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The 1978 Italian Grand Prix was the 14th race of the 1978 Formula One season. It was held on 10 September 1978 at Monza.

With three races remaining, Mario Andretti (Lotus-Ford) led the World Drivers' Championship by 12 points from his team-mate Ronnie Peterson. Niki Lauda (Brabham-Alfa Romeo), in third place, was 28 points behind Andretti, and, with only 9 points for a win, could not overtake him.

Contents

Race recap and Death of Ronnie Peterson

Andretti took pole position alongside Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari), with Jean-Pierre Jabouille (Renault) in third place, Lauda in fourth and Peterson in fifth.

The race starter was overenthusiastic, turning on the red lights before all the cars had lined up, and several cars in the middle of the field got a jump on those at the front. The result was a funneling effect of the cars approaching the chicane, and the cars were tightly bunched together with little room for maneuver. James Hunt collided with Peterson, with Riccardo Patrese, Vittorio Brambilla, Hans-Joachim Stuck, Patrick Depailler, Didier Pironi, Derek Daly, Clay Regazzoni and Brett Lunger all involved in the ensuing melee. Peterson's Lotus went into the barriers hard and caught fire. He was trapped, but Hunt, Regazzoni and Depailler managed to free him from the wreck before he received more than minor burns. He was dragged free and laid in the middle of the track fully conscious, but with severe leg injuries. It took 20 minutes before medical help was dispatched to the scene. Brambilla — who had been hit on the head by a flying wheel and rendered comatose — and Peterson were taken to a hospital in Milan.

The race was restarted nearly three hours later. Villeneuve overtook Andretti at the restart, but both drivers were judged to have gone early and given a one-minute penalty. Andretti re-took the lead with only five laps remaining. With Jabouille having retired, Lauda finished third ahead of John Watson (Brabham), Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari), Jacques Laffite (Ligier-Matra) and Patrick Tambay (McLaren-Ford). Since all of those finished less than a minute behind, Andretti and Villeneuve were dropped to sixth and seventh place. Andretti had won the championship, but with Peterson in hospital, celebrations were muted.

Following surgery, Peterson developed complications and died the following day of an embolism.

Classification

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 1 Austria Niki Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo 40 1:07:04.54 4 9
2 2 United Kingdom John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo 40 +1.48 secs 7 6
3 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Ferrari 40 +20.47 secs 11 4
4 26 France Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 40 +37.53 secs 8 3
5 8 France Patrick Tambay McLaren-Ford 40 +40.39 secs 19 2
6 5 United States Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 40 +46.33 secs 1 1
7 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 40 +48.48 secs 2
8 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 40 +55.24 secs 13
9 29 Brazil Nelson Piquet McLaren-Ford 40 +1:06.83 24
10 22 Republic of Ireland Derek Daly Ensign-Ford 40 +1:09.11 18
11 4 France Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Ford 40 +1:16.57 16
12 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Wolf-Ford 39 +1 Lap 9
13 27 Australia Alan Jones Williams-Ford 39 +1 Lap 6
14 33 Italy Bruno Giacomelli McLaren-Ford 39 +1 Lap 20
NC 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni Shadow-Ford 33 +7 Laps 15
Ret 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 28 Engine 12
Ret 7 United Kingdom James Hunt McLaren-Ford 19 Distributor 10
Ret 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Merzario-Ford 14 Engine 22
Ret 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault 6 Engine 3
Ret 6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Ford 0 Fatal Accident 5
Ret 3 France Didier Pironi Tyrrell-Ford 0 Accident 14
Ret 16 Germany Hans Joachim Stuck Shadow-Ford 0 Accident 17
Ret 30 United States Brett Lunger McLaren-Ford 0 Accident 21
Ret 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Ford 0 Accident 23
DNQ 25 Mexico Hector Rebaque Lotus-Ford
DNQ 10 Austria Harald Ertl ATS-Ford
DNQ 9 Netherlands Michael Bleekemolen ATS-Ford
DNQ 18 Italy Gimax Surtees-Ford
DNPQ 23 Austria Harald Ertl Ensign-Ford
DNPQ 32 Finland Keke Rosberg Wolf-Ford
DNPQ 36 Germany Rolf Stommelen Arrows-Ford
DNPQ 38 Italy Alberto Colombo Merzario-Ford

Notes

  • Pole position: Mario Andretti - 1:37.520
  • Fastest Lap: Mario Andretti - 1:38.23
  • Lap Leaders: Jean-Pierre Jabouille 5 laps (1-5); Niki Lauda 35 laps (6-40).
  • Mario Andretti and Gilles Villeneuve finished 1st and 2nd but were assessed a 1 minute penalty for a jump start
  • Due to the long delay to clean up the debris from the opening lap accident, the race was shortened to 40 laps from the original 52, to avoid dusk
  • The start of the race was delayed further when, on the formation lap for the scheduled restart, Jody Scheckter's Wolf lost a wheel at Lesmo and crashed heavily. Scheckter was able to walk away from the scene of the accident, but the barriers involved had not held up well. Another long delay ensued while the barriers were repaired, and it was nearly 6:00PM local time before the race finally got underway.
  • Harald Ertl failed to pre-qualify his Ensign and got another chance with the German ATS of injured Jochen Mass
  • Peterson's accident guaranteed Andretti the Driver's Championship with two races left.

External links

Previous race:
1978 Dutch Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1978 season
Next race:
1978 United States Grand Prix
Previous race:
1977 Italian Grand Prix
Italian Grand Prix Next race:
1979 Italian Grand Prix
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