Grand Prix Classic




Round 4 - San Marino Grand Prix
Imola, 29 April - 1 May, 1983

The Dino Ferrari circuit in Italy once again filled the role of the San Marino Grand Prix, one of the best-supported events of the season (the previous year's edition had attracted huge crowds even with half the field boycotting the event). The circuit was also popular with drivers, but would be another track where non-turbo cars would struggle to keep up.

Being in Italy (the race was arranged by the San Marino Automobile Club, who obviously didn't have room for a Grand Prix circuit in their home principality), the crowd only had eyes for Ferrari (the circuit was only 55 miles from Maranello), who had thus far endured a disappointing start to the season compared to Renault and Brabham.


Entry Notes

Osella had the prototype of their new Tony Southgate-designed FA1E with a V12 Alfa Romeo engine on hand for Piercarlo Ghinzani, while RAM March returned to entering just a single car for Eliseo Salazar after sponsorship troubles with Jean-Louis Schlesser. McLaren and Lotus also had the new short-stroke Cosworth DFY fitted to their cars.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Ferrari didn't disappoint the massive crowds who turned up for the practice sessions, and the battle for pole was fierce. Rene Arnoux managed to come out on top, hopefully drawing a line under his disappointing start to the season. Piquet took 2nd, ahead of Tambay and Prost - the first four covered by under a second.

Patrese and Cheever took the third row, ahead of Winkelhock in the much-improved Winkelhock and de Cesaris' Alfa Romeo. Elio de Angelis and Mauro Baldi completed the top 10.

The fastest DFV qualifier was Rosberg in 11th, nearly four seconds off Arnoux, and those with DFY engines had found them no real improvement on the standard model - Mansell was 15th, Lauda 18th and Watson 24th. Ghinzani's new Osella-Alfa Romeo had numerous teething problems, and joined Salazar's RAM March in non-qualification.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

Estimates put the raceday crowd at a staggering 110,000, most of whom only cared for the Ferrari cars. Indeed, the practice sessions had seen the Brabhams and Renaults draw boos from the crowd, but they had reason to cheer at the start. Not only did Arnoux and Tambay pull away in first and second, but one of the men most likely to deny their heroes, Piquet, stalled his Brabham on the line just as the lights changed. There was no time to abort the start, and thankfully everyone avoided the Brazilian, who would get going with a push from the marshals but was left fifty seconds behind the rest of the field.

The two Ferraris, Patrese and Prost all began to move away in a close group, with de Cesaris giving game chase in his Alfa but getting gradually left behind. After him came de Angelis, Winkelhock and Baldi, with Cheever out on only the second lap with smoke spewing from his engine. Patrese was looking dangerous, and on lap 3 got by Tambay before catching Arnoux and pulling out of the Ferrari's slip-stream along Tamburello on the sixth lap and moving through Tosa in the lead. Further back, Winkelhock and de Angelis were both struggling will ill-handling spare cars, and had submitted to Baldi and the irrepressible Rosberg.

Patrese looked comfortable, if not dominant, in front, keeping a second or so ahead of Arnoux, with Tambay a couple of seconds further back and controlling Prost, the pair of them having caught Surer's Arrows at the wrong place and becoming separated from the front two. Barring mistakes it became clear that not much would be changing with this bunch until the tyre stops. Further back not a lot was happening either - Lauda and Alboreto had retired, Guerrero had been shoved into a barrier by Sullivan, Winkelhock had dropped into the pits to see if fresh rubber would help break in the ATS and Warwick's Toleman was doing its' usual trick of plummeting through the field on race tyres. On the other hand, Lotus - planning on fuel stops for the first time - were having a good time (at least by recent standards), with de Angelis holding 8th nicely and Mansell scuffling with Watson over 10th.

Piquet was now progressing through the field, but considering the speed differential between the Brabham-BMW and most of the other cars it wasn't actually all that impressive, the Brazilian having over-revved the engine while getting started. Nevertheless by lap 17 he was past Laffite and into 9th, with de Angelis and Baldi his next targets. Patrese had now gradually built a 3.2s lead over Arnoux, while de Cesaris was 20 seconds behind Prost, well out of touch

Arnoux was the first of the leading pack to blink, dropping in for new Goodyears and fuel on lap 20. The stop wasn't bad (17.4s) and he got back ahead of de Cesaris, though the Alfa slipped by before Arnoux had his tyres up to temperature. Prost was next in (16.4s), losing out to Arnoux, followed shortly by de Cesaris, who dropped back to 6th after a competent first 'live' stop by the Alfa Romeo crew. After Mansell (also 16.4s) and Rosberg (an excellent 14.1s) made their stops (de Angelis having opted to run non-stop shortly before the race, though he would soon be in the pits anyway to complain about the handling of his Lotus after running wide at Variante Bassa), Tambay was the next in, and once again Ferrari turned him around in jig time (15s).

This left Patrese with a large lead, and as Brabham were considered the best crew in the pitlane and he as expected to rejoin without being passed. However, when he came in on lap 34 the Italian neglected to keep his foot on the brake pedal, and his crew had trouble fitting the rear wheels, meaning a 23.2s stop and handing Tambay the lead once more. The irony was that the best two stops would go to drivers who weren't really a factor in the race - Piquet was turned around in 11.2s and dropped from a distant 5th to an even more distant 6th, while Laffite dropped from 7th to 9th after his own 14s stop. Baldi was less lucky, a chaotic 24.2s dropping him to 12th.

The midfield had once more largely disintegrated. Warwick, as usual struggling on dreadful Pirellis, got out of shape coming out of Rivazza and managed to wedge his car on top of the tyre barriers, Sullivan would park his Tyrrell in the back of the Toleman a few laps later, Winkelhock still couldn't get the ATS to go where he wanted it to go and de Angelis had given up after new Pirellis weren't solving his issues with the turbo Lotus. Andrea de Cesaris was next to fall when his engine blew, briefly elevating Piquet to 5th before he too crawled into the pits with a failed motor. Jarier was out when a stone punctured his radiator at around the same time, but not before he had seriously carved up Tambay.

That, combined with a misfire in the Ferrari and some fast laps from Patrese, saw the Brabham seriously looming in Tambay's mirrors, and after hustling the Frenchman for three laps Patrese managed to get alongside at Tamburello and slice past. Patrese wasn't done and did his best to sprint away from a resigned Tambay, only to go wide at the Acque Minerale chicane mere seconds after taking the lead, sliding stupidly and helplessly into the tyre wall to the manic cheers of the Tifosi. Tambay couldn't believe his luck, having regained the lead without any effort.

Arnoux and Prost were a long way back, the former having faded badly since his pit stop and the latter suffering from a intermittently missing fourth gear and the resultant loss of power from his engine. The Ferrari driver then compounded another mediocre race by running wide and spinning a few yards after passing the stricken Patrese. Facing the wrong way he drove back down the grass, turned and rejoined, but not before Prost had moved past (and Tambay had lapped him), and with five laps to go that was basically it.

A delighted Tambay took the flag with both fists pumping the air, and would later dedicate an emotional and popular victory to the late Gilles Villeneuve, who had driven his final Grand Prix at Imola just over a year previously. Prost took second, glad to have such a good result fall his way after nursing the Renault home for the last third of the race, while Arnoux was a somewhat sheepish 3rd. Rosberg took 4th place, as at Paul Ricard proving to be a cut above the other DFV runners, making what places he could up early on before the gaps became too big and then keeping up a respectable pace. Watson was glad to get 5th after a troubled practice, while Mauro Baldi had seemed set for 6th before a late engine blow-up. The beneficiary was Marc Surer, once again maintaining a competitive race speed in the under-funded Arrows, scoring his third points finish in four races.

However, for all the attention the crowd paid them, the rest of the cars might as well have not bothered turning up. Imola was all about Ferrari, and by the time Tambay arrived back in the pitlane, having ran out of fuel on the slowing down lap and hitched a ride back in a course car, the track was covered with Tifosi. After the apparent regression of the early races, it looked like Ferrari would make 1983 a three-way battle after all.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Patrick Tambay Ferrari
60
1h 37m 52.460s
3
2
Alain Prost Renault
60
+ 48.781s
4
3
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
59
+ 1 lap
1
4
Keke Rosberg Williams-Cosworth
59
+ 1 lap
11
5
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth
59
+ 1 lap
24
6
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
59
+ 1 lap
12
7
Jacques Laffite Williams-Cosworth
59
+ 1 lap
16
8
Chico Serra Arrows-Cosworth
58
+ 2 laps
20
9
Raul Boesel Ligier-Cosworth
58
+ 2 laps
25
10
Mauro Baldi Alfa Romeo
57
+ 3 laps/engine
10
11
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
57
+ 3 laps/engine
7
12
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Cosworth
56
+ 4 laps/rear wing
15
13
Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW
54
+ 6 laps/accident
5
R
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
45
Distributor
8
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
43
Handling
9
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
41
Engine
2
R
Jean-Pierre Jarier Ligier-Cosworth
39
Radiator
19
R
Danny Sullivan Tyrrell-Cosworth
37
Accident
22
R
Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
27
Accident
14
R
Bruno Giacomelli Toleman-Hart
20
Suspension
17
R
Corrado Fabi Osella-Cosworth
20
Accident
26
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-Cosworth
11
Accident
18
R
Johnny Cecotto Theodore-Cosworth
11
Accident
23
R
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
10
Accident
13
R
Roberto Guerrero Theodore-Cosworth
3
Accident/Sullivan
21
R
Eddie Cheever Renault
1
Turbo
6

Fastest Lap: Riccardo Patrese (Brabham), 1:34.437s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1=
Nelson Piquet
15
1=
Alain Prost
15
3
Patrick Tambay
14
4
John Watson
11
5
Niki Lauda
10
6
Rene Arnoux
8
7
Jacques Laffite
7
8
Keke Rosberg
5
9=
Eddie Cheever
4
9=
Marc Surer
4
11
Johnny Cecotto
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Ferrari
22
2
McLaren
21
3
Renault
19
4
Brabham
15
5
Williams
12
6
Arrows
4
7
Theodore
1