Grand Prix Classic




Round 14 - European Grand Prix
Brands Hatch, 23 - 25 September, 1983

After the cancellation of the Swiss Grand Prix at Dijon, Brands Hatch owner John Webb approached FOCA, offering the use of the circuit for hosting a replacement race (Brands had already successfully held the Race of Champions in April). All the teams agreed, and Webb was left with three months to organise the race. The old honorific title of European Grand Prix (last bestowed on the 1977 British Grand Prix) was revived for the race.

The British crowd would be in for a treat too, with the championship still wide open and only two races to go. Nelson Piquet's Brabham seemed to be in the ascendancy, even if Alain Prost of Renault and Rene Arnoux of Ferrari still had the advantage in terms of points, with the latter's team-mate Patrick Tambay also still in the reckoning.


Entry Notes

Williams had planned to have the new Honda-engined FW09 ready for the race, but instead deferred its' debut until the season-closing European Grand Prix. They did, however, turn up with a third car for F2 champion Dr. Jonathan Palmer, who had been the team's official test driver for two seasons and was given the chance to make his Grand Prix debut as a reward. Missing, on the other hand, was Johnny Cecotto, who had got fed up with the increasingly bleak situation at Theodore and left. The cash-strapped team opted not to replace him.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

While the build up had focused on the four championship contenders, both days of qualifying saw gatecrashers in the shape of the Lotus-Renaults of Elio de Angelis and Nigel Mansell - much to the delight of Imperial Tobacco, whose John Player Special brand was official race sponsor as well as Lotus' main sponsor.

Once again the 94T was running well in Britain, and only the Brabhams, featuring Ferrari-style large rear wings, could get near them - Patrese and Piquet taking 2nd and 3rd between first-time polesitter de Angelis and 4th-placed Mansell. The Ferraris secured the third row, Arnoux ahead of Tambay, with Prost 8th, behind team-mate Cheever and just ahead of Winkelhock and Watson.

Down at the back of the grid, Palmer qualified for his debut in 25th, but experienced team-mate Laffite failed to qualify for the second time running after simply failing to get to grips with the track and ending up slowest of all. For Osella Ghinzani got in while Fabi didn't, and Acheson was within a tenth of bumping an unhappy Alboreto from the grid, but fell just short of making his Grand Prix debut.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

Despite fears that three Grand Prix in a season would be too much for the British public, there was still a decent turnout in the surprisingly brilliant Autumn sun. The start went off without a problem for 25 of the runners, with Jarier left on the grid with a broken transmission. Patrese and de Angelis got off well with Mansell scampering all over the place and Cheever looking around the outside of the Lotus before dropping to 5th between Piquet and Winkelhock. However, Mansell was already suffering tyre trouble, feeling his Pirellis were down on pressure, and while Patrese and de Angelis pulled away a queue formed up behind the second Lotus, going back to 10th-placed Warwick.

Piquet would get past on the second lap at Hawthorns, with Cheever bravely following soon after. Further back, Prost and Arnoux disposed of Winkelhock, and would also pass Mansell on the third lap. By now Patrese and de Angelis, still moving largely as one, were four and a half seconds clear of the delayed Piquet, but the Brazilian began gradually eating into the gap and pulling away from the Renaults, Prost getting by Cheever on lap 9.

There was some doubt as to how helpful Patrese, yet to re-sign with Brabham for 1984, would be to Piquet when his team-mate caught up. While Patrese was doing a fine job of preventing de Angelis from getting away, having been all but sacked by Brabham it was fair to say it wasn't because he was playing a team game. In the event, the situation was basically averted on lap 11. With a nimbler car, de Angelis had been champing at the bit to get by, and got a good run at his compatriot going into Surtees, getting his front wheels inside Patrese. The latter stuck to his usual line, de Angelis didn't back off and the pair made contact. The Lotus went backwards over the kerb as Piquet stole past them both, with Patrese returning to the track in time to resume second.

After that de Angelis would only last two more laps before his Renault engine blew anyway. Patrese had bent his rear suspension in the collision and while still continuing he was slower than before, though a careful Prost took five laps to get past him, by which time Piquet was quite some distance ahead as Patrese and Cheever resumed their ongoing battle of the number two drivers. Arnoux was closing on the pair of them, while Tambay finally showed signs of life, passing Winkelhock on lap 17 to attack Mansell, who finally seemed to have stabilised after a dreadful first ten laps.

Arnoux's pursuit of Cheever didn't last long, as on lap 20 he ran wide at Surtees, span and beached his Ferrari on the kerb. It was such a dangerous spot the marshals push-started him, though he resumed behind Sullivan in 20th place. He soon began tearing through the DFV cars at the tail of the field, but with his championship rivals in first and second it was a costly mistake. By now Patrese was delaying those behind him, with Cheever joined by a recovering Mansell and Tambay, with de Cesaris soon latching on to the tail of the group too. Cheever was first to pull into the pits on lap 36 for his scheduled stop and the chance to put in some quick laps and leapfrog the Brabham when Patrese made his own stop. Next in were de Cesaris and Arnoux, before Patrese came in, releasing those behind him. As if to sum up the Italian's day the stop was a disaster as the right rear wouldn't come unstuck, and he got going having spent twice as long stationary as his rivals.

Warwick, Prost, Mansell and Tambay would all pit without incident (though Mansell spent his out-lap fending off a determined Cheever) before Piquet came in. Again Brabham, usually the slickest of the pit crews (though Lotus were giving them some serious competition) had problems, this time with the air gun for the right rear, and lost about ten seconds before Piquet returned to the fray. However, this still left him with a handy ten second advantage over Prost, and he soon got back into his groove - pulling away to around a 12-second lead, at which point he dialled down the boost to preserve the engine and set about lapping in his now-customary smooth, sensible and very fast manner. Prost had no answer, and settled for maintaining second.

The excitement was behind them now, with Tambay in 3rd keeping going in vain hope the front pair would encounter a problem that would keep his faint championship hopes alive. He was being caught by Mansell, who found his second set of tyres much more to his liking. Further back, both McLaren-TAG cars had retired without making much of an impression, while Rosberg had also exited after spending the first half of the race doggedly hanging onto the back of Giacomelli. Sullivan had cornered the most spectacular exit, though - his engine ruptured an oil line and caught fire, spilling liquid over the rear wheels and spinning the Tyrrell. Sullivan gathered the car up and carried on for a couple of corners before noticing the blaze and pulling over near a marshals' post.

Tambay was suffering from brake problems by now in a Ferrari which hadn't run well all weekend by the usual standards, and on lap 66 he moved aside to let Mansell past at Paddock Bend, reasoning he had enough problems without the tigering Lotus behind him. It was in vain, however, as two laps later the front right locked at Druids and the Ferrari slid off into the tyre barrier, letting de Cesaris through to 4th. The Alfa had been troubled by the attentions of Warwick until the Toleman's cockpit fire extinguisher had activated, spraying in the driver's face for an entire lap and dropping him eight seconds behind the Italian. By way of recompense for the team Tambay's retirement did let Giacomelli through to 6th place, however.

Piquet completed back to back victories, and while Prost was second and retained a two point lead in the standings there was little doubt who was on the front foot. Mansell was happy with 3rd on the balance, though it seemed something of a poor return on Lotus' practice, while de Cesaris was delighted to finish for only the fourth time in 1983 and Toleman were happy with another helping of points. Behind Giacomelli came a handful of frustrated drivers. Patrese was 7th, with his car not fast enough to recover from his overlong stop. Behind him was Winkelhock, who had ironically found the ATS to be reliable for once at the same time everyone else was. Next was Arnoux, who still had a slight mathematical chance of title glory - but would need to win in South Africa with Prost and/or Piquet coming no higher than 6th place, while team-mate Tambay's hopes were over altogether. Cheever came home 10th, having made a second unscheduled stop 10 laps after his first when his visor's screw broke, and the Renault mechanics were forced to tape it back in place for the remainder of the race.

After Cheever came the Cosworth runners, led by Boutsen and Guerrero. Palmer completed his first race in a sensible 13th, ahead of Johansson. It had been a trying weekend for Spirit, who had been informed by Honda that their partnership would not be renewed in 1984 due to an inability to supply two teams, and then found the V6's fuel consumption was so high the boost had to be cranked down to the level where it wasn't much faster than a DFY - though he still finished a lap ahead of the final runner, Boesel.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
76
1h 36m 45.865s
4
2
Alain Prost Renault
76
+ 6.571s
8
3
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Renault
76
+ 30.315s
3
4
Andrea de Cesaris Alfa Romeo
76
+ 34.396s
14
5
Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
76
+ 44.915s
11
6
Bruno Giacomelli Toleman-Hart
76
+ 52.190s
12
7
Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW
76
+ 1m 12.684s
2
8
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
75
+ 1 lap
9
9
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
75
+ 1 lap
5
10
Eddie Cheever Renault
75
+ 1 lap
7
11
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-Cosworth
75
+ 1 lap
18
12
Roberto Guerrero Theodore-Cosworth
75
+ 1 lap
21
13
Jonathan Palmer Williams-Cosworth
74
+ 2 laps
25
14
Stefan Johansson Spirit-Honda
74
+ 2 laps
19
15
Raul Boesel Ligier-Cosworth
73
+ 3 laps
23
R
Patrick Tambay Ferrari
67
Accident
6
R
Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Cosworth
64
Engine
26
NC
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
63
+ 13 laps
24
R
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
50
Engine
17
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Cosworth
43
Engine
16
R
Mauro Baldi Alfa Romeo
39
Clutch
15
R
John Watson McLaren-TAG
36
Accident
10
R
Danny Sullivan Tyrrell-Cosworth
27
Engine
20
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
25
Engine
13
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
12
Engine
1
R
Jean-Pierre Jarier Ligier-Cosworth
0
Transmission
22

Fastest Lap: Nigel Mansell (Lotus-Renault), 1:14.432s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
57
2
Nelson Piquet
55
3
Rene Arnoux
49
4
Patrick Tambay
40
5
Keke Rosberg
25
6
John Watson
22
7
Eddie Cheever
21
8
Niki Lauda
12
9
Jacques Laffite
11
10=
Michele Alboreto
10
10=
Nigel Mansell
10
12
Andrea de Cesaris
9
13
Derek Warwick
6
14=
Marc Surer
4
14=
Riccardo Patrese
4
16
Mauro Baldi
3
17=
Danny Sullivan
2
17=
Elio de Angelis
2
19=
Bruno Giacomelli
1
19=
Johnny Cecotto
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Ferrari
89
2
Renault
78
3
Brabham
59
4
Williams
36
5
McLaren
34
6
Tyrrell
12
7
Alfa Romeo
12
8
Lotus
12
9
Toleman
7
10
Arrows
4
11
Theodore
1