64 – 1982 Monaco GP


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

Ever since his pole-setting Renault team-mate René Arnoux had spun out of a big lead on lap 15, Alain Prost had been calmly making a mockery of the old saw that a turbo couldn’t win in Monaco. 

For some reason, however, he was unwilling to slacken his pace when the drizzle began with 10 laps to complete. This Prost still had some rough edges in need of polishing.

Riccardo Patrese had been fast and composed all weekend. He qualified second, and though outgunned by Prost’s boost on the second lap, had kept the Frenchman honest (and a little worried, apparently) while holding the Ferrari of Didier Pironi at bay. But Prost’s wheel-shedding crash at the Chicane on lap 74 (of 76) changed everything. 

Now in the lead, Patrese, who was chasing his first GP win, appeared helpless as he spun in slow-mo at Loews Hairpin – and stalled. Murray Walker’s trousers, smoking after Prost’s shunt, went up in a flash.

New leader Pironi ran out of fuel in the Tunnel. Andrea de Cesaris would have taken the lead if his Alfa Romeo hadn’t also run dry. And Derek Daly, in his second outing with Williams, might have inherited the lead had he not bashed his wing and gearbox against the barriers at Tabac.

View this race on the Database

Meanwhile, Patrese, having been pushed by marshals because he was deemed to be in a dangerous position, had bumped-started his DFV on the descent to Portier. Disorientated, it was only when he passed the stationary Ferrari and Alfa on his slowing-down lap that he realised he might have won.

Had Patrese not been able to restart, the result would have been a 1-2 for the Lotuses of Nigel Mansell and Elio de Angelis. The latter, in an obstreperous mood throughout – he clashed with Prost and Pironi as they lapped him – was further enraged by his team-mate’s pass for fourth place. On the last lap. Naturally. PF

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

Welcome to this 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.

Then there were those races of prominence, attached to a certain time or place that made them hugely significant. I’m thinking specifically of Belgrade, 1939. Only five entries took the start of a race that didn’t sound particularly scintillating. But as it happened to take place on the very day WWII broke out, we felt it worthy of inclusion. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel’s remarkable maiden GP win at Monza in 2008, for lowly Scuderia Toro Rosso, was left on the cutting room floor. Is that fair? You decide. We also opted to include a few races that weren’t Grands Prix, leastways in name, although the strength of entry was such that they might as well have been…

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.

So turn the page, delve in – and whatever you do, don’t take it too seriously.

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