• Canadian Grand Prix

Piquet wins following start-line tragedy

ESPN Staff
June 13, 1982

Nelson Piquet won the Canadian Grand Prix, but it was another race marred by tragedy, this time witnessed by millions of viewers across the world as Riccardo Paletti was killed in a collision at the start of the race.

The grand prix had been moved from its usual autumn slot to try to avoid the mists and fog which had blighted previous races, and the track had been renamed the Gilles Villeneuve circuit in memory of the local hero who had been killed at Imola a month earlier. For the third race running Ferrari entered only one car.

Didier Pironi took pole but as the cars got going he stalled, immediately raising his hand to warn those behind. All managed to avoid him but Paletti, starting only his second grand prix from the penultimate row of the grid, was accelerating at over 100mph when he smashed into the back of the Ferrari. Pironi was shunted across the track, and as marshals moved in to help the clearly stricken Paletti, his Osella burst into flames.

With Paletti trapped and unconscious, frantic attempts were made to put the fire out while others, including an unharmed Pironi, tried to pull him clear. It took almost half an hour to free him from the wreckage, all witnessed by a packed grandstand which included Paletti's parents. He was eventually airlifted to hospital but died from massive internal injuries.

When the race eventually restarted two hours later, Pironi used his spare car but gradually slipped back down the field. Another accident on the second lap between Nigel Mansell (Lotus) and Bruno Giacomelli (Alfa Romeo) was fortunately not serious.

Piquet took the lead on the ninth lap and once an early challenge from the Renaults had faded, remained in the lead with no challengers. Andrea de Cesaris and Eddie Cheever forfeited second and third when they ran out of fuel on the final laps, and the perennially unlucky Derek Daly retired while fourth within half a mile of the finish.

Riccardo Patrese took second while John Watson's third place extended his lead at the head of the drivers' championship.

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