Had he transformed it into victory, the Italian’s profession would possibly have taken a completely different course – however not solely did he lose the result in a transient match of highway rage, he ended the afternoon within the wall, as he so typically did.
Instead that race morphed into a memorable first comeback victory for Niki Lauda, by a stroke of destiny the person who had changed de Cesaris at McLaren.
The win vindicated the choice by Ron Dennis to lure Lauda out of retirement, and set the Austrian on the trail to his third World Championship a couple of years later.
De Cesaris would begin 208 Grands Prix in a profession that stretched from 1980 to 1994, and encompassed spells at no fewer than 10 groups, particularly Alfa Romeo, McLaren, Ligier, Minardi, Brabham, Rial, Scuderia Italia, Jordan, Tyrrell and Sauber.
Try as he would possibly, he would by no means totally shake off the wild fame that he created for himself in his first full season with McLaren in 1981, when a collection of accidents examined the power of John Barnard’s composite MP4 chassis, together with the persistence of the workforce.
Long earlier than the tip of the season Dennis launched his finally profitable plan to influence Lauda to return on board, and thus there was no place for de Cesaris in 1982.
Andrea de Cesaris, Alfa Romeo 179D
Photo by: Motorsport Images
However de Cesaris all the time had Marlboro assist behind him, so it was no nice shock when he was moved throughout to the cigarette firm’s different workforce, Alfa Romeo. Indeed he had pushed his first two F1 races for Alfa on the finish of 1980, so he already felt at house within the camp.
The large change at Alfa since then was the arrival of former Ligier chief designer Gerard Ducarouge, who had an instantaneous affect on the hitherto ramshackle outfit. He got here up with a new 182 carbon chassis, and mated to the confirmed V12 – a torquey engine that was all the time good on road circuits – it was a first rate bundle.
De Cesaris and teammate Bruno Giacomelli had the previous automobile for the opening race of 1982 in South Africa, and the primary outing with the brand new mannequin in Brazil was inconclusive.
However on the third spherical at Long Beach, the Alfa was fast from the off, with Giacomelli second within the first free observe session, and de Cesaris sixth.
Thanks to some points they had been solely 10th and 12th in Friday qualifying, however when it mattered on Saturday, every thing fell into place for de Cesaris.
In the closing minutes of the ultimate qualifying session Lauda put in a usually neat and tidy lap to apparently safe pole, and TV crews had been already gathering round him when there was an surprising change on the prime of the timing screens. De Cesaris was on pole, 0.120s forward of the person who had changed him.
When he returned to the pitlane he was in tears as a enormous celebration erupted within the Alfa camp, and the feelings for all involved had been clear to see. His prize haul included a particular trophy, $1000, a bottle of brandy, and a razor…
It was a large second for Ducarouge, vindicated after being sacked by Ligier the earlier 12 months. And the Marlboro folks had been additionally blissful. Not solely had their religion in Lauda had been justified, and now they’d two aggressive automobiles on the entrance of the sector.
There was a transient panic when it emerged that an unmarked tyre had been used on the pole-winning automobile – de Cesaris had brushed the wall early within the session and had required a substitute – however a marshal admitted that it was his fault, so all was properly.
At 22 de Cesaris was the youngest pole man ever, a document he would maintain till it was crushed by Rubens Barrichello in 1994.
“I don’t want to think about the first lap,” he famous. “Otherwise I won’t sleep.”
Andrea de Cesaris, Alfa Romeo 182 leads Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4/1B-Ford Cosworth, Rene Arnoux, Renault RE30B, Alain Prost, Renault RE30B, Bruno Giacomelli, Alfa Romeo 182, Gilles Villeneuve, Ferrari 126C2, Nelson Piquet, Brabham BT49D-Ford Cosworth and Keke Rosberg, Williams FW07C-Ford Cosworth, firstly
Photo by: Motorsport Images
He now needed to get the job finished within the race. Lauda was decided to get himself into the lead – however he was properly conscious of his rival’s fame, and didn’t wish to get snarled with him on the primary lap.
Lauda even took the difficulty to talk to his rival earlier than the race in an try to make sure that there could be no first nook fireworks, making it clear that if he couldn’t get the lead off the road, he wouldn’t strive something at Turn One.
“In that case I’ll have to be patient and not try to overdo things,” he instructed journalist Heinz Pruller earlier than the beginning. “Above all, there’s no question of taking chances with de Cesaris.”
In the occasion the pole synthetic a good begin and drove a faultless first lap, whereas from third on the grid Renault’s Rene Arnoux slipped into second place.
Lauda thus ran third initially, forward of Giacomelli. On the sixth lap the second Alfa driver, eager to get a transfer on and maybe involved that his teammate was escaping up entrance, made a profitable passing transfer on Lauda – and promptly bumped into the again of Arnoux, placing each himself and the Frenchman out of the race.
Lauda was now a protected second. The hole to the chief opened as much as 4.8s, then got here right down to 2.8s on lap 13. On the subsequent lap de Cesaris misplaced a while when he got here as much as lap the Arrows of Brian Henton. Suddenly from nowhere Lauda was proper with him – and the stress was on.
De Cesaris then caught Raul Boesel’s tardy Rothmans March on the new chicane that had been put in early on the pit straight. He virtually got here to a halt behind the Brazilian within the first proper hand half, then tried to go spherical the skin within the left hander that adopted, just for Boesel to stay to the road and drive de Cesaris to remain large.
He lastly handed him popping out of the ultimate right-hand a part of the advanced onto the straight, however he was off the best line, and had misplaced momentum – and was busy telling Boesel precisely what he thought.
“De Cesaris overtakes the slower car and shakes his fist at the driver,” Lauda mentioned in his autobiography To Hell and Back. “I see him increase his hand in a threatening gesture and I say to myself: he ought to be altering gear now.
“I hear the ugly whine of his rev limiter because it hits 11,000rpm. I pull out previous him, giving him a large berth. After all, you have to look at your self while you move somebody who’s so busy shaking his fist that he forgets he has to vary gear.”
Lauda blasted previous on the fitting and was in a position to keep in entrance on the finish of the lengthy pit straight. It was the primary time he had led a race on the highway since Sweden 1978 with the Brabham fan automobile.
Thereafter he edged away from the Alfa, as de Cesaris – nonetheless in solely his 19th Grand Prix – made heavy going of getting by way of site visitors.
Nevertheless he was nonetheless working a sturdy second when on lap 34 he seen some smoke in his mirrors, probably brought on by burning plastic across the brakes.
Distracted, he crashed closely, wiping the fitting hand facet off the automobile, and writing off the brand new chassis. The frontal harm was such that his proper boot got here adrift as he climbed out of the smoking wreck, and he paused to place it on once more. It was a unhappy finish to his day, however the consensus was that he’d given his fame a increase – he was removed from the one driver to hit the wall.
Lauda in the meantime cruised round in entrance in usually unruffled type, backing off within the late levels to protect his gear. He nonetheless had a 14.6s benefit over runner-up Keke Rosberg. With victory in his third race after a two-year break, Lauda was again.
Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4/1B-Ford, second place Keke Rosberg, Williams, third place Gilles Villeneuve, Ferrari
Photo by: Motorsport Images
Just a few weeks later in Monaco de Cesaris had a probability of redemption. He drove a managed race, surviving a late bathe. As automobile after automobile hit bother within the closing minutes victory practically got here his manner, just for a lack of gas to go away his Alfa parked on the final lap, as eventual winner Riccardo Patrese handed by. He was labeled third.
There could be another good days. Indeed the next 12 months he would lead the opening levels at Spa, and earn second locations in Germany and South Africa.
Late in his profession he would earn a place within the historical past books as Michael Schumacher’s first F1 teammate at Jordan at Spa in 1991 – and had his engine not failed that day, he would have been on the rostrum once more. However, that first win by no means got here.