Grand Prix Classic




Round 1 - Brazilian Grand Prix
Jacarepagua, 11-13 March, 1983

With the postponement of the South African Grand Prix (moved to October at the constructors' behest), the season would open in Rio. Most of the teams had been testing in Brazil for much of the winter anyway, and drivers would therefore have the basics of their setups sorted before practice even began.

While considered a poor relation of the majestic Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Jacarepagua was generally popular with drivers due to having several passing places, even if it was considered somewhat unchallenging. It was a nice sensible circuit on which to start the reason, however, with no freak characteristics that could distort the form book, and for once the Formula 1 season would start with everyone on the same page.


Entry Notes

With 28 drivers entered, two would be excluded at the end of the second official practice session on Saturday afternoon. Every team present had what were effectively new cars, be it brand new designs or heavily rebuilt and remodelled 1982 designs. Danny Sullivan, Corrado Fabi and Johnny Cecotto would all be aiming to make their Grand Prix debuts. With Arrows still negotiating terms with Alan Jones, Chico Serra would drive their second car alongside Marc Surer.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

The practice sessions would see the first use of the FIA's new computerised weighing system, used to prevent cars running underweight as they had often done in practice and, to a lesser extent, races in 1982. This involved a randomly selected car being called into the pits at a random point in practice and moving straight onto the scales, which were programmed to subtract the driver's weight (checked at the start of each session), and if the car was found to be under the 540kg limit, it was excluded on the spot. Any attempt to avoid, ignore or delay the call-in would meet with the same result, as Andrea de Cesaris discovered on Saturday when he decided to prioritise his qualifying lap when he was picked by the computer. The Italian was promptly thrown out of the meeting.

Rosberg sensationally took pole position after a blistering lap in the Cosworth-powered Williams, just over a tenth of a second faster than Prost. The next six cars were also turbos. Tambay and hometown hero Nelson Piquet filled the second row, with Arnoux 6th. Ahead of the Ferrari was Warwick's Toleman, the Hampshire driver unhappy not to be on the front row after an engine problem on Saturday - which showed how much progress team and driver had made in the year since the previous Brazilian Grand Prix, where he had failed to qualifying.

Seventh was Patrese, ahead of Cheever, Lauda and the impressive Mauro Baldi. Lap times were generally 4-5 seconds down on the previous year. Elio de Angelis was disappointed with 13th in the Lotus-Renault as the car's power delivery was destroying the tyres, and was only just ahead of Guerrero's smart new Theodore. Watson was only 18th, two places ahead of a struggling Laffite, while the ATS-BMW only scraped in second-last, Winkelhock suffering bad handling problems. With de Cesaris excluded, Piercarlo Ghinzani's Osella was the only non-qualifier.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

As usual, Rio had been incredibly hot for the practice days. It was relatively cool for race day, but still very warm, and once again mechanical and physical endurance would play a role. Another factor was the planned stops. Having pioneered the system in 1982, and designed the BT52 with the strategy in mind, it was certain both Brabhams would be stopping. The other planned refueller was Rosberg, after practice running had revealed to Williams that to soft tyres made the car two seconds faster a lap. However, the team's rehearsal had been less than convincing, taking around twice the time the Brabham crew usually managed.

Before the start de Angelis' Lotus-Renault had started smoking, and he would instead start from the pitlane in the spare Cosworth car. The front-runners all got away cleanly, Rosberg tearing away from Prost, followed by Piquet, and the impressive Patrese, who'd passed Arnoux off the line and took Tambay before the end of the first lap. Behind the Ferraris came Cheever, who had picked off Warwick on the long back straight. Further back, Alboreto received a hefty shove from Baldi and span across the field, though everyone else avoided him and the Tyrrell got going in last place.

Rosberg led by a staggering 2.5s after a single lap, but it soon became clear Prost was bottling up the Brabhams. The second time they went down the straight Piquet blasted past the Renault, while Patrese was through as well at the start of the third lap. Piquet then reeled Rosberg in at a rate of knots; by lap 5 he was with the Williams, and again the BMW pushed him down the long straight at a prodigious rate, with Rosberg unable to do anything as he went past. The Brazilian then edged away, while Patrese bore down on the World Champion.

Meanwhile Watson was finding the McLaren much better on race rubber, passing Baldi, Arnoux, Cheever and Tambay in rapid succession to lie 5th. Alboreto had by now dropped out with damage from his early scuffle with Baldi, while both Ferraris looked like a throwback to 1981, heavy and ill-handling, easy prey for nimble Cosworth cars. Tambay was holding 6th, but Baldi had passed Arnoux, who now had a huge scuffle consisting of Warwick, Cheever, Jarier, Lauda, Surer and the impressive Theodores of Guerrero and Cecotto starting to catch him.

Patrese seemed unable to quite get on terms with Rosberg, and after spending a couple of laps glued to the Williams' gearbox suddenly dropped back with a broken exhaust, losing places hand over fist until pitting on lap 19 as the Arnoux-led group came up to him. By now the flying Watson had disposed of Prost, while Lauda had moved past Warwick and Arnoux and was challenging Baldi. The Toleman was soon behind the pair of them, but when Baldi ran wide and Lauda nipped through there wasn't space for Warwick, and the Alfa was shoved up into the air and span. Marshals pushed the car back onto place and Baldi staggered back to the pits with broken suspension, and while Warwick would continue the handling wasn't quite right from then onwards. Lauda meanwhile pressed on and was soon attacking Tambay, whose team-mate was having even less fun - the latest car challenging Arnoux was Cecotto in the Theodore.

Rosberg wasn't being left standing by Piquet, though the Brabham's lead had gradually grown to 12 seconds and Watson behind was close to matching their pace. It all went wrong for the Finn when he made his stop on lap 28. The stop seemed to be going well until the fuel hose was withdrawn, and a splash of errant petrol dribbled on the hot engine cover. A flash of flame leapt up, as did Rosberg. The fire was out almost as soon as the mechanics blasted the car with foam, and as soon as he realised the thing was still in commission Rosberg was back in it. However, by the time he'd been strapped in and the mechanics had push-started him he had lost over a minute, resuming 9th behind the impressive Marc Surer, and now a lap down on Piquet.

This left Piquet roughly 35 seconds ahead of Watson, though the McLaren was running well and the Brabham due to pit, meaning if Watson kept up his pace he could well be in striking distance when the leader rejoined. Prost was a lonely 3rd, with 4th placed Tambay being caught rapidly by Lauda. In sixth was Warwick, with the duelling Laffite and Surer right behind him and Rosberg closing on all three of them, soon to move through. The Williams was again running very well, matching the pace of Piquet ahead, if still a lap in arrears.

The battle for the lead was effectively resolved on lap 35 when Watson pulled out of second with a broken Cosworth, permitting Piquet to back off a little. With reduced boost he made his own stop on lap 40 with clinical efficiency, resuming without losing the lead. Lauda was now second after picking off the turbo cars with ease, but was nearly a minute back. Rosberg was also moving well, and after also passing the hapless Tambay and Prost in successive laps began chasing the McLaren, his fresh tyres seeing him close the gap and retake second on lap 53, despite losing time behind the skittish RAM March of Salazar.

Both Laffite and Surer were also moving up rapidly towards the end, the Williams driver passing Tambay and Prost in the closing stages. Surer followed him past in the Renault and just failed to get by the Ferrari before the flag, falling short by less than a tenth of a second. Prost came home an unhappy 7th, at least staving off Warwick, while Arnoux was an anonymous 10th - having lost a long struggle with Serra when the substitute Arrows driver passed him in the closing stages.

It had been a promising start for the new regulations, even if Rosberg's botched fuel stop and Watson's engine failure had prevented any real fight for the lead - though Piquet's immaculate drive in the impressive new Brabham had played a part too. Lauda was pleased with a decent score from 9th on the grid, everyone was pleased to see Laffite get on terms with the Williams as the race went on after a torrid practice, Surer had got Arrows off to a good start and there were 16 classified finishers, an early sign that reliability wouldn't be as bad in 1983. There was also a lack of hard-sprung cars flying off into the scenery, which is always a plus.

However, one thing remained the same as in 1982 - you couldn't trust the order the cars crossed the line to be the final race result... Shortly after the end of the race the stewards announced that Rosberg was disqualified because of the push-start he received in the pits. There were two other much sillier decisions made - Baldi was disqualified for the push the marshals gave him after his collision with Warwick, despite having retired almost immediately afterwards, while de Angelis, who had trundled around to a twice-lapped 13th, was also excluded for having switched from a Lotus-Renault to a Lotus-Cosworth at such a late stage.

Others would not move up because of these exclusions, however, as part of the FIA's plan to keep the disqualification and appeal processes from muddying championship tables as they had in 1982. The thought occurred that Rosberg and de Angelis could have been informed of their offences at the time and saved both drivers an hour or so in the Brazilian heat, though some cynics pointed out that in the case of Rosberg this would have cut down the excitement on show in the later stages. Williams immediately announced their intention to appeal on the grounds of extreme circumstances, though Lotus and Alfa Romeo showed no signs of doing the same for their respective 13th and Did Not Finish results...


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
63
1h 48m 27.731s
4
DQ
Keke Rosberg Williams-Cosworth
63
+ 27.731s
1
3
Niki Lauda McLaren-Cosworth
63
+ 51.883s
9
4
Jacques Laffite Williams-Cosworth
63
+ 1m 13.951s
18
5
Patrick Tambay Ferrari
63
+ 1m 18.117s
3
6
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
63
+ 1m 18.207s
20
7
Alain Prost Renault
62
+ 1 lap
2
8
Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
62
+ 1 lap
5
9
Chico Serra Arrows-Cosworth
62
+ 1 lap
23
10
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
62
+ 1 lap
6
11
Danny Sullivan Tyrrell-Cosworth
62
+ 1 lap
21
12
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Cosworth
61
+ 2 laps
22
DQ
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Cosworth
60
+ 3 laps
13
14
Johnny Cecotto Theodore-Cosworth
60
+ 3 laps
19
15
Eliseo Salazar RAM March -Cosworth
59
+ 4 laps
26
16
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
59
+ 4 laps
25
NC
Roberto Guerrero Theodore-Cosworth
53
+ 10 laps
14
R
Eddie Cheever Renault
41
Turbo
8
R
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth
34
Engine
16
R
Raul Boesel Ligier-Cosworth
25
Electrics
17
R
Mauro Baldi Alfa Romeo
23
Accident damage
10
R
Jean-Pierre Jarier Ligier-Cosworth
22
Suspension
12
R
Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW
19
Exhaust
7
R
Corrado Fabi Osella-Cosworth
17
Engine
24
R
Bruno Giacomelli Toleman-Hart
16
Spin
15
R
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
7
Accident damage
11

Fastest Lap: Nelson Piquet (Brabham), 1:39.829s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Nelson Piquet
9
2
Niki Lauda
4
3
Jacques Laffite
3
4
Patrick Tambay
2
5
Marc Surer
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Brabham
9
2
McLaren
4
3
Williams
3
4
Ferrari
2
5
Arrows
1