The last and sad victory of Carlos Reutemann in Formula 1

The 1981 Belgian GP was won by the Argentine, who did not celebrate his success after running over a mechanic during qualifying on Friday and a start that almost ended in tragedy.

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On May 17, 1981 the F1 met his fifth date of the year, the Belgian Grand Prix with the circuit of Zolder as a stage. The Argentinian Carlos Reutemann He reached this commitment with the need to win to continue leading the championship and thus maintain the illusion of achieving his first crown in the category.

Reutemann had faced his second season in Williams with optimism after having finished in third place the 1980 tournament that had seen his Australian partner as champion Alan Jones.

Carlos Reutemann 1981The Santa Fe started the year with second place in the United States Grand Prix, just escorting Jones. He won Brazilian Grand Prix, despite the fact that his team had asked him to leave the first position to his teammate. In the Argentine Grand Prix He came second and with that result became the leader of the solo tournament.

The third place obtained in the Grand Prix of San Marino allowed him to retain the leadership of the tournament with three units ahead of the Brazilian Nelson Piquet (Brabham), who at that point had already been nominated as the other favorite after their consecutive wins in Buenos Aires and Imola.

Undoubtedly, Reutemann required a good result in Zolder to defend his position of honor. But the weekend did not start well neither for the Argentine, nor for Formula 1 ...

Carlos Reutemann Zolder 1981As Lole came out of the pits onto the track in the middle of qualifying on Friday, she ran over Giovanni amadeo, a team mechanic Osella. The 21-year-old was badly injured as a result of multiple skull fractures and died the day after the Grand Prix.

"I realized that something strange had happened and immediately I stopped and saw the boy lying down ... One of his legs touched the front and rear wheel of mine, he fell and hit his head against the cord", said the Santa Fe at that time before emphasizing that the fault of what happened was the layout itself, "That does not meet the regulatory conditions for pit lane."

Outraged by the lack of safety on the circuits, the pilots issued a harsh statement on the second day of activity demanding an early meeting at the International Motor Sport Federation (FISA) to fix the problem. "The campaign of the president of FISA, the Frenchman Jean-Marie Balestre, is of no use if the regrettable lack of security on some circuits is not solved", the runners said.

With the alarm light on, 14 drivers and several mechanics protested on Sunday five minutes before the start of the race to ask for more security checks. Reutemann, who started from pole, preferred not to join the claim. "I understand and support your requests, but the time to express them does not seem appropriate because before we start we are all very stressed", said.

Ironically, just a few minutes after this last request, David luckett, mechanic of Arrows, it saved his life by a miracle. The Italian Riccardo Patrese, one of the drivers of the English team, could not start his car on the starting grid.

Patrese, who was occupying the fourth drawer of the grid, raised his arms to signal that he was in no condition to start and Luckett came to his aid. At the precise moment he reached the car, the order to start was given. Some were able to dodge the Italian's vehicle, but the same did not happen with his partner and compatriot Sigfried Stohr, which was hit squarely by Luckett, who was behind Patrese's car. The mechanic only suffered a broken leg.

In the second and final game the French Didier pironi (Ferrari) started better and snatched the first place from Reutemann. The Frenchman remained firm ahead with the Argentine as his escort until a complicated tenth lap made him lose two positions to the Santa Fe.

Carlos Reutemann Zolder 1981The following turns were intense between Pironi, Piquet, Jones and Reutemann until Williams' drivers became the only ones with a chance to win after Piquet's dismissal, caused by a touch from Jones; and a pass in a braking of Pironi, which allowed his rivals to overcome him.

Jones led for seven laps, but a gearbox problem forced him to quit. Reutemann took the lead and went straight to the win. He won with more than 36 seconds of advantage over the French Jacques laffite (Ligier); while the Englishman arrived third Nigel Mansell (Lotus).

All the situation lived in the previous one of the race did that the Argentinean did not celebrate the victory. "Joy? How can I rejoice? How can I be happy? With everything that has happened… The accident at the start, the serious, very serious incident on Friday… And this madness that has taken hold of Formula 1. I want to go home; I want to be calm, forget about all this "Carlos Reutemann said, not knowing that after May 17, 1981, neither he nor another compatriot would ever climb to the highest step of the Grand Prix podium.

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Diego durruty

Journalist with 30 years of experience. Worked in magazines STROKE, The graphic, Coequipier y Only TC, on the Internet sites SportsYa!, y and on the radios Rock pop y He covered the Dakar rally for the German agency dpa. He currently drives Two Daring Guys, a car magazine that is broadcast on Tuesdays from 18 to 19 by; is editor of motorsport in Red Bull Argentina, columnist on the show WorldSport (AM Splendid) and in Surf & Rock FM.  He is also a teacher in SPORTS. Now you can read it on his blog:

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