Grand Prix Classic
1985 Season Driver Review
Alain Prost finally got the title he had come so close to in the two previous years, and it would be impossible to argue it wasn't deserved. It was all the more remarkable as the McLaren wasn't the best car on the grid for much of the season.
Consistency is a word that can often have negative connotations in Formula 1, but Prost summed up the positive values of the word. Apart from his astonishing finishing record - eleven rostrum finishes, plus the narrow disqualification in Imola - there was the massive maturity in Prost's driving.
Early in the season he resisted the challenge of Alboreto's Ferrari, a case in point being his smooth drive at Monaco where the Frenchman was passed twice by his rival but still wound up with the win. Later in the year he allowed Senna and Rosberg to do the early duelling, instead frequently coming through for the spoils when they failed. He could be startlingly fast when he needed to be, but never got flustered and kept his eyes on the prize.
In the first half of the season, Alboreto seemed set for a serious title challenge. His driving was as good as ever, with just the right amount of aggression alongside his usual silky-smooth driving. In Rio he fought as hard as the car would let him with Prost, and finished second. Another six points came at Estoril where he avoided trouble while all but Senna floundered, and then another 2nd came at Monaco, where with better luck he might have won. He did win in Canada, and with most of his rivals struggling for reliability things were looking promising.
However, by mid-season things were beginning to flounder as Ferrari were unable to match the development of their rivals. Victory at the Nurburgring was lucky, and followed by a number of horrible weekends where the car was either slow or unreliable or both as the team totally failed to set it up for the faster circuits.
It was a shame, and left Alboreto unable to mount any sort of challenge to Prost - even second in the standings was largely by default as Senna and Rosberg consistently failed to finish thanks to his early season points haul. Working out how much of the blame was Alboreto's is difficult - while he did little wrong on the track and stood little chance against the politics of Maranello, the team's malaise didn't reflect favourably on his developmental skills.
It was a joy to see Keke Rosberg back in a competitive car in 1985. While his qualifying runs in the difficult FW09/B had been scintillating, now we got to see Rosberg driving the wheels off the car in races too. In the second half of the year as the Williams-Honda really picked up speed he was especially devastating, the only man who could consistently match Senna from race to race.
All of which made it a little strange that he would be leaving at the end of the year after three years waiting for Williams to give him a car to equal his talents. While the challenge of battling Prost and to drive for McLaren was part of it, it was also clear that Mansell's speed unsettled the Finn. This led to overdriving on the odd occasion, with his impetuous attempt to pass Senna at Brands and the spin into the gravel at Kyalami the main examples. It's worth noting, however, that on both occasions he recovered to stunning effect and finished on the podium in both races.
In 1985, though, he was never less than a joy to watch. His wins at Detroit and Adelaide, the latter after an enthralling battle with Senna, showed his bravery and grit were undiminished - as if there was any doubt on that score.
The most astonishing thing about the intense Brazilian is that there was little surprise that he made himself at home among the very front runners straight away. The dazzling win in the wet at Estoril came in his 16th start and was Lotus' first victory since Colin Chapman's death in 1982, and yet while there was acclaim, it wasn't an unexpected result and that said it all.
His pole position record and early race speed spoke for themselves, but the fragility of the Lotus let him down too often to mount a title challenge. Despite numerous superb performances (he led more laps than anyone else in 1985) it wasn't until the Austrian Grand Prix that he scored again - a result which triggered a run of five podium finishes, including a second superlative win at Spa, having never driven at the challenging circuit before.
He obliterated de Angelis, causing the Italian to leave after six years with Lotus such was his domination. There were still a couple of rough edges - pushing too hard in Detroit led to a crash, while Senna's Adelaide performance was strikingly callow compared to the rest of his season. These moments stood out due to their rarity, however, and Senna seems all but the finished article.
DE ANGELIS (Lotus)
There were high hopes among the Italian's many fans that the arrival of Senna would bring out the latent speed in de Angelis, but these proved to be largely unfounded. Occasionally de Angelis would match his junior team-mate, but this proved to be the exception rather than the norm.
His tremendous consistency paid off early in the season - after Monaco, thanks partly to the inherited win at Imola, he found himself leading the points table. As at Hockenheim last year he seemed set to have a serious tilt and took pole at the next race in Canada.
He then matched Senna blow for blow in the early stages before engine trouble dropped him back to 5th, and promptly went back in his box for the rest of the year. After Monaco, de Angelis wouldn't finish on the podium again, and didn't really look like doing so either - while Senna, Rosberg, Mansell, Prost and Piquet would all break away and battle for the lead, de Angelis seemed unable to keep the pace. He was certainly unsettled by Senna, however, and it remains to be seen whether a change of surroundings can refresh him.
Mansell lived up to expectations and then some at Williams. Early in the season he looked much as he did at Lotus - brave, an ace on street circuits, but lacking that certain something. He also managed to get injured once more at Paul Ricard (after picking up a knock at Detroit too).
However, in the second half of the season as he began to feel at home in his new surroundings Mansell improved immensely. Both his wins were largely down to merit (he had things in hand at Kyalami even before most of his rivals dropped out), and there were fine performances at Monza and Spa, and no-one was betting against him making it a hat-trick of victories at Adelaide before the gearbox broke.
In short, many expected Mansell to bloom somewhat after leaving the homely confines of Lotus, after four-and-a-half mixed years with the Hethel team. However, few expected him to be a genuine match for Rosberg - apart from Mansell himself, who allied his steel determination to growing skill and confidence.
JOHANSSON (Tyrrell, Ferrari)
It looked like Johansson's jinx had struck again when his highly promising role as Toleman team leader looked like it wasn't going to be realised. However, the team's problems left him free to firstly fill in for the suspended Bellof at Tyrrell (coming home a fine 7th at Rio) and then replace the fired Arnoux at Ferrari.
After a difficult debut at Estoril, he then came within a few litres of fuel of victory at Imola, ensuring a place in the Tifosi's hearts. Johansson went on to provide solid support for Alboreto's championship challenge for the first half of the season, and still impressed in the second half of the year when the car had slipped down the order.
Qualifying would be an enduring problem - even when the Ferrari was on the practice pace, Johansson struggled to get everything into a single lap, and it often put him at a disadvantage. Low grid positions contributed to his first-corner scuffles with Tambay at Monaco and Silverstone. It was clear his strength laid in the races, and in the second half of the season his performances did much to keep the team's moral up.
Once more Piquet was left as an also ran in a car which didn't do him justice. While BMW had worked on their reliability, the truth was the chassis wasn't up to the normal standard. With the growing strength of Williams-Honda and the advent of Senna, Piquet found himself forced down the order somewhat.
However, there was little sign Piquet's tremendous skill had dimmed. In qualifying he was generally there or thereabouts, but in races he was hamstrung too often by the inconsistent Pirelli tyres. When they worked, he was a serious threat, taking a serene win at Paul Ricard, and Surer's performance suggested he would have been a major factor at Brands if he hadn't been a victim of Rosberg's impetuosity.
Mostly, though, the year was a wasted one for Piquet, and along the way there were a few lacklustre performances - had Patrese not sideswiped him in such a dramatic fashion his participation at Monaco would have gone unnoticed, and he seemed disinterested on occasion. It wasn't the best way to sign off his superb career with Brabham, but in a Williams-Honda his star will surely rise again.
One of the most pleasant sights of 1985 was the return to form of Jacques Laffite, back with Ligier after two troubled years with Williams. At times he seemed semi-retired, and clearly had little interest in qualifying sessions (he only made the top half of the grid twice). Similarly, when it was wet he was in no mood to risk life and limb with Pirelli's wet tyres, furiously pulling into the pits at Estoril and lobbying to have de Cesaris retired too.
However, in races with a good car underneath him he revived memories of his form in Ducarouge's Ligiers, the best of several fine drives being his thrilling progress at Brands, one of the few circuits where the tyres really worked. It was a shame the Renault engine let go soon after his tyre stop and robbed the spectators of the rest of the show.
On other occasions he put his experience to good use, keeping out of trouble to bring home a trio of rostrum finishes and put thoughts of retirement on hold for one more year - a good thing for the sport as a whole, as Laffite adds a wild-card to any race when he's on song.
Niki LAUDA (McLaren)
Everything that went right for Lauda in 1984 went wrong in 1985, and within a few races it was clear he wouldn't be in any position to defend his crown. An endless string of mechanical problems restricted Lauda throughout 1985, and he often found himself pulling off with one or another just as he was in a good position. He most likely would have won at the Osterreichring and Adelaide had the car stayed healthy.
On the positive side, his McLaren held together at Zandvoort and spectators were treated to a final show of Lauda's racecraft as he firmly but fairly battled Prost's faster car and held on for victory.
Some of his qualifying performances were lacklustre, and with the benefit of hindsight the second retirement could be seen from some of the earlier races, but Lauda's lowly position in the table was mainly down to poor luck rather than poor driving.
Thierry BOUTSEN (Arrows)
Boutsen grew into the role of team leader at Arrows in 1985, and was finally properly rewarded for his diligent efforts with some good results. While his second place at Imola was down to attrition, he did what the likes of Senna and Johansson were unable to do and (just about) kept going to the finish.
The Arrows A8 was no better behaved than its' predecessor, not that this was notable from Boutsen's smooth driving - a marked contrast to Berger's approach to the car. His finishing record was remarkable, and the spin at Silverstone was the only real blot on his season, though he wasted a couple of good grid positions with poor starts.
To applaud Boutsen for his sensible approach and undramatic feels like damning him with faint praise, but then it's worth noting that the title went to a man with the same attributes. If Boutsen was in a McLaren or Williams in 1986, he would be a championship contender.
Patrick TAMBAY (Renault)
With little to prove and presented with a dog of a car, it would have been easy for Tambay to run down his contract in 1985 and look at retiring. Despite adopting a demeanour of weary resignation, he instead kept at it on the track, and was rewarded for his efforts with a lucrative contract for Beatrice-Lola in 1986.
The RE60 and the unimproved RE60B were beyond even Tambay's development skills, and despite a misleadingly good start to the season (he was 3rd in the standings after Imola) he was relegated to also-ran for the year, a waste of his talent.
Generally, though, he weathered the storm pragmatically, largely doing a better job than team-mate Warwick. The bizarre fuel stunt at Zandvoort at least allowed him to have some fun and show that the dynamic driver who so recently looked like a potential champion for Ferrari was still in there.
Marc SURER (Brabham)
Surer had initially opted out of the Formula 1 rat-race, instead signing to drive Kremer's Porsche 962 (winning the shortened Monza 1000kms with Manfred Winkelhock). However, the offer to replace Hesnault at Brabham was too good to ignore.
Initially, Surer must have wondered whether he made the right decision as he struggled to adjust to the car and to the pace of Piquet. However, after scoring at Silverstone he made swift progress and in the last few races he wasn't far from the pace of the front-runners.
His run at Brands Hatch was especially thrilling, and allowed him to bask in the spotlight for once. The car let him down and denied Surer a long-overdue podium finish, but the display will have done him no harm in terms of looking for a seat in 1986.
Derek WARWICK (Renault)
If Warwick's first year with Renault had been a disappointment, his second was a disaster. It must have been especially galling to see Mansell taking victories in the Williams seat he had rejected in favour of staying with Renault.
The most galling thing, though, was that Warwick was comprehensively trounced by Tambay across the season. While he had less luck than his team-mate, he also seemed to lose heart at an early stage, and his qualifying form in the second half of the year was shabby.
The ambitious Englishman, still yet to win a Grand Prix, possibly felt the pain of driving such a poor car more than Tambay did, and when the car let him he showed his talent. A gritty drive at Silverstone and a few barnstorming practice laps early in the year showed Warwick still has his speed.
Philippe STREIFF (Ligier, Tyrrell)
After a ragged debut for Renault in the final race of 1984, Streiff returned to Formula 1 replacing Andrea de Cesaris with Ligier. He showed once again that he had a decent turn of speed, but also that he still had a few rough edges.
His qualifying performance at Brands Hatch was remarkable, even if he found it difficult to reproduce the same speed in the race, while he generally made a good job of keeping pace with Laffite, leading to a solid performance for 81 laps of the Australian Grand Prix.
However, the podium finish secured at Adelaide was tainted by his mindless attempt to take 2nd from Laffite on the final lap, and his one-off drive with Tyrrell (ahead of a full season in 1986) also ended with a silly accident.
Stefan BELLOF (Tyrrell)
Stefan Bellof's death in the Spa 1000kms robbed motorsport of one of its' brightest talents, and made the paddock a sadder place to boot.
The energetic German had few opportunities to really show his skill during the 1985 Grand Prix season, first in the DFY-powered Tyrrell and then the team's first underdeveloped turbo design.
As it was, there were still two excellent showings - a dogged run though to 6th in the rain at Estoril, and a fighting drive to 4th in Detroit. Both races took place in conditions which negated horsepower and allowed car control to shine, and gave a taste of skill which was sadly lost a short while after.
Andrea DE CESARIS (Ligier)
After surviving a largely mediocre debut year with Ligier, it was a surprise that de Cesaris would be fired by the French team just when he was showing signs of really getting somewhere.
His drive at Silverstone, where he was heading for the podium and had battled with Prost at one stage, showed one side of de Cesaris, while the silly tub-destroying crash in Austria a month later showed the other. Beyond that there was a strong run to 4th place at Monaco, but four other retirements due to spins or collisions.
It was arguable that his days at Ligier were numbered once Laffite (who de Cesaris easily outpaced in qualifying) returned to form and Guy Ligier's interest in the team rose, but it was unfair on the Italian to be dumped mid-season.
Rene ARNOUX (Ferrari)
The main competition to de Cesaris for "most baffling sacking of 1985" came from Rene Arnoux. Having survived an unimpressive second year at Ferrari, he went out and drove his best race for some time at Jacarepagua, only to be sacked a matter of days later.
Internal politics played the biggest role in his firing, though the timing was odd even for the legendary machinations within Ferrari. As it was, things were swiftly forgotten when his replacement - the popular Johansson - promptly showed good form in the first half of the season.
Paddock rumour indicated that Arnoux's satisfactory settlement from Ferrari included an agreement precluding him from taking another seat in 1985, an indication that his skill isn't spent yet.
Ivan CAPELLI (Tyrrell)
Called up to take the second Tyrrell drive at Brands Hatch, Capelli looked painfully out of his depth, spinning a couple of times in practice, qualifying well down and then spinning out of the race into a tyre wall, visibly exhausted.
Brands is never a good place to start for a novice driver, however, and Capelli proved himself with a fine, measured run at Adelaide, where he drove a sensible and mature race, preserving his car and keeping away from the walls to score a surprise 4th place. While attrition played its' part, Capelli had done what 18 others couldn't and finished, doing so at a speed better than Johansson, Berger, Rothengatter and Martini had.
Gerhard BERGER (Arrows)
Berger had a fairly impressive first full season in Formula 1, largely matching the speed of Boutsen in both practice and races. What he couldn't match was the Belgian's smoothness and mechanical sympathy, though once his wild streak is tamed that will disappear.
Practice sessions especially saw numerous crashes and spins, but in the second half of the season some of the edges were beginning to be filed down, and in races Berger was wronged more than wrong - notably when Martini eliminated him at Ricard when points could have been on the cards.
It was something of a surprise considering his obvious speed that it took 15 races for the Austrian to open his account, but his first score was then followed by an impressive early showing at Adelaide as his confidence grew.
Martin BRUNDLE (Tyrrell)
Quite how Martin Brundle made it through 1985 without scoring points remains something of a mystery - he finished 7th three times, was a fair match for each of the four drivers who took the other Tyrrell at one point or another and adapted well to Renault power, and yet he ended up with a score to his name.
The highlight of his season was Detroit once again, a drive which would have been rewarded with a big score had he not hit Alliot. But then had he not been driving so hard, he wouldn't have been so high up the order.
In general Brundle made an encouraging return from his ankle injuries, and qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix exorcised one particular demon. With both team and driver having turbo experience for 1986, Brundle's first official score is only a matter of time.
Huub ROTHENGATTER (Osella)
The likeable Rothengatter spent months raising funds to rejoin the ranks of Formula 1 after hiring the Spirit car for half of the 1984 season, and Osella were happy to take his money.
The Dutch driver didn't get much in return, being given an unreliable and woefully undeveloped car. Rothengatter never let his enthusiasm drop, though, and just kept trying - twice losing numerous laps in the pits having repairs carried out and then merrily pressing on, despite having no chance of being classified.
That he took a 7th place at Adelaide - Osella's best result of the season - was a fair reward, and he generally did no worse in the car than Ghinzani had. However, as the thing rarely ran for long without problems there was little for him to do other than occasionally dice with Martini.
John WATSON (McLaren)
Watson seemed set to return to Formula 1 alongside Johansson in the Toleman team, but - after testing at Donington - was left out in the cold by the team's tyre problems, and he was left without a seat. When the team did manage to get going, their new sponsors Benetton wanted an Italian.
A second chance seemed to be on the cards when Lauda injured himself at Spa, and while Watson wasn't able to enter there, Ron Dennis did hire him for Brands Hatch.
Given such a competitive car, a home crowd and a circuit he knew well, a fairytale could have been on the cards. However, 18 months out of Grand Prix competition left him ring-rusty, and a poor practice left him well down the field. After three-quarters of the race Watson seemed to find a rhythm, but it was too late to score a decent result. In the end, the chance seems to have done his prospects more harm than good, and it's difficult to see much of a future for the Ulsterman.
Pierluigi MARTINI (Minardi)
Just as he had at Monza the previous year, Martini seemed hopelessly out of his depth in Formula 1. It wasn't entirely his fault - giving a novice driver the sole responsibility for developing both a new car and a new engine was a big ask.
However, Martini inevitably attracted brickbats for his ragged driving, and a weekend without a spin or accident from the hapless Italian was a rare thing indeed. Occasionally - such as taking Berger out at Paul Ricard - these were particularly mindless, though in races he was often so far behind he rarely got in others' way.
From time to time, when the underdeveloped Minardi-Motori Moderni combination ran with minimal trouble, there was the odd glimpse of speed, but what the team needed was a steady pair of hands to gain mileage on the car, not spins and crashes.
Riccardo PATRESE (Alfa Romeo)
Patrese's first season at Alfa Romeo had been unimpressive, at least he had a few results to show for it. In 1985, there was nothing of the sort, with only a couple of inane collisions sticking in the memory.
The Alfa was an unreliable, ill-handling beast, but the way Patrese seemed to accept his lot and settle for tooling around in lower midfield was deeply disappointing. Even the potential of his Arrows and Brabham days seemed like a distant memory.
As it was, the only notable thing Patrese managed to do in 1985 was his astonishingly mindless sideswipe on Piquet at Monaco.
Eddie CHEEVER (Alfa Romeo)
While Cheever's results were no better than his nominal team leader's, the American at least seemed to be doing his best with the recalcitrant 185T, and later with the 184TB. However, as the cars were among the most fragile on the entry, it got him no further.
At least Cheever's instincts and commitment on street circuits showed through, with his remarkable 4th place at Monaco the highlight. In the race he shadowed the leaders for a few laps before, inevitably, something broke on the Alfa.
His plans for 1986 are currently unknown, and it has now been 31 races since he scored a point. It's an unfair reflection on the tremendously talented American.
Piercarlo GHINZANI (Osella, Toleman)
Ghinzani started 1985 in the familiar confines of Osella, driving largely for fun - he had no sponsorship, and received no salary (his seat with Lancia's sportscar squad was his main job). The car was underdeveloped, but Ghinzani's experience and steady hand kept things respectable. His drive to 9th at Estoril, the only Pirelli runner to survive, was worthy of note.
The deal with Osella was that he would move over if a driver with sponsorship arrived, and Ghinzani stood down when Rothengatter arrived with funding. As it was, Ghinzani only sat out one race before getting what should have been his big break in the second Toleman.
Sadly, the English team had got ahead of themselves running two cars, and Ghinzani had little chance to show as the car suffered endless technical problems. Towards the end of the year he got close to Fabi's qualifying pace on some tracks, but made little impression in the grand scheme of things.
Philippe ALLIOT (RAM)
Alliot had another hugely disappointing season with John Macdonald's ailing RAM concern. The year had started off on an optimistic note with a promising chassis, and Alliot brought the car home 9th, logging valuable miles.
However, the programme rapidly disintegrated, and Alliot was unable to wrestle the team's attention from Winkelhock when the German was alive, or direct them in any fashion after his death.
While his poor form wasn't helped by the car's poor reliability, Alliot's overdriving resulted in numerous spins and accidents (most notably at Spa, where he had profited from the mixed weather to reach a promising position, only to crash exiting the pits) which hardly helped.
Jonathan PALMER (Zakspeed)
In only his second year of Formula 1, Palmer had the daunting task of developing the all-new Zakspeed project, but it was one he emerged from with no small amount of credit. His vast testing experience put him in good stead for a difficult season.
Early promise showed at Imola, where he started 17th in the car's second appearance, and then came qualification and a finish at Monaco. After that, the Zakspeed seemed to lose a little momentum as attempts to make the car faster made it less reliable, but Palmer drove sensibly and gave excellent feedback to Erich Zachowski's team.
Injury at Spa curtailed Palmer's season, but Zakspeed announced he would be retaining his seat with the team for 1986, giving the British driver a chance to reap the rewards of his own hard work.
Manfred WINKELHOCK (RAM)
RAM initially looked like they were going to give Winkelhock the drive his energy and enthusiasm deserved, with the car looking good out of the box.
However, time and again brave drives from the German were wrecked by niggling technical problems, and by the time of his tragic death at Mosport he had few tangible results.
The team were devastated by his loss, as Winkelhock had given his all for them. His early season qualifying form had been excellent, and points wouldn't have been out of the question on occasion but for fragile machinery or misfortune (such as being collected by de Cesaris in Canada).
Teo FABI (Toleman)
It seemed unfair that Fabi found himself on the sidelines at the start of 1985 after some promising drives in the second half of 1984 for Brabham. Therefore his convoluted return with Toleman was probably a case of justice done.
Once there, he rapidly got up to speed, and by the faster tracks - where his own precision and the Toleman's superb aerodynamics came into play - he reeled off a string of impressive performances. And to dismiss criticism of his performance on slower tracks, Fabi took pole at the mid-speed new Nurburgring.
His race pace deserved half a dozen points at least, but the team's late start to the season meant they were always finding different niggling problems with the car, and Fabi didn't have a trouble-free race all season. However, the speed and talent were clearly there.
Francois HESNAULT (Brabham, )
While Hesnault had performed better than most expected after getting a Ligier seat out of the blue in 1984, he was very much a surprise choice for the second Brabham drive in 1985. It was clear the main brief was not to divert too much attention from team leader Piquet, and in that respect he was a clear success.
However, devoid of any support he swiftly became a backmarker. Three hapless races were followed by non-qualification at Monaco and then a testing crash at Paul Ricard that annihilated whatever confidence remained, opening the door for Marc Surer.
As an unemployed superlicence-owning Frenchman, Hesnault was then given a one-off drive in Renault's camera car at the German Grand Prix, and at least enjoyed himself dicing with the backmarkers before an early mechanical failure ended the experiment.
Alan JONES (Beatrice-Lola)
The long-rumoured full return of Alan Jones to Grand Prix racing finally happened at the Italian Grand Prix, and the signs were this was an altogether more serious attempt than the brace of drives for Arrows at the start of 1983.
While intended entirely as a water-testing exercise, there was some disappointment when Hart engine problems hindered the ambitious Beatrice-backed team, though at least Jones' frustrations showed he was in it for more than the money.
At Adelaide, spurred on by his home crowd, Jones gave a terrific showing before the inevitable mechanical failure, a strong omen ahead of a full programme in 1986 with works Ford Cosworth turbocharged engines.
Mauro BALDI (Spirit)
With his days as a member of the Alfa Romeo team already a distant memory, Baldi had few options beyond carrying on with the tiny Spirit team in 1985. Like Ghinzani, he earned his crust with Lancia in endurance racing, and was happy to use his other weekends to drive for the loyal team.
However, there was never any money for the car, and whereas there were some respectable showings from the combination in 1984, in 1985 he only caught the attention when making mistakes - notably his lamentable, Pirelli-induced series of spins at Estoril.
When Spirit disappeared, they took Baldi's last realistic chance of staying in Formula 1 with them.
Christian DANNER (Zakspeed)
While on his way to victory in the inaugural Formula 3000 championship, Danner was drafted in to take the place of the injured Jonathan Palmer for Zakspeed in the last two European rounds.
For a Grand Prix novice, Spa and Brands Hatch are daunting tracks to learn, let alone with a new team, and his two outings largely served to show what a fine job Palmer had been doing, both in terms of driving and feedback.
However, the tall German (very much carrying his country's expectations with the deaths of Bellof and Winkelhock) did a passable job in the circumstances, and the experience will put him in good stead ahead of finding a full-time Formula 1 drive in 1986.
Kenny ACHESON (RAM)
Since his difficult time with RAM in 1983, Acheson had rebuilt his reputation in Japan, earning a call-up to replace the late Winkelhock at his old employers.
It started well enough when he outqualified Alliot at the Osterreichring, but an early retirement was followed by non-qualification at Zandvoort, then another mechanical failure in the opening stages at Monza.
The team had been teetering on the edge since Winkelhock's death, and as RAM began to fall apart their second entry was a casualty, leaving Acheson back out in the cold.