It takes a special kind of bad luck to finish in the same place at the same race for two years running – and get disqualified both times.
Keke Rosberg achieved that unique feat in the 1983 season-opener held on this day 30 years ago.
The reigning world champion was up against it at the start of his title defense. Turbo-powered F1 cars were in the ascendancy – and he didn’t have one.
But the Williams-Cosworth FW08C, a development of the car he won the title with the year before, was a known quantity and he put it on pole position at the Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In the race, Nelson Piquet’s turbocharged Brabham-BMW was too much for Rosberg. Brabham had innovated by reintroducing mid-race refueling pit stops the year before, the Brazilian driver’s went like clockwork and he took a popular home win.
Rosberg’s race did not go so smoothly and it all went wrong when he took to pit lane. A problem with the fuel coupling led to a fire, and he sprang from the cockpit.
Showing typical Rosberg grit, he jumped back into the cockpit the moment the flames had been doused. He left the pits having fallen to eighth, but impressively fought his way back to take second place.
Or so he though. The stewards decreed he’d received a push start following the fire, and erased his name from the final standings.
This was an especially bitter blow as much the same had happened to him the year before. Then too he’d finished behind Piquet on the road and that time both were disqualified as their cars were deemed to have run overweight.
His 1983 disqualification was an unpromising start to Rosberg’s title defense. As the season wore on the turbo cars moved further out of reach. His one moment of glory came at Monaco, where he produced a superb victory in damp conditions.
Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.