British GP 1979
JULY 14, 1979
British GP, 1979
The Williams FW07 had been improving rapidly and new aerodynamic modifications resulted in the car being fastest in pre-British GP testing. John Watson also had a new McLaren M29, to replace the troublesome M28 and so there was much excitement as the teams gathered at Silverstone just a fortnight after Jean-Pierre Jabouille's first victory for Renault at Dijon. The Alfa Romeo team did not appear and so only Hans Stuck (ATS) and Arturo Merzario (in a new Merzario chassis, based on the Kauhsen F1 car) failed to qualify. Alan Jones was very quick in qualifying and took pole position by 0.6sec with Jabouille alongside him. Then came Nelson Piquet (Brabham), Clay Regazzoni in the second Williams, Rene Arnoux (Renault), Niki Lauda (Brabham), Watson, Carlos Reutemann and Mario Andretti (Lotus) and Jacques Laffite's Ligier. World Championship leader Jody Scheckter was a disappointing 11th while Elio de Angelis impressed by putting his Shadow 12th on the grid, ahead of Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari and Keke Rosberg in the new Wolf WR9.
At the start Jones went into the lead with Jabouille chasing and the fast-starting Regazzoni third. Piquet ran fourth but soon spun off and so Lauda took the position although he quickly fell behind Arnoux and Villeneuve who had stormed through from the midfield. He was followed by Scheckter.
Jabouille's challenge faded with his tires and on lap 17 Regazzoni moved to second place and Jabouille then headed for the pits. The stop went wrong he had to pit again and then his engine overheated.
This elevated Arnoux to third place with Scheckter fourth and Villeneuve fifth.
Jones remained in the lead until lap 39 when he retired with an overheating engine. Regazzoni went into the lead and won to give Frank Williams his first Grand Prix victory. Arnoux finished second with Jean-Pierre Jarier (Tyrrell) climbing through the leaders in the closing stages to take third place, ahead of Watson, the fading Scheckter and Ickx after Laffite and Villeneuve both went out with mechanical troubles.