Japanese GP 1977

OCTOBER 23, 1977

Japanese GP, 1977

The final round of the World Championship saw a much-reduced field with Fittipaldi, Hesketh, Williams and Renault Sport all deciding not to bother. March ran only one car after Ian Scheckter had troubles with his visa and could not get into Japan. Ligier expanded to run two cars Jacques Laffite being joined by Jean-Pierre Jarier and there were three local drivers: Kunimitsu Takahashi in a Muritsu Tyrrell and two Kojimas: one being run for Noritake Takahara by Kojima and the other for Kazuyoshi Hoshino by Heroes Racing.

Mario Andretti took pole in his Lotus with James Hunt alongside in his McLaren while the second row featured the Brabham-Alfa Romeos of John Watson and Hans Stuck. Laffite was the third row with Jody Scheckter's Wolf while the fourth row featured Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari) and Jochen Mass in the second McLaren. The top 10 was completed by Vittorio Brambilla (Surtees) and Clay Regazzoni (Ensign), Alan Jones (Shadow) and Hoshino.

In the race Hunt took the lead but Andretti made a terrible start and dropped behind Scheckter, Mass, Regazzoni, Watson, Laffite and Stuck. Andretti began a recovery drive but on the second lap collided with Laffite and was out. A wheel from the Lotus caused both Hans Binder (Surtees) and Takahara to spin off.

On lap six Villeneuve missed his braking point at the end of the main straight and went into the back of Ronnie Peterson's Tyrrell. The Ferrari cartwheeled off the track and although the Canadian escaped unhurt a marshal and a photographer were killed and others injured. The race was not stopped.

At the front Mass and Watson (who had overtaken Regazzoni) both went ahead of Scheckter and the order remained stable until the 29th lap when Mass's engine blew and Watson suffered a gearbox failure. That put Scheckter back up to second place but he was soon overtaken by Regazzoni although the Ensign then went out with an engine failure. Reutemann then took the place (having passed Scheckter) but he was overtaken by Laffite. The Frenchman looked to be on his way to second but he ran out of fuel on the penultimate lap and so Reutemann ended up second with Patrick Depailler (Tyrrell) third and Jones fourth. Laffite was classified fifth with Riccardo Patrese (Shadow) sixth, scoring his first World Championship point.

James Hunt McLaren-Cosworth  73 1h31m51.680s  
12 Carlos Reutemann Ferrari  73 1h32m54.130s  
Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Cosworth  73 1h32m58.070s  15 
17 Alan Jones Shadow-Cosworth  73 1h32m58.290s  12 
5r 26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra  72 Out Of Fuel 
16 Riccardo Patrese Shadow-Cosworth  72  13 
Hans-Joachim Stuck Brabham-Alfa Romeo  72  
19 Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Cosworth  71  
50 Kunimitsu Takahashi Tyrrell-Cosworth  71  22 
10 20 Jody Scheckter Wolf-Cosworth  71  
11 52 Kazuyoshi Hoshino Kojima-Cosworth  71  11 
12 Alex-Dias Ribeiro March-Cosworth  69  23 
Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Cosworth  63 Gearbox 14 
22 Clay Regazzoni Ensign-Cosworth  43 Engine 10 
John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo  29 Gearbox 
Jochen Mass McLaren-Cosworth  28 Engine 
23 Patrick Tambay Ensign-Cosworth  14 Engine 16 
Ronnie Peterson Tyrrell-Cosworth  Accident 18 
11 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari  Accident 20 
27 Jean-Pierre Jarier Ligier-Matra  Engine 17 
18 Hans Binder Surtees-Cosworth  Accident 21 
51 Noritake Takahara Kojima-Cosworth  Accident 19 
Mario Andretti Lotus-Cosworth  Accident