1981 Italian Grand Prix
Coming into Italy, both Nelson Piquet and Carlos Reutemann were tied on points in the Drivers' Championship; Reutemann would eventually leave with the lead. Alain Prost was also becoming a challenger for the world title, having been challenging both leaders in the recent races.
When the race started, pole-man René Arnoux fell back to third while Prost and Reutemann battled for the lead. Behind, Didier Pironi was fourth after overtaking four cars on the run up to the first chicane. Pironi continued his charge with Reutemann and Arnoux soon behind him. As his opponents dropped behind, Prost increased his lead and would keep it for the rest of the race. Jacques Laffite also made an excellent start, and was running third when he retired from the race with a puncture on lap 11.
One Lap 19, John Watson lost control of his car at the Lesmo and smashed into the barriers at high speed, igniting a small fire at the back of the car. His McLaren's engine tub broke off from the car and debris littered the track. Michele Alboreto, who was behind Watson, crashed into the broken off engine, while Carlos Reutemann took to the grass and brushed a barrier whilst avoiding the accident, losing a place and sustaining minor damage. Fortunately, Watson escaped unharmed.
As the race reached the halfway point, the standings stood as: Prost, Jones, Piquet, Reutemann and de Angelis. In an incredible case of misfortune, Piquet's engine blew on the last lap, promoting Reutemann into third and turning the tables for title hopes of the two. The Brazilian, however, was able to score a point as the sixth driver to have covered the entire race distance. Andrea de Cesaris, suffered a puncture on the very last lap.
- Haunted by the trauma of nearly killing mechanic Dave Luckett in a previous race, Siegfried Stohr crashed his Arrows during the qualifying session. He ultimately decided to stop racing and started a successful motor racing academy.
- Nelson Piquet was running 3rd when his engine expired on the next to last lap.
- John Watson had a huge accident at the Lesmo curves when he went wide coming out of the second Lesmo curve, touched the grass and spun across the track, and his carbon-fibre McLaren slammed backwards violently into the Armco barrier, exploded and tore the car in half and strew bits of the car across the track, which caused Michele Alboreto to crash, who escaped with only a few bruises. But Watson walked away unhurt- proving the strength of the McLaren's carbon fibre construction.
Standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
- "John Watson Accidente en Monza, GP Italia 1981". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
- "Italian GP, 1981 Race Report - GP Encyclopedia - F1 History on". Grandprix.com. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
Unless otherwise indicated, all race results are taken from "The Official Formula 1 website". Retrieved 2007-06-16.
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1982 Italian Grand Prix