Notes on the cars in the Americas

WHEN the teams packed up their cars and boxes of spares, tools, and equipment to go to the Brazilian Grand Prix in mid-March, they had to prepare to be away for at least three weeks, and nearly four in some cases, for all the cars and equipment were flown direct from Brazil to California. This meant that generally speaking the mechanical scene in Rio de Janeiro was the same as that in Long Beach and the only team who had to conjure up another car was the Williams team. In Brazil Rosberg had finished a fighting second in FW07C/17 but in doing so he had been over kerbs and on the rough and the underside of the monocoque was damaged. Immediately after the race he flew to Europe to test the new FW08 car at Dijon and FW07C/14 was also there being used to test components. After the testing FW07C/14 was stripped down and the monocoque sent to Long Beach by air for it to be built up as the spare car for the team in California. While that was happening another part of the team took FW07C/16 (Reutemann’s car) to Willow Springs circuit north of Los Angeles for Andretti to practise with prior to the official Long Beach practice. Meanwhile, back in England Jonathan Palmer was testing the new FW08 at Silverstone and put in a lap at 151 m.p.h. There is no resting in the Williams team and Rosberg explained how he had driven more test miles in the short time he has been with the Williams team than in all his previous years totalled up with other teams. “I’m not complaining,” he said, “it’s marvellous to virtually live in a Formula One car, but it is hard work”.

The use of the BMW turbo-charged engine by the Brabham team seems a bit fraught at the moment, though the reason is not clear, and two new Cosworth-powered BT49 cars to the latest D-specifications were taken to Brazil and on to Long Beach. Piquet had number D16 and Patrese D17, while C15 was the spare car. The differences are many but subtle so that outwardly you might not notice, but they involve more stiffness to the monocoque, lighter components, carbon-fibre brake discs, better aerodynamics and so on. After damaging D17 in Friday morning testing at Long Beach Patrese had to use C15 for the rest of practice and the race.

Two further new cars making their debut in Brazil, and going on to Long Beach, were the Lotus 91 cars for de Angelis and Mansell. The car of de Angelis was 91/6 (carrying on the car numbers in the Kevlar / Carbon Fibre series) and was actually built up around the monocoque from one of the Lotus 87 cars. As an emergency spare 87B/3 was taken along. While doing some pre-race testing at Willow Springs Mansell had an excursion off into the rough in 91/7 which caused quite a lot of work to be done straightening it all out. Another team with two new cars for their drivers in Brazil was Alfa Romeo with their Tipo 182, with number 1 for Giacomelli and number 2 for de Cesaris and they had a third new one as the T-car. The Tipo 182 still uses the 3-litre V12 engine and Alfa Romeo / Hewland gearbox but they have moved on to a tidy-looking monocoque of carbon-fibre manufactured in England. Clearly the car is lighter, smaller, stiffer and better than the old Tipo 179 cars which had undergone so many modifications to something that was fundamentally wrong that they had become to look awful. The new cars made an impressive showing in Long Beach, but then last year the Tipo 179 looked quite good and got steadily worse all season. The long-awaited turbo-charged 1 1/2-litre V8 has been out on test at the Misano Autodromo over near the Adriatic coast of Italy but when it will be raced is not known.

The Theodore team had a brand new car for Brazil, which survived and went on to Long Beach, as did the other small team, Ensign. Both of these one-car teams with limited financial and technical resources can do little but bring up the rear and try and survive as the giants at the front forge on to bigger and better things.

Renault took a brand new car for Arnoux (RE 30B/7 or RE37 to be more logical) as Prost had his new one in South Africa and Ferrari took two new cars across the Atlantic to supplement Pironi’s South African car. All three were the new 126C2 model with Postlethwaite designed chassis. The original C2 car, number 055, which Villeneuve raced in South Africa was the car in which Pironi had a monumental accident while testing at the Paul Ricard circuit in which it was virtually written off. In the Brazilian race Villeneuve crashed 057 lightly so it became the T-car for Long Beach and he took over 058 while Pironi stayed with 056.

For the rest there were no major changes, most of them using the same cars they had run in South Africa, though the McDonald March team finished their third 1982 car in time and were well equipped with three of the new cars for their drivers Mass and Boesel, all finished in their bright paintwork advertising Rothmans cigarettes. — D. S. J.