• Canadian Grand Prix

Jones revels in title glory

ESPN Staff
September 28, 1980
Nelson Piquet leads Alan Jones early in the race © Sutton Images

Alan Jones won the Canadian Grand Prix and in so doing secured his first and only world championship. The race itself was hardly a classic, more memorable for accidents, breakdowns and a re-start than any outstanding driving skills.

The weekend was all about the two-way title race between Jones and Nelson Piquet. Jones added spice to proceedings by claiming his team-mate Carlos Reutemann, who he did not enjoy the best relationship with, had done a less than ideal job in keeping Piquet at bay.

Piquet and Jones occupied the front row, but at the first time of asking the race lasted seconds before a seven-car pile-up, which started when Jones and Piquet clipped wheels, caused it to be red flagged. Six drivers, including Piquet, had to switch to reserve cars while the luckless Mike Thackwell, who was making history as the youngest grand prix driver ever at the age of 19, had to hand over his Tyrrell to Jean-Pierre Jarier.

At the re-start Piquet headed Jones, but the engine in his reserve Brabham which had been used in qualification proved unable to sustain the challenge and blew on the 23rd lap. Jones inherited the lead, a long way clear of Didier Pironi. It was then announced stewards had slapped a one-minute penalty on Pironi for jumping the start. Jones eased off and allowed Pironi to pass - "the championship and maintaining my car were more important" - and nursed his car home. Reutemann took second from Pironi.

"It's what I've been dreaming of and working for," Jones said after the race. "I still don't believe it … when I'm back in the hotel and having a shower then I might start jumping up and down."

Jones admitted his pre-race preparations had been upset by the loss of a lucky charm - his underpants. "I'm really superstitious and I felt uneasy because I thought I'd lost them," he said. "But Bev [his wife] drove to Brands Hatch where I'd left them in a motor home and rushed them here by special express."

The day was marred by a serious injury to Jean-Pierre Jabouille who broke both his legs when he piled his Renault into a wall. He recovered in time to start the 1981 season but never regained full fitness and retired after a handful of races.

Jody Scheckter, in his penultimate race before retiring, failed to qualify for the first time in his career, an indication of how wretched the Ferrari was. Nevertheless, Gilles Villeneuve showed his brilliance and determination by bringing home his Ferrari in fifth in front of his expectant home crowd.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
ESPN Staff Close