The two teams in which there are no problems at the moment are the Williams team and the Renault team, so it is no surprise to see them out at the front. Lotus have lost their way technically and the discord between their drivers is not helping much; Tyrrell has driver trouble in Jarier being unwell; Brabham are far from happy for Ecclestone seems to spend more time being “obergruppenfuhrer” of FOCA than team-boss, and Lauda has made it clear he is fed up with the whole operation and in particular Carlo Chiti and the Alfa Romeo V12 engine; McLaren lost their way technically early in the season and have generally suffered from having two number two drivers, while design changes have upset the balance of the staff and Alister Caldwell has left after 12 years, due to disagreements with team policy; Ferrari, well they would be alright if Villeneuve would stop going faster than Scheckter; Shadow can hardly hope to make much impression with two novice drivers in their first season of Formula 1; Ligier have been unsettled by superior cars catching them up and also by losing their “charger” Patrick Depailler: Arrows expected too much from their new design and neither of their drivers is very good at feeding back information to the design team during testing, and they also have internal problems because Dave Wass wants to leave and the rest of the management are afraid he will take his know-how learnt at their expense with him. Single car teams can hardly hope to be out front, but Fittipaldi is very disillusioned by designers and technicalities, Rosberg is doing his best for the Wolf team, but his best is limited. Ensign is struggling to keep going on limited finance, Rebaque has the finance but is limited by available cars, so the team is building its own improved Lotus 79 with the aid of the Penske organisation, the ATS team has its ups and downs and with Vic Elford now managing things they hope to improve and Merzario is being left behind by all the advances.
A lot of people keep asking what is the secret of the Frank Williams team success, but it cannot be put down to any one thing, though compatability has a major influence on everything that happens. The compatability in the Renault team has a similar effect.
On the starting grid for the Austrian GP last year the last car on the grid was the Martini-Cosworth V8 driven by Rene Arnoux. This year the same driver was on pole position with the turbo-charged Renault, which is some progress in twelve months, though there will be people who say that it is all down to the car. Undoubtedly the Renault is far superior to the Martini, but it still has to be driven and not many of the drivers today could guarantee pole-position given that car. The bright-eyed little Rene Arnoux must have more than average talent, though many of his rivals would not admit it. Looking at last year’s grid it is interesting to note that Rosberg was in the privately-owned Wolf WR3 and this year was in the factory Wolf, while Daly was in row 10 with the works Ensign and this year was in row 6 in the works Tyrrell, alongside Rosberg who had jumped up from the twelfth row last year.
After the race, as is normal procedure, the first six cars were put into a compound to await any protests, and at the same time have various details checked by the scrutineers. There being no protests the cars were released but the officials asked to verify the capacity of the winning Cosworth V8 engine, as they have every right to do. Rather than take the engine apart in the paddock the Williams team agreed to have the engine sealed and to pay for a FISA official to travel to the Cosworth factory to check the bore and stroke when the engine goes in for its routine service. Last year the winning Ferrari engine at the British Grand Prix was checked for its capacity after the race, and this year at Dijon the winning Renault was measured to make sure it was a 1 1/2-litre. It is all quite normal, though the English daily papers seemed to think something awful had happened. — D.S.J.