Veteran Mario Andretti of the United States won the Italian Grand Prix at the Monza circuit on Sunday (11 September) ahead of Austria's Niki Lauda and Australian Alan Jones.
GV Drivers in pits preparing for Italian motor-racing Grand Prix, Monza, Italy
GV Ambulance arriving at scene of advertising board collapse disaster
GV Injured being treated and blood stains on ground
GVs Injured person carried on stretcher to ambulance helicopter (2 shots)
CU Mario Andretti of United States dressing for race
SV Niki Lauda of Austria in Ferrari, No. 11, driving out of pits onto track
SV James Hunt of Britain in McLaren, No. 1, on Starting grid
SV Andretti on grid
GV Crowd applauding
GV Start of race
GVs Race in progress and crowd watching (4 shots)
GVs Crowd watching and Brabham, No. 8, lying smoking beside track
GV Andretti takes chequered flag to win
GV First, second and third place winners on rostrum
SPORT: MOTOR RACING
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Veteran Mario Andretti of the United States won the Italian Grand Prix at the Monza circuit on Sunday (11 September) ahead of Austria's Niki Lauda and Australian Alan Jones.
SYNOPSIS: It was the 48th Italian Grand Prix, but its start was marred by an accident involving spectators.
Hundreds of people had climbed on to a huge billboard, which collapsed under their weight. One man died and about 50 were injured--some critically. Some had plunged 45 feet (15 metres) from the top. Police had earlier warned people to get down from the board. Helicopters and ambulances were used to rush the injured to medical centres on the course and to nearby hospitals.
But for Andretti, the race was a highlight of his best ever Formula One racing season.
And Niki Lauda tightened his grip on the world drivers championship.
Current world champion James Hunt had to retire from the race with mechanical problem at the half way stage.
Andretti was to break the lap record several times -- watched by a capacity crowd of about 180,000 fans.
The race took in 52 circuits of the Monza track and covered a distance of just over 187 miles (300 kilometres). Andretti's average speed was just over 128 miles an hour (206 k.p.h.). Early in the race he battled with South African Jody Scheckter for the lead until Scheckter's Wolf-ford spun off the track.
But Andretti's win was rarely in doubt. His fastest lap broke the old track record held be Sweden's Ronnie Peterson by almost two seconds. he led for most of the race.
The race took its toll, both physically and mechanically. Only nine of the 24 starters managed to finish.
Andretti eventually won by almost 17 seconds and said later his car went like clock-work. Lauda now needs just one point from the three remaining Grand Prix to clinch the World Championship.