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Photograph Copyright: © Paul Kooyman

1982 Rivals

The Rivals for the Title

Winning the 1982 F1 World Championship was far from easy for Keke. He had a number of rivals who were just as eager to win the title as he was. His five main rivals all had superior machinery, but in the age of turbo engines Keke proved that driver skill was just as important.


Five main rivals made up the main team gunning for the crown in ‘82 and all five of them wanted it just as badly as Keke. Each one had a good chance at winning the title that year and all scored two wins to Keke’s single victory but they all suffered from bad luck in the form of reliability and other problems. It is also worth mentioning that Gilles Villenuve would most definitely have been a major title contender if not for his tragic and fatal accident at Zolder earlier in the year.

The key to Keke’s success was that he kept scoring consistantly throughout the season taking points from many of the races. At the end of the season Keke had won with 44 points and one win, needing only a sixth place in the last race of the year. Michele Alboreto won the race but Keke did more than he needed and came a very deserved 5th. It is worth noting that this was during the era when only the top 6 scored points with the winner receiving just nine.


Through determination and raw talent Keke was able to beat some of the best drivers the sport has  ever seen, picking up the ultimate accolade, the 1982 F1 Drivers World Championship.

The Five Main Rivals

These five drivers formed the main rivalry for the 1982 Drivers Championship. Each scored a win more than Keke but only John Watson matched Keke's consistency of six podium finishes. It's also worth noting that Pironi challenge was halted five races before the final due to career ending injuries he sustained at the German Grand Prix.

John Watson

Team: McLaren Ford

Wins: 2

Podiums: 6

Points: 39

Final Position: = 2nd

Didier Pironi

Team: Ferrari

Wins: 2

Podiums: 5

Points: 39

Final Position: = 2nd

Alain Prost

Team: Renault

Wins: 2

Podiums: 4

Points: 34

Final Position: 4th

Niki Lauda

Team: McLaren Ford

Wins: 2

Podiums: 3

Points: 30

Final Position: 5th

Rene Arnoux

Team: Renault

Wins: 2

Podiums: 4

Points: 28

Final Position: 6th

The Champion

The single victory is often used against Keke's championship winning campaign as a reason why he didn't deserve his success. However finishing second in Austria by only 0.050 seconds, completing the most laps of any driver and scoring points at ten of the sixteen races is proof that Keke was more than deserving of his 1982 crown.

Keke Rosberg

Team: Williams Ford

Wins: 1

Podiums: 6

Points: 44

Final Position: 1st

The Championship Battle

The graph below shows how many points each driver scored and the frequency with which they did this. The largest circles represent a win (9 points), the next largest for second (6 points), all the way down to sixth (1 point) with the smallest circles. The championship leaders are also displayed and despite winning two races a piece, neither Lauda or Arnoux would lead the championship.

The graph shows how consistency was key in 1982. The attritional nature of F1 during this era meant regularly finishing races was vital in scoring points. Keke's consistency, completing the most racing laps in 1982 (88.73%), was how he repeatedly outscored his competition. All of the rivals in comparison had large gaps in which they failed to score either due to unreliability or driver errors.

Chart  -  1982 Points Scoring Comparison 

Championship leader

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