United States GP 1981

United States GP, 1981

There were three weeks between the Canadian and Las Vegas GPs and in that time Niki Lauda decided to return to F1 with McLaren in 1982. The F1 circus was rather perplexed to be racing around the parking of a Las Vegas casino and no-one seemed to like it much. The entry was as it had been in Canada and in qualifying it was World Championship leader Carlos Reutemann on pole from his teammate Alan Jones. The Australian was not going to do anything to help the Argentine to the title because of their clash over team orders at the start of the year. He was retiring from F1 after the race and had nothing to lose. He was going for a victory.

Third on the grid was Gilles Villeneuve in the Ferrari with Reutemann's title rival Nelson Piquet fourth, Alain Prost fifth in his Renault and John Watson sixth in the McLaren. The top 10 was completed by Patrick Tambay (in his last race with the Talbot Ligier team), Bruno Giacomelli (Alfa Romeo), Nigel Mansell (Lotus) and Mario Andretti (Alfa Romeo).

Jones took the lead at the start with Reutemann dropping behind Villeneuve, Prost and Giacomelli before the first corner. Watson and Laffite were sixth and seventh with Piquet a cautious eighth. With Villeneuve acting as a block to those behind him, Jones was able to drive away to victory. He was never headed.

Villeneuve's second place last only until the third lap when Prost blew past him but the Renault was no match for the Williams. On the next lap Laffite overtook Watson and the order then stabilized with Piquet running behind Reutemann, both men out of the points. On lap 17 Piquet passed the subdued Reutemann and he was followed by Andretti. Piquet chased after Watson and took sixth place on lap 22. This was briefly fifth when Villeneuve stopped with a fuel injection problem. But Nelson was then overtaken by Andretti. A few moments later Giacomelli's promising run in fourth place ended when he went off and rejoined back in ninth position so Piquet was back in fifth but when Reutemann overtook Watson for sixth the pair were back on equal points (although Piquet would win the title on victories). Then Andretti retired with a broken rear suspension and Piquet moved to fourth and Reutemann to fifth. Soon afterwards Prost pitted for tires and dropped to sixth but at the same time Mansell went ahead of Reutemann and as Prost recovered so Carlos lost another place. Prost's recovery would take him to second place, while Reutemann's unimpressive afternoon continued as he drifted behind the recovering Giacomelli. Piquet got up the third when Laffite went in for tires but he was then overtaken by Mansell and Giacomelli, the Italian moving up to third in the closing laps.

So Piquet came up fifth but with Reutemann out of the points it was enough to win the title.

Alan Jones Williams-Cosworth  75 1h44m09.077s  
15 Alain Prost Renault  75 1h44m29.125s  
23 Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo  75 1h44m29.505s  
12 Nigel Mansell Lotus-Cosworth  75 1h44m56.550s  
Nelson Piquet Brabham-Cosworth  75 1h45m25.515s  
26 Jacques Laffite Talbot Ligier-Matra  75 1h45m27.252s  12 
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth  75 1h45m27.574s  
Carlos Reutemann Williams-Cosworth  74  
28 Didier Pironi Ferrari  73  18 
10 20 Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Cosworth  73  20 
11 29 Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Cosworth  71  11 
12 Andrea de Cesaris McLaren-Cosworth  69  14 
13r Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth  67 Engine 17 
nc 14 Eliseo Salazar Ensign-Cosworth  61  24 
36 Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart  43 Gearbox 22 
22 Mario Andretti Alfa Romeo  29 Rear Suspension 10 
dq 27 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari  22 Started From Wrong Grid Position 
Hector Rebaque Brabham-Cosworth  20 Spin 16 
33 Marc Surer Theodore-Cosworth  19 Rear Suspension 23 
Eddie Cheever Tyrrell-Cosworth  10 Engine 19 
16 Rene Arnoux Renault  10 Electrics 13 
25 Patrick Tambay Talbot Ligier-Matra  Accident 
11 Elio de Angelis Lotus-Cosworth  Water Leak 15 
32 Jean-Pierre Jarier Osella-Cosworth  Transmission 21 
nq 10 Slim Borgudd ATS-Cosworth    25 
nq 21 Chico Serra Fittipaldi-Cosworth    26 
nq 17 Derek Daly March-Cosworth    27 
nq 30 Jacques Villeneuve Arrows-Cosworth    28 
nq 35 Brian Henton Toleman-Hart    29 
nq 31 Beppe Gabbiani Osella-Cosworth    30