1982 Caesars Palace Grand Prix: The Finnish Finish

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Despite the complaints from drivers and the problems it caused 12 months previously, the Caesars Palace parking lot was again used to host the final round of a Formula 1 season.  Once again it would prove to be a title-decider.

Going into the race, Williams’s Keke Rosberg led the championship by nine points over third-placed John Watson of McLaren.  Didier Pironi was officially in second place, although he was out of the title race after breaking both legs in what proved to be a career-ending crash at Hockenheim four races before.  It would take a mammoth effort from Watson to overcome the deficit and defeat Rosberg, who had himself only won one race all season, but consistently accumulated points throughout.

The Renaults of Alain Prost and Rene Arnoux locked-out the front row. Rosberg qualified sixth, with Watson ninth.   Nothing short of outright victory would snag Watson the Championship, but with his ability of finishing races strongly after starting from lowly positions, anything was still possible.

Prost and Arnoux led from the start, with Arnoux taking the lead soon afterwards. Third-placed Michele Alboreto of Tyrrell survived a first corner collision with Ligier’s Eddie Cheever to give valiant chase the whole way. Watson dropped further back at the start but made his customary leap forward, even overtaking Rosberg, who gave little fight and was seemingly settling for a mathematically-safe 5th position. Arnoux retired on lap 20 and seemingly left Prost to take the win, Rosberg’s safe 5th was attained on lap 27 after Andretti’s Ferrari slid off after a suspension problem. Prost’s Renault developed vibration on his tyres and Alboreto, who started to match the lap times of both Renaults before Anroux’s retirement, overtook him to take the lead.

The Italian saw out the rest of the race unchallenged, winning his first Grand Prix by 27 seconds over Watson. Alboreto became the 11th different race winner of 1982, and it proved to be the final victory in Tyrrell’s illustrious history. Prost managed to bring his ailing Renault home fourth behind Cheever’s Ligier in third. Rosberg safely saw out the race in fifth, duly winning the World Championship with a five point margin over Watson.

Despite Andretti’s retirement and Tambay not even participating, Ferrari won the constructor’s championship, 5 points ahead of McLaren.

Although the venue hosted two exciting championship-deciding races in as many years, the Caesars Palace venue was pulled from the 1983 calendar, and has not hosted a Formula 1 race since.

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