Bernie Ecclestone reveals how he influenced championship result

Nelson Piquet won the first of his three championship titles in 1981, clinching the title at the final race of the year.

The 1981 season finale in Las Vegas excitingly began with three drivers all in with a chance of winning the championship.

While Jacques Laffite needed both of his rivals to retire from the race to be able to win the championship, Nelson Piquet and Carlos Reutemann started the Grand Prix with only a single point between them.

Reutemann of Williams began the race from pole position, while Brabham’s Piquet started in P4, giving the Williams driver a significant advantage and the best chance of securing the championship.

Unfortunately for Reutemann, a disastrous start to the race saw him lose multiple positions and finish the first lap in fifth place.

READ: Nigel Mansell announces disappointing news

The Argentinian eventually finished the race in eighth place, meaning that Piquet’s P5 finish was enough to win the Brazilian his first title, much to the disappointment of Reutemann.

Then Brabham boss and former F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone has now sensationally revealed that he meddled with the outcome of the race by hindering Reutemann’s race preparation.

The circuit in Las Vegas was counter-clockwise and very quick, putting a lot of strain on the drivers’ necks over the course of practice and qualifying.

This led Reutemann to enlist the help of a professional masseur to help him recover for the race, but the Argentinian never did get this massage.

Article continues below

Ecclestone has revealed that he heard about his rival’s massage and made contact with the masseur, giving him a financial incentive to help Piquet instead of Reutemann.

“There was a lot of G force in the way the corners were put together,” he told the Discovery+ documentary ‘Lucky!’

“After the first day’s practice, it was obvious the drivers were in trouble. Carlos got hold of the masseur who used to look after the boxers.

READ: Helmut Marko makes Ferrari engine claim ahead of Bahrain testing

“I went to see this person, and after some financial discussion, they decided to favour Neslon. I don’t know whether I ever told Carlos.”

Reutemann’s career unfortunately never recovered after the heartbreak in Las Vegas, as he retired from Formula 1 only two races into the 1982 season.

Piquet went on to win two more championships over the course of his career but the Brazilian is currently a disgraced figure in F1 following homophobic and racism comments made about Lewis Hamilton.