The 1978 Argentine Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 15 January 1978 at Buenos Aires.
"Argentina's capital city was again the centre of world sport, the start of the 1978 grand prix motor racing season. It's a season very much looked forward too, Niki Lauda, the world champion with his new team Brabham and James Hunt who was coming good at the end of last season, winning two of the last three races, a strong hope to regain his world title". - Harry Carpenter.
The full entry list for the 1978 Argentine Grand Prix is outlined below:
"24 cars line up in the sun. The temperature is 90 de grees on this track just outside Buenos Aires. In the final practice, the lap record was smashed by Mario Andretti, the Italian-American. His black JPS Lotus has pole position. On the second row behind the local hero, Carlos Reutemann, is John Watson of Ulster, driving one of Bernie Ecclestone's Brabham-Alfa's. The other Brabham of course has Niki Lauda in it, Lauda the world champion formerly with Ferrari is on the third row. And alongside Niki is the previous world champion, James Hunt in the McLaren. Race is scheduled for 53 laps." Harry Carpenter. BBC.
"Right from the start, Andretti was quicker than anyone" noted Harry Carpenter. Andretti made a blinding getaway, leading the field ahead of Reutemann, Peterson, Lauda, Laffite, Hunt and Depailler. "Andretti is streaking away, driving the same Lotus in which he had won four times last season, but which also let him down in crucial races. Even on this second lap, there is no one near him".
"Rupert Keegan in the Surtees is already out. The car spun, the engine sucked in grass." - Harry Carpenter
"By the tenth lap, Andretti is already ten seconds ahead. Watson is second now, having got past Reutemann who is having tyre trouble."
"The battle for third place, Reutemann, then Lauda, then Laffite in the Ligier-Matra. Fourteenth lap, Reutemann on Lauda's tail. Watch how the champion slipstreams Reutemann, then brilliantly pulls out, delays braking and eases past. That maneuver must have given Lauda a lot of satisfaction as he speeds on and leaves his former teammate to struggle in the Ferrari. Now Lauda is pursuing second placed Watson."
"Andretti's car is functioning perfectly, look how long it is before Watson comes in to view. Watson in the second Brabham, had problems last season. Twice he looked like winning, in the French Grand Prix he ran out of fuel and at Silverstone, the car led for three quarters of the way, then blew up. Watson's recurring problem is to get the car to the finish line. Watson is well behind Andretti, but he is also a long way ahead of the rest."
"Lauda is third, and behind him comes Patrick Depailler in the Elf-Tyrrell back on conventional four wheels instead of six. In fifth place is Hunt who has got past the fading Reutemann who is now being pushed and past by Ronnie Peterson. Back at Lotus after two years, and now Andretti's teammate. Hunt who is leading this group is looking for a good season, at the end of last year, he won two of the last three races and wound up the season with three wins. As many as Lauda. Now Hunt wants the title back. At this end he has cleared up some of his many other commitments to get himself totally fit for the long championship battle. He's been the quickest driver in the pre-season testing and Andretti has tipped him as the man to beat. In this race, Hunt's 70th grand prix, his tyres are giving him a few problems. But they are not as bad as Reutemann's, after 27 laps, the Argentinian comes in to change the tyres that were never right. Afterwards he forces his way back into seventh place".
"Depailler one of five French drivers in this race is chasing Lauda. But first he has got to cope with a couple of backmarkers. Watch what happens now, as one backmarker pulls out to pass the other, and then Depailler makes up his mind to pass both at once. A daring maneuver."
"A quarter of the race left, Lauda has got past Watson and Depailler is threatening too. So Lauda is now second, some way behind Andretti. It's a position he knew well last season, he was second six times. That consistency one the world title."
"Depailler has also got past the unhappy Watson and Brabham's hopes rest solely on Lauda. Depailler sets out on the world champion. Lauda at this stage is 25 seconds behind Andretti. After 41 laps, Watson gives up. Once more his Brabham fails to finish. But the other Brabham with Lauda in it speeds sweetly on in pursuit of Andretti. All Watson can do is curse his luck after yet another failure."
"With seven laps to go, Andretti is courteously let through by tail ender Brambilla. With victory in sight, Andretti is easing off. There is no need to flog the engine, there is plenty of lead in hand."
"But behind him, Depailler believes he can steal second place from Lauda. The world champion has other ideas, just watch the skill and resolve as he totally outwits Depailler."
"Fangio, former world champion, waits to flag the winner. It is of course Andretti, however Fangio mistakes Peterson's black Lotus for Andretti's and gives him the chequered flag. But eventually Fangio gets it right and Andretti wins the first grand prix of 1978 by 13 seconds. With Lauda second, Depailler third and Hunt fourth. It was in fact Hunt whom David Coleman spoke to first in the pits after the race."
David Coleman: James it's hot work out there isn't it?
James Hunt: Well it wasn't hot as last year, thats one thing we can say for it. It was pretty hot but not too bad.
David Coleman: Did the heat produce any problems for you in the car?
James Hunt: Well my left front tyre chunked quite badly all the way round, so I had a big vibration through the steering and no grip in the right hand hairpins. But whether that was because of the heat or it was just a problem with the tyre, I don't know because we were running the hardest front tyre available. And other people were running softer ones and got away with it. "
David Coleman: Of course, Andretti got away like he did, there was no way anyone was going to catch him was there?
James Hunt: No he was gone, all we could do was hope he'd break down. But not this time.
David Coleman: The lowest you were down was about seventh wasn't it?
James Hunt: Yes I think I was seventh early on, I made a pretty poor start I'm afraid.
David Coleman: What happened?
James Hunt: I just got it wrong. Sometimes you get it right, some times you get it wrong.
David Coleman: Just looking back at the records, you usually lead here don't you?
James Hunt: Well I was just thinking rather, that it is rather how fate works. It's the first Argentinian Grand Prix I haven't led. And its the first Argentinian Grand Prix where everyone hasn't dropped out. Its traditionally won by the tortoise rather than the hare. It's the first time we have had a hare win it."
David Coleman: Still your satisfied to pick up some world championship points?
James Hunt: I'm very happy, its the first time for three years that I have scored points in the first race. So I'm not complaining.
David Coleman: Niki, a marvelous start with the new firm?
Niki Lauda: Yes I'm very happy, it just takes time to get used to the new team. And I've just started and I'm happy I've finished second.
David Coleman: How did the car handle?
Niki Lauda: I have no problem with the car at all, the car handled perfect from the beginning to the end. I'm really sorry about John's problem.
David Coleman: Patrick Depailler of course was pressing you hard. Do you think you were always secure about second place?
Niki Lauda: Yes there was no problem at all.
David Coleman: Hedidn't seem to be making much impression, it was all about the same distance in the closing stages
Niki Lauda: Yeah if he would have come close, the Brabham was coming very wide. No problem at all there.
David Coleman: It must have been very satisfying to you to finish so far in front of the Ferrari's today.
Niki Lauda: You know frankly, I don't care because the only thing I wanted was to win with the Brabham. Because they have commited myself and if the Ferrari's are in troubles, I am not happy for them but I'm sure they sort themselves out one day.
David Coleman: John Watson appeared to be going well. Do you think you were likely to catch him before his engine blew.
Niki Lauda: Well John was going very quick and I was easing off in the beginning because I wanted to take it easy in the beginning. And I wanted to take it easy, especially with a full tank. Didn't want to do anything bad to the car and John just pulled away
Standings after raceEdit
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