Grand Prix Classic




Round 1 - Brazilian Grand Prix
Jacarepagua, 5-7 April, 1985

The season opener was originally scheduled for March 31st at Dallas' Fair Park track (with, reportedly, the race to also be included in the storyline for the Dallas soap), but the organisers had reportedly failed to meet certain financial guarantees, and so the race was scrubbed from the calendar.

Instead, Rio's Jacarepagua circuit would host the first Grand Prix of the year for the third season in succession. In previous seasons it had given some false impressions of the real shape of things - 1983 had seen Cosworth cars match the turbos, while 1984 had seen the likes of Ferrari, Lotus and Renault look to be on terms with the McLarens, so how accurate a form guide the 1985 race would be remained to be seen.


Entry Notes

With Minardi being, as expected, the only new team to arrive in Brazil, there were only 25 entries, guaranteeing everyone a starting place providing they recorded a time. There would, however, be one unexpected change to the entry. Tyrrell were in dispute with Stefan Bellof regarding one of the German's personal sponsors, and with things in deadlock Ken Tyrrell suspended the driver shortly before the start of free practice. Stefan Johansson, present in the paddock despite Toleman's absence, borrowed a helmet from Keke Rosberg and stepped in to drive instead.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

After setting fastest time in the final pre-season tests, Michele Alboreto replicated this form with a superb pole time, and alongside him was Keke Rosberg, his barnstorming lap set in the old FW09 spare and without a clutch to boot. Behind them came the Lotus cars, de Angelis ahead of the crowd's new favourite, Ayrton Senna. The Renault-engined cars had been fastest in Friday's session, but both drivers were baulked on their fast laps on Saturday.

Mansell was an impressive 5th on his Williams debut, ahead of Prost in 'only' 6th - though given McLaren's 1984 proclivity for using practice to concentrate on race setup, no-one was getting excited yet. Arnoux had the second Ferrari in 7th ahead of Piquet - the latter doubly disappointed with a relatively poor showing by his standards and the mass defection of the crowd to Senna. Lauda and Warwick completed the top 10.

Aside from the usual list of 'new car' problems usually associated with a season opener the two days practice were relatively uneventful, though many shook their heads when Pierluigi Martini missed all of Saturday's session after the inexperienced Minardi team failed to change his DFV engine in time after a morning blow-up.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

As per usual, the weather was hot (around 50° C.), bright and sunny as the 25 cars lined up to start the 1985 season. Off the grid, Rosberg got away beautifully while Alboreto floundered, but kept ahead of the fast-starting Prost by a whisker. Mansell had also drawn just in front of the Ferrari, but was nudged by the Italian and slid off into the first turn gravel trap. Behind Prost came Senna, de Angelis, Arnoux, Piquet and Lauda, and by halfway round the first lap there was already a gap developing to the rest, led by Patrese.

Rosberg scampered away on the first lap, crossing the line some two and a half seconds clear, but Alboreto immediately pegged the gap, then began to close, even having a look at the Williams at the end of the Junco straight. Piquet dropped out of the leading group with locked transmission after only two laps, while Mansell rejoined but only lasted until lap 9 before it was clear his car's bent exhaust set fire to the back of the car. By then, Prost was lurking on the back of Alboreto, and a lap later was second as Rosberg pulled off in a cloud of smoke. Lauda was also on the move, getting by de Angelis and looking at Senna, who he passed on lap 14, while Arnoux had dropped right back.

The Ferrari's prodigious speed down the straight was causing Prost some problems, but he kept close and promptly swept past when Alboreto missed a gear as they came up to the line on lap 19. Prost soon strode clear, and Lauda was suddenly right with Alboreto. However, the Austrian's fuel metering system began playing up, and he dropped away from the Ferrari and was soon repassed by Senna before pulling into the pits.

The first scheduled stop came from de Angelis, in from 4th on lap 25, but the stop was a poor 18.1s due to a jamming wheel nut. This dropped him to 6th, and promoted Arnoux to 4th, under heavy pressure from the charging de Cesaris, but the battle was cut short when the Italian thumped the back of the Ferrari. The Ligier was out on the spot, while Arnoux had to limp around for almost a full lap with a left-rear puncture. Patrese had already dropped out after being shoved in a similar manner by Laffite in the other Ligier, while Hesnault had exited after contact with Cheever.

Prost had built up a lead of some 21 seconds before his own tyre stop, with Alboreto diving in after him on the same lap. Senna followed a lap later, and it all panned out that there had been no change to the leading quartet. Behind Tambay and Alliot were promoted to the top 6 before their own stops, with Arnoux, Laffite and Boutsen (recovering from needing a push-start) next. Senna was the next to disappear from 3rd with an electrical fault, a sad end to a mature and restrained Lotus debut for the Brazilian.

Tambay was briefly in 4th, but the charging Arnoux caught and passed the Renault, the only significant change in the top six for the rest of the race. Prost, Alboreto and de Angelis were all too spaced out to do much about each other, and the McLaren driver reeled off the remaining laps in his usual cool style. It was Prost's 17th career win, and once again showed that McLaren were the team to beat. He allowed Alboreto to close within three seconds, but hadn't looked back after passing the Ferrari.

The rest were lapped, lead by de Angelis. Arnoux did a respectable job to fight back to 4th, while Tambay's 5th gave Renault some reward for a very difficult weekend. Laffite took the final point for the revamped Ligier outfit. Behind him came the Tyrrells, Johansson ahead of Brundle, while Alliot's 9th place gave the hard-trying RAM team a fillip. Warwick (much delayed by a stop to sort a misfire), Boutsen (with fuel feed problems), Ghinzani and Winkelhock (also after a stop to fix fuel feed trouble after a good practice) completed the finishers.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
61
1h 41m 26.115s
6
2
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
61
+ 3.259s
2
3
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
60
+ 1 lap
3
4
Rene Arnoux Ferrari
59
+ 2 laps
7
5
Patrick Tambay Renault
59
+ 2 laps
11
6
Jacques Laffite Ligier-Renault
59
+ 2 laps
15
7
Stefan Johansson Tyrrell-Cosworth
58
+ 3 laps
23
8
Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Cosworth
58
+ 3 laps
21
9
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
58
+ 3 laps
20
10
Derek Warwick Renault
57
+ 4 laps
10
11
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
57
+ 4 laps
12
12
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
57
+ 4 laps
22
13
Manfred Winkelhock RAM-Hart
57
+ 4 laps
16
R
Gerhard Berger Arrows-BMW
51
Suspension
19
R
Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault
48
Electrics
4
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
42
Engine
18
R
Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Cosworth
41
Engine
25
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
27
Fuel system
9
R
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
26
Accident/Arnoux
13
R
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
20
Puncture
14
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
10
Turbo
2
R
Francois Hesnault Brabham-BMW
9
Accident/Cheever
17
R
Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda
8
Accident damage
5
R
Mauro Baldi Spirit-Hart
7
Turbo
24
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
2
Transmission
8

Fastest Lap: Alain Prost (McLaren), 1:36.702s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
9
2
Michele Alboreto
6
3
Elio de Angelis
4
4
Rene Arnoux
3
5
Patrick Tambay
2
6
Jacques Laffite
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
9
=
Ferrari
9
3
Lotus
4
4
Renault
2
5
Ligier
1