Grand Prix Classic




Round 10 - Austrian Grand Prix
Osterreichring, 16-18 August, 1985

The fast Osterreichring was the championship's next stop, and Niki Lauda had chosen his home race to announce his retirement at the end of the year. While not unexpected considering his difficult season as reigning champion, the news still set tongues wagging in the paddock about who would replace him at McLaren.

The other talking point was the tragic death of the RAM driver Manfred Winkelhock, killed driving the Kremer Porsche 962 at the previous weekend's Mosport 1000km. The ever-cheerful German had been a popular figure in the pit lane. His passing and Lauda's retirement overshadowed the championship battle, which now seemed to be a two-horse race between Prost and Alboreto as de Angelis faded.


Entry Notes

RAM promoted Philippe Alliot to the number 9 car, and recalled Kenny Acheson to the second. The Ulsterman had driven for the team in 1983 with minimal success, but had since been racing in Japanese Formula 2.

The other change to the entry came in happier circumstances. Impressed by Fabi's pole position at the Nurburgring, Pirelli allocated tyres for a second entry to the Toleman team. They in turn hired Piercarlo Ghinzani, recently stood down by Osella for financial reasons.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Rain midway through Saturday afternoon's timed session effectively cut qualifying short for most of the runners, though some did improve before it started. While fast, the Osterreichring had few straights, and thus despite its' reputation rewarded aerodynamics and handling as much as brute power. It thus suited the McLaren perfectly, allowing Prost to secure his first pole of the season, with Lauda 3rd - his best grid position since the 1984 British Grand Prix. Mansell split the McLarens, with Rosberg in 4th and Piquet (fastest through the speed trap, but losing time on the fast curves correcting the Brabham's handling) 5th.

Fabi's 6th fastest time proved Toleman's form at the Nurburgring was no fluke. Behind him came de Angelis as Lotus struggled with handling - Senna, with limited running from engine problems, was down in 14 - with Tambay completing row 4, despite Warwick borrowing and crashing his car on Friday. Alboreto was back in 9th, Ferrari seeming to be slipping back down the order, while Patrese rounded out the top 10.

Ghinzani qualified 19th despite limited time in the car as Toleman tried to come to terms with running two cars again, while Acheson was 23rd despite not getting in a timed lap on Friday, being one of the lucky runners to get in a time before the rain on Saturday. With the entry now standing at 27 cars, and no special dispensation given, it was unsurprising that Brundle in the Cosworth-engined Tyrrell failed to qualify, though the Englishman gave it his best and ended up only six tenths of a second away from dislodging Martini for 26th place. Ken Tyrrell put up a petition to allow the Englishman to start, but Ron Dennis of McLaren refused to sign it, and that was that.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

By Sunday the rain had cleared, and the track was largely dried by the sun before the morning warm-up. However, the race didn't get off to the best start as Fabi stalled and de Angelis struggled to get into gear, causing trouble on the narrow start straight. Alboreto and Berger both suffered damage in the confusion, and the red flag was shown. After some discussion, it was decided that the race would restart from fresh, with de Angelis, Alboreto and Berger all taking their spares - as did Prost, unhappy with the universal joint on his race car. Less lucky was Ghinzani, who had over-revved his Hart on the first start, and had no car to continue in.

On the second start, Mansell got away badly, allowing both Rosberg and Lauda past. Indeed, the Finn was strongly challenging Prost by the first corner, and the pair began to leave Lauda behind almost immediately. The World Champion himself had a comfortable gap back to Piquet, de Angelis, Mansell, Tambay, Fabi and Senna. Rosberg's challenge only lasted until the fourth lap, when falling oil pressure caused him to head into the pits for an early retirement.

A queue was beginning to form behind Piquet's 3rd-placed Brabham, though the close proximity allowed Fabi to get past Tambay - the Renault would soon drop into the pits to have a puncture replaced. Further back, de Cesaris totalled his Ligier in comprehensive fashion, rolling the thing four times after losing control at the Texaco Shikane and ploughing into an earth bank. Thankfully, he was unhurt.

One of the big questions about Lauda's retirement is how much he would co-operate to help Prost win the title. The Austrian had been evasive, beyond saying he was going to try and win his final home Grand Prix. Setting fastest lap, he began to eat into Prost's five second lead. Further back, Mansell got past de Angelis, while Senna was on the move, passing Fabi to reach the top six. He would be past his team-mate by mid-distance, at which point the front runners started dropping out - Mansell out with a blown, Piquet out with a broken exhaust, Fabi out with electrical problems.

Prost then dived into the pits with his lead down to two seconds, unhappy with his tyre wear. The McLarens' dominance was such that he re-emerged comfortably ahead of Senna, now in third thanks to some good moves and the attrition. Behind him came de Angelis, Alboreto, Johansson, Surer, Warwick and Laffite, though the British driver's Renault would soon stop with a sick engine. However, the main attention was on the McLarens as Prost began gaining big chunks of time on Lauda. Hands were rubbed as the prospect of the duel which failed to materialise on the track in 1984 were raised, but it was not to be - at the start of lap 40, Lauda trickled along the straight and pulled it just after the pitlane exit with a broken turbo charger shaft. Immediately the huge partisan crowd lost interest - Prost had a large advantage over Senna, and the Lotus driver was troubled by a vibration, and in no position to push. Behind him, Alboreto was asserting his status in the Ferrari team in no uncertain terms by repeatedly blocking Johansson's attempts to pass.

By the end there was very little happening, and Prost took victory to obliterate Alboreto's championship in one swoop. Having spent most of the season retiring and most of this race expecting his Lotus to break, Senna was happy enough to finish in 2nd, while Ferrari's reliability gave Alboreto and Johansson the next two places. However, the attrition once again hid the fact that the Italian cars hadn't been on the pace - had the likes of Lauda, Rosberg, Mansell, Piquet and Fabi finished, neither would have scored. Behind them came the delayed de Angelis and then Surer, with Bellof running out of fuel in his attempts to catch the Brabham for the final point. Completing the finishers were Boutsen (with no boost pressure by the end) and Rothengatter (in a very sick-sounding Osella), while Tambay's charge back to 7th went unrewarded thanks to a broken engine.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
52
1h 20m 12.583s
1
2
Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault
52
+ 30.002s
14
3
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
52
+ 34.356s
9
4
Stefan Johansson Ferrari
52
+ 39.073s
12
5
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
52
+ 1m 12.092s
7
6
Marc Surer Brabham-BMW
51
+ 1 lap
11
7
Stefan Bellof Tyrrell-Renault
49
+ 3 laps/Out of fuel
22
8
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
49
+ 3 laps
16
9
Huub Rothengatter Osella-Alfa Romeo
48
+ 4 laps
24
10
Patrick Tambay Renault
46
+ 6 laps/Engine
8
R
Jacques Laffite Ligier-Renault
43
Accident
15
R
Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Motori Moderni
40
Engine
26
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
39
Engine
3
R
Gerhard Berger Arrows-BMW
32
Turbo
17
R
Teo Fabi Toleman-Hart
31
Electrics
6
R
Derek Warwick Renault
29
Engine
13
R
Kenny Acheson RAM-Hart
28
Engine
23
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
26
Exhaust
5
R
Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda
25
Engine
2
R
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
25
Engine
10
R
Jonathan Palmer Zakspeed
17
Engine
25
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
16
Turbo
21
R
Andrea de Cesaris Ligier-Renault
13
Accident
18
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
6
Turbo
20
R
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
4
Engine
4
DNS
Piercarlo Ghinzani Toleman-Hart
-
Engine
19

Fastest Lap: Alain Prost (McLaren), 1:29.241s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
50
=
Michele Alboreto
50
3
Elio de Angelis
28
4
Stefan Johansson
20
5
Keke Rosberg
18
6
Ayrton Senna
15
7
Nelson Piquet
13
8
Patrick Tambay
11
9
Jacques Laffite
10
10
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
2

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
Ferrari
69
2
McLaren
55
3
Lotus
43
4
Williams
24
5
Brabham
15
=
Renault
15
7
Ligier
13
8
Arrows
9
9
Tyrrell
4