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1976 FIA Formula 1 Season (ICM)

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1976 FIA Formula 1 Season (ICM)
Photo Credit: Scuderia Ferrari.
Champion Constructor: Scuderia Ferrari (IT,4,16)
Putative Constructor: Scuderia Ferrari (IT)
Champion Driver: James Hunt (GB,1,1)
Putative Driver: James Hunt (GB)
Putative Constructor Entry Specification: Model 312T2, 2.99-liter, twelve-cylinder flat, light alloy engine, DOHC, fuel injection, five-speed, transverse gearbox, Brembo disc brakes, aluminum-composite body/aluminum monocoque chassis, double wishbone/upper arm-lower wishbone independent suspension, 505 horsepower (Mauro Forgheri).

The FIA introduces the concept of starting lights at the grid for the first time in the 1976 season. The sanctioning body also banishes the iconic tall air intakes from all entries after Jarama in May. Scuderia Ferrari earns its second consecutive Formula 1 constructors' title, yet in one of the most compelling seasons in series history, an array of race disqualifications and a death-defying shunt involving points leader Niki Lauda at the Nürburgring in August flips the Grand Prix world upon its head and opens the door for Briton James Hunt to claim the drivers' title by a narrow margin over Lauda in the season finale at Fuji in October. Lauda, who nearly perishes and suffers permanently disfiguring burns upon his face and body in the Nürburgring event, somehow pulls off the most miraculous of recoveries and returns to racing six weeks later with a fourth place finish at Monza in September. Shadow becomes the first team in series history to switch team nationalities, rebadging themselves as British rather than American for the 1976 season. F1 makes its inaugural visit to Long Beach, California in March. Tyrrell debuts its radical six-wheeled P34 chassis at Jarama in May with impressive results over the remaining season. F1 makes its inaugural visit to Fuji in October. Late season form by American Mario Andretti and the ever-improving Lotus Model 77 foreshadows the near future for the series. Racing Evolution: Six-wheel racing chassis (Tyrrell).

HeM applies the Putative Model to all racing seasons for two primary purposes: First, to effectively normalize all racing seasons for empirical comparison across the decades, and second, to step clear of series organizers which score season championships primarily out of commercial interest or to attract manufacturer participation. The Putative Model simply scores all seasons in the same fashion as a standard track and field meeting, with the only purpose of tracking what takes place at the finishing stripe If the Putative Champion differs from the nominal Series Champion, please note the (SC) notation below.

Scuderia Ferrari129     Hunt J99
Tyrrell Ford111     Lauda92
McLaren Ford111     Scheckter61
Lotus Ford39     Depailler51
Penske Ford25     Regazzoni41
Ligier Matra24     Andretti Mr28

Noteworthy 1976 Races

1976 XXII Gran Premio de España Madrid, Spain1976 1976 XXII Gran Premio de España At Jarama for the Spanish Grand Prix (255.5 kilometers) in May, an Italian Scuderia Ferrari 312T2 under Niki Lauda (AT) takes race honors in 1:42:20.4 (average 93.02 mph), under thirty-one seconds ahead of a Lotus entry. James Hunt of McLaren moves out front past race leader Lauda on Lap 32 and proceeds to cross the wire first at race completion, yet race officials summarily disqualify his entry due to a technical width violation. The FIA afterwards bans the use of the ubiquitous tall air intakes on all entries. Tyrrell raises brows after introducing its radical six-wheeled P34 entry at the event. Photo Credit: LAT Photographic Archive.
1976 XXXIV Grand Prix de Monaco Monte Carlo1976 1976 XXXIV Grand Prix de Monaco At Monaco for the Grand Prix (258.5 kilometers) in May, an Italian Scuderia Ferrari 312T under Niki Lauda (AT) takes the flag in 1:59:51.5 (average 80.36 mph), under twelve seconds ahead of a Tyrrell entry. Lauda leads the contest from wire-to-wire as the Austrian driver and Scuderia Ferrari prevail in the principality for the second consecutive season. Photo Credit: LAT Photographic Archive.
1976 Swedish Grand Prix Anderstorp, Sweden1976 1976 Swedish Grand Prix At Scandinavian for the Swedish Grand Prix (289.5 kilometers) in June, a British Tyrrell P34 Ford under Jody Scheckter (ZA) notches a victory in 1:46:53.7 (average 100.90 mph), under twenty seconds ahead of a companion Tyrrell entry. Tyrrell takes full advantage of a start penalty imposed by Race Control upon Mario Andretti in his Lotus as both entries sprint away for a comfortable 1-2 finish. The innovative yet peculiar six-wheeled creation of Ken Tyrrell breaks through for its only Formula 1 victory. Photo Credit: LAT Photographic Archive.
1976 XXXI British Grand Prix Longfield, England1976 1976 XXXI British Grand Prix At Brands Hatch for the British Grand Prix (320 kilometers) in July, a British McLaren M23 Ford under James Hunt (GB) bests the field in 1:43:30 (average not posted), nearly a minute ahead of a Ferrari entry. Hunt, after suffering damage in a seven-car shunt on Lap 1 that prompts a delayed restart, moves past race leader Niki Lauda in his Ferrari, suffering from gearbox gremlins, on Lap 45 and sprints away for victory before Scuderia Ferrari launches a protest against Hunt for returning to the race in a reconstructed entry. The championship points race hangs in the balance as the season proceeds onwards. Hunt learns before the race that the FIA will reinstate his victory at Jarama earlier in May. Photo Credit: LAT Photographic Archive.
1976 XXXVIII Großer Preis von Deutschland Mayen, West Germany1976 1976 XXXVIII Großer Preis von Deutschland At the Nürburgring for the German Grand Prix (320 kilometers) in August, a British McLaren M23 Ford under James Hunt (GB) crosses first in wet conditions in 1:41:42.7 (average 117.19 mph), under twenty-eight seconds ahead of a Tyrrell entry. Hunt leads wire-to-wire for the entire distance, yet disaster strikes on the opening lap after Niki Lauda in his Ferrari drops a wheel at Bergwerk and careens hard through the ARMCO and into an earthen bank before his entry explodes into flames. Backmarker entries strike Lauda as his Ferrari slews back onto the circuit, and the Austrian suffers critical injuries from the ensuing burns. Driver Arturo Merzario and two others extract the semi-conscious Lauda from his burning vehicle, and many expected the driver not to survive the horrific ordeal. In miraculous fashion, the indomitable Lauda returns to racing six weeks later at Monza. Photo Credit: Attribution Unascertained.
1976 Austrian Grand Prix Knittelfeld, Austria1976 1976 Austrian Grand Prix At the Österreichring for the Austrian Grand Prix (319 kilometers) in August, an American Penske PC4 Ford under John Watson (GB) unexpectedly wins in 1:30:07.9 (average 132.02 mph), under eleven seconds ahead of a Ligier entry. Watson moves out front past race leader Ronnie Peterson in his March on Lap 12 and dashes away for his maiden F1 victory. Ferrari, furious over the FIA decision not to disqualify James Hunt for his winning result at Spain (authorities elect to instead disqualify Hunt for his 'spare car' Brands Hatch victory), refuses to participate in the contest. Penske serves up an American constructor victory for the first time since the Gurney Eagle Weslake executes the same at Spa back in 1967. Ironically, the Penske triumph takes place at the same event in which the team suffers the loss of the great late Mark Donohue on the prior season. Photo Credit: LAT Photographic Archive.
1976 XI Japanese Grand Prix Oyama, Japan1976 1976 XI Japanese Grand Prix At Fuji for the first time for the Japanese Grand Prix (318 kilometers) in October, the race comes to a British Lotus 77 Ford under Mario Andretti (US) in 1:43:58.9 (average 114.11 mph), a lap ahead of a Tyrrell entry. Rain and fog shroud the course at race start and the perilous conditions prompt Niki Lauda in his Ferrari to abandon the contest on Lap 1, thus ceding his drivers' title hopes. Hunt, trailing Lauda by three points in the title chase, experiences his own troubles with rubber that pushes him back down the field, yet his late rally earns him a P3 and the drivers' championship in one of the most intriguing campaigns in F1 history. Hunt, who believes the title lost after crossing the finish, later expresses sincere empathy for close friend Lauda. Photo Credit: Sutton Images.