San Marino GP 1981

San Marino GP, 1981

The first European race of the 1981 season was at Imola but as Monza had regained the Italian GP the race had to have a different name and so it became the San Marino GP, named after the tiny independent state of that name, located 50 miles from the race track. Team Lotus had decided to miss the race but in England a new Lotus 87 was being tested to replace the banned twin-chassisLotus 88. The controversy over hydro-pneumatic suspensions had also faded as all the cars now had systems fitted.

The big excitement in the paddock was the appearance of the new Toleman F1 team, complete with a Brian Hart turbo engine and Pirelli tires. Neither Brian Henton nor Derek Warwick qualified. Otherwise the entry was little changed although Tyrrell had replaced Ricardo Zunino with a rising star called Michele Alboreto who brought much-needed backing for the team from a local ceramics company.

Qualifying resulted in a popular pole position for Gilles Villeneuve in the turbocharged Ferrari. The Canadian was seven-tenths ahead of Carlos Reutemann's Williams while the Renaults of Rene Arnoux and Alain Prost was on the second row. Nelson Piquet was fifth and Didier Pironi (Ferrari) sixth while the top 10 was completed by John Watson (in the new McLaren MP4/1 - being raced for the first time), Alan Jones (Williams), Riccardo Patrese (Arrows) and Jacques Laffite (Talbot Ligier).

The track was wet at the start and everyone was on wet tires. Villeneuve went into the lead while Pironi was able to use the prodigious power of the Ferrari to blast his way up to second position. At the back of the field there was a nasty accident when F1 debutante Miguel Angel Guerra had a moment in Tosa corner and was then hit by Eliseo Salazar's March. This punted the Osella into the barrier at high speed and the Argentine driver had to be cut from the wreck with serious leg injuries.

While Guerra was being released from his car the two Ferraris ran away from the rest of the field with Reutemann third, having driven into his team mate Jones to stop the Australian taking third on the first lap. This had damaged Jones's front wing and he was soon in the pits for repairs. That put Patrese up to fourth place and he overtook Reutemann a few laps later the Argentine went off over the grass at the final chicane. Piquet and his Brabham team mate Hector Rebaque completed the top six after Laffite and Arnoux had collided.

On lap 14 Villeneuve went into the pits for slicks. As he accelerated away it started to rain again and so two laps later Villeneuve was back in pitlane for wet tires. Pironi led with Patrese second while Piquet moved to third ahead of Reutemann. The Brazilian later got ahead of Patrese as well. The top five remained unchanged until the 47th lap when Piquet finally overtook Pironi, the Ferrari having damaged a skirt early on. Pironi drifted back behind Patrese, Reutemann and Rebaque but he finished fifth, just ahead of Andrea de Cesaris's McLaren.

Nelson Piquet Brabham-Cosworth  60 1h51m23.970s  
29 Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Cosworth  60 1h51m28.550s  
Carlos Reutemann Williams-Cosworth  60 1h51m30.310s  
Hector Rebaque Brabham-Cosworth  60 1h51m46.860s  13 
28 Didier Pironi Ferrari  60 1h51m49.840s  
Andrea de Cesaris McLaren-Cosworth  60 1h52m30.580s  14 
27 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari  60 1h53m05.940s  
16 Rene Arnoux Renault  59  
14 Marc Surer Ensign-Cosworth  59  21 
10 John Watson McLaren-Cosworth  58  
11 33 Patrick Tambay Theodore-Cosworth  58  16 
12 Alan Jones Williams-Cosworth  58  
13 10 Slim Borgudd ATS-Cosworth  57  24 
nc 25 Jean-Pierre Jobouille Talbot Ligier-Matra  45  18 
17 Eliseo Salazar March-Cosworth  38 Oil Pressure 23 
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth  31 Accident 17 
32 Beppe Gabbiani Osella-Cosworth  31 Accident 20 
23 Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo  28 Accident 11 
Eddie Cheever Tyrrell-Cosworth  28 Accident 19 
22 Mario Andretti Alfa Romeo  26 Gearbox 12 
20 Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Cosworth  14 Engine 15 
26 Jacques Laffite Talbot Ligier-Matra  Accident 10 
15 Alain Prost Renault  Gearbox 
31 Miguel-Angel Guerra Osella-Cosworth  Accident 22 
nq 30 Siegfried Stohr Arrows-Cosworth    25 
nq 18 Derek Daly March-Cosworth    26 
nq Jan Lammers ATS-Cosworth    27 
nq 21 Chico Serra Fittipaldi-Cosworth    28 
nq 36 Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart    29 
nq 35 Brian Henton Toleman-Hart    30