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The 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix was the final race of the 1981 Formula One season. It was held on October 17, 1981, and it saw Nelson Piquet win the first of his three World Championships.

The race was won by Alan Jones of Williams, with Renault's Alain Prost in second and Alfa Romeo's Bruno Giacomelli in third, achieving Alfa Romeo's only podium finish this season.



BackgroundEdit

After the Watkins Glen circuit went bankrupt following the 1980 event which saw the circuit fail to pay its $800,000 debt to the teams, the circuit was deemed unfit to host a race in 1981. A race circuit was hastily developed to replace it in Las Vegas, Nevada which would be hosted in the car park behind the Caesar's Palace casino. It was deemed an odd venue for a Formula One race which drew much criticism. The climate of Las Vegas was much hotter than the drivers were generally used to, which notably drew criticism as well as the dusty circuit which held little to no grip on the tarmac.

The race was hosted as the championship finale for 1981 with three drivers remaining with a chance as claiming the 1981 championship. Carlos Reutemann led the championship on 49 points, one point ahead of Nelson Piquet. With an outside chance in the championship was Jacques Laffite who was six points behind Reutemann on 43 championship points.

Heading into Las Vegas, reigning world champion Alan Jones was announced to be retiring from Formula One at the end of 1981. Jones had become disillusioned with the sport due to political infighting, which had cost him a victory as Spain earlier in the year, and the contentious relationship he had with teammate Carlos Reutemann. Another factor was the new ground effect cars which many of his colleagues found unpleasurable to drive. Before the race, Jones had quite bluntly announced that Reutemann would receive no help from him in the race, the two having fallen out after Reutemann failed to give way to his team leader way back in Brazil, the second race of the season.

Entry ListEdit

The full entry list for the 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix is outlined below:

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom TAG Williams Team Williams FW07C Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom TAG Williams Team Williams FW07C Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
3 United States Eddie Cheever United Kingdom Tyrrell Racing Team Tyrrell 011 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
4 Italy Michele Alboreto United Kingdom Tyrrell Racing Team Tyrrell 011 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 A
5 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT49C Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
6 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Parmalat Racing Team Brabham BT49C Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom Marlboro McLaren International McLaren MP4/1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 M
8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris United Kingdom Marlboro McLaren International McLaren MP4/1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 M
9 Sweden Slim Borgudd West Germany Team ATS ATS HGS1 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 A
11 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 87 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom John Player Team Lotus Lotus 87 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 G
14 Chile Eliseo Salazar United Kingdom Ensign Racing Ensign N180B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 A
15 France Alain Prost France Equipe Renault Elf Renault RE30 Renault EF1 3.0 V6t M
16 France René Arnoux France Equipe Renault Elf Renault RE30 Renault EF1 3.0 V6t M
17 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom March Grand Prix Team March 811 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 A
20 Finland Keke Rosberg Brazil Fittipaldi Automotive Fittipaldi F8C Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 P
21 Brazil Chico Serra Brazil Fittipaldi Automotive Fittipaldi F8C Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 P
22 United States Mario Andretti Italy Marlboro Team Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 179D Alfa Romeo 1260 3.0 V12 M
23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Italy Marlboro Team Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 179C Alfa Romeo 1260 3.0 V12 M
25 France Patrick Tambay France Equipe Talbot Gitanes Ligier JS17 Matra MS81 3.0 V12 M
26 France Jacques Laffite France Equipe Talbot Gitanes Ligier JS17 Matra MS81 3.0 V12 M
27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 126CK Ferrari 021 3.0 V6t M
28 France Didier Pironi Italy Scuderia Ferrari SpA SEFAC Ferrari 126CK Ferrari 021 3.0 V6t M
29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Ragno Arrows Beta Racing Team Arrows A3 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 P
30 Canada Jacques Villeneuve, Sr. United Kingdom Ragno Arrows Beta Racing Team Arrows A3 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 P
31 Italy Beppe Gabbiani Italy Osella Squadra Corse Osella FA1B Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 M
32 France Jean-Pierre Jarier Italy Osella Squadra Corse Osella FA1C Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 M
33 Switzerland Marc Surer Hong Kong Theodore Racing Team Theodore TY01 Ford Cosworth DFV 3.0 V8 A
35 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom Candy Toleman Motorsport Toleman TG181 Hart 415T 3.0 L4t P
36 United Kingdom Derek Warwick United Kingdom Candy Toleman Motorsport Toleman TG181 Hart 415T 3.0 L4t P
Source:[1][2]

Practice OverviewEdit

QualifyingEdit

Practice and qualifying saw many complaints about the circuit from the drivers. The anti-clockwise circuit saw significant strain on the driver's necks as well as many drivers suffering from heat stroke in the baking hot conditions of Las Vegas. Championship challenger Nelson Piquet in particular was struggling, his back was badly bruised after practice which saw him miss most of qualifying. His main rival Carlos Reutemann had meanwhile taken pole position and looked in prime position for the world championship. Piquet still managed to put his car fourth on the grid, but his competitiveness was looking grim. Jacques Laffite had the worst qualifying putting him well down in twelfth position.

Alan Jones in the sister Williams lined up on the front row for his last race in second, next to teammate and arch-nemesis Reutemann. Gilles Villeneuve who ever impressed in his Ferrari was third ahead of Piquet, Alain Prost and John Watson. Patrick Tambay was seventh, the second Ligier driver to Laffite had impressed unlike his teammate. Ligier had nonetheless announced they were dropping him at the end of the season although Tambay like Jones and Andretti was heading from Formula One retirement.

Bruno Giacomelli was eighth in his Alfa Romeo with Nigel Mansell ninth and Mario Andretti in tenth. Those drivers that failed to qualify were Slim Borgudd, Chico Serra, Derek Daly, Jacques Villeneuve, Sr., Brian Henton and Beppe Gabbiani. Derek Warwick finally qualified to race for the first time after failing to make the cut in his Toleman for half a season. The young Brit lined up twenty second on the grid.

Qualifying ResultsEdit

The full qualifying results for the 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
Q1 Q2
1 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:17.821 1:18.343
2 1 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:18.236 1:17.995 +0.174s
3 27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 1:18.457 1:18.060 +0.239s
4 5 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth 1:18.954 1:18.161 +0.340s
5 15 France Alain Prost France Renault 1:18.433 1:18.760 +0.612s
6 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:19.975 1:18.617 +0.796s
7 25 France Patrick Tambay France Ligier-Matra 1:19.874 1:18.681 +0.860s
8 23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Italy Alfa Romeo 1:20.570 1:18.792 +0.971s
9 12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:19.044 1:19.623 +1.223s
10 22 United States Mario Andretti Italy Alfa Romeo 1:19.594 1:19.068 +1.247s
11 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:20.132 1:19.152 +1.331s
12 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 1:19.878 1:19.167 +1.346s
13 16 France René Arnoux France Renault 1:19.966 1:19.197 +1.376s
14 8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:19.338 1:19.217 +1.396s
15 11 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:20.337 1:19.562 +1.741s
16 6 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth 1:20.555 1:19.571 +1.750s
17 4 Italy Michele Alboreto United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:21.964 1:19.774 +1.953s
18 28 France Didier Pironi Italy Ferrari 1:19.899 1:21.347 +2.078s
19 3 United States Eddie Cheever United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:21.116 1:20.475 +2.654s
20 20 Finland Keke Rosberg Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:21.299 1:20.729 +2.908s
21 32 France Jean-Pierre Jarier Italy Osella-Ford Cosworth 22:19.563 1:20.781 +2.960s
22 36 United Kingdom Derek Warwick United Kingdom Toleman-Hart 1:22.491 1:21.294 +3.473s
23 33 Switzerland Marc Surer Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth 1:21.889 1:21.430 +3.609s
24 14 Chile Eliseo Salazar United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:22.616 1:21.629 +3.808s
DNQ 9 Sweden Slim Borgudd West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:21.665 1:21.731 +3.844s
DNQ 21 Brazil Chico Serra Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:22.612 1:21.672 +3.851s
DNQ 17 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 1:21.846 1:21.824 +4.003s
DNQ 30 Canada Jacques Villeneuve, Sr. United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:22.977 1:22.822 +5.001s
DNQ 35 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom Toleman-Hart 1:23.857 1:22.960 +5.139s
DNQ 31 Italy Beppe Gabbiani Italy Osella-Ford Cosworth 1:26.634 +8.813s
Source:[3][2]
  • Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
  • T Indicates a driver using a test/spare car to set their best/qualifying time in that session.

GridEdit

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 ______________ 1
2 Carlos Reutemann
Alan Jones ______________
Row 2 ______________ 3
4 Gilles Villeneuve
Nelson Piquet ______________
Row 3 ______________ 5
6 Alain Prost
John Watson ______________
Row 4 ______________ 7
8 Patrick Tambay
Bruno Giacomelli ______________
Row 5 ______________ 9
10 Nigel Mansell
Mario Andretti ______________
Row 6 ______________ 11
12 Riccardo Patrese
Jacques Laffite ______________
Row 7 ______________ 13
14 René Arnoux
Andrea de Cesaris ______________
Row 8 ______________ 15
16 Elio de Angelis
Héctor Rebaque ______________
Row 9 ______________ 17
18 Michele Alboreto
Didier Pironi ______________
Row 10 ______________ 19
20 Eddie Cheever
Keke Rosberg ______________
Row 11 ______________ 21
22 Jean-Pierre Jarier
Derek Warwick ______________
Row 12 ______________ 23
24 Marc Surer
Eliseo Salazar ______________

RaceEdit

The start of the race saw Alan Jones take the lead as championship leader Carlos Reutemann struggled to get away and dropped to fifth behind Gilles Villeneuve, Alain Prost and Bruno Giacomelli. Nelson Piquet had also made a poor start dropping by John Watson and Jacques Laffite who had made a remarkable start from twelfth on the grid. Reutemann appeared to be struggling as by lap three he had dropped behind Watson and Laffite and was now only just ahead of main rival Piquet.

Patrick Tambay had a sizeable accident on lap two, his Ligier hitting the barriers hard. Tambay was left hopping out of the car with an injured left ankle. The third lap saw Prost overtake Villeneuve who had begun to hold up the cars behind him in his poorly handling Ferrari. Only four seconds separated Villeneuve, Giacomelli, Watson, Laffite, Reutemann, Piquet and Andretti. Laffite soon moved ahead of Watson whilst on lap 17 before soon moving to third after passing Giacomelli. Piquet crucially moved ahead of Reutemann to move into seventh.

Piquet then charged by Watson to take sixth and move into the points, the position then became fifth on lap 22 when Villeneuve pulled out with engine problems. Mario Andretti had overtaken Reutemann shortly after Piquet and soon charged by the Brazilian championship contender himself. The two Alfa Romeo's of Giacomelli and Andretti battled together until Giacomelli spun dropping down to tenth position.

Reutemann who could see his championship hopes slipping away, provided a hopeful comeback for his fans when he overtook Watson's McLaren to move into the points in sixth. Andretti's fine drive on what many believed to be his last before his retirement pulled off on lap 29 with suspension issues.

Jones continued to dominate the race out front with Prost in a comfortable second. The Renault driver began to suffer tyre degradation which forced the Frenchman into the pits for new tyres. This put Laffite in second, Piquet in third and Reutemann fourth. It all began to fall apart for Reutemann as first Nigel Mansell's Lotus overtook him and he then fell behind the recovering Prost and Giacomelli.

Piquet who seemed set for the championship honours was not performing well either and dropped behind Prost and Giacomelli as well. Laffite was forced to stop for tyres dropping down to sixth. Mansell in the closing laps overtook the struggling Piquet who despite his issues remained crucially ahead of Reutemann who remained in seventh.

Alan Jones was meanwhile dominating his final Formula One race before his retirement, taking victory by 20 seconds. Prost and Giacomelli took a well deserved second and third. Giacomelli getting his first Formula One podium after a torrid 1981 campaign for Alfa Romeo. Nigel Mansell took a hard earned fourth whilst crucially Nelson Piquet was fifth to take his first Formula One championship. Piquet's struggles in the race was down to physical fatigue, he had vomited in the cockpit and could barely walk following his exit from the car. Laffite took sixth position whilst Reutemann was seventh, the Argentine seemed to have the championship in the bag but inexplicably had lost his form when he needed it the most.

ResultsEdit

The full results for the 1981 Caesars Palace Grand Prix are outlined below:

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 1 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 75 1:44:09.077 2 9
2 15 France Alain Prost France Renault 75 +20.048s 5 6
3 23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Italy Alfa Romeo 75 +20.428s 8 4
4 12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 75 +47.473s 9 3
5 5 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth 75 +1:16.438 4 2
6 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 75 +1:18.175 12 1
7 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 75 +1:18.497 6
8 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 74 +1 lap 1
9 28 France Didier Pironi Italy Ferrari 73 +2 laps 18
10 20 Finland Keke Rosberg Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 73 +2 laps 20
11 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 71 +4 laps 11
12 8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 69 +6 laps 14
13* 4 Italy Michele Alboreto United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 67 Engine 17
NC 14 Chile Eliseo Salazar United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 61 +14 laps 17
Ret 36 United Kingdom Derek Warwick United Kingdom Toleman-Hart 43 Gearbox 22
Ret 22 United States Mario Andretti Italy Alfa Romeo 29 Suspension 10
DSQ 27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 22 Spin 3
Ret 6 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth 20 Overheating 16
Ret 33 Switzerland Marc Surer Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth 19 Suspension 23
Ret 3 United States Eddie Cheever United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 10 Engine 19
Ret 16 France René Arnoux France Renault 10 Misfire 13
Ret 25 France Patrick Tambay France Ligier-Matra 2 Accident 7
Ret 11 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 2 Water leak 15
Ret 32 France Jean-Pierre Jarier Italy Osella-Ford Cosworth 0 Engine 21
DNQ 9 Sweden Slim Borgudd West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 21 Brazil Chico Serra Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 17 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 30 Canada Jacques Villeneuve, Sr. United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 35 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom Toleman-Hart
DNQ 31 Italy Beppe Gabbiani Italy Osella-Ford Cosworth
Source:[4][2]
  • * Alboreto was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
  • Salazar could not be classified as he had failed to complete 90% of the race distance.
  • G. Villeneuve was disqualified for starting on an improper grid position.

MilestonesEdit

StandingsEdit

World Championship for Drivers
Pos. Driver Pts.
1 Brazil Nelson Piquet 50
2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann 49
3 Australia Alan Jones 46
4 France Jacques Laffite 44
5 France Alain Prost 43
6 United Kingdom John Watson 27
7 Canada Gilles Villeneuve 25
8 Italy Elio de Angelis 14
9 Mexico Héctor Rebaque 11
= France René Arnoux 11
11 Mexico Héctor Rebaque 10
= United States Eddie Cheever 10
13 France Didier Pironi 9
14 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell 8
15 Italy Bruno Giacomelli 7
16 Switzerland Marc Surer 4
17 United States Mario Andretti 3
18 France Patrick Tambay 1
= Italy Andrea de Cesaris 1
= Sweden Slim Borgudd 1
= Chile Eliseo Salazar 1
International Cup for Constructors
Pos. Team Pts.
1 United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 95
2 United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth 61
3 France Renault 54
4 France Ligier-Matra 44
5 Italy Ferrari 34
6 United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 28
7 United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 22
8 Italy Alfa Romeo 10
= United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 10
= United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 10
11 United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 5
12 West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1
= Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth 1

Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.

ReferencesEdit

Images and Videos:

References:

  1. 'Las Vegas 1981: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1981/las-vegas/engages.aspx, (Accessed (07/03/2020)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 '1981 Caesers Palace Grand Prix race report', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/11/1981), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/november-1981/38/las-vegas-grand-prix-3, (Accessed (07/03/2020)
  3. 'Las Vegas 1981: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1981/las-vegas/qualification.aspx, (Accessed (08/03/2020)
  4. 'Las Vegas 1981: Results', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1981/las-vegas/classement.aspx, (Accessed (08/03/2020)
V T E Las Vegas Caesars Palace Grand Prix
Circuits Caesars Palace (1981–1982)
Circuit Caesars Palace
Races 19811982
V T E Promotional Trophy
Races 197519761977197819791980198119821983198419851986198719881989199019911992199319941995199619971998199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201720182019
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 179B • Alfa Romeo 179C • Alfa Romeo 179D • Arrows A3 • ATS D4 • ATS HGS1 • Brabham BT49C • Ensign N180B • Ferrari 126CK • Fittipaldi F8C • Ligier JS17 • Lotus 81B • Lotus 87 • Lotus 88 • Lotus 88B • March 811 • McLaren M29F • McLaren MP4/1 • Osella FA1B • Osella FA1C • Renault RE20B • Renault RE30 • Theodore TY01 • Toleman TG181 • Tyrrell 010 • Tyrrell 011 • Williams FW07C
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
Non-championship Races South Africa
See also 1980 Formula One Season • 1982 Formula One Season • Category
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