Grand Prix Classic




Round 16 - Portuguese Grand Prix
Estoril, 19-21 October, 1984

The scene for the climax of the 1984 championship battle was the new circuit at Estoril, near Lisbon. The track had been built in the 1970s and mainly used for minor events. However, the problems with the mooted Fuengirola street race in Spain and the Portuguese government's upgrading of the circuit's facilities made it an ideal candidate to stand in for the 16th Grand Prix of the year - the first to be held in the country since 1960.

Controversially since the European Grand Prix, FISA had belatedly updated the championship standings, moving everyone that finished behind the disqualified Tyrrell cars to move up accordingly. This meant Prost's 5th place in Detroit became 4th, cutting Lauda's lead to just 3.5 points. Others to gain were de Angelis (2.5 points); Boutsen (2 points); Senna, Teo Fabi, Laffite and de Cesaris (1 point each), and finally Arnoux and Alboreto (half a point each). While most agreed it was overall a sensible decision to promote those behind the Tyrrells, there was much cynicism about the timing of the announcement. McLaren had done their part for parity, however, bringing along a spare car for each driver.


Entry Notes

Renault entered a third car for long-time test driver Philippe Streiff. The car would be ineligible for points. ATS also went through the formality of switching Berger from the #31 ATS to the #14 ATS.

The driver he had replaced, Manfred Winkelhock, was called up by Brabham at the last minute when Teo Fabi learnt of the death of his father on Thursday night. The Italian was immediately granted compassionate leave by the team, and set off home (his younger brother Corrado joining him from Laguna Seca, where he had been driving for Dick Forsythe's Indycar team. BMW's Paul Rosche suggested Winkelhock, who then headed down from Frankfurt - though complications with the flight saw him miss Friday's sessions.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

After an unofficial familiarisation session on Thursday, Friday was then struck by heavy rain, revealing some shortcomings in the drainage of the refurbished circuit. An hour's untimed practice was hurriedly organised,, followed by the delayed first session. The times on the damp circuit were universally superseded on the dry Saturday.

Piquet overcame turbocharger problems to secure his 9th pole position of the season, once again flanked by Prost's McLaren. Behind them came Ayrton Senna in his final race for Toleman, scoring the team's best ever-grid position. Rosberg (in the spare Williams - he had been a non-qualifier a minute from the end of the session before producing a stunning lap in the spare car), de Angelis and Mansell rounded out the top six, ahead of Tambay, Alboreto, Warwick and Johansson in the second Toleman.

Lauda was back in 11th after myriad niggling faults, two places ahead of Streiff in the third Renault. The Frenchman had incurred the wrath of de Angelis after the pair collided on Saturday morning. After his hectic journey to Portugal, Winkelhock was back in 19th after intercooler problems. With 27 entrants, there would be one non-qualifier - the unlucky man was Philippe Alliot. However, as Winkelhock had been nominated late, a cordial agreement was reached to allow him to start anyway.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

The weather remained bright and sunny for the race. All eyes were on Prost, but Rosberg went around the three cars ahead of him at the start, and into the lead. Mansell followed him and slotted into second, followed by Prost, Piquet and Senna. Piquet would spin before the lap was out, running wide. Lauda, meanwhile, was still in 11th after a conservative start.

Prost made his moves swiftly, out-dragging Mansell on the start-finish straight before tucking up behind the energetic Rosberg. The next few laps saw Prost trying to get past the Williams, but Rosberg wasn't in a mood to give up, and neither was Mansell in third. Lauda, meanwhile, had began to move and was now trying to get on terms with Johansson. At the start of lap 9 Prost finally managed to get ahead of Rosberg on the straight and nose into the lead, and then comfortably pull away. The Frenchman had done all he could, and just concentrated on moving away in his typical smooth style.

It was now a question of what Lauda could do. Assuming Prost's car didn't break down and the driver made no errors, Lauda needed to finish second to take the title. His job was nearly simplified when Mansell dived down the inside of Rosberg, and for a moment it looked like the team-mates to be would collide, but the Lotus driver was finally forced to back down and the battle continued. On lap 12 Mansell made it through cleanly, while Lauda was still unable to get on terms with Johansson. The Swede was more interested in taking 7th place from de Angelis, and Lauda watched and waited rather than get caught up in their battle. One car he wouldn't have to negotiate was Warwick, who ran wide and dropped back to change tyres, promoting Lauda to 8th.

He moved up another place when de Angelis began to fade, allowing both the Toleman and the McLaren through. They were at the back of a gaggle of cars now building up behind Rosberg's 3rd-placed Williams. Senna soon got past the Finn and began to pull away, further spreading out the cars Lauda needed to pass. And he still couldn't get past Johansson - time and time again he pulled out of the Swede's slipstream before the first corner, only to either find the Toleman a little too far ahead courtesy of the car's straight-line speed or Johansson anticipating his move. In the end, on lap 27 as they lapped Ghinzani's Osella on the slope at the back of the circuit, Lauda forced his way past into 6th place, at the expense of the Toleman's front wing. Immediately Lauda attacked Alboreto, and suddenly he was 5th. Rosberg fell soon afterwards, and Lauda's next target was the lead Toleman of Senna.

At the start of lap 34, he made it through on the straight. The problem was now that Mansell in the crucial second place was some thirty-five seconds down the road. The Englishman was periodically matching Prost's pace, and while he wasn't able to close the gap enough to put together any sort of challenge, the Austrian would have to chase for the six points he needed.

Then, having put in the graft, Lauda had the placing he needed. He had made steady inroads into Mansell's lead, but nothing of the sort he needed to pass the Lotus. However, Mansell's brakes suddenly disappeared on lap 53, and he crawled into the pits to retire. Both McLaren drivers then eased right off - Prost was helpless to do anything about Lauda, and Lauda had no desire to do anything about Prost. Senna in third was far too smart to push on after them and instead focused on fending off Alboreto, the Ferrari spinning after an out-braking manoeuvre, and having to catch up to the Toleman all over again.

Alboreto was unable to dislodge the Brazilian, but at least scoring again saw him continue to assert his dominance over Arnoux (a lacklustre 9th this time out). Fifth place went to de Angelis to secure his third place in the standings, ahead of Piquet. The Brazilian's recovery had not been scintillating, and received some good luck when Tambay let him past in the closing stages - the Renault team having believed Piquet was a lap down, and told their driver to watch out for Patrese. The Italian brought the Alfa home 8th, capping off an improved end of season for the Euroracing outfit.

Behind Arnoux came Winkelhock, who just led off the charging Johansson. The Swede had lost two laps getting a new nosecone fitted and set third-fastest lap on his return to the track - but for contact with Lauda, he would certainly have scored points. The rest of the finishers were de Cesaris, Berger, Laffite (after two stops with loose bodywork; he eventually finished without an engine cover), Baldi (who spent the last lap and a half with a flat rear tyre) and Cheever, who crossed the line for the first time since Rio - sadly six laps adrift after a long stop to fix a misfire.

So, Prost took his 7th victory of the season (equalling Jim Clark's 1965 record), but lost the title by half a point, and was left to reflect on his mistakes in Dallas and Austria. His win was the 12th for McLaren, who had reset the bar in terms of dominance. The 1-2 finish (McLaren's 4th) also served as a good send-off for Michelin. Lauda came home 2nd to secure his third title, having used all his guile and experience to beat the Frenchman - it was somehow fitting that while Prost had taken the win, Lauda had neatly summarised his season by biding his time, making all the right moves and maximising his score even if he wasn't the fastest driver on the circuit. It had been a tense and exciting end to a season which had stayed a lot more enthralling than the McLaren steamroller would make it appear.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
70
1h 41m 11.753s
2
2
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
70
+ 13.425s
11
3
Ayrton Senna Toleman-Hart
70
+ 20.042s
3
4
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
70
+ 20.317s
8
5
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
70
+ 1m 32.169s
5
6
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
69
+ 1 lap
1
7
Patrick Tambay Renault
69
+ 1 lap
7
8
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
69
+ 1 lap
12
9
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
69
+ 1 lap
17
10
Manfred Winkelhock Brabham-BMW
69
+ 1 lap
19
11
Stefan Johansson Toleman-Hart
69
+ 1 lap
10
12
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
69
+ 1 lap
20
13
Gerhard Berger ATS-BMW
68
+ 2 laps
23
14
Jacques Laffite Williams-Honda
67
+ 3 laps
15
15
Mauro Baldi Spirit-Hart
66
+ 4 laps
25
16
Jo Gartner Osella-Alfa Romeo
65
+ 5 laps/Out of fuel
24
17
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
64
+ 6 laps
14
R
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
60
Engine
22
R
Nigel Mansell Lotus-Renault
52
Brakes
6
R
Derek Warwick Renault
51
Gearbox
9
R
Philippe Streiff Renault
48
Driveshaft
11
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
39
Engine
4
R
Francois Hesnault Ligier-Renault
31
Electrics
21
R
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
24
Driveshaft
18
R
Jonathan Palmer RAM-Hart
19
Gearbox
26
R
Marc Surer Arrows-BMW
8
Electrics
16
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
2
Engine
27

Fastest Lap: Niki Lauda (McLaren), 1:22.996s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Niki Lauda
72
2
Alain Prost
71.5
3
Elio de Angelis
34
4
Michele Alboreto
30.5
5
Nelson Piquet
29
6
Rene Arnoux
27
7
Derek Warwick
23
8
Keke Rosberg
20.5
9=
Ayrton Senna
13
9=
Nigel Mansell
13
11
Patrick Tambay
11
12
Teo Fabi
9
13
Riccardo Patrese
8
14=
Jacques Laffite
5
14=
Thierry Boutsen
5
16=
Eddie Cheever
3
16=
Stefan Johansson
3
16=
Andrea de Cesaris
3
18
Piercarlo Ghinzani
2
20
Marc Surer
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
143.5
2
Ferrari
57.5
3
Lotus
47
4
Brabham
38
5
Renault
34
6
Williams
25.5
7
Toleman
16
8
Alfa Romeo
11
9
Arrows
6
10
Ligier
3
11
Osella
2