Grand Prix Classic




Round 14 - Italian Grand Prix
Monza, 7-9 September, 1984

The Italian Grand Prix would likely see a continuation of Prost and Lauda's duel for the title, with little interruption from the huge partisan crowd's favourites, Ferrari, who were having what was fast turning into a miserable season. Things were going so badly Enzo Ferrari felt the need to hold a press conference ahead of practice to reaffirm his faith in all involved. The McLaren cars' only competition was likely to come from Nelson Piquet, whose Brabham-BMW was expected to enjoy the long straights of the fast circuit.

One team that wouldn't be in Monza was Tyrrell. The team had lost their appeal against the charges of fuel and ballast irregularities. Tyrrell were expelled from the championship, their entries being refused for the final three races of the year, and their cars disqualified from the previous three rounds.


Entry Notes

In addition to the absence of Tyrrell, there were further changes to the entry. Toleman arrived with two new drivers, Alex Hawkridge having suspended Ayrton Senna for breach of contract in response to the Brazilian's defection to Lotus without informing Toleman first. Taking his place was Stefan Johansson, who was due to step down in favour of Brundle even if Tyrrell had been in attendance. Toleman also stepped back up to two cars for the first time since the British Grand Prix, with reigning European Formula 3 champion Pierluigi Martini in the second. The Italian had tested for Brabham in the pre-season, but after losing the seat to Teo Fabi had instead been driving for the Lancia endurance team so far in 1984. He was present due to sponsor Candy's desire to have either an Italian or South American in one of the cars for their home race.

Meanwhile, Gerhard Berger returned in a second ATS car after arranging a deal to drive in the remaining three races of the season.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

There was little surprise when Piquet captured another pole with a blistering lap on Saturday, just ahead of Prost. In third place, de Angelis was nearly a second behind, with Lauda a further second back in fourth after slipping a disc in his back going over a kerb. Fabi had his best practice yet to start 5th, with Rosberg, Mansell, Tambay, Patrese and Cheever completing the top 10.

Both Alfa Romeos benefited from new McLaren-style rear bodywork - allegedly based on unused Gerard Ducarouge designs made before his departure to Lotus. Ferrari had also tried to copy John Barnard's aerodynamics, but were less successful - Alboreto starting 11th, Arnoux 14th.

Johansson put his Toleman 17th on the grid, a slight disappointment, while Martini seemed completely out of his depth, having not sat in the car before Friday, and would end up slowest of all and thus the only non-qualifier.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

As expected, the crowd were somewhat subdued due to the poor performance of Ferrari, instead choosing to boo Piquet and Prost whenever the opportunity presented itself. Before the grid even set off on the formation lap there was trouble as Winkelhock was unable to find first, second or third gears in his ATS after a troubled practice. His patience finally exhausted, he angrily stalked away and left the circuit, his car being wheeled off. It was de Angelis - still with a slim mathematical chance of the title but struggling with a pulled shoulder from a warm-up accident - who got off the grid best, simply driving between the cars on the front row, but once again there was a demonstration of BMW horsepower, and Piquet was inside him and past before the first chicane. Prost was down in third only briefly, sweeping around the outside of the Lotus at the Parabolica, with Lauda 7th behind Tambay, Fabi and Mansell, though he would pass the latter before the end of the first lap.

Tambay soon also passed de Angelis, while Piquet swiftly pulled out a comfortable lead at the front, even surviving dropping a wheel on the grass at Lesmo. Prost was having too much trouble with Tambay to take full advantage, the Renault driver looking a genuine threat for the first time since Dijon, while Alboreto was doing his best for Ferrari and had at least passed the Alfa Romeos. Then suddenly Prost was out. Pushed by Tambay he had caught up to Piquet, only to start the fourth lap with a cloud of grey smoke erupting from the back of the car, and for the third year in succession he retired at Monza.

Tambay and Fabi took up the pursuit of Piquet, with Lauda 4th ahead of Alboreto and the struggling de Angelis, while Arnoux dropped out of 14th with a malfunctioning gearbox - ending another unimpressive weekend for the Frenchman, a title contender only a year before. Fabi was the next to hit trouble, simply spinning his car at the second chicane and dropping down to 8th place. Luckily, he had kept the engine running at set off at a decent pace trying to make up lost ground. This left Lauda third and well-poised, while Cheever was up to 5th behind Alboreto. Further back Johansson was flying after a poor start and up to 11th place as the suspended Ayrton Senna watched him from the Brazilian television commentary position.

Fabi was tearing through the field, and on lap 12 slotted past Alboreto into 4th at the first chicane, finally showing the form which had been expected of him at the start of the year. Four laps later he was back in 3rd place, but only because Piquet had punctured a radiator, with dire consequences for his BMW engine. Already there were only 15 cars still running, with both Williams and both Lotus cars retiring near-simultaneously. Tambay was now leading by quite a distance from Lauda, driving beautifully in the Renault. Lauda's reign in second was short-lived as the flying Fabi was soon past, and began working on the seven second gap to the race leader, with Lauda shadowing him.

By lap 27 the trio were almost together, but Tambay was able to withstand Fabi's bravado, while Lauda kept a watching brief, preserving his tyres. He made his first move on lap 39, pulling out of the Brabham's slipstream to take 2nd at the Parabolica. Three laps later he was past Tambay too, the Frenchman having no answer as he swung by just before the second chicane. Neither Fabi nor Tambay would get the reward their sterling drives deserved, dropping out within a minute of each other with engine and throttle problems respectively.

All of which left Alboreto a distant second from Cheever, Johansson, Patrese, Ghinzani and Gartner. Cheever's 3rd place lasted only a lap before he pulled out, his fuel tank empty once again. Johansson took over the position, only to immediately slow with a broken wheel-bearing. He kept going, but Patrese was gaining. The Italian had spent the whole race using minimal boost, relying on tows from those ahead, and overhauled the Toleman on the final lap to secure his (and the team's) first rostrum finish since the 1983 South African Grand Prix.

Ghinzani also overhauled Johansson, only to almost immediately run out of fuel after another respectable showing. Johansson staggered home 4th ahead of Gartner and Berger, 6th in only his second race - the latter pair's joy tempered by the knowledge that, as they were driving belated entries to the series, they could not score points.

The field had disintegrated in the last ten laps, making a fine race somewhat confused, but one thing remained certain - it had been another coolly calculated victory for Lauda, who spent three-quarters of the race watching and waiting as others used up their tyres, fuel and luck, and then clinically pounced to take maximum advantage of Prost's early engine failure - all despite pain from his injured back. With two races to go, he led the championship by a healthy ten and a half points - enough for him to take his third title if he won the following European Grand Prix, regardless of where Prost finished.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
51
1h 20m 29.065s
4
2
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
51
+ 24.249s
11
3
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
50
+ 1 lap
9
4
Stefan Johansson Toleman-Hart
49
+ 2 laps
17
5
Jo Gartner Osella-Alfa Romeo
49
+ 2 laps
24
6
Gerhard Berger ATS-BMW
49
+ 2 laps
20
7
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
48
+ 3 laps/Out of fuel
22
8
Huub Rothengatter Spirit-Hart
48
+ 3 laps
25
9
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
45
+ 6 laps/Out of fuel
10
10
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
45
+ 6 laps
19
R
Patrick Tambay Renault
43
Throttle cable
8
R
Teo Fabi Brabham-BMW
43
Engine
5
R
Marc Surer Arrows-BMW
43
Engine
15
R
Derek Warwick Renault
31
Oil pressure
12
R
Jonathan Palmer RAM-Hart
20
Oil pressure
26
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
15
Engine
1
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
14
Gearbox
3
R
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Renault
13
Spin
7
R
Jacques Laffite Williams-Honda
10
Engine
13
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
8
Turbo
6
R
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
7
Engine
16
R
Francois Hesnault Ligier-Renault
7
Spin
18
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
6
Electrics
23
R
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
5
Gearbox
14
R
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
3
Engine
2
DNS
Manfred Winkelhock ATS-BMW
-
Gearbox
21

Fastest Lap: Niki Lauda (McLaren), 1:31.912s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Niki Lauda
63
2
Alain Prost
52.5
3
Elio de Angelis
29.5
4
Rene Arnoux
24.5
5
Nelson Piquet
24
6
Derek Warwick
23
7
Michele Alboreto
21
8
Keke Rosberg
20
9
Nigel Mansell
13
10
Patrick Tambay
10
11=
Ayrton Senna
8
11=
Teo Fabi
8
13
Riccardo Patrese
7
14
Jacques Laffite
4
15=
Eddie Cheever
3
15=
Thierry Boutsen
3
15=
Stefan Johansson
3
18=
Andrea de Cesaris
2
18=
Piercarlo Ghinzani
2
20
Marc Surer
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
115.5
2
Ferrari
45.5
3
Lotus
42.5
4
Renault
33
5
Brabham
32
6
Williams
24
7
Toleman
11
8
Alfa Romeo
10
9
Arrows
4
10=
Ligier
2
10=
Osella
2