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Carlos Reutemann, deprived of being champion in 1981: the scandalous revelation of Bernie Ecclestone that shakes Formula 1


The former boss of the category acknowledged that a "financial discussion" helped harm the Argentine pilot.

Bernie Ecclestone

made a strong statement that promises to shake up the Formula 1 environment


The former boss of the


recognized at the premiere of his series ´´Lucky!´´ that he paid for

Carlos Reutemann

to be harmed in the last race of

the 1981 championship

, that Las Vegas Grand Prix, especially remembered by Argentines who love F1 because Lole came first in the positions but could not be crowned.

The man from Santa Fe was one point ahead of the Brazilian Nelson Piquet's Brahbam, and the place chosen for the definition was the parking lot of

the Caesars Park hotel in Las Vegas where Reutemann had achieved pole position.

That is to say, his chances to make history were unbeatable.

However, issues outside the track weighed heavily.

It was always believed that Lole did not have the full support of


, his team at that time because he had disobeyed orders from his team during a race in Brazil and that did not go down well at all.

However, now it was also revealed that it was the category itself that conspired against him.

Bernie Ecclestone, who owned Brahbam, the main rival team, made a stark revelation.

“After the first day of practice it was obvious that the drivers were going to have problems with all the neck pain and Carlos spoke to the masseuse who was in the pits.

I went to see that person and after

a financial discussion

, they decided to favor Nelson,” he said.

The race in which Reutemann could be champion

In the definition of 1981,

Carlos Reutemann arrived with two other drivers with mathematical chances to win the title: the Brazilian Nelson Piquet, one point away, and the French Jacques Laffite.

The show was guaranteed, although the doubts revolved around a new and unusual circuit:

a Las Vegas parking lot


Until 1980, New York had been the site of the United States Grand Prix for two decades.

However, the obsolete facilities of Watkins Glen International and the financial debts with F1 took it off the calendar and led to the entry of Las Vegas.

It seemed to be the ideal destination for a championship match because glamor would be guaranteed at Caesar's Palace Grand Prix.

Although far from the shine, there was a layout set up in the parking lot of the most emblematic hotel in Sin City (Sin City).

Although Las Vegas was not yet that of these times

, it was already a habitual stronghold for boxing and the legend of Muhammad Ali had passed through there.

But putting together a ring was not the same as creating a track and this was conditioned by the perimeter of Caesar's Palace, so

the original idea that the layout would measure 4,136 meters and add 16 curves could not materialize


As a result, the six million dollars invested in its construction delivered a flat and repetitive design with a crooked "M" shape - like a coiled snake - that did not represent the vigor of the city.

Carlos Reutemann and Nelson Piquet, during the Las Vegas Grand Prix, in 1981.

Carlos Reutemann was the leader of the championship despite the favoritism that Williams had shown publicly for Alan Jones

, and had arrived in the United States before the rest of the drivers, although his journey from Cap Ferrat, where he established residence during his time in Formula 1 , included three planes to connect Nice-Paris, Paris-Chicago and Chicago-Las Vegas.

There were eight days to go before the last Grand Prix of the 1981 season when he got into a Datsun and did two reconnaissance laps around the circuit set up in the Caesar's Palace parking lot.


I look back and I see that I was in front of the championship for half a year and now I come to this race with only one point advantage. This is like not having any. If I had at least two, it would be enough to speculate.

But with only one I have I have to think about winning, or starting ahead of Piquet and Laffite, which is the same thing.

Now more than ever I regret not having triumphed in Monaco and Spain, two races that have always been favorable to me. With some of those points, it would have been another history


, Lole told Clarín.

On October 16, Reutemann set the best time in the last Grand Prix of the 1981 Formula 1 season. Although he had not been as fast as in the first qualifying session on Thursday, that Friday he was left with pole position.

Reutemann's defeat and Piquet's title on the cover of Clarín.

The day would not end well, however.

On board the muleto -the Williams with chassis 12, his favorite-, Lole had a brush with Piquet in training.

"I was coming out of a very strong curve, I suddenly find myself with the Brabham and without time to deviate, I touched it and the front grill bent. The car was repaired immediately, but when I get out again I notice that this car was not the machine obedient that I had on Thursday.

It was not the car that had made me pleasant to drive

. Contrary to my original idea, I had no choice but to take charge of 17, which I did not like at all," acknowledged the man from Santa Fe in the book "Los days of Reutemann" (Alfredo Parga / 1998).

I wasn't wrong.

The day after losing the title by one point, when finishing eighth in the Las Vegas GP, three behind Piquet, Reutemann wrote a column in Clarín entitled "Why I lost the title".

There, he said that he had used chassis 17 and that

"personally he had thought of running with 12, which was the one he had done the time with on Thursday."

"But the people from the team told me that it was preferable to do it with the 17 because it was a new chassis and also the 12 had many kilometers on it,"

he specified.

He also described that "when going to the start", he noticed "the first unfavorable symptom: the gearbox was quite hard".

"My start was not good. It was not another start for me. There were high expectations and the stakes were high. I finished third and soon after Prost overtook me. As the following laps passed, the car's performance decreased , and the problems increased. One of the main ones was the gearbox. It was terrible. For every lap I missed three or four gears. An outrage, which did not allow me to walk at the speed that was necessary to keep up with Laffite's rhythm , Piquet and Andretti," he said.

But it was not the only problem.

"Also the spirals, harder than in Jones's car, caused me a lot of inconvenience," he acknowledged. fatal on a circuit like Las Vegas, which has the most important left-hand corners. So there was nothing else to do. With a lot of effort I stayed on the track, hoping that Piquet would stay. But it didn't."

"I know that many, in the face of Jones' overwhelming victory, will have doubts about the differences in attention that existed between the two. And well, I want to clarify the issue well. The team obviously worked all year for Jones. I didn't. I am

saying now because of this result, but rather that I had already stated it previously.

The contract was like this: he was number one and I was number two

. And here it did not change. The treatment they gave me was exactly the same as during the season. And for sample I cite this example. On Thursday, after achieving the best time in qualifying, I spent twenty minutes in the team caravan without anyone asking me anything. I understood then that there was no point in staying there. I grabbed my bag and left", story.

Lole did not hide her discomfort with Frank Williams, either.

"Sometimes I had to play the trick with the four of cups. But all this is in the past.

The reality is that there was someone who won, Piquet, and another who lost, which was me. The rest does not matter

. It is the result that that remains in history. And that result says that Piquet is the champion. It seems incredible. That little boy who in 1974 in Brasilia helped me clean the tires, now wins me the world championship. How curious, isn't it?", he reflected.

"Personally I am calm, because I know that from the first day I put all my effort and dedication to achieve the title. And despite the fact that I have been in motorsport for 15 years, I do not feel tired.

That championship title, which was never so close to me, maybe I won't have another opportunity to achieve it

. But nothing is definitive. I will talk about my future later, when I have thought it through well," he concluded.

So, it was only clear to him that if Jones repented and continued at Williams, he would be the one to leave.

Finally, with the Australian retired, Reutemann continued, but only until March 21 of the following year, when he announced his retirement after just two races of the 1982 season.

Lole died in July 2021, at the age of 79, in a Santa Fe clinic after a series of health complications that led to liver cancer.

That day, the world of motorsports took a moment to say goodbye to a legend of the motor world, who transcended borders and is part of the select group of Argentine sports legends.

look too

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Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-02-07

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