Italian GP 1981

SEPTEMBER 13, 1981

Italian GP, 1981

After a year away at Imola in 1980, the Italian GP was back at its spiritual home in Monza with Nelson Piquet and Carlos Reutemann arriving on equal points in the World Championship. The summer had been seen the emergence as a major force of Alain Prost in the Renault and he too was becoming the threat to the World Championship leaders. The switching around of tires continued with Tyrrell deciding to go back to Goodyear at least for Eddie Cheever's car.

The field was the same as usual with Rene Arnoux on pole in the Renault ahead of Reutemann's Williams and Prost. Jacques Laffite was fourth in his Talbot Ligier and he was clear of Alan Jones (Williams) and Piquet while the top 10 was completed by John Watson (McLaren), Didier Pironi and Gilles Villeneuve in the fast but evil-handling Ferraris and Bruno Giacomelli's Alfa Romeo. The event was significant in that it marked the first start for the Toleman team, Brian Henton having finally qualified one of the Toleman-Hart cars in 23rd position on the grid after a season of disappointment.

At the start Pironi made an exceptional start and he was fourth at the first chicane behind Prost, Reutemann and Arnoux. By the time the field arrived on the back straight Pironi was second. It did not last long Arnoux moved to second on the fifth lap and on lap six Laffite went to third (having overtaken Jones, Piquet and Reutemann). Villeneuve followed him but disappeared with turbo failure soon afterwards. Then Laffite began to drop back with a slow puncture and it began to rain! Jacques went off.

This left the two Renaults and the two Williams cars ahead but with a gap between them. Arnoux then went off at the Parabolica, swerving to avoid Eddie Cheever's abandoned Tyrrell and so Prost was left on his own.

There was then a huge accident at the Lesmo when Watson lost control of his MP4/1. It spun into the barriers and the engine was ripped from the tub. Watson emerged unhurt but the engine went across the road, causing Michele Alboreto to crash his Tyrrell. The next to arrive was Reutemann and he had to take to the grass and so he dropped behind Giacomelli. The Alfa driver was not in luck however and on lap 26 his Alfa went into the pits with his gearbox jammed. this put Piquet into third place behind Prost and Jones and it looked like staying that way until the last lap when his engine blew, which allowed Reutemann, de Angelis and Pironi to pass him. He picked up just one point and Reutemann moved three points ahead in the World Championship.

15 Alain Prost Renault  52 1h26m33.897s  
Alan Jones Williams-Cosworth  52 1h26m56.072s  
Carlos Reutemann Williams-Cosworth  52 1h27m24.484s  
11 Elio de Angelis Lotus-Cosworth  52 1h28m06.799s  11 
28 Didier Pironi Ferrari  52 1h28m08.419s  
6r Nelson Piquet Brabham-Cosworth  51 Engine 
7r Andrea de Cesaris McLaren-Cosworth  51 Tyre Burst/ Accident 16 
23 Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo  50  10 
32 Jean-Pierre Jarier Osella-Cosworth  50  18 
10 35 Brian Henton Toleman-Hart  49  23 
22 Mario Andretti Alfa Romeo  41 Flywheel Coupling 13 
17 Derek Daly March-Cosworth  37 Gearbox 19 
25 Patrick Tambay Talbot Ligier-Matra  22 Puncture 15 
12 Nigel Mansell Lotus-Cosworth  21 Handling 12 
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth  19 Accident 
29 Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Cosworth  19 Gearbox 20 
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth  16 Accident 22 
14 Eliseo Salazar Ensign-Cosworth  13 Tyre Burst 24 
16 Rene Arnoux Renault  12 Accident 
Eddie Cheever Tyrrell-Cosworth  11 Spin 17 
26 Jacques Laffite Talbot Ligier-Matra  11 Puncture 
10 Slim Borgudd ATS-Cosworth  10 Spin 21 
27 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari  Turbo 
Hector Rebaque Brabham-Cosworth  Electrics 14 
nq 33 Marc Surer Theodore-Cosworth    25 
nq 31 Beppe Gabbiani Osella-Cosworth    26 
nq 36 Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart    27 
nq 30 Siegfried Stohr Arrows-Cosworth    28 
nq 20 Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Cosworth    29 
nq 21 Chico Serra Fittipaldi-Cosworth    30