1976 – Lauda’s Monaco joy short-lived
Niki Lauda took his fourth win of the season in Monte Carlo which looked to give him an unassailable position at the top of the F1 drivers’ standings.
The Austrian took pole ahead of team-mate Clay Regazzoni and was never headed. Ronnie Peterson’s March got up to second, ahead of the second Ferrari and allowed Lauda to pull away.
At one-third distance Regazzoni shot down an escape road due to oil on the track and Peterson spun off and crashed on the next lap due to the same reason.
This left the Tyrrell-pair of Jody Scheckter second and Patrick Depailler third but Regazzoni charged back through the field to take third.
But he crashed out on lap 73 with five laps left while hunting down Scheckter, thus ensuring that both the six-wheeled cars were on the podium behind Lauda.
Following the race Lauda had a massive 33-point lead in the championship (an era where race wins were worth nine points) over Regazzoni and Hunt who had retired early with an engine failure.
Sadly for the Austrian he was unable to retain his first world title he won in 1975 because of a near-fatal crash at the Nurburgring in August.
Miraculously he returned six weeks later to race in Italy – it was such a surprise that Ferrari had to run a third car to accommodate him.
But sadly the fairytale was not realised as James Hunt beat him to the 1976 F1 crown in Fuji during horrendous conditions. Lauda was one of four drivers who withdrew in the first nine laps as he felt it too dangerous to race.
The Austrian went onto to win the title the following year and again with McLaren in 1984.