After earning pole position in practice laps, Mario Andretti of the Untied States won the French Grand Prix at Dijon-Prenois, on Sunday (3 July) -- but only after John Watson of Britain had run out of petrol on the last lap.
SV Mario Andretti seated in car and leaving the pits (3 shots)
CU James Hunt seated in car and car leaving pits
SV John Watson seated in car
GV Large crowds
GV Start of race (2 shots)
GV Cars racing down straight and spectators (3 shots)
GV Car No. 5 Andretti leading, followed closely by Watson rounding bend and up hill
SV Depailler's car blue Elf No. 4 out of race
GV Andretti down straight followed by Watson and spectators look on
GV Andretti and Watson across finish line
SV James Hunt walking in to pits after race
SV Winner Andretti and Watson on dais with winners' laurels and cups (2 shots)
SPORT: MOTOR RACING
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: After earning pole position in practice laps, Mario Andretti of the Untied States won the French Grand Prix at Dijon-Prenois, on Sunday (3 July) -- but only after John Watson of Britain had run out of petrol on the last lap. Watson had led the field for most of the way, and he managed to coast into second place ahead of Britain's James Hunt.
SYNOPSIS: Mario Andretti of the United States had clocked up the fastest lap time during two days of practice, and he started the race on the improved Dijon-Prenois circuit in pole position, in his Lotus. British driver James Hunt, in a McLaren, earned the number two position. His mechanics had worked all night on the car's suspension.
Third on the starting grid was John Watson of Britain, driving a Brabham-Alfa Romeo. He made a good start and took an early lead. Watson was third in the French Grand Prix last year, and at one point in practice he was more than five seconds ahead of Andretti. But by the 69th lap, Andretti had cut that lead to one second. And Andretti set the lap record at less than one minute fourteen seconds. In the very last lap, Watson's car, starved of petrol, faltered, and Andretti -- number five -- swept into the lead.
As they came down the straight, Watson clung on -- but Andretti was now unbeatable, and he flashed across the finishing line at the head of the field, with Watson second.
James Hunt, who'd been running third for most of the race, kept that position at the end. Afterwards, Mario Andretti said he sympathised with the unfortunate Watson -- for Andretti had run out of fuel while in the lead during the Swedish Grand Prix two weeks earlier.