Grand Prix Classic




Round 3 - San Marino Grand Prix
Imola, 3-5 May, 1985

The teams arrived in Italy for the San Marino Grand Prix with many still talking of Senna's performance in Portugal the previous week, the drive having rocketed him to the status of championship contender overnight. There was much speculation as to whether he would be able to match the McLaren-TAGs of Prost and Lauda in a dry race, however.

Of course, the huge partisan crowd were more interested in the promising start to the season made by Ferrari - while Alboreto had not won either of the two races so far, he led the standings and the 156/85 was certainly looking to be a stronger contender than the team's cars had for much of 1984.


Entry Notes

There were only a couple of minor changes to the machines since the Portuguese Grand Prix. Minardi had Carlo Chitti's new Motori Moderni V6 turbo engine at a race meeting for the first time, which the Italian team were hoping would turn around their thus far harrowing start in Formula 1. Fellow Italian minnows Osella also had their new untested FA1G chassis on hand for Ghinzani.

Once again, rumours Toleman would be entering came to nothing, as Pirelli told the Witney team they didn't have the capacity to supply any more teams.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Senna proved his pole at Estoril was no fluke with another dazzling performance, though Rosberg was only three-hundredths of a second slower with a typically barnstorming lap. The second row was inhabited by de Angelis and Alboreto, while in 5th place was Boutsen in the Arrows - a superb effort, just ahead of Prost.

Mansell, Lauda, Piquet and Berger filled out the rest of the top 10 on the power circuit. Times were close - Berger's Arrows was only 1.3 seconds slower than Senna's pole time. Johansson's difficult baptism at Ferrari continued after a catalogue of problems limited him to 15th, and the more gossipy elements of the paddock were already speculating as to whether he would last the season.

There were some good performances further down the field, Palmer placing the Zakspeed 17th on the grid despite limited running, while the new Motori Moderni engine ran well, allowing Martini to start from 19th (ahead of Hesnault's Brabham; there was speculation that the Frenchman would soon be replaced by Rene Arnoux).

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

A morning shower had many fearing another wet race, but things cleared nicely before the start after a damp warm-up, and the race would be dry. It made little difference to the Lotus drivers - once again Senna's start was immaculate, with de Angelis forming neatly on his tail. Rosberg's start was an improvement on Estoril in that he got going, but it still wasn't good, and Alboreto and Prost both got by, with Mansell also challenging ahead of Lauda, Cheever, Boutsen and Piquet. The Lotus pair gradually pulled out a small lead over the rest, with a second or so separating Senna and de Angelis. Alboreto in 3rd was under heavy pressure from Prost, with Rosberg in close attendance and Mansell falling back a little. Initially de Angelis seemed to be having one of his on-days, never more than a couple of tenths behind his upstart team-mate, but after about ten laps he began to drop away a little, back into the clutches of Alboreto.

The early laps had a few casualties - Palmer hadn't even made the grid after the Zakspeed developed engine problems on the parade lap, Patrese had a turbo blow, Bellof and Hesnault both suffered engine failures and Berger's electrics were playing up, while Warwick survived an early spin. Lauda was on the move, though, passing both Williams cars in rapid succession, and set about catching the leading quartet. Piquet followed him through and stuck impressively to the back of the McLaren.

Alboreto then got by de Angelis at Tosa on lap 11, the Lotus driver letting his guard down for the second race in succession, seeming to lose his early rhythm and unhappy with his brakes. Prost went by the following lap, while Piquet went into the pits from 6th, his Pirellis already going off after a promising start. Alboreto, having looked like he was holding Prost up early on, promptly latched onto the back of Senna, with Prost soon following suit, while Lauda was the latest to pick off de Angelis. Johansson was up to 7th by now, making amends for his fraught practice with a charging drive, while de Cesaris had flown off backwards after pushing too hard on cold Pirellis.

Prost was now swarming all over the back of Alboreto, and got by when the Ferrari slowed. The Italian's engine had developed a misfire, and he headed into the pits to see what could be done. He returned and set fastest lap, only for the misfire to resurface and end his fine drive. This left home hopes pinned on Johansson in fifth. Up front, Prost rapidly closed on Senna, but the young Brazilian seemed unflustered. Lauda was in a charging third and had Prost in sight, but missed a gear and span at the final chicane, keeping everything running but losing ground with the gearbox playing up.

Senna resisted the pressure from Prost magnificently, driving beautifully through traffic. Neat driving saw him nip past Tambay a couple of corners before Prost, breaking the McLaren's challenge. Prost backed off, thinking of his fuel economy, and it seemed to be over. The main interest switched to Johansson, who flew past Lauda and de Angelis (in a thrilling piece of driving as the pair dodged between the battle for 6th between Piquet and Boutsen) before charging after Prost. To roars from the crowd he swung around the outside of the McLaren at Tosa and into second place, ten seconds behind Senna.

The noise then became deafening as Senna slowed, his fuel exhausted three laps from the end. Johansson swept past at the Variante Bassa, and began lap 58 in the lead. He never finished it, though, the Ferrari also running dry at Acque Minerale. The fairytale win was gone, and Prost was back in the lead to a cacophony of boos and hisses from the crowd. It looked like the McLaren-TAG economy setting had won the day, with de Angelis back up to 2nd. Boutsen was up to 3rd from Tambay and Lauda, Piquet having also pulled off with an empty tank. Boutsen also stopped on the line, just sneaking home ahead of the Renault thanks to the prompt decision to push his Arrows the last few yards and complete the lap, while Prost didn't even complete his slowing down lap as his fuel ran out, instead Tambay giving him a lift back to Parc Ferme.

Astonishingly, there was one more twist to come. When Prost's McLaren was retrieved and weighed, it was found to be 538kg, 2kg shy of the minimum weight. Ron Dennis requested a second set of scales to be zeroed in front of him, and these reiterated the earlier result - and this with a 2kg bias towards the cars in order to exercise leniency. There was nothing else for it but to disqualify Prost from the results, handing the win to de Angelis (though in the confusion it was briefly reported that the Lotus was underweight too, though this turned out to be incorrect). The Italian hadn't led all race and had barely featured after the first ten laps, finishing nearly 39 seconds behind Prost, so while rules were rules it was an unsatisfactory result, especially on top of the retirements of Senna and Johansson. It all elevated Boutsen to 2nd, Tambay to 3rd, Lauda to 4th and Mansell to 5th, with Johansson and Senna classified 6th and 7th respectively.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
DQ
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
60
Underweight
6
1
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
60
1h 34m 35.955s
3
2
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
59
+ 1 lap
5
3
Patrick Tambay Renault
59
+ 1 lap
11
4
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
59
+ 1 lap
8
5
Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda
58
+ 2 laps
7
6
Stefan Johansson Ferrari
57
+ 3 laps/Out of fuel
15
7
Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault
57
+ 3 laps/Out of fuel
1
8
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
57
+ 3 laps/Out of fuel
9
9
Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Cosworth
56
+ 4 laps
25
10
Derek Warwick Renault
56
+ 4 laps
14
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
50
Engine
10
NC
Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo
46
Still running
22
R
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
29
Misfire
4
R
Manfred Winkelhock RAM-Hart
27
Engine
23
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
24
Engine
21
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
23
Throttle linkage
2
R
Jacques Laffite Ligier-Renault
22
Turbo
16
R
Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Motori Moderni
14
Turbo
19
R
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
11
Spun off
13
R
Mauro Baldi Spirit-Hart
9
Electrics
26
R
Francois Hesnault Brabham-BMW
5
Engine
20
R
Stefan Bellof Tyrrell-Cosworth
5
Engine
24
R
Gerhard Berger Arrows-BMW
4
Electrics
10
R
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
4
Engine
18
DNS
Jonathan Palmer Zakspeed
-
Misfire
17

Fastest Lap: Michele Alboreto (Ferrari), 1:30.961s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Elio de Angelis
16
2
Michele Alboreto
12
3
Patrick Tambay
10
4
Alain Prost
9
=
Ayrton Senna
9
5
Thierry Boutsen
6
6
Nigel Mansell
4
7
Niki Lauda
3
=
Rene Arnoux
3
9
Stefan Johansson
1
=
Jacques Laffite
1
=
Stefan Bellof
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Lotus
25
2
Ferrari
13
3
McLaren
12
4
Renault
10
5
Arrows
6
6
Williams
4
7
Ligier
1
=
Tyrrell
1