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The 1979 United States Grand Prix West, alternatively known as the 4th United States Grand Prix West or the V Lubri Lon Grand Prix of Long Beach, was the fourth round of the 1979 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Long Beach Street Circuit on the 8 April 1979.[2][1] The race would be fondly remembered for a dominant performance by Gilles Villeneuve, who claimed his one and only career Grand Chelem after collecting pole, fastest lap and victory.[2]

Indeed, Villeneuve was looking to erase the memories of his last visit to Long Beach from the get go, and duly aced qualifying to claim his maiden pole position start.[2] His former Ferrari stablemate Carlos Reutemann would line-up alongside for Lotus, with Jody Scheckter and Patrick Depailler completing the second row.[2]

The only shadow on Villeneuve's weekend would come at the start, for various issues caused two false starts.[2] The first was caused by the Canadian himself, who overshot his grid slot, and hence decided to complete another formation lap, before a series of stalls caused half the field to tour around a second time.[2]

At the third time of asking, and having weaved around the backmarkers to do so, Villeneuve finally blasted away at the start, leaving Depailler to fend off Reutemann for second.[2] Behind, however, there would be a somewhat inevitable collision given the pre-race confusion, with Patrick Tambay slamming into the back of Jan Lammers.[2] The McLaren would be briefly launched into the air, before crashing down on the side of Niki Lauda's car, causing race ending damage to both.[2]

Villeneuve duly disappeared up the road during the early laps, leaving an interesting scrap for second to develop between Depailler, Scheckter, Jean-Pierre Jarier and home hero Mario Andretti.[2] Ultimately, and unfortunately for the home crowd, it was Jarier who proved to be the man on the move, with the Tyrrell able to weave its way into second before the end of lap ten.[2]

Scheckter tried to go with the Tyrrell, and duly managed to snatch second place on lap 27, before blasting clear to chase Villeneuve.[2] Jarier was subsequently left to become a mobile chicane, with Depailler, Andretti and Alan Jones soon glued to his tail in a fight that would last until the final laps.[2]

Out front, meanwhile, Villeneuve would build a thirty second lead over Scheckter before the chequered flag appeared, and would also collect fastest lap to claim his first Grand Chelem.[2] Scheckter himself was a comfortable second, while a late move from Jones saw the Australian ace sweep onto the final podium spot, aided by Depailler losing fourth gear after they barged past Jarier.[2]

BackgroundEdit

The F1 circus of 1979 headed to the west coast of the United States for the fourth round of the season, arriving at the increasingly popular Long Beach Street Circuit.[3] Indeed, the circuit itself was unchanged after the modifications made in 1978, barring some new kerb stones on the chicanes, and some filling in of the "lay-by" at the Queen's hairpin to narrow the circuit.[3] Even the FISA-FOCA dispute would have little impact on the "Long Beach Grand Prix", meaning all of the attention could be placed on the unchanged entry list.[3]

Leading the charge in the US would be Ferrari, fresh from their dominant one-two in South Africa.[4] Indeed, the Italian squad had a third example of their new 312T4 design prepared in time for the race, this one handed to Jody Scheckter and featuring new sweeping bodywork on the sidepods.[4] Gilles Villeneuve, meanwhile, would stick with his race winning 312T4, which had a slightly different sidepod design, while all three ran with deflectors to direct air onto the rear brakes.[4] The team would also trial a new full length rear wing in Long Beach, set to be mounted in front of the rear-axle.[4]

Elsewhere, hopes of a home win were to be found resting in the lap of Lotus, although defending Champion Mario Andretti's so-so start to the season had caused some concern.[4] Indeed, the American ace, and teammate Carlos Reutemann, had been helping the Norfolk squad get the new Lotus 80 race-ready in the weeks since the South African Grand Prix, but decided that Long Beach was no place to test an unproven design.[4] As such, the team arrived with the three 79s that had been used in South Africa, all sporting different brake systems after issues with braking on the 79 and the new "Type 80".[4]

Renault were in a similar position to Lotus, with the race in Long Beach arriving too soon for them to debut their new RS10.[4] As such, Jean-Pierre Jabouille and René Arnoux would have to continue using their venerable RS01s, with little hope of matching their incredible performance at Kyalami.[4] Furthermore, Arnoux would have to hope that he did not crash his car, for the spare car had been setup for the "lanky" Jabouille, meaning "little" Rene would struggle to reach the peddles.[4]

Tyrrell, meanwhile, had had to build a new 009 for Didier Pironi after his accident at Kyalami, although the Frenchman ultimately stuck with the team's spare.[4] This new car, along with Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jarier's surviving cars, were fitting with small vertical strips along the sidepods, intended to keep airflow from spilling off the sides of the car.[4] Ken Tyrrell's squad were also trialling some new brake discs, while the rear wing end-plates sported new sponsorship decals.[4]

Over at Ligier, meanwhile, there had been no changes made to their new JS11, despite the alarming loss of form at Kyalami for Jacques Laffite and Patrick Depailler.[4] The pair remained optimistic, however, that the Long Beach circuit would suit their car, although the bumpy surface did cause some concern given their reliance on ground-effect.[4] Regardless, the team brought the same three cars that had been used in South Africa along for the race, with a new JS11 being slowly built back in France.[4]

Elsewhere, McLaren arrived in a miserable mood, down to just two M28s and their spare M26 packed up in pieces.[4] Indeed, both John Watson and Patrick Tambay were pushing for upgrades for the M28, and were duly gifted some new blue-turquoise overalls due to a temporary sponsorship deal with Löwenbräu.[4] Their cars were also re-liveried in Löwenbräu's colours, while also receiving a front set of experimental Lockheed brake discs, as well as another set of new bodywork.[4]

Brabham arrived in Long Beach with no changes to the trio of BT48s for Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet, although there had been countless tweaks to the angles of fins and ducts to control airflow.[4] Fittipaldi, meanwhile, would revert to their old F5s for the Long Beach weekend, although the eponymous Emerson would take F6 along as well.[4] Wolf, in contrast, would have their new car ready to run in Long Beach, with WR8, sporting new Lockheed brakes, prepared for James Hunt.[4]

Another team sporting a new car in the paddock would be Williams, although their new FW07 was more of an advertising piece than a race car.[4] Indeed, Frank Williams and co. had only brought along their new ground-effect design to trial post-race at a permanent circuit in California.[4] As such, Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni were left with their out-dated, but relatively competitive, FW06s, which were unchanged after Kyalami.[4]

Arrows had also made similar plans to Williams regarding their new-for-1979 car, although they lacked the funds to transport the car over the America for test/display purposes.[4] Instead, one of the original A1s had been sold off to sponsors Warsteiner, and duly sat in the paddock gleaming away in its gold livery, while the sister car was sold to Rupert Keegan in the British Formula One Series to fund the new design.[4] That left Riccardo Patrese and Jochen Mass with the newest pair of A1s, with a conglomeration of pre-crashed and new A1 parts serving as the spare.[4]

Their rivals Shadow were, in-contrast, struggling to fund their immediate racing activities, and hence were forced to dress Jan Lammers' DN9 in a garish livery from sponsors Samson.[4] The sister car of Elio de Angelis, meanwhile, was left untouched, as was the spare.[4] Likewise, Arturo Merzario was beginning to struggle from a lack of funding, but still made the trip in his updated car, which the Italian claimed sported ground-effect.[4]

Ensign had also updated their ground-effect car ahead of the Long Beach race, deciding to completely remove the radiators from the front end after sole-driver Derek Daly's complaints in South Africa.[4] ATS boss Dieter Schmidt, meanwhile, had decided to move all of his operations to England, with now completely non-German staff at hand to support Hans-Joachim Stuck and his D2.[4] Completing the field would therefore be lone-privateer Héctor Rebaque and his Lotus 79, although the Mexican racer was rumoured to be developing his own car after selling off his old Lotus 78 to the British F1 Series.[4]

Into the Championship and despite failing to score in the third race of the season it was still Laffite who led the chase for the crown, having left South Africa six ahead of Reutemann. The Argentine himself had managed to close the gap at Kyalami, although the big winner of the day was Villeneuve, who had leapt into third a point behind the Argentine. Depailler had slipped to fourth ahead of Scheckter, while Andretti had retained sixth.

In the International Cup for Constructors it was Ligier-Ford Cosworth whom continued to lead the way after the race at Kyalami, albeit by virtue of their near-flawless start to the season. Ferrari were instead the big-winners of the afternoon, having leapt into second with eighteen points, a point clear of Team Lotus-Ford Cosworth. Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth had retained fourth ahead of McLaren-Ford Cosworth, while Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth had slipped behind Brabham-Alfa Romeo.

Entry listEdit

The full entry list for the 1979 United States Grand Prix West 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 3.0 V8 G
2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Martini Racing Team Lotus Lotus 79 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell Team Tyrrell 009 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
4 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Tyrrell Team Tyrrell 009 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
5 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT48 Alfa Romeo 1260 3.0 V12 G
6 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT48 Alfa Romeo 1260 3.0 V12 G
7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Löwenbräu Team McLaren McLaren M28 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom Löwenbräu Team McLaren McLaren M28 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
9 Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck Germany ATS Wheels ATS D2 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
11 South Africa Jody Scheckter Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T4 Ferrari 015 3.0 F12 M
12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 312T4 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 France René Arnoux France Equipe Renault Elf Renault RS01 Renault EF1 1.5 V6t M
17 Netherlands Jan Lammers United Kingdom Samson Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN9 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
18 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Interscope Shadow Racing Team Shadow DN9 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
20 United Kingdom James Hunt Canada Olympus Cameras Wolf Racing Wolf WR8 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Team Ensign Ensign N179 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
24 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Team Merzario Merzario A1B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
25 France Patrick Depailler France Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS11 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS11 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Albilad-Saudia Racing Team Williams FW06 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
28 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Albilad-Saudia Racing Team Williams FW06 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Warsteiner Arrows Racing Team Arrows A1B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
30 Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom Warsteiner Arrows Racing Team Arrows A1B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
31 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Team Rebaque Lotus 79 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
Source:[5]

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

There would be a revision to the practice/qualifying schedule at Long Beach, with the FOCA teams agreeing to divide running equally between "race" practice, and "timed" practice.[3] As such, both Friday and Saturday morning's sessions would be not be officially timed, allowing teams to practice for the race, while the afternoon sessions were reserved for setting the grid.[3] In terms of a target time the top drivers would expect to beat the circuit record, a 1:20.636 set by Carlos Reutemann for Ferrari in 1978.[3]

Friday QualifyingEdit

After a fairly brutal opening hour and a half of practice on Friday morning the drivers headed out for the first qualifying session of the weekend after a busy lunch break.[3] There would, however, be a temporary cease-fire before most of the field managed to leave the pits, for Elio de Angelis managed to crumple his Shadow against the barriers at the final corner.[3] Alan Jones, meanwhile, would have to walk through the back-streets to get back to the pits as his Williams ground to a halt early on, while a transmission failure for Jean-Pierre Jabouille in his spare car caused havoc in the Renault garage as they were still repairing his race car.[3]

Away from the casualties and Reutemann and Jody Scheckter were exchanging fastest times early on, with the duo getting under the former's old mark before the end of their second runs.[3] Indeed, Reutemann was throwing something akin to a shade over his Champion teammate Mario Andretti, who seemed so concerned with finding the perfect setup that it was actually hampering his pace.[3] Ultimately, Reutemann would end the session on provisional pole, bouncing his way to a 1:20.126, four tenths faster than his Lotus stablemate.[3]

Scheckter, meanwhile, would also find himself unable to challenge the Argentine, and duly found himself behind hard charging teammate Gilles Villeneuve.[3] Indeed, having crashed out of the lead in the race the previous year, the Canadian ace was determined to make amends, delivering a 1:20.186 in the closing stages.[3] Jacques Laffite would also get into the ace section of the field, although whether he could have improved on a 1:20.255 was made academic when his Ligier ground to a stop late on.[3]

The top six would be completed by the second Ligier of Patrick Depailler, while James Hunt was best of the rest in the new Wolf.[3] At the back, meanwhile, Arturo Merzario was at the foot of the timesheet having failed to set a time, largely due to the fact that his new creation was having predictable teething troubles.[3] He was joined by Derek Daly at the foot of the table, with two of the 26 entrants set to miss out on a spot on the grid.[3]

Saturday QualifyingEdit

The second and final qualifying session of the weekend followed another brutal practice session, and would start with news that Jean-Pierre Jabouille would not be competing, having had a massive accident on Shoreline Drive.[3] Indeed, the Frenchman would be taken to hospital with a broken wrist after his Renault pitched itself into the barriers at 170 mph, the result of a driveshaft failure.[3] Their efforts were also hampered by the fact that the sister car of René Arnoux had been damaged by an oil fire during the session, with the Frenchman having to wait until the spare car had been rebuilt around his specifications.[3]

For everyone else, however, the conditions would be perfect for the final session, with a light breeze gracing the Long Beach Street Circuit to cool the air temperatures without affecting the circuit.[3] As such there was an near-instant improvement on the timesheets from everyone, with Villeneuve heading to the top of the timesheets with an early effort in the 1:19.000s.[3] He was soon joined by teammate Scheckter, the two Loti and the Ligiers, before Reutemann carried the top group into the 1:18.000s.[3]

A furious flurry of quick times would then be exchanged until the chequered flag, with the Ligiers and Andretti eliminated from the fight as Reutemann, Villeneuve and Scheckter delved deeper in the 1:18.000s.[3] Come the final round it seemed as if Reutemann had clinched pole with a 1:18.886, with Scheckter flashing past a few moments later to record a 1:18.911 before heading back to the pits.[3] Villeneuve, however, was motoring around half a lap behind, and duly delivered a 1:18.825 to snatch pole away from Reutemann in the final moments.[3]

Reutemann himself would get a chance to respond, and looked on course to get back ahead of the Canadian with his last lap until he suffered a driveshaft failure in the final sector.[3] At the back, meanwhile, Merzario would get enough clean running in to set a qualifying time, relegating Daly and Héctor Rebaque into the elimination zone and hence out of contention for the race.[3] However, with Jabouille unlikely to be passed fit, and Arnoux having serious concerns about the sister Renault, they were still in position to make the start.[3]

Qualifying ResultsEdit

The full qualifying results for the 1979 United States Grand Prix West are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
Q1 Q2
1 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 1:20.166 1:18.825
2 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:20.126 1:18.886 +0.061s
3 11 South Africa Jody Scheckter Italy Ferrari 1:20.291T 1:18.911T +0.086s
4 25 France Patrick Depailler France Ligier-Ford Cosworth 1:20.867 1:19.025 +0.200s
5 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Ford Cosworth 1:20.225T 1:19.032 +0.207s
6 1 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:20.574 1:19.454 +0.629s
7 4 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:20.916 1:19.580 +0.755s
8 20 United Kingdom James Hunt Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 1:20.913 1:19.643 +0.818s
9 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:21.831 1:19.727 +0.902s
10 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:22.532 1:19.910 +1.085s
11 5 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:21.436 1:20.041 +1.216s
12 6 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:21.565 1:20.456 +1.631s
13 30 Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:22.350 1:20.608 +1.783s
14 17 Netherlands Jan Lammers United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:23.161 1:20.740 +1.915s
15 28 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:21.768 1:20.768 +1.943s
16 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:22.488T 1:21.033T +2.208s
17 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:22.000T 1:21.192 +2.367s
18 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:23.725 1:21.304 +2.479s
19 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:21.411 1:22.569 +2.586s
20* 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault 1:21.635T +2.810s
21 18 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 1:23.433 1:21.961T +3.136s
22 16 France René Arnoux France Renault 1:22.088 1:29.061 +3.263s
23 9 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:23.724 1:22.828 +4.003s
24 24 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 1:22.938T +4.113s
25 31 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:24.808 1:22.990 +4.165s
26 22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:25.076 1:23.888 +5.063s
Source:[3][6]
  • 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.
  • * Jabouille was unable to start after an accident during qualifying.[3]
  • Arnoux's entry was withdrawn after Jabouille's accident.[3]

GridEdit

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 ______________ 1
2 Gilles Villeneuve
Carlos Reutemann ______________
Row 2 ______________ 3
4 Jody Scheckter
Patrick Depailler ______________
Row 3 ______________ 5
6 Jacques Laffite
Mario Andretti ______________
Row 4 ______________ 7
8 Jean-Pierre Jarier
James Hunt ______________
Row 5 ______________ 9
10 Riccardo Patrese
Alan Jones ______________
Row 6 ______________ 11
12 Niki Lauda
Nelson Piquet ______________
Row 7 ______________ 13
14 Jochen Mass
Jan Lammers ______________
Row 8 ______________ 15
16 Clay Regazzoni
Emerson Fittipaldi ______________
Row 9 ______________ 17
18 Didier Pironi
John Watson ______________
Row 10 ______________ 19
20 Patrick Tambay
Elio de Angelis ______________
Row 11 ______________ 21
22 Hans-Joachim Stuck
Arturo Merzario ______________
Row 12 ______________ 23
24 Héctor Rebaque
Derek Daly ______________

RaceEdit

Raceday dawned with clear skies and warm temperatures, although there would be dark clouds at Renault after the warm-up.[3] Indeed, having already lost Jean-Pierre Jabouille's services after his accident in practice, another dangerous driveshaft failure for René Arnoux in the warm-up saw the French squad withdraw from the race on safety grounds.[3] That promoted Derek Daly onto the grid, joining fellow former non-qualifier Héctor Rebaque on the twelfth and final row.[3]

False Start GaloreEdit

With that the field was sent to form up on the grid from the pits, although only 23 of the 24 starters would make it to the their grid slots.[3] The lone casualty would be Carlos Reutemann, whose Lotus had suffered an electrical failure and needed to be towed back to the pits.[3] The Norfolk squad quickly diagnosed the problem and cured it, but the Argentine was forced to start from the pitlane as per-FIA rules regarding the closing of the pitlane prior to the start.[3]

That left Gilles Villeneuve on his own on the front row, with the Canadian duly leading the field away on the formation lap without issue.[3] As they passed the pits midway around the tour, however, Reutemann burst out of the pits and slotted in behind Daly, hoping that no-one would notice.[3] Unfortunately for him Villeneuve would mess up his positioning on the grid, overshooting his grid slot having received no guidance from the marshals.[3]

With no other course of action left available Villeneuve decided to start another formation lap, taking Jody Scheckter, Patrick Depailler and Mario Andretti with him.[3] Jacques Laffite, meanwhile, would try to go with them, only for his gearbox to lock the rear-axle solid and spin him around, blocking the circuit.[3] The top four were left to circulate around on their own, while the rest of the pack slowly trickled past the stranded Ligier, before being stopped at the pits and put back in grid order.[3]

Once Villeneuve and co. returned the field were sent on their way once again, this time heading from the end of the pit-straight to the start-line.[3] Laffite was not among them having jumped into the spare Ligier, while Reutemann had been dragged back into the pits and told not to try and join the field again on pain of disqualification.[3]

ReportEdit

Start 1979 US GP West

Gilles Villeneuve eventually led the field away at the start, although teammate Jody Scheckter tried hard to take the lead at Queens.

After all that the race finally got underway, with Villeneuve streaking into Queen's hairpin barely ahead of teammate Scheckter, who tried an ambitious move on the outside of the corner.[3] Depailler went with them and duly tried to squeeze inside Scheckter as he ran wide, causing the rest of the pack to bunch up as they hit the brakes.[3] Somewhat inevitably this would cause a collision, with Patrick Tambay shooting into the back of Jan Lammers and launching his McLaren into the air, before crashing down on top of Niki Lauda's Brabham.[3]

Both the McLaren and the Brabham were out on the spot, sending cars scattering around to try and find a way past.[3] That resulted in some major changes at the lower end of the pack, and meant that Laffite and Reutemann had a longer wait than expected as the backmarkers took a long time to complete the first half-lap.[3] Fortunately, the scene of the accident was clear by the time the leaders returned to the hairpin, still on the official opening lap, with Tambay and Lauda already walking back to the pits.[3]

Come the end of the opening tour and Villeneuve had already built a small lead over Depailler, whose move on Scheckter had been overshadowed by the collision behind.[3] The South African ace himself was in third ahead of Andretti, with Jean-Pierre Jarier, Riccardo Patrese, Alan Jones and Nelson Piquet completing the lead group.[3] They were being chased by the next bunch held up by the Tambay accident, miraculously led by Héctor Rebaque from the back of the grid, while James Hunt was already out with yet another driveshaft failure.[3]

The early stages would see Villeneuve, Depailler and Scheckter pull away from the chasing pack, aided by Jarier attacking and passing Andretti on the second tour.[3] Yet, the Frenchman simply lacked the pace of the lead trio, and duly began to slip a few tenths a lap away from them, with Andretti, Patrese, Jones and Piquet glued to his tail.[3] Behind, Rebaque began to slip back down the order as the rest of the field sorted themselves out, while Reutemann was casually carving up the order after his pre-race issues.[3]

Back with the leaders and Jarier began to get into the rhythm of things in his Tyrrell, and duly closed onto the back of Scheckter on lap seven.[3] One lap later and the Tyrrell was scything inside the Ferrari on the brakes for Queens, before shooting away to harass the second placed Tyrrell.[3] Another lap and another dart on the brakes and Jarier was through past his compatriot, leaving Depailler to defend, unsuccessfully, from Scheckter.[3]

Yet, try as he might, Jarier simply could not catch Villeneuve out front, with the French Canadian maintaining a three second lead over the Tyrrell without much issue.[3] Elsewhere, Laffite had already given up in the spare Ligier, which had not been touched at all during practice or qualifying, while Reutemann suddenly found himself a whole lap down while harassing Rebaque.[3] Arturo Merzario was another early casualty with an engine failure, while Emerson Fittipaldi dropped out with yet another Ford Cosworth related driveshaft failure.[3]

By lap twenty Jarier's hopes of victory were over, for Villeneuve had begun to push hard and opened out a healthy lead, leaving the Tyrrell to be harassed by Scheckter.[3] Depailler, meanwhile, had dropped into the sights of Andretti, although the American ace was not able to launch an attack on the Frenchman, for Jones was glued to his tail and threatening a lunge.[3] Piquet would chase them hard until he had to stop for fresh tyres in the sole-surviving Brabham, while Reutemann's race was over a lap later with (as expected) a driveshaft failure.[3]

Tyre wear would soon become the order of the day for the leaders, with Jarier having burned through the best of his Goodyear rubber by lap 29, effectively gifting Scheckter second.[3] The Frenchman duly slipped back to Depailler and co. before half distance, although Jochen Mass had more serious trouble, seeming to lack any grip at all on the rear of his Arrows.[3] Indeed, the German racer was barely able to keep his car in a straight line on the straights, and would eventually gift Rebaque a position as he swung perilously close to a concrete wall.[3]

Back into the fight for third and Jarier's troubles were allowing Andretti to attack, the American ace slipping ahead of Depailler just before half-distance, before an aborted attack on the Tyrrell.[3] That allowed Depailler to retake fourth, before Jones sent his Williams skating past Andretti's Lotus on the brakes at the hairpin on lap 39.[3] Indeed, it was a beautifully timed move by Jones, for not only did it put him ahead of Andretti, but it was completed right in front of the team's sponsors as they were being entertained at the Queens hairpin.[3]

Regazzoni 1979 US GP West

Clay Regazzoni could have inherited points during the race, had his engine not expired.

Jarier, meanwhile, would be forced to abandon third place on lap 46 with a trip to the pits, the vibration from one of his tyres becoming too much for him to cope with.[3] Depailler duly inherited third, although that position was up for debate as Jones and Andretti remained glued to his tail.[3] Jarier's disappearance also promoted Rebaque into the points, the Mexican ace having picked up more places as Patrese, Pironi and Clay Regazzoni all hit mechanical trouble mid-race.[3]

Into the closing stages and the fight for third was the only real source of entertainment, although there seemed scant hope of Jones actually making a move stick on Depailler.[3] However, an opportunity finally arose when the trio came up to lap a group of back markers on lap 61, a huddle which included Jarier's freshly shod Tyrrell.[3] In the sudden flurry of overtaking that followed Jones slipped the Williams ahead of the Ligier to grab third, while Andretti got caught behind a reinvigorated Jarier and slipped back.[3]

With that the race seemed to be over, although three late issues would shuffle the order in the points with a handful of laps to go.[3] The first saw Depailler's Ligier suddenly lose fourth gear, a breakage that mutually allowed Jones to disappeared up the road and Andretti, now with Jarier glued to his tail, to close up and ultimately snatch fourth place from him.[3] The other incident saw Rebaque trip over fellow back-row starter Daly while attempting to lap the Ensign, sending the Mexican's privately owned Lotus skating into the barriers.[3]

The final points were hence set to be handed to Jarier, although with Depailler's pace suddenly nose-diving after the loss of fourth gear it seemed as if another position was up for grabs.[3] As such, Pironi and Elio de Angelis began fighting hard on very worn tyres, resulting in some seemingly harmless contact, only for Pironi's suspension to suddenly collapse and send him skating down an escape road.[3] He was subsequently pushed back onto the circuit and disqualified, although the Frenchman only managed to limp back to the pits with his ruined suspension.[3]

Out front, meanwhile, Villeneueve truly was on a class of his own, collecting fastest lap with a new lap record en-route to a dominant victory, thirty seconds clear of teammate Scheckter.[3] Third went to Jones after his combative performance in the Williams, while Andretti was a relatively lonely fourth after letting Jarier escape up the road.[3] Depailler ended the race in fifth, his gearbox just surviving to the chequered flag, while Jarier himself claimed sixth having lost a lap due to his stop.[3]

ResultsEdit

The full results for the 1979 United States Grand Prix West are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 80 1:50:25.40 1 9
2 11 South Africa Jody Scheckter Italy Ferrari 80 +29.38s 3 6
3 27 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 80 +59.69s 10 4
4 1 United States Mario Andretti United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 80 +1:04.33 6 3
5 25 France Patrick Depailler France Ligier-Ford Cosworth 80 +1:23.52 4 2
6 4 France Jean-Pierre Jarier United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 79 +1 Lap 7 1
7 18 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 78 +2 Laps 20
8 6 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 78 +2 Laps 12
9 30 Germany Jochen Mass United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 78 +2 Laps 13
DSQ* 3 France Didier Pironi United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 72 Disqualified 17
Ret 31 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Mexico Lotus-Ford Cosworth 71 Collision 23
Ret 22 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 69 Collision 24
Ret 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 62 Fuel injection 18
DSQ* 9 West Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 49 Disqualified 21
Ret 28 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 48 Engine 15
Ret 17 Netherlands Jan Lammers United Kingdom Shadow-Ford Cosworth 47 Suspension 14
Ret 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 40 Brakes 9
Ret 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 21 Drive shaft 2
Ret 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 19 Drive shaft 16
Ret 24 Italy Arturo Merzario Italy Merzario-Ford Cosworth 13 Engine fire 22
Ret 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Ford Cosworth 8 Brakes 5
Ret 20 United Kingdom James Hunt Canada Wolf-Ford Cosworth 0 Drive shaft 8
Ret 5 Austria Niki Lauda United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 0 Collision 11
Ret 8 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 0 Collision 19
DNS 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Renault
WD 16 France René Arnoux France Renault
Source: [7]
  • * Pironi and Stuck were both disqualified for push-starts.[3]
  • Jabouille was unable to start after an accident during qualifying.[3]
  • Arnoux's entry was withdrawn after Jabouille's accident.[3]

MilestonesEdit

  • Fifth "Long Beach Grand Prix" to be staged.
  • Maiden pole position for Gilles Villeneuve.[8]
  • Villeneuve secured his third victory in Formula One.[8]
  • Ferrari claimed their 75th triumph as a constructor and engine supplier.[8]

StandingsEdit

A second victory in two races put Gilles Villeneuve on top of the Championship table, two points clear of the only other race winner in 1979, Jacques Laffite. Those two would hence start the European season as the favourites, with five more points between Laffite and third placed Jody Scheckter. The South African himself was a point ahead of Carlos Reutemann, who was himself just a point clear of Patrick Depailler in fifth.

Ferrari moved to the top of the International Cup for Constructors standings with four races gone, leaving the US with a four point lead. Indeed, early pace setters Ligier-Ford Cosworth were somewhat concerned by their sudden lack of pace and reliability, particularly given that they had dominated the opening two rounds. Regardless, they were still in the Championship hunt early in the season, while defending Champions Lotus-Ford Cosworth were sat nine points behind in third.

Drivers' World Championship
Pos. Driver Pts. +/-
1 Canada Gilles Villeneuve 20 ▲2
2 France Jacques Laffite 18 ▼1
3 South Africa Jody Scheckter 13 ▲2
4 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 12 ▼2
5 France Patrick Depailler 11 ▼1
6 United States Mario Andretti 8
7 France Jean-Pierre Jarier 5 ▲1
8 United Kingdom John Watson 4 ▼1
9 Australia Alan Jones 4 ▲9
10 France Didier Pironi 3 ▼1
11 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi 1 ▼1
12 Austria Niki Lauda 1 ▼1
International Cup for Constructors
Pos. Team Pts. +/-
1 Italy Ferrari 33 ▲1
2 France Ligier-Ford Cosworth 29 ▼1
3 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 20
4 United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 8
5 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 4
6 United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 4 ▲5
7 United Kingdom Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1 ▼1
8 Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1 ▼1

Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.

ReferencesEdit

Images and Videos:

References:

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 '1979 US West GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2017), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1979&gp=US%20West%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 06/11/2018)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 'United States GP, 1979', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2015), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr317.html, (Accessed 06/11/2018)
  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 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 3.30 3.31 3.32 3.33 3.34 3.35 3.36 3.37 3.38 3.39 3.40 3.41 3.42 3.43 3.44 3.45 3.46 3.47 3.48 3.49 3.50 3.51 3.52 3.53 3.54 3.55 3.56 3.57 3.58 3.59 3.60 3.61 3.62 3.63 3.64 3.65 3.66 3.67 3.68 3.69 3.70 3.71 3.72 3.73 3.74 3.75 3.76 3.77 3.78 3.79 3.80 3.81 3.82 3.83 3.84 3.85 3.86 3.87 3.88 3.89 3.90 3.91 D.S.J., 'The United States Grand Prix (West): No mistakes this time', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/05/1979), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/may-1979/90/united-states-grand-prix-west, (Accessed 07/11/2018)
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 D.S.J., 'Notes on the Cars at Long Beach', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport, 01/05/1979), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/may-1979/112/notes-cars-long-beach, (Accessed 07/11/2018)
  5. 'USA West 1979: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1979/etats-unis-ouest/meilleur-tour.aspx, (Accessed 06/11/2018)
  6. 'USA West 1979: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1979/etats-unis-ouest/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 06/11/2018)
  7. "1979 USA West Grand Prix". formula1.com. https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1979/races/410/usa-west/race-result.html. Retrieved 23 October 2017.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 '4, USA West 1979', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), http://www.statsf1.com/en/1979/etats-unis-ouest.aspx, (Accessed 06/11/2018)
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 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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