Patrick Depailler secured a start-to-finish victory for Ligier at the Spanish Grand Prix, but it was another day of frustration for his team-mate Jacques Laffite as his early season wins started to fade as reliability issues came to the fore. The win took Depailler level in the drivers' championship with Gilles Villeneuve who finished down in seventh after a string of early spins.
The Ligiers monopolised the front row and soon moved into an early lead, but Lafitte's day ended when a missed gear change caused his engine to blow. That allowed Carlos Reutemann, in the older Lotus 79, to move second, a place he held for the remainder of the race.
Behind him Jody Scheckter (Ferrari) and Niki Lauda (Brabham) enjoyed a fierce battle, with Lauda eventually passing at the three-quarter mark only for his car to suffer from a water leak five laps later. Scheckter was having tyre troubles and was passed by Mario Andretti eight laps from the finish. Although Andretti was giving the new Lotus 80 its first outing, he had by then lost a nose wing after clipping Patrick Tambay.
The Williams of Alan Jones and Clay Regazzoni continued to improve, although both their races were ended by mechanical issues, while James Hunt's Wolf was also eliminated because of brake troubles. Again the Tyrrells lacked any sponsorship, but showed the cars themselves were sound with a fifth and sixth to their name.
A delighted Depailler threw his arms aloft as he crossed the line for his first win in 69 starts. "Now the championship starts again," he grinned.