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The 1982 Belgian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Zolder on 9 May 1982. It was the fifth round of the 1982 Formula One season.

1982 Belgian Grand Prix
Race 5 of 16 in the 1982 Formula One World Championship
Circuit Zolder-1975-1985.svg
Race details
Date 9 May 1982
Official name XL Grote Prijs van België
Location Circuit Zolder
Heusden-Zolder, Limburg, Belgium
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 4.262 km (2.648 mi)
Distance 70 laps, 298.340 km (185.380 mi)
Weather Cold with air temperatures reaching up to 13 °C (55 °F)[1]
Pole position
Driver Renault
Time 1:15.701
Fastest lap
Driver United Kingdom John Watson McLaren-Ford
Time 1:20.214 on lap 67
First McLaren-Ford
Second Williams-Ford
Third Ligier-Matra



Canadian driver Gilles Villeneuve was killed in an accident during the final qualifying session. At the time of the crash, his teammate Didier Pironi had set a time 0.1s faster than Villeneuve for sixth place. Contemporary and more recent writers say that he was attempting to improve his time on his final lap. Some suggest that he was specifically aiming to beat Pironi due to bitterness at being passed by him two weeks earlier in the closing stages of the San Marino Grand Prix, when Villeneuve believed Pironi had been ordered to remain behind him.[2][3] Villeneuve's biographer Gerald Donaldson quotes Ferrari race engineer Mauro Forghieri as saying that the Canadian, although pressing on in his usual fashion, was returning to the pits on his last set of qualifying tyres when the accident occurred.[4] If so, he would not have set a time on that lap.

With eight minutes of the session left, Villeneuve came over the rise after the first chicane and found Jochen Mass in the March travelling much more slowly through Butte, the left-handed bend before the Terlamenbocht corner. Mass saw Villeneuve approaching at high speed and moved to the right to let him through on the racing line. At the same instant Villeneuve also moved right to pass Mass. The Ferrari hit the back of the March and was launched into the air at a speed estimated at 200–225 km/h (120–140 mph). It was airborne for over 100 metres before nosediving into the ground and disintegrating as it somersaulted along the edge of the track. Villeneuve, still strapped to his seat but without his helmet, was thrown a further 50 metres from the wreckage into the catch fencing on the outside edge of Terlamenbocht.[4][5]

Several drivers stopped and rushed to the scene. John Watson and Derek Warwick pulled Villeneuve, his face blue, from the catch fencing.[6] The first doctor arrived on the scene within 35 seconds to find that Villeneuve was not breathing, although his pulse continued throughout; he was intubated and ventilated before being transferred to the circuit medical centre and then by helicopter to University St Raphael Hospital where a fatal fracture of the neck was diagnosed.[7] Villeneuve was kept alive on life support while his wife travelled to the hospital and the doctors consulted with specialists worldwide. He died at 9:12 that evening.[4]

The Ferrari team withdrew from the race after the accident and left the circuit. The final eight minutes of the qualifying were run after the crash debris had been removed. No drivers improved their times, leaving the Renaults of Alain Prost and René Arnoux on the front row of the grid.[8]


John Watson won the race after taking the lead on the penultimate lap from Keke Rosberg, who was struggling on worn tires. Niki Lauda finished third on the road but was disqualified when his car was found to be underweight in post-race scrutineering,[8] and so the final podium place went to Eddie Cheever.


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 7   John Watson McLaren-Ford 70 1:35:41.995 10 9
2 6   Keke Rosberg Williams-Ford 70 + 7.268 3 6
3 25   Eddie Cheever Ligier-Matra 69 + 1 Lap 14 4
4 11   Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford 68 + 2 Laps 11 3
5 1   Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW 67 + 3 Laps 8 2
6 20   Chico Serra Fittipaldi-Ford 67 + 3 Laps 23 1
7 29   Marc Surer Arrows-Ford 66 + 4 Laps 22  
8 18   Raul Boesel March-Ford 66 + 4 Laps 24  
9 26   Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 66 + 4 Laps 17  
DSQ 8   Niki Lauda McLaren-Ford 70 Underweight 4  
Ret 5   Derek Daly Williams-Ford 60 Spun Off 13  
Ret 17   Jochen Mass March-Ford 60 Engine 25  
Ret 15   Alain Prost Renault 59 Spun Off 1  
Ret 2   Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW 52 Spun Off 9  
Ret 30   Mauro Baldi Arrows-Ford 51 Throttle 26  
Ret 31   Jean-Pierre Jarier Osella-Ford 37 Broken Wing 16  
Ret 22   Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo 34 Gearbox 6  
Ret 4   Brian Henton Tyrrell-Ford 33 Engine 20  
Ret 3   Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Ford 29 Engine 5  
Ret 35   Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart 29 Transmission 19  
Ret 36   Teo Fabi Toleman-Hart 13 Brakes 21  
Ret 12   Nigel Mansell Lotus-Ford 9 Clutch 7  
Ret 16   René Arnoux Renault 7 Turbo 2  
Ret 9   Manfred Winkelhock ATS-Ford 0 Clutch 12  
Ret 23   Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 0 Collision 15  
Ret 10   Eliseo Salazar ATS-Ford 0 Collision 18  
DNS 28   Didier Pironi Ferrari   Withdrew due to Villeneuve's death  
DNS 27   Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari   Fatal Collision During Qualifying  
DNQ 14   Roberto Guerrero Ensign-Ford    
DNQ 33   Jan Lammers Theodore-Ford    
DNPQ 32   Riccardo Paletti Osella-Ford    
DNPQ 19   Emilio de Villota March-Ford        


  • Didier Pironi and the whole Ferrari team withdrew and did not compete in the race, the second of only three times Ferrari team did not start a World Championship race in which they entered (see also 1950 French Grand Prix and 1982 Swiss Grand Prix). Pironi would be the only Ferrari driver to take part in the subsequent Monaco, Detroit (USA) and Canada rounds.
  • This race marked the first and only points finish for Chico Serra, and last points to Fittipaldi.
  • First podium: Eddie Cheever

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  1. ^ Weather info for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix Archived 2015-02-14 at the Wayback Machine at Weather Underground
  2. ^ "Formula 1's greatest drivers. Number 12: Gilles Villeneuve". BBC Sport. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  3. ^ Bamsey (1983) p.50, Lang (1992) pp.96–97, Watkins (1997) p.98 and Fearnley (May 2007) all write that Villeneuve was attempting to beat Pironi. Jenkinson (June 1982) writes only that he "was in the middle of a last desperate bid to improve his grid position."
  4. ^ a b c Donaldson (2003) pp.296–298
  5. ^ Lang (1992) p.97
  6. ^ Fearnley (May 2007)
  7. ^ Watkins (1997) pp.96–98
  8. ^ a b Lang (1992) pp.95 99
  9. ^ "1982 Belgian Grand Prix". Archived from the original on 4 November 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Belgium 1982 - Championship • STATS F1". Retrieved 12 March 2019.

Further readingEdit

  • Bamsey, Ian (1983). Automobile Sport 82-83. Yeovil, Somerset: Haynes Publications. ISBN 0-946321-01-9.
  • Donaldson, Gerald (2003). Gilles Villeneuve: The Life of the Legendary Racing Driver. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 0-7535-0747-1.
  • Lang, Mike (1992). Grand Prix! Volume 4: 1981 to 1984. Yeovil, Somerset: Foulis Haynes. ISBN 0-85429-733-2.
  • Roebuck, Nigel (1986). Grand Prix Greats. Cambridge: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 0-85059-792-7.
  • Roebuck, Nigel (1999). Chasing the Title. Yeovil, Somerset: Haynes Publications. ISBN 1-85960-604-0.
  • Watkins, Sid (1997). Life at the Limit: Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One. London: Pan Books. ISBN 0-330-35139-7.
  • Fearnley, Paul (May 2007). "It's war. Absolutely war". Motor Sport. Haymarket. pp. 52–61.

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1982 San Marino Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1982 season
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1982 Monaco Grand Prix
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1981 Belgian Grand Prix
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1983 Belgian Grand Prix