Brazilian GP history 1973-1983 (Video)

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Rene Arnoux scored his first Grand Prix win for Renault at Interlagos in 1980

The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace at Interlagos in Sao Paulo hosts the final round of this year’s world championship, the fourth time in five years it has done so. More importantly, the title will be decided here for the fourth year in succession. But the race has actually appeared as the season-opener more often than the season-ender.

And its passionate fans have seen some great racing in the 35-year history of the race.

1973 – Interlagos has hosted the majority of Brazilian Grands Prix. But the early race of the 1970s and 1980s were held on the original iteration of the track: a much longer circuit, with bumps that were very similar to what the drivers experienced up to as late as 2006.

Defending champion and Sao Paulo native Emerson Fittipaldi ensured a Brazilian would win at home first time out, taking victory for Lotus. But if anything, the crowd seemed to be even more enthusiastic for the water literally being hosed onto them to cool down the hot sun’s rays.

See the original configuration of the Interlagos circuit here

1975 – More home glory for the Brazilians as Carlos Pace, a Sao Paulo local driving a Brabham, won the race. While Pace had lots of pace in the race, it took a bit of good luck on his part to get the win. Pole-sitter and early race leader Jean-Pierre Jarier had dominated the race so far, but an engine failure for Jarier opened the door for Pace.

Sadly, no other wins were to come for Pace. He would die in a place accident in 1977. The Interlagos circuit today is named in his memory.

1978 – After five years at Interlagos, F1 switched to the newly-completed Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro. The atmosphere seemed to be more exciting: after all, this was the home of the world-famous Carnival.

Alas, the race wasn’t all that exciting: a lights-to-flag win for Carlos Reutemann in his Ferrari. Lotus’ ground-breaking ground-effect car wasn’t ready yet, so despite the win in Argentina two weeks before, neither Mario Andretti nor Ronnie Petersen made that much of an impact in the race.

In spite of the not-so-pleasant start, F1 seemed pleased enough to make Jacarepagua a regular on the calendar – but not until 1981.

1980 – It was the ‘yellow teapots’, indeed, that dominated the race. Renault’s turbo engines were impossible to match, but this time, they seemed to have better aero and decent reliability. Sure, Jean-Pierre Jabouille’s turbo conked out midway through, but Rene Arnoux’s worked till the very end.

The Frenchman, who was first noticed after that duel with Gilles Villeneuve at Dijon the year before, proved his rising star credentials were no fluke by taking his first Grand Prix win.

1981 – If there is one team on the current grid that most people would never associate with team orders, that would be Williams. After all, this was the team that allowed Jacques Villeneuve to challenge Damon Hill in 1996, as well as Nigel Mansell to take on Nelson Piquet in 1986 and 1987.

But back then, they were just like any other team in the pitlane, down to the team orders. After all, it was prescribed in Alan Jones’ contract that he was the lead driver. But unfortunately, Carlos Reutemann didn’t see the pitboard ordering him to let Jones by, leaving him to win. Must have been the umbrellas. Or maybe the rain…

1982 – From strikes to sliced ham: yes, after a two-race absence, Clive James makes his return for the end-of-season tribute. He also talked about the Brazilians going ecstatic when Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari spun out of the race. That allowed Nelson Piquet’s Brabham into the lead, and to a race win, holding off the Williams of Keke Rosberg.

But after this race lies a twist: both Piquet and Rosberg were disqualified for illegal water tanks, but this didn’t happen after the second round of the championship finished at Long Beach. The win thus went to Alain Prost’s Renault. FOCA, led by Brabham’s Bernie Ecclestone and supported by Sir Frank Williams, was disgusted. As a result, all FOCA teams boycotted the San Marino Grand Prix, leaving only the FISA-supporting teams (like Renault and Ferrari) to compete there. This inadvertently lay the groundwork for the feud between Ferrari drivers Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi.

By the way, I’m sure a spinning Ferrari is the last thing the Brazilians want to see this year.

1983 – Just like last year, it was another home win for Piquet. Just like last year, he finished ahead of Keke Rosberg. But unfortunately, Rosberg was, just like last year, disqualified from the final result. This time, it was due to receiving push start in the pits, which is banned.

Who would’ve thought that stewards were already that nosy 25 years ago? The more things change, the more they stay the same.

More thrills and spills from the 1980s and the 1990s tomorrow.

This is a guest article by Journeyer. If you want to write a guest article for F1 Fanatic you can find all the information you need here.

13 comments on “Brazilian GP history 1973-1983 (Video)”

  1. Very informative article of the Brazillian Grand Prix, and relavent to this weekend coming. One thing i have noticed is that there have been very few wet weather GP’s in Brazil, 3 in 20 years. It did rain heavilly in 2001 and Shumacher pitted at the right time time, also 1996 the track was wet. 1991 had deteriating weather(ref.wikipedia track reports).
    This weekend looks to be one of those where the heavens opens…… How many mistakes will be made with the wrong choice of tyres etc etc? Theres so many variables, who knows the rain may not even come to Interlagos
    Cool article Journeyer, im looking forward to tomorrows installment……

  2. Steve – there was a huge downpour in ’93 as well. Prost made the mistake of staying out on slicks. I’m sure Journeyer will cover it tomorrow…

  3. The 1980 Renault pictured above was one of the more strange looking F1 cars , with the driver almost sitting on the nose . Obviously must have had some advantage in terms of weight distribution , but for anyone not knowing any better , could be forgiven for thinking it was designed to allow more space for advertising.

    1. Well spotted Jean! It was actually Lotus with the 79 ground effect car that pioneered the idea of putting the drivers feet ahead of the front axle. The reason was that Lotus used one single 250 litre fuel tank between the driver and engine for better centre of gravity and safety (previously upto the late 70s there were side fuel tanks) and therefore the driver had to moved forward, with his legs ahead of the front axle. With Lotus dominating the 1978 season with its ground effect 79, all the competitors copied the 79 with its long venturi tunnels and single big fuel tank in the middle of the car – hence the forward driving positions of cars from the late 70s right upto the late 80s. While having a centrally mounted fuel tank did decrease the risk of fire, unfortunately the exposed position of the drivers feet and legs meant there was some terrible leg/back injuries during this period of F1. In the 1980 Long Beach grand prix, Clay Reggazzoni’s car had a brake failure and he went straight into a tyre barrier at over 160 mph, causing him spinal injuries confining him to a wheelchair. In the 1980 Canadian grand prix Jean Pierre Jaboiuille broke his legs when his cars suspension failed causing him to smash into a barrier head on. There was also terrible leg injuries to Didier Pironi at Germany 1982, Martin Brundle in Dallas 1984, Johhny Coquetto at Brands Hatch 1984, and Jacques Laffite at Brands Hatch 1986, amongst others. All these nasty injuries could of been avoided had the FIA mandated putting the pedal box behind the front axle. Amazingly, it wasn’t until the 1988 season when the FIA decided that all F1 cars had to have the drivers feet behind the front axle. So, next time you watch classic F1 from that period on the BBC, spare a thought for the drivers legs and feet………..

  4. In 1982 refuelling was introduced by Brabham. But the 1983 Brazilian Grand Prix was the first race in which most teams copied the strategy of mid-race refuelling. This race also saw the first pit fire during a pit stop.

  5. There were also the 2003 messy grand prix when the track was so bad the race was stopped and Fisichella ended up winning because he hasn’t done his second pit yet. With only 3/4 of the race complete 8 of the 20 cars on the grid had DNF due to some accident.

  6. Great job Keith,if Sunday Hamilton win the crown become the first driver to win f2-f3000-gp2 and f1 championship in history.

    this is the statistic

    f2:18 winners, best results in f1 for Regazzoni,Peterson,Ickx(runnerup)

    F3000:first f3000 champion to win a f1 gp:Jean Alesi 10 years after the first F3000 season ever (85-95),best result in f1 championship for f3000 champion:Montoya (3° 2003)

    GP2:Lewis Hamilton win the first gp in ’07 two year after first Gp2 season ever,and is secon position in past year championship is the best result for a gp2’driver in f1.

    if Hamilton win,you write an article on this facts?

    sorry for my poor english,complimenti per il sito.

  7. Dertos – thanks, but it was Journeyer who wrote this article. And yes, whoever wins I’ll have a stats article online :-)

  8. Thanks for the link, Pingguest! Just saw in the video: was it me, or did one of the fire extinguisher crew have exactly the same helmet as Keke Rosberg? :)

  9. In the 1980 race,, take a look at the end of the video,, is it me, or does Rene Arnoux look darn near exactly like Vitantonio Liuzzi?

  10. when you started these Journeyer they were rather clinical, your articles get better each time, aided by Clive James no less.


  11. Thanks, Journeyer, for putting together a fun look back, and thanks to Keith for posting it.

    Interesting how the Cosworth helped ‘equalize’ things back when teams bought or built chassis and stuck whatever engine they could get into it.

    Thinking of today’s costs and watching these races, I propose more rules changes:

    1. No planned tire changes, only if the tire is deteriorating.

    2. No refueling.

    3. No changing body parts. A wing breaks, you’re done, no new nose.

    It’s strange to me that engines are expected to last two races with all the relevant practice and qualifying but the body and tires aren’t expected to last a race.


  12. Said after Belgian gp that I couldn’t be bothered to watch again, and I didn’t. When the FIA are gone, i’ll come back. Don’t think I’m the only one!

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