Despite the success of Murray's Cosworth-powered cars, ecclestone signed a deal with Italian motor manufacturer Alfa Romeo to use their large and powerful flat-12 engine from the 1976 season. The engines were free, but they rendered the new bt45s, now in red martini racing livery, unreliable and overweight. This first year using the Alfa Romeo motor was not good for Brabham. The 1976 and 1977 seasons saw Brabham fall toward the back of the field again. Reutemann negotiated a release from his contract before the end of the 1976 season and signed with Ferrari. Ulsterman John Watson replaced him at Brabham for 1977. The team lost Carlos pace early in the 1977 season when he died in a light aircraft accident.