Jarama Spain 1981

Gilles Villeneuve started from 7th on the grid.  That in itself was considered quite an achievement because Villeneuve's turbocharged Ferrari, although it was fast in a straight line, handled like a cow throughout the sixteen bends of the Jarama circuit.  Villeneuve was quoted as saying his Ferrari was "a hopeless fast red Cadillac.  It wallows all over the place with no grip at all."

But once again, Villeneuve made up four places with a lightning start and found himself on the first lap close behind the Williams duo of Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann.  Gilles took Carlos under braking at the end of the first lap.  On the 14th lap, Jones made an error while running with an eight second lead, ran off the road, and dropped to 15th place.  Villeneuve inherited the lead, and he resolutely stayed there till the end despite enormous pressure from the closely following pack.

Villeneuve's tire were run ragged within the first few opening laps.  The powerful Ferrari was very quick down the straightaways but everyone expected it to fly off the track at any moment in any one of the many corners at Jarama.  The frustrated train of drivers held up behind Villeneuve fought a dramatic battle amongst themselves, frequently swapping places.  But not one of them managed to find a way past Villeneuve's Ferrari.  Prost, Piquet, Andretti, and Pironi were forced to drop back, or out completely, after tangling with one another. On the final lap, Villeneuve crossed the line first followed closely by Laffite, Watson, Reutemann, and de Angelis.  First to 5th place was separated by a mere 1.24 seconds!

Jarama Spain 1981

Photo provided by
"Julie Miles" <jmiles@unibase.com>

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