Models produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps) & Vitesse (Quartzo)
Driver: Mario Andretti (USA)
Team: Lotus Ford
Car: Lotus 78 & Lotus 79
Results: 6 wins, 7 podiums, 8 poles, 3 fastest laps
Ferrari and Lauda had now gone their separate ways despite winning the championship together in ‘77. Lauda moved to Brabham and Ferrari took on the young Gilles Villeneuve. Frank Williams and Patrick Head formed Williams Grand Prix Engineering, mounting their first title challenge with Alan Jones in the driving seat. Tyrrell had reverted back to four wheels from their radical six-wheeled P34, and this year it was Brabham who turned heads with the introduction of their BT-46B ‘fan car’. On its first Grand Prix in Sweden it took first place only to be banned from future competition by the FIA.
The previous season, in 1977, Team Lotus secretly tested Lotus 79 which was the first F1 car to take full adavantage of ground effect aerodynamics, pioneered in its predecessor, the Lotus 78. Nicknamed “Black beauty” by the press and F1 fans, Lotus 79 became one of the most significant and respected racing car design of all time. Mario Andretti said after driving the 79 for the first time that the 78 was like driving a London bus. Lotus 79 was instantly competitive on its debut at Zolder, 6th race of the season. Andretti took pole by more than a second and won the race comfortably. Andretti won 6 races that season to become champion, Ronnie Peterson (also Lotus) won 2 and posthumously became vice-champion after being killed after the start of Monza GP. Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari) was 3rd with 4 wins. Team Lotus also took their last constructors’ title, 7th.
Also in 1978, Nelson Piquet entered F1.