KEEPING THE SPIRIT ALIVE SINCE 1999

United States Grand Prix
8/4/1979

Gilles Villeneuve never won a World Championship Title. The closest he came was in 1979 when he finished second in the standings to Jody Scheckter by just four points. They both took three wins nad three seconds that year but other results went Scheckter's way. Villeneuve's third win came on this day in 1979 at the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen.

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The race started in wet conditions with all but two of the cars on wets. The only two were Piquet and Andretti who had nothing to lose by the gamble. Villeneuve led the pack around on the prade lap but overshot his grid box so took the field around again. This time Laffite locked up and slid sideways patially blocking the track. So Villeneuve took half the pack around yet again!

When the race finally got underway Pique, on slickst, got wheelspin and was left behind. Scheckter got pushed onto the grass and had to wait for the entire field to pass by before re-joining. Rosberg spun and recovered, but in doing so forced Bruno Giacomelli off into retirement. On lap three Jacky Ickx, in his last Grand Prix, bumped Daly from behind and went off. Jacques Laffite, running in fifth place, spun off on lap 4. Reutemann crashed out on lap 7. Andretti pitted for wets but retired soon after when his gearbox got stuck in fourth.

Villeneuve led from Jones and on lap 20, Scheckter, now third, pitted for slicks. On lap 21, Rosberg slid wide trying to overtake Pironi and took the Tyrrell with him. Pironi continued, but Rosberg retired with a damaged gearbox. On lap 25, most of the cars came in for slicks, except for Villeneuve, Jones and Arnoux.

On lap 31 Jones passed Villeneuve and pulled over 3 seconds clear. Villeneuve switched to slicks on lap 34 and rejoined 39.5 seconds back. Jones pitted for slicks on lap 37. But trouble with the right rear not only delayed his stop but as the jacks were lowered and the car pulled away, the mechanic on the right rear shouted and waved that he had not finished. The Williams sped out of the pits and duly shed the right rear at the start of the back straight and Jones retired. Villeneuve, now totally in control, cruised home still finishing with a 48-second margin over Arnoux.


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