Jody Scheckter opened up a seven-point lead over Niki Lauda in the drivers' championship with victory in the Monaco Grand Prix, underlining the improvement the once-wild South African had made since his GP debut.
Twenty-six cars entered the race but only 20 qualified, those missing out including Scheckter's older brother, Ian, as well as Clay Regazzoni.
John Watson's much-improved Brabham took pole but Scheckter made a much better start than the Ulsterman and led away with Carlos Reutemann third for Ferrari. The second Brabham of Hans Stuck held fourth place early on ahead of the Tyrrell of Ronnie Peterson before he had to retire when his car caught fire.
Scheckter admitted afterwards that he had problems when he encountered a fuel surge which led him to believe he was running short and so he cut his revs. That allowed Lauda to eat into his lead, cutting it from around half a minute to less than a second by the finish. On the second-last lap Scheckter's car briefly lost all power. "I nearly had a heart attack," he said, "but suddenly it burst into life again and kept going long enough to see me safely across the line."
Reutemann finished third with Alan Jones taking his first F1 point by finishing sixth for Shadow behind fourth-placed Jochen Mass and Mario Andretti. Watson's race came to an end after 48 laps when his gearbox failed but by then his eventful day had included an excursion into an escape road and a spin.
Once again, reigning World Champion James Hunt was out of the race early on with a dropped valve while Peterson retired with brake problems after just 10 laps.