At the time of going to press we were not in possession of the final times set in Rio and, anyway, forthcoming tests at Kyalami and Imola should prove a more accurate guide to form as new cars from Williams, Renault and Ferrari appear. Last year’s Brazilian GP pole time was set by Elio de Angelis in 1 min 28.392 sec but since the 1985 rules call for smaller rear wings, this year’s times are not directly comparable.
Early pacemaker was Ayrton Senna, recently recovered from a virus infection, who took the all-new Lotus 97T around in 1 min 33.34 sec. Late in his run, Senna tangled with Mansell’s Williams which was carrying out fuel tests and going relatively slowly. Both cars were damaged, but repaired, and neither driver was hurt.
Toleman still has not a 1985 tyre contract but were give three sets by Pirelli. The new T185 has impressed everyone with the neatness of its package and by its stability in corners and Stefan Johansson achieved 1 min 35.05 sec on his first visit to Rio. The use of Pirelli tyres at the test does not apparently mean a contract is available but the car’s performance must make it an attractive proposition for Pirelli despite recent acrimony between the two parties.
Back in the cockpit of a Tyrell 012 was Martin Brundle, now recovered from his Dallas accident. Tyrrell will start the season with Cosworth DFY engines but speaks of a turbo later in the year. The French court of appeal has disallowed Tyrell’s injunction against FISA, so the suspension from the 1984 Championship stands, though the case will be heard in a French court later this year.
Nigel Mansell was engaged in engine testing and so was not looking for a fast time but, using qualifying tyres, his Williams team-mate, Rosberg, recorded 1 min 30.6 sec, well clear of the second quickest man, Alboreto, in the interim C4 Ferrari who did a 1 min 31.09 sec.
The RAM team this year benefits from increased sponsorship, a new designer, Gustav Brunner, and the flair of Manfred Winkelhock. Winkelhock praised the handling of the new car but could only achieve a time of 1 min 37.41 sec due to severe overheating and fuel feed problems.