United States GP 1977
APRIL 3, 1977
United States GP, 1977
Tom Pryce's death in South Africa was a shock to Formula 1 and there was a further blow a fortnight later when news came from Brazil that Carlos Pace had been killed in a light plane crash near Sao Paulo in Brazil. On the same weekend as Pace's death the Race of Champions took place at Brands Hatch and was won by James Hunt.
The teams then turned their attention to Long Beach. Brabham signed up Hans Stuck to be Pace's replacement and his place at March (where he had been standing in for Ian Scheckter) was taken by Britain's Brian Henton. Stuck had been expected to join the ATS team but the opportunity at Brabham was better and so Gunther Schmid had to do a hasty deal with Jean-Pierre Jarier. Shadow signed Alan Jones (who had been racing for Teddy Yip in Formula 5000 in the United States) to replace Pryce.
Qualifying at Long Beach resulted in pole position for Niki Lauda's Ferrari with Mario Andretti second fastest in the ever-improving Lotus 78. Jody Scheckter was third in the Wolf ahead of the second Ferrari being driven by Carlos Reutemann. Jacques Laffite (Ligier) was fifth ahead of John Watson (Brabham-Alfa Romeo), Emerson Fittipaldi in the Fittipaldi, James Hunt's McLaren, Jarier's ATS Penske and Ronnie Peterson's Tyrrell.
In the race Scheckter made the best start to pass both Andretti and Lauda. There was the usual first corner melee with Reutemann going up the escape road as he tried to dive ahead of Andretti and Lauda. Hunt bumped into Watson and the McLaren bounced across then road. Behind there was chaos but the man left behind when the dust cleared was Brambilla.
The incident meant that Scheckter, Andretti and Lauda were well clear of the rest with Laffite in fourth place, followed by Watson, Fittipaldi, Jones and Patrick Depailler (Tyrrell). Reutemann, Hunt and his team mate Jochen Mass went into the pits at the end of the first lap. The battle at the front remained static for most of the afternoon but with two laps to go Scheckter dropped to third when a tire began to deflate. This gave Andretti a popular home victory with Lauda second and Scheckter a miserable third. Early in the race Watson overtook Laffite for fourth place but he then pitted for new tires and so fourth place went back to Laffite until the penultimate lap when the Ligier stopped with an electrical failure. This handed fourth place to Depailler, fifth to Fittipaldi and sixth to Jarier in the ATS.