Monaco GP 1981
MAY 31, 1981
Monaco GP, 1981
With too many cars entered there had to be a pre-qualifying session to get the field down to 26 for practice. This eliminated both Tolemans, both Marches and the single ATS of Slim Borgudd. A further six were lost in qualifying with Hector Rebaque (Brabham), Keke Rosberg and Chico Serra (Fittipaldi), Jean-Pierre Jabouille (Talbot Ligier), and the two Osellas (Piercarlo Ghinzani and Beppe Gabbiani) all going home early.
At the front of the grid Nelson Piquet was on pole in his Brabham with Gilles Villeneuve second in the Ferrari and an impressive Nigel Mansell third in the new Lotus 87, which made its first appearance. Then came Carlos Reutemann (Williams), Riccardo Patrese (Arrows), Elio de Angelis (Lotus), Alan Jones (Williams), Jacques Laffite (Talbot Ligier) and Alain Prost (Renault). John Watson completed the top 10 in the McLaren MP4/1.
At the start there was the usual first corner accident as Andrea de Cesaris (McLaren) tangled with Mario Andretti's Alfa Romeo. Piquet took the lead with Villeneuve chasing and Mansell third ahead of the two Williams cars. The young Englishman disappeared early on with a suspension problem and Reutemann went out with gearbox trouble and Jones moved up ahead of Villeneuve and began to pressure Piquet for the lead.
On lap 53 Nelson came up to lap some backmarkers, went offline and slid off into a barrier. Jones took the lead and seemed to have the race in his pocket until lap 67 when he went into the pits with a fuel vaporization problem. He was soon on his way again but Villeneuve saw his chance and began to close in. On lap 72 Villeneuve took the lead. A disappointed Jones finished second with Laffite third, Pironi fourth, Eddie Cheever fifth (despite being two laps down) and Marc Surer sixth in the Ensign.