Grand Prix Classic




Round 8 - Detroit Grand Prix
Detroit, 22-24 June, 1984

As both American races in 1984 were happening on (more or less) the East side of the United States, FISA simply decided to name them after their host cities. Detroit had hosted the United States Grand Prix in 1982 and 1983, and would now simply host the Detroit Grand Prix.

The circuit wasn't especially popular with drivers due to the close concrete walls, relatively rough surface and proliferation of tight, sharp corners, but commercial considerations (the previous two editions had been hugely popular) made sure it kept its' place on the calendar. It was seen as something of a car-breaker - hard on tyres, gearboxes, suspension and drivers - but also something of a leveller as concentration and endurance were as much assets as sheer speed.


Entry Notes

Teo Fabi was free of CART commitments for the weekend, and returned to his place in the Brabham team at the expense of brother Corrado. The older Fabi admitted that a mixed programme was doing him no favours in either category as he typically wasted the first day's practice in either series simply getting used to whichever car he was driving, but he remained contracted to Dick Forsythe even though he wanted to switch to Formula 1 full-time.

Spirit, meanwhile, had suffered a chronic misfire in their one remaining Hart turbo engine during the Canadian Grand Prix, and no replacement was available as Hart's engine pool was already relatively shallow. Instead, John Wickham's team hurriedly converted the 101 chassis to accept a DFV engine (a provision that had been built into the design as early season plans had involved running a second driver in a Cosworth-powered car). Mauro Baldi was still trying to raise sponsorship, so Rothengatter continued in the car, while at RAM Jonathan Palmer returned after his Le Mans drive.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

For the second successive race, Nelson Piquet took pole position. His time was remarkably fast considering he lost one cylinder from his BMW engine in the final couple of corners on his fastest lap, which he reckoned had cost him the best part of a second. As it was, he was still seven tenths faster than Prost in 2nd, and many were recalling his amazing late-season charge the previous year.

Third place went to street track specialist Mansell, ahead of Alboreto, de Angelis and Warwick. The constantly improving Senna had the Toleman in 7th place, ahead of Cheever, a recovered Tambay and Lauda in the second McLaren (after his Friday time was disallowed for having a rear wing three millimetres too wide, which the team blamed on heat distortion).

11th place went to Martin Brundle's DFY-engined Tyrrell, which looked very good on the many tight corners of the track. Team-mate Bellof was 16th after wiping a corner off his car in practice at the last chicane. Less impressive were the evil-looking Williams cars, with Laffite in 19th and Rosberg in 21st (one behind Alliot's RAM), Arnoux's Ferrari, only 15th, Fabi's Brabham back in 23rd and Patrese down in 25th in the second Alfa Romeo. Rothengatter's Spirit-Cosworth was the only non-qualifier, a second slower than Ghinzani's Osella.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

Mansell had looked fast all weekend, and was obviously wound up for the start. He got off the line better than the two ahead of him, but found the gap between Prost and Piquet rapidly shrinking. His Lotus knocked the Brabham sideways into the concrete as the field shot away, debris puncturing Alboreto's radiator and smashing the front suspension on Senna's Toleman. As the pack swerved past the jack-knived Brabham most made it by, though Alliot span harmlessly off to the left in his RAM. Surer, however, had nowhere to go, and while he was able to brake he ended up T-boning the Brabham. With the two cars locked together and no cranes on hand, the marshals were left with little choice other than to red-flag the race.

Half an hour later, the field was ready for another go, admittedly with some changes. Piquet was forced into the spare Brabham, with a jarred neck from the impact of Surer to boot. Alboreto was in the spare Ferrari, with water injection rather than the electronic system. Senna was in the spare Toleman, without the Hart development engine he had used to such good effect in practice. Surer wouldn't take the restart at all, Arrows not having a spare Cosworth car in Detroit with the race machine beyond immediate repair. The second start was neater, with Piquet leading away from Prost, Mansell and Alboreto. Cheever had made another of his dynamite starts to run 5th, ahead of Warwick, de Angelis, Lauda and Tambay, while Senna had got off the line poorly, down to 10th, while de Cesaris was down in last after a bad moment.

Prost found himself struggling to keep Piquet in sight, and on lap 8 suddenly lost grip to his rear tyres, allowing Mansell through. The Lotus then caught Piquet at a fantastic rate, some two seconds a lap, until he was on the Brabham's tail. For four laps Mansell matched the Brabham's every move, waiting for an opening. Then, suddenly, he dropped back, gears disappearing again, before the gearbox broke up entirely on lap 28. Piquet was free again, carefully preserving his Michelin tyres. Prost and Warwick had been unable to, and had already pitted for fresh rubber.

By mid-distance, the attrition was already heavy. Arnoux had retired with suspension failure, Senna had slid off, and Cheever had blown a turbo after a valiant charge to 3rd place. Of the 13 remaining runners, Piquet was leading comfortably, even after he eased off when some waste paper blocked his intercooler. Alboreto and de Angelis were 2nd and 3rd and posing no danger to the leader; Rosberg had somehow hauled the Williams to fourth, with Brundle and Bellof in close attendance. The trio were being caught by Warwick and Prost, who had both stopped for harder rubber. Fabi and Laffite led an unhappy Lauda, Tambay was still circulating after an early spin and the lapped Alliot brought up the rear.

The Tyrrells were having no luck getting by Rosberg, so Brundle was called in for his water stop. Bellof was due in next, but instead whacked the tyres at the chicane before the bits and retired with a deranged wheel. Lauda dropped out with a misfire, Tambay's gearbox gave up and Alliot comprehensively destroyed his RAM, leaving just nine survivors for the later stages. It turned out to be something of a bore, with little happening apart from Brundle charging through in his agile Tyrrell. The problem was, from a spectator's point of view, most of his targets expired before any of their scraps really got going. Warwick's gearbox went the same way as his team-mate's, letting Brundle into 5th place, and challenging Rosberg again. Prost was closing on the pair, but suddenly snapped into a spin with a puncture, miraculously avoiding the walls and limping around to the pits for a third set of tyres.

Rosberg was next to go, when a broken exhaust burnt through an oil line and caused the turbo to expire, and Brundle was 4th. Two laps later that became 3rd as the Ferrari's engine expired, and he was only ten seconds behind de Angelis with fourteen laps to go. The Lotus' gearbox was the next victim, and without second gear de Angelis rapidly lost time, Brundle getting by without too much of a fight on lap 56. With Piquet driving with an eye on his engine temperature, the Tyrrell was catching him at around five seconds a lap. Going into the last lap he was only a second or so behind Piquet, but Brundle was smart enough to realise the World Champion had things in hand, and there was never a serious chance to challenge for victory.

It was nevertheless a stunning performance from the young Englishman, while Piquet had once again shown his maturity by getting a far from healthy car home without being seriously challenged. With two consecutive victories he was now only 16.5 points behind Prost in the championship, and suddenly the Frenchman was looking very vulnerable indeed. Elio de Angelis brought his Lotus home to maintain his amazing consistency - his eighth successive finish, seven of which had been in the points.

The rest of the finishers could best be described as 'survivors'. Fabi came home fourth to score his first points and cap a satisfactory week for Brabham, while Prost was fifth, left to regret his choice of soft Michelins, but at least extending his lead over team-mate Lauda. The only other finisher was Laffite, a lap down in 6th having barely been seen all race as his disappointing 1984 continued - although it had to be said he didn't crash, ruin his gearbox or shred his tyres, which had to count for something. Not much, but certainly something.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
63
1h 55m 41.842s
1
2
Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Cosworth
63
+ 0.837s
11
3
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
63
+ 32.638s
5
4
Teo Fabi Brabham-BMW
63
+ 1m 26.528s
23
5
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
63
+ 1m 55.258s
2
6
Jacques Laffite Williams-Honda
62
+ 1 lap
19
R
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
49
Engine
4
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
47
Turbo
21
R
Derek Warwick Renault
40
Gearbox
6
R
Stefan Bellof Tyrrell-Cosworth
33
Accident
16
R
Patrick Tambay Renault
33
Gearbox
9
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
33
Accident
20
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
33
Engine
10
R
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Renault
27
Gearbox
3
R
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
27
Engine
13
R
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
24
Overheating
12
R
Johnny Cecotto Toleman-Hart
23
Clutch
17
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
21
Engine
8
R
Ayrton Senna Toleman-Hart
21
Accident
7
R
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
20
Accident damage
25
R
Francois Hesnault Ligier-Renault
3
Accident/Ghinzani
18
R
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
3
Accident/Hesnault
26
R
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
2
Suspension
15
R
Jonathan Palmer RAM-Hart
2
Accident
24
R
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
0
Accident
14
DNS
Marc Surer Arrows-Cosworth
-
Accident at first start
22

Fastest Lap: Derek Warwick (Renault), 1:46.221s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
34.5
2
Niki Lauda
24
3
Elio de Angelis
19.5
4
Nelson Piquet
18
5
Rene Arnoux
16.5
6
Derek Warwick
13
7
Keke Rosberg
11
8
Michele Alboreto
9
9
Martin Brundle
8
10
Patrick Tambay
7
11=
Stefan Bellof
5
11=
Nigel Mansell
5
13
Ayrton Senna
4
14=
Eddie Cheever
3
14=
Riccardo Patrese
3
14=
Teo Fabi
3
17
Andrea de Cesaris
2
18=
Thierry Boutsen
1
18=
Jacques Laffite
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
58.5
2
Ferrari
25.5
3
Lotus
24.5
4
Brabham
21
5
Renault
20
6
Tyrrell
13
7
Williams
12
8
Alfa Romeo
6
9
Toleman
4
10
Ligier
2
11
Arrows
1