Grand Prix Classic




Round 5 - Monaco Grand Prix
Monaco, 12 - 15 May, 1983

With Piquet, Watson, Prost and Tambay all having won one race (the Ulsterman admittedly in fairly extreme circumstances) there were no real signs of a particular order breaking out for 1983, though it was clear that the 'works' turbo teams (Renault, Ferrari and Brabham-BMW) would have an advantage in the faster circuits which proliferated in the second half of the season.

Monaco, therefore, provided a rare opportunity for the Cosworth cars of Rosberg, Laffite, Lauda, Watson and Alboreto to have a chance of victory. While turbocharged cars no longer suffered the turbo lag which had made them so uncompetitive in the past, at least their speed advantage would be negated somewhat. Another factor was there would be no in-race refuelling - Monaco's pit lane saw to that. If Detroit or Long Beach tried that they'd be told where to stick their Grand Prix, but as it was Monaco the teams shrugged their shoulders and left the expensive equipment at home.


Entry Notes

With an entry of 28 cars, a special session was arranged for the teams which didn't score points in 1982 - March, Theodore and Toleman - at 8am on Thursday, where the two slowest cars would be eliminated; six more would be removed in the timed sessions for the standard Monaco grid of 20 cars. Elsewhere, Alboreto was the latest to receive a Cosworth DFY engine.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Thursday morning saw both Theodores surprisingly eliminated when the smart money had been on Salazar's woeful March and the luckless Giacomelli's Toleman. The afternoon's timed session saw Prost fastest despite some strong competition from bitter rival Arnoux, with Cheever 3rd in the second Renault and Tambay 4th. Rosberg showed that DFVs weren't such a handicap with 5th, ahead of Piquet who never quite got in and among the top times.

Filling out the top 10 were de Cesaris, Laffite, Jarier and Warwick, while Patrese was back in 17th having been forced into the spare Brabham mid-session, and de Angelis was only 19th. Even more disappointed were the McLarens, back in 22nd (Lauda) and 23rd (Watson). Once again the Michelin tyres were a problem, not generating enough heat, though Ligier (with Boesel in 18th as well as Jarier in 9th) seemed to be having no such problems.

Any chance of improvement was dashed when it rained on Saturday, slowing times by over 20 seconds. While both Lauda and Watson had their best goes at it (Lauda was 5th fastest, Watson 7th) the gap was too big, and McLaren had an ignominious double failure to qualify at one of the most prestigious events on the calendar. Joining them were Giacomelli, Salazar and the Osellas, all of whom accepted their fate and didn't even run on Saturday for fear of needlessly wrecking their cars. Patrese, Warwick and Serra joined them in sitting out the session, while most other drivers concentrated on working out a wet-weather setup should the rain stay for Sunday.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

The rain had stopped within an hour of the final practice session, but the sky above Monte Carlo remained overcast and threatening. Forecasts were inconclusive, and while the warm-up stayed dry teams were unsure of what to do in terms of race setup, with the track remaining dry and slippery. Most went with wet weather settings, including treaded tyres. However, Frank Williams and his drivers Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite had other ideas. The speed differential between turbos and DFVs had been more than they expected, so now they had a chance. If they started on slicks and it stayed dry, they would have a massive advantage. If it rained and they had to stop for tyres they would be nowhere, but then this looked like being the case if they matched the turbo cars' settings anyway, so both cars were fitted for dry weather. Surer, Warwick, Winkelhock and de Angelis also made the same gamble.

Further adding to things was that, because of the covering trees, the right side of the grid (containing the drivers starting from odd-numbered grid positions) was dry, whereas the left was wet still. A wind was coming in and drying off much of the track too, and any questions over who had made the right choice disappeared when Rosberg sprang away, second before Saint Devote and harrying Prost for the lead. Cheever, Tambay, Arnoux, de Cesaris and Jarier were next, but by the end of the lap were already a fair way back, while Rosberg clinically passed Prost at the start of the second tour and then simply drove off into the distance.

Within a couple of laps it was clear that a dry line was going down, and the weather didn't seem to be getting any worse - at least, it wasn't likely to rain before the wet tyres began breaking up badly. Piquet was the first to admit defeat on lap 3, with Jarier following a lap later. Laffite was now tearing through the field and was all over Arnoux, but the latter was driving with his mirrors and shut the door firmly on the descent from Casino. Going down the hill after the Hotel hairpin when Laffite came alongside again Arnoux tried to repeat the dose. This time Laffite held his line, and the Ferrari was sent clattering into the barriers. Arnoux then limped around to the pits with a deranged left rear wheel, meaning Tambay had to stay out on wet tyres, losing chunks of time to other cars. Arnoux was the fifth retirement already - Mansell had followed up nearly tipping off Serra by colliding with Alboreto and ending both their races on the first lap, while Winkelhock had gone into the back of Boesel after running onto a slippery part of the track.

What with one thing or another it took about 10 laps for the race to settle back down, and the results were startling. Rosberg was hurling the Williams around Monaco in a spectacular fashion, tremendously fast and entertaining but still looking fully in control. Around 20 seconds behind him was Laffite, happy to hold station because the next car up was Surer, 40 seconds further back. He had a handy cushion before Warwick, who was being caught by Piquet and Prost, now on dry tyres. In 7th was de Angelis, 8th Cheever, 9th Jarier and 10th Baldi.

The track was still greasy in places, and the nimble Williams cars with dry settings were able to run at the pace of those behind them, and simply were not challenged by the rest. The main interest was the battle for 4th between Warwick, Piquet and Prost. With the latter pair on wet settings and slick tyres, the Toleman was more than holding its' own, though both Brabhams did have boost turned down so that their small fuel tanks would actually last the race without a stop. Piquet made the odd feint, but Warwick seemed to have him well in hand. Cheever briefly imposed on the trio, having disposed of de Angelis and caught up with the group. Prost waved him by to have a go at the Brabham, but almost immediately the American's hand was raised and he pulled into the pits to retire with the engine cutting out due to a faulty electronics system.

The battle was such that they all soon caught up with Marc Surer, who was driving well but just didn't have the horsepower to get away from the turbos. Piquet dropped back a little to see how things developed, while Prost too had backed off. As they crossed the line to begin lap 50, Warwick pushed his nose alongside the Arrows to have a look into Saint Devote, Surer squeezed back and his car was punted into the right-hand guard rail, across the track and into retirement. Warwick went back into the barrier too, and limped around to retire with ruined suspension, allowing Piquet and Prost to carry on.

However, despite the removal of these obstacles the turbo cars could make no impression on the serene Williams cars - Laffite was some forty seconds down the road, with Rosberg a further 25 seconds away, and was closer to lapping Piquet than Piquet was to passing him. Both the Cosworth cars had largely eased off into the bargain, with more pace on tap in case Piquet or Prost put a spurt on. Patrese was now 5th, with Tambay 6th - the pair were trading fastest laps for much of the race but were so far back from their earlier troubles they had only intermittently been able to get up to full speed thanks to having slower cars in their way.

Laffite's race came to a sad end on lap 54 when he pulled into the pits with a solid gearbox. After a stop for tyres had dropped him behind Tambay, Patrese briefly charged before his engine spluttered out with a faulty fuel system, and so those left simply circulated to the finish. Rosberg was exhausted but elated after one of the most stunning drives of recent times - while his tyre gamble had given him a head start his skill on the greasy track, relentless speed, decisive moves when lapping traffic and virtuoso car control had converted opportunity into victory.

Behind him came the somewhat embarrassed trio of Piquet, Prost and Tambay, relieved that the retirements of Laffite, Surer and Warwick had meant minimal damage to their points hauls. The remainder were two laps down - Danny Sullivan opened Tyrrell's account for 1983 (and his own in F1) with a careful drive to 5th, while Baldi came 6th with an Alfa running on fuel economy. The only other finisher was Serra, who had qualified and started well, but was damned to a frustrated afternoon after starting on wets when Arrows hedged their bets at the start. While the race didn't match the madness of the 1982 edition, it had certainly provided its' fair share of excitement and the unexpected.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Keke Rosberg Williams-Cosworth
76
1h 56m 38.121s
5
2
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
76
+ 18.475s
6
3
Alain Prost Renault
76
+ 31.366s
1
4
Patrick Tambay Ferrari
76
+ 1m 04.297s
4
5
Danny Sullivan Tyrrell-Cosworth
74
+ 2 laps
20
6
Mauro Baldi Alfa Romeo
74
+ 2 laps
13
7
Chico Serra Arrows-Cosworth
74
+ 2 laps
15
R
Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW
64
Fuel system
17
R
Jacques Laffite Williams-Cosworth
53
Gearbox
8
R
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
49
Accident/Warwick
12
R
Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
49
Accident damage
10
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
49
Driveshaft
19
R
Jean-Pierre Jarier Ligier-Cosworth
32
Suspension
9
R
Eddie Cheever Renault
30
Electrics
3
R
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
13
Gearbox
7
R
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
6
Accident damage
2
R
Raul Boesel Ligier-Cosworth
3
Accident/Winkelhock
18
R
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
3
Accident/Boesel
16
R
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
0
Accident/Mansell
11
R
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Cosworth
0
Accident/Alboreto
14

Fastest Lap: Nelson Piquet (Brabham), 1:27.283s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Nelson Piquet
21
2
Alain Prost
19
3
Patrick Tambay
17
4
Keke Rosberg
14
5
John Watson
11
6
Niki Lauda
10
7
Rene Arnoux
8
8
Jacques Laffite
7
10=
Eddie Cheever
4
10=
Marc Surer
4
12
Danny Sullivan
2
13=
Johnny Cecotto
1
13=
Mauro Baldi
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Renault
23
2
Ferrari
22
3=
McLaren
21
3=
Williams
21
3=
Brabham
21
6
Arrows
4
7
Tyrrell
2
8=
Theodore
1
8=
Alfa Romeo
1