1978 Austrian Grand Prix

The 1978 Austrian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 13 August 1978 at Österreichring. This was Ronnie Peterson's last win before his death at the 1978 Italian Grand Prix. It was also the last victory for a Swedish Formula One driver, as of the end of the 2023 Formula One season.

1978 Austrian Grand Prix
Race 12 of 16 in the 1978 Formula One season
Race details
Date 13 August 1978
Official name XVI Großer Preis von Österreich
Location Österreichring
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 5.942 km (3.692 miles)
Distance 54 laps, 320.814 km (199.368 miles)
Weather Wet
Pole position
Driver Lotus-Ford
Time 1:37.71
Fastest lap
Driver Sweden Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Ford
Time 1:43.12
First Lotus-Ford
Second Tyrrell-Ford
Third Ferrari
Lap leaders



Qualifying classification

Pos. Driver Constructor Time No
1 Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Ford 1:37.71 1
2 Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 1:37.76 2
3 Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault 1:38.32 3
4 Carlos Reutemann Ferrari 1:38.50 4
5 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 1:38.71 5
6 Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 1:38.77 6
7 Jody Scheckter Wolf-Ford 1:38.85 7
8 James Hunt McLaren-Ford 1:39.10 8
9 Didier Pironi Tyrrell-Ford 1:39.23 9
10 John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:39.35 10
11 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 1:39.40 11
12 Niki Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1:39.49 12
13 Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Ford 1:39.51 13
14 Patrick Tambay McLaren-Ford 1:39.59 14
15 Alan Jones Williams-Ford 1:39.81 15
16 Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 1:40.11 16
17 Brett Lunger McLaren-Ford 1:40.80 17
18 Héctor Rebaque Lotus-Ford 1:40.84 18
19 Derek Daly Ensign-Ford 1:41.02 19
20 Nelson Piquet McLaren-Ford 1:41.15 20
21 Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Ford 1:41.16 21
22 Clay Regazzoni Shadow-Ford 1:41.42 22
23 Hans-Joachim Stuck Shadow-Ford 1:41.58 23
24 Harald Ertl Ensign-Ford 1:41.60 24
25 Keke Rosberg Wolf-Ford 1:41.72 25
26 René Arnoux Martini-Ford 1:41.84 26
27 Arturo Merzario Merzario-Ford 1:41.85 DNQ
28 Jochen Mass ATS-Ford 1:42.47 DNQ
29 Rupert Keegan Surtees-Ford 1:43.06 DNQ
30 Hans Binder ATS-Ford 1:44.46 DNQ
31 Rolf Stommelen Arrows-Ford 1:44.88 DNPQ

*Positions in red indicate entries that failed to qualify or pre-qualify.



Race start and rain


The crowds for the Austrian GP were full of Niki Lauda fans; but for them Lauda qualified only 12th as the Lotus cars again took the front row, with Ronnie Peterson on pole. The surprise in qualifying was Jean-Pierre Jabouille who qualified his turbocharged Renault third. The race started at 2:00 pm local, the start saw Peterson lead into the first corner, with Carlos Reutemann snatching second from Mario Andretti. Andretti tried to get the place back later in the lap, but the two collided and Andretti retired after his car spun into the barriers while Reutemann lost a couple of places to Patrick Depailler and Jody Scheckter. On the third lap, Scheckter slid off and crashed into Andretti's abandoned Lotus, damaging both cars. On the fourth lap, a heavy rainshower hit the track and Reutemann spun off and was beached but the marshals push-started his car as it was in a dangerous position, while Nelson Piquet and Héctor Rebaque crashed out. At the end of lap six, Gilles Villeneuve headed for the pits for rain tyres having executed a monumental spin, and next lap Jabouille lost control of the Renault, managed to gather it all up and also stopped for rain tyres, while Emerson Fittipaldi was into the pits and Pironi spun off and knocked the nose cone off his Tyrrell but rejoined. Peterson finished lap seven in full control of the situation and when the last car had gone through the officials decided to stop the race and the red and black flags were held out, meaning "Race to stop and restart at a later time." After the decision had been made Peterson spun off onto the grass and got stuck, so it was Depailler who arrived first at the red and black flags. As the rain poured down, the race was stopped. It was clearly stated that the Grand Prix would now be considered a two-part race, the first part having run for seven laps and the starting grid for the 47-lap second part would be in the order in which the competitors completed lap seven. Only those cars that arrived back at the pits under their own power would be allowed to start in the second part and there would be no changing to spare cars, though repairs and resetting of suspension and brakes for rain conditions would be allowed, and naturally everyone fitted rain tyres. During the red flag, Rebaque's was towed back by the marshals undamaged but could not join the restart, though Peterson and Reutemann drove their cars back, having been extricated from the grass verges. Patrese's Arrows was towed in with the nose cone damage, and should have been wheeled away along with Rebaque's Lotus but in the confusion the Arrows management sneaked the car into the pit lane and started repairing it, even though it was illegal. The restart was timed for 3:00 pm giving everyone adequate time to prepare their cars for a really wet track. At 2:40 pm. the pit road was to be opened to allow cars to set off on a warm-up lap, and it was to shut at 2:50 pm and anyone left behind would be out of the second part of the race. It was all quite clear, but there was some discussion as to whether Peterson and Reutemann had received outside assistance driving the first part of the race, even though they had driven their cars back to the pits. With Peterson on pole position and Reutemann in last position, having spun off on lap 5, it was a delicate situation, but was resolved by allowing them both to restart, though Reutemann would be considered to be two laps behind at the start of the second race. There should have been 21 cars lined up in pairs for the second part with Andretti, Scheckter, Rebaque and Piquet already out but there were 22 cars on new grid due to the Arrows team's shady tactics for Patrese.[1]

Race restart


The race restarted at 3:15 pm after the rain relented, and once again Peterson led followed by Depailler and Lauda. As the track began to dry, Peterson started to pull away, and behind, Reutemann was on a charge and passed Lauda for third but he was black-flagged for receiving outside assistance, and Lauda crashed out soon after, leaving Gilles Villeneuve third. The drivers changed to slicks but the top 3 remained the same and stayed so till the end; Peterson winning ahead of Depailler, with Villeneuve taking his first ever podium.


Pos No Driver Constructor Tyre Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 6   Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Ford G 54 1:41:21.57 1 9
2 4   Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Ford G 54 +47.44 secs 13 6
3 12   Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari M 54 +1:39.76 11 4
4 14   Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford G 53 +1 Lap 6 3
5 26   Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra G 53 +1 Lap 5 2
6 19   Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Ford G 53 +1 Lap 21 1
7 2   John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo G 53 +1 lap 10
8 30   Brett Lunger McLaren-Ford G 52 +2 Laps 17
9 31   René Arnoux Martini-Ford G 52 +2 Laps 26
NC 17   Clay Regazzoni Shadow-Ford G 50 +4 Laps 22
NC 32   Keke Rosberg Wolf-Ford G 49 +5 Laps 25
DSQ 22   Derek Daly Ensign-Ford G 41 Push start 19
Ret 8   Patrick Tambay McLaren-Ford G 40 Accident 14
Ret 16   Hans-Joachim Stuck Shadow-Ford G 33 Accident 23
Ret 15   Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault M 31 Gearbox 3
DSQ 11   Carlos Reutemann Ferrari M 28 Push start 4
Ret 1   Niki Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo G 27 Accident 12
Ret 3   Didier Pironi Tyrrell-Ford G 20 Accident 9
Ret 7   James Hunt McLaren-Ford G 7 Accident 8
Ret 27   Alan Jones Williams-Ford G 7 Accident 15
Ret 35   Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford G 7 Accident 16
Ret 23   Harald Ertl Ensign-Ford G 7 Accident 24
Ret 25   Héctor Rebaque Lotus-Ford G 4 Accident 18
Ret 29   Nelson Piquet McLaren-Ford G 4 Accident 20
Ret 20   Jody Scheckter Wolf-Ford G 3 Accident 7
Ret 5   Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford G 0 Accident 2
DNQ 37   Arturo Merzario Merzario-Ford G
DNQ 9   Jochen Mass ATS-Ford G
DNQ 18   Rupert Keegan Surtees-Ford G
DNQ 10   Hans Binder ATS-Ford G
DNPQ 36   Rolf Stommelen Arrows-Ford G
PO 18   Brian Henton Surtees-Ford G Keegan's car

Championship standings after the race

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  1. ^ "1978 Austrian GP Report". Motor Sport. October 1978. p. 10.
  2. ^ "1978 Austrian Grand Prix". Formula One. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  3. ^ "1978 Austrian Grand Prix – Race Results & History – GP Archive". GPArchive.com. 13 August 1978. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Austria 1978 – Championship • STATS F1". statsf1.com. Retrieved 7 March 2019.

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