1977 Brazilian Grand Prix
- Sunday, January 23, 1977
- Grande Premio do Brasil
- F1 World Championship
Other minor dramas included the airline’s temporary mislaying of the spare Shadow DN5 and of one of the Surtees TS19s, plus some Tyrrell nose sections went missing; but otherwise all the teams managed to arrive at Interlagos intact. On a light-hearted note, somebody got the paperwork rather muddled in the local airline office with the result that the spare Wolf monocoque was officially documented as a Brabham-Alfa Romeo, the resulting confusion giving Peter Warr quite a headache as he tried at Rio to get the car off the cargo plane mistakenly taking it back to Europe! The Brabham team itself had to rely on one car as BT45/1 had been too badly damaged by Pace during practice for the Argentine Grand Prix to be repaired locally. Designer Gordon Murray flew back to Britain between the races to superintend the development of his new car, only to spend the best part of a week attempting to track down the damaged Brabham; it was eventually located, secure in its crate, at Rome Airport. The marvels of modern transportation!
After their promising showing in Argentina, where Watson and Pace both led the race on separate occasions, it was clear that the Brabham-Alfa Romeos would be a serious force to be reckoned with, especially at Pace’s home circuit where he had previously triumphed in the 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix at the wheel of a Brabham-Cosworth BT44B. Pace had been training hard with a local football team for several days prior to practice, for although he is used to intense heat the body temperature can rise alarmingly inside the triple-lever flameproof overalls that are de rigueur for the modern Formula One driver. Apart from that, Pace’s heat exhaustion in Argentina was partially due to a virus he had picked up, and he was anxious to appear completely fit for this very important race.
In the opening timed session, competition between the Brabham, Lotus and McLaren teams proved extremely fierce, but it was Pace who emerged on top, much to the delight of the partisan crowd, lapping in 2 min. 30.57 sec. Andretti emphasised that he wasn’t to be shaken off by setting a promising 2 min. 30.83 sec during the second session, which left Hunt a close third on 2 min. 31.29 sec., slightly ahead of his on-form team-mate Jochen Mass in the second M23. Hunt was another who hadn’t been feeling terribly well prior to the Brazilian race, having contracted a touch of “Aztec two-step” during his stay in South America. Through the speed trap on the main straight Pace’s Brabham was more than 10 m.p.h. faster than its rivals during that first session, which suggested that Alfa Romeo really had been very busy indeed during the winter.