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Derek Warwick won the Vandervell title in his Ralt RT1/77.  Copyright Steve Wilkinson 2009.  Used with permission.

British Formula 3 1978

After four seasons in which each British F3 Champion had progressed straight into F1, much was expected of the 1978 crop, led by Derek Warwick, the nearly man of 1977, and Brazilian Nelson Piquet Soutomaior. Warwick won four of the first five races in his 1977 Ralt RT1 but was then distracted by the 'opportunity' to try a March 783. By the time he returned to his Ralt, Piquet was on a streak of seven successive race wins and the BP title was lost. Piquet worked hard with engineer Greg 'Pee Wee' Siddle to develop the RT1 and had the edge on Warwick from then on but Warwick rarely finished lower than second and was able to wrap up the Vandervell title.

Piquet kept up British F3's record by landing a F1 drive at Brabham. Warwick had to prove himself all over again in F2 before entering F1 with Toleman.

The Ralt RT1 won 24 of the 28 British races. March couldn't get anywhere with the 783 and Chevron focused their efforts abroad, rewarded by winning the Monaco GP support race. Stefan Johansson was competitive with the new Argo JM1 and competent entries were made for Wheatcroft and Ehrlich chassis.

The races

05 Mar 1978 > Silverstone (Vandervell Round 1)

12 Mar 1978 > Thruxton (BP Round 1)

19 Mar 1978 > Silverstone (Vandervell Round 2)

27 Mar 1978 > Thruxton (BP Round 2)

09 Apr 1978 > World Cup International F3 Race at Donington Park

16 Apr 1978 > Brands Hatch (BP Round 3)

22 Apr 1978 > Oulton Park (BP Round 4)

30 Apr 1978 > Donington Park (BP Round 5)

01 May 1978 > Silverstone (Vandervell Round 3)

06 May 1978 > Monaco GP F3 Race (BP Round 6)

14 May 1978 > Mallory Park (BP Round 7)

20 May 1978 > Oulton Park (Vandervell Round 4)

29 May 1978 > Thruxton (BP Round 8)

11 Jun 1978 > Brands Hatch (BP Round 9)

25 Jun 1978 > Cadwell Park (BP Round 10)

02 Jul 1978 > Paul Ricard (BP Round 11)

09 Jul 1978 > Silverstone (BP Round 12)

15 Jul 1978 > Brands Hatch (BP Round 13)

23 Jul 1978 > Donington Park (BP Round 14)

13 Aug 1978 > Mallory Park (Vandervell Round 5)

26 Aug 1978 > Donington Park (Vandervell Round 6)

28 Aug 1978 > Silverstone (Vandervell Round 7)

23 Sep 1978 > Silverstone (Vandervell Round 8)

24 Sep 1978 > Snetterton (BP Round 15)

30 Sep 1978 > Silverstone (Vandervell Round 9)

07 Oct 1978 > Brands Hatch (Vandervell Round 10)

15 Oct 1978 > Mallory Park (BP Round 16)

29 Oct 1978 > Thruxton (BP Round 17)

11 Nov 1978 > Plastic Padding Formula 3 Trophy at Thruxton

British championship events shown in bold

1978 BARC BP Super Visco F3 Championship table

1Nelson PiquetRalt RT1/78 - Toyota Novamotor101 pts8 wins
2Derek WarwickRalt RT1/77 - Toyota Novamotor
March 783 - Toyota Novamotor
72 pts4 wins
3Chico SerraMarch 783 - Toyota Novamotor72 pts3 wins
4Philip BullmanChevron B38 - Toyota Novamotor
March 783 - Toyota Novamotor
22 pts 
5Tiff NeedellMarch 783 - Triumph Dolomite Swindon22 pts 
6Rob WilsonRalt RT1/78 - Toyota Novamotor20 pts1 win
7Andrea de CesarisRalt RT1/76 - Toyota Novamotor19 pts 
8Stefan JohanssonArgo JM1 - Toyota Novamotor15 pts 
9=Huub RothengatterRalt RT1/78 - Toyota Novamotor
Chevron B38 - Toyota Novamotor
11 pts 
9=Thorkild ThyrringRalt RT1/78 - Toyota Novamotor11 pts 

Previous: the 1977 season

Next: the 1979 season

The BP championship had 17 rounds and used a 9-6-4 points system with an extra point for fastest lap. The other BP round was the Monaco Grand Prix support race won by Elio de Angelis (Chevron B38-Toyota).

1978 BRDC Vandervell F3 Championship table

1Derek WarwickRalt RT1/77 - Toyota Novamotor
March 783 - Toyota Novamotor
162 pts4 wins
2Nelson PiquetRalt RT1/78 - Toyota Novamotor124 pts5 wins
3Chico SerraMarch 783 - Toyota Novamotor78 pts1 win
4Rob WilsonRalt RT1/78 - Toyota Novamotor49 pts 
5Brett RileyEhrlich RP4 - Toyota Novamotor
March 783 - Triumph Dolomite Swindon
30 pts 
6=John BrightWheatcroft R18 - Toyota Novamotor
March 773 - Toyota Novamotor
24 pts 
6=Tiff NeedellMarch 783 - Triumph Dolomite Swindon24 pts 
8Stefan JohanssonArgo JM1 - Toyota 2T-G Novamotor22 pts 
9Alain ProstMartini MK21B - Renault Dudot18 pts 
10Jan LammersRalt RT1/78 - Toyota Novamotor17 pts 

Previous: the 1977 season

Next: the 1979 season

This series ran over ten rounds and used a 20-15-12 points system with an extra 2 points awarded for fastest lap.

Points tables from Autosport 23 November 1978 p32 and Autocourse 1978/79 p253.

The Toyota/Novamotor continued to be the dominant engine with nearly 90% of the market but Swindon Race Engines had made a competitive proposition out of the Triumph engine for the two-car Unipart team. The only Ford engine to be seen was in Paul Dalton's antique Royale and and although Derek Lawrence perservered with the Chevrolet Vega engine, it's hard to see why. In France, Alain Prost had success with a works-supported Renault engine in his Martini MK21B and some of the German competitors, led by Bertram Schäfer, continued with BMW powerplants.