It happened today – 15 January

It happened today – 15 January

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On 15th January 1978, the Argentinian Grand Prix took place in Buenos Aires, signaling the start of the Formula 1 World Championship. With reigning champion Niki Lauda having headed off to the Alfa Romeo-powered Brabham team, Scuderia Ferrari continued where it had left off in the last races of the previous season with the Reutemann-Villeneuve pairing.

In qualifying, the new 312 T3 proved to be very competitive, with the local driver taking second place on the grid, less than a tenth off Andretti’s Lotus, while the Canadian was seventh. In the race, the pace of the two Ferraris was badly affected by the performance of the radial Michelin tyres. Reutemann also paid a high price for a collision with Laffite shortly after half distance, which meant he had to make an unplanned pit stop, thus putting him out of the race for a podium finish. Neither Ferrari man finished in the points: Reutemann was seventh, over 80” down on Andretti, while Villeneuve came home behind his team-mate. The Canadian had the meagre consolation of setting the fastest race lap, the first of the eight he would secure during his time with the Prancing Horse.

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