The 1977 Monaco Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the XXXV Grand Prix Automobile de Monaco, was the sixth round of the 1977 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Circuit de Monaco on the 22 May, 1977. The race, which would be the 35th Monegasque Grand Prix to be staged as part of the World Championship, was to be remembered for an excellent rear-guard action from race winner Jody Scheckter.
The South African would, however, have to fight his way into the lead after qualifying, for John Watson had claimed pole in the heavily tested Brabham-Alfa Romeo. Carlos Reutemann and Ronnie Peterson would share the second row, while Mario Andretti, winner of the previous two races, found himself down in tenth.
At the start Scheckter made his claim for victory, sprinting past Watson into Sainte Devote with Reutemann chasing them through. Hans-Joachim Stuck moved through into fourth ahead of Peterson, with the returning Niki Lauda in sixth.
By the end of the opening tour Scheckter and Watson were clear of the back, leaving Reutemann to fight for third with Stuck, Peterson and Lauda. The rest of the field also negotiated the opening lap without issue, with the starting grid limited to twenty starters after some twenty-six qualifiers.
Watson would continue to harass the leading Wolf well past half-distance, with the only other changes to the order coming through retirements. Indeed, the only exception to this rule was to be Lauda, who scythed past Peterson and teammate Reutemann to claim third, before dragging the Argentine with him to try and catch the leaders.
Watson's challenge would ultimately come to an end with a gearbox failure, allowing Scheckter to ease off the pace. Being informed of this, Lauda managed to draw onto the back of the black-gold Wolf as the laps ticked away, leaving Reutemann to resist a late charge from Jochen Mass for third.
Lauda would duly catch the Wolf with a few laps to go, although try as he might the Austrian could not elbow his way past. Scheckter duly flashed across the line to record his second victory of the season ahead of the Austrian, while Mass ran out of time to catch Reutemann for third. Andretti had a quiet afternoon to claim fifth, while Alan Jones stalked the American throughout to claim the final point in sixth.
F1 headed to the Principality of Monaco for the sixth round of the 1977 Championship, an event which was fast becoming the last remaining link to the series' past. Indeed, the Circuit de Monaco was such an oddity that it seemed immune to the political protests and threats from either WCR or F.O.C.A., with both silent after the race in Spain. The circuit itself was unchanged after its face lift in 1976, a benefit for the field as no-one was able to complete a test on the city streets ahead of the race.
Leading the charge into Monte Carlo were Brabham-Alfa Romeo, who had spent a week testing at Alfa's Ballocco circuit near Milan. Both John Watson and Hans-Joachim Stuck would react positively to the testing, with both feeling that the team had made ground with their trio of BT45Bs. Others were less impressed with their running, with a few among the Ford Cosworth engined contingent suggesting that the team had "tested" with some four litre engines, rather than the permitted three litre F12s.
In contrast, McLaren arrived having decided to change their cars, but without the benefit of testing them since Spain. Indeed, both team boss Teddy Mayer and defending World Champion James Hunt agreed that the Brit should swap back to his Championship winning M23, while his new M26 returned to the factory. Jochen Mass continued to use his newer M23, while Hunt's new-for-1977 M23 was relegated to reserve duty.
An equally confused shuffle had been made at Tyrrell, with Ken Tyrrell deciding to take his team back to 1976 in their attempts to find speed. Indeed, both Monte Carlo resident Ronnie Peterson, and teammate Patrick Depailler, would use P34s that had been revised back to the spec in which they run in Monte Carlo a year earlier. The sleeker P34B, most recently used by Peterson, was left back in the UK, meaning Depailler's old P34 resumed its duties as the team's spare.
The other significant change came at Shadow, whom had decided to drop the rather ineffective Renzo Zorzi, in spite of the threat of his sponsor AVS to withdraw their funding. Regardless, the Italian was plucked from his seat to allow promising Italian Formula Two racer Riccardo Patrese to make his debut, partnering Alan Jones. Furthermore, AVS would ultimately decide to transfer their colours, and money, to Patrese, meaning the two DN8s remained in their striking white livery.
Patrese would not be the only Monte Carlo rookie in the field, however, with Rupert Keegan also making his debut at the circuit with Hesketh. The Brit would be able to benefit from teammate Harald Ertl's experience, the Austrian being very familiar with the circuit both as a journalist and a racing driver. Elsewhere, Boy Hayje was also breaking his Monaco virginity in his RAM Racing prepared March 761, as were factory March racers Alex Ribeiro and Ian Scheckter.
Elsewhere, Ferrari were unchanged after the Spanish Grand Prix, both Niki Lauda and Carlos Reutemann satisfied despite a lack of testing from the Scuderia after the race in Jarama. Likewise, race winners Lotus were optimistic in-spite of a lack of running, with lead driver Mario Andretti the pre-race favourite having won in Long Beach. His teammate Gunnar Nilsson was another expected to impress, as was the lone Wolf piloted by Jody Scheckter.
Ensign had added experience to their effort, bringing Jacky Ickx back to the F1 field as a reserve driver after the Belgian's huge accident towards the end 1976. The chances of the Belgian racer racing were higher than expected, for Ensign's 1977 campaigner Clay Regazzoni was underpressure from his sponsors to race in the Indy 500. As such it was expected that the Swiss racer would wait to see whether the Ensign was competitive on Thursday, before deciding if he should fly out to the US to enter qualifying for the 500 mile race.
Most hopes of a "home" victory came in the form of Jacques Laffite and the Ligier-Matra, although the new JS7 was proving to be an enigma in terms of pace. Likewise, the lone Fittipaldi of Emerson Fittipaldi was an unknown in spite of its pilot's talents, with the Brazilian effort shipping two FD04s out for the European tour. The German owned Penskes were another variable in the middle of the field, with Jean-Pierre Jarier once again called upon by ATS.
Completing the field were Surtees, who brought along three cars for their pairing of Hans Binder, another Monte Carlo minor, and Vittorio Brambilla. Arturo Merzario was a late addition to the grid with his self-entered car, as was Jean-Pierre Jabouille in the British Formula One Racing Team entry. David Purley also entered his LEC but failed to appear, while the BRM crew wisely opted not to embarrass themselves with an appearance.
Into the Championship and Jody Scheckter had held onto his lead in the World Championship after the first European race of the season in Spain, although race winner Andretti had closed the gap to three points with victory. Lauda and Reutemann arrived in Monte Carlo level on points in third, both dropping a point behind the American, while Hunt continued to hold fifth. Fittipaldi was next up in sixth ahead of Depailler, while Stuck had become the latest driver to add his name to the scorers list in Jarama.
Ferrari arrived with a healthy lead in the International Cup for Constructors, leaving Spain with an eleven point advantage over Wolf-Ford Cosworth. The Canadian squad themselves were being drawn in by the revived Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth squad, who had closed to within a point of their similarly liveried rivals, with McLaren-Ford Cosworth having dropped away away in fourth. Behind, Brabham-Alfa Romeo had moved ahead of Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth, with Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth arriving in a disappointing seventh.
The full entry list for the 1977 Monaco Grand Prix is outlined below:
- * Regazzoni was replaced by Ickx during the weekend after deciding to race in the 1977 Indianapolis 500
Practice/qualifying would be completed via a combination of three "timed" and an additional "untimed" session, spread across Thursday and Saturday ahead of the race. As ever, Thursday would host two of the "timed" periods, while Saturday would see the "untimed" session staged ahead of the final qualifying runout. As for target times, the top teams would aim to beat the new circuit record, a 1:29.65, set by Niki Lauda in 1976.
It would be a rather frantic start to qualifying on Thursday morning, with the two Brabham-Alfa Romeos queued up at the end of the pitlane as the track was opened for the first time. Their fear, much like everyone else, was to be caught behind a slower car in the tight harbour front section, as well as the fact that there were dark clouds hanging over the Mediterranean all morning. To combat the traffic issue the marshals had been instructed to show blue flags to anyone who they deemed to be holding another driver up, a decision which many of the marshals would soon regret.
Ultimately the decision to head out at the earliest time worked beautifully for Brabham, Hans-Joachim Stuck ending the morning fastest with a 1:30.73. Their lead driver John Watson was only a fraction behind with a 1:30.86, but while the Ulsterman was calm and collected, Stuck looked as if he had not even considered the existence of the barriers. Regardless of style, however, the two Brabhams were well clear at the head of the field, with Ronnie Peterson in the Tyrrell their closest challenger.
Elsewhere, Lauda was forced to swap to the spare Ferrari early on after a driveshaft failure, although the Austrian was still quicker than teammate Carlos Reutemann. Ligier-Matra, meanwhile, were having a torrid time with their engine, suspension and gearbox, denying Jacques Laffite any sort of confidence come the end of the session. As such he was being outshone by Rupert Keegan, whose only other experience of Monte Carlo was a quick trip to the barriers in a Formula Three race, while Riccardo Patrese looked relatively comfortable in his Shadow. Alex Ribeiro, meanwhile, was not enjoying his Monte Carlo debut, smashing his factory March into the barriers, moments before teammate Ian Scheckter cracked his ribs in the sister car.
Unfortunately, as the field prepared to head back out onto the circuit to take part in the second session on Thursday, the dark clouds hanging over the Principality finally decided to dump their load. A few did venture out on slicks, the rain fairly light at first, but all of them would be back in without passing the start/finish line. After that it was a question of whether to risk a run on wet tyres for sheer mileage, or just give up and go home.
There would be several surprising takers of the first option, with Mario Andretti topping the timesheet with a 2:00.06 in his Lotus. James Hunt also set a strong wet time for McLaren, in between pit practice for his pitcrew, while Stuck backed his dry running with a strong runout in the Brabham. The German's teammate Watson did not bother to take part, while Clay Regazzoni completed a couple of laps, before boarding a plane to head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to take part in qualifying for the Indy 500.
Saturday would see some major changes among the Ford Cosworth contingent, with three new "Super Cosworths" delivered to Team Lotus, McLaren and Tyrrell. These new engines, designed to end the rebellion by teams switching to the custom tuned "Nicholson-McLaren" Cosworth engines, featured several components made from magnesium, and fine tuned by the firm's best engineers. Priority was given to Cosworth's most "important" customers (i.e. those that could afford to pay for the research and development costs), with Wolf next in line to receive a "Super" Cosworth V8.
Heading into the final qualifying session the March team confirmed their withdrawal from the weekend, Ribeiro without a car and Scheckter without any real fitness. Ensign, meanwhile, were forced to re-sign ex-driver Jacky Ickx for the race, after it became clear that Regazzoni's 1:35.00 would not be enough for him to qualify. The Belgian duly got some time in the car during the "untimed" session on Saturday morning, and looked far more comfortable in the car than expected.
The final qualifying session itself would be among the most hectic in recent memory, for the issue of who was to qualify on pole remained in the air. Stuck was the first to fall, being eliminated early via an engine failure, meaning he had to rely on his Friday best to do the business. Unfortunately for the German he would steadily slip down the order, with teammate Watson setting a stunning effort of 1:29.86 to claim pole for himself.
Jody Scheckter was another strong runner, recording the second best effort with a 1:30.27, although his day would end prematurely with a visit to the barriers, ruining the Wolf's rear end. Reutemann and Peterson would also improve, relegating Stuck down to fifth, while Andretti, not using his "Super Cosworth" was set to join them. Yet, the American was not able to get among the leaders, as he went spinning into the barriers after hitting an oil slick left by Keegan's sick Hesketh.
Yet, in spite of his sick Cosworth, Keegan would still make it into the race, joining the nineteen other qualifiers on the grid. Also, surprisingly, in would be Ickx in the Ensign, the Belgian comfortably ahead of Emerson Fittipaldi, while Patrese was the best Monte Carlo rookie in fifteenth. That left Arturo Merzario, Boy Hayje and Harald Ertl out of action, along with the absent Regazzoni and the two factory Marches.
The full qualifying results for the 1977 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||7||John Watson||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||1:30.86||—||1:29.86||—|
|2||20||Jody Scheckter||Wolf-Ford Cosworth||1:31.78||2:04.78||1:30.27||+0.41s|
|4||3||Ronnie Peterson||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:31.15||2:08.84||1:30.72||+0.86s|
|5||8||Hans-Joachim Stuck||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||1:30.73||2:00.88||—||+0.87s|
|7||1||James Hunt||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:32.56||2:00.35||1:30.85||+0.99s|
|8||4||Patrick Depailler||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:31.42||2:01.38||1:31.16||+1.30s|
|9||2||Jochen Mass||McLaren-Ford Cosworth||1:32.06||—||1:31.36||+1.50s|
|10||5||Mario Andretti||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:31.85||2:00.06||1:31.50||+1.64s|
|11||17||Alan Jones||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:32.47||—||1:32.04||+2.18s|
|12||34||Jean-Pierre Jarier||Penske-Ford Cosworth||1:32.32||+2.46s|
|13||6||Gunnar Nilsson||Lotus-Ford Cosworth||1:32.92||—||1:32.37||+2.51s|
|14||19||Vittorio Brambilla||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:33.81T||2:04.18||1:32.40T||+2.54s|
|15||16||Riccardo Patrese||Shadow-Ford Cosworth||1:34.24||2:04.27||1:32.52||+2.66s|
|17||22||Jacky Ickx||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||—||—||1:33.25||+3.39s|
|18||28||Emerson Fittipaldi||Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth||1:34.11||2:10.53||1:33.39||+3.53s|
|19||18||Hans Binder||Surtees-Ford Cosworth||1:36.69||—||1:33.49||+3.63s|
|20||24||Rupert Keegan||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:33.78||2:45.01||—||+3.92s|
|DNQ||37||Arturo Merzario||March-Ford Cosworth||1:34.46||—||—||+4.60s|
|DNQ||33||Boy Hayje||March-Ford Cosworth||1:34.86||—||1:34.48||+4.62s|
|DNQ||25||Harald Ertl||Hesketh-Ford Cosworth||1:35.74||—||1:34.74||+4.88s|
|DNQ||22||Clay Regazzoni||Ensign-Ford Cosworth||1:35.00||2:18.23||—||+5.14s|
|DNQ||9||Alex Ribeiro||March-Ford Cosworth||1:36.62||—||—||+6.76s|
|DNQ||10||Ian Scheckter||March-Ford Cosworth||1:46.30||2:03.73||—||+16.44s|
|WD||31||David Purley||LEC-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
|WD||38||Jean-Pierre Jabouille||March-Ford Cosworth||Withdrawn|
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
- T Indicates a test/spare car.
It would be a busy start to raceday, with a Formula Three race staged early on, resulting in victory for French youngster Didier Pironi. The F1 warm-up was next, which passed by without issue, before another support race for Renault equipment, several parades, and a demonstration by Vic Elford in the new Porsche 928. With that the twenty qualifiers for the Grand Prix, plus first reserve Arturo Merzario went out for their parade lap, before forming up on the grid for the start.
Ultimately, Merzario would have to drag his car back into the pits, with all twenty qualifiers pulling cleanly off the grid when the starter's lights flashed to green. At the front, meanwhile, Jody Scheckter went screaming past John Watson to claim the lead into Sainte Devote, with the rest of the field piling in behind them. Indeed, it was deemed an outrageous move by the South African, after the officials had told the drivers there was to be no overtaking into the first corner.
Regardless, it was Scheckter who led the charge up towards Casino Square for the first time, with Watson glued to his gearbox for the rest of the lap. They would complete the opening tour almost as one, with the rest of the field making it safely around behind Carlos Reutemann. Hans-Joachim Stuck had moved into fourth, taking Ronnie Peterson, while Niki Lauda and James Hunt were squabbling in the middle of the lead pack.
The opening stages of the race were really rather tame after the opening tour, with Watson throwing his Brabham-Alfa Romeo around behind the Wolf, but without much impact. Those two were steadily pulling clear of Reutemann, who was under pressure from the second weaving Brabham of Stuck, although the German's car was throwing up sparks all around the circuit. Further down debutante Riccardo Patrese was already carrying front wing damage, likely inflicted in the first corner crunch, while Gunnar Nilsson was the first retirement with a gearbox failure.
Elsewhere, the two Tyrrells were both suffering from brake issues, Patrick Depailler losing places after a huge lock up out of the tunnel, while Peterson without after a total failure. Jochen Mass had used the former's issues to also take Mario Andretti, before moving into seventh thanks to Peterson's failure. A few later and the German moved up into the points, this time at the expense of Stuck, whose electrics shorted badly enough to cause a fire in his Brabham.
Behind, Jacques Laffite was getting frustrated in his attempts to move up the order, the Ligier-Matra darting around behind Vittorio Brambilla in search of a move. Debutante Rupert Keegan, meanwhile, was taking a more measured approach to take Emerson Fittipaldi, the Brazilian finding his Fittipaldi difficult to drive. Elsewhere Jacky Ickx was steadily moving up the order in the Ensign, stalking the top ten, while Hans Binder was a lap down before the leaders completed lap 20.
Back with the leaders and Watson was still unable to elbow Scheckter out of the way, while both were being steadily caught by Lauda, whom had been released by teammate Reutemann once the Argentine gave up hopes of catching them himself. Reutemann was therefore left leading a train consisting of the two McLarens and Andretti, although that was soon limited to just Mass and the American. This was because Hunt's engine expired in a cloud of smoke, his "Super Cosworth" having burned through all of its oil.
Other battle packs were also being broken up by issues, Jean-Pierre Jarier having to stop to have a punctured tyre changed, while Keegan finally slithered past Fittipaldi, prompting the Brazilian to stop for a new set of rubber. Watson, meanwhile was continuing to harass Scheckter for the lead as half-distance came an went, heralded by a few drops of rain. Yet, the circuit was simply too hot for the water to settle, and after a few minutes the drizzle stopped.
With the variable of rain withdrawn, and Scheckter defending expertly, Watson's only real opportunity to take the lead came when the pair lapped some back markers. Yet, even that failed to give the Ulsterman an advantage over the South African racer, with both diving past the Ickx/Patrese fight into Mirabeau on lap 45. However, a few moments later and the fight for the lead would be settled as one of the contenders went sliding off at the chicane.
That man, ultimately, proved to be Watson, who had tried a brave dive on the brakes into the chicane, only to find that his front discs were cooked. The Braham slithered down the escape road, although the Ulsterman quickly had the car back on track, albeit down behind Lauda. It was a break that effectively allowed Scheckter to relax at the head of the field, while Watson went scrambling off after the #11 Ferrari.
Yet, no counter would emerge from Watson, for the Brabham went spinning off into the barriers at Sainte Devote on lap 49 after his gearbox failed. The Brit scrambled clear uninjured but frustrated, with Reutemann now promoted onto the final step on the podium still being chased by Mass and Andretti. All three of them were now being drawn in by Alan Jones in the Shadow, while Brambilla and Laffite continued to squabble half a minute further back.
Yet, despite the incredibly close battle packs still clumped together throughout the field, there would be no major changes to the order in the final part of the race. As such, Scheckter easily cruised home a second clear of Lauda to claim victory, with the Austrian still throwing his Ferrari around to catch the South African. Reutemann also had to push to secure the final podium spot, with both Mass and Andretti in close attendance, while Jones just caught onto the back of the trio at the chequered flag. Laffite was next having finally elbowed Brambilla out of the way for seventh, while Patrese completed his first Grand Prix a lap down in ninth, just ahead of Ickx.
The full results for the 1977 Monaco Grand Prix are outlined below:
- Ensign entered a Grand Prix for the 50th time.
- 25th entry for Alan Jones.
- Harald Ertl entered a Grand Prix for the twentieth time.
- Ian Scheckter made his tenth entry.
- First Grand Prix start for Riccardo Patrese.
- Goodyear were registered as supplying their 2000th car in the Championship.
- Maiden pole position for John Watson.
- Jody Scheckter claimed his sixth career win.
- Wolf earned their second victory as a constructor.
- Scheckter also claimed the first fastest lap for Wolf.
- This was also Ford Cosworth's 90th fastest lap triumph as an engine supplier.
Victory for Jody Scheckter allowed the South African racer to extend his Championship lead in Monte Carlo having scored 32 points. Niki Lauda, meanwhile, had moved into second to become Scheckter's closest challenger, effectively swapping places with Mario Andretti, with Carlos Reutemann splitting the two of them. James Hunt remained in fifth, but was already looking like a non-factor in the title hunt, while Alan Jones had become the sixteenth scorer of 1977.
Ferrari continued to hold their lead in the International Cup for Constructors, although Canadian newboys Wolf-Ford Cosworth had cut the gap to eight points. Lotus-Ford Cosworth had also managed to secure themselves in third, eight points further back, while McLaren-Ford Cosworth found themselves slipping back in fourth. Brabham-Alfa Romeo and Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth were tied for fifth, with Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth stuck in seventh.
Images and Videos:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: MONACO GP, 1977', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr286.html, (Accessed 09/04/2018)
- D.S.J., 'The Monaco Grand Prix: Another win for Wolf', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/07/1977), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/july-1977/61/monaco-grand-prix, (Accessed 10/04/2018)
- '6. Monaco 1977', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/monaco.aspx, (Accessed 10/04/2018)
- 'Monaco 1977: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/monaco/engages.aspx, (Accessed 10/04/2018)
- 'Monaco 1977: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/monaco/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 10/04/2018)
- 'Monaco 1977: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/monaco/classement.aspx, (Accessed 11/04/2018)
- '1977 Monaco GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2018), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1977&gp=Monaco%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 10/04/2018)
|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|