100 F1 race winners part 6: 1974-1977

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Carlos Reutemann won for Ferrari at Jacarepagua in 1978

The latest instalment of the guide to 100 Grand Prix winners includes the driver who scored his only win – and then crashed after crossing the finish line.

Plus an F1 team that won its first race, and the driver who won from 22nd on the grid. Oh, and a couple of world champions…

51. Carlos Reutemann

First win: 1974 South African Grand Prix, Kyalami
Total wins: 12
Nationality: Argentinian

Reutemann’s form seemed to depend a lot on his form – or how well he was getting on with his team mate. But he could often be relied up to produce excellent qualifying laps and he did so right from the start, scoring a surprise pole position on his debut at home in 1972.

He became a Grand Prix winner in his third year at Brabham at Kyalami, but suffered a dip in form in the middle of the season. But when Niki Lauda was badly injured in 1976 Enzo Ferrari signed Reutemann partner Lauda for the following season, expecting Lauda would struggle to return to the peak of his powers. Instead, Lauda shattered Reutemann then walked out of the team having claimed the title.

Reutemann bounced back in 1978 with four wins but was unable to stop the runaway Lotuses. He switched to the team for 1979 but their new car proved uncompetitive, so he moved on to Williams for 1980.

He scored a single win as team mate Alan Jones claimed the championship, but the following year relations between the two fell apart when Reutemann refused to let Jones by to win at Jacarepagua. Now Reutemann went on a charge for the championship but it all fell apart in the season finale at Las Vegas. Starting from pole position, he inexplicably slumped to eighth in the race while Nelson Piquet snatched the title by a point.

Two races into 1982 he abruptly quit the sport.

52. Niki Lauda

First win: 1974 Spanish Grand Prix
Total wins: 25
Nationality: Austrian

Lauda spent his first full season with March in 1972 but was dropped at the end of it. He switched to BRM on a three-year deal but when Ferrari came knocking in 1974 he wriggled out of it to join the Italian team.

He won twice in 1974 but suffered a string of breakdowns late in the year. Everything came right in 1975 though, as he took control of the championship to claim his first title.

The following year would probably have gone the same way had he not almost been killed at the Nurburgring. He returned to the cockpit to try and keep James Hunt from the title, but found the dire conditions at the season finale in Fuji impossible and pulled out of the final race, enraging Enzo Ferrari.

Lauda stormed to a second title in 1977 and left to join Brabham. But after two seasons of frequent retirements and just two wins he left the team during practice for the Canadian Grand Prix.

Three years later Ron Dennis tempted him out of retirement with a big-money offer backed by sponsors Marlboro. He won his third race back at Long Beach and once the team sorted its turbo engine for 1984 he was winning regularly again. He had just enough in him to beat Alain Prost for his third title – by half a points – then retired at the end of 1985.

Read more about Niki Lauda: Niki Lauda biography

53. Jody Scheckter

First win: Swedish Grand Prix, Anderstorp
Total wins: 10
Nationality: South African

Although his F1 career got off to a wild start – especially when he spun in front of the pack at Silverstone in 1973, causing an enormous crash – Scheckter was nonetheless considered a champion of the future.

He joined Tyrrell in 1974 and won his first race for the team at Anderstorp. But Scheckter was no fan of the radical P34 six-wheeled car introduced in 1976 and he left join Walter Wolf’s new team in 1977.

He caused a stir by winning the team’s maiden race in Buenos Aires, and took two more wins during the course of the season. But then came the opportunity to join Ferrari in 1979.

The team’s existing driver Gilles Villeneuve seized the initiative in the early part of the season but Scheckter hit back with wins in Zolder and Monte-Carlo. As the end of the season drew close Ferrari ordered Villeneuve to play the supporting role to Scheckter which he dutifully did, following the South African home at Monza where Scheckter was crowned champion.

But the 1980 car was a disaster and Scheckter suffered the ignominy of failing to qualify at Montreal. He retired after the season finale at Watkins Glen.

Read more about Jody Scheckter: Jody Scheckter biography

54. Carlos Pace

First win: 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos
Total wins: 1
Nationality: Brazilian

Pace drove a Frank Williams-run March and later a Surtees, then joined Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team after quitting the latter halfway through 1974. The following year he thrilled the home crowd at Interlagos by winning his first race there. But he never scored another win as the team struggled after it started to run Alfa Romeo flat 12 engines, and Pace was killed in a light aircraft crash early in 1977.

55. Jochen Mass

First win: 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, Montjuich Park
Total wins: 1
Nationality: German

Mass was a capable if not outstanding driver who made his first F1 start in 1973 for Surtees. Joining McLaren in 1975 he scored his sole win at Montjuich Park when the race was stopped early. But he was out-classed by James Hunt over the next two seasons and joined ATS in 1978.

After two seasons with Arrows he switched to March in 1982. But at Zolder he was involved in the accident that killed Gilles Villeneuve and retired before the end of the season. However he went on to have a very successful sports car racing career.

56. James Hunt

First win: 1975 Dutch Grand Prix, Zandvoort
Total wins: 10
Nationality: British

Hunt was considered a wayward and crash-prone driver early in his career. Then he entered Formula 1 with the unfancied Hesketh team. But the critics began to revise their views of Hunt when he beat Lauda at Zandvoort in 1975.

A shortage of funds at Hesketh meant Hunt faced the prospect of no drive for 1976, but when Emerson Fittipaldi made his shock switch from McLaren to his brother’s team Hunt took his place.

Hunt’s championship bid may have been aided by Lauda’s horrific crash at the Nurburgring, but he took five wins and was frustrated by questionable penalties at Brands Hatch and Monza, and clinched the title with third place at Fuji.

He won three more times in 1977 but suffered a patchy 1978 and a switch to Wolf the following year brought no improvements. He walked out of F1 after retiring from the Monaco Grand Prix. Hunt later became part of the BBC’s commentary team but died of a heart attack in 1993.

Read more about James Hunt: James Hunt biography

57. Vittorio Brambilla

First win: 1975 Austrian Grand Prix, Osterreichring
Total wins: 1
Nationality: Italian

Brambilla was in his second season with March when he scored an excellent win in the wet in Austria. But famously he spun and hit the barrier after on his way back to the pits. Unfortunately Brambilla tended to do his crashing before the chequered flag and that proved the undoing of his F1 career. He retired from F1 in 1980.

58. John Watson

First win: 1976 Austrian Grand Prix, Osterreichring
Total wins: 5
Nationality: British

The Austrian Grand Prix saw another new winner the following year – John Watson, who stayed true to his promise to team boss Roger Penske and dutifully shaved off his beard. Here’s hoping Nick Heidfeld wins a race soon??

After two winless seasons with Brabham Watson joined McLaren. The team were very uncompetitive at the time but the arrival of Ron Dennis quickly brought about improvements and Watson was back on top of the podium in Silverstone in 1981.

The next year he was in contention for the championship until the final round – partly thanks to a stunning victory at Detroit from 17th on the grid.

In 1983 he won at Long Beach having started 22nd – the worst qualifying position a Grand Prix has ever been won from. It was also his final win, McLaren dropping him for Alain Prost at the end of the year, although he briefly filled in for Niki Lauda at the end of 1985.

59. Gunnar Nilsson

First win: 1977 Belgian Grand Prix, Zolder
Total wins: 1
Nationality: Swedish

Gunnar Nilsson won his first race in his second season with Lotus at Zolder. But late in the year he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he passed away in October.

60. Jacques Laffite

First win: 1977 Swedish Grand Prix, Anderstorp
Total wins: 6
Nationality: French

After making his debut in one of Frank Williams’ cars Laffite joined Guy Ligier’s team, with whom he would spend a total of nine seasons. He won at Anderstorp with the Matra-powered car in 1977, but the team made a huge step forward with its Cosworth-powered ground effect racer in 1979.

Laffite won the first two races of the year but the team struggled to develop the car and Ferrari beat them to the championship. The team later returned to Matra power and Laffite made a late bid for the 1981 championship after winning at the Osterreichring and Montreal.

The 1982 season was a disaster, however, and Laffite joined Williams, where he struggled to match Keke Rosberg’s efforts in largely uncompetitive machinery. So he went back to Ligier and the team seemed to be getting back on form with Renault turbo power in 1986. But Laffite broke his legs in a crash at the start of the British Grand Prix which ended his F1 career.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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One comment on “100 F1 race winners part 6: 1974-1977”

  1. After his only win at Zolder, Gunnar Nilsson did a series of poor qualifying efforts in the remainder of the ’77 season, but it was largely unbeknownst that this was a consequence of his cancerous condition. He was unable to retain his position at Lotus, but signed for Arrows for the ’78 season, altought he was unable to drive even a single race. He lived enough, however, to see the death of fellow Swede, close friend and own Lotus’ seat replacement Ronnie Peterson. He died in October 1978. See

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