Grand Prix Classic




Round 6 - Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps, 22 - 24 May, 1983

After a break of 13 years, Grand Prix racing returned to Spa-Francorchamps. The revised circuit layout was just under half the size of the original, with a new section cutting across from Malmedy to Stavelot, but met with widespread approval from various minor category races. With the securing of a Grand Prix (to alternate with Zolder), an improved pit and paddock were built, and the circuit was well received by both teams and drivers during April tests.

It remained one of the longest and fastest circuits on the calendar even with the revisions, and was once again likely to favour the turbo-charged runners. With five drivers and five cars having won in the previous five races a definitive pattern for 1983 was still to emerge.


Entry Notes

Having gained backing from numerous local financers, Belgian Thierry Boutsen secured a drive in the second Arrows car. He had been a front-runner in F2 since 1981, had tested for McLaren, Brabham, March and Spirit, narrowly losing out to Stefan Johansson for a seat in the latter, and also won the 1983 Monza 1000kms driving a Marlboro Porsche 956 with Bob Wollek.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Friday's session effectively settled the grid, as torrential rain washed out Saturday afternoon's hour. Alain Prost secured his third pole position of the season, but Patrick Tambay was only a hundredth of a second away alongside him. Two tenths further back came the more surprising figure of Andrea de Cesaris in the Alfa Romeo, with Piquet close to a second off pole in 4th. Arnoux was 5th and Patrese 6th, followed by Winkelhock in the improving ATS and Cheever in the second Renault.

The fifth row went to the entertaining Cosworth duo of Rosberg and Surer; the Finn was his usual all-action self, while Surer was one of the highlights of the session with his rally-style assaults on the Bus Stop chicane before the pits. However, they were over 3 and 4 seconds away from pole respectively. Of the other turbos, Baldi was in 12th, de Angelis 13th, Giacomelli 16th and Warwick 22nd, Toleman having a particularly torrid time in practice.

No-one was surprised to see Ghinzani and Salazar fail to qualify, though the Osella-Alfa Romeo was closer to the pace than it had been before, while conversely Salazar missing the cut by some 6 seconds was one of the bigger deficits seen this season.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

To the relief of most drivers, Sunday was overcast but largely dry, with 80,000 spectators spread out across the majestic circuit. The 26 cars lined up in their places, only for Surer to stall with transmission problems. The red light switched to yellow to signal an aborted start, but de Cesaris had reacted already, threading the Alfa Romeo between Prost and Tambay. Prost set off after him, the pair going hell for leather through Eau Rouge seeming oblivious to the fact no-one was following them, and it was a third of a lap before marshals waving black flags managed to attract their attention. The grid reformed after a five minute wait, with the unfortunate Surer starting from the pits in the spare with all his good work in practice ruined, and a lap was scrubbed from the race distance.

Then they all started again, and even with the warning of the first start Prost and Tambay were still caught out by de Cesaris, who rocketed between them and into the lead before La Source. Prost was second, Tambay 3rd with Arnoux right behind him, Piquet 5th and Patrese 6th. The second Brabham wouldn't complete a lap before its' BMW blew, letting the similarly-engined ATS of Winkelhock through into 6th.

The front six then stayed stable for the first ten laps, with de Cesaris gradually easing away from Prost. Driving with growing maturity and confidence he was pulling out a tenth here and a tenth there, and by lap 6 had a handy three second lead, while Winkelhock - running for the first time on half-tanks - was hanging onto Piquet, and Rosberg was keeping the turbos within sight nicely. Winkelhock's reign in 6th would end on lap 12 with electrical problems, and he lost six laps in the pits having repairs. Upon returning he managed a further six laps before the right rear wheel simply came off the axle and pitched him into the catch fencing.

By then, Boutsen's brief debut had ended with something loose in the rear suspension, Jarier had turned in on Watson at La Source ending both their races, Fabi's Osella had also thrown a wheel and Baldi had dropped out in the second Alfa. On lap 18 de Angelis made the first planned stop from 11th, having found that the reduced weight made the Lotus 93T a little less of a nightmare to drive - he was the first of 12 cars making a mid-distance stop, not counting those already eliminated.

Next in was de Cesaris, and the Alfa Romeo crew continued their bad form from Imola and Monaco. The Italian had built up a lead of some eight seconds, but the mechanics fumbled with the left-rear wheel and the fuel hose, with the stop taking around 10 seconds more than it should have done, dropping him down to 6th. Arnoux, who had ruined his tyres menacing Tambay, was next in, having already been passed by Piquet, and would only last another three laps before his engine blew, ending another lacklustre showing. Rosberg, Cheever, Rosberg, Boesel, Laffite and Prost would all make their stops with a relative lack of drama, but the Tolemans were less lucky, long stops checking the encouraging drives thus far put in by Warwick and Giacomelli - indeed, Warwick would have to make a second stop after the fuel hose malfunctioned on his first try.

It all shook out with Prost as the leader having passed de Cesaris through the good work of his pit crew, who turned him around in under 13 seconds, as opposed to the 25 seconds it took the Alfa Romeo team. However, de Cesaris had retained 2nd when everyone else had stopped and, with his tyres up to speed, was now beginning to gain on Prost. Before he could really get flying he was out, the Alfa V8 failed without warning and leaving the impressive Italian with just the fastest lap to show for his efforts.

This left Prost with a firm control on the race, as Piquet's fuel consumption was marginal and he was in no state to challenge the meticulous Frenchman. Things got worse for the Brabham driver when fifth gear disappeared, allowing Tambay and Cheever to make big gains. On lap 33 Tambay went past, and three laps from the end Cheever followed. Piquet had enough of a cushion on the Williams cars of Rosberg and Laffite to make it home 4th, however.

Lauda had been chasing Laffite for 6th only for the gearbox to break up on lap 34, Guerrero had reached an impressive 9th before his engine failed, the Tyrrells had been nowhere again and having lost a lap at the start Surer did well to come home 11th, all of which left the Tolemans as the last unlapped runners. Giacomelli was running ahead of Warwick for much of the second half of the race, only to spin off on the last lap, allowing his team-mate to pass, before sheepishly completing the distance. All in all, though, it was a majestic victory for Prost and Renault, who had the upper hand over their championship rivals for the vast majority of the weekend, despite the displacing blip of de Cesaris.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Alain Prost Renault
40
1h 27m 11.502s
1
2
Patrick Tambay Ferrari
40
+ 23.182s
2
3
Eddie Cheever Renault
40
+ 39.869s
8
4
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
40
+ 42.295s
4
5
Keke Rosberg Williams-Cosworth
40
+ 50.480s
9
6
Jacques Laffite Williams-Cosworth
40
+ 1m 33.107s
11
7
Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
40
+ 1m 58.539s
22
8
Bruno Giacomelli Toleman-Hart
40
+ 2m 38.273s
16
9
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
39
+ 1 lap
13
10
Johnny Cecotto Theodore-Cosworth
39
+ 1 lap
25
11
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
39
+ 1 lap
10
12
Danny Sullivan Tyrrell-Cosworth
39
+ 1 lap
23
13
Raul Boesel Ligier-Cosworth
39
+ 1 lap
26
14
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
38
+ 2 laps
17
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-Cosworth
33
Gearbox
15
R
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Cosworth
30
Gearbox
19
R
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
25
Engine
3
R
Roberto Guerrero Theodore-Cosworth
23
Engine
14
R
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
22
Engine
5
R
Corrado Fabi Osella-Cosworth
19
Accident
24
R
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
18
Accident
7
R
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth
8
Accident/Jarier
20
R
Jean-Pierre Jarier Ligier-Cosworth
8
Accident/Watson
21
R
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-Cosworth
4
Suspension
18
R
Mauro Baldi Alfa Romeo
3
Throttle linkage
12
R
Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW
0
Engine
6

Fastest Lap: Andrea de Cesaris (Alfa Romeo), 2:07.493s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
28
2
Nelson Piquet
24
3
Patrick Tambay
23
4
Keke Rosberg
16
5
John Watson
11
6
Niki Lauda
10
7=
Rene Arnoux
8
7=
Eddie Cheever
8
7=
Jacques Laffite
8
10
Marc Surer
4
12
Danny Sullivan
2
13=
Johnny Cecotto
1
13=
Mauro Baldi
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Renault
36
2
Ferrari
28
3=
Brabham
24
3=
Williams
24
5
McLaren
21
6
Arrows
4
7
Tyrrell
2
8=
Theodore
1
8=
Alfa Romeo
1