Grand Prix Classic




Round 9 - British Grand Prix
Silverstone, 14 - 16 July, 1983

The British Grand Prix was to be held at Silverstone as part of its' alternating agreement with FOCA and Brands Hatch - though the race organisers had some old-fashioned looks on their faces when the Brands Hatch owners took advantage of the problems with organising the Swiss Grand Prix at Dijon, and instead stepped in to host the European Grand Prix - giving them a world championship race anyway.

Despite the 1975 addition of the Woodcote chicane, the circuit remained blisteringly fast, and was again likely to be a turbo benefit, and 1981 winner John Watson was unlikely to repeat his feat in a DFY-engined McLaren. That Cosworth themselves were reportedly talking to Alfa Romeo about maintaining the Italian marque's proposed customer V8 turbo programme in 1984 said it all.


Entry Notes

With a five-week break since the last race, and with Silverstone being close to most teams' factories, several new or heavily modified cars were seen at the British Grand Prix for the first time. Firstly, there was the Spirit team, making their World Championship debut after a run-out at the Race of Champions. Stefan Johansson would drive a single Honda V6 engined 201C, a neater development on the F2-based testing car.

Secondly, after five weeks of solid work led by Gerard Ducarouge, Lotus had a new car - the 94T. This basically married the 92 design to the Renault V6 turbo, and had only had shakedown tests before arriving; Renault, as promised, provided engines to run two cars. The hated 93Ts remained on hand as spares as Lotus hadn't time to built more than a couple of 94Ts, and the Cosworth engine cars were retired. Another team finally dropping Cosworth were Osella, who had two of the Alfa Romeo V12-engined FA1E cars present for the first time. Ferrari had the new 126C3 for both drivers, though it used most of the components of the flat-bottom 126C2 and looked outwardly similar. Alfa Romeo and Brabham also arrived with significantly updated cars. McLaren, despite rumours to the contrary, arrived with Cosworth cars, though an older car with the new TAG Porsche V6 would be running in testing a week after the race after a shakedown at Porsche's own test track. On the driving front, Kenny Acheson replaced Jacques Villeneuve in the RAM March.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Once again the final qualifying session turned into a shoot-out for big works turbo cars - Renault, Ferrari and Brabham-BMW, all setting laps of over 150mph average speed. Arnoux secured a hat-trick of poles with a blistering lap eight minutes from the end of the Friday session, bettering team-mate Tambay by seven tenths of a second and securing the front row for Ferrari. Renault had Prost in 3rd and Cheever in 7th, while the new and improved BT52B was 5th and 6th in the hands of Patrese and Piquet respectively.

The interloper in 4th was de Angelis, in raptures over his new Lotus 94T, while Winkelhock, de Cesaris and Warwick rounded out the top 10. Mansell in the second Lotus-Renault had recurring problems with his car's electrical loom, only being able to put in a time good enough for 18th by using the 93T spare. The low-key debut of the Spirit-Honda saw Johansson start a worthy 14th on the grid (his first start after some miserable attempts to qualify a Shadow in 1980), a place behind Rosberg in the fastest DFV runner - the Finn a staggering 4.3s off pole despite his usual commitment. Three drivers would fail to make the grid with the expanded line-up, the unlucky trio being Cecotto (who had a tired DFV engine), Fabi (who had all sorts of technical problems) and Acheson (who had a RAM March).

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

Saturday was blisteringly hot, and there was much talk about the importance of tyres - it was Goodyear versus Michelin rather than Ferrari versus Renault and Brabham, though many were tipping Lotus and Pirelli to pull a shock, especially after de Angelis was the fastest in the morning warm-up in race trim. A crowd of 84,000 had assembled in the heat as the field pulled away, the Ferraris heading the field. Tambay was alongside Arnoux into Copse and came out the leader after moving determinedly onto the inside line and out-braking his team-mate. Prost, Patrese, Cheever and Piquet took the next four places, while de Angelis got off the line poorly and dropped to 7th, just ahead of de Cesaris, Winkelhock and Warwick.

However, de Angelis served notice of the new Lotus' speed towards the end of the first lap, catching and passing Piquet like he wasn't there and latching straight onto the back of Cheever, only to pull off in a cloud of smoke on the run down to Becketts - the Renault engine, so reliable when the old 93T had been trying to kill de Angelis for the first half of the season, had eaten a piston and expired. Cheever followed two laps later with a similar Renault problem, with Giacomelli and Johansson joining him shortly.

This left the Ferraris first and second, but Prost was gaining on the pair of them and it was clear Michelin were winning the tyre war, as the remaining Renault and Piquet's 4th-placed Brabham were making all the gains. Patrese had retired the second Brabham with an expired engine, bringing an unhappy weekend with much paddock talk that he would be replaced in 1984 to an end. A fair distance behind came de Cesaris, Winkelhock and Warwick, all being caught by Mansell in 8th. After his nightmare practice had seemed to continue his home race jinx (a victim of the Lotus 88 controversy in 1981, and injured in 1982), Mansell had moved up six places on the opening lap, and with the Pirelli tyres working well was looking potent.

Looking less potent were the Ferraris, their Goodyears disintegrating, and on lap 14 Prost dived past Arnoux at Copse. Six laps later he swallowed up Tambay as well, and pulled away, leaving the Ferraris to the mercy of Piquet - the Brabham would pass both before mid-distance. Just about all the competitive cars were planning on stopping - the exceptions were Tyrrell, Arrows, Theodore and Osella, with McLaren the latest to join in, with the gentlemen's agreement seen earlier in the season having disappeared through the sheer volume of cars intended to stop mid-distance - and on lap 28, Warwick seemed to be the first in, only to climb out of his Toleman as the gearbox had broken.

Winkelhock was actually the first to stop and resume, and then everyone began filing in for more fuel and tyres. Most of the stops were very efficient, and Prost retained the lead from Piquet, with Tambay 3rd and Arnoux 4th. The biggest gains were made by the flying Mansell, the last of the front-runners to stop, who had vaulted past Winkelhock and de Cesaris (who lost a lap in the pits with the only notably poor pitstop from Alfa Romeo, after which the clutch refused to re-engage for nearly half a minute). His car running perfectly, he then passed Arnoux with ease.

Piquet had lost too much time early on to entertain any hope of catching the majestic Prost, and with Mansell too far back to do an awful lot about Tambay (who, unlike Arnoux, had adapted to the poor performance of the Goodyears and was lapping consistently), so it all fizzled out a bit after the stops. Rosberg had gone over the grass on the first lap trying to make up places early on, and would fade as the race went on, leaving Lauda to lead home the Cosworth cars, unable to keep with the fast turbos. He would eventually finish 6th after Winkelhock disappeared with a broken exhaust, ahead of both Alfa Romeo cars and team-mate Watson; Rosberg was a further lap down in 11th.

Nothing much happened over the final third, despite the efforts of Boesel's Ligier, which shed its' engine cover ahead of Copse. With the speed cars were moving there was no question of removing the thing, and at least the bright blue showed up well. Piquet was casually lapping around the same speed as Prost with more in reserve, but the Brabham pit crew weren't giving him signals, so he had no idea how close the Renault was and settled for second. Mansell briefly found the pace to begin eating away at Tambay's cushion, but ran out of laps, so Prost secured his third victory of the season, while Piquet's 2nd place and Tambay's 3rd kept them both well in touch. Mansell's 4th was a popular result and greatly boosted the morale of Lotus, who now looked forward to the rest of the season with relish. If Mansell had finished 4th from 18th on the grid, it was interesting to wonder where de Angelis might have been. Arnoux was an unhappy 5th in his Ferrari, and his lead over Lauda showed the dominance of the top turbos - even with poor tyres, he had stayed comfortably clear of the cream of the Cosworths.

There was a brief moment of controversy when Ken Tyrrell protested the water injection systems of the Renault and Ferrari cars (but curiously, not Mansell's Lotus, which used the same system as the French works car) as illegal, presumably seeking the holy grail of a 10-11 finish for his outclassed cars (or as some suggested, put up to it by Ecclestone), but after a brief deliberation the stewards threw out the protest. For some unfathomable reason Tyrrell are still to secure a turbo deal for 1984...


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Alain Prost Renault
67
1h 24m 39.780s
3
2
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
67
+ 19.161s
6
3
Patrick Tambay Ferrari
67
+ 26.046s
2
4
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Renault
67
+ 39.952s
18
5
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
67
+ 59.864s
1
6
Niki Lauda McLaren-Cosworth
66
+ 1 lap
15
7
Mauro Baldi Alfa Romeo
66
+ 1 lap
11
8
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
66
+ 1 lap
9
9
John Watson McLaren-Cosworth
66
+ 1 lap
24
10
Jean-Pierre Jarier Ligier-Cosworth
66
+ 1 lap
25
11
Keke Rosberg Williams-Cosworth
65
+ 2 laps
13
12
Jacques Laffite Williams-Cosworth
65
+ 2 laps
20
13
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
65
+ 2 laps
16
14
Danny Sullivan Tyrrell-Cosworth
65
+ 2 laps
23
15
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-Cosworth
65
+ 2 laps
17
16
Roberto Guerrero Theodore-Cosworth
64
+ 3 laps
21
17
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
64
+ 3 laps
19
R
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
49
Overheating
8
R
Raul Boesel Ligier-Cosworth
48
Suspension
22
R
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
46
Fuel system
26
R
Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
27
Gearbox
10
R
Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW
9
Turbo
5
R
Stefan Johansson Spirit-Honda
5
Fuel pump
14
R
Eddie Cheever Renault
3
Head gasket
7
R
Bruno Giacomelli Toleman-Hart
3
Turbo
12
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
1
Distributor
4

Fastest Lap: Alain Prost (Renault), 1:14.212s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
39
2
Nelson Piquet
33
3
Patrick Tambay
31
4
Keke Rosberg
25
5
Rene Arnoux
19
6
John Watson
16
7
Eddie Cheever
14
8
Niki Lauda
11
9
Jacques Laffite
10
10
Michele Alboreto
9
11=
Marc Surer
4
11=
Nigel Mansell
4
13
Danny Sullivan
2
14=
Johnny Cecotto
1
14=
Mauro Baldi
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Renault
53
2
Ferrari
50
3
Williams
35
4
Brabham
33
5
McLaren
27
6
Tyrrell
11
7=
Arrows
4
7=
Lotus
4
9=
Theodore
1
9=
Alfa Romeo
1