1978 Swedish Grand Prix

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Sweden  1978 Swedish Grand Prix
Race details
Race 8 of 16 in the 1978 Formula One season
Circuit Anderstorp.png
Date June 17, 1978
Official name IX Swedish Grand Prix
Location Scandinavian Raceway, Anderstorp, Sweden
Course Permanent racing facility
4.031 km (2.505 mi)
Distance 70 laps, 282.170 km (175.332 mi)
Weather Sunny and warm
Pole position
Driver United States Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford
Time 1:22.058
Fastest lap
Driver Austria Niki Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo
Time 1:24.836 on lap 33
Podium
First Austria Niki Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo
Second Italy Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford
Third Sweden Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Ford
Brabham BT46B 'Fancar'

The 1978 Swedish Grand Prix was a Formula One race held on June 17, 1978, at the Scandinavian Raceway; it was the eighth race of the 1978 Formula One season. It is the only race entered and won by the Brabham "fan car".

Race summary[edit]

Responsible for the Brabham win was clever thinking by Brabham's Gordon Murray, who was trying to eclipse Colin Chapman's ground effect invention on the Lotus 79, the skirted car that had swept the front row since its debut at Zolder. Center of the new Brabham BT46B concept was a large fan which drew air through the engine water radiator which was mounted horizontally over the engine. The fan also took ground effect to a higher level (at least engineering-wise) by sucking air from under the car, creating a partial vacuum and creating an enormous amount of downforce. The car appeared to contravene a rule which stated that moving aerodynamic devices were not allowed, but Brabham argued that the rules had been worded to ban devices whose primary function was aerodynamic. As the fan also cooled the engine, Brabham claimed that this, not aerodynamics, was its primary function.

Its legality was soon protested, but it was allowed to race, John Watson and Niki Lauda qualifying 2nd and 3rd behind the Lotus 79 of Mario Andretti (the two drivers did this as to not draw attention to the remarkable advantage that the fan would provide).

At the start Andretti retained the first place, while Lauda got ahead of Watson; on the second lap he was passed by a fast Riccardo Patrese in the Arrows, and on the third he was passed by the other Lotus of Ronnie Peterson too; the Swede also passed Patrese, but had later to back off due to a tyre puncture. The order then remained the same until lap 20, when Watson was forced to retire by a throttle problem.

At the front, Lauda and Andretti were battling for first place, until the American made an error and was forced to let the Austrian through, and eventually dropped out due to a broken valve on his engine. Once a back-marker dropped oil onto the track, the Brabham was in a race of its own, seemingly unaffected by the slippery surface. In Lauda's biography, To Hell And Back, he wrote that whilst other cars had to reduce speed to drive carefully over the oil, the Brabhams could simply accelerate (as the fan was activated by the gearbox to get around regulations, this meant that higher speed produced much higher grip) through the affected parts of the track. Lauda went on to win by 34.6 seconds, followed by Patrese and Peterson in a close finish; the remaining points went to Patrick Tambay, Clay Regazzoni and Emerson Fittipaldi.

After the race, the stewards deemed the car legal. Later, the FIA investigated the car, and corroborated Brabham's claim that the fan's primary effect was to cool the car, meeting the letter, if not the spirit, of the rules. The car was judged to have been legal as raced and the Brabham victory stood, but the Brabham 'fan car' never raced again. It is popularly thought that it was banned, but it was actually voluntarily withdrawn by Brabham. This was arguably done by team owner Bernie Ecclestone to avoid a conflict with the other privately owned teams whose support he needed. 1978 was the year that Ecclestone became chief executive of FOCA and led it through the FISA-FOCA war that would lead to the downfall of FISA and give FOCA the right to negotiate television contracts for the Grands Prix, effectively giving Ecclestone commercial control of Formula 1 which continues to this day.

Classification[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 1 Austria Niki Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo 70 1:41:00.606 3 9
2 35 Italy Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 70 +34.019 5 6
3 6 Sweden Ronnie Peterson Lotus-Ford 70 +34.105 4 4
4 8 France Patrick Tambay McLaren-Ford 69 +1 Lap 15 3
5 17 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni Shadow-Ford 69 +1 Lap 16 2
6 14 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 69 +1 Lap 13 1
7 26 France Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 69 +1 Lap 11
8 7 United Kingdom James Hunt McLaren-Ford 69 +1 Lap 14
9 12 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 69 +1 Lap 7
10 11 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Ferrari 69 +1 Lap 8
11 16 Germany Hans Joachim Stuck Shadow-Ford 68 +2 Laps 20
12 25 Mexico Hector Rebaque Lotus-Ford 68 +2 Laps 21
13 9 Germany Jochen Mass ATS-Ford 68 +2 Laps 19
14 36 Germany Rolf Stommelen Arrows-Ford 67 +3 Laps 24
15 10 Finland Keke Rosberg ATS-Ford 63 +7 Laps 23
NC 37 Italy Arturo Merzario Merzario-Ford 62 +8 Laps 22
Ret 5 United States Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 46 Engine 1
Ret 27 Australia Alan Jones Williams-Ford 46 Wheel 9
Ret 4 France Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Ford 42 Suspension 12
Ret 15 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault 28 Engine 10
Ret 2 United Kingdom John Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo 19 Spun Off 2
Ret 20 South Africa Jody Scheckter Wolf-Ford 16 Overheating 6
Ret 3 France Didier Pironi Tyrrell-Ford 8 Accident 17
Ret 19 Italy Vittorio Brambilla Surtees-Ford 7 Accident 18
DNQ 18 United Kingdom Rupert Keegan Surtees-Ford
DNQ 30 United States Brett Lunger McLaren-Ford
DNQ 22 Belgium Jacky Ickx Ensign-Ford

Notes[edit]

Standings after the race[edit]

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

References[edit]


Previous race:
1978 Spanish Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1978 season
Next race:
1978 French Grand Prix
Previous race:
1977 Swedish Grand Prix
Swedish Grand Prix Next race:
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