Grand Prix Classic




Round 10 - British Grand Prix
Brands Hatch, 20-22 July, 1984

The return of the Grand Prix series to Europe normally meant a return to sanity, especially after a North American demolition derby triple-bill. However, FISA had conspired to make sure there was plenty of controversy to go around. Firstly, Nigel Mansell was given a $6000 fine and a six-month suspended licence suspension for causing the first start crash in Detroit in somewhat farcical circumstances. Even more astonishing was the disqualification of the Tyrrell team from the 1984 championship for irregularities, basically centred on the accusation that the water ballast replenished during the team's pitstops contained diluted lead shot, and thus the cars were running underweight before these stops. The team's points were officially removed, but Tyrrell obtained a High Court injunction to run until an appeal was heard.

It all meant that the British Grand Prix, held at Brands Hatch this time as part of the alternating agreement with Silverstone, was struggling to gain everyone's attention. However, things were finely poised - McLaren's early-season dominance seemed to have evaporated a little after three straight defeats, while Nelson Piquet's Brabham was looking to provide some serious competition after finally finding some reliability, and with fast circuits which would suit the powerful BMW engine coming up.


Entry Notes

Regardless of whether Tyrrell would be racing beyond the British Grand Prix, a stand-in was needed for the injured Martin Brundle, and Ken Tyrrell hired ex-Spirit driver Stefan Johansson on a race-by-race basis to fill the seat - the pre-season plan to have Danny Sullivan act as a reserve driver for such occasions having fallen by the wayside.

Teo Fabi was once more in the second Brabham, while Osella had a second Alfa Romeo turbo-powered FA1F car, entered for Jo Gartner. Brabham and Williams also rolled out 'B' spec versions of their 1984 cars in the hope of closing the gap to McLaren.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Practice was overshadowed by a heavy crash for Toleman driver Johnny Cecotto. The Venezuelan came off at Dingle Dell seven minutes into the first free practice on cold tyres, smashing into a barrier, badly injuring his legs and feet. Cecotto was airlifted to hospital, and it seemed unlikely he would race again.

Nelson Piquet took pole in the modified BT53B, despite the team effectively wasting the first day of running after going the wrong way with set-up, beating the McLarens of Prost and Lauda. Next was de Angelis, ahead of Rosberg and Warwick (who re-signed with Renault for 1985). Senna was 7th, lifting Toleman's morale, ahead of a disappointed Mansell, Alboreto and Tambay.

Down at the back, the organisers ruled that anyone who qualified below the Tyrrells would be allowed to start to avoid grievances from other teams. As it was, Johansson (25th) and Bellof (26th) outqualified Gartner's Osella, meaning there would be 27 starters in the race.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

Brands Hatch had its' usual exhaustive parade of support races before the much-anticipated Grand Prix finally got underway. Piquet led into the first corner ahead of Prost, with de Angelis nipping into 3rd ahead of Lauda. Mansell made a great getaway and tried to have a look around the outside of fellow Brit Warwick but couldn't make it through, finding himself fending off Rosberg.

Further back there was drama as Patrese lost control trying a desperate lunge down the inside of Laffite at Graham Hill Bend. Team-mate Cheever was right behind and had to step on everything to avoid hitting the Italian, only to get thumped by the following Gartner. Alliot went flying over the pair of them, and Johansson was also taken out by the debris. Everyone was okay (despite the marshals smothering Gartner' Osella with foam), with Cheever and Johansson even making it around to the pits before retiring their broken cars, while an oblivious Patrese continued in 22nd place.

Up front Piquet had eked out a second or so from Prost, but the McLaren was still hanging on, with Lauda closing on the pair having got by de Angelis. Warwick followed in 4th, but might as well have been in a different race, a sizeable gap already developing to the leading trio. Rosberg soon disappeared from 6th with a split intercooler hose, but the focus was up front. The BMW engine was giving Piquet enough speed to keep ahead on the straights, but through the corners Prost was all over the Brabham's rear wing. It seemed a simple matter of when.

It took until lap 12, when Prost managed to get in Piquet's slipstream on the start-finish straight and tuck inside at Paddock Bend. Before the end of the lap Lauda was through and Piquet was in the pits to get his too-soft Michelin tyres replaced. Suddenly, there were red flags out. The cause was Jonathan Palmer, who had suffered a steering failure at Clearways and comprehensively demolished the barrier with a head-on impact. The Englishman was okay (though boss John Macdonald, having seen another huge crash for one of his cars, was less so), but his car was right beside the track at the fast corner, and the marshals couldn't clear it with the race on. The worry was that any car running wide would plough into the abandoned RAM with dire consequences, so everyone was pulled in.

The half-hour delay saw the atmosphere fizzle. The 19 survivors were assembled on the grid in the same order they had been on lap 11 (the lap before the red flag was shown), and Piquet was allowed to switch to harder tyres while simultaneously regaining his lead, much to the vocal displeasure of Prost and de Angelis. Several suggested that the Brands Hatch organisers wanted a competitive race, rather than a McLaren walkover, for their bumper crowd, and had jumped at the chance to give Piquet a second chance. ATS wanted to restart Winkelhock, who had span off on lap 9, but weren't allowed to as the German had officially retired. On top of everything, the remaining sixty laps would be added to the previous eleven (four having been lost to various regulations) to give a result on aggregate, never a satisfactory experience.

If Piquet had been given a let-off it was to be short-lived, as Prost took the lead on the very first corner of the restart. The reigning champion soon had Lauda menacing him, with again a big gap developing back to Warwick in 4th place. Lauda would take 17 laps before out-braking Piquet at Druids, and set off to see if he could do anything about catching Prost. Further back, Mansell retired, but de Angelis was in his groove and attacking Tambay for 5th place, while in 8th de Cesaris was using the full width of the track to fend off Arnoux and Alboreto.

On the 27th lap past the restart, Lauda had the hammer down, closing to within 2.7 seconds of Prost. The Frenchman had slid wide at one point trying to keep his lead as his team-mate relentlessly drew in, and hopes were high that the long-awaited duel between the pair would happen at Brands. However, Prost rapidly began losing gears thanks to a broken pinion bearing, and pulled into the pits to retire after Lauda and Piquet went by. After his slow start, the Brazilian had driven well to keep the McLarens from running away, and as Lauda caught the three-corner battle between de Cesaris, Alboreto and Arnoux, he closed right up. As Lauda was working his way through Alboreto finally passed the Ligier in a pretty hairy move that saw their wheels briefly overlap, but the gap remained the same when it had all shaken out, around one and a half seconds between them.

However, it got no smaller as Piquet began losing boost from his engine and dropped away. The main event now was the battle between de Angelis and Senna over 4th place, which was resolved in the latter's favour when he sliced up the inside of the Lotus going into Paddock Bend. Soon after, Piquet began to slow even more dramatically, Warwick scything past and setting about eating into the aggregate deficit to the Brabham. Within a few corners, Senna and de Angelis were through as well, though the Lotus was also less than healthy, with a sick-sounding engine.

Lauda took victory easily in the end, obliterating the bulk of Prost's title lead, with Warwick a distant 2nd but glad to finish for the first time since Imola. Senna was delighted with third place in dry conditions and ahead of some heavyweight competition, while de Angelis held on for fourth to continue his amazing scoring record. Piquet slowed to such an extent than both Ferraris eventually passed him, Alboreto 5th for only his third Ferrari finish. Tambay would have come home ahead of both of them, but a turbo expired on his very last lap, leaving him classified 8th. A worthy 9th went to Ghinzani, with de Cesaris 10th - suffering handling problems after bending something when Arnoux ran out of patience and forced the issue. Bellof, Surer and Patrese completed the finishers.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
71
1h 29m 28.532s
3
2
Derek Warwick Renault
71
+ 42.123s
6
3
Ayrton Senna Toleman-Hart
71
+ 1m 03.328s
7
4
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
70
+ 1 lap
4
5
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
70
+ 1 lap
9
6
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
70
+ 1 lap
13
7
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
70
+ 1 lap
1
8
Patrick Tambay Renault
69
+ 2 laps/Turbo
10
9
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
68
+ 3 laps
21
10
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
68
+ 3 laps
19
11
Stefan Bellof Tyrrell-Cosworth
68
+ 3 laps
26
12
Marc Surer Arrows-BMW
67
+ 4 laps
15
13
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
66
+ 5 laps
17
NC
Huub Rothengatter Spirit-Hart
62
Still Running
22
R
Francois Hesnault Ligier-Renault
43
Electrics
20
R
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
37
Gearbox
2
R
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Renault
24
Gearbox
8
R
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
24
Electrics
12
R
Jacques Laffite Williams-Honda
14
Water pump
16
R
Jonathan Palmer RAM-Hart
10
Accident
23
R
Teo Fabi Brabham-BMW
9
Electrics
14
R
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
8
Spin
11
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
5
Engine
5
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
1
Accident damage
18
R
Stefan Johansson Tyrrell-Cosworth
1
Accident damage
25
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
0
Accident/Cheever
24
R
Jo Gartner Osella-Alfa Romeo
0
Accident/Alliot
27

Fastest Lap: Niki Lauda (McLaren), 1:13.181s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
34.5
2
Niki Lauda
33
3
Elio de Angelis
26.5
4
Rene Arnoux
23.5
5
Keke Rosberg
20
6
Derek Warwick
19
7
Nelson Piquet
18
8
Michele Alboreto
11
9
Ayrton Senna
8
10
Patrick Tambay
7
11
Nigel Mansell
6
12
Jacques Laffite
4
13=
Eddie Cheever
3
13=
Riccardo Patrese
3
13=
Teo Fabi
3
16=
Andrea de Cesaris
2
16=
Piercarlo Ghinzani
2
18
Thierry Boutsen
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
67.5
2
Ferrari
34.5
3
Lotus
32.5
4
Renault
26
5
Williams
24
6
Brabham
21
7
Toleman
8
8
Alfa Romeo
6
9=
Ligier
2
9=
Osella
2
11
Arrows
1