Sweden had only six Grand Prix races between 1973 and 1978 in Anderstorp at the Scandinavian Raceway, but most of them produced some sort of Formula 1 record.
The first ever F1 Swedish Grand Prix was held in 1973. In this season the local hero Ronnie Peterson drove the beautiful JPS Lotus 72 alongside defending World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi. Ronnie was indisputably the fastest man on the field and easily took pole position, as he did at most of the races in 1973. Although Fittipaldi grabbed the lead after the start, the super-Swede delighted the crowd of 50,000 spectators with leading most of the distance ahead of his teammate. It looked as a convincing Lotus 1-2 until the last laps when Lotus met his cruel destiny. First, Fittipaldi was forced to retire with gear selection problems. Then a few laps later Peterson’s tire wear became so bad that hard-pushing Denny Hulme managed to overtake him in the penultimate lap with his McLaren running the harder compound of tires.
In 1974 the young Jody Scheckter had his first taste of champagne on a Formula 1 podium. The “crash kid” of 1973 switched from McLaren to Tyrrell where, after the retirement of Jackie Stewart and death of Francois Cevert, he found himself being the number one driver. Scheckter grew up to the task, and he arrived to Sweden after scoring a 3rd position in Belgium and a very fine 2nd in Monaco. However, the pole was won by his teammate, Patrick Depailler. Scheckter immediately took the lead and the two Tyrrells dominated the race, despite a late charge by James Hunt of Hesketh.
The 1975 Swedish Grand Prix did not bring too much surprise since Niki Lauda won convincingly for the third time in a row after Monaco and Belgium. The sensation happened during the qualifying session, where the dominant Austrian and his Ferrari 312T didn’t take the pole. Vittorio Brambilla in his March was the fastest racer on Saturday; this resulted in his first (and only) pole. What’s more, he kept his lead after the start and made a firework performance for 16 laps when his transmission began to give up. Lauda then climbed up from his fifth grid position and won!
One year later again the Tyrrells were the main protagonists. The technical hit of the 1976 season was the P34 – a six-wheel beast designed by Derek Gardner. Although the P34s were quite competent from the beginning they never became world-class champions. Though, at this occasion, at the Swedish Grand Prix, the Scheckter-Depailler duo were triumphant. They locked out the front row. Mario Andretti led until his engine failure in his Lotus-Ford and after his departure the Tyrrells were unstoppable. It was a historic 1-2 win, but the six-wheel concept did not actually produce any further fruits.
As the race progressed, some of the front runners disappeared and in the meantime Laffite began a massive charge and overtook one opponent after another.
In 1977 it looked as the Swedish Grand Prix would be all about Andretti. The Italian-American took pole and was comfortably leading the race in front of Watson and Scheckter (this time with Wolf). As the race progressed, some of the front runners disappeared and in the meantime Laffite began a massive charge and overtook one opponent after another. Five laps before the flag he was second, but Andretti was just out of reach for him. One lap later the American had to dive into the pits for fuel and this unscheduled halt gave Laffite the lead. The French combination won, it was the first ever win for the driver and the Ligier team as well. Their success was so unexpected that the organisers could not play the Marseillaise because they did not prepare for a French win!
In 1978 the Swedish Grand Prix was set to be an Andretti/Lotus race again. With the mighty Lotus 79 the American had the pole yet it was not his teammate Ronnie Peterson who was behind him, it was John Watson in a Brabham. More precisely, in the Brabham fan car. Brabham designer Gordon Murray found a response to Colin Chapman’s “wing car”: a huge ventilator was mounted on the back of the BT46B which sucked the machine to the ground giving to it enormous speed in the corners. Although most Formula 1 professionals declared the car illegal, the race authorities allowed John Watson to race. Watson spun off in the second lap, and Niki Lauda pushed Andretti hard until he made a mistake, then the Austrian jumped to the lead. After that the fan car functioned magnificently, even rushing through oil spilled by another car. Lauda won the first race of the BT46B – which was duly banned after the Anderstorp event.
The Swedish Grand Prix was cancelled in 1979 after the sad death of both of Swedish drivers, Ronnie Peterson and Gunnar Nilsson. Anderstorp and Sweden never had a Formula 1 race since then.
1974 – first win for Jody Scheckter
1975 – first (and only) pole position for Vittorio Brambilla
1976 – first (and only) win for the six-wheel Tyrrell P34
1977 – first win for Jacquet Laffite and Ligier
1978 – first (and only) win for the Brabham fan car