22px-Flag of Belgium (civil)  1981 Belgian Grand Prix
Race details
Race 5 of 15 in the 1981 Formula One season
Zolder 1975
Date May 17, 1981
Location Zolder, Belgium
4.011 km (2.492 mi)</td></tr>
Distance 54 laps, 216.594 km (134.585 mi)</td></tr>

<tr> <td>Scheduled Distance</td><td colspan="2">70 laps, 288.792 km (179.424 mi)</td></tr>

Weather Wet/Dry
Pole position
Driver 25px-ARGENntina Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford
Time 1:22.28
Fastest lap
Driver 25px-ARGENntina Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford
Time 1:23.30 on lap 37
First 25px-ARGENntina Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford
Second 22px-Flag of France Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra
Third 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Lotus-Ford

The 1981 Belgian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Zolder on May 17, 1981.

Mechanic safety and chaotic first raceEdit

The Belgian Grand Prix of 1981 was marred by two serious incidents involving mechanics, one fatal. In Friday practice a mechanic from the Osella team, Giovanni Amadeo, stumbled off the pitwall into the path of the Williams of Carlos Reutemann. Reutemann was unable to avoid the mechanic, who suffered a fractured skull. He died from his injuries on the Monday after the race. Before the start of the race the mechanics of all the teams staged a protest over the safety measures protecting them, which was soon joined by several drivers who left their cars. The race organisers nevertheless flagged the warm-up lap at the normal time, leaving several cars delayed on the grid, either stalled or with their cockpits vacant. The resulting chaos when the grid formed up again at the end of this lap was exacerbated when Nelson Piquet missed his starting position and was sent round on another lap, with the other cars being held in position. As the cars began to overheat, several drivers turned off their engines, among them Arrows driver Riccardo Patrese, expecting another formation lap due to Piquet's error. However, the organisers began the start sequence as usual once Piquet had regained his position. Patrese was unable to restart his car and waved his arms to signal that he could not take the start. His mechanic, Dave Luckett, instantly came onto the track to restart the car from behind. But after he got onto the track, the lighting sequence to start the race had already begun, and the start went ahead despite the presence of Luckett and Patrese's gesticulations. In the confusion and likely unable to see Patrese's stalled car, the other Arrows driver, Siegfried Stohr, ploughed into the back of his team-mate's car, hitting Luckett. Luckett suffered a broken leg and lacerations but survived the incident. But even after this incident, the race continued, and as the field was about to start the second lap, with marshals and Stohr's disabled car still on the circuit, cars passed by with very little space, and the marshals frantically waved at the drivers to stop and the confused drivers waved back at the marshals, who were still on the circuit as the cars passed by. The drivers stopped themselves rather than being directed to stop. As a result of these events, a new rule was introduced forbidding mechanics from being on the grid within fifteen seconds of the formation lap, and the race starter would use greater caution.[1]

Race reportEdit

The race was fairly uneventful – Reutemann was passed by Didier Pironi going into the first corner. Then Alan Jones nudged off Nelson Piquet at the early stages of the race and Piquet crashed into some catch fencing at the chicane; and a furious Piquet stormed to the Williams garage in an altercation with Jones and the Williams personnel after Jones's gearbox failed, ploughed into the barriers and badly burned his left thigh after the gearbox oil leaked into Jones's cockpit. Pironi had fallen back and after Jones's accident, Reutemann took the lead, and kept the lead until the race was called off early because of rain starting to fall on the track. A somber Reutemann took his 2nd victory of the season and his 12th and what was to be the final victory of his enigmatic career after a weekend that was marked by frustration, politics and tragedy.

Classification Edit

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 2 25px-ARGENntina Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford 54 1:16:31.61 1 9
2 26 22px-Flag of France Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 54 + 36.06 s 9 6
3 12 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Lotus-Ford 54 + 43.69 s 10 4
4 27 25px-Canadaflag Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 54 + 47.64 s 7 3
5 11 22px-Flag of Italy Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford 54 + 49.20 s 14 2
6 3 USAflagsmall Eddie Cheever Tyrrell-Ford 54 + 52.51 s 8 1
7 7 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom John Watson McLaren-Ford 54 + 1:01.66 5
8 28 22px-Flag of France Didier Pironi Ferrari 54 + 1:32.04 3
9 23 22px-Flag of Italy Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 54 + 1:35.58 17
10 22 USAflagsmall Mario Andretti Alfa Romeo 53 + 1 lap 18
11 14 20px-Flag of Switzerland Marc Surer Ensign-Ford 52 + 2 laps 15
12 4 22px-Flag of Italy Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Ford 52 + 2 laps 19
13 31 22px-Flag of Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Ford 50 + 4 laps 24
Ret 6 25px-Mexicoflag Hector Rebaque Brabham-Ford 39 Accident 21
Ret 25 22px-Flag of France Jean-Pierre Jabouille Ligier-Matra 35 Transmission 16
Ret 21 25px-Brazilflag Chico Serra Fittipaldi-Ford 29 Engine 20
Ret 32 22px-Flag of Italy Beppe Gabbiani Osella-Ford 22 Engine 22
Ret 1 25px-AustraliaFLAG Alan Jones Williams-Ford 19 Accident 6
Ret 8 22px-Flag of Italy Andrea de Cesaris McLaren-Ford 11 Gearbox 23
Ret 5 25px-Brazilflag Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford 10 Accident 2
Ret 20 22px-Flag of Finland Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Ford 10 Gearbox 11
Ret 15 22px-Flag of France Alain Prost Renault 2 Clutch 12
Ret 29 22px-Flag of Italy Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 0 Collision 4
Ret 30 22px-Flag of Italy Siegfried Stohr Arrows-Ford 0 Collision 13
DNQ 18 22px-Flag of Ireland Derek Daly March-Ford
DNQ 16 22px-Flag of France René Arnoux Renault
DNQ 17 22px-Flag of Chile Eliseo Salazar March-Ford
DNQ 9 22px-Flag of Sweden Slim Borgudd ATS-Ford
DNQ 33 22px-Flag of France Patrick Tambay Theodore-Ford
DNQ 36 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
DNQ 35 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Brian Henton Toleman-Hart

Notes Edit

  • First podium: Nigel Mansell
  • Last win: Carlos Reutemann
  • Race scheduled for 70 laps, but stopped after 54 because of rain. As more than 3/4 of the scheduled laps were run, the points were assigned entirely.
  • To date, this was the last race victory for an Argentine driver.

Standings after the raceEdit

Drivers' Championship standings
Pos Driver Points
1 25px-ARGENntina Carlos Reutemann 34
2 25px-Brazilflag Nelson Piquet 22
3 25px-AustraliaFLAG Alan Jones 18
4 22px-Flag of Italy Riccardo Patrese 10
5 22px-Flag of France Jacques Laffite 7
Constructors' Championship standings
Pos Constructor Points
1 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Williams-Ford 52
2 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Brabham-Ford 25
3 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Arrows-Ford 10
4 22px-Flag of the United Kingdom Lotus-Ford 9
5 22px-Flag of France Ligier-Matra 7
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


Unless otherwise indicated, all race results are taken from "The Official Formula 1 website". Retrieved 2007-06-16. 

Previous race:
1981 San Marino Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1981 season
Next race:
1981 Monaco Grand Prix
Previous race:
1980 Belgian Grand Prix
Belgian Grand Prix Next race:
1982 Belgian Grand Prix
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