French GP 1978

JULY 2, 1978

French GP, 1978

With the international sporting federation having decided that the Brabham fan car was not legal, the Brabham team had to convert its BT46s back to original specification in time for the French GP. There were 29 cars present, the only changes to the field being the disappearance of Jacky Ickx, who had been replaced by Derek Daly at Ensign, and the reappearance of the Martini team with driver Rene Arnoux and a third McLaren for Bruno Giacomelli, who had been busy with F2 commitments in the previous few races.

Qualifying proved to be interesting as John Watson took pole position by a few hundredths of a second in his Brabham-Alfa Romeo, beating the JPS Lotus of Mario Andretti. Niki Lauda was third fastest in his Brabham and then came James Hunt (McLaren). The third row featured Ronnie Peterson (Lotus) and Patrick Tambay (McLaren) while Jody Scheckter (Wolf) shared the fourth row with Carlos Reutemann's Ferrari. The top 10 was completed by Gilles Villeneuve in the second Ferrari and Jacques Laffite in the Ligier.

At the start Watson was able to hold off Andretti. Tambay was third with Lauda, Peterson and Hunt behind him. Before the end of the first lap, however, Andretti had gone into the lead and began to pull away. In the laps which followed Lauda moved ahead of Tambay and then passed Watson but on the tenth lap he suffered an engine failure and disappeared. As Watson and Tambay had both been overtaken by Peterson by that that time it was the Swede who emerged in second place, giving Lotus another 1-2. Watson stayed third for a while Tambay disappeared to the pits with a puncture and then the Ulsterman came under pressure from Hunt and on lap 16 was pushed back to fourth place. Jones was fifth and Scheckter sixth. The order then remained unchanged for the rest of the afternoon, giving Lotus its third 1-2 in four races.

Andretti's World Championship lead was nine points.

Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth  54 1h38m51.920s  
Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Cosworth  54 1h38m54.850s  
James Hunt McLaren-Cosworth  54 1h39m11.720s  
John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo  54 1h39m28.800s  
27 Alan Jones Wlliams-Cosworth  54 1h39m33.730s  14 
20 Jody Scheckter Wolf-Cosworth  54 1h39m46.450s  
26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra  54 1h39m46.660s  10 
35 Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Cosworth  54 1h40m16.800s  12 
Patrick Tambay McLaren-Cosworth  54 1h40m18.980s  
10 Didier Pironi Tyrrell-Cosworth  54 1h40m21.900s  16 
11 16 Hans-Joachim Stuck Shadow-Cosworth  53  20 
12 12 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari  53  
13 Jochen Mass ATS-Cosworth  53  25 
14 31 Rene Arnoux Martini-Cosworth  53  18 
15 36 Rolf Stommelen Arrows-Cosworth  53  21 
16 10 Jean-Pierre Jarier ATS-Cosworth  52  26 
17 19 Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Cosworth  52  19 
18 11 Carlos Reutemann Ferrari  49  
30 Brett Lunger McLaren-Cosworth  45 Engine 24 
14 Emerson Fittipaldi Copersucar-Cosworth  43 Rear Suspension 15 
18 Rupert Keegan Surtees-Cosworth  40 Engine 23 
33 Bruno Giacomelli McLaren-Cosworth  28 Engine 22 
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth  10 Engine 13 
Niki Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo  10 Engine 
17 Clay Regazzoni Shadow-Cosworth  Electrics 17 
15 Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault  Engine 11 
nq 37 Arturo Merzario Merzario-Cosworth    27 
nq 22 Derek Daly Ensign-Cosworth    28 
nq 25 Hector Rebaque Lotus-Cosworth    29