Italian GP 1977
SEPTEMBER 11, 1977
Italian GP, 1977
Niki Lauda's victory in Holland gave him a 21 point lead in the World Championship with four races to go but the major talking point at Monza was the announcement that the Austrian was going to leave the team to drive for Brabham in 1978. The Ferrari team was not happy.
There were a variety of new faces for the race with Brabham-Alfa Romeo running a third car for Giorgio Francia, Lamberto Leoni replacing Vern Schuppan in the second Surtees and Bruno Giacomelli being given a run in a factory McLaren M23. Loris Kessel also reappeared in an old Williams which had been christened an Apollon. There were 34 entries and only 24 starters and the unlucky 10 included a depressed Emerson Fittipaldi.
At the front James Hunt took pole in his McLaren with Carlos Reutemann second in his Ferrari ahead of Jody Scheckter (Lauda's nearest championship challenger in his Wolf) and Mario Andretti (Lotus). Then came Lauda who shared the third row with an impressive Riccardo Patrese (Shadow). Clay Regazzoni was on the fourth row in the Ensign alongside Jacques Laffite's Ligier and the top 10 was completed by Jochen Mass's McLaren and Vittorio Brambilla's Surtees.
At the start Scheckter took the lead and Regazzoni pulled off a remarkable dash to the first corner to take second place ahead of Hunt and Andretti. In the course of the first lap. however, both the McLaren and the Lotus repassed the Ensign and Regazzoni fell back to Reutemann and Lauda. On the second lap Andretti breezed past Hunt and set off after Scheckter while behind them Reutemann and Lauda both overtook Regazzoni and were followed through by Mass although with a few laps he had fallen behind a charging Hans Stuck (Brabham-Alfa Romeo). For a few laps the order settled and then on lap 10 Andretti drove around the outside of the Wolf in the Parabolica and took the lead. Andretti was not troubled for the rest of the afternoon. Scheckter went out with an engine failure on lap 24 and Reutemann was overtaken by Lauda on lap 35. Reutemann then had the misfortune to be running being Giacomelli when the youngster's engine failed and the Ferrari driver spun off. This elevated Alan Jones to third in his Shadow with Mass fourth, Regazzoni fifth and Ronnie Peterson sixth for Tyrrell.
With 69 points to Scheckter's 42 Lauda was the World Champion because even if Scheckter won the final three races, Lauda still had enough second places to still be ahead.