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The 1981 Belgian Grand Prix was the fifth race of the 1981 Formula One Season. The race was marred by tragedy by the death of Osella mechanic Giovanni Amadeo when he stumbled onto the race track and was hit by Carlos Reutemann during practice. Furthermore, Arrows mechanic Dave Luckett was injured whilst trying to restart Riccardo Patrese's car on the startline when he was hit by the second Arrows of Siegfried Stohr.


BackgroundEdit

Heading into the race, Carlos Reutemann continued to lead the drivers' championship on 25 points. Nelson Piquet who had won the previous two races was now significantly closer to Reutemann in the championship, only three points behind. The other Williams of Alan Jones was third on 18 points, dropping back a bit in the standings after failing to score in Imola. The Constructors championship saw Williams hold a considerable 18 point lead over Brabham in second place in the championship.

Heading into Zolder, the Formula One grid had expanded to 32 cars, the grid had become completely unsustainable for the small and clustered Zolder pit-lane. As a result, the FISA had put pressure on the smaller teams to boycott the race. Despite the FISA's plea's only ATS responded by withdrawing Jan Lammers from the event. Nonetheless the team still ran its second car for Slim Borgudd and none of the other minor teams had agreed to boycott the event.

Other driver changes saw Miguel Ángel Guerra, the Osella driver who was injured in the San Marino Grand Prix be replaced by Formula Three racer Piercarlo Ghinzani.

Lotus returned to the grid after missing the race in Imola to work on their new Lotus 87 chassis, the successor to the illegally declared Lotus 88.

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

During the Friday practice session, tragedy was to strike the Formula One fraternity. The predicted fears of having an overcrowded pit-lane in the small and narrow Zolder pitlane were realised when Osella mechanic Giovanni Amadeo stumbled onto the circuit after being forced off the pit wall due to the overcrowding. Amadeo stumbled right into the path of the oncoming Williams of Carlos Reutemann. Amadeo was hit by Reutemann where he sustained a fractured skull. The incident was a major shock to the Formula One community as Amadeo was rushed to hospital in a very grave state. Almost immediately, the mechanics began to complain to the race organisers about the overcrowding of the Zolder pitlane. The teams complained that the pitlane was crowded with too many people that did not need to be there such as fans and other race observers. The team mechanics pleaded to the Zolder officials to only allow team personnel or race officials into the pitlane to prevent the overcrowding.

Despite the mayhem in the pits, qualifying continued and despite the earlier trauma of hitting Amadeo, Reutemann rallied to take pole position for Williams. Championship rival Nelson Piquet lined up alongside him with Didier Pironi in the ever improving Ferrari in third. Riccardo Patrese had done well for Arrows to start from fourth whilst John Watson, Alan Jones, Gilles Villeneuve, Eddie Cheever, Jacques Laffite and Nigel Mansell, in the new Lotus 87 completed the top ten.

Failing to qualify were the two March cars and two Toleman's as well as Slim Borgudd's ATS. However the big name to fail to qualify was René Arnoux, whilst the Renault car was unsuited to the Zolder track it was a surprise to see Arnoux perform so poorly in comparison to teammate Alain Prost who started from twelfth.

Qualifying ResultsEdit

Pos. No. Driver Constructor
2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Williams-Ford
2 5 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Ford
3 28 France Didier Pironi Italy Ferrari
4 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford
5 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford
6 1 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford
7 27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari
8 3 United States Eddie Cheever United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford
9 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra
10 12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom Lotus-Ford
11 20 Finland Keke Rosberg United Kingdom Fittipaldi-Ford
12 15 France Alain Prost France Renault
13 30 Italy Siegfried Stohr United Kingdom Arrows-Ford
14 11 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Lotus-Ford
15 14 Switzerland Marc Surer United Kingdom Ensign-Ford
16 25 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Ligier-Matra
17 23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Italy Alfa Romeo
18 22 United States Mario Andretti Italy Alfa Romeo
19 4 Italy Michele Alboreto United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford
20 21 Brazil Chico Serra Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford
21 6 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Brabham-Ford
22 32 Italy Beppe Gabbiani Italy Osella-Ford
23 8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris United Kingdom McLaren-Ford
24 31 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Italy Osella-Ford
DNQ 16 France René Arnoux France Renault
DNQ 17 Chile Eliseo Salazar United Kingdom March-Ford
DNQ 10 Sweden Slim Borgudd Germany ATS-Ford
DNQ 33 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom Theodore-Ford
DNQ 36 United Kingdom Derek Warwick United Kingdom Toleman-Hart
DNQ 35 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom Toleman-Hart
DNQ 18 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom March-Ford

GridEdit

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 1 ______________
Carlos Reutemann 2
______________ Nelson Piquet
Row 2 3 ______________
Didier Pironi 4
______________ Riccardo Patrese
Row 3 5 ______________
John Watson 6
______________ Alan Jones
Row 4 7 ______________
Gilles Villeneuve 8
______________ Eddie Cheever
Row 5 9 ______________
Jacques Laffite 10
______________ Nigel Mansell
Row 6 11 ______________
Keke Rosberg 12
______________ Alain Prost
Row 7 13 ______________
Siegfried Stohr 14
______________ Elio de Angelis
Row 8 15 ______________
Marc Surer 16
______________ Jean-Pierre Jabouille
Row 9 17 ______________
Bruno Giacomelli 18
______________ Mario Andretti
Row 10 19 ______________
Michele Alboreto 20
______________ Chico Serra
Row 11 21 ______________
Héctor Rebaque 22
______________ Beppe Gabbiani
Row 12 23 ______________
Andrea de Cesaris 24
______________ Piercarlo Ghinzani

RaceEdit

ReportEdit

On the Sunday morning of the race, the agrieved mechanics of the Formula One grid who had seen one of their fellow mechanics seriously injured due to the overcrowding of the Zolder pits stage a protest on the morning of the race in anger of the Zolder officials failing to make any changes to allowing any unnecessary persons into the pitlane. The cars lined up on the grid but remained unattended by any of the mechanics, in sympathy a number of drivers and team managers joined the mechanics in their stand of protest.

Much to the annoyance of the Zolder officials, the race was successfully delayed and eventually the mechanics returned to their cars to begin preparing them for their race. There was further shambles on the formation lap when Nelson Piquet failed to take the correct grid spot and as a result had to do a further lap of the circuit in order to get back into the correct grid position. As the rest of the cars sat stationary on the grid, some began to overheat and thus switched off their engines. Once Piquet finally returned to the grid, the cars switched their engines back on to start the race. However, Riccardo Patrese, one of the driver's to have switched his engine off at the start stalled the engine of his Arrows. Patrese began to frantically wave that his engine had cut out and to not start the lights procedure. Despite Patrese's dilemma, the race officials started the lights procedure anyway even though Patrese remained an immovable hazard on the grid. In a desperate attempt to start Patrese's engine before the start of the race, Arrows chief mechanic Dave Luckett jumped the pitwall and began to manually restart Patrese's engine from the rear of the car.

Luckett failed to start Patrese's engine in time for the start of the race and whilst most of the cars were able to successfully navigate themselves around Patrese, the second Arrows car of Siegfried Stohr arrived unsighted into the path of Patrese and Luckett. Stohr slammed into the back of Patrese's car and in doing so he hit Luckett whose body was flung several metres. A horrified Stohr jumped from his car, the driver visibly anguished after hitting Luckett. Luckett lay on the track for at least a lap as medics attended to him whilst the marshalls frantically signalled the other cars to slow down along the pit straight with Luckett still lying there. The race was stopped and Luckett was rushed to hospital. Despite suffering serious leg injuries, a broken arm, ribcage and the loss of the tip of his little finger on his right hand, Luckett would go on to make a full recovery.

Despite the grim mood surrounding the paddock, the race was to restart once again. Didier Pironi got the best start to take the lead in his Ferrari as Reutemann, Piquet, Watson and Jones followed on behind him. Jones was proving to be the fastest car on track and overtook Watson's McLaren only to be held up by the slower Piquet. Piquet proved difficult to pass and despite the efforts of the relentless Jones, the Williams driver could find no way past.

Frustration eventually got the better of Jones and the Australian performed an ill fated move down the inside of Piquet's Brabham. The two cars touched and Piquet was sent wide off the circuit and into the barriers and retirement. A furious Piquet stormed back to the pits, notably shouting to Williams team manager Frank Williams that he wished to break both of Jones's legs.

Jones now released from Piquet quickly overtook Reutemann and then Pironi in the following laps. Pironi would lose second position when he spun off the circuit and dropped well out of contention for the race. With the elimination of the Williams cars main rivals, Jones and Reutemann held a comfortable 1-2 for the team. It was not to last, on lap 19 Jones missed a gear went wide and crashed into the barriers. Jones limped from his car, his left leg scalded from an exploding radiator in the accident.

This left Reutemann in the lead ahead of Jacques Laffite's Ligier and Nigel Mansell, performing well in the new Lotus 87 chassis. John Watson was fourth, however he then began to drop back with gearbox issues. This meant that Gilles Villeneuve took the position in his Ferrari with Elio de Angelis and Eddie Cheever rounding out the final points placings.

Heavy rain then afflicted the circuit, in response the Zolder officials had felt that this was enough and not wanting to provide any further risks on an already traumatic weekend brought the race to an end on lap 54. Reutemann took a convincing win and further consolidation to his championship lead whilst Laffite provided a much needed strong result for Ligier and Nigel Mansell took his first Formula One points and podium in the same race.

Whilst the paddock was relieved to here that whilst Dave Luckett's injuries were serious they were not life threatening, the other mechanic Giovanni Amadeo who was injured in Friday practice was not so fortunate. The Osella mechanic succumbed to his head injuries the Monday after the race.

ResultsEdit

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Williams-Ford 54 1:16.31.61 1 9
2 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 54 +36.06s 9 6
3 12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom Lotus-Ford 54 +43.69s 10 4
4 27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 54 +47.64s 7 3
5 11 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Lotus-Ford 60 +49.20s 14 2
6 3 United States Eddie Cheever United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford 54 +52.51s 8 1
7 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford 54 +1:01.66 5
8 28 France Didier Pironi Italy Ferrari 54 +1:32.04 3
9 23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Italy Alfa Romeo 54 +1:35.58 17
10 22 United States Mario Andretti Italy Alfa Romeo 53 +1 lap 7
11 14 Switzerland Marc Surer United Kingdom Ensign-Ford 52 +2 laps 15
12 4 Italy Michele Alboreto United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford 52 +2 laps 19
13 31 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Italy Osella-Ford 50 +4 laps 24
Ret 6 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Brabham-Ford 39 Accident 21
Ret 25 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille France Ligier-Matra 35 Transmission 16
Ret 21 Brazil Chico Serra Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford 29 Engine 20
Ret 32 Italy Beppe Gabbiani Italy Osella-Ford 22 Engine 22
Ret 1 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford 19 Accident 6
Ret 8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris United Kingdom McLaren-Ford 11 Gearbox 23
Ret 5 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Williams-Ford 10 Accident 2
Ret 20 Finland Keke Rosberg Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford 10 Gear lever 11
Ret 15 France Alain Prost France Renault 2 Clutch 12
Ret 30 Italy Siegfried Stohr United Kingdom Arrows-Ford 0 Accident 13
Ret 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford 0 Stalled/Accident 4
DNQ 16 France René Arnoux France Renault
DNQ 17 Chile Eliseo Salazar United Kingdom March-Ford
DNQ 10 Sweden Slim Borgudd Germany ATS-Ford
DNQ 33 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom Theodore-Ford
DNQ 36 United Kingdom Derek Warwick United Kingdom Toleman-Hart
DNQ 36 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom Toleman-Hart
DNQ 18 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom March-Ford

MilestonesEdit

Standings after raceEdit

NotesEdit

V T E Belgium Belgian Grand Prix
Circuits Spa-Francorchamps (1950 - 1970, 1983, 1985 - Present), Nivelles (1972, 1974), Zolder (1973, 1975 - 1982, 1984)
Track map of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium
Races 1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018
V T E 1981 Formula One Season
Teams Alfa Romeo • Arrows • ATS • Brabham • Ensign • Ferrari • Fittipaldi • Ligier • Lotus • March • McLaren • Osella • Renault • Theodore • Toleman • Tyrrell • Williams
Engines Alfa Romeo • Ferrari • Ford Cosworth • Hart • Matra • Renault
Drivers Alboreto • Andretti • de Angelis • Arnoux • Borgudd • de Cesaris • Cheever • Cogan • Daly • Francia • Gabbiani • Giacomelli • Ghinzani • Guerra • Henton • Jabouille • Jarier • Jones • Laffite • Lammers • Londoño • Mansell • Patrese • Piquet • Pironi • Prost • Rebaque • Reutemann • Rosberg • Salazar • Serra • Stohr • Surer • Tambay • G. Villeneuve • J. Villeneuve, Sr. • Warwick • Watson • Zunino
Cars Alfa Romeo 179 • Arrows A3 • ATS D4 • ATS HGS1 • Brabham BT49 • Ensign N180 • Ferrari 126CK • Fittipaldi F8 • Ligier JS17 • Lotus 81 • Lotus 87 • Lotus 88 • March 811 • McLaren M29 • McLaren MP4/1 • Osella FA1 • Renault RE20 • Renault RE30 • Theodore TY01 • Toleman TG181 • Tyrrell 010 • Tyrrell 011 • Williams FW07
Tyres Avon • Goodyear • Michelin • Pirelli
Races United States West • Brazil • Argentina • San Marino • Belgium • Monaco • Spain • France • Britain • Germany • Austria • Netherlands • Italy • Canada • Caesars Palace
See also 1980 Formula One Season • 1982 Formula One Season • Category
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