Grand Prix Classic




Round 9 - German Grand Prix
Nurburgring, 2-4 August, 1985

For the first time since 1976, the German Grand Prix left Hockenheim, instead using the new Nurburgring circuit near Koblenz. The venue had already been used for the 1984 European Grand Prix, where it had proved largely unpopular with the drivers for its' narrow, twisty nature and resulting lack of passing opportunities and challenging features. However, the organisers had signed what was planned to be an alternating deal with FISA for the German Grand Prix, eager to promote their new venue.

The round saw the championship battle rapidly turning into a two-horse race between Prost's McLaren and Alboreto's Ferrari, with de Angelis fading from the picture. However, the Williams of Rosberg and the Lotus of Senna were likely to feature even if neither had been particularly reliable thus far in 1985, while Piquet couldn't be written off either as BMW would be eager to impress in their home race.


Entry Notes

Financial considerations saw Piercarlo Ghinzani step down from his (unpaid) role as Osella's driver in favour of the well-funded Dutch driver Huub Rothengatter, who had previously driven for Spirit in 1984. It wasn't all gloom for the affable Italian (who earned his crusts driving for Lancia's sportscar team anyway) as paddock rumours indicated he was in the frame for the proposed second Toleman entry. Another returnee was ex-Ligier and Brabham driver Francois Hesnault, who had been signed on a one-off basis by Renault. He would be driving a third car which was ineligible for points, but would be fitted with a revolutionary onboard TV camera which would beam live footage from his car to a helicopter above the circuit (piloted by popular French driver Henri Pescarolo) to feature in the race's telecast.

Stefan Bellof was given the Renault-powered Tyrrell for his home race, though for bureaucratic reasons he would have to switch his race number to 3, with Brundle taking the DFY-powered number 4 entry. Alfa Romeo, meanwhile, dumped the unsuccessful 185T chassis in favour of their 1984 cars, taken out of mothballs and rechristened the 184TB as Euroracing attempted to dissuade the Italian giant from their reported desire to withdraw at the end of the season.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Friday's session saw a surprise when Teo Fabi topped the afternoon times in the Toleman, over a second quicker than second-fastest Stefan Johansson. Prost was 3rd with brake trouble and Rosberg 4th ahead of Senna, who suffered fuel pump problems after recording only a single flying lap, and Piquet.

7th went to de Angelis after trouble with his race car and a crash in the spare, with Alboreto, Patrese (in the old Alfa Romeo, already looking better than the 1985 model) and Mansell rounding out the top 10. The Renault camera car expanded the field to 27 cars, but due to the experimental nature of the vehicle FISA ruled all the cars could start.

Any chance of serious improvement was halted by rain on Saturday. Some forecasts said this would stay until Sunday, so most drivers did a few laps to work on wet-weather setup. A brief gap in the weather allowed de Angelis to set fastest time, but still some 12 seconds away from Friday's pace, and the grid was set. It was a first pole position for Fabi, Toleman and Hart, and Pirelli's first since Stuart Lewis-Evans' Vanwall at the 1957 Italian Grand Prix.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

The race start was then dry, but the skies were grey and gloomy, and some forecasts indicated there would be rain before the end. All the good work of Fabi and Johansson went to waste as their inexperience in such situations left them going around the parade lap too quickly, and neither got off the line well at all - Fabi dropping to 8th with a slipping clutch, and Johansson picking up a puncture after being brushed by team-mate Alboreto as the field funnelled into the tight first corner. Senna once again made a dynamite start to lead from Rosberg, Alboreto, de Angelis, Prost, Piquet and Mansell, while further back de Cesaris was nudged off at the first corner for the second year in succession - this time at the hands of team-mate Laffite.

Rosberg then blasted past Senna halfway around the lap, but couldn't get away from the Lotus. Not for the first time, though, the pair pulled away from the remainder of the field, leaving the championship contenders Alboreto, de Angelis and Prost scrapping over third. Behind them, Mansell had passed Piquet, while ahead Johansson had returned almost a lap down, but was able to edge away from Rosberg ever so slightly, showing that without his poor start and puncture he might have been a serious challenger.

Rosberg's lead until lap 15, when Senna got past at the Dunlop hairpin. By this point, Palmer had retired the Zakspeed from its' home race, the RAMs had parked up almost together with turbocharger failures, Patrese's gearbox had broken, Surer had dropped out with a sick BMW and Hesnault had retired the camera car after only 8 laps - but not before broadcasting fascinating pictures of his cockpit as he passed Palmer, the Frenchman having been instructed to dice with backmarkers for the benefit of television viewers.

The 'serious' Renault drivers didn't last much longer, Tambay spinning into the tyre wall at the final corner, while a few laps later Warwick was in the pits to retire with electrical problems. Piquet would soon follow with a broken turbocharger, leaving 17 runners. The battle for third, headed by Alboreto, was the only real entertainment on show, and even that wasn't moving much, despite a few puffs of smoke coming from the Ferrari.

The retirements continued, Senna inevitably dropping out of the lead and the race with a broken universal joint. This left Rosberg with a dwindling advantage of around ten seconds over Alboreto, while Fabi was briefly promoted to 6th until his transmission broke on lap 41, while Lauda dropped into the pits with a bad vibration. A change of tyres sorted this out, but dropped him to 12th, but de Angelis dropped out with a blown Renault, all but ending his championship hopes.

By lap 40, Alboreto and Prost had closed up on Rosberg, and by the end of lap 45 they were on him. The Williams was suffering brake problems, and approaching the final corner Alboreto forced his way through on the inside, forcing Rosberg wide and allowing Prost through as well. Rosberg then dropped back towards Mansell, while Prost never quite got together a challenge - his McLaren was also suffering brake problems, and he was left hoping Alboreto's periodic smoking was a sign of something serious. However, the brakes caused him to spin at the final corner ten laps from the end. He kept everything running and held 2nd, but was now too far back to do anything but cross his fingers.

Both Williams cars were suffering. Rosberg stopped for fresh tyres but found them little help, and he dropped out of 5th place. Mansell, meanwhile, was engaged in a good scrap for 3rd with Laffite, before his boost pressure began to drop and he had to let the Ligier and the closing Boutsen through. The resurgent Lauda would make it past too before the end as Mansell was basically left with a 1.5l normally-aspirated engine, and could only press for the finish. Yet another member of the walking wounded was Johansson, who had driven splendidly up to 7th only for brake problems to intervene, causing a spin in the closing stages.

All of which left Alboreto to take his second win of the year somewhat by default - like the 2nd place at Silverstone, the result masked the Ferrari's deficiencies. Prost was a frustrated second, while Laffite came home 3rd for the second successive race - albeit once again through the troubles of others. In fourth, Boutsen was delighted to score for the first time since Imola, as was Lauda in 5th. Mansell meanwhile had managed to remain unlapped, and was able to secure 6th ahead of Berger and Bellof. The troubled Johansson and under-powered Brundle were the only other survivors.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
67
1h 35m 31.337s
8
2
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
67
+ 11.661s
3
3
Jacques Laffite Ligier-Renault
67
+ 51.164s
13
4
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
67
+ 56.879s
15
5
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
67
+ 1m 13.972s
12
6
Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda
67
+ 1m 16.820s
10
7
Gerhard Berger Arrows-BMW
66
+ 1 lap
17
8
Stefan Bellof Tyrrell-Renault
66
+ 1 lap
19
9
Stefan Johansson Ferrari
66
+ 1 lap
2
10
Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Cosworth
63
+ 4 laps
26
11
Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Motori Moderni
62
+ 5 laps/Engine
27
12
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
61
+ 6 laps/Brakes
4
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
45
Turbocharger
18
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
40
Engine
7
R
Huub Rothengatter Osella-Alfa Romeo
32
Gearbox
25
R
Teo Fabi Toleman-Hart
29
Transmission
1
R
Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault
27
CV joint
5
R
Derek Warwick Renault
25
Electrics
20
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
23
Turbocharger
6
R
Patrick Tambay Renault
19
Spun off
16
R
Marc Surer Brabham-BMW
15
Engine
11
R
Manfred Winkelhock RAM-Hart
8
Turbocharger
22
R
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
8
Gearbox
9
R
Francois Hesnault Renault
8
Clutch
23
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
8
Oil pressure
21
R
Jonathan Palmer Zakspeed
7
Alternator belt
24
R
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
0
Accident/Laffite
14

Fastest Lap: Niki Lauda (McLaren), 1:22.806s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Michele Alboreto
46
2
Alain Prost
41
3
Elio de Angelis
26
4
Keke Rosberg
18
5
Stefan Johansson
16
6
Nelson Piquet
13
7
Patrick Tambay
11
8
Jacques Laffite
10
9
Ayrton Senna
9
=
Thierry Boutsen
9
11
Nigel Mansell
6
12
Niki Lauda
5
13
Stefan Bellof
4
=
Derek Warwick
4
15
Andrea de Cesaris
3
=
Rene Arnoux
3
17
Marc Surer
1

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Ferrari
62
2
McLaren
46
3
Lotus
35
4
Williams
24
5
Renault
15
6
Brabham
14
7
Ligier
13
8
Arrows
9
9
Tyrrell
4