1978 Italian Grand Prix
The 1978 Italian Grand Prix was the 14th motor race of the 1978 Formula One season. It was held on 10 September 1978 at Monza. It was marred by the death of Ronnie Peterson following an accident at the start of the race.
|1978 Italian Grand Prix|
|Race 14 of 16 in the 1978 Formula One season|
|Date||September 10, 1978|
|Location||Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, Monza|
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
|Course length||5.800 km (3.6 mi)|
|Distance||40 laps, 232.000 km (144 mi)|
|Scheduled distance||52 laps, 301.600 km (187.2 mi)|
|Time||1:38.23 on lap 33|
With three races remaining, Mario Andretti (Lotus-Ford) led the World Drivers' Championship by 12 points from his team-mate Ronnie Peterson. Niki Lauda (Brabham-Alfa Romeo), in third place, was 28 points behind Andretti, and, with only 9 points for a win, could not overtake him.
|4||Niki Lauda||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||1:38,215||4|
|7||John Watson||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||1:38,610||7|
First start and Ronnie Peterson accidentEdit
The race started at 3:30 pm, and the starter Gianni Restelli was overenthusiastic turning on the red lights before all the cars had lined up, that resulted in several cars in the middle of the field getting a jump on those at the front. The result was a funneling effect of the cars approaching the chicane, and the cars were tightly bunched together with little room for maneuver. James Hunt was overtaken on the right-hand side by Riccardo Patrese, and Hunt instinctively veered left and hit the rear right wheel of Peterson's Lotus 78, with Vittorio Brambilla, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Patrick Depailler, Didier Pironi, Derek Daly, Clay Regazzoni and Brett Lunger all involved in the ensuing melee. Peterson's Lotus went into the barriers hard on the right-hand side and caught fire. He was trapped, but Hunt, Regazzoni and Depailler managed to free him from the wreck before he received more than minor burns. He was dragged free and laid in the middle of the track fully conscious, but with severe leg injuries. It took 20 minutes before medical help was dispatched to the scene. Brambilla, who had been hit on the head by a flying wheel and rendered unconscious, and Peterson were taken to the Niguarda hospital in nearby Milan.
Drivers were allowed to use spare cars, non starters included Peterson and Brambilla who were taken to hospital, Stuck was not allowed to restart due to him suffering from slight concussion, Pironi was a non starter as the Tyrrell team had one spare car and that was set up for Depailler and Lunger was a non starter as he had no spare car available.
The race was due to be ready for a restart at 5:15 pm. While driving from the pit lane to the grid, Jody Scheckter's Wolf lost a wheel and crashed at the second Lesmo curve, bending the Armco barrier that was situated right next to the track. Andretti, Hunt, Lauda, Carlos Reutemann and Emerson Fittipaldi all went to the spot where Scheckter crashed and upon inspection of the state of the barrier, they refused to start until it was repaired, causing more delay. The barrier was repaired and ready to race.
Second start and race recapEdit
Because of the amount of time clearing up the track after the shunt in the first start and the barrier being repaired plus Scheckter's crash prior to the second start. At 5:50 pm, it was announced that the race would take place and the distance would be shortened from 52 laps to 40 laps. The race was restarted at 6:15 pm, Villeneuve overtook Andretti at the restart and at the end of the lap, both drivers were side by side but Villeneuve held on to the lead and they pulled away from Jabouille who was running third with Lauda behind him. After four laps, Regazzoni in the spare Shadow went to the pits as he was having his brakes looked at. Jabouille had engine problems after six laps and Lauda took on the pursuit, but race control gave Villeneuve and Andretti a one-minute penalty as they were judged to have jumped the start. Andretti took Villenuve with only five laps remaining. With Jabouille having retired, Lauda finished third ahead of John Watson (Brabham), Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari), Jacques Laffite (Ligier-Matra) and Patrick Tambay (McLaren-Ford). Since all of those finished less than a minute behind, Andretti and Villeneuve were dropped to sixth and seventh place. Andretti had won the championship, but with Peterson in hospital, celebrations were muted. The race was also notable for the first finish for Nelson Piquet with a creditable ninth after dodging the Peterson wreckage in the first start.
Death of Ronnie PetersonEdit
At the hospital, Peterson's X-rays showed he had seven fractures in one leg and three in the other. After discussion with him, Peterson was sent to intensive care so that the surgeons could operate to stabilize the bones. There was some level of dispute between the doctors regarding whether all fractures should be immediately fixed or not. During the night, Peterson's condition worsened, and he was diagnosed with fat embolism. By morning he was in full kidney failure due to the embolism, and was declared dead at 9:55 am on 11 September 1978.
† Peterson suffered severe leg trauma in a multi-car accident but was otherwise conscious. However, while in the hospital the night following the race he was diagnosed with a fat embolism, of which he died the following morning as a result.
This section contains a list of miscellaneous information. (August 2020)
- Lap leaders: Jean-Pierre Jabouille 5 laps (1–5); Niki Lauda 35 laps (6–40).
- Mario Andretti and Gilles Villeneuve finished 1st and 2nd on the road but were assessed a 1-minute penalty for a jump start.
- Due to the long delay to clean up the debris from the opening lap accident, the race was shortened to 40 laps from the original 52, to avoid dusk.
- Jody Scheckter spun his Wolf at the Curve Di Lesmo on the formation lap.
- Harald Ertl failed to pre-qualify his Ensign and got another chance with the German ATS of injured Jochen Mass.
- Last race: McLaren M23 (driven by Nelson Piquet)
- Peterson's death guaranteed Andretti the Driver's Championship with two races left.
- Last Formula One race win for Alfa Romeo either as a manufacturer or engine supplier.
- This was Niki Lauda's last victory until the 1982 United States Grand Prix West.
- This was also the final time that Brabham scored a 1–2 until the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix.
Championship standings after the raceEdit
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
- "The Accident". www.ronniepeterson.se. Archived from the original on 29 August 2013.
- "1978 Italian GP Repoer". Motorsport Magazine. October 1978. p. 10.
- Ewan Tytler. "The Death of Ronnie Peterson: What Really Happened at Monza in 1978". Atlas F1.
- "The operation". www.ronniepeterson.se. Archived from the original on 25 September 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
- "The Death notice". www.ronniepeterson.se. Archived from the original on 23 September 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
- "Ronnie Peterson dies from crash". The Morning Record and Journal. 12 September 1978. p. 10.
- "Ronnie Peterson". Motorsport Memorial. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
- "1978 Italian Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
- "Italy 1978 - Championship". STATS F1. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
1978 Dutch Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
1978 United States Grand Prix
1977 Italian Grand Prix
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1979 Italian Grand Prix