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The 1978 Austrian Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the XVI Großer Preis von Österreich, was the twelfth round of the 1978 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Österreichring on 13 August 1978.[1] The race would see Ronnie Peterson claim his tenth and final victory to drag himself closer to teammate Mario Andretti in their duel for the Championship.[1]

Qualifying had seen Peterson start the weekend well, claiming pole ahead of Andretti during the opening session of the weekend.[1] The turbocharged Renault of Jean-Pierre Jabouille was next in a surprise third, just ahead of Carlos Reutemann in the first of the Ferraris.[1]

It proved to be a very dark afternoon in the Styrian mountains on raceday, with dark clouds looming over the circuit as the start time approached.[1] Regardless, Peterson made an excellent start to snatch the lead, while Andretti dropped behind a fast starting Reutemann, a fateful fall.[1]

Indeed, in his desperation to pass the Argentine as soon as possible Andretti tried an ambitious move around the outside of the #11 Ferrari, only to bounce off the side of Reutemann's car.[1] Andretti duly slammed into the barriers and ended his race, while Reutemann dropped behind Scheckter and Patrick Depailler.[1]

However, before Peterson could establish a lead the dark clouds finally burst, dumping a deluge of rain as the Swede started the second lap.[1] By lap four the conditions were far too dangerous to race, with Scheckter slamming into Andretti's abandoned car, while Reutemann spun while travelling in a straight line.[1] The race was duly, and correctly red flagged, with the restart delayed until the rain stopped.[1]

The race restarted with the grid set based on the race order at the end of lap four, meaning Peterson was on pole ahead of Depailler, John Watson and Jacques Laffite.[1] The Swede would not, however, ace this start, meaning it was Depailler whom slithered into the lead on the still damp track, while Watson stalled to cause a nightmare to those behind.[1]

Conditions remained treacherous, with numerous drivers including Alan Jones, Derek Daly and James Hunt all spinning off on the second opening lap.[1] Peterson, meanwhile, set about retaking the lead, dancing past Scheckter before catching a passing Depailler at the end of the lap.[1]

Peterson would go on to dominate as conditions improved, only losing the lead when he stopped for slicks while the two Ferraris clung onto their wet Michelins.[1] Peterson duly re-inherited the lead once they stopped, while Depailler steadily slipped away to finish a distant second.[1] Ferrari's delayed stop worked well enough that Gilles Villeneuve claimed a maiden podium, with the rest of the points shared between Emerson Fittipaldi, Jacques Laffite and Vittorio Brambilla.[1]

BackgroundEdit

The picturesque Österreichring would host the twelfth round of the 1978 World Championship tour, with no changes made to a circuit designed specifically for Grand Prix racing.[2] Indeed, the addition of the Hella Licht Chicane in 1977 seemed to have only enhanced the circuit, adding an extra potential overtaking spot despite being a blight on the otherwise flowing circuit.[2] The entry list reflected this air of optimism, with 31 drivers set to try and qualify for the race, with no sign of the organisers arranging a pre-qualifying period.[2]

That was, until all the teams had assembled in the paddock on the Thursday before the race, where-upon the organisers announced that eight drivers would indeed be made to pre-qualify on Friday morning.[2] Seven of those eight would progress, while the unlucky loser would have to sit out for the rest of the weekend.[2] Ultimately, the victim of the sudden call to arms would be Rolf Stommelen, whom was trying the new Arrows A1 for the first time.[2]

Indeed, in-between the German and Austrian Grand Prix news that Arrows had lost their appeal against the banning of their FA1s in the British Courts of Law.[3] Indeed, Mr. Justice Templeman had agreed with Shadow's belief that their former crew members that had formed Arrows had copied their Shadow DN9 design, and that the Arrows FA1 should be banned out right.[3] In truth, Arrows knew that this would be the likely outcome of their appeal, and had therefore rushed through production of the new Arrows A1 so that they had something to race with in Austria.[3]

Unfortunately for Stommelen his A1 had not run at all before he was told to go and pre-qualify, so there was no surprise when a fuel leak, a common enough issue for a new car let alone a new design, left the German stranded out on circuit after only a few laps.[2] In contrast, Riccardo Patrese had completed a full test with his car at Zandvoort after the German Grand Prix, and so arrived in the Styrian Mountains confident of a good result.[2] Furthermore, the Italian racer would get more than effectively a thirty minute shakedown to get the car up to speed, for the organisers had not listed Patrese as one of their potential victims on Thursday.[2]

Other victims of the organisers late call to qualify would include privateer Brett Lunger, who had decided to loan his spare McLaren M23 to F3 Champion Nelson Piquet after the Brazilian's strong debut in Hockenheim.[2] Likewise, Héctor Rebaque would also have to prove his worth in his ex-factory Lotus 78, as would Keke Rosberg in the Theodore Racing run Wolf.[2] They were joined by Austrian journalist Harald Ertl, returning with the spare Ensign, René Arnoux in the Martini and Arturo Merzario in his eponymous creation.[2]

Into the established part of the entry and Lotus arrived as favourites ahead of the race, with Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson expected to dominate once again.[2] Indeed, their trio of Lotus 79s arrived with some modifications to the suspension, with Andretti's car getting a full new set of elliptical wishbones, as expected, with the Norfolk squad already on the verge of taking the Constructors' Cup.[2] Victory in Austria, combined with a non-score for their closest challengers, would see Team Lotus need just one more point to secure their seventh title.[2]

The only team with a semi-realistic hope of defeating the Imperious Lotus squad were Brabham-Alfa Romeo, whom brought along their "C-spec" BT46 to serve as a spare.[2] Their best hopes largely relied on lead driver Niki Lauda, who was unsurprisingly given priority on all new parts, including their prototype carbon disc brakes, while the unlucky John Watson made clear his intentions to move elsewhere in 1979.[2] The Brabham squad were also given some filming duties by their sponsors, meaning they got some extra, albeit low-speed, practice in before the weekend began.[2]

Elsewhere, Ferrari were working out who they would keep for the 1979 season, deciding to give Carlos Reutemann and Gilles Villeneuve equal shots at claiming their second seat.[2] Indeed, Jody Scheckter's announcement that he was joining the Scuderia had upset the ever-fragile balance in the team, with Reutemann particularly vocal about the internal politics.[2] Regardless, the two would get equal treatment until the end of the season, with Michelin also bringing along their latest tyre compounds for Ferrari in their war with Goodyear.[2]

Michelin's other customers Renault, in contrast, arrived with an air of optimism about their car, for their turbocharged engine should work well on the flowing Österreichring.[2] They still had just the one driver in the form of Jean-Pierre Jabouille, however, and it was reliability, rather than outright performance, that remained their main issue.[2] As such, the French squad brought a whole truck load of spares for Jabouille's two cars, as well as a new intercooler system designed to improve torque out-put by cooling the air heading into the engine itself.[2]

McLaren were unchanged ahead of the visit to Austria, although James Hunt and Patrick Tambay were becoming disillusioned with the team's lack of form.[2] Tyrrell were more optimistic after Patrick Depailler's recent run of bad luck rather than form, while Didier Pironi looked to have secured his seat for 1979 already.[2] ATS, meanwhile, arrived with another new driver to partner Jochen Mass, this man being in the form of Hans Binder, while Williams were back with their two cars for Alan Jones.[2]

Likewise, Ligier-Matra had their two newest JS9s for Jacques Laffite to use, while the aforementioned Scheckter had two Wolves to try for the Canadian squad.[2] Emerson Fittipaldi similarly had the pick of two of his brother Wilson Fittipaldi's cars, while Derek Daly had just the one Ensign to use as the spare had been loaned to Ertl.[2] Completing the field would be the Shadow duo of Clay Regazzoni and Hans-Joachim Stuck, and the Surtees pair of Rupert Keegan and Vittorio Brambilla.[2]

Into the Championship and Andretti's fifth victory of the season in Germany, ensured that the American ace was in total command of the Championship with five races left to run, arriving in Austria with an eighteen point lead. Peterson had remained in second, hoping to have a streak of victories of his own to close the gap to his teammate, although that retirement at Hockenheim may have ended his title hopes. Indeed, any more bad luck for Peterson would likely result in him slipping into a fight for second, although Reutemann, Lauda and Depailler had also all failed to score.

In the International Cup for Constructors it was, unsurprisingly, Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth whom led the way, with the Norfolk squad's lead now a crushing 27 points. Indeed, Brabham-Alfa Romeo, their closest challengers, would need to win three races with the Norfolk squad failing to score at all just to pull level for the lead. Brabham themselves were therefore still in a rearguard action to hold second, with Ferrari and Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth both within striking distance.

Entry ListEdit

The full entry list for the 1978 Austrian Grand Prix is outlined below:

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT46A Alfa Romeo 115-12 3.0 F12 G
2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT46A Alfa Romeo 115-12 3.0 F12 G
3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Elf Team Tyrrell Tyrrell 008 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Elf Team Tyrrell Tyrrell 008 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 79 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 79 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M26 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M26 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
9 West Germany Jochen Mass West Germany ATS Racing Team ATS HS1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
10 Austria Hans Binder West Germany ATS Racing Team ATS HS1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T3 Ferrari 015 3.0 F12 M
12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T3 Ferrari 015 3.0 F12 M
14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi Automotive Fittipaldi F5A Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Equipe Renault Elf Renault RS01 Renault EF1 1.5 V6t M
16 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN9 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN9 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
18* United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Durex Team Surtees Surtees TS20 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Beta Team Surtees Surtees TS20 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Walter Wolf Racing Wolf WR5 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Team Tissot Ensign Ensign N177 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
23 Austria Harald Ertl West Germany Sachs Racing Ensign N177 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Team Rebaque Lotus 78 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS9 Matra MS78 3.0 V12 G
27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams Grand Prix Engineering Williams FW06 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
29 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom BS Fabrications McLaren M23 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom Liggett Group/BS Fabrications McLaren M26 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
31 France René Arnoux France Automobiles Martini Martini MK23 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Theodore Racing Hong Kong Wolf WR3 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows Racing Team Arrows A1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows Racing Team Arrows A1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Team Merzario Merzario A1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
Source:[4]

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

Once the single pre-qualifying session was dealt with the standard practice/qualifying format would run at the Österreichring, with three "timed" sessions supported by a lone "untimed" period.[2] The "untimed" session was scheduled for Saturday morning, leaving Saturday afternoon and both of Friday's sessions free to set the grid.[2] In terms of a target time the top teams were expected to beat Niki Lauda's pole time from 1977 1:39.32, although some optimistically believed that the Austrian's pre-chicane record of 1:34.85 from 1975 may also fall.[2]

Friday QualifyingEdit

Hopes that the old record would indeed fall seemed well founded from the get-go on Friday morning, for Lotus would be Lauda's '77 record before the end of the opening half-hour.[2] Indeed, it was Ronnie Peterson who led the charge from Norfolk, quickly getting down into the 1:38.00s and then consistently in the 1:37.00s before ending the session fastest with a 1:37.71.[2] His more illustrious teammate Mario Andretti was rather less spectacular, instead focusing on race setup throughout the session, and so had to settle for a 1:38.64.[2]

The fact that Andretti was so far off of Peterson's time did give other teams hope that at least one of the Loti could be beaten, although most struggled to get into the 1:38.00s at all.[2] The closest man to the two Loti would therefore be Jacques Laffite in the Ligier-Matra, ending the session with a 1:38.71, a fraction ahead of Carlos Reutemann in the Michelin shod Ferrari.[2] Other highlights saw Emerson Fittipaldi up in fifth and Jean-Pierre Jabouille put the Renault into sixth at the end of the morning, its new intercooler working well to de-stress the engine.[2]

Elsewhere, Keke Rosberg was having trouble taming one of his pre-owned Wolves, forcing him to use the spare, while Arrows were working to sort out their new cars.[2] Hans Binder was swapping between the second ATS and the German squad's spare as his F1 return was plagued by issues, while his compatriot Lauda looked very out of sorts.[2] Indeed, both the Austrian and teammate John Watson seemed to lack confidence in the updated Brabham BT46As, which were running sidepod mounted radiators that seemed to be upsetting the car's balance.[2]

It proved to be an interesting lunch break at Team Lotus, with Andretti declaring that there was something wrong with the aerodynamics on his Lotus 79, which was entirely to blame for the gap between himself and Peterson.[2] Indeed, the American, and his boss Colin Chapman, concluded that the new elliptical, rather than tubular, wishbones were affecting the vortexes required to generate their near-mythical "ground effect", thereby reducing the car's performance.[2] As such the mechanics on Andretti's side of the garage busied themselves reshaping the wishbones with a combination of hammers and hosepipes, while Peterson's crew sat idly by, his car running the older suspension setup.[2]

The theory appeared to work correctly during the Friday afternoon session, with Andretti just falling shy of Peterson's morning time with an afternoon best of 1:17.76.[2] Unfortunately any direct comparison would prove impossible to make, for Peterson suffered an engine failure during his first run, ending his afternoon rather prematurely.[2] Regardless, his best time before the failure was good enough to leave him second fastest in the session, albeit just 0.05s ahead of a jubilant Jabouille in the Renault.[2]

Elsewhere, Hunt's running was interrupted by an engine failure in the opening stages, although he was back out in the spare car before the team members on the "prat perch" knew he had had an issue.[2] Brabham, meanwhile, were utterly confused by their lack of pace with or without their new radiators, Watson ending the afternoon the faster of the pair as Lauda suffered an engine failure mid-session.[2] At the back, meanwhile, Riccardo Patrese was suffering a variety of niggles with the new Arrows, Binder was making no progress in the ATS, while Nelson Piquet was keeping Brett Lunger on his toes in the comparatively ancient McLaren M23.[2]

Saturday QualifyingEdit

Saturday morning's running would see no dramatic changes in terms of pace, with the Loti still unbeatable, Brabham still confused, and Renault shocking everyone, none more so then themselves.[2] Elsewhere, McLaren decided to swap Hunt and Patrick Tambay's cars, resulting in some happier faces behind the wheel.[2] The same move at Surtees had the exact opposite affect, albeit with Brian Henton replacing Rupert Keegan, a ploy by John Surtees to kick the young Keegan back into gear.[2]

What did change ahead of the final qualifying session would be the weather, with ominous clouds sweeping across the Styrian mountains, causing a pre-session parachute display to be cancelled, despite the fact that the session had been delayed ten minutes already.[2] However, moments after the field were cleared to head out onto the circuit, the group of parachutists suddenly appeared out of the low cloud, causing an immediate cessation of all track activities.[2] Ten minutes later and the session was officially started, although the delays would allow the ominous clouds to have an impact on proceedings earlier than anticipated.[2]

Everyone bar Piquet would head on circuit within five minutes of the pits opening, with a mad rush to get quick times in before the rain came.[2] However, bar a few sudden improvements by Patrese, Derek Daly, Clay Regazzoni and Rosberg, most struggled to get in a good time before the heavens opened ten minutes in.[2] Unfortunately, the rain would prove heavy enough to send everyone into the pits, knowing that they would not improve, but was too light to make it worth anyone trying out a set of wet tyres.[2]

Indeed, it took until the final moments of the session to see any more sustained track activity, despite the fact that rain was at its hardest at that point.[2] Carlos Reutemann had started that particular flurry, the Argentine racer looking very impressive in the conditions with his new Michelin wet tyres.[2] Jabouille, on similar rubber, was also up among the quickest drivers, with the two Loti, Alan Jones and Hunt the best of the Goodyear runners.[2]

Qualifying ResultsEdit

The full qualifying results for the 1978 Austrian Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
Q1 Q2 Q3
1 6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:37.71 1:38.27 2:01.02
2 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:38.64 1:37.76 2:06.83 +0.05s
3 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 1:39.51 1:38.32T 1:40.56 +0.61s
4 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 1:38.81T 1:38.50 1:51.03 +0.79s
5 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 1:38.71 1:39.57 1:40.44 +1.00s
6 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:38.77 1:39.38 2:06.81 +1.06s
7 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:39.52 1:38.85 1:40.25 +1.14s
8 7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:39.10 1:39.91T 1:40.84 +1.39s
9 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:39.23 1:40.66 1:40.91 +1.52s
10 2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:39.99 1:39.35 1:51.67 +1.64s
11 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 1:39.99 1:39.40 1:41.86 +1.69s
12 1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:39.49T 1:40.00T 1:39.60 +1.78s
13 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:39.51 1:39.85 1:39.81 +1.80s
14 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:39.59 1:39.62 1:48.72 +1.88s
15 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:40.18 1:39.81 1:40.19 +2.10s
16 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:41.22 1:40.89 1:40.11 +2.40s
17 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:40.80 1:41.11 1:44.18 +3.09s
18 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:40.84 1:41.25 1:42.30 +3.13s
19 22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:41.92 1:41.74 1:41.02 +3.31s
20 29 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:41.15 1:42.20 +3.44s
21 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:41.40 1:41.16T 1:43.67 +3.45s
22 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:41.90T 1:44.08T 1:41.42T +3.71s
23 16 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:41.58 1:42.00 1:42.00 +3.87s
24 23 Austria Harald Ertl West Germany Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:41.60 1:42.94 1:43.20 +3.89s
25 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:42.06 1:42.18 1:41.72 +4.01s
26 31 France René Arnoux France Martini-Ford Cosworth 1:41.84 1:42.24 1:43.74 +4.13s
DNQ 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 1:41.85 +4.14s
DNQ 9 West Germany Jochen Mass West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:42.47 1:42.86 1:43.20 +4.76s
DNQ 18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:43.22 1:43.06 1:43.70 +5.35s
DNQ 10 Austria Hans Binder West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:50.59 1:44.84T 1:44.46T +6.75s
DNPQ 36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:44.88
Source:[2][5]
  • T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
  • Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.

GridEdit

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 ______________ 1
2 Ronnie Peterson
Mario Andretti ______________
Row 2 ______________ 3
4 Jean-Pierre Jabouille
Carlos Reutemann ______________
Row 3 ______________ 5
6 Jacques Laffite
Emerson Fittipaldi ______________
Row 4 ______________ 7
8 Jody Scheckter
James Hunt ______________
Row 5 ______________ 9
10 Didier Pironi
John Watson ______________
Row 6 ______________ 11
12 Gilles Villeneuve
Niki Lauda ______________
Row 7 ______________ 13
14 Patrick Depailler
Patrick Tambay ______________
Row 8 ______________ 15
16 Alan Jones
Riccardo Patrese ______________
Row 9 ______________ 17
18 Brett Lunger
Héctor Rebaque ______________
Row 10 ______________ 19
20 Derek Daly
Nelson Piquet ______________
Row 11 ______________ 21
22 Vittorio Brambilla
Clay Regazzoni ______________
Row 12 ______________ 23
24 Hans-Joachim Stuck
Harald Ertl ______________
Row 13 ______________ 25
26 Keke Rosberg
René Arnoux ______________

RaceEdit

Raceday dawned bright and relatively warm, although as the start-time approached dark clouds would gather over the Österreichring, bringing an ever increasing threat of rain.[2] Warm-up proved to be a hectic affair despite being held in dry conditions, with Vittorio Brambilla destroying his car and Niki Lauda picking up a radiator leak.[2] They would, however, get onto the grid in time to take the start, with a light drizzle beginning to fall as Ronnie Peterson slithered his Lotus into pole position.[2]

ReportEdit

Peterson duly aced his start to take an immediate lead, although teammate Mario Andretti was slightly slower, allowing Carlos Reutemann to surge into second.[2] Patrick Depailler also made a strong start, surging past Jacques Laffite and Jean-Pierre Jabouille, with the Renault having to wait until its turbocharger had fully spooled up to get any speed.[2] The rest of the field slithered into action without any drama, everyone using slicks in spite of the light drizzle.[2]

Unfortunately any hopes of a sustained battle for victory were shattered on the run into the Dr. Tiroch Kurve, for Andretti was too aggressive in attacking Reutemann.[2] Indeed, in his attempts to take the Ferrari before Peterson disappeared out front, Andretti tried to go around the outside of the Argentine, only to misjudge the gap between the Ferrari and the edge of the tarmac.[2] The American's Lotus duly bounced off the side of the #11 car and spun into the barriers, ending Andretti's race on the spot.[2]

Reutemann duly dropped behind Jody Scheckter and Depailler as he regained control of his Ferrari, while Peterson streaked away ahead of them.[2] Indeed, the Swede would build a huge lead before the end of the opening tour, leaving Scheckter to lead the main pack from second.[2] Indeed, the Wolf racer was being hounded by a large mob of cars, including Depailler, Reutemann, James Hunt, Laffite, Didier Pironi, John Watson and Jabouille.[2]

The early stages saw Peterson continue to slither away at the head of the field, although conditions were becoming more and more treacherous as the drizzle intensified.[2] By lap four the drizzle had transformed into heavy rain, resulting a series of accidents that ultimately resulted in the race being stopped.[2] The first would see Scheckter suddenly skate off the circuit and smash into Andretti's abandoned Lotus, destroying both cars.[2]

Moments later and Reutemann sent himself spinning off the circuit, rejoining at the back of the pack having miraculously stopped on the grass.[2] A lap later and his Ferrari teammate Gilles Villeneuve had a huge spin, prompting him to dive into the pits for wets, before Nelson Piquet and Héctor Rebaque went crashing out of the race, although Rebaque's car lacked any signs of damage.[2] Jabouille was another spinner along with Pironi, with both heading into the pits, with the organisers finally deciding to halt the race on lap eight, just as Peterson made his first mistake of the afternoon and spin onto the grass.[2]

The restart was scheduled for 3:00pm, and only those drivers that made it back to the pits on lap eight would be allowed to restart the race.[2] The grid itself was to be formed based on the order as it stood at the end of lap seven, meaning Peterson and Depailler shared the front row, with Watson, Laffite, Pironi, Niki Lauda, Hunt and Clay Regazzoni completing the top eight.[2] Repairs to those cars were also allowed, although the organisers ruled out any suggestion of drivers taking their spare cars.[2]

In the confusion ahead of the restart Arrows cannily began working on Riccardo Patrese's car, which had been towed into the paddock with heavy front-end damage.[2] As they quietly worked away to get the Italian onto the restart grid, there were murmurs of discontent that Peterson and Reutemann had received outside assistance to get back on track after their spins.[2] Ultimately, these claims were waved away by the organisers after a long debate, in the midst of which Arrows got Patrese's car onto the grid alongside the Argentine.[2]

Regardless, the field finally lined up on the grid for the restart at 3:15pm, with the rain gone by the circuit well and truly soaked.[2] Unfortunately it was to be a chaotic start, with Watson stalling just a couple of seconds before the starters' lights flashed to green.[2] He was miraculously missed by those immediately around him, including Hunt who scraped between the Brabham and the guard rails, before spray hid the Ulsterman from the rest of the pack.[2]

In the middle of that hustle Harald Ertl and Patrese came smashing together, the Austrian having had to suddenly dart into the Arrow's path at the last moment to avoid Watson.[2] Patrese's car was duly flicked into the air as Ertl was swept into the barriers, with the Italian landing back down with smashed suspension.[2] Watson's car remained miraculously untouched amid their accident, with the marshals duly giving the Ulsterman a push-start to get him out of the way.[2]

Out front, meanwhile, Depailler had snatched the lead from Peterson in the slippery run into the Hella Licht Chicane, only for the Swede to easily dance past the Tyrrell into the Bosch Kurve.[2] Elsewhere Hunt, having miraculously missed Watson at the start, saw his race destroyed at the Chicane when he and Derek Daly came together, while Alan Jones went skating into the barriers on the run to the Dr. Tiroch Kurve.[2] Fortunately for him there were now Loti or Wolves to hit, those of Andretti and Scheckter having been dragged back to the pits, with the Williams skating behind the advertising hoardings and into retirement.[2]

Peterson Austrian Grand Prix

Ronnie Peterson would dominate both "races" in his Lotus 79.

Come the end of the second opening lap Peterson had once again built a commanding lead over Depailler, who was instead being harassed by newly inspired Lauda.[2] Behind, Reutemann was making spectacular progress with the Michelin shod Ferrari, completing the eighth lap of the race in the top ten ahead of teammate Villeneuve.[2] The rest of the field thundered through in groups of two or three, with Watson charging to catch up a sector behind, with the start line accident between Ertl and Patrese already cleared before Peterson completed the second opening tour.[2]

However, with everyone starting the second part of the race on wets, and the rain having stopped, the Österreichring was drying at a very impressive rate, a dry line beginning to appear at the end of the second lap.[2] Patrick Tambay duly started the slick-swapping trend at the end of the sixth post-restart lap, a gamble made as the Frenchman was at the back of the field regardless.[2] Most, however, would stay out until the #8 McLaren began lapping quickly, with Peterson, Lauda and Reutemann in particular seeking out the wettest part of the circuit to keep their tyres healthy.[2]

By lap eleven, however, Peterson had had enough, and duly swept into the pitlane to have a set of slicks bolted to his car, with Lauda following him in.[2] Reutemann, having elbowed his way past Depailler, stayed out, joined by teammate Villeneuve in fifth behind Depailler, Emerson Fittipaldi and Pironi.[2] Peterson would rejoin in sixth, a few seconds behind the Fittipaldi/Pironi fight, while Lauda got caught behind Jabouille in the yet-to-stop Renault.[2]

Depailler, Pironi and Fittipaldi all stopped during the next couple of laps, although Pironi's race was over soon after as he went sailing off the circuit at the Rindt Kurve on his slicks.[2] Reutemann, meanwhile, would hang onto his wet tyres until lap sixteen, handing the lead to Villeneuve as he rejoined in third, ahead of Jabouille and Lauda.[2] However, before the Argentine could get comfortable on his cold slicks he managed to hit a wet patch and spun himself out of the race, getting stuck on the soaked grass slope to the side of the circuit.[2]

Villeneuve remained on his wets until lap 21, being the last driver to stop after Jabouille abandoned third after Reutemann's spin.[2] That handed Peterson the lead from Lauda, although the Austrian was pushing too hard in the Brabham and duly spun into the barriers, ending his race with heavy suspension damage.[2] That put Villeneuve into second as the young Canadian rejoined, although he was quickly put into a truel for second with a charging Hans-Joachim Stuck and Depailler's Tyrrell.[2]

It proved to be an excellent scrap between the three for a handful of laps, before Depailler seized command and swept both the Ferrari and the Shadow aside.[2] Stuck, in his attempts to get back on terms with the Tyrrell, duly sent himself skating into the barriers, leaving Villeneuve in a suddenly lonely third.[2] Derek Daly, meanwhile, was enjoying a quiet but impressive drive in fourth ahead of Fittipaldi, while Brambilla was a surprise sixth ahead of Tambay.[2]

Daly 1978 Austrian Grand Prix

A furious Daly having just skated off the circuit and into the grass.

Unfortunately for Daly his impressive run would not last the distance, with the Irish racer skating off the circuit and into the weeds, needing a disqualifying push to rejoin.[2] That same fate had already befallen Reutemann in the Ferrari, while Tambay waved away a push when he spun off, knowing it would only get him disqualified too.[2] Those two incidents proved to be the last significant changes to the race order, although Laffite would launch a late attack on Brambilla to claim fifth.[2]

Out front, meanwhile, an imperious Peterson cruised home to record another dominant victory for Team Lotus, keeping his title hopes alive with Andretti failing to score.[2] Depailler was a distant second, well clear of third placed Villeneuve, with the rest of the field having been lapped by the Swede.[2] Fourth would go to Fittipaldi, while Laffite just fell shy of Brambilla on track, only to be put ahead of the Italian based on the aggregate timesheets from the results of the first seven lap "race".[2]

ResultsEdit

The full results for the 1978 Austrian Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired* Grid Points
1 6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 54 1:41:21.57 1 9
2 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 54 +47.44s 13 6
3 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 54 +1:39.76 11 4
4 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 53 +1 Lap 6 3
5 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 53 +1 Lap 5 2
6 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 53 +1 Lap 21 1
7 2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 53 +1 Lap 10
8 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 52 +2 Laps 17
9 31 France René Arnoux France Martini-Ford Cosworth 52 +2 Laps 26
NC 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 50 +4 Laps 22
NC 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Wolf-Ford Cosworth 49 +5 Laps 25
DSQ 22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 41 Disqualified 19
Ret 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 40 Accident 14
Ret 16 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 33 Accident 23
Ret 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 31 Gearbox 3
DSQ 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 28 Disqualified 4
Ret 1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 27 Accident 12
Ret 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 20 Accident 9
Ret 7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 7 Accident 8
Ret 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 7 Accident 15
Ret 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 7 Accident 16
Ret 23 Austria Harald Ertl West Germany Ensign-Ford Cosworth 7 Accident 24
Ret 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 4 Accident 18
Ret 29 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 4 Accident 20
Ret 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 3 Accident 7
Ret 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 2
DNQ 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 9 West Germany Jochen Mass West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 10 Austria Hans Binder West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth
DNPQ 36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth
Source:[6]
  • * The results were based off an aggregate of times from the first seven lap race, combined with the second 47 lap race.[2]
  • Regazzoni and Rosberg were not classified as they were deemed to have not completed enough of the race distance.[6]
  • Daly and Reutemann were both disqualified for receive a push start.[6]

MilestonesEdit

  • 50th entry for a car bearing #29 as its race number.[7]
  • Ronnie Peterson claimed his fourteenth and final pole position.[8]
  • Tenth and final victory for Peterson.[8]
    • Peterson also recorded his ninth and final fastest lap.[8]
  • Lotus claimed their 70th victory as a constructor.[8]
  • Maiden podium finish for Gilles Villeneuve.[8]

StandingsEdit

Victory for Ronnie Peterson ensured that the Swede remained in contention for the Championship with four races to go, leaving Austria nine points behind teammate Mario Andretti. Indeed, the American ace was still the man to beat at the wheel of the Lotus 79, although Peterson's victory proved that he was more than a match for Andretti if the two had equal equipment and fortune. Behind, Patrick Depailler had moved into third, overtaking Niki Lauda and Carlos Reutemann, those three looking set for a fight for third.

The International Cup for Constructors, meanwhile, was all but over with four races to go, with Lotus-Ford Cosworth requiring just a single point to take their seventh Constructors' Cup. Indeed, the only team that could possibly deny them were Brabham-Alfa Romeo, although they would need to win all four races and see Lotus fail to score at all. They were instead in a fight for second with Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth and Ferrari, with those three separated by just five points heading into the final quarter of the season.

Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts. +/-
1 United States Mario Andretti 54
2 Sweden Ronnie Peterson 45
3 France Patrick Depailler 32 ▲2
4 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 31 ▼1
5 Austria Niki Lauda 31 ▼1
6 United Kingdom John Watson 16
7 France Jacques Laffite 16 ▲1
8 South Africa Jody Scheckter 14 ▼1
9 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 13
10 Italy Riccardo Patrese 8
11 United Kingdom James Hunt 8
12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve 7 ▲4
13 France Didier Pironi 7 ▼1
14 Australia Alan Jones 5 ▼1
15 France Patrick Tambay 5 ▼1
16 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni 4 ▼1
17 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck 2
18 Italy Vittorio Brambilla 1 ▲4
19 Mexico Héctor Rebaque 1 ▼1
International Cup for Constructors
Pos. Team Pts. +/-
1 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 76
2 United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 40
3 United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 36 ▲1
4 Italy Ferrari 35 ▼1
5 France Ligier-Matra 16 ▲1
6 Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 14 ▼1
7 Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 13 ▲1
8 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 12 ▼1
9 United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 8
10 United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 6
11 United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 5
12 United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1 ▲1

Only point scoring drivers and teams 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 'Austrian GP, 1978', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr309.html, (Accessed 07/09/2018)
  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 2.115 2.116 2.117 2.118 2.119 2.120 2.121 D.S.J., 'The Austrian Grand Prix: A Strange Affair', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/09/1978), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/september-1978/21/austrian-grand-prix, (Accessed 08/09/2018)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 D.S.J., 'Matters of Moment: The Arrows Affair', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/09/1978), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/september-1978/19/matters-moment, (Accessed 08/09/2018)
  4. 4.0 4.1 'Austria 1978: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/autriche/engages.aspx, (Accessed 07/09/2018)
  5. 'Austria 1978: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/autriche/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 07/09/2018)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 'Austria 1978: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/autriche/classement.aspx, (Accessed 07/09/2018)
  7. '1978 Austrian GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2018), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1978&gp=Austrian%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 07/09/2018)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 '12. Austria 1978', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/autriche.aspx, (Accessed 07/09/2018)
V T E 1978 Formula One Season
Teams Arrows • ATS • Brabham • Ensign • Ferrari • Fittipaldi • Hesketh • Ligier • Lotus • March • Martini • McLaren • Merzario • Renault • Shadow • Theodore • Tyrrell • Williams • Wolf
Engines Alfa Romeo • Ferrari • Ford Cosworth • Matra • Renault
Drivers Andretti • Arnoux • Binder • Bleekemolen • Brambilla • Cheever • Colombo • Daly • Depailler • de Dryver • Ertl • Fittipaldi • Gabbiani • Galica • Giacomelli • Gimax • Hunt • Ickx • Jabouille • Jarier • Jones • Keegan • Laffite • Lauda • Lees • Leoni • Lunger • Mass • Merzario • Nève • Ongais • Patrese • Peterson • Piquet • Pironi • Rahal • Rebaque • Regazzoni • Reutemann • Rosberg • Scheckter • Stommelen • Stuck • Tambay • Trimmer • Villeneuve • Watson
Cars Arrows A1 • Arrows FA1 • ATS D1 • ATS HS1 • Brabham BT45C • Brabham BT46 • Brabham BT46B • Brabham BT46C • Ensign N175 • Ensign N177 • Ferrari 312T2 • Ferrari 312T3 • Fittipaldi F5A • Hesketh 308E • Ligier JS7 • Ligier JS7/9 • Ligier JS9 • Lotus 78 • Lotus 79 • March 781S • Martini MK23 • McLaren M23 • McLaren M26 • Merzario A1 • Renault RS01 • Shadow DN8 • Shadow DN9 • Theodore TR1 • Tyrrell 008 • Williams FW06 • Wolf WR1 • Wolf WR3 • Wolf WR4 • Wolf WR5 • Wolf WR6
Tyres Goodyear • Michelin
Races Argentina • Brazil • South Africa • United States West • Monaco • Belgium • Spain • Sweden • France • Britain • Germany • Austria • Netherlands • Italy • United States • Canada
Non-championship Races International Trophy
See also 1977 Formula One Season • 1979 Formula One Season • Category
V T E Austria Austrian Grand Prix
Circuits Zeltweg Airfield (1963–1964), Red Bull Ring (1970–1987, 1997-2003, 2014-present)
Circuit Red Bull Ring
Races 1964 • 1965–1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988–1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004–2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020
Non-Championship Race 1963
Red Bull Ring was previously called Österreichring and A1-Ring.
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