1979 European Formula Two season

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1979 European Formula Two season
Previous: 1978 Next: 1980

The 1979 European Formula Two season was contested over 12 rounds.

Season Summary[edit]

Champions in 1978, March expanded to seven works cars, all new ground effects 792 models powered by BMW 4-cylinder engines and running on Goodyear tyres. 1978 runner-up Marc Surer started as pre-season favourite; his team-mates would include Beppe Gabbiani, Ricardo Zunino, Miguel Ángel Guerra and Teo Fabi. Others were provided for guest drivers, ranging from Formula One stars like Clay Regazzoni and Hans-Joachim Stuck or promising Formula Three stars like Andrea de Cesaris or Stefan Johansson. ICI Racing's cars were looked after by Ron Dennis' Project 4 outfit, with Derek Daly and Stephen South driving while Bob Salisbury entered a car for Juan María Traverso.

Ralt had handed over their team to Toleman. They struck a deal with Brian Hart to run his 420R 4-cylinder engine for the experienced Brian Henton and Rad Dougall. Osella would be running a BMW-engined in-house car (albeit using a four-year old design penned by Giorgio Stirano, renamed the FA2/79) for Eddie Cheever; their main strength was an exclusive deal for Pirelli tyres. Chevron hired experienced Formula 1 designer Tony Southgate to create the B48 ground effects car with Paul Owens, based on the 1978 B42 chassis. Bobby Rahal drove the works car (with a Hart engine) with machines also sold to privateers Siegfried Stohr (BMW engine) and Huub Rothengatter (also Hart). AGS continued to run their 1977 car, with Alain Couderc driving; Pilbeam's MP42 would be driven by Patrick Nève, Maurer employed Armin Hahne and AMS ran Piero Necchi.

Privateers included Derek Warwick in a Theodore March-Hart, Alberto Colombo in a March-BMW and Eje Elgh in Tiga's March-BMW.

Round 1 - Silverstone[edit]

The race - now bearing the BRDC International Trophy name - took place in heavy rain, allowing Cheever to demonstrate Pirelli's wet weather superiority in the well-tested Osella-BMW. He dominated until a multiple accident involving Stohr at the Woodcote chicane caused a race stoppage after two laps. After the restart Henton and Daly pushed the American hard until Henton suffered gear selection problems and Daly span. The latter recovered strongly after the rain stopped and the track dried out to take the lead, only to suffer gear linkage problems, allowing Cheever through to take victory on the last lap by only three-tenths of a second. Henton held on to take 3rd ahead of Rahal, with South (despite twice leaving the track at Woodcote) and Columbo completing the top six. The fancied March cars proved a disappointment - the 792 was overweight and generated too much grip, resulting in a machine with heavy handling. Surer failed to start the race after sliding off on the parade lap and being hit by team-mate Gabbiani.

Round 2 - Hockenheim[edit]

The two-heat race was named as the Jim Clark Memorial Race in honour of the Scottish legend killed at the circuit in 1968. Standing in for the absent Daly (driving for Ensign at the US West Grand Prix), Keke Rosberg started 3rd and took a dominant win some 27 seconds ahead of Dougall, Guerra, Henton (struggling with damaged rear suspension), Cheever (having chosen the wrong tyre compound) and Fabi; . Surer span out after dicing with Rosberg early on in the first heat as dislodging a skirt from his car. South set fastest lap but retired with a puncture.

Round 3 - Thruxton[edit]

Dougall took a shock victory in the BARC Philips Car Radio International - and the points lead of the series - despite having to switch to the Toleman team's old March 782 after problems with the new Ralt. The other scorers were Daly, Columbo, Guerra, Rahal and Rothengatter in a race that only yielded eight classified finishers. Five of the front-runners - Henton, South, Warwick, Gabbiani and Fabi - were elimintated in a pile-up at the first corner. Cheever led until retiring mid-distance, while Surer dropped out with engine trouble.

Round 4 - Nürburgring[edit]

Surer scored his first points of the season with a daring victory, having started on slicks despite half of the daunting 14-mile circuit still being wet when the race started. A late challenge was mounted by spirited pole-sitter Rosberg (again covering Daly's F1 commitments), who approached the track's F1 lap record before his throttle jammed open and his ICI March was destroyed at the same corner which claimed team-mate South. Instead Henton took 2nd in another old March, Manfred Winkelhock (making a one-off appearance in a BMW-engined Ralt) took 3rd ahead of Stohr, Rothengatter and Dougall.

Round 5 - Vallelunga[edit]

Surer won a second successive race in the troublesome March to join Dougall at the top of the championship table. Stohr came 2nd in one of the equally difficult Chevron cars, guest driver Maurizio Flammini was 3rd, Rahal 4th, Dougall 5th and another guest - Italian Formula Three star Andrea de Cesaris - 6th. Henton had led in the March before picking up a puncture. He lapped swiftly after getting repairs only to collide with an abandoned car which had not been removed correctly by the marshals.

Round 6 - Mugello[edit]

The Ralt finally worked properly, getting Henton through to victory, allowing 'Superhen' to take the series lead. Gabbiani came home 2nd and Elgh 3rd - their first points of the year - ahead of Fabi, Warwick and the consistent Rahal. Daly qualified on the front row alongside Henton but was taken off in a first-corner collision with Surer and guest-driver Regazzoni.

Round 7 - Pau[edit]

Wet weather again allowed Cheever's skill and Pirelli's grip to come to the fore, the American taking a comfortable victory after colliding with Daly when challenging the Irishman on lap 30; the March was forced into retirement. Stohr took 2nd while 3rd for Surer saw him share the title lead with Henton (who retired on the first lap, sliding off the wet track). Gabbiani, Patrick Gaillard and Guerra completed the top 6.

Round 8 - Hockenheim[edit]

The second visit to Hockenheim saw an impressive lights-to-flag victory for South in both heats, ahead of ICI team-mate Daly. Gabbiani finished 3rd from Gaillard, Surer (two points seeing him move ahead of Henton in the table; the British driver fell out of contention in the race with gearbox trouble) and Rahal. Guest driver Stuck had pushed South hard in the first heat before engine failure.

Round 9 - Zandvoort[edit]

Hastily arranged as a replacement for the cancelled race at Nogaro, the Dutch track's abrasive surface handed an advantage to the Pirelli-shod Cheever, who promptly won his 3rd victory of the year to leapfrog to the top of the table. Fabi took his best result yet in a strong 2nd place, while 3rd for team-mate Surer kept the Swiss firmly in title contention. Columbo finished 4th with a tyre-troubled Henton 5th and Elgh 6th.

Round 10 - Enna[edit]

Toleman's Rory Byrne had substantially revised the Ralt over the summer break between rounds 8 and 9, and it looked like his work had borne fruit with Henton winning at Enna after a furious battle with Elgh. However, Tiga protested the result as Henton had used an escape road on the first lap avoiding a crash. The race organisers agreed and disqualified the British driver; his appeal would not be concluded until after the season had finished. Elgh was followed home by Daly (delayed by the first corner incident), South (despite a stop to replace a damaged nosecone), Fabi, Cheever and Dougall promoted to 6th after Henton's disqualification.

Round 11 - Misano[edit]

The modified Ralt once again starred, Henton this time taking victory without controversy from Gabbiani, Surer, Traverso, Stohr (now in a March) and Cheever. Daly had provided the strongest challenge to Henton before his gear linkage fell apart. The race was marred by a poor track surface.

Round 12 - Donington[edit]

The championship was finely balanced ahead of the final race. Henton led by a single point with his appeal against the Enna disqualification still to be heard, with Surer and Cheever equal 2nd. Fabi and Daly took the front row of the grid. Henton was 3rd after crashing twice in practice, with Surer - also suffering an accident - 4th. Cheever could only manage 10th. Daly dominated much of the race, chased hard by Henton, leaving Surer to battle over 3rd place with South. Cheever, struggling in the heavy Osella with Pirelli tyres that didn't suit the warm conditions, was never a factor, eventually finishing 7th. The title looked like it was Henton's until two laps from the end when he suffered brake failure at the Old Hairpin and slid off the track, allowing Surer and South through. The Swiss took the title by two points, a result confirmed when Henton's appeal was thrown out a few weeks later. Daly's victory was enough to take him to 3rd overall ahead of Cheever despite the Irishman only contesting nine of the twelve rounds.

Calendar[edit]

Race No Track Country Date Laps Distance Time Speed Winner Pole Position Fastest Lap
Rd.1 Silverstone  United Kingdom 25 March 1979 40 4.719=188.76 km 1'01:42.52 183.533 km/h Eddie Cheever Eddie Cheever Derek Daly
Rd.2 Hockenheim  West Germany 8 April 1979 20+20 6.789=271.56 km 1'20:27.1 202.527 km/h Keke Rosberg Marc Surer Stephen South
Rd.3 Thruxton  United Kingdom 16 April 1979 55 3.792=208.560 km 1'04:10.31 195.001 km/h Rad Dougall Rad Dougall Marc Surer
Rd.4 Nürburgring  West Germany 29 April 1979 9 22.835=205,515 km 1'12:46.7 169.431 km/h Marc Surer Keke Rosberg Manfred Winkelhock
Rd.5 Vallelunga  Italy 13 May 1979 65 3.2=208.0 km 1'16:34.9 162.963 km/h Marc Surer Stephen South Brian Henton
Rd.6 Mugello  Italy 20 May 1979 42 5.245=220.290 km 1'15:46.8 174.418 km/h Brian Henton Brian Henton Beppe Gabbiani
Rd.7 Pau  France 3 June 1979 73 2.76=201.48 km 1'54:30.00 105.579 km/h Eddie Cheever Marc Surer Eddie Cheever
Rd.8 Hockenheim  West Germany 10 June 1979 20+20 6.789=271.56 km 1'20:56.57 201.298 km/h Stephen South Stephen South Alberto Colombo
Rd.9 Zandvoort  Netherlands 15 July 1979 50 4.226=211.30 km 1'09:37.86 182.074 km/h Eddie Cheever Brian Henton Eddie Cheever
Rd.10 Pergusa-Enna  Italy 29 July 1979 45 4.95=222.75 km 1'11:02.9 188.111 km/h Eje Elgh Brian Henton Stephen South
Rd.11 Misano  Italy 5 August 1979 60 3.488=209.28 km 1'14:29.0 168.585 km/h Brian Henton Brian Henton Brian Henton
Rd.12 Donington Park  United Kingdom 19 August 1979 65 3.150=204.75 km 1'11:53.20 170.864 km/h Derek Daly Derek Daly Derek Daly

Note:

Race 2 and 8 were held in two heats, with results shown in aggregate.

Race 1 originally scheduled over 47 laps, but stopped after 2 laps and restarted due to an accident involving Siegfried Stohr.

Drivers' Championship[edit]

For every race points were awarded: 9 points to the winner, 6 for runner up, 4 for third place, 3 for fourth place, 2 for fifth place and 1 for sixth place. No additional points were awarded. The best 10 results count. No driver had a point deduction.

Pos Driver SIL
United Kingdom
HOC
West Germany
THR
United Kingdom
NÜR
West Germany
VAL
Italy
MUG
Italy
PAU
France
HOC
West Germany
ZAN
Netherlands
PER
Italy
MIS
Italy
DON
United Kingdom
Pts
1 Switzerland Marc Surer DNS Ret 9 1 1 Ret 3 5 3 Ret 3 2 38
2 United Kingdom Brian Henton 3 4 Ret 2 Ret 1 Ret Ret 5 DSQ 1 4 36
3 Republic of Ireland Derek Daly 2 2 Ret Ret 2 11 2 Ret 1 33
4 United States Eddie Cheever 1 5 Ret 8 Ret Ret 1 Ret 1 5 6 7 32
5 South Africa Rad Dougall Ret 2 1 6 5 15 Ret Ret Ret 6 Ret Ret 19
6 United Kingdom Stephen South 5 Ret Ret Ret Ret Ret 8 1 Ret 3 8 3 19
7 Italy Beppe Gabbiani DNS Ret Ret 11 Ret 2 4 3 Ret 9 2 DNS 19
8 Italy Siegfried Stohr Ret 9 Ret 4 2 11 2 Ret 7 Ret 5 Ret 17
9 Sweden Eje Elgh Ret Ret Ret 12 9 3 Ret Ret 6 1 Ret 5 16
10 Italy Teo Fabi Ret 6 Ret 14 Ret 4 Ret Ret 2 4 11 Ret 13
11 United States Bobby Rahal 4 7 5 Ret 4 6 Ret 6 Ret Ret 7 10
12 Finland Keke Rosberg 1 Ret 9
13 Italy Alberto Colombo 6 10 3 Ret 8 7 7 Ret 4 Ret 10 Ret 8
14 Argentina Miguel Ángel Guerra 7 3 4 15 Ret 9 6 Ret 8 Ret Ret Ret 8
15 France Patrick Gaillard 9 5 4 Ret 5
16 Germany Manfred Winkelhock 3 4
17 Italy Maurizio Flammini 3 4
18 Argentina Juan María Traverso 13 8 Ret Ret Ret 10 10 Ret 10 4 12 3
19 Netherlands Huub Rothengatter 8 Ret 6 5 Ret Ret DNQ Ret 12 8 Ret 13 3
20 United Kingdom Derek Warwick Ret Ret Ret DNS NC 5 9 Ret Ret Ret Ret 10 2
21 Italy Oscar Pedersoli Ret 6 1
22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris 6 1
Austria Markus Höttinger 13 7 7 7 Ret 0
Argentina Ariel Bakst Ret 12 Ret 18 7 8 DNS Ret Ret 11 0
Italy Gianfranco Brancatelli 10 7 Ret 0
United Kingdom Adrian Russell Ret 8 Ret 0
United Kingdom Norman Dickson 8 0
United Kingdom Tiff Needell 8 0
Argentina Osvaldo Lopez 9 Ret 9 Ret 0
Argentina Ricardo Zunino 9 Ret Ret 10 0
Austria Walter Raus 9 14 Ret 0
Republic of Ireland Eddie Jordan 9 0
Italy Carlo Giorgio 10 NC 10 13 DNQ DNQ 0
United Kingdom Divina Galica 11 17 11 0
France Alain Couderc 11 Ret Ret Ret 0
Germany Wolfgang Locher Ret Ret Ret 13 Ret 12 Ret 0
United Kingdom Kim Mather 12 NC DNS 0
Netherlands Arie Luyendijk 13 0
France José Dolhem 14 0
Italy Giancarlo Martini 14 0
Sweden Anders Olofsson 15 0
Belgium Bernard de Dryver Ret 16 0
Italy Sergio Mingotti DNQ 16 DNQ 0
Belgium Patrick Nève Ret Ret Ret Ret 0
Italy Ferrante Ponti Ret Ret Ret 0
United Kingdom Warren Booth Ret Ret 0
Germany Jochen Dauer Ret Ret 0
Germany Armin Hahne DNS DNQ DNQ DNS DNQ Ret 0
Italy Lamberto Leoni DNQ Ret 0
Italy Pasquale Barbiero Ret DNQ 0
Switzerland André Chevalley Ret 0
United Kingdom Rupert Keegan Ret 0
France Michel Leclère Ret 0
Switzerland Eugen Strähl Ret 0
Netherlands Boy Hayje Ret 0
Austria Willy Siller Ret 0
Italy Riccardo Paletti Ret 0
Sweden Stefan Johansson Ret 0
Republic of Ireland Bernard Devaney Ret 0
Italy Piero Necchi DSQ 0
Italy Fillipo Niccolini DNS 0
Germany Klaus Walz DNQ 0
Formula One drivers who have scored points in F1 Are ineligible for F2 points
Switzerland Clay Regazzoni Ret Ret Ret 0
Germany Hans Joachim Stuck Ret 0
Pos Driver SIL
United Kingdom
HOC
West Germany
THR
United Kingdom
NÜR
West Germany
VAL
Italy
MUG
Italy
PAU
France
HOC
West Germany
ZAN
Netherlands
PER
Italy
MIS
Italy
DON
United Kingdom
Pts
Colour Result
Gold Winner
Silver 2nd place
Bronze 3rd place
Green Finished, in points
Blue Finished, no points
Not classified (NC)
Purple Did not finish (Ret)
Red Did not qualify (DNQ)
Did not pre-qualify (DNPQ)
Black Disqualified (DSQ)
White Did not start (DNS)
Withdrew (WD)
Race cancelled (C)
Blank Did not participate
Excluded (EX)

References[edit]

  • Wood, Tristan (1984). Drive It! The Complete Book of Formula 2 Motor Racing. Haynes.
  • 'M. T.' (1979) Motor Sport Vol LV No. 5 May 1979 - "Formula Two Review".
  • 'M. T.' (1979) Motor Sport Vol LV No. 9 September 1979 - "Formula Two Review - A British Champion?".