23 May 1982
Two weeks after the tragic events at Zolder, the Ferrari team had yet to announce a replacement for Gilles Villeneuve, which had of course set the rumour mill going once again. In fact, the team had planned not to attend the Monaco race at all but were talked into it by Didier Pironi. “Isn’t it great how he’s holding the team together in a time of crisis” said his fans. “All he can think about is his own career” said his critics.
Meanwhile, the FISA-FOCA wranglings seemed to have fizzled out, the death of the popular Canadian putting things in perspective even without the increasing pressure from sponsors and suppliers to sort things out – Avon had withdrawn as at tyre supplier after Bernie Ecclestone had prevented their supplies reaching ATS at San Marino and the German team had switched to Michelins. It helped that the Renault walkover everyone had expected after Kyalami hadn’t materialised – in fact, the yellow cars had now failed to score since Brazil as reliability continued to be their bugbear.
The saga of Brabham’s new car continued as the team arrived at Monaco with a pair of BT50-BMW cars for Piquet and a pair of BT49-Cosworths for Patrese. Pundits wondered why Piquet was given the “development” car, and surmised it was at BMW’s behest. Ligier had their new JS19 chassis ready, but still no Matra turbo engine to put in it, so the chassis alone was debuted at Monaco with the standard Matra V12 in the back.
With just one Ferrari present, there were 31 entries including de Villota in the privateer March, and with Monaco’s limited facilities and narrow course, only 26 cars were permitted in qualifying and 20 for the race. First, a Thursday pre-qualifying session pitted the teams who hadn’t scored in 1981 against each other: Toleman, Osella, March and Fittipaldi; 8 drivers became three with Jarier, Mass and Warwick heading through to qualifying proper. The Renaults were class of the field once again, even with the tight nature of the circuit; Arnoux a full half-second ahead of Patrese in second for his third pole in six races, with Giacomelli third and Prost back in fourth. Pironi and Rosberg made up round three, followed by Alboreto, Watson, Mansell and Lauda. Nelson Piquet could only manage 13th, with the new Ligiers a disappointing 16th and 18th.
For the third race in a row, it was Arnoux ahead into the first corner, with Giacomelli getting up to second ahead of Patrese, then Prost, Pironi, de Cesaris, Alboreto and Rosberg. For once there was no crash at Ste Devote, and the Renaults were able to use their extra power: Arnoux pulled away from Giacomelli while Prost disposed of Patrese and began to close on the Alfa himself, going up to second just a lap later. Shortly afterwards, the unfortunate Giacomelli pulled in with yet another driveshaft failure, promoting the three-way battle between Patrese, Pironi and de Cesaris to a scrap for third place.
On lap 15, Arnoux’s appalling luck continued as he clipped a kerb, ran wide and spun, stalling his engine in the process. Prost took the lead, about six seconds ahead of Patrese. The new Ligier wasn’t much better than the old one, and both cars were out by lap 29; two laps later the second ATS of Manfred Winkelhock also went out, Salazar having gone on lap 22.
The leaders were in traffic, and came upon Elio de Angelis in the Lotus dicing with Piquet, way back in the midfield. The Italian didn’t notice the blue flags, so intent was he on passing the Brabham, and repeatedly baulked Prost, allowing Patrese and Pironi to catch up. Eventually, the three all got past, but de Angelis shut the door on Pironi and ended up mangling the Ferrari’s nosecone in the process. The lead three then got stuck behind Piquet for a further three laps, but despite having a sniff, Patrese was unable to make a move and once they got past Prost began to pull away again, and Pironi dropped back with his damaged nose, spreading the front three out. By lap 56, when Niki Lauda’s Cosworth engine packed up and he joined team-mate Watson and champion Piquet (turbo) in retirement, the race had settled down into a procession.
And then, on lap 62, it started to rain. Not heavy rain, that would have sent everyone scurrying in for wet tyres, but just enough to make the road surface greasy and slippery. The last 14 laps became something of a lottery. First out was Rosberg, slithering into a wall at the harbour chicane and wrecking his suspension. Then Derek Daly, running well in sixth, had a hairy moment and demolished his rear wing, but kept the car running. Alboreto then also retired with suspension failure.
Prost then came around to lap de Cesaris again, who already had Daly worrying at him and once again the Italian proved a mobile roadblock before both Daly and Prost elbowed their way past, the Renault giving the Lotus a little nudge as he piled past. All for nothing though as, with three laps left, Prost got wide at the harbour chicane, skewed across the track and smacked into the wall, demolishing the front of his car. The Frenchman got out and limped away with an injured foot.
Patrese was free and clear for his first victory, with Pironi nursing a damaged nose (and now a misfiring engine) some way behind. And then – on the penultimate lap – the Brabham spun and stalled at the Hotel Hairpin and it was the Ferrari that went into the lead with de Cesaris giving chase in second. Pironi went through to begin the final lap and take his first Ferrari victory, only to roll to a halt in the tunnel, engine electrics gone. Would Andrea de Cesaris come good to win a race after his terrible 1981 at McLaren? No, because he was already out of fuel. Bemused commentators tried to work out who was actually left running – Daly and the two Loti of Mansell and de Angelis, until Daly lost his wingless Williams and demolished the front end as well. But then a white and blue car came through – Patrese had had a push from the marshals to get him off the racing line, and, headed downhill, managed to bump-start the Cosworth engine and took the chequered flag. With the two Loti the only other runners and a lap down, Didier Pironi was classified second and de Cesaris third, Mansell and de Angelis fourth and fifth and the game Derek Daly getting his first point for Williams.
Now everyone tried to work out if Patrese would be disqualified for getting a push-start from the marshals, but since he had been the only full-distance finisher the organisers clearly decided that it would have been far too complicated to work out what to do next, and the result stood. Riccardo Patrese had his first Formula One win.
|8||Elio de Angelis||7|
|=||Andrea de Cesaris||4|