On this day… August 14th 1977
We recently looked at the most unlikely F1 win which almost occurred – Damon Hill in his 1997 Arrows at the Hungaroring. Well on this day in 1977, there was an unlikely F1 win as the Shadown team broke their duck.
Shadow Racing, Italian financed but built in Northampton, gave a number of talented drivers their debut during their years in F1 from 1973-1980. These included Peter Revson, Jean-Pierre Jarier and Tom Pryce
On debut in 1973 at the South African GP two DN1 cars were available for drivers Jackie Oliver and George Follmer, as well as a private entry for Graham Hill who ran his car under the Embassy Hill banner.
On this day, the Grand Prix in question was held at the fierce some Osterreichring. Having never won his home GP, Niki Lauda was on pole position and full of hope.
The wet conditions saw an emerging Alan Jones in the Shadow slice through from P14 on the grid. Having made it to P2, he was struggling to make an impression of race leader James Hunt.
Then on lap 44, Hunt’s engine gave up the ghost and Jones drove to one of the most unlikely victories in F1 history.
Note the interesting solution to track limits at the final turn? 😉
To replace the bumpy Zeltweg circuit, was the incredibly fast Osterreichring. It was a very fast circuit with long straights and no slow corners, which no modern circuit has.
As the circuit was built on a mountain, it had drastic elevation change, similar to that of Spa-Franchorchamps or the Nurburgring. Most of the corners were taken at well over 100mph and featured a notorious corner known as Vost-Hugel.
Vost-Hugel was similar to Tamburello in Imola in that it was a very fast flat out kink, where drivers would reach speeds of well over 180mph and pulling five times the force of gravity on their necks. This corner became nulled following Mark Donohue’s fatal crash there in 1975 and was converted into a slow right-left-right chicane, in a similar way to how Tamburello was altered following Ayrton Senna’s death.
The track became known eventually for its start-line crashes, with F1 cars at the time being so wide and the pit straight so narrow, caused the start to be aborted twice in the final race in 1987 due to start-line incidents. The race was dropped due to safety concerns that year, after Stefan Johansson nearly hit some wildlife at 150mph.