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The 1978 United States Grand Prix, officially known as the XXI Toyota Grand Prix of the United States, was the fourteenth and penultimate round of the 1978 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at Watkins Glen on 1 October 1978.[1] The race, which saw Carlos Reutemann inherit a dominant victory, would be remembered as the first Grand Prix to feature a medical car on the grid, which chased the field around the opening lap.[1]

Indeed, after the tragic events of the Italian Grand Prix three weeks earlier the FIA had been forced to take action, with a protest group formed by the drivers causing concern.[2] The result was a self-imposed ban for Riccardo Patrese, deemed to have caused Ronnie Peterson's fatal accident, and a provision for the medical car, and FIA certified doctor, to complete the opening lap behind the field.[2]

Before the race, however, the home fans were out in force to see their new national hero, Mario Andretti, claim another pole position, which the new World Champion duly did during qualifying.[1] Indeed, the naturalised American was more than a second faster than his closest challenger Reutemann, with Andretti set to dominate his home race.[1]

Andretti's charge to victory would be hampered before the race began, however, for the American destroyed his Lotus 79 in the pre-race warm and duly had to take over new teammate Jean-Pierre Jarier's car.[1] Regardless, the American racer duly aced the start to streak into the lead had of Reutemann, while Jarier, in the newly arrived spare car, chased the lead group in fifth.[1]

It soon became clear, however, that neither Lotus driver was impressed with their hurriedly prepared equipment, with Andretti losing the lead to Reutemann and Gilles Villeneuve in short order.[1] Jarier likewise began to slip down the field, before Andretti's race was ended by an engine failure while fighting with Niki Lauda.[1]

Similar failures claimed the races of Villeneuve and later Lauda, leaving Reutemann with a commanding lead over Alan Jones, while Jean-Pierre Jabouille was cruising around in third in the Renault.[1] Unfortunately his dreams of a maiden podium were shattered by a brake issue in the closing stages, allowing Jody Scheckter and Jarier to charge past, the latter having stopped for fresh tyres.[1]

Indeed, a late move by Jarier on Scheckter seemed to have got the Frenchman on the podium, only for his Ford Cosworth to cough and splutter through the last of its fuel.[1] Jarier duly rolled to a stop at the back of the circuit, handing third place back to Scheckter, and promote Patrick Tambay into the points.[1]

Out front, meanwhile, Reutemann secured a dominant victory at a cruise, his scarlet Ferrari having no trouble on its Michelin tyres.[1] A delighted Jones was a lonely second ahead of Scheckter, while Jabouille dragged the ailing Renault around for his and its maiden points finish ahead of Emerson Fittipaldi and the aforementioned Tambay.[1]

BackgroundEdit

The 1978 Formula One world tour headed to its traditional autumnal home in New York State, with the picturesque Watkins Glen circuit greeting the field.[2] Unfortunately a brutal winter in NY state had battered the circuit, with the chicane in the middle of the "Esses" becoming even bumpier than usual.[2] However, for a select group of drivers it was not the safety of the circuit that would upset them ahead of the Grand Prix meeting, rather the events of the previous race three weeks earlier.[2]

Indeed, in the search to find a reason why Ronnie Peterson had been killed in the accident at the start of the Italian Grand Prix, a new action group had been formed in the paddock.[2] This group, named the Formula One Drivers Safety Committee, led a witch hunt against Riccardo Patrese, declaring that they would boycott the race if the Italian's entry was accepted.[2] Indeed, the key members of the group, namely James Hunt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Lauda and Mario Andretti believed that the Italian's actions had been a catalyst for the fatal accident, although there was quite a split in opinion from the rest of the field.[2]

Unsure of what to do the organisers hesitated, although Arrows decided to withdraw Patrese's entry, if only to keep the Italian out of the firing line, leaving them with just Rolf Stommelen to run.[2] That seemed to settle the issue was far as the drivers were concern, albeit with a change to the starting procedure to ensure that everyone was lined up on the grid for the start.[2] Indeed, it was decided that a support vehicle would line up at the back of the grid after the formation lap, and chase the field around the opening tour in-case of a severe accident.[2] The medical car would then dive into the pits and await to be dispatched if the opening lap was trouble free.[2]

Into the entry list and the sad loss of Peterson meant that World Champions Lotus were originally down to one entry, with Colin Chapman prepared to just run Andretti and not use Peterson's #6.[2] However, the Norfolk squad's membership of the Formula One Constructors Association meant that the team had to field a second car, meaning the team had to build two new Lotus 79s in time for the weekend.[2] The first of those cars, for Peterson's had been completely destroyed in Monza, was therefore handed to Jean-Pierre Jarier, who was also given #55 as his race number.[2]

Elsewhere Jarier's original employers in 1978, ATS had another modified line-up, with Keke Rosberg rejoining the team as Theodore Racing did not want to pay to ship their cars across the Atlantic.[2] He therefore joined Michael Bleekemolen in the squad, with Jochen Mass still recovering from his hand injury sustained earlier in the season.[2] Their cars were unchanged ahead of the race, although the new D1 was in the paddock to serve as a spare.[2]

Another team with changes for the North American leg of the Championship was Surtees with two new faces in their cars.[2] Rupert Keegan was still out of action, and set to leave the team, prompting John Surtees to hire René Arnoux, free to drive as Martini were not racing in America.[2] Likewise, Vittorio Brambilla's head injury sustained in the infamous Monza accident ruled him out, meaning young Italian racer Beppe Gabbiani came in to make his debut in Beta Tools sponsored TS20.[2]

Ensign, meanwhile, were back to fielding a two car entry, for Harald Ertl's German backers were unwilling to fund a trip to the US.[2] As such, Morris Nunn would partner regular runner Derek Daly with Brett Lunger, whose backers had likewise been reluctant to send his equipment over the Atlantic.[2] The latter's inclusion also left Nelson Piquet without a seat, although the Brazilian had briefly secured employment elsewhere.[2]

Indeed, the various machinations of Peterson's accident in terms of the driver market had resulted in young Piquet's contract being bought by Brabham, for John Watson was set to leave to join McLaren for 1979.[2] As such, Bernie Ecclestone intended to put Piquet in a third BT46A, partnering the aforementioned Watson and lead driver Lauda at the Glen.[2] However, Piquet would arrange to race elsewhere on the US weekend, and so his #66 entry was withdrawn on the eve of the weekend.[2]

Elsewhere, Wolf arrived with enough confidence to run a second driver, amid news that they had captured Hunt for 1979.[2] Indeed, with lead driver Jody Scheckter departing to join Ferrari, the team were evaluating potential replacements for the South African to serve as Hunt's number two.[2] They therefore promoted their Formula Three youngster Bobby Rahal to the team, handing him the older of their remaining cars.[2]

Hunt himself, meanwhile, would continue to race for McLaren at the Glen, again partnering Patrick Tambay in their freshly re-liveried Löwenbräu M26s.[2] Tyrrell were likewise unchanged for Didier Pironi and Patrick Depailler, while Ferrari fielded Carlos Reutemann and Gilles Villeneuve, the latter having already raced at the Glen in a Can-Am event.[2] Over at Shadow, Hans-Joachim Stuck was declared fit enough to race after his head injury in Monza, while Clay Regazzoni was keeping to himself having helped briefly save Peterson in Italy.[2]

Fittipaldi was back in his pair of Fittipaldis, again unchanged as the Brazilian effort focused on developing their "ground effect" design.[2] The single car entries of Ligier-Matra and Williams were also in attendance, with Jacques Laffite and Alan Jones both having kept busy testing their 1979 concepts during the three week break.[2] Completing the 27 strong field would be Arturo Merzario in his eponymous creation, the ever impressive Renault of Jean-Pierre Jabouille, as well as lone privateer Héctor Rebaque in his ex-factory Lotus 78.[2]

In terms of the Championship Peterson's sad demise had effectively ended the hunt, for Andretti could no longer be caught. Indeed, there had been muted celebrations from the American in Italy, with Andretti later remarking that he would trade his title away "to have my friend back."[3] The question now was whether Peterson's tally of 51 would be beaten, with Lauda and Reutemann both mathematically able to catch the Swede.

In terms of the International Cup for Constructors the race in Italy had seemingly secured second place for Brabham-Alfa Romeo, as they had moved thirteen clear of Ferrari in third. They were still 33 behind pre-crowned Champions Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth, whom no longer needed to compete with Andretti taking his title. Regardless, they would still compete in the US due to F.O.C.A. agreements, albeit without much enthusiasm.

Entry listEdit

The full entry list for the 1978 United States 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
7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom Löwenbräu Team McLaren McLaren M26 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom Löwenbräu Team McLaren McLaren M26 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
9 Netherlands Michael Bleekemolen West Germany F&S Properties/ATS Racing Team ATS HS1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
10 Finland Keke Rosberg West Germany F&S Properties/ATS Racing Team ATS D1 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 France René Arnoux United Kingdom Team Surtees Surtees TS20 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
19 Italy Beppe Gabbiani 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
21 United States Bobby Rahal Canada Walter Wolf Racing Wolf WR6 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 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom Team Tissot Ensign 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
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
55 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 79 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
66 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT46A Alfa Romeo 115-12 3.0 F12 G
Source:[4]

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

Qualifying at the Glen would follow the standard pattern, with three "timed" periods and a single "untimed" session.[2] The "untimed" session was to be staged on Saturday morning, leaving the afternoon session, and the whole of Friday's running, free to set the grid on ultimate pace.[2] As for a target time the top teams would aim to best the circuit record, a 1:40.863, set by James Hunt in 1977.[2]

Friday QualifyingEdit

Friday morning's session would open to a chorus of moans, with almost all of the drivers complaining about the condition of the circuit.[2] Even Gilles Villeneuve, who had already driven around Watkins Glen in a Can-Am race, was not impressed, although the young Canadian racers times were striking.[2] Indeed, Villeneuve would spend most of the opening session at the top of the time sheets, despite the fact that Ferrari were compelled to disconnect their stiffened anti-roll bar setup to cope with the bumpiness.[2]

Only a broken exhaust would prevent Villeneuve going faster than a 1:39.948 in the morning, a time which made the Canadian the first man to break the 1:40.000 barrier at the Glen since the addition of the chicane.[2] That allowed Mario Andretti to steal the show, with the Italian American using a new brake set-up on his Lotus to record a new circuit record of 1:38.925.[2] Indeed, Andretti's effort was good enough to beat the pre-chicane record of 1:38.978, a time set by Carlos Reutemann four years earlier.[2]

The Argentine himself would end the morning second fastest, safely in the 1:39.000s with the rest of the field struggling to break 1:40.000.[2] An otherwise unremarkable session saw no major incidents, although Jean-Pierre Jarier in the second Lotus did have some brake issues, traced to a leak in the hydraulics.[2] He would, however, steadily work his way up the order as he became used to arguably the fastest car in F1, knowing it was likely his last chance to resurrect his career.[2]

Into the afternoon session and it was Ferrari, rather than Lotus, who came to the fore, although they could muster no response to Andretti's earlier time.[2] Indeed, Reutemann would be the star of the session, recording an excellent effort of 1:39.179 to top the afternoon timesheets, and grab second on the provisional grid.[2] Villeneuve also improved late on, his running ruined by his exhaust issue earlier on, with Andretti splitting them as he battled against a setup issue on his Lotus, traced to a set of mismatched diameter rear tyres.[2]

Niki Lauda, meanwhile, would break into the sub-1:40.000 group in the afternoon, albeit knowing he was likely fighting a losing battle in the Brabham-Alfa Romeo.[2] Indeed, it seemed as if the Austrian's 1:39.892 would be as good as it would get for the Brabham squad, for John Watson just fell shy of Lauda's time with a 1:40.000.[2] That left the Ulsterman a fraction ahead of Jean-Pierre Jabouille in the Renault, and Jarier in a now completely healthy Lotus.[2]

In terms of accident or mishap the only major incident of the afternoon came in the form of a crash for Alan Jones, whose Williams shot off the circuit with a stub axle failure.[2] Fortunately the young Australian emerged uninjured from the car, and quickly got back to run in the spare, with no other major incidents of note.[2] Indeed, the only driver who seemed to be having a particularly unlucky time on the mechanical front was Hans-Joachim Stuck in the Shadow, plagued by gearbox issues throughout the afternoon.[2]

Saturday QualifyingEdit

After such a quiet start to proceedings on Friday, Saturday was set to be another dull affair, with the "race practice" session staged in the morning.[2] Indeed, there was nothing to show that there would be any major change to the order, with Andretti still visibly quicker than anyone else, and the Ferraris ahead of the Brabhams, Renault and McLarens.[2] The only action would come in the closing stages, with a steering issue for Keke Rosberg in the new ATS putting him in the pits, and an engine failure for Jacques Laffite leaving him in the spare Ligier-Matra.[2]

Into the final hour and it was clear that Andretti was not going to be beaten, with the American instantly lapping faster than his best effort on Friday.[2] Come the end of the session Andretti was on the verge of breaking the 1:38.000 mark, but ultimately had to settle for a 1:38.114, leaving him more than a second faster than Reutemann.[2] In truth, the Argentine had used the session to focus on race pace rather than outright speed, believing he could go no faster, while Villeneuve's push was delayed by a gearbox failure right at the end of the morning runout.[2]

Those delays for Villeneuve would prove slightly costly, however, for it allowed Jones in the spare Williams to leap into third, the Australian ace joining the "ace" group in the 1:39.000s rather unexpectedly.[2] Another impressive drive came in the form of Jarier, who was only denied a 1:39.000 lap by a broken exhaust, while Hunt slipped into the group with a 1:39.991 at the end of the afternoon.[2]

Elsewhere, Laffite's miserable Saturday continued, the Frenchman destroying his second Matra V12 early on to leave him on the sidelines for most of the session until his original car had a new engine fitted.[2] Jabouille, meanwhile, would have a nose bending spin after a brake issue, with repairs taking too long for the Frenchman to rejoin the fray.[2] Stuck was again in trouble with mechanical strife, this time a catastrophic oil leak, while Rosberg sat the session out entirely after his steering issue in the morning.[2]

At the back of the field, meanwhile, the man to miss out on a spot on the grid ultimately proved to be the debuting Beppe Gabbiani in the Surtees.[2] Indeed, the Italian was a second off the final qualifier Arturo Merzario, and seven off of Andretti's pace.[2] Elsewhere his fellow debutante Bobby Rahal cruised through without issue in the second Wolf, even picking up a set of Goodyear's "special" tyres, while René Arnoux qualified comfortably in the second Surtees.[2]

Qualifying ResultsEdit

The full qualifying results for the 1978 United States 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 1:38.925 1:39.662 1:38.114
2 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 1:39.446 1:39.179 1:41.441 +1.065s
3 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:40.625 1:41.969 1:39.742T +1.628s
4 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 1:39.948 1:39.820 1:40.339 +1.706s
5 1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:40.317 1:39.892 1:40.677 +1.778s
6 7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:40.323 1:40.142 1:39.991 +1.877s
7 2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:40.386 1:40.000 1:40.944T +1.886s
8 55 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:40.178 1:40.146 1:40.034 +1.920s
9 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 1:40.959T 1:40.136 1:41.448 +2.022s
10 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 1:41.711T 1:40.228 1:41.111T +2.114s
11 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:40.762 1:41.260 1:40.833 +2.648s
12 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:40.828 1:41.962 1:41.000 +2.714s
13 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:41.932 1:41.315 1:41.007 +2.893s
14 16 Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:42.673 1:41.681 1:41.943 +3.567s
15 10 Finland Keke Rosberg Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:43.424 1:41.773 +3.659s
16 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:42.163 1:41.815 1:42.819 +3.701s
17 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:41.855 1:42.327 1:42.721 +3.741s
18 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:41.974 1:42.811T 1:42.040 +3.860s
19 22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:43.083 1:42.179 1:42.218 +4.065s
20 21 United States Bobby Rahal Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:44.125 1:42.935 1:42.429 +4.315s
21 18 France René Arnoux United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:43.037 1:42.541 1:42.653 +4.427s
22 36 Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:43.431 1:42.741 1:43.752 +4.627s
23 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:44.737T 1:43.028 1:43.491 +4.914s
24 23 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:43.067 1:43.472 1:44.019 +4.953s
25 9 Netherlands Michael Bleekemolen West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:43.572 1:44.295 1:43.969 +5.458s
26 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 1:44.467 1:44.286 1:44.681 +6.172s
DNQ 19 Italy Beppe Gabbiani United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:46.784 1:45.825 1:45.155 +7.041s
WD 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth Withdrawn
WD 66 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo Withdrawn
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 Mario Andretti
Carlos Reutemann ______________
Row 2 ______________ 3
4 Alan Jones
Gilles Villeneuve ______________
Row 3 ______________ 5
6 Niki Lauda
James Hunt ______________
Row 4 ______________ 7
8 John Watson
Jean-Pierre Jarier ______________
Row 5 ______________ 9
10 Jean-Pierre Jabouille
Jacques Laffite ______________
Row 6 ______________ 11
12 Jody Scheckter
Patrick Depailler ______________
Row 7 ______________ 13
14 Emerson Fittipaldi
Hans-Joachim Stuck ______________
Row 8 ______________ 15
16 Keke Rosberg
Didier Pironi ______________
Row 9 ______________ 17
18 Clay Regazzoni
Patrick Tambay ______________
Row 10 ______________ 19
20 Derek Daly
Bobby Rahal ______________
Row 11 ______________ 21
22 René Arnoux
Rolf Stommelen ______________
Row 12 ______________ 23
24 Héctor Rebaque
Brett Lunger ______________
Row 13 ______________ 25
26 Michael Bleekemolen
Arturo Merzario ______________

RaceEdit

Sunday dawned bright and warmer than usual for the penultimate race of the season, with a record crowd gathering around the Glen well before the scheduled race start.[2] The morning warm-up saw a minor catastrophe develop for Lotus, with the Norfolk squad having to hand Mario Andretti teammate Jean-Pierre Jarier's car after his suffered a stub-axle failure in the Chute.[2] Andretti's car was subsequently ruined as it smashed into the Armco barriers, although the American was passed fit to start, while Jarier took over the freshly arrived spare car.[2]

ReportEdit

There would, however, be one car missing from the grid at the start, with Hans-Joachim Stuck missing the deadline to join the formation lap after a late engine change.[2] Regardless, Andretti led a perfectly behaved field onto the grid and duly aced the start, streaking clear from second placed Carlos Reutemann.[2] The Argentine was followed by his Canadian teammate Gilles Villeneuve, while Alan Jones fended off Niki Lauda and Jarier into the first corner.[2]

The home fans who were expecting Andretti to disappear into the lead on the opening tour would be disappointed, for the American immediately found his newly acquired Lotus less than satisfactory.[2] Indeed, while the team had mirrored his settings as effectively as possible on Jarier's former car, the inherent difference between the essentially tailor made cars meant Andretti was struggling to find a balance.[2] As such the Lotus was dancing all over the place on the opening lap, allowing Reutemann to stalk it a few yards back in a menacing looking Ferrari.[2]

An uneventful opening tour ended with Andretti holding the slightest of leads over Reutemann and Villeneuve, while Jones, Lauda and Jarier were just behind.[2] They were likewise barely a few yards of tarmac ahead of the next group led by James Hunt and John Watson, while Emerson Fittipaldi was on his own after an awful getaway.[2] Elsewhere Héctor Rebaque was already out having burned out his clutch at the start, barely making it to the start line, while Stuck was already heading back to the pits, his engine being starved of fuel by a pump failure.[2]

The early laps saw Andretti clearly lack confidence to use the brakes to their fullest, finding that the pressure was fluctuating dramatically as he pressed the peddle.[2] As such, Reutemann and Villeneuve remained glued to his tail and, when it became clear that Andretti was in no position to defend, the Argentine sent his Ferrari skating around the outside of the #5 car through the Loop to take the lead.[2] Two corners later and Villeneuve pulled an identical manoeuvre into the Boot, dumping Andretti down to third.[2]

With that the Ferraris were gone, leaving Andretti to fight a Lotus that simply lacked the poise of his usual car.[2] Fortunately for him fourth placed Jones had dropped too far back to be an immediate threat, the Australian having spent a lot of time defending from Lauda behind.[2] Jarier, meanwhile, was struggling in the newly arrived Lotus, dropping out of the Jones/Lauda group after a slide into the grass on the second lap, but was keeping Jean-Pierre Jabouille in the Renault at arm's length.[2]

From that the race developed into one of tyre attrition, the first notable victim being Watson on lap nine, suffering from an alarming loss of grip.[2] Jarier was the next man in with a lack of front end grip, quickly followed by Jacques Laffite as the Ligier-Matra burned through its first set of tyres.[2] All three rejoined at the back of the field, only ahead of Michael Bleekemolen as the Dutchman had steering issues in the ATS.[2]

Jones slowly began to pull away from Lauda as tyre fatigue gripped the field, and duly swept onto the back of Andretti who was still lacking confidence.[2] A brief battle, in which Andretti kept Jones at bay until they dived on the brakes for the Loop, saw Jones move into the final podium spot on lap 21.[2] A lap later and the Williams into second, for Villeneuve's Ferrari was sat on the back straight with steam and water pouring from the back of the engine.[2]

Andretti would soon drift back towards Lauda, with Reutemann now thirty seconds clear of Jones at the head of the field.[2] With the fighting over at the front attention focused at the back of the field, with Watson and Jarier carving their way up the order on their fresh Goodyear tyres.[2] Elsewhere, Rolf Stommelen needed his brakes bled, Clay Regazzoni was in for fresh tyres, and Keke Rosberg was out with a broken gear linkage.[2]

Hunt joined the fresh tyre squad shortly before half-distance, moments after Lauda swept past Andretti with ease for fourth.[2] A couple of laps later and Jabouille went cruising past Andretti without issue, underlining to the home crowd that it was not going to be their hero's day.[2] Indeed, a lap later and it was all over for Andretti, his engine failing as he rounded the final corner to leave him rolling to a silent stop in the pits.[2]

Half distance came and went without issue, and it was only in the final stages that any real fighting, bar the progress of Jarier at the back of the pack, came to the fore.[2] Indeed, with ten laps to go Jarier had swooped onto the back of Jody Scheckter in the Wolf, who was himself tucked in behind the Renault of Jabouille.[2] Those three were engaged in a fight for third, for Lauda's engine had failed, although their fight would barely develop before the order was resolved.[2]

Indeed, in the space of the back straight Jabouille would go from third to fifth, with Jarier having dive-bombed Scheckter into The 90 to claim fourth, before easing past Renault through the Esses.[2] Jarier's move duly allowed Scheckter to pull alongside Jabouille down the back straight, before braking far later than the Frenchman into the Loop.[2] Jabouille's defence in either case had been hampered by brake issues, leaving the Renault racer to sit a stew in fifth, having been within sight of a maiden podium finish.[2]

Into the closing stages and Jarier was on course to catch Jones, who was nursing his tyres knowing he had no chance of catching Reutemann in the Michelin shod Ferrari.[2] However, any hopes of a last minute duel for second were ended when Jarier's race was ruined by an engine coughed and died with three laps to go.[2] Indeed, the Frenchman's made charge through the field had drained the fuel tank quicker than Lotus had initially calculated, leaving Jarier coasting to a stop in the Boot.[2]

With that the race was run, with Reutemann claiming a dominant victory for himself, Ferrari and Michelin, on Goodyear's home soil.[2] Jones was a delighted second for Williams, claiming their first podium, while Scheckter came home a battered third, the Wolf's exhausts hanging off the back of the car.[2] Jabouille held onto fourth ahead of a charging Fittipaldi, whom ran out of time to take the Renault, while Tambay was the last man on the lead lap in sixth.[2]

ResultsEdit

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

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired* Grid Points
1 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 59 1:40:48.800 2 9
2 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 59 +19.739s 3 6
3 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 59 +45.701s 11 4
4 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 59 +1:25.007 9 3
5 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 59 +1:28.089 13 2
6 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 59 +1:50.210 18 1
7 7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 58 +1 Lap 6
8 22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 58 +1 Lap 19
9 18 France René Arnoux United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 58 +1 Lap 21
10 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 58 +1 Lap 16
11 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 58 +1 Lap 10
12 21 United States Bobby Rahal Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 58 +1 Lap 20
13 23 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 58 +1 Lap 24
14 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 56 +3 Laps 17
15* 55 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 55 Out of Fuel 8
16 36 Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 54 +5 Laps 22
Ret 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 46 Gearbox 26
Ret 9 Netherlands Michael Bleekemolen Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 43 Oil Leak 25
Ret 1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 28 Engine 5
Ret 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 27 Engine 1
Ret 2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 25 Engine 7
Ret 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 23 Wheel 12
Ret 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 22 Engine 4
Ret 10 Finland Keke Rosberg Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 21 Transmission 15
Ret 16 Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1 Fuel System 14
Ret 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 0 Clutch 23
DNQ 19 Italy Beppe Gabbiani United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth
WD 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth
WD 66 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo
Source: [6]
  • * Jarier was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.[6]

MilestonesEdit

StandingsEdit

With Mario Andretti already declared as Champion, and the late Ronnie Peterson almost out of reach in second, it was the battle for third that had been the main focus of attention at the Glen. Victory had duly propelled Carlos Reutemann into the position, the Argentine moving level with Niki Lauda on 44 points, but with more wins to his name. That left it mathematically possible for one of the two to overhaul Peterson for second, while Patrick Depailler had dropped out of the fight in fifth.

In the International Cup for Constructors it was much the same story, with Lotus-Ford Cosworth having already secured the crown. The fight for second was therefore the main draw heading into the finale, with Ferrari moving within four points of second placed Brabham-Alfa Romeo in a now two-horse race to be runner-up. Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth had fallen too far back in fourth, while Renault were on the board for the first time, albeit outside of the top ten.

Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts. +/-
1 United States Mario Andretti 64
2 Sweden Ronnie Peterson 51
3 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 44 ▲1
4 Austria Niki Lauda 44 ▼1
5 France Patrick Depailler 32
6 United Kingdom John Watson 25
7 France Jacques Laffite 19
8 South Africa Jody Scheckter 18 ▲1
9 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 17 ▼1
10 Australia Alan Jones 11 ▲5
11 Italy Riccardo Patrese 8 ▼1
12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve 8 ▼1
13 United Kingdom James Hunt 8 ▼1
14 France Patrick Tambay 8 ▼1
15 France Didier Pironi 7 ▼1
16 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni 4
17 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille 3 ▲10
18 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck 2 ▼1
19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla 1 ▼1
20 Mexico Héctor Rebaque 1 ▼1
International Cup for Constructors
Pos. Team Pts. +/-
1 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 86
2 United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 53
3 Italy Ferrari 49
4 United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 36
5 France Ligier-Matra 19
6 Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 18 ▲1
7 Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 17 ▼1
8 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 15
9 United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 11 ▲2
10 United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 8 ▼1
11 United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 6 ▼1
12 France Renault 3 ▲4
13 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 'United States GP, 1978', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr312.html, (Accessed 15/09/2018)
  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 A.H., 'United States (East) Grand Prix: Not a Lotus Day', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/11/1978), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/november-1978/72/united-states-east-grand-prix, (Accessed 15/09/2018)
  3. Mario Andretti, 'Letter to My Younger Self', theplayerstribune.com, (The Player's Tribune, 09/06/2016), https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/2016-6-9-mario-andretti-racing-letter-to-my-younger-self, (Accessed 10/09/2018)
  4. 'USA East 1978: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/etats-unis-est/engages.aspx, (Accessed 15/09/2018)
  5. 'USA East 1978: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/etats-unis-est/classement.aspx, (Accessed 15/09/2018)
  6. 6.0 6.1 'USA East 1978: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/etats-unis-est/classement.aspx, (Accessed 15/09/2018)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 '1978 United States GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2015), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1978&gp=United%20States%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 15/09/2018)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 '15. USA East 1978', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/etats-unis-est.aspx, (Accessed 15/09/2018)
V T E United States United States Grand Prix
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See also United States Grand Prix West • Indianapolis 500 • Detroit Grand Prix • Caesars Palace Grand Prix • Dallas Grand Prix • Questor Grand Prix
V T E 1978 Formula One Season
Teams Arrows • ATS • Brabham • Ensign • Ferrari • Fittipaldi • Hesketh • Ligier • Lotus • Martini • McLaren • Merzario • Renault • Shadow • Theodore • Tyrrell • Williams • Wolf
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Cars Arrows A1 • Arrows FA1 • ATS D1 • ATS HS1 • Brabham BT45 • Brabham BT46 • Ensign N177 • Ferrari 312T • Fittipaldi F5A • Hesketh 308 • Ligier JS7 • Ligier JS9 • Lotus 78 • Lotus 79 • 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
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