Motor racing...Mario Andretti of the United States won the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday (21?
Motor racing...Mario Andretti of the United States won the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday (21 May). The victory has put him into the lead in the Formula One World Championship competition.
SYNOPSIS: Andretti, starting from pole position, was a favourite from the start. The British driver James Hunt, having a disastrous season, was to have another of the crashes which have kept him out of this year's championship competition. Shortly after the start, Hunt and Austria's Niki Lauda were forced to swerve to avoid Carlos Reutemann of Argentina, whose Ferrari appeared to stall. Hunt hit the safety barrier and Lauda withdrew only 100 metres from the grid.
Andretti, in car five, was clear of the problems which created havoc on the grid. The American was never seriously challenged, but behind him driver after driver was to fall out, often as the result of damage caused by the crashes at the start.
Andretti attributed his success to his new Lotus-Ford, which gave him a record time at practice and in this race was making its Grand Prix debut. The Zolder course tends to favour cars with a good aerodynamic shape, like the Lotus, rather than very powerful cars such as the Ferraris. Andretti so outclassed the rest of the field that he kept the lead from the beginning to the end of the race. Nothing but bad luck appeared capable of stopping the American, and his luck held.
As he climbed from his Lotus Ford after the race, Andretti, who is 38, said "the car made a job for an old man like me quite casy".