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1981 - Piquet and Reutemann: what a fight!
Formula One article

1981 - Piquet and Reutemann: what a fight!

In 81 FIA decided to ban side-skirts, introducing a new rule: cars should have a minimum of 60 mm ground distance. But team Brabham, with Gordon Murray, immediately created a hydropneumatic suspension that adjust the car to be grazing the ground when speeding, but not when the car were in slow speed or parked. So, all the teams adopted the idea, that was legalized in San Marino GP. The South Africa didn't count valid points to championship, and in a wet track Reutemann (Williams) and Rosberg (Fittipaldi) started with slick tyres. After a easily leading, Piquet, followed by all the others drivers, had to change tyres what gave both the chance to stay in the front. Reutemann won, Piquet 2nd and Rosberg, 3rd.

1 - USA_WEST Patrese (Arrows) started from pole showing a strong performance, with Reutemann and Jones following him. He was chased by Reutemann untill his car suffered engine failure, so it was time to Reutemann be chased by his team-mate, Jones. The argentinian driver secure the lead during may laps, but made a mistake in the chicane, what allowed Jones to take the lead until the end. Piquet finished 3rd, Andretti (Alfa) 4th and Cheever (Tyrrell) 5th with Theodore's Tambay in 6th. Prost debut with Renault ended with a accident with De Cesaris (McLaren) just after the start.

2 - BRAZIL Piquet, pole sitter, dared to go in slick tyres in a still very wet track and, of course, lost the lead just after the start. Reutemann, Jones and others pooled away from him. Pironi (Ferrari), tried to let Prost pass, choose the slippery side of the track and lost control, taking Prost out with him. As the rain stopped for a moment, Piquet immediately retakes many positions, but then the rain ended his chances. Reutemann received signal from the pits to let Jones overtake him, but he... just ignored it and win! At the post-race interview, he said he didn't see the signal...

3 - ARGENTINA Another pole for Piquet. At the start, Jones jumped to the lead, but Piquet retakes it in the straight, with no chance to australian to fight. Also Rebaque, Piquet's team-mate, made a strong race, reaching until 2nd place, but had problems and abandoned. Reutemann, for his crowd delirious, makes his move over Jones, as did Prost. In the podium, the crowd celebrate Reutemann's birthday singing for him.

4 - SAN MARINO Villeneuve (Ferrari) started from pole, but the fight for the lead were between Piquet, Pironi and Patrese. The basilian put a strong pressure over Pironi, until overtook him and ran to another victory. Patrese 2nd and Reutemann managed to be 3rd.

5 - BELGIUM Big confusion in the practices as Reutemann stepped on a photographer. The race start was delayed half hour without a clear explanation what was going on. When finally everything seems to be ok for the start, Patrese in the second row, with his engine off, tried insistently to impedite the start with his arms upright. But at the same moment his mechanic jumped to the track to help him, the green lights were given! It was a big mess, everyone avoiding Patrese's car, but his team-mate, Sigfried Sthor, who started from 13th place, chose exactly that side and hit his back with their mechanic between them! The scene was horrendous! Sthor jumped out of the car and became absolutely desperate. But, by fortune, the mechanic didn't suffer deadly injuries. The race was stopped. When finally began, Jones touched wheels with Piquet, knocking him out, but not far away he made a mistake and crashed. At the end, Reutemann won.

6 - MONACO Amazing victory for Villeneuve, who made a incredible surpass over Jones in the main straight. But the GP had one driver that dominated all the week-end until Tambay made a bad move: Piquet. He started from pole, led the field, sustained Jones pressure when the australian smashed his advantage, increasing the distance again to five seconds. Altought at 53rd lap, arriving to Tabac's curve, a latecomer Tambay let no space for him to pass. Piquet had to brake over debris and crashed to the wall. Jones took the lead, but didn't resist to Villeneuve's driving.

7 - SPAIN Another memorable winning for Gilles and Ferrari. The canadian drove a frenetic race sustainning his led, besides big pressure of Laffite's Ligier, that arrived in 2nd with 0'21 seconds behind! Watson  0'57, Reutemann  1'00 and De Angelis - 1'24 followed them. Jones, 7th, was in the lead, but made a mistake that cost him any chance of points.

8 - FRANCE This race is remenbered as the first ever victory for Prost, but was completely dominated by Piquet, until the rain began and the race suspended. In the re-start, Prost using new super soft tyres, pooled away from the field and win. Watson was a surprise second with McLaren and Piquet, 3rd. At this moment championship drivers position were: Reutemann  37, Piquet 26 where group by Jones 24 and Villeneuve - 21.

9 - GREAT-BRITAIN Watson won his home-town race, but he had to scape from a accident caused by Villeneuve in the beginning. Gilles trampled the chicane at Woodcote and lost control of his Ferrari, envolving Jones and forcing De Cesaris to hit the barrires to avoid them, but Watson made a amazing manouvre and could continue the race to...victory!

10 - GERMANY Incedible victory for Piquet as he had a left front spoiler damage in the very first corner. After the race, he declared: "Well, I had a big undesteer after a touch and I tried some way to adjust my driving. When I achieved it, I really was very fast and so I could catch everyone in front and win!"

11 - AUSTRIA Laffite won in big style, driving Ligier with Matra V12 engine, after five podiuns this season. He surpassed Arnoux in a beatifull way and extend his lead until a comfortable 5 seconds. Piquet 3rd, Jones 4th, Reutemann 5th and Watson 6th.

12 - NETHERLANDS Strong perfomance for Prost, who won after a short battle with Jones. Piquet 2nd , Jones 3rd.

13 - ITALY Prost and Renault turbo were dominat all the week-end. Jones 2nd, Reutemann 4th with Piquet in 6th place.

14 - CANADA Another strong victory for Laffite and Ligier-Matra, this time in wet rack. But this race had a hero: home idol Gilles Villeneuve made a amazing race. He damaged his front wing in a touch, but continued to race until lost it(!), but someway he managed to finish in third, for the vibration of the crowd. Piquet with his 5th place, came down to 48 points, just one behind Reutemann (49), with Laffite  43 and Jones/Prost - 37 each.

15 - USA_EST In the last race of the season, only three drivers could win the championship: Reutemann, Piquet and Laffite. But only Reutemann could be more conservative, as he should be fourth in case of Laffite wins, but must arrive in front of Piquet. In the practices he was the pole, with Piquet in 4th and Laffite 12th. At the start, Jones took the lead and pooled away. Reutemann seemed to be controlling the race running in 4th, but suddenly lost his position to Mansell. Then Piquet, who avoid a shock with him in the first corner, overtook him for fifth place, as did Laffite. Reutemann finished seventh apparently struggling with his car. Piquet became the second brazilian world champion, after his vice in 80.

Curious facts

First appearance

Wroten by : Alexandre Vasconcellos, BRAZIL