Canadian GP 1979
SEPTEMBER 30, 1979
Canadian GP, 1979
The weeks between the Italian GP and the race in Canada were filled with the non-championship Dino Ferrari Grand Prix at Imola which was won by Niki Lauda. And it was the Austrian in the news in Canada, Lauda announcing in the middle of practice that he no longer wanted to be a Formula 1 driver, after completing a few laps in the all-new Brabham-Cosworth BT49. Brabham boss Bernie Ecclestone decided to put Argentina's Ricardo Zunino in the car.
The other changes to the field were a third Tyrrell for Derek Daly and a second Fittipaldi for Alex Ribeiro. The Alfa Romeo team appeared with two 179 chassis for Bruno Giacomelli and Vittorio Brambilla but the organizers refused to let them practice if they did not pre-qualify and the team refused to pre-qualify.
After qualifying Alan Jones (Williams) was on pole position with local hero Gilles Villeneuve second in his Ferrari then came Clay Regazzoni (Williams) and Nelson Piquet in one of the new Brabham-Cosworths. Fifth on the grid was Jacques Laffite (Ligier) with Didier Pironi (Tyrrell), Jean-Pierre Jabouille (Renault), Rene Arnoux (Renault), the new World Champion Jody Scheckter (Ferrari) and Mario Andretti (Lotus) completing the top 10. Zunino qualified 19th and Hector Rebaque put his own HR100 chassis 22nd.
There were political battles over whether or not Alfa Romeo would be allowed to run and eventually a compromise was reached with Brambilla allowed to run but Giacomelli being refused an entry.
In the race Villeneuve took the lead at the start with Jones and Regazzoni chasing him. Piquet ran fourth but then moved ahead of Regazzoni to take third. Jones shadowed Villeneuve for the early part of the race and eventually slipped ahead at the hairpin, the two cars banging wheels. Jones was then able to stay ahead but Villeneuve was only a second behind him at the finish. Piquet ran third until the closing laps when he dropped behind Regazzoni again and retired soon afterwards with a gearbox problem. Scheckter finished fourth with Pironi fifth and John Watson (McLaren) sixth.