NICO ROSBERG: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
The fact that Keke Rosberg was even in
the Formula 1 World Championship title
frame in 1982 was a testament to his
dogged determination, as well as stark
proof of a tragic, rollercoaster season.
Prior to ’ 82, the Finn’s F1 career had
been a stop-start affair of mid-grid
teams, or worse. Sure, he was quick and
committed, but opportunity hadn’t
knocked – until 1980 champ Alan Jones
informed team boss Frank Williams he
was quitting F1 and heading back to the
farm in Australia. Problem is, Jones
waited until after the ’ 81 season had
finished, and by then any recognized
A-list drivers were already taken.
Williams saw some of Jones’ no-nonsense
approach in Rosberg, plus he was cheap and
available. And with the team in a state of
limbo as it courted a returning Honda for
a turbo engine that wouldn’t be ready
until late 1983, what did it have to lose?
Rosberg took the aging Williams
FW07C to podiums in Brazil – where he
was subsequently disqualified for an illegal
water ballast tank – and Long Beach, and
tenaciously kept racking up the points
BEEN THERE, DONE IT, SON...
when the chunky, but relatively effective
FW08 was introduced at the Belgian GP.
Rosberg’s consistency kept him on the
edges of contention. But the consensus was
that, as the season hit its stride, the title
race would boil down to a battle between
the turbocharged Ferraris and Renaults.
Tragically, Ferrari’s challenge lost
momentum with the death of its leader
and talisman Gilles Villeneuve in qualifying
for the Belgian GP, then took a further
shocking blow when Didier Pironi was
severely injured during a streaming wet
qualifying session for the German GP.
Lamentable reliability for the Renaults
of Alain Prost and René Arnoux meant the
championship was turning into a naturally-aspirated fight between Rosberg and John
Watson’s McLaren. Neither landed a decisive
blow, but Rosberg’s late-season win in the
Swiss GP (held at Dijon, France), where he
fought off Prost’s Renault, gave him the
edge for the Las Vegas finale. Despite
Watson coming home second in Sin City,
a fifth was enough to do it for Rosberg.
Just one victory and five other podiums
from the year, but Rosberg will always be
the 1982 Formula 1 World Champion.
Nico Rosberg repeated a feat his father, Keke, accomplished against the odds in 1982.
A FAMILY TRADITION
(MAIN) Keke Rosberg
took an anticlimatic
fifth in the 1982
Formula 1 season-closing Las Vegas
Grand Prix, held in
the Ceasars Palace
parking lot. But it was
enough for the title.
Pre-Rosbergs, Graham Hill (1962, ’ 68) and
son Damon (’ 96, but pictured in ’ 67) were
F1’s only cross-generational champions.
Keke Rosberg was a presence during Nico’s
junior formula days, but took a decision
to stay back once he reached Formula 1.