro Baldi scored 3 championship point. The 1983 car used the all new Alfa Romeo 890 T V8 engine.
The first Grand Prix was Brasil. Baldi qualified 10th but de Cesaris was disqualified for missing the weight inspection. Baldi crashed his car in lap 23. At Long Beach de Cesaris qualified 19th and Baldi 21st. Baldi spun off the track after 26 race laps; de Cesaris retired with a broken gearbox. For the French GP de Cesaris started from the 7th place on the grid, Baldi qualified 8th. Baldi spun off the track in lap 28; de Cesaris finished 12th. In San Marino the Alfa’s qualified 8th and 10th. De Cesaris retired from the race with ignition problems but Baldi finished 10th. In Monaco Baldi, who started from the 10th place on the grid, finished 6th in the race, scoring the first championship point that season. De Cesaris started from the 7th place on the grid but retired after 13 laps with a broken gearbox.
The Belgian GP was raced on the Spa Francorchamps track. De Cesaris qualified 3rd and with a fantastic (2nd) start he took the lead in the race. A bad pitstop threw him back behind Alain Prost’s Renault and a broken fuel injection forced him to retire after 25 laps. Baldi started from the 12th position on the grid and had to retire after 3 laps in the race with a broken accelerator pedal.
Next was Detroit. De Cesaris qualified 8th and Baldi 25th. After 33 laps in the race de Cesaris blew up his turbo, Baldi finished in 12th place. In Canada de Cesaris started from the 8th place and Baldi qualified 26th. De Cesaris wrecked his engine after 10 laps, Baldi finished 10th. At Silverstone Baldi finished 7th after starting from the 11th position on the grid. De Cesaris qualified 9th and finished 8th in the race. The German Grand Prix at Hockenheim saw de Cesaris finishing 2nd after startiing from the 3rd place on the grid. Baldi qualified 7th but broke his turbo during the race. In Austria Baldi started from the 9th position on the grid but retired after 13 laps in the race with an oil leak. De Cesaris qualified 11th but ran out of fuel in the 31st lap of the race. At Zandvoort Baldi scored 2 championship points by finishing 5th after starting from the 12th position. De Cesaris retired after just 5 laps in the race with a broken engine. He started from the 8th place on the grid.
At the Italian GP at Monza both Alfa’s did not finish. After starting from 6th place, de Cesaris crashed after just 2 laps. Baldi, who qualified 10th, blew up his turbo in lap 4. De Cesaris scored 3 championship points at the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. He qualified 14th and finished 4th. Baldi burned up his clutch in lap 39 after qualifying 15th.The final Grand Prix of the season was raced in South Africa. De Cesaris finished 2nd after qualifying 9th. Baldi qualified 17th but retired after 5 laps in the race.