Hunt’s engine is misfiring on the warm-up lap and though a change of plugs has appear to cure it, the misfire starts again. On lap 5 he is pass by Watson and Scheckter and is struggling to stay ahead of them, so at the end of the next lap he goes into the pits and the mechanics change the ignition unit. This isn’t the answer and after 10 laps the World Champion gives up the hopeless task. What a pity the rules of Formula One forbid drivers from changing cars, for on lap 6 Jochen Mass is lying tenth and if he has come in on the next lap and Hunt has taken over it will be interesting to watch his progress up the field in the M23. Such legendary deeds as perform by Fangio, Moss or Jim Clark are now gone forever, and some of those people in the know will tell you that a driver can’t achieve the impossible today, it’s all too complicate and technical, they say. If you look at the starting grid of this race and the fastest race laps that are given in brackets, you will see that the overall fastest lap is record on lap 5, and most of the drivers are giving up trying within ten laps, and are cruising round to collect the money at the end. Hunt’s spirit approach to motor racing will see him have a real go and we may see some inspired Grand Prix driving instead of the professional procession that actually takes place. For Andretti there isn’t need to indulge in heroics or inspire driving, any more than he is doing, for he has the race in the bag, and even more so after lap 12, for at that point Laffite goes into the pits as the Ligier is swaying about at the back. It’s found that the right rear wheel is loose, which causes a lot of screaming and yelling in the Ligier pit. Laffite rejoins the race in nineteenth position, black with rage, and drives really hard for the rest of the race to get back up to seventh position. It isn’t inspiring, for he got bogged down behind Nilsson for too long, when he is trying to unlap himself from the Swede. With the Ligier going and Reutemann clearly settling for second place, Andretti has it all his own way and he drove a smooth and unruffle race in the style of the real professional that he is. The Lotus never misses a beat and gives him one of the nicest races he has ever had.
If the lead is a bit dull for those who aren’t Lotus enthusiasts, the rest of the runners provide plenty of light entertainment. Brambilla collides with Regazzoni in the most unruly fashion at the exit from the first hairpin, and they both disappear into the scenery! For once Regazzoni is entirely blameless for Brambilla has had his usual brain-fade, and wisely keeps his helmet on as he tries to apologize, otherwise he may have a Swiss fist bur deep into his brain. Somewhile later Alan Jones gots into the same situation with Peterson, on two occasions, both times managing to scrabble back onto the track. The third time the Shadow hit a rear wheel on the Tyrrell and bent its front suspension, which put Jones out of the race after a courageous drive. Peterson’s Tyrrell has earlier break a rear anti-roll bar mounting and is now a bit out of line, so the Swede has plenty to complain about after the race, even though he is happy to have finish. His team-mate Depailler last no time at all, for his Cosworth engine blew up. In spite of a week of testing and a week of preparation and practice most of the cars seem to be falling to bits during the race, if the drivers are to be believe. If clutches aren’t working properly, gearboxes are mal-functioning, or brakes are out of balance, or engines are down on power, or the aerodynamics are wrong, or the tyres are wrong, either too hot or too cold, but for Andretti everything is fine. Afterwards it’s a pleasure to hear him explain how everything runs perfectly, no heroics, no bravery, no battling against the odds. There are some good dice among the nonwinners, such as that between Scheckter and Mass, the German trying very hard to rattle the South African, but failing valiantly, while Watson and Nilsson have a good run until the Brabham uses up its tyres. Watson stops at the pits and then the engine will not restart for the electric fuel pump has given up the ghost. Keegan is acquitting himself well in the Hesketh with a good ninth position, behind Peterson and Jones, in spite of the Hewland box wanting to jump out of gear. Before half distance it does it once too often, on the fast downhill right-hand bend and the debutant spins off as the back-end gets away from him. Poor Fittipaldi finds himself sandwiched between Hans Binder and Patrick Neve, and when he can stand it no longer he stops at the pits and fitt some new tyres, but it makes little difference to his progress, other than now being last of all, behind Villota.