Grand Prix Classic




Round 13 - Belgian Grand Prix
Spa-Francorchamps, 13-15 September, 1985

The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa had originally been scheduled as the fifth round of the championship in the first weekend of June, but when the resurfaced track began to break up after a day's practice the event had to be postponed. The drivers were all thankful that it had been successfully rescheduled, as the revised circuit had proved popular and challenging when first used for a Grand Prix in 1983.

Then Prost had won for Renault, and now he was looking to further extend his championship lead with another victory. His only serious competition in the title battle came from Alboreto, and Ferrari seemed badly out of form. However, the likes of Rosberg, Mansell, Piquet and Senna had all shown winning pace over recent rounds, and would provide considerable obstacles to the Frenchman's hopes.


Entry Notes

Zakspeed returned to the series, hiring Formula 3000 championship leader Christian Danner as a temporary stand-in for the injured Jonathan Palmer. Elsewhere, a shortage of Hart engines following the punishing Italian Grand Prix weekend saw RAM forced to withdraw their second car, meaning no drive for Kenny Acheson. Carl Haas' team was also absent, as they had not entered the first attempt at the race in June.

Toleman, however, could run both their cars - firstly, their deal with Hart had them as the English company's preferred team; secondly, the team had officially entered two cars and simply withdrawn the second. The Witney outfit had performed this expensive procedure for every round, even before they found a tyre contract, which would at least make them eligible for championship points should they score any top 6 finishes.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

While clouds and showers came and went, the four practice sessions stayed largely dry. Balance between power and handling was the key, and it was a line successfully judged by Prost and Senna, who lined up first and second.

Sheer horsepower saw Piquet, Alboreto, Johansson and Boutsen (at his home race) fill out the second and third rows, the Ferrari cars much improved after intense testing at Monza after the Italian Grand Prix. By recent standards the Williams were unimpressive, Mansell lining up 7th (after his steering wheel coming loose, causing an accident which left him with strained muscles in his side) and Rosberg 10th, separated by Berger and de Angelis.

Not there at all was Lauda, who span into a barrier on Friday morning. With a jarred wrist, he promptly withdrew. John Watson was on hand in the paddock and agreed to take over, but his late addition to the entry needed the unanimous consent of everyone else competing. Dennis had made himself a few enemies of late in this respect after vetoing starts for Brundle in Austria and Acheson in Italy, not to mention that the top teams were quite happy to only have one McLaren to contend with, and it was no surprise that the McLaren petition was unsuccessful. There would be just 24 starters.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

After the weather had stayed nice for the practice sessions, the warm-up on Sunday saw rain come down on the Formula 1 cars for the first time. Come the start it had stopped, but the track was still soaked, everyone opting to fit wet tyres. Senna got off to an excellent start, with Piquet also passing Prost off the grid, only to spin exiting La Source. Everyone missed the Brabham, though Rosberg and Surer had to take to the run-off area in doing so. Alboreto was in 3rd, followed by Mansell, Johansson, Boutsen, Berger, de Angelis, Warwick and Fabi. Before the end of the first lap Mansell was past Alboreto and into 3rd, while Senna was displaying his wet-weather prowess and easing away from Prost.

Already a dry line was starting to go down on the track, and it became a matter of when rather than whether to switch to slicks. First to stop were Piquet and Rosberg, both with nothing to lose after their poor starts - the former was also desperate to get off Pirelli's wet weather tyres. Prost meanwhile let Mansell go at Les Combes when he saw Alboreto had dropped to 10th - it turned out to be a canny move, as the Ferrari dropped out on lap 4 with a broken clutch, and the McLaren man settled in for a steady run, intending to score points rather than fight with Senna and Mansell for the lead.

Soon the pits became active as the majority of runners dived into the pits for dry tyres, though their reaction was slow compared to Rosberg and Piquet. Johansson wasn't one of them, his transmission failing after only 7 laps and ending Ferrari's participation for the weekend, while Ghinzani put the hammer down too quickly on his slicks and hammered into the barriers.

The leading trio pitted together, and good work by the Williams crew allowed Mansell to nip out in front of Senna, but the Brazilian had been given scrubbed tyres by his quick-thinking crew, and almost immediately retook first position approaching Eau Rouge. Mansell then survived a half-spin at La Source next time around without losing second, but it gave Senna a respectable cushion.

Rosberg went past Prost for 3rd as his early stop began to pay dividends, while Boutsen was in a strong 5th, Tambay 6th and Warwick 7th. Alliot was another to push too early on slicks, while de Angelis was out with engine failure. Approaching mid-distance it began to rain again and teams began to ready wet tyres, but the shower passed.

After the early excitement the race settled down, with Senna unmatchable. Rosberg caught Mansell and the pair had a no-holds-barred scrap for 2nd, but brake problems caused the Finn to back off. Relieved of pressure, Mansell then slid wide but held things together, taking his second trip onto the dirt of the afternoon - he had earlier been forced into evasive action when Surer slid off and rejoined right in front of the Williams.

Rosberg for his part dropped into the pits where Williams made a makeshift repair to balance his front brakes and gave him new tyres. This allowed Prost into 3rd, and Rosberg was in no position to challenge him. Next up was Boutsen, comfortably ahead of Warwick and Piquet, but the Arrows driver's chance of scoring points at his home race disappeared when his gearbox began to break up. Piquet soon passed Warwick too to take 5th place.

Once again Senna had showed his skill in tricky conditions, and the Lotus had stayed trouble-free, allowing him to score his second Grand Prix victory. Mansell was happy with second, his personal best result to date, while 3rd gave Prost a 16-point lead over Alboreto with only three races left to go. Rosberg was rewarded with 4th place, his first finish since the French Grand Prix, with Piquet and Warwick taking the final points places. Berger came home a worthy 7th for Arrows, followed by Surer (suffering from unpredictable power delivery) and Streiff in the surviving Ligier. Boutsen stopped two laps from the end and was only classified 10th after a fine drive, while Laffite crashed in the closing stages. Martini, Brundle and Rothengatter were the only others still running at the end.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault
43
1h 34m 19.893s
2
2
Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda
43
+ 28.422s
7
3
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
43
+ 56.109s
1
4
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
43
+ 1m 14.290s
10
5
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
42
+ 1 lap
3
6
Derek Warwick Renault
42
+ 1 lap
14
7
Gerhard Berger Arrows-BMW
42
+ 1 lap
8
8
Marc Surer Brabham-BMW
42
+ 1 lap
12
9
Philippe Streiff Ligier-Renault
42
+ 1 lap
18
10
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
40
+ 3 laps/Gearbox
6
11
Jacques Laffite Ligier-Renault
38
+ 5 laps/Accident
17
12
Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Motori Moderni
38
+ 5 laps
24
13
Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Renault
38
+ 5 laps
21
NC
Huub Rothengatter Osella-Alfa Romeo
37
Still running
23
R
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
31
Engine
15
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
26
Gearbox
19
R
Patrick Tambay Renault
24
Gearbox
13
R
Teo Fabi Toleman-Hart
23
Throttle linkage
11
R
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
19
Turbo
9
R
Christian Danner Zakspeed
16
Gearbox
22
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
10
Accident
20
R
Stefan Johansson Ferrari
7
Transmission
5
R
Piercarlo Ghinzani Toleman-Hart
7
Accident
16
R
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
3
Clutch
4

Fastest Lap: Alain Prost (McLaren), 2:01.730s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
69
2
Michele Alboreto
53
3
Ayrton Senna
32
4
Elio de Angelis
31
5
Stefan Johansson
22
6
Nelson Piquet
21
=
Keke Rosberg
21
8
Niki Lauda
14
9
Nigel Mansell
13
10
Patrick Tambay
11
11
Jacques Laffite
10
12
Thierry Boutsen
9
13
Marc Surer
5
=
Derek Warwick
5
15
Stefan Bellof
4
16
Andrea de Cesaris
3
=
Rene Arnoux
3

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
83
2
Ferrari
77
3
Lotus
63
4
Williams
34
5
Brabham
26
6
Renault
16
7
Ligier
13
8
Arrows
9
9
Tyrrell
4