#323 1979 German Grand Prix

2021-12-07 00:00

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#1979, Fulvio Conti, Rebecca Asolari,

#323 1979 German Grand Prix

If one did not go to the Eifel mountains on the way down to the Heidelberg/Mannheim plains, and do a lap of the Nürburgring it would be easy to forget

If one did not go to the Eifel mountains on the way down to the Heidelberg/Mannheim plains, and do a lap of the Nürburgring it would be easy to forget that the German Grand Prix used to be a great event. An event where racing drivers can prove themselves and make legends that will join those create since the start of the German Grand Prix, that will live forever in the annals of Grand Prix racing. They can also die on the Nürburgring, just like Jim Clark dies on the Hockenheimring. The German round in the Formula 1 World Championship series seems to settle in the dusty concrete stadium of the Hockenheimring and nobody seems to be particularly worry either way. You either like Germany or you don’t, and if you do you accept the vastness of the stadium and the paddock area as being convenient for working on racing cars and sending them off into the woods to see if they work. The area beyond the stadium seems a sort of no-man’s land, hidden visually and orally from those inside the amphitheater, and you get no excite anticipation of hearing the cars approach, and when they are in the stadium the corners do not provide much of interest. While they are gone from view, which is quite a long time by present day standards, with a lap time of 1'50"0 or more, there is nothing to encourage the imagination, so you simply wait with a vacant stare on your face until they return. The Mosley/Ecclestone arrangement with the AVD decides that 95.000 paying spectators that you can see and count, are better for their pockets than a mythical 250.000 that you may see, but certainly can’t count among the hills around the Nürburgring. So we all go to Hockenheimring to see the German Grand Prix and fortunately it’s nice and warm and everyone is friendly and pleasant so it’s better than no German Grand Prix at all. Following their victory in the British GP at Silverstone the Frank Williams team didn't sit down and wonder what had happened, like some teams have done when they win a race. They arrive at the Hockenheimring ready to go and ready to challenge anyone. There is a brand new car for Alan Jones (FW07/004), the usual one for Regazzoni (002) and Jones’ previous race car as the spare (003). The hard-worked original car (001) is leaving at home and given a well-earned rest.
All three cars are looking their usual neat and trim selves, with no alterations to the design, or bodges to cover up original defects or design faults. It’s a great credit to Patrick Head, the designer, that the FW07 design is about right from the word go, just as his FW06 design is last year. In contrast the Team Lotus scene is very sad, with no sign of the Lotus 80, from which we have all expect so much nor the Mark 2 Lotus 80. Andretti and Reutemann each have a Lotus 79, albeit modify in many small ways to improve the rear suspension, and they have another Lotus 79 as spare. This situation must surely be temporary, for Colin Chapman never gives in, and he has produced too many successful designs in the past to assume he cannot do it again. While Lotus are floundering, McLaren seem to be regaining their feet; the new M29 went well at Silverstone in the hands of John Watson, and another one is now ready for Tambay, with Watson’s old M28/3C as spare. The Ferrari team rings the changes once more on their set of T4 models, the drivers having the cars they had used in the French GP (Scheckter 040) and (Villeneuve 041) with Scheckter’s Silverstone car (039) as the spare, no major changes being made, merely some puzzle looks as to where their domination has gone. Equally puzzling are the Ligier team who are so dominant at the beginning of the year and are now floundering in a muddle trying to find out what has gone wrong, when in reality nothing has gone wrong. The other 1979 cars, like Ferrari, Renault and Williams, are better than the Ligier when they appear part way through the season. The French team seems to be worrying unduly and looking for tiny details, like modifying steering arms and different front suspension geometry, when in fact their cars aren’t going at all badly. If there is any trouble it’s probably psychological, for Laffite no longer has the needling impetus of Depailler behind or alongside him. Emerson Fittipaldi has his 1979 car out again, considerably redesigne from the monocoque outwards, the side pods and under-car airflow being much more on the Lotus/Ligier principles and shape.
New front brake calipers by the Brazilian Varga firm are being used, with Lockheed rear brakes and the total redesign of the rear suspension layout to provide passage for the under-car air also incorporate new rear hubs with large diameter ball-races and the ultra-large hub nuts, rather like Ferrari, though the front ones remaine small; this layout requiring two sizes of pneumatic wheel-nut spanners. Not long ago the entry seems to be overwhelme with French drivers, but now they seem to be falling by the wayside through no fault of motor racing. First Depailler put himself out of action with a hand-gliding accident and now Jean-Pierre Jarier is on the sick list with a serious liver complaint. This means that Ken Tyrrell needs another driver for his 009 team, and he gives the chance to Englishman Geoffrey Lees. Apparently Tyrrell has contemplate giving Lees a try at the end of last season, after watching him perform in an Ensign, but a shortage of cars prevent this happening, but now he is being thrown in at the deep end to support Didier Pironi in the blue Tyrrells. The darker blue cars of the Shadow team are their usual four for their two young rent-a-drivers and they each have an uprated car. That of de Angelis (DN9/3B-2) having been modified for Silverstone, and a similar layout being now add to Lammer’s car (DN9/2B). Mainly this involves an entirely new layout at the rear to bring it in line with Lotus 79 thinking, tucking the suspension units and exhaust system out of the way, to get the air out from under the car. The blue-black Wolf cars for Rosberg were the latest one, WR9, with the outboard rear brakes, and WR8. In the Brabham camp it’s a case of no change, Lauda and Piquet having their regular cars and a spare one to share, and a seemingly pious hope that the V12 Alfa Romeo engines will prove reliable. With Alfa Romeo withdrawing their own entry, to concentrate on preparation of new cars for the forthcoming races in Austria and Italy, Carlo Chiti and his engineers are paying more attention to the Brabham team. Renault are still quietly confident after their French GP victory, knowing full well why they only manage second place in the British GP. They arrive with their two cars for Jabouille (RS11) and Arnoux (RS12) and the spare (RS10) is following later. The remaining teams of ATS, Arrows, Ensign, Merzario and Rebaque are all in their normal condition, an equal and unchanging scene amidst the chorus.


The stadium is very dry and dusty and the air was very warm, so that the concrete atmosphere became very warm. Any misdemeanors by drivers within the stadium shows up as an enormous dust cloud, and brightly coloured cars arrive at the pits looking gray if they are off the road, so that drivers can’t make any excuses. During the hour of testing on Friday morning there are quite a few excursions off into the dust, one of the first being Jabouille with the Renault. Andretti is having the angle of the steering wheel on his Lotus 79 reset and everyone is looking toward the Renault pit, for Jabouille has recorde an unofficial 1'50"0 before spinning off. Last year’s fastest practice lap is 1'51"9 by Andretti, this initial flurry by Renault is important, even if it does end up in the dust. Spinning off in the wiggly bit of the circuit within the stadium isn’t important in itself, it is the after-effects that are important. The dust clouds will easily clog up the throttle slides, and sideways travel over kerbs can ruin the side-skirts. Villeneuve comes in with grass adhering to his front suspension, which is bent, and Scheckter’s skirts are bent. Rosberg spins WR9 off the road, and de Angelis is in the pits watching his mechanics fit a new clutch to his Shadow. Piquet is stops by a broken manifold pipe on his Brabham-Alfa Romeo, which seems to be a regular happening and Jones and Laffite are trying their spare cars, the Williams driver because of gearbox trouble on FW07/004 and the Ligier driver to compare the handling of his two cars. Although the morning session is only for one hour an incredible amount seems to happen and the mechanics all have more than enough work to do in the lunch-break. It’s getting very warm in the afternoon, when official timed practice takes place between 12:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Laffite is back in the Ligier JS11/04, but Jones is still in the spare Williams; Rosberg is still in the spare Wolf, but Villeneuve and Jabouille are in their correct cars. Almost before the rest has got warms up it’s announce that Jabouille has put in a lap at 1'48"48, which sends everyone spinning, for most of the top runners are just beginning to set their sights on a lap of 1'50"0. It becomes a case of who is going to be second fastest, and at this point it’s Alan Jones in the spare Williams at 1'50"86.

The gearbox troubles on the new Williams are putting right so Jones comes in to transfer to it, only to find no oil pressure registering on the gauge when the engine starts. Assuming that the new car is all ready to go, the mechanics have start rectifying some trouble on the skirts on the spare car, so suddenly Jones finds himself without a car. While one group of Williams mechanics slave away to finish off the spare car, another group are vainly searching for the cause of the lack of oil pressure. Meanwhile Jones has to stand by and watch the other team's approach his best lap time and then surpass it. While he stands there his position as second fastest to the Renault dwindles to fourth fastest, then fifth and sixth. Pironi, Lauda, Arnoux, and Laffite all improve on the Australian’s time, but none are within sight of Jabouille’s time, and to beat 1'50"0 is going to be heroic stuff, even though it will be 1 ½ seconds slower than the Renault! Lauda’s progress is halt by more Alfa Romeo exhaust-pipe trouble, and his team-mate is in real trouble when his Alfa Romeo engine blows up in a big way. As the spare Brabham is adjust for Lauda’s leg-length there is a bit of panic behind the pits to reset everything to fit Piquet, but time runs out before it can be done. As Regazzoni is about to join those happy drivers who have got themselves ahead of Alan Jones, the rug Williams team leader is strapping himself back into the spare car. In no time at all he’s into the low 1'50"0 laps and then does a 1'49"94, which not only retrieve his second fastest overall, but put him into a very elite class with Jabouille, but still 1½ seconds down on the Renault and at a lap speed approaching 140 m.p.h. that is a long way behind. Mechanical trouble is affecting all manner of people, Rebaque stopping after only seven laps when his gearbox fails, and Merzario never does get out to practice. The Renault team are so placid about their superiority that it’s difficult to tell whether it’s a lucky fluke or it’s genuine, and many teams feel that it’s totally unreal, and that the Williams team is the one to judge the situation by.
The Saturday morning test-hour saw Ickx in the spare Ligier, as its front suspension is altered to suit the latest large-diameter Goodyear tyres, whereas his own car is alter. The spare car feels so much better that it’s agreed that he should use it for the race, unless some unforeseen disaster befell Laffite’s car. The new Wolf WR9 is being tiresome, with minor bothrs, so Rosberg is set to race WR8. The mysterious loss of oil pressure on the Williams that Jones was to use had cured itself, being something obscure like a sticking pressure-relief valve, so all is well. Piquet’s Brabham is functioning once again, with a new engine, and it had aluminum reflectors rivete onto the leading lower edge of the side pods, all in the search for improve aerodynamics. The ATS is giving Stuck a lot of trouble as it dived off one way on acceleration and the other way under braking, suggesting something wrong in the limited-slip differential. A broken drive shaft encourages the team to take the gearbox off and replace the whole assembly. Patrick Gaillard comes into the pits in a gray Ensign that has start out red, the thick layer of dust everywhere being self-explanatory. Speed along the straight parts of the circuit seems to be all important and various experiments are being done to try and gain a few more r.p.m. in top gear, such as removing nosefins (Williams and Fittipaldi) and adjusting the rear aerofoil to minimal down-force. Nothing very conclusive is discover. The Ferrari team are very unhappy as they seem to lack a bit of everything, even sheer speed, which have them all baffle. The sleek little Williams FW07 and the powerful and equally slick Renault twin-turbo cars are untrouble by a lack of anything, though Arnoux’s car disturb the peaceful scene by breaking it’s valve gear so that instead of preparing the car for the afternoon timed session a leisurely engine change is begins. As the spare Renault is adjusted to the land Jabouille’s measurements there isn’t possibility of the stocky little Arnoux driving it, so he has to sit-out the Saturday afternoon session.
It is getting very hot and the pit area with its concrete base and surrounds by the concrete stands is behaving a bit like an oven. Alan Jones is feeling very happy with the new Williams, it feels right from the moment he got into it, and Regazzoni is equally happy with his car. The Ensign isn’t ready when the time practice session begins, still having the dust out of it and the skirts repairs. Rosberg is in the Wolf WR8. Ickx is happy with the spare Ligier and everything starts off well, with the really fast runners aiming to break into the sub- 1'50"0, and others just hoping to get somewhere near 1'50"0. There is little point Jabouille going out as he has done all the testing he wants to do in the morning, and until someone got within half-a-second of his Friday time there is nothing to worry about. With Arnoux’s car in pieces the team just stood around in the shade of the pits while their timekeepers kept the watches on the opposition. It’s a very cool piece of gamesmanship - there is even a suggestion that the English press may like to take a cup of tea with Jabouille and interview him while official practice is in progress. When this session is just about half-way through there is a scurry in the Lotus pit to prepare the spare car, as news have come through that Reutemann has crash violently at the far end of the circuit. The car is badly damage but the driver is OK. Seeing the wreckage across the track most of the drivers pull into the pits; it’s a convenient excuse for stopping banging their heads against a wall, for a few of them are within seconds of Jabouille’s Friday lap time. After 20 minutes of clearing up, practice restarts and almost immediately the spare Brabham is getting ready for Piquet, as his own car has die with an electrical failure. Alan Jones is on the front row with Jabouille in the time-line-up, and Laffite is getting close with a lap in 1'49"43. In a very leisurely fashion Jabouille prepares himself and then goes out to practice, the flat exhaust note of the turbo-charged V6 Renault engine giving no feeling of urgency, but stop-watches tell everything.
As if to issue a warning the Renault put in some low 1'50"0 laps, and then a 1'49"75; not as quick as Jones has gone but well in the select group. Jones has the fastest time with 1'48"75, which put him on the front row of the grid, but still a quarter of a second off Jabouille’s best time of Friday. Piquet is out in the spare Brabham and beginning to get well wind up, while Lauda is sitting waiting for the end of the practice and the coolest possible conditions for one final fling. Scheckter has done all he knows and manages 1'50"0 and Villeneuve changes to the spare Ferrari when he has engine trouble, but for once can’t match his team-leader’s time. In the Tyrrell camp the new boy Lees is doing alright, having records 1'54"12 on the first afternoon, and improve on that to 1'51"5 in the final session. Pironi is very close to 1'50"0, and for a brief time took Lees’ car as the spare Tyrrell isn’t ready. In the closing minutes of practice Piquet is under 1'50"0, which gives him fifth place overall, but he hasn’t finish and a rapid tyre change and a final effort give him 1'49"5 which places him in fourth place and on the second row of the grid, alongside Laffite. Lauda’s last-minute rush prevails him nothing and he has to be content with a place in the fourth row of the grid, behind Scheckter and Regazzoni. It all ends at quite a fast tempo, not so much to qualify for the grid, or get on to the front row, but more to save face for the Renault time of Friday is embarrassingly fast. With only one practice session to his credit Rene Arnoux is in the fifth row of the grid, which gives some indication of the potential of the turbo-charge Renault. While BMW races, Touring Car races and Formula One teams are all hard at work in the paddock preparing cars for the big Sunday event. Fresh engines are install, gearboxes check, brakes service, tyres mount, wiring look at, aerodynamic aids scrutinize, suspension systems check, fuel tanks drain, fuel systems clean out, nothing can be overlook, even though the race is only going to last less than 1½ hours. Overnight, rain helps to lay the dust a bit, but makes it rather uncomfortable for those who are out and about, working or camping.

By 10:00 a.m. on Sunday morning all is warm and dry again, ready for the half-hour warm-up session, and all 24 starters are ready, the two unfortunate non-starters being Gaillard with the Ensign and Arturo Merzario with his own car. Reutemann is feeling far from well, the after-effects of his high speed crash affecting his reflexes and judgment, and though the spare Lotus 79 is race-prepare he is unsure about starting the race. The Wolf team has decide to race WR8, as the new car has suffering small bothers, and Ickx is please to race the spare Ligier. Apart from a little trouble with the gearbox on Lauda’s Brabham, all seem to be well and the interval before the start is due at two p.m. is fill in with Renault R5 racing and an impressive aerobatic display by the famous Red Arrows. Shortly after 1.30 p.m. the cars leave the pits one by one to drive round the circuit and assemble on the starting grid. By 1:45 p.m. they are all neatly line up in pairs, with Alan Jones on the front row alongside Jabouille, the Australian determined to get to the first corner first, but wondering how long it will be before the yellow and black Renault powers past his Williams. Behind them are Laffite (Ligier) and Piquet (Brabham), the Frenchman also having his sights on being first into the first corner, but the young Brazilian is ready to drive to team orders, which dictate that he takes things easy for the opening stages, even if lots of competitors go by him, and to speed up when things have settle down. In the third row Scheckter is at least satisfy at being ahead of his young team-mate, and alongside is the swarthy Regazzoni seeing no reason why he shouldn’t win another race, then come Lauda and Pironi, Villeneuve and Arnoux, grinning at each other and recalling the Dijon race, and wondering what the nagging old women will say if they have another dice together. Andretti and Watson follow, and then the rest, Reutemann prepares to start the race and see how things are sent. The new boy Geoff Lees is in quite a respectable position, in row eight alongside Tambay in his new M29 McLaren, having survive being thrown in at the deep end.


At 1:55 p.m. the field is flagged away to do a parade lap, with Jabouille setting the pace, and they all arrive safely back in the Stadium to line up before the red light. Everyone is in position when the red light goes out and the green comes on, and it’s one of the better starts as all 24 cars power off the line in an impressive blast of sound and cloud of smoke from spinning wheels. As expected, Jones is into the right hand bend first, and gives it all he has got up towards the first chicane. The Renault doesn’t power past, as expected, but sat in third place behind Lafitte until they reach the return leg when it goes by the Ligier. As they stream back into the Stadium the order is Jones (Williams), Jabouille (Renault), Lafitte (Ligier), Scheckter (Ferrari), Regazzoni (Williams), Piquet (Brabham), Lauda (Brabham), Pironi (Tyrrell), Andretti (Lotus), Villeneuve (Ferrari), Arnoux (Renault), Tambay (McLaren), Ickx (Ligier), Watson (McLaren), Reutemann (Lotus), Mass (Arrows), Lees (Tyrrell), Lammers (Shadow), Patrese (Arrows), Rosberg (Wolf), de Angelis (Shadow), Rebaque (Lotus) and Fittipaldi. Twenty-three cars, there is one missing! It’s Hans Stuck and the ATS, for as he breaks for the chicane on the return leg of the circuit the suspension collapses. Next time round Piquet leaves Lauda going ahead, as arrange, and Arnoux and Tambay pass Villeneuve, as isn’t arrange. The French-Canadian is finding his Ferrari engine a bit flat, as if the timing or mixture isn’t quite right. As Reutemann comes into the second chicane Jochen Mass crowded him, and the Lotus shot off the track and demolish the right-front corner against the guard rail. Two laps gone and two cars retire. The first visible gap to open up is between Regazzoni and Lauda; once again the Austrian is unable to keep up with the leading bunch and lead the rest. Villeneuve is back ahead of Tambay, and at the back of the field Fittipaldi has got ahead of Rebaque. By lap four a clear pattern is evolving, with Jones and Jabouille pulling away, the Renault driver seemingly biding his time behind the Williams.


Then Laffite, Scheckter and Regazzoni are in close convoy, with the Swiss eyeing the two cars in front of him with a serious look. The rest are trailing along, with Fittipaldi lasting only one more lap before electrical trouble intervenes. On lap six Jabouille begins to move close to the leading Williams, and at the same time the number two Williams is leaning on the Ferrari of Scheckter. They are both much closer to their quarries on the next lap, and as Alan Jones appears in the stadium to complete lap eight the Renault is uncomfortably close is as near as it got, for as he breaks for the left-hand hairpin inside the stadium Jabouille over-did his braking, locks the wheels, slid onto the loose stuff and spins off in a cloud of dust, just as a great cheer goes up from the crowd for Regazzoni is ahead of Scheckter as they take the right-hander into the stadium. It’s a momentous lap eight. With eight laps gone and four retirements it begins to look as though we will run out of cars before the 45 laps are up, and when Arnoux disappears two laps later prospects look grim. The right rear tyre has burst at full speed on the Renault, and it has taken a lot of the bodywork paneling away, but Arnoux is able to control the car and skate to a standstill. He has just got past Lauda, as has Villeneuve so now the Brabham-Alfa driver is trying his best to hang-on to the number two Ferrari. Scheckter has make no attempt to stay with Regazzoni when he goes by, and the Swiss is now sniffing at the heels of Laffite’s Ligier. Meanwhile Alan Jones is out on his own, lapping fast and consistently without taking risks or straining the machinery. On lap 13 Regazzoni is by the Ligier and into second place to the accompaniment of another enormous roar from the crowd, for he seems as popular with the German spectators as he is with the English ones. Passing Laffite hasn’t been easy, and the Frenchman isn’t about to give in. He clings on to the tail of the Williams in a spirit fashion, obviously driving his heart out and refusing to give in. For six laps he stays there, but then has to give the Williams best, realizing that he is driving over the limit to keep with Regazzoni and the can’t go on forever, so he eases slightly into a secure third place, but it is a fine example of a tenacious driver at work.


For the second Grand Prix in succession the Williams team are running 1-2 and in complete command of the situation, the neat green-and-white cars looking really nice and no doubt giving the Saudi Arabians who back the team with finance, an enormous amount of satisfaction. On lap 17 Andretti disappears quietly, the rear brakes of his Lotus 79 having transfers heat to the inboard universal of the drive-shafts, and one of them broke-up when the grease escapes due to the heat. At 20 laps, with Laffite now settling in third place, Scheckter an uninspire fourth, Villeneuve a long way back in fifth place, with Lauda still behind him in sixth place, the race as such seems to be over. Piquet has fail to make any improvement to his position as the race settle down, and in fact, has pass by Ickx, who is really enjoying his Ligier and trying his brilliant best. The Belgian is very happy and is closing on Lauda and Villeneuve, but just when he has catch them up his right-rear tyre explodes at full speed on one of the straights. The effect is as if a bomb has gone off under that corner of the car, for the whole hub assembly is rip off the suspension members, taking the drive-shaft with it, and lots of the bodywork. Ickx is able to control the car and slither to a stop without hitting anything, but he is very lucky. This is on lap 25 and a lap before Rebaque has retire, so that a third of the field has gone with the race only just over half way. As Jones starts his 28th lap his works Cosworth engine falters a little on acceleration, and next time round it’s still doing it. There is a burbling misfire of fuel-injection trouble or fuel-delivery to the injection system. Although it hardly affects his lap times, it’s very disconcerting and is causing him anguish, remembering how he had lost the British Grand Prix through engine failure. Frank Williams and his pit staff are equally worry, and though Regazzoni is in second place and sounding as strong as ever, it’s no consolation. As this misfire in the Williams has start Lauda’s Alfa Romeo engine gives up completely and he coasts into the Stadium and parks the Brabham up the escape road.


This gives Piquet a clear road in front, so he promptly pil on steam and catches up with Villeneuve, who is far from happy with an engine that is still flat and an unbalance feel to the car due to the rear aerofoil beginning to collapse. Just as Piquet passes the Ferrari, on lap 33, an exhaust manifold-pipe breaks on the Alfa Romeo engine and makes it sound rough, but it’s still going alright. In quick succession after Lauda’s retirement Rosberg stops with no oil pressure in the Wolf, Tambay coasts into the pits with engine trouble and Patrese suffers a tyre blow-out on the right-rear, it not being so spectacular as the other two blow-outs, for the walls remaine intact, though the whole tread comes off. Before starting lap 38 Villeneuve s in the pits as the rear aerofoil has collapsed on the left side and a complete new unit is fitt, this stop dropping him back to ninth place behind Lees, who is running neatly and consistently. By now there are only six cars on the same lap, the Williams of Jones and Regazzoni, the Ligier of Laffite, the Ferrari of Scheckter, the Brabham of Piquet, and a long way back the McLaren of Watson, then comes Mass leading Lees and Villeneuve, with Lammers, Pironi (after a pit stop) and de Angelis being the only others still running. Even before the misfire has starts on the leading Williams the team members on the pit wall can see that something is happening to the right rear tyre, for it’s taking on a darker color than the left one, which usually means a loss of pressure. Running with only 12-15 p.s.i., the loss of even 1lb. can be critical, and their fears are right for a leak to develop and the pressure is dropping and causing the tyre to overheat. It isn’t long before Alan Jones senses an imbalance between right and left corners and on the straights he is looking into his rear-view mirror and seeing the changing shape and color. There are still more than 10 laps to go by the time he faces up to the realization that he has got a slow puncture, and he doesn’t have enough lead over Regazzoni and Laffite to allow for a pit stop. Changing his driving tactics to ease the load on the right-rear tyre, his lap times only drop by a second and a half.


He can hold the same speed on the straights and round right-hand bends, but has to pussy-foot round left-handers, and he isn’t help any by the constant misfiring on pick-up. He will appear into the Stadium at his normal speed, but then almost coast round the left-hand hairpin and be slow out of the right-hander into the pit straight, as the misfire plague the pick-up. He is holding the lead alright, but it isn't an easy task, and while there is little chance of Lafitte catching him, there is every possibility of Regazzoni catching up - and going by. While everyone waits tensely during the final laps, no-one is more tense than Jones for if the tyre got too hot it will blow-out and snatch victory from him. So great is the tension of following the leading Williams that the disappearance of Piquet goes almost unnotice on lap 43. A certain fifth place goes out the window with a big bang in the Alfa Romeo engine and most of the valve-gear seems to be in the air intakes. The two Williams are in sight of each other as they start the last lap, but there is a great sigh of relief as number 27 re-appear to complete lap 45 and cross the line ahead of number 28. It’s a magnificent Williams one-two, thoroughly deserve by both drivers and the satisfaction for Frank Williams and designer Patrick Head is enormous, as it’s for all the mechanics who have worked so hard on the cars. For Alan Jones it’s a long-overdue victory for he is so near and yet so far during his two years with the Williams team. As the two green-and-white cars do their slowing down lap nose to tail there are some tears of emotion in many eyes and enormous happiness for the Williams team. And Regazzoni scores another worthy second place, and he is very happy about it, no matter what other drivers may say about him. Some team sponsors who view the whole Formula 1 business as nothing more than an extension of their normal business life show little apparent interest or elation if their team wins. The Saudi Arabians who back Frank Williams are beaming with delight, and it will be true to say that Frank and all his men receive a royal smile of approval.



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