VIDEO: December Testing at Paul Ricard Teases the 1977 GP Season-Opener

Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari 312T2) during the 1977 French GP. Photo: Motorsport Images

Carlos Reutemann, who died July 7 at age 79, is well remembered by Formula 1 fans of the 1970s and 1980s for his long and successful stints at Brabham, Ferrari and Williams, for his 12 GP wins and for losing the 1981 World Championship (to Brabham’s Nelson Piquet) by a single point.

The Argentinian opens this YouTube video, posted here for your enjoyment — one of four drivers present for a F1 test at a chilly Circuit Paul Ricard in December 1976 preparing for the 1977 GP season. This would open in Argentina just weeks later on January 9 with three of these four men featuring prominently.

The 2 mins of footage captured here includes:

  • – Reutemann (Ferrari 312T2B), who, after standing in briefly for a badly injured Niki Lauda, had just been named a full-time replacement at the Scuderia for a departing Clay Regazzoni.
  • – Twenty-six-year-old Jody Scheckter (Wolf WR1-Cosworth) who, having left Tyrrell (disgusted with its six-wheeler), would amazingly win the ’77 season-opening Argentine GP in the F1 debut of Canadian Walter Wolf’s tiny team.
  • – Carlos Pace (Brabham BT45B-Alfa Romeo), former teammate of Reutemann at Brabham, who went on to finish second behind Scheckter in Argentina. Tragically, the Brazilian was killed just two months later in the crash of his small airplane.
  • – Emerson Fittipaldi (Copersucar FD04-Cosworth) in the attractive but largely unsuccessful fourth variation on the “FD” theme originally penned by Richard Davila. Fittipaldi would finish fourth in Argentina, then the Copersucar FD’s best-ever finish.

A brief Christmas taste of one of the most diverse and interesting eras of F1 …