47 – 1983 USA GP West


A series taken from the 162-page Motor Sport special 100 Greatest Grands Prix (other specials are available here).

This was a race whose grid bore little relation to the racing reality. Ferrari seemed in good shape, with Patrick Tambay and René Arnoux locking out the front row, but McLaren’s drivers struggled to make their Michelin qualifiers work. 

They lined up in close company, though, John Watson 22nd and Niki Lauda 23rd…

Tambay led into the first corner as Keke Rosberg separated the Ferraris, the Finn thumping Arnoux’s front right wheel in the process. Rosberg then spun a couple of corners later, but lost a place only to team-mate Jacques Laffite.

Tambay continued to lead, using his Ferrari’s straight-line speed to repel the nimbler Williams-Cosworths (Rosberg ahead once again after slicing cleanly past Laffite). On the 26th lap, however, Rosberg dived inside Tambay at the hairpin and tipped the Ferrari into a spin. Rosberg then collided with both Laffite and Jean-Pierre Jarier’s Ligier before the lap was out, leaving Laffite at the head of the field from Riccardo Patrese’s Brabham and the two McLarens, which worked brilliantly in race trim and had carved through the field. Lauda was now ahead, but Watson passed him on lap 31.

The McLarens moved up again when Patrese slid wide in his endeavours to usurp Laffite, but Watson showed how it should be done on lap 45. Lauda followed suit and the McLarens romped home well clear of Arnoux, the only other driver to finish on the same lap as Laffite slowed with tyre wear. An eventful sign-off, then, as Long Beach prepared to abandon F1 in favour of CART… SA

View the 1983 Long Beach Grand Prix on the Database

About 100 Greatest Grands Prix | From the editor Damien Smith
The Grand Prix motor races we can never forget…

This was a special one-off magazine, dedicated to our love of Grand Prix racing and produced by the same team that brings you Motor Sport each month.

It seemed a good idea: whittle down 107 years of racing history to come up with 100 GPs that could be considered the ‘greatest’ – then rank them in meritocratic order. By week three, the old grey matter was beginning to ache…

Defining greatness was the first task. There were the obvious races – the wheel-to-wheel duels, the comeback classics. But there were also individual performances of supreme dominance, races that might not necessarily have been the most exciting to witness. Greatness goes way beyond thrill-a-minute, we decided.

Choosing which races should make the list was hard enough; ranking the top 100 in some sort of order was even tougher, especially when it came to the crunch: which should be number one? We never did agree unanimously on the ‘greatest’, but if the magazine was to be finished a decision had to be taken. And that’s what I’m here for!

Will you agree with our choice and order? Probably not. But if steam begins to issue from your ears, take a deep breath. In any exercise such as this, there is no definitive list – because there can’t be. Our top 100 is based on opinion, nothing more, designed to be a bit of fun and to spark good-natured debate among fans of the world’s greatest sport.

You can download 100 Greatest Grands Prix in PDF form in the Motor Sport app.

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