On second thoughts

The evening after final qualifying, Renault’s Jean Sage Gerard Larrousse, pole-sitter Rene Arnoux and secondfastest Alain Prost got together and looked at their options.

“Alain was still in with a chance of winning the championship,” recalls Sage, “and Amoux was nowhere. We’d qualified first and second, with quite a big margin over the others. It was time to discuss what the possibilities might be during the race.

“It was Arnoux who suggested he would give up his place to Main if we were running 1-2 at the end of the race. I must stress this: it was his idea. We were grateful.”

The light-tanked Brabhams intending to pit for fuel moved quickly past the Renaults in the early laps, but their BMW motors went pop before the stops. Putting the Renaults first and second Arnoux comfortably ahead.

Earlier, Frost had been right on his tail, but then a skirt split, costing him downforce. He consoled himself with the thought of his team-mate’s agreement, and that the best of the rest the Ferraris of Pironi and Tambay were no threat. The Cosworths were nowhere.

“But then Arnoux just kept pulling away,” recalls Sage, “until, eventually, we began hanging pit signs out, reminding him of the agreement. When it came to it, he went back on his word. He was just not a team player.

“Afterwards, Frost made it clear that he would not stay with Renault the following year if we kept AMOUX. Actually, we’d already been in contact with Marco Piccinini at Ferrari about the possibility of Arnow( joining them, and this just made that more certain.”

Arnoux: “Yes, I thought about it later that [Saturday] night and began to have other thoughts. It was not as if Main was close to winning the championship. There were still a lot of races to go and we were both a long way off in the points. But it could have gone the other way later in the season. Then I thought, ‘Let’s just see what happens in the race’.

“I wasn’t just ahead of Alain, I was half a lap in front. I slowed down and still I was pulling away from him, so I thought, ‘No way!’ And took the win.”

Math Hughes