Formula 1’s 6 May 2020 Classic: 1982 Monaco Grand Prix

For its latest classics offering Formula 1 will be airing the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix on Wednesday 6 May.

It is an eventful, chaotic race that does well to summarise the 1982 season in one Grand Prix, perhaps missing the tragedy and the political spats that also featured throughout the season.

The Race Weekend

The sport arrived at Monaco off the back of a tragic race weekend at the previous round in Belgium where Gilles Villeneuve lost his life during qualifying. It meant Ferrari fielded one car in Monaco for Didier Pironi.

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In the championship Alain Prost led by one point from John Watson with Keke Rosberg four behind Prost in third with Lauda (12 points) and Pironi (10 points) making up the rest of the top five in the championship.

It would be Prost’s teammate, Rene Arnoux, who claimed pole position in Monaco. The fifth that Renault had achieved in the first six races of the 1982 season.

Alongside Arnoux was Riccardo Patrese with Prost starting in fourth, Rosberg started sixth, Lauda was down in twelfth while Pironi started in fifth. The reigning champion, Nelson Piquet, started down in thirteenth.

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The race was held over a distance of 76 laps. Arnoux led the opening 14 laps, eventually spinning out of the race handing the lead to his teammate. Prost would go on to lead the majority of the remaining laps, although he crashed out of the lead on lap 73. This handed the lead to Patrese who spun having only led a lap, gifting the lead to Pironi. He wouldn’t fare much better, running out of fuel while going through the tunnel after having led only one lap himself.

With no more than a lap to go there were several other drivers who could have inherited the lead only to have retired beforehand either through an accident or running out of fuel. This led then BBC commentator, and 1976 world champion, James Hunt to remark “Well, we’ve got this ridiculous situation where we’re all sitting by the start-finish line waiting for a winner to come past, and we don’t seem to be getting one!”.

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A winner would eventually be found in Patrese with Pironi and Andrea de Cesaris classified second and third. The two Lotus cars of Nigel Mansell and Elio de Angelis finished fourth and fifth while the Williams of Derek Daly was classified in the final points position of sixth.

It was Patrese’s maiden Grand Prix victory as he would be one of only ten classified finishers. It meant he was now fifth in the championship, a point behind Rosberg who was now fourth with Pironi third on 16 points, Watson was still second one point behind championship leader Prost.

The Season

Patrese would be one of eleven different race winners across the sixteen race season, the season seeing four different winners in the opening five races prior to Monaco. Prost having been the only driver to win more than one race at that point in the season.

Keke Rosberg would eventually claim the 1982 championship, winning only one race during the season as he became Williams’s second drivers’ champion. He won the championship by five points with Pironi second and Watson third, the two tying on 39 points.

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Along the way there would be four different drivers to lead the championship with Prost being the initial leader before being surpassed by Watson who in turn was replaced by Pironi before ultimately Rosberg finished at the top of the championship.

Ferrari would go on to win the constructors’ championship by five points from McLaren after the team suffered an incredibly challenging season after the death of Villeneuve in Belgium and the crash of Pironi at the German Grand Prix ruling the Frenchman out of the remainder of the season.

It wasn’t just the drivers’ championship that saw a variety of different winners with seven different teams all claiming a Grand Prix victory during the 1982 season.

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