Chaps Number 4

This weeks collection of short stories brings together the unlikely trio of the Vittorio Brambilla aka the Monza Gorilla, Giles Villeneuve aka the Little Prince and Chico Landi, Brazil’s first ever World Championship contender


Vittorio Brambilla after winning the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix.

The front-end re-design was implemented when he lost control of the car due to throwing his arms in the air as he passed the flag.

Nicknamed the “Monza Gorilla”, Vittorio was 36 years old by the time he finally arrived in Formula One, with a reputation for being quick, but highly destructive.

His first season continued the tendency for devastation, but the speed seemed to have initially escaped him. It would return though, a year later, when he stunned the established performers (and himself!) by capturing pole-position for the 1975 Swedish Grand Prix.

Confidence restored, Vittorio Brambilla became, for a while, a regular feature at the front end of the running order, but his continued tendency for breakages always stifled his ability to turn his pace into actual results. That was until he arrived that year in Zeltweg, Austria. For the Grand Prix of that ilk, at the magnificent, and then unadulterated, Osterreichring.

Starting from 8th on the grid, in very heavy rain, Vittorio began picking off his colleagues with his usual enthusiasm. And after 15 laps found himself in the lead and pulling away with apparent ease. 29 laps of this unexpected glory ensued until, with the weather conditions worsening, the organizers decided that they’d had enough of this madness, and pulled the plug.

Seeing the chequered flag waving for his own personal benefit, our man threw his arms in the air with joy. Simultaneously throwing the car into a spin, and clattering loudly down the finishing straight barriers! Undeterred by this minor setback, he just backed out of the Armco, and continued gleefully on his lap-of-honour.

This was not the occasion for the super-cool, world-weary response so beloved of his rivals. Vittorio Brambilla had won a Grand Prix.

He was excited. And he was damned well going to show it! On arrival back at the pits, Vittorio leapt excitedly from his car. Caught his foot on the cockpit combing, and plunged face-first into the pitlane tarmac!

Steadier hands than his were required to help him remove his helmet and gloves, before he practically ran to the podium. Where, with his hands still shaking uncontrollably, he needed further assistance to get the cork out of the well earned bottle of bubbly!

Vittorio had for once, driven a blinder. And even though he still managed to round it off with his usual excursion into the guardrails, he thoroughly deserved his day in the sun (well…rain). And no other driver has ever enjoyed the moment with more obvious pleasure.


Gilles Villeneuve. Showing the car who’s boss.


Chico Landi (Brazil’s first ever World Championship contender) and his Escuderia Bandeirantes Ferrari, at Silverstone in 1951.

A nice period photo. But whom among the assembled throng do you think considers himself most properly attired for an afternoon of Grand Prix driving?

You need to look for the Charlie Chaplin impressionist on the right for the correct answer.


Friday Chaps was started by the late Chris Bowen. Over the past few years we worked with Chris to add and contribute to the Friday Chaps stories.

Chris started in F1 with Brabham in 1984 before moving on to Benetton, McLaren, Ligier, Arrows, Toyota, Red Bull, Honda, Brawn GP and in 2010 to Mercedes AMG Petronas.

Sadly Chris passed away suddenly in 2020. His knowledge and story telling ability were of the highest order and we have decided to continue his theme of Friday Chaps in his memory. We will republish some of his stories and observations and add to them hopefully doing justice to the standards he set!