Swedish GP 1978
JUNE 17, 1978
Swedish GP, 1978
With Team Lotus in dominant fashion with the new 79, Brabham arrived in Anderstorp with its two BT46s modified dramatically and controversially, with a large fan attached to the rear of the car. The team explained that the device was for cooling the engines. It soon became clear that the primary aim of the fans was to suck air from beneath the cars and improve grip. Rival teams argued that the fans were, therefore, illegal as they were moving aerodynamic devices. The cars also had the habit of hurling stones at cars which were running behind them.
The entry had reduced with Teddy Yip having given up with his own car and so Keke Rosberg appeared at the wheel of the second ATS, replacing Alberto Colombo. Also missing was the Martini team. This meant that there was no need for pre-qualifying as there were only 27 cars fighting for the 24 grid positions.
Mario Andretti was on pole position in his Lotus by seven-tenths of a second while the two Brabhams were second and third, John Watson ahead of Niki Lauda. Then came Ronnie Peterson in the second Lotus. Fifth on the grid went to Riccardo Patrese in the Arrows, although the team was involved in a court case with Shadow over copyright infringement and work was just beginning on the design of a new Arrows A1 chassis to replace the FA/1. Jody Scheckter was fifth on the grid in his Wolf, ahead of the two Ferraris of Gilles Villeneuve and Carlos Reutemann while the top 10 was completed by Alan Jones in the Williams FW06 and Jean-Pierre Jabouille's Renault.
The Brabhams were protested before the race began but the protest was rejected and the grid formed up as normal. Andretti took the lead with Lauda getting ahead of Watson, who was under pressure from a fast-starting Patrese. At the end of the second lap Patrese moved to third place and a lap later Watson had dropped behind Peterson as well. The Swede then battled Patrese and on lap 10 he took third place only to slow soon afterwards with a puncture. The order then remained unchanged until lap 20 when Watson disappeared from fourth position with a throttle breakage.
At the front Andretti and Lauda battled for supremacy while Patrese was a lonely third. Then came Reutemann, although the Ferrari driver was soon overtaken by Jones. Reutemann then faded back to fall behind the recovering Peterson and Villeneuve.
On lap 38 Andretti made a mistake and Lauda took the lead. Andretti could do nothing about the fan car and settled for second position but on lap 47 his engine failed. This put Patrese up to second and Peterson to third, the Swede having by then passed Jones. The Australian's race ended soon afterwards with a seized wheelbearing and so Laffite moved to fourth place. With a few laps to the Ligier began to run out of fuel and dropped out of the points, leaving fourth place to Patrick Tambay (McLaren), fifth to Clay Regazzoni (Shadow) and sixth for Emerson Fittipaldi (Fittipaldi).
It was left to the governing body to decide whether the Brabham fan car was legal or not...