12 September 1982
Four drivers entered the Italian Grand Prix weekend with at least a mathematical chance of winning the championship: Keke Rosberg led the championship thanks essentially to being a reliable points-scorer while the turbo cars were either breaking down or taking points off each other. Pironi still held second place, but couldn’t overtake Rosberg from a hospital bed, so the other three drivers were Prost (11 points behind), and the McLaren boys, Lauda and Watson, both just a point behind Prost. Rosberg definitely held the advantage but it was still anybody’s season – particularly as the next race, Monza, was a turbo paradise.
Ferrari were running two cars again in their second home race – the Villeneuve-Pironi incident at Imola seemed so long ago now – with Mario Andretti jumping at the chance to live out every Italian kid’s dream and drive a Ferrari at Monza, alongside Patrick Tambay. Despite all their trials and tribulations, Ferrari still led the Constructors’ Championship and hoped to seal the deal on home tarmac. Arrows’ new A5 car would be used by Mauro Baldi for his home race, while other teams were also debuting their prospective 1983 challengers; Derek Warwick in the Toleman TG183, complete with new colour scheme and de Cesaris in the Alfa Romeo 182T, the first turbo-engined Alfa (though it was only there for testing and the atmo car would be raced). Tyrrell had attracted a new sponsor, the Denim cologne brand, and turned up with their cars painted green with the sponsors logos on monococque and sidepod.
Ferrari fans worried that Mario Andretti might be out of practice with ground-effect cars needn’t have been – the Italian-American veteran took pole over a second ahead of second-placed Nelson Piquet, with Tambay in third and Patrese fourth. Row three was filled by the Renaults, with championship leader Rosberg only 7th alongside Giacomelli. Warwick’s new Toleman was 16th, ahead of both Loti which had fallen badly off the pace again, while just ahead of the new Toleman was Jarier, a great performance from the little Osella team. The unlucky four who would sit out the race were Tommy Byrne, Rupert Keegan, Raul Boesel and Manfred Winkelhock.
The Tifosi as usual turned up in their droves, with estimates of 150,000 paying spectators and 50,000 more lining various vantage points, and great prospects for seeing a Ferrari win. When the lights went green, Andretti got a bit too much wheelspin and was tardy off the line, while the Renaults both got rocket starts, and Prost had to go on the grass to avoid the sluggish Andretti, dropping him back to twelfth. It was Piquet who went into the first corner in the lead, followed by Tambay and Arnoux. The two Frenchmen steamed past the Brazilian almost in formation half-way round lap one and it was quickly clear that something was wrong with the number 1 Brabham. Tambay came around to cross the line in first place – but as he went round the last corner, Parabolica, Arnoux got a tow and slingshotted past into the lead. Tambay fought back into the first chicane but Arnoux had the speed and began to pull away. Meanwhile at the back, Derek Daly had qualified poorly and was
struck by Guerrero, damaging his suspension – the first he knew of the damage was when he braked for the chicane, his car snapped round and clobbered Henton’s Tyrrell, taking out Warwick in the process.
Piquet had dropped back behind Andretti and de Cesaris with a dodgy clutch by lap 4, but his team-mate Patrese was third and now put his foot down and started attacking Tambay. For three laps, he dodged and dived, looking for a way past, but at the end of lap seven he toured to a halt with a broken clutch of his own. With the leaders spread out and cruising, Prost provided the interest as he fought his way back up the field in his usual precise style. By the time Patrese dropped out, Prost was behind Andretti and got past on lap 7, before chasing down Tambay. On lap 19, he caught the Ferrari but Tambay made his car as wide as possible and Prost simply couldn’t get past. For another 9 laps he worried at the red car until he suddenly slowed down, arm raised, and peeled off into the pits, troubled with the same fuel injection problem that had stopped Arnoux at Dijon. Like Arnoux, he came in for repairs, was sent back out and ground to a halt half a lap later, to the delight of the crowd – his title challenge was over.
So Arnoux led Tambay and Andretti and all three looked fairly comfortable. Behind them, de Cesaris had to come in for a new ignition coil which dropped him right to the back while Giacomelli diced with Rosberg over fifth place – until the Williams’ rear wing fell off, that is. As he pulled past, Giacomelli took a moment to attract Rosberg’s attention and point backwards, so the FInn came in for what he thought was a tyre stop and confustion reigned in the Williams pit – Rosberg finally rejoined with a new rear wing but two laps down. Giacomelli himself damaged a side-pod and retired with an undriveable car on lap 32.
The rest of the race was a relatively dull affair, though the watching Tifosi were happy enough to see their 1983 driver Arnoux win the race with the Ferraris of Tambay and Andretti filling up the podium. John Watson had driven a fine race to come in fourth and keep his title hopes just about alive. Alboreto and Cheever were the final finishers, while Nigel Mansell had driven another robust race to finish seventh from 23rd on the grid (having gone from 26th to 8th in Dijon) and Rosberg trailed in 8th.
So with one race left, it would again be the bizarre, soulless car park of Caesar’s Palace that decided the season. Despite not scoring, Keke Rosberg looked in control, with a lead of 9 points over John Watson that meant the Ulsterman would need to win the race with the Finn not scoring (equal on points, Watson would win on number of races won), while Rosberg only needed a point to secure the title.
|8||Elio de Angelis||23|
|17||Andrea de Cesaris||5|