GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #45 - Carlos Reutemann

30-01-2020 19:00
by Adam Newton
F1 News
GPBlog's Top 50 drivers in 50 days - #45 - Carlos Reutemann

Five down, 45 to go in our countdown of the top 50 F1 drivers of all time. We’re profiling one driver every day in the build up to the opening race of the 2020 season in Australia, counting down from 50 to number one. Yesterday saw the turn of Peter Collins, and you can read that here, but today let’s have a look at the career of Carlos Reutemann.

Reutemann drove for some pretty big teams during his time in F1, being at the sharp end of things for the majority of his decade long career, although he never found the consistency to grab a title.

The Argentine made his debut for Brabham at his home race in 1982, aged 29, and took a while to find his groove in F1, scoring just three points in his first year.

Despite this tough start to his career, Reutemann was Brabham’s lead driver for 1973, becoming a more regular points scorer and getting onto the podium twice.

Wins followed the next season, with Reutemann topping the podium in South Africa, Austria and USA, showing what he could do when the mostly unreliable Brabham allowed him to.

Brabham were a good team, but weren’t at the level of Ferrari and McLaren, so when Niki Lauda suffered his horrible accident at the Nurburgring, Reutemann managed to get himself in the door at the Scuderia, but only raced there once before the Austrian returned, with Ferrari running three cars to accommodate him in Italy.

Although he only managed ninth at Monza, Ferrari signed him up for 1977 to play the support role to Niki Lauda, a role he performed well, winning in Brazil and making several podium appearances.

With the title in the bag, Lauda left Ferrari before the end of the season and signed with Brabham for 1978, making Reutemann team leader.

He was joined by the talented Gilles Villeneuve and Reutemann dealt well with the Canadian, beating him comfortably in the championship. Unfortunately for him, Lotus had the best car that year, allowing Mario Andretti to win the title with Reutemann down in third.

With Lotus so dominant in 1978, Reutemann joined them for 1979, but unfortunately for him Ferrari was now the team to be at, with Jody Scheckter winning the title and Reutemann left winless.

However, he made a much better decision for 1980, joining up with the Williams team.

New teammate Alan Jones took the championship in 1980 but Reutemann came into his own the next season, starting the year with five podium finishes in succession, giving him a commanding lead over Nelson Piquet.

He held the championship lead all the way to the final race at Caesers Palace in Las Vegas. Piquet finished fifth but Reutemann was out of the points, allowing the Brazilian to take his first of three Grands Prix.

Reutemann raced the first two events the following season before retiring, claiming his heart wasn’t in F1 any more.

He perhaps wasn’t the most naturally gifted F1 driver ever, and he didn’t make the best decisions on moving teams, but Reutemann came so so close to a title that would’ve given him a seat among the greats and that’s why he is 45th on our countdown.

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