Grand Prix Classic




Round 12 - Austrian Grand Prix
Osterreichring, 17-19 August, 1984

The fast, challenging Osterreichring was next on the calendar, this time a fortnight rather than a week after the German Grand Prix as had been the case for the previous two seasons. While the Austrian circuit's rural setting made it unpopular with team managers and the like, it was much-loved by the drivers.

Home hero Niki Lauda would be the focus of much attention, sitting four and a half points behind McLaren team-mate Alain Prost. Retirements from Elio de Angelis and Nelson Piquet in Germany seemed to have ended their championship hopes, barring a McLaren collapse - and considering the Woking team had won eight of the twelve races so far in 1984, this didn't seem to be a likely occurrence.


Entry Notes

In addition to Lauda and Jo Gartner, there would be a third Austrian driver at the Osterreichring. European Formula 3 front-runner Gerhard Berger had found the sponsorship to join ATS, the team entering a second car (numbered 31) alongside Manfred Winkelhock.

At Tyrrell, still participating pending their appeal, Stefan Bellof returned in place of Mike Thackwell, while Toleman continued with just a single entry for Ayrton Senna.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Brabham's 'sprint' T-car, fitted with a high boost engine, was ideally suited to the Osterreichring, and Piquet duly took his 6th pole position of the season. Prost, winner in 1983, lined up second, however, only three hundredths of a second behind the Brazilian. Third place went to 1982 winner Elio de Angelis, just ahead of Lauda.

The Renaults took row 3, Tambay in front of Warwick, followed by Fabi (who borrowed the sprint Brabham for a couple of runs), Mansell, Rosberg and the excellent Senna, against predictions the Hart engine would struggle at the Osterreichring. The Ferraris were down in 12th (Alboreto) and 15th (Arnoux).

In the second half of the grid, Berger qualified comfortably in 20th. Not so lucky were the Tyrrell drivers, who were giving away in the region of 30mph on the straights. Engine problems for Rothengatter seemed to have allowed Johansson onto the grid, but Spirit were able to loan an engine from RAM, and thus bump the Swede from the grid. To add insult to injury, 28th-fastest Bellof's car was then found to be 3kg underweight on Saturday, and he was excluded from the meeting. The result was that the race would be the first Grand Prix not to feature a Cosworth-powered car since the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

Austria stayed gloriously bright and sunny for the race, meaning a bumper crowd of 85,000 willing Lauda on. There would only be 25 starters, as Winkelhock's ATS had needed a new gearbox after the warm-up. The work was seemingly done, but the German couldn't find any gears on his formation lap, and there was no time to strip the car down and start over again. The remaining cars didn't go much further on the first start, as de Angelis failed to get off the line, and Tambay was stuck behind him. Laffite then ground to a halt behind them, realising that the start had been aborted. Most of the field had done best part of a lap before being made aware, Prost having got the jump on Piquet at the start, with Lauda being pressed by a feisty-looking Senna and Rothengatter ploughing off into the scenery.

Starter Derek Ongaro had intended to abort the start as de Angelis was waving his arms, but an apparent wiring error meant the green light had come on anyway. The 25 runners, Rothengatter having been extracted, shortly lined up for a second go, with one lap knocked off the race distance. This time it was a little tidier. Prost again got off the grid better than Piquet, but the Brabham-BMW's speed was enough that the Brazilian was alongside as they headed into the first corner and retook first place. Tambay was into 3rd ahead of de Angelis, followed by Warwick, Lauda, Senna, Mansell and Rosberg.

Fabi had stalled on the line and was pushed away, while further back excited home heroes Gartner and Berger touched, the ATS sliding luridly across the width of the track before the pair carried on their merry way, Gartner promptly knocking team-mate Ghinzani over the top of the chicane's kerbs. Sadly neither Osella would entertain for long, Ghinzani's gearbox packing up after four laps and Gartner's engine only taking six laps to cry enough after the toothy Austrian had barged his way up to 17th.

Warwick took 4th from de Angelis, but both were firmly in Lauda's sights, and soon fell to the McLaren, which then closed on Tambay in one of the Austrian's typical early charges, though it would take 8 laps to get past the determined Frenchman. Senna, running beautifully in the Toleman, was soon past de Angelis and on Warwick's tail, only to run wide after an unsuccessful passing move and slip behind the Lotus. For the third race running both the Williams cars were early casualties, Laffite's engine exploding and Rosberg dropping out when even fresh tyres and more wing couldn't counter his car's dramatic understeer. There can be no more damning an evaluation of the FW09's handling than it being bad enough to cause Rosberg to give up.

Both Renaults dropped out of contention with pitstops to replace their soft Michelin tyres, Tambay coming in on lap 10, and Warwick on lap 15 (the latter's water injection packing up three laps later). Still Piquet and Prost sailed on, Piquet edging away a few tenths here and a few tenths there, though there was always a sense Prost had something in the bag and was thinking of six points for the championship. Lauda, however, was steadily gaining on the pair of them, setting fastest lap so far and scything through the backmarkers.

The trio kept at it hammer and tongs until lap 28. The catalyst for change was de Angelis' Lotus in 4th place, which developed a turbo fire. The Italian came into the pits to retire just before the leaders came around the Rindtkurve, which now had oil on it from the Renault V6. Piquet slipped, caught the car and carried on. Prost slipped and span onto the grass on the outside of the track, engine stalled. Lauda didn't even twitch, now into a second place which would take him into the championship lead. On top of that, Piquet had used the best of his rear tyres holding off Prost, and Lauda was soon looming in the Brabham's mirrors, eventually picking him off on lap 39 to roars from the crowd.

Behind them, Tambay had passed Mansell and Senna to reach 3rd, but none of them would survive for much longer. This elevated Alboreto, Fabi and Patrese, but the Alfa Romeo driver would also falter. Caught up in trying to catch the Brabham ahead, Patrese neglected to dial down his boost and lost a safe 5th three laps from the end when his fuel tank inevitably ran dry. Instead, it was the Arrows cars who took the last two points places, Boutsen just fending off Surer as they bombed towards the finish line, making it four BMW engines in the top six finishers. Next up was the unimpressive Arnoux, no faster after he had changed tyres, then Hesnault and the RAMs. Berger was classified 12th and last on his debut, staggering over the line with a broken gearbox.

Piquet just had no answer to the McLaren, and while Lauda was seemingly pacing himself and keeping just out of reach the World Champion was forced to simply sit there and reel off the laps, hoping his own car would last and the McLaren wouldn't, and backed off to ensure a finish and six points. Lauda had actually lost 4th gear, but adapted to this with such ease that no-one watching was aware until the Austrian revealed it after the race. In the meantime he strolled to a hugely popular home victory - and into the title lead.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
51
1h 21m 12.851s
4
2
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
51
+ 23.525s
1
3
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
51
+ 48.998s
12
4
Teo Fabi Brabham-BMW
51
+ 56.312s
7
5
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
50
+ 1 lap
17
6
Marc Surer Arrows-BMW
50
+ 1 lap
19
7
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
50
+ 1 lap
15
8
Francois Hesnault Ligier-Renault
49
+ 2 laps
21
9
Jonathan Palmer RAM-Hart
49
+ 2 laps
24
10
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
48
+ 3 laps/Out of fuel
13
11
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
48
+ 3 laps
25
12
Gerhard Berger ATS-BMW
48
+ 3 laps
20
R
Patrick Tambay Renault
42
Engine
5
R
Ayrton Senna Toleman-Hart
35
Oil pressure
10
R
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Renault
32
Engine
8
R
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
28
Spin
2
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
28
Engine
3
NC
Huub Rothengatter Spirit-Hart
23
Still Running
26
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
18
Engine
16
R
Derek Warwick Renault
17
Engine
6
R
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
15
Fuel injection
18
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
15
Handling
9
R
Jacques Laffite Williams-Honda
12
Engine
11
R
Jo Gartner Osella-Alfa Romeo
6
Engine
22
R
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
4
Gearbox
23
DNS
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
-
Gearbox
14

Fastest Lap: Niki Lauda (McLaren), 1:32.882s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Niki Lauda
48
2
Alain Prost
43.5
3
Elio de Angelis
26.5
4
Rene Arnoux
24.5
5
Nelson Piquet
24
6
Derek Warwick
23
7
Keke Rosberg
20
8
Michele Alboreto
15
9=
Patrick Tambay
9
9=
Nigel Mansell
9
11
Ayrton Senna
8
12
Teo Fabi
6
13
Jacques Laffite
4
14=
Eddie Cheever
3
14=
Riccardo Patrese
3
14=
Thierry Boutsen
3
17=
Andrea de Cesaris
2
17=
Piercarlo Ghinzani
2
19
Marc Surer
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
91.5
2
Ferrari
39.5
3
Lotus
35.5
4
Renault
32
5
Brabham
30
6
Williams
24
7
Toleman
8
8
Alfa Romeo
6
9
Arrows
4
10=
Ligier
2
10=
Osella
2