Austrian GP 1977

Austrian GP, 1977

The Osterreichring had been altered again to make the Hella Licht corner into a fast chicane, the initial safety work done after Mark Donohue's accident in 1975 having been judged to have been more dangerous. There were 30 cars again with the only notable change being that there had been a dispute over money at Shadow and so Riccardo Patrese was replaced by Arturo Merzario while at ATS Hans Heyer had been dropped from the second car to make way for Hans Binder. With Harald Ertl having left Hesketh the team ran Ian Ashley instead.

In qualifying Niki Lauda was fastest in his Ferrari with James Hunt alongside him in the McLaren. Mario Andretti was third for Lotus and then came Hans Stuck in the Brabham-Alfa Romeo followed by Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari), Jacques Laffite (Ligier), Patrick Tambay (Theodore Ensign) and Jody Scheckter in the Wolf. The top 10 was completed by Jochen Mass (McLaren) and Patrick Depailler (Tyrrell) while John Watson was less competitive than normal with his Brabham-Alfa Romeo ending up 12th.

It was raining on race day but the track was drying when the grid formed up. Most drivers decided to start on slicks and Lauda had the advantage at the start and went into the lead with Hunt and Andretti chasing. The Ferrari, however, was not handling well and at the Bosch Kurve Andretti managed to overtake both Hunt and Lauda in one move to go into the lead. Scheckter followed with Tambay and Stuck behind him. Nilsson had decided to stay on wet tires and was up to seventh place from 16th on the grid.

In the laps that followed Nilsson climbed up to second, while Lauda fell behind Scheckter and then drifted behind Stuck and Merzario (also on wet tires). By the 10th lap the track was drying and so Nilsson and Merzarion had to pit and this put Hunt back to second, Scheckter to third and Stuck to fourth while Alan Jones was fifth having overtaken a string of cars in the early laps. On the 12th lap Andretti stopped with an engine failure and suddenly Hunt was leading. Jones's progress continued and in the laps which followed he overtook Stuck and Scheckter to move into second position. But Hunt was another matter. Jones could make little impression on him. Nilsson had fought back to third place but he went out with engine failure and so Lauda took the position with Scheckter fourth.

On lap 44 Hunt's engine suddenly blew up and Jones was in the lead. He completed the race without drama to score his first win and the first World Championship victory for the Shadow team. Lauda was second to add to his advantage in the World Championship while Stuck was third.

As the teams packed up Lauda's advantage over Scheckter in the World Championship had grown to 16 points.

17 Alan Jones Shadow-Cosworth  54 1h37m16.490s  14 
11 Niki Lauda Ferrari  54 1h37m36.620s  
Hans-Joachim Stuck Brabham-Alfa Romeo  54 1h37m50.990s  
12 Carlos Reutemann Ferrari  54 1h37m51.240s  
Ronnie Peterson Tyrrell-Cosworth  54 1h38m18.580s  15 
Jochen Mass McLaren-Cosworth  53  
24 Rupert Keegan Hesketh-Cosworth  53  20 
John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo  53  12 
27 Patrick Neve March-Cosworth  53  22 
10 30 Brett Lunger March-Cosworth  53  17 
11 28 Emerson Fittipaldi Copersucar-Cosworth  53  23 
12 33 Hans Binder Penske-Cosworth  53  19 
13 Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth  53  10 
14 34 Jean-Pierre Jarier Penske-Cosworth  52  18 
15 19 Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Cosworth  52  13 
16 18 Vern Schuppan Surtees-Cosworth  52  25 
17r 36 Emilio de Villota McLaren-Cosworth  50 Accident 26 
20 Jody Scheckter Wolf-Cosworth  45 Spin 
James Hunt McLaren-Cosworth  43 Engine 
23 Patrick Tambay Ensign-Cosworth  41 Engine 
Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Cosworth  38 Engine 16 
16 Arturo Merzario Shadow-Cosworth  29 Gear Linkage 21 
26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra  21 Oil Leak Onto Tyre/handling 
Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth  11 Engine 
10 Ian Scheckter March-Cosworth  Accident  24 
22 Clay Regazzoni Ensign-Cosworth  Accident 11 
nq 38 Brian Henton March-Cosworth    27 
nq 39 Ian Ashley Hesketh-Cosworth    28 
nq 25 Hector Rebaque Hesketh-Cosworth    29 
nq Alex-Dias Ribeiro March-Cosworth    30