1977 United States Grand Prix

The 1977 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on October 2, 1977, at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course in Watkins Glen, New York. It was the fifteenth race of the 1977 World Championship of F1 Drivers and the 1977 International Cup for F1 Constructors. The event was also referred to as the United States Grand Prix East in order to distinguish it from the United States Grand Prix West held on April 3, 1977, in Long Beach, California. It was covered on American radio by Motor Racing Network.

1977 United States Grand Prix
Race 15 of 17 in the 1977 Formula One season
Watkins Glen 1975-1983.png
Race details
Date October 2, 1977
Official name XX Toyota United States Grand Prix
Location Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course
Watkins Glen, New York
Course Permanent road course
Course length 5.435 km (3.377 mi)
Distance 59 laps, 320.67 km (199.24 mi)
Weather Rain with temperatures reaching up to 63 °F (17 °C); winds gusting up to 12.8 miles per hour (20.6 km/h)[1]
Pole position
Driver McLaren-Ford
Time 1:40.863
Fastest lap
Driver Sweden Ronnie Peterson Tyrrell-Ford
Time 1:51.85 on lap 56
First McLaren-Ford
Second Lotus-Ford
Third Wolf-Ford

The 59-lap race was won from pole position by James Hunt, driving a McLaren-Ford. In wet conditions, Hunt held off a late charge from Mario Andretti in the Lotus-Ford to take his second consecutive Watkins Glen victory. Jody Scheckter was third in the Wolf-Ford, while Niki Lauda clinched his second Drivers' Championship by finishing fourth in his Ferrari.


For the first time, the American race was being held before the Canadian Grand Prix, which would follow a week later. Lauda led the championship with 69 points, while Jody Scheckter was second with 42 points. With nine points being awarded for a win, Lauda needed only to score one point in any of the final three races to clinch the title, while Scheckter needed to win them all to have a chance.

From the start of practice on Friday, Hunt's McLaren was dominant, setting a track record of 1:40.863. Brabham teammates Hans-Joachim Stuck and John Watson were a quarter of a second back, followed by Andretti, Ronnie Peterson and the Ferraris of Carlos Reutemann and Lauda. On Saturday morning there was rain just before the end of untimed practice, and so the afternoon session served only as practice for a possible wet race on Sunday, as Friday's times determined the grid.

Sunday began cold but dry, with a crowd over 100,000. Before the warmup, however, it began to drizzle, and by the five-minute signal, it had picked up enough that only John Watson was willing to gamble on starting with slicks. At the flag, everyone got away from the grid and through the first turn without incident, but the spray was so heavy that nothing was visible after the first five cars. Stuck quickly jumped ahead of Hunt, and after one lap, they were followed by Andretti, Reutemann, Peterson, Lauda, Scheckter, Jacques Laffite and Gunnar Nilsson.

Immediately, Scheckter began to take advantage of the others' uncertainty in the conditions and, by lap five had moved from ninth to fourth. Stuck was also going well in the wet, and, despite losing his clutch cable in the first few laps, pulled away from Hunt. Lauda passed his teammate Reutemann for fifth spot when the Argentine spun. On lap 15, with Hunt four seconds behind, Stuck, struggling to make gear changes without a clutch, popped out of gear entering a corner and went straight on. He retired with damage to the monocoque.

Hunt now led Andretti by 10.5 seconds, with Scheckter 14 seconds further back in third. The rain stopped, and drivers sought the wet sections of a drying track to cool their tires. With 10 laps remaining and the lead at 22 seconds, Hunt backed off in response to a pit signal. Lauda was coasting in fourth, a position sufficient to clinch the Championship. Scheckter had slowed in third to preserve his tires.

With two laps to go, Andretti, who had been closing while Hunt cruised home, was only 6.7 seconds behind. As they began the last lap, the margin had closed to 1.5 seconds, but Hunt increased his lead slightly to win by just over two seconds. The McLaren pit had not informed him how close the Lotus was until the start of the final lap, when Teddy Mayer gave him a frantic wave to pick up the pace.

Lauda thus took his second title, and Ferrari took their third consecutive Constructor's Championship. For Lauda, it was the culmination of a comeback from the life-threatening injuries he had sustained at the Nürburgring in 1976. Almost immediately, the Austrian quit Ferrari, having already announced his intention to move to Brabham for 1978.


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 1   James Hunt McLaren-Ford 59 1:58:23.267 1 9
2 5   Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 59 + 2.026 4 6
3 20   Jody Scheckter Wolf-Ford 59 + 1:18.879 9 4
4 11   Niki Lauda Ferrari 59 + 1:40.615 7 3
5 22   Clay Regazzoni Ensign-Ford 59 + 1:48.138 19 2
6 12   Carlos Reutemann Ferrari 58 + 1 Lap 6 1
7 26   Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 58 + 1 Lap 10  
8 24   Rupert Keegan Hesketh-Ford 58 + 1 Lap 20  
9 16   Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow-Ford 58 + 1 Lap 16  
10 30   Brett Lunger McLaren-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 17  
11 18   Hans Binder Surtees-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 25  
12 7   John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo 57 + 2 Laps 3  
13 28   Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 18  
14 4   Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Ford 56 + 3 Laps 8  
15 9   Alex Ribeiro March-Ford 56 + 3 Laps 23  
16 3   Ronnie Peterson Tyrrell-Ford 56 + 3 Laps 5  
17 25   Ian Ashley Hesketh-Ford 55 + 4 Laps 22  
18 27   Patrick Nève March-Ford 55 + 4 Laps 24  
19 19   Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Ford 54 + 5 Laps 11  
Ret 15   Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault 30 Alternator 14  
Ret 6   Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Ford 17 Accident 12  
Ret 8   Hans-Joachim Stuck Brabham-Alfa Romeo 14 Accident 2  
Ret 10   Ian Scheckter March-Ford 10 Accident 21  
Ret 2   Jochen Mass McLaren-Ford 8 Fuel Pump 15  
Ret 14   Danny Ongais Penske-Ford 6 Accident 26  
Ret 17   Alan Jones Shadow-Ford 3 Accident 13  
DNQ 23   Patrick Tambay Ensign-Ford      

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Only the best 8 results from the first 9 races and the best 7 results from the remaining 8 races were retained. Numbers without parentheses are retained points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.


  1. ^ "Weather information for the 1977 United States Grand Prix". The Old Farmers' Almanac. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  2. ^ "1977 USA East Grand Prix". formula1.com. Retrieved 10 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b "United States 1977 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 21 March 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Doug Nye (1978). The United States Grand Prix and grand prize races, 1908-1977. B. T. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-1263-1
  • Rob Walker (January, 1978). "18th United States Grand Prix: Wet But Not Wild". Road & Track, 82-86.

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1977 Italian Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
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1977 Canadian Grand Prix
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1976 United States Grand Prix
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1978 United States Grand Prix