• Spanish Grand Prix

Jones wins but FIA declares race illegal

ESPN Staff
June 1, 1980
Alan Jones leads the field on the opening lap © Sutton Images
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At Jarama politics and racing collided head on - a confusing weekend ended with a "Formula DFV" race going ahead without Ferrari, Alfa and Renault. Alan Jones' win was not to count for world championship points.

The build-up to the race was marred by some typical posturing from French Motor Sport Federation and FISA boss Jean-Pierre Balestre. Fifteen drivers had failed to attend race briefings ahead of the Belgian and Monaco races and were hit with fines which had been turned into suspensions when they refused to pay.

The Formula One Constructors' Association, headed by Bernie Ecclestone, backed the teams, offering to pay the fines pending a court hearing, but Balestre refused, fuming he would not be "blackmailed". With neither side prepared to concede, the Spanish organisers, fearing an abandoned weekend, stepped in and took over responsibility for the race.

Ferrari, Renault and Alfa Romeo, with interests in motorsport outside F1, decided not to take part, and so only 22 cars started. Carlos Reutemann stormed into the lead from fourth on the grid with Jacques Laffite right on his tail, and the two continued to battle for the first half of the race until they collided as they attempted to lap local driver Emilio de Villota.

That allowed Nelson Piquet into the lead, but 12 laps later he retired with gearbox failure, and Didier Pironi's Ligier then took over. Jones put pressure on him, and 14 laps from the end Pironi lost a front wheel and Jones eased away to win.

Two days later an emergency meeting of the FIA declared the race illegal. "It is time to decide who owns motor racing," FIA president Prince Metternich told the press. "After all, Formula One is not everything in motor racing and Mr Ecclestone does not own it."

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