Scheckter wins as ground-effect cars dominate
Ground-effect cars took over the Formula One scene, although some worked better than others. In a very competitive season the reliability of the Ferraris gave them top place and helped Jody Scheckter to scoop the title.
Things looked good at Lotus as Ferrari ace Reutemann joined Andretti, Martini replaced JPS as title sponsor and Chapman still had the inside line on new technology. Or did he? The wingless Lotus 80 was supposed to be a leap forward, but it did not work.
Williams was also spot on with its new car, the FW07. It was not ready at the start of the season, so Jones and new team-mate Regazzoni started out in the old machine. Ferrari was also late with the 312T4. Scheckter quit Wolf to join Villeneuve. After 18 months in the background, Renault expanded to a second entry for René Arnoux and built the effective RS10.
Ligier started the season with a bang, and Laffite won the races in Argentina and Brazil. The new Ferrari arrived at Kyalami, and Villeneuve and Scheckter finished one-two. Significantly, Jabouille's Renault took its first pole. Villeneuve and Scheckter repeated the result at Long Beach. Ligier bounced back in Spain, sweeping the front row; Depailler led throughout. Lotus had a rare good day, Reutemann and Andretti taking second and third. Zolder saw the debut of the Williams FW07. Jones led easily until retiring, leaving victory to Scheckter. Jody won again in Monaco, chased home by Regazzoni's FW07. After retiring in this race, Hunt decided he had had enough and hung up his helmet. Wolf signed fiery Finn Keke Rosberg to replace him.
In France, Renault's Jabouille gave the team its first win. And, in a thrilling finale, Villeneuve just edged Arnoux out of second. Then luck went the way of Williams. Regazzoni gave the team a fabulous first win at Silverstone, which was followed by successes for Jones at Hockenheim, the Osterreichring and Zandvoort.
Scheckter kept collecting points, and by winning at Monza he had amassed enough to claim the title with two races to go. Villeneuve, under orders, followed in his wheel tracks. By Montreal, Brabham had abandoned the awful BT48 and replaced it with the neat DFV-powered BT49. It did not interest Lauda, who announced he was quitting.
The race saw a fine battle between Jones and Villeneuve, which went the way of the Williams driver as he took his fourth win of the year. The pair fought again at a wet Watkins Glen, but Jones lost a wheel after a pit stop, and the gutsy little Canadian won with another display of Ferrari reliability.