At the start of the United States Grand Prix West at Long Beach, first round of the 1981 World Championship, Gilles Villeneuve briefly took his brand new Ferrari 126C into th elead as the pack braked for the tight right hand Queens hairpin (above). Unfortunately the plucky French-Canadian’s enthusiasm took his machine (No. 27) beyond the point at which he could maintain his lead and negotiate the corner on the best line. Here he is seen sliding wide while pole position man Riccardo Patrese’s Arrow A3 (No. 29) leads into the corner in front of the Williams FW07Cs of Carlos Reutemann and Alan Jones and the brabham BT49C of Nelson Piquet. Left, the new Talbot-Matra team provided a well-groomed splash of French blue in the Long Beach pit lane. Here the team bustles round Jean-Pierre Jarier’s Matra V12 engined Talbot JS17.
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Didier Pironi at speed with the KKK turbocharged Ferrari 126C (above). Throughout practice the Italian team tried both this turbocharging system and the Brown Boveri Comprex superchargers, eventually opting for the KKK arrangement in the interests of reliability. Pironi was running fifth near the end of the race when he retired. Below, Mario Andretti drove very well in the Alfa Romeo 179C V12 to take fourth place on his first drive for the team.
Markku Alen’s Fiat (above) kept going to take outright victory whilst others either broke or left the road, and kept Henri Toivonen (below) might have scored another win for Talbot were it not for a broken rear hub which kept him at second. Portugese crowds are the most unruly and near suicidal we have seen anywhere.
Five turbocharged cylinders driving four wheels through three differentials, two of them lockable from the driver’s seat, amount to traction of a high order and on the snowy forest roads of Sweden Hannu Mikkola used his Audi Quattro (above) to play cat and mouse with his opposition. He won comfortably, ahead of Ari Vatanen’s Ford Escort (right), whilst fourth place went to the reliable Opel Ascona 400 (below) of Anders Kullang.