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The 1979 Argentine Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the XVI Gran Premio de la Republica Argentina, was the opening round of the 1979 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Autódromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires on the 21 January 1979.[1] The race would see Jacques Laffite claim a surprisingly dominant victory for Ligier after a messy start.[1]

Indeed, it seemed that the new Ligier JS11 had found a sweet-spot in the realm of "ground effect", for Laffite and new teammate Patrick Depailler secured a front row lockout for the French squad.[1] Carlos Reutemann would, however, put the 1978 conquering Lotus 79 into third on his Lotus debut, while World Champion Mario Andretti opened his title defence from seventh.[1]

Laffite immediately jumped into the lead at the start, although all of the attention would be behind him as John Watson and Jody Scheckter slammed into one-another.[1] The resulting chaos in the midfield removed Didier Pironi, Patrick Tambay, Nelson Piquet and Arturo Merzario, with the race immediately halted.[1]

The accident left Piquet with an injured foot, while Scheckter was out of action with a sprained wrist.[1] Others set to miss the restart were Tambay, without a car as it was taken over by Watson, while Pironi and Merzario had too much damage for their chargers to be repaired.[1] Thus, after a half-hour clean up just nineteen drivers were ready to take the restart, with the field ordered on their original qualifying positions.[1]

This time it was Depailler who made the best launch, surging clear of Jean-Pierre Jarier as Laffite dropped down to fourth behind Watson.[1] The rest of the reduced field made it to the first corner without issue, meaning the Argentine Grand Prix of 1979 was finally underway.[1]

Laffite quickly found his feet in the early stages, and duly barged past Watson, Jarier and Depailler in short order to lead by lap eleven.[1] Reutemann would follow the Frenchman's lead, and duly carved his way through to second, while Jarier faded badly as the race wore on with a terminal engine issue.[1]

Laffite would manage to eek out a small lead over Reutemann over the following laps, with Depailler left to fend off Watson.[1] Unfortunately for him a misfire on his Ligier, gifting Watson third with ten laps to go, the last major change to the order.[1] Out front, meanwhile, Laffite would cruise home fifteen seconds clear of Reutemann, suggesting that the Lotus' domination was finally at an end.[1]

BackgroundEdit

The 1979 World Championship tour would kick off in mid-January, with the familiar sights of Autódromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires in Argentina greeted the field, with no changes to the circuit.[2] Indeed, with no changes to the venue all of the interest was in the entry list, with a myriad of changes since the end of the 1978 campaign.[2] There were old faces in new teams, new faces in old teams, and a smattering of new equipment, all designed to beat the formidable duo of Lotus and Mario Andretti.[2]

Indeed, Team Lotus were one of the few teams not to bring a new car to the opening round, with Colin Chapman waiting for the European season to debut the new Type 80.[2] As such, the team brought arguably the star of 1978 with them, a trio of Type 79s, whose "ground effect" concept had allowed the Norfolk squad to dominate the previous season.[2] What was new for the opening round, however, was their driver line-up, with Carlos Reutemann partnering defending World Champion Andretti after the sad demise of Ronnie Peterson in Italy five months earlier.[2] Also gone was their infamous black-gold livery, heralding the end of their "John Player Special" deal with the Imperial Tobacco Company, replaced by their traditional green-gold colours with sponsorship from Martini.[3]

Reutemann's ex-employers Ferrari also sported a new line-up, with the Argentine replaced by old hand Jody Scheckter, while young Canadian ace Gilles Villeneuve retained his seat.[2] Like Lotus the Scuderia also arrived with their 1978 cars, albeit with new side-skirts designed to seal the gap between the bottom of the car and the circuit.[3] Their new car, the 312T4 was still in development, with their F12 causing issues with their experiments with "ground effect" by protruding into the airflow under the car.[3]

Elsewhere Wolf had decided to hire James Hunt to replace Scheckter, with the Brit also taking sponsorship from Texaco with him as he transferred his colours to the Canadian team.[2] The Brit had a brand new car to play with, the WR7 which sported a new honeycomb monocoque structure, and a custom gearbox casing that dictated the bodywork at the back of the car.[3] Yet, despite a promising test, barring an off into the gravel at Silverstone, and ample funding, Wolf continued to field just a single car, despite the fact that Derek Bell had been the first man to test car.[3]

With Hunt and Texaco leaving McLaren were forced to find a new sponsor and new star driver, with Patrick Tambay retained as number two.[2] However, rather than promote European Formula Two Champion Bruno Giacomelli, the British squad managed to grab John Watson to the team, the Ulsterman having grown frustrated at Brabham.[2] Watson was duly handed their brand new M28, sporting a honeycomb monocoque and overhauled suspension, while Tambay was handed the original M28 testbed.[3]

Watson's exit prompted Brabham boss Bernie Ecclestone to look elsewhere for a replacement, and duly recruited rising Brazilian star Nelson Piquet towards the end of the 1978 season.[2] Piquet would partner two-time Champion Niki Lauda in the team, with the Austrian ace getting two of the team's new BT48s to race, while Piquet was handed the last of their BT46As.[3] The new BT48 sported a new aerofoil, as well as a new Alfa Romeo V12 engine, replacing the old Flat-12 that, as Ferrari had found, played havoc with airflow underneath the car.[3]

Elsewhere, Tyrrell arrived with a new car and new driver pairing, although both had elements of Lotus in the appearance. On the driver front, Lotus stand-in Jean-Pierre Jarier had signed as lead driver, hoping his two cameos for the Norfolk squad would lead to greater things, with the veteran Frenchman partnered by Didier Pironi, getting a second season in F1.[2] On the car front the team's pair of new 009s looked like a revised version of the Lotus 79, albeit with minor alterations to the bodywork and a different suspension setup.[3]

Williams, meanwhile, had expanded to become a two-car entry during the winter, with Frank Williams keep to expand on their successful 1978 campaign. In to partner the impressive Alan Jones would be veteran Swiss racer Clay Regazzoni, with Williams also investing heavily to build three new FW06s over the winter.[3] Their new-for-1979 design, the FW07 was still in development, although the team were confident that their FW06s were still up to the task of beating the ground effect contingent.[3]

Regazzoni's former employers Shadow, meanwhile, had only been able to build an "interim" car for the new season, despite gaining a bundle of parts from Arrows after their infamous legal battle.[3] The "new" DN9Bs had wider front tracks, revised bodywork around the front end and revised suspension, while also getting a new pair of drivers.[3] Indeed, Don Nicholas had been forced into finding two new pilots during the winter, ultimately settling for Formula 3 Champion Jan Lammers, and American racer Danny Ongais.[2] However, an accident for Ongais in a USAC race shortly before the season forced the "Don" to think again, with another F3 racer in the form of Elio de Angelis duly hired to make his debut.[2]

Completing the British based section of the entry would be Ensign and Arrows, both of whom had familiar drivers and largely similar equipment.[2] Ensign in particular were unchanged with Morris Nunn simply lacking the funds to replace either Derek Daly or their N177 car, despite the fact that he had designs for a new car ready to enter manufacture.[2] Arrows, meanwhile, retained the services of promising Italian racer Riccardo Patrese, who was to be partnered by Jochen Mass at the behest of their sponsors.[3] They had also made a lot of minor renovations to their A1 design, which were officially dubbed as "A1Bs" in Argentina.[3]

Into the French contingent and Renault had expanded their efforts for the 1979 season, signalling their intent to battle for race victories.[2] Indeed, while the French manufacturer was stuck with their original RS01 design for the start of the season, their new RS10, with twin turbochargers, had show a lot of promise in testing.[3] In terms of drivers Jean-Pierre Jabouille finally got someone to partner him, with the emerging French talent known as René Arnoux joining the team.[2]

Likewise, private constructors Ligier had expanded to a two car effort for 1979, bringing in Patrick Depailler from Tyrrell to partner Jacques Laffite.[2] The team also arrived with two new cars, their "ground effect" based JS11s, notably sporting Ford Cosworth V8s rather than the Matra V12s the team had previously used as the engine manufacturer pulled out of F1.[3] Indeed, the new Ligiers had almost nothing to do with their predecessors, with Ligier's designers even discovering a different method to create the "ground effect" concept, resulting in a car that looked nothing like the Lotus 79.[3]

Elsewhere ATS were back to compete, albeit with just the one entry in a heavily Lotus-inspired car, the D1.[3] They had also hired a new driver in the form of Hans-Joachim Stuck, who had grown frustrated at Shadow and their lack of development.[2] Completing the field would be Arturo Merzario, using his eponymous car from 1979, Emerson Fittipaldi in his brother's F5A, their new F6 yet to be finished, and Héctor Rebaque in his privately entered Lotus.[3] Of these, Rebaque appeared with the most reason to be happy, for he had managed to obtain the original Lotus 79 from the Norfolk squad, albeit under the condition that the factory team could use it if they lost use of their spare car.[3]

Unfortunately the winter had also seen the loss of two popular figures in F1, one in the form of a team, the other in the form of a driver. The team proved to be Surtees, which had finally succumbed to the severe lack of money that had plagued the team since the mid-1970s. The driver, meanwhile, would be the promising Swedish talent Gunnar Nilsson, who died of cancer shortly after the end of the 1978 season, having been forced to curtail his racing career earlier that year.

Entry listEdit

The full entry list for the 1979 Argentine Grand Prix is outlined below:

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Martini Racing Team Lotus Lotus 79 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Martini Racing Team Lotus Lotus 79 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell Team Tyrrell 009 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
4 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Tyrrell Team Tyrrell 009 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
5 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT48 Alfa Romeo 1260 V12 3.0 G
6 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT46 Alfa Romeo 115-12 F12 3.0 G
7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M28 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom Marlboro Team McLaren McLaren M28 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
9 Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck Germany ATS Wheels ATS D2 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
11 South Africa Jody Scheckter Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T3 Ferrari 015 F12 3.0 M
12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T3 Ferrari 015 F12 3.0 M
14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi Automotive Fittipaldi F5A Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Equipe Renault Elf Renault RS01 Renault EF1 V6t 1.5 M
16 France René Arnoux France Equipe Renault Elf Renault RS01 Renault EF1 V6t 1.5 M
17 Netherlands Jan Lammers United Kingdom Samson Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN9 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
18 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Interscope Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN9 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
20 United Kingdom James Hunt Canada Olympus Cameras Wolf Racing Wolf WR7 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Team Ensign Ensign N177 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
24 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Team Merzario Merzario A1B Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
25 France Patrick Depailler France Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS11 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS11 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Albilad-Saudia Racing Team Williams FW06 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
28 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Albilad-Saudia Racing Team Williams FW06 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Warsteiner Arrows Racing Team Arrows A1 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
30 Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom Warsteiner Arrows Racing Team Arrows A1 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
31 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Team Rebaque Lotus 79 Ford Cosworth DFV V8 3.0 G
Source:[4]

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

There were no changes to the practice format during the winter, meaning qualifying/practice would be held over the familiar four session format.[2] Three of those sessions, two on Friday and the last on Saturday afternoon, would be used to set to grid, while Saturday morning was given over to race practice.[2] In terms of a target time the top runners would expect to beat the circuit record, a 1:47.75 set by Mario Andretti at the start of the 1978 campaign.[2]

Friday QualifyingEdit

Given the scope and scale of new equipment on show at the Autódromo Municipal Ciudad de Buenos Aires, one would expect the established Lotus 79s to top the field, much as they had done in 1978.[2] However, it was instead the new Ligier JS11 in the hands of Patrick Depailler which came to dominate the field on Friday morning, ending the session with a 1:45.24.[2] The sister car of Jacques Laffite was also looking strong, albeit half a second off his compatriot's effort, while Jean-Pierre Jarier put the new Tyrrell into third.[2]

Jody Scheckter was the first of the Michelin shod cars in fourth in his new Ferrari, a fraction ahead of former Ferrari racer Carlos Reutemann in the Lotus.[2] Indeed, the massive margin that the Lotus 79s had held at the end of 1978 had seemingly evaporated over the winter, due to a combination of a lack of development in Norfolk, and the en-masse adoption of "ground-effect" by their rivals.[2] Post-session both Reutemann and World Champion Andretti would state that it was their new Goodyear tyres that were the issue, which were disturbing the balance of the star car of 1978.[2]

It was not all plain sailing, however, for there were a number of issues to affect the order throughout the morning.[2] The most serious of these would see the front end of the new Wolf, piloted by James Hunt, come adrift, and was duly dumped on the circuit.[2] An inevitable accident happened a few moments later, with Didier Pironi slamming into the abandoned bodywork and spinning into the catch fencing.[2]

The second Tyrrell was left with heavy suspension and sidepod damage, meaning Pironi would have to sit out the afternoon session.[2] Elsewhere, Gilles Villeneuve had his running interrupted by a series of issues, including two fuel pump failures on his race car and the muletta.[2] John Watson was also in trouble, the new McLaren proving untameable to the point of throwing the Ulsterman into a spin, while Niki Lauda was struggling with a fuel system issue.[2]

Into the afternoon and there was some shuffling at the top of the field, for Jarier got his Tyrrell in-between the two Ligiers, while also joining Reutemann and Scheckter in the 1:45.00s.[2] Indeed, Jariers 1:45.36 proved to be the fastest time of the session, with Laffite on a 1:45.50.[2] Otherwise it proved to be a less than spectacular session in terms of pace, although all of the top half of the field were lapping consistently below Andretti's old record.[2]

In terms of struggles the afternoon session on Friday followed much the same pattern as the morning, with those struggling before lunch also suffering in the afternoon.[2] Indeed, the two Brabham-Alfa Romeos were in and out of the pits with a myriad of issues, largely due to not having been run before the weekend, while the two Renaults were having a miserable afternoon as a result overheating.[2] Elsewhere, Watson and Patrick Tambay were still trying to rein in their McLarens, with little success, while the new Wolf faced a protest overnight after some its bodywork was seen to be flexing while at speed.[2]

Saturday QualifyingEdit

The untimed session on Saturday morning would provide more headaches through the field, none more so than at Lotus, with Andretti out almost immediately with a suspension failure.[2] Tambay was also in strife, his most recent spin resulting in a swipe against a back bending fencing post, while Watson seemed to be steadily overcoming the equally wayward sister car.[2] Elsewhere, Brabham were still weeding out their niggles, Renault were swapping out various engine components, while Tyrrell and Ligier seemed to be cruising prior to the final battle in the afternoon.[2]

Unfortunately that decision would not pay off for Jarier, who suffered a very scary looking accident when the rear-aerofoil flew off his Tyrrell as he entered the right-left flick after the pit-out.[2] The Frenchman's car was duly catapulted through the catch fencing, resulting in practice ending damage, and a mid-session stoppage to replace the worst of the damaged fencing.[2] Jarier opted not to continue in the spare car, confident that both his Friday time would stand, and his car could be repaired.[2]

Into the fastest times themselves and again Ligier were the team to beat, with Laffite putting in a spectacular effort of 1:44.20 to claim pole.[2] Indeed, even teammate Depailler was left a second adrift by Laffite's sudden surge, with the rest of the field left scratching their heads.[2] Only Reutemann seemed prepared to challenge the two Ligiers, and duly delivered his best effort of the weekend, a 1:45.34 to leave him a tenth adrift of Depailler.[2]

Further back and Brabham had to take drastic action to ensure that star driver Lauda made the cut to qualify, pulling Nelson Piquet out of their second car to give the Austrian a run.[2] Ultimately, Lauda would make the cut in his Brazilian teammate's car, although whether he could improve on his 1:50.29 was made academic when the engine expired moments after he crossed the line.[2] That left oil strew across the first half of the circuit, hampering any chance of some ultra-fast, ultra-late efforts.[2]

Elsewhere, Tambay suffered an oil leak that completely ended any hopes of a late anti-Ligier charge, with the Frenchman himself lucky to escape serious injury when the leaking oil caught alight on the hot exhausts.[2] Scheckter was also in, albeit less serious, strife when the engine expired in the muletta, just as he passed the burning McLaren.[2] Out of qualifying, meanwhile, would go Hans-Joachim Stuck in the ATS and René Arnoux in the second Renault, both having suffered from niggling issues across the two days.[2]

Qualifying ResultsEdit

The full qualifying results for the 1979 Argentine Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
Q1 Q2 Q3
1 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Ford Cosworth 1:45.78T 1:45.50 1:44.20
2 25 France Patrick Depailler France Ligier-Ford Cosworth 1:45.24 1:46.20 1:45.79 +1.04s
3 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:45.68 1:46.07 1:45.34 +1.14s
4 4 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:45.40 1:45.36 1:49.54 +1.16s
5 11 South Africa Jody Scheckter Italy Ferrari 1:45.58 1:48.05 1:46.39T +1.38s
6 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:46.49 1:46.73 1:45.76 +1.56s
7 1 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:46.80 1:46.47 1:45.96 +1.76s
8 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:46.56 1:46.43 +2.23s
9 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:47.54 1:47.79 1:46.56 +2.36s
10 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 1:47.32T 1:47.27 1:46.88 +2.68s
11 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:47.15 1:47.93 1:48.93T +2.95s
12 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 1:48.77 1:49.58T 1:46.46 +3.26s
13* 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:49.50 1:48.65 1:48.33 +4.13s
14 30 West Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:48.34 1:48.70 1:49.14 +4.14s
15 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:49.03T 1:49.08T 1:48.44T +4.24s
16 18 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:48.51 1:49.31 1:48.62 +4.31s
17 28 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:48.64 1:48.93 1:49.08 +4.44s
18 20 United Kingdom James Hunt Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:50.48 1:49.61 1:48.77 +4.57s
19 31 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:49.36 1:50.00 1:49.58 +5.16s
20 6 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:50.59 1:49.49 +5.29s
21 17 Netherlands Jan Lammers United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:49.51 1:50.30 1:49.55 +5.31s
22 24 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 1:53.54 1:54.35 1:50.26 +6.06s
23 5 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 2:03.07 1:56.43 1:50.29T +6.09s
24 22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:51.05 1:52.76 1:52.12 +6.85s
DNQ 9 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:51.28 1:52.67 +7.08s
DNQ 16 France René Arnoux France Renault 1:53.55 1:51.52 1:59.34 +7.32s
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.
  • * Patrese was unable to start the race after an accident in the warm-up.[2]
  • Stuck failed to qualify but was listed as first reserve. However an accident during qualifying ruled him out of the race.[2]
  • Arnoux failed to qualify, but the issues for Patrese and Stuck saw the Frenchman allowed to start at the back of the grid.[2]

GridEdit

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 ______________ 1
2 Jacques Laffite
Patrick Depailler ______________
Row 2 ______________ 3
4 Carlos Reutemann
Jean-Pierre Jarier ______________
Row 3 ______________ 5
6 Jody Scheckter
John Watson ______________
Row 4 ______________ 7
8 Mario Andretti
Didier Pironi ______________
Row 5 ______________ 9
10 Patrick Tambay
Gilles Villeneuve ______________
Row 6 ______________ 11
12 Emerson Fittipaldi
Jean-Pierre Jabouille ______________
Row 7 ______________ 13
14 Riccardo Patrese*
Jochen Mass ______________
Row 8 ______________ 15
16 Alan Jones
Elio de Angelis ______________
Row 9 ______________ 17
18 Clay Regazzoni
James Hunt ______________
Row 10 ______________ 19
20 Héctor Rebaque
Nelson Piquet ______________
Row 11 ______________ 21
22 Jan Lammers
Arturo Merzario ______________
Row 12 ______________ 23
24 Niki Lauda
Derek Daly ______________
Row 13 ______________ 25
26 René Arnoux
______________
  • * Patrese was unable to start after an accident during the warm-up.[5]

RaceEdit

Raceday proved to be marginally cooler than practice, although there were still some concerns about cooling across the field.[2] There would, however, be a few more immediate issues after the warm-up, where a brake failure for Riccardo Patrese sent the Italian's Arrows screaming into the back of Nelson Piquet, damaging.[2] Fortunately both would escape uninjured, although while Piquet had enough spares to fix his Brabham-Alfa Romeo, Patrese was left on the sidelines.[2] The Italian's spot should have gone to Hans-Joachim Stuck, although his spectacular accident in practice meant that René Arnoux inherited the final spot on the grid in the second Renault.[2]

ReportEdit

Untroubled by all of this, however, would be the two Ligiers, which lined-up side-by-side on the front row to take the start after the trouble-free formation lap.[2] They duly aced the start to sprint clear off the line as the lights flashed to green, with pole sitter Jacques Laffite just edging teammate Patrick Depailler into the first corner.[2] Jean-Pierre Jarier led the anti-Ligier resistance from third in the Tyrrell, although all of the attention was placed on the mob behind.[2]

Indeed, with a herd of twenty-four Formula One cars squeezing into the right-left flick at pit-out as a bunch, it was inevitable that there would be some contact.[2] Ultimately, the victims were Jody Scheckter and John Watson, with a brush of wheels sending the South African's Ferrari spinning across the circuit.[2] He was duly T-boned by Didier Pironi, Patrick Tambay and Nelson Piquet, while Watson was sent skating off into the catch fencing.[2]

The dust settled to reveal several twisted hulks of F1 cars, although remarkably no fatalities.[2] Indeed, the worst of the injuries sustained would be to Piquet, with the Brazilian having to be pulled out of his car by the marshals after his collision with Scheckter broke a bone in his foot.[2] Scheckter himself escaped with only minor injuries and bruises, while fellow retirees Arturo Merzario, Pironi and Tambay escaped without harm.[2]

Out front, meanwhile, Laffite led Depailler and Jarier around the opening tour without issue, the top three Frenchman already building a gap over fourth placed Carlos Reutemann.[2] They duly charged through the scene of the first lap incident without much delay, just as the officials decided to halt the race.[2] They cruised around to rejoin the grid for the restart, held an hour after the original race start.[2]

Restart RumblesEdit

There were several changes to the field during that hour, with Scheckter told he was not to race due to a badly bruised hand.[2] Watson was able to rejoin the field, the remains of Tambay's car having been used to fix the Ulsterman's car, while Mario Andretti swapped to the spare Lotus.[2] The order itself was reset to the original post-qualifying order, with empty spaces left for those left on the sidelines.[2]

At the second restart it was Depailler who made the better getaway, the #25 Ligier sprinting away at the head of the pack as the #26 car of Laffite bogged down.[2] Indeed, the Frenchman's sluggish start allowed both Jarier and Watson to leap ahead, leaving Laffite to just fend off a fast starting Andretti.[2] The rest of the field managed to make it through the first corner flick without issue, meaning the race was finally underway.[2]

Come the end of the second opening lap it was still Depailler leading from Jarier, Watson and Laffite, although Watson was soon to pounce on the wayward Tyrrell for second.[2] Indeed, Jarier had not been entirely happy with the car after his off during Saturday, and so there was little surprise when Laffite cruised past later on the second lap.[2] The top three duly eased clear of the #4 car over the following laps, which would soon fall to a charging Reutemann once the Argentine passed new teammate Andretti.[2]

Back with the leaders and Laffite was sizing up his second move of the race, with Watson unable to keep Depailler under pressure ahead.[2] On lap five the inevitable move happened, with Laffite sending his Ligier scything inside the McLaren on the brakes at the hairpin on lap five.[2] The Frenchman duly sprinted clear of the Ulsterman and onto the back of his teammate, just as Depailler hit some heat related fuel issues and hence gifted the lead to Laffite.[2]

Regardless, the two Ligiers were still among the quickest cars on circuit, with Reutemann the only man able to match their pace.[2] Yet, the Argentine racer still had to get ahead of Watson, who proved far more resistant to the Lotus than he had been to the Ligier.[2] Indeed, it would take two laps of failed attempts before Reutemann sent his Lotus skating past the McLaren on lap 16, sending the home crowd into ecstasy.[2]

However, the prolonged fight meant that Reutemann had dropped even further behind the two Ligiers, which were still lapping quickly nose-to-tail despite Depailler's audible issues.[2] Elsewhere there were a myriad of issues either delaying or causing drivers to retire, with the retroactively promoted Arnoux out early with another engine failure.[2] The sister Renault of Jean-Pierre Jabouille lasted a few more laps before his engine also expired, while Jarier also succumbed to his engine issues in the Ford Cosworth engined Tyrrell.[2] Niki Lauda was also in strife, spending a lot of time in the pits before ultimately retiring after eight laps.[2]

Indeed, those incidents, and more besides, meant that the race became rather tepid, for Reutemann could not close on the two Ligiers, while there were gaps between every car in the field.[2] Indeed, for a long while the only source of entertainment would be Gilles Villeneuve, who had dropped from seventh to the back after losing faith in his Michelin tyres.[2] He duly went charging back up the order in the sole surviving Ferrari, only for an engine failure to end his race prematurely in the closing stages.[2]

Out front, meanwhile, Laffite would gradually move clear of Depailler, whose fuel vapourisation issues were beginning to have a greater impact as the race wore on.[2] Yet, Reutemann was only able to chip into his advantage, and would only get ahead of the #25 Ligier when Depailler dived into the pits with seven laps to go.[2] The Frenchman was only in for a few moments, however, charging in and out of his pitbox to get a top-up of water, but rejoined behind Andretti in fifth.[2]

With that the race was run, barring a late move by Depailler on Andretti as the American's pace deteriorated with breaking bodywork.[2] Indeed, the #1 Lotus just kept out of reach of Emerson Fittipaldi on the final tour, with the Brazilian ace falling a few lengths shy of the Lotus.[2] They were chased across the line by the debuting Elio de Angelis, while Jochen Mass came crabbing across the line with a last lap suspension failure.[2]

Out front, meanwhile, Laffite was left untroubled by Reutemann to win at a canter, the Frenchman crossing the line a quarter of a minute clear of the Argentine.[2] They would share the podium with Watson, who had had a quiet enough race having been passed by Reutemann, while Depailler was too far adrift to challenge in fourth.[2] Those four were also the only drivers still on the lead lap, with eleven drivers making it to the chequered flag at the season opener.[2]

ResultsEdit

The full results for the 1979 Argentine Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Ford Cosworth 53 1:36:03.21 1 9
2 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 53 +14.94s 3 6
3 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 53 +1:28.81 6 4
4 25 France Patrick Depailler France Ligier-Ford Cosworth 53 +1:41.72 2 3
5 1 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 52 +1 Lap 7 2
6 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 52 +1 Lap 11 1
7 18 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 52 +1 Lap 16
8 30 West Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 51 +2 Laps 14
9 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 51 +2 Laps 15
10 28 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 51 +2 Laps 17
11 22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 51 +2 Laps 24
Ret 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 48 Engine 10
Ret 31 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 46 Suspension 19
Ret 17 Netherlands Jan Lammers United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 42 Transmission 21
Ret 20 United Kingdom James Hunt Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 41 Electrical 18
Ret 4 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 15 Engine 4
Ret 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 15 Engine 12
Ret 5 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 8 Fuel system 23
Ret 16 France René Arnoux France Renault 6 Engine 25
Ret 11 South Africa Jody Scheckter Italy Ferrari 0 Accident 5
Ret 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 8
Ret 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 9
Ret 6 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 0 Accident 20
Ret 24 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 0 Accident 22
DNS* 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 9 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth
Source:[6]
  • * Patrese was unable to start after an accident during the pre-race warm-up.[6]
  • Stuck should have inherited Patrese's place on the grid, but could not do so after an accident in qualifying.[6]

MilestonesEdit

StandingsEdit

Unsurprisingly victory at the opening round handed Jacques Laffite the lead in the Championship, the Frenchman three ahead of second placed Carlos Reutemann. John Watson ended the opening race in third ahead of Patrick Depailler, while World Champion Mario Andretti opened his title defence with two points in fifth. Emerson Fittipaldi was the only other scorer in sixth.

In the International Cup for Constructors new rules meant that both driver's points in each race contributed to each team's tally, meaning that Ligier-Ford Cosworth had a larger lead than would have been expected after the opening round. Indeed, the French squad left Argentina four clear of second placed Lotus-Ford Cosworth, with McLaren-Ford Cosworth in third. Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth were the only other scorers, with a solitary point putting them in fourth.

Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts. +/-
1 France Jacques Laffite 9
2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 6
3 United Kingdom John Watson 4
4 France Patrick Depailler 3
5 United States Mario Andretti 2
6 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 1
International Cup for Constructors
Pos. Team Pts. +/-
1 France Ligier-Ford Cosworth 12
2 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 8
3 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 4
4 Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1

Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.

ReferencesEdit

Images and Videos:

References:

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 'Argentine GP, 1978', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr314.html, (Accessed 26/09/2018)
  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 A.H., 'The Argentine Grand Prix: Ligier Landmark', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/02/1979), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/february-1979/29/argentine-grand-prix, (Accessed 27/09/2018)
  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 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 A.H., 'Notes on the Cars at Buenos Aires', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/02/1978), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/february-1979/32/notes-cars-buenos-aires, (Accessed 27/09/2018)
  4. 'Argentina 1979: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1979/argentine/engages.aspx, (Accessed 26/09/2018)
  5. 5.0 5.1 'Argentina 1979: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1979/argentine/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 26/09/2018)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 'Argentina 1979: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1979/argentine/classement.aspx, (Accessed 26/09/2018)
  7. 7.0 7.1 '1979 Argentine GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2015), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1979&gp=Argentine%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 26/09/2018)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 '1. Argentina 1979', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1979/argentine.aspx, (Accessed 26/09/2018)
V T E Argentina Argentine Grand Prix
Circuits Buenos Aires (1953 - 1958, 1960, 1971 - 1975, 1977 - 1981, 1995 - 1998)
Buenos Aires
Races 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961–1970 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982–1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998
Non-Championship Race 1971
V T E 1979 Formula One Season
Teams Alfa Romeo • Arrows • ATS • Brabham • Ensign • Ferrari • Fittipaldi • Kauhsen • Ligier • Lotus • McLaren • Merzario • Rebaque • Renault • Shadow • Tyrrell • Williams • Wolf
Engines Alfa Romeo • Ferrari • Ford Cosworth • Renault
Drivers Alphabetically Andretti • de Angelis • Arnoux • Brambilla • Brancatelli • Daly • Depailler • Fittipaldi • Gaillard • Giacomelli • Hunt • Ickx • Jabouille • Jarier • Jones • Laffite • Lammers • Lauda • Lees • Mass • Merzario • Patrese • Piquet • Pironi • Rebaque • Regazzoni • Reutemann • Ribeiro • Rosberg • Scheckter • Stuck • Surer • Tambay • Villeneuve • Watson • Zunino
Drivers by Numbers 1 Andretti • 2 Reutemann • 3 Pironi • 4 Jarier • 4 Lees • 4/22/33 Daly • 5 Lauda • 5 Zunino • 6 Piquet • 7 Watson • 8 Tambay • 9 Stuck • 11 Scheckter • 12 Villeneuve • 14 Fittipaldi • 15 Jabouille • 16 Arnoux • 17 Lammers • 18 de Angelis • 19 Ribeiro • 20 Hunt • 20 Rosberg • 22 Gaillard • 22 Surer • 24 Merzario • 24/36 Brancatelli • 25 Depailler • 25 Ickx • 26 Laffite • 27 Jones • 28 Regazzoni • 29 Patrese • 30 Mass • 31 Rebaque • 35 Giacomelli • 36 Brambilla
Cars Alfa Romeo 177 • Alfa Romeo 179 • Arrows A1 • Arrows A2 • ATS D2 • ATS D3 • Brabham BT46 • Brabham BT48 • Brabham BT49 • Ensign N177 • Ensign N179 • Ferrari 312T3 • Ferrari 312T4 • Fittipaldi F5A • Fittipaldi F6 • Fittipaldi F6A • Kauhsen WK • Ligier JS11 • Lotus 79 • Lotus 80 • McLaren M26 • McLaren M28 • McLaren M28B • McLaren M28C • McLaren M29 • Merzario A1B • Merzario A2 • Merzario A4 • Rebaque HR100 • Renault RS01 • Renault RS10 • Shadow DN9 • Tyrrell 009 • Williams FW06 • Williams FW07 • Wolf WR7 • Wolf WR8 • Wolf WR9
Tyres Goodyear • Michelin
Races Argentina • Brazil • South Africa • United States West • Spain • Belgium • Monaco • France • Britain • Germany • Austria • Netherlands • Italy • Canada • United States
Non-championship Races Race of Champions • Dino Ferrari
See also 1978 Formula One Season • 1980 Formula One Season • Category
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