A Singapore, Carlos Sainz Jr. crossed the finish line with Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton right on his tail, just like the Canadian Grand Prix at Jarama in 1981, where Jacques Laffite, John Watson, Carlos Reutemann, and Elio de Angelis finished within a 1.2-second gap. Despite the technological advancements that separate the Formula 1 of 2023 from that of 1981, there is a common thread that unites these eras: the thrill of seeing a Ferrari triumph, even if it may not be the absolute best car on the grid. In both races, the victories of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Gilles Villeneuve brought joy to the fans of the Prancing Horse, as they anxiously watched their drivers fend off relentless pressure from their rivals.
Let’s take a look at the final standings. In Singapore, Carlos Sainz Jr. finished ahead of Lando Norris in the McLaren by 0.8 seconds and Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes by 1.2 seconds. At Jarama, Gilles Villeneuve held off Jacques Laffite in the Ligier by 0.21 seconds, John Watson in the McLaren by 0.57 seconds, Carlos Reutemann in the Williams by 1 second, and Elio de Angelis in the Lotus by 1.24 seconds. Today’s cars are equipped with DRS and power units, with the SF-23 boasting nearly 1000 horsepower, while the 1981 126C had 580 horsepower. The SF-23 has an 8-speed longitudinal gearbox, whereas the 126C had a 5-speed transverse gearbox. The technical differences between these two eras are countless, but the determination and will to win displayed by Sainz and Villeneuve are timeless.
Let’s focus on Gilles Villeneuve’s last victory. At Jarama, the Canadian driver made a remarkable start, quickly moving up from seventh to second place. He took the lead on the 14th lap of the 80-lap race, thanks in part to a mistake by Alan Jones, who was leading at the time. The Australian driver’s error sent him tumbling down the field, allowing Villeneuve to take the lead and hold onto it until the end. However, this was no ordinary victory. It was a triumph of tenacity and resilience, particularly in fending off the relentless attacks from Laffite, who stuck to Villeneuve’s exhaust pipes but could never find a way past. Villeneuve skillfully blended aggression and clean driving in every maneuver, at times pushing the limits dangerously on corner exits, under immense pressure from his rivals. This victory was a liberation and a testament to the skill of a driver who, thanks to such remarkable performances, has become a legend in the hearts of fans. The race’s unforgettable finale, with five cars so closely matched, further solidified this victory in the collective imagination. Unfortunately, it would be Villeneuve’s last triumph before his tragic accident in 1982.
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