FANDOM


The 1978 United States Grand Prix West, otherwise known as the 6th United States Grand Prix West, was the fourth race of the 1978 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged on the Long Beach Street Circuit on the 2 April 1978.[1] The race, which required two separate qualifying sessions to set the grid, would see Gilles Villeneuve prove his raw talent, although it was his teammate that claimed victory.[1]

Qualifying had seen Carlos Reutemann edge out his young Canadian teammate at the head of the field, with ex-Ferrari driver Niki Lauda in third.[1] Mario Andretti was next for Lotus ahead of John Watson and Alan Jones, while Riccardo Patrese beat Jody Scheckter to head the fourth row.[1]

The start of the race would see an all Ferrari/Brabham fight for the lead, with Watson making a superb start to skate inside Lauda and the Ferraris into the first corner.[1] The Ulsterman's lunge would run both Lauda and Reutemann wide, allowing Villeneuve to sneak into the lead, with Watson ultimately having to settle for second.[1]

The top four would quickly disappear from the chasing pack led by Andretti, with Villeneuve leading from Watson, Lauda and Reutemann.[1] They would continue to run nose-to-tail for some time, until Watson suffered an engine failure on lap ten.[1]

That failure promoted Lauda into second, although he was unable to take his Ferrari replacement before his Alfa Romeo engine had a total electrical failure.[1] Villeneuve was duly left with a small lead over Reutemann, while Jones had been promoted to a distant third after a long battle with Andretti.[1]

Unfortunately for Villeneuve his hopes of a maiden win were ended just before half-distance, the Canadian crashing heavily while lapping Clay Regazzoni.[1] Reutemann was therefore gifted the lead from Jones and Andretti, with the latter moving in to re-pass the Williams as the laps ticked away.[1]

Into the closing stages and Reutemann was cruising, for Andretti was simply unable to take enough time out of him to catch back up.[1] Behind, Jones encountered a fuel pressure issue and dropped back, promoting Patrick Depailler into third ahead of Ronnie Peterson.[1]

With that the race was run, with Reutemann easing home to claim another impressive victory for the Michelin shod Ferrari.[1] Andretti was next ahead of Depailler, with Peterson, Jacques Laffite and Patrese completing the points, while Jones' afternoon saw him limp the Williams home in seventh.[1]

BackgroundEdit

The city of Long Beach, California was fast becoming a familiar sight for Formula One, with the third United States Grand Prix West serving as the fourth round of the 1978 campaign.[2] Indeed, the only real change to the circuit was the fact that the start/finish line had been moved a 13 of the way around the circuit to Shoreline Boulevard.[2] Timing and scoring was, however, still up the hill on Ocean Boulevard, meaning that the actual race distance would be about 8023 laps.[2]

Furthermore, the huge entry list, combined with the relatively short lap and narrow streets, meant that the FIA decided to restrict the grid to just 22 starters.[2] In addition, it was decided that there could only be a maximum 26 cars on track at any one time, meaning a pre-qualifying session was scheduled for the eight "newest" entries.[2] Those eight would fight for four slots in the official qualifying session, with a further four then missing out in qualifying.[2]

Into the entry list itself and the favourites to make it through the pre-qualifying phase were the Arrows duo of Riccardo Patrese and Rolf Stommelen.[2] In South Africa those two had shown that the new Milton Keynes squad were a force to be reckoned with, particularly given the experience of its founders.[2] Indeed, the exact origin of Arrows' strong start was to be shown the moment Shadow arrived on circuit, unloading the first of their new DN9s.[2]

The new Shadow, when stood next to the FA1, would look almost identical, the only real difference being the Arrow's golden livery compared to the Shadow's black-white coloration.[2] In truth the DN9, despite only making its debut in Long Beach, had been designed by Tony Southgate before he left to join form Arrows, and had been in development since 1977.[3] Regardless, some minor development on the DN9 since then had made the car more reliable then when Southgate had overseen its development, with three examples produced ahead of the 1978 BRDC International Trophy.[3]

However, only two of the DN9s would make it across the Atlantic, for Clay Regazzoni had had his example written off in an accident during the International Trophy race.[3] That car had been intended to be delivered to American racers Interscope Racing, with Shadow forced to give them the newest of the DN9s for Danny Ongais to race.[3] Regazzoni, meanwhile, was forced to use his old DN8 in Long Beach, while Hans-Joachim Stuck was given the development version of the new creation.[3]

Joining Arrows, but not the two factory Shadows, in the pre-qualifying phase would be Ongais in his customer DN9, with the American racer one of a number of drivers to schedule a pre-race test at Willow Springs.[2] He would be joined by the lone Hesketh, this time piloted by Irish Formula Two runner Derek Daly, as well as Keke Rosberg in the Theodore.[2] Arturo Merzario was also made to pre-qualify in his self-built car, as well as Brett Lunger and Héctor Rebaque in their customer McLaren and Lotuses respectively.[2]

Elsewhere, Brabham-Alfa Romeo arrived in California with a host of minor updates for their new BT46s, the most noticeable being re-arrangement of the radiators on the nose and front wing.[3] The whole front end could also be raised or lowered with out adjusting the front suspension, allowing the team to fine-tune the angle of the nose as well as the front winglets.[3] Both John Watson and Niki Lauda would test the updates ahead of the US race, with the spare car subsequently updated to the same spec.[3]

Tyrrell had also been busy reworking their 008s, although most of their efforts had gone on building a new car for Didier Pironi, as well as rebuilding the new spare after it was crashed by Patrick Depailler at Silverstone.[3] Lotus, meanwhile, were unchanged, but decided not to waste their time with their customised gearbox, music to the ears of Ronnie Peterson.[3] Instead, the Swede and teammate Mario Andretti would get a selection of variously tuned Cosworth DFV engines to run, with home hero Andretti getting first pick.[3]

Over at McLaren there had been next to no change for James Hunt, while Patrick Tambay had had his nose reshaped to better cut through the air.[3] Ferrari, in contrast, had built a third version of their new 312T3, handed to Gilles Villeneuve, while Carlos Reutemann used the car he crashed at Kyalami.[3] Fittipaldi likewise arrived with a new car for the eponymous Emerson to race, as did Renault, albeit with more bodywork and cooling updates for Jean-Pierre Jabouille.[3]

ATS had been less active during the post-South Africa break, with Jean-Pierre Jarier and Jochen Mass using the exact same, modified, PC4s they had used all season.[3] Likewise, Surtees had done little to Vittorio Brambilla and Rupert Keegan's cars, while their spare had yet to be assembled.[3] Wolf, meanwhile, had two cars for Jody Scheckter to sample, still based on their original WR1 design, with Lamberto Leoni in a similar position at Ensign.[3]

Jacques Laffite would continue to campaign the development version of the new Ligier JS9, with the Frenchman using his battle hardened JS7 as a spare.[2] Completing the non-pre-qualifying entry would be Alan Jones in the Williams, with the Australian racer getting a new chassis ahead of the fourth race of the season.[2]

Into the Championship and despite failing to score in South Africa it was still Andretti whom led the Championship hunt, joined at the head of the field by race winning teammate Peterson. The Swede arrived a point behind his teammate, while also being point ahead of Depailler and Lauda, with Reutemann a further point back in fifth. Elsewhere, Watson had got onto the board in seventh ahead of Jones and Hunt, while Tambay had remained the final scorer having slipped to thirteenth in the table.

A second victory of the season for Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth at Kyalami had ensured that the Norfolk based squad had a small lead in the International Cup for Constructors table, leaving South Africa with a seven point advantage. Closest to them were Brabham-Alfa Romeo, having looked more competitive with their new car, while Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth were in third after a strong weekend. Ferrari had slipped to fourth ahead of Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth, while Williams-Ford Cosworth found themselves level McLaren-Ford Cosworth in sixth.

Entry listEdit

The full entry list for the 1978 United States Grand Prix West is outlined below:

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT45C Alfa Romeo 115-12 3.0 F12 G
2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT45C 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 78 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 78 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 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 312T2 Ferrari 015 3.0 F12 M
12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T2 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 DN8 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Team Surtees Surtees TS19 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Beta Team Surtees Surtees TS19 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Walter Wolf Racing Wolf WR1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
22 Italy Lamberto Leoni United Kingdom Team Tissot Ensign Ensign N177 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
24 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Olympus Cameras Hesketh Racing Hesketh 308E 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 JS7/9 Matra MS76 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
32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Theodore Racing Hong Kong Theodore TR1 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 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
39 United States Danny Ongais United States Interscope Racing Shadow DN9 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
Source:[4]

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

Qualifying on the tight narrow streets of Long Beach would be a two phase affair, with a pre-qualifying session to be staged for the eight "newest" drivers.[2] Four of those eight would then get to take part in the full practice/qualifying sessions, with two timed periods on Friday, immediately after pre-qualifying, before a final timed hour of running on Saturday afternoon, after a race-practice session.[2] As for a target time the circuit record of 1:21.630, set by Niki Lauda in 1977 to claim pole, was expected to be bettered by the aces in the field.[2]

Pre-Qualifying ReportEdit

The pre-qualifying session was scheduled for Friday morning, with the eight "rabbits" heading out to wake up the town of Long Beach at 8:00 am.[2] The first full qualifying/practice session was scheduled to start directly afterwards, meaning all of their equipment was out in the pitlane as the "rabbits" hit the circuit.[2]

There was little surprise that the two Arrowss topped the pre-qualifying, although there were some raised eyebrows in the fact that Rolf Stommelen had gone three tenths faster than teammate Riccardo Patrese.[2] Arturo Merzario was third fastest and safely through, having set a quick time early, while Brett Lunger used his experience to get through in his privately run McLaren.[2] Out therefore went Keke Rosberg (Theodore), Héctor Rebaque (privateer Lotus), Danny Ongais (privateer Shadow) and the debuting Derek Daly (Ensign).[2]

Pre-Qualifying ResultsEdit

The full pre-qualifying results for the 1978 United States Grand Prix West are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:23.540
2 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:23.840 +0.300s
3 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 1:24.729 +1.189s
4 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:25.076 +1.536s
DNPQ* 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth 1:25.785 +2.245s
DNPQ* 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:26.128 +2.588s
DNPQ* 39 United States Danny Ongais United States Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:26.150 +2.610s
DNPQ* 24 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 1:26.615 +3.075s
Source:[2][5]
  • * Rosberg, Rebaque, Ongais and Daly all failed to pre-qualify.[2]

Friday QualifyingEdit

After the pre-qualifiers had woken up Long Beach the real stars of F1 in 1978 hit the circuit, led out by the Ferraris and Brabham-Alfa Romeos.[2] Another early starter would be Patrick Tambay, whom completed some install laps in the spare McLaren, before switching to his race car.[2] That, however, did not go to plan, with Tambay spinning the spare and stalling on the circuit bringing out a brief stoppage as the new M26 was towed back to the pits.[2]

It was also not a good start to the day for James Hunt in the sister car, with the Brit almost blowing up his engine as he completed a run with the blanks left in front of his radiators.[2] Fortunately the Brit was able to rejoin after a top-up of water and a cool, only to slap the barriers as he rejoined.[2] He hopped back to the pits to take over the spare car, which had just been restarted after Tambay's spin, with the Frenchman himself now running in his race car.[2]

Elsewhere things were also not going to plan at Lotus, with Mario Andretti looking quick early on, only to blow up one of the development Ford Cosworth engines supplied to the team.[2] He therefore had to switch to the spare, while teammate Ronnie Peterson was getting used to running the non-Lotus modified Hewland gearbox.[2] Over at Ferrari, meanwhile, Carlos Reutemann had to switch to his spare early on, a legacy of a gearbox issue in his race car, although both himself and teammate Gilles Villeneuve were given plenty of Michelin tyres to set the pace with.[2]

Indeed, Reutemann, and the trouble free Lauda in the #1 Brabham, would dictate the pace, exchanging a series of quick laps to get into the 1:20.000s.[2] The Argentine was the first to do so, and duly recorded a 1:20.636 to settle the issue, although by this stage there was chaos reigning in the timekeepers office.[2] Indeed, the quick ramp-up in pace, combined with the relocation of the timing line, meant that the teams were not prepared to trust the official stop watch.[2]

Furthermore the bumpy Long Beach circuit, combined with the number of 2nd gear corners, was causing a lot of minor issues, which added up across the field to cause some severe failures.[2] Indeed, Hans-Joachim Stuck would end the session with a totalled gearbox in his Shadow, while Patrese in the "cousin" Arrows was destroying his drivetrain faster than the Milton Keynes squad could repair it.[2] Elsewhere the two Tyrrells shook themselves to pieces, Jean-Pierre Jarier smacked the wall, causing Jacques Laffite to spin into the barriers in avoidance, with everyone else inspecting wear and tear to their driveshafts.[2]

The afternoon run on Friday was nothing short of shambles on the timekeeping side, with no clear indication of the ultimate pace at all.[2] Indeed, several published timesheets were required before the officials decided to simply publish a combined list of times from the afternoon and morning sessions to appease the teams.[2] Furthermore the non-pre-qualifiers appealed to the officials, and their fellow entrants, to get the pre-qualifying times deleted, although there was near-universal agreement that those times were accurate.[2]

On track, meanwhile, it seemed as if McLaren were finally up to speed, although the spare car was still being piloted by Hunt, his race car having had more damage than initially believed.[2] Another promising performance was being put in by Alan Jones in the Williams, the Australian racer deciding that the new car was far more worthy of his attentions than his old FW06.[2] Gilles Villeneuve was also looking quick, getting on terms with Andretti at the top of the charts, although no-one was thought to have matched Reutemann's morning pace.[2]

In terms of the stragglers, Renault were having their familiar struggle with their turbocharger which was, unsurprisingly, not enjoying getting bounced about on the city bumps.[2] Pre-qualifiers Lunger and Merzario, meanwhile, were running quicker than they had done in their early-morning run-out, but were unable to get into the fastest 22.[2] The session would then come to a very smokey conclusion, with Peterson suffering a huge engine failure in his Lotus, with bits of Cosworth DFV flung across the city streets.[2]

Saturday QualifyingEdit

Depailler US GP West

Patrick Depailler had a cine-camera strapped to his Tyrrell 008 during the untimed session.

Friday night would be a busy one in the pits, with almost every car in the field rebuilt after being shaken apart during Friday's running.[2] That fact would not, however, prevent the teams from ignoring the intended aims of the "untimed" session on Saturday morning, with everyone pushing as hard as they could.[2] There were a large number of incidents as a result, the most notable being Rupert Keegan destroying his Surtees in the final moments of the session, with Hans-Joachim Stuck having his own accident while trying to avoid him.[2]

Stuck would miss the final qualifying session, while Keegan was given the spare Surtees to try and scrape through, only to destroy that on his first flying lap.[2] Their mishaps were not, however, as significant as the fact that the timekeepers still had not managed to solve the issues they had had since midday on Friday.[2] Indeed, their solution was to simply disregard any time that was not an improvement on a driver's best from Friday, although this was not made known until they published the final results at the end of the day.[2]

Regardless, it was still Reutemann whom would top the timesheets at the end of the session, the Argentine grabbing pole despite failing to beat his Friday effort.[2] His teammate Villeneuve therefore dictated the pace on Saturday, and duly joined his teammate in the 1:20.000s, getting ahead of Lauda.[2] Elsewhere the Renault of Jean-Pierre Jabouille was impressive, so long as it was going in a straight line, with its V6t engine the only unit capable of matching the outright speed of the Alfa Romeo V12s in the back of the Brabhams in the speed trap.[2]

At the back, meanwhile, both Patrese and Stommelen would make the cut for the race with relative ease, while Merzario and Lunger both failed to improve enough to join them.[2] Keegan, meanwhile, had done enough to take the final grid slot in 22nd, but with two Surtees destroyed, and teammate Vittorio Brambilla's requiring a rebuild after his own accident on Saturday, the Brit would not be able to join the grid.[2] Stuck should have inherited the spot, but Shadow simply could not rebuild the German's new DN9, hence the final grid slot fell to Didier Pironi, whom looked to have dropped out of qualifying after having an accident early on in the final session.[2]

Qualifying ResultsEdit

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

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
Q1* Q2
1 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 1:20.636
2 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 1:22.113 1:20.836 +0.200s
3 1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:22.327 1:20.937 +0.301s
4 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:22.141 1:21.188 +0.552s
5 2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:22.830 1:21.244 +0.608s
6 6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:22.890 1:21.474 +0.838s
7 7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:22.358 1:21.738 +1.102s
8 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:22.750 1:21.935 +1.299s
9 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:23.061 1:22.006 +1.370s
10 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:22.740 1:22.163 +1.527s
11 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:23.691 1:22.234 +1.598s
12 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:22.790 1:22.414 +1.778s
13 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 1:25.191 1:22.491 +1.855s
14 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 1:22.963 1:22.630 +1.994s
15 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:23.313 1:22.790 +2.154s
16 9 West Germany Jochen Mass West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:23.990 1:23.106 +2.470s
17 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:23.675 1:23.212 +2.576s
18 36 West Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:23.540 1:23.291 +2.655s
19 10 France Jean-Pierre Jarier West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:23.870 1:23.419 +2.783s
20 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:23.505 1:23.454 +2.818s
21 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 1:24.217 1:23.589 +2.953s
22 18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 1:23.677 +3.041s
23 16 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:23.733 +3.097s
DNQ 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:23.792 +3.156s
DNQ 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:24.344 1:23.795 +3.159s
DNQ 22 Italy Lamberto Leoni United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:25.906 1:24.008 +3.372s
DNPQ 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth 1:25.785
DNPQ 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:26.128
DNPQ 39 United States Danny Ongais United States Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:26.150
DNPQ 24 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth 1:26.615
Source:[2][5]
  • * An issue with the timing/scoring during the Friday afternoon session meant the times from that and the morning session were combined.[2]
  • Keegan and Stuck were unable to start the race due to accidents during qualifying.[2]
  • Pironi failed to qualify but was allowed to start due to Keegan and Stuck's accidents.

GridEdit

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 ______________ 1
2 Carlos Reutemann
Gilles Villeneuve ______________
Row 2 ______________ 3
4 Niki Lauda
Mario Andretti ______________
Row 3 ______________ 5
6 John Watson
Ronnie Peterson ______________
Row 4 ______________ 7
8 James Hunt
Alan Jones ______________
Row 5 ______________ 9
10 Riccardo Patrese
Jody Scheckter ______________
Row 6 ______________ 11
12 Patrick Tambay
Patrick Depailler ______________
Row 7 ______________ 13
14 Jean-Pierre Jabouille
Jacques Laffite ______________
Row 8 ______________ 15
16 Emerson Fittipaldi
Jochen Mass ______________
Row 9 ______________ 17
18 Vittorio Brambilla
Rolf Stommelen ______________
Row 10 ______________ 19
20 Jean-Pierre Jarier
Clay Regazzoni ______________
Row 11 ______________ 21
22 Arturo Merzario
Didier Pironi ______________

RaceEdit

75,000 people gathered around the Long Beach Street Circuit ahead of the race, with a large, uncounted, population lining the roofs of the buildings around the 2.02 mile circuit.[2] Regardless, there were no concerns ahead of the race, with pre-race warm-up passing without any major issues.[2] Indeed, the only confusion ahead of the start would be the parade lap, with the cars starting off on Shoreline Drive, with the start line, stopping on Ocean Boulevard at the finish line, before resuming in grid formation around to Shoreline Drive to make the start.[2]

ReportEdit

Start 1978 US GP West

It was an all Italian Flat-12 fight for the lead at the start, with the two Brabham-Alfa Romeos sandwiching the two Ferraris.

There would be the briefest of pauses on Shoreline Boulevard before the field were released, with Carlos Reutemann managing to hold the lead from pole.[2] That was, until John Watson went skating inside the Ferrari as the leaders hit the brakes to take Queen's hairpin for the first time, forcing Reutemann to run wide as the Ulsterman slid past the apex.[2] Niki Lauda would also be forced out wide, having been on the opposite side of the #11 Ferrari, while Gilles Villeneuve, having been sat right behind the trio, was able so slip into the lead on the exit as Watson tried to gather himself back up.[2]

As the Italian engined cars tripped over each other at the front of the field, Alan Jones shot to the head of Ford Cosworth contingent in the Williams, only to get put back in his place by Mario Andretti into the first corner.[2] The rest of the first third of a lap was undramatic, with the field flying past the finish line in a long crocodile, although with still an entire tour of the circuit still to complete before the first lap was officially over.[2] Regardless, the first visit to the Le Gasomet hairpin would not go so well, with Jean-Pierre Jarier and Arturo Merzario smacking into one-another to leave both limping back to the pits for repairs.[2]

The rest of the opening lap and a third passed without issue, with Villeneuve establishing a small lead over Watson, with Reutemann and Lauda hoping to pay the Ulsterman back for running them wide.[2] Home hero Andretti was next, still being bugged by Jones, while Ronnie Peterson was fighting with James Hunt after both being stung by the Williams off the line.[2] Jody Scheckter then led the rest of the field across the line, with Riccardo Patrese in the middle of said pack with a bent front wing, a legacy of making a poor start.[2]

Villeneuve 1978 US GP West

Gilles Villeneuve quickly built a small lead at the head of the field, as Niki Lauda attacked Carlos Reutemann for third.

The early stages would see Villeneuve establish himself in the lead, inching away from Watson, while Lauda sent his Brabham scything past Reutemann to claim third into Queens.[2] Behind them would remain Andretti and Jones, while Hunt disappeared early on when he misjudged his entry into one of the tighter corners, clipped the inside wall, and spun into retirement.[2] He was soon joined on the sidelines by Watson, whose Alfa Romeo V12 managed to destroy its oil tank, while Jochen Mass dropped out with a brake failure in his ATS.[2]

Watson's disappearance promoted Lauda into second, although Villeneuve did not seem too worries about the fact that the defending World Champion was on his tail.[2] Indeed, the Austrian ace was instead having to worry about retribution from Reutemann, for Andretti, Jones and Peterson were quietly slipping away as best of the Cosworth contingent.[2] Another gap followed before the next group flashed past, headed by Patrick Depailler and Jody Scheckter.[2]

As the laps ticked away Jones became more aggressive in his attempts to take Andretti, and duly slithered past the Lotus on lap nineteen at the second hairpin.[2] The Australian racer duly dragged the naturalised American onto the back of Reutemann, who was now stuck behind Lauda in second.[2] Indeed, it seemed as if Lauda had no answer to Villenueve out front, with the Canadian youngster continuing to gap his more experienced rivals behind.[2]

Villeneuve's lead was made all the more secure when Lauda's car suddenly drifted to a silent stop down Shoreline Drive, an ignition failure causing his engine to cut out.[2] Reutemann was therefore gifted a now lonely second, Jones and Andretti still not back on terms with the Argentine, with the rest of the field divided into small, but rather unexciting, groups.[2] It seemed as if the Canadian racer was set for a dominant victory well before the half-distance mark, although that would soon change.[2]

Indeed, as the half-distance mark loomed Villeneuve made his first mistake, getting out of shape through the esses on Pine Avenue, before trying to lunge his Ferrari inside the lapped Clay Regazzoni into the following corner.[2] Unfortunately, the #12 Ferrari smacked a kerb, which duly flicked the Canadian into the side of the Shadow mid-turn, pitching Villeneuve into a spin.[2] The Ferrari went sliding across the nose of Regazzoni on two wheels, before smashing into the barriers backwards to end Villeneuve's hopes of a maiden victory.[2]

Reutemann duly inherited the lead, with Jones now a clear second as Andretti hit tyre trouble.[2] Depailler was next as Peterson had dropped back down the field with his own Goodyear related issues, with Scheckter trying hard to pass his former Tyrrell teammate.[2] Jacques Laffite was next ahead of Patrese's blunted Arrows, while the V6t Renault was out just after half-distance with its usual turbo failure.[2]

Jones now became the star of the race, steadily creeping closer to Reutemann's Ferrari to keep the Argentine ace looking in his mirrors rather than the track ahead.[2] However, it seemed as if Jones' pressure was actually having more of an effect on his Williams, for a structural failure of his nose section had caused the front wing endplates to scrape the ground.[2] Fortunately, the issue did not develop any further meaning Jones, who could neither see nor feel any real difference, continued to harass the Ferrari ahead with the same vigour as ever.[2]

As the race wore on it seemed that fatigue, both mechanical and physical, was becoming a factor, highlighted by Patrese as he misjudged his entry into a corner and smashed a wheel rim, forcing him to limp into the pits and drop out of the points.[2] Jones also seemed to be tiring, the Williams finally beginning to drift away from Reutemann and back towards Andretti, although the Australian racer's engine was the real source of his loss of pace.[2] Elsewhere Patrick Tambay was reeling in Scheckter as the Wolf became more jittery on the throttle, contemplating how to make a move as the laps ticked away.[2]

Ultimately, Tambay would make his bid for fifth on lap 60, sending his McLaren inside the Wolf into Queens having sold Scheckter a dummy on the brakes. Yet, Scheckter still decided to take the racing line, and duly smacked drove into the Frenchman's car, breaking his own rear corner.[2] The Wolf was out on the spot, while Tambay continued with his steering and suspension slightly buckled but otherwise fine.[2]

As their fight resolved itself Andretti pulled into striking distance of Jones, and duly sent the home crowd into rapture by surging past the Williams down Shoreline Drive on lap 63.[2] That seemed to have an affect on Reutemann, for the Argentine sent himself into a pirouette exiting Le Gasomet a few moments later, but fortunately emerged from the tyre smoke pointing in the right direction, and with a perfectly healthy car.[2] The Argentine then blasted off to try and rebuild the damage done to his lead, for the gap between himself and Andretti had suddenly halved.[2]

Jones US GP West

Alan Jones threatened to take the lead for a large portion of the race, before dropping back with a fuel flow issue.

Jones, meanwhile, was losing more and more pace as his Cosworth engine faltered, the V8 unit being starved of fuel due to a pick-up issue.[2] Depailler and a recovering Peterson were first to flash past, before Tambay and Laffite charged past in the closing stages.[2] In the space of a few laps Jones had gone from a safe second to a solitary seventh, and soon to be eighth, with any hopes of scoring points now resting on the others ahead falling over one another.[2]

That would, ultimately, be the fate of Tambay, whom found himself under attack from Laffite in the Ligier as the former's steering problems grew.[2] Indeed a lunge by the #26 Ligier into Queens with four laps to go saw Tambay just fend him off, before Laffite tried again on the following lap.[2] This time, however, Laffite misjudged his braking and slid into the side of the McLaren, bouncing up over the wheels before crashing down on Tambay's front wing, destroying the front section of his compatriot's car.[2]

Tambay was out on the spot, although Jones' renewed hopes of a point were snatched away by Patrese in the final moments as the Italian recovered to sixth.[2] Out front, meanwhile, Reutemann completed a faultless final quarter of the race to claim another impressive victory, with Andretti slipping over ten second back in second at the chequered flag.[2] Depailler found himself a surprise third having nursed his Tyrrell around for almost the entire race distance, with Peterson and Laffite the last of those on the lead lap.[2]

ResultsEdit

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

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Italy Ferrari 80 1:52:01.301 1 9
2 5 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 80 +11.061s 4 6
3 4 France Patrick Depailler United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 80 +28.951s 12 4
4 6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 80 +45.603s 6 3
5 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 80 +1:22.884 14 2
6 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 79 +1 Lap 9 1
7 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 79 +1 Lap 8
8 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 79 +1 Lap 15
9 36 Germany Rolf Stommelen United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 79 +1 Lap 18
10 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 79 +1 Lap 20
11 10 France Jean-Pierre Jarier West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 75 +5 Laps 19
12 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 74 Accident 11
Ret 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 59 Accident 10
Ret 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth 50 Transmission 17
Ret 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 43 Turbo 13
Ret 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 38 Accident 2
Ret 1 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 27 Ignition 3
Ret 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 25 Gearbox 22
Ret 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 17 Gearbox 21
Ret 9 West Germany Jochen Mass West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 11 Brakes 16
Ret 2 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 9 Gearbox 5
Ret 7 United Kingdom James Hunt United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 5 Accident 7
DNS* 18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan United Kingdom Surtees-Ford Cosworth
DNS* 16 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 30 United States Brett Lunger United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 22 Italy Lamberto Leoni United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth
DNPQ 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth
DNPQ 25 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth
DNPQ 39 United States Danny Ongais United States Shadow-Ford Cosworth
DNPQ 24 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Hesketh-Ford Cosworth
Source:[6]
  • * Keegan and Stuck were both unable to start due to accidents in practice/qualifying.[2]

MilestonesEdit

StandingsEdit

Carlos Reutemann moved to the top of the World Championship standings after his second victory of the season, level on points with Mario Andretti but ahead of count-back. Ronnie Peterson was next ahead of Patrick Depailler, while Niki Lauda had slipped back down to fifth. Elsewhere, James Hunt was on the verge of slipping out of the top ten already, while Riccardo Patrese was on the board for the first time, ahead of Patrick Tambay.

In the International Cup for Constructors it was still Lotus-Ford Cosworth who led the title hunt, the Norfolk squad leaving Long Beach with a nine point lead. Ferrari were now their closest challengers ahead of Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth, while Brabham-Alfa Romeo slipped to fourth. Behind, Ligier-Matra moved ahead of McLaren-Ford Cosworth and Williams-Ford Cosworth, while Arrows-Ford Cosworth were on the board, just a point behind their pseudo-rivals Shadow-Ford Cosworth.

Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts. +/-
1 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 18 ▲4
2 United States Mario Andretti 18 ▼1
3 Sweden Ronnie Peterson 14 ▼1
4 France Patrick Depailler 14
5 Austria Niki Lauda 10 ▼2
6 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 6
7 United Kingdom John Watson 4
8 France Jacques Laffite 4 ▲2
9 Australia Alan Jones 3 ▼1
10 United Kingdom James Hunt 3 ▼1
11 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni 2
12 France Didier Pironi 2
13 Italy Riccardo Patrese 1 ▲5
14 France Patrick Tambay 1 ▼1
International Cup for Constructors
Pos. Team Pts. +/-
1 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 27
2 Italy Ferrari 18 ▲2
3 United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 15
4 United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 14 ▼2
5 Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 6
6 France Ligier-Matra 3 ▲2
7 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 3 ▼1
8 United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 3 ▼1
9 United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 2
10 United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1 ▲1

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 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: UNITED STATES GP, 1978', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr301.html, (Accessed 04/08/2018)
  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 D.S.J., 'The United States Grand Prix West: Scratcher's Paradise', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/05/1978), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/may-1978/84/united-states-grand-prix-west, (Accessed 04/08/2018)
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 D.S.J., 'Notes on the Cars at Long Beach', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/05/1978), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/may-1978/39/notes-cars-long-beach, (Accessed 04/08/2018)
  4. 'USA West 1978: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/etats-unis-ouest.aspx, (Accessed 04/08/2018)
  5. 5.0 5.1 'USA West 1978: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/etats-unis-ouest/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 03/08/2018)
  6. "1978 USA West Grand Prix". formula1.com. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1978/races/394/usa-west.html. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 '4, USA West 1978', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1978/etats-unis-ouest.aspx, (Accessed 04/08/2018)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 '1978 US West GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2017), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1978&gp=US%20West%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 04/08/2018)
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 United States United States Grand Prix West
Circuit Long Beach (1976-1983)
Long Beach 1978
Formula One Races 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983
See also United States Grand Prix • Indianapolis 500 • Detroit Grand Prix • Caesars Palace Grand Prix • Dallas Grand Prix • Questor Grand Prix
v·d·e Nominate this page for Featured Article
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.