Grand Prix Classic




Round 16 - Australian Grand Prix
Adelaide, 1-3 November, 1985

The Australian Grand Prix had been running in one form or another since 1928. The race had become well-known during the 1960s boom of the Tasman series, and had later been ran to Formula 5000 and then Formula Pacific rules, most recently at Calder Park - where the race had become a popular (and lucrative) end-of-term outing for numerous Formula 1 drivers.

However, for the inaugural World Championship edition, a new street circuit had been laid out in Adelaide. With the drivers' championship resolved in Prost's favour, the main honour being contested was the constructors' cup, though Ferrari needed to outscore McLaren by 11 points to take the title. The race would also mark the final appearance of the Renault factory team before their withdrawal at the end of the season.


Entry Notes

Renault and Ligier returned after boycotting the South African Grand Prix for political reasons. Philippe Streiff returned to Ligier after a guest drive for Tyrrell in Kyalami, with Ivan Capelli hired again to drive alongside Martin Brundle for the Ockham team.

[Full Entry]


Qualifying

This being a new circuit, an untimed practice session was allowed on Thursday afternoon. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, the whole experience being enhanced by the boundless enthusiasm of the Australian staff and fans. Saturday's sessions saw many drivers find two or three seconds as grip and circuit knowledge improved, and thus decided the grid.

Senna was fastest by seven tenths of a second, ahead of the Williams-Honda cars of Mansell and Rosberg (the latter in his final race for the team), with Prost, Alboreto and Surer filling the rest of the front three rows. Berger did a good job to get his Arrows 7th ahead of Tambay's Renault (Warwick in the second RE60B would start the team's final race from 12th), with Piquet (in his final Brabham drive) and de Angelis (in his last race for Lotus) filling the top ten.

Home hero Alan Jones would start 19th in the Beatrice Lola, while Niki Lauda would start his last race for McLaren in a disappointing 14th. The race was going to be the Austrian's final Grand Prix before his second retirement, though Lauda was still in negotiations to drive for Brabham in 1986 and might yet opt to stay in Formula 1.

[Full Grid & Practice Times]


Race

Practice had been blessed with hot, sunny weather and it held for the race on Sunday. Mansell once again made the best start, getting down the short straight to the first chicane ahead of Senna, who was closely followed by Rosberg, Alboreto, Prost, Berger, Surer and Tambay. Alan Jones stalled on the grid and required a push-start, much to the disappointment of his home crowd. There was excitement at the front on the first lap as Senna squeezed Mansell, who was forced over into a run-off and dropped to 7th. The Lotus lost enough momentum in the contact to allow Rosberg in front. Mansell would then crawl around to the pits with a broken crownwheel and pinion.

After a couple of laps the field began to break up a little - Rosberg, with Senna stuck under his rear wing, moved away from Prost and Alboreto, themselves pulling away from Berger and Surer, who were inching clear of Tambay, de Angelis, Piquet, Cheever, Boutsen and the rest. It took only a dozen laps for several drivers to decide on a change of tyres - first Berger, then Prost, Tambay, Alboreto, Johansson and Boutsen. Soon after, Piquet dropped out with an electrical fire, while de Angelis was black-flagged for moving back through the field after getting left behind on the parade lap. While this was the correct decision, it was difficult to see why it look 17 laps for the stewards to reach a decision and inform the driver, and it made for a sad end to de Angelis' six-year tenure with Lotus.

All of which elevated Lauda to 6th and Jones to 7th. The Australian's superb drive sadly ended on lap 21 with electrical trouble, but spurred on by his home crowd he had been into a race properly for the first time, and it all boded well for 1986. He was soon joined by Tambay (broken transmission) and Prost (blown engine). This left Surer 3rd, with Lauda, Alboreto, Streiff, Boutsen, Warwick, Capelli and Laffite the rest of the top 10. At the front, Senna was catching Rosberg after the Finn had extended his lead to nine seconds at one point, the pair of them half a minute clear of the surviving Brabham. Senna's pursuit was uncharacteristically ragged, and he was lucky to get away with a big bounce over the large kerb at Malthouse. The Lotus was also troubled by waste paper in one of his sidepods.

With Rosberg preserving his tyres, Senna soon closed up again. By the tail end of lap 42 he was right under the back of the Williams, which proved impetuous when Rosberg slowed to enter the pits and Senna promptly wiped his right-front wing out on the back of the leader. Rosberg was unscathed, briefly delayed while the Williams crew checked for damage, while Senna carried on. The Lotus was now understeering so badly that when Senna came towards the pit entrance he instead found himself skittering over the opposite sand trap, missed the turn, removed the remaining front wing. He had to carry on for another lap before coming in to have a new nosecone and fresh tyres pitted, his sidepods emptied and his temper cooled. While all this was happening, another valiant drive by Surer in the second Brabham came to an end when he dropped out of 3rd place with a broken engine.

Rosberg had been on the point of catching Senna when the Brazilian pitted, with Lauda taking over 2nd place behind the Williams. Good work by Lotus (26 seconds for nose, tyres and rubbish removal) got Senna out ahead of 4th-placed Alboreto, with the lapped Warwick and Laffite next. Senna was still fired up, and rapidly gained on Lauda. By lap 50 he was back in 2nd after blasting past on the Brabham straight, and began chasing down Rosberg. The pursuit was cut short when Rosberg pitted again, but his 28 second lead was wiped out when a wheel nut jammed, dropping him to 3rd.

Lauda, meanwhile, had been preserving his rubber, and soon fought back at Senna, pulling off a slingshot pass on the Brabham Straight to take the lead on lap 55. It looked like he was going to bow out with a win, but two laps later his fading brakes caught him out at the end of the straight, and the McLaren slid sideways, breaking its' nose and left-front suspension on the wall. This put Senna back in the lead once again, seven seconds clear of a charging Rosberg. Warwick had retired the final Renault from 6th, which left just 11 cars still circulating - Senna, Rosberg, Alboreto, Laffite, Streiff, Capelli, Berger, Johansson, Rothengatter, Martini and the much-delayed Brundle.

Rosberg had caught Senna by lap 62, but before there was time for battle to be rejoined Senna moved over and coasted to the pits, his engine having failed. With Alboreto also out with a broken gear change, Rosberg's nearest challengers were the Ligiers of Laffite and Streiff, who were so far behind that the Finn made a third tyre stop so he wouldn't have to worry about wear over the last 20 laps.

The Ligiers were running nose-to-tail, and Laffite was waving at his junior team-mate to slow down and take it easy rather than risk ten guaranteed points for the team. His advice went unheeded as Streiff made an ill-advised lunge at the end of the Brabham Straight on the penultimate lap, smashing his front-left suspension on his team leader's rear wheel. Both made it round to the finish, though Laffite was furious. It meant the excitement was kept going right until the end of a hugely successful race, at least.

Rosberg completed the final laps without incident, signing off after four years at Williams with a well-deserved win - while it was a shame that his duel with Senna went unresolved, the Finn was due a win for his displays in the second half of the season. Capelli, an astonishing and exhausted 4th in the Tyrrell, had been lapped and couldn't take advantage of the Ligier collision, but was overjoyed, if slightly bemused, to have scored his first points (and the first for Tyrrell-Renault).

Discounting Brundle, only four other cars were running - Johansson was 5th after a difficult afternoon, while Berger was another walking wounded, having speared into a tyre barrier trying to fend off the Ferrari five laps from the end, but managed to restart and score points for the second race in succession. Behind him came Rothengatter and Martini, both several laps down but having done a good job of making their fragile cars last the distance when many more illustrious names had failed, and might have scored points if Streiff and Berger hadn't got away with their misadventures.


Result

Pos.
Driver Car
Laps
Time/Retirement
Grid
1
Keke Rosberg Williams-Honda
82
2h 00m 40.473s
3
2
Jacques Laffite Ligier-Renault
82
+ 46.130s
20
3
Philippe Streiff Ligier-Renault
82
+ 1m 28.536s
18
4
Ivan Capelli Tyrrell-Renault
81
+ 1 lap
22
5
Stefan Johansson Ferrari
81
+ 1 lap
15
6
Gerhard Berger Arrows-BMW
81
+ 1 lap
7
7
Huub Rothengatter Osella-Alfa Romeo
78
+ 4 laps
25
8
Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Motori Moderni
78
+ 4 laps
23
R
Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault
62
Engine
1
R
Michele Alboreto Ferrari
61
Gear linkage
5
R
Niki Lauda McLaren-TAG
57
Accident
16
R
Derek Warwick Renault
57
Transmission
12
NC
Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Renault
49
Still running
17
R
Marc Surer Brabham-BMW
42
Electrics
6
R
Riccardo Patrese Alfa Romeo
42
Engine
14
R
Teo Fabi Toleman-Hart
40
Exhaust
24
R
Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW
40
Oil leak
11
R
Piercarlo Ghinzani Toleman-Hart
37
Clutch
21
R
Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
28
Engine
4
R
Patrick Tambay Renault
26
Transmission
8
R
Alan Jones Beatrice Lola-Hart
20
Electrics
19
DQ
Elio de Angelis Lotus-Renault
20
Violation of starting procedure
10
R
Nelson Piquet Brabham-BMW
14
Electrics
9
R
Eddie Cheever Alfa Romeo
5
Engine
13
R
Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda

1

Transmission
2

Fastest Lap: Keke Rosberg (Williams), 1:23.758s

[Team-by-Team report]


Tables

Driver's Championship

Pos.
Driver
Points
1
Alain Prost
73
2
Michele Alboreto
53
3
Keke Rosberg
40
4
Ayrton Senna
38
5
Elio de Angelis
33
6
Nigel Mansell
31
7
Stefan Johansson
27
8
Nelson Piquet
21
9
Jacques Laffite
16
10
Niki Lauda
14
11
Patrick Tambay
11
=
Thierry Boutsen
11
13
Marc Surer
5
=
Derek Warwick
5
15
Philippe Streiff
4
=
Stefan Bellof
4
17
Ivan Capelli
3
=
Rene Arnoux
3
=
Gerhard Berger
3
=
Andrea de Cesaris
3

Constructor's Championship

Pos.
Constructor
Points
1
McLaren
90
2
Ferrari
82
3
Williams
71
=
Lotus
71
5
Brabham
26
6
Ligier
23
7
Renault
16
8
Arrows
14
9
Tyrrell
7