German GP 1976

AUGUST 1, 1976

German GP, 1976

The highly-charged 1976 season continued at the Nurburgring a fortnight after James Hunt's disputed victory at Brands Hatch. The drivers were not happy with the safety at the Nurburgring but they raced nonetheless. The field was much as it had been at Silverstone although Jacky Ickx had been fired from the Wolf Williams team and had been replaced by Arturo Merzario. There was another new team present for the first time, Scuderia Rondini having acquired an old Tyrrell 007 for Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi. The RAM team had agreed a deal to run Rolf Stommelen in one of the old Brabham-Cosworths but midway through practice the cars were impounded by the local police (!) as a result of legal action from former driver Loris Kessel and so Stommelen transferred into the spare factory Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45.

In qualifying James Hunt was on pole with Niki Lauda second while Patrick Depailler lined up third in his six-wheeler Tyrrell. Hans Stuck was fourth fastest in his march ahead of Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari), Jacques Laffite (Ligier), Carlos Pace (Brabham-Alfa Romeo), Jody Scheckter (Tyrrell), Jochen Mass (McLaren) and Carlos Reutemann (Brabham-Alfa Romeo). Lombardi could not qualify because RAM could not run its cars and Henri Pescarolo failed to qualify the Team Morev Surtees because of engine troubles.

It rained before the race and everyone apart from Jochen Mass decided to use wet weather tires. At the start Regazzoni took the lead while both Hunt and Lauda were slow away. Hunt took second while third went to a fast-starting Mass and fourth to Laffite who benefited from the fact that Stuck's car had been pushed off the grid with a clutch problem (although the German started at the back of the field). In the course of the first lap Regazzoni spun quickly and dropped to fourth. At the end of the lap half of the field headed for the pits and Mass found himself in second place behind Peterson, who decided to go on wet tires for another lap. On the next lap Mass was ahead with Nilsson (who had not stopped) in second place and Hunt third.

At Bergwerk, out at the back of the circuit, however, Lauda lost control of his Ferrari and spun through the catchfencing into an earth bank. The car (which was enveloped in flames) bounced back onto the circuit in the path of the cars which were following. Guy Edwards (Hesketh) managed to avoid the Ferrari but Harald Ertl (Hesketh) and Brett Lunger (Surtees) both hit it. All three drivers stopped and tried to get Lauda out of the flames and they were joined by Merzario who stopped his Wolf Williams and came their aid. Lauda had suffered serious burns and was rushed to hospital in Adenau and was flown from there to the University Hospital in Mannheim where he fought for his life for the next few days.

The race had been stopped after the accident and at the restart there were only 20 cars as Chris Amon had decided that he had had enough and refused to race. The rain had gone and Hunt took the lead from Regazzoni, Scheckter, Depailler and Pace. At the Flugplatz Peterson lost control of his March and crashed heavily while Regazzoni had another spin and Depailler went off avoiding the Ferrari. Pace overtook Scheckter and so ended the first lap in second place. On the second lap Scheckter passed Pace and the Brazilian fell behind Regazzoni on the third lap, during which sixth placed Vittorio Brambilla (March) crashed at Adenau Bridge as the result of a brake failure. The man on the move was Mass who overtook fifth placed Gunnar Nilsson (Lotus) on the fifth lap and Pace on lap 10. On the 12th lap Regazzoni spun again and Mass moved to third with Pace fourth, Nilsson fifth and Stommelen sixth.

11 James Hunt McLaren-Cosworth M23 14 1h41m42.700s  
Jody Scheckter Tyrrell-Cosworth P34 14 1h42m10.400s  
12 Jochen Mass McLaren-Cosworth M23 14 1h42m35.100s  
Carlos Pace Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45 14 1h42m36.900s  
Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Cosworth 77 14 1h43m40.000s  16 
77 Rolf Stommelen Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45 14 1h44m13.000s  15 
28 John Watson Penske-Cosworth PC4 14 1h44m16.600s  19 
16 Tom Pryce Shadow-Cosworth DN5B 14 1h44m30.900s  18 
Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 312T2 14 1h45m28.700s  
10 19 Alan Jones Surtees-Cosworth TS19 14 1h45m30.000s  14 
11 17 Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow-Cosworth DN5B 14 1h46m34.400s  23 
12 Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth 77 14 1h46m40.800s  12 
13 30 Emerson Fittipaldi Copersucar-Cosworth FD04 14 1h47m07.900s  20 
14 40 Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi Tyrrell-Cosworth 007 13  26 
15 25 Guy Edwards Hesketh-Cosworth 308D 13  25 
20 Arturo Merzario Wolf Williams-Cosworth FW05 Brakes 21 
Vittorio Brambilla March-Cosworth 761 Brakes/ Accident 13 
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth P34 Accident 
Carlos Reutemann Brabham-Alfa Romeo BT45 Engine 10 
10 Ronnie Peterson March-Cosworth 761 Accident 11 
34 Hans-Joachim Stuck March-Cosworth 761 Clutch* 
26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra JS5 Gearbox 
22 Chris Amon Ensign-Cosworth N176 Withdrew 17 
Niki Lauda Ferrari 312T2 Accident* 
18 Brett Lunger Surtees-Cosworth TS19 Accident* 24 
24 Harald Ertl Hesketh-Cosworth 308D Accident* 22 
nq 33 Lella Lombardi Brabham-Cosworth BT44B  Car Impounded By Police 27 
nq 38 Henri Pescarolo Surtees-Cosworth TS19   28