The Ferrari version
“In 1977 Lauda won the title and we were calm for the following season, convinced that we still have a great driver for a great car. One day, however, Lauda calls us asking for an appointment as soon as possible in my father’s offices. We were so far removed from the idea of having to change the first guide of our team that Dad was a little surprised. “You will see that he will ask us to double the engagement.” After all, he had just won a world championship and was the best driver of his generation. And, as he said it, an increase in Lauda’s engagement according to him was even right. Instead things went very differently. Niki entered the room, more brusquely than usual. And without even sitting up, he shot, “I decided that I don’t run for you anymore.” Just that morning my father had read some rumors in the Corriere della Sera, but he was convinced that they were nonsense. At that moment he realized that they were not. Then he tried to hold him back. He told him to sit down, he was the first to face the question of money, which in a negotiation is never a good way to start: “If you have other offers, know that I am willing to balance them quietly”. But it wasn’t a question of money. Lauda told us that he had already signed for another team and that he had no intention of retracing his steps. […] We were stunned. Dad took a while to recover. But when he came back to himself he was furious. Lauda’s farewell, although unexpected, could also have accepted. What he could not accept was the way the Austrian had chosen to put an end to a story that had nevertheless been glorious. […] Going away from Maranello, always in an attempt to justify his decision, he said something that would not bring him luck: “We will see in two years where I will be and where Ferrari will be”.
Piero Ferrari, The thousand lives of my father in Enzo Ferrari – My terrible joys, ed.2016
“1977 was a tough year. First of all, I had to deal with Reutemann and regain the leadership of the team. […] Like a malign elephant, I harbored resentment at the lack of confidence in me; the divorce with Ferrari would have been a relief. In Zandvoort I had already completed thirteen out of seventeen races, ended my transition to Brabham with Bernie Ecclestone. The agreement had to remain absolutely secret, otherwise I would have compromised, within Ferrari, my brilliant prospects of becoming world champion. The Commendatore was still anxious to sign a new contract in advance and I had to find continual pretexts, set in the air, to escape the negotiations. I was satisfied to know that my departure would have constituted a tremendous slap for Enzo Ferrari and I told myself that that blow would have been deserved. Today I see it differently; it was a battle with unequal weapons. I was young and strong, I could decide for myself; he, on the other hand, was seventy-eight years old, consultants who aimed only at their own interests and were informed by their second or third hand. […] I took the satisfaction of refusing coldly, without much compliments, without explanations, the most open, most generous offer that he certainly ever made to a pilot, before and after me. I no longer intended to stay, that was all. End. I was happy when I left. […] Indeed, Enzo Ferrari was hit hard and threw heavy invectives at my address. […] When Enzo Ferrari sent me a telegram for the birth of my son Lukas, I understood that he had changed his attitude towards me, as I did in his. After a certain period of time, respect for that giant and its historical work has prevailed over all my other feelings “.
Niki Lauda, My Story, 1985