Austrian GP 1978
AUGUST 13, 1978
Austrian GP, 1978
In the two weeks between the German and Austrian GPs, Judge Sydney Templeman ruled in the High Court in London that the Arrows team had infringed the Shadow team's copyright with the FA/1 design as many of the components of the car had been copied directly from the designs of the Shadow DN9. This meant that Arrows could no longer use the FA/1. The team had been expecting the decision and had been quietly building a completely new Arrows A1 which appeared for the first time in Austria. There was an entry of 31 cars as Nelson Piquet had been offered a run in the old BS Fabrications McLaren M23. Team Ensign had turned over its second car to Derek Daly, while ATS had ditched Jean-Pierre Jarier for a second time and taken on local hero Hans Binder. In the pre-qualifying session Rolf Stommelen's Arrows broke down and so he was the unlucky one of the eight pre-qualifiers. In the course of practice Team Surtees gave Brian Henton a run in Rupert Keegan's car but it seemed to make little difference.
Qualifying resulted in the expected all-Lotus front row with Ronnie Peterson again beating his team leader Mario Andretti to pole position. Jean-Pierre Jabouille was third fastest in the turbocharged Renault, the car being more competitive than usual thanks to development and higher altitude. Carlos Reutemann was fourth fastest in his Ferrari while Emerson Fittipaldi again showed well in his F5A to take fifth on the grid ahead of Jacques Laffite's Ligier, James Hunt's McLaren, Jody Scheckter's Wolf, John Watson's Brabham-Alfa Romeo and Didier Pironi's Tyrrell. Regular front-runners Niki Lauda (Brabham) and Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari) were 11th and 12th.
The race began with rain threatening and while Peterson took the lead Andretti did not get away well and Reutemann took second with Andretti third ahead of Scheckter, Laffite, Fittipaldi, Hunt and the rest. Andretti tried to go around the outside of Reutemann later in the lap and the two cars touched wheels, the Lotus spinning into the barriers. Reutemann then lost second place to Scheckter and Depailler (the latter having overtaken Hunt, Fittipaldi and Laffite in the course of the first lap).
Soon afterwards heavy rain began to fall and on the fourth lap Scheckter crashed out, colliding with Andretti's abandoned Lotus. Reutemann also spun and before the race was red-flagged Watson was up to third with Laffite fourth and Pironi fifth. Jabouille had been fourth but he spun just before the race was stopped ad dropped back down the order.
A new grid was formed up, based on the finishing positions in the first part of the race, and so Peterson was on pole with Depailler second, Watson third, Laffite fourth with the top 10 being completed by Pironi, Lauda, Hunt, Clay Regazzoni (Shadow), Daly, Alan Jones (Williams), Keke Rosberg (Theodore Wolf) and Villeneuve.
At the restart Depailler got away fastest while Watson stalled. This caused Riccardo Patrese (Arrows) and Harald Ertl (Ensign) to collide. At the front Peterson quickly overtook Scheckter but Jones spun off and Daly collided with Hunt and the McLaren driver spun into the barriers. The order at the end of the first lap was therefore Peterson ahead of Depailler, Lauda, Laffite and Daly.
Peterson remained in control as the track dried, while Reutemann charged up the order to third place. When the front-runners began pitting for slick tires Reutemann stayed out and his teammate Villeneuve moved into second place. When they too stopped for tires Peterson went back into the lead and stayed there all the way to the flag with Depailler second and Villeneuve third. Hans Stuck (Shadow) was fourth but crashed out while Daly looked to be on course for fourth place until he spun and was then given outside assistance to restart. He was black-flagged. This left Fittipaldi fourth with Laffite fifth (on aggregate) and Brambilla (fifth on the road but sixth on aggregate).
Peterson's victory moved him to within nine points of Andretti in the World Championship but as the American was the team leader there was no chance that he would lose the title to the Swede. Reutemann and Lauda were both 23 points behind.