Gunnar Nilsson of Sweden scored his first grand prix victory on Sunday (5 June) by taking the Belgian Formula One event at Zolder.
Gunnar Nilsson of Sweden scored his first grand prix victory on Sunday (5 June) by taking the Belgian Formula One event at Zolder. The 28-year old Sweden drove with skill and precision through wet track conditions in the early stages of the race and then overcame Austria's former World Champion, Niki Lauda, to win by a decisive 14 seconds. Another Swede, Ronnie peterson, was third.
SYNOPSIS: Mario Andretti of the United States got off to a bad start in the race. The wet conditions forced the drivers to make last minute tyre changes. Andretti got his tyre changed and had a good grid position. But only a few hundred yards from the start he collided with Ulsterman, John Watson in car number seven and both men were out of the race. Nilsson -- in car six, a John Player Special Mark Three -- managed to avoid the crash.
Conditions at the start of the race were very poor as the heavy rain came pouring down. Britain's reigning world champion -- james Hunt had gambled on the rain easing before the race got under way and he fitted dry-weather tyres. It was a bad mistakes though, as his marlboro-McLaren dropped so far behind in the early stages that he was being lapped by the leaders in the eighth lap. He was never able to reap the advantage of not having to make a pit stop when the rain eased. With a dry track, Nilsson was able to demonstrate the technical qualities of his new Lotus team car.
Brazil's Emerson Fittipaldi...in a Copersucar....was the victim of a spin and found himself sitting back in the pits. South Africa's Jody Scheckter also spun off the track but was back in the race after a wheel change.
Niki Lauda was one of the first to change his tyre once he saw that cars were no longer sending up spray. But the Austrian was finally overhauled by Nilsson who pared away a 30-second gap. He moved ahead on the 49th lap and stayed there to take the chequered flag.