Monaco 1970 & 1982: Winners on the cutting edgeWritten by 'Αγγελος Φωτσεινός
Translated by Giannis Binas
”It was like I was in a tunnel. Not only the tunnel under the hotel, but the whole circuit was a tunnel.”
Date of 1st publication: 21/05/14
These were the words Ayrton Senna, on the year 1988, after the accident at Portier corner that deprived him of an easy, as seemed so, win.
And he wasn’t wrong – the whole route of Monaco reminds of a tunnel, which doesn’t allow the slightest lack of concentration.
The drivers race neck to neck with the barriers and the barriers dodn’t forgive mistakes.
For that reason, no driver can ‘rest’ until the checkered flag.
Retirement, or, in the best case, losing a place or places, await the drivers in every corner of the circuit.
In 1970, the 3-time world champion (1959, 1960, 1966) Sir Jack Brabham, experienced the painful result of an instantaneous ‘mind escape’, literally on the final moment of the race.
On the 27th lap, the Tyrrell’s engine of the leader, Sir Jackie Stewart, started to misfire and the Scott granted the lead to the other Sir.
Chris Amon (March) passed into 2nd place, and he was the only one to follow Brabham in a lower than one-second gap.
On the 60th lap, however, March’s suspension collapsed and Amon retired.
Everything showed that the 44 year old Sir Jack was heading straight to his 2nd win at the Principality, after 11 whole years.
In 1959, his win at the streets of Monte Carlo was his maiden win in Formula 1.
With his wife begging him to hang his helmet already by mid-1969, he had announced, ahead of the start of the season, that 1970 would be his last year in the sport.
For that reason, he wanted more than anything else to repeat the 1959 triumph at his last piece of work.
After Amon’s retirement, Jochen Rindt passed 2nd, being 9 seconds behind Brabham.
The Austrian started driving his Lotus 49C flat out and managed to annihilate their difference.
Thus, entering the 80th and last lap of the race, everyone waited to see if Rindt would attempt to overtake, and in which part of the track.
To the spectators’ disappointment, that move never came, quite reasonably though, if anyone considers how close were the barriers.
That way, Brabham’s wish seemed to be increasingly closer.
‘But never say never’!
At Gazometre, last corner of the track before the start-finish line (the plan of the circuit changed in 1973, with Gazometre giving its place to Rascasse and Anthony Noghes corners), the spectators couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
The veteran, Brabham, having in mind to ‘watch his back’, that is to not allow Rindt a ‘dive’ into the inside line, missed the breking point and ended up on the barriers.
Rindt got to avoid him, claiming the checkered flag ‘out of nowhere’.
The damage to the BT33 was not significant and Brabham was able to continue, finishing 2nd.
Even though it was found out there was a break failure, Sir Jack didn’t search for any excuses.
Straight away, he admitted there was a mistake of his own and congratulated Rindt on his fair and worthy win.
A statement, indicative of the great Australian’s morals.
And if tables in 1970 were turned at the last corner, what could anyone say about the race of 1982, when the events of the last 3 laps caused a true mayhem!
Until the 67th lap, the fight for the 1st place was a thing between 2 drivers: Alain Prost (Renault) and Riccardo Patrese (Brabham).
At that point, it started to rain and Prost managed to pull away from Patrese and looked set to take the win.
On the 74th lap, however, the French lost control coming sharply out of the harbour-front chicane at the tunnel’s exit (Chicane du Port), slamming the Renault RE30Β into the barriers.
New leader of the race was Patrese, who watched his maiden F1 win, just a few kilometers away.
Nevertheless, on lap 75, he, too, spun - this time on the way down from Mirabeau to Loews - and his engine turned off.
ended up pointing the wrong way and perched on a kerb.
On the last lap, Didier Pironi (Ferrari) passed into the lead.
The atmosphere at Scuderia was heavy, as the memories of the recent perish of Gilles Villeneuve were still fresh.
Only Pironi raced for Ferrari in Monaco, but, neither him was destined to win: he ran out of fuel right in the tunnel.
A few seconds before taking the lead, Andrea de Cesaris (Αlfa Romeo) ran out of fuel too, just after Casino corner.
Derek Daly (Williams), who was following de Cesaris, only had to pass the stopped Pironi and de Cesaris, to win the race.
Heading to Tabac though, having no rear wing, a broken front one as well as a damaged gearbox, he would retire too.
James Hunt, who was commenting the race for the BBC, couldn’t leave that confusion unremarked:
''Well we've got this ridiculous situation where we're all sitting by the start-finish line waiting for a winner to come past and we don't seem to be getting one''!
In the end, the winner was… Patrese that managed to complete the race.
How did that happen?
The circuit’s marshals, trying to remove the Italian’s car from the middle of Loews, pushed him to the edge of the track.
Patrese, who hadn’t got out of the single-seater, took advantage of the downhill incline and restarted his car by letting it roll and bump-start!
''I didn’t know I’d won the GP.
On the last lap de Cesaris stopped, then Pironi.
I thought Rosberg’s Williams was still ahead of me because I thought he’d overtaken me.
So I thought I was second.
On the finishing lap everybody was waving flags and so on, while I was thinking I’d thrown it all away.
I can remember thinking, ‘maybe they are pleased I finished second and drove a good race’, but I was very, very unhappy.
I was not in a hurry to get to the podium, because in the briefing they said only the winning car should stop in front of it.
Because I was not the winner I decided to give a lift to Didier.
I dropped him off and instead of letting me go into the pits, I was shown the way to the podium.
I didn’t understand.
I thought they changed the rule and wanted the first three.
But only my car was there!
However there were more than three drivers; there was me, de Cesaris, Pironi and de Angelis!
There was a big discussion over who was first, second or third.
Somebody came to me and started to shout, ‘You won, you won.’ Then I finally realised…''
These were Riccardo Patrese’s words on his maiden win.
The final standing of the GP was the following:
1. Riccardo Patrese Brabham
2. Didier Pironi Ferrari
3. Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
4. Nigel Mansell Lotus
5. Elio de Angelis Lotus
6. Derek Daly Williams
In 1970, a Brabham with Sir Jack Brabham as the owner, designer and driver, lost the win on the cutting edge.
12 years later, another Brabham, with Bernie Ecclestone as owner, Gordon Murray as designer and Riccardo Patrese as driver, would claim the win on the cutting edge.
That way, somehow, we could say ‘justice’ was restored.