The domination of Alan Jones was ended by Jacques Laffite's victory in the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. At Brands Hatch a month earlier, championship leader Jones had benefited from the Ligiers suffering from punctures; this time the roles were reversed, Jones took pole and led into the first corner, but the powerful Renault of Jean-Pierre Jabouille passed him on the straight. Jones retained second place while Rene Arnoux's Renault kept Laffite back in fourth.
The leading positions shuffled when Jabouille felt his engine lose power and the Renault spluttered to a halt with a defective valve spring. At the same time Arnoux was climbing out of his Renault which had stopped trackside with exactly the same problem.
Jones took over the lead with Laffite second, but with five laps remaining he was forced to pit with a puncture allowing Laffite and Carlos Reutemann into the top two places. It remained that way to the end.
"Jones was going so well, I knew I could not catch him," Laffite admitted. "I could not believe my luck when I saw him in the pits." It was an emotional win for Ligier and Laffite.
Nine days before the race Patrick Depailler, who had raced for the team the previous year, was killed in an accident while testing at Hockenheim. Depailler's Alfa Romeo team-mate Bruno Giacomelli took fifth place.
The post-race formalities were slightly tarnished when Jones refused to take his place on the podium because of the presence of FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre, holding him responsible for his victory in Spain being voided. He was also furious at not winning. "This is just not possible," he told reporters. "This is just too much. I was close and then this."
The 1979 champion Jody Scheckter came in 13th but was far from bothered as he had announced his retirement before the weekend, fed up with slogging round in a hopelessly uncompetitive Ferrari. "After going through all I did in my career I couldn't be going around in 25th," he said. "I announced my retirement in the middle of the season but had probably made up my mind halfway through the previous season."