Grand Prix Classic




Round 4 - San Marino Grand Prix
Imola, 4-6 May, 1984

The return to form of Ferrari after a difficult start to the season had doubly beneficial effects. Not only did it provide solid proof that the McLaren-TAG team were beatable, but it meant the fanatical Tifosi would be whipped into a frenzy for the San Marino Grand Prix.

Expectations were high among the Italian fans, as Ferrari had won the previous two editions of the San Marino Grand Prix. McLaren were confident the TAG engine's EMS system would be better suited to Imola, while Brabham were hoping to find the elusive reliability that would allow Nelson Piquet to challenge, while the Renaults of Derek Warwick and Patrick Tambay would also be a factor. Dark horses were the Lotus cars of de Angelis and Mansell, which were showing great speed at times but hadn't yet impressed in the race, and Keke Rosberg, who continued to battle gamely with his unwilling Williams.


Entry Notes

With the race taking place near the team's Volpiano base, Osella took one of the Alfa Romeo V12-powered 1983 FA1E chassis for test driver Jo Gartner. The second entry would be ineligible for points (and wasn't even really expected to qualify), but was a helpful gambit both in keeping the Austrian's sponsors happy, and giving the team's own backers more exposure at their home race.

The only other change was at Arrows, where Marc Surer took over the BMW-powered A7, with Thierry Boutsen reverting to the DFV-powered A6. Despite rumours, Toleman continued with their 1983-spec TG183B, despite the new TG184 having tested successfully in a private session at Zolder.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Between Friday's free practice and timed sessions, Imola was struck by rain, meaning the first day's times were set on a damp track. Much to the indifference of the crowd, Piquet topped the times from Prost, Tambay and de Cesaris, with Arnoux 10th and Alboreto only 24th. Even worse off were Toleman, a dispute with Pirelli meaning neither driver ran.

Saturday's morning testing was also disrupted by rain, but this time the track dried out much more quickly, allowing most drivers to improve their times. Piquet and Prost remained the front two, ahead of Rosberg, Warwick, Lauda, Arnoux, Winkelhock, Cheever, Fabi and Patrese. Alboreto could only manage 13th, while the Lotus cars were back in 15th (de Angelis) and 18th (Mansell).

Further back, Bernie Ecclestone had played mediator between Toleman and Pirelli, sorting a supply of tyres for the rest of the weekend from the Italian company, even if it looked likely the partnership would be over before the next race. Cecotto promptly qualified 19th, but Senna was plagued by boost problems and was unable to record a fast enough time for the grid. Ghinzani was also sidelined for most of the hour with an electrical problem, allowing both RAMs and Gartner's older Osella to qualify.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

The Ferraris' poor performance had led to a much subdued atmosphere, but at least the race day stayed dry. Andrea de Cesaris would start from the pitlane after his engine refused to fire on all six cylinders during the formation laps - the problem was fixed, but not in time for his Ligier to take its' 13th place on the grid.

There were more mechanical problems at the start, as Rosberg rocketed forward out of his slot only to suddenly shudder to a near-standstill a few yards later as the Honda failed to kick in. Lauda also got off the line badly, struggling to find first gear, while Palmer outright stalled and had to be pushed by marshals as the medical and pace cars swerved to avoid him. Hesnault was hit by Laffite and limped out, while Tambay struck the back of Cheever at Tosa, taking himself out and leaving Cheever to hobble around to the pits with a puncture. Of those who had got away, Prost was the best, blasting past Piquet, with Warwick falling into 3rd, ahead of Arnoux, Winkelhock, a fast-starting Alboreto, Patrese, de Angelis and Fabi.

Lauda was recovering superbly from his slow start, picking off Fabi, de Angelis, Patrese, Winkelhock and then both Ferraris with almost arrogant ease to reach a charging 4th by lap 14, lapping fast enough to be a credible threat to Prost and putting pressure on Warwick in 3rd, but he only lasted two more laps before his TAG engine went with a puff of smoke. It looked like McLaren might have another one of those races when Prost span with locking brakes, but he rejoined without losing the lead, and adapted his driving accordingly. Piquet and Warwick, running harder tyres and intending to run non-stop, were unable to match his pace.

On lap 22 they swapped places, with Piquet suffering from minor boost and clutch problems. However, Warwick's fuel consumption was far too high and he was forced to ease off almost immediately when the lean mix caused a misfire. Rosberg had advanced to 19th in a couple of laps after his poor start, but had retired after only three laps with an electrical problem, the Ferraris were in 4th and 5th unable to match the troubled pair of Michelin runners ahead, and being caught by Fabi, while Winkelhock was once again bravely hanging on.

Further back, both de Cesaris and Cheever were on the move. The former was showing well for the first time since joining Ligier, reaching the top six by mid-distance, while Cheever was passing all comers and was soon looming in de Angelis' mirrors. The Tyrrells were again running superbly, with Brundle running ahead of de Angelis, and Bellof close behind Cheever.

Prost's dominance was such that he had a 34 second lead when he stopped for more soft Michelins on lap 29, with a slick professional change meaning he emerged still 20 seconds clear of Piquet. By now, Alboreto had disappeared with a broken exhaust system, and Winkelhock's engine had again gone. To complete a black day for BMW, Piquet and Fabi's cars would both break their turbos on lap 49, joining the similarly-afflicted turbo Arrows of Surer.

Piquet's disappearance and Warwick's enforced lack of pace saw Arnoux move up to 2nd, but the crowd weren't fooled - Prost was some 20 seconds away and already cruising. Soon after both de Cesaris and de Angelis would go past the helpless Renault, with Cheever looking to follow. However, Warwick's economy run would bear some fruit as all three of his challengers dropped out in the closing laps with dry tanks - though he was unable to unlap himself from Prost, and had to settle for a frustrated 4th, behind de Angelis.

Having no such problem, 5th and 6th then fell to the Cosworth-engined cars of Bellof (whose team-mate Brundle probably would have taken the position but for a faulty fuel pickup system) and Boutsen in the old Arrows, scoring his first-ever point. Only Baldi and Palmer - the latter a constant obstacle when being lapped - were still running at the finish. With Prost's easy victory, McLaren had shown their poor form at Zolder looked to be just a blip, and it was up to the opposition to raise their game.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
60
1h 36m 53.679s
2
2
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
60
+ 13.416s
6
3
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
59
+ 1 lap/Out of fuel
11
4
Derek Warwick Renault
59
+ 1 lap
4
5
Stefan Bellof Tyrrell-Cosworth
59
+ 1 lap
21
6
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-Cosworth
59
+ 1 lap
20
7
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
58
+ 2 laps/Out of fuel
12
8
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
58
+ 2 laps/Out of fuel
8
9
Mauro Baldi Spirit-Hart
58
+ 2 laps
24
10
Jonathan Palmer RAM-Hart
57
+ 3 laps
25
11
Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Cosworth
54
+ 6 laps/Engine
22
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
53
Turbo
23
R
Johnny Cecotto Toleman-Hart
49
Fuel system
19
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
48
Turbo
1
R
Teo Fabi Brabham-BMW
48
Turbo
9
R
Jo Gartner Osella-Alfa Romeo
46
Engine
26
R
Marc Surer Arrows-BMW
40
Turbo
16
R
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
31
Engine
7
R
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
23
Exhaust
13
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
15
Engine
5
R
Jacques Laffite Williams-Honda
11
Turbo
15
R
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
6
Engine
10
R
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Renault
2
Brakes
18
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
2
Electrics
3
R
Patrick Tambay Renault
0
Accident/Cheever
14
R
Francois Hesnault Ligier-Renault
0
Accident/Laffite
17

Fastest Lap: Nelson Piquet (Brabham), 1:33.275s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
24
2
Derek Warwick
13
3=
Elio de Angelis
10
3=
Rene Arnoux
10
5=
Niki Lauda
9
5=
Michele Alboreto
9
5=
Keke Rosberg
9
8=
Eddie Cheever
3
8=
Riccardo Patrese
3
8=
Stefan Bellof
3
11=
Martin Brundle
2
11=
Andrea de Cesaris
2
13=
Patrick Tambay
1
13=
Ayrton Senna
1
13=
Thierry Boutsen
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
33
2
Ferrari
19
3
Renault
14
4
Lotus
10
5
Williams
9
6
Alfa Romeo
6
7
Tyrrell
5
8
Ligier
2
9=
Toleman
1
9=
Arrows
1