Your feature on the 1982 Formula One season was very enjoyable and brought back a flood of wonderful memories.
One of the untold stories of that year centred on my qualifying runs for the French GP at Dijon. My Williams team-mate Keke Rosberg was lightning fast and particularly good in qualifying, and there were unusual circumstances surrounding the only time I started ahead of him on the grid that year.
Halfway through the final qualifying session, I tried my car with the front wings fitted. I was about four seconds behind John Watson’s McLaren around the back of the circuit when I missed my braking point for the downhill section. No problem, I simply went down the escape road and rejoined the track, completely bypassing the downhill section. Before I rejoined, however, I waited for Watson to pass and then set off on another lap. So I was only about two seconds behind him when I flashed past the timing beam to record the fastest time set by a Williams that weekend.
When I stopped, I was just about to tell the team what had happened, when Charlie Crichton-Stuart began congratulating me for the lap and said that Frank Williams had sent orders to put the front wings on Keke’s car for his race set-up. I suddenly thought, ‘Maybe they don’t know about the mistake and just maybe I should keep quiet about it’. Keke didn’t know why he was beaten that weekend and was furious but, all these years later, he now sees the funny side.
Despite the fact that! didn’t actually do that lap time, I still thought that, with the front wings fitted, the car would be faster in the race. Keke therefore had enough down-force in the race to hound and eventually pass the Renaults late in the race, and go on to his only win of the season.! like to think that my inadvertently devious lap actually helped him in the long run.
I am Yours etc, Derek Daly, Indianapolis, USA