Grand Prix Classic




Round 7 - United States Grand Prix
Detroit, 3 - 5 June, 1983

Despite the organisation problems of the previous year, and against some predictions, the second race at the Detroit street circuit remained on the calendar - and looked like being the only American track likely to stay there. Long Beach had already announced it would be switching to Indycars, while the New York street race had been cancelled, and Caesar's Palace were reportedly trying to wriggle out of the final year of their F1 contract. The Swiss Automobile Club had also announced the cancellation of their ersatz race at Dijon, but this had been easily replaced by the European Grand Prix, hosted at Brands Hatch, meaning the series would be at least 15 rounds, or 16 in the increasingly unlikely event of a third Caesar's Palace Grand Prix going ahead.

For now, though, there was Detroit. Fittingly as the home town of Ford, the slow track would give the Cosworth cars their last real chance of success before the series moved back onto faster circuits. However, the track had been remodelled with one of the hairpin chicanes removed, which made it slightly faster.


Entry Notes

After poor results culminating in a run of four failures to qualify, Copec withdrew their backing for Eliseo Salazar, meaning RAM March had no driver or money. The team did not arrive in Detroit, instead arranging a deal with ex-Arrows driver Jacques Villeneuve to drive at the Canadian Grand Prix and heading to the Mosport circuit to test with him.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Once again one of the practice sessions was wet, though this time it was the first on Friday, making the Saturday afternoon hour all-important. It started cold and still a little damp, but the sun came blazing down halfway through, and with most drivers already having damp settings on the cars that was pretty much the end of it.

The very front produced few surprises, with Arnoux (reportedly being dropped for 1984 unless his form improved), Piquet and Tambay the fastest three. Behind them was de Angelis, the Pirellis once again preferring the cooler conditions, and the third row was all-Cosworth - Surer ahead of Alboreto. Cheever, de Cesaris, Warwick and Boutsen (at only his second Grand Prix meeting) rounded out the top 10.

Prost was back in 13th, a row ahead of Patrese, Winkelhock was back in 22nd, and Baldi in 25th. With RAM absent there was only one non-qualifier, and the unlucky man was Corrado Fabi - though at least this meant Piercarlo Ghinzani got in to give the Osella-Alfa Romeo its' first start.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

Natural elements aside the weekend's organisation had been much improved, and there was another healthy crowd gathered around the circuit - and in a fleet of small boats on the river, and hanging out of tower block windows - come race day. The official gate was 71,000, but estimates put the number of attendees at around 100,000 counting those who used initiative rather than tickets.

Once more there was a false start as de Cesaris stalled (aided by an enthusiastic grid girl, even climbing out of the car just to make sure he was spotted), though this time the lights hadn't got far enough for anyone to start. Engines were switched off and there was a five minute delay before the red lights lit up again, with one lap deducted from the race distance. The second time de Angelis shot off from row two with the red light still on, and when it did go out Tambay lurched forward a length and stopped. As he was the only one everyone carried on, while to the Frenchman's fury his Ferrari was erroneously towed away rather than push-started.

Piquet had slotted into the lead, followed by Arnoux and de Angelis, though the Lotus pit crew were soon informed that the Italian was to be docked a minute for jumping the start (as was Winkelhock, who leapt from 22nd to 19th). Next was de Cesaris after a fine and legal start, with Alboreto, Warwick, Rosberg and Cheever in close attendance. Piquet and Arnoux soon put some distance back to the Lotus, which became even more of a gap when de Angelis pulled up on the start straight with wrecked transmission. Cheever had already dropped out with a failed fuel feed, leaving Alboreto and Rosberg pressuring de Cesaris. Warwick led the next bunch, consisting of Prost (who had lost one of his front wings on the back of Boutsen), Boutsen, Surer and Patrese.

The Swiss driver was having a torrid time after his fine practice, losing five places at the start while avoiding Tambay, and then another six when he span on lap 7. Things got worse four laps later when he was black-flagged to the pits as marshals had reported fluid coming from the car. The Arrows crew could find nothing wrong and sent him back out, only for the flags to come out again, and further inspection revealed some litter had been sucked into the radiator. This was rectified and Surer returned to the race, albeit a lap down and in 22nd place.

By now Arnoux had caught and passed Piquet for the lead and was moving away purposefully. Rosberg, Alboreto and Warwick all dealt with de Cesaris one-by-one, with Rosberg then catching Piquet, getting past on lap 20. Lauda, Patrese and Jarier had already pitted for fresh tyres hoping to solve their problems. Warwick was the first of the front runners to stop on lap 25, with Arnoux in four laps later. The Ferrari driver had built such a lead that he returned to the fray still a couple of seconds ahead of Piquet.

However, Brabham had a trick up their sleeves. Gordon Murray had been punching buttons on his calculator again, and realised on the slower configuration circuit Piquet could run non-stop with the right boost adjustment while still being competitive, and his Brazilian driver had delivered with a fine consistent drive. Now he was looking at catching Arnoux before the Frenchman got heat into his fresh Goodyears. However, before he really had chance the Ferrari was out, the electronic fuel injection failing and cutting the power to the engine.

This left Piquet comfortably ahead of Alboreto, who was running without a stop, and Rosberg, who had pitted on the same lap as Arnoux, but been delayed by a sticking wheel. Next came Watson, who had moved up with a smooth, consistent performance as others had crashed or destroyed their tyres, then Laffite some distance back after his stop, a cautious Boutsen, Mansell and Prost. Watson soon caught Rosberg, but was unable to quite get on terms with the Finn who eventually got back in his groove and moved away from the McLaren.

It all seemed settled - Piquet had eased off so Alboreto was only a couple of seconds behind, maintaining his pace to those chasing him in order to manage his fuel effectively. His control over proceedings was shown when he got stuck behind Surer for half a lap and Alboreto closed to within a second, at which point Piquet promptly reeled off a fast lap and the gap was back where it had been. However, suddenly on lap 51 he was coasting, and Alboreto was through into the lead.

Piquet had picked up a puncture in his left rear, and dived into the pits. The Brabham pit crew gave him fresh tyres and a splash of fuel (so he could turn up the boost for a charge) in double-quick time, but with the slow half-lap to the pits was enough to take him out of the running with only 9 laps remaining. Alboreto then stroked home for a win which was lucky in a way, but also ample reward for his dogged speed throughout the race. Rosberg and Watson completed the rostrum, with Piquet a disappointed 4th. Laffite scored again for Williams, while Mansell finally opened Lotus' account after getting by an exhausted Boutsen.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
60
1h 50m 53.669s
6
2
Keke Rosberg Williams-Cosworth
60
+ 7.702s
12
3
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth
60
+ 9.283s
21
4
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
60
+ 1m 12.183s
2
5
Jacques Laffite Williams-Cosworth
60
+ 1m 32.603s
20
6
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Cosworth
59
+ 1 lap
14
7
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-Cosworth
59
+ 1 lap
10
8
Alain Prost Renault
59
+ 1 lap
13
9
Bruno Giacomelli Toleman-Hart
59
+ 1 lap
17
10
Raul Boesel Ligier-Cosworth
58
+ 2 laps
23
11
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
58
+ 2 laps
5
12
Mauro Baldi Alfa Romeo
56
+ 4 laps
25
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-Cosworth
50
Suspension
18
NC
Roberto Guerrero Theodore-Cosworth
38
+ 22 laps
11
R
Johnny Cecotto Theodore-Cosworth
34
Gear linkage
26
R
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
33
Turbo
8
R
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
31
Electrics
1
R
Danny Sullivan Tyrrell-Cosworth
30
Electrics
16
R
Jean-Pierre Jarier Ligier-Cosworth
29
Wheel nut
19
R
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
26
Accident damage
22
R
Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
25
Engine
9
R
Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW
24
Brakes
15
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
5
Transmission
4
R
Eddie Cheever Renault
4
Distributor
7
R
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
4
Overheating
24
R
Patrick Tambay Ferrari
0
Stalled
3

Fastest Lap: John Watson (McLaren), 1:47.668s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
28
2
Nelson Piquet
27
3
Patrick Tambay
23
4
Keke Rosberg
22
5
John Watson
15
6=
Niki Lauda
10
6=
Jacques Laffite
10
8
Michele Alboreto
9
9=
Rene Arnoux
8
9=
Eddie Cheever
8
11
Marc Surer
4
12
Danny Sullivan
2
13=
Johnny Cecotto
1
13=
Nigel Mansell
1
13=
Mauro Baldi
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Renault
36
2
Williams
32
3
Ferrari
28
4
Brabham
27
5
McLaren
25
6
Tyrrell
11
7
Arrows
4
8=
Theodore
1
8=
Alfa Romeo
1
8=
Lotus
1