The 1977 British Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the XXX John Player British Grand Prix or the 1977 European Grand Prix, was the tenth round of the 1977 FIA Formula One World Championship, held on 16 July, 1977 at Silverstone. The race would be remembered for an excellent battling display from victor James Hunt, on a day which saw debuts for Renault and the legendary Gilles Villeneuve.
The large number of privateer entrants for the British Grand Prix meant that there would be a pre-qualifying session held, with the fourteen lowest drivers in the Championship fighting for five places in qualifying. The two sessions would see huge accidents for Mikko Kozarowitzky and David Purley, as Villeneuve, Patrick Tambay, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Brett Lunger and Brian Henton all going through.
Into qualifying proper, which would also feature Arturo Merzario, Emilio de Villota and Patrick Nève from the pre-qualifing session, and James Hunt secured his first pole since the start of the season. He elbowed fellow Brit John Watson for the honour, while Niki Lauda edged out Jody Scheckter on the second row.
However, Hunt's strong qualifying performance would be belayed by a poor start, allowing Watson, Lauda and Scheckter to streak ahead before Hunt sorted himself out. Next up were the two Loti of Gunnar Nilsson and Mario Andretti, with the rest of the field following them through.
It took three laps for Hunt to get back into the top three, elbowing his way past Scheckter as Andretti passed Nilsson. Elsewhere Hunt's new teammate Villeneuve headed into the pits with his debut seemingly over with an overheating engine, only for the team to find that the temperature gauge was at fault. The young Canadian was therefore sent streaking out of the pits at the back of the field.
It took another twenty laps for Hunt to muscle his way past arch-rival Lauda, before sprinting away from the Austrian to hunt down race leader Watson. It took a few laps before the McLaren pulled under the wing of the Brabham-Alfa Romeo, although try as he might, the Englishman could not find a way past the Ulsterman.
Yet, the Alfa F12 powering Watson's car was having trouble with its fuel system, and for the second race in a row it would cost Watson a victory. Indeed, the #7 Brabham went skating into the pits at the end of lap 50 for a top up, handing Hunt the lead. He duly ran off to claim victory, while Watson rejoined well outside the points.
With that the race was run, with Hunt winning from Lauda, while Nilsson benefited from misfortune elsewhere to claim a podium spot. Jochen Mass was next in his McLaren ahead of Hans-Joachim Stuck, with Jacques Laffite completing the points.
The race would also be the last "European Grand Prix" to be staged as an honorific title, having been awarded to the event to mark Queen Elizabeth's silver jubilee.
It was the turn of Silverstone to host the British Grand Prix in 1977, with the Northamptonshire circuit unchanged from F1's most recent visit in 1975. Indeed, the only significant change to the circuit would come in the form of an extra layer of catch fencing at strategic points, which was expected to stop the latest generation of cars from hitting the outside walls. Their installation was made all the more important with the release of the huge 40 driver entry list ahead of the race.
The sudden increase in entries was the result of a fresh wave of privateers based at Silverstone, all using year old cars, with either major or minor modifications. Such was the demand for entry, that the R.A.C., organisers of the British Grand Prix, decided to hold a pre-qualifying session, before the race meeting was set to officially begin, on Wednesday, the 13th July. This session would feature all entries not listed as members of the Formula One Constructors Association, meaning there were seventeen drivers vying for five spots in the main show.
The biggest name on that pre-qualifiers list would be former Champions BRM, whom had fallen so far from their former heights that their spot among the elite had been given to new manufacturers Renault. The British firm would therefore have to field Guy Edwards earlier in the weekend than expected, while new boys Renault were virtually guarenteed a spot on the grid. Both cars were rather unique, the BRM hanging onto old F1 design regarding its V12 engine, while the new Renault RS01, with Jean-Pierre Jabouille at the wheel, aimed to become the first car to race in the World Championship with a turbocharged V6.
Another old face among the pre-qualifiers would be Jean-Pierre Jarier and the ex-factory Penske, for its German owners ATS lacked F.O.C.A. membership. Likewise, the second Ensign entry for F2 star Patrick Tambay had been officially entered by privateers Theodore Racing, meaning the Frenchman would have to make it through pre-qualifying too. Another intriguing entry would be a third factory McLaren which would have to make it through the early torture, with another promising youth Gilles Villeneuve at the wheel.
Elsewhere, the four privately entered Marches of Williams Grand Prix Engineering, RAM Racing and Team Merzario would have to fight to proceed, despite all featuring in previous races. Of these, Patrick Nève and Arturo Merzario (Williams and Merzario respectively) were expected to make the cut, while Mikko Kozarowitzky and debutante Andy Sutcliffe were likely to miss out. More ex-factory cars appeared in the form of two privately entered McLarens for Brett Lunger and Emilio de Villota, while the third Hesketh was initially entered for Héctor Rebaque once again.
Completing the pre-qualifiers list would be a variety of modified creations, the most distinct of which would be the LEC of David Purley, rebuilt after his accident in France. Also in action would be Brian McGuire in his McGuire BM1, a heavily revised, but unspectacular, version of a FW04. Tony Trimmer then completed the entry with his Surtees, while David Prophet was reported to have entered a car but failed to appear. Another entry would be Endurance specialist Derek Bell in his customised Penske PC3, although the Brit's entry was rejected during the scrutineering session before pre-qualifying.
Into the F.O.C.A. approved entry list and it was business as usual for the top teams, although McLaren had finally got around to building a second M26. The new car was handed to defending Champion James Hunt, while teammate Jochen Mass inherited the older M26 which Hunt had been using in previous rounds. Mass' old M23 became the team's spare, while Villeneuve would use Hunt's M23 from 1976 with several minor updates.
Lotus were keen to get on with things and had tested at Silverstone a week before the race weekend, bringing along two new 78s for Mario Andretti and Gunnar Nilsson. Brabham-Alfa Romeo had been equally busy, likewise testing new equipment in Northamptonshire for their pairing of John Watson and Hans-Joachim Stuck. In contrast, Jody Scheckter was back to using the oldest pair of Wolves after an issue with the new WR3 in France.
Ferrari had updated their design after a poor end to the start of the season, with both Niki Lauda and Carlos Reutemann getting redesigned rear-axles to improve traction and stability. Ronnie Peterson and Patrick Depailler were back to using their 1977-spec P34s, Ken Tyrrell seemingly happier with their new wide-wheelbase. The two factory Marches were as they had appeared in France, meaning Alex Ribeiro and Ian Scheckter were still waiting for the new 771, while Clay Regazzoni had his familiar Ensign on show.
Shadow were back with a new car for Riccardo Patrese to try, with Alan Jones continuing to use the car with which he had campaigned since Long Beach. Team Surtees, meanwhile, had hired Vern Schuppan to replace Larry Perkins in their #18 car, partnered by Vittorio Brambilla in the Beta Tools sponsored TS19. Indeed, the #18 car was still sporting the "durex" logos that had caused such controversy in 1976, although there were no complaints from the television crews regarding its use given the fees they had paid Bernie Ecclestone to cover the race.
Completing the entry list would be the Ligier-Matra of Jacques Laffite, as well as the lone Fittipaldi for Emerson Fittipaldi. Rupert Keegan and Harald Ertl were also entered for Hesketh, although the Austrian had a funding issue that ultimately caused him to withdraw during practice. Indeed, the Austrian's withdrawal would be music to the ears of some of the pre-qualifiers, as it opened up another spot in the field for qualifying.
Into the Championship and victory in Dijon-Prenois last time out had propelled Andretti up into second in the Championship, and just a point behind new Championship leader Lauda. Both therefore moved ahead of Jody Scheckter, whose third non-score in a row meant his Championship prospects had begun to unravel at an alarming rate. Reutemann, meanwhile, had dropped to fourth, just ahead of Nilsson, while Watson had finally breached the top ten.
Ferrari were left on 50 points after the French Grand Prix of 1977, despite both Lauda and Reutemann scoring, the result of rules regarding point scoring in 1977. As such, Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth had closed to within seven points of the Italian firm at the halfway point of the Championship, while Wolf-Ford Cosworth were paying the price for only fielding one car, slipping back in third. McLaren-Ford Cosworth and Brabham-Alfa Romeo continued their upward climbs up the order, while Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth had continued slipped away.
The full entry list for the 1977 British Grand Prix is outlined below:
According to the original schedule practice/qualifying would be staged across Thursday and Friday ahead of the Saturday race, although the advent of the pre-qualifiers meant that the meeting actually got underway on Wednesday. This session was exclusively for non-F.O.C.A. members, of whom five would get the chance to qualify for the race on Saturday. The standard practice sessions were divided up as usual, with two "timed" periods on Thursday, before Friday's running was split between an "untimed" session in the morning ahead of the third and final "timed" period.
Seventeen drivers would take part in pre-qualifying, with none of the F.O.C.A. registered teams allowed to take part, a measure to ensure that every one of the pre-qualifiers would have a fair chance. Five of these drivers would get a run in the full practice/qualifying session, with the odds for many improving when three pre-qualifiers dropped out before the start. Indeed, David Prophet would fail to arrive, as would Héctor Rebaque, while Derek Bell had his entry rejected during scrutineering.
The numbers would be further thinned by two accidents during the two sessions, the first removing Mikko Kozarowitzky early on as the Finn bounced into the barriers at the chicane. Then, during the second session, David Purley suffered a huge accident at Becketts when his throttle jammed, with the LEC smashing into the barriers at unabated speed. The Brit was extracted from his shattered car with severe leg and pelvis injuries, and was quickly whisked away to Northamptonshire General Hospital for treatment.
That left twelve potential qualifiers for five spots, although when the results were officially revealed the R.A.C., organisers of the British Grand Prix, would force F.O.C.A. to accept two more. This was because there was only half a second covering the top seven at the end of the day, as Canadian youth Gilles Villeneuve topped the timesheets in his factory McLaren. It was an impressive display by Villeneuve, who survived several spins during the session en-route to a 1:19.48.
Behind the impressive youth would be another F1 rookie in the form of Patrick Tambay, the Frenchman putting his new Ensign through its paces to claim a 1:19.55. Next up was a third Frenchman in the form of Jean-Pierre Jarier ahead of Brett Lunger, while Brian Henton completed the original five with a 1:19.82. Next up were Arturo Merzario and Patrick Nève, with Belgian laying claim to a 1:19.97, close enough for the R.A.C. to approve both his, and Merzario's, progress.
The full pre-qualifying results for the 1977 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||40||Gilles Villeneuve||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:19.48||1:19.92||—|
|2||23||Patrick Tambay||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||1:19.55||1:19.71||+0.07s|
|3||34||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Penske-Ford Cosworth||1:20.57||1:19.63||+0.15s|
|4||30||Brett Lunger||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:20.45||1:19.72||+0.24s|
|5||38||Brian Henton||March-Ford Cosworth||1:19.82||1:19.96||+0.34s|
|6||37||Arturo Merzario||March-Ford Cosworth||1:21.90||1:19.86||+0.38s|
|7||27||Patrick Nève||March-Ford Cosworth||1:19.97||1:20.07||+0.49s|
|8||36||Emilio de Villota||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:20.88||1:20.38||+0.90s|
|DNPQ||31||David Purley||LEC-Ford Cosworth||1:22.77||1:20.63||+1.15s|
|DNPQ||33||Andy Sutcliffe||March-Ford Cosworth||1:31.63||1:21.93||+2.45s|
|DNPQ||44||Tony Trimmer||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:23.23||1:22.80||+3.32s|
|DNPQ||45||Brian McGuire||McGuire-Ford Cosworth||1:23.76||1:25.83||+4.28s|
|DNPQ||32||Mikko Kozarowitzky||March-Ford Cosworth||1:25.16||—||+5.68s|
|WD||39||Héctor Rebaque||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD||42||David Prophet||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD||46||Bernard de Dryver||March-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD*||43||Derek Bell||Penske-Ford Cosworth||Car deemed illegal|
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- T Indicates a test/spare car.
- * Bell's car was deemed to have been illegal when put through scrutineering.
The man to set the pace early on Thursday morning would be James Hunt, whose 1:18.99 caught many out as most of the attention was focused on Mario Andretti. Indeed, the American had tested at Silverstone just a week earlier and recorded a 1:18.54, but various issues early on Thursday kept the American from setting a stunning time. That allowed Hunt to top the times with Jody Scheckter in second, while Gunnar Nilsson was ahead of his highly rated teammate.
There would be a change to the entry list for the second "timed" session of the weekend, with Harald Ertl officially withdrawn by Hesketh after running out of money. That opened the door for a failed pre-qualifier to rejoin the fray, with Emilio de Villota allowed to get his ex-factory McLaren out of the paddock. He joined the other seven pre-qualifiers fighting for a spot on the grid, who were all running a second slower than on Wednesday as their "special" Goodyears had been given to the F.O.C.A. teams.
In terms of pace it was Hunt would once again stole the show for McLaren, the Brit improving to a 1:18.49 in his new M26 to claim provisional pole overnight. Niki Lauda was a satisfied second, the only other man to get into the 1:18.00s, while Scheckter improved to a 1:19.05. Andretti was next with a 1:19.11, although the American's troubles had followed him into the afternoon.
Indeed, Andretti's afternoon had started off on a sour note when the American came across a wayward Vittorio Brambilla, with the Lotus flying off the circuit trying to avoid the sliding Surtees. Andretti was left stranded a fair way from the circuit, meaning he had to hitch a lift back to the pits from teammate Nilsson to take on the brand new spare car. However, the new Lotus would have a gearbox failure within a few laps of hitting the circuit, meaning he had to wait back in the pits for his race car to be retrieved. The #5 was duly dumped back in the pits, the damaged nose replaced, mud scrapped off, and Andretti sent back out into the fray.
After some repair work on Thursday evening, and a trouble free "untimed" session, qualifying resumed on Friday afternoon for one final hour. The battle for pole was would hot up early on, with John Watson, Scheckter and Nilsson joining Hunt and Lauda in the 1:18.00s early on. They would spend the afternoon in a ferocious fight as they chipped into the lead duo's advantage, with the pace of Nilsson causing many to question why Lotus were throwing so much weight behind Andretti.
Ultimately, however, none would topple Hunt's time from Thursday, with the Brit himself falling shy with a 1:18.87. Watson, meanwhile, would complete the afternoon with a 1:18.77 to overhaul Lauda, despite the fact that the Austrian had found time in his Ferrari late on. Scheckter was next with a 1:18.85, just a hundredth slower than his main Championship rival, with Nilsson a tenth behind in fifth.
Elsewhere, Gilles Villeneuve somewhat stole the show in his first foray into Formula One, the Canadian putting together a strong lap in his old M23 to get into the top ten. His effort was quicker than that of full McLaren driver Jochen Mass in the newer M26, as well as big names such as Carlos Reutemann, Ronnie Peterson and Jacques Laffite. Another youngster to make the grade was Patrick Tambay in his Ensign, a surprise given that his veteran semi-teammate Clay Regazzoni failed to make the cut.
Also making it through to the start of the race would be the new Renault in the hands of Jean-Pierre Jabouille, with the Renault V6 turbo running relatively reliably if not spectacularly. The Frenchman ended the day in 21st with a 1:20.11, sandwiched between Jean-Pierre Jarier and Emerson Fittipaldi. Behind, Alex Ribeiro would fail to get in once again with his factory March, with Henton, who suffered an early engine failure, de Villota and the aforementioned Regazzoni also missing out on a grid spot.
The full qualifying results for the 1977 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||1||James Hunt||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:18.99||1:18.49||1:18.87||—|
|2||7||John Watson||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||1:20.38||1:19.76||1:18.77||+0.28s|
|4||20||Jody Scheckter||Wolf-Ford Cosworth||1:19.28||1:19.05||1:18.85||+0.36s|
|5||6||Gunnar Nilsson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:19.86||1:19.34||1:18.95||+0.46s|
|6||5||Mario Andretti||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:19.48||1:19.11||1:19.12||+0.62s|
|7||8||Hans-Joachim Stuck||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||1:19.16||1:19.28||1:19.53||+0.67s|
|8||19||Vittorio Brambilla||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:20.76||1:20.10||1:19.20||+0.71s|
|9||40||Gilles Villeneuve||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:20.07||1:19.81||1:19.32||+0.83s|
|10||3||Ronnie Peterson||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:20.80||1:19.89||1:19.42||+0.93s|
|11||2||Jochen Mass||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:20.66||1:20.53||1:19.55||+1.06s|
|12||17||Alan Jones||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:20.33||1:19.60||1:19.68||+1.11s|
|13||24||Rupert Keegan||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:19.64||1:19.67||1:19.80||+1.15s|
|16||23||Patrick Tambay||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||1:20.02||1:19.81||1:20.72||+1.32s|
|17||37||Arturo Merzario||March-Ford Cosworth||1:20.72||1:19.88||1:20.34||+1.39s|
|18||4||Patrick Depailler||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:20.23||1:20.14||1:19.90||+1.41s|
|19||30||Brett Lunger||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:20.42||1:20.06||1:20.39||+1.57s|
|20||34||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Penske-Ford Cosworth||1:20.10||1:20.43||1:20.63||+1.61s|
|22||28||Emerson Fittipaldi||Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth||1:20.90||1:21.28||1:20.20||+1.71s|
|23||18||Vern Schuppan||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:23.60||1:21.59||1:20.24||+1.75s|
|24||10||Ian Scheckter||March-Ford Cosworth||1:20.31||1:20.32||1:20.55||+1.82s|
|25||16||Riccardo Patrese||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:20.93||1:20.46||1:20.35||+1.86s|
|26||27||Patrick Nève||March-Ford Cosworth||1:21.21||1:20.36||1:20.65||+1.87s|
|DNQ||9||Alex Ribeiro||March-Ford Cosworth||1:21.23||1:20.46||1:20.71||+1.97s|
|DNQ||22||Clay Regazzoni||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||1:20.79||1:20.94||1:20.97||+2.30s|
|DNQ||38||Brian Henton||March-Ford Cosworth||1:20.79||1:21.20||1:21.16||+2.30s|
|DNQ||36||Emilio de Villota||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||—||1:22.20||1:21.53||+3.04s|
|DNPQ||31||David Purley||LEC-Ford Cosworth||1:20.63|
|DNPQ||33||Andy Sutcliffe||March-Ford Cosworth||1:21.93|
|DNPQ||44||Tony Trimmer||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:22.80|
|DNPQ||45||Brian McGuire||McGuire-Ford Cosworth||1:23.76|
|DNPQ||32||Mikko Kozarowitzky||March-Ford Cosworth||1:25.16|
|WD||25||Harald Ertl||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD||39||Héctor Rebaque||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD||42||David Prophet||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD||46||Bernard de Dryver||March-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD*||43||Derek Bell||Penske-Ford Cosworth||Car deemed illegal|
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- T Indicates a test/spare car.
Race morning came as a welcome relief for the 26 qualifiers, many of whom had covered over 100 laps in preparation for the 68 lap Grand Prix. The pre-race warm-up session passed without issue, although there were several late changes internally as a few drivers opted to use their spare cars for the race. After that there was a steady build-up to the 3:00pm start time with a number of support races and events, before the 26 qualifiers were led to the starters lights by pole sitter James Hunt.
Unfortunately for Hunt the steady ramp-up to the start of the race would not benefit his getaway, as a minor hesitation from the McLaren cost the Brit off the line. That fact allowed Ulsterman John Watson to shoot into the lead off the line, with Niki Lauda and Jody Scheckter following the maroon Brabham-Alfa Romeo through. Gunnar Nilsson and Mario Andretti jetted off in their wake, with the top six breaking clear of the rest of the field through Becketts.
One driver would fail to make it round even that far, for Rupert Keegan suffered a failure on the exit of Copse and duly went charging into the catch fencing. As he climbed out of his car and the tangled fencing, Watson came charging across the line to complete the opening tour, with Lauda, Scheckter, Hunt and the two Loti right behind. The next batch were being led by the debutante Gilles Villeneuve, who was fending off a challenge from temporary teammate Jochen Mass.
There would be a change at the top of the field during the second lap, as Andretti moved ahead of Nilsson into Becketts to attack the back of Hunt. Yet, that would be as far as the American got, as the top six soon settled in their attempt to break away from the rest of the back. It was therefore remarkable that the rookie Villeneuve would keep pace with them through the opening stages, with Mass glued to his gearbox as they pulled clear of ninth placed Vittorio Brambilla.
Elsewhere, there would be a couple more early retirements to join Keegan on the sidelines, the first coming on lap three when Ronnie Peterson saw his Ford Cosworth expire in the back of his Tyrrell. Next out was the debuting Patrick Tambay in the new Ensign, the Frenchman suffering a total failure of his electrical system as he approached Woodcote. Elsewhere, Vern Schuppan seemed to be struggling at the back of the field, while the ferocious fighting behind Brambilla was coming increasingly close to contact.
Back with the leaders and Hunt had finally decided to make a move, diving past Scheckter into Copse as Watson and Lauda began to pull away on lap seven. Behind, Carlos Reutemann went spinning into the middle of Woodcote after a rear brake issue, although the Argentine racer was fortunate to escape without damage. He rejoined at the back of the field, before nursing his car back to the pits to have a brake line replaced.
The following laps would see Watson, Hunt and Lauda pull clear of Scheckter, leaving the Wolf to fend off the sponsor-less Loti of Andretti and Nilsson. Villeneuve was still keeping in touch behind, although a bounce across the grass by the Canadian had caused his McLaren to indicate it was overheating. He duly decided to abandon seventh place on lap ten by stopping in the pits and climb out of his cockpit, only for the mechanics to find that the temperature gauge had broken.
Villeneuve was duly strapped back in and sent screaming out of the pits, although the long stop had cost the Canadian two laps, laving him last bar Reutemann. As the #40 McLaren rejoined the brand new Renault dropped out of the fray, Jean-Pierre Jabouille forced to stop in the pits with a broken exhaust manifold. A repair was quickly effected and the Frenchman sent back out for a glorified test session, although the RS01 would only last another five laps before his turbocharger blew.
As the ghostly smoke of a potential future blew out of the back of the Renault, Hunt began to attack the back of Lauda, with Watson less than a second ahead of the Austrian. Behind them on the road was Villeneuve, although the moment the Canadian racer saw Scheckter and co. in his mirrors, the youngster duly moved aside to let them go. He duly stuck onto the back of Nilsson once they changed past, an excellent demonstration of the 27 year old's talent.
In the mean time, Patrick Depailler had made it a double Tyrrell retirement when he went smashing through the catch fencing at Becketts, the Frenchman lacking the use of his front brakes as he slid straight into the wall. Riccardo Patrese was another casualty a few laps later when the Shadow suddenly lost fuel pressure, with the Italian wisely pulling off at the side of the circuit rather than detonate the engine. Their retirements overshadowed the escape of Watson from the sights of Lauda, who was having to put up a strong defence from the attentions of Hunt.
Indeed, it was a relentless attack from the McLaren pilot, with the #1 car weaving around in the mirrors of the #11 Ferrari for several laps. Then, as the pair braked for Woodcote to complete lap 23, Hunt threw his McLaren up the inside of Lauda, bouncing across the kerbs before scrambling away ahead of the Austrian. Indeed, Hunt carried so much momentum through the chicane that Lauda could not affect a response, allowing the McLaren to scamper off after Watson, who had established a three second lead in the Brabham.
The race would settle after their fight with half-distance coming an going with Hunt still inching his way closer to the back of Watson, while Lauda slipped slowly behind. Behind him came the Scheckter/Andretti/Nilsson scrap, although there seemed to be no way through for the two Loti against the Wolf. Mass was on his own in seventh ahead of Brambilla, Jacques Laffite and Hans-Joachim Stuck, who were all scrapping, with Alan Jones furiously trying to catch back up with them.
Hunt eventually managed to draw onto the back of Watson, although for four laps the McLaren found that the Brabham had an invisible wall around it denying him a move. Then, on lap 44, the Englishman sent a huge dive down the inside of the Ulsterman into Woodcote, although Watson had also decided to leave his braking late into the chicane. The pair came within millimetres of touching as the both scrambled through the chicane, with Watson ultimately squirrelling through the exit with the lead.
After that, Hunt decided to settle back in the wake of the Brabham, either plotting his next attack or hoping that Watson would make a mistake. And, six laps later, the McLaren would be gifted the lead from the Brabham, as Watson's Alfa Romeo engine suddenly lost fuel pressure and briefly lost power. The McLaren shot past down the Hanger Straight and was away, leaving Watson to drag the car into the pits to have more fuel dumped int he tank.
It was an identical issue to the one that had denied him victory in France, and as the Ulsterman rejoined down in twelfth, HUnt began to ease off with his lead assured. Lauda, meanwhile, was over ten seconds back in a lonely second, while Scheckter had finally got some breathing space from the two Loti, largely due to the fact that Andretti was having engine issues. It therefore seemed strange that Colin Chapman, Nilsson and the Lotus pitcrew were reluctant to tell Andretti to let the Swede through.
Ultimately, however, Nilsson had to elbow his way through, and with fifteen laps to go began to draw back onto the gearbox of Scheckter's Wolf. The South African racer soon responded, although his series of fastest laps did little to stop the Swede's charge. Indeed, the late push did more harm than good to Scheckter's chances, for his Cosworth engine expired on lap 60 having just powered the Wolf to its fastest lap of the race.
Nilsson was now released to catch Lauda, and was taking over a second a lap out of the Ferrari as the final laps ticked away. In truth the amount of time the Swede needed to make up made it nearly impossible for the Lotus to finish second, but Nilsson had decided it was all or nothing and set a series of personal best laps. Behind, the Swede's teammate Andretti went out with an engine failure with five laps to go, dumping oil over the run-off at Woodcote, while Brambilla had to relinquish fifth after a late puncture.
Hunt, meanwhile, would cruise home to claim a stirring victory, his first of the season and second, on track, in a row at the British Grand Prix. Lauda was next across the line a little over a second ahead of the charging Nilsson, with Mass a lonely fourth. Stuck had used Brambilla's disappearance to break away from Laffite and claim fifth, while the Frenchman's Ligier-Matra earned the final point in sixth.
The results for the 1977 British Grand Prix are outlined below:
- * Andretti was classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
- Last Grand Prix to be given the "honorific" title "European Grand Prix".
- Wolf entered a World Championship race for the 10th time.
- First Grand Prix for Renault as a constructor and engine supplier.
- Michelin supplied tyres for the first time.
- First (and only) entry for McGuire as a constructor.
- Final entry for LEC.
- Debut race for Gilles Villeneuve and Patrick Tambay.
- First entries for Andy Sutcliffe and Brian McGuire.
- Final entries for David Purley, Mikko Kozarowitzky, Derek Bell and Guy Edwards.
- Eighth career victory for James Hunt.
- McLaren claimed their 22nd victory as a constructor.
- Fourth and final podium finish for Gunnar Nilsson.
Another podium finish for Niki Lauda ensured that the Austrian racer extended his Championship lead over Mario Andretti and Jody Scheckter to seven points. Those two would be left to rue their late race issues as they slipped away from the leader, while race winner James Hunt finally claimed into the top five. The Brit remained behind Lauda's teammate Carlos Reutemann in fourth, while Gunnar Nilsson made way for Hunt by slipping to sixth.
Ferrari continued to lead the way in the International Cup for Constructors, extending their advantage back up to nine points over Lotus-Ford Cosworth. Behind, McLaren-Ford Cosworth were back into the top three after their first win of the season, overtaking newboys Wolf-Ford Cosworth. The Canadian team were still reluctant to field a second car to support Scheckter, meaning if the South African's recent run of bad luck continued, the young team would be out of the title fight.
Images and Videos:
- F1-history, 'James Hunt (Great Britain 1977)', deviantart.com, (DeviantArt, 26/04/2016), https://f1-history.deviantart.com/art/James-Hunt-Great-Britain-1977-605431471, (Accessed 10/05/2018)
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: BRITISH GP, 1977', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr290.html, (Accessed 05/05/2018)
- D.S.J., 'The British Grand Prix: A marathon affair', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/08/1977), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-1977/23/british-grand-prix , (Accessed 06/05/2018)
- 'Grand Prix d'Europe', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/03/1977), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/march-1977/30/grand-prix-deurope, (Accessed 06/05/2018)
- D.S.J., 'The race before the race', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/08/1977), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-1977/34/race-race, (Accessed 06/05/2018)
- 'Britain 1977: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/grande-bretagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 06/05/2018)
- 'Britain 1977: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/grande-bretagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 06/05/2018)
- Adam xxx, 'Formula one 1977 British Grand Prix Silverstone Round 10', youtube.com, (YouTube, 07/09/2017), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5C0RJNFjKg, (Accessed 08/05/2018)
- 'Britain 1977: Results', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/grande-bretagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 06/05/2018)
- '1977 British Grand Prix', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2015), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1977&gp=British%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 06/05/2018)
- '10. Britain 1977', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/grande-bretagne.aspx, (Accessed 06/05/2018)
|V T E||British Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Brooklands (1926 - 1927), Silverstone (1948 - Present), Aintree (1955 - 1962), Brands Hatch (1963 - 1986)|
|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 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022|
|Non-Championship Races||1926 • 1927 • 1948 • 1949|
|V T E||European Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Brands Hatch (1983, 1985), Nürburgring (1984, 1995–1996, 1999–2007), Donington (1993), Jerez (1994, 1997), Valencia (2008–2012), Baku (2016)|
|Races||1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969–1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978–1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986–1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013–2015 • 2016|
|Non-Championship Races||1923 • 1924 • 1925 • 1926 • 1927 • 1928 • 1929 • 1930 • 1931–1946 • 1947 • 1948 • 1949|
|V T E||Promotional Trophy|
|Races||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|
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