40 years have passed since a bizarre race, the one that baptizes Alain Prost and enrolls him in the circle of winners of a Grand Prix. For the Professor it will obviously be only theentry ticket of what will later become the living room: 51 successes, 33 pole positions, 104 podiums and above all four world titles.
French in France: the first time
It all begins on July 5, 1981. In Dijon, where the Gilles Villeneuve and René Arnoux show was held two years earlier, the show is not lacking. But this time it is the sky that makes the tantrums. In fact, the race was interrupted with 23 laps to go due to a violent storm that hit Dijon-Prenois, when Nelson Piquet he is over six seconds ahead of 26-year-old Prost (Renault) and just over John Watson (McLaren). It was decided to suspend the race and wait for a more benevolent sky. The regulation is clear: three quarters of the total distance (60 laps out of 80) have not been reached for a world championship event to have full points, therefore you go for sum times.
Prost: “I am undervalued, I pay for my normality”
A friendly flood for Prost. In the first 58 laps the Professor did not give the impression of being able to worry Piquet’s Brabham, which at the start had also benefited from the uncertain functioning of the traffic lights. Small detail: Prost runs without fourth gear. It starts again after half an hour: this time the Brazilian cue and Prost takes advantage of it, never letting go. He puts on the softer rubber, and flies towards the first victory, with Piquet who – burned by disappointment – collapses, even exceeded by Watson in the sum of the times. “It was enough for the race director to wait just one lap and I would have won. If there had been a Frenchman in front they would have waited all right“, Comments the Brazilian against the Federation then governed by Jean-Marie Crossbows. Which in France would have favored a Frenchman, on a French team, who uses French tires (Michelin). Culture of suspicion that would then be nurtured over the years, and in contexts that would have up for grabs much more than a simple victory ..