Patrick Tambay in a Ferrari won the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, delighting the hugely partisan crown even though he beat Italian Riccardo Patrese to victory. It was the team's first win since the death of Gilles Villeneuve 12 months earlier.
It was a year since Villeneuve last raced at Imola and there were many Canadian flags in evidence in the spectator areas. A red and white maple leaf had been painted on the grid in front of Tambay, Villeneuve's old friend.
Tambay had again suffered with the car's unreliability in practice, breaking down twice out on the circuit after eight such instances in France a fortnight earlier. However, he still managed to qualify fifth.
The other Ferrari, driven by Rene Arnoux, took pole, but his front-row rival Nelson Piquet stalled on the grid and eventually retired at two-thirds distance. Arnoux was unable to hold off the rampaging Brabham of Riccardo Patrese.
Arnoux pitted for tyres first and rejoined in fifth while Tambay's stop was a poor one as a consequence of the team having trouble with the front right wheel. But Patrese's stop was even worse as he overshot his pit box and the team had to move everything down the pit lane. That wasn't too bad but the air gun was at full stretch and then it popped off the end of the pipe. The stop took 23 seconds and Patrese rejoined second, 10 seconds behind Tambay.
Patrese hacked into Tambay's advantage and took the lead on lap 52 as Tambay had a misfire and was unable to respond to Patrese's speed. The reception for an Italian leading was muted but after five laps, Patrese put too much power down leaving the chicane, clipped a kerb, ran off the road and crashed into the tyres. For that, the fans were very noisy.
Tambay was able to complete the win to wild scenes with Alain Prost's Renault taking second despite no fourth gear and a misfire, aided by Arnoux spinning while ahead of him.
"I thought it was to be second today," Tambay said. "But three corners after he passed me Riccardo went ploughing into the tyres. It was bad luck because he had driven a really good race but he got slightly off line and the track was very slippery at that point."
Nigel Mansell, who had been run over by his team-mate in France, again had a wretched weekend, the rear wing of his JPS Lotus shearing off and sending the car into the air and launching him into a series of violent spins. He emerged shaken but unharmed.
Piquet and Prost left Imola tying for the championship lead.