Dutch GP 1978
AUGUST 27, 1978
Dutch GP, 1978
After Ronnie Peterson's win in the chaotic Austrian GP, it was back to business as usual in Holland with the field much as normal. Hans Binder had been replaced at ATS by local driver Michael Bleekemolen and Danny Ongais popped up again in his old Interscope-run Shadow. Pre-qualifying got rid of Ensign's Harald Ertl, Rolf Stommelen in the Arrows and Ongais.
Qualifying resulted in the usual 1-2 for Team Lotus with Mario Andretti beating Peterson on this occasion. Third fastest, a second behind Andretti, was Niki Lauda in the Brabham-Alfa Romeo. Then came the two Ferraris with Carlos Reutemann just ahead of Gilles Villeneuve while Jacques Laffite (Ligier) was sixth. The top 10 was completed by James Hunt (McLaren), John Watson (Brabham), Jean-Pierre Jabouille (Renault) and Emerson Fittipaldi (Fittipaldi). In the warm-up on Sunday Rupert Keegan damaged his wrist in a sizable crash in his Surtees and so was unable to start, which meant that Arturo Merzario (Merzario) made it into the race.
At the start of the race Andretti took the lead from Peterson with Laffite bursting through into third place. At the second corner Didier Pironi (Tyrrell) and Riccardo Patrese (Arrows) had a spectacular collision and several other drivers were delayed and suffered damage as everyone avoided the crash. Patrese's car was still in the middle of the road when the leaders returned but Andretti passed on one side of the wreck and Peterson on the other.
As the Lotuses built up their lead Lauda was left in third as Laffite soon faded back down the order with Reutemann, Watson, Fittipaldi and Villeneuve all passing the Frenchman. The order then settled until lap 38 when fourth-placed Reutemann dropped behind Watson and Fittipaldi with tire trouble.
Andretti thus led Peterson to another Lotus 1-2 ahead of the two Brabhams of Lauda and Watson. Fittipaldi was fifth with Villeneuve getting ahead of Reutemann by the finish to claim the final point.
Andretti was effectively World Champion because although Peterson was only 12 points behind he had agreed to be number two in the team. Lauda was third in the World Championship but was 28 points behind with a maximum of 27 available in the final three races.