1979: JODY SCHECKTER

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1979
Driver: Jody Scheckter (South Africa)
Team: Ferrari
Car: Ferrari 312T4
Results: 3 wins, 6 podiums, 1 pole

1979 saw Carlos Reutemann move to partner Mario Andretti at Lotus as Jody Scheckter took his seat at Ferrari. Wolf filled the gap left by Scheckter with James Hunt, and McLaren gave John Watson a drive in place of Hunt. The type 79 ‘wing car’ had offered Lotus a great advantage in aerodynamic grip during the previous season. But for this year, many of the teams had incorporated the technology into their designs. Over the first two races Ligier appeared to have made up the most ground with Jacques Laffite taking the victories. In round 3, Ferrari laid down the team’s intentions, giving the new 312T4 model its successful debut. As the season progressed Williams’ reliability improved and Alan Jones demonstrated the team’s pace, winning four out of the last six races. For Williams and Jones it was too little too late. The consistent performances from the Ferrari team had paid off, and despite only having three victories throughout the season, Scheckter took the title.

1979 also saw Formula One say its goodbyes to two of the decade’s greatest characters: James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Hunt quit racing after the Monaco Grand Prix claiming to be fed up with Formula One, and Lauda retired at the penultimate Grand Prix in Montreal informing Brabham owner Bernie Ecclestone he had no more desire to “drive around in circles”. Lauda, who had previously founded a charter airline, returned to Austria to run the company full-time.

See season review in three parts: one, two and three

Or see one of the best moments of the season: Rene Arnoux vs. Gilles Villeneuve

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1978: MARIO ANDRETTI

Models produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps) & Vitesse (Quartzo)

Year: 1978
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.

(Source: Wikipedia)

See the season review in four parts: one, twothree and four

1977: NIKI LAUDA

Model produced by: Vitesse (La Storia)

Year: 1977
Driver: Niki Lauda (Austria)
Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car: Ferrari 312T2
Results: 3 wins, 10 podiums, 2 poles, 3 fastest laps

Jody Scheckter won the first race of the season in a newly formed Wolf team. Niki Lauda had a difficult season with Ferrari. Relationship between parties got worse after Lauda decided to withdraw from championship deciding race the previous year. In 1977 Lauda wanted to prove he can still win championship if he wants to. And he did. He won it easily albeit through consistancy rather than outright pace. Lauda won 3 races and so did Jody Scheckter (Wolf) who finished 2nd. Mario Andretti won 4 races in a Lotus 78 “wing car”, a car that started the ground effect revolution, but finished the season in 3rd place. When Lauda heard about Ferrari’s decision to run the then unknown Gilles Villeneuve in a third car at the Canadian Grand Prix, he left the team immediately, having already clinched his 2nd title and 5th constructors’ title for Ferrari. The season also saw Renault entering Grand Prix racing with a turbocharged car which was initially not successful.

See the season review: part one and part two


1976: JAMES HUNT

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1976
Driver: James Hunt (Great Britain)
Team: McLaren Ford
Car: McLaren M23
Results: 6 wins, 8 podiums, 8 poles, 2 fastest laps

1976 saw reigning Champion Niki Lauda start as the favourite in his Ferrari, as nearest rival Emerson Fittipaldi made the patriotic switch from McLaren to the Brazilian funded Copersucar team. This left a hole at McLaren, filled by the ambitious, British hopeful, James Hunt, to set the scene for a dramatic season of racing. Hunt quickly adapted to life at McLaren and, unfazed by Lauda’s early dominance, continued to pick up valuable points and podium finishes. In an extraorinarily political season with lots of disqualifications, appeals and overturned decisions, world championship went to enfant terrible of Formula 1, James Hunt, by 1 point. Ferrari took the constructors’ title. 1976 will probably be best remembered for Lauda’s horrific accident at the Nurburgring that nearly ended his life and saw him rushed to hospital with major burns. His resilience and dedication to racing saw him make a remarkable recovery, returning six weeks later to ensure a thrilling climax to a season that ended with only one point separating 1st and 2nd place in the championship. Again it was the last eventful race in Japan that decided the title. Lauda led Hunt by three points going into the final race. In appalling weather condition Mario Andretti (Lotus) won, Lauda gave up because of the hazardous conditions, and Hunt eventually finished third to take the title. Enzo Ferrari was mad with Niki Lauda and called him “a coward” for withdrawing from the championship deciding race. Also in 1976, a six-wheeled Tyrrell confounded the sceptics by winning in Sweden.

See the season review until the last race

See the last race review

See Niki Lauda’s near fatal crash

1975: NIKI LAUDA

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1975
Driver: Niki Lauda (Austria)
Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car: Ferrari 312T
Results: 5 wins, 8 podiums, 9 poles, 2 fastest laps

Brabham team seemed favorite to win the title after strong finish to the 1974 season, but it was the year the prancing horse got its spring back. The early decade had been a challenging period for Ferrari, as they struggled to find a body shape that would do justice to the brute force of the V12 engine. Enter Niki Lauda and his brand new car – the Ferrari 312T; an irresistible combination that would prove to be unstoppable. Lauda won 5 races that year and reigning world champion Fittipladi only won 2, which was enough for 2nd place in the championship. When Lauda secured the championship/constructor double in front of a frenzied Italian crowd at Monza, everybody knew that Ferrari was back. It was their first title after 11 years.

See the first lap of 1975 Nuerburgring race with Lauda in the lead.

1974: EMERSON FITTIPALDI

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1974
Driver: Emerson Fittipaldi (Brazil)
Team: McLaren Ford
Car: McLaren M23
Results: 3 wins, 7 podiums, 2 poles

1974 was the year of change in Formula One. Defending champion Jackie Stewart had retired from racing, creating a power vacuum that sucked a host of racers, old and new, into the battle for the Championship.

And what a season! Predicting the outcome of each race was impossible as the drivers battled to come to terms with closer racing brought about by faster cars with better tyres. It was reliability as much as driving skill that kept the leaderboard in a state of constant flux. By the final race of the season Emerson Fittipaldi (McLaren), Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari) and Jody Scheckter (Tyrrell) were locked in a fascinating three-way battle for the title. It went right down to the wire.

Emerson Fittipaldi and Clay Regazzoni went into the last race level on points, but Regazzoni dropped down the field with handling problems, so Fittipaldi’s fourth place gave him the championship. Fittipaldi, Ronnie Peterson and Carlos Reutemann each won three races, Jody Scheckter and Niki Lauda two each, Regazzoni and Denny Hulme, who retired at the end of the season, one each. Graham Hill ran a new team of Lolas, the larger-than-life Hesketh team entered its own car after running James Hunt in a March, and Americans Roger Penske and Parnelli Jones entered their own cars late in the season.

The 1974 season was the first when drivers had permanent racing numbers from race to race, after the system had been instituted in the middle of the previous season.

(Source: Wikipedia, raceart.net)

See the season review: part 1 and part 2

1973: JACKIE STEWART

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1973
Driver: Jackie Stewart (Great Britain)
Team: Tyrrell Ford 
Car: Tyrrell 006
Results: 5 wins, 7 podiums, 3 poles, 1 fastest lap

Note: In 1973, Lotus teammates Fittipaldi and Ronnie Peterson raced each other while Stewart was supported by François Cevert at Tyrrell. Stewart took the Driver’s title, but then at the final race of the season, the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen, Cevert crashed during Saturday practice in the notorious ‘Esses’ and was killed instantly. Stewart and Tyrrell withdrew from the race effectively handing the Constructor’s title to Lotus. At the end of the season Stewart made public his decision to retire, a decision that was already made before the US Grand Prix.

By the end of 1973 season the best car on the track was probably the new McLaren M23, a wedge-shaped car following the same concept as the Lotus 72 but with more conventional suspension and up to date aerodynamics.

(Source: Wikipedia)

See a clip of Jackie Stewart’s best moments in 1973.

See the season review: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 & part 5