The pain before Spain




The Spanish GP was not the first time McLaren had come into conflict with the scrutineers in 1976. After qualifying for the South African GP, both McLarens and the lone Penske of John Watson had to have plastic strips removed from the bases of their tubs. These devices, intended to inhibit airflow under the cars, were judged to contravene the regulations about wing height above the lowest part of the chassis. How effective were they? Hunt was on pole, Mass and Watson on the second row. As Enzo Ferrari pointed out in a press conference: “Mr Hunt’s time was not taken away from him; instead of making him start last they allowed him pole position.” (Autosport, 17 March 1977). flames had been sent to the back of the grid, he might not have been able to finish second. And in that case — with everything else equal — Mika Hakkinen would have spent 2000 trying to be the first driver to secure a world championship hat-trick since Niki Lauda.

One point which did not come out clearly from the articles is the fact that the new regulations for 1976 had been proposed and debated from the previous summer. It was already known that the Ligier ‘teapot’ would be illegal after April when it was first announced in November 1975, while the Lotus 77 was already fitted with new-type air intakes when it was revealed to the press two months earlier.

Thanks for another excellent issue.


David Cole, Rutland