Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lauda Wins, Villeneuve Disqualified, Reutemann Retires - April 4, 1982

April 4, 1982
In his third race since returning from a self-imposed two-year "retirement," Austrian Niki Lauda won the seventh United States Grand Prix West at Long Beach, ahead of Keke Rosberg. It was the 18th victory of Lauda's career, and his first for McLaren. Canada's Gilles Villeneuve crossed the line in third, but he was disqualified after the race when a protest of his Ferrari's rear wing was upheld by the officials.

Lauda came home nearly 15 seconds ahead of Rosberg for his second win in the United States, along with the 1975 Watkins Glen race, For the only time, this would be one of three American races in the same season, with the inaugural Detroit race and the Championship clincher in Las Vegas still to come.

On the same weekend Carlos Reutemann had shocked his boss Frank Williams, and everyone else in the paddock, by announcing his retirement! When former World Champion Alan Jones insisted he was not available, Williams contacted another former Champion, American Mario Andretti. His commitment to the Patrick Indy racing team posed no conflicts, so he agreed to drive the second Williams for the weekend, saying, "I had nothing else to do, so I accepted."  Andretti advanced from fourteenth on the grid to ninth place, with a best lap faster than teammate Rosberg's. On lap 19, however, he lost it in the "marbles" of tire rubber that were collecting off-line and damaged his suspension against the wall in Turn 4.

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