1976 Dutch Grand Prix
- Sunday, August 29, 1976
- Grote Prijs van Nederland en Europa
- F1 World Championship
Zandvoort August 29th
There seemed to be a happy atmosphere pervading the paddock on Friday morning as cars were prepared for practice. Everyone had enjoyed the previous Grand Prix in Austria, a spirit of “racing” was about the place rather than “professionalism”,, the Scuderia Ferrari were back, albeit with only one entry at the moment, but news was that Niki Lauda was home and convalescing well. While the top teams were unchanged, apart from McLaren and Shadow having new designs to try, there were some changes among the lesser teams. Of great interest was the fact that Jacky Ickx was to drive the works Ensign, so now we should know once and for all whether his demise in Formula One has been all his own fault or mostly the un-competitive cars he has driven. The Ensign was unchanged and we had the yard-stick of Amon’s performances with the car and those of Hans Binder and Patrick Neve. The Surtees for Pescarolo had arrived on a hired lorry as its own transporter had broken down in Belgium, the works Surtees of Brett Lunger was to be driven by Formula 3 driver Conny Anderson and Rolf Stommelen was to drive Edwards’ Hesketh. John Watson was feeling cold about the chin having shaved off his beard after his Austrian GP victory and the enthusiastic Australian Larry Perkins was back with the Dutch-owned Boro-Ensign. Although Ferrari was back no one seemed to rate Regazzoni as much in the way of opposition, feeling that he would be lost without the help and guidance of Lauda.
At the regulation hour of 10 am the track was opened and cars began to roar off round the sand-dunes, no one having any qualms about the circuit or its condition as no changes had been made since last year, which made a refreshing change. As the first cars completed their second lap the heavens opened with alarming abruptness and the rain poured down, just as if “someone-up-there” objected to the noise and clamour. Whatever it was it was most effective, for everyone stopped and huddled in the pits for shelter, apart from the brave spectators who had no option but to get wet. Regazzoni was the first one to fit wet-weather tyres and go out again, but almost as quickly as the rain had come the sun came out and within minutes everything was dry and back to normal. Now everyone was really stirred into action in case the rain came back, and there was an almighty thrash for the remainder of the morning session. It was imperative to get in some quick laps as soon as possible and thus stake a claim on the starting grid, for if the weather was going to play about it might be the grid-deciding session right now.
Permanent road course
Niki Lauda (Brabham BT46-Alfa Romeo), 1m19.57, 118.809 mph, F1, 1978
First Race1948 Zandvoort Grand Prix