Grand Prix Classic




Round 7 - United States Grand Prix
Detroit, 4-6 June, 1982

After a three-race stint in Europe, the Grand Prix teams headed back across the Atlantic ocean for a North American double-header. Situated in Detroit, home of Ford, the first was the second of three visits to America, and would simply be designated the United States Grand Prix (with the season closer in Las Vegas once again known as the Caesar's Palace Grand Prix), and a brand circuit, with a day of free testing and general exploration on Thursday 3rd June scheduled - it would be the first time race cars had used the track.

Like Long Beach, the track was temporary, using various city streets. While it was very much its' own beast, most were expecting the same sort of characteristics as the Californian race - a generally level field for the turbo and atmo cars, low average speeds, heat, tyre wear, a difficult surface and lots of bouncing off concrete walls.


Entry Notes

Once again, Ferrari would enter only a single car for Pironi, planning to enter a second on the series' return to Europe - Patrick Tambay had reportedly signed to drive the car, but was still negotiating his way out of his VDS CanAm contract, and had insisted on testing before entering a Grand Prix.

The entry was reduced further when the Toleman team were delayed returning to England from Monaco, and officially withdrew, planning to catch up with the other teams at Canada. Cynics noted that they simply didn't fancy hauling their cars over to a circuit where they were expected to run badly, but the FIA accepted their withdrawal without fuss.

Ligier were in a fix after the JS19's poor race debut in Monaco. While the chassis was being redesigned, the team reverted to the JS17B chassis for the North American races, while Brabham would once again enter a BMW car for Piquet and a Cosworth for Patrese.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

When the track was inspected on Thursday morning, the FIA officials found that many of the run-off areas and barriers were not up to spec. The idea of a test day was put on hold while new tyre barriers were fitted, but the work went on to the next day, and in the end the cars only ran from 4pm to 5pm on the Friday, a free hour. During this time Lammers span his Theodore into a wall and broke his thumb, withdrawing from the weekend. Despite all the trouble everyone was fairly determined to go ahead with the race now they were here, however, and further free practice sessions were dropped in favour of running an hour-long qualifying session in the morning and another in the afternoon.

The morning session was dull but dry, and once again Prost topped the sheets despite his foot still being strapped up after his Monaco crash, with de Cesaris alongside. Row 2 went to Rosberg and Pironi, followed by Manfred Winkelhock's ATS, the German being neat and smooth on the circuit while others struggled. Next up was Giacomelli in the second Alfa, with Mansell, de Angelis, Cheever and Lauda rounding out the top 10. Guerrero, now with Michelin tyres on his Ensign, was an excellent 11th, while Patrese was down in 14th, Arnoux 15th (after a crash on Friday), Alboreto 16th and Watson 17th (after colliding with Serra). Having a worse day than even that group was Piquet, who had abandoned one car out on the circuit and couldn't get the other to run well, ending the morning 28th and slowest of all, behind even de Villota's March.

Many expected the strugglers to move up to their usual places, but before the 3:20pm session started it rained. Lauda topped the session, but with the pace 20 seconds slower there was no chance for Piquet and de Villota to get onto the grid - indeed, neither even completed a lap - so the race would go ahead without the reigning World Champion.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

To the relief of everyone (right down to the mechanics, the temporary facilities having open-top pits) race day was clear and sunny, and while the circuit might have been frustrating there was no denying that the skyscrapers of the Renaissance Plaza Hotel, which was broadly in the centre of the track. However, the chaos continued even on the dummy grid, both Winkelhock and Jarier clipping walls on their formation laps. Both made it back to the pits, where the German received repairs. However, the spare Osella was already out of commission after Jarier had knocked a corner off in qualifying. Undaunted, he took over Paletti's car, itself having just been finished in the pitlane after the Italian had crashed in the morning warm-up, and took up station at the end of the pitlane, leaving Osella's junior driver unable to start.

Things got no better on the race start itself. Prost got away well, followed by de Cesaris and Rosberg, but further back Mauro Baldi hit first Boesel, then Alboreto, then Salazar, and then Henton before retiring after one frantic lap. Salazar and Alboreto would pit with damage, Henton continued but Boesel was out. Winkelhock joined him a lap later, the steering repair made for the start having affected handling and sent him into a wall, while de Cesaris was soon out of second place with another Alfa driveshaft failure, and Jarier also retired with a flat DFV.

Prost carried on serenely with a three-second lead, with Rosberg and Pironi keeping ahead of the rest. Back in 11th, Guerrero was coming under pressure from a five-car train led by de Angelis. The young Columbian got out of shape and the closely following Lotus struck his Ensign, which took off and landed in the middle of the track, right-rear corner first. Mass and Watson dodged, but Patrese right behind the McLaren saw Guerrero too late and was forced into the tyre wall. With the two cars blocking the corner, no cranes available and Patrese's then catching fire after he abandoned it, marshals red-flagged the race after seven laps, something of an overreaction. The marshals eventually put out the Brabham, though the lone chap with the fire extinguisher made something of a meal out of the task and had to be berated into action by Patrese. It was worrying how nervous the marshals were - in addition to this, when Jarier's Osella caught fire in the morning warm-up the Frenchman found himself extinguishing the blaze himself while a marshal looked on.

An hour later, the eighteen survivors were ready on the grid, in the order they were in at the end of lap 6 (Prost/Rosberg/Pironi/Mansell/Giacomelli/
Cheever/Lauda/Laffite/Daly/Arnoux/de Angelis/Mass/Watson/Surer/Henton/
Serra/Alboreto/Salazar), with the time from the first 'race' to be added to that of the remainder and positions worked out on aggregate, leaving Prost with a lead of three seconds

From the reorganised grid, Rosberg made a good start and had a look around the outside of Prost, but eventually had to settle for second, followed by Pironi, Giacomelli and Cheever. Mansell, having ran well early on, was struck by Arnoux at the hairpin and dropped back, while Alboreto thumped into the back of team-mate Henton. Prost immediately rebuilt his on-track lead with Rosberg loitering a few seconds behind, then a gap to Pironi, Giacomelli, Cheever and Lauda. Not going as well was Arnoux, whose engine was misfiring whenever he hit the top end of the rev limit. The same problem would soon afflict Prost, who was then rapidly reeled in by Rosberg; unaware of the Renault's difficulties, Rosberg only saw Prost exiting Larned Tunnel slowly and pulled off a do or die move around the outside of the next corner. He made it, comfortably, and probably felt a vague sense of anticlimax as he then cruised away from the Renault.

Attention now turned to a mighty battle for third led by Pironi, with Cheever, Giacomelli and Lauda all looking for a way past the Ferrari. Up behind them came Watson, the Ulsterman flying and finding that the MP4B's understeer problems were much reduced in race trim, with his Michelins lasting nicely. After the restart he had ran 13th, then sliced past both Lotuses on lap 16; past Mass on lap 17; Arnoux on lap 18; Laffite on lap 24 and then Daly for 7th on lap 25. He now zapped straight up to the back of Giacomelli, with the battle having now caught the struggling Prost. On lap 28 Pironi powered past, with Cheever and Lauda following suit at the kink before the pits; Giacomelli and Watson slipped by on the inside of the first corner of the following lap, and next time round Watson slipped past the Alfa into 5th place. The Italian tried to retake the position at Larned Street, only to lock the wheels, smashing his front-left on the side of the McLaren and slide into the wall and retirement.

Watson was unharmed, and on lap 33 would give a stunning demonstration of judgement. At the first corner he dived inside Lauda, his team-mate moving over to give him space. Then halfway round the lap he squeezed past the combative Cheever, before clinically out-braking Pironi at the end of Jefferson Avenue and simply driving off. The general impression was of a front-runner slicing through backmarkers. Pironi, Cheever and Lauda were still spread over a couple of seconds with Laffite now catching up in the second Ligier, and simply rejoined battle after Watson left them behind.

Watson then just closed up on Rosberg, who was missing third gear and dealing with worn Goodyears. Passing the Finn was pretty much a formality, which Watson duly completed on lap 36. Rosberg would fall back into the clutches of the following group, while the McLaren carried on, soon demolishing the 15-second lead Rosberg had on aggregate. Lauda had followed his team-mate's example by picking off Pironi and Cheever in one lap and was now bearing down on the struggling Williams, with Cheever soon to take the Ferrari too. Laffite tried to follow, but punted Pironi from behind. He got past, with a somewhat mangled nose, while Pironi rejoined behind him.

Moments later Lauda was out, after trying to dive down the inside of Rosberg from too far back at the first corner, bouncing from Williams to wall to retirement. However, both Ligiers and Pironi were soon past the Williams, only Laffite's Matra V12 to begin losing power, with both Pironi and Rosberg repassing him. Daly was now moving up too, and passed both Laffite and his team-mate, but was unable to overcome the Finn's aggregate lead. This was the only significant change made to the order by combining the times from the two races, as most of the survivors were now relatively spread out. Both Renaults were circulating quickly after pit stops to correct their misfires, while Mass was still running relatively well in the remaining March, but was unable to catch the ailing Laffite before the flag fell and Surer was doing his usual reliable job in the Arrows, with Henton and Serra still circulating. The race would end after 62 laps instead of 70 with the average speed lower than expected, the chequered flag coming as the race approached the two-hour limit.

But it was Watson's day, a superb drive taking him to a second win of the year, the fourth of his career, and into the world championship lead. Cheever was delighted to finish a personal best second place, with Pironi also happy to take third in his heavy, reluctant Ferrari. Rosberg finished an aggregate 4th ahead of team-mate Daly, with Laffite just hanging on in 6th to open his account. The organisation at Detroit might have been a mess, but the racing had been surprisingly good fun.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth
62
1h 58m 41.043s
17
2
Eddie Cheever Ligier-Matra
62
+ 15.726s
9
3
Didier Pironi Ferrari
62
+ 28.077s
4
4
Keke Rosberg Williams-Cosworth
62
+ 1m 11.976s
3
5
Derek Daly Williams-Cosworth
62
+ 1m 23.037s
12
6
Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra
61
+ 1 lap
13
7
Jochen Mass March-Cosworth
61
+ 1 lap
18
8
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
61
+ 1 lap
19
9
Brian Henton Tyrrell-Cosworth
60
+ 2 laps
20
10
Rene Arnoux Renault
59
+ 3 laps
15
11
Chico Serra Fittipaldi-Cosworth
59
+ 3 laps
26
NC
Alain Prost Renault
54
+ 8 laps
1
R
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Cosworth
44
Engine
7
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-Cosworth
40
Accident
10
R
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
40
Accident
16
R
Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo
30
Accident/Watson
6
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Cosworth
17
Gearbox
8
R
Eliseo Salazar ATS-Cosworth
13
Accident
25
R
Robert Guerrero Ensign-Cosworth
6
Accident/de Angelis
11
R
Riccardo Patrese Brabham-Cosworth
6
Accident
14
R
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
2
Driveshaft
2
R
Jean-Pierre Jarier Osella-Cosworth
2
Electrics
22
R
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-Cosworth
1
Accident
5
R
Raul Boesel March-Cosworth
0
Accident/Baldi
21
R
Mauro Baldi Arrows-Cosworth
0
Accident/Boesel
24
DNS
Riccardo Paletti Osella-Cosworth
-
Jarier drove car
23

Fastest Lap: Alain Prost (Renault), 1:50.438s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
John Watson
26
2
Didier Pironi
20
3
Alain Prost
18
4
Keke Rosberg
17
5
Riccardo Patrese
13
6
Niki Lauda
12
7=
Eddie Cheever
10
7=
Michele Alboreto
10
9=
Nigel Mansell
7
9=
Elio de Angelis
7
11=
Carlos Reutemann
6
11=
Gilles Villeneuve
6
13=
Rene Arnoux
4
13=
Andrea de Cesaris
4
15=
Jean-Pierre Jarier
3
15=
Derek Daly
3
17=
Manfred Winkelhock
2
17=
Eliseo Salazar
2
17=
Nelson Piquet
2
20=
Jacques Laffite
1
20=
Chico Serra
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
38
2=
Ferrari
26
2=
Williams
26
4
Renault
22
5=
Brabham
15
5=
Lotus
15
7
Ligier
11
8
Tyrrell
10
9=
Alfa Romeo
4
9=
ATS
4
11
Osella
3
12
Fittipaldi
1