Grand Prix Classic




Round 4 - San Marino Grand Prix
Imola, 23-25 April, 1982

After the fraught atmosphere which had lurked over the US West Grand Prix, things got even more heated. As many had expected, the FIA's Court of Appeal had upheld the disqualification of Piquet and Rosberg in the Brazilian Grand Prix, and outlawed the topping up of fluids after the race. In response, FOCA threaten to boycott all future races until the decision was reversed, claiming they couldn't make their cars fit the rules in such a short time (and ignoring the idea of simply running with full water tanks for the whole race). FISA refused to budge, and called their bluff. FOCA expected FISA to crack rather than hold a Grand Prix with just three teams present (Renault, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo). Even if they did, the regulations stated that any race with less than 13 starters would automatically be stripped of championship status.

It all made for an ugly backdrop to the second Championship San Marino Grand Prix, actually held in Italy and the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, but allowed into the championship via the back door of using the tiny principality's name so as not to let a fine circuit go to waste (not to mention the money brought in by tens of thousands of fanatical Italian fans).


Entry Notes

As it became clear that FOCA actually intended to miss the San Marino Grand Prix, so some of the non-FISA teams began to waver. First were Toleman - as a newer team, they weren't permitted FOCA membership. They also reasoned that as a turbo team they had more in common with FISA than FOCA, especially after Ken Tyrrell's protest that turbo engines themselves were illegal. Team manager Alex Hawkridge also reasoned that as an English manager he could mediate between the two parties. All that and the chance to actually get both of the flying pigs onto the grid meant Warwick and Fabi would be in Imola.

Next came ATS and Osella. The European-owned DFV teams felt like outsiders within FOCA as non-British teams, without the connections that Emerson Fittipaldi had, and felt no need to incur the wrath of FISA for the sake of an organisation that had done little to benefit them. So the entry swelled to 12, one car short of what was needed for the race to reach championship status.

The final team to change their mind was a surprise, and surely resulted in a few ironic smiles from the FISA runners. After running bare cars in the first three rounds of the season, Tyrrell had found some sponsorship. Thanks to the results of Michele Alboreto Italians were beginning to take notice, and after his tigering drive at Long Beach Tyrrell were offered a respectable deal by Candy, returning from Toleman, and a two-race package by Imola Ceramiche. Both were Italian companies, and the latter's offer was dependant on attendance at the San Marino Grand Prix. Faced with simple commercial considerations, Tyrrell broke the boycott and entered his cars, taking the prospective grid over the 13-car minimum.

Ligier had been expected to attend as their associations with Talbot and Matra making them a more natural bedfellow of the manufacturer teams, but problems with the new JS19 caused Guy Ligier to instead join the FOCA strikers, announcing his withdrawal only two days before Friday's practice.

In a largely unrelated development, Tyrrell also dropped the under-performing Slim Borgudd after his demolition derby antics at Long Beach, taking advantage of the availability of Brian Henton (now free from Arrows after Surer's return to fitness, and an old favourite of Candy to boot) to drive the second car.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

The FOCA teams probably couldn't have picked a worst race to boycott. Imola is Ferrari country, closer to the team's Modena base than Monza and named after Enzo and departed son Dino to boot. The crowds were huge, and most of those present most likely wouldn't have cared if there had been only two cars entered, providing they were the right ones. Add to that the Alfas and their all-Italian driver line up and the impressive young Michele Alboreto and it was probably fair to say that all the cars the partisan crowd were interested in seeing were present - around 40,000 flag-waving lunatics were present on each practice day.

However, the Renaults were the cars to beat, with Arnoux taking his second pole position of the season from team-mate Prost on Saturday - though Friday had been both race cars sidelined by engine problems, with the drivers being forced to share the spare. Next came the Ferraris, Villeneuve (whose brakes had caught fire on Saturday) ahead of Pironi (who had crashed on Friday and had to continue in the spare for the following day).

Alboreto was a respectable 5th, a lot slower than the turbos but happy to have out-qualified the Alfas (Giacomelli 6th, de Cesaris 7th). Then came another gap in the timesheets to Warwick, Jarier and Fabi (who had blown an engine on Friday morning) - the Tolemans happy to out-qualify Henton (11th) and the ATS cars (Winkelhock 12th, Salazar 14th), with Paletti 13th for his first start. ATS would encounter some problems, as Avon wouldn't be present (their transportation had been being arranged by FOCA president Bernie Ecclestone, and suddenly wasn't available) to provide tyres; Michelin and Pirelli tried to help out, but their tyres weren't compatible, so in the end Gunther Schmidt paid for some old stock to be air-freighted in from the team's factory in England, though it would restrict both the cars' running times and general competitiveness.

[Full Practice Times and Grid]


Race

Sunday was cool, clear and breezy - perfect turbo weather. There was considerable talk of collusion between Ferrari and Renault, who planned to make a race of it in order to keep the 80,000 plus spectators happy and avoid the event descending into even more of a farce. It seems likely that the teams did all agree on a common sense pact of doing their best not to knock each other off the circuit. Indeed, with the three FISA grandees having all proven less than reliable so far in 1982 they probably all wanted to prevent the spectre of a FOCA-boycotted event being won by FOCA member Ken Tyrrell, with Tolemans on the rostrum...

That became less likely as Warwick's Toleman was pushed off the side of the track after the formation lap with an electrical problem. Arnoux got a great start, but while Prost maintained second he had the Ferraris all over him, and both slipped by at Tosa. Behind them came Alboreto and the Alfas. Another car dropped out almost instantly as Henton's clutch broke as he crossed the line, the Tyrrell driver completing a half lap so slow that the leaders were coming up to pass him again when he admitted defeat and parked on the side of the track. Arnoux was already beginning to pull away from the Ferraris, while Prost in 4th had his hands full with a feisty Alboreto. Further back, after a good start to 8th (helped by the empty grid slot ahead of him) Teo Fabi pushed his Toleman past de Cesaris, though the Alfa would disappear into the pits at the end of the second lap.

The sparse field began to separate. Pironi had moved right up behind Villeneuve, and both were closing on Arnoux. After them came a gap to Prost, who just couldn't loose Alboreto; they had a small lead over Giacomelli in the remaining Alfa; then came another gap to Fabi, Jarier and the ATS cars. Paletti in the second Osella had missed the start after stalling on the dummy grid, and retired with a suspension failure having not even caught sight of the rest of the runners, while de Cesaris would continue for a couple of slow tours before departing altogether.

Now the Ferraris had closed down Arnoux, and the trio would run from nose to tail for the next 10 laps. Prost had by now pulled in to retire from a distant 4th with a sick engine, leaving Alboreto all alone, while Fabi's reign in sixth came to an end when he too came into the pits after coolly resisting the thrusts of Winkelhock and Jarier with badly dropping boost. After lengthy repairs, he would resume several laps down. Winkelhock was now in 6th, closely followed by Jarier (who got past the ATS on lap 23 when Winkelhock ran wide) and Salazar in a solid scrap that was, in its' way, as exciting as the turbo battle up front.

Villeneuve was really pushing at Arnoux, but ran wide at Bassa and let Pironi by. The Frenchman made no more impression on Arnoux, and on lap 25 Villeneuve retook the place around the outside of Tamburello. A lap later, to delirious reaction from the crowd, he was in the lead, swinging past on the climb to Piratella. At first he pulled out a lead and it looked like the Ferrari might run away, but Arnoux fought back and took the inside line at Tamburello on lap 29. Pironi nearly followed him through, but instead it would take until lap 33 for him to get past Villeneuve. By now Giacomelli had also disappeared from 4th, while Winkelhock would stop to repair an ignition problem.

If the leading trio were putting on a show for the crowd they were doing a mighty fine job of it. Both Ferraris were pushing so hard they each ran wide at Bassa again, while Arnoux defended robustly, and typically a second covered all three. On lap 40 Villeneuve once again retook second on the inside at Tosa, and was soon back in the lead. This time, however, the Renault engine (only put in shortly before the race after the original had sounded rough at times in the morning warm-up) had detonated crossing the line, the Frenchman pulling off with smoke belching from the car. Next time round Villeneuve again ran wide at Bassa, and Pironi took the lead of the race for the first time. A couple of laps later they nearly touched when Villeneuve tried to force his way past at the inside of Tosa, eventually slipping by at Piratella.

At this point, with Alboreto over forty seconds back in 3rd, the Ferrari pits signalled their cars to ease off, reduce fuel consumption and aim for the finish by lowering the "SLOW" sign over the pit wall, eight laps from the end. However, Pironi would blast back into the lead, going around the outside of Villeneuve at Tamburello. The Canadian held station until the penultimate lap, when he once again moved inside at Tosa, with minimal resistance from his team-mate. On the final lap, Pironi would replicate the move, apparently catching Villeneuve unawares. He then tried to wrestle the lead back, but with no passing opportunities wound up second. An overjoyed Pironi removed his helmet and toured back to the pits, the Tifosi going wild at a Ferrari victory.

It was only when the drivers left the cars in parc ferme that it became clear something was wrong. Villeneuve was atypically sullen, refusing to answer questions and ignoring Pironi and Alboreto. It transpired that both had interpreted the order to ease off in a different manner; Villeneuve believed that it had meant they were to hold the positions they were in when the order was given and he was in the lead; he had assumed that Pironi's pass at Tamburello had been a gesture for the spectators, something he felt was confirmed by the Frenchman's passive response to being passed at Tosa. Pironi for his part thought it had merely been an order to calm down and avoid a collision after the close call at Tosa shortly before it was given, which is why he had given Villeneuve space at Tosa, and he claimed he thought Villeneuve had an engine problem on the final lap. Ferrari themselves stayed carefully neutral, though they stopped short of admitting the orders had been confusing. Villeneuve felt deeply betrayed, and believed Pironi's decision to leave the fateful final pass until the last recognised passing place confirmed that the Frenchman had acted in an underhanded way to steal the win. He vowed never to speak to Pironi again.

Behind the Ferraris, Alboreto was overjoyed with his first podium finish, in Italy to boot, and even accounting for the reduced field it was fair to say he had ran a very good race despite being very much on his own. Next up came Jarier, who had enjoyed a fine scuffle with Fabi and the ATS drivers early on before all three had disappeared for repairs, leaving him with a lonely run to 4th for Osella's first ever points. The ATS drivers came home 5th and 6th despite their problems, Salazar three and Winkelhock six laps behind, though the German would be disqualified for being 2kg underweight and lose his point - the team blamed this on a loss of engine oil at his long pit-stop, which under the new regulations they were not allowed to replenish. Fabi also saw the chequered flag, but sadly too far down to be classified. All in all, the race had been better than many had expected, while the dramatic fallout of the Ferrari drivers kept the intrigue high, while also deflecting any questions about whether they had colluded with Arnoux and Renault to make the race more exciting than it perhaps would have been.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Didier Pironi Ferrari
60
1h 36m 38.887s
2
2
Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari
60
+ 0.366s
8
3
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
60
1m 17.684s
7
4
Jean-Pierre Jarier Osella-Cosworth
59
+ 1 lap
18
5
Eliseo Salazar ATS-Cosworth
57
+ 3 laps
12
DQ
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-Cosworth
54
+ 6 laps
16
NC
Teo Fabi Toleman-Hart
52
+ 8 laps
11
R
Rene Arnoux Renault
44
Engine
17
R
Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo
24
Engine
21
R
Riccardo Paletti Osella-Cosworth
7
Suspension
23
R
Alain Prost Renault
6
Engine
24
R
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
4
Fuel Pump
13
R
Brian Henton Tyrrell-Cosworth
0
Clutch
1
DNS
Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
0
Electrics
20

Fastest Lap: Didier Pironi (Ferrari), 1:35.036s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
18
2
Niki Lauda
12
3=
Michele Alboreto
10
3=
Didier Pironi
10
5=
John Watson
8
5=
Keke Rosberg
8
7=
Carlos Reutemann
6
7=
Gilles Villeneuve
6
9=
Rene Arnoux
4
9=
Nigel Mansell
4
9=
Riccardo Patrese
4
12
Jean-Pierre Jarier
3
13=
Manfred Winkelhock
2
13=
Elio de Angelis
2
13=
Eliseo Salazar
2

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Renault
22
2
McLaren
20
3
Ferrari
16
4
Williams
14
5
Tyrrell
10
6
Lotus
6
7=
Brabham
4
7=
ATS
4
9
Osella
3