On this day in #F1: 25 September

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler BlackJack’sBriefs

1982… is remembered for…

Space shuttle Columbia made its first mission; Washington University developed the Flavr Savr tomato; Britain overcame Argentina in Falklands war; John W. Hinckley, Jr. found not guilty of shooting President Reagan; Italy won the World Cup; Navratilova and Connors won at Wimbledon; Michael Jackson released Thriller; Cats opened on Broadway; E.T., and Gandhi were on the big screens; Emmies went to Hill Street Blues, M*A*S*H and Taxi; new books included: Schindler’s List and The Color Purple; Gabriel García Márquez received the Nobel Prize for Literature…

. . . and Keke Rosberg secured the drivers’ title in the last race of the season . . .

Held in a car park at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Rosberg’s fifth-place finish was enough to see off his one remaining rival, John Watson, who finished second to 25-year-old Michele Alboreto in a Tyrrell. But it was a confusing weekend… indeed, it had been a confusing year – some might even say the 1982 World Championship season had been an almost total mess – a disgrace to the reputation of F1 although, as is so often the case, most seems to have been largely forgotten, and perhaps even forgiven…

Keke RosbergAs far as Keke Rosberg is concerned he came from virtually nowhere, to World Champion, in less than a year. After several years in ‘junior’ formulae he entered F2 in 1976 and, in 1977, won two races, and finished 6th in the championship, but his inherent skills got him an introduction (the first Finn) to F1 in 1978 (at the age of 29 – which in those days was not so old…), with the under-funded Thoedore team. While he doubled up in F2 for another two seasons (1978-1979), with just two wins, Keke’s second F1 appearance, in the (1978) non- championship International Trophy at Silverstone put him on the map, as he paddled to victory in a very wet race while many of the big names ran aground.

However it was a ‘flash in the pan’ as Keke failed to even qualify the car in the next four GP and he moved to ATS with whom he placed 15th,17th & 16th in three races before rejoining Theodore who had dumped their own car and acquired a Wolf… but this gave him another four useless results and, for the third time in one season (is this a record…?), he moved again, and back to ATS – which was another disaster.

Keke sat out the first half of 1979 before joining the Wolf Team… where he suffered six retirements and one failure to qualify… before moving to the Fittipaldi team for 1980 and 1981 where he had two better seasons…

better, that is, than 1978-79 – in 1980 Keke finished 10th in the Championship, with just six points… but in 1981 he failed to score a single point, after six retirements and four failures to qualify…!

On the face of it Keke might well have thought his F1 career was over… but… in best fairy-tale fashion… the 1980 Champion, Alan Jones, after a turbulent season competing with team-mate Carlos Reutemann, which arguably cost them both dear, and allowed Nelson Piquet to slip past and win by one point from Carlos, Jones belatedly announced his retirement, unexpectedly leaving the all-conquering Williams Team with a vacant seat. I don’t know who else was considered at that time but the place was offered to Keke Rosberg… and, despite winning only one race in 1982, his consistent high finishes left him 5 points clear of Didier Pironi and John Watson, to give Keke the Championship. Keke was the first driver to win the Championship with just one race victory since Mike Hawthorn,

in 1958. Eleven drivers won a race in 1982, none of them more than twice, including nine different drivers in nine consecutive races – a current record.

Rosberg in Williams

Even so it was not all plain sailing – and this is where the above confusion really starts. While preparing this article for today’s ‘OTD’ entry I discovered so much virtually forgotten information (that seems weirdly pertinent to the present day, as teammates choose not to help their teammates, and as we enter another turbo-charged era) we decided to give the full story of this turbulent season in a separate series of articles, and so… To be continued

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14 responses to “On this day in #F1: 25 September

  1. A little correction. Keke was not the first Finn in F1. Leo Kinnunen started the 1974 Swedish GP and attempted (but failed) to qualify for 5 more races that year in an AAW Racing Surtees-Ford. He is know for being the last ever driver in F1 to race with an open-faced helmet.

  2. It shows you how much luck has to do with getting a title. Was it not for Schumacher’s return after he broke his leg Irvine could have been champion or had Schumacher not broken his leg it could have been 8 titles to his name.

  3. As noted, Leo Kinnunen raced for AAW Team. AAW is short for Antti Aarnio-Wihuri, the main owner of the company Wihuri.

    Wait! Where have I seen that? On the Williams cars. So almost 40 years after Leo Kinnunen Antti Aarnio-Wihuri is active in F1 sponsorship.

    On Leo Kinnunen
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Kinnunen

    • If you are Finnish do you know why Finns have been successful recently (say, last 25-30 years) in F1 compared to other Scandinavian drivers…? and never a Norwegian.

      • I’m not Finnish, but I think it has to do with the fact that to get a driving license in Finnland you already are halfway into the skill set that is required for a racing license. They also have a strong amateur racing scene. Maybe you remember that TopGear segment, where May goes to Finnland to learn rallye techniques from Mikka Häkkinen?

      • A strong domestic junior racing enviroment and knowledge about how to pick and choose racing series might be contributing elements. The climate is not a contributing element, since it only limits the racing season.

        Why other Nordic countries have not produced viable candidates for F1, I couldn’t say. There is someone approaching, however, as I understand.

  4. Keke had 5 iso 4 DNQ’s in 1981: Monaco, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Canada. Cant wait for the separate series!!

  5. I’ll look forward to reading the next part of this. Rosberg was an early favorite of mine, and 1982 was the first season in which I managed to watch the majority of races. I loved the look of the cars back then, but unfortunately there’s also some rather sad memories attached to that season as well.

  6. Hats off to you BJF.
    This was the first year I attended a Grand Prix, and have loved the cars ever since. There was just something fundamentally right about their design.
    To this day, the 126C2 ranks as my favourite Ferrari.

  7. Pingback: #F1 History: The story of the 1982 World Championship – Part III | thejudge13·

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