Brazilian GP 1977
JANUARY 23, 1977
Brazilian GP, 1977
With just a fortnight between the Argentine and Brazilian Grands Prix, the F1 circus stayed out in South America although one or two cars were sent back to Europe for repairs. The only new car at Interlagos was the Stanley BRM but this was a long way off the pace.
In qualifying James Hunt was fastest (as he had been in Argentina) but he had Carlos Reutemann's Ferrari alongside. Then came Mario Andretti's Lotus 78 and Hunt's McLaren team mate Jochen Mass while the third row featured Carlos Pace (Brabham-Alfa Romeo) and Patrick Depailler in the Tyrrell six-wheeler. The top 10 was completed by John Watson (Brabham-Alfa Romeo), Ronnie Peterson (Tyrrell), Clay Regazzoni (Ensign) and Gunnar Nilsson (Lotus). Niki Lauda had a troubled practice and was 13th while Argentine winner Jody Scheckter was 15th in the new Wolf.
In the race Pace jumped the start (although being in Brazil he was not penalized) and he took the lead in the course of the first lap with Reutemann second, Hunt third and Mass fourth. As the race developed the track began to break up and on the eighth lap Pace went wide and Hunt, who had overtaken Reutemann challenged for the lead. The two cars touched and while Hunt escaped without a problem, Pace had to pit for repairs.
The order was settled for the next few laps and then on lap 13 third-placed Mass spun off at Turn Three. The accident threw catchfencing onto the track and snagged fifth-placed Regazzoni. Moments later Peterson joined them in the catchfencing. This left Hunt leading Reutemann and Andretti but the American lasted only a few more laps before he fell victim to electrical trouble and so Tom Pryce (Shadow) took third place ahead of Watson, Laffite and Depailler. Hunt struggled more and more with poor handling and on lap 23 Reutemann took the lead, Hunt going straight into the pits for new tires. Hunt rejoined and quickly passed Lauda and Watson. In the closing laps Vittorio Brambilla (March) went off at Turn Three and was followed by Depailler, Laffite, Watson and Pace who crashed into the cars parked beside the track. Pryce disappeared with an engine failure and so Hunt finished second with Lauda third and Fittipaldi fourth. Nilsson picked up two points for fifth and Zorzi scored one for Shadow. Ingo Hoffmann (Fittipaldi) was the only other finisher.