1981 Spanish Grand Prix

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Spain  1981 Spanish Grand Prix
Race details
Race 7 of 15 in the 1981 Formula One season
Circuito Permanente del Jarama 1980.svg
Date June 21, 1981
Official name XXVII Gran Premio de España
Location Circuito Permanente Del Jarama, Jarama, Spain
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 3.312 km (2.06 mi)
Distance 80 laps, 264.96 km (164.70 mi)
Weather Sunny, hot
Pole position
Driver Ligier-Matra
Time 1:13.754[1]
Fastest lap
Driver Australia Alan Jones Williams-Cosworth
Time 1:17.818 on lap 5[2]
First Ferrari
Second Ligier-Matra
Third McLaren-Ford

The 1981 Spanish Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on June 21, 1981, at the Circuito Permanente del Jarama, Jarama, Spain.


The 1981 Spanish Grand Prix featured the second closest finish ever of a Formula One race: after Gilles Villeneuve's Ferrari, the four following cars finished in just 1.24 seconds. This was Villeneuve's last victory, often regarded as his tactical masterpiece.[3]

There were some changes for this race: Eliseo Salazar had left March to join Ensign, replacing Marc Surer. Also, John Player Special sponsorship and livery returned to Team Lotus after a 2-year hiatus.

The pole went to Jacques Laffite on his Ligier-Matra with the two Williams-Cosworth of Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann second and third ahead of John Watson's McLaren, Alain Prost's Renault and the Alfa Romeo of Bruno Giacomelli. Gilles Villeneuve was seventh.

Race day was unusually hot. At the beginning of the race Jones and Reutemann went into the lead, as Laffite made a poor start. Villeneuve jumped into third place at the first corner, damaging Prost's front wing as he took the position. At the end of the first lap Villeneuve pulled out of Reutemann's slipstream and took second place. Jones began to build a lead but on lap 14 he went off the track, when he was 10 seconds ahead of the Canadian.

This left Villeneuve with Reutemann on his tail. Behind them Watson, Laffite and Elio de Angelis began to close on the dueling leaders. Reutemann was having some trouble with his gearbox and when Laffite arrived behind him there was little the Argentinian could do to stop him from overtaking. Reutemann would later drop behind Watson. The five front-runners became a train of cars, packed together for the remaining laps of the race.

Villeneuve used the power of his Ferrari engine on the straight to gain a little margin and not get overtaken by his rivals, but in the corners they were all over him. Many times Laffite pulled alongside the Canadian as they went out a corner but the Ferrari would stay ahead as the horsepower kicked in. The five remained locked together right to the flag, crossing the line covered by just 1.24 seconds to record the second closest race in the history of Formula One.

This would be the last Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama, owing to criticism of the track being too narrow for modern Formula One, the unpleasant conditions and the small crowd [4] (the small turn-out was probably due to the backlash of the previous year's race not being counted as a World Championship race, the announcement was made on the weekend itself); and the last Spanish Grand Prix until the 1986 season, when it would be held at the newly built Jerez circuit in the south of the country.


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 27 Canada Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 80 1:46:35.01 7 9
2 26 France Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 80 + 0.22 1 6
3 7 United Kingdom John Watson McLaren-Ford 80 + 0.58 4 4
4 2 Argentina Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford 80 + 1.01 3 3
5 11 Italy Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford 80 + 1.24 10 2
6 12 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Lotus-Ford 80 + 28.58 11 1
7 1 Australia Alan Jones Williams-Ford 80 + 56.58 2  
8 22 United States Mario Andretti Alfa Romeo 80 + 1:00.80 8  
9 16 France René Arnoux Renault 80 + 1:07.08 17  
10 23 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 80 + 1:13.65 6  
11 21 Brazil Chico Serra Fittipaldi-Ford 79 + 1 Lap 21  
12 20 Finland Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Ford 78 + 2 Laps 15  
13 33 France Patrick Tambay Theodore-Ford 78 + 2 Laps 16  
14 14 Chile Eliseo Salazar Ensign-Ford 77 + 3 Laps 24  
15 28 France Didier Pironi Ferrari 76 + 4 Laps 13  
16 17 Republic of Ireland Derek Daly March-Ford 75 + 5 Laps 22  
NC 3 United States Eddie Cheever Tyrrell-Ford 62 Not Classified 20  
Ret 25 France Jean-Pierre Jabouille Ligier-Matra 51 Brakes 19  
Ret 6 Mexico Héctor Rebaque Brabham-Ford 46 Gearbox 18  
Ret 30 Italy Siegfried Stohr Arrows-Ford 43 Ignition 23  
Ret 5 Brazil Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford 43 Accident 9  
Ret 15 France Alain Prost Renault 28 Spun Off 5  
Ret 29 Italy Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 21 Brakes 12  
Ret 8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris McLaren-Ford 9 Accident 14  
DNQ 4 Italy Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Ford    
DNQ 31 Italy Beppe Gabbiani Osella-Ford    
DNQ 9 Sweden Slim Borgudd ATS-Ford    
DNQ 35 United Kingdom Brian Henton Toleman-Hart    
DNQ 36 United Kingdom Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart    
DNQ 32 Italy Giorgio Francia Osella-Ford        

Championship standings after the race[edit]

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  1. ^ Lang, Mike (1992). Grand Prix! Vol 4. Haynes Publishing Group. p. 40. ISBN 0-85429-733-2. 
  2. ^ Lang, Mike (1992). Grand Prix! Vol 4. Haynes Publishing Group. p. 43. ISBN 0-85429-733-2. 
  3. ^ Gerald Donaldson. Gilles Villeneuve: The Life of the Legendary Racing Driver (London: Motor Racing Publications, 1996) ISBN 978-0-947981-44-0
  4. ^ "1981-FIA-Review-07-Spain". YouTube. 2006-07-17. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  5. ^ "1981 Spanish Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on 24 August 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 

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1981 Monaco Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1981 season
Next race:
1981 French Grand Prix
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1980 Spanish Grand Prix
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1986 Spanish Grand Prix