Girish Mahajan (Editor)

1981 Italian Grand Prix

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Date  13 September 1981
Course length  5.800 km (3.60 mi)
1981 Italian Grand Prix
Official name  LII Gran Premio d'Italia
Location  Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza
Course  Permanent racing facility
Distance  52 laps, 301.600 km (187.400 mi)

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 year previous's 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-Hart qualified and finished in a race with Brian Henton qualifying the car in 23rd place.


When the race started, pole-man René Arnoux fell back to third while Prost and Reutemann battled for the lead. Behind, Didier Pironi was fourth after overtaking four cars on the run up to the first chicane. Pironi continued his charge with Reutemann and Arnoux soon behind him. As his opponents dropped behind, Prost increased his lead and would keep it for the rest of the race. Jacques Laffite also made an excellent start, and was running third when he retired from the race with a puncture on lap 11.

One Lap 19, John Watson lost control of his car at the Lesmo and smashed into the barriers at high speed, igniting a small fire at the back of the car. His McLaren's engine tub broke off from the car and debris littered the track. Michele Alboreto, who was behind Watson, crashed into the broken off engine, while Carlos Reutemann took to the grass and brushed a barrier whilst avoiding the accident, losing a place and sustaining minor damage. Watson escaped unharmed.

As the race reached the halfway point, the standings stood as: Prost, Jones, Piquet, Reutemann and de Angelis. In an incredible case of misfortune, Piquet's engine blew on the last lap, promoting Reutemann into third and turning the tables for title hopes of the two. The Brazilian, however, was able to score a point as the sixth driver to have covered the entire race distance. Andrea de Cesaris, suffered a puncture on the last lap.

Championship standings after the race

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
  • References

    1981 Italian Grand Prix Wikipedia

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