Monaco Grand Prix – Interesting

THE way that FISA and FOCA operate [0

run the world of Formula One is beyond the

comprehension of normal motor racing

enthusiasts like you and me, so there is no

point in worrying about it. Merely accept

the result and take the rough with the

smooth. Overall it cannot be too bad,

otherwise Formula One would be dying in

popularity and the starting grids would be

full of a bunch of mediocre runners. The

truth is the complete opposite; enthusiasm

for Formula One is as high as ever and we

have not had such a competitive field for a

longtime.

All this brings us to two imponanr

FISAIFOCA results, both enjoyable, both

satisfactory, but both inexplicable. I refer to

the Monaco GP taking place on May 19th,

when all the winter noises from Paris said

there would not be a Monaco GP, and the

appearance of Teo Fabi in a Toleman-Hart

Car running on Pirelli ryres, when all the

winter noises from Witney said the Toleman

team had no tyres and would Dot be racing

this year. Don't ask why, just accept the

facts, though if you like worrying about

things you can ponder on the facts that the

Spirit team's single car entry disappeared,

the Benenon Italian clothing people put

some money somewhere, Teo Fabi is

Italian, and Toleman's number one driver

Stefan Johansson was released to join the

Ferrari team because there was a vacancy

brought about by Rene Arnow< leaving the

Ferrari team. If Arnoux had not left Ferrari,

Johansson would not have joined them and

would have still been number one at

Toleman, which would have meant that

Fabi could not have driven the single

Toleman entry, and if Fabi couldn't drive

there would have been no Benetton money,

and with no Benetton money the Spirit team

would not have gone away, and with Spirit

still in the entry list there would have been

no surplus Pirelli tyres.

As I said, the workings of FISA and

FOCA are not for us to question, but how

fortunate that Arnoux chose to leave Ferrari

and take a rest from Formula One. As

regards the Monaco race itself nobody really .

believed. it was cancelled.. It was a bit like

not having Christmas Cake on December

25th. So everyone was in place for the

annual thrash round the iron-clad streets of

Monte Carlo, and those who know about

Mediterranean weather predicted rain and

grey skies. Fortunately they were-wrong. As

a precaution the mQre affluent teams

brought along additional spare cars, as it is

all too easy to severely d3.Ipage a car at

Monaco as run-off areas and escape routes

are few and far between.

So Brabham, Lotus, Renault and Ferrari

had four cars apiece in or around Monte

Carlo. Brabham had theirs at nearby Paul

Ricard for some last-minute Pirelli tyre testing on the Friday. In order to extract the

maximum amount of money from the

Formula One entourage, practice and

qualifying is arranged for Thursday and

Saturday, with Friday given over to national

events.

Thursday was fine and -dry :.and soon

everyone was thrashing round preparing for

the afternoon timed session, though Mansell

lost time having his Williams repaired after

he had hit a barrier, and Winkelhock

crumpled both ends of his RAM-Hart and it

was not instantly repairable. Fuel consumption

was not a vital issue but brakes and tyres were, so these were the things most

people were concentrating on. For the

drivers it was smoothness and consistency

that was going to payoff, and though he was

not the fastest , Lauda was outstanding to

watch on the twisty bit from Casino Square

down to the sea front. However, it was the

hour in the afternoon that really mattered,

for then lap times counted for the starting

grid', and 'in the confines of the Monagasque

streets it was all-important to be at the head

of the pack, to get a clear run on race day; in

other words pole . position was important,

plus the fact, as Senna said to the local pressmen,

it avoids you~ getting involved in any

start-line accidents!

 

After dominating qualifying in Portugal

... _. and again at Imola, it was no surprise to see

. Senna's name at the top of the list. The ignominiously into a run-off area! During

this little comedy Senna put in a lap in 1 min

20.486 sec, so once again he was first and

second! Mansell's heroic effort was 1 min

20.536 sec.

Down at the bottom end of the field

Brundle had taken every opportunity and

got in a fine lap that gave him 18th position,

while Palmer battled the Zakspeed round

into 19th place. Last place on the grid went

to Fabi in the Toleman-Hart, which was a

fine effort for a first time out this year for

both car and driver. Of the non-qualifiers

the RAM team were in so much trouble with

their drivers crashing that it was no surprise

to see them left out, while the Minardi team

had a bad time when Martini crashed pretty

badly) injuring a knee and there was not

time to build up a second car, even though

they had the bare bones of a car with them.

After the tempo and excitement of that hour

on Saturday afternoon I was ready to go

home; Sunday's race could only be an anticlimax.

Sunday morning was grey and cool, and

there was a suspicion of rain in the air, but

the clouds were high and though things

looked dull, they looked stable. On the

engine front Renault were holding the

scene, for not only did they have a 1985

longer-stroke engine in Tambay's car, but

Lotus had them in both their cars and Ligier

had one in their car for de Cesaris. After the

30 min warm-up in the morning, de Angelis

decided he wanted a 1984 engine back in his

car and so did Tarnbay and de Cesaris, and

with the modem design facility that allows

an instant engine change these requests presented

no problem. Senna was content to

stay with his 1985 engine as he considered

the wider torque spread was more suitable

for the circuit. During the warm-up running

he had inadvertendy over-revved, but it

didn't seem to have done any harm. When

the engine change had been completed on

the car of de Angelis, it developed a misfire

and as time was running out he transferred

to the T-car with 1984 engine, which had

been set up for Senna. Lotus troubles were

only just beginning. '

The start was due at 3.30 pm after various

parades and demonstrations arid the Royal

party had descended from the Palace down

to the Royal Box by the starting grid.

During the minutes before the s~t Team

Lotus warm the tyres on their cars by means

of covers like electric blankets and all was

proceeding normally when those on ' the

front of Senna's car s'tarted to smoke and

make an awful smell. Before every- '

thing caught fire they were switched off but

the tyres were blistered, so there was no

alternative but to fit a newpair of wheels and

tyres on the front, which meant.he went out

to the start with hot tyres on the rear and

cold ones on the front! He led them round

on the parade lap, for the third race in a row,

and back to the start. From the green light

he shot off into the lead, follov.:ed by

Mansell and Alboreto. At the back of the

718

much of his oil in the closing stages of lhe race.

grid there was a bit of a shunt, caused

inadvertently by Gerhard Berger when the

BMW engine in his Arrows A8 hesitated .

Johansson's Ferrari and Tambay's Renault

were involved and while the Arrows and the

Renault subsided into retirement before the

first comer, the Ferrari limped round to the

pits. A shock-absorber operating rod was

bent and one more lap was enough to convince

the unhappy Swede that the car was

undrivable at racing speeds.

Alboreto sliced through into second place

and closed right up on the leading Lotus in

the first five laps, but that was while the cold

front tyres were getting up to their working

temperature. After that Senna just pulled

away effortlessly. By ten laps it seemed that

it was allover as far as contention for the

lead was concerned. Senna had it all sewn up

on the winding, twisting Monte Carlo

circuit, just as he had in the rain in Portugal

and in the dry on the fast circuit at Imola,

but two laps later fate struck its blow. The

' Renault engine broke internally, either due

to a valve and piston coming into contact, or

a valve breaking, or a piston breaking,

doubtless a legacy of the over-revving in the

morning. Whatever the cause the result was

mechanical mayhem and the end of Senna's

race; Alboreto swept by into the lead to the

applause of the thousands of Ferrari fans

around the circuit.

Behind the leaders there were some

interesting goings on, some to come to

nought, others to affect the race overall.

Mansell and Rosberg were in trouble with

the brakes on their Williams-Hondas, these

being of carbon-fibre and suffering

temperature problems so both drivers had

settled down to cruising round with the aim

of finishing rather than trying to win.

Mansell had de Cesaris, Warwick and Lauda

pressing him for fifth place, while Rosberg's

fourth place disappeared later on when he

had to stop for new tyres. Behind this lot

Patrese was leading Piquet, Laffite and Fabi

and clearly holding them up, the Alfa

Romeo not going anything like as well as it

did on the first day of qualifying. On lap 17

Piquet made his run to overtake Pattese as

they passed the pits heading for the Ste

Devote chicane and the Alfa Romeo driver

caused Piquet to hit the guard rails on the

right and then both cars were spinning down

the road in a pretty lurid accident. Laffite

spun his Ligier in avoiding them and yellow

flags waved in all directions. There was oil

on the road and when Alboreto arrived next

time round the Ferrari skated up the escape

road, but the driver kept the engine running

and reversed out to carry on racing, though

not before Prost had gone by into the lead.

Lauda also went off on the oil, but he stalled

his Porsche engine and that was that.

Prost had been sitting comfortably in

third place in the opening stages, then

becoming second when Senna retired, and

was now leading thanks to Alboreto's slight

error. Many people blamed the marshals for

not displaying oil flags, but the fact is that

de Angelis, Rosberg, Mansell, Warwick,

Brundle and Boutsen did not spin off on the

same oil. Undeterred, Alboreto set about

catching Prost and this he did by lap 21 and

on lap 23 he outbraked the Frenchman and

got back into the lead, driving beautifully.

Prost could not retaliate as his McLarenPorsche

was proving to be a a bit of a

handful; unbeknown until after the race one

of the turbocharger boost control valves

was sticking and the Porsche engine was

giving a very unbalanced power output,

making it very tricky to handle. As half distance approached Alboreto

looked to be in complete control of the race,

his smooth driving belying his speed, Prost

was a firm second, de Angelis a distant

third, de Cesaris a praiseworthy fourth followed

by Warwick, Laffite and the two Williams

drivers. Boutsen, Palmer and Brundle

were a long way back. Suddenly the leading

Ferrari headed for the pits with the left rear

tyre flat and once more Prost was back in the

lead. The Ferrari mechanics changed all

four wheels and Alboreto was back in the

race, but now down in fourth place; undeterred

he began battling away again to overcome

his handicap. By lap 39 he was past de

Cesaris and began the long job of catching

de Angelis. The Lotus driver was doing his

usual steady and consistent performance,

now in second place, but in reality in an

earned third place. The race was at its halfway

point, the total distance being 78 laps,

and one could have been forgiven for assuming

that Alboreto would settle for a secure

third place, but the quiet Italian had other ideas. Steadily and surely the Ferrari closed

on the Lotus-Renault and by 60 laps

Alboreto had the black and gold Lotus in his

sights and de Angelis was trying all he

could, but he had used up his brakes. On lap

63 Alboreto was past and into second place

and for a brief moment de Angelis tried to

hang on to the tail of the red car, but it was

all over. Alboreto continued to close on

Prost but time was not on his side, and despite

the erratic control of his engine Prost

was completely unruffled and brought the

McLaren home to a well-earned victory,

though Alboreto must surely merit the

moral victory. Anyone who witnessed

Ayrton Senna in qualifying and in the opening

laps of the race must surely agree that he

had it made until the Renault engine blew

up. For a "new boy" to dominate the scene

in three successive Grand Prix races on three

different types of circuit must surely be significant,

but you cannot ignore the old cliche

which says "To finish first, you must first

fini.sh. - D.S.J.