Dutch GP 1977
AUGUST 28, 1977
Dutch GP, 1977
There were 34 cars fighting for the 26 grid positions and so the Dutch organizers decided to have a pre-qualifying session as has happened at Silverstone. This proved to be a waste of time as Arturo Merzario objected, pointing out that the rules did not insist that he should pre-qualify. Thus 34 drivers took part in practice. Renault Sport was back in action with its turbocharged RS1 while Riccardo Patrese was back in the Shadow after the financial problems between the team and his sponsor had been sorted out. RAM Racing ran two Dutchmen, Boy Hayje being joined by Michael Bleekemolen. Brian Henton had been invited by HB Bewaking Alarm Systems to drive the old Boro (a modified Ensign) rather than his usual March.
Qualifying resulted in pole position going to Mario Andretti's Lotus with Jacques Laffite second in the Ligier-Matra. On the second row were perpetual rivals Niki Lauda (Ferrari) and James Hunt (McLaren) with the third row featuring Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari) and Gunnar Nilsson (Lotus). Then came John Watson (Brabham) and Ronnie Peterson (Tyrrell) and the top 10 was completed by Jean-Pierre Jabouille's Renault and Clay Regazzoni in the Ensign. Austrian GP winner Alan Jones was 13th in his Shadow and World Championship challenger Jody Scheckter was down in 15th.
At the start Hunt got away fastest and he and Andretti went around Tarzan corner side by side, the American having to lift off to avoid going off onto the grass. Hunt was ahead and Andretti's hesitation meant that Laffite was through into second place. Further back there was excitement as Watson damaged his car on a curb and Jochen Mass (McLaren) collided with Jones and spun off.
Andretti repassed Laffite for second place at the start of the third lap and then challenged for the lead. At the start of lap six Andretti tried to drive around the outside of the McLaren at Tarzan. This time Andretti did not lift and the result was that the two cars collided. Andretti spun and Hunt limped around to the pits to retire. This put Laffite into the lead with Lauda and Reutemann behind him. Then came the recovering Andretti. He diced with Reutemann until lap 15 when he suffered an engine failure. On lap 20 Lauda challenged Laffite for the lead and went ahead and the order remained unchanged all the way to the flag. Reutemann's third place came under pressure from Nilsson and on lap 34 the two collided and spun off. Nilsson was out but Reutemann rejoined at the back. This elevated Patrick Tambay (Theodore Ensign) to third place but he ran out of fuel on the penultimate lap and so Scheckter took third with Emerson Fittipaldi fourth and Tambay being classified fifth ahead of Reutemann.