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The XXXVIII Großer Preis von Deutschland, otherwise known as the 1976 German Grand Prix, was the tenth round of the 1976 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Nürburgring on the 1 August 1976.[1] The race would be the last to be held on the fearsome Nordschleife layout of the Nürburgring, a fate sealed after the infamous accident suffered by Championship lead Niki Lauda.[1]

Concerns over the safety of the Nordschleife meant that the organisers of the German Grand Prix and the FIA had agreed that this would be the last time that the circuit was used.[1] Unfortunately, there was not a huge send off in terms of qualifying, with James Hunt taking pole from Lauda, both someway short of the mystical seven minute barrier that the Austrian had broken the previous season.[1]

Race morning proved to be a wet affair, prompting everyone bar Jochen Mass to fit wet tyres for the start, although the rain had stopped before the cars were released from the grid.[1] The start itself would see Clay Regazzoni shoot into the lead from Hunt, while a poor start for Lauda saw him drop down the order to fifth.[1]

The nature of the Nordschleife meant that, ultimately, only a small section of the circuit was wet, meaning more than half the field would charge into the pits at the end of the opening tour.[1] That fact put Mass into second, just behind Ronnie Peterson who gambled on completing another lap, while Hunt soon rejoined in third.[1]

It was on the second lap that Lauda came within seconds of losing his life, the Austrian getting out of shape at Bergwerk and duly smashed through the catch fencing.[1] The car then struck an earth bank and exploded into flame, bouncing back across the circuit to be collected by Harald Ertl and Brett Lunger.[1] They, along with Guy Edwards and Arturo Merzario managed to pull Lauda out of his burning Ferrari, with an ambulance arriving moments later to take the Austrian to Adenau hospital.[1]

There was a long pause as the carnage was cleared away, with the race restarted as the order had stood at the end of the opening tour, minus the six drivers who had dropped out.[1] This time Hunt took the lead from Regazzoni, Jody Scheckter, Patrick Depailler and Carlos Pace on a circuit which was now almost completely dry.[1]

The opening lap was filled with more accident and damage, with Ronnie Peterson crashing heavily at Flugplatz, while Regazzoni spun across the circuit forcing Depailler to take avoiding action.[1] Fortunately, these accidents would not result in death nor injury, with Hunt charging clear at the head of the field.[1]

Hunt soon checked out at the front of the field, leaving Scheckter to fight with Pace for second, before Mass moved up from sixth to third after a poor start.[1] Vittorio Brambilla, meanwhile, joined the list of casualties with a huge accident at Adenau Bridge after a brake failure, although he was able to escape uninjured.[1] Merzario would also suffer a brake failure, but was able to get his car slowed without damage.[1]

With that the race was run, with Hunt winning from Scheckter and Mass, putting the former two back in the title hunt.[1] Pace retained fourth ahead of Gunnar Nilsson, while Rolf Stommelen came back from having his first car impounded to claim a rare point in the spare Brabham-Alfa Romeo.[1]

After the race thoughts immediately turned to Lauda, whom had been flown to Mannheim during the race for emergency surgery and treatment.[1] It would take several days before the Austrian regained consciousness, ahead of gruelling recovery programme that would ultimately become part of F1 legend.[1]

BackgroundEdit

The Nürburgring Nordschleife had long since proved itself to be the toughest challenge on the F1 calendar when the circus arrived for the 1976 German Grand Prix, prompting a lot of speculation about its future.[1] As spectacular and haunting as the sight of a Grand Prix car flashing through a forest was, the push for safety over recent seasons had seen a gradual acceptance that the circuit was not safe enough to host Formula One.[1] As such, it was reluctantly agreed by the FIA and the organisers to move the German Grand Prix to the Hockenheimring from 1977, making 1 August 1976 the end of an era once the chequered flag fluttered.[1]

Before that, however, the Nordschleife would host its final Grand Prix, drawing a bumper entry list for the last battle around the Eifel Mountains.[2] Leading the charge to the Nordschleife, in-spite of lead driver Niki Lauda's call to have the circuit banned, would be Ferrari, who had brought three cars along for the Austrian and teammate Clay Regazzoni.[2] Lauda would continue to use the newest of the 312T2s, while Regazzoni returned to his original 312T2, as his "new" car had been destroyed last time out.[2] The team had therefore butchered the old "muletta" to rebuild a spare car from Lauda's old chassis.[2]

Elsewhere, McLaren were looking back to their best, regardless of whether James Hunt kept his victory at Brands Hatch or not.[2] Both the Brit and teammate Jochen Mass would use their usual M23s, with a spare chassis brought along just in case.[2] The new M26 was still going through its testing programme, but was only a few weeks away from making its debut.[2]

Elsewhere, the six-wheeled Tyrrells were back for Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler, unchanged from the race at Brands Hatch.[2] The team were, however, down to a single spare 007, for Depailler's old car had been sold to privateers Scuderia Gulf Rondini.[2] They, and driver Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi were making their debuts at the Nordschleife in Formula One, backed by oil suppliers Gulf.[2]

Over at Brabham-Alfa Romeo things were looking up, the team seeming to have overcome the Alfa F12's dismal reliability, although both Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace wanted more.[2] Both their two cars, and the spare, were retrofitted with a new starter motor, made lighter through the use of compressed air, while the spare was also given new front brakes, with carbon fibre elements, and new brake ducts.[2] The team also handed German racer Rolf Stommelen a shot, loaning him out to privateers RAM Racing.[2] The British privateers would duly field Stommelen alongside Lella Lombardi, although their weekend would end almost as soon as it began.[2]

Lotus, meanwhile, had completed some update work for their 77s, bringing along three minor evolutions of their cars to the Nordschleife.[2] The changes to Mario Andretti's 77 included the reworking of the nose mounted oil radiator, as well as the implementation of a cockpit adjuster for the rear anti-rollbars, operated from a lever on the left side of the cockpit.[2] Gunnar Nilsson, meanwhile, had the new radiator mounted onto his car, as well as an updated compressed air starter, designed to save weight.[2]

The March legion, meanwhile, arrived down on numbers, having lost one of their entries and hence a valuable revenue stream.[2] That left Vittorio Brambilla and Ronnie Peterson as their preferred entries, while Hans-Joachim Stuck was on his own in the "B" team.[2] The fourth car, previously used by Arturo Merzario, became the team's spare car, but was painted in the colours of Brambilla's sponsors.[2]

Merzario himself, meanwhile, had moved to Wolf-Williams, becoming their lead driver in the wake of the fallout between Jacky Ickx and team boss Walter Wolf.[2] The Belgian, who had seemingly lost his passion for Formula One in recent races, was fired after failing to qualify in Britain, while regular racer Michel Leclere had quit the team after the French Grand Prix.[2] Furthermore, with all their other contacts unavailable due to commitments elsewhere, the Canadian backed squad were forced to enter Merzario alone with no spares available.[2]

Elsewhere, the Shadow team arrived in a better mood than of late, Tom Pryce and Jean-Pierre Jarier getting a new title sponsor's logo plastered to their cars amid news that the new DN8 was finally being completed.[2] A third Shadow was also entered for Mike Wilds, but that entry was ultimately withdrawn.[2] Surtees were also sporting some more logos than before on Brett Lunger and Alan Jones' entries, while a third TS19 had been privately entered for Henri Pescarolo.[2]

Into the single entries and Ligier-Matra would hope for better things at the Nordschleife, although after two major incidents for Jacques Laffite at Brands Hatch the team were down to a single car and very few spares.[2] Ensign were also hoping that Brands Hatch was just a minor blip, Chris Amon back at the wheel, while the Dutch modified "Boro" was set to return with Larry Perkins at the wheel.[2] The Hesketh effort were also back with their two increasingly unrelated entries for Harald Ertl and Guy Edwards.[2]

Completing the field would be the Penske and Fittipaldi teams, who were among those who could benefit from Hunt's looming disqualification from the British Grand Prix.[2] For Penske and lead driver John Watson the Brit's exclusion could mean that they finished on the podium, with more funding the likely result.[2] Emerson Fittipaldi, meanwhile, would have been promoted to sixth with Hunt's removal, a point which would nudge the Brazilian crew up to their tenth place target.[2]

Into the Championship and with Hunt in post-British GP limbo, it was Lauda whom had gained in the title chase, moving over thirty points clear of second placed Scheckter. Hunt, meanwhile, slipped to third, remaining level on points with Depailler, having briefly moved to within twenty three points of Lauda. Regazzoni remained in fifth after another non-score, while Watson moved into sixth, level on points with Mass and Laffite.

With Hunt and McLaren-Ford Cosworth set to be disqualified, Ferrari were able to move twenty one points ahead of their pursuers, leaving Brands Hatch with 64 points to their name. Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth were sat in second, while McLaren remained in third, the only team to have dropped points due to the rules surrounding dropped scores in 1976. Penske-Ford Cosworth moved into the top five, level on points with Ligier-Matra, while Shadow-Ford Cosworth climbed to sixth.

Entry listEdit

The full entry list for the 1976 German Grand Prix is outlined below:

No. Driver Entreat Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T2 Ferrari 015 F12 3.0 G
2 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T2 Ferrari 015 F12 3.0 G
3 South Africa Jody Scheckter United Kingdom Tyrrell Racing Organisation Tyrrell P34 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell Racing Organisation Tyrrell P34 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 77 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
6 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 77 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
7 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Martini Racing Brabham BT45 Alfa Romeo 115-12 F12 3.0 G
8 Brazil Carlos Pace United Kingdom Martini Racing Brabham BT45 Alfa Romeo 115-12 F12 3.0 G
9 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Beta Team March March 761 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
10 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom March Engineering March 761 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
11 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M23 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
12 West Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M23 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
16 United Kingdom Tom Pryce United Kingdom Shadow Racing with Tabatip Shadow DN5B Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
17 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Shadow Racing with Tabatip Shadow DN5B Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
18 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom Team Surtees Surtees TS19 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
19 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Team Surtees Surtees TS19 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
20 Italy Arturo Merzario Canada Walter Wolf Racing Wolf-Williams FW05 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
22* New Zealand Chris Amon United Kingdom Team Ensign Ensign N176 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
24 Austria Harald Ertl United Kingdom Hesketh Racing Hesketh 308D Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
25 United Kingdom Guy Edwards United Kingdom Penthouse Rizla Racing Hesketh 308D Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS5 Matra MS73 V12 3.0 G
28 United Kingdom John Watson United States Citibank Team Penske Penske PC4 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
30 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Copersucar-Fittipaldi Fittipaldi FD04 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
34 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom March Engineering March 761 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom RAM Racing Brabham BT44B Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
37 Italy Lella Lombardi United Kingdom RAM Racing Brabham BT44B Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
38 France Henri Pescarolo United Kingdom Team Norev/BS Fabrications Surtees TS19 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
39 Australia Larry Perkins Netherlands HB Bewaking Alarm Systems Boro 001 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
40 Italy Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi Italy Scuderia Gulf Rondini Tyrrell 007 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
41 United Kingdom Mike Wilds United Kingdom Team PR Reilly Shadow DN3 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
77 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Martini Racing Brabham BT45 Alfa Romeo 115-12 F12 3.0 G
Source:[3]
  • * Amon was offered a role with Ferrari on raceday but ultimately refused on safety grounds.
  • Stommelen and Lombardi would use #32 and #33 in practice respectively
  • Stommelen was entered in a Brabham-Alfa Romeo after the RAM Racing cars were seized by the police.

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

Practice/qualifying would be staged across Friday and Saturday, with three "timed" sessions and a single "untimed" session, lasting between an hour and an hour and a half apiece.[2] Two of the "timed" sessions would be staged on Friday, in glorious sunshine, while the "untimed" session was scheduled for Saturday morning, when the Nürburgring demonstrated its worst elements.[2] That meant that the best shot of beating the circuit record of 6:58.6, set by Niki Lauda en-route to pole in 1975, would come on Friday.[2]

ReportEdit

It was bright and warm on Friday morning, with Lauda ultimately setting the pace in spite of his less than enthusiastic approach to the Nordschleife.[2] His 7:08.2, however, was no where near his old mark, although the Austrian was by far the fastest man after the first hour and a half.[2] There was a surprise in second as a determined Hans-Joachim Stuck ended the morning second fastest, just ahead of James Hunt in third.[2]

However, while Stuck was enjoying his March, the sister car of Ronnie Peterson spent the morning in the garage, an engine issue leaving him in the pits until just before lunch.[2] Furthermore, while Peterson's engine was examined, Vittorio Brambilla went flying off the circuit in his March, bending the front end to such an extent that he would have to use the spare in the afternoon.[2] But they, at least, would made it to the pits, for the Surtees of Henri Pescarolo never left the paddock having picked up a mystery fuel pump failure as the car was being unloaded.[2]

Friday afternoon would see more drivers get into the swing of things, the two six-wheeled Tyrrells of Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler joining the fight out front.[2] Mario Andretti would also enter the fray having swapped to his spare car after the engine mounts started to fail, although all three were unable to match the pace of the dynamic duo out front.[2] This time it was Hunt who led the pack at the end of the day, a 7:06.5 enough to beat Lauda's best of 7:07.4 to claim provisional pole.[2]

Away from the pinnacle of the sport there were some dramas unfolding in the pitlane as the German police arrived to impound RAM Racing's equipment at the end of the day.[2] This had been arranged by ex-driver Loris Kessel, who had taken legal action against the team for unfair dismissal.[2] That left Lella Lombardi and Rolf Stommelen without a drive for the rest of the weekend, although the latter was quickly put into a factory Brabham-Alfa Romeo having already broken into the top fifteen.[2]

After a glorious Friday, Saturday proved to be a miserable affair, the morning "untimed" session heralded by heavy rain, although the circuit dried quickly as the session went on.[2] Brambilla was back in his normal car, but on the verge of another accident throughout, a stark contrast to Stuck who was supremely confident and quick.[2] Peterson was also in the zone on Saturday morning, while Stommelen was quickly getting up to speed with his new #77 Brabham-Alfa.[2]

Unfortunately the rain would return for the final "timed" session of the weekend, leaving entire sections of the Nordschleife wet while others were dry.[2] That effectively ensured that Hunt had pole from Lauda, while Lombardi and Pescarolo were to missout on a spot on the grid, although both had serious car issues on Saturday that prevented serious running.[2] Indeed, neither Lauda nor Hunt would make an impact on Saturday's running, the Brit not even heading onto the circuit due to the risk of crashing.[2]

As if to highlight this, Brambilla had his second accident of the weekend, this time writing off his orange coloured car by smashing the monocoque.[2] Regardless, he would end the session second fastest, the only man other than teammate Peterson to set a time under eight minutes.[2] Stommelen ended the session third fastest, but qualified based on his time set in the RAM Racing Brabham, while Regazzoni was fourth quickest for Ferrari.[2]

Qualifying ResultsEdit

The qualifying results for the 1976 German Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
Q1 Q2 Q3
1 11 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 7:10.3 7:06.5
2 1 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Ferrari 7:08.2 7:07.4 9:36.8 +0.9s
3 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 7:15.6 7:08.8 8:34.4 +2.3s
4 34 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 7:10.1 7:09.1 8:13.1 +2.6s
5 2 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni Italy Ferrari 7:11.8 7:09.3 9:43.0 +2.8s
6 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 7:13.6 7:11.3 9:03.2 +4.8s
7 8 Brazil Carlos Pace United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 7:18.7 7:12.0 +5.5s
8 3 South Africa Jody Scheckter United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 7:19.0 7:12.2 9:43.0 +5.7s
9 12 West Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 7:15.3 7:13.0 +6.5s
10 7 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 7:24.9 7:14.9 8:32.4 +8.4s
11 10 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 7:14.9 7:27.3 +8.4s
12 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 7:20.5 7:16.1T 8:17.6 +9.6s
13 9 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 7:17.7 +11.2s
14 19 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 7:27.1 7:19.9 +13.4s
15* 77 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 7:33.5* 7:21.6* 8:02.3 +15.1s
16 6 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 7:32.5 7:23.0 9:21.0 +16.5s
17 22 New Zealand Chris Amon United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 7:35.3 7:23.1 9:06.0 +16.6s
18 16 United Kingdom Tom Pryce United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 7:25.4 7:23.3 8:11.3 +16.8s
19 28 United Kingdom John Watson United States Penske-Ford Cosworth 7:34.9 7:23.5 8:19.8 +17.0s
20 30 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 7:32.1 7:28.0 12:31.2 +21.5s
21 20 Italy Arturo Merzario Canada Wolf-Williams-Ford Cosworth 7:37.2 7:28.8 +22.3s
22 24 Austria Harald Ertl United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 7:33.9 7:30.0 17:38.7 +23.5s
23 17 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 7:53.9T 7:30.9 +24.4s
24 18 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 7:44.6 7:32.7 8:16.8 +26.2s
25 25 United Kingdom Guy Edwards United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 7:47.8 7:38.6 9:59.0 +32.1s
26 40 Italy Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi Italy Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 7:59.1 7:48.5 9:39.2 +42.0s
DNQ 37 Italy Lella Lombardi United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth 7:51.5 7:51.1 +44.6s
DNQ 38 France Henri Pescarolo United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 8:04.2 9:09.8 +57.7s
WD 36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth Car unavailable
WD 39 Australia Larry Perkins Netherlands Boro-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn
WD 41 United Kingdom Mike Wilds United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn
Source:[2][4]
  • Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
  • T Indicates a test/spare car.
  • * Stommelen qualified based on his time using the #36 car, rather than his best effort in #77.
  • The two RAM Racing entries were impounded by police on Friday evening.

GridEdit

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 1 ______________
James Hunt 2
______________ Niki Lauda
Row 2 3 ______________
Patrick Depailler 4
______________ Hans-Joachim Stuck
Row 3 5 ______________
Clay Regazzoni 6
______________ Jacques Laffite
Row 4 7 ______________
Carlos Pace 8
______________ Jody Scheckter
Row 5 9 ______________
Jochen Mass 10
______________ Carlos Reutemann
Row 6 11 ______________
Ronnie Peterson 12
______________ Mario Andretti
Row 7 13 ______________
Vittorio Brambilla 14
______________ Alan Jones
Row 8 15 ______________
Rolf Stommelen 16
______________ Gunnar Nilsson
Row 9 17 ______________
Chris Amon 18
______________ Tom Pryce
Row 10 19 ______________
John Watson 20
______________ Emerson Fittipaldi
Row 11 21 ______________
Arturo Merzario 22
______________ Harald Ertl
Row 12 23 ______________
Jean-Pierre Jarier 24
______________ Brett Lunger
Row 13 25 ______________
Guy Edwards 26
______________ Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi

RaceEdit

Raceday proved to be more akin to Saturday rather than Friday, the warm-up session around the "Loop" held in the wet, prompting McLaren and Tyrrell to sit it out.[2] Fortunately the circuit dried as the session went on, although the dark clouds in the Eifel Mountains remained as start time approached.[2] This ultimately became a light shower as the cars were wheeled onto the grid, the start having been delayed by a quarter of an hour to clear up the wreckage from a Renault 5 support race.[2]

ReportEdit

Further delays came as a result of the shower, with all bar Jochen Mass getting wet tyres bolted to their cars, while the "official" Porsche was sent around the circuit to report on conditions.[2] At 2:05pm the race finally got underway, with James Hunt and Clay Regazzoni jostling for the lead into the first corner.[2] Pole sitter Niki Lauda, meanwhile, would slip down the order after a rare mistake with his clutch, while Hans-Joachim Stuck was stuck failed to move at all with his own clutch issues.[2]

By the time the field streamed off the "Loop" and onto the Nordschleife it was Regazzoni leading from Hunt, Jochen Mass and Jacques Laffite.[2] This would soon change as the leaders charged though Aremburg for the first time, with Regazzoni pitching himself into a hugely dramatic spin, miraculously missing both barrier and driver before recovering.[2] That dropped the Swiss racer down to fourth, with Ronnie Peterson and Carlos Pace in second and third respectively having elbowed their way past Mass and Laffite on a wetter section of the circuit.[2]

Ultimately, come the end of the opening tour, it was Mass who was really setting the pace, albeit still down in fifth as the field started the long climb up the Döttinger Höhe.[2] Seeing this, and the fact that most of the circuit was dry or close to it, Hunt eased off towards the end of the straight, hoping to catch his rivals out by slipping into the pits while they carried on.[2] Peterson duly went screaming past to end the opening lap in first, with Mass, Regazzoni, the two Loti, Tom Pryce Vittorio Brambilla, Alan Jones, Rolf Stommelen, Harald Ertl, Brett Lunger and Guy Edwards following him through.[2]

In the pits, meanwhile, there would be mild chaos as teams dashed about fitting dry tyres, while Ligier-Matra had the added headache of changing Laffite's nose after contact late in the lap.[2] That headache turned into a migraine when the Matra refused to pull away, a broken contact causing smoke to pour from his instrument panel.[2] As the Ligier crew set about their makeshift repair work, Hunt, Lauda and most of the stoppers had rejoined the fray in the midst of the non-stoppers.[2]

On track, meanwhile, Mass had taken the lead from Peterson somewhere out on the Nordschleife, prompting a huge cheer when the German finally appeared in front of the Swede at one of the larger crowd areas.[2] The German was soon out of sight by the time they came up the Döttinger Höhe to complete the second lap, with Peterson leading everyone bar Gunnar Nilsson into the pits.[2] With Mass leading from Nilsson and Hunt, it was now a question as to whether McLaren would swap their drivers around and upset the 250,000 strong crowd, or lose three points in the Championship hunt.[2]

Ultimately this issue would become trivial, for a huge accident at Adenau Bridge brought the entire race to a halt.[2] The victim was a shock, for the ever precise Lauda had lost control before violently shooting across the circuit through the catch fencing.[2] The Ferrari then hit an earth bank and burst into flames, ricocheting back across the circuit into the path of Edwards, Lunger and Ertl.[2] Edwards just squeezed past before stopping at the side of the circuit, while Lunger and Ertl, completely unsighted, both slammed into the burning Lauda.[2]

Those three drivers, as well as the charging Arturo Merzario, all jumped to the Austrian's aid, Merzario taking the most direct action by pulling the Austrian clear of the flame engulfed car.[2] Lauda was left with severe facial burns and smoke inhalation, and was duly sped to Adenau Hospital before being loaded onto a helicopter and taken to Mannheim for specialist treatment.[2] The wreckage of his car, meanwhile, was dragged back to the pits along with Lunger, Ertl and Laffite's cars, all beyond repair.[2]

RestartEdit

It was just after 3:00pm local time when the field was sent to form up on the grid, with Lauda, Lunger, Ertl and Chris Amon all missing from the order.[2] For Amon, whom had been offered a seat in the spare Ferrari, the sight of Lauda's burning car was enough to end his interest in racing on the Nordschleife, meaning he stepped out of the perfectly healthy Ensign and refused to take the restart.[2] The field was therefore down to twenty starters, for Laffite and Stuck would start from the side of the circuit after their respective issues.[2]

With the grid reset to the original starting order, gaps being left for those not taking the restart, there was little surprise that Hunt jetted straight into the lead from pole.[2] Regazzoni made another strong start, leaping to second, with the two Tyrrells and Carlos Pace sprinting off with him.[2] Carlos Reutemann had also started well only to suffer a fuel feed issue, while Stuck and Laffite only made it around the "Loop" before deciding that their cars would not make it around a full lap.[2]

The entire field was now on slick tyres despite the damp patches remaining on the circuit, a fact which would catch out Peterson as he crested the legendary Flugplatz.[2] The Swede landed back on the infamous rise with two wheels coming down on one of the few damp patches left on the Nordschleife, which subsequently pitched the March into a shattering collision with the barriers.[2] Miraculously, Peterson was able to step out of his ruined car without a single mark on him, although the #10 was virtually non-existent.[2]

Regazzoni, meanwhile, would make it as far as Bergwerk before sending himself into a spin, although this time the rear of the Ferrari would get tagged by Depailler as the Frenchman swerved to avoid him.[2] The Tyrrell was duly sent screaming into the barriers, resulting in a badly bent front end of the #4 car, but, fortunately, no injuries for the Frenchman.[2] Regazzoni, for his part, continued on having slipped further down the order.[2]

Moments earlier, Mario Andretti and Jochen Mass had come to physical blows, Mass pitched into a spin while Andretti barely prevented his Lotus from pirouetting too.[2] That allowed Scheckter to blast past the pair of them, only to have to jink around the next accident unfolding between teammate Depailler and Regazzoni.[2] Miraculously, the South African flashed past without issue, while the rest of the field made it through Bergwerk without any issue.[2]

All the turmoil of the second opening tour meant that Hunt had a huge lead over Pace and Scheckter, with Regazzoni a lonely fourth.[2] Next up was Nilsson and Brambilla, while Andretti, Jones, Mass and Pryce were equally spaced a few seconds apart.[2] The rest of the field then came charging through headed by Merzario, although the field was already down to seventeen runners.[2]

That quickly came down to sixteen, as Brambilla had his third huge accident of the weekend, this time getting to climb out his ruined car at Adenau Bridge having suffered a brake failure.[2] As he disappeared, Mass claimed sixth from Andretti, before jetting off after Nilsson, who suddenly found himself on his own.[2] Scheckter, meanwhile, had caught and passed Pace, but by the end of the second lap the South African was still over seven seconds behind the impressive Hunt out front.[2]

Pace would soon be relegated to fourth by Regazzoni as the pair started the third lap, although both were to be taken by Mass, who desperately wanted a podium at his home race.[2] Indeed, the three would run together for several laps, the Alfa Romeo F12 seeming more than capable of fighting with its Ferrari cousin or the Ford Cosworth V8, only to suffer a misfire on lap nine.[2] That allowed Mass to shoot past and attack Regazzoni, pressure that ultimately paid on lap twelve when the Swiss racer spun on the Karussell.[2]

As Regazzoni limped around to have his now damaged nose replaced the race was all but over, for Hunt and Scheckter were almost thirty seconds apart, while Mass was screaming away from the spluttering Pace.[2] The Swiss would rejoin down in ninth and hence promote Rolf Stommelen into the points, a rather miraculous turn of events given that the German's original car had been impounded on Friday evening.[2] Elsewhere, Andretti and Nilsson had a fair scrap until the American had to pit to have his battery strapped back in place, while Merzario disappeared with a suspected brake failure.[2]

With that the race was run, with Hunt duly sweeping home to record an almost hollow victory given the circumstances of his major rival.[2] Scheckter cruised home second with fastest lap, while Mass was happy enough with third, almost a minute behind his teammate.[2] Pace's misfire cleared up towards the end of the race allowing him to catch back up to the German, but ultimately fell shy of the McLaren, while Nilsson and Stommelen completed the point scorers.[2]

As for Lauda, the Austrian underwent emergency surgery in Mannheim before beginning his intense treatment course, while his Ferrari was closely examined in the paddock.[2] Rumours of a loose wheel were quickly ruled out, with the ultimate cause found to be a rear-right suspension failure, which had effectively pitched the Austrian into a right handed spin, despite turning left.[2]

ResultsEdit

The results for the 1976 German Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 11 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 14 1:41:42.7 1 9
2 3 South Africa Jody Scheckter United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 14 +27.7s 8 6
3 12 West Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 14 +52.4s 9 4
4 8 Brazil Carlos Pace United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 14 +54.2s 7 3
5 6 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 14 +1:57.3 16 2
6 77 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 14 +2:30.3 15 1
7 28 United Kingdom John Watson United States Penske-Ford Cosworth 14 +2:33.9 19
8 16 United Kingdom Tom Pryce United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 14 +2:48.2 18
9 2 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni Italy Ferrari 14 +3:46.0 5
10 19 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 14 +3:47.3 14
11 17 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 14 +4:51.7 23
12 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 14 +4:58.1 12
13 30 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 14 +5:25.2 20
14 40 Italy Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi Italy Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 13 +1 Lap 26
15 25 United Kingdom Guy Edwards United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 13 +1 Lap 25
Ret 20 Italy Arturo Merzario Canada Wolf-Williams-Ford Cosworth 3 Brakes 21
Ret 9 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 1 Accident 13
Ret 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 3
Ret 7 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 0 Fuel system 10
Ret 10 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 11
Ret 34 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 0 Clutch 4
Ret 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 0 Gearbox 6
WD* 22 New Zealand Chris Amon United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 0 Withdrawn 17
Ret 1 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Ferrari 0 Accident 2
Ret 18 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 24
Ret 24 Austria Harald Ertl United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 22
DNQ 33 Italy Lella Lombardi United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 38 France Henri Pescarolo United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth
WD 32 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth
WD 39 Australia Larry Perkins Netherlands Boro-Ford Cosworth
WD 41 United Kingdom Mike Wilds United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth
Source:[5]
  • * Amon withdrew from the race before the restart.
  • Lauda, Lunger and Ertl all retired on the second lap of the original start.
  • Lombardi and Stommelen had their RAM Racing cars impounded by the police.

MilestonesEdit

StandingsEdit

With Niki Lauda left fighting for his life in hospital the Championship was suddenly blown wide open, with at least three drivers in position to hunt down Lauda's colossal lead. Race winner James Hunt was arguably the favourite in the pack, sat on 44 points, although with nine of those points about to be lost when the Brit was retroactively excluded from the British Grand Prix. That meant that Jody Scheckter led the chase with 36 points, some 25 behind Lauda, while Patrick Depailler was the dark horse, a further ten points back.

Furthermore the International Cup for Manufacturers fight was reignited after the infamous visit to the Nordschleife, for Lauda was Ferrari's biggest asset. Without him, their 15 point lead suddenly looked vulnerable, with Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth their closest challengers. McLaren-Ford Cosworth were also a serious threat, nine points back, with Ligier-Matra and Penske-Ford Cosworth completing the top five but out of the fight.

Drivers' World Championship*
Pos. Driver Pts +/-
1 Austria Niki Lauda 61
2 South Africa Jody Scheckter 36
3 United Kingdom James Hunt 35
4 France Patrick Depailler 26
5 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni 16
6 West Germany Jochen Mass 14 ▲2
7 United Kingdom John Watson 10 ▼1
8 France Jacques Laffite 10 ▼1
9 United Kingdom Tom Pryce 7
10 Brazil Carlos Pace 7 ▲2
11 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck 6 ▼1
12 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson 6 ▼1
13 Australia Alan Jones 4
14 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 3
15 United States Mario Andretti 3
16 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 3
17 New Zealand Chris Amon 2
18 West Germany Rolf Stommelen 1 ▲13
International Cup for Manufacturers*
Pos. Team Pts +/-
1 Italy Ferrari 64
2 United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 49
3 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 40 (41)
4 France Ligier-Matra 10
5 United States Penske-Ford Cosworth 10
6 United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 9 ▲3
7 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 8
8 United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 7 ▼2
9 United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 6 ▼1
10 United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 4
11 Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 3
12 United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 2
13 United States Parnelli-Ford Cosworth 1
  • * Corrected to show points after Hunt's disqualification from the British Grand Prix, confirmed on the 25 September.

ReferencesEdit

Images and Videos:

References:

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: GERMAN GP, 1976', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr274.html, (Accessed 06/03/2018)
  2. 2.000 2.001 2.002 2.003 2.004 2.005 2.006 2.007 2.008 2.009 2.010 2.011 2.012 2.013 2.014 2.015 2.016 2.017 2.018 2.019 2.020 2.021 2.022 2.023 2.024 2.025 2.026 2.027 2.028 2.029 2.030 2.031 2.032 2.033 2.034 2.035 2.036 2.037 2.038 2.039 2.040 2.041 2.042 2.043 2.044 2.045 2.046 2.047 2.048 2.049 2.050 2.051 2.052 2.053 2.054 2.055 2.056 2.057 2.058 2.059 2.060 2.061 2.062 2.063 2.064 2.065 2.066 2.067 2.068 2.069 2.070 2.071 2.072 2.073 2.074 2.075 2.076 2.077 2.078 2.079 2.080 2.081 2.082 2.083 2.084 2.085 2.086 2.087 2.088 2.089 2.090 2.091 2.092 2.093 2.094 2.095 2.096 2.097 2.098 2.099 2.100 2.101 2.102 2.103 2.104 2.105 2.106 2.107 2.108 2.109 2.110 2.111 2.112 2.113 D.S.J., 'The German Grand Prix: An Englishman Wins', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/09/1976), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/september-1976/34/german-grand-prix , (Accessed 06/03/2018)
  3. 'Germany 1976: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1976/allemagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 06/03/2018)
  4. 'Germany 1976: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1976/allemagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 08/03/2018)
  5. 'Germany 1976: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1976/allemagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 08/03/2018)
V T E 1976 Formula One Season
Constructors Boro • Brabham • BRM • Ensign • Ferrari • Fittipaldi • Hesketh • Kojima • Lotus • Maki • March • McLaren • Parnelli • Penske • Shadow • Surtees • Tyrrell • Wolf-Williams
Engines Alfa Romeo • BRM • Ferrari • Ford Cosworth
Drivers by number Lauda • 2 Regazzoni • 35 Reutemann • 3 J. Scheckter • 4 Depailler • 5 Peterson • 5 Evans • 5/6 Andretti • 6 Nilsson • 7 Reutemann • 7/77 Stommelen • 7 Perkins • 8 Pace • 9 Brambilla • 10 Lombardi • 10 Peterson • 34 Stuck • 35 Merzario • 11 Hunt • 12 Mass • 13 Galica • 14 Ashley • 15 I. Scheckter • 16 Pryce • 17 Jarier • 18 Lunger • 18 Andersson • 18 Takahara • 19 Jones • 20 Ickx • 20 Merzario • 21 Zorzi • 21 Leclère • 21 Amon • 21 Brown • 21 Binder • 21 Kuwashima • 22 Amon • 22 Nève • 22 Binder • 22 Ickx • 24 Ertl • 25 Edwards • 25 Stommelen • 25 Ribeiro • 25 Zapico • 26 Laffite • 27 Andretti • 28 Watson • 30 Fittipaldi • 31 Hoffmann • 32 Kessel • 32 Evans • 33 De Villota • 33 Nève • 33 Nellemann • 33 Magee • 33 Lombardi • 37/40 Perkins • 37/39/40 Pesenti-Rossi • 38 Pescarolo • 39 Hayje • 39 Stuppacher • 40 Wilds • 51 Hasemi • 52 Hoshino • 54 Trimmer
Drivers alphabetically Amon • Andersson • Andretti • Ashley • Binder • Brambilla • Brown • Depailler • Edwards • Ertl • Evans • Fittipaldi • Galica • Hasemi • Hayje • Hoffmann • Hoshino • Hunt • Ickx • Jarier • Jones • Kessel • Kuwashima • Laffite • Lauda • Leclère • Lombardi • Lunger • Magee • Mass • Merzario • Nellemann • Nève • Nilsson • Pace • Perkins • Pescarolo • Pesenti-Rossi • Peterson • Pryce • Regazzoni • Reutemann • Ribeiro • I. Scheckter • J. Scheckter • Stommelen • Stuck • Stuppacher • Takahara • Trimmer • De Villota • Watson • Wilds • Zapico • Zorzi
Cars Boro 001 • Brabham BT44B • Brabham BT45 • BRM P201B • Ensign N174 • Ensign N176 • Ferrari 312T • Ferrari 312T2 • Fittipaldi FD03 • Fittipaldi FD04 • Hesketh 308D • Kojima KE007 • Ligier JS5 • Lotus 77 • Maki F102A • March 761 • McLaren M23 • McLaren M26 • Parnelli VPJ4B • Penske PC3 • Penske PC4 • Shadow DN3 • Shadow DN5B • Shadow DN8 • Surtees TS16 • Surtees TS19 • Tyrrell 007 • Tyrrell P34 • Williams FW04 • Williams FW05
Tyres Goodyear • Dunlop • Bridgestone
Races Brazil • South Africa • U.S. West • Spain • Belgium • Monaco • Sweden • France • Britain • Germany • Austria • Netherlands • Italy • Canada • United States • Japan
Non-championship Races Race of Champions • International Trophy
See also 1975 Formula One Season • 1977 Formula One Season • Category
V T E Germany German Grand Prix
Circuits Nürburgring (1951–1954, 1956–1958, 1960–1969, 1970–1976, 1985, 2007–2013*), AVUS (1959), Hockenheimring (1970, 1977–1984, 1986–2006, 2007–2014*, 2016, 2018–2019)
Nurburgring2002
Hockenheimring2002
Races 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 •
* Nürburgring and Hockenheimring alternated between each other during these years.
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