Carlos Reutemann dies, aged 79


The death of 12-time GP winner and 1981 championship runner-up Carlos Reutemann has been announced by his daughter.

Carlos Reutemann

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Carlos Reutemann, the mercurial 12-time Grand Prix winner who finished runner-up in the 1981 World Championship, has died at the age of 79.

The Argentinian, who drove for Brabham, Lotus, Ferrari and Williams, had been battling his deteriorating condition “like a champion” for several weeks before news of his passing was announced by his daughter this evening.

“Dad left in peace and dignity after fighting like a champion with a strong and noble heart that accompanied him to the end,” wrote Cora Reutemann.

“I am proud and blessed for the father I had. I know that he will accompany me every day of my life until we meet again in the house of the Lord.”

Reutemann had been suffering from complications following liver cancer in 2017 and had been admitted to intensive care twice this year.

From the archive

Once hailed as the new Fangio, he stood on the podium 45 times and showed his brilliance in memorable wins at Kyalami in 1974, the Nürburgring in 1975 and Monaco in 1980, during a decade of racing.

He looked to be on course to win the 1981 World Championship, starting from pole for the final race of the season at Caesar’s Palace. But he tumbled down the order, leaving the door open for Nelson Piquet to take the title.

After retiring two races into the 1981, season, Reutemann turned to politics, becoming governor of his local state of Santa Fe.

Runner-up in the 1971 Formula 2 championship, Reutemann made his F1 debut with Brabham the following year, securing pole in his maiden race in front of a euphoric Buenos Aires crowd. He won the following non-championship race in Brazil.

In 1974, he came close to winning his home race only to run out of fuel with fewer than two laps remaining. Reutemann finally took a World Championship victory at the next race in Kyalami, keeping Niki Lauda at bay.

The following year he survived a race of attrition at the Nürburgring to win by well over a minute. A switch to Ferrari brought him alongside Lauda during his 1977 title-winning year, before he teamed up with Gilles Villeneuve in 1978. He won four times that season but lost out in the championship to the dominant Lotus team.

From the archive

He switched to Lotus in 1979, only to see Jody Scheckter become champion in the Ferrari, and moved to Williams in 1980. There, he helped the team to the constructors’ championship, and Alan Jones to the drivers’ title. He would be more single-minded in 1981.

Reutemann disobeyed team orders in Brazil, refusing to move over for Jones while leading and found himself 17 points ahead after the ninth race of the season at Silverstone.

He arrived in Las Vegas for the final race of the year a point ahead of Brabham’s Nelson Piquet, and after clinching pole, the championship was his to lose. In one of racing’s most mysterious performances, he did just that.

Piquet passed him on lap 17, and came in fifth, securing the two points he needed, while Reutemann trailed in eighth after driving “as if in a trance”, according to Motor Sport’s Nigel Roebuck.

It was the end of his title hopes. Two races into the 1982 season, he walked away from Williams and returned to Argentina.

Motor Sport extends its condolences to the family, friends and fans of Carlos Reutemann.