San Marino flashback - Imola 1982 17 Apr 2006
The 1982 San Marino Grand Prix has gone down in Formula One history as a legendary race, though perhaps not for the usual reasons. Records show that Didier Pironi won from Ferrari team mate Gilles Villeneuve, but that's far from the whole story.
In 1981 Gilles Villeneuve had suffered a monstrous crash at the circuit, on the corner that would later carry his name. In 1982 he wanted to make up for the previous year and bring the tifosi the Ferrari win they so desperately craved.
1982 was a season of highly charged politics in Formula One. Following the exclusion of Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg from the results of the Brazilian Grand Prix for running under weight, several teams decided to boycott the race at Imola. Only seven showed up for the San Marino Grand Prix: Ferrari, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Tyrell, ATS, Toleman and Osella.
Qualifying saw the two Renaults take the front row, with Rene Arnoux out-qualifying Alain Prost. The second row was an all red affair with Villeneuve edging out Pironi, ahead of Michele Alboreto in the Tyrell and the two Alfas.
The race itself was not a classic, the only real excitement coming from the two Renaults breaking down. However, it was in the final laps that the fans were treated to a battle of epic proportions. Pironi closed right up on the tail of his team mate. As he had led most of the race, Villeneuve believed the win was his and expected an agreement between the drivers and the team not to race each other, would be honoured.
Pironi overtook Villeneuve, but the French-Canadian was not concerned. He believed Pironi was putting on a show for the fans. He duly fought with Pironi and the lead changed hands a number of times with some daring moves and incredibly late braking.
On the last lap, Villeneuve assumed the fighting was over. Pironi however leapt in front of the number 27 car and drove on to victory. It was a Ferrari one-two, for which the tifosi went wild, but Villeneuve was incensed. He believed the win was his by right. He swore never again to speak to Pironi.
He never would. A fortnight later, during qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, Villeneuve was killed in a massive accident, which tragically secured his position in the history books as a Formula One, and a Ferrari, legend.