1980 United States Grand Prix

The 1980 United States Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on October 5, 1980 at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course in Watkins Glen, New York.[2] This event was also referred to as the United States Grand Prix East in order to distinguish it from the United States Grand Prix West held on March 30, 1980 in Long Beach, California.

1980 United States Grand Prix
Race 14 of 14 in the 1980 Formula One season
Watkins Glen 1975-1983.png
Race details
Date October 5, 1980
Official name XXIII Toyota United States Grand Prix
Location Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course
Watkins Glen, New York
Course Permanent road course
Course length 5.435 km (3.377 mi)
Distance 59 laps, 320.67 km (199.24 mi)
Weather Cloudy and dry with temperatures reaching up to 54 °F (12 °C); wind speeds up to 8 miles per hour (13 km/h)[1]
Pole position
Driver Alfa Romeo
Time 1:33.291
Fastest lap
Driver Australia Alan Jones Williams-Ford
Time 1:34.068 on lap 44
First Williams-Ford
Second Williams-Ford
Third Ligier-Ford

It was the fourteenth and final race of the 1980 Formula One season. The race was the 30th United States Grand Prix, the 20th and last to be held at Watkins Glen and the last to be held for nine years. The race was held over 59 laps of the 5.435-kilometre (3.377 mi) circuit for a total race distance of 320.67 kilometres (199.26 mi).

The race was won by the new World Champion, Australian driver Alan Jones, driving a Williams FW07B. It was Jones' fifth World Championship Formula One victory of the season and the sixth of the seven Grands Prix (including Spain and Australia) he would win in his career defining season. Jones won by four seconds over his Argentinian team mate Carlos Reutemann with French driver Didier Pironi finishing third in his Ligier JS11/15. This was also the final race for 1972 and 1974 World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, since this circuit was the same one where he scored his first victory 10 years earlier in 1970. It was also the final race for 1979 World Champion Jody Scheckter.


Frank Williams' first Championship season, his eleventh as an owner, ended in style with another victory by team leader and new Driver's Champion Alan Jones, but this was the last Grand Prix to be held on the historic Watkins Glen course in the wooded hills at the foot of Seneca Lake. The Glen's demise came about when attempts to resurface the track proved not to be enough, runoff areas became too short for the speeds produced, and attendance was not what it had been, for even this race had been in doubt until just a month before.

As the track's last Grand Prix weekend got under way, the big surprise of qualifying was the Alfa Romeo of Italian Bruno Giacomelli, who was quickest in both Friday's and Saturday's sessions, averaging 130.314 mph (209.720 km/h). Giacomelli took the only pole of his 69-race career, and the first for Alfa Romeo since 1951, by three-quarters of a second over a tightly-bunched group including Nelson Piquet's Brabham, Carlos Reutemann's Williams, Elio de Angelis' Lotus and Jones in the second Williams.

Race day threatened rain, but none appeared. Alain Prost, completing his first F1 season had a heavy crash at Turn 10 during Saturday morning's practice. He hit his head on his McLaren's steering wheel and suffered a concussion, forcing him to miss the race. This enabled Dutchman Jan Lammers to start the race, and Prost, already having suffered 8 previous mechanical failures during the season chose to leave McLaren for the factory Renault team. At the start, Giacomelli got off the line well and led into the first turn. Jones rocketed forward from fifth on the grid to second entering Turn One, but he could not hold his line through the turn. He, along with Giacomelli's teammate Andrea de Cesaris swung wide onto the dirt, then collected himself and continued, finishing the first lap in fourteenth place.

At the end of a lap, Giacomelli had opened a gap back to Piquet, followed by Reutemann, Didier Pironi, de Angelis and Héctor Rebaque. In two more laps, the Alfa was ahead by two and a half seconds. Meanwhile, Jones was battling his way back through the field, and on lap 7, he was already poking around the gearbox of John Watson's McLaren, trying to take seventh place. Watson held him off until the tenth lap, and, once by, Jones quickly pulled away after de Angelis and Pironi.

Giacomelli continued to set an even pace, and his lead was ten seconds on lap 21, with Reutemann now threatening Piquet, whose tires were beginning to go off. Jones had caught up to de Angelis, and on the next lap, got around him for fifth.

Reutemann's pressure, and the Brabham's increasing lack of grip, finally got to Piquet on lap 26 as he spun off in turn one. The off-road excursion damaged a skirt, and he retired after reaching the pits. Three laps later, Jones passed Pironi for third, as the Ligier was also suffering from tire wear.

The only car between Jones and the leader now was teammate Reutemann, but with the Driver's Championship already in Jones' hands, there would be no team orders. Understeer induced by a worn left front tire was plaguing the Argentinian, however, and Jones easily overcame him on lap 30 and set his sights on Giacomelli, now 12 seconds ahead. The red and white Alfa Romeo coasted to a halt in the Boot on lap 32 with electrical trouble. Once in the lead, Jones went faster and faster, finally doing a 1:34.068 on lap 44, better than his qualifying time.

When Watson pitted to replace a broken shock absorber on his McLaren, crowd favorite Mario Andretti moved up to the final points position. A set of new tires allowed René Arnoux to catch and pass the American, but a broken skirt soon slowed the Renault, and Andretti was able to regain the sixth spot and score his only point of the season.

The Williams team celebrated the climax to a year in which they had taken the Driver's and Constructor's Championships by waving a huge Union Flag at their one-two finish. The race saw not only the end of Formula One at Watkins Glen, but former champions Emerson Fittipaldi and Jody Scheckter's last Grand Prix and Mario Andretti's last race for Colin Chapman and Lotus. This Grand Prix would also witness the final occasion where a privateer entry would be classified as a finisher with Rupert Keegan finishing in 9th place in a RAM Racing-entered Williams FW07.



Pos No. Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 23   Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 1:33.291
2 5   Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford 1:34.080 +0.789
3 28   Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford 1:34.111 +0.820
4 12   Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford 1:34.185 +0.894
5 27   Alan Jones Williams-Ford 1:34.216 +0.925
6 16   René Arnoux Renault 1:34.839 +1.548
7 26   Didier Pironi Ligier-Ford 1:34.971 +1.680
8 6   Héctor Rebaque Brabham-Ford 1:35.166 +1.875
9 7   John Watson McLaren-Ford 1:35.202 +1.921
10 22   Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo 1:35.235 +1.954
11 11   Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 1:35.343 +2.052
12 25   Jacques Laffite Ligier-Ford 1:35.421 +2.130
13 8   Alain Prost McLaren-Ford 1:35.988 +2.697
14 21   Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Ford 1:36.332 +3.041
15 50   Rupert Keegan Williams-Ford 1:36.750 +3.459
16 31   Eddie Cheever Osella-Ford 1:36.908 +3.607
17 9   Marc Surer ATS-Ford 1:37.001 +3.710
18 2   Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 1:37.040 +3.749
19 20   Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 1:37.088 +3.797
20 29   Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 1:37.405 +4.114
21 4   Derek Daly Tyrrell-Ford 1:37.923 +4.632
22 3   Jean-Pierre Jarier Tyrrell-Ford 1:37.966 +4.675
23 1   Jody Scheckter Ferrari 1:38.149 +4.858
24 30   Jochen Mass Arrows-Ford 1:38.526 +5.535
25 14   Jan Lammers Ensign-Ford 1:38.532 +5.541
DNQ 43   Mike Thackwell Tyrrell-Ford 1:51.102 +17.811
DNQ 51   Geoff Lees Williams-Ford - -
DNA 60   Nigel Mansell* Lotus-Ford - -
DNA 15   Jean-Pierre Jabouille* Renault - -
  • = Mansell was originally entered in this race, but Andretti used the car originally allocated to Mansell after Andretti wrote off his car during the Canadian Grand Prix one week earlier. Jabouille was also entered in this race, but had to miss out due to leg injuries sustained at the same Canadian race.


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 27   Alan Jones Williams-Ford 59 1:34:36.05 5 9
2 28   Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford 59 + 4.21 3 6
3 25   Didier Pironi Ligier-Ford 59 + 12.57 7 4
4 12   Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford 59 + 29.69 4 3
5 26   Jacques Laffite Ligier-Ford 58 + 1 Lap 12 2
6 11   Mario Andretti Lotus-Ford 58 + 1 Lap 11 1
7 16   René Arnoux Renault 58 + 1 Lap 6
8 9   Marc Surer ATS-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 17
9 50   Rupert Keegan Williams-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 15
10 21   Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Ford 57 + 2 Laps 14
11 1   Jody Scheckter Ferrari 56 + 3 Laps 23
NC 7   John Watson McLaren-Ford 50 + 9 Laps 9
Ret 2   Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 49 Accident 18
NC 3   Jean-Pierre Jarier Tyrrell-Ford 40 + 19 Laps 22
Ret 30   Jochen Mass Arrows-Ford 36 Transmission 24
Ret 23   Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 31 Electrical 1
Ret 5   Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford 25 Spun Off 2
Ret 6   Héctor Rebaque Brabham-Ford 20 Engine 8
Ret 31   Eddie Cheever Osella-Ford 20 Suspension 16
Ret 29   Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 16 Spun Off 20
Ret 14   Jan Lammers Ensign-Ford 16 Steering 25
Ret 20   Emerson Fittipaldi Fittipaldi-Ford 15 Suspension 19
Ret 4   Derek Daly Tyrrell-Ford 3 Spun Off 21
Ret 22   Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo 2 Accident 10
DNS 8   Alain Prost McLaren-Ford Driver Injured 13

Lap leadersEdit

Bruno Giacomelli 31 laps (1–31), Alan Jones 28 laps (32–59).

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Only the best 5 results from the first 7 races and the best 5 results from the last 7 races counted towards the Drivers' Championship. If different from Championship points, total points scored are shown in parentheses.


  1. ^ Weather information for the 1980 United States Grand Prix at The Old Farmers' Almanac
  2. ^ "1980 United States Grand Prix Entry list". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "1980 USA East Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b "United States 1980 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 21 March 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Rob Walker (January, 1981). "22nd United States Grand Prix: Final Round". Road & Track, 110-113.

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1980 Canadian Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1980 season
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1981 United States Grand Prix West
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1979 United States Grand Prix
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1989 United States Grand Prix