The 1976 Monaco Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the XXXIV Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco, was the sixth round of the 1976 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Circuit de Monaco on the 30 May 1976. The race would see the six-wheeled Tyrrell P34 claim its first podium finish as a series of accidents and failures shuffled the order.
Qualifying had seen Patrick Depailler qualify the #4 P34 in fourth for a third straight race, as Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni shared the front row for Ferrari. Ronnie Peterson squeezed his March into third, while Depailler's teammate Jody Scheckter qualified in fifth.
Amid fears that the Monaco Grand Prix would be another Ferrari benefit, there was a surprise at the start as Peterson surged past Regazzoni into Sainte Devote to claim second behind Lauda. The rest of the field would manage to squeeze through the first corner without issue, until Carlos Reutemann and Alan Jones bounced off each other to terminally damage their cars.
Lauda would inch clear of the pack during the opening laps, with no major changes to the order coming until lap fifteen, when Scheckter dived past teammate Depailler for fourth. Elsewhere, James Hunt, battling up from the back of the field after issues in qualifying, would send himself into a spin at Tabac, dropping him right out of contention.
Yet, despite being out of the fight for victory, Hunt would still play a crucial part in deciding the podium, as it was his engine failure on lap 25 that dumped oil over the circuit at the harbour front chicane. Regazzoni came across the slick and spun out of third, rejoining behind the two Tyrrells, before Peterson slammed into the barriers after hitting the slick a lap later.
This left Lauda with a huge lead out front, meaning he could cruise for the rest of the afternoon, while Depailler dropped back from teammate Scheckter after picking up suspension damage. The limping Tyrrell gave Regazzoni renewed hope of a podium finish, with the Swiss racer duly blasting past fifteen laps from the finish. Yet, the #2 Ferrari was not destined to see the chequered flag, as Regazzoni sent himself sliding into the barriers five laps from the finish.
With that the race was run, with Lauda cruising home to record his fourth confirmed victory of the season, ahead of a double Tyrrell podium. Hans-Joachim Stuck had a quiet drive to fourth ahead of Jochen Mass, while double World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi claimed a rare point for Fittipaldi with sixth.
The annual trip to the increasingly ridiculous Circuit de Monaco in the heart of Monte Carlo came at the end of May in 1976, with the little Monegasque circuit once again being modified to cope with the latest Grand Prix machinery. The changes included the addition of a huge kerb at Sainte Devote, protecting a traffic island that had been installed on the infamous corner, which would force drivers to slow even more to make it around Monaco's opening corner. The other change came at the end of the circuit, with the final corner re-profiled and effectively narrowed to slow the cars onto the start/finish straight. This was also lined with the new high-side FIA kerbs, prompting some to question whether a Grand Prix car could make it around the circuit at all.
Into a somewhat reduced entry list and the CSI and FIA's decision to limit the grid allocation to just twenty starters meant several teams and drivers opted not to attend. As such the new RAM Racing privateer squad opted not to attend, while Ensign, Hesketh and Fittipaldi reduced their compliment to just a single entry. The would field Chris Amon Harald Ertl and Emerson Fittipaldi respectively.
Another team down to a single entry were Lotus, who could only field Gunnar Nilsson after Mario Andretti's late call to race in the Indy 500, set to be held on the same day. Surtees were likewise down to a single car in Monte Carlo for Alan Jones, although this was because their older car, previously used by Brett Lunger had been sold. The buyer of the new car would be British privateers Team Norev with B&S Fabrications, who entered veteran racer Henri Pescarolo in hopes of causing an upset.
Into the unchanged entry list and pre-race favourites Ferrari were looking as strong as ever, having upgraded their spare car to 1976-spec. They would field defending Champion Niki Lauda and Clay Regazzoni once again, with the Austrian looking set to defend his crown having dominated the season to that point. The only question was whether their F12 engines would enjoy the same advantage they had had over the legion of Ford Cosworth V8s with the reduction of the Monaco circuit's fastest section.
Tyrrell, meanwhile, arrived as the dark horses for victory in Monaco, as their new P34s had demonstrated incredible front end grip with their quartet of front tyres. Both Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler would use the cars again, the former getting a brand new chassis after a major problem was found on the original P34. The team also brought along two of their old 007s to ensure that their drivers would start the race should they manage to qualify.
Elsewhere, McLaren arrived still concerned about team leader James Hunt's Hewland gearbox, which had caused him so may problems in Zolder. Regardless, both the Brit and teammate Jochen Mass were entered for the Monaco race, and expected to challenge for the podium at the very least. The team were also distracted by their wait to make their appeal to the FIA regarding Hunt's disqualification from the Spanish Grand Prix.
Over at March the philosophy of quantity over quality ensured that they had four race ready cars entered in Monte Carlo, with Vittorio Brambilla, Ronnie Peterson, Hans-Joachim Stuck and Arturo Merzario all entered by the British squad. Shadow, meanwhile, were hoping for better things from Tom Pryce and Jean-Pierre Jarier, who were both struggling with the now lacking DN5B. Completing the Cosworth contingent would be the two Wolf-Williams entries of Jacky Ickx and Michel Leclère, while John Watson was once again entered by Penske.
Rounding out the entry list would be the other two non-Cosworth powered teams, Brabham-Alfa Romeo and Ligier-Matra. For Brabham, Monaco heralded another difficult weekend, with both Carlos Reutemann and Carlos Pace pesimistic that the Alfa F12 would last a full distance bouncing off the kerbs. In contrast, the full-French Ligier-Matra effort behind Jacques Laffite were relishing the chance to perform in Monte Carlo, having looked increasingly competitive since their debut at the start of the season.
Into the Championship and a third victory of an incredibly consistent start to the season had ensured that Lauda extended his Championship lead in Belgium, the Austrian's tally now standing at 42 points (before correction). Regazzoni had moved up the second after backing his teammate across the weekend, while Hunt was registered in seventh before his Spanish exclusion was lifted. Depailler and Mass completed the top five, while Jones had become the seventeenth different scorer of 1976 with his fifth place finish.
After a second one-two of the season, Ferrari were in a daunting position atop the International Cup for Manufacturers' standings, leaving Zolder with 42 points to their name. McLaren-Ford Cosworth were their closest challengers once Hunt had been reinstated, while Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth retained third, but both were over 20 points behind. Ligier-Matra, meanwhile, were up to fourth in their first season, pushing Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth and Shadow-Ford Cosworth down the order.
The full entry list for the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix is outlined below:
In an attempt to move to a more conventional weekend layout, the FIA and organisers in Monte Carlo decided to drop any running on Friday, meaning teams would only have to run their cars on Thursday and Saturday for practice/qualifying. Otherwise the revised schedule would follow the new-for-1976 pattern, with three "timed" sessions along with an "untimed" session, set for Saturday morning, allowing teams to complete some race simulation running without compromising their qualifying position. As for a target time the various revisions to the Circuit de Monaco made it unlikely that anyone would beat Niki Lauda's 1974 circuit record of 1:26.30s.
Despite the concerns about the potential damage to be suffered from striking one of the new kerbs, there would be a fair number of drivers who went out onto the circuit on full attack on Thursday morning. As such most of the drivers would suffer some form of minor suspension trouble before the lunch break, although there would be no complete collapses. Indeed, the only major incidents of the morning session would involve some over ambitious moves.
The first would see Gunnar Nilsson make a mess of an overtake on Clay Regazzoni on the harbour-front, leaving both with heavy damage. The Swede was relatively happy to take the blame, but was frustrated to find that the Lotus squad had no spares, although team boss Colin Chapman was not impressed with the rookie's costly mistake. Regazzoni, meanwhile, was able to get back to the Ferrari pits and take over the spare 312T2.
The other incident came at the end of the session, with Vittorio Brambilla completely messing up his braking into Sainte Devote and so sent himself vaulting over the new kerb. Miraculously, the Italian managed to miss the back of Jody Scheckter's Tyrrell, with the South African racer just leaving the apex of the corner as the Italian came charging in. The flying March was left with heavy front end damage, and effectively ended any quick running as Brambilla took out several sandbags during his take-off, which duly dumped their contents over the circuit.
The Brambilla incident meant that no one could topple Patrick Depailler at the top of the standings, the Frenchman recording a 1:31.03 in the six-wheeled Tyrrell P34. Teammate Scheckter was second fastest, half a second behind but suggesting that the P34's four front tyres were the key to their pace, with Niki Lauda third fastest for Ferrari. Those three were the only drivers to record a time below 1:32.00s, with the majority of the field in the 1:33.00s.
After the Thursday lunch break, which saw some much needed track cleaning, there would be another hour of timed practice, although this time with rather more kerb complaints. Indeed, the rough riding would be enough to damage second gear on Depailler's car, meaning he was unable to hold on to provisional pole come sessions end. Lauda duly took the position by recording a 1:30.38 before the end of the day, while Scheckter retained second after a less eventful session.
Elsewhere, James Hunt moved up the order having had a difficult morning, although he was still outside of the top six. Indeed, the man who would have stolen the show, had it not been for Lauda and Scheckter's pace, proved to be Chris Amon, who pushed the little Ensign around to be the best non-Ferrari or Tyrrell driver on Thursday. Elsewhere, neither Nilsson nor Brambilla would run in the afternoon, leaving the latter in the quintet set to miss out on a starting spot.
After a day of rest and repairs running got back underway on Saturday morning, with the "untimed" session lasting for an hour and a half. This, however, would be a major issue come the end of the session, as Arturo Merzario crashed heavily on the run to Massanet after a suspension failure. The Italian veteran escaped uninjured, but his ruined March left Merzario out of action for the rest of the weekend.
His accident cause more mumblings about the kerbs ahead of the final session, prompting Lauda to ignore their presence entirely. Indeed, an inch-perfect lap from the Austrian, which saw him avoid every suspension eating kerb, would see Lauda record the fastest time of the weekend, a 1:29.65. It was a stunning lap that ensured that the Austrian claimed the twentieth pole of his career, with teammate Regazzoni the only other man in the sub-1:30.00s.
Elsewhere there would be a shock as Ronnie Peterson claimed third on the grid, a 1:30.08 leaving the Swede in an unexpected position for March. As the Swede flew, Hunt was struggling with gearbox troubles, meaning he had to abort a series of quick laps as his gearbox kept getting jammed in gear. Nilsson was another battling with gearbox troubles, although the Swede was able to adapt to the his issue of his Lotus throwing itself out of second gear.
Indeed, Nilsson was able to fight his issues enough to make the grade for the grid, relegating Jacky Ickx mid-way through the session. In truth, the likely fallers had been identified early on Thursday, with Ickx, Henri Pesacarolo, Larry Perkins, Harald Ertl and the aforementioned Merzario all missing out on a grid slot. Their failures also meant it was a narrow escape for Carlos Reutemann, whose Brabham-Alfa Romeo was struggling to breath around the city streets.
The full qualifying results for the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3||10||Ronnie Peterson||March-Ford Cosworth||1:33.40||1:33.95||1:30.08||+0.43s|
|4||4||Patrick Depailler||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:31.03||1:31.55||1:30.33||+0.68s|
|5||3||Jody Scheckter||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:31.67||1:30.58||1:30.55||+0.90s|
|6||34||Hans-Joachim Stuck||March-Ford Cosworth||1:32.64||1:32.32||1:30.60||+0.95s|
|7||30||Emerson Fittipaldi||Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth||1:34.84||1:32.96||1:31.39||+1.74s|
|9||9||Vittorio Brambilla||March-Ford Cosworth||1:32.56||—||1:31.47||+1.82s|
|10||17||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:33.57||1:32.91||1:31.65||+2.00s|
|11||12||Jochen Mass||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:34.71||1:33.40||1:31.67||+2.02s|
|12||22||Chris Amon||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||1:38.78||1:31.75||—||+2.10s|
|13||8||Carlos Pace||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||1:33.04||1:32.20||1:31.81||+2.16s|
|14||11||James Hunt||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:33.62||1:31.88||1:31.89||+2.23s|
|15||16||Tom Pryce||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:33.36||1:33.15||1:31.98||+2.33s|
|16||6||Gunnar Nilsson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:34.50||—||1:32.10||+2.45s|
|17||28||John Watson||Penske-Ford Cosworth||1:35.26||1:33.73||1:32.14||+2.49s|
|18||21||Michel Leclère||Wolf-Williams-Ford Cosworth||1:35.49||1:33.48||1:32.17||+2.52s|
|19||19||Alan Jones||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:35.87||1:33.39||1:32.33||+2.68s|
|20||7||Carlos Reutemann||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||1:33.79||1:32.43||—||+2.78s|
|DNQ||20||Jacky Ickx||Wolf-Williams-Ford Cosworth||1:34.34||1:33.93||1:32.74||+3.09s|
|DNQ||38||Henri Pescarolo||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:35.28||1:34.87||1:32.82||+3.17s|
|DNQ||37||Larry Perkins||Boro-Ford Cosworth||1:37.90||1:37.66||1:33.73||+4.08s|
|DNQ||24||Harald Ertl||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:37.19||1:34.42||1:33.93||+4.28s|
|DNQ||35||Arturo Merzario||March-Ford Cosworth||1:38.41||1:35.17||—||+5.52s|
|WD||5||Mario Andretti||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
A relatively late start time of 3:30pm meant that there was a rather relaxed atmosphere ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, with bright sunshine ensuring a pleasant afternoon on the Mediterranean coast. Morning warm-up came and went without major issue, before a Formula Renault race and the annual parade of classic cars took to the circuit. Prince Rainier then toured the track ahead of the warm-up lap, with the grid forming in the now common staggered formation to await the change of the starter's lights.
As soon as the lights turned from red to green there was a scarlet blur leading the field into Sainte Devote, with Niki Lauda duly surging into the lead from pole. His quick launch allowed Ronnie Peterson to pull past Clay Regazzoni on the short run into the opening corner, with the rest of the field filtering through the narrowed right hander. Indeed it seemed as if everyone had got through unharmed, until Carlos Reutemann and Alan Jones tangled on the apex, eliminating both.
Fortunately Reutemann and Jones would escape uninjured, the Argentine pulling off on the exit of the corner, while Jones limped back to the pits to retire the Surtees. The rest of the field, meanwhile, managed to make it around the opening tour without issue, meaning it was still Lauda leading from Peterson, Regazzoni, Patrick Depailler, Jody Scheckter and Emerson Fittipaldi across the line. Indeed, such was the nature of the Circuit de Monaco that there would be no changes to the order in the following laps, although Lauda was opening up his lead by an impressive amount each lap.
By lap six there was a clear pattern dictating the order at the front, with Lauda still pulling clear of Peterson in second through the use of his calm, clean driving style. Peterson, meanwhile, was being his old aggressive self to keep Regazzoni, Depailler and Scheckter at bay, as the second placed peloton pulled clear of Fittipaldi, whose Brazilian built creation simply lacked their pace. Indeed the ex-double Champion's lack of speed had cause a queue to form behind him for sixth, with Hans-Joachim Stuck and Vittorio Brambilla sandwiching Jacques Laffite in the Ligier-Matra.
Behind that group came the two McLarens of Jochen Mass and James Hunt, closely followed by Jean-Pierre Jarier and Carlos Pace, while Chris Amon, racing with an injured wrist a few seconds back. Tom Pryce was next in the second Shadow, scrapping with Gunnar Nilsson, John Watson and Michel Leclère completing the field. With so little room to manoeuvre around Monte Carlo the order would remain unchanged for the next few laps, with the only revisions coming in the size of the gaps appearing between each group.
Indeed it would take until lap eight for some action to finally arrive on the Mediterranean coast, as Hunt sent himself sliding up the escape road at the harbour front chicane. He rejoined at the back of the field having had to turn his McLaren around, although he would soon move up the order when one of the Marches suffered a suspension failure. The victim of the, somewhat predictable, failure would be Brambilla, who suddenly found himself completely out of control at Rascasse. He pulled off to the side as soon as he could, discovering that the entire rear suspension had collapsed.
Hunt would also be the only man to make an overtake in the first phase of the race, elbowing his way past Leclère, but only after the Frenchman had held him up for several laps. The Brit was then caught behind Ulsterman Watson in the Penske, immediately halting his progress as, well ahead, the two Tyrrells swapped positions. The cause of this change seemed to be the fact that Depailler's suspension was slowly failing, the Frenchman's right-rear wheel increasingly showing a negative camber angle race wore on.
After that the race settle down again, with Lauda now easing his pace out front, while Hunt's challenge on Watson at the back began to find. Ultimately the Brit's lack of pace was a sign of a terminal issue as, on lap 25, the Ford Cosworth engine strapped to the back of the McLaren blew-up at the chicane, dumping oil across the circuit. Next on the scene was Lauda, who just manage to tip-toe through the slick, before Regazzoni came charging in behind Peterson and slid up the slip-road.
Regazzoni would rejoin well behind the two Tyrrells, who now found themselves glued to the back of Peterson. This stayed the same for three laps, until the Swede dropped the #10 March at the new Tabac corner, blaming the Hunt slick. Regardless of whether this was true or not, the rest of the field carried on as Peterson climbed out of his car, leaving Lauda leading from Scheckter, Depailler and Regazzoni.
Unfortunately the race would settle to a monotonous rhythm once again, although this soon changed when Lauda came to lap Pace, who had found himself at the back of a five car scrap to get into the top ten. This intense fight could have put his sixteen second advantage in jeopardy, but the Austrian managed to scythe through the quintet in a little over three laps, well before Scheckter caught the group. Elsewhere, Stuck and Mass managed to elbow Fittipaldi out of the points, swapping positions as they did so.
Half distance flashed past with little other change, although Amon was seen cruising at the back of the field, the pain in his wrist making it near impossible to change gear. The Kiwi had tried to use his left-hand to change for a time, reaching across the cockpit to do so, but several minor moments turned into near catastrophic accidents, and so Amon opted to simply cruise at use as few gears as possible to make it to the flag. Elsewhere, Nilsson's engine quietly failed in the back of the lone Lotus, while Regazzoni was inching onto the back of Depailler in the wounded Tyrrell.
Clouds began to gather over the Principality as the race entered its final quarter, with a few spots of rain hitting the tarmac as Regazzoni surged past Depailler's limping Tyrrell with fifteen laps to go. Behind, Laffite was defending resolutely from Stuck until a gear broke on the Ligier, gifting the German fifth place moments before they were both lapped by Lauda. There were to more changes as the few rain drops in the air affect individual driver's heads, with Jarier easing up having seen rain hit his visor, allowing teammate Pryce to sprint past.
With seven laps to go Regazzoni caught onto the back of Scheckter, determined to make it a Ferrari one-two, with Depailler in the second Tyrrell now well off the pace, simply hoping to finish. Several failed attempts from Regazzoni saw him try an ambitious move around Scheckter into the Swimming Pool section with four laps to go, only for the Ferrari to suddenly dart sideways. The half-spin put the nose of the #2 car into the Armco, ripping off the front end to leave Regazzoni out of the race, leaving Scheckter a clear second and putting Depailler back onto the podium.
Elsewhere, Laffite went for a pirouette as a slow puncture became a full-on tyre failure, although whether the Frenchman could limp around to the finish would remain a mystery. The reason for this was the fact that Mass clattered into the Ligier as Laffite rejoined, punting the "teapot" into the barriers at the chicane, smashing the right front wheel. Laffite was therefore out as well, promoting Fittipaldi back into the points.
With that the race was run, Lauda duly cruising home a few minutes later to claim another dominant victory for Ferrari. Scheckter came home second, eleven seconds back, while Depailler limped home as the last man on the lead lap for third. Stuck survived long enough for fourth ahead of Mass, whose McLaren was scarred by its late contact with Laffite, while Fittipaldi did just enough to keep Pryce at bay for sixth.
The full results for the 1976 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Laffite and Regazzoni were still classified despite retiring as they had completed 90% of the race distance.
- 200th Grand Prix start for Lotus as a constructor.
- Niki Lauda claimed his twentieth pole position.
- Eleventh victory for Lauda.
- Ferrari earned their 63rd triumph as a constructor and engine supplier.
- Jody Scheckter finished on the podium for the tenth time.
- The Tyrrell P34 became the first six-wheeled car to finish on the podium at a World Championship Grand Prix.
Victory ensured that Niki Lauda, regardless of whether James Hunt was reinstated as the winner of the Spanish Grand Prix, had total command of the World Championship, leaving Monte Carlo with a 33 point lead. Teammate Clay Regazzoni remained in second, level with Hunt on fifteen points if the Brit had his score corrected to include his Spanish victory. Patrick Depailler and Jody Scheckter completed the top five, now level on fourteen points.
Ferrari continued to dominate the International Cup for Manufacturers, their fifth confirmed victory in six races handing them a 29 point lead. Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth had moved to second after their double podium, with McLaren-Ford Cosworth dropping to third after lead driver Hunt's miserable weekend. Ligier-Matra remained in fourth, while March-Ford Cosworth moved into the top five, ahead of Shadow-Ford Cosworth and Lotus-Ford Cosworth.
- * Corrected to show points after Hunt was reinstated as the winner of the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: MONACO GP, 1976', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr270.html, (Accessed 08/02/2018)
- D.S.J., 'The 34th Monaco Grand Prix: Lauda wins for Ferrari', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/07/1976) https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/july-1976/49/34th-monaco-grand-prix-lauda-wins-ferrari, (Accessed 08/02/2018)
- 'Monaco 1976: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1976/monaco/engages.aspx, (Accessed 12/02/2018)
- 'Monaco 1976: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1976/monaco/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 09/02/2018)
- 'Monaco 1976: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1976/monaco/classement.aspx, (Accessed 12/02/2018)
|V T E||Monaco Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Circuit de Monaco (1929–present)|
|Races||1950 • 1951–1954 • 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 • |
|Non-F1 races||1929 • 1930 • 1931 • 1932 • 1933 • 1934 • 1935 • 1936 • 1937 • 1948|
|v·d·e||Nominate this page for Featured Article|