Today is the anniversary of the Wolf team's win on debut at the 1977 Argentine Grand Prix

Many fans might consider the former Brawn GP’s achievement of winning first-time out at the 2009 Australian Grand Prix as a remarkable achievement, but it’s a feat that has been managed twice before, with one being at the Argentine Grand Prix held on this date in 1977, where Jody Scheckter won the debut race for the Wolf Racing operation…

Owned by Austrian-born Canadian oil baron Walter Wolf – a former investor in Frank Williams privateer team in the mid-1970s – who decided to go it alone with his own F1 operation, borne out of a buyout of Williams’ underfunded team.

Having spent the 1976 season operating the Wolf/Williams team with Hesketh chassis’, Wolf set about getting his own car designed with the assistance of Harvey Postlethwaite, who penned the attractive WR1, fitted with the ubiquitous Cosworth DFV V8 powerplant.

The team arrived as a one-car operation at the season-opening Argentine Grand Prix at Buenos Aires, with South African driver Jody Scheckter joining the team from Tyrrell.

With McLaren and Ferrari looking like the frontrunners, few expected the black-and-gold Wolf to feature prominently, and certainly no one expected it would win. Scheckter qualified eleventh in his first race for the team.

Reigning World Champion James Hunt kicked off his title defence with pole position in his McLaren, but it was fellow front-row starter John Watson who shot into an early lead in his Brabham.

The Northern Irishman led for the first ten laps until Hunt got ahead and started to pull away. Watson kept a watching brief in second, while behind him, Mario Andretti was overtaken by Hunt’s team-mate Jochen Mass for third.

Mass would retire shortly after when his engine went pop, and Hunt joined him just three laps later, courtesy of a suspension failure.

Watson now led, but he too would retire with a suspension failure, and so let team-mate Carlos Pace into the lead.

Any hopes the Brazilian had of securing a win were dashed when he began to lose pace as fatigue crept in; he would find himself passed by a disbelieving Scheckter and Andretti, although the American would retire on the penultimate lap with a wheel bearing failure.

Scheckter would go on to take an incredible win, and would follow this up with further wins at Monaco and Canada, along with six other podium finishes to end the year as runner-up to eventual champion Niki Lauda.

The Wolf team would only run until the end of the 1979 season, by which point Herr Wolf was tired of his F1 adventure, selling his team to Emerson Fittipaldi, who merged the assets with his brother Wilson’s Fittipaldi Automotive F1 team.



1977 Argentine Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (53 laps):

  Driver Team Laps Result Grid
1. Jody Scheckter ZAR Wolf Racing Ford WR1 V8 53 1:40:11.190 11
2. Carlos Pace BRA Brabham Alfa Romeo BT45 12cyl 53 + 43.24 6
3. Carlos Reutemann ARG Scuderia Ferrari 312T2 12cyl 53 + 46.02 7
4. Emerson Fittipaldi BRA Fittipaldi Ford FD04 V8 53 + 55.48 16
5. Mario Andretti USA Team Lotus Ford 78 V8 51 Wheel Bearing 8
6. Clay Regazzoni SUI Ensign Ford N177 V8 51 2 laps behind 12
7. Vittorio Brambilla ITA Surtees Ford TS19 V8 48 Fuel Injection 13
NC. Tom Pryce GBR Shadow Ford DN8 V8 45 8 laps behind 9
DNF. Ian Scheckter ZAR March Ford 761B V8 45 Battery 17
DNF. John Watson GBR Brabham Alfa Romeo BT45 12cyl 41 Handling 2
DNF. Alex-Dias Ribeiro BRA March Ford 761B V8 39 Gearbox 20
NC. Jacques Laffite FRA Ligier Matra JS7 V12 37 16 laps behind 15
DNF. Patrick Depailler FRA Tyrrell Ford P34 V8 32 Overheating 3
DNF. James Hunt GBR McLaren Ford M23 V8 31 Suspension 1
DNF. Jochen Mass DEU McLaren Ford M23 V8 28 Engine 5
DNF. Ronnie Peterson SWE Tyrrell Ford P34 V8 28 Spin 14
DNF. Ingo Hoffmann BRA Fittipaldi Ford FD04 V8 22 Engine 19
DNF. Niki Lauda AUT Scuderia Ferrari 312T2 12cyl 20 Fuel Metering 4
DNF. Hans Binder AUT Surtees Ford TS19 V8 18 Damage 18
DNF. Renzo Zorzi ITA Shadow Ford DN5B V8 2 Gearbox 21
DNS. Gunnar Nilsson SWE Team Lotus Ford 78 V8   Did Not Start 10
James Hunt GBR McLaren Ford M23 V8 21 1:51.06  

[Image via F1-Facts; video via lonep]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.