1978 United States Grand Prix
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1978 United States Grand Prix
1978 United States Grand Prix
Race 15 of 16 in the 1978 Formula One season
Watkins Glen 1975-1983.png
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 mi)
Distance 59 laps, 320.67 km (199.24 mi)
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

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.

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.


Background and practice sessions

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?"[] 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.[]


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.


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

Championship standings after the race

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


  1. ^ "1978 United States Grand Prix Entry list". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ "1978 USA East Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on 19 October 2014. Retrieved 2015.
  3. ^ a b "United States 1978 - Championship o STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 2019.

Further reading

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

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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