The Dutch Grand Prix
— Those McLarens again
Zandvoort, August 26th TWELVE MONTHS ago almost to the day there was great interest in the paddock at Zandvoort and all the “top brass” of the Porsche factory were in evidence. It signalled the appearance of Porsche influence in Formula 1 for the first time since 1964 though this time it was not a Porsche Formula I car, but merely a Porsche designed and built engine. However, that was significant enough for it was what they described as a “third generation turbocharged engine”, a very compact 80-degree V6-cylinder designed and built for a newly formed company called TAG Turbo Engines, itself closely allied to McLaren International run by Ron Dennis. This new Porsche engine, called a TAG Turbo, was installed in a modified McLaren MP4/1 chassis and was driven by Niki Luda, and though it did not cover itself with glory on this first outing it provided some very definite “writing on the wall” for those who were able to read it. The Dutch Grand Prix this year, at the sdme Zandvoort track, saw the Porsche Powered McLaren M1°4,2 cars, driven by Alain Prost and Niki Lauda, finish first and Wooed and by two-thirds distance they had 4Pped the entire field, easing off towards the end of the race and letting the third place e.arunlap itself. You could call it ,.10inination, you can certainly call it success. L. achieve such a result io. twelve months IT50 be everyone’s dream, but McLaren have done better than that. is victory in the 1984 Dutch Grand Prix
was their ninth win this season out of thirteen races, and as these words are being written the season has three more races to run.
Apart from the combination of one man and one car, the opposition never really got a look-in, the one challenge to the McLarens being the reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet and his Brabham-BMW 4-cylinder. Ferrari, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Williams’ Honda, Lotus-Renault and all the smaller teams merely acted the part of the chorus and background to the main scene. With engines producing more power and better torque it is now possible to maintain maximum speed (over 180 mph past the pits) and still have a lot of aerodynamic down-force from aerofoils to keep cornering speeds up. In the days of under-powered 3-litre engines, now totally dead, you had to compromise between aerodynamic down-force and top speed, sacrificing one for the other to your own personal choice. Now we are making good forward progress with a surfeit of horsepower to squander on drag at high speed, in return for cornering forces. The result is better and better lap times, which after all is the main object of the motor racing exercise. The shortest time taken foes single lap gives you pole position on the grid, with a seven metre start over the second place man and anything up to £30,000 in the team’s kitty. Qualifying is a serious business and the race is almost secondary. The real action takes place on Friday and Saturday afternoons between 1 pm and 2 put but unfortunately no-one does
anything to promote this as a public entertainment and only those lucky ones who are closely in touch with things in the pit lane can really enjoy it to the full. Invariably the issue lays between Alain Frost and his McLaren and Nelson Piquet and his Brabham, with occasional interruptions from de Angelis and the Lotus-Renault. Always there, trying to get in on the act, are Mansell (Lotus-Renault), Rosberg (Williams-Honda), Warwick and Tambay (Renaults), Lauda (McLaren) and Alboreto and Arnoux (Ferraris). At the other end of the field are another regular bunch of drivers who are all endeavouring not to be last, for Formula 1 is a bit like musical chairs, there are only 26 places on the grid and usually 27 entries. Just recently a new and temporary rule has been introduced whereby the two Tyrrell entries are allowed to run in the Grand Prix but are not eligible for the World Championship, due to rule infringements in Detroit among other things, so that anyone qualifying 27th behind the Tyrrells is guaranteed a place on the grid. At Zandvoort this year it applied to the Dutchman Huub Rothengatter, who qualified last in the Spirit 101/131 due to two troubled days of practice, firstly crashing 101/32 beyond immediate repair and then suffering engine trouble in the older car. For those who did not feature near the front of the grid it was the same old story, “too much understeer” (Rosberg), “broken turbochargers” (Cheever), “held up by traffic” (Warwick), “a misfire” (Senna), “engine trouble” (Mansell), “nothing is working properly” (Alboreto), “loss of boost pressure” (Winkelhock), and so on, and so on. Up at the front it was all go, and on Friday Piquet headed the list with a shattering 1 min 13.872 sec in his race car, as the special qualifying Brabham had given trouble in the morning and he had not done enough running in it to get it adjusted properly. The little Brazilian was the only one to get into the 1 min 13 sec bracket, but de Angelis came mighty close with 1 min 14.027 sec. In third place Frost was more than a whole second away from Piquet. The time set by Piquet was the fastest ever recorded for the Zandvoort circuit, but there was more to come. On Saturday afternoon, still in good conditions, but with a change of wind direction, Piquet found the “sprint” Brabham down on maximum rpm so a hurried decision was made to use the race car, but this meant removing numerous air ducts that cause drag, and altering various settings of aerodynamics and suspensions, all of which take time, and in the rush of qualifying, time is one commodity that is always in short supply. While this was happening, McLaren had got things just right with Prose’s car and he patina scaring lap at 1 min 13.567 sec to take pole position, and de Angelis had cracked the 1 min 14 sec barrier with a brilliant 1 min 13.953 sec. With only eight minutes left
Piquet screamed away from the pits for a last do-or-die attempt, with no time to play himself in or find out about the car. He gave it all he’d got and spun off into the barriers early on his flying lap! The Brabham team did not blame him, for the front ride-height had been lowered just before he set off and with no time to experiment, the nose grounded on a very fast right-hander which pitched the car into a spin, bending the right front suspension as it landed. As Piquet has said in the past “if you don’t take chances you’ll never get anywhere in Formula 1”. He took askance this time and it didn’t come off. His Friday time was still good enough tbr second place on the grid, but seven metres behind Prost. Of Pratt, his performance is best summed up by Lauda’s remark to a friend afterwards “I don’t know how he does it. I know how hard I have been trying, and the cars are identical. . . .” So there was the grid all lined up, nothing particularly outstanding, apart from Laffite being higher than he normally is and Arnoux being lower than normal in spite of having yet another rear suspension with welded tubular wishbones, which proved to be the best yet and was also fitted to Alboreto’s Ferrari. The fast runners were up the front, the mediocre ones in the grey area in the middle and the slow ones at the back. As Holland does not allow unnecessary noise before midday on Sunday, the “warm-up” period of 30 minutes was due at noon, but a few minutes before this a staircase in the paddock giving access to the pits balcony collapsed and a lot of people were injured, involving a lot of activity by the medical services, so that it was 12.40 pus before things got under way. The weather was sunny and warns and the two McLarens soon showed that they were on good form in full race trim, with a full tank of fuel, race-distance tyres and race-distance engine conditions of boost-pressure and mixture strength, though there was a slight hiccough when Lauda stopped with a faulty turbocharger which had to be changed, but there was no panic. A very large crowd had flooded into the circuit, the town of Zandvoort was its usual chaotic self with cars parked everywhere and anywhere and the sand dunes were black with spectators. The Zandvoort circuit is a very straightforward one, fast and interesting and producing few complications for competitors and spectators alike as far m the racing is concerned. Twenty-six cars
were lined up on the dummy grid in good time, the late-comer being Lauda for leaking radiator had been discovered at he last moment, but all was well and he took his place in sixth position. The Arrows team had swapped Surer from A7/1 to the sir car A7/3 at the last moment, when a sticktEig throttle had caused him to spin off into the sand in his original car. ENTRY AND PRACTICE No Driver Nat Teem Engine Tyree Sponsors Colours =IL
Ramer. 2 6 Elio d ItrOckk arwicic Marc Surer TA’,;,*rarx qgtPiTt’r?4:ite? EdUiechaever Piercarlu Frsnrce?rd’elWs’at Alhoreto 098 FM74),92B El::”42g A7 TG184 143 -I-I-art 4,1 t Alla FlomeoeV8 tc A. Romeo Vetc A. Romeo V8 tc Ferran VG 1.c’ Arrows la Romeo Keiio Rosberg PrAst: “PVit-rier Ali:J’17e1„oc4i H a orsche Ftrrit 41: Ron tt”C Re tt n,’„h,ger:iar roTy::r, 2=4: oclyear fa 2 Blue Blue B ;14eri V,Nordica taistralianASports latirTa’atIntar Gitanes Antiu B1 ‘fILI:M;BIU; ‘re:TM:MOO 11 ack Of 1.1 1 24.771 t.; ;11 ; z
11 II? 1 19 454 1 116 E Entry Withdrawn 1
N. Pictuet Titz:431t4W4-crtn.
3eafs:c. 2 It min D Zwick tRen’tiuit V6 Vet 3 ingir “99 7L (MeLareNrede7w V6 3711M J. tlfite tWilliams.Honde V6 Vet 221,7tir213819Erscee1 (.93:11:141 Fabl 41114W4-cyl ,c) rrietrscac) 12 ao,Vansoll eneutt V6 t, 2176°4r , 4 AUTI,M,5kr,,c) 9’4=1:0 t c/ :7,.212.4.61e c 25 (Lili:Irt?N1451, , plo 189)1 4., e14,4 351,1t14inTIIIncoc1 Ballot V81 rTNTItrice0 9 . Alike V.24igYfiri n 24.517 sec/ 7 I A. Prost IINcLeren-Porsche V6 t,c) 461(r1″ MI e 11 meLLTivITY, m 4 1,7473 ‘.43T,c, Agoreto (Fetter, %re) 3 ?,”;,’,7,,IMiate, 18 STARTING GRID .1447 5311ring; IRAAZ Mil TM’, fArronntli=m4t.c/ 43T47,ritl.3551tIlcac) trofemtlral:44-cv, r 7 11″Ziln7118°34::c1 R Zotta (Ferrari V6 (re, 641(1nVi6lill.24169:ecl 6411If fgrin:::191;8 Oct 56) r 1 ” nriVi92? .9210;9:43 lAreovislAMSVIITcyl t ITI 14111na: 221.1111″lecet P Galan, tOselhg.Alfe Romeo VB 1, iagella.:41.11?,3*::,”:;44 ve, 44′,11’7111111;1`fic, ii’ei°TiVrTiiitt=der revised FISA rules relative ,0 re:: car ,4,bilaTZ,Z”:,:,1):47c`41,7,4,444 frost led them all round on the parade lap and all 27 lined up correctly on the grid, the red light came on, Piquet took his BMW engine up to peak rpm, bouncing off the rev-limiter and when the green light shone he took off with the BMW engine giving all it had got, and protesting slightly, but it did the trick and he made up the seven metres to Prost and sliced ahead of the red and white McLaren as they swept into the Taman hairpin. It was a superb start by everyone, and the whole field roared away on the opening lap in good order. As they streamed up the hill from the hairpin behind the pits Winkelhock spun and stalled the ATS but marshals got him going again long after everyone had gone. Piquet’s progress on the opening lap was meteoric and the crowd gasped in surprise when he appeared in view at the end of the long straight, already way out on his own. Prost followed, as was to be expected, then Tambay, de Angelis, Rosberg, Warwick, Laffite, Alboreto, Lauda, Boutsen, Fabi, Senna, Arnoux, Mansell and the rest. For 10 laps the Brabham-BMW pulled away and then on lap 11 as it disappeared over the Hunzerug hill a great spume of smoke billowed out of the back and it was all over; we did not see Piquet any more and Pratt now settled down in first place. But meanwhile there had been some mild heroics behind the McLaren, but not close enough to cause concern. Rosberg had battled his way past de Angelis and then sat it out with Tambay into the Tarzan hairpin and forced his way to the inside line and third place, but at the same time Lauda was moving up fast after a relatively slow start. Just as Piquet disappeared Lauda dealt with Rosberg in a most forceful manner under braking for the Tarzan hairpin, and when the smoke had cleared the McLarens were first and second and the Brabham was stationary by the trackside. Down at the back of the field Chooser had been off on the grass in a big way on the opening lap, dropping to the penultimate position, and then set off in a very aggressive mood among the backmarkers and began
picking them off steadily, climbing from the back to the tail of the mid-field runners. In the Williams-Honda in third place all was not well, for a recent spate of piston trouble had caused the Honda engine men to run their fuel injection a bit richer and Rosberg was finding that his fuelconsumption instrument was indicating too high, so he was backing off on the boost pressure and the rpm to save fuel. This meant that he had no hope of staying with Lauda, but seemed safe enough in third place, and the McLaren pit were keeping Prost advised about the gap back to Rosberg. As it was increasing steadily the Frenchman also eased off, not knowing that Lauda was in second place and gaining on him. In fact he didn’t really know until he was aware of the other red and white car in his mirrors, at which point he opened up and held the gap steady. Providing nothing went wrong it was a mere formality for the tvvo Porsche-powered McLarens to cruise round in complete command. For the rest of the runners it was drama time, either through their own fault like Fabi spinning under braking on lap 22 and then stopping for new tyres, or other people’s fault, like Warwick and Winkelhock spinning off on oil deposited by Laffite’s Williams when its Honda engine disintegrated in a big way, or Alboreto retiring when his Ferrari engine blew up, or Tambay stopping for new Michelins and then going very well until a broken fifth gear slowed him towards the end of the race. As the two McLarens cruised round they soon caught up with the tail-enders and then with the mid-field runners and then with the faster cars. Arnoux was lapped, which must have caused anguish to television viewers in Italy, including Enzo Ferrari, and then Frost was up behind the two Lotus-Renaults. After a slow start Mansell had really got the bit between his teeth and had caught right up with his team-mate who was holding fourth place behind Rosberg’s Williams. The Lotus pair were now pressuring the Finn and it was all getting a bit unruly, not to say rough, and Frost was sitting behind watching it all, clearly not intending to lap them until they had sorted themselves out. On lap 53 there was a big pushing-and-shoving match under braking for the hairpin, with Mansell being very brave and on the point of losing control but somehow gathering it all up and coming out of the corner in third place, and on the next lap Prose lapped him, putting everyone a lap behind except Lauda in the other McLaren. For 10 laps Frost maintained his pace and then on lap 64 he eased up and allowed Mansell to unlap himself. On lap 59 Arnoux had stopped for new tyres and in doing so had caused an accident that could have been very nasty. Coming onto the long straight he had Boutsen behind him in the
Arrows-BMW and the young Belgian tucked in behind the Ferrari as it showed no signs of slowing for the pits. At the last moment Arnoux lifted off to pull into the pit lane entrance and the Arrows driver had no time to dodge. The Arrows right front wheel rode over the Ferrari’s left rear at full speed down the straight. It flew up into the air and crashed down, fortunately still going straight, and broke its front suspension, the wheel folding back and nearly hitting the driver on the head. A very shaken Boutsen courageously steered the wayward Arrows as best he could down to a stop on the left of the track. Meanwhile the Ferrari pit had fitted new wheels and tyres to Arnoux’s car and he was back in the race, few people in the pit lane realising what had happened. With new tyres Arnoux recorded the fastest lap in the race on lap 64, by which time everyone else was easing off as the race end drew near.
For the two McLaren drivers it was a complete walkover, their almost total domination of the season ensuring McLaren International of the Manufacturers Championship and putting the two drivers in line for the Drivers Championship, with no challengers. For the rest of the competitors it was total demoralisation, either due to retirement or the knowledge that Frost had lapped them once or more times in 71 laps, apart from Mansell who had been allowed the courtesy of finishing a good third on the same lap as the winner. In the closing stages the Dutch Grand Pets fizzled out for some, notably Rosberg who ran out of petrol with two laps w go. Cheever who did likewise with five laps to go, and Arnow( whose Ferrari died with an electrical fault with four laps to go. Someone in the Lotus team summed it all up when they said “if it wasn’t for those McLarens we’d be leading the World Championship”, to which the Brabhain, team might have replied “if the BAINN’ engine had not failed Piquet would hate won that race, like so many others thts season”. — D.S. J. RESULTS DUTCH GRAND PRIX — FormuN One — 71 laps —Jaandvar.,-; 4.252 kilometres per lap — 301.892 kilo
.1 hr min 21.458 sec — 186.050 kr.
6’9 — out of fuel — class. — iFfrtFli’Lle 57 — electrIcs — classifiedp 8 :=:=igf.'”e’ — ClaS31.8:111,, P . ^ engin lap 52 — engi on lap 32 — eng . A on lap 24 — eng , ock I S DT21… lap 23 — sPu lc lap 24 — sPu ‘ : 1 r•A , r:::” ‘ ‘ r lap 11 — engine re Vera FA,1F-02/ ap 9 — engine a lure . (Ferrari 12.4 073:, . ap 8 , — engine failure “sr”‘ IV: Rene Arn'” (Fe””;87Vt07115) 721V;Iti; 1 r” la”‘ “C — 192.8’ ‘ 4voilia:raef : .n: e ;031 ret r invtI02171311 o 44,021