British GP 1978
JULY 16, 1978
British GP, 1978
As usual the British GP field was bigger than most other races with the entry being bolstered by the appearance of a second Ensign for Geoff Lees and Tony Trimmer in a Melchester Racing McLaren M23, which was raced on a regular basis in the British F1 championship. Rene Arnoux was denied an entry as there were 30 cars.
Qualifying was not a surprise with the two JPS Lotuses first and second on the grid, Ronnie Peterson outrunning Mario Andretti on this occasion. Jody Scheckter was third in the Wolf with Niki Lauda in his Brabham-Alfa Romeo. John Watson had a poor qualifying session and ended up ninth in his Brabham-Alfa. This meant that Riccardo Patrese (Arrows) and Alan Jones (Williams) shared the third row of the grid with Jacques Laffite (Ligier) and Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari) on row four. The top 10 was completed by Patrick Depailler in the Tyrrell while both Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari) and James Hunt (McLaren) had a bad time in practice and ended up 13th and 14th on the grid.
In the race Andretti took the lead from Peterson and for the first few laps it looked like being a repeat of the previous races with total Lotus domination. Behind the JPS pair were Scheckter, Jones, Lauda and Patrese. On lap seven, however, Peterson's engine failed. Two laps later Hunt spun off at Surtees, leaving the British fans with only Watson to cheer and he was down in seventh place. The order remained stable until the 24th lap when Andretti pitted with a puncture. Although he rejoined in 11th place he went out soon afterwards with an engine failure. It was not going to be Lotus win.
Scheckter had inherited the lead but he had Jones right with him until lap 27 when the Williams stopped with a driveshaft failure. This left Lauda in second and he gradually closed on Scheckter, who was having gearbox trouble, and took the lead on lap 34. Scheckter went out soon afterwards leaving Patrese in second, Reutemann third, Watson fourth and Didier Pironi (Tyrrell) fifth. Keke Rosberg was having a storming race in the ATS which was in sixth position.
Within a few laps Patrese and Pironi both disappeared: the Italian with a puncture and the Frenchman with gearbox mounting bolts having broken. This left Rosberg fourth but he soon came under pressure from Depailler, the Tyrrell driving moving up to fourth place on lap 49.
Lauda remained in the lead but Reutemann found the Ferrari very competitive on newly-developed Michelin tires and he took the lead when the pair came up to lap Bruno Giacomelli's McLaren. At the same time Rosberg's promising run ended with a driveshaft failure and so the finishing order was Reutemann, Lauda, Watson, Depailler, Hans Stuck (Shadow) and Patrick Tambay (McLaren)