Grand Prix Classic

1982 Season Review:

74 Wins: 3 Pole Positions: 2 Fastest Laps: 2
27 Starts: 22 Finishes: 17 Points Finishes: 14

After the embarrassing 1980 season, 1981 had seen the new 126CK turbo engine show considerable promise. The addition of Harvey Postlethwaite and more modern construction techniques were expected to raise the chassis to the same level, and while Ferrari were not favourites going into the season, good results were hoped for. As it was, the year ended up disjointed. To begin with the 126C2 was fast in a straight line and handled better on cornering than its' predecessor, it was still heavy and cumbersome compared to the DFV cars. Nevertheless both Villeneuve and Pironi ran well in South Africa before technical problems, and Villeneuve led in Brazil until sliding off battling Piquet. Then came the silly buggers - the double wing farce in Long Beach masked another combative drive by the Canadian, while the boycott fallout and team orders misunderstanding detracted from an excellent showing by both drivers at Imola.

The latter did at least get some points on the board, but a fortnight later Villeneuve was killed in Belgium and the team threatened to go into shock. Pironi rallied them and came away from the next two street races with a handy ten points. Canada saw the arrival of a much-revised front suspension layout which transformed the car, but Pironi's pole position went to waste when the car was destroyed in a startline accident. The team returned to two cars for the Dutch Grand Prix by signing Patrick Tambay, where Pironi won effortlessly in the revised car, and both scored points at Brands and Ricard. Then the season was further derailed when Pironi was injured in Germany. Tambay revived spirits with a win there, and further scores in Austria and at Monza (with stand-in Andretti 3rd) assured them of the constructor's cup, though Tambay's own injury meant the season petered out.

The Ferrari wasn't as fast as the Renault or the Brabham-BMW for the most part. The team's ace in the hole was its' reliability, which was good compared to the other front runners and outstanding among the turbos. That the team took the constructors' cup through consistency when they used four drivers, missed two races and entered a single car for several others said a lot for the sound design.

69 Wins: 4 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 2
30 Starts: 29 Finishes: 17 Points Finishes: 14

Despite the arrival of Niki Lauda, the team's use of the Cosworth engine meant they weren't expecting a huge amount from 1982. As it was, four victories and second in the constructors' cup for the team's most successful year since 1977 represented excellent work. There was still the odd tension between Teddy Mayer and Ron Dennis, but everything seemed to be heading in the right direction.

The team were more competitive in the first half of the season which covered slower tracks, though thanks to John Barnard's MP4 chassis they were nearly always among the most competitive DFV runners, and Lauda dominated at Brands. In the later rounds they were dependant on hoping turbo cars would fail, but often they weren't waiting in vain. Their drivers were generally evenly matched, though Lauda was the faster qualifier and enjoyed a more consistent season. They suffered on some tracks due to the Michelin tyres, but benefited from them on others.

While both drivers and the team were there or thereabouts in their respective championships for most of the season, it was a waiting year, developing the MP4 chassis and bringing Lauda up to speed in preparation for the arrival of Porsche engines in 1983. And even as a waiting year it was impressive.

62 Wins: 4 Pole Positions: 11 Fastest Laps: 4
32 Starts: 32 Finishes: 13 Points Finishes: 10

On first appearances Renault had a successful year, retaining 3rd in the table and improving both their points score and winning more races than ever before. However, the truth was they were expected to sweep all before them and failed miserably.

Even if the unique characteristics of Kyalami flattered them, the truth was one or the other of the Renaults led well in 11 races - indeed, on many of these circuits Prost and Arnoux often pulled away from the field in tandem - but the reliability was never sorted. Only the Brabham-BMWs ever challenged them seriously on fast circuits, and even on slower circuits the handling was improved and the cars were largely competitive - only in Long Beach were the Renaults really out of the picture.

Both drivers made the odd mistake, but if the team found a way of converting speed into results it simply wouldn't have mattered. Time and again they dominated practice and pulled away early in the race, only for both cars to encounter problems, especially with the engines. When the Brabham-BMWs were pulling off with blown engines it was understandable, as it was their first year racing turbos. In only their second year with turbocharged engines, Ferrari took the constructors' cup. Renault have been doing this since 1977 now, with no sign of finding such reliability.

56 Wins: 1 Pole Positions: 1 Fastest Laps: 0
30 Starts: 30 Finishes: 21 Points Finishes: 16

With back-to-back constructors' cups, Williams perhaps inevitably fell down a rung or two in 1982. However, considering the team were not expecting to be particularly successful in the face of an anticipated turbo onslaught and that their expected lead driver retired after two races Frank Williams and Patrick Head can count it a good year.

While no-one is ever likely to replace Alan Jones in their affections, Keke Rosberg came as close as anyone on the grid now could. Straight away he clicked with the team and began showing the abundant talent which convinced the team to take a chance on him in the first place, and even after just two races the Finn prevented the retirement of Reutemann from being the season-wrecking disaster it could have been.

The FW08 chassis picked up where the FW07D had left off, giving Rosberg a nimble, reliable car that was arguably the fastest Cosworth car on the grid - a car perfectly suited to his charging style, in short. Their relatively low championship position can largely be attributed to Daly's inability, for various reasons, to get the second car into anything other than minor positions.

41 Wins: 2 Pole Positions: 1 Fastest Laps: 5
30 Starts: 29 Finishes: 9 Points Finishes: 8

Bernie Ecclestone and Gordon Murray's team were expecting a tough year learning the ropes with their new BMW turbocharged engine, but they probably weren't expecting quite so much frustration along the way. The BT50 had ran impeccably in testing, but didn't do so well on its' race debut, as is the way of these things.

Brabham then opted to run updated Cosworth-engined BT49D cars in its' place - Piquet won in Brazil only to be disqualified, and Patrese won (eventually) in Monaco. Piquet then switched back to the BMW car, and after a couple of disappointing performances (including non-qualification at Detroit) was rewarded with a win in Canada, followed home by Patrese's BT49D.

Regardless, the piecemeal approach was annoying BMW, who threatened to take the engines elsewhere unless Brabham stopped mucking around. The team acquiesced, and promptly had a very difficult second half of the year. On most of the power tracks they were astonishingly fast - Piquet led at Brands and then commandingly in Germany; Patrese dominated in Austria and they even briefly overtook Renault as the fastest one-lap package. However, the only race they finished was at Dijon, where they were solidly trounced by the French cars, not to mention Rosberg and Lauda.

Murray showed that he has one of the finest innovative minds in the sport once again by devising the strategic pit stop, something which caused much excitement. While the theory was sound, conclusive proof that it was the future was a little harder to find - in Germany Piquet was on his way to building enough of a cushion before hitting Salazar, while Patrese returned to the lead in Austria after his fuel stop. The only direct comparison came at Dijon, where stopping Piquet finished ahead of non-stop Patrese, but in 4th and 5th places, and there was some question whether the need to build a lead was placing strain on driver and machine.

31 Wins: 1 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 0
30 Starts: 29 Finishes: 15 Points Finishes: 9

On the face of things, Lotus took another small step back up the ladder in 1982 in terms of overall competitiveness. Like Williams, they weren't expecting to score well in 1982, and truth be told Chapman's Lotus 91 wasn't a patch on Patrick Head's FW08 or Barnard's MP4B. While it was comfortably the third best DFV car, once the turbo cars and the intermittent form of both the V12 teams were factored in that left Lotus quite far down the pecking order.

The cars generally ran in midfield and picked up minor places when others hit problems. Both drivers had their moments where they pulled the thing into genuine competition - Mansell was very fast at Monaco, de Angelis was on-song at Brands and, or course, returned the team to the winners' circle in Austria (where Mansell also might have scored well, but suffered engine problems). While the victory was in no way a fluke, it was certainly a freak result, and no-one seemed to know why the car ran so well there but on other fast tracks it was near-undriveable.

Neither driver had a particularly good season. Despite his win, de Angelis' application was suspect and the poor little rich boy side of his persona surfaced a bit too often - there were a few smiles when Prost gave him that nudge at Monaco. Mansell kept on trying, but struggled in practice after his injury and left himself with too much work to do in races too often, resulting in several heroic but ultimately pointless runs to the top 10. In both cases, there is the mitigation that the 91 was one of the harder cars to drive, something backed up by the struggles of both the hapless Moreno and Lees when subbing for Mansell - it's not something that bodes well for the arrival of Renault in 1983.

25 Wins: 1 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 1
32 Starts: 32 Finishes: 21 Points Finishes: 7

Another Cosworth team who had a better year than expected, Tyrrell benefited from having a very good driver in their lead car. Alboreto had done respectably in 1981, but his performances in 1982 were something else, with consistent good form culminating in a victory at Caesar's Palace at the end of the season.

He usually had the car in and among the McLaren and Williams drivers, made comparatively few mistakes and scored when there were points to be taken. Detroit and Zandvoort showed there were still some rough edges, but few were doubting Tyrrell's coaching, and when the win came (after Alboreto had started 3rd and kept the Renaults honest all day) it wasn't even that much of a surprise.

Sponsorship was a problem, with the team often running bare cars, but even then Ken Tyrrell made the best of his resources, and pound-for-pound the team were arguably the most efficient in the series. There were only two flies in the ointment - the generally disappointing form of Borgudd and Henton in the second car suggested these resources didn't quite run to making both cars run on the same level, while Ken Tyrrell's political games saw him initially alienate FISA with protests, and then FOCA when he ran at Imola - though few were unhappy when Alboreto took the team's first victory for four years.

20 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 0
30 Starts: 29 Finishes: 9 Points Finishes: 6

1982 was, put simply, Ligier's worst year yet. The Matra V6 turbo failed to appear, meaning another season campaigning the venerable V12 and a hurried redesign to the JS19. The latter was in trouble all season, and constant work failed to ever really sort the thing out.

What the team were really missing was Gerard Ducarouge, and with his departure there was a power struggle between Guy Ligier and Jacques Laffite & Jean-Pierre Jabouille. Add in the confusing role of Talbot (were they just a sponsor, or was there going to be some technical input?) and the season was a struggle.

Given all this, it was something of a surprise that the team could be as competitive as they were. Cheever impressed with his gritty attitude and figured well on several occasions, and while Laffite's patience with the team was often at breaking point he contributed nicely in several races too. The problem was the team didn't seem to know what made the car competitive at, say, the Osterreichring and a dog at Dijon. It was a year to forget, and it cost them two fine drivers.

7 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 1 Fastest Laps: 0
32 Starts: 32 Finishes: 13 Points Finishes: 3

Now in the fourth year of their return to Grand Prix racing, it's still difficult to see what Alfa Romeo are doing. The budget is effectively limitless, but opaque bureaucracy and internal politics seem to badly blunt their edge. The arrival of Gerard Ducarouge, an experienced and successful outsider, was expected to change all this, but again on track the team showed flashes of brilliance, little consistency and few results.

When the new 182 arrived in Brazil it was a step in the right direction, but was effectively obsolescent. It was the car Alfa should have had the year before, and was downright primitive compared to the chassis designed by Head, Barnard, Murray or Chapman. The torque of the V12 gave them good performances on tighter tracks like Long Beach (where de Cesaris took pole and led), Monaco and Montreal. However, on faster tracks the thing was a midfielder, all too often failing to keep up with the better Cosworth runners (for example, at Imola where Giacomelli was humiliated by Alboreto's Tyrrell).

Big question marks hung over the drivers too - de Cesaris was much improved but still capable of overdriving, while Giacomelli did little else despite the odd good showing in practice. That the team ended up with only a couple more points than the modest Arrows team said it all, and that the Auto Delta were considering withdrawing at the end of the year was no surprise considering the general lack of progress made.

5 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 0
30 Starts: 25 Finishes: 16 Points Finishes: 4

Jackie Oliver is a realist, and expected a certain drop-off in overall results after losing his star driver of four seasons, Riccardo Patrese. However, what he probably wasn't expecting was the raft of non-qualifications achieved by Mauro Baldi and Brian Henton early in the year.

However, all concerned kept at it, and when Marc Surer returned from his Kyalami accident the team started making steady progress and taming the A4 car. Baldi found his feet, and when they were able to get it into races the drivers found the car to be reliable and consistent.

Surer especially impressed with his sensible attitude, and both drivers scored points by maintaining speed and keeping the car pointing the right way when others failed to do so. It meant that the team could be pleased with its' achievement and progress on a tight budget.

11. ATS
4 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 0
32 Starts: 26 Finishes: 9 Points Finishes: 2

ATS entered the season with some optimism, up to two cars again with a pair of capable drivers and new Avon tyres. Early on they were competitive in midfield - Winkelhock ending up with points in Brazil after the disqualifications (having been unlucky not to score outright), running ahead of Lauda at Monaco and qualifying very well at Detroit; Salazar wasn't quite as fast, but still showed well.

However, things got worse as the season went on. The reason the D5 (sometimes referred to as the D6) was so solid out of the box was that it was an evolution of the previous year's HGS1, and as other teams introduced new cars they were overtaken. They were hit heavily by Avon's withdrawal, and generally struggled to set the car up on Michelin tyres.

Both drivers were combative types, and it cost them across the season. Heavy damage to cars led to the same few chassis being rebuilt time and again, and they seemed to get more fragile each time. By the close of the year it was difficult to believe they were the same outfit which had ran so competitively in the first few races.

3 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 0
24 Starts: 15 Finishes: 3 Points Finishes: 1

1982 brought Osella their first points, albeit against a reduced field at Imola, but was a hugely difficult year for the small Italian team. The most obvious setback was the death of the likeable Riccardo Paletti in Canada, but that was a motor racing accident and really just one of those things.

While it shook Enzo Osella and the rest of the team, it wasn't the nub of the problem. Paletti wasn't replaced and the team ran as a one-car concern for the rest of the season, though effectively they had been all along. No team was at the mercy of one driver like Osella were at the mercy of the enigmatic Jean-Pierre Jarier.

Most of the team's sponsorship was reliant on the Frenchman, and Osella was smart enough to realise that he'd never get a replacement of such quality anyway. He had first call on what resources the team had, and when things were going well Jarier showed his class - running well at Long Beach and Monza, and scoring 4th at Imola was no mean feat despite the opposition. However, too often he appeared sullen and disinterested. At the same time, the car just broke too many times, and few criticised him for walking out in fury at Vegas after a second high-speed suspension breakage in a week raised serious questions about the basic preparation of the car.

1 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 0
15 Starts: 9 Finishes: 6 Points Finishes: 1

It was sad to see Emerson Fittipaldi's team in such a state, for the Brazilian is one of the sport's great characters. The car was a conventional Cosworth ground effects chassis with some neat touches from Richard Divilia, and there was a sense that with more money it could have been more competitive.

However, money was something the team struggled for all season, and there were constant rumours throughout the second half of the season that each race could be the team's last. Against this backdrop, they did very well.

Chico Serra impressed with some capable performances in firstly the obsolete F8D and then the underdeveloped F9, while the team's professionalism and preparation didn't drop however tight things got - in stark contrast to Osella, ATS and March. It was nice that they got a point in Belgium to keep off the bottom of the pile, but Fittipaldi's dream appears to be over.

0 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 0
35 Starts: 22 Finishes: 11 Points Finishes: 0

John Macdonald's March-running team seemed to have a lot of the basic ingredients for a successful 1982, especially after the arrival of Rothmans and confirmation the combative Jochen Mass would drive for the whole season. Early on the car wasn't fast, but at least was reliable out of the box, always good for development.

However, the team's ability to make things more complicated for themselves was astonishing. While Mike Earle's Onyx crew looked after Emilio de Villota's entry, it was still a drain on resources for little gain. Even more baffling was the decision to buy up the withdrawing Avon's tyre stock, and thus doom the car to run on tyres which wouldn't be developed any further, and seemed a step backwards anyway. Typically this decision came just as Pirelli began to get their act together, and March were promptly overtaken by Arrows, Osella and Toleman.

Then after Mass' unfortunate accident, the team seemed to stagger through the last few races without apparent direction. Adrian Reynard left, to be replaced by David Kelly, and there seemed to be a feeling than they just wanted 1982 over and done with. The hiring of Rupert Keegan was sensible but uninspired, and it was sad to see him trying so hard to get the dead-end car to actually work in an atmosphere of general indifference.

0 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 0
14 Starts: 8 Finishes: 1 Points Finishes: 0

Mo Nunn's team were on more of a financial tightrope than ever in 1982, resulting in a sad sight as time and again monetary constraints stopped Roberto Guerrero fully exploiting the neat N181.

Early in the season the Columbian's inexperience left him missing several races, but the withdrawal of Avon actually worked for Ensign. Michelins suited car and driver much more, and Guerrero regularly qualified in the top 20 and ran well in midfield with them.

However, by then the money was very tight, and things were getting worn out. Often the team had no spare car, which is never a good combination with a young, fast driver finding his limits. The Cosworths were getting tired, culminating in a late start and early finish at Dijon and then the non-start at Vegas. It was a real shame, as Nunn and Guerrero would have shown well with the budget of March or ATS.

0 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 1
32 Starts: 21 Finishes: 2 Points Finishes: 0

After their embarrassing debut season, there was a real sense of genuine progress for Toleman in 1982, which is good as no-one wants to see a well-run team struggle as they had. Initially the season didn't seem to be going much better, but everyone kept at it, and by mid-season the chassis was getting somewhere and Brian Hart's engines were beginning to look really good, even if Candy had left after Long Beach.

The main memory was Warwick's sensational drive at Brands Hatch, but to focus on that is to ignore generally strong showings at Zandvoort, Hockenheim and the Osterreichring. The problem was that Toleman were still inexperienced at actually competing in races, and reliability was never sorted (both of Warwick's finishes coming after repair stops).

However, encouragement came when the new TG183 arrived and was immediately better than the TG181 had been after 18 months' development, showing well in testing and then qualifying 10th at Caesar's Palace. This did come at the expense of Teo Fabi, and only in Austria did both Tolemans really show well, but hopes are justifiably high that a corner has been turned and the car can be genuinely competitive from the start of 1983.

0 Wins: 0 Pole Positions: 0 Fastest Laps: 0
15 Starts: 6 Finishes: 1 Points Finishes: 0

Like March, Teddy Yip's outfit began 1982 as an ambitious outfit looking to make the next step up, and ended it in disarray. Yip's enthusiasm seemed to wane as the season went on; he was already hurt by Patrick Tambay's decision to go to Arrows instead at the start of the year, and was downhearted when Williams signed Daly partway through the season. The Irishman qualified three times out of three; his replacements would only manage it four times in the remaining eleven races.

First to try was Jan Lammers, but he only made it through for his home race; after his injury in Detroit, Geoff Lees took the car in Canada, but was caught up in the first start accident. With no spare, he couldn't take the restart. After it was clear Lammers was going nowhere fast, Yip signed Tommy Byrne, but the F3 driver only made it through twice and span off on both occasions.

The problem was money was tight, and when the TY02 appeared in Brazil it was under-tested. It stayed that way for too long, with the revolving door of drivers and enforced switch from Avon to Goodyear tyres hardly helping. By the time things had settled down in the last half of the season, their rivals had moved the goal posts and Byrne's best hope of qualification lay in the errors of others.