Grand Prix Classic




Round 2 - Portuguese Grand Prix
Estoril, 19-21 April, 1985

The first European race of the season took place at Estoril, exactly six months after the Portuguese circuit had hosted a thrilling climax to the 1984 title fight. The circuit had been used as a last-minute replacement for the Fuengirola street race then; now with more preparation, the facilities had been completed to an impressive standard, and the bumpy track resurfaced.

Prost had won then even if he had lost the title, and after the opener in Brazil was favourite to repeat the result. The likes of Rosberg, Alboreto and the Lotus drivers, however, were hoping that their promising showings in Brazil were the basis of a challenge rather than false hope.


Entry Notes

The big news in the paddock was Ferrari's shock sacking of Rene Arnoux. The official line was that Arnoux needed to recover from surgery to his leg muscles in the off-season and had been released accordingly (retaining the majority of his $1m salary for the year), though rumours were that the French driver had fallen out with Enzo Ferrari himself following a discussion at Maranello after the Brazilian Grand Prix. In his place came Stefan Johansson, who Ferrari and other senior team members had admired since his drive for Toleman at Monza. Alex Hawkridge agreed to release the Swede from his contract, and Johansson would be making his Ferrari debut at Estoril.

Toleman themselves appeared with their transporter in Portugal in the hope that some agreement could be made with either Goodyear or Pirelli. However, none was forthcoming, and the cars stayed on the truck. One team who did arrive was Zakspeed, making their debut with Jonathan Palmer. Elsewhere, Stefan Bellof had ironed out his dispute with Tyrrell, returning to the cockpit.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Practice saw Senna and Lotus show their speed, the Brazilian securing his first-ever pole position in only his 17th attempt. His team-mate de Angelis looked set to join him on the front row, but again was unable to find the space for a clear lap, allowing Prost and Rosberg to split the Lotus cars on the grid.

Alboreto was 5th ahead of Warwick (still unhappy with the Renault, the Englishman considered his lap something of a fluke), Lauda and de Cesaris. Mansell was only 9th after innocently getting involved with the feuding Alfa Romeo cars on Friday - he moved aside for the pair to pass, only for Patrese to nudge Cheever into him. Piquet rounded out the top 10, another complaining of traffic.

Johansson was only 11th on his Ferrari debut, struggling to get the hang of the 156's reaction to Goodyear qualifiers, while the other new combination of Palmer and the Zakspeed would start from 23rd. The organisation impressed over the weekend, despite teething troubles, and could certainly thumb their nose at the somewhat chaotic Minardi. Ghinzani would start last, having had his faster Saturday time disallowed due to the Osella's rear wing being too tall.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

The rain had come and gone throughout the meeting, leading to mixed wet/dry practice sessions. For the race itself, it surpassed itself, with torrential rain. It was so bad Mansell, Cheever and Martini span on their formation laps, starting instead from the pitlane. Not that Senna was fazed, nailing his start perfectly, with de Angelis slotting in neatly behind, ahead of Prost, Alboreto, Warwick, Lauda and de Cesaris. Rosberg was left standing and needed a push, making it a disastrous start for Williams - just to make sure, Rosberg even span a couple of corners after getting going.

Senna meanwhile pulled out a handy lead on the first lap alone, and that was about all anyone saw of him for the rest of the afternoon. As in Monaco the previous season his phenomenal natural car control was on full display as he confidently threw the Lotus around the soaked track. Behind him de Angelis seemed secure in second, but was unable to lose Prost. Alboreto was keeping station in 4th, while Lauda had advanced neatly to 6th.

The weather began to then claim its' first victims - Palmer out with damaged suspension after clipping Rosberg at the start; Hesnault out with waterlogged electrics; Alliot off into the gravel; Patrese off after trying to take 9th from Johansson, the contact also spinning the Ferrari. The Swede kept the engine running, though, and continued in 17th place. Bellof (up to 14th after a dynamite start) and Winkelhock also had a coming together which tore a hole in the Tyrrell's nose - though both Germans continued unfazed - Berger would join the retirements on lap 13, and Ghinzani had a trip across the gravel. Baldi was another to spin on the slippery surface, coming close to eliminating Senna in the process.

The Brazilian sailed on, however, well out of sight of de Angelis, who now had Prost and Alboreto in close company. Senna had already lapped everyone up to and including 13th place man Brundle such was his mastery of conditions, and it was difficult to believe he had never led a Grand Prix before, let alone in such challenging conditions. Behind, de Angelis was doing a good job of fending off Prost, allowing his team-mate to further extend his lead.

The Pirelli runners were having no fun at all, finding the Italian company's wet weather tyres to be lacking in adherence. After running well early on, de Cesaris span and toured around near the back; Piquet made repeated stops for more rubber before jacking it in; Laffite was so spooked by the Ligier's handling in the wet he retired rather than destroy the car, and Winkelhock tiptoed around at a greatly reduced speed. Ligier would then withdraw de Cesaris on Laffite's recommendation, while Baldi and Martini seemed to be pitting or spinning every other lap.

Johansson's luckless Ferrari debut continued as he broke the car's front wing on Winkelhock's RAM, stopping for repairs and then pressing on. Rosberg had recovered to 14th before the unpredictable Honda engine kicked him into a barrier, breaking a bone in the Finn's hand as the steering wheel twisted out of his hands. The Williams caused some consternation, ending up parked right in the middle of the track, but the marshals were eventually able to move the car without incident.

Soon after, the rain managed to intensify. An unhappy Lauda lost out to both Renault drivers in rapid succession, Tambay especially running well in the difficult car and difficult conditions, while a broken gear selector ended a solid drive from Brundle. Baldi finally span the Spirit into something solid enough to stop him, and like Rosberg's Williams the car had to be rescued from the middle of the track. Even Senna took to gesticulating at the officials to stop the race, an irony considering his complaints over Prost doing the same at Monaco the year before. This time, though, Prost wouldn't be a factor - his McLaren hit standing water on the main straight and span three times, clouting the barrier third time around, and ending his race.

Having finally lost Prost, de Angelis was then caught unawares and mugged by the determined Alboreto, who then eased away, albeit now nearly a minute behind Senna; de Angelis then compounded the error by ploughing through the first turn gravel pit, and slowed considerably. Lauda had dropped out with a piston failure shortly after being caught by Bellof, having already been passed by the recovering Mansell, while Warwick had been delayed by a stop for fresh tyres after clipping a barrier and Cheever had disappeared with a misfire.

Senna had a moment over the grass which he later claimed he was lucky to survive, but in truth he had given such a stunning display few believed him. When the race was stopped at the two hour limit, only Alboreto finished unlapped by the Lotus, and Senna's first win had been a memorable drive - and the team's first victory since the death of Colin Chapman in December 1982. Third went to Tambay in a solid drive, having overhauled de Angelis, though the Italian managed to limp home 4th. Mansell took 5th from Bellof, with Warwick an unlucky 7th. The much-delayed Johansson came home 8th, with Ghinzani in 9th the sole classified finisher for Pirelli, six laps adrift.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault
67
2h 00m 28.006s
1
2
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
67
+ 1m 02.978s
5
3
Patrick Tambay Renault
66
+ 1 lap
12
4
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
66
+ 1 lap
4
5
Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda
65
+ 2 laps
9
6
Stefan Bellof Tyrrell-Cosworth
65
+ 2 laps
21
7
Derek Warwick Renault
65
+ 2 laps
6
8
Stefan Johansson Ferrari
62
+ 5 laps
11
9
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
61
+ 6 laps
26
NC
Manfred Winkelhock RAM-Hart
50
Still running
15
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
49
Engine
7
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
36
Engine
14
R
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
30
Accident
2
R
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
29
Handling
8
R
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
28
Electrics
16
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
28
Handling
10
R
Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Cosworth
20
Gear linkage
22
R
Mauro Baldi Spirit-Hart
19
Accident
24
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
16
Accident
3
R
Jacques Laffite Ligier-Renault
15
Handling
18
R
Gerhard Berger Arrows-BMW
12
Spun off
17
R
Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Cosworth
12
Spun off
25
R
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
4
Accident/Johansson
13
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
3
Spun off
20
R
Francois Hesnault Brabham-BMW
3
Electrics
19
R
Jonathan Palmer Zakspeed
2
Suspension
23

Fastest Lap: Ayrton Senna (Lotus), 1:44.121s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Michele Alboreto
12
2
Alain Prost
9
=
Ayrton Senna
9
4
Elio de Angelis
7
5
Patrick Tambay
6
6
Rene Arnoux
3
7
Nigel Mansell
2
8
Jacques Laffite
1
=
Stefan Bellof
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Lotus
16
2
Ferrari
12
3
McLaren
9
4
Renault
6
5
Williams
2
6
Ligier
1
=
Tyrrell
1