The 1978 German Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the XL Großer Preis von Deutschland, was the eleventh round of the 1978 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Hockenheimring on the 30 July 1978.[1] The race, which served as the debut for future triple Champion Nelson Piquet, would see Mario Andretti gain a strangle hold on the 1978 Championship crown with another dominant victory.[1]

Indeed, Andretti had started the weekend strongly, managing to wrestle pole from teammate Ronnie Peterson as the pair pushed their Lotuses to the very limit.[1] Their closest challenger on the grid would be Niki Lauda in the Brabham-Alfa Romeo, who shared the second row with Jody Scheckter in the reinvigorated Wolf.[1]

However, things would not go Andretti's way at the start, for Peterson shot past his title rival to sweep into the lead, with the pair blasting clear of third placed Lauda.[1] Elsewhere a fuel-feed issue dumped Scheckter to the back of the field, meaning it was Alan Jones who attacked Lauda for third on the opening lap.[1]

The two Loti were already out of reach at the end of the first lap, Andretti pushing Peterson on in his attempts to take the lead.[1] That left Lauda to unsuccessfully defend from Jones, while John Watson soon dropped out of contention with a gearbox issue, handing fifth to James Hunt.[1]

By the end of lap five Peterson finally allowed Andretti to pass, knowing that he would likely inherit the win if the American hit trouble.[1] Regardless, they looked set for a one-two, with first Lauda then Hunt dropping away with issues early on, as did Jones just after half-distance.[1]

Further retirements would thin the field as the race wore on, meaning Scheckter eventually moved back into third in spite of his early issues.[1] Elsewhere, Hunt and Rolf Stommelen were both disqualified for entering the pits the wrong way, before Peterson's race ended with a ruined gearbox.[1]

That left Andretti to nurse his car around to claim another dominant victory, and double his lead over Peterson at the head of the Championship.[1] Scheckter and Jacques Laffite survived well enough to claim second and third, with Emerson Fittipaldi, Didier Pironi and Héctor Rebaque taking the rest of the points.[1]

Background[edit | edit source]

The Hockenheimring returned to host the fortieth edition of the German Grand Prix in 1978, despite many still bemoaning the loss of the Nürburgring.[2] Indeed, there were many rumours as to why the race was still at Hockenheim, ranging from the ridiculous and sarcastic "Lauda doesn't like it", to the more likely "Max and Bernie Show".[2] Indeed, it was likely that Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone had a large stake in the finances at the Hockenheimring, although with a near-guaranteed 100,000 strong crowd, full entry list and large list of sponsors there were no reasons for the FIA or circuit owners to complain.[2]

Into the entry list itself and a 30 strong field had been submitted to compete at the Hockenheimring, prompting the need for a pre-qualifying session.[2] Indeed, FIA rules dictated that a maximum of 28 cars could take part in any official session the length of the Hockenheimring, meaning two drivers were set to miss out.[2] That session, staged early on Friday morning, saw privateer Brett Lunger and Martini pilot René Arnoux both eliminated.[2]

Elsewhere, there were a few changes in terms of driver line-ups since the battle of Brands Hatch, with Jean-Pierre Jarier back at ATS to partner Jochen Mass.[2] Indeed, the Frenchman was back in place of Keke Rosberg, whom had himself returned to Theodore Racing after their purchase of a pair of old Wolves from the factory Wolf team.[2] That pair were WR3 and WR4, and were painted in Theodore's own red-white livery, a stark contrast to the newest dark-blue Wolf in the hands of Jody Scheckter.[2]

There was a change at Ensign too, with Morris Nunn opting to hand young Brazilian Formula 3 charger Nelson Piquet a debut, brought in to replace Derek Daly who was refusing to commit to the team.[2] The sister car was loaned out to a local German effort, Sachs Racing, whom opted to employ Harald Ertl for the weekend and the foreseeable future.[2] There were no changes to either car ahead of the trip to Germany.[2]

Into the stabilised section of the entry and Ferrari arrived with two slightly modified cars, one for Gilles Villeneuve and the other serving as the spare for Carlos Reutemann.[2] The changes made revolved around a new exhaust system, with the pipes now bent "up and over" to gather over the top of the gearbox, a copy of the Lotus design.[2] Reutemann's race car, meanwhile, retained the older, simpler layout, with no other changes made to the trio of 312T3s.[2]

Brabham-Alfa Romeo had also taken some inspiration from the Norfolk based squad, adapting their cockpit adjustable anti-roll bar system to Niki Lauda's BT46A.[2] Furthermore, while John Watson's car had been untouched, the spare car arrived with two sidepod mounted radiators, akin to those on the Lotus 79s.[2] However, these radiators also had an air supply from the front of the pod, reducing their overall size.[2]

In contrast, Team Lotus themselves arrived with no revisions to their cars, with both Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson having spent more than a week at Hockenheim testing instead.[2] Indeed, the Lotus 79 seemed to have such an innate advantage over the rest of the field that Colin Chapman and his team could focus almost all of their time on its successor, the Lotus 80.[2] Regardless, the team's trio of 79s, as well as their last 78 appeared in their familiar black-gold livery, although devoid of any "John Player" logos due to the advertising rules in Germany.[2]

Shadow were another team with updates, although the new rear aerofoil design on Hans-Joachim Stuck's DN9 was a copy of of the various evolutions of Harvey Postlethwaite's design in use at Wolf, Williams and Hesketh.[2] Regardless, Clay Regazzoni arrived with no changes to his car, while the spare was likewise untouched.[2] Indeed, even the DN9's "clones", the Arrows FA1s prepared for Riccardo Patrese and Rolf Stommelen arrived in Germany as they had appeared in Britain.[2] Indeed, the only change for the Arrows team was their location in the pits, having been position right next to the pit exit, while Shadow were diplomatically placed at pit-in.[2]

The aforementioned Williams had a new cockpit top-surface for Alan Jones to try, deliberately shaped to channel air into the intakes around the Australian's head.[2] Ligier-Matra, meanwhile, had finally got around to completing a second JS9 for Jacques Laffite, and come up with a new front wing, much larger than the original.[2] Arturo Merzario, meanwhile, had a second Merzario at his disposal, albeit laying the transporter awaiting final construction, but managed to successfully pre-qualify his original creation.[2]

Tyrrell were unchanged ahead of the German Grand Prix, their trio of 008s only needing a service before Patrick Depailler and Didier Pironi arrived.[2] McLaren also had nothing to show for their two weeks work, although they were down to just the two entries for James Hunt and Patrick Depailler, for Bruno Giacomelli was off racing in Formula Two.[2] Fittipaldi had his new lightweight F5A back to play with, Renault had their familiar pair of RS01s for Jean-Pierre Jabouille, while Surtees had three unchanged cars for Rupert Keegan and Vittorio Brambilla.[2] Completing the field would be Héctor Rebaque in his privately entered Lotus 78, the Mexican having just scraped through the pre-qualifying session.[2]

Into the Championship and despite failing to score at all at Lotus' home race it was still Andretti whom led the charge, nine points ahead of his nearest challenger. That challenger appeared in the form of his teammate Peterson, whom had likewise held onto second despite his own dramas, although both Reutemann and Lauda had moved within striking distance in third and fourth respectively. Depailler and Watson had also made ground, although they were likely too far back to make a charge for the crown.

In the International Cup for Constructors it was still advantage Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth, with the Norfolk squad's lead hardly dented in spite of their double retirement at Brands Hatch. Indeed, Brabham-Alfa Romeo were still two wins behind the "John Player Specials", with just six races left to try and gain ground. They were instead looking at a fight for second with Ferrari, whom had overtaken Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth as a result of Reutemann's victory.

Entry List[edit | edit source]

The full entry list for the 1978 German 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 France Jean-Pierre Jarier 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 Brazil Nelson Piquet 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
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 FA1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows Racing Team Arrows FA1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Team Merzario Merzario A1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
Source:[3]

Practice Overview[edit | edit source]

Qualifying[edit | edit source]

Qualifying for the German Grand Prix of 1978 would follow the usual pattern, with three timed sessions and a lone untimed session, for the pre-qualifying session had been held before the weekend got underway.[2] Friday would see two of the timed periods held at the Hockenheimring, before Saturday morning hosted the single untimed period.[2] Qualifying would then come to a conclusion on Saturday afternoon with the third and final timed session, with the top teams aiming to best the circuit record, a 1:53.07 set by Jody Scheckter to claim pole in 1977.[2]

Pre-Qualifying Report[edit | edit source]

Pre-Qualifying Results[edit | edit source]

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

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Wolf-Ford Cosworth 2:10.13
2 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 2:10.82 +0.69s
3 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 2:11.80 +1.67s
DNPQ 31 France René Arnoux France Martini-Ford Cosworth 2:12.25 +2.12s
DNPQ 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 2:12.45 +2.32s

Friday Qualifying[edit | edit source]

Ultimately, Scheckter's old record would last only until the two Lotus cars of Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson were allowed to push on Friday morning, for both would dip under the 1:53.00 barrier before the end of their first flying runs.[2] Indeed, by the time anyone else managed to threaten the old mark both Andretti and Peterson were lapping consistently in the 1:52.00s.[2] Come the end of the session Andretti would claim a 1:52.70, while Peterson was on his own out front with a 1:52.15.[2]

Only an outstanding effort by Niki Lauda kept the two Loti in sight on Friday morning, the Austrian ace recording a 1:52.73 just before the break.[2] However, the rest of the field were a worrying distance behind the two Loti, with the fourth fastest driver, Lauda's teammate John Watson, almost two seconds off Peterson's best with a 1:54.12.[2] Indeed, the Ulsterman's closest combatant instead proved to be Jean-Pierre Jabouille in the turbocharged Renault, which seemed to be enjoying the ability to stretch its legs on the long "straights" at the Hockenheimring.[2]

However, Jabouille would have to switch to the spare car to set that time, for his race car was suffering a barrage of engine issues, as was the Ligier-Matra of Jacques Laffite.[2] Elsewhere, Jean-Pierre Jarier managed to destroy the front of his ATS early on by slithering into a concrete wall, while Scheckter was at a loss to explain why he was so far off his pace from 1977.[2] Come the end of the morning session part of that reason was explained, for the Wolf was one of a number of cars to begin struggling with vapour locking as the heat of the German summer began to take hold.[2]

The issue of vapour locking, whereby fuel would get too hot before entering the engine and vaporise, resulting in a loss of fuel pressure and ultimately starve the engine, would cause more headaches during the Friday afternoon session.[2] Indeed, even Lotus were not immune, for Andretti failed to appear at the end of his warm-up lap at the start of the session as his Ford Cosworth found itself lacking fuel.[2] The American walked back to the pits to take over the spare car, while Peterson spent a large part of the hour having his brakes bled.[2] That, however, would only delay the Swede from setting the fastest time of the day, a 1:52.13 to give him provisional pole.[2]

Elsewhere, Andretti's lack of pace in the oldest Lotus 79 saw him slip down the timesheets, with Lauda moving onto a 1:52.43, while Scheckter improved to a 1:52.68 once his cooling concerns were dealt with.[2] Other impressive times were set by James Hunt and Alan Jones, although they were still over a second and a half slower than Peterson's ultimate pace, while the Renault remained ahead of both Ferraris.[2] Indeed, it seemed as if the Italian team were having an all too familiar bout of political in-fighting, with Gilles Villeneuve and Carlos Reutemann both becoming disillusioned with the team amid the news that Scheckter was to get one of the two seats in 1979.[2]

At the back of the field, meanwhile, the identical Shadow and Arrows teams were having identical issues, all four cars sat in the pits for large parts of the session with vapour lock problems.[2] Elsewhere, Héctor Rebaque was enjoying a stronger weekend than usual, the Mexican well clear of the non-qualifier zone, as was Keke Rosberg in his Theodore run Wolf.[2] At the end of Friday's running the four cars on the verge of failing to qualify were therefore Rupert Keegan, F1 rookie Nelson Piquet, Arturo Merzario and Jarier in his rebuilt ATS.[2]

Saturday Qualifying[edit | edit source]

Saturday morning saw a lot of teams work to cure their vapour lock issues in a more definitive manor, while Andretti demanded that his usual Lotus 79 be completely checked over after losing confidence.[2] Indeed, it would not only take a full examination but a back-to-back run in his usual 79 and the spare to convince Andretti that there was nothing wrong with the car, which Andretti had suddenly decided had not been "right" since his accident in France.[2] Regardless, the two Loti were again on their own at the end of the session on the unofficial time sheets, with Brabham-Alfa Romeo again their closest challengers.[2]

The final qualifying session of the weekend would be delayed by half an hour, the result of a rather expensive Alfa Sud race.[2] Regardless, the session would follow much the same pattern as those on Friday, with the two Loti raising the bar any time someone threatened to join them.[2] Indeed, as Lauda dipped further into the 1:52.00s, Peterson set the first lap in the 1:51.00s, before Andretti set the fastest time of the weekend at a 1:51.90.[2]

Whether Peterson could have challenged that became academic, however, for a lap after recording his best effort of 1:51.99 the Swede was suddenly sent sliding into the gravel at the final corner.[2] The cause of the accident proved to be a suspension failure, and while Peterson was able to get the car back to the pits, he was not allowed to take over the spare which had been setup for Andretti.[2] Peterson was therefore left to sit on the sidelines for the final moments of the session, although there was no chance of his best effort being beaten.[2]

Indeed, Lauda would get no closer to the pair than a 1:52.29, leaving him a very lonely third ahead of Scheckter and Watson.[2] Elsewhere, McLaren decided to try some slip-streaming with Hunt and Patrick Tambay to try and increase their pace, only for the former to trip over Vittorio Brambilla on his best lap.[2] That resulted in Hunt remaining behind Jones in the Williams and Laffite in the Ligier.[2]

At the back of the field, meanwhile, and both Rebaque and Rosberg had made the cut, causing delight for both teams.[2] F1 debutante Piquet also made it through, miraculously finding two seconds in the Ensign to leap into the 1:56.00s, as did Harald Ertl despite the fact that he had sat out the final hour after an engine failure.[2] Elsewhere Hans-Joachim Stuck just sneaked onto the grid in the final moments of the session with a 1:56.45, an effort that not only sent the track announcer into hysterics, but relegated teammate Clay Regazzoni off the grid.[2] The Swiss racer was duly joined by Jarier, Keegan and Merzario on the sidelines for the rest of the weekend.[2]

Qualifying Results[edit | edit source]

The full qualifying results for the 1978 German 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 1:52.70 1:53.89T 1:51.90
2 6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:52.15 1:52.13 1:51.99 +0.09s
3 1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:52.73T 1:52.43 1:52.29 +0.39s
4 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:53.71 1:52.68 1:53.10 +0.78s
5 2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:54.12 1:54.93 1:52.84 +0.94s
6 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:54.81 1:53.50 1:53.69 +1.60s
7 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 1:54.95T 1:53.93 1:53.54 +1.64s
8 7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:54.26 1:54.67 1:53.54 +1.64s
9 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 1:54.13T 1:54.51T 1:53.61T +1.71s
10 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:55.04 1:55.55 1:54.03T +2.13s
11 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:54.55 1:54.71 1:54.04 +2.14s
12 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 1:54.56 1:54.46 1:54.17 +2.27s
13 4 France Patrick Depailler France Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:55.05 1:54.42T 1:54.32 +2.42s
14 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:55.14 1:55.11 1:54.34 +2.44s
15 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 1:54.60 1:54.86 1:54.40 +2.50s
16 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:55.85 1:55.14 1:54.63 +2.73s
17 36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:55.18 1:55.44 1:55.75 +3.28s
18 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:57.30 1:56.54 1:55.57 +3.67s
19 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:56.07T 1:56.07T 1:55.57T +3.67s
20 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:55.86 1:56.42 1:56.93 +3.96s
21 22 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:58.14 1:58.25 1:56.15 +4.25s
22 9 West Germany Jochen Mass West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:57.37 1:59.62 1:56.21 +4.31s
23 23 Austria Harald Ertl West Germany Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:56.25 1:57.36 +4.35s
24 16 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:56.67 1:56.73 1:56.45T +4.55s
DNQ 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:56.57 1:57.63 1:56.79 +4.67s
DNQ 10 France Jean-Pierre Jarier West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:59.39 1:58.77T 1:57.40T +5.50s
DNQ 18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:58.06 1:58.92 1:57.86T +5.96s
DNQ 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 1:58.31 1:58.89 2:00.51 +6.41s
DNPQ 31 France René Arnoux France Martini-Ford Cosworth 2:12.25
DNPQ 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 2:12.45
Source:[2][4]
  • 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.

Grid[edit | edit source]

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

Race[edit | edit source]

Raceday proved to be as hot as the two qualifying days, prompting a lot of experimentation during the warm-up to increase cooling performance.[2] The most elaborate solution came at Ferrari, whom had grafted fibreglass ducts to the sides of their cars to channel air to the fuel system, although they only had time to do this to two of their three cars.[2] This therefore became an issue when Carlos Reutemann suffered a dramatic engine failure on the way to the grid.[2]

Regardless, Reutemann would get into his grid slot for the start, using the un-cooled spare Ferrari, as Mario Andretti led the field around on the parade lap with no issues whatsoever.[2]

Report[edit | edit source]

The two Lotus 79s of Mario Andretti and Ronnie Peterson led the charge into turn one.

Unfortunately the start would turn into a farce when the 3:00pm start to arrived, with the starters lights changing to green before the back half of the field had lined up in their grid slots.[2] As such, there was a lot of congestion when the field dived on the brakes for the first corner, resulting in Rolf Stommelen taking Patrick Depailler out of the race by ramming the Tyrrell up the back.[2] This was not aided by the fact that Jody Scheckter's Wolf had made a spluttering start, with the South African limping through the first corner before his Ford Cosworth engine finally kicked into life.[2]

Out front, meanwhile, the two black-gold Loti had made a perfect start, Andretti and Ronnie Peterson flying in formation through the first corner to lead the field on the long drag to the first chicane.[2] It was there that Andretti made a rare mistake on the brakes, slithering wide to gift Peterson the lead before he could gather himself back up.[2] That mistake was not enough, however, to let Niki Lauda get past, meaning the two Loti were clear to build a lead for the rest of the opening lap.[2]

Come the end of the first lap it was clear that the Loti were working together, for Andretti made no attempt to pass Peterson as the entered the Stadium section for the first time.[2] Indeed, running nose-to-tail they had already built a small gap back to Lauda in third, with the Austrian instead being challenged by Alan Jones.[2] They were followed by John Watson, James Hunt, Jacques Laffite and Carlos Reutemann, with the rest of the field bar Scheckter in a long line behind them.[2] Elsewhere, Stommelen entered the pits via the paddock to have his front end straightened out, only to get disqualified for illegally entering the pit lane.[2]

Onto the second lap and the two Loti duly established themselves as the team to beat, with Peterson and Andretti still running nose-to-tail as they escaped the attentions of Lauda.[2] This time the two black-gold cars had an near three second advantage over the #1 Brabham-Alfa Romeo, which was instead being harassed by Jones in the Williams.[2] The Australian racer duly sent his Williams diving past Lauda's Brabham into the first chicane on lap three, leaving Lauda to fend off an attack from his teammate Watson.[2]

Away from the lead group and there were some more dramas at the back of the field early on, Keke Rosberg arriving in the pits for a new nose after contact somewhere out on the track.[2] The German contingent had also been thinned considerably on the second lap, a suspension failure for Jochen Mass having seen the ATS slam into Hans-Joachim Stuck, removing both from the proceedings.[2] Elsewhere, Scheckter was back up to speed and catching the back markers, barely missing a beat, while Stommelen was back on track, albeit a long way from the pack in spite of his short-cut.[2]

The early stages would see the two Loti continue to pull away out front, leaving all of the focus on the train of cars encompassing the top half of the field.[2] Among the most impressive of those drivers was Jean-Pierre Jabouille, whose turbocharged Renault was carving its way through the pack to move from thirteenth to sixth in the space of four laps.[2] Unfortunately sixth would be as good as it got for Jabouille, for the Renault V6t had its usual catastrophic turbo failure on lap six, just as the Frenchman had lined up a move on Watson for fifth.[2]

Keke Rosberg had one of the quieter runs in his Theodore Racing prepared Wolf WR3.

Scheckter duly replaced the Renault in the lead group on lap ten, the Wolf pouncing from position to position with ease.[2] Out front, meanwhile, Peterson finally relented to Lotus' calls to hand the lead to Andretti on lap five, before neatly tucking into Andretti's slipstream as they continued to ease away from the pack behind.[2] Reutemann, meanwhile, brought the un-cooled Ferrari into the pits early on to discuss his options, as Jones and Lauda broke free of their chasers in third and fourth.[2]

Watson would soon drift down the order as gearbox trouble befell the #2 Brabham, meaning Hunt headed the main battle pack in fifth after ten laps.[2] He was being harassed by Laffite and Gilles Villeneuve, while Scheckter was now solidly in the top ten and attacking Didier Pironi just behind for eighth.[2] Those fights soon became for fourth and seventh respectively when Lauda's Alfa engine expired on lap twelve, meaning Jones was now in a lonely third, well clear of Hunt and company.[2]

Scheckter soon barged his way through to lead the Hunt train, aided by the disappearance of Hunt disappeared around the back of the circuit just before half distance.[2] Indeed, the Brit appeared three laps later, limping his McLaren along with a destroyed left front tyre which had failed at the first chicane.[2] Unfortunately the Brit then decided to use the same shortcut that Stommelen had used, entering a back gate to the paddock to shortcut the Stadium section.[2] That resulted in the Brit getting disqualified by the organisers, who were then forced, reluctantly, to disqualify Stommelen having previously overlooked the German's shortcut earlier on.[2]

Héctor Rebaque would fight hard to claim his first points finish in his privately entered Lotus 78.

Half-distance came and went without issue, with Andretti still leading Peterson, with Jones still a lonely third, albeit being steadily reeled in by Scheckter in fourth.[2] Laffite, Pironi and Emerson Fittipaldi were next, fighting hard over fifth, while Héctor Rebaque was running well, fighting an intense duel with a vapour affected Riccardo Patrese.[2] Indeed, their fight eventually resulted in Rebaque spinning at the back of the circuit, only to rejoin and battle his way past Watson, Villeneuve and Patrese with relative ease.[2]

With that the race became one of attrition, highlighted when Jones disappeared into the pits with a severe fuel system issue, a terminal case of the "vapours".[2] Patrese then sent himself pirouetting into the grass when his engine briefly cut out, although he was able to rejoin behind Villeneuve.[2] Next to drop out was the debuting Nelson Piquet, whose little Ensign was sitting just outside of the top ten at the time, before the biggest retirement of the day came in the closing stages.[2]

Indeed, with just ten laps to go Peterson dropped dramatically off the back of Andretti, who had stopped pushing hard long before half-distance.[2] Peterson's issues were fairly easy to trace, for his Hewland gearbox had jammed itself in fourth gear, the result of various other components beginning to break up.[2] The Swede battled on for three laps before the gearbox finally broke, with Peterson rolling to a stop just a few yards from the Stadium section.[2]

With that the race was run, with Andretti easing his pace even more during the final laps to preserve his gearbox, cruising home to claim his fifth victory of the season.[2] Scheckter was a lonely second, still a quarter of a minute behind, while Laffite survived well to finish third having eased away from Fittipaldi and Pironi during the final laps.[2] Harold Ertl was on course to finish sixth when his Ensign's engine expire in a cloud of smoke in the Stadium section, meaning Rebaque inherited the final point in his privately entered Lotus 78.[2]

Results[edit | edit source]

The full results for the 1978 German 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 45 1:28:00.90 1 9
2 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 45 +15.35s 4 6
3 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 45 +28.01s 7 4
4 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 45 +36.88s 10 3
5 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 45 +57.26s 16 2
6 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 45 +1:37.86 18 1
7 2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 45 +1:39.53 5
8 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 45 +1:56.87 15
9 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 44 +1 Lap 14
10 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Wolf-Ford Cosworth 42 +2 Laps 19
DSQ* 36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 42 Disqualified 23
11 23 Austria Harald Ertl West Germany Ensign-Ford Cosworth 41 Engine 17
Ret 6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 36 Gearbox 2
DSQ* 7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 34 Disqualified 8
Ret 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 31 Vapour lock 6
Ret 22 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 31 Engine 21
Ret 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 24 Fuel injection 20
Ret 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 16 Accident 11
Ret 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 14 Vapour lock 12
Ret 1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 11 Engine 3
Ret 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 5 Engine 9
Ret 16 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1 Accident 22
Ret 9 West Germany Jochen Mass West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1 Accident 24
Ret 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 13
DNQ 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 10 France Jean-Pierre Jarier West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth
DNPQ 31 France René Arnoux France Martini-Ford Cosworth
DNPQ 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth
Source:[5]
  • * Hunt and Stommelen were both disqualified for entering the pits from somewhere other than the pit entrance.[2]
  • Ertl was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.[5]

Milestones[edit | edit source]

Standings[edit | edit source]

Mario Andretti's fifth victory of the season, and his fourth from pole, ensured that the American ace was in total command of the Championship with five races left to run, leaving Germany with an eighteen point lead. Ronnie Peterson remained in second, hoping to have a streak of victories of his own to close the gap to his teammate. Indeed, any more bad luck for Peterson would likely result in him slipping into a fight for second, although Carlos Reutemann, Niki Lauda and Patrick Depailler had also all failed to score.

In the International Cup for Constructors it was, unsurprisingly, 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, meaning Lotus were, in theory, just two races away from securing the crown. Brabham themselves were therefore still in a rearguard action to hold second, with Ferrari and Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth both within striking distance.

Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts. +/-
1 United States Mario Andretti 54
2 Sweden Ronnie Peterson 36
3 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 31
4 Austria Niki Lauda 31
5 France Patrick Depailler 26
6 United Kingdom John Watson 16
7 South Africa Jody Scheckter 14 ▲3
8 France Jacques Laffite 14 ▼1
9 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 10 ▲2
10 Italy Riccardo Patrese 8 ▼2
11 United Kingdom James Hunt 8 ▼2
12 France Didier Pironi 7 ▲2
13 Australia Alan Jones 5 ▼1
14 France Patrick Tambay 5 ▼1
15 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni 4
16 Canada Gilles Villeneuve 3
17 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck 2
18 Mexico Héctor Rebaque 1 ▲7
International Cup for Constructors
Pos. Team Pts. +/-
1 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 67
2 United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 40
3 Italy Ferrari 31
4 United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 30
5 Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 14 ▲3
6 France Ligier-Matra 14
7 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 12 ▼2
8 Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 10 ▲1
9 United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 8 ▼2
10 United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 6
11 United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 5

Only point scoring drivers and teams are shown.

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 'German GP, 1978', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2016), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr308.html, (Accessed 06/09/2018)
  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 D.S.J., 'The German Grand Prix: Die Kleiner Preis', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/09/1978), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/september-1978/77/german-grand-prix, (Accessed 06/09/2018)
  3. 'Germany 1978: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/allemagne/engages.aspx, (Accessed 06/09/2018)
  4. 'Germany 1978: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/allemagne/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 06/09/2018)
  5. 5.0 5.1 'Germany 1978: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/allemagne/classement.aspx, (Accessed 06/09/2018)
  6. 6.0 6.1 '1978 German GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2018), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1978&gp=German%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 06/09/2018)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 '11. Germany 1978', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2018), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/allemagne.aspx, (Accessed 06/09/2018)
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 Germany German Grand Prix
Circuits Nürburgring (1951–1954, 1956–1958, 1960–1969, 1971–1976, 1985, 2007–2013*), AVUS (1959), Hockenheimring (1970, 1977–1984, 1986–2006, 2007–2014*, 2016, 2018–2019)
Nurburgring2002.png
Hockenheimring2002.png
Races 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 •
* Nürburgring and Hockenheimring alternated between each other during these years.
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