Pironi moves to Ferrari

20. Sep 2023 
by Ziv Knoll

For the 1981 Formula One season, Ferrari had replaced the retired Jody Scheckter with Didier Pironi and introduced the new turbocharged 126CK. The French driver, won his first Grand Prix in Belgium in 1980 for Ligier, and his performances had triggered Enzo Ferrari’s interest.

Ferrari recalled: “As soon as Pironi arrived in Maranello, he won everyone’s admiration and affection, not only for his gifts as an athlete, but also for his way of doing things – he was reserved while at the same time outgoing.”

Teamed and compared with Ferrari’s lead driver Gilles Villeneuve, who welcomed the Frenchman and treated him as an equal, Pironi was slower in qualifying but steady in the races, during his first season with Ferrari.

The Ferrari 126CK was a brutal and hard to control machine, as well as overweight compared to its competition (Williams and Brabham), and only Villeneuve won races at its wheel, with heroic drives in Monaco and in Spain.

Picture below: Didier Pironi in his Ferrari 126CK at Monaco, qualified in 17th, 1.5 seconds behind his team mate Villeneuve. The Canadian won the race, and Pironi finished fourth, one lap down, after a steady race. A performance reflecting his first season in red.

Source: LAT Images

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