The 1981 Italian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Monza on 13 September 1981.

Formula One returned to the Monza circuit after a year's absence; the previous Italian Grand Prix had been held at the Imola circuit.

Coming into Italy, both Nelson Piquet and Carlos Reutemann were tied on points in the Drivers' Championship; Reutemann would eventually leave with the lead. Alain Prost was also becoming a challenger for the world title, having been challenging both leaders in the recent races.

The race would be known for the first time a Toleman qualified and finished in a race, with Brian Henton qualifying the car in 23rd place.


Background[edit | edit source]

After a year away from Formula One in 1980, Monza returned to the Formula One circus in its usual place as the Italian Grand Prix. There was continued change at Tyrrell, the team were trialling Goodyear tyres on Eddie Cheever's car for Italy whilst Michele Alboreto continued to run on Avon rubber.

With three rounds to go the championship fight was looking much more intense. Carlos Reutemann and Nelson Piquet jointly led the championship on 45 points whilst eleven points behind was Jacques Laffite in third. Alan Jones in the second Williams was fourth, three points behind Laffite whilst three points behind Jones with a very slim chance at the title was Alain Prost. Prost and Renault had proven to be the fastest pairing on the grid in the second half of the season, only poor reliability had prevented him from being closer in the championship and adding to his two wins. Nonetheless Renault were once again predicted to be the fastest team on the grid.

After McLaren had refused to allow its driver Andrea de Cesaris to race in Zandvoort due to his consistent performance in destroying the team's cars, there was much speculation leading to the idea that De Cesaris had been sacked. Fortunately for the young Italian, the team had agreed to continue racing with him until the end of the season, although it was more than likely that De Cesaris would be forced to find a new drive for 1982 especially considering Niki Lauda was rumoured to be returning to F1 with the team.

Entry List[edit | edit source]

The full entry list for the 1981 Italian 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
24 Italy Mauro Baldi 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 Italy Siegfried Stohr 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]

Practice Overview[edit | edit source]

Qualifying[edit | edit source]

The Renault's were once again quick in practice, however they did not completely lock out the front row of the grid as Carlos Reutemann managed to put his Williams in between pole sitter René Arnoux and recent race winner Alain Prost. Thereafter came the other championship contenders of Laffite, Jones and Piquet. At the back half of the top ten was John Watson and the two Ferraris of Didier Pironi and Gilles Villeneuve.

Siegfried Stohr had an enormous accident in qualifying, destroying his Arrows in the process, Stohr exited the wreckage badly shaken but otherwise unscathed. Brian Henton managed to qualify in 23rd place, finally giving the newly formed Toleman team an opportunity to perform in the race. Henton would be starting his first F1 race since the 1977 United States Grand Prix West.

Qualifying Results[edit | edit source]

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

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
Q1 Q2
1 16 France René Arnoux France Renault 1:34.042 1:34.467
2 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:35.153 1:34.140 +0.673s
3 15 France Alain Prost France Renault 1:34.492 1:34.374 +0.907s
4 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 1:36.529T 1:35.062 +1.595s
5 1 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 1:35.983 1:35.359 +1.892s
6 5 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth 1:35.449T 1:35.484T +1.982s
7 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:35.795 1:35.557T +2.090s
8 28 France Didier Pironi Italy Ferrari 1:35.779T 1:35.596T +2.129s
9 27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 1:35.627 1:55.012 +2.160s
10 23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Italy Alfa Romeo 1:38.617 1:35.946 +2.479s
11 11 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:36.158 1:36.309 +2.691s
12 12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 1:38.100 1:36.210 +2.743s
13 22 United States Mario Andretti Italy Alfa Romeo 1:37.166 1:36.296 +2.829s
14 6 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth 1:37.131 1:36.472 +3.005s
15 25 France Patrick Tambay France Ligier-Matra 1:36.515 1:36.545 +3.048s
16 8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 1:37.019 +3.552s
17 3 United States Eddie Cheever United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:38.736 1:37.160 +3.693s
18 32 France Jean-Pierre Jarier Italy Osella-Ford Cosworth 1:38.167 1:37.264 +3.797s
19 17 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 1:38.852 1:37.309 +3.842s
20 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:37.355 1:37.552 +3.888s
21 9 Sweden Slim Borgudd West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 1:39.106 1:37.807 +4.340s
22 4 Italy Michele Alboreto United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 1:38.411 1:37.912 +4.445s
23 35 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom Toleman-Hart 1:41.369T 1:38.012 +4.545s
24 14 Chile Eliseo Salazar United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 1:39.033 1:38.053 +4.586s
DNQ 33 Switzerland Marc Surer Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth 1:38.778 1:38.114 +4.647s
DNQ 31 Italy Beppe Gabbiani Italy Osella-Ford Cosworth 1:40.930 1:38.474 +5.007s
DNQ 36 United Kingdom Derek Warwick United Kingdom Toleman-Hart 1:39.936 1:39.279 +5.812s
DNQ 30 Italy Siegfried Stohr United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 1:39.713 1:39.776 +6.246s
DNQ 20 Finland Keke Rosberg Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:42.229 1:40.345 +6.878s
DNQ 21 Brazil Chico Serra Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth 1:41.185 1:40.437 +6.970s
WD 24 Italy Mauro Baldi Italy Alfa Romeo Withdrawn
Source:[2][3]
  • 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.

Grid[edit | edit source]

Pos Pos
Driver Driver
______________
Row 1 1 ______________
René Arnoux 2
______________ Carlos Reutemann
Row 2 3 ______________
Alain Prost 4
______________ Jacques Laffite
Row 3 5 ______________
Alan Jones 6
______________ Nelson Piquet
Row 4 7 ______________
John Watson 8
______________ Didier Pironi
Row 5 9 ______________
Gilles Villeneuve 10
______________ Bruno Giacomelli
Row 6 11 ______________
Elio de Angelis 12
______________ Nigel Mansell
Row 7 13 ______________
Mario Andretti 14
______________ Héctor Rebaque*
Row 8 15 ______________
Patrick Tambay 16
______________ Andrea de Cesaris
Row 9 17 ______________
Eddie Cheever 18
______________ Jean-Pierre Jarier
Row 10 19 ______________
Derek Daly 20
______________ Riccardo Patrese
Row 11 21 ______________
Slim Borgudd 22
______________ Michele Alboreto*
Row 12 23 ______________
Brian Henton 24
______________ Eliseo Salazar
  • * Rebaque and Alboreto would start the race from the pitlane.

Race[edit | edit source]

Report[edit | edit source]

At the start Arnoux overtook Reutemann in the run down to turn one as Prost led away. Reutemann retook second place from Arnoux heading into turn three. Didier Pironi made an excellent start from eighth on the grid, moving into fourth by the first corner much to the delight of the Tifosi. By the end of the lap, Pironi had moved his Ferrari past Arnoux and Reutemann to take second.

Reutemann began to drop back, dropping behind Arnoux and Jacques Laffite. On lap five, Arnoux took second position from Pironi whilst the second Ferrari of Gilles Villeneuve retired with engine failure. Pironi began to drop back to Laffite and the two Williams cars of Reutemann and Jones.

On lap 11, Eddie Cheever spun off the circuit to retire whilst Laffite also pulled out of the race with a slow puncture. A lap later, Arnoux spun off the circuit whilst trying to avoid Cheever's stricken Tyrrell, bringing an end to his race. At this time a light rain had hit the circuit adding a further challenge for the drivers.

Patrick Tambay had stormed through the field, following Jones and Piquet after overtaking Pironi who continued to drop back. Reutemann was underperforming having fallen behind Pironi and John Watson's McLaren, now coming under pressure from Bruno Giacomelli's Alfa Romeo.

On lap 19, Watson went wide into the second lesmo where he got caught on a kerb and spun 90 degrees and smashed into the opposing barrier. Watson's McLaren disintegrated, his car was ripped in two. The rear half of his car burst into flame as Watson's gearbox and wheels skitted across the circuit. Michele Alboreto got caught in the debris, causing enough damage to end his race. Carlos Reutemann who was following Watson was forced to take avoiding driving wide off the circuit and in doing so lost a place to Giacomelli, but nonetheless emerging unscathed. Watson remarkably emerged from the wreck unhurt, managing to walk back to the pits.

Patrick Tambay who was doing well for Ligier in third retired similarly to teammate Laffite with a puncture. This put Bruno Giacomelli into third place, a rare strong performance for the Alfa Romeo in 1981. However the success was not to last as he was forced into the pits with a jammed gearbox to retire.

Alain Prost continued to dominate the race out front for Renault whilst Alan Jones was an unchallenged second. Nelson Piquet and Carlos Reutemann diced for third place, it did not seem likely that Reutemann could get past Piquet, however Piquet's Brabham suffered an engine failure on the final lap, crucially in the world championship allowing Reutemann to take third. Elio de Angelis took fourth position whilst Didier Pironi was fifth for Ferrari. Nelson Piquet was consoled with at least gaining a single point in sixth. Andrea de Cesaris would have finished sixth in his McLaren albeit a puncture on the final lap rendering him out of the points.

Results[edit | edit source]

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

Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 15 France Alain Prost France Renault 52 1:26:33.897 3 9
2 1 Australia Alan Jones United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 52 +22.175s 5 6
3 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann United Kingdom Williams-Ford Cosworth 52 +50.587s 2 4
4 11 Italy Elio de Angelis United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 52 +1:32.902 11 3
5 28T France Didier Pironi Italy Ferrari 52 +1:34.522 8 2
6* 5 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth 51 Engine 6 1
7* 8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 51 Accident 16
8 23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Italy Alfa Romeo 50 +2 laps 10
9 32 France Jean-Pierre Jarier Italy Osella-Ford Cosworth 50 +2 laps 18
10 35 United Kingdom Brian Henton United Kingdom Toleman-Hart 49 +3 laps 23
Ret 22 United States Mario Andretti Italy Alfa Romeo 41 Transmission 13
Ret 17 Ireland Derek Daly United Kingdom March-Ford Cosworth 37 Gearbox 19
Ret 25 France Patrick Tambay France Ligier-Matra 22 Puncture 15
Ret 12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell United Kingdom Lotus-Ford Cosworth 21 Handling 12
Ret 7 United Kingdom John Watson United Kingdom McLaren-Ford Cosworth 19 Accident 7
Ret 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth 19 Gearbox 20
Ret 4 Italy Michele Alboreto United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 16 Accident PL
Ret 14 Chile Eliseo Salazar United Kingdom Ensign-Ford Cosworth 13 Tyre 24
Ret 16 France René Arnoux France Renault 12 Accident 1
Ret 3 United States Eddie Cheever United Kingdom Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth 11 Spin 17
Ret 26 France Jacques Laffite France Ligier-Matra 11 Puncture 4
Ret 9T Sweden Slim Borgudd West Germany ATS-Ford Cosworth 10 Spin 21
Ret 27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Italy Ferrari 6 Turbo 9
Ret 6 Mexico Héctor Rebaque United Kingdom Brabham-Ford Cosworth 0 Ignition PL
DNQ 33 Switzerland Marc Surer Hong Kong Theodore-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 31 Italy Beppe Gabbiani Italy Osella-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 36 United Kingdom Derek Warwick United Kingdom Toleman-Hart
DNQ 30 Italy Siegfried Stohr United Kingdom Arrows-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 20 Finland Keke Rosberg Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth
DNQ 21 Brazil Chico Serra Brazil Fittipaldi-Ford Cosworth
WD 24 Italy Mauro Baldi Italy Alfa Romeo
Source:[4][3]
  • T Indicates a driver using a test/spare car.
  • * Piquet and de Cesaris were still classified despite retiring as they had completed 90% of the race distance.

Milestones[edit | edit source]

Standings after race[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Images and Videos:

References:

  1. 'Italy 1981: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1981/italie/engages.aspx, (Accessed (14/03/2020)
  2. 'Italy 1981: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1981/italie/qualification.aspx, (Accessed (14/03/2020)
  3. 3.0 3.1 '1981 Italian Grand Prix race report', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/10/1981), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/october-1981/46/the-italian-grand-prix-10, (Accessed (14/03/2020)
  4. 'Italy 1981: Results', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1981/italie/classement.aspx, (Accessed (14/03/2020)
V T E Italy Italian Grand Prix
Circuits Monza (1950 - 1979, 1981 - Present), Imola (1980)
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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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