Grand Prix Classic




Round 9 - Dallas Grand Prix
Fair Park, 6-8 July, 1984

The first of three new tracks on the 1984 calendar, Dallas' Fair Park street circuit was approached with some trepidation by the Grand Prix community - Detroit had been a mess when they first got there, and wasn't much better two years on. Another boiling hot weekend surrounded by concrete walls wasn't exactly what they were after.

On the positive side, it wasn't Caesar's Palace, and the basic configuration of the circuit was a lot faster than Detroit or even Long Beach, with markedly fewer tight corners to boot. The choice of venue was also popular with TV directors worldwide, who promptly cued up the Dallas theme music. Organiser Carrol Shelby was no mug, and most of the more notable members of the soap opera's cast were loitering around in various capacities.


Entry Notes

With Teo Fabi away driving Dick Forsythe's Lola at Cleveland, younger brother Corrado returned to the second Brabham.

The only other changes were engine-related. With the team's final A6 beyond immediate repair, Arrows gave Boutsen and Surer a BMW-powered A7 each, while Brian Hart had caught up with demand and was once again able to supply Spirit with engines.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Mansell followed up on his promise at Detroit by securing his first ever pole position, with team-mate de Angelis alongside. Third place went to Warwick, ahead of Lauda, Arnoux (who openly despised the track), Senna (suffering badly in the conditions, even after ten-lap bursts), Prost (another who vocally slammed the circuit), Rosberg and Alboreto. The track's abrasive surface caused the biggest comment, however - by Saturday it was already breaking up, making lap times around a second slower (only Warwick and the Arrows drivers improving on their Friday times), and qualifying tyres weren't capable of lasting half a flying lap. Several drivers, including the Lotus pair and the Tolemans, elected not to risk their cars on the second day.

Piquet's brief renaissance seemed to have hit a blip as he was down in 12th place, behind team-mate Corrado Fabi, after a remounted oil cooler upset handling on both cars on Friday. It was repositioned overnight, but the surface prevented either from improving. Further down, the hero of Detroit Martin Brundle had a big smash when a tyre deflated on Friday, hit a wall, and bounced off into another on the opposite side of the track, breaking his left ankle and right foot. He wasn't alone in crashing, as nearly everyone hit a wall at one point in the five sessions (an hour's exploration was permitted on Thursday). With Brundle out, there would be no non-qualifiers, but Alliot would also miss the race. The RAM team had spent a frantic fortnight rebuilding their cars after Detroit only for the French driver to crash heavily on Friday, and even though he set a time good enough for 24th on the grid he didn't have a car to race in.

The track's condition was cause of much debate as the surface was breaking up badly, with marbles everywhere. Lauda resumed his position as spokesman for the drivers, many of whom were considering a boycott. The Austrian suggested to the organisers they cancel a CanAm race scheduled for Saturday afternoon, after the final qualifying session. They ignored him, and the sportscars further damaged the track. That evening, and then again on Sunday morning, construction teams were at work patching the worst bits of the track with quick-drying cement. Sunday's warm-up was cancelled at Bernie Ecclestone's intervention, each driver instead having three laps to check for any problems before heading to the dummy grid. He smoothed things over with the drivers, and the race would go ahead.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

With speeds expected to drop further and further as the race went on, the race seemed likely to run for two hours rather than the intended 80 laps, and as the 25 cars were seen to on the dummy grid, many speculated there would be even fewer finishers than there had been in Detroit a fortnight earlier. It looked like one had gone before the start when Arnoux failed to get off the dummy grid, but the marshals push-started him and the Frenchman took up a place at the back of the grid, his good work in practice gone to waste.

Mansell led from de Angelis and Warwick into the first corner, with Senna up to 4th ahead of Lauda and Prost, and Rosberg, Alboreto and Tambay next up. The Brazilian was feeling good in the Toleman and tried to drive past the Renault ahead of him at the start of the second lap, but went too wide, brushed a wall and span, rolling backwards as the rest of the field passed him. Chastised, he drove around to the pits to replace his flat-spotted tyres. Rosberg, in a chassis rebuilt around the original 1983 FW09 monocoque with much improved (if still far from perfect) handling soon moved past Prost, the Finn having invested in a water-cooled skullcap before the race.

Warwick was now having a good look at de Angelis, suffering from a troubled engine, while Mansell was starting to edge away from the pair of them. The Renault got by on lap 4, and then rapidly closed on the leading Lotus. Lauda got past de Angelis just after Warwick, while Bellof skidded into a wall from 13th, joining Cheever and Hesnault (bouncing off Ghinzani for the second race in succession) in retirement. Next to go was Warwick himself on lap 11, who thrust down the outside of Mansell, momentarily took the lead, went sideways on the marbles and slid into a tyre wall with a screech of protesting brakes.

A lap later, Mansell ran wide and brushed a wall, but was lucky enough to survive. However, the mistake allowed de Angelis to get back past Lauda, who was under pressure from Rosberg with Prost looming in the backgroud. It made for a marvellous race from the point of view of the 90,000 crowd. Perhaps remembering Montreal, Mansell refused to submit to his team-mate, and everyone held their breath as the Italian tried to force his way through, while Prost in 5th was less than four seconds behind.

Mansell recovered his composure and the Lotus pair drew away slightly, while Rosberg slipped by Lauda on the inside and into 3rd, with Prost soon following. On lap 19, for the second time de Angelis tried to go around the outside of Mansell at the same point Warwick had done, but the Englishman was unyielding to such an extent that his team-mate's entrance to the following corner was compromised, allowing Rosberg into second place. The Italian took a while to compose himself and dropped back towards the McLarens as Rosberg began pressuring the leading Lotus. Tambay had been gaining slowly on Lauda until he ran wide and knocked a rear wheel of his Renault, while Patrese and de Cesaris had also crashed out and Rothengatter was forced to stop in the Spirit when fuel leaked into the cockpit, burning the Dutch driver's backside.

This promoted Piquet, struggling with a sticking throttle, to 6th ahead of Arnoux, who had charged impressively through the field. Behind the Ferrari came Laffite, then Ghinzani, Surer and Fabi. The Osella driver was forced to pit from 9th, however, when wheel vibrations caused by his early brush with Hesnault sent him in for fresh tyres. The stop was slow, but at least gave the Italian's mechanics ample time to pour cold water all over the grateful driver.

Prost had now pushed de Angelis onto the back of the battle for the lead, despite bouncing off a wall at the same point Mansell had done earlier, and was soon past the second Lotus, now being pressed by Lauda. Prost then came past Rosberg when one of the Finn's attempts to pass Mansell delayed him, but lost the position again a lap later. It all made for exciting stuff, and Rosberg finally managed to thrust past into the lead on lap 36. Mansell tried to fight back, but found the Williams to be just as resolute as he had been, and he was promptly demoted by the McLarens and de Angelis, his tyres ruined from his enthusiastic defence of first place. He ducked into the pits for fresh rubber, and continued in 7th.

In the second Lotus de Angelis was slipping back too, falling behind the McLarens and then coming under attack from Arnoux, Piquet having lost the battle with his throttle and skated into a wall. Prost then took Rosberg, while Arnoux moved past Lauda into a praiseworthy third place. The Ferrari was providing most of the excitement now as the leading group had broken up, and Prost seemed to have broken Rosberg's challenge. Alboreto retired the second Ferrari from a lapped 6th, either side of both Arrows' drivers retiring, leaving just ten cars still running.

That became nine when Prost banged a front wheel against one of the walls, allowing Rosberg back into the lead. Prost's championship lead remained untouched, however, as Lauda clipped the same piece of concrete four laps later, dropping out of third place, parking his McLaren neatly a couple of yards from Prost's example. The chequered flag came out after 67 gruelling laps, with Arnoux the only other car on the same lap as Rosberg. Third went to de Angelis, with Laffite 4th after another sensible but utterly anonymous run.

Mansell seemed set for 5th, only for the Lotus gearbox to give out on the last corner. Mansell promptly climbed out of the car and tried to push it the hundred yards to the line, only to collapse exhausted as Ghinzani flashed by to take the place and relegate him to 6th, with Fabi and Winkelhock the only other finishers. On the rostrum, after giving both McLaren drivers a lift to the pits, Rosberg used the PA to lambast Mansell for baulking earlier in the race. The Englishman was being revived at the medical centre, and the crowd - who had taken the gallant Lotus driver to their hearts - responded by loudly booing the Finn. It was a fitting soap opera ending to a guilty pleasure of a race.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
67
2h 01m 22.617s
7
2
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
67
+ 22.464s
3
3
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
66
+ 1 lap
2
4
Jacques Laffite Williams-Honda
65
+ 2 laps
25
5
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
65
+ 2 laps
18
6
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Renault
64
+ 3 laps/Gearbox
1
7
Corrado Fabi Brabham-BMW
64
+ 3 laps
11
8
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
64
+ 3 laps
13
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
60
Accident
5
R
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
56
Accident
7
R
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
55
Engine
20
R
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
54
Accident
9
R
Marc Surer Arrows-BMW
54
Accident
22
R
Ayrton Senna Toleman-Hart
47
Driveshaft
6
R
Jonathan Palmer RAM-Hart
46
Electrics
26
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
45
Accident
12
R
Patrick Tambay Renault
25
Accident
10
R
Johnny Cecotto Toleman-Hart
25
Accident
15
R
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
15
Accident
16
R
Huub Rothengatter Spirit-Hart
15
Fuel leak
23
R
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
12
Accident
21
R
Derek Warwick Renault
10
Accident
3
R
Stefan Bellof Tyrrell-Cosworth
9
Accident
17
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
8
Accident
14
R
Francois Hesnault Ligier-Renault
0
Accident/Ghinzani
19
DNS
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
-
Accident in practice
24

Fastest Lap: Niki Lauda (McLaren), 1:45.353s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
34.5
2
Niki Lauda
24
3
Elio de Angelis
23.5
4
Rene Arnoux
22.5
5
Keke Rosberg
20
6
Nelson Piquet
18
7
Derek Warwick
13
8
Michele Alboreto
9
9
Martin Brundle
8
10
Patrick Tambay
7
11
Nigel Mansell
6
12
Stefan Bellof
5
13=
Ayrton Senna
4
13=
Jacques Laffite
4
15=
Eddie Cheever
3
15=
Riccardo Patrese
3
15=
Teo Fabi
3
18=
Andrea de Cesaris
2
18=
Piercarlo Ghinzani
2
20
Thierry Boutsen
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
58.5
2
Ferrari
31.5
3
Lotus
29.5
4
Williams
24
5
Brabham
21
6
Renault
20
7
Tyrrell
13
8
Alfa Romeo
6
9
Toleman
4
10=
Ligier
2
10=
Osella
2
12
Arrows
1