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The XXXVI Grote Prijs van Belgie, otherwise known as the 1978 Belgian Grand Prix, was the sixth round of the 1978 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Zolder Circuit on the 21 May 1978.[1] The race would see Lotus secure a one-two finish, with Mario Andretti dominating from the front of the field in a car designed around the principle of "ground-effect".[1]

Indeed, Andretti would start the weekend perfectly, grabbing pole during qualifying at the wheel of the new Lotus 79, the first successful "ground effect" design in F1.[1] Second on the grid would go to Carlos Reutemann, with Niki Lauda ahead of the second Ferrari of Gilles Villeneuve.[1]

The start of the Grand Prix further reinforced Andretti's grip on victory, with the naturalised-American ace sprinting clear off the grid.[1] Behind, Reutemann missed a gear, causing everyone bar Villeneuve to squeeze into the same space.[1] That resulted in Lauda and James Hunt getting knocked out of the action by Jody Scheckter and Riccardo Patrese respectively, while Jacky Ickx and Didier Pironi hit Emerson Fittipaldi and René Arnoux.[1]

Untroubled, Andretti quickly built a lead over Villeneuve, while the Canadian was left with a fair advantage over the rest of the pack.[1] Scheckter was the man leading the hunt, albeit with a wounded Wolf, with Andretti's teammate Ronnie Peterson, Patrese and John Watson all stuck behind him.[1]

Watson would soon drop out of contention with an issue, as would Jean-Pierre Jabouille as the Renault suffered a brake issue.[1] Reutemann therefore moved to the back of the Scheckter group, only for the South African racer to stop in the pits to have his damaged nose replaced as it began to fall apart.[1]

The order would remain stable until after half distance, with Andretti still pulling clear of Villeneuve, who was himself able to keep Peterson at arm's length.[1] That was, until the #12 Ferrari picked up a puncture on lap 40, promoting Peterson to second.[1] Peterson then stopped for fresh tyres on lap 56, rejoining down in fourth behind Reutemann and Jacques Laffite, but ahead of the Canadian.[1]

A furious charge by Peterson in the closing stages saw the #6 Lotus 78 climb back up into second, as Andretti cruised home to claim a dominant victory in the newer car.[1] Reutemann secured third having knocked Laffite off track in the final moments, allowing Villeneuve to sneak into fourth.[1] The Frenchman would still be classified in fifth ahead of Didier Pironi, who was a lap down as Andretti crossed the line.[1]

BackgroundEdit

The sixth round of the 1978 World Championship campaign saw the Formula One circus head to the Circuit Zolder for the Belgian Grand Prix, a former jewel in the F1 crown.[2] Indeed, while Zolder had become the established home of the Belgian Grand Prix, the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps remained a fond memory for those outside of the cockpit, and its loss seemed to have somewhat diminished the challenge of Grand Prix racing.[2] Regardless, an unchanged Zolder was chosen to host the annual visit to Belgium, with 32 entries submitted for 24 slots on the starting grid.[2]

The large entry list would require several drivers to compete in a pre-qualifying session, staged in the build-up to the weekend.[2] Those made to qualify included Theodore pilot Keke Rosberg, and the returning Martini of René Arnoux.[2] Privateers Héctor Rebaque and Brett Lunger would also have to pre-qualify, as would McLaren third driver Bruno Giacomelli and Arrows second pilot Rolf Stommelen.[2]

There would also be some controversial moves by the organisers after the pre-qualifying session, with privateer Patrick Nève and Ensign pilot Bernard de Dryver told that they could take part despite submitting late entries.[2] The Formula One Constructors Association, led by Bernie Ecclestone, rejected their advances, and threatened to cancel the event if those two entries were accepted.[2] The R.A.C. of Belgium duly relented to Ecclestone's demands, meaning neither Nève nor de Dryver could take part.[2]

Into the entry list and Giacomelli's forced participation in pre-qualifying came as a surprise, for he came to the Belgian Grand Prix effectively as McLaren's second driver, albeit in a "satellite" team.[2] Indeed, in the week prior to the event McLaren's rising star Patrick Tambay had a curious accident during a Formula Two race, with an accident discharge of an extinguisher leaving the Frenchman with burns on his left foot.[2] He was therefore unable to partner James Hunt in the "factory" team, giving the Brit three M26s to trial, while Giacomelli was given a brand new machine.[2]

Likewise, Arrows had seen their entry split between pre-qualifying and qualifying, with Riccardo Patrese deemed worthy of a qualifying spot, while Stommelen was told he had to work for his spot to potentially make the grid.[2] Regardless, the Milton Keynes based effort had brought along three of their FA1s for the weekend, although Patrese's race car had been rebuilt around a new monocoque after his accident in Monte Carlo.[2] The identical Shadow DN9s would also be in attendance, with Clay Regazzoni and Hans-Joachim Stuck racing once again.[2]

Elsewhere, Ensign would still have some representation in Zolder despite de Dryver's dismissal, the team were still able to put Jacky Ickx into the fray to qualify.[2] They were joined by the familiar lone Renault of Jean-Pierre Jabouille, as well as the single Ligier-Matra of Jacques Laffite.[2] Additional entries to qualifying included Alan Jones in the lone Williams, and Derek Daly in the Hesketh, despite the latter's failure to pre-qualify in previous sessions.[2]

Into the more regular, stable, part of the entry list and Lotus had their "Type 79" back in action, with Mario Andretti formally entered with the car.[2] Another wave of minor tweaks had been made since its brief appearance in the Principality, although no time had been spent building a second example.[2] As such, Andretti would have his race winning 78 in reserve, while Ronnie Peterson continued to pilot the older 78.[2]

Elsewhere, Tyrrell arrived with a swarm of 008s at their behest, with no fewer than four cars brought along for Patrick Depailler and Didier Pironi, all with subtle developmental differences.[2] Brabham-Alfa Romeo had one fewer car on offer for Niki Lauda and John Watson, although none of their three cars would feature the team's experimental carbon brakes.[2] Ferrari also had a trio of cars on offer for Carlos Reutemann and Gilles Villeneuve, as did Surtees for Rupert Keegan and Vittorio Brambilla, although their TS20s had both been rebuilt since the Monaco race.[2]

Over at ATS, meanwhile, there would be an enforced change to their line-up, with Jean-Pierre Jarier growing tired of serving as an outright number two.[2] He duly went off to race elsewhere, meaning Jochen Mass would be partnered by F1 debutante Alberto Colombo for the weekend, who had next to no experience of running a Grand Prix car.[2] Elsewhere, and completing the entry list would be the Fittipaldis of Emerson Fittipaldi, and the two Wolves prepared for one Jody Scheckter.[2]

Into the Championship and a maiden F1 victory for Depailler had ensured that the Frenchman had left Monte Carlo at the head of the title hunt, with a five point advantage in his credit. The chase behind Depailler was being jointly led by Reutemann and Andretti, the Argentine ahead on count-back, while Lauda was only a couple more points behind in fourth. Peterson was next, within nine points of the Frenchman out front, with a gap back to Watson in sixth.

Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth arrived still in the lead of the International Cup for Constructors title fight despite the fact that they had failed to score in Monaco, although their advantage had been slashed to three points. Indeed, Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth, courtesy of Depailler's victory, had moved into second, while Brabham-Alfa Romeo had closed the gap in third. Ferrari, meanwhile, had slipped to fourth ahead of Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth, while Wolf-Ford Cosworth had finally got on the board in sixth.

Entry ListEdit

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

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT46 Alfa Romeo 115-12 F12 3.0 G
2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT46 Alfa Romeo 115-12 F12 3.0 G
3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Elf Team Tyrrell Tyrrell 008 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Elf Team Tyrrell Tyrrell 008 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 79 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 78 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M26 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M26 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
9 Germany Jochen Mass Germany ATS Racing Team ATS HS1 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
10 Italy Alberto Colombo Germany ATS Racing Team ATS HS1 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T3 Ferrari 015 F12 3.0 M
12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T3 Ferrari 015 F12 3.0 M
14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi Automotive Fittipaldi F5A Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Equipe Renault Elf Renault RS01 Renault EF1 V6t 3.0 M
16 Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN9 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN8 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Durex Team Surtees Surtees TS19 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Beta Team Surtees Surtees TS20 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Walter Wolf Racing Wolf WR5 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
22 Belgium Jacky Ickx United Kingdom Team Tissot Ensign Ensign N177 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
23 Belgium Bernard de Dryver United Kingdom Team Tissot Ensign Ensign N177 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
24 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Olympus Cameras/Hesketh Racing Hesketh 308E Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Team Rebaque Lotus 78 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS7 Matra MS76 V12 3.0 G
27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams Grand Prix Engineering Williams FW06 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
29 Belgium Patrick Nève Belgium Privateer March 781S Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom Liggett Group/BS Fabrications McLaren M26 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
31 France René Arnoux France Automobiles Martini Martini MK23 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Theodore Racing Hong Kong Theodore TR1 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
33 Italy Bruno Giacomelli United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M26 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows Racing Team Arrows FA1 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
36 Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows Racing Team Arrows FA1 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Team Merzario Merzario A1 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
Source:[3]

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

It would be another two-phase affair for some to qualify for the Belgian Grand Prix of 1978, with seven of the original 31 entries told to "pre-qualify".[2] That session was staged a week before the race, with the fastest four joining the 24 other entries for three "qualifying" sessions.[2] Two of those sessions would be staged on the Friday before the race, with the third and final runout on Saturday coming after a "race practice" session.[2]

Pre-QualifyingEdit

The seven drivers to fight for four qualifying spots would not be a surprise, with the two of the smallest, and newest, constructors, Theodore and Martini having Keke Rosberg and René Arnoux in action.[2] Likewise, privateer racers Brett Lunger and Héctor Rebaque would have to get their equipment ready a day early, as would the third factory McLaren entry of Bruno Giacomelli.[2] Completing the septet would be the Merzario of the eponymous Arturo, as well second Arrows of Rolf Stommelen, despite the fact that his teammate Riccardo Patrese had been given a bye to head straight into qualifying.[2]

Ultimately, however, Stommelen would have no trouble making it through the full qualifying programme, only just beaten to the top of the time sheets by Giacomelli in the newest McLaren M26.[2] Also through were the two Formula Two aces Arnoux and Rosberg, while Lunger was gifted a slot in qualifying when Patrick Tambay was officially withdrawn.[2] That left Rebaque and Merzario as the non-qualifiers, although machinations by the Belgian organisers could have seen two more drivers relegated out of qualifying.[2]

Indeed, the Belgian R.A.C. decided that two of their chargers, Patrick Nève and Bernard de Dryver, should be given spots in qualifying, and duly added their names to the entry list.[2] Seeing this, Formula One Constructors Association supremo Bernie Ecclestone declared that his members would quit the event, citing that neither Nève, nor de Dryver, had "qualified".[2] Ultimately the Belgian organisers backed down, leaving Nève and de Dryver as spectators for their home race.[2]

Pre-Qualifying ResultsEdit

The full pre-qualifying results for the 1978 Belgian Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 36 Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:23.76
2 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth 1:24.55 +0.79s
3 31 France René Arnoux France Martini-Ford Cosworth 1:24.58 +0.82s
4 33 Italy Bruno Giacomelli United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:24.65 +0.89s
5 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:24.91 +1.15s
DNPQ 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:25.10 +1.34s
DNPQ 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 1:26.69 +2.93s
WD 23 Belgium Bernard de Dryver United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn
WD 29 Belgium Patrick Nève Belgium March-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn

Friday QualifyingEdit

With pre-qualifying sorted out it was time for the real F1 action to get underway, with most of the teams expecting that the old circuit record, a 1:24.64 set by Mario Andretti in 1977 would fall.[2] Indeed, the entire Zolder circuit had been re-surfaced since the 1977 race, and even the slowest pre-qualifiers had come close to beating the mark.[2] Instead, the engineers were interested in how much the record would be beaten, although no-one would expect how much Andretti could remove from his old mark early on.[2]

Indeed, after a couple of exploratory laps in the new Lotus 79, the American ace duly broke his old record on his first flying lap, before exchanging new lap records with Carlos Reutemann.[2] However, as the session entered its final half-hour, the American took the pace up another few levels, ending the session with a stunning 1:21.78, the last of a series of laps in the 1:21.00s.[2] Reutemann could only claim a 1:22.60, with everyone else, including Andretti's teammate Ronnie Peterson in an older Lotus 78, a second or more behind.[2]

Elsewhere, Lunger, having only been informed of his retroactive addition to qualifying, was no-where to be seen, the American racer having left Zolder immediately after pre-qualifying having failed to get through.[2] He was therefore in a mad rush to get his two McLarens shipped back over the North Sea to Zolder, and it was only because of the fact that Rebaque, Nève and de Dryver had all left that the American was still listed as an entrant.[2] On track, meanwhile, Renault had their usual turbo failure on Jean-Pierre Jabouille's car, Hans-Joachim Stuck destroyed his only Ford Cosworth engine, while Jacky Ickx had to switch to "de Dryver's" Ensign after his engine decided to try and fire with water in the spark-plug recess.[2]

Into the afternoon session and it was, once again, a very quiet session in terms of on-track woe, with the only major failure coming in the second half when James Hunt suffered an engine failure.[2] That put him in Tambay's abandoned McLaren, although this was a footnote to a session that was again dominated by Andretti.[2] Indeed, the naturalised American was at it again at the front of the field, finding another three tenths off his morning effort to end the day with a 1:21.48.[2]

That lap from Andretti meant that there was a little under seven seconds covering the field, a huge margin given the length of the Zolder circuit.[2] Closest to him on the provisional grid overnight would be Jody Scheckter with a 1:22.12, while Reutemann clipped a dew tenths off his morning effort to claim a 1:22.35.[2] At the back, meanwhile, Rosberg was the man who trailed Andretti by the most, although Jacques Laffite was technically behind him after the Ligier-Matra decided to have a multitude of minor issues.[2]

Saturday QualifyingEdit

The Saturday morning "race practice" would pass without issue for most, although Alan Jones did suffer a brake failure heading towards the chicane, with the Williams racer subsequently ploughing through the catch fencing.[2] Jones climbed out holding his right arm having been struck by an errant post, while the spare Williams was returned with a lot of bodywork damage.[2] Fortunately the blow to his arm was not serious and so the Australian ace could join the fray for the final session, although he was not the only driver nursing an injury in the final hour.[2]

Indeed, the larger than life Giacomelli had suffered from a rather comical accident at the end of the "race practice" session, literally falling out of his cockpit as he clambered out.[2] The Italian was left with a twisted ankle, while a blow to his wrist while trying to stop himself had aggravated an injury sustained a week earlier in Pau.[2] That left Hunt with the pick of four McLarens heading into the final hour, although a determined Giacomelli would return to his cockpit during the final blast.[2]

Into the final hour of qualifying and there was no stopping Andretti, the American ace again improving to end the session with a 1:20.90, having spent the entire hour in the 1:21.00s.[2] Reutemann, meanwhile, put together a more impressive, but still distant, effort of 1:21.69, edging out Niki Lauda by 0.01s and teammate Gilles Villeneuve by 0.08s.[2] Those were the only four drivers to record a sub-1:22.00 time, with a little over five seconds covering the field come the end of the day.[2]

Elsewhere the fight to qualify went to the closing stages, with Lunger grabbing the final spot, having arrived midway though the "race practice" to join the fray.[2] His last gasp effort knocked Derek Daly out of the race, with Rosberg, Rupert Keegan and Alberto Colombo also missing the mark.[2] That meant that Arnoux had qualified to finally make his much anticipated debut, while Giacomelli and Jones both made it through while injured.[2]

Indeed, Giacomelli would get up to some mischief during the session, colliding with Jochen Mass as the pair misread each other's intentions as the German came to overtake the Italian.[2] The ATS was sent skating into the barriers, while Giacomelli limped around to the pits.[2] Yellow flags were then displayed to warn the rest of the drivers that there was an accident, only for Daly to slam into the back of Reutemann as the Argentine slowed upon seeing said flags.[2] Other incidents would see Jabouille's turbocharger set fire to itself, and Keegan destroy his Cosworth engine, although both had qualified.[2]

Qualifying ResultsEdit

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

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
Q1 Q2 Q3
1 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:21.78 1:21.48 1:20.90
2 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 1:22.60 1:22.35 1:21.69T +0.79s
3 1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:23.34 1:22.65 1:21.70 +0.80s
4 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 1:23.05 1:23.21 1:21.77 +0.87s
5 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:23.12 1:22.12 1:22.35 +1.22s
6 7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:23.16 1:23.16T 1:22.50 +1.60s
7 6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:23.51 1:23.26 1:22.62 +1.72s
8 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:25.07 1:23.46 1:23.25 +2.35s
9 2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:23.51 1:23.96T 1:23.26 +2.36s
10 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 1:24.10T 1:23.58T 1:23.91T +2.68s
11 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:23.93 1:23.71 1:23.97 +2.81s
12 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:24.76 1:25.07 1:23.78 +2.88s
13 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:24.71 1:24.03 1:23.82 +2.92s
14 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 1:24.12 1:35.34 1:23.90 +3.00s
15 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:25.73 1:24.11 1:24.20 +3.21s
16 9 West Germany Jochen Mass West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:26.68 1:25.90 1:24.14 +3.24s
17 36 Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:24.21 1:24.60 1:24.14 +3.24s
18 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:25.11 1:24.28 1:24.18 +3.28s
19 31 France René Arnoux France Martini-Ford Cosworth 1:24.29 1:24.28 1:24.59 +3.38s
20 16 Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:48.55 1:24.47 +3.57s
21 33 Italy Bruno Giacomelli United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:28.30 1:25.47 1:24.81 +3.91s
22 22 Belgium Jacky Ickx United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:26.07T 1:24.82T 1:25.07 +3.92s
23 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:25.89 1:25.55 1:24.85 +3.95s
24 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:24.99 +4.09s
DNQ 18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:26.82 1:25.40 1:26.65 +4.50s
DNQ 24 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 1:25.69 1:26.01 1:25.69T +4.79s
DNQ 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth 1:32.03 1:28.28 1:25.87 +4.97s
DNQ 10 Italy Alberto Colombo West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:26.83 1:26.51 1:26.01 +5.11s
DNPQ 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:25.10
DNPQ 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 1:26.69
WD* 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth Injury
WD 23 Belgium Bernard de Dryver United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn
WD 29 Belgium Patrick Nève Belgium March-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn
Source:[2][4]
  • Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
  • T Indicates a test/spare car.
  • * Tambay was withdrawn from the weekend due to an injury sustained during a Formula Two race prior to the weekend.[2]

GridEdit

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 1 ______________
Mario Andretti 2
______________ Carlos Reutemann
Row 2 3 ______________
Niki Lauda 4
______________ Gilles Villeneuve
Row 3 5 ______________
Jody Scheckter 6
______________ James Hunt
Row 4 7 ______________
Ronnie Peterson 8
______________ Riccardo Patrese
Row 5 9 ______________
John Watson 10
______________ Jean-Pierre Jabouille
Row 6 11 ______________
Alan Jones 12
______________ Vittorio Brambilla
Row 7 13 ______________
Patrick Depailler 14
______________ Jacques Laffite
Row 8 15 ______________
Emerson Fittipaldi 16
______________ Jochen Mass
Row 9 17 ______________
Rolf Stommelen 18
______________ Clay Regazzoni
Row 10 19 ______________
René Arnoux 20
______________ Hans-Joachim Stuck
Row 11 21 ______________
Bruno Giacomelli 22
______________ Jacky Ickx
Row 12 23 ______________
Didier Pironi 24
______________ Brett Lunger

RaceEdit

It was a busy start to raceday on Sunday, with the pre-race warm-up causing several minor headaches across the field, although all of those concerns were cured without issue.[2] It was also confirmed that Alan Jones and Bruno Giacomelli would both race despite their injuries, while the rest of the field set about ensuring that their spare cars were ready to run just in-case.[2] Regardless, there were no last-minute issues as pole sitter Mario Andretti lined up on the grid for the start, with all 24 qualifiers ready to do battle around the Circuit Zolder for 70 laps.[2]

ReportEdit

Andretti duly shot into an early lead as the lights flashed to green, leaving Carlos Reutemann in all sorts of bother as the Argentine found that he had no second gear.[2] Quick thinking from Reutemann saw the Argentine change to third and keep going, but his initial momentum was lost in a heartbeat.[2] The rest of the field duly swarmed around the #11 Ferrari, resulting in a series of rather costly incidents.[2]

The first would involve Reutemann's former teammate Niki Lauda, who was trying to fight with Jody Scheckter as the pair charged past the Ferrari.[2] The South African racer duly pitched the Austrian's Brabham-Alfa Romeo into a barrier destined spin, with the Wolf scrambling across the grass as he did so.[2] On the opposite side of Reutemann, James Hunt and Riccardo Patrese were vying for position, only for the Italian to smack into the back of the McLaren and send Hunt spinning across the circuit.[2]

First into the path of the spinning McLaren would be Emerson Fittipaldi, although the Brazilian did manage to avoid smashing into the side of Hunt by slamming on his brakes.[2] That, however, would only delay the inevitable for Jacky Ickx, completely unsighted, duly slammed into the back of the Brazilian, removing the former Champion from the race.[2] A few yards further back a similar accident was happening, although Didier Pironi managed to drive over the side of René Arnoux's Martini, getting briefly airborne before crashing back down upon its wheels.[2]

The dust and tyre smoke soon blew away to reveal a very angry Lauda, a frustrated Hunt and confused Fittipaldi all climbing out of their cars, while Pironi, Arnoux, Ickx, Scheckter and Patrese all carried on with minor damage.[2] Out front, meanwhile, Andretti held an already daunting lead, with Gilles Villeneuve his closest "challenger".[2] The Canadian himself was running in clear air, with a gap back to the wounded Scheckter and Patrese, whom were fending off a healthy Ronnie Peterson for third.[2]

Indeed, Andretti's advantage over the field was so immense that after the second lap the American let Villeneuve dictate the pace, knowing that he could simply pull away from the Canadian at will.[2] The attention therefore focused on the fight for third, for Scheckter, whose Wolf had nose and wing damage, was holding up Peterson, Patrese, John Watson, whom had had Jean-Pierre Jabouille bounce the Renault off his car in the start melee, Reutemann and Jochen Mass glued to his tail.[2] Reutemann was among the ones to watch for the Ferrari seemed to have no damage whatsoever, despite having been the trigger for the chaos before turn one.[2]

Soon the pressure of trying to defend with a damaged car would get to Scheckter, with a slight mistake running out of the final corner at the end of lap seven allowing Peterson to dive past into turn one for third.[2] Likewise, Jabouille, whom had escaped undamaged despite bouncing off Watson, was beginning to slip down the field, the Renault lacking the pace in the race to keep up with the Scheckter train.[2] Elsewhere, Jones stopped in the Williams pitbox for a fresh set of tyres, while Scheckter decided to bail out of fourth and pit for repairs once Peterson pulled out of reach.[2]

After that the race soon settled, with Andretti comfortably ahead of Villeneuve, Peterson unable to take more than a couple of hundredths out of the Canadian in third, and Scheckter now well out of the picture after making another stop.[2] Patrese therefore ran in fourth, with Reutemann making some half-hearted moves to take the Arrows, while Watson and Jones stopped to have more tyres fitted.[2] Indeed, Watson's day was to go from bad to worse from that point, with the Ulsterman ultimately managing to destroy his Alfa Romeo engine by smashing onto a kerb while fighting back up through the field.[2]

However, while the top half of the field were having a rather tame race, it was all action at the back, albeit only due to a lack of standards rather than good driving.[2] Indeed, the two Shadows would come together, leaving Clay Regazzoni with a broken oil pipe and Hans-Joachim Stuck's nose out of joint, while Stommelen went bouncing across the grass more than once.[2] Elsewhere, the Renault of Jabouille would develop an incurable, but not terminal, brake issue, Ickx tried a third set of Goodyear tyres, while a strong recovery run for Patrick Depailler was ended when the Tyrrell's gearbox began to falter.[2]

Indeed, it took until after half-distance for the order to be seriously revised, when Villeneuve suffered a dramatic front left tyre failure while entering the first corner on lap 40.[2] Lightning fast reactions from the young Canadian kept the Ferrari on track, but Villeneuve still had to limp around the entire lap to get some fresh tyres bolted on.[2] His misery handed Peterson and Reutemann spots on the podium, the latter having been gifted fourth when Patrese's suspension finally failed, with Villeneuve rejoining a lap down in sixth behind Depailler.[2]

Villeneuve quickly got back on the lead lap, Andretti not worried about the Ferrari's pace, before quickly taking fifth from the ailing Depailler, whom retired a few laps later.[2] He duly began scything in on Jacques Laffite, having a quiet afternoon in the Ligier-Matra while, behind, Giacomelli won his truel with Brett Lunger and Arnoux, only to spin and fall back behind.[2] Out front, meanwhile, it seemed as if Lotus were going to record a crushing one-two with Andretti and Peterson, until one of their cars appeared in the pits with a damaged tyre.[2]

That man was Peterson, who swept into the pits with fifteen laps to go having literally worn his front left tyre to the point of failure.[2] A quick change was not enough to prevent the Swede slipping to fourth behind Laffite, although he did almost smash into Ickx as he rejoined the circuit.[2] Regardless, a furious Peterson began to dance his freshly shod Lotus around Zolder, catching and passing Laffite with ease in the space of seven laps.[2]

Three laps later and Peterson was on the back of Reutemann, and duly weaved his Lotus past the Ferrari with three laps left to run.[2] Indeed, his move on the #11 Ferrari came on the lap that Peterson set the fastest lap, with the Swede quickly pulling out of striking distance.[2] With that the race for the two Loti was done, although for Reutemann it was to be a difficult final few minutes to hold onto third place.[2]

Indeed, the Argentine had burned through the best of his Michelin tyres during the early stages, and was seriously trying to preserve them as the final laps ticked away.[2] Entering the final tour Laffite, whom had got briefly stuck behind Jabouille's brakeless Renault, suddenly appeared in Reutemann's mirrors, and duly sent a lunge around the outside of the Argentine into turn five.[2] Unfortunately that was the wrong side to be trying a move, with the inevitable clash of tyres putting both into a spin.[2] The Ligier was sent bouncing across the gravel backwards into a tyre barrier, while Reutemann recovered with a nice set of tyre marks on the side of his car.[2]

Out front, meanwhile, Andretti would cruise home to claim an imperious victory for Lotus, with Peterson within ten seconds of his teammate in second.[2] Reutemann nursed his Ferrari home to claim third, while Villeneuve was the only benefactor from Laffite's retirement, moving up to fourth.[2] The Frenchman himself was furious to have finished fifth, when third was a realistic result, while Pironi survived long enough to be best of the rest in sixth.[2]

ResultsEdit

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

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 70 1:39:52.02 1 9
2 6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 70 +9.90s 7 6
3 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 70 +24.34s 2 4
4 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 70 +47.04s 4 3
5* 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 69 Accident 14 2
6 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 69 +1 Lap 23 1
7 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 69 +1 Lap 24
8 33 Italy Bruno Giacomelli United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 69 +1 Lap 21
9 31 France René Arnoux France Martini-Ford Cosworth 68 +2 Laps 19
10 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 68 +2 Laps 11
11 9 West Germany Jochen Mass West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 68 +2 Laps 16
12 22 Belgium Jacky Ickx United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 64 +6 Laps 22
13* 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 63 Engine 12
Ret 16 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 56 Spin 20
NC 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 56 +14 Laps 10
Ret 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 53 Accident 5
Ret 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 51 Gearbox 13
Ret 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 40 Differential 18
Ret 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 31 Suspension 8
Ret 36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 26 Accident 17
Ret 2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 18 Crankcase 9
Ret 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 15
Ret 7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 6
Ret 1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 0 Accident 3
DNQ 18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 24 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 10 Italy Alberto Colombo West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth
DNPQ 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth
DNPQ 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth
WD 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth
WD 23 Belgium Bernard de Dryver United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth
WD 29 Belgium Patrick Nève Belgium March-Ford Cosworth
Source:[5]
  • * Laffite and Brambilla were both classified despite retiring as they had completed 90% of the race distance.[5]
  • Jabouille was unable to be classified despite finishing the race as he had failed to complete 90% of the race distance.[5]

MilestonesEdit

StandingsEdit

A second victory of the season for Mario Andretti left the Italian-American ace at the head of the Championship with a third of the season gone, holding a four point lead over Patrick Depailler. Indeed, momentum seemed to be shifting towards Andretti, with Depailler having dropped into the sights of Carlos Reutemann and Ronnie Peterson behind. Elsewhere, Niki Lauda slipped further back in fifth, with a nine point gap opened between himself and teammate John Watson in sixth.

In the International Cup for Constructors it was still an all Norfolk affair, with Lotus-Ford Cosworth continuing to lead the way. Indeed, the Lotus team would head to Spain holding an eleven point advantage, with Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth hanging on as their closest challengers. Ferrari were next ahead of Brabham-Alfa Romeo, while Ligier-Matra moved level with Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth in fifth.

Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts. +/-
1 United States Mario Andretti 27 ▲2
2 France Patrick Depailler 23 ▼1
3 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 22 ▼1
4 Sweden Ronnie Peterson 20 ▲1
5 Austria Niki Lauda 16 ▼1
6 United Kingdom John Watson 7
7 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 6
8 France Jacques Laffite 6 ▲1
9 France Didier Pironi 5 ▲1
10 South Africa Jody Scheckter 4 ▼2
11 Australia Alan Jones 3
12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve 3 ▲6
13 United Kingdom James Hunt 3 ▼1
14 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni 2 ▼1
15 Italy Riccardo Patrese 2 ▼1
16 France Patrick Tambay 1 ▼1
International Cup for Constructors
Pos. Team Pts. +/-
1 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 36
2 United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 25
3 Italy Ferrari 22 ▲1
4 United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 20 ▼1
5 Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 6
6 France Ligier-Matra 6 ▲1
7 Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 4 ▼1
8 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 3
9 United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 3
10 United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 2
11 United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 2

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 'Belgian GP, 1978', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr303.html, (Accessed 08/08/2018)
  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 D.S.J., 'De Grote Prijs van Belgie: Lotus Joy Day', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/07/1978), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/july-1978/54/de-grote-prijs-van-belgie, (Accessed 08/08/2018)
  3. 'Belgium 1978: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/belgique/engages.aspx, (Accessed 08/08/2018)
  4. 'Belgium 1978: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/belgique/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 08/08/2018)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 'Belgium 1978: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/belgique/classement.aspx, (Accessed 08/08/2018)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 '6. Belgium 1978', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/belgique.aspx, (Accessed 08/08/2018)
  7. '1978 Belgian GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2018), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1978&gp=Belgian%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 08/08/2018)
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 Belgium Belgian Grand Prix
Circuits Spa-Francorchamps (1950 - 1970, 1983, 1985 - Present), Nivelles (1972, 1974), Zolder (1973, 1975 - 1982, 1984)
Track map of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium
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