French GP 1976

French GP, 1976

There was a three gap gap after the Swedish GP, where Tyrrell had scored a remarkable 1-2 with the new six-wheeler, before the teams gathered again at Paul Ricard for the French GP. Chris Amon was out of action with bad problems after his crash at Anderstorp and the Ensign was being driven by Patrick Neve. Larry Perkins's Boro team had run out of money but both Jacky Ickx (Williams) and Henri Pescarolo (Team Norev Surtees) were back in action having missed the Swedish race because of the Le Mans 24 Hours. Guy Edwards was back in the second Hesketh and Ingo Hoffmann was having another try in the second Fittipaldi while RAM Racing had taken on Damien Magee in place of Jac Nelleman.

Qualifying resulted in pole position going to James Hunt (McLaren) with Niki Lauda (who had more than twice as many points in the World Championship than his nearest rival Jody Scheckter) was second. Patrick Depailler was third fastest and Clay Regazzoni fourth with Carlos Pace showing well (for a change) in the Brabham-Alfa. Ronnie Peterson was sixth in his March while Mario Andretti (Lotus) was seventh, John Watson (Penske) eighth, Scheckter (Tyrrell) ninth and Carlos Reutemann (Brabham-Alfa) 10th.

At the start Lauda made the better start and took the lead from Hunt with Regazzoni third, Depailler fourth and Peterson fifth. In the course of the first lap Peterson moved ahead of Depailler, while on the second lap Watson was push back to seventh place by Scheckter. The order then settled and it was not until lap nine that there were any major developments. Lauda's Ferrari blew up and slewed off the line. The World Champion was out. This put Hunt into the lead with Regazzoni chasing him but on lap 18 Regazzoni suffered an engine failure and Hunt was left alone in the lead while Depailler was second, having repassed Peterson and Scheckter was third, having also overtaken the March. Watson challenged Peterson for fifth place but after a tussle Peterson went ahead and then recaught Scheckter and moved to third, the Tyrrell fading because of engine trouble. On lap 52, however, Peterson stopped with a fuel problem and so third place went to Watson. Pace and Andretti finished fourth and fifth with Scheckter surviving to pick up a single point.

11 James Hunt McLaren-Cosworth M23 54 1h40m58.600s  
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth P34 54 1h41m11.300s  
28 John Watson Penske-Cosworth PC4 54 1h41m22.150s  
Carlos Pace Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45 54 1h41m23.420s  
Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth 77 54 1h41m42.520s  
Jody Scheckter Tyrrell-Cosworth P34 54 1h41m53.670s  
34 Hans-Joachim Stuck March-Cosworth 761 54 1h42m20.150s  17 
16 Tom Pryce Shadow-Cosworth DN5B 54 1h42m29.270s  16 
35 Arturo Merzario March-Cosworth 761 54 1h42m52.170s  20 
10 20 Jacky Ickx Wolf Williams-Cosworth FW05 53  19 
11 Carlos Reutemann Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45 53  10 
12 17 Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow-Cosworth DN5B 53  15 
13 21 Michel Leclere Wolf Williams-Cosworth FW05 53  22 
14 26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra JS5 53  13 
15 12 Jochen Mass McLaren-Cosworth M23 53  14 
16 18 Brett Lunger Surtees-Cosworth TS19 53  23 
17 25 Guy Edwards Hesketh-Cosworth 308D 53  25 
18 22 Patrick Neve Ensign-Cosworth N176 53  26 
19r 10 Ronnie Peterson March-Cosworth 761 51 Mechanical 
19 Alan Jones Surtees-Cosworth TS19 44 Suspension 18 
Vittorio Brambilla March-Cosworth 761 28 Engine 11 
30 Emerson Fittipaldi Copersucar-Cosworth FD04 21 Engine 21 
38 Henri Pescarolo Surtees-Cosworth TS19 19 Suspension 24 
Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 312T2 17 Spin 
Niki Lauda Ferrari 312T2 Mechanical 
Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Cosworth 77 Transmission 12 
24 Harald Ertl Hesketh-Cosworth 308D Drive Shaft (unofficial Starter) 27 
nq 33 Damien Magee Brabham-Cosworth BT44B   28 
nq 31 Ingo Hoffman Copersucar-Cosworth FD04   29 
nq 32 Loris Kessel Brabham-Cosworth BT44B   30