Could Riccardo Patrese have been the third man in the 1982 world championship shoot-out at Las Vegas? You could ask the same question of around half a dozen or more drivers, but you can make a compelling argument that had Brabham continued to field the Italian in the Cosworth-powered BT49D for the second half of the campaign, he'd at the very least have been in the hunt, along with Keke Rosberg and John Watson.
Patrese, who rated the BT49D, along with the Williams FW14, as his favourite car among the many he raced during his grand prix career, certainly believes that to be the case. But he doesn't look back on what happened with bitterness.
While he was ahead of eventual champion Rosberg and only 11 points off leader Watson when he switched full-time to the unreliable BMW-engined BT50 after finishing second in the Canadian Grand Prix, Patrese believes the decision was the right one at the time. And best for the long-term.
Riccardo Patrese celebrates his maiden victory at Monaco in 1982© LAT
"Before I swapped to the BMW I was in the running for the championship," recalls Patrese. "I was running in front of Rosberg and in the end he won. He took the championship with only one win, and I already had my first win in May in Monte Carlo.
Get back on track. Join today for unlimited access to all Autosport news and features.
Are you an Autosport magazine subscriber? Activate your online account
Your Autosport Plus membership includes:
- Unlimited access to Autosport's news - no monthly cap.
- Read the best motorsport features, analysis and opinion.
- Explore Forix, our comprehensive motorsport stats database.
- Choose from monthly, yearly and two-yearly packages.
Edd Straw is Editor-in-Chief of Autosport, overseeing both print and digital versions of the brand. Edd has worked for Autosport since joining as a junior reporter in 2002. He became Editor in November 2014, having previously worked as National Editor, News Editor and Grand Prix Editor.
Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, he joined Autosport shortly after graduating from university. He went on to cover a wide range of categories from club motorsport to the World Touring Car Championship and Le Mans to Formula 3 before switching to F1 full-time at the 2008 French Grand Prix. He continues to cover a range of international events in his position as Editor-in-Chief.
In his spare time, he was formerly a club racer whose abilities did not match his enthusiasm in a variety of categories.