The Italian Grand Prix — Renault v Ferrari
Monza, Italy, September 12th IF you have never seen an Italian Grand Prix at Monza you really have missed one of the most important aspects of Grand Prix racing. for even if the race itself proves to be dull and unexciting the atmosphere is never dull. The owners may have built there ..Micky-Mouse” chicanes into the circuit in recent years, which has destroyed thc wheel-to-wheel battles we used to have, but they cannot destroy the atmosphere that is Monza, and the racing cars still go fast. I know the crowds are unruly and uncontrolled and you can have your pocket picked, your car broken into, your luggage stolen, even your can stolen, but all those things can happen in England as well. The enthusiasm of the racing fans in Italy is as strong as ever it was and it seems to be WP/o for Ferrari and 105/n for Alfa Romeo, while poor Enzo Osella’s little team nught as well be an English team for all the Italian public seem to care. The prancing horse of Maranello and the red cars are all that matter. Enthusiasm was running high long before practice began for Patrick Tambay had done some impressive testing at Monza, which itself brought in a crowd that would have pleased most organisers had it been a race day, and Mario Andretti had agreed to return from the USA to drive the second Ferrari in the Italian Grand Prix. Italian racing circles were buzzing with excitement on his arrival and Maranello welcomed him back like the prodigal son.
On the some evening as he arrived he was tutor test in a turbo Ferrari round the Fiore track opposite the factory. Thc funny little Swiss Grand Prix, held at Dijon-Prenots in France, had been a disaster day for the Scuderia Ferrari for Tambay had been forced to withdraw on race morning due to pains in his back and loss of feel in his right arm, caused by a trapped nerve. After tr.tment and rest he was about 80, fit when practice began at Monz.a and the Ferrari factory produced improved engines for the three team cars, with new cylinder heads having greatly improved water now through them. In addition the use of new alloys in the engine had saved an appreciable amount of weight on the power unit alone. Tambay was driving the new can he should have raced at Dijon (062) while Andretti took over what had been the spare car (061) and a new car 063/ was fitted with experimental -longitudinalgearbox and was the T-car, though it was converted to normal transverse gearbox form on Saturday lunch-time. In a half-hearted sort of attempt to arouse Italian enthusiasm for the cars from Autodelta, Alfa Romeo promised to bring along their new turbocharged 11/2-litre V8 for an appearance in practice, but they had no intention of racing it. still relying on their V12 cars. The turbo Alta Romen had been out on test at Monza .t had proved to be slower than the V12. so there was a lot of serious thinking going on back at the factory. On the, twisty little test-track at Balocco the turbo V8 had proved lobe more agile than the 3-litre V12, so they were not totally depressed. Renault were feeling quite confident of their RE30B cars and Arnoux was making his swan-song drive in Europe for the French team, before leaving to join Ferrari and during practice Renault announced that Eddie Checver would be number rwo to Prost next year. which left a lot of people with blank looks on their faces, including some of the Renault team members, but such decisions come down from on high. Another team that is always looking nervously skywards is BMW, the engine part of the Brabham team, for their fate is not in their own hands and the BMW management are on the twenty-second floor of the headquarters building in Munich.
After running reliably. if not fast enough. at Dijon they were hoping for better things at Monza. with the same three BT50 cars as in France. and a fresh supply of engines. In support of the turbo cars from the big manufacturers thr Toleman team were making their first public appearance with thence. TG 183, built around a carbon-fibre monocoque with strengthening Kcvlar rods running through it and Brian Hart’s turbocharged monobloc 4-cylinder engine hung on a tubular frame mounted on the rear of the monocoque. With space at the side on the new chasms the AiResearch turbocharger unit is neatly tucked away on the left side of the engine with the intercooier above the engine and its radiator on the right side. All these alterations have enabled Rory Byrne and his team to design a neat and tidy bodywork to cover everything. Derek Warwick was due to drive the new car, while Fabi had one of the old cars, but it was fitted with an experimental 6-speed gearbox. Warwick’s old TG18IB was acting as the spare car.
No matter what you do to the Monza track it always remains a power circuit where the engine is all important and the upper echelon of the Cosworth “special-builders” like Williams, McLaren and Lotus had not got much to hope fm with their obsolete 3-litre V8 engines against the turbocharged Piz-litres of Ferrari. Renault and BMW, while the lower echelon like ATS. Ensign, Theodore, etc. were going to be harassed by the turbo-charged Hart-powered Tolemans. On the colour front Tyrrell had painted his cars green and covered them with advertising from Denim and the new Toleman had abandoned the patriotic red, white and blue and had been painted dark grey and white. Among the small teams the Rothmansspcmsored March team abandoned their monopoly on IRTS / Avon tyres and were running on Michelins. the Arrows team had given the new AS car to Mauro Seidl, in deference to his home GP and Osella had gonc so quickly in private testing that before practice was over the engine of Jarier’s car was measured to make sure it was 3-litres capacity. They also had some carbon-fibre brakes to experiment with. The speed of the Osella had been attributed to some new-construction Pirelli tyres, so these new ones were offered to Toleman. even though their new car had run impressively on the old type el Me. There were no surprises from the other times.
Friday morning was fine and sunny and You could feel the day getting warmer by the minute as everyone began testing tyres. aerodynamics, springs and so on in search of a good compronuse for the afternoon’s qualifying session. Naturally
not everything went smoothly and for some iheic was desperate trouble. such as the Talbot learn when Cheever had to abandon his cat within sight of the pits when the transmission seized up Warwick was in trouble with the new Toleman as it did not like the new-construction Pirelli tyres and as the team tried to adjust the chassis to the new characteristics a seized-up rear shock-absorber put them on the wrong track. Even so they were not convinced about the new tyres, even if they had performed well on the Osella. The old Toleman, dew. by Fabi, was trying out a new 6-speed gearbox destined for the new car eventually, but a battery failure side-lined the car out on the circuit. In the Williams team Rosberg was trying the spare can fitted with a two-way radio link to the pits, which was purely experimental but with an eye on its use next season.
Andretti was not having too much trouble remembering his way round the circuit, having already two Italian GP victories to his credit, and he was finding the turbocharged Ferrari a lively little car compared to an Indy-type car with the 2.65-litre turbocharged Cosworth V8 engine, while the apparent lack of suspension that a lot of people complain about worried him not at all, in fact bethought the Ferrari rode more softly than an Indy-car! His team-mate Tambay was trying out the experimental can with the “long” gearbox, but soon changed over to his own car with transverse gearbox. The Renault and BMW teams were seemingly in good order, no engines blowing-up, no drivers crashing, tyres working well and the BMWs were going particularly quickly.
When it was all over, serious preparation for the afternoon qualifying started all along the pit lane, while those with nothing to do had lunch, the stricken Talbot was brought in on a breakdown truck, suspended by its rear end, the old Toleman was towed in on a rope and Salazar’s ATS was brought back “on the hook” with it, front wheels splayed out. The car had been bouncing badly as the air underneath got ruffled instead of smoothed out, due to something being basically wrong with the aerodynamIcs and arriving at the second chicane it had literally bounced off the Chilean drive,’s foot .d his the barriers. This meant he had to try and qualify with the untried spare car. Similarly Cheever had been forced to change to the spare Talbot after his own had run into trouble.
It was very warm when the qualifying hour began and a lot of water was being poured onto tyres, fuel pumps. mixture units and so on. especially on the turbo-charged cars, for they develop enough heat without the sun adding toil. The pace was soon being set by Tambay and Piquet and they were both being clocked at nearly 190 m.p.h. past the main grandstand, so that in spite of three chicanes Monza was living up to its reputation for speed and power. The speed was such that not only was the 1979 lap recited being surpassed but also Arnoux’s pole-position time from last year, when he recorded 1 min. 33.467
sec. ,223 k.ph.’138 Tambay and Piquet both got below 1 min. 30 sec. and really were in a class of their own, and while a lot of drivers bettered the 1981 pole-position lap time, they were not really in the running while a span of more than eight seconds was covering the whole field. Even the really hut-stuff Cosworth teams like Williams and McLaren were looking like also-rans. Toleman were totally disappointed as having gone u, blind alley during the morning they had taken a long time resetting everything and Warwick had missed the first fifteen .nutes. Almost immediately he qualified in seventeenth place, which was encouraging for the new car, but not as good as expected. Team Lotus were in trouble forde Angelis had gone off the track at the Cures Parabolica just when everything was feeling right and now a front corner was destroyed on his Lotus 91. Meanwhile clutch trouble had forced Mansell to use his spare car. Although Tambay claimed fastest lap with I min. 29.275 sec. (145 m.p.h. average, it was Piquet who went through she speed trap the fastest, at 193.6 m.p.h. to Tambay’s 193.1 m.p.h. Patrese was next fastest with 187.2 m.p.h. so Monza was fast all right The slowest Cosworth powered car was the March of Bocsel with 165.0 m.p.h and even Kosberg could only record 175.9 inn ph for his Williams. but it must he pouited out that the timing beam was not at the end of the pits straight and whereas the Ferrari and the Brabhams, and the Renaults for that matter with
183 m.p.h., had reached their terminal velocity determined by horsepower. weight, frontal area and drag co-efficient, the Cosworth cars were still gainthg speed and certainly gained another 5 m.p.h., if not more, before the cut-off point for the first chicane. so the maximum speed differential was not quite so large as it looked but the mid-range torque of the turbo cars was pretty shattering. The Renaults had not been as competitive as usual but later it transpired that the team were foregoing the drama and honour of pole position in return for finding a very fast race-length set-up, obviously learning from the Williams strategy in Austria and Dijon.
Saturday morning was relatively cool, but not for long and the Italian sun was on its best behaviour. There was great excitement in the Alfa Romeo pits as the turbocharged V8 had arrived. Outwardly it looked like a normal 182, apart from the exhaust pipes and boost-control vent pipes emerging through the top of the bodywork, a pair on each side, as there is an A. Romeo-built turbocharger unit mounted low-down on each side of the 4-cam 32-valve vee-8 engine. It made a nice noise too, very sweatband distinctive. After some last minute adjustments de Cesaris took it out briefly, but it did no more than circulate and was then withdrawn as part of the side-pod system was dragging on the ground. Even though this was only a testing session the pace was still very hot and the front runners were trying hard and some tried too hard. Braking for one of the chicanes, Arnoux got too close to the Lotus of de Angelis and the two cars tangled and crashed, neither driver being hurt but the cars meded a lot of work done on them. For a while it looked as though Arnoux might have to take over the Lear, but the Renault mechanics slaved away and put his own car right. To add to the troubles of Team Lotus, Mansell went off the track at the first chicane, all on his own, and hit the barriers head-on, but with less damage than you would have expected, which says much for the Kevin cabann fibre monocoque of the Lotus 91. It was very warm for the final hour and everyone was wound up pretty tight. Ferrari had removed the longitudinal gearbox and new rear suspension from the T-car, and substituted a transverse box and the old suspension; the Alfa turbo car was repaired, Arnoux was back in his repaired car and the Brabhams were quietly confident. Tambay had done a fine job so far, but Andretti was getting into the feel of things and both Ferraris had as much boost-pressure as the control valve would allow, if the regulating screws were anything to go by. In spite of having only two sets of tyres to wear out in fiat-out laps to qualitY, the excitement became quite intense, especially as the grandstands were pre, full of enthusiastic Italians who responded vociferously when the loudspeakers announced fast laps or high terminal speeds. Once again it was Tambay who set the pace, with a 1 min. 28.830 sec., but then Piquet beat this with 1 mm. 28.508 sec. and a timed speed of 194 m.p.h. Having used his second set of permitted tyres Tambay could not respond, but Andretti had not used his second set and he went out and clocked 1 min. 28.473 sec. and a passage through the speed trap beams at 194.2 m.p.h. Even non-Ferrari enthusiasts cheered that one. Down at the back the tail-enders were fighting to scratch onto the back of the grid with la, just under lawn. 35 sec. and they were struggling to reach a maximum of 170 m.p.h. The front and the back of the field were miles apart and there were six turbo cars u,t the front. Ferrari, Brabham-BMW, Ferrari, Brabham-BMW. Renault and Renault and with
Lotus-Renault and McLaren-Porsche next year, with possibly Ligier-Renault. Tyrrell-BMW and Williams-Honda also next year, it is all going to get very exciting. The Alfa Romeo V8 turbo did a few morelaps in the hands of de Ccsaris, but as it is exactly two years since we were first shown the engine, progress is slow in Milan and when it does race it might not be up near the front. All hope of Warwick getting the new Toleman-Hart up near the big-boys faded when the team could not make any progress with the new Pirelli tyres and reluctantly decided to return to the old type of tyre after wasting two days.
Left off the end of the grid of 26 cars were the two Rothmans-March 821 cars of Keegan and Boesel, the ATS of Winkelhock and the Theodore which Tommy Byrne never looked like qualifying. Andretti’s pole-winning lap represented an average speed of 236.004 k.p.h. (about 146 m.p.h. so Monza was retaining its reputation and if those three silly chicanes had not been put in it would be excitingly fast. After it was all over the first two cars were weighed, along with two picked at random and one of these was the Talbot-Matra V12 of Laffne. It was pronounced to be under the legal 580 kilos and everyone was so taken aback that the decision to annul Laffite’s Saturday time was accepted.
With the start of the 52-lap race not due until 3.30 p.m. on Sunday, the half-hour warm-up session did not start until 12.30 p.m. and iust when it all seemed to be running smoothly trouble cropped up.
Tambay’s Ferrari died on him out on the circuit and there was a rush to get the spare car onto race-tyres and with the tank full and then Piquet arrived at his pit to say he thought his BMW engine was going on the blink. There was nothing obviously amiss so he went out again and before he left the pit-lane run-out the engine cut dead! It seems the Brazilian has a very sensitive feel for an engine. Everyone else was in pretty good order, the Renault team confident that they had arrived at a good race set-up, McLaren and Williams as confident as they could hope to be with an 80 horsepower deficit and the Toleman team in a hopeful muddle, having put both their cars, the old and the new, back onto the old-type Pirellis. Not only had Ken Tyrrell painted his cars green but he was now trying to do a deal to use turbocharged BMW engines ncxt year! While the BMW engineers were trying to find the electrical fault on Piquet’s car the spare car was got ready, and both drivers were planning to make pit stops for petrol and tyres.
Ferrari found the trouble in Tambay’s engine and while the spare car (063, was prepared just in case, an engine-change was carried out on his race car (062). When the pit lane opened to allow the cars out on their lap round to the grid it was seen that Piquet had been forced to use the spare Brabham-BMW, but Tambay was in his own car and everyone else was fit and ready. Amid such excitement from the populace, and there were a lot of them, the popular President of the Republique Sander Pertini had arrived and taken his place on the balcony of honour in the centre of the huge grandstand. His welcome was onlymatched by the roar of applause for Tambay and Andretti as they left the pit-lane in Ferraris numbers 27 and 28 and messages painted on the track overnight implored them to go out and win “for Gilles”. It was all very emotional if you love Italian motor racing and Ferrari.
Tambay’s car needed some final adjustments while it sat on the grid and the cool and controlled Frenchman stood quietly by while this was done. Shortly before 3.30 p.m. all was ready, everyone was started, the covers protecting the tyres on the Brabham were removed and as the signal Andreni led the field off on the parade lap. Very slowly, so that the tailenders did not get too far behind, he led the impressive field back to the grid; everyone was in position, the marker boards were down, the red lights came on, then the green and all twenty-six cars surged away. Andretti spun his wheels a fraction too much which let Piquet draw alongside and the others close up and Arnoux did a really searing start from the row down the outside. Although Piquet led briefly, Tambay was soon by, followed by Arnoux and obviously all was not well with the Brabham. Out of the Parabolica curve it was Tambay and Arnoux side-by-side and they finished the lap with the Renault just ahead. Behind them came Patrese, Andretti, Piquet and the two V12 Alfa Romeos.
Rosberg was leading the Cosworth brigade ahead of Watson, and Prost was behind them having made a bad start and got boxed in at the first chicane. While the leaders had raced away cleanly on the opening lap the tail-enders had got into an awful mess. In the first chicane Guerrero in the Ensign had run into the back of Daly’s Williams and broken one of its rear suspension members and while the Ensign limped slowly along Daly and the rest headed for the second chicane unaware of the damage. As the Iriskunan braked the car whipped sideways and clobbered Henton’s Tyrrell which put the green car into a spin and as it went out of control it hit the new Toleman in the left side. Poor Henton’s Tyrrell was left derelict at the track side while Daly and Warwick joined the limping Ensign and all three struggled back to the pits. The Williams and the Toleman were beyond immediate repair but the Ensign was repairable and ten laps later Guerrero restarted the race. Three cars out and the race barely begun. On lap 3 the second Toleman pulled off the track when its engine died and another one was out. Arnoux was pulling away steadily and though Purese took his Brabham-BMW into second place on lap 25c was not really getting away from
Iamb, and he was certainly not making any impression on the Renault so the Brabham-BMW’s progress was doomed with a pit stop planned for around half-distance. The other Brabham-BMW was in dire trouble with a slipping clutch and on lap 2 Piquet was down to thirteenth place and was two more places back on the next lap. On lap 6 the same trouble hit Patreses’ car and he dropped back from second to sixth and then disappeared into the pits to retire. while one lap later Piquet did the same. It normally takes five or six laps for a race to settle down into some sort of pattern, once the dust of the start has settled, but this race was simply falling apart before it even got under way. By ten laps it was all over as far as a serious race was concerned for Arnoux was running away from everyone, Tambay was holding a gallant second place. Prost had clambered his way up to a poor third and was followed discreetly by Andretti.
Following these front runners came a small group comprising de Cesaris, Giacomelli, Rosberg and Watson, having the semblance of a battle for fifth place, but it was not very convincing and the rest were struggling along behind in the order Alboreto, Lauda, Cheever, Jarier, de Angelis, Mansell, Surer, Salazar, Baldi and Serra, with Guerrero about to join in. Laffite had retired the number one Talbot with gearbox trouble and on lap 11 de Cesaris was in the pits with a misfire which was cured by changing the ignition coil. Between the Renaults and the Ferraris, stalemate has set in, Tambay could not catch Arnoux and Andretti could not catch Prost so it was just a matter of everyone keeping going. Watson passed Rosberg and Giacomelli so that he led the mid-field runners, but that was all that was going to happen and the whole affair had become rather boring, which was a pity as Saturday afternoon had augured well for a good three-cornered battle. Finding he was getting nowhere, de Angelis stopped for a change of tyres, but it didn’t do him much good, and Lauda gave spas his McLaren was handling poorly and the front brakes were snatching. Jarier had no alternative but to give up with the Osella when something broke at the rear end and the left-rear ‘wheel parted company from the car.
There was a little bit of excitement when Rosberg went by with the rear aerofoil hanging-drunkenly from its mounting as he overtook Giacomelli, but as the Alfa repassed, the Italian pointed violently at the rear of the Williams and Rosberg thought he had a flat tyre. He drove fairly cautiously rotmd to the pits and amid much confusion and Misunderstanding the mechanics managed to unbolt the broken mounting and attach a new aerofoil, whereupon Rosberg charged out of the Ints and back into the race and nearly collected Tambay’s Ferrari which was passing at 185 m.p.h. The stop had cost Rosberg two laps so anything he could do was going to prove pretty Witless to him, but none-the-less he did not give up, unlike some drivers might have done. Half-distance was approaching and the only excitement had involved people who were not likely to win or were right at the back. At the front Amoux’s Renault was sounding very Pnrixiseful and Renault fans kept their fingers crossed that it would go on that way. The Ferraris we have come to expect to be reliable for the Maranello engineers seem to have come to grips with the high-performance turbo-charged engine better than anyone else and today was proving no exception. While ruminating on this aspect of Formula One as we passed the hallway mark there was a sudden cheer from the crowd; Prost was and the Renault was seen
heading for the pit lane while Andretti went by into third place. Half-way round the lap the engine on Prost’s Renault had hiccoughed and he had slowed dramatically and struggled round to the pits. Nothing was obviously amiss so be set off again and only got as far as the first chicane before the engine died on him and he pulled off onto the grass. He didn’t spin off as many Fleet Street reporters wrote, except the one in the Guardian who took the trouble to find out. The electronics bad gone wrong and the injection timing was all out of phase, so that when the car was retrieved after the race the engine started and ran, but would not rev, or produce any power. Armin was still looking very healthy and confident, while Tambay was relieved that the pressure Prost had been applying was now gone as he was far from 100, fit and was beginning to suffer a bit. Andretti was a distant third but safely ahead of Watson, Giacomelli, Alboreto and Cheever, the rest already having been lapped by the leading Renault. Apart from Giacomelli having to give up when one of his side-pods broke away, nothing was expected to happen and nothing did happen. Arnoux just went on and on, relentlessly. lapping everyone except Tam., Andretti and Watson and was overjoyed when he won, not so much giving a parting gilt to Renault, but more making a welcoming gift to
clearly that bets a determined racer and a natural winner. Next year he will be trying to repeat the effort, but in a Ferrari. Renault were pleased to have won, but openly admitted that the wrong car had won. Second and third by Tambay and Andretti was no disgrace and it annexed more points for the Constructors championship, which Enzo Ferrari would always like to win. Watson had driven a good, unemotional race with a sound fourth place as a result and could hardly have hoped to do any better with his under-powered Cosworth engined McLaren. After his pit stop Rosberg had driven hard to pass some of the slower cars and with retirements had moved up from fifteenth place to eighth by the end. Of the remainder who finished Mansell had had a rough ride as the Lotus 91 was pitching badly due to aerodynamic instability, but nothing like as bad as the ATS of Salazar that had pitched and bounced so badly that the engine cover flew off.
By any standards it had not been a memorable Italian Grand Prix but it was significant that the three drivers on the victory balcony overlooking the start line have been, are or are going to be Ferrari drivers and the Italian Press were not slow to praise Arnoux as “Ferrari’s driver for 1983”, almost totally ignoring that he had won their race driving a Renault! — D.S.J.
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