1978 Monaco Grand Prix

Monte Carlo, May 7th

Racing round-the-houses at Monte Carlo may have a lot wrong with it but it is never short on support or enthusiasm and this year 31 drivers were entered. As the CSI rules only allow 20 cars to take part in the Monaco GP, due to the restricted width and length of the circuit, there had to be a process of elimination. This began long before the sound of Armco barriers being assembled began, or the tubular scaffolding grand-stands began to rise up from every available space. The Formula One Constructors’ Association naturally booked 20 places for their members, which on the face of things prevented anyone else taking part, but the regulations allowed for 24 drivers to take part in practice, the slowest four irrespective of who they were, would be out of the race. There were still 11 lined up for the four practice places, so the Automobile Club of Monaco thinned this down by applying the CSI invitation rule, which allowed the Club to nominate two entries. These were the factory Renault and Frank Williams’ Saudia Airlines sponsored car for Alan Jones. The Renault was an obvious invitation, but some teams, both in the “Ecclestone Club” and out of it, were muttering about the Williams entry. On performance alone Alan Jones deserved to be invited, after his showing in South Africa and California, but you could hardly hold a race in the Principality of Monaco without inviting the entry sponsored by Saudi Arabia, not in this day and age.

This weeding-out process still left nine entries outside, so before official practice began on Thursday morning, they were allowed two half hour sessions to themselves, and the fastest two would make up the total of 24 for the official practice. As the circuit is built up around the town there is no possibility of any pre-practice testing, so the “rabbits” had to get stuck into it the moment the circuit was open for practice. The non-arrival of Danny Ongais with the American Interscope team Shadow DN9 reduced the numbers to eight, and during the first half-hour Derek Daly crashed the Hesketh 308E/4 and Hector Rebaque crashed his newly acquired Lotus 78/4, thus reducing the figure to six. However, such is the affluence of “rabbits” trying to break into the big time that both of them had spare cars, and were soon back on the circuit, Daly in 308E/5 and Rebaque in Lotus 78/1, but it did them little good as the two works Arrows were flying. Patrese was putting all, and more than he’d got into his driving, to make the best time, and Stommelen was using experience rather than bravado to make second best time. Rosberg (Theodore TR1-2) was trying too hard, and though spectacular and fearless, was not fast enough; Lunger with his brand new McLaren M26/6 had a hopeless task, as he had to learn a new car and a new circuit, not having driven at Monaco before, and Arnoux (Martini MK23) and Merzario (Merzario A1/01) were not in the running.

Race Results


Circuit - Monte Carlo




Monte Carlo


Temporary street circuit


2.058 (Miles)


Michele Alboreto (Ferrari 156/85), 1m22.637, 89.655 mph, F1, 1985