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The 1981 Brazilian Grand Prix was the second round of the 1981 Formula One Season. The race gained notoriety as being the catalyst of the breakdown in communications between race winner Carlos Reutemann and Williams teammate Alan Jones. Reutemann had disobeyed team orders to let Jones through to take the race win, Jones enraged at the result failed to attend the podium ceremony after the race.


BackgroundEdit

The 1981 Brazilian Grand Prix was notably the second race to be hosted at the Jacarepagua Circuit, the first since the 1978 Brazilian Grand Prix. The event had been traditionally held at the Interlagos Circuit, however inadequate barriers, the bumpy circuit and its deep ditches and trenches off track had meant the circuit had become outdated and unsuitable for the modern safety standards of Formula One.

Jean-Pierre Jabouille had notably attempted to return to his seat at the Ligier team following his leg injuries sustained at the 1980 Canadian Grand Prix and was attending the circuit, however his temporary replacement Jean-Pierre Jarier remained at the circuit as reserve in case Jabouille remained unfit to drive. Kevin Cogan had also been replaced at the Tyrrell team following a disappointing performance at Long Beach, being replaced with Argentine Ricardo Zunino who inherited the seat for the South American races in Brazil and his home race in Argentina. Ricardo Londoñor, a Colombian racer was set to become the first Colombian to enter a Formula One race when he bought his way into the Ensign seat for the race, replacing regular driver Marc Surer in the team.

1980 world champion Alan Jones had won the previous race at Long Beach and remained leader in the world championship. His teammate Carlos Reutemann was second in the standings, Williams affirming their continued competitiveness. The Brabham team however were the ones to watch in Brazil, their lead driver Nelson Piquet was competing in his home town at Jacarepagua in the city of Rio de Janeiro. There were also rumours around the paddock that the Brabham team had a new suspension that lowered the car onto the track whilst moving, creating the notorious ground effect that had attempted to be removed from Formula One with the banning of skirts. The Brabham car had circumvented the rules by remaining within the 6cm clearance from the ground whilst stationary, however the suspension lowered the car whilst moving to produce the ground effect.

Lotus had introduced its new Lotus 88 for the Brazilian event, the chassis however was barred from entering on the grounds of it being considered illegal. The car used a twin chassis system in order to assist the production of the ground effect following the banning of skirts. The team reverted back to the Lotus 81B chassis.

Practice OverviewEdit

As the Jacarepagua circuit was a relative unknown to the Formula One fraternity, having only been raced once before three years earlier in 1978, the FIA had approved an extra practice session to take place at the circuit.

During the practice sessions, the Colombian debutant for Ensign, Ricardo Londoñor was deemed unfit for Formula One and the FISA failed to grant him a superlicense for the race. With Londoñor being barred entry, Marc Surer retained his seat and would compete for the team for the remainder of the weekend. Jean-Pierre Jabouille continued to experience leg pains throughout the session and continued to feel unfit to drive his Ligier. The team then replaced him with their reserve driver Jean-Pierre Jarier for the remainder of the weekend.

QualifyingEdit

The updated Brabham BT49 driven by home talent Nelson Piquet was unbelievably quick during the qualifying sessions. The Williams cars of Carlos Reutemann and Alan Jones lined up directly behind the Brabham of Piquet. Riccardo Patrese had put in another impressive performance to put his Arrows in fourth whilst Alain Prost in the Renault was fifth.

The unlucky drivers that failed to qualify were Jan Lammers's ATS, the two March cars of Derek Daly and Eliseo Salazar as well as the two Osella's of Beppe Gabbiani and Miguel Ángel Guerra.

Qualifying ResultsEdit

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


RaceEdit

Report Edit

Prior to the race start heavy rain had afflicted the circuit, however by the start of the race the rain had abated with the skies clearing up. The track remained damp, the only three drivers to take the risk with slicks were Nelson Piquet, Didier Pironi's Ferrari and Siegfried Stohr's Arrows.

Piquet's dry weather set-up was clearly the wrong choice and he immediately dropped to fourth as Carlos Reutemann took the lead ahead of Riccardo Patrese and Alan Jones. Further back there was carnage at the start-line. Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari got a strong start and was on the back of Alain Prost's Renault when the Renault driver lifted in the wet conditions. Villeneuve was forced to brake heavily which forced Mario Andretti in the Alfa Romeo behind him to slam into the back of the Ferrari, launching over the top of Villeneuve. In the carnage, the other Renault of René Arnoux and the home racer, Brazilian Chico Serra were caught in the incident and retired. Eddie Cheever and Siegfried Stohr were also damaged, however both cars were able to continue.

Before the end of the first lap, Jones had overtaken Patrese to move into second position to make it a Williams one-two with Reutemann in the lead. Piquet had further began to drop back, falling down to sixth behind Bruno Giacomelli and Elio de Angelis. In the early laps of the race, De Angelis overtook Giacomelli for fourth and a few laps later Giacomelli spun off the circuit and damaged his car. This had meant Keke Rosberg at his Fittipaldi team's home race was now up to fifth position. Piquet had meanwhile dropped back with mechanical issues.

Behind Rosberg came John Watson, Jean-Pierre Jarier, an impressive Marc Surer who had come from eighteenth on the grid for Ensign and Jacques Laffite. Watson and Jarier were soon past Rosberg who began to fall into the clutches of Surer and Laffite. In the following laps Rosberg continued to drop back as both Surer and Laffite passed him. The recovering Alain Prost who was caught in the start-line incident then overtook Rosberg however his race was brought to an end on lap 20 when the struggling Ferrari of Didier Pironi aquaplaned off the circuit on slick tyres, colliding with Prost's Renault and taking both cars out of the race.

On lap 29, Jarier went wide and off the circuit dropping behind Surer and teammate Laffite. Surer had continued to drive well and had began to pressure Watson's McLaren. The rain had began to increase and on lap 35, Watson succumbed to the pressure and spun off the circuit dropping behind Surer and the two Ligier's of Laffite and Jarier. Surer continued to push on and remarkably overtook De Angelis's Lotus for fourth on lap 49.

Jarier had also managed to overtake teammate Laffite at the same time, however was quickly ordered by his team to allow the team leader in Laffite back into sixth to take the final points position. Jarier complied and allowed Laffite back into sixth place. More significant team orders took place at the front of the pack. The two Williams cars of Reutemann and Jones had been dominating the race with Patrese a distant third in his Arrows.

Reutemann as the number two driver in the team was contractually obliged to allow his team leader and reigning world champion, Alan Jones through and to take the lead. Throughout the race Jones had patiently remained on the heel of Reutemann's tail waiting for his number two driver to submit his lead to him. The pit board clearly indicated "JONES-REUT" which had indicated to Reutemann that he was expected to allow Jones through into the lead. However throughout the race, Reutemann failed to submit to team orders. Reutemann finished the race taking the race win against his team's wishes, Jones coming an infuriated second.

Jones feeling infuriated by the betrayal of his teammate failed to attend the podium ceremony whilst a conflicted Reutemann stood in the podium, in no mood for celebration as Patrese became the only one to spray the champagne.

Post-RaceEdit

Following the result in Brazil, Jones had lost all trust in his teammate stating "I now know I have to go out and beat Carlos as well" with the realisation he would no longer get any help from his teammate in the championship. Reutemann justified his actions in disobeying team orders by stating “Jones had reason to be upset, I can’t disagree with that. I saw the pit signal three laps from the end, and I knew the terms of the contract. But still I was in a dilemma. From the beginning of my career, I always started every race with the intention of winning it – but now I was being asked to give it away, just like that. ‘If I give way,’ I thought to myself, ‘I stop the car here and now, in the middle of the track, and leave immediately for my farm in Argentina. Finish. Not a racing driver any more.”

The Williams team whilst angry at Reutemann for disobeying team orders, fined Reutemann for breaking his contract. However the team would thereafter treat Jones and Reutemann more as equals in the championship fight. Team principal Frank Williams later stating many years later on the event “Well, it stirred up a lot of controversy at the time, but, quite honestly, I just found the whole thing very boring. As long as the team gets the points, I don’t care who scores them. Why should I care which bloody driver wins? They’re only employees after all.”

ResultsEdit

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Williams-Ford 62 2:00:23.66 2 9
2 1 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford 62 +4.44s 3 6
3 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford 2 +1:03.08s 4 4
4 14 Switzerland Marc Surer United Kingdom Ensign-Ford 62 +1:17.03s 18 3
5 11 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Lotus-Ford 62 +1:26.42s 10 2
6 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 62 1:26.83 17 1
7 25 France Jean-Pierre Jarier France Ligier-Matra 62 1:30.25 18
8 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford 61 +1 lap 15
9 20 Finland Keke Rosberg Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford 61 +1 lap 12
10 33 France Patrick Tambay United Kingdom Theodore-Ford 61 +1 lap 19
11 12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom Lotus-Ford 61 +1 lap 13
12 5 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Ford 60 +2 laps 1
13 4 Argentina Ricardo Zunino United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford 57 +5 laps 24
NC 3 United States Eddie Cheever United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford 49 Not classified 14
NC 23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Italy Alfa Romeo 40 Not classified 6
Ret 27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 25 Turbo wastegate 7
Ret 6 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Brabham-Ford 22 Rear suspension 11
Ret 30 Italy Siegfried Stohr United Kingdom Arrows-Ford 20 Accident 21
Ret 15 France Alain Prost France Renault 20 Accident 5
Ret 28 France Didier Pironi Italy Ferrari 19 Accident 17
Ret 8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris United Kingdom McLaren-Ford 9 Electrics 20
Ret 21 Brazil Chico Serra Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford 0 Accident 22
Ret 16 France René Arnoux France Renault 0 Accident 8
Ret 22 United States Mario Andretti Italy Alfa Romeo 0 Accident 9
DNQ 9 Netherlands Jan Lammers Germany ATS-Ford
DNQ 32 Italy Beppe Gabbiani Italy Osella-Ford
DNQ 31 Argentina Miguel Ángel Guerra Italy Osella-Ford
DNQ 18 Chile Eliseo Salazar United Kingdom March-Ford
DNQ 17 IrelandDerek Daly United Kingdom March-Ford

MilestonesEdit

Standings after raceEdit

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