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The 1977 United States Grand Prix West, otherwise officially known as the 2nd United States Grand Prix West or the III Grand Prix of Long Beach, was the fourth round of the 1977 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Long Beach Street Circuit on April 3 1977.[1] The race would be long remembered for its dramatic conclusion, with Jody Scheckter and Mario Andretti fighting for victory in the closing stages.[1]

The race came after two massive shocks to the racing world, with promising talents Tom Pryce and Carlos Pace losing their lives in an unrelated accidents.[1] Their replacements would be Alan Jones and Hans-Joachim Stuck respectively, while another old face in the form of Jean-Pierre Jarier returned with a privately entered Penske.[1]

Qualifying would see Niki Lauda claim pole from home hero Andretti, while Scheckter would start the race from third.[1] Defending Champion James Hunt, meanwhile, would start he race from eighth ahead of Jarier, while Jones and Stuck found themselves in the lower half of the field.[1]

The would be a melee at the start of the race, with Shceckter shooting past Andretti and Lauda into the first corner, before the rest piled in.[1] In the middle of the pack Hunt bounced off the side of John Watson, causing cars to scatter around the spinning McLaren.[1] Dust soon covered the scene to the observers, before revealing that Vittorio Brambilla had been elbowed into the barriers while Hunt carried on.[1]

Such was the chaos surrounding the start, caused by Carlos Reutemann sliding down an escape road, that Scheckter, Andretti and Lauda were on their own before the end of the opening lap.[1] They continued to pull clear during the early stages after establishing an unspoken truce, leaving Jacques Laffite to lead the rest of the field.[1]

After the opening stages the race became rather tame, only mechanical strife or on-track mishap causing major changes to the order.[1] Further accidents would remove Reutemann and Brett Lunger from the scene, while Watson found himself disqualified after a stop for fresh tyres required a push to get the Brabham-Alfa Romeo back into the fray.[1]

Indeed, even the top three remained static for most of the afternoon, although as the race came to its final throes it seemed as if Scheckter was struggling in his Wolf.[1] So it proved, for the South African racer had picked up a slow puncture in the closing stages, allowing Andretti to get the Lotus even closer to the back of the similarly liveried Scheckter.[1]

With just two laps to go Andretti finally made his move, slithering past Scheckter to snatch victory, a first for an American driver in a race held in America.[1] Scheckter was also unable to keep Lauda at bay and so slipped to third, but managed to limp home behind the Austrian to complete the podium.[1]

Behind them, Laffite had run in fourth for almost all of the race, only to suffer a late electrical failure as the drama unfolded ahead.[1] That promoted Patrick Depailler and Emerson Fittipaldi further into the points, while Laffite's compatriot Jarier claimed a maiden point for the ATS team in the Penske.[1]

BackgroundEdit

The F1 circus returned to an unchanged Long Beach Street Circuit for the fourth round of the 1977 season, in spite of widely publicised financial difficulties for the event.[2] Yet, even that had been overshadowed by the miserable events during and after the South African Grand Prix, which saw two of F1's rising stars perish, as well as a marshal.[2] The month long break would also see the Race of Champions staged at Brands Hatch, with several old faces returning to the grid.[2]

The first piece of news, regarding the race itself, had only just been resolved before the majority of the field headed across the Atlantic, with ex-F1 racers Dan Gurney and Phil Hill working hard to secure sponsorship for a race they had helped organise.[2] Their work ensured that the prize pot and attendance fees were covered, as well as the costs of running the race around the coast.[2] Indeed, so late was the securing of the race's funds that the last of the barriers were being erected as the teams began to unload into the paddock.[2]

In terms of the fallen stars, the first had come at the Kyalami Circuit, where Shadow racer Tom Pryce had met a rather gruesome end after striking marshal Jansen van Vuuren in a horrible accident.[2] Both had had their funerals held in their native countries, although Pryce's death left a vacant seat at the Shadow team ahead of the race.[2] They duly managed to secure ex-Surtees racer Alan Jones, who had been racing in a variety of American series with funding from Teddy Yip.[2] The Australian had been released from his contract at the behest of Mr. Yip, taking over a new DN8 to partner Renzo Zorzi until the end of the season.[2]

The second death had come as a huge shock, for it came a couple of days before James Hunt swept to victory at the Race of Champions.[2] Having decided to skip the non-Championship round, Brabham-Alfa Romeo racer Carlos Pace had decided to return to his home in Brazil, piloting a light aircraft through a storm a few miles from São Paulo.[2] The Brazilian was killed as the plane crashed just outside the city, with the Autódromo do Interlagos subsequently renamed in his honour.[2]

The Brazilian's death left a significant hole in the F1 community, as well as a vacant seat at Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham-Alfa Romeo squad.[2] Their second driver John Watson, who was rated as highly as both Pace and Pryce, became the team's lead driver, while Pace's seat was filled by German racer Hans-Joachim Stuck.[2] They would pilot a matching pair of BT45Bs, with the spare car also brought up to "B-spec" after the updates successful debut at Kyalami.[2] Stuck, for his part, had not only been racing Pryce at the time of the Welshman's accident at Kyalami, but had also been set to race Watson's old Penske in Long Beach before being offered a drive alongside the Brit.[2]

That Penske seat was therefore handed to Jean-Pierre Jarier, whom had left Shadow at the end of 1976 having been Pryce's teammate for almost two seasons.[2] The Frenchman was not hired by Team Penske, however, as Roger Penske had sold all of his equipment off to German wheel manufacturers Auto Technisches Spezialzubehör, whom had been left furious with Stuck's decision to join Brabham at the last minute.[2] They, being one of Germany's largest parts suppliers, were determined to have a German driver at the helm, but were ultimately left to hire the experienced Jarier at the eleventh hour.[2]

Away from the major changes to the field and most American hopes were tied up in the Lotus squad, which fielded American racer Mario Andretti alongside Gunnar Nilsson.[2] Andretti was handed the newest 78 for his home race, which featured the updated skirts on the underside of the sidepods, while Nilsson took over the American's old car.[2] The original 78 the Swede had used became the spare car, with engine partner Ford Cosworth providing the team with three new engines as well.[2]

Likewise, McLaren arrived with a new car for one of their drivers, although this was handed to Jochen Mass rather than lead driver Hunt.[2] The Brit would continue to use the car he had raced in Kyalami and Brands Hatch, with no major changes made after either race.[2] Indeed, it seemed as if the M26 project was dead for the McLaren team, with the last three cars produced by Teddy Mayer being M23s instead.[2]

Tyrrell also had a new chassis in action at Long Beach, although the sixth P34 would serve as a spare for the time being.[2] Patrick Depailler and Ronnie Peterson would therefore continue to use the cars they had raced at Kyalami which remained unchanged.[2] The new Tyrrell would be built around Peterson's cockpit requirements rather than Depailler's, although it otherwise identical to the sister cars.[2]

Elsewhere, Ferrari were unchanged after rediscovering their mojo in South Africa, bringing along three cars for Niki Lauda and Carlos Reutemann.[2] March, meanwhile, had three cars in action in Long Beach, two of which would be the latest 761Bs for factory drivers Alex Ribeiro and late hire Brian Henton, replacing Stuck and the injured Ian Scheckter.[2] The third March was entered privately by American effort Chesterfield Racing, with Brett Lunger at the wheel.[2]

Ligier-Matra had been forced to revert to their older JS7, the new car having been taken out of the race in Kyalami by Pryce's ruined Shadow.[2] Jacques Laffite continued on as their only driver, as did Emerson Fittipaldi for Fittipaldi.[2] Jody Scheckter would likewise remain the only Wolf pilot, using the newest WR1 as a spare, while Clay Regazzoni stuck with the older Ensign once again.[2]

Completing the field would be Surtees, which brought along two cars for Hans Binder and Vittorio Brambilla.[2] Two further entries would be submitted but never arrived, Larry Perkins and the BRM remaining at Bourne having been well and truly beaten at Kyalami.[2] The other entry was for F1 rookie Rupert Keegan in the updated Hesketh, but neither driver nor team made it across the Atlantic.[2]

Into the Championship and in spite of the tragic circumstances of the race at Kyalami it was Jody Scheckter who emerged atop the World Championship standings, leaving South Africa two points clear of Reutemann. The Argentine arrived in the US tied for second with Kyalami winning teammate Lauda, who had jumped up from sixth with victory. Hunt, meanwhile, ad held onto fourth, while Pace was registered in the top five in spite of his demise.

Ferrari led the way in the International Cup for Constructors standings, arriving in Long Beach five clear of Wolf-Ford Cosworth in second. McLaren-Ford Cosworth had moved up into third ahead of Brabham-Alfa Romeo, with Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth completing the top five. Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth and Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth were next, with Ensign-Ford Cosworth and Shadow-Ford Cosworth completing the scorers list.

Entry listEdit

The full entry list for the 1977 United States Grand Prix West is outlined below:

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M23 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 P34B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Elf Team Tyrrell Tyrrell P34B 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 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom Team Rothmans International March 761B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
11 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T2B Ferrari 015 3.0 F12 G
12 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T2B Ferrari 015 3.0 F12 G
14 Australia Larry Perkins United Kingdom Rotary Watches Stanley BRM BRM P207 BRM P202 3.0 V12 G
16 Italy Renzo Zorzi 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 Austria Hans Binder 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 WR1 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
26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS7 Matra MS76 3.0 V12 G
28 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Copersucar-Fittipaldi Fittipaldi FD04 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
30 United States Brett Lunger United States Chesterfield Racing March 761 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
Source:[3]

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

Practice/qualifying would return to the standardised pattern of three "timed" sessions, supported by an additional "untimed" period, across Friday and Saturday in Long Beach, giving teams around six hours of running before the race.[2] Friday would, as usual, host two of the "timed" periods, while Saturday would see qualifying effectively concluded before the "untimed" session that afternoon.[2] As for a target time the top teams would be aiming to beat the circuit record, a 1:23.076 set by Clay Regazzoni in 1976.[2]

ReportEdit

Practice was set to start at 10:30am on Friday morning, but issues sorting out the final barriers to close off the circuit from the rest of the city on Thursday fell badly behind.[2] As such, the first practice session was delayed by over three hours as the last hoardings, and a legion of sponsor logos, were erected at the edge of the pavements.[2] Such was the delay that the marshals had no time to sweep the worst of the dust and debris from the circuit, meaning that there was a reluctance for the top teams to head out when the session did start.[2]

Yet, most soon realised that there was little point sitting around the garages, particularly as most of the field had not run their cars at all since the Race of Champions earlier in the month.[2] Fortunately the worst of the litter was swept away before too long, meaning the top drivers would seen get within sight of Regazzoni's record.[2] Ultimately, it was Jody Scheckter who smashed through the Swiss racer's record, a late run in the dancing Wolf seeing the South African head to the lunch break with a 1:22.794.[2]

Two tenths behind Scheckter come sessions end was Mario Andretti, the American racer trying out a range of Goodyear compounds en-route to a 1:22.979.[2] Elsewhere, Niki Lauda was out of sorts for Ferrari, later explained by a broken anti-roll bar, while arch-rival James Hunt was only a fraction faster having struggled to find a balance with his McLaren.[2] Likewise, the two Tyrrells were seriously struggling around the Long Beach circuit, while a series of problems for new Brabham-Alfa Romeo racer Hans-Joachim Stuck meant he was constantly swapping cars.[2]

Into the second session of the weekend and Andretti was handed an ultra soft set of Goodyears to try, with which the American racer would record a 1:22.067 to claim provisional pole overnight.[2] Indeed, it was a stunning lap from the Lotus pilot, with Jacques Laffite the only driver within half a second of him having recorded a 1:22.296.[2] Scheckter, meanwhile, would fail to improve, meaning he would slip behind Hunt, Lauda and Carlos Reutemann before the end of the day.[2]

In terms of drama, there were major issues for Alex Ribeiro, the Brazilian only recording a single slow lap before his March expired with an unspecified issue.[2] Patrick Depailler, meanwhile, had to try and use the spare Tyrrell during the first part of the session, having damaged his car by clipping the wall at the end of the morning run-out, only to find that he could barely reach the pedals.[2] He would have to wait for his car to be repaired, before going on to match teammate Ronnie Peterson, with the Surtees of Vittorio Brambilla splitting the duo despite the Italian's struggles with its six-speed gearbox.[2]

Friday night allowed most of the teams to restore their cars to almost new condition, meaning the final "timed" session on Saturday morning, bathed in sunshine, provided the perfect conditions for a pole shootout.[2] And so it proved, with Scheckter, Andretti and Lauda all in the hunt throughout the session, all exchanging quick times in the 1:21.000s.[2] However, as the session headed into its closing stages the fight was down to a duel, as Scheckter broke the Wolf's gearbox.[2]

Moments later and Lauda seemed to have clinched it, the #11 Ferrari recording a 1:21.630 before slipping into the pits with a few minutes remaining.[2] The Austrian climbed out of his cockpit and went to stand by the fence, watching as Andretti, using a new set of ultra-soft Goodyear tyres, chipped away at his best time.[2] Ultimately, however, the American's last, and best effort, would fall shy at 1:21.868, leaving Lauda on pole while Scheckter slipped to third.[2]

Elsewhere, John Watson had an eventful afternoon, coming close to writing off his Brabham after getting stuck behind Brian Henton for several laps.[2] Indeed, the usually calm Ulsterman decided to stamp on the throttle on the exit of the final corner after finally passing the March, only to pirouette right in front of Henton and graze the barriers.[2] Earlier issues, a gearbox issue and a split alternator belt had further denied Watson a strong time, so his late rally to gain sixth proved that the Ulsterman could be the team's new idol.[2]

Behind, Emerson Fittipaldi would be a surprising seventh ahead of Hunt, who simply lacked confidence in the ageing M23 around the city streets.[2] Next up was Peterson, who finally found a good balance in the Tyrrell, while Jean-Pierre Jarier completed the top ten in the Penske, causing many to question why he had faded so badly at Shadow.[2] Speaking of Shadow, Alan Jones had needed a fresh engine overnight to stand any chance of racing, although he was well ahead of new teammate Renzo Zorzi.[2] Elsewhere, brake issues for Jochen Mass left him down the order, while Gunnar Nilsson became the first visitor to the barriers early on in the day after pushing too hard in the first corner.[2]

Qualifying ResultsEdit

The full qualifying results for the 1977 United States Grand Prix West are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
Q1 Q2 Q3
1 11 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Ferrari 1:23.826 1:22.664 1:21.630
2 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:22.979 1:22.067 1:21.868 +0.238s
3 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:22.794 1:22.891 1:21.887 +0.257s
4 12 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 1:23.051 1:22.476 1:22.260 +0.630s
5 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 1:22.993 1:22.296 1:22.558 +0.666s
6 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:23.081 1:22.387 1:22.372 +0.742s
7 28 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:24.749 1:23.825 1:22.382 +0.752s
8 1 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:23.825 1:22.603 1:22.529 +0.899s
9 34 France Jean-Pierre Jarier West Germany Penske-Ford Cosworth 1:24.750 1:23.467 1:22.611 +0.981s
10 3 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:23.855 1:22.991 1:22.655 +1.025s
11 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:24.361 1:22.917 1:22.659 +1.029s
12 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:23.745 1:23.339 1:22.675 +1.045s
13 22 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:24.904 1:23.916 1:22.762 +1.132s
14 17 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:24.669 1:24.245 1:23.056 +1.426s
15 2 Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:23.975 1:23.576 1:23.231 +1.601s
16 6 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:24.938 1:23.633 1:23.384 +1.753s
17 8 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:24.358 1:23.811 1:24.080 +2.181s
18 10 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 1:26.739 1:24.727 1:24.036 +2.406s
19 18 Austria Hans Binder United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:25.473 1:24.793 1:24.173 +2.543s
20 16 Italy Renzo Zorzi United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:25.205 1:24.486 1:24.357 +2.727s
21 30 United States Brett Lunger United States March-Ford Cosworth 1:27.813 1:24.979 1:25.230 +3.349s
22 9 Brazil Alex Ribeiro United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 1:28.368 1:53.004 1:25.080 +3.450s
WD 14 Australia Larry Perkins United Kingdom BRM Withdrawn
WD 24 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn
Source:[2][4]
  • Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
  • T Indicates a test/spare car.

GridEdit

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 ______________ 1
2 Niki Lauda
Mario Andretti ______________
Row 2 ______________ 3
4 Jody Scheckter
Carlos Reutemann ______________
Row 3 ______________ 5
6 Jacques Laffite
John Watson ______________
Row 4 ______________ 7
8 Emerson Fittipaldi
James Hunt ______________
Row 5 ______________ 9
10 Jean-Pierre Jarier
Ronnie Peterson ______________
Row 6 ______________ 11
12 Vittorio Brambilla
Patrick Depailler ______________
Row 7 ______________ 13
14 Clay Regazzoni
Alan Jones ______________
Row 8 ______________ 15
16 Jochen Mass
Gunnar Nilsson ______________
Row 9 ______________ 17
18 Hans-Joachim Stuck
Brian Henton ______________
Row 10 ______________ 19
20 Hans Binder
Renzo Zorzi ______________
Row 11 ______________ 21
22 Brett Lunger
Alex Ribeiro ______________

RaceEdit

Sunday proved to be the warmest day of the weekend, with temperatures stable at 68°F (20°C) and no sign of rain, although as it came to the start time temperatures climbed, briefly, to 100°F (37°C).[2] The warm-up session passed without issue, meaning all 22 qualifiers would make the start.[2] After the pre-race paraphernalia was cleared away the drivers were ready to run, Niki Lauda leading the field into their grid slots to await the change in the starters lights.[2]

ReportEdit

When the lights did flash to green, however, it was not Lauda who led the charge into the first corner.[2] Instead it was Jody Scheckter, who somehow squeezed the Wolf between the Ferrari and the pitwall to snatch the inside line into the opening corner, with Carlos Reutemann trying to do the same.[2] Seeing this in his mirrors, Lauda lifted off, as did Mario Andretti on the Austrian's left, leaving Reutemann to go sliding down the escape road having braked far too late.[2]

1977 US Grand Prix Start

James Hunt gets flicked into the air by John Watson into the first corner.

Reutemann's slide seemed to be a distraction for the hoard following the leaders, with James Hunt getting caught out in the McLaren and so duly went soaring over the right front wheel of John Watson.[2] Hunt slithered to a stop alongside Reutemann once he landed, with Ronnie Peterson pulling in just behind having had to avoid the Watson/Hunt collision.[2] Watson just managed to make the corner without issue, while, in the melee on the exit of the opening corner, Vittorio Brambilla smashed his Surtees into the barriers after bouncing off the other McLaren of Jochen Mass.[2]

Peterson rejoined as Alex Ribeiro picked his way through the carnage, while Reutemann and Hunt both managed to reverse out of the escape road to rejoin.[2] Mass also carried on after briefly stopping after his contact with Brambilla, with the Italian's car left in a sorry state with two terminally damaged radiators.[2] The Surtees was duly left crumpled at the side of the circuit, although a marshal rather foolishly tried to move the car only to see it slide further down the hill, spreading fluids and damaged bodywork.[2]

The rest of the opening tour was no less exciting, with Andretti surging past Lauda down Shoreline Drive to claim second.[2] Yet, come the end of the lap, they were still trailing Scheckter's Wolf, with all three a second clear of Jacques Laffite in fourth.[2] Watson was next, with surprisingly little damage on his Brabham-Alfa Romeo, with Emerson Fittipaldi up to sixth ahead of Jean-Pierre Jarier.[2]

The early stages of the race would see a similar pattern develop at the head of the field, with the top three pulling clear of the pack, while Hunt and Reutemann picked their way up through the back markers.[2] Watson, meanwhile, would take fourth away from Laffite and chase after the leaders, in spite of his Brabham starting to struggle with understeer.[2] Indeed, by the start of lap five it seemed as if the right front tyre of the #7 Brabham was looking a little flat, although Watson seemed to be able to cope with the issue.[2]

Back with the backmarkers, and Reutemann tried a lunge on Brett Lunger in the middle of the pack, only to have the American's March drift into the side of his Ferrari as they dived on the brakes at the end of Shoreline Drive.[2] Having miraculously escaped damage at the start, Reutemann was now left with heavy damage to the side of his Ferrari, meaning he had to limp back to the pits to retire.[2] Lunger, meanwhile, was out of the spot with smashed suspension and steering arms, although he did manage to drag the car away from the racing line before climbing out of the cockpit.[2]

Out front, meanwhile, it seemed as if a move by Andretti was becoming a certainty, with the American right behind the slithering Wolf all the time.[2] Lauda was just a few yards behind in the Ferrari, but only really able to hang on after flat-spotting one of his tyres while jousting with Andretti on the opening lap.[2] Furthermore, they were pulling further and further ahead of Watson, whose front tyre finally collapsed on lap fifteen, moments after being passed by Laffite.[2]

Watson's race was effectively run from the point, for the Brit rejoined in fifteenth, climbed quickly back up towards the points, before losing both first and second gears.[2] The Brabham slowly slid down the field over subsequent laps, before coming to a stop outside the pits with a completely unrelated engine failure.[2] The Brabham crew duly leapt over the wall to provide their new number one driver with a push, a decision that ultimately got the Brit disqualified.[2]

In the meantime there would be little overtaking around the punishing city streets, with the battle for the lead effectively a stalemate due to Scheckter's slithering style.[2] Indeed, only Patrick Depailler would make physical progress up the order, battling his Tyrrell up to fifth as Peterson brought the sister car in from the middle of the pack with a badly damaged tyre.[2] Indeed, Peterson had been running in the train behind Depailler, for the Frenchman was having to be ultra-defensive to keep Fittipaldi at bay.[2]

As the race wore on there would be a steady stream of retirements, the two Shadows a prime example as they disappeared within thirteen laps of each other with identical gearbox failures.[2] Ribeiro was another casualty having also suffered a catastrophic gearing issue, while Mass was forced to retire his damaged McLaren after picking up a horrendous vibration.[2] Hans-Joachim Stuck also had a miserable afternoon, the #8 Brabham constantly sliding down escape roads with a brake issue, with the German finally calling it a day on lap 53.[2]

Indeed, it was only in the closing stages that the race finally burst back into life, for the Wolf began to struggle with a slow puncture as the laps ticked away.[2] With five laps to go it was clear that Scheckter was having to fight the issue actively, a fact which did not escape Andretti.[2] Indeed, it was now the black-gold Lotus, rather than the black-gold Wolf, that was slithering around the circuit, with several threatening lunges keeping the crowd on their toes.[2]

Finally, with three laps to go, the pressure from Andretti finally told, with the Lotus diving past the Wolf at the end of Shoreline Drive, much to the delight of the home fans.[2] Scheckter, for his part, would try and squeeze the American towards the barriers, but ultimately had to give up the fight as his Wolf ran wide, losing more pressure as it did so.[2] As such, Lauda was presented with a simple move on the exit of the corner, before charging off the challenge Andretti.[2]

The final lap would be a tense one for the fans, for Lauda would draw right underneath the Lotus' rear wing at the start of the lap.[2] Further aiding the Austrian's cause was the looming presence of backmarkers Brian Henton and Hans Binder, both of whom would manage to baulk Andretti as the American tried to move ahead before the long run down Shoreline Drive.[2] Yet, when the Lotus dived on the brakes a few car lengths ahead of the Ferrari at the end of the straight the crowd knew that the race was run.[2]

Indeed, a few moments later and Andretti swept across the line to become the first American racer to win on home soil, less than a second clear of Lauda.[2] Scheckter limped home third with next to no air left in his right front tyre, while a late electrical issue for Laffite saw the Ligier-Matra retire with two laps to go.[2] That promoted Depailler into fourth ahead of Fittipaldi, while Jarier claimed the final point in the German owned Penske, fending off a late challenge from an otherwise quiet Hunt.[2]

ResultsEdit

The full results for the 1977 United States Grand Prix West are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 80 1:51:35.470 2 9
2 11 Austria Niki Lauda Italy Ferrari 80 +0.773s 1 6
3 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 80 +4.857s 3 4
4 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 80 +1:14.487 12 3
5 28 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 80 +1:20.908 7 2
6 34 France Jean-Pierre Jarier West Germany Penske-Ford Cosworth 79 +1 Lap 9 1
7 1 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 79 +1 Lap 8
8 6 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 79 +1 Lap 16
9* 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 78 Electrical 5
10 10 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 77 +3 Laps 18
11 18 Austria Hans Binder United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 77 +3 Laps 19
Ret 3 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 62 Fuel System 10
Ret 22 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 57 Gearbox 13
Ret 8 Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 53 Brakes 17
Ret 17 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 40 Gearbox 14
Ret 2 Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 39 Handling 15
DSQ 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 33 Disqualified 6
Ret 16 Italy Renzo Zorzi United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 27 Gearbox 20
Ret 9 Brazil Alex Ribeiro United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 15 Gearbox 22
Ret 12 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 5 Accident 4
Ret 30 United States Brett Lunger United States March-Ford Cosworth 4 Accident 21
Ret 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 11
WD 14 Australia Larry Perkins United Kingdom BRM
WD 24 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth
Source: [5]
  • * Laffite was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
  • Watson was disqualified for receiving a push-start.

MilestonesEdit

  • March started their 100th Grand Prix.
  • John Watson started his 50th World Championship race.
  • Third career win for Mario Andretti.
    • Andretti became the first (and only) American driver to win a Grand Prix staged in the United States (excluding the Indianapolis 500).
  • Lotus earned their 59th victory as a constructor.
    • Engine partner Ford Cosworth claimed their 98th triumph.
    • This was also the first victory for a car utilising "ground effect".
  • Niki Lauda claimed the 225th podium for Ferrari as both a constructor and engine supplier.
    • Lauda also claimed his tenth fastest lap.
  • First point for ATS as an entrant.

StandingsEdit

Race winner Mario Andretti would shoot up into fourth in the title hunt, although the American racer would still be eight points behind the leaders. Indeed, Jody Scheckter and Niki Lauda would head into the European season level on nineteen points, the South African ahead on countback, with Carlos Reutemann just ahead of Andretti in third. James Hunt, meanwhile, had slipped to fifth, while Jean-Pierre Jarier became the fourteenth driver to add his name to the scorers list.

Ferrari saw their lead in the International Cup for Constructors grow to nine points over Wolf-Ford Cosworth, with the Canadian team surprising many in their debut season. Lotus-Ford Cosworth were up in the top three thanks to Andretti's victory, moving ahead of McLaren-Ford Cosworth to be the best British constructor. Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth held on to their top five status, while Penske-Ford Cosworth were tagged onto the bottom of the table in tenth.

Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts +/-
1 South Africa Jody Scheckter 19
2 Austria Niki Lauda 19 ▲1
3 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 13 ▼1
4 United States Mario Andretti 11 ▲5
5 United Kingdom James Hunt 9 ▼1
6 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 8
7 France Patrick Depailler 7
8 Brazil Carlos Pace 6 ▼3
9 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson 2 ▼1
10 West Germany Jochen Mass 2
11 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni 1
12 Italy Renzo Zorzi 1
13 United Kingdom John Watson 1
14 France Jean-Pierre Jarier 1 ▲10
International Cup for Constructors
Pos. Team Pts +/-
1 Italy Ferrari 28
2 Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 19
3 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 13 ▲4
4 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 9 ▼1
5 Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 8
6 United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 7 ▼2
7 United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 7 ▼1
8 United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1
9 United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1
10 United States Penske-Ford Cosworth 1 ▲4

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 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: UNITED STATES GP, 1977', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr284.html, (Accessed 03/04/2018)
  2. 2.000 2.001 2.002 2.003 2.004 2.005 2.006 2.007 2.008 2.009 2.010 2.011 2.012 2.013 2.014 2.015 2.016 2.017 2.018 2.019 2.020 2.021 2.022 2.023 2.024 2.025 2.026 2.027 2.028 2.029 2.030 2.031 2.032 2.033 2.034 2.035 2.036 2.037 2.038 2.039 2.040 2.041 2.042 2.043 2.044 2.045 2.046 2.047 2.048 2.049 2.050 2.051 2.052 2.053 2.054 2.055 2.056 2.057 2.058 2.059 2.060 2.061 2.062 2.063 2.064 2.065 2.066 2.067 2.068 2.069 2.070 2.071 2.072 2.073 2.074 2.075 2.076 2.077 2.078 2.079 2.080 2.081 2.082 2.083 2.084 2.085 2.086 2.087 2.088 2.089 2.090 2.091 2.092 2.093 2.094 2.095 2.096 2.097 2.098 2.099 2.100 2.101 2.102 2.103 2.104 2.105 2.106 2.107 2.108 2.109 2.110 2.111 2.112 2.113 2.114 A.H., 'The United States Grand Prix West: The Racer's Racer Wins at Home', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/05/1977), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/may-1977/57/united-states-grand-prix-west, (Accessed 03/04/2018)
  3. 'USA West 1977: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/etats-unis-ouest.aspx, (Accessed 03/04/2018)
  4. USA West 1977: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1977/etats-unis-ouest/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 05/04/2018)
  5. "1977 USA West Grand Prix". formula1.com. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1977/races/377/usa-west/race-result.html. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
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 United States United States Grand Prix West
Circuit Long Beach (1976-1983)
Long Beach 1978
Formula One Races 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983
See also United States Grand Prix • Indianapolis 500 • Detroit Grand Prix • Caesars Palace Grand Prix • Dallas Grand Prix • Questor Grand Prix
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