1979 Formula One season
FIA Formula One World Championship season
|Races by country • Races by season|
The 1979 Formula One season was the 30th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 1979 World Championship of F1 Drivers and the 1979 International Cup for F1 Constructors which were contested concurrently over a fifteen round series which commenced on January 21, 1979, and ended on October 7. The season also included three non-championship Formula One races.
Drivers and constructors 
The following drivers and constructors contested the 1979 World Championship of F1 Drivers and the 1979 International Cup for F1 Constructors.
Race One: Argentina 
Like in previous years, the opening race of the season was in Argentina. Most people expected the Lotus cars driven by defending champion Mario Andretti, and his new teammate Carlos Reutemann to dominate but, to many people's surprise, it was the Ligier team that dominated qualifying, with Jacques Laffite on pole ahead of Patrick Depailler, leaving Reutemann to qualify third. Laffite led at the start with Depailler following, but the two men starting on the third row, John Watson in the McLaren collided with Jody Scheckter's Ferrari creating chaos behind. Four other cars were collected and race was red-flagged, and none were injured.
The race restarted after the mess was cleared, and this time Depailler set off into the lead with Jean-Pierre Jarier's Tyrrell and Watson (in his spare car) following him. But soon Laffite was up to second, and a few laps later he took the lead from Depailler. The Ligiers drove away, whereas Jarier struggled and dropped down the order with engine troubles, leaving Watson third before he was passed a recovering Reutemann. Laffite went on and won comfortably, but teammate Depailler suffered a misfire and dropped to fourth, leaving Reutemann second and Watson third.
Race Two: Brazil 
The drivers stayed in South America for the second round which was held in Brazil, returning to the 5-mile Interlagos circuit in São Paulo. The Ligiers were in top form again, Laffite taking pole comfortably with Depailler alongside, with the Lotuses led by Reutemann on the second row. This time, Laffite was able to lead right from the first corner with Reutemann taking second from Depailler, but Depailler regained the place soon after and Andretti also passed his teammate to take third. Andretti however soon retired with a misfire, and so Reutemann was back in third. Laffite dominated the race and again won easily, with Depailler making it a 1-2 for Ligier and Reutemann cimpleting the podium.
Race Three: South Africa 
There was a six-week break before the race in South Africa. In the high-altitude circuit, Jean-Pierre Jabouille took pole in the turbocharged Renault and home hero Jody Scheckter put his Ferrari second on grid, just in front of teammate Gilles Villeneuve, and the Ligiers were only on the third row. Jabouille led at the start with Villeneuve and Scheckter following, but Villeneuve took the lead on second lap before the race was stopped by a rainshower.
When the race restarted, most drivers were on wets, but Scheckter and a few others opted for slicks. Villeneuve led at the restart and built up a gap, but the track dried and he had to pit for slicks along with most of the field. This left Scheckter leading comfortably, and he looked well set for a home win until he had to pit for new tyres, handing the lead back to Villeneuve and in behind, Patrick Tambay briefly ran third in his McLaren, until he was passed by Jarier. It was Villeneuve who won the race with Scheckter close behind, and Jarier taking the final spot on the podium.
Race Four: United States West 
One month after the South Africa race, the field went to the Long Beach circuit in the US. Qualifying saw Villeneuve taking his first career pole position with Reutemann alongside him on the front row ahead of Scheckter. Before the race started, Reutemann suffered an electrical failure and had to start from the pits. After a string of failed attempts to start the race due to different reasons, the race finally started with Villeneuve leading Depailler and Scheckter, but soon Jarier was up to second. As Villeneuve set about building a gap, Jarier and Depailler battled for second but Scheckter passed both of them mid-race. Towards the end, Jarier began to drop back rapidly with a vibration, so Depailler finally got third but not for long as Alan Jones's Williams was past him. That was how the race finished, with Villeneuve winning ahead of Scheckter in another Ferrari 1-2, and Jones giving the Williams team their second ever podium with third.
Race Five: Spain 
After another long break, this time for three weeks, the Spanish GP took place and here the Ligiers struck back at Ferrari, with Laffite on pole again with Depailler ensuring a front-row lockout leaving Villeneuve third. At the start, Depailler took the lead from Laffite, and Reutemann who has a brilliant start was up to third ahead of Villeneuve. The Ligers ran 1-2 comfortably until Laffite's engine blew up, leaving Reutemann second, and Andretti third after Villeneuve spun attempting to pass Reutemann. With his teammate out, Depailler was able to cruise to victory ahead of Reutemann and Andretti who ensured a double podium for Lotus.
Race Six: Belgium 
The sixth race of the season was in Belgium, where Laffite surprised no one with pole, and Depailler surprised no one with second, but Nelson Piquet surprised many by qualifying his Brabham third. Once again, it was Depailler who got the best start, and led with Jones up to second ahead of Piquet with Laffite dropping down to fourth. In the early stages, Laffite was on the charge, as he passed first Piquet, then Jones and finally Depailler as he took the lead. As the race progressed, the Ligiers suffered from tyre trouble and so Jones took the lead until he retired with an electrical failure which handed the lead back to Depailler (who had repassed Laffite) until he crashed out, so Laffite inherited the lead until he was passed by Scheckter. Scheckter went on and took his first win for Ferrari ahead of Laffite, with Didier Pironi completing the podium in his Tyrrell.
Race Seven: Monaco 
The next race was the illustrious Monaco GP, and in qualifying, it was Scheckter who was on pole with teammate Villeneuve alongside, restricting Depailler to the second row. At the start, Scheckter kept the lead with double world champion Niki Lauda featuring at the front for the first time this year by jumping up to second ahead of Villeneuve, but it took only 3 laps for Villeneuve to get past and follow his teammate in driving away from the field.
Lauda kept third until Pironi tried to pass him, which resulted in a collision and both retiring. This put Jones up to third until he retired with steering troubles which brielfy handed the place to Arrows driver Jochen Mass, but soon Jones's Wiliams teammate, Clay Regazzoni took the place, which became second when Villeneuve retired with a transmission failure. With Villeneuve out, Scheckter had no more challengers to his lead and won comfortably, with Regazzoni finishing second and Reutemann taking third.
Race Eight: France 
With the Swedish GP cancelled due to a lack of funding, it was the French GP that was next up. The home fans did get an all-French front row, but instead of the usual Ligiers, it were the two turbocharged Renaults who were in dominant form, Jean-Pierre Jabouille on pole ahead of René Arnoux and Villeneuve. At the start, Villeneuve beat Jabouille into the first corner, with Scheckter third after Arnoux had a bad start. As the front two began to drive away from the field, Arnoux began a charge up the order, and by mid-race he was back in third. In the second half of the race, the two Renaults found another gear, and Jabouille drove past Villeneuve to take the lead, and Arnoux began to close him down and caught him with four laps left. Jabouille won much to the happiness of the fans, and they received much more entertainment behind as Villeneuve and Arnoux battled for second for four laps, banging wheels repeatedly, and ultimately it was Villeneuve who prevailed.
Race Nine: Great Britain 
The second half of the year started in Britain, and now the Williams had found new speed, and Jones qualified it on pole ahead of Jabouille who was continuing his good form with Nelson Piquet again qualifying his Brabham third. Jones led into the first corner ahead of Jabouille, with Regazzoni up to third. The front three ran in the same order until Jabouille ran into tyre trouble and had to pit, leaving Regazzoni second and Arnoux third. Jones looked set to win but he had to retire with an overheating engine, so Regazzoni took the lead and went on to win, giving the Williams team their first ever F1 victory, with Arnoux second and Jean-Pierre Jarier third.
Race Ten: Germany 
The tenth race of the year was held in Germany, and on the fast track, Jabouille took pole with Jones completing the front row, and Laffite next up. Jones got the jump on Jabouille at the start, which Scheckter briefly up to third until Laffite regained back the place. Jones held off intense pressure from Jabouille in the early stages of the race, until the latter tried too hard and spun off giving second to Laffite and third to Regazzoni. Regazzoni was soon past Laffite, and the two Williams cars dominated the rest of race, with Jones getting his first win of the season and Regazzoni completing the 1-2 leaving Laffite to take the final spot on the podium.
Race Eleven: Austria 
The field went to the high-speed Österreichring circuit in Austria, and in qualifying once again the Renault turbo was the car to beat, Arnoux taking his first career pole, with Jones forcing Jabouille to settle for the second row. The race saw a sensational start from Villeneuve who jumped into the lead ahead of Jones, with Niki Lauda up to third after a bad start for the Renaults.
Villeneuve led for three laps before Jones passed him, and Arnoux was up to third after passing Lauda. Arnoux then took Villeneuve for second, before Jabouille set off on a charge and took second himself. The two Renaults set off after Jones, but Jabouille's gearbox failed. Arnoux continued to chase down Jones until he suffered fuel pressure problems and dropped down to sixth place, and handing second back to Villeneuve. With the Renault challenge finished, Jones was able to cruise to victory with Villeneuve second and Laffite completing the podium.
Season review 
The following races counted towards the 1979 World Championship of F1 Drivers and the 1979 International Cup for F1 Constructors.
-The Swedish Grand Prix was supposed to be held at Anderstorp between the Monaco and French Grands Prix, but because of Swedish drivers Ronnie Peterson and Gunnar Nilsson's deaths in 1978, Swedish enthusiasm for the sport faded and as a result, there was no money for the race to be held and the race was promptly cancelled.
1979 World Championship of F1 Drivers - final standings 
Here bold indicates a pole position while italic indicates a fastest lap.
1979 International Cup for F1 Constructors - final standings 
Non-Championship race results 
Other Formula One races were also held in 1979, which did not count towards the World Championship.
|Race Name||Circuit||Date||Winning driver||Constructor||Report|
|Marlboro / Daily Mail Race of Champions||Brands Hatch||April 15||Gilles Villeneuve||Ferrari||Report|
|Gunnar Nilsson Memorial Trophy||Donington Park||June 3||Alan Jones||Williams-Cosworth||Report|
|Dino Ferrari Grand Prix||Imola||September 16||Niki Lauda||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||Report|
Notes and references 
- FIA Yearbook 1980, Grey Section, page 84
- FIA Yearbook 1980, Grey Section, page 85
- Official records of the 1979 International Cup as published in the 1980 FIA Yearbook use the name "Copersucar" rather than "Fittipaldi"
- Only the best 4 results from the first 7 races and the best 4 results from the last 8 races counted towards the Drivers' Championship. Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.