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Arturo Merzario in 1978.
|Born||11 March 1943|
|Formula One World Championship career|
|Teams||Ferrari, Williams, Fittipaldi, March, Wolf, Shadow, Merzario|
|Races||85 (57 starts)|
|First race||1972 British Grand Prix|
|Last race||1979 United States Grand Prix|
Arturo Francesco "Little Art" Merzario (born 11 March 1943 in Civenna, Como) (real name Arturio - error on name registration - sometimes used on his helmet) is a racing driver from Italy. He participated in 85 Formula One World Championship Grands Prix, debuting on 15 July 1972. He scored 11 championship points.
Merzario began his career with works Fiat Abarths in GT racing and European mountain-climb events. In 1969 he won the Mugello Grand Prix in a 2-litre Abarth ahead of a field which included Nino Vaccarella and Andrea de Adamich. This brought him a drive with the Ferrari sportscar team for 1970.
Merzario made his Formula One debut in 1972, finishing in sixth place in the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. He also participated in sports car racing, winning the Spa 1000 km, the Targa Florio and the Rand 9 Hour races and was European two-litre Champion for Abarth. After a difficult year with Ferrari in 1973, he moved to Williams and finished third in a non-Championship race in Brazil, but the Championship seasons of 1974 and 1975 proved largely unsuccessful. However, he finished fourth in his home Grand Prix at Monza in 1974. Merzario quit during the 1975 season to return to sports cars with Alfa Romeo, winning four races plus the Targa Florio again, although he returned briefly with Copersucar at Monza finishing eleventh.
Merzario returned to Formula One in 1976, initially with the works March team which was sponsored by Ovoro. After a run of disappointing results and disgruntled with his situation, he moved to Wolf, replacing Jacky Ickx but again there were no decent results.
When Merzario could no longer find a drive with established teams, he set up his own Merzario team in 1977 which struggled in Formula One for three years, initially with March 761B, cars before building his own chassis, from 1978 and later moving down to Formula Two. In three seasons the team was only classified on one occasion — at the 1977 Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder when Merzario was officially placed fourteenth. He had a one-off drive with Shadow in the 1977 Austrian Grand Prix at the Osterreichring but a good drive led to retirement again and was overshadowed by the first Formula One career win of teammate Alan Jones. Merzario continued with his own Chassis for two seasons but results were very poor with the team not qualifying on the majority of occasions and retirng from the race when it did start. The Merzario M1-BMW fared no better in Formula Two in 1980 but Merzario continued to race sports cars with some success after his works Formula One career finished.
Merzario is perhaps most renowned for being one of the drivers, along with Guy Edwards, Brett Lunger and Harald Ertl who saved Niki Lauda from his burning car during the 1976 German Grand Prix. In a recent interview with BBC Radio 5 linked to the release of Rush, Niki Lauda stated that "..there was a guy called Arturo Merzario who jumped into the fire and alone pulled me out of the wreckage so I survived... so he really saved my life there because a couple of seconds more I would have never made it."
In his time in Formula One in the 1970s he was often photographed wearing a cowboy hat with sponsorship patches from Marlboro.
Merzario was still active in sports car racing well into his sixties, driving mostly in an Italian prototype series.
Sports cars and other competitions
Merzario began his career with Abarth in GT racing and mountain climbs. and also won the Sardinia Rally in 1963 in an Alfa Romeo Giulietta. He had several class wins throughout the 1960s and also was victorious in the Mugello Grand Prix in 1969, leading to a Ferrari sports car drive. In 1970 he was third in the 24 hours of Daytona and fourth in the 1000 Kilometres of Monza using a Ferrari 512S. Further wins followed in 1971 at Imola and Vallelunga for Ferrari and Abarth respectively.
In 1972, Mezario won the 1000 Kilometres of Spa (with Brian Redman) in a Ferrari 312PB, won the Targa Florio alongside Sandro Munari and made his Formula One World Championship debut that year. In 1973, Merzario took second places in the 1000 Kilometres of Nurburgring and at Le Mans. Merzario also won the Targa Florio in 1975 with an Alfa Romeo 33 and his career continued in sports cars and GT racing into the 1990s winning the 1985 Italian Prototype Championship and later racing successfully with a Centenari M1.
Complete Formula One World Championship results
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