Round 4 – USA WEST, Long Beach, April 02
Andretti – Q4, F2
Not quite the glory of the year before for Mario. Once the Brabhams accounted for themselves, Andretti spent much of the race in fourth, behind the Ferrari pair and the well-driven Williams of Alan Jones, again nursing his front tires having elected to go for a narrow tire of soft compound. He moved up to second when Jones hit engine trouble and Villeneuve hit a curb, then Clay Regazzoni's car and a wall. Depailler took third, while Peterson had to make a pit stop after flat-spotting his front tires before charging back to finish fourth.
Points after 4 rounds – Reutemann 18, Andretti 18, Peterson 14, Depailler 14, Lauda 10, Fittipaldi 6.
Round 5 – MONACO, Monte Carlo, May 07
Andretti – Q4, F11
Mario tried the Lotus 79 in practice, and was confident that, given time, it could have been quicker around the twisty street circuit, but the 78 was his more trusted ally, despite understeer restricting his pace. On race day an unobtrusive run to fourth was interrupted three times by recurrent fuel-metering problems, teammate Peterson suffered gearbox failure, and chief rival Reutemann squandered his pole position with a slow start and was tapped into a spin resulting in a puncture and a finish outside the points. First-time winner Depailler led Lauda, Scheckter and Watson to the checker.
Points after 5 rounds – Depailler 23, Reutemann 18, Andretti 18, Lauda 16, Peterson 14, Watson 7
Round 6 – BELGIUM, Zolder, May 21
Andretti – Q1, F1
The Lotus 79's championship race debut…and Mario on pole by eight-tenths of a second, and then scored a lights-to-flag victory. Job done. Ronnie, still using a 78, qualified 1.7sec down, ran third for most of the day, and despite a pit stop to replace a worn left front, charged back to finish second. New Lotus beat old Lotus beat the Ferraris of Reutemann and Villeneuve.
Points after 6 rounds – Andretti 27, Depailler 23, Reutemann 22, Peterson 20, Lauda 16, Watson 7
Round 7 – SPAIN, Jarama, June 04
Andretti – Q1, F1
Mario took pole by 0.3sec ahead of Ronnie (now in a 79) and a full second clear of third-placed Reutemann. Hunt briefly led at the start, but Andretti got around him on lap 6 and led to the end. Peterson dropped to ninth at the start having been caught out by the green light, but picked his way through to second. The second Lotus 1-2 in two weeks. Reutemann crashed out with a stuck throttle.
Points after 7 rounds – Andretti 36, Peterson 26, Depailler 23, Reutemann 22, Lauda 16, Jacques Laffite 10
Round 8 – SWEDEN, Anderstorp, June 17
Andretti – Q1, R
Andretti was on pole for a third straight race, almost 0.7sec quicker than the opposition, but the new Brabham BT46B “fan cars” were hiding their pace by qualifying (second and third) with full fuel loads. Lauda effortlessly stuck to the tail of the lead Lotus on race day, before slipping ahead after a rare error from Andretti who simply could not keep pace with the fan car thereafter. Then Andretti's engine blew 23 laps from home. After handling difficulties and then a puncture and pit stop dropped him to 17th, Peterson charged back to take third just behind the Arrows of Riccardo Patrese. The Ferraris, meanwhile suffered tire problems all weekend and finished well outside the top six.
Points after 8 rounds – Andretti 36, Peterson 30, Lauda 25, Depailler 23, Reutemann 22, Laffite 10
Round 9 – FRANCE, Paul Ricard, July 02
Andretti – Q2, F1
Despite Brabham's “fan cars” being banned, the power of their Alfa-Romeo flat-12 helped equalize peformance at Ricard, with Brabhams clocking first and third fastest times in qualifying, but Andretti was ahead of Watson by the end of lap 1 and was never headed thereafter. Peterson damaged his front wing and sidepod trying to pass Lauda and could not get within striking distance of his teammate, instead focusing on successfully holding off Hunt's McLaren to the checkered flag. And yet again, no points for tire-troubled Ferrari.
Points after 9 rounds – Andretti 45, Peterson 36, Lauda 25, Depailler 23, Reutemann 22, Watson 12
Round 10 – BRITAIN, Brands Hatch, July 16
Andretti – Q2, R
For only the second time of the season, Peterson was the quicker Lotus driver. In fact, he was sensational, taking pole by a quarter-second using race tire, as Andretti wasted time and rubber using qualifying tires. At the green light, Andretti grabbed the lead, but it was all irrelevant, as both cars would retire with a broken fuel line (RP) and a blown engine for Mario. Reutemann pressured Lauda into an error in the closing stages, winning what he described as the best race of his life. Now, despite his Michelin-induced problems in recent races, Carlos had put himself back into title contention.
Points after 10 rounds – Andretti 45, Peterson 36, Reutemann 31, Lauda 31, Depailler 26, Watson 16