29 August 1982
Switzerland itself had banned all forms of motorsport after a horrendous accident at Le Mans in 1955 had killed over 80 spectators and injured 120 more, but with interest in Formula One at an all-time high in France the Dijon-Prenois organisers applied to host a second French race and the “Swiss Grand Prix” was held, following a non-championship Swiss GP there in 1975. It wasn’t a complete misnomer, either – the track may have been in France, but much of the organisation was done by the Swiss Automobile Club.
Good news from Ferrari as Didier Pironi was recovering quicker than expected. No-one really expected him to race again in 1982, but there was cause for optimism for his return in ’83. In fact, Enzo Ferrari announced that Ferrari would run three cars in 1983 for Pironi, an as-yet-unnamed driver (Tambay?) and new signing René Arnoux. Yes, René Arnoux, for the rumours of his signing for the Maranello team turned out to be true. In the meantime, Ferrari were only running a single car again at Dijon, with Tambay adding to Ferrari’s woes by being troubled by a pinched nerve incurred in Austria. Arrows had a new car in Dijon, the A5, which was primarily intended as their new car for 1983, with Marc Surer laying claim to the sole example.
Dijon-Prenois needs speed but also good handling and the Brabhams struggled to set the car up, which allowed local heroes Prost and Arnoux to lock out the front row almost a second ahead of Patrese, with Lauda’s McLaren and de Cesaris’ Alfa Romeo splitting the two Brabhams with Piquet sixth, Daly outqualifying Rosberg in 7th and 8th, then Giacomelli and Tambay.
After qualifying, though, Patrick Tambay decided not to race, with the pain in his shoulder not going away, in order to be fully fit for the next race – Ferrari’s home race in Monza. Again, though, Ferrari didn’t officially withdraw the entry so there was a gap on the grid and Chico Serra would not be moved on to the grid to compensate. Whatever had made the Lotus 91 work so well in Austria wasn’t working here, de Angelis in 15th and Mansell 26th after a collision with Henton which nearly led to fisticuffs in the pitlane afterwards. The Tolemans, too, had struggled more than recently, with Warwick 21st and Fabi 23rd, while on the other hand the new Arrows was on 14th spot in the hands of Marc Surer.
With a large French crowd in attendance and good weather, the grid lined up on Sunday afternoon. The Brabhams would provide some interest – Piquet planned to stop but Patrese didn’t, as the circuit was short and a pitstop therefore cost about 3/4 of a lap. The start was clean and the two Renaults started immediately pulling out a lead to the delight of the crowd. Piquet got a flying start and quickly got past de Cesaris and Lauda, before tucking up under Patrese’s rear wing. For his strategy to work, he would have to quickly pass his team-mate,
and after a couple of laps he managed to do just that, and set off in pursuit of the Renaults. Patrese, meanwhile, found himself unable to shake the pack of pursuing DFV cars led by Lauda, with Rosberg, Daly and Watson behind. Piquet caught Arnoux but got it all wrong trying to pass, and dropped back so far he ended up just ahead of Patrese and had to start over. Having done so, he made the move stick this time and slipstreamed past the Renault on turn one. However, he was unable to make any dent in Prost’s lead of around 3.5s before it was time for his stop and despite the now-usual slick Brabham stop he was back out in fourth and 36 seconds behind Prost.
Meanwhile, Rosberg and Lauda had got ahead of Patrese and were jousting for third place, which Rosberg eventually took and began to chase down the Renaults himself – by cautious driving early on, he had preserved his tyres and brakes and now reaped the benefits. It helped that both Renaults were having problems – Prost was losing downforce with a loose skirt while Arnoux had a slight misfire at the top end – and Rosberg was closing on Arnoux when the Renault came into the pits to have its engine looked at. Unable to find a problem, the Renault mechanics topped up his fuel and sent him back out – only for the car to roll to a stop a quarter of the way round with a fuel injection malfunction. Rosberg now scented his maiden victory, and was flinging his car around the track in his now-familiar trademark style, chasing down Prost as the laps ticked down. On lap 78 out of 80, his beautifully-handling car allowed him to nip through the inside at Parabolique, and then he just had a lap and a half to go.
Or did he? Having been hanging around the pitwall with the chequered flag on laps 77 and 78, the organisers apparently didn’t notice when the Williams team leaned over the pitwall cheering on lap 80, and didn’t signal the end of the race. The Williams team thought they might have miscalculated themselves and sent Rosberg round again just to be sure. This time, the flag waved and Rosberg had his first win, the first ever for a Finnish driver.
Prost limped home second, Lauda took third followed by Piquet and Patrese, with Elio de Angelis picking up the last point – a bit of a comedown after his debut win. 1982 had now seen three drivers pick up their first wins -Tambay, de Angelis and Rosberg – in the last three races.
|6||Elio de Angelis||23|
|17||Andrea de Cesaris||5|