It seems like the Silver Arrows’ reign has come to an end with Ferrari appearing to be marginally ahead. But everything’s not over, for the season has just begun and both the teams face a race not only on the track but also off it – to develop the car faster than the other team.
For Hamilton, who despite his second win of the season is still trailing the No. 5 Ferrari of Vettel by 6 points but he should not throw out his 4th world title dream just yet and he can definitely look at these stories to draw an inspiration from:
Nelson Piquet 1981
While everyone may remember the 1982 season as the most haywire of all, the previous season was no less dramatic. The season itself began with “swords drawn out” conflict between the FOCA, the association of the independent constructors, and FISA – the sport’s governing body that threatened to throw the entire season into the dish even before it had begun. But some bluff calls by the FOCA meant the season did get underway but with the season opener in South Africa being stripped of its Championship status.
The first, well officially, race got underway at Long beach USA and Alan Jones won the race setting the tone for his intention to lift the crown once again while Piquet finished 3rd. At Brazil, however, Brabham were finally ready with the hydro-pneumatic suspension that allowed the team to flout the 6cm ground clearance rule. Piquet took the pole but crashed out of the race because of a strange decision to start on dry tires on a wet track but in Argentina, their advantage was quite clear with Nelson winning the race by disappearing into the distance and following it up in San Marino. But he crashed out of the chaotic race in Zolder while Reutemann won, establishing himself as the other contender for the title and by this time other teams had caught up with Brabham.
By Silverstone, it was quite clear that this was going to be a two-horse race for the Championship between Reutemann and Piquet. Everything seemed to be going in the favour of the former as he was leading the championship by 17 points. The turbocharged Renaults were the class leaders lining up on the front row race after race and taking wins while the Championship contender teams were relegated to 2nd-3rd best.
However, from this point on, Piquet got his act together to put in consistent drives scoring podiums while Reutemann’s form eluded him despite Piquet suffering a retirement in Italy and the Argentine finishing 3rd.
Going into the final race, Reutemann still led the championship by 1 point and looked good to by claiming the pole but come Sunday, Reutemann put in one of the most mysterious race performances in the sport’s history. He essentially faded to nothing, in a fashion that has never been fully explained. He was down to fourth at the first corner, and to fifth at the end of the first lap. On lap 17, with the championship at stake, he let Piquet pass him with all the timidity of one being lapped, before eventually finishing a lapped eighth.
Piquet held on to finish 5th that allowed him to lift the cup at the end of the race etching a great turnaround story.