British GP 1977

British GP, 1977

The growing number of private entries resulted in the idea of a special qualifying session for all those who were not members of the Formula One Constructors Association. The event thus began on Wednesday with 14 cars vying for five available places. Those in pre-qualifying included a youngster called Gilles Villeneuve at the wheel of a third McLaren, Patrick Tambay in a Theodore Racing Ensign, Jean-Pierre Jarier in the ATS Penske, Brett Lunger in the Chesterfield McLaren, Patrick Neve in the Williams March, Mikko Kozarowitsky and Andy Sutcliffe in RAM Racing Marches, Guy Edwards in the Stanley BRM (the team having been dropped by FOCA), Tony Trimmer in a Melchester Racing Surtees, David Purley in the Lec, Emilio de Villota's McLaren, Brian Henton's March and the Williams which was owned by Brian McGuire, which had been renamed the McGuire BM1.

The two sessions were dominated by two large accidents. Kozarowitsky demolished his car in the first session and Purley had an enormous accident in the second when his throttle stuck open at Becketts. Purley survived the crash but suffered serious multiple injuries. Villeneuve, Tambay, Jarier, Lunger and Henton qualified. Later the RAC agreed that Merzario and Neve could also take part in official qualifying and eventually de Villota was allowed to go through as well when it became clear that Harald Ertl did not have enough money to fund the second Hesketh.

With pre-qualifying out of the way, interest centered on Villeneuve's amazing performance and on how the new Renault turbo would go on its Michelin tires in the hands of Jean-Pierre Jabouille. The only big change apart from that was the return of Vern Schuppan, who replaced Larry Perkins at Surtees.

After qualifying James Hunt was on pole in his McLaren with John Watson (Brabham-Alfa Romeo) alongside on the front row. The perfect result for the British fans. Niki Lauda was third in his Ferrari with his World Championship rival Jody Scheckter alongside while Gunnar Nilsson was fifth in his Lotus, sharing the third row with his team mate Mario Andretti. The top 10 was completed by Hans Stuck (Brabham-Alfa Romeo), Vittorio Brambilla (Surtees), the remarkable Villeneuve and Ronnie Peterson (Tyrrell).

In the race Hunt made a bad start and Watson led Lauda and Scheckter. Hunt was fourth ahead of Nilsson, Andretti, Villeneuve, Mass, Brambilla and the rest. On the third lap Andretti passed Nilsson to take fifth and on lap seven Hunt overtook Scheckter for third. Villeneuve went into the pits with his engine temperature off the clock but the team discovered that the gauge rather than the engine was broken and he was sent out again. On lap 23 Hunt outbraked Lauda to take second place and set off in pursuit of Watson. The Ulsterman held him off but on lap 50 the Alfa Romeo's fuel system failed again as it had at the French GP) and Hunt took the lead. Watson pitted took on more fuel and set off but he was too far behind to make an impression. And so Hunt won from Lauda, Nilsson, Mass, Stuck and Jacques Laffite (Ligier), Andretti and Scheckter having both disappeared in the closing laps with engine failures.

James Hunt McLaren-Cosworth  68 1h31m46.060s  
11 Niki Lauda Ferrari  68 1h32m04.370s  
Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Cosworth  68 1h32m05.630s  
Jochen Mass McLaren-Cosworth  68 1h32m33.820s  11 
Hans-Joachim Stuck Brabham-Alfa Romeo  68 1h32m57.790s  
26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra  67  15 
17 Alan Jones Shadow-Cosworth  67  12 
19 Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Cosworth  67  
34 Jean-Pierre Jarier Penske-Cosworth  67  20 
10 27 Patrick Neve March-Cosworth  66  26 
11 40 Gilles Villeneuve McLaren-Cosworth  66  
12 18 Vern Schuppan Surtees-Cosworth  66  23 
13 30 Brett Lunger March-Cosworth  64  19 
14r Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth  62 Engine 
15 12 Carlos Reutemann Ferrari  62  14 
John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo  60 Fuel Injection 
20 Jody Scheckter Wolf-Cosworth  59 Engine 
28 Emerson Fittipaldi Copersucar-Cosworth  42 Engine 22 
37 Arturo Merzario March-Cosworth  28 Drive Shaft 17 
16 Riccardo Patrese Shadow-Cosworth  20 Fuel Pressure 25 
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth  16 Brakes/accident 18 
15 Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault  16 Turbo 21 
10 Ian Scheckter March-Cosworth  Accident 24 
23 Patrick Tambay Ensign-Cosworth  Electrics 16 
Ronnie Peterson Tyrrell-Cosworth  Engine 10 
24 Rupert Keegan Hesketh-Cosworth  Accident 13 
nq Alex-Dias Ribeiro March-Cosworth    27 
nq 22 Clay Regazzoni Ensign-Cosworth    28 
nq 38 Brian Henton March-Cosworth    29 
nq 36 Emilio de Villota McLaren-Cosworth    30 
npq 31 David Purley Lec-Cosworth    31 
npq 33 Andy Sutcliffe March-Cosworth    32 
npq 35 Guy Edwards Stanley BRM-BRM    33 
npq 44 Tony Trimmer Surtees-Cosworth    34 
npq 45 Brian McGuire McGuire-Cosworth    35 
npq 32 Mikko Kozarowitsky March-Cosworth    36