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Rio in the rain!
Rio-de-Janeiro, March 29th
For most Formula One teams, the 1981 Brazilian Grand Prix represented the second event on a three race schedule which would mean them operating away from their European bases for the best part of five weeks. The World Championship season got under way with the United States (West) Grand Prix through the streets of Long Beach, California, on March 15th and then “stopped off” in Brazil on its way through to the Argentine Grand Prix, scheduled for Buenos Aires on April 12th. From a logistics point of view this operation placed an enormous burden, operating so far from home for such a long time, but the well-oiled transportation system which has been developed by the Formula One Constructors Association meant that every car which had been in Long Beach for that race was lined up in its pit garage at the Autodromo Riocentro in time for unofficial testing on the Wednesday prior to the Brazilian race.
The 5.031 kilometre Rio circuit has not been used as the country’s Grand Prix venue since 1978, when Carlos Reutemann scored a very convincing start-to-finish victory at the wheel of his Ferrari 312T2 shod with Michelin tyres. In 1979 and 1980 the race took place at Sao Paulo’s spectacular Interlagos circuit, infinitely better from a racing point of view but obviously not offering the same commercial possibilities for those whose business minds have a hand in controlling the destiny of Grand Prix racing. What is more, FOCA’s boss Bernie Ecclestone told us that the race has been “signed up” to take place at the Rio Autodromo for the next two years as well, so unless we are overtaken by an Orwellian fate, 1984 will mark the return of the Brazilian Grand Prix to its “traditional” home in Sau Paulo.