Classic F1 Races – 1982 Monaco Grand Prix

Above Image: Riccardo Patrese celebrates winning the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix, albeit in dramatic fashion.

Image Source: © Sutton Images via ESPN 

BBC Highlights of the race can be viewed via Vimeo here

The 1982 Formula One Season was one filled with drama which resulting in nine different race winners that year. There was politics off the track due to a dispute over the superlicience ruling and a battle betwen FISA and FOCA. On the track, Didier Pironi disobeyed a team order to stay behind Ferrari teammate Gilles Villeneuve in order to win the San Marino Grand Prix. Subsequently, the Canadian vowed to never speak to Pironi again and vice versa. This inter-team rivalry would sadly turn tragic, as Villeneuve was killed two weeks later in a practice session for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder.

The death of Gilles Villeneuve at Zolder was still fresh in everybody’s minds.

Image Source: Mike Flynn via Fine Art America

The next race of the season took place in the streets of Monte Carlo and the Motorsport world was still in mourning after its most recent loss. Understandably, Ferrari hadn’t hired a replacement for Villeneuve’s seat, with reports at the time stating that the team wanted to skip this race as a mark of respect, but were allegedly talked out of doing so by Pironi. His fans branded a hero for holding the team together whilst his critics branded him as self centred.

Onboard footage of René Arnoux going around the Monaco street circuit is avaliable here on YouTube.

For the third race in a row, René Arnoux was on pole in the quick, but fragile Renault with a 1:23.281; half a second quicker than Riccardo Patrese’s Brabham-Ford. Despite this impressive qualifying form, the Renault’s unreliability meant the Frenchman only had four points from the first five races. In comparison, teammate Alain Prost led the championship with 18 points. Bruno Giacomelli was third for Alfa Romeo, with Prost fourth in the sister Renault followed by Pironi’s Ferrari and Keke Rosberg’s Williams-Ford. Defending champion Nelson Piquet qualified 13th in the developmental Brabham-BMW. 

The starting lineup for the race.

Image Source: Vimeo 

At the start of the race, Arnoux led the field, with Giacomelli overtaking Patrese for second, followed by Prost, Pironi, Andrea de Cesaris (Alfa Romeo), Michele Alboreto (Tyrrell-Ford) and Rosberg. Shortly after, Prost would overtake Patrese around the outside into Ste Devote for third place, closely proceeded by Giacomelli’s early retirement on lap 4 with a driveshaft failure. As the Renault’s of Arnoux and Prost started to pull away, Patrese, Pironi and de Cesaris fought over third place, though, on lap 15, despair for the luckless Arnoux continued. After using the kerb on the exit of the Swimming Pool chicane his car spun and as a result, the engine stalled and he forced to retire, gifting the lead to Prost. 

René Arnoux’s stalled Renault at the Swimming Pool Chicane. 

Image Source: Vimeo

Midway through the race, Prost was leading comfortably when he got stuck behind backamrker Elio de Angelis (Lotus). The Italian hadn’t seen the blue flags telling to move over as he was too busy attempting an overtake on Piquet. Because of this, Patrese and Pironi caught up to the Frenchman. Eventually, de Angelis gave way, but collided with Pironi’s front wing at the same time. The trio then got stuck behind Piquet before being released, allowing Prost to run away from Patrese whilst Pironi struggled to keep up with the damage his Ferrari had sustained.

Elio de Angelis (Lotus, right) moves over to allow the leading pack of Alain Prost (Renault), Riccardo Patrese (Brabham) and Didier Pironi (Ferrari) passed.

Image Source: Vimeo

The action began to calm down for a while as the amount of retirements continued to increase. With 15 laps left to run, Prost still led from Patrese, with Pironi in third, followed by de Cesaris, Rosberg and Alboreto. At this point in time, light rain fell onto the circuit, makung it greasy and slippery for the drivers. Rosberg hit the wall as a result and retired. His teammate, Derek Daly, was elevated to sixth but had a crash of his own, although he was to continued despite losing his rear wing. Not long after, Alboreto retire with a broken suspension.

As the race neared its end, the track began more difficult to master. Prost, who had Patrese closing him on down, was sliding all over the place in order to maintain the lead. With three laps remaining, Prost crashed at the Chicane du Port (now the Nouvelle Chicane), handing the lead to Patrese. With a comfortable gap to Pironi, the Italian seemed on course to win the race, but spun at the Loews hairpin on the following lap, allowing Pironi to move into first place. 

The aftermath of Alain Prost’s crash on lap 74.

Image Source: Vimeo

On the final lap though, Pironi stopped in the tunnel after running out of fuel. His nearest challenger de Cesaris had done the same, stopping further back at Massenet, before Daly’s Williams came to a halt at La Rascasse having withstained further damage to the car unseen by the television cameras. At this point, BBC commentator and 1976 world champion James Hunt famously said the following: “Well we’ve got this ridiculous situation where we’re all sitting by the start-finish line waiting for a winner to come and we don’t seem to be getting one!”.

Both Didier Pironi (top) and Andrea de Cesaris (Alfa Romeo, bottom) ran out of fuel on the final lap, allowing Riccardo Patrese to take the chequered flag.

Image Source: Vimeo

At this point, Patrese, who rejoined after recieving a push start from the marshals, come through to win the race, something that unbeknown to the Italian initally: “I didn’t know I’d won the GP. On the last lap de Cesaris stopped, then Pironi. I thought Rosberg’s Williams was still ahead of me because I thought he’d overtaken me. So I thought I was second. On the finishing lap everybody was waving flags and so on, while I was thinking I’d thrown it away. I can remember thinking ‘maybe they are pleased I finished second and drove a good race’, but I was very, very unhappy.”

Riccardo Patrese displays confusion before being declared the winner of the race.

Image Source: F1 Since ’81

Patrese continued: “I was not in a hurry to get to the podium, because in the briefing they said only the winning car should stop in front of it. Because I was not the winner, I decided to give a lift to Didier (Pironi). I dropped him off and instead of letting me go to the pits, I was shown the way to the podium. I didn’t understand. I thought they changed the rule and wanted the first three. But only my car was there! However, there were more than three drivers; there was me, de Cesaris, Pironi and de Angelis! There was a big discussion over who was first, second or third. Somebody came to me and started to shout, ‘You won, you won.’ Then I realised…”


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