The days of new designs appearing at Monza as a prelude to the next season are long since gone, with all-the-year-round racing, and development being done as and when it can be fitted into the racing programme, new cars appear when they are ready. The only sign of a new design were sonic illegal photographs of the Lotus 78, the replacement for this year’s car, but its debut in public was said to he a long way off.
The Scuderia Ferrari had four T2 cars in the paddock, 026 for the return of Niki Lauda, this being the car he used in the first half of the season. Regazzoni had 027 while. newcomer to the team Reutemann had 025: As a spare for anyone in trouble there was car number 023 and all the cars had new rear aerofoils with a slot near the leading edge, otherwise they were to the usual specification. It was interesting to note that after practice three new engines were unloaded from the transporter, being engines number 81, 83 and 95 in the 015 series of three-litre flat twelves. The six-wheeled Tyrrell that Scheckter crashed badly in Austria had to be completely rebuilt using a new monocoque shell and all new suspension parts. It was virtually a new car but retained the old number of P34/3, with the addition of -2 to denote the second monocoque for the original car. It had oil and water radiators sidemounted and used a full-width bluff nose cowling. At the rear was a new design of rear aerofoil, with very deep side plates extending down to the lowest point of the car. A very neat tubular space frame spanned the gearbox, its ends supporting the aerofoil by the lower portions of the deep side plates. This design left the aerofoil completely clear of any central obstructions, which gave better air-flow over and under the aerofoil. This new Tyrrell was only used briefly by Scheckter during Saturday afternoon, the rest of his time being spent with P34/4, now with the standard arrangement of side radiators for water and oil and a smooth bluff nose Cowling. The trio of Lotus cars for Andretti and Nilsson were the usual 77/R1, 77/R2 and 77/R3, all having adjustable rear anti-roll bars and fitted with deep plastic skirts along the monocoque sides, this extra depth necessitating alterations to the engine air-collector boxes to avoid scrutineering difficulties over the maximum height rule.
With Reutemann defecting to the Ferrari team, Rolf Stommelen joined the Ecclestone Alfa Romeo team and took over BT45/I. The faithful Carlos Pace had the carbon-fibre disc brakes refitted to BT45/3 various undisclosed modifications having been made to the hydraulic system to reduce the heat transmitted to the brake fluid. BT45/2-2 was in attendance as a spare car. The March team had had a relatively easy time since the Dutch GP, no total rebuilds being necessary, so Brambilla had 761/1-4 as usual, Peterson had 761/3-3 and 761/6 available, the Citibank advertising covered up with masking tape, and Stuck had 761/2 as ever. McLaren Racing were still keen on Mass putting in racing miles with the new M26, while Hunt concentrated on winning with the proven M23/8 or M23/6. The earlier car used by Mass, M23/9 was in one of the garages in “kit-form” standing up on end against the rear wall.
Among the other entrants the only major change was that the red Ensign of Morris Nunn was now a dark blue Ensign, with sponsorship by Tissot Watches who had been abandoned by the RAM Racing enterprise. Jacky Ickx was still nominated to drive it. The 1975 modified Ensign MNO4 owned by the HB Alarm Company of Holland was painted white and loaned to Larry Perkins to run as a private entry; the Hoogenboom brothers having spent their 1976 budget, and he had a small amount of financial support from some local Italian businessman, but got little support from the Formula One Constructors Association,—D.S.J.