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.
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.