• March 30 down the years

Piquet stays clear of US pile-ups

What happened on March 30 in Formula One history?
Nelson Piquet leads Rene Arnoux and Patrick Depailler into the first bend at the 1980 USA Grand Prix © Sutton Images

The USA Grand Prix (West) at Long Beach California was again marred by accidents and retirements but Nelson Piquet from pole cruised to his first win; he also recorded the fastest lap. He admitted that his main worry was to make a clean start and not to get caught behind anyone on the opening laps "because that's when the accidents happen". Shortly before the end Clay Regazzoni survived a bad crash when the throttle on his Unipart Ensign jammed and he cannoned off an abandoned car into a wall at around 170mph. He underwent a five-hour operation for spinal and leg injuries.

Jacques Villeneuve won the Brazilian Grand Prix in his Williams Renault, taking charge from the moment he slipstreamed Michael Schumacher on the opening lap. Gerhard Berger took second, 4.1 seconds back. The race had to be restarted after a series of collisions on the first bend, including one between Villeneuve and Schumacher which left the Canadian in the gravel. "It was a relief when the red flag came out because there were rocks in the seat and it wasn't very comfortable," he said. It was the beginning of the end for the Lola team whose sponsor, Mastercard, pulled out after the previous race. The cars spent the weekend in the garage, and Lola subsequently withdrew from the championship.

Carlos Reuteman became the first Argentinian since Fangio 16 years earlier to win a grand prix with his victory at Kyalami in South Africa. The race was held later than scheduled because of a power crisis in the country. Niki Lauda in his Ferrari took pole and led for ten laps before dropping back and retiring near the end. The Saturday grand prix was overshadowed by the death of Peter Revson in practice the previous weekend.

Jordan Team owner Eddie Jordan was born in Bray, County Wicklow. Although he started as a driver, he soon found his talent lay as a team boss. He is famous for giving many big F1 names their first break, including Michael Schumacher.

French driver Yves Giraud-Cabantous died in Paris at the age of 68; he competed in 13 grands prix, initially in a Talbot Largo but moving to HWM for the 1952 and 53 season. His best result was fourth in the 1950 British Grand Prix.

Belgian driver Lucien Bianchi was killed when his Alfa Romeo T33 struck a telegraph pole while testing for Le Mans. Bianchi, the son of a race mechanic, competed in 17 grands prix between 1959 and 1968.

New Zealand driver Mike Thackwell was born in Palmerston North; he competed in two grands prix, but failed to finish either. He retired to the south coast of the England to run a surf and skateboard shop.

Swiss driver Peter Hirt was born in Zurich. He competed in five grands prix, between 1951 and 1953, but only managed to finish the 1952 Swiss Grand Prix in seventh position, driving a Ferrari 212. He died in 1992 at the age of 82.

German driver Rudolf Krause was born in Oberreichenbach, East Germany; He competed in the 1952 and 1953 German Grand Prix driving a BMW. He died at the age of 80.