1976 Japanese Grand Prix

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1976 Japanese Grand Prix
Race 16 of 16 in the 1976 Formula One season
Race details
Date 24 October 1976
Official name XI Japanese Grand Prix
Location Fuji Speedway
Oyama, Shizuoka, Japan
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 4.359 km (2.70 mi)
Distance 73 laps, 319.690 km (197.72 mi)
Weather Very wet and misty, eventually drying
Pole position
Driver Lotus-Ford
Time 1:12.77
Fastest lap
Driver France Jacques Laffite2 Ligier-Matra
Time 1:19.97 on lap 70
First Lotus-Ford
Second Tyrrell-Ford
Third McLaren-Ford

The 1976 Japanese Grand Prix1 was a Formula One motor race held at Fuji Speedway on 24 October 1976.

The 1976 World Championship was to be decided at the Mount Fuji circuit, with Niki Lauda just three points ahead of James Hunt after a season full of incidents including Lauda's near-fatal crash at the Nürburgring and subsequent missed races.

The field was almost unchanged from the previous race, but Noritake Takahara rented the second Surtees replacing Brett Lunger and Hans Binder was back in the second Wolf-Williams after Masami Kuwashima's money failed to materialize. Maki resurrected its Formula One car for Tony Trimmer while Heros Racing entered an old Tyrrell for Kazuyoshi Hoshino. Kojima Engineering entered a locally-built chassis for Masahiro Hasemi (on Dunlop tyres).

Mario Andretti took pole position in the Lotus 77, with Hunt alongside him on the front row and Lauda third. Then came John Watson in the Penske, Jody Scheckter, Carlos Pace, Clay Regazzoni and Vittorio Brambilla. The top 10 was completed by Ronnie Peterson and Hasemi. Trimmer failed to qualify the Maki.

On race day the weather was very wet with fog and running water at several places on the track. There were intense debates as to whether the race should be started; in the end the organisers decided to go ahead and a majority of drivers did not disagree. Some drivers, including Lauda, were not happy with the decision.

Hunt took the lead from the start with Watson and Andretti behind. On the second lap Watson slid down an escape road and Lauda drove into the pits to withdraw, as he believed the weather conditions made the track too dangerous. He later said "my life is worth more than a title". Larry Perkins made a similar decision after one lap, as did Pace and Emerson Fittipaldi later in the race.

Hunt continued to lead, behind him second place passed between Andretti and Brambilla. On lap 22 Brambilla challenged for the lead but spun off. Jochen Mass moved into second before crashing on the 36th lap, promoting Patrick Depailler into the position with Andretti third.

It seemed Hunt was on for an easy win, but as the track began to dry he started to lose positions. He only needed a fourth place to win the title, because of Lauda's retirement. On lap 62 Hunt fell behind Depailler and Andretti, but two laps later Depailler's left rear tyre started to deflate and he had to pit. Andretti took the lead, but then Hunt had a similar tyre problem. Hunt pitted, dropped to fifth and set off after Depailler, Alan Jones and Regazzoni. Depailler overtook both drivers on lap 70 and on the next lap Hunt did the same and won the World Drivers' Championship, to his surprise. Ferrari won the Constructors' Championship despite Lauda's retirement.

Andretti's victory was his second in Formula One, coming five years, seven months and 18 days after his maiden win at the 1971 South African Grand Prix. As of 2017, this is the longest period between a first and second victory of a driver in the series.[1]


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 5 United States Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 73 1:43:58.86 1 9
2 4 France Patrick Depailler Tyrrell-Ford 72 + 1 Lap 13 6
3 11 United Kingdom James Hunt McLaren-Ford 72 + 1 Lap 2 4
4 19 Australia Alan Jones Surtees-Ford 72 + 1 Lap 20 3
5 2 Switzerland Clay Regazzoni Ferrari 72 + 1 Lap 7 2
6 6 Sweden Gunnar Nilsson Lotus-Ford 72 + 1 Lap 16 1
7 26 France Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 72 + 1 Lap 11  
8 24 Austria Harald Ertl Hesketh-Ford 72 + 1 Lap 22  
9 18 Japan Noritake Takahara Surtees-Ford 70 + 3 Laps 24  
10 17 France Jean-Pierre Jarier Shadow-Ford 69 + 4 Laps 15  
11 51 Japan Masahiro Hasemi Kojima-Ford 66 + 7 Laps 10  
Ret 3 South Africa Jody Scheckter Tyrrell-Ford 58 Overheating 5  
Ret 21 Austria Hans Binder Wolf-Williams-Ford 49 Wheel 25  
Ret 16 United Kingdom Tom Pryce Shadow-Ford 46 Energy 14  
Ret 9 Italy Vittorio Brambilla March-Ford 38 Electrical 8  
Ret 34 Germany Hans-Joachim Stuck March-Ford 37 Electrical 18  
Ret 12 Germany Jochen Mass McLaren-Ford 35 Accident 12  
Ret 28 United Kingdom John Watson Penske-Ford 33 Engine 4  
Ret 52 Japan Kazuyoshi Hoshino Tyrrell-Ford 27 Tyre 21  
Ret 20 Italy Arturo Merzario Wolf-Williams-Ford 23 Gearbox 19  
Ret 30 Brazil Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 9 Withdrew 23  
Ret 8 Brazil Carlos Pace Brabham-Alfa Romeo 7 Withdrew 6  
Ret 1 Austria Niki Lauda Ferrari 2 Withdrew 3  
Ret 7 Australia Larry Perkins Brabham-Alfa Romeo 1 Withdrew 17  
Ret 10 Sweden Ronnie Peterson March-Ford 0 Engine 9  
DNS 21 Japan Masami Kuwashima Wolf-Williams-Ford        
DNQ 54 United Kingdom Tony Trimmer Maki-Ford        


  • ^ In Japan, the formal name of this Formula One event was not "Japanese Grand Prix" but was "Formula One World Championship in Japan" (F1世界選手権・イン・ジャパン), because an event of the Japanese Formula 2000 championship had been named "Japanese Grand Prix" in 1976.
  • ^ It was initially announced that the fastest lap was set by Masahiro Hasemi on lap 25, but this was a measurement mistake, and, several days later, the circuit issued a press release to correct the fastest lap holder of the race to Jacques Laffite with a time of 1:19.97 on lap 70.[3] This release was promptly made known in Japan, and the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) and Japanese media corrected the record.[4][5] But this correction was not made well-known outside Japan, thus, Hasemi is credited with the fastest lap of the race in many record books.
  • Niki Lauda and James Hunt went into this race with a chance of winning the title.
    • Lauda (68 pts) needed either:
      • to finish ahead of Hunt
      • 3rd with Hunt 2nd
      • 4th or 5th with Hunt 3rd or lower
      • 6th with Hunt 4th or lower
      • Hunt 5th or lower
    • Hunt (65 pts) needed either:
      • 1st
      • 2nd with Lauda 4th or lower
      • 3rd with Lauda 6th or lower
      • 4th with Lauda 7th or lower
In the case of a tie in points, Hunt had the advantage in number of wins (6 vs 5). So, after Lauda's retirement, Hunt only needed the three points of 4th place to win the title.

Championship standings after the race[edit]

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Only the best 7 results from the first 8 races and the best 7 results from the last 8 races counted towards the Championship. Numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored.


  1. ^ Leslie, Jack (18 August 2017). "The 5 Drivers with the Biggest Gap between First and Second F1 Wins". wtf1.com. Retrieved 3 January 2018. 
  2. ^ "1976 Japanese Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  3. ^ i-dea archives (14 January 2006), '76 F1イン・ジャパン (1976 F1 World Championship in Japan), Auto Sport Archives 日本の名レース100選 (The 100 Best races in Japan) (in Japanese), Vol. 001, San-eishobo Publishing Co., Ltd., p. 77, ISBN 978-4-7796-0007-4, archived from the original on 13 December 2010, retrieved 16 December 2010 
  4. ^ "Motorsport competition results: 1976 F1 World Championship in Japan" (in Japanese). Japan Automobile Federation. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  5. ^ "Archive: 1976 F1 World Championship in Japan" (in Japanese). Nikkan Sports News. 25 October 1976. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 

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1976 United States Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
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