The 1977 Formula One Season, otherwise officially known as the 1977 FIAFormula One World Championship, was the 28th edition of the World's most prestigious racing category. The 1977 Season proved to be one of the most competitive in F1 history, although was punctuated by a series of fatal accidents from beginning to end.
James Hunt would start the season as defending Champion having stayed with McLaren, and would open his campaign with pole position at the Argentine Grand Prix. Yet, it would be a miserable campaign for the Brit, with Hunt having to wait until the tenth race at Silverstone to claim his first victory of the season.
Instead, Jody Scheckter, piloting the new Canadian built Wolf, would be one of the main title contenders during the season, taking victory at the opening round. Indeed, the South African would claim a further two wins during the season at Monaco and Canada.
Another star of the 1977 campaign would be Mario Andretti, who claimed five race victories for Lotus. Yet, while the American was ferociously fast, the new Lotus 78 proved to be akin to its predecessors, proving to be horrendously unreliable throughout the season.
That factor allowed 1975 World Champion Niki Lauda to steal the show, with the Austrian going under the radar for much of the season despite taking three victories. Indeed, such was the Austrian's advantage for Ferrari that he would win the Championship at the 1977 United States Grand Prix, before quitting the team due to the politics at Maranello with two races to go.
The Ferrari team themselves would ultimately end the season as the winners of the International Cup for Constructors Champions for the third year in a row, while Lauda's title ensured that it was their second "double" in three years. Lotus would end the season with the fastest car but second in the Cup, while McLaren edged out Wolf to claim third at the final hurdle.
The main issue between WCR and F.O.C.A. was essentially over the promotion of Formula One with both venues and broadcasters, Mr. Ecclestone having gained near total control of broadcasting rights to F1 at the end of 1976. F.O.C.A. had also secured eight races, including the Argentine Grand Prix, for the Championship, while WCR and the C.S.I. had signed up a further eight venues for the season. That, combined with the fact that the Belgian Grand Prix had signed contracts with both groups, ensured that there was a record seventeen race calendar, with all potential races in question.
With promotion came money, and the issues over both attendance fees and prize pots were at the fore of the argument. For Ecclestone, whose F.O.C.A. band consisted overwhelmingly of the British "garagistas", the temptation to boycott the race came after a meeting between the CSI and WCR with the series major sponsors prior to the race, which would have tipped the balance of the dispute in their favour. Ultimately an agreement regarding the attendance fee was reached before the opening round, although the fighting would continue between Ecclestone and Mosley against WCR president Patrick Duffeler well into the season.
A grand total of 61 drivers, representing nineteen nations on behalf of 33 teams, would take part in the 1977 FIA Formula One World Championship, although only thirteen competitors would compete at every round of the season.
In spite of the complications between F.O.C.A. and WCR regarding the calendar, a total of seventeen races were scheduled for the 1977 World Championship campaign. That fact made the 1977 edition of the series the longest in F1 history, a record it would hold until the 2004 campaign. The season would also feature a single non-Championship race, the 1977 Race of Champions, staged at Brands Hatch in the United Kingdom.