This is Gilles Villeneuve hard at work trying everything he can to find the success he had had a year before. Villeneuve had won the Long Beach Grand Prix (more correctly known as the U.S. Grand Prix West) in 1979 with the Ferrari 312T4 and with his teammate and eventual Championship winner Jody Scheckter second. But a year later, now using the Ferrari 312T5, it was all different. The wide flat-12 cylinder motor that Ferrari had used for several years limited the car’s aerodynamic abilities versus those the British teams which were now equipped to maximize downforce with their narrower Ford-Cosworth DFV V-8s.
Here is another photo of Villeneuve on the Long Beach temporary street circuit where he was a victim of Ferrari’s troubles. These were somewhat affected by the Scuderia’s relaxed attitude to working hard over the winter after a successful season. This weakness after wining had happened a number of times before.
Qualifying was a continuation of what would become an unhappy year in 1980 with Villeneuve only managing 10th fastest while Scheckter, carrying n. 1 on his car as the reigning F1 champion found himself down in 16th.
The race itself was more of the same, plus a terrible accident for Clay Regazzoni in the Ensign at the end of the long curving Shoreline Drive straight where brake failure shot him into a parked race car and a concrete wall, leaving him paralyzed. Scheckter recovered somewhat as other cars were slowed by a different accident and blocked road in the final hairpin to finish fifth a lap down while Villeneuve retired with transmission failure, no doubt caused by the rough road surface in many places.
Photos by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcol.com
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