Gran Premio d`Italia 10 September 1978, Monza
Ronnie Peterson har beslutat sig för att lämna Lotus
trots att han offererats ett fint bud av Chapman. Detta bud är dock
oacceptabelt då Andretti tidigare försäkrats ett nytt likartat kontrakt som
det han hade under 1978. Utan att avslöja vilket stall han skall gå till,
säger Ronnie inför sin 123:e och nästa F1-start i Italiens GP:
"Det mest guldkantade kontrakt jag någonsin skrivit sen jag kom in i
den här karusellen, men jag har tillförsäkrats en vinnarbil i ett team som
är lika proffsigt som Lotus."
Tyvärr blir det inte något nytt stall för Ronnie. Starten i Italiens GP
på Monza blir Ronnies sista. Efter en bedrövlig helg av idel problem och en
svår avkörning under söndagens uppvärmning, tvingas Ronnie starta från
tredje led i reservbilen - fjolårsmodellen Lotus 78. Av oklar anledning kommer
Ronnie något efter i starten - en start som för övrigt är under all kritik
då fältet släpps iväg innan alla bilar står stilla. Ricardo Patrese, som
startar längre bak i fältet försöker sig på en fräckis och kör om en rad
bilar utanför själva banan. Då startrakan smalnar av finns inte tillräckligt
med plats för Patrese som försöker ta sig in på banan igen och plötsligt
kastas James Hunts bil åt sidan så att han kolliderar med Ronnie. Ronnies bil
kastas in i avbärarräcket och studsar i ett eldhav åter in på banan. Bilen
blir ännu en gång påkörd. I det virrvarr som uppstår lyckas James Hunt ta
sig fram till Ronnies brinnande bil och får efter möda loss Ronnie som har
svårt sargade ben. Efter en lång stund flygs Ronnie, som är vid medvetande,
till ett närliggande sjukhus. Loppet kan startas om.
Andretti on pole before Villeneuve. Fastest Lap: Andretti 1.38.23 Leaders:
Jabouille 1-5; Lauda 6-40.
Lauda Brabham-Alfa Romeo wins, Watson Brabham-Alfa Romeo second, Reutemann
Ferrari third and Ronnie Peterson Lotus crashed heavily at the start and died
later in hospital.
Summary in english
After a summer of Team Lotus domination, the World
Championship was effectively settled when the F1 teams arrived at Monza in early
September. Mario Andretti
was only 12 points ahead of his team mate Ronnie Peterson but the Swede had agreed
to help his team leader (and had done so) and so he was not a challenge. Niki Lauda (Brabham) was third but
he was 28 points behind Andretti and with only three races left he could not win
Jochen Mass had had a big accident
while testing the brand new ATS chassis at
Silverstone and the German was out of action with a broken leg. Michael Bleekemolen was retained to
drive one of the old HS1 chassis and Harald Ertl was given the other
after he failed to pre-qualify the Ensign. Surtees replaced the injured Rupert Keegan with the local driver
"Gimax" (Carlo Franchi). Pre-qualifying got rid of Rolf Stommelen (Arrows), Hector Rebaque and Alberto Colombo (in
a second Merzario).
Qualifying was not plain sailing for the Lotus team but Mario Andretti took pole position ahead
of Gilles Villeneuve (Ferrari), Jean-Pierre Jabouille (Renault) and Niki Lauda (Brabham). Peterson was
next with Alan Jones alongside in his
Williams. The top 10 was completed by John Watson (Brabham), Jacques Laffite (Ligier), Jody Scheckter (Wolf) and James Hunt (McLaren). In the
morning warm-up on Sunday Peterson crashed heavily when the rear brakes on his Lotus 79 failed. He had to
start the race in an old Lotus 78.
At the start the
back rows of the grid were still moving and so those at the back had extra
momentum and so the midfield was rather more crowded than usual. Villeneuve made
the best start and led Andretti and Lauda down to the first corner. Jabouille
was with them while a second bunch of cars included Jones, Watson, Laffite,
Scheckter, Peterson, Hunt and Patrese. The young Italian had decided to use the
track on the wrong side of the white line on the run towards the chicane and as
the corner approached he needed to slot into the pack. Hunt did not want to give
him space. The two cars collided, Hunt's then hitting Peterson and being
launched into the air. Peterson's Lotus speared off into the
barriers, while Hunt's McLaren
landed and went down the road sideways. Behind them there was pandemonium as
Reutemann, the Shadows of Clay Regazzoni and Hans Stuck, the Tyrrells of Didier Pironi and Patrick Depailler, Vittorio Brambilla's Surtees, Derek Daly's Ensign and Brett Lunger's McLaren were all involved in a
high-speed multiple accident. Peterson's Lotus was torn in half and
burst into flames. Hunt ran back and went into flames and was joined by
Regazzoni and the pair managed to drag Peterson clear on the wreck. He
had suffered serious leg injuries. Brambilla had been hit on the head by a
flying wheel and was unconscious while Stuck was badly shaken up having also
been hit on the head on the head by a flying wheel.
Peterson and Brambilla were taken to hospital.
The race was going to be restarted but as the cars were getting ready Scheckter
lost a wheel in the Lesmo and crashed heavily. The barriers did not hold up well
and so repairs had to be made and it was nearly six o'clock before the race
started again with 19 cars (six drivers being in their spares and five being
unable to start).
At the restart Villeneuve was too quick away and Andretti went with him and so
both drivers were given a one minute penalty as a result. Andretti was unable to
take the lead until the 35th of 40 laps (the race having been shortened) when
Villeneuve began to struggle with his brakes and tires.
Jabouille ran third early on but soon retired with an engine failure and so
Lauda moved to third, while Watson was able to move up to fourth ahead of
Reutemann and Laffite. With the penalties added Andretti and Villeneuve dropped
to sixth and seventh positions (Andretti having been only 15secs clear of Lauda
at the finish) and so Patrick Tambay (McLaren) inherited fifth place.
With Peterson in hospital and obviously out for the rest of the season, Andretti
was champion but there was no celebrating.
It seemed that Peterson's injuries were not dangerous and he had not been burned.
But that night he underwent an operation on his legs. There were complications
with a clot forming in his blood stream and the Swede slipped into a coma and
died early the next morning.
||NT=No time set in qualifying
|EX=Excluded from meeting
|NS=Did not start
||NQ=Did not qualify
||NPQ=Did not pre-qualify