If you want to guarantee yourself a place in the Formula One history books, then Monaco is the race you need to win. Just ask Riccardo Patrese, who took his maiden victory in one of the most memorable – not to mention utterly bonkers – grands prix ever seen: Monaco 1982.
Pole man Rene Arnoux initially led the way around the streets of the principality, before all his hard work came undone when, on lap 15, the backend of his Renault stepped out as he was negotiating his way through the tricky Swimming Pool complex. His car spun down the centre of the road before his engine stalled, leading to an early retirement for the Frenchman.
Fellow countryman Alain Prost inherited the lead as a result, and from theron in, the race was a largely processional affair, with Patrese second, then Didier Pironi followed by Andrea de Cesaris and Keke Rosberg.
And then, on lap 60 of 76, the skies above the millionaires’ paradise blackened and rain began to fall. Not a downpour as such, but enough to wet the tarmac and turn what was an already oily circuit into an ice-rink.
First to fall foul of the tricky conditions was Rosberg who, on lap 65, was trying to do something about de Cesaris, but instead ended up making a mistake at the Nouvelle chicane and hit the kerb with his right front wheel, tearing the suspension off his Williams FW08.
Team-mate Derek Daly followed suit, having had an altercation with a guard-rail at Tabac corner, although somehow, he managed to keep going. This despite snapping both the centre pillar and rear aerofoil, depositing oil as a consequence of tearing off the gearbox oil pump and, just for good measure, now devoid of a rear wing. But undeterred, he continued to press on, albeit rather gingerly.
The Irishman pulled over on lap 74 to let race leader Prost through who, with just two laps remaining, looked on course for his third win of the season. He was, until he reached the Nouvelle chicane, where his Renault suddenly whipped round and ran head-first into the barriers, rebounding into the Armco opposite, before coming to a halt in the middle of the road.
Prost’s retirement left Patrese to complete the lap in the lead, followed by Pironi and de Cesaris, but the race was still far from over.
Halfway around the 75th lap and Patrese had just about managed to navigate his way through the Mirabeau hairpin when he spun down the hill, ending up gyrating over the kerb of the apex of the Loews hairpin, before sliding helplessly with a dead engine across the circuit.
Patrese’s loss was Pironi’s gain as he manoeuvred his way past the stricken Brabham and started the final lap at the front of the field, his fingers undoubtedly crossed as his Ferrari engine had been coughing and spluttering its way through the last few laps.
Lady luck would not be on his side, however, for the inevitable happened and he ran out of fuel. His Ferrari conking out less than a mile away from receiving the chequered flag. The lead should have been inherited by de Cesaris, but he too ran out of juice!
In theory, Mansell should have been the one to emerge victorious, having driven a largely uneventful race back in fourth all afternoon. But no, emerging from the tunnel and into the daylight came… Patrese!
The Brabham driver having lived to fight another day thanks to some pushing and shoving by a group of marshals and taking advantage of the slope down to Portier to pop his car into gear and managing to get it going again.
And across the finishing line Patrese went, securing his first grand prix victory. Although, he didn’t know this was the case at the time.
“On the finishing lap everybody was waving flags and so on, while I was thinking I’d thrown it all away,” he recalls on his official website. “I can remember thinking, ‘maybe they are pleased I finished second and drove a good race’, but I was very, very unhappy.”
“There was a big discussion over who was first, second or third. Somebody came to me and started to shout, ‘you won, you won!’ Then I finally realised…”