Mountain tension

It had been four years since we had won a Grand Prix, and with the type 88 saga only just fading, and turbo cars the way forward, Colin Chapman had left the design team pretty much alone to revamp the Cosworth type 87 for 1982.

The resultant car, the 91, which I had restyled away from his angular preferences, was not his favourite, and was a tricky car to set-up. The difference between full and empty tanks was very marked, and our drivers were having difficulty getting into a rhythm.

However, the team were in excellent spirits at the Österreichring, a scenic and flowing track in the mountains, with hot, sunny weather to add to the beauty. Elio qualified well, and there was a good chance of some points.

With the race half-over, he was lying fourth and motoring steadily towards three points. I left my position on the pit-wall where visibility was limited, and went to the motor-home, where the race was on TV.

Suddenly, the turbo cars started falling like flies and, with 20 laps to go, he had inherited second place and a 10-second advantage over Rosberg. We dashed out of the motor-home, back to the pits to wave him on.

Then, with four laps to go, Prost’s Renault expired: victory was now an unbelievable possibility. Our full-tank handling advantage had gone, however; the Williams handled better as its fuel tanks lightened.

They were nose to tail with two laps left, and we all feared the worst Keke was significantly faster, and surely Elio could not fend him off. To cap it all, our man had a slight misfire, probably fuel surge in the high-g corners.

The last two laps were the most tense I ever experienced, but with brilliant defensive tactics, Elio held on to that famous 0.05sec victory. Our joy was relief as much as satisfaction.

I can remember like yesterday walking round the circuit in the evening sunshine, with the crowds all gone, soaking up the atmosphere. A very special moment.

‘The last two laps were the most tense I ever experienced, and when Elio just held on our joy was one of relief as much as satisfaction’

Marlin Ogilvie