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