Grand Prix Classic




Round 14 - European Grand Prix
Brands Hatch, 4-6 October, 1985

For the second time Brands Hatch played host to the European Grand Prix, giving Britain a second Grand Prix. The original plan involved the race being held on a street circuit in Rome, but this never materialised and so John Webb's organisation was only too happy to step into the breach. The meeting was also the scene for much discussion about the upcoming South African Grand Prix, political pressure having already been brought to bear by the French government having already caused Renault and Ligier to withdraw their entries in protest to the apartheid system, while many drivers were considering a personal boycott.

In terms of the championship, Prost only needed to score three points more than Alboreto at Brands Hatch to clinch his first title.


Entry Notes

Tyrrell entered a second car for the first time since Stefan Bellof's death, with Italian Formula 3000 driver Ivan Capelli (who had previously tested for Brabham and Toleman) taking the drive. With Niki Lauda still nursing his injured wrist, John Watson took over the McLaren for the race - this time the appropriate paperwork being completed in time.

Carl Haas' team also returned to the entry, and announced that Patrick Tambay would be driving their second car in 1986 alongside Alan Jones. Fellow Hart users RAM stayed a one-car team for financial reasons. The beleaguered outfit, who had finally received official confirmation that title sponsors Skoal Bandit would be dropping them at the end of the year, were planning to skip the last two rounds in order to regroup ahead of 1986.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

Senna had been fast in pre-race testing at Brands Hatch ahead of the meeting, and with most of the setup work already complete took pole position for the sixth time in 1985. On the front row alongside him was Piquet. The Williams-Honda cars were the fastest in a straight line, helping Mansell to line up 3rd and Rosberg 4th.

Behind these four came the Ligier of Philippe Streiff, a remarkable feat by the Frenchman in only his fourth Grand Prix meeting, though he was lucky to be unhurt after a lurid triple spin at Hawthorns when the car's gearbox casing broke. Behind him came Prost, Surer, Warwick, de Angelis and Laffite. With four Pirelli runners in the top 10, it looked like the Italian company had finally closed the gap on Goodyear.

Alboreto was back in a miserable 15th, as he and Johansson (13th) struggled with severe handling problems. The laconic Italian admitted the championship was Prost's after the first day of practice. Watson's inexperience with Goodyear qualifiers limited him to 21st on the grid, just ahead of Alan Jones, while Ivan Capelli was struggling to learn the challenging Brands circuit, and was only 24th fastest. The sole non-qualifier was Rothengatter in the Osella.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

Things stayed clear and cool at the start, which went off first time despite Piquet not moving into his grid slot correctly. Prost shot off at an angle, briefly going onto the grass and dropping back, while Mansell tore away and was alongside Senna into Paddock. Rosberg was soon with them as well, and Mansell was forced wide, dropping to 4th in front of de Angelis, with Piquet through to 3rd. Behind came Warwick, Streiff, Surer and Laffite. Alboreto and Johansson had both passed Prost, with Boutsen and Brundle also passing the McLaren as the field sifted through Surtees.

The Ferraris soon moved past the Ligier pair, with Prost back in 13th, with Warwick already disappearing with a misfire. Senna, Rosberg and Piquet were very close, while Mansell soon left de Angelis behind and began closing on the leading trio. Prost swiftly battled up to 9th, and began eating into the gap between himself and 8th-placed Alboreto.

The fascinating battle for the lead was sadly shorn of much of its' interest when Rosberg tried to take a tight line through Graham Hill on lap 7. He managed to nose in front of Senna, but span on the exit. The helpless Piquet, with nowhere to go, hit him at low speed but with enough force to take the front wing off the Brabham. The double world champion was out, stalled, while Rosberg motored across the grass and rejoined well down the order with a puncture to boot, his impetuous move having effectively taken two potential winners out of the running.

This left Mansell trying to chase Senna, with de Angelis up into 3rd some way back, followed by Johansson, Surer, Alboreto and Prost. Rosberg's return to the track after having a fresh tyre fitted saw him baulk Senna, allowing Mansell to close right up to the Lotus. Mansell took full advantage and went down the inside at Graham Hill, this time successfully - but under a yellow flag being waved as the marshals were still removing Piquet's Brabham. Any thought that this might have been unintentional on the part of Rosberg was banished when he moved over for Mansell to pass, and then chopped right back in front of Senna, allowing his team-mate to pull out a lead.

Soon after Prost was into 6th and pressing Surer, while Alboreto was back in 8th under attack from Brundle, soon to head into the pits in the hope that fresh tyres would improve his handling problems. His race ended a scant few laps after rejoining with a massive turbo fire, all but handing the title to Prost - now pushing Johansson, who had fallen behind Surer. However, behind him was a mischievous Laffite, and the Ligier was through into 6th before long - though by now McLaren had informed Prost of Alboreto's retirement, and the world champion elect was happy to sit back. Laffite made short work of Johansson soon afterwards, and set off after Surer.

The Brabham driver for his part was all over de Angelis, soon passing the Lotus for 3rd, and then setting off after Senna. Laffite, setting fastest lap, soon followed him through, the Pirelli tyres working superbly for once - which made it all the more of a shame that Piquet had retired. Surer was soon making up for it, swarming all over the back of Senna and nearly getting alongside at Hawthorn (where he had passed de Angelis) on one occasion as the pair were caught by Laffite and began a fascinating battle. Surer finally broke Senna's resistance and moved into 2nd at Hawthorn on lap 35, with Laffite following through a lap later in the same spot.

Mansell had a lead of nearly 14 seconds at this point, and it really looked like the Pirelli runners would mount a challenge, Laffite setting another fastest lap. However, Mansell had been running to Senna's pace and swiftly adapted to match Surer's, his lead staying stable. Laffite, meanwhile, was fading as his tyres wore, allowing Senna to move back into 3rd place, and the Ligier was soon to pit for fresh tyres. This promoted Johansson to 4th.

Prost, playing it cautious, had stopped for tyres at mid-distance, and with a clear track in front of him set a succession of fastest laps, and was soon in 6th and catching de Angelis. He moved past the Lotus when it got boxed behind a struggling Watson in a neat piece of team driving. Prost was in 4th moments later as Johansson pulled into the pits to retire with an electrical fault. The three points would give him the title, and he snapped back to his cautious mode, showing a notable reluctance to lap the erratic Patrese, running in 9th right behind Boutsen and Streiff.

This development promoted Rosberg to 6th, Laffite having disappeared with a blown Renault after a stirring drive, at least getting the satisfaction of setting fastest lap. The afternoon's other unlikely hero, Surer, also went unrewarded as his turbocharger failed, setting off a huge fire on the back of the Brabham and promoting Senna to 2nd, Prost to 3rd and de Angelis to 4th - but only briefly, as Rosberg charged past de Angelis and right onto the McLaren's tail. Once again Prost decided discretion was the better part of valour, moving over as soon as the Williams challenged him.

That was how they finished after an excellent race. Mansell's long-awaited first victory (it was his 72nd start) was hugely popular with the crowd, while Senna was again pleased to finish in the Lotus. Rosberg's third boggled belief, considering he'd lost a lap in the early stages after his puncture. Prost was even happier than Mansell, having finally secured his elusive title with two races still to go. Fifth went to de Angelis, while Boutsen advanced to 6th at the end as Streiff's defences were finally worn down, Watson also passing the Ligier in the closing stages.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda
75
1h 32m 58.109s
3
2
Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault
75
+ 21.396s
1
3
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
75
+ 58.433s
4
4
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
75
+ 1m 06.121s
6
5
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
74
+ 1 lap
9
6
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
73
+ 2 laps
12
7
John Watson McLaren-TAG
73
+ 2 laps
21
8
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
73
+ 2 laps
11
9
Philippe Streiff Ligier-Renault
73
+ 2 laps
5
10
Gerhard Berger Arrows-BMW
73
+ 2 laps
19
11
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
73
+ 2 laps
18
12
Patrick Tambay Renault
72
+ 3 laps
17
R
Marc Surer Brabham-BMW
62
Turbo
7
R
Stefan Johansson Ferrari
59
Electrics
13
R
Jacques Laffite Ligier-Renault
58
Engine
10
R
Christian Danner Zakspeed
50
Engine
25
R
Ivan Capelli Tyrrell-Renault
44
Accident
24
R
Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Renault
40
Overheating
16
R
Teo Fabi Toleman-Hart
33
Engine
20
R
Philippe Alliot RAM-Hart
31
Engine
23
R
Piercarlo Ghinzani Toleman-Hart
16
Engine
14
R
Alan Jones Beatrice Lola-Hart
13
Radiator
22
R
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
13
Turbo
15
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
6
Accident/Rosberg
2
R
Derek Warwick Renault
4
Misfire
8
R
Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Motori Moderni
3
Accident
26

Fastest Lap: Jacques Laffite (Ligier), 1:11.526s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
72
2
Michele Alboreto
53
3
Ayrton Senna
38
4
Elio de Angelis
33
5
Keke Rosberg
25
6
Nigel Mansell
22
=
Stefan Johansson
22
8
Nelson Piquet
21
9
Niki Lauda
14
10
Patrick Tambay
11
11
Thierry Boutsen
10
=
Jacques Laffite
10
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
86
2
Ferrari
77
3
Lotus
71
4
Williams
47
5
Brabham
26
6
Renault
16
7
Ligier
13
8
Arrows
10
9
Tyrrell
4