Here is a thoughtful Mario Andretti during his Championship Year in a Lotus 79 before the start of the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort on August 27, 1978. Andretti and his teammate Ronnie Peterson qualified in the first two grid positions and led the entire race in that order, Peterson finishing only 3/10ths of a second behind Andretti.
The Lotus 79, which won the 1978 Championship for Constructors, was the car to have, nothing else could keep up with it, primarily because of its superb ground effects downforce. As with all Lotus F1 cars, breakages, in this car because of the strains of the high downforce, were always a concern due to Colin Chapman’s focus on light weight wherever possible. Andretti won the Championship with six wins in the 16-race series five of the victories with the 79. Peterson dutifully followed his team leader with two wins and four second place finishes before his tragic death overnight following a crash at the start of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza where Andretti won a very bittersweet Championship. In fact, at Monza Andretti’s Lotus and Giles Villeneuve’s Ferrari which had shared the front row, were each penalized one minute for jumped starts, so although they were first and second at the finish they were pushed down the order once the penalties were assessed.
Photo by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection