Riccardo Patrese went from hero to zero in a single lap when he threw away victory in the 1983 San Marino Grand Prix, held 30 years ago today.
Patrese was a handful of laps away from taking the checkered flag at Imola when he passed Ferrari’s Patrick Tambay for the lead. But just three corners later his Brabham ran wide and clouted a tire barrier.
The Italian crowd greeted the demise of the home driver with cheers as it restored the beloved Italian Ferrari into the lead.
There was a special significance to Tambay’s win as he was driving car number 27. At the same race one year previously Gilles Villeneuve, driving car 27, had been tricked out of victory by team mate Didier Pironi. Villeneuve died two weeks later and his friend Tambay took over his car.
Tambay’s team mate Rene Arnoux had taken pole position but the pair lost the lead to Patrese early on. The Brabham driver, wielded BMW’s powerful turbo engine, kept the lead for half the race but lost it when he made his pit stop.
Patrese’s demise promoted Alain Prost to second place ahead of Arnoux. Seven years later Patrese avenged his lost win at the track, taking victory there for Williams.
May the first is also memorable for another, more somber reason: it was on this day in 1994 that Ayrton Senna lost his life in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix.