British GP 1976

JULY 18, 1976

British GP, 1976

Formula 1 returned to Brands Hatch where considerable changes had been made with the aim of improving safety. James Hunt had won the appeal against his disqualification in Spain and so had 26 points to Niki Lauda's 52 but beating the Austrian still looked unlikely. The British GP grid was slightly different to the entry in France with the addition of a couple of the locals: Divina Galica running in a Shellsport-sponsored Surtees entered for her by Nick Whiting and Mike Wilds in an old Shadow entered by Team P R Reilly. Chris Amon was back in the Ensign and RAM was running Bob Evans and Lella Lombardi for the weekend. Both Williams and Fittipaldi had reduced their efforts to one car.

In qualifying Lauda took pole position with Hunt alongside him. Then came Mario Andretti in the ever-improving Lotus 77 and Clay Regazzoni's Ferrari. Patrick Depailler was fifth in his Tyrrell and then came Amon, doing another good job in the underfunded Ensign. The top 10 was completed by the Marches of Ronnie Peterson, Arturo Merzario and Vittorio Brambilla with Jody Scheckter's Tyrrell in eighth spot between them. Galica, Lombardi, Wilds and Jacky Ickx failed to qualify, the last-named being dumped by Walter Wolf as a result.

The start of the race was to be a dramatic affair, with Lauda leading away but with Regazzoni blasting ahead of Hunt and challenging for the lead at Paddock Hill Bend. The two Ferraris touched and Regazzoni spun. Hunt tried to avoid the Ferrari but touched and his McLaren was launched into the air, narrowly avoiding rolling. It landed heavily, damaging its suspension. Jacques Laffite's Ligier hit Regazzoni and went into the barriers but most of the rest of the field got through without drama. The organizers decided that there was too much debris on the track and a red flag was shown. This led to arguments as to whether or not the three drivers could start in spare cars and while this debate was raging, the McLaren mechanics rebuilt Hunt's car. Ferrari and Ligier had spare cars but they were going to race them and face the consequences later.

At the restart Lauda took the lead again and this time all the front-runners got through although at the back Evans and Guy Edwards (Hesketh) collided. At Druids Depailler and Stuck came to grief. At the front Lauda began to pull away and the order remained unchanged with Hunt second, Regazzoni third and Scheckter fourth. Peterson was fifth early on but dropped behind Brambilla, who had previously overtaken Amon, the Ensign driving retiring quickly with a water leak.

On lap 15 Brambilla pitted for new tires and so fifth place went to Merzario with Gunnar Nilsson (Lotus) sixth. In the mid-race Regazzoni went out with an oil pressure problem and Merzario suffered a broken driveshaft and so Nilsson moved to fourth and Tom Pryce (Shadow) to fifth.

Lauda began to suffer from gear selection problems and dropped back towards Hunt and on lap 45 Hunt went into the lead. He won the race by nearly a minute with Lauda second, Scheckter third and John Watson (Penske) fourth after Nilsson retired with an engine failure. Pryce finished fifth with Alan Jones (Surtees) sixth. After the race, however, there were protests against Hunt having been allowed to take part. The protest was rejected but Ferrari appealed and the result of the race was not settled until September when Hunt was disqualified, leaving Lauda as the winner.

By then, however, much had changed...

dq 11 James Hunt McLaren-Cosworth M23 76 Used Spare Car In Restart 
Niki Lauda Ferrari 312T2 76 1h44m19.660s  
Jody Scheckter Tyrrell-Cosworth P34 76 1h44m35.840s  
28 John Watson Penske-Cosworth PC4 75  11 
16 Tom Pryce Shadow-Cosworth DN5B 75  20 
19 Alan Jones Surtees-Cosworth TS19 75  19 
30 Emerson Fittipaldi Copersucar-Cosworth FD04 74  21 
14 Harald Ertl Hesketh-Cosworth 308D 73  23 
Carlos Pace Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45 73  16 
17 Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow-Cosworth DN5B 70  24 
Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Cosworth 77 67 Engine 14 
10 Ronnie Peterson March-Cosworth 761 60 Fuel Pressure 
18 Brett Lunger Surtees-Cosworth TS19 55 Gearbox 18 
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth P34 47 Engine 
Carlos Reutemann Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45 46 Engine 15 
35 Arturo Merzario March-Cosworth 761 39 Engine 
r/dq Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 312T2 36 Engine* 
r/dq 26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra JS5 31 Suspension 13 
32 Bob Evans Brabham-Cosworth BT44B 24 Gearbox 22 
Vittorio Brambilla March-Cosworth 761 22 Suspension/ Accident 10 
38 Henri Pescarolo Surtees-Cosworth TS19 16 Fuel Pressure 26 
22 Chris Amon Ensign-Cosworth N176 Water Leak 
Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth 77 Engine 
12 Jochen Mass McLaren-Cosworth M23 Clutch 12 
34 Hans-Joachim Stuck March-Cosworth 761 Accident 17 
25 Guy Edwards Hesketh-Cosworth 308D Accident 25 
nq 20 Jacky Ickx Wolf Williams-Cosworth FW05   27 
nq 13 Divina Galica Surtees-Cosworth TS16   28 
nq 40 Mike Wilds Shadow-Cosworth DN3   29 
nq 33 Lella Lombardi Brabham-Cosworth BT44B   30