United States GP 1979

United States GP, 1979

There were no changes in the driver lineup for Long Beach and South African GP winner Gilles Villeneuve took pole position in his 312T4. His former Ferrari teammate Carlos Reutemann was second in the Lotus while Jody Scheckter (Ferrari) was third quickest ahead of the two Ligiers of Patrick Depailler and Jacques Laffite. Mario Andretti completed the top six in his Lotus while the top 10 was rounded off by Jean-Pierre Jarier's Tyrrell, James Hunt (Wolf), Riccardo Patrese (Arrows) and Alan Jones (Williams). The Brabhams were again not very competitive with Niki Lauda 11th and and Nelson Piquet 12th while Jan Lammers did a good job to put his Shadow 14th. The McLarens were uncompetitive with John Watson and Patrick Tambay 18th and 19th. It was a disastrous practice for Renault as both Jean-Pierre Jabouille and Rene Arnoux failed to qualify.

The starting procedure was a mess with Reutemann being forced to start from the pits because of an electrical failure. Villeneuve overshot his grid position and decided to lead the field around again. When the grid arrived on the grid for the second time, Laffite's car locked up and turned sideways and so Villeneuve led half the field around again, the rest having been stopped by officials. The leaders had to then weave through the backmarkers to take up their positions. Finally the race got underway with Villeneuve taking off into the lead with Depailler holding off Scheckter to grab second. In the process the South African damaged a front wing. Further back in the field Tambay ran into the back of Lammers and was launched through the air and landed on top of Lauda's Brabham. Both cars were out.

Villeneuve thus led Depailler, Scheckter and Jarier and Andretti but it was Jarier who was on the move and he soon overtook both Scheckter and Depailler to run second. Depailler then dropped behind Scheckter and the Ferrari driver then attacked Jarier and finally on lap 27 he moved to second place. The two Ferraris were out ahead and interest centered on the battle for third with Jarier under pressure from Depailler, Andretti and Jones. The Williams driver managed to get ahead of Andretti and all three then overtook Jarier and so as the race went into its closing stages Jones was challenging Depailler. On lap 62 he got ahead. In the closing laps Depailler lost fourth gear and dropped behind Andretti, while Jarier had to be happy with sixth.

12 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari  80 1h50m25.400s  
11 Jody Scheckter Ferrari  80 1h50m54.780s  
27 Alan Jones Williams-Cosworth  80 1h51m25.090s  10 
Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth  80 1h51m29.730s  
25 Patrick Depailler Ligier-Cosworth  80 1h51m48.920s  
Jean-Pierre Jarier Tyrrell-Cosworth  79  
18 Elio de Angelis Shadow-Cosworth  78  20 
Nelson Piquet Brabham-Alfa Romeo  78  12 
30 Jochen Mass Arrows-Cosworth  78  13 
dq Didier Pironi Tyrrell-Cosworth  72 Push Start After Spin 17 
31 Hector Rebaque Lotus-Cosworth  71 Accident 23 
22 Derek Daly Ensign-Cosworth  69 Accident 24 
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth  62 Fuel Injection 18 
dq Hans-Joachim Stuck ATS-Cosworth  49 Push Start After Spin 21 
28 Clay Regazzoni Williams-Cosworth  48 Engine 15 
17 Jan Lammers Shadow-Cosworth  47 Suspension 14 
29 Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Cosworth  40 Brake Master Cylinder 
Carlos Reutemann Lotus-Cosworth  21 Drive Shaft 
14 Emerson Fittipaldi Copersucar-Cosworth  19 Drive Shaft 16 
24 Arturo Merzario Merzario-Cosworth  13 Engine 22 
26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Cosworth  Brakes 
20 James Hunt Wolf-Cosworth  Drive Shaft Joint 
Niki Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo  Accident 11 
Patrick Tambay McLaren-Cosworth  Accident 19 
ns 15 Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault   Accident/ Injury 25 
ns 16 Rene Arnoux Renault   Universal Joint 26