1978 United States Grand Prix

The 1978 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on October 1, 1978, at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course in Watkins Glen, New York.[1] This 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 2, 1978, in Long Beach, California.

1978 United States Grand Prix
Race 15 of 16 in the 1978 Formula One season
Race details
Date October 1, 1978
Official name XXI 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 miles)
Distance 59 laps, 320.67 km (199.24 miles)
Weather Cloudy, dry
Pole position
Driver Lotus-Ford
Time 1:38.114
Fastest lap
Driver France Jean-Pierre Jarier Lotus-Ford
Time 1:39.557 on lap 55
First Ferrari
Second Williams-Ford
Third Wolf-Ford
Lap leaders

At the preceding Italian Grand Prix, Mario Andretti had secured the driver's championship. At Watkins Glen, Andretti put his Lotus 79 on the pole before a record crowd of over 150,000 fans, but Ferrari's Carlos Reutemann completed a sweep of the two United States races in 1978 by finishing 19 seconds ahead of Australian Alan Jones. Andretti developed brake problems early on and would retire with a blown engine.

Summary Edit

Background and practice sessions Edit

Ronnie Peterson had been killed following a multiple car pile-up at the Italian Grand Prix. Following the race, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) had a meeting centering on Riccardo Patrese, who the GPDA blamed for the crash. The GPDA filed an injunction to bar Patrese from participating in the 1978 United States Grand Prix weekend, which was allowed. Patrese, who believed that he was not to blame for the fatal accident at Monza, was furious at this action taken, and he tried unsuccessfully to stop the race from taking place.

Replacing the late Peterson for this race and the next one in Canada was Jean-Pierre Jarier.

Friday was warm and sunny, and Andretti set a new track record of 1:39.82. He later lowered that to 1:38.92, ahead of the Ferraris of Reutemann and Canadian rookie Gilles Villeneuve, then the two Brabhams of Niki Lauda and John Watson. American Brett Lunger, about to drive in his last Formula One race, was at the wheel of an Ensign for the first time, after his McLaren was damaged in the opening lap crash at Monza that claimed the life of Peterson. Bobby Rahal had been enlisted from Formula Atlantic to partner Jody Scheckter, as Canadian Walter Wolf was running two cars for the first time.

Starting carefully in his first F1 drive, Rahal took more than a second off his lap time in the Friday afternoon session, then another half-second on Saturday and qualified 20th. High winds on Saturday meant that only eight drivers improved their times, with Alan Jones jumping up to third spot on his last lap. Despite the wind, Andretti improved his pace-setting time to 1:38.114, more than a second ahead of Reutemann.

After Friday's qualifying, Andretti had been so pleased with his car that he said, "We don't know any more that we can do. She is so right. What can I say?"[citation needed] Race organizers feared that an Andretti win would trigger pandemonium in the massive crowd, and they had Mario and his wife, Dee Ann, pose for photos on the podium with the winner's trophy before the race.[citation needed]

Race Edit

The race was won by Scuderia Ferrari driver Carlos Reutemann

Sunday produced threatening skies, but no rain. On the last lap of the morning warm-up, the rear stub axle on Andretti's Lotus broke in the left-hander entering The Anvil (nicknamed "Ickx's Corner" after a crash the Belgian had there in 1976). The car spun several times and then hit the barrier, knocking off a rear wheel. Faulty material in the part was blamed, and, with no time to test the spare car, Andretti used his teammate Jean-Pierre Jarier's car for the race.

At the start, Andretti took the lead, while Emerson Fittipaldi and Héctor Rebaque (in 13th and 23rd places) both immediately burned out their clutches. Rebaque's race was over, but Fittipaldi managed to get his car in gear, nursed it around for a lap while it cooled off, and then drove through the field to finish fifth.

After one lap, Andretti had a four car-length lead over Reutemann and Villeneuve. They were followed by Jones, Lauda, Jarier, Hunt, Watson and Scheckter. Knowing the car had a brake problem, Andretti was hoping he could cope with it, as he had at Monza. Immediately, his lead began to disintegrate. On lap three, Reutemann went by, and on lap four, Villeneuve. As the Ferraris pulled away, Jarier came in on lap 11 from 11th place to change a deflating front tire. After going back out, the car was still bottoming, but once his fuel load lightened, he set the race's fastest lap, which would have qualified him third.

Nearing the halfway point, the Ferraris were running first and second. Then, on lap 23, Villeneuve's engine blew a piston, and Jones, who had overtaken Andretti two laps earlier, inherited second, 35 seconds behind Reutemann. On lap 25, Lauda passed Andretti for third, and three laps later, Andretti's engine blew. Scheckter and Jean-Pierre Jabouille's Renault were battling for fourth, which became third when Lauda also blew up just a lap after Andretti. Jarier was immediately behind them and closing rapidly.

When Jabouille ran into brake trouble, he was caught by both Scheckter and Jarier. Jarier went by both of them to take third, while Scheckter also passed Jabouille to regain fourth. Jarier's race ended with three and a half laps to go when he ran out of fuel, giving Scheckter the final podium position. Reutemann came home almost twenty seconds ahead of Jones to take the eighth Grand Prix win of his career, the third in the US. Jabouille's fourth place scored the first points for Renault and the first for a turbocharged engine; within a few years, turbocharged engines dominated Formula One.

Classification Edit

Qualifying Edit

Pos. Driver Constructor Time/Gap
1   Mario Andretti LotusFord 1:38.114
2   Carlos Reutemann Ferrari +1.065
3   Alan Jones WilliamsFord +1.628
4   Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari +1.706
5   Niki Lauda BrabhamAlfa Romeo +1.868
6   James Hunt McLarenFord +1.877
7   John Watson BrabhamAlfa Romeo +1.886
8   Jean-Pierre Jarier LotusFord +1.920
9   Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault +2.022
10   Jacques Laffite LigierMatra +2.114
11   Jody Scheckter WolfFord +2.648
12   Patrick Depailler TyrrellFord +2.714
13   Emerson Fittipaldi FittipaldiFord +2.893
14   Hans-Joachim Stuck ShadowFord +3.567
15   Keke Rosberg ATSFord +3.659
16   Didier Pironi TyrrellFord +3.701
17   Clay Regazzoni ShadowFord +3.741
18   Patrick Tambay McLarenFord +3.860
19   Derek Daly EnsignFord +4.065
20   Bobby Rahal WolfFord +4.315
21   René Arnoux SurteesFord +4.427
22   Rolf Stommelen ArrowsFord +4.627
23   Héctor Rebaque LotusFord +4.914
24   Brett Lunger EnsignFord +4.953
25   Michael Bleekemolen ATSFord +5.458
26   Arturo Merzario MerzarioFord +6.172
27   Beppe Gabbiani SurteesFord +7.041

*Positions in red indicate entries that failed to qualify.

Race Edit

Pos No Driver Constructor Tyre Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 11   Carlos Reutemann Ferrari M 59 1:40:48.800 2 9
2 27   Alan Jones Williams-Ford G 59 +19.739 secs 3 6
3 20   Jody Scheckter Wolf-Ford G 59 +45.701 secs 11 4
4 15   Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault M 59 +1:25.007 9 3
5 14   Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford G 59 +1:28.089 13 2
6 8   Patrick Tambay McLaren-Ford G 59 +1:50.210 18 1
7 7   James Hunt McLaren-Ford G 58 +1 Lap 6
8 22   Derek Daly Ensign-Ford G 58 +1 Lap 19
9 18   René Arnoux Surtees-Ford G 58 +1 Lap 21
10 3   Didier Pironi Tyrrell-Ford G 58 +1 Lap 16
11 26   Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra G 58 +1 Lap 10
12 21   Bobby Rahal Wolf-Ford G 58 +1 Lap 20
13 23   Brett Lunger Ensign-Ford G 58 +1 Lap 24
14 17   Clay Regazzoni Shadow-Ford G 56 +3 Laps 17
15 55   Jean-Pierre Jarier Lotus-Ford G 55 Out of Fuel 8
16 36   Rolf Stommelen Arrows-Ford G 54 +5 Laps 22
Ret 37   Arturo Merzario Merzario-Ford G 46 Gearbox 26
Ret 9   Michael Bleekemolen ATS-Ford G 43 Oil Leak 25
Ret 1   Niki Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo G 28 Engine 5
Ret 5   Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford G 27 Engine 1
Ret 2   John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo G 25 Engine 7
Ret 4   Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Ford G 23 Wheel 12
Ret 12   Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari M 22 Engine 4
Ret 10   Keke Rosberg ATS-Ford G 21 Transmission 15
Ret 16   Hans-Joachim Stuck Shadow-Ford G 1 Fuel System 14
Ret 25   Héctor Rebaque Lotus-Ford G 0 Clutch 23
DNQ 19   Beppe Gabbiani Surtees-Ford G

Championship standings after the race Edit

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

References Edit

  1. ^ "1978 United States Grand Prix Entry list".
  2. ^ "Formula One 1978 United States Grand Prix Classification | Motorsport Stats".
  3. ^ "1978 USA East Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on October 19, 2014. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
  4. ^ "1978 United States Grand Prix - Race Results & History - GP Archive". GPArchive.com. October 1978. Retrieved November 3, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "United States 1978 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved March 21, 2019.

Further reading Edit

  • Rob Walker (January, 1979). "19th United States Grand Prix: Mario Unlucky, Carlos Superb". Road & Track, 100-103.

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