Spanish GP 1981

JUNE 21, 1981

Spanish GP, 1981

Three weeks after Gilles Villeneuve's victory in Monaco, the F1 circus rolled up at Jarama for the Spanish GP. The field had altered somewhat with Eliseo Salazar having left March to join Ensign, displacing Marc Surer.

Jacques Laffite took pole on his Ligier-Matra with the two Williams-DFVs of Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann second and third ahead of John Watson's McLaren, Alain Prost's Renault and the Alfa Romeo of Bruno Giacomelli. Villeneuve was seventh.

Race day was incredibly hot and the temperature was around 100-degrees when the race began with Jones and Reutemann blasting into the lead as Laffite made a poor start and Villeneuve diving into third place at the first corner, snagging Prost's front wing as he took the place. At the end of the first lap Villeneuve pulled out of Reutemann's slipstream and took second place. Jones quickly built a lead but on lap 14 - when he was around 10secs ahead - he went off.

This left Villeneuve with Reutemann on his tail. Behind them Watson, Laffite and Elio de Angelis emerged from the hurly-burly and all began to close on the dueling leaders. Reutemann was having some trouble with his gearbox and when Laffite arrived behind him there was little Carlos could do to stop Jacques overtaking. The Argentine would later drop behind Watson as well as the five front-runners became a train of cars, nose-to-tail for the 18 laps of the race.

Villeneuve had the power to get away from his rivals on the straight but in the corners they were all over him. Time and time again Laffite pulled alongside as they emerged from a corner but the Ferrari would surge ahead as the horsepower kicked in. The five remained locked together right to the flag, crossing the line covered by just 1.24s to record the second closest race in the history of F1 at the time.

27 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari  80 1h46m35.019s  
26 Jacques Laffite Talbot Ligier-Matra  80 1h46m35.230s  
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth  80 1h46m35.590s  
Carlos Reutemann Williams-Cosworth  80 1h46m36.020s  
11 Elio de Angelis Lotus-Cosworth  80 1h46m36.250s  10 
12 Nigel Mansell Lotus-Cosworth  80 1h47m03.590s  11 
Alan Jones Williams-Cosworth  80 1h47m31.590s  
22 Mario Andretti Alfa Romeo  80 1h47m35.810s  
16 Rene Arnoux Renault  80 1h47m42.090s  17 
10 23 Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo  80 1h47m48.660s  
11 21 Chico Serra Fittipaldi-Cosworth  79  21 
12 20 Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Cosworth  78  15 
13 33 Patrick Tambay Theodore-Cosworth  78  16 
14 14 Eliseo Salazar Ensign-Cosworth  77  24 
15 28 Didier Pironi Ferrari  76  13 
16 17 Derek Daly March-Cosworth  75  22 
nc Eddie Cheever Tyrrell-Cosworth  61  20 
25 Jean-Pierre Jobouille Talbot Ligier-Matra  52 Brakes 19 
Hector Rebaque Brabham-Cosworth  46 Gearbox 18 
Nelson Piquet Brabham-Cosworth  43 Accident 
30 Siegfried Stohr Arrows-Cosworth  43 Engine 23 
15 Alain Prost Renault  28 Accident 
29 Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Cosworth  21 Engine 12 
Andrea de Cesaris McLaren-Cosworth  Accident 14 
nq Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth    25 
nq 31 Beppe Gabbiani Osella-Cosworth    26 
nq 10 Slim Borgudd ATS-Cosworth    27 
nq 35 Brian Henton Toleman-Hart    28 
nq 36 Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart    29 
nq 32 Giorgio Francia Osella-Cosworth    30 
exc 37 Emilio de Villota Williams-Cosworth   Not Allowed To Practice 31