Arden International GP2 driver Johnny Cecotto Jr will no doubt be feeling quite embarrassed, his late-braking manoeuvre into turn one of this weekend’s Feature Race in Monaco causing a domino effect that eliminated 14 cars (half the field) from the event. Of course the principality is no stranger to chaos, the end of the 1982 Formula 1 Grand Prix producing five potential winners in the final three laps.
Rene Arnoux, with one podium and four-consecutive retirements to his name already in 1982, made a jet-propelled start from pole position, the Renault turbo engine in his RE30B immediately putting several car lengths back to Bruno Giacomelli in the Alfa Romeo 182. Further back, Arnoux’s teammate Alain Prost was putting the same powerplant to good use by relieving front row starter Riccardo Patrese of third. Arnoux’s time in front would be short lived however, the Frenchman spinning the Renault at Piscine and stalling the engine. Prost, following the retirement of second-placed Giacomelli with axle problems, now inherited the lead.
Although the weather held at bay throughout the event, rain began to fall with just ten tour to go. Incredibly, in an effort to stagnate the gap to a fast-closing Patrese, Prost repeated his teammate’s error at the Monaco harbour, slamming the Renault into the barriers after inadvertently hooking a tyre on the slick part of the track. On the 73rd lap from 76, the leader was out, and Patrese was now in the hotseat. Though as it turns out, not for long. Two laps later the Brabham BT49D – also caught out by the slick surface – spun at the Loews Hairpin. Didier Pironi, the sole representative for Ferrari following the death of Gilles Villeneuve one round earlier at Zolder, now swept past into the lead.
Pironi, having throttled back massively to ease the Ferrari home, cruised to a halt on the final lap in the tunnel, his fuel tank dry. Just behind, Andrea De Cesaris’s Alfa Romeo 182B – which would have taken the lead – also ran dry. Third-placed Derek Daly in the Williams now looked good for victory, but was seen shortly after cruising to a halt in the harbour, his front wing missing.
Eventually it was Patrese, who’d managed to bumpstart the Brabham on the downhill gradient, that swept through to take his first F1 victory. Pironi and De Cesaris were eventually classified second and third, with the two Lotuses of Nigel Mansell and Elio De Angeles fourth and fifth. Daly was eventually credited with sixth.
Such was the attrition of the race that Prost, despite his eleventh hour exit from the race, was still classified seventh.
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