In the meantime, I was throwing the weight off the right front, sliding the car’s back out everywhere. But when I approached the pits I looked in my mirror and I couldn’t believe they had hardly caught me. So I thought: “Let’s do another lap.” I think what happened was that the tyre got soft, skidded I and some rubber went over the hole. So the tyre lost three quarters of its pressure, but had kind of sealed itself. So I went round again and thought I’d try another lap. I think there were something like six laps to go when it went down, and Mario and Niki caught me a little bit at a time. Really, I was surprised I could carry on; I thought the tyre would come off the rim and I was surprised how fast I could go with it like that. The real trouble was that I couldn’t brake late, because the right front would lock up. They caught me with three laps’ to go. Mario got on my tail and I couldn’t do anything. At the end of the straight he just outbraked me. Then the next lap Niki did the same and I came third but still only five seconds behind Mario.
That was bad, but we had a good year and led the championship. But there were two things that put us out of it. One was a fuel percolation problem. Normally it wouldn’t happen until the middle of a race, we couldn’t make it happen in practice so before we cured it, it had messed up six or seven races. And then I crashed while leading in Belgium. It was drying and I spun off. Otherwise we probably could have won the title. I won in Canada and Monaco which was fabulous. It depends how you look at your best race. You have to say that Monaco in ’77 was probably sweeter than the one with Ferrari. And of course there’s Monza ’79. But for me the best was that Long Beach race. I was mad at the end! I remember these good-looking girls coming up to me afterwards, and normally I get quite polite when there are good-looking girls around. But I think I was just rude, because I was so upset. But, looking back, I think it was probably my most perfectly driven race.