Grand Prix Classic




Round 16 - Caesar's Palace Grand Prix
Caesar's Palace, 23-25 September, 1982

The result at Monza had largely been as expected, at least in terms of the championship. John Watson remained in with an outside chance of the title, but needed to win without Rosberg even scoring. Similarly, Ferrari could still be beaten by either McLaren or Renault in the constructors' championship, but only if one of the others outscored them by at least 11 points. All this was subject to final appeals by Rosberg (Brazil) and Lauda (Belgium), but both of these were considered lost causes.

Despite the best efforts of the media, especially in the UK, it was pretty hard to generate much excitement about it all, especially considering the setting. The previous year's decider in the Caesar's Palace hotel's car park had been a largely unpopular anticlimax with a much closer championship table, and there was a general apathy emanating from most of the teams as soon as they arrived. There were rumours the 1981 event had caused massive losses for the hotel, and they would consider withdrawing from the calendar in 1983, to no-one's displeasure. The twisty track had a higher average speed than the Long Beach and Detroit temporary circuits and was expected to level out the difference between turbo cars and non-turbo cars.


Entry Notes

Thanks to the understanding of his Indycar boss Pat Patrick, and his fellow competitors who allowed him to miss the Saturday practice of the CART meeting at Michigan and start from the back of the grid for the race on Sunday, Ferrari were able to secure the services of Mario Andretti once again.

Despite rumours that either or both of Fittipaldi and Ensign wouldn't make it to Las Vegas, the entry was unchanged from the Italian Grand Prix, with the exception of Marc Surer returning to the A5 Arrows with Baldi back in the old A4.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

The last practice sessions of the season ended as the first had, with Renaults on the front row. Prost took pole position from Arnoux, the latter in his last race with the French team. Third was more of a surprise, taken by the Tyrrell of Michele Alboreto, ahead of Eddie Cheever's Ligier, the latter continuing his good form on temporary circuits.

Brabham were all at sea, as Gordon Murray had refused to return to Las Vegas having been nauseated by the place last year. Instead he stayed in England working on the new BT51. In this context Patrese did well to qualify 5th, but Piquet was down in 13th looking like he wanted a difficult season to be over and done with. Alongside him was Rosberg, looking cool and confident. The Ferraris took row 4, Andretti ahead of Tambay, while Watson was in 9th - while not the most promising place for a championship contender to start from, he'd only bettered that grid position once so far in 1982, so it probably counted as a good effort. Warwick rounded out the top 10 in the new Toleman, celebrating the anniversary of his first-ever start.

Further down, Jarier had posted 8th fastest time on Thursday, good enough for 20th on the grid (nearly everyone improved on Friday as the circuit became less dusty), only for another suspension failure to strike on the Osella. A disgusted Jarier was only too happy to end his 1982 season there, as these failures had occurred far too many times on the car for his liking. This let in Tommy Byrne. Less lucky were Fabi in the old Toleman, Salazar in his final outing for ATS and Serra in the Fittipaldi, who all missed the grid.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

The field was down to 24 cars before the race even started. Tambay's shoulder injury returned on Saturday morning, and after a few cautious laps in the warm-up proved it would be a big problem, he elected not to race. Even less lucky was Roberto Guerrero, who had qualified well in 15th only for the Ensign team's worn DFV to blow in the warm-up. With no spare, and none of the others willing to loan one to Mo Nunn, the team were forced to withdraw. As both of the withdrawals came after the Friday 5pm deadline, Fabi and Salazar were not able to move up despite both still being present, so there would be two gaps on the grid.

The start of the race was fairly orderly, with the first eight all holding their positions, but on the second time around Arnoux moved past Prost and into the lead when the latter missed a gear, determined to show Renault they had retained the wrong man. Further back, Warwick had been passed by Lauda, and was finding the Toleman nowhere near as good as it had been in practice. A queue of nimbler cars drew up behind him, but after the first to have a good go at him, Daly's Williams, was seen off with a damaged front wing he initially fended most of them off. Watson managed to make it past the Toleman blockade, but the rest were stuck there until Warwick pitted with a misfire.

Up front Alboreto was driving remarkably well, and keeping within a second of the Renaults. There was then a gap to Patrese, who was unable to escape the attentions of Cheever, Andretti and Rosberg, but had enough speed on the straight to keep ahead. Watson was moving very well, and by lap 15 had caught this group. He passed Rosberg with a minimum of fuss, the Finn playing the long game - there was an abiding feeling that the Williams driver would not have let him pass as easily if he had been required to finish ahead of his rival.

Arnoux then dropped back, with Prost going by before the former leader headed to the pits. Patrese was next to go, the Brabham's clutch having been giving the Italian trouble from the start, and now on lap 18 ending his race. Watson was 3rd after the retirements, having made short work of Andretti and Cheever. The Ferrari wouldn't last much longer - while Andretti was able to fend off Rosberg for a while, the suspension on the car broke and sent him off into the vast sand trap which lined the course on lap 27.

This promoted Daly into the points briefly, ahead of de Cesaris, but both were soon passed by Lauda. However, the second McLaren wouldn't advance any further before the Austrian pulled into the pits with a sick engine on lap 54. By then Prost was suffering badly with worn tyres, and Alboreto was gaining on him hand over fist. On lap 51 the Tyrrell had moved smoothly past, Alboreto showing astonishing maturity at picking his time to make the move when there was minimal chance of it going wrong. He then simply eased away.

The gap from Alboreto to 3rd-placed Watson stayed largely static for a little while before increasing as the McLaren's tyres started to wear also, though he still had enough speed left to pass the exhausted Prost on lap 55. However, there was no chance of him catching Alboreto, and besides Rosberg was firmly ensconced in the 5th place he need to clinch the title regardless of any appeals.

Cheever would pass the Renault too despite Prost's best efforts, the condition of the Renault being best summed up by the way Surer's Arrows unlapped itself with considerable ease just before Cheever took 3rd place, and by the last few laps it was clearly simply a matter of endurance for the remaining drivers to circulate to the end and survive the unrelenting Nevada heat.

Alboreto eventually took his maiden victory, and Tyrrell's first since Monaco 1978, after a remarkably unflustered drive which had seen him run no lower than third the whole race. Watson eventually finished some 28 seconds behind, with Cheever ending a difficult year for Ligier on a high point with his third rostrum of the season. Prost hung on for 4th, while Rosberg took the 5th place he needed to guarantee the world championship, something not even the Finn would have betted on a year previously after his release from Fittipaldi. Daly took the final point in his last race for Williams, with Surer, Henton, de Cesaris, Giacomelli, Baldi, Keegan and Boesel making up a rather sparse batch of finishers. It had not been a classic race, but it had produced a worthy winner and, on the balance, a worthy champion.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
75
1h 41m 56.888s
3
2
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth
75
+ 27.292s
9
3
Eddie Cheever Ligier-Matra
75
+ 56.450s
4
4
Alain Prost Renault
75
+ 1m 09.650s
1
5
Keke Rosberg Williams-Cosworth
75
+ 1m 11.375s
6
6
Derek Daly Williams-Cosworth
74
+ 1 lap
14
7
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
74
+ 1 lap
17
8
Brian Henton Tyrrell-Cosworth
74
+ 1 lap
19
9
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
73
+ 2 laps
18
10
Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo
73
+ 2 laps
16
11
Mauro Baldi Arrows-Cosworth
73
+ 2 laps
23
12
Rupert Keegan March-Cosworth
73
+ 2 laps
25
13
Raul Boesel March-Cosworth
69
+ 6 laps
24
NC
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-Cosworth
62
+ 13 laps/Not classified
22
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-Cosworth
53
Engine
13
R
Tommy Byrne Theodore-Cosworth
39
Spin
26
R
Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
32
Misfire
10
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Cosworth
28
Engine
20
R
Mario Andretti Ferrari
26
Suspension
7
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
26
Spark plug
12
R
Rene Arnoux Renault
20
Engine
2
R
Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW
17
Clutch
5
R
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Cosworth
8
Accident/Baldi
21
R
Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra
6
Ignition
11
DNS
Patrick Tambay Ferrari
-
Injury
8
DNS
Roberto Guerrero Ensign-Cosworth
-
Engine
15

Fastest Lap: Michele Alboreto (Tyrrell), 1m 19.639s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Keke Rosberg
44
2=
Didier Pironi
39
2=
John Watson
39
4
Alain Prost
34
5
Niki Lauda
30
6
Rene Arnoux
28
7=
Patrick Tambay
25
7=
Michele Alboreto
25
9
Elio de Angelis
23
10
Riccardo Patrese
21
11
Nelson Piquet
20
12
Eddie Cheever
15
13
Derek Daly
8
14
Nigel Mansell
7
15=
Carlos Reutemann
6
15=
Gilles Villeneuve
6
17=
Andrea de Cesaris
5
17=
Jacques Laffite
5
19
Mario Andretti
4
20=
Jean-Pierre Jarier
3
20=
Marc Surer
3
22=
Manfred Winkelhock
2
22=
Eliseo Salazar
2
22=
Bruno Giacomelli
2
22=
Mauro Baldi
2
26=
Chico Serra
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Ferrari
74
2
McLaren
69
3
Renault
62
4
Williams
56
5
Brabham
41
6
Lotus
31
7
Tyrrell
25
8
Ligier
20
9
Alfa Romeo
7
10
Arrows
5
11
ATS
4
12
Osella
3
13
Fittipaldi
1