USAflagsmall  1980 United States Grand Prix West
Race details
Race 4 of 14 in the 1980 Formula One season
Long Beach 1978
Date March 30, 1980
Official name 5th United States Grand Prix West
Location Long Beach, California
Course Temporary street course
3.251 km (2.02 mi)</td></tr>
Distance 80 laps, 260.08 km (161.60 mi)</td></tr>
Weather Sunny, warm
Pole position
Driver 25px-Brazilflag Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford
Time 1:17.694
Fastest lap
Driver 25px-Brazilflag Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford
Time 1:19.83 on lap 38
First 25px-Brazilflag Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford
Second 22px-Flag of Italy Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford
Third 25px-Brazilflag Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford

The 1980 United States Grand Prix West was a Formula One race held on March 30, 1980 at Long Beach, California. It was the fourth round of the 1980 Formula One season. The race was the fifth United States Grand Prix West and the sixth street race to be held at Long Beach. The race was held over 80 laps of the 3.251-kilometre circuit for a total race distance of 260 kilometres.

The race was won by Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet driving a Brabham BT49. It was Piquet's debut World Championship victory in just his fourth points finish and announced his emergence as a championship contender. Piquet won by 49 seconds over Italian driver Riccardo Patrese driving an Arrows A3. It was the best result for both Arrows and Patrese in two years after Patrese finished second at the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix. Third was Brazilian driver, twice-World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi driving a Fittipaldi F7. It was Fittipaldi's best result since finishing second at the 1978 Brazilian Grand Prix.


Nelson Piquet took pole, fastest lap and his first career race win to dominate the weekend in his gleaming blue and white Brabham. The Brazilian's qualifying time was a full second ahead of the rest of the field, and he led all 80 laps of the race to win by 49 seconds and grab a share of the lead in the Driver's Championship. The race would be the last in Formula One for Swiss driver Clay Regazzoni, who suffered spinal damage when he lost the brakes in his Ensign and struck a parked car followed by a concrete barrier at 150 mph (241 km/h).

In Friday qualifying, Frenchman Didier Pironi recorded the fastest time, but getting a good lap on Saturday was a matter of using the soft qualifying tires at the right time and slotting in a good time before the track became too oily. Piquet was easily the fastest man on the circuit, using Goodyear tires, but Championship leader René Arnoux grabbed second place in his Renault with an early run on soft Michelins. The big surprise, however, was Jan Lammers, who put his ATS in fourth position while subbing for the injured Marc Surer. Pironi slipped to ninth by the end of the session, while the Ferraris of Gilles Villeneuve and Jody Scheckter, so dominant here the year before, struggled to 10th and 16th, and Emerson Fittipaldi just managed to scramble onto the grid in the 24th and final spot. Americans Mario Andretti (Lotus) and Eddie Cheever (Osella), in his first full F1 season, were 15th and 19th.

The only mis-step of Piquet's weekend came in the Sunday morning warmup when he and Derek Daly collided entering the corner after the pits. The Brabham was vaulted into the air and landed heavily on all four tires, while Daly's Tyrrell went down the escape road. After careful examination, the Brabham crew decided that the car was fine and ready to race.

A race day crowd of 80,000 enjoyed a beautiful spring day in the California sun as the drivers assembled on the dummy grid in front of the pits. At the one-minute signal, when the cars were to move around for the start on the Shoreline Drive straight, John Watson's McLaren had to be push-started. He was not too disappointed to be sent to the back of the grid, however, as he figured it would help him avoid the inevitable first corner pile-up!

Entering the first corner, sure enough, Ricardo Zunino, Andretti, Jochen Mass and Jean-Pierre Jarier all made contact under braking. Zunino's Brabham and Andretti's Lotus were unable to continue. After one lap, Piquet led Patrick Depailler, who had gotten by René Arnoux in the hairpin. They were followed by Alan Jones, Bruno Giacomelli, Riccardo Patrese, Carlos Reutemann, Villeneuve and Daly.

On lap 4, Giacomelli lost control of his Alfa Romeo under braking for the hairpin, and slid sideways across the racing line. Reutemann, following directly behind, was the first to be collected. Jody Scheckter, Elio de Angelis, Cheever and Jarier also became involved, though, afterward, no one could actually give a detailed account of what had happened. Giacomelli and Cheever were able to continue for the time being, though both retired later in the race. Fittipaldi just managed to squeeze through the carnage, and the marshals somehow got the track cleared before the leaders came around, avoiding a red flag to stop the race.

While Piquet continued to run unchallenged in front, Depailler was struggling with fading brakes on his Alfa Romeo. On lap 18, Jones caught and passed him on the outside of the hairpin to take second place. Meanwhile, Giacomelli was working his way back up through the field ahead of an extended battle between Regazzoni, Fittipaldi and John Watson.

After pitting for tires on lap 47, Giacomelli rejoined in 12th place, just ahead of Jones, but about to be lapped by the Williams for the second time. As Jones moved inside to pass the Italian entering the hairpin at the end of the straight, Giacomelli turned in and Jones struck the Alfa Romeo's rear wheel, bending the steering arm on the Williams and putting Jones out of the race. This left Piquet with a lead of more than a minute over Patrese and Arnoux, and he began to ease off, allowing some cars to unlap themselves.

The battle between Regazzoni, Fittipaldi and Watson, who started in the last three places on the grid, was now for 4th place! Fittipaldi had been trailing less than a second behind Regazzoni's Ensign for some time, but a locking front brake kept him from passing. At the end of the straight on lap 51, Fittipaldi saw Regazzoni's car go straight on at the Queen's Hairpin. He turned the corner and then heard a huge bang above the noise of his engine from 100 yards away, and was sure Regazzoni would not survive the impact. Fortunately, he did, but injuries to his spinal column meant that the veteran Swiss would never regain full use of his legs, and his 132nd Grand Prix would be his last. The Ensign's brake pedal had been made of a lightweight metal alloy and simply broke. The car hit Zunino's parked Brabham, plowed through several tire barriers and hit the concrete wall behind the tires.

On lap 63, Arnoux had his right rear tire go completely flat, and by the time he was able to make it back to the pits for a replacement, he had dropped all the way to ninth place. Watson now began to challenge Fittipaldi for third, and even get around him briefly, but gearbox troubles allowed the Brazilian to retake the position and then pull away. Watson, in fact, came under fire from Scheckter's Ferrari. Braking into the hairpin, Scheckter tried to go around the outside, as Watson defended the inside line. He slid wide on the dirt and marbles, however, and thereafter, decided to settle for 5th place and his final points in Formula One.

For Piquet, it was the first of 23 career wins and pulled him even with Arnoux in the Driver's Championship. For Fittipaldi, who finished third behind a steady Patrese in the Arrows, it was his first podium in more than two years, and the last of his F1 career. The torch was passed from one Brazilian multiple World Champion to another.


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 5 25px-Brazilflag Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford 80 1:50:19.4 1 9
2 29 22px-Flag of Italy Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 80 +49.212 secs 8 6
3 20 25px-Brazilflag Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 80 +1:18.563 secs 24 4
4 7 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom John Watson McLaren-Ford 79 +1 Lap 21 3
5 1 Flag of South Africasmall Jody Scheckter Ferrari 79 +1 Lap 16 2
6 25 22px-Flag of France Didier Pironi Ligier-Ford 79 +1 Lap 9 1
7 30 Flag of Germany Jochen Mass Arrows-Ford 79 +1 Lap 17
8 4 22px-Flag of Ireland Derek Daly Tyrrell-Ford 79 +1 Lap 14
9 16 22px-Flag of France René Arnoux Renault 78 +2 Laps 2
10 15 22px-Flag of France Jean-Pierre Jabouille Renault 71 +9 Laps 11
Ret 21 22px-Flag of Finland Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Ford 58 Overheating 22
Ret 14 20px-Flag of Switzerland Clay Regazzoni Ensign-Ford 50 Accident 23
Ret 23 22px-Flag of Italy Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 49 Collision 6
Ret 27 25px-AustraliaFLAG Alan Jones Williams-Ford 47 Collision 5
Ret 2 25px-Canadaflag Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 46 Transmission 10
Ret 22 22px-Flag of France Patrick Depailler Alfa Romeo 40 Suspension 3
Ret 26 22px-Flag of France Jacques Laffite Ligier-Ford 36 Puncture 13
Ret 31 USAflagsmall Eddie Cheever Osella-Ford 11 Transmission 19
Ret 28 25px-ARGENntina Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford 3 Transmission 7
Ret 3 22px-Flag of France Jean-Pierre Jarier Tyrrell-Ford 3 Accident 12
Ret 12 22px-Flag of Italy Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford 3 Accident 20
Ret 9 22px-Flag of the Netherlands Jan Lammers ATS-Ford 0 Transmission 4
Ret 11 USAflagsmall Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 0 Accident 15
Ret 6 25px-ARGENntina Ricardo Zunino Brabham-Ford 0 Accident 18
DNQ 18 22px-Flag of Ireland Dave Kennedy Shadow-Ford
DNQ 17 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Geoff Lees Shadow-Ford
DNQ 8 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Stephen South McLaren-Ford

Standings after the raceEdit

Drivers' Championship standings
Pos Driver Points
1 22px-Flag of France René Arnoux 18
2 25px-Brazilflag Nelson Piquet 18
3 25px-AustraliaFLAG Alan Jones 13
4 22px-Flag of France Didier Pironi 8
5 22px-Flag of Italy Riccardo Patrese 7
Constructors' Championship standings
Pos Constructor Points
1 22px-Flag of France Renault 18
2 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Brabham-Ford 18
3 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Williams-Ford 15
4 22px-Flag of France Ligier-Ford 14
5 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Arrows-Ford 8
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  • Rob Walker (July, 1980). "5th United States Grand Prix West: Winner Takes All". Road & Track, 146-151.

Previous race:
1980 South African Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1980 season
Next race:
1980 Belgian Grand Prix
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1979 United States Grand Prix West
United States Grand Prix West Next race:
1981 United States Grand Prix West
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