On this day in F1 – 29th January 1978 – Michelins first ever F1 victory
By TJ13 contributor The Grumpy Jackal
Enzo Ferrari made an inspired choice to invite Michelin to provide tyres for his cars.
He told Pierre Dupasquier after the 1977 Italian GP that he wanted Michelin for the following season.
As Dupasquier remembers: “We had a very difficult time with our friends from Renault since as tyres manufacturer, when the car doesn’t perform and when you have only one machine, no one knows what is wrong. Then having the confidence of E. Ferrari, who I used to know from the Daytona tyres business, was definitely a fantastic opportunity for us.”
Michelin tyres used a different construction to the products of their rivals – Goodyear. The French manufacturer used radial tyres as opposed to the American cross-plies and this would have dramatic effect on their relative performances. Throughout 1978, especially when the weather was blisteringly hot, the Michelins would have a distinct advantage over the Goodyear runners and so it proved in the second race of the 1978 season.
The Brazilian Grand Prix had moved from Interlagos to its new home at Jacarepagua near Rio De Janeiro. The conditions were sweltering and many of the Goodyear runners felt wary – after the morning warm-up – when Reutemann in the previous season’s Ferrari 312T2 proved conclusively fastest.
Starting fourth on the grid, behind pole man Ronnie Peterson, James Hunt and Mario Andretti, he was in front before the first corner and literally disappeared finishing fifty seconds ahead of Fittipaldi in the Copersucar.
After as the sun settled on the Brazilian circuit, Reutemann celebrated his first Ferrari victory and Michelin their first ever Grand Prix victory.
In 1979, they would secure their first ever F1 title with Ferrari and add further titles in 1981, 83 and 84 before withdrawing from the sport until 2001. Goodyear finally adopted a radial construction for the 1985 season.