Belgian GP 1978

MAY 21, 1978

Belgian GP, 1978

Two weeks after Patrick Depailler's victory for Tyrrell at Monaco the F1 circus was in action again in Zolder. The field was much as usual although Patrick Tambay was missing from the McLaren team as a result of a burn he had received when a fire extinguisher went off in his car during the F2 race at Pau. His place was taken by Marlboro favorite Bruno Giacomelli, who had been due to race for the team as a third driver. Jean-Pierre Jarier had fallen out with ATS and his place was taken by Italian Alberto Colombo. With 30 drivers there had to be a pre-qualifying session and this resulted in Arturo Merzario (Merzario) and Hector Rebaque (Lotus) missing out. In official qualifying Rupert Keegan (Surtees), Derek Daly (Hesketh), Keke Rosberg (Theodore) and Colombo missed out.

Pole position went to Mario Andretti at the wheel of the new Lotus 79 and this was nearly 0.8secs faster than Carlos Reutemann's Ferrari. Niki Lauda was third fastest in his Brabham-Alfa with Gilles Villeneuve fourth in his Ferrari. Then came Jody Scheckter in the new Wolf WR5 and James Hunt (McLaren). The top 10 was completed by Ronnie Peterson (in an old Lotus 78), Riccardo Patrese (Arrows), John Watson (Brabham) and Jean-Pierre Jabouille in the turbocharged Renault.

The race proved to be a dominant display by Andretti, who led from flag to flag. Behind him there was chaos at the start as Reutemann missed a gear. Villeneuve was not affected by as everyone tried to squeeze past the Ferrari Scheckter knocked into Lauda on one side of the track and Patrese clipped Hunt on the other. Further back Jacky Ickx (Ensign) hit Emerson Fittipaldi (Fittipaldi) and Didier Pironi (Tyrrell) collided with Rene Arnoux (Martini) as everyone tried to avoid Lauda and Hunt.

At the front Andretti led Villeneuve with Scheckter still going in third. Then came Peterson, Patrese and Watson. Then came Jabouille and Reutemann, although the Renault driver dropped back with brake trouble. Watson too was unable to keep up and dropped behind Reutemann while Scheckter pitted to have the nose of his car fixed and so left Peterson in third place.

The order at the front stayed the same until the 40th lap when Villeneuve had a tire blow and had to pit, leaving the Lotuses to run 1-2. That remained the case until lap 56 when Peterson pitted for new tires which dropped him behind Reutemann and Jacques Laffite (Ligier) The Swede was able to catch and pass both men before the flag. Laffite was challenging Reutemann for third when the two collided and the Ligier went off. He was classified fifth behind Villeneuve, while sixth place went to Didier Pironi (Tyrrell), the Frenchman scoring for the fourth time in his first five races.

Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth  70 1h39m52.020s  
Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Cosworth  70 1h40m01.920s  
11 Carlos Reutemann Ferrari  70 1h40m16.360s  
12 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari  70 1h40m39.060s  
5r 26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra  69 Accident 14 
Didier Pironi Tyrrell-Cosworth  69  23 
30 Brett Lunger McLaren-Cosworth  69  24 
33 Bruno Giacomelli McLaren-Cosworth  69  21 
31 Rene Arnoux Martini-Cosworth  68  19 
10 27 Alan Jones Wlliams-Cosworth  68  11 
11 Jochen Mass ATS-Cosworth  68  16 
12 22 Jacky Ickx Ensign-Cosworth  64  22 
13r 19 Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Cosworth  63 Engine 12 
16 Hans-Joachim Stuck Shadow-Cosworth  56 Spin 20 
nc 15 Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault  56  10 
20 Jody Scheckter Wolf-Cosworth  53 Accident 
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth  51 Gearbox 13 
17 Clay Regazzoni Shadow-Cosworth  40 Differential 18 
35 Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Cosworth  31 Rear Suspension 
36 Rolf Stommelen Arrows-Cosworth  26 Accident 17 
John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo  18 Accident 
14 Emerson Fittipaldi Copersucar-Cosworth  Accident 15 
James Hunt McLaren-Cosworth  Accident 
Niki Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo  Accident 
nq 18 Rupert Keegan Surtees-Cosworth    25 
nq 24 Derek Daly Hesketh-Cosworth    26 
nq 32 Keke Rosberg ATS-Cosworth    27 
nq 10 Jean-Pierre Jarier ATS-Cosworth    28 
npq 25 Hector Rebaque Lotus-Cosworth    29 
npq 37 Arturo Merzario Merzario-Cosworth    30 
npq Patrick Neve March-Cosworth    31 
npq Bernard de Dryver Ensign-Cosworth    32