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The 1977 French Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the LXIII Grand Prix de France, was the ninth race of the 1977 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Dijon-Prenois on 3 July, 1977.[1] At first glance it seemed as if the race had been dominated by Mario Andretti, who claimed pole, fastest lap and victory, although this was far from the truth as the American would only lead a single lap.

Qualifying would see Andretti claim a decisive pole position on the extended Dijon-Prenois circuit, lapping half a second faster than James Hunt in second.[1] Andretti's teammate Gunnar Nilsson was next, underlining the inherent pace of the Lotus 78, while John Watson started fourth, just ahead of the home hero Jacques Laffite in the Ligier-Matra.[1]

Once again, however, the Lotus of Andretti would be beaten off the line by the car alongside, meaning it was Hunt's McLaren that jumped into the lead.[1] Indeed, Andretti's start was so poor that he fell behind both Watson and Laffite, with Nilsson getting caught behind his slow starting teammate.[1]

Andretti would vault back ahead of Laffite on the second lap, while Hunt and Watson engaged in a private scrap for the lead.[1] Ultimately, the defending World Champion was powerless to resist the Ulsterman, however, with Watson slipping past on lap five before disappearing up the road.[1]

It took Andretti a further twelve laps to pass the McLaren, a period that had allowed Watson to escape five seconds clear.[1] The gap remained fairly constant for a time, until Andretti began to set a series of fastest laps to inch his way onto the back of the Brabham-Alfa Romeo.[1]

Indeed, with just one lap to go it seemed as if Watson, who had fended off a couple of attempts from the American, was on to win the race, only for his Alfa F12 to cough on the run out of the first corner.[1] That hesitation was enough for Andretti to sweep into the lead and claim the win, while Watson had to cruise his car to the flag.[1]

Andretti duly swept home a second and a half clear of Watson to claim victory, while Hunt had a quiet run to third.[1] Nilsson was another to enjoy a quiet drive to fourth ahead of Niki Lauda, while Carlos Reutemann got the other Ferrari into the points.[1] Elsewhere, tyre troubles had denied Laffite a strong home result, leaving him in seventh, while Championship leader Jody Scheckter suffered an accident in the closing stages.[1]

BackgroundEdit

F1 headed to the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region of France for the 1977 edition of the French Grand Prix, setting up shop at a revised Dijon-Prenois circuit.[2] Although it was not the most popular venue for the historic race, the Dijon-Prenois layout had been improved since the series last visit in 1974 French Grand Prix, with over half a kilometre added to the circuit in the middle of the serpentine section.[2] The extra loop added another changing radius corner, with the extra challenge of a change in altitude, while also adding around fifteen seconds to the lap.[2]

Into the entry list and there was a large stir caused in France when Renault announced their intention to start at their home race, only to decide against fielding their new RS01.[3] Almost all French hopes therefore landed on the shoulders of the all-French Ligier-Matra squad, with Jacques Laffite among the favourites for the win after his victory in Sweden.[3] Adding to the Frenchman's cause was the fact that he was being advised by Renault's main driver Jean-Pierre Jabouille, and had completed a very impressive test at Dijon-Prenois in the build-up to the race.[3]

Other, less anticipated, French hopes were to be found at Tyrrell and ATS, as well as an anticipated second car at Ensign.[3] At Tyrrell, expectation was placed upon Patrick Depailler once again, who was to get a wide-track version of the P34 to alleviate their stability issues.[2] Teammate Ronnie Peterson would race with his usual charger, although both cars were to be hampered by the fact that tyre supplier Goodyear were focusing on their standard tyre sizes, hampering the future development of the P34's quartet of tiny front wheels.[2]

For ATS and their independently run Penske it would be Jean-Pierre Jarier at the wheel, although with no budget to develop the car there was little hope of the Frenchman getting into the top of the field.[3] Ensign, meanwhile, announced that they would be running a second car alongside Clay Regazzoni in France, signing up promising Formula Two racer Patrick Tambay to join the Swiss racer.[3] Yet, time would run out for Ensign to build their new MN07, leaving Tambay kicking his heels in the paddock as the cars headed out for practice on Friday.[3]

That said, Surtees would decide to give Tambay a drive in practice, although he would have to wait until Saturday's "untimed" session to try the TS19.[3] He would, temporarily, replace Australian racer Larry Perkins in the #18 car, while Vittorio Brambilla celebrated his 50th Grand Prix in the Beta sponsored TS19.[3] The cars themselves were unchanged after the Swedish Grand Prix, with the team also well down the list of customers awaiting one of the updated Ford Cosworth engines filtering their way down the grid.[3]

Speaking of updated Cosworths, Lotus were set to get another of the "ultimate" DFVs in France, this unit once again handed to team leader Mario Andretti.[2] The American, as well as teammate Gunnar Nilsson, expected his Lotus 78 to suit the Dijon-Prenois circuit, with the smooth track surface thought to compliment the 78's pursuit of "ground effect".[2] The Norfolk squad were further aided by an extra provision of tyres from Goodyear, which again sent their softest compounds to the top teams to prepare for a potential tyre war with Michelin.[2]

Likewise, McLaren had received a compliment of "softs" from Goodyear, although Cosworth had held fire on giving them an "ultimate" DFV for the time being.[2] Regardless, defending World Champion James Hunt would continue to use his "super" DFV in the steadily evolving M26, which sported some new brakes but was otherwise unchanged since the visit to Anderstorp.[2] His teammate Jochen Mass carried on with the ageing M23, with additional M23s entered privately for Brett Lunger and Emilio de Villota.[2]

Elsewhere, Championship leaders Ferrari thought that they had cracked the handling issues that had plagued their updated 312T2s, tracing the issue back to the rear axles.[2] This resulted in a new chassis for lead driver Niki Lauda, which sported some redesigned air intakes and ducting, ready to accept the revised rear-axle layout when it was ready for the British Grand Prix.[2] Carlos Reutemann, meanwhile, was left with the car in which he had raced in Sweden, while Lauda's old car became the spare.[2]

Championship leader Jody Scheckter, meanwhile, had the choice of three Wolfs in France, although after test week the South African star was down to just the newest WR3 and the oldest, WR1.[2] He would ultimately nominate the unchanged WR3 as his race car, with the team receiving another uniquely tuned Cosworth, fresh from the factory, which was thought to fit in between the units sent to Lotus and McLaren in terms of power output.[2] Wolf were also among the "premium" customers of Goodyear, meaning Scheckter had a lot of compounds to play with in Dijon.[2]

Elsewhere, March were back with their legion of factory and privately entered cars, although factory duo Alex Ribeiro and Ian Scheckter were told that the new 771 was not going to be ready in time for the trip to Dijon.[2] They were therefore left with their upgraded 761Bs, while the only ex-factory version of the car was back in the hands of Arturo Merzario.[2] Williams Grand Prix Engineering were back with their customised 761 for Patrick Nève, while Brian Henton had entered his 761 for Henri Pescarolo, although neither car nor driver made it to Dijon.[2]

Shadow were boosted by the return of F1 rookie Riccardo Patrese to the fray, the young Italian replacing boss Jackie Oliver to partner Alan Jones once again.[2] Hesketh were also back with a familiar trio of cars for Rupert Keegan, Harald Ertl and Héctor Rebaque, while BRM had built a new P207 for Conny Andersson, although many observers questioned why they had expended the effort.[2] Completing the field would be David Purley in his LEC, as well as the newly rebuilt Fittipaldi for Emerson Fittipaldi.[2]

Additional entries should have seen the Swiss built Apollon Fly make its debut with Loris Kessel, but it would, once again, fail to materialise.[3]

Into the Championship and it had been a case of status quo at the summit after the Swedish Grand Prix, with none of the major contenders scoring big points. As such it was still Jody Scheckter leading Lauda by a solitary point, although both Reutemann and Andretti had inched their way closer to the fight. Elsewhere, Mass had moved into the top five, moving ahead of Nilsson as he did so, while Swedish Grand Prix winner Laffite had shot into the top ten.

Likewise there had been little change in the International Cup for Constructors in Sweden, although Ferrari had technically managed to extend their lead to sixteen points. Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth remained their closest challengers, two ahead of Wolf-Ford Cosworth, while McLaren-Ford Cosworth remained cut adrift in fourth. Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth likewise remained a distant fifth, while Ligier-Matra had finally got on the board in seventh.

Entry ListEdit

The full entry list for the 1977 French Grand Prix is outlined below:

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M26 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
2 West Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M23 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
3 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Elf Team Tyrrell Tyrrell P34 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Elf Team Tyrrell Tyrrell P34 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 78 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
6 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 78 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Martini Racing Brabham BT45B Alfa Romeo 115-12 3.0 F12 G
8 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Martini Racing Brabham BT45B Alfa Romeo 115-12 3.0 F12 G
9 Brazil Alex Ribeiro United Kingdom Hollywood March Racing March 761B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
10 South Africa Ian Scheckter United Kingdom Team Rothmans International March 761B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
11 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T2 Ferrari 015 3.0 F12 G
12 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T2 Ferrari 015 3.0 F12 G
15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Equipe Renault Elf Renault RS01 Renault EF1 1.5 V6t M
16 United Kingdom Jackie Oliver United Kingdom Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN8 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
17 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN8 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
18* Australia Larry Perkins United Kingdom Team Surtees Surtees TS19 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Beta Team Surtees Surtees TS19 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Walter Wolf Racing Wolf WR3 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
22 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Team Tissot Ensign with Castrol Ensign N177 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
24 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Penthouse Rizla Racing Hesketh 308E Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
25 Austria Harald Ertl United Kingdom Hesketh Racing Hesketh 308E Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS7 Matra MS76 3.0 V12 G
27 Belgium Patrick Nève United Kingdom Williams Grand Prix Engineering March 761 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
28 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Copersucar-Fittipaldi Fittipaldi FD05 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
30 United States Brett Lunger United States Chesterfield Racing McLaren M23 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
31 United Kingdom David Purley United Kingdom LEC Refrigeration Racing LEC CRP1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
34 France Jean-Pierre Jarier West Germany ATS Racing Team Penske PC4 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
35 Sweden Conny Andersson United Kingdom Rotary Watches Stanley BRM BRM P207 BRM P202 3.0 V12 G
36 Spain Emilio de Villota Spain Iberia Airlines McLaren M23 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Team Merzario March 761B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
38 France Henri Pescarolo United Kingdom British Formula One Racing Team March 761 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
39 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Penthouse Rizla Racing Hesketh 308E Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
41 Switzerland Loris Kessel Switzerland Jolly Club of Switzerland Apollon Fly Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
Source:[4]

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

Practice/qualifying would be staged across Friday and Saturday, following the F.O.C.A. approved format of three "timed" sessions supported by a single "untimed" period.[2] Friday would host two the of "timed" sessions, while Saturday's running would be split between the "untimed" period in the morning, before the final "timed" session in the afternoon.[2] Furthermore, the sudden appearance of summer in eastern France meant that there was plenty of running, an important fact given that there was no real reference time for the revised Dijon-Prenois circuit.[2]

ReportEdit

It was not so much a driver but a car that came to dominate the first "timed" session on Friday, as both Mario Andretti and Gunnar Nilsson topped the timesheets from the early stages.[2] Unsurprisingly it was the former who was faster, ending the session with a 1:12.95, with Nilsson a fraction slower at 1:13.03.[2] Indeed, the closeness of their times was made all the more remarkable given their contrasting styles, with Andretti's smooth rhythmic driving the complete reverse to the Swede's attempts to almost dance the car around the circuit.[2]

Indeed, the rather serene image of Lotus as whole proved to be a stark contrast to their major rivals, with Brabham-Alfa Romeo looking a world away from their recent form.[2] Both John Watson and Hans-Joachim Stuck would be delayed on Friday morning, the Ulsterman by an ignition fault, while Stuck had to use the spare car as his engine failed completely.[2] Elsewhere the Williams customised March of Patrick Nève chewed through a front hub carrier, while the BRM battled a series of familiar engine troubles, despite having a new car.[2]

Ultimately, however, the Lotus domination would be challenged during the Friday afternoon session, with Brabham finally overcoming their issues from the morning.[2] Indeed, Watson not only got among the Loti but got ahead of them, ending the day with a 1:12.83, beating Andretti by 0.03s to claim provisional pole overnight.[2] Nilsson matched his earlier time and so remained third, still a tenth clear of a happy James Hunt, who was steadily getting to grips with the new M26.[2]

Away from the peak of the field and there were still some notable strugglers, including Championship leader Jody Scheckter.[2] The South African racer was battling a seemingly incurable misfire in the newest Wolf, although the spare car was enduring the exact same issue.[2] He still managed to record a top-ten time among the out-of-sorts Ferrari team, with both Niki Lauda and Carlos Reutemann unhappy with their yet-to-be-updated 312T2s.[2]

Elsewhere, Larry Perkins was having trouble taming his Surtees, a worrying position for the Australian to be in as John Surtees was seen talking to Ensign reserve Patrick Tambay.[2] Over at March there was quite a stir when Alex Ribeiro was credited with a 1:13.89, a time that would put him in the top ten, although this was soon corrected to a more realistic 1:15.89, much to the Brazilian's dismay.[2] Indeed, that time left him among the seven set to miss-out on a spot on the grid come the end of Friday's running.[2]

Things remained settled overnight into Saturday, meaning the teams were able to get their cars serviced and ready for the day's running without issue.[2] The only real change came at Surtees, with Tambay, unsurprisingly, getting strapped into Perkins' car for the "untimed" session in the morning, with the Australian looking unlikely to qualify regardless of the lost track time.[2] Indeed, in a somewhat rare turn of events all of the teams used the "untimed" session on Saturday morning for what it was for: to test their cars on high fuel and race tyres.[2]

Tambay French Grand Prix 1977

Patrick Tambay attempts to qualify Larry Perkins' Surtees in the final practice session.

Having tried out the car in race mode, Tambay was duly given the #18 car in the final "timed" session after the lunch break, although the Frenchman was ultimately unable to beat Perkins' time.[2] They would both fall shy of the mark by over a second, with Ribeiro also dropping out with his factory March.[2] Also out were Nève, Brett Lunger, Harald Ertl, Héctor Rebaque and Conny Andersson, even though there was less than four seconds covering the entire field.[2]

Out front, meanwhile, there would be a surprise fight for pole, as Hunt joined the fray early on with a 1:12.73 early on.[2] He effectively replaced Watson in the fight, who was unable to match his pace from Friday afternoon in the Brabham.[2] Even Andretti seemed unlikely to topple the defending World Champion, until the American put together a shattering run in the final minutes to settle for a 1:12.21.[2]

Indeed, the late rally by Lotus would extend to teammate Nilsson's car too, although the Swede just fell shy of Hunt's time and so had to settle for third.[2] That left him third on the grid ahead of Watson, while Jacques Laffite put the Ligier-Matra into fifth in front of his home fans.[2] Reutemann was best of the Ferraris in sixth, with Lauda down in ninth, while Vittorio Brambilla was a standout name in the middle of the field in his Surtees.[2]

Qualifying ResultsEdit

The full qualifying results for the 1977 French Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
Q1 Q2 Q3
1 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:12.95 1:12.86 1:12.21
2 1 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:13.13 1:13.12 1:12.73 +0.52s
3 6 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:13.03 1:13.03 1:12.79 +0.58s
4 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:13.65 1:12.83 1:12.98 +0.62s
5 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 1:13.30 1:13.67 1:13.75 +1.09s
6 12 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 1:13.36 1:13.41 1:13.93 +1.15s
7 2 West Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:13.78 1:13.92 1:13.41 +1.20s
8 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:13.45 1:13.53 1:13.71 +1.24s
9 11 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Ferrari 1:13.52 1:13.64 1:13.72 +1.31s
10 17 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:13.84 1:13.56 1:13.74 +1.35s
11 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:14.18 1:14.49 1:13.61 +1.40s
12 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:13.66 1:13.90 1:13.83 +1.45s
13 8 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:13.67T 1:13.83T 1:14.63 +1.46s
14 24 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 1:14.89 1:15.43 1:13.71 +1.50s
15 16 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:14.07 1:13.88 1:13.87 +1.66s
16 22 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:14.28 1:13.90T 1:14.56T +1.69s
17 3 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:14.13 1:13.92 1:14.26 +1.71s
18 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy March-Ford Cosworth 1:14.39 1:13.92 1:14.25 +1.71s
19 34 France Jean-Pierre Jarier West Germany Penske-Ford Cosworth 1:14.42 1:14.17 1:15.04 +1.96s
20 10 South Africa Ian Scheckter United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 1:14.24 1:14.53 1:14.85 +2.03s
21 31 United Kingdom David Purley United Kingdom LEC-Ford Cosworth 1:14.45 1:14.39 1:14.95 +2.18s
22 28 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:14.93 1:14.45 1:14.52 +2.24s
DNQ 9 Brazil Alex Ribeiro United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 1:14.67 1:15.89 1:14.60 +2.39s
DNQ 27 Belgium Patrick Nève United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 1:14.90 1:14.74 1:14.96 +2.53s
DNQ 30 United States Brett Lunger United States McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:14.90 1:14.83 1:14.85 +2.62s
DNQ 25 Austria Harald Ertl United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 1:15.67 1:15.83 1:15.06 +2.85s
DNQ 18 Australia Larry Perkins United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:15.57 1:15.13 +2.92s
DNQ 39 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 1:16.45 1:15.88 1:15.98 +3.67s
DNQ 18 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:16.06 +3.85s
DNQ 35 Sweden Conny Andersson United Kingdom BRM 1:20.12 1:17.19 1:16.17 +3.96s
WD 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault Withdrawn
WD 36 Spain Emilio de Villota Spain McLaren-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn
WD 38 France Henri Pescarolo United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn
WD 41 Switzerland Loris Kessel Switzerland Apollon-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn
Source:[2][5]
  • Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
  • T Indicates a test/spare car.

GridEdit

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 ______________ 1
2 Mario Andretti
James Hunt ______________
Row 2 ______________ 3
4 Gunnar Nilsson
John Watson ______________
Row 3 ______________ 5
6 Jacques Laffite
Carlos Reutemann ______________
Row 4 ______________ 7
8 Jochen Mass
Jody Scheckter ______________
Row 5 ______________ 9
10 Niki Lauda
Alan Jones ______________
Row 6 ______________ 11
12 Vittorio Brambilla
Patrick Depailler ______________
Row 7 ______________ 13
14 Hans-Joachim Stuck
Rupert Keegan ______________
Row 8 ______________ 15
16 Riccardo Patrese
Clay Regazzoni ______________
Row 9 ______________ 17
18 Ronnie Peterson
Arturo Merzario ______________
Row 10 ______________ 19
20 Jean-Pierre Jarier
Ian Scheckter ______________
Row 11 ______________ 21
22 David Purley
Emerson Fittipaldi ______________

RaceEdit

Raceday dawned much as Saturday had ended, with clear skies and warm temperatures suggesting that summer was set to stay beyond the 2:00pm start time.[2] Warm-up, which featured the two best non-qualifiers Alex Ribeiro and Patrick Nève, passed without issue, while a series of Renault backed races kept the crowds entertained as the Grand Prix cars were prepared.[2] Indeed, there would be no issues as the drivers completed their parade/warm-up lap, with all twenty-two qualifiers lining up on the grid to await the flash of the starter's lights.[2]

ReportEdit

It proved to be an uncharacteristically poor start from pole sitter Mario Andretti, with the American racer spinning up his rear wheels as the lights flashed to green.[2] His first mistake of the weekend allowed James Hunt streak into the lead unopposed, with John Watson and Jacques Laffite following him through.[2] Andretti's poor start also compromised teammate Gunnar Nilsson, meaning the two Loti entered the first corner in fourth and fifth, with Carlos Reutemann leading the rest through.[2]

It proved to be a very clean start to the race for the first half of the opening lap, until Jochen Mass bounced himself into the air off the side of Reutemann's Ferrari.[2] The German crashed back to terra firma before skating off onto the grass, and only managed to rejoin as the last driver in the field, Riccardo Patrese flashed past.[2] Indeed, the German would have a rather lonely trip back to the pits, where his broken steering would be fixed by a single strike to a steering arm.[2]

As Mass crawled around, teammate Hunt completed the opening tour a few yards ahead of Watson, Laffite and Andretti, although the American would dive past the Ligier-Matra on the brakes at the start of the second lap.[2] Nilsson was next, hoping to profit from Andretti's impending dive, with Jody Scheckter and Vittorio Brambilla on his tail.[2] Reutemann, meanwhile, would drop out of the top ten after Mass' glancing blow, leaving him in a fight with Rupert Keegan, while Patrese's awful start left him staring at the back of Fittipaldi's car.[2]

Ian Scheckter French Grand Prix 1977

Ian Scheckter battles at the back of the pack with Emerson Fittipaldi.

The following laps would see the top three of Hunt, Watson and Andretti pull clear of the rest of the field, leaving Laffite to fend off a half-hearted challenge from Nilsson.[2] Elsewhere, Ian Scheckter and Emerson Fittipaldi were scrapping at the back of the pack with Patrese and Jean-Pierre Jarier, until the latter threw his car into the barriers all on his own.[2] His retirement was soon followed by David Purley in the LEC, crashing a few yards up the road, before Patrese's race came to a premature end with an engine failure.[2]

Back with the leaders and it soon became clear that Hunt was holding up both Watson and Andretti, a fact proved on lap five when the Brabham-Alfa Romeo elbowed its way into the lead at the start of lap five.[2] Indeed, the Ulsterman duly disappeared up the road as Andretti launched his first assault on the McLaren, although his early efforts were repulsed.[2] Behind, Niki Lauda was methodically climbing through the field in his Ferrari, moving into the top six with a move on Jody Scheckter, while Brambilla dumped himself down the order with a spin.[2]

It would take a sustained attack from Andretti to finally get his Lotus up into second, a dive on the brakes into turn one at the start of lap 17 ultimately getting the job done on Hunt.[2] By this stage Watson had built a five second lead, an advantage that would grow to as much as six seconds before Andretti began to consistently chew into it.[2] Hunt was steadily dropped by the American, safe in the knowledge that Laffite, Nilsson and Lauda were about to fight one another almost ten seconds behind, while Scheckter awaited impending challenges from Alan Jones and Reutemann for seventh.[2]

As fights at the top of the field brewed, some among the lower orders decided to try and change their fortunes with visits to the pits for fresh tyres.[2] Ronnie Peterson was the first to blink, deciding that fighting with teammate Patrick Depailler had damaged his front left tyres too much, with Brambilla following him in with a similar issue.[2] Depailler was set to follow his teammate in on the following lap, only for Hans-Joachim Stuck to slam into the side of the Tyrrell at the end of the start/finish straight.[2] Depailler was left sat in the dirt with smashed front suspension, while Stuck scrambled away from the scene with minor damage to his rear wing.[2]

The race became rather tame after that, with no major changes coming in any of the various battles coming until lap 50, when Watson began to lap the drivers in the middle of the pack.[2] A couple of unlucky breaks for the Ulsterman allowed Andretti to halve the gap to just three seconds in a little over a lap.[2] Behind, Laffite, Nilsson and Lauda were all exchanging blows for fourth, although it would all come to an end when Stuck involved himself in their fight.[2]

Indeed, the German found himself in the midst of their scrap for several laps, holding up all three until finally losing control moments after Nilsson had elbowed Laffite out of the way.[2] The Brabham spun across the track on the exit of the first corner, and while Nilsson jinked one-way with Lauda, Laffite went to the left, and duly hit the German as he came back across the circuit.[2] A distraught Laffite was left with a shattered nose cone, meaning he had to limp back to the pits, while Stuck was out as the impact had broken a wire to the starter motor, something which would have pleased his victims over the previous hour.[2]

Elsewhere, the Ian Scheckter/Fittipaldi fight had been getting more and more brutal, until the South African racer misjudged a cut-back move on the Brazilian and broke his nose.[2] Reutemann, meanwhile, had elbowed his way past Jones and Jody Scheckter to move into seventh, although Jones was soon to go out of the race when a drive shaft failed.[2] Jones' disappearance was soon to be followed by that of Scheckter, as the Wolf soon developed a misfire, an issue that would ultimately result in the South African getting nudged off the road by Clay Regazzoni.[2]

Andretti French Grand Prix 1977

Mario Andretti charges after John Watson in his Lotus 78 having lost out at the start.

Out front, meanwhile, Andretti used the last of the traffic to draw right onto the back of Watson, with the Lotus inches off the back of the Brabham with just ten laps to go.[2] Yet, no matter how close the American got at the start of the start/finish straight, the Ulsterman would be out of reach by the end of it, the Alfa Romeo F12 proving too potent for the tuned Ford Cosworth V8.[2] Indeed, it seemed as if Andretti would have to settle for second, even with Reutemann's attempts to stay on the lead lap that held up Watson's sprint for the lead.[2]

Onto the final lap and Watson still held his narrow margin over the Lotus, and as they came through the first corner, the only major overtaking opportunity, it seemed as if the race was run.[2] Yet, coming out of the new loop the Alfa coughed as it pulled up the hill, allowing Andretti to suddenly pounce on the outside of the following left-hander.[2] It was a brave move by the American, with the two running virtually tyre-to-tyre through to the exit, until a second cough from the Alfa F12 allowed the Lotus to shoot ahead.[2]

Indeed, it was only a few seconds later that Andretti streaked across the line to claim victory, just a second and a half ahead of Watson, who completely ran out of fuel on the slowing down lap.[2] Hunt cruised home a solid, if lonely, third ahead of Nilsson, while Lauda picked up Watson on his way back to the pits after finishing fifth.[2] Reutemann claimed the final point in sixth after his adventures early on, while Laffite recovered to eighth behind Regazzoni.[2]

ResultsEdit

The full results for the 1977 French Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 80 1:39:40.13 1 9
2 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 80 +1.55s 4 6
3 1 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 80 +33.87s 2 4
4 6 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 80 +1:11.08 3 3
5 11 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Ferrari 80 +1:14.45 9 2
6 12 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 79 +1 Lap 6 1
7 22 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 79 +1 Lap 16
8 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 78 +2 Laps 5
9 2 West Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 78 +2 Laps 7
10 24 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 78 +2 Laps 14
11* 28 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 77 Out of fuel 22
12 3 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 77 +3 Laps 17
13 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 77 +3 Laps 11
NC 10 South Africa Ian Scheckter United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 69 +11 Laps 20
Ret 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 66 Accident 8
Ret 8 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 64 Accident 13
Ret 17 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 60 Transmission 10
Ret 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy March-Ford Cosworth 27 Gearbox 18
Ret 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 21 Accident 12
Ret 16 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 6 Engine 15
Ret 31 United Kingdom David Purley United Kingdom LEC-Ford Cosworth 5 Accident 21
Ret 34 France Jean-Pierre Jarier West Germany Penske-Ford Cosworth 4 Spin 19
DNQ 9 Brazil Alex Ribeiro United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 27 Belgium Patrick Nève United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 30 United States Brett Lunger United States McLaren-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 25 Austria Harald Ertl United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 18 Australia Larry Perkins United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 39 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 18 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 35 Sweden Conny Andersson United Kingdom BRM
WD 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault
WD 36 Spain Emilio de Villota Spain McLaren-Ford Cosworth
WD 38 France Henri Pescarolo United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth
WD 41 Switzerland Loris Kessel Switzerland Apollon-Ford Cosworth
Source:[6]
  • * Fittipaldi was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.[6]
  • Ian Scheckter, in contrast, could not be classified as he had failed to complete 90% of the race distance.[6]

MilestonesEdit

StandingsEdit

Victory propelled Mario Andretti up into second in the Championship, and just a point behind new Championship leader Niki Lauda. Both therefore moved ahead of Jody Scheckter, whose third non-score in a row meant his Championship prospects were beginning to unravel at an alarming rate. Carlos Reutemann, meanwhile, would drop to fourth, just ahead of Gunnar Nilsson, while John Watson 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, 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 slipped away.

Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts +/-
1 Austria Niki Lauda 33 ▲1
2 United States Mario Andretti 32 ▲2
3 South Africa Jody Scheckter 32 ▼2
4 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 28 ▼1
5 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson 16 ▲1
6 West Germany Jochen Mass 14 ▼1
7 United Kingdom James Hunt 13 ▲2
8 France Patrick Depailler 10 ▼1
9 France Jacques Laffite 9 ▼1
10 United Kingdom John Watson 8 ▲5
11 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 8 ▼1
12 Brazil Carlos Pace 6 ▼1
13 Sweden Ronnie Peterson 4 ▼1
14 Italy Vittorio Brambilla 3 ▼1
15 Australia Alan Jones 3 ▼1
16 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck 2
17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni 1
18 Italy Renzo Zorzi 1
19 France Jean-Pierre Jarier 1
International Cup for Constructors
Pos. Team Pts +/-
1 Italy Ferrari 50 (52)
2 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 43
3 Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 32
4 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 25
5 United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 17 ▲1
6 United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 14 ▼1
7 France Ligier-Matra 9
8 Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 8
9 United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 4
10 United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 3
11 United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1
12 United States Penske-Ford Cosworth 1
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.

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 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: FRENCH GP, 1977', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr289.html, (Accessed 02/05/2018)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34 2.35 2.36 2.37 2.38 2.39 2.40 2.41 2.42 2.43 2.44 2.45 2.46 2.47 2.48 2.49 2.50 2.51 2.52 2.53 2.54 2.55 2.56 2.57 2.58 2.59 2.60 2.61 2.62 2.63 2.64 2.65 2.66 2.67 2.68 2.69 2.70 2.71 2.72 2.73 2.74 2.75 2.76 2.77 2.78 2.79 2.80 2.81 2.82 2.83 2.84 2.85 2.86 2.87 2.88 2.89 2.90 2.91 2.92 2.93 2.94 2.95 2.96 D.S.J., 'The Grand Prix of France: A nice little affair', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/08/1977), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/august-1977/50/grand-prix-france, (Accessed 02/05/2018)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 '9. France 1977', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/france.aspx, (Accessed 02/05/2018)
  4. 'France 1977: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/france/engages.aspx, (Accessed 13/04/2018)
  5. 5.0 5.1 'France 1977: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/france/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 02/05/2018)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 'France 1977: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/france/classement.aspx, (Accessed 03/05/2018)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 '1977 French GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2018), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1977&gp=French%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 02/05/2018)
V T E 1977 Formula One Season
Teams Apollon • Brabham • Boro • BRM • Ensign • Ferrari • Fittipaldi • Hesketh • Kojima • LEC • Ligier • Lotus • March • McGuire • McLaren • Penske • Renault • Shadow • Surtees • Tyrrell • Wolf
Engines Alfa Romeo • BRM • Ferrari • Ford Cosworth • Matra • Renault
Drivers Andersson • Andretti • Ashley • Binder • Bleekemolen • Brambilla • Depailler • de Dryver • Edwards • Ertl • Fittipaldi • Francia • Giacomelli • Hayje • Henton • Heyer • Hoffman • Hoshino • Hunt • Ickx • Jabouille • Jarier • Jones • Keegan • Kessel • Kozarowitzky • Laffite • Lauda • Leoni • Lunger • Mass • McGuire • Merzario • Neve • Nilsson • Oliver • Ongais • Pace • Patrese • Perkins • Peterson • Pilette • Purley • Pryce • Rebaque • Regazzoni • Reutemann • Ribeiro • I. Scheckter • J. Scheckter • Schuppan • Stuck • Sutcliffe • Takahashi • Takahara • Tambay • Trimmer • Villeneuve • de Villota • Watson • Zorzi
Cars Apollon Fly • Brabham BT45 • Boro 001 • BRM P201 • BRM P207 • Ensign N177 • Ferrari 312T • Fittipaldi FD04 • Fittipaldi F5 • Hesketh 308 • Kojima KE009 • LEC CRP1 • Ligier JS7 • Lotus 78 • March 761 • March 771 • McGuire BM1 • McLaren M23 • McLaren M26 • Penske PC4 • Renault RS01 • Shadow DN5 • Shadow DN8 • Surtees TS19 • Tyrrell 007 • Tyrrell P34 • Wolf WR1 • Wolf WR2 • Wolf WR3
Tyres Bridgestone • Dunlop • Goodyear • Michelin
Races Argentina • Brazil • South Africa • United States West • Spain • Monaco • Belgium • Sweden • France • Britain • Germany • Austria • Netherlands • Italy • United States • Canada • Japan
Non-championship Races Race of Champions
See also 1976 Formula One Season • 1978 Formula One Season • Category
V T E France French Grand Prix
Circuits Reims (1950–1951, 1953–1954, 1956, 1958–1961, 1963, 1966)
Rouen-Les-Essarts (1952, 1957, 1962, 1964, 1968)
Charade Circuit (1965, 1969–1970, 1972)
Bugatti Circuit (1967)
Circuit Paul Ricard (1971, 1973, 1975–1976, 1978, 1980, 1982–1983, 1985–1990, 2018-present)
Dijon-Prenois (1974, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1984)
Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours (1991–2008)
PR Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 12.15.31 AM
F1 Races 195019511952195319541955195619571958195919601961196219631964196519661967196819691970197119721973197419751976197719781979198019811982198319841985198619871988198919901991199219931994199519961997199819992000200120022003200420052006200720082009-201720182019
European Championship Races 1931193219381939
Non-Championship Races 190619071908191219131914192119221923192419251926192719281929193019331934193519361937194719481949
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