The German Grand Prix

A popular win

Hockenheimring, August 8th

THE great concrete stadium that forms the major part of the Hockenheimring is not the most pleasant place even when the sun is shining so when the skies are grey, and threatening rain, it is truly forbidding. The only spark of imagination in the place as far as the drivers were concerned was the very fast Ost – Kurve at the far end of the circuit, which was virtually a full-bore hairpin joining the two fast legs of the circuit. I say “was" because the challenge of the Ost – Kurve is now gone as a chicane has been built before the corner, that brings most cars down to second gear and some even to first gear. Everyone seemed a bit vague as to who had dreamed up this chicane or why, though much of the blame was being put on Jody Scheckter, but how or why he was involved was rather obscure. If and when the new Nürburgring is built in the Eifel Mountains and the German Grand Prix returns there, it won't be too soon. I find Hockenheimring a rather sad joke that has gone on long enough and the only thing you can say is that holding the German Grand Prix within its precincts is better than no German Grand Prix at all.

Before things got under way for the 1982 Grand Prix the rains came to Germany and filled the air with gloom, and even though it was dry on Friday morning when practice began no-one really believed it was going to stay dry. Surprisingly, after the British and French Grand Prix races on consecutive weekends, everyone seemed to be in pretty good order, though there were some driver changes and some new cars, but nothing of any great importance. Nigel Mansell was back to take up his position as number two in the Lotus team, Jan Lammers had been moved out of the Theodore Team and Tommy Byrne had been brought out of the Formula 3 school to replace him, though the reason was a bit obscure, and even more so was the appearance of Rupert Keegan in the March pit, waiting to take over from Jochen Mass. "Herman the German" was still suffering a bit from his lucky escape at the French Grand Prix and he soon found that he was not fit enough to drive the leading March 821, so Keegan took over.

On the car front Williams had finished another FW08, number 6, which was given to Daly, and Renault had finished number 10 in their RE30B series, which was given to Prost, while his regular car became the team spare. Other than that everyone had their usual material, Ferrari with their experimental car with longitudinal gearbox as their T-car, Lotus with their "wishbone and pull-rod" front suspension car as the T-car for de Angelis, Mansell having a normal Type 91 with "rocker arm" front suspension as his T-car, Brabham having their "lightweight" sprint car with carbon-fibre brakes as their T-car and so on, nothing very unusual or exciting to see in the paddock.

Prost started the morning session with carbon-fibre brakes discs and pads on his car but very soon decided he didn't like the different feel to the pedal and had the car converted back to normal ventilated steel discs. As Arnoux's fuel injection system was playing up on RE38B, there was plenty of activity around the Renault team but it was all inside the pit-lane garages. In the Brabham garages the spare car was having a brand new BMW power unit installed, these engines arriving in boxes as complete units taken straight from the test-bed where they have had two and a half hours of running-in and power testing.

After only forty minutes of activity out on the circuit, everything came to a stop as the new-boy Byrne had let the Theodore TY02/2 bounce off a kerb and into the fences, damaging the left-front corner, so the car had to be retrieved by a break-down truck. He was unhurt and continued practice in TY02/1 when activity resumed fifteen minutes later. Prost was out again with his Renault converted back to normal brakes, but Arnoux's injections problems were taking a long time to put right so he was out in the spare car. Pironi was trying the experimental Ferrari once more but showing no particular desire to use it as his number one car, preferring the old transverse gearbox layout. Fabi was having all the Toleman troubles, this time an oil leak somewhere at the front of the engine causing a minor conflagration, but enough to stop his practice.

The timed hour for qualifying had to start a bit late, due to the morning delay, but all got under way all right except Fabi whose Toleman was being cleaned up and a new Hart 415R engine was being installed. Soon after the start of things Lauda was being held up by Keegan through the twisty bit in the stadium and when the McLaren driver got by the March he then went into the right-hander at the end of the pits straight too fast and slid out onto the grass and through a catch fence. The damage was not too bad and Lauda returned to the pits and went out in the spare McLaren, but after a while he realised he had hurt his right wrist in the mild shunt and was beginning to suffer. Prost was in the spare Renault as he was not happy with his own car, but Arnoux was back in his own car, though not setting the pace this time. This was being done by Pironi in his normal Ferrari and nobody was really getting very close to him. Prost was the only challenger and he was nearly a whole second slower, and even Piquet in the "under-weight" Brabham-BMW could not match the speed of the Ferrari. The "also-rans" of the mid-field group, which included Rosberg (Williams), Lauda (McLaren), Alboreto (Tyrrell) all with Cosworth power, and de Cesaris (Alfa Romeo) were in the order of four and a half seconds slower than the leading Ferrari. The real "also-rans" who normally make up the back of the grid were as much as ten seconds slower than the pole-position Ferrari. However, it was not a light-hearted cruise round using all that lovely turbo-charged power, as some people seem to think, for at the front the battle with Renault and BMW was very serious.

In the Williams pit there was some embarrassment when Daly appeared with only three wheels on his brand new car (FW08/6). A front one had not been fixed properly and came off, the stiffness of the chassis and suspension allowing the Irishman to drive back without doing any damage. He carried on practising using the spare car while his own was looked over. Salazar stopped his ATS with more oil outside the engine than in, and he carried on in the team's spare car. Added to the usual lack of urgency during qualifying these days was the despair of the Cosworth-powered lobby at their inability to see which way Pironi had gone, and the fact that the fastest unblown car was nearly three seconds slower than the slowest "big time" turbo-car. Warwick had his Hart-powered Toleman up among the "moaners" which added to their misery. Listening to some of them you would think the turbo-charged engine had only appeared this year, instead of in 1977. Some people have not been paying attention. Alboreto was fastest of the unblown-brigade, which while not being anything to get excited about, cheered up the Tyrrell lads no end.

Saturday was disaster day. Rain, rain and yet mere rain; the great concrete stadium was dripping and everything was grey. A few hardy souls were circulating in the morning on heavily-treaded rain tyres and some were actually going remarkably quickly, enveloped in a giant ball of spray. One of these was Didier Pironi who was barrelling on bravely in his normal Ferrari. As he came down the return straight towards the stadium there was a ball of spray in front of him that he did not realise contained two cars. One was Prost who was travelling relatively slowly and the other was Daly who was about to overtake the Renault, which he did by passing on the right. Pironi thought Daly had moved over to let hint through on the left, and he drove slap into the back of the Renault, hitting the right rear wheel. The impact launched the Ferrari up into the air, where it turned over and crashed down onto the track, smashing the front and severely injuring Pironi's feet and legs. Rescue services were soon on the scene and a helicopter flew the injured driver to Heidelberg hospital, his leg injuries causing grave concern. Naturally, this stopped all activity for quite a time and when eventually it restarted it was all on a pretty low note.

The rain continued on into the afternoon and the scene was very grey. There was no hope of anyone improving on times net on Friday, so only those who felt forced to, bothered to go out in the second timed session. Lauda had decided to nurse his injured left wrist and give the race a miss, so that he would be sure of being fit for his own Grand Prix in a week's time and Tambay realised the whole of the fortunes of Ferrari rested on his shoulders from now on. Both racing Brabhams were having new BMW engines installed, so Piquet did some laps in the spare car, but Patrese did not go out at all, and neither Toleman driver went out as Warwick was not going to improve and whatever time Fabi recorded would not be good enough to get him on the grid. Prost’s car was being repaired after the unfortunate accident in the morning, so he went out in the spare car and under a blanket of gloom the afternoon fizzled out.

There was a certain amount of indecision about the starting grid, for while McLaren International's Ron Dennis had officially withdrawn Lauda from the race, Ferrari had not officially withdrawn Pironi, so the pole-position was still there for number 28. With Lauda's withdrawal everyone who was behind him moved up one and Marc Surer, who was first non-qualifier, took the last position. Had Pironi's entry been withdrawn the whole grid would have moved up one, letting Tommy Byrne onto the back of the grid with the Theodore, but more important, it would have meant Tambay in the lone Ferrari moving from the left of the grid to the right, which was not so advantageous, so Pironi's entry was left in, pole-position remained empty, and Byrne could not join in at the back.

An accident at the new "safety" chicane in a supporting race allied a long delay so that the Grand Prix warm-up thirty minutes was late starting. Ferrari had put the spare car (059) back to standard with a transverse gearbox and the old suspension, in case Tambay needed it, as he had not driven the car in "E" form. Prost had settled to race the Renault T-car (No.6.) as the team were not 100% certain about No.10 which had caused the accident to Pironi, and in the Brabham team Piquet was all set to give the pit-stop routine a go, though Patrese was all for going through non-stop. Surer had his engine blow up and Watson spun off when he got into a muddle at one of the chicanes. Damage was superficial but as a lot of sand and dirt had got into the throttle slides he did not try to restart the engine. Piquet left no doubt in anyone's mind as to who was fastest under race conditions, his Brabham-BMW on half a tank of fuel and soft tyres being much faster than Tambay's Ferrari and the two Renaults.

The start was due to take place at 3 p.m., but with the morning delay it should have been postponed until 3.30 p.m. to allow the regulation two and a half hours between the warm-up and the race, for anyone who was in trouble. As Arrows, ATS and McLaren were all agreed that they could do their engine change in two hours, the great God Television was appeased and the schedule reverted to the 3 p.m. start. As compensation the three teams concerned were given a 15 minute "lateness allowance" for getting to the starting grid. They all left the pit lane under rather grey and leaden skies, overcast but warm and the promise of staying dry. Winkelhock in his ATS was the last to leave, by which time Rosberg had been round the lap in FW08/5 and reported a high-speed misfire, so he nipped over the pit wall and went off in the T-car which was waiting in readiness, while his race-car was removed from the grid. Watson arrived on the grid to report that none of his electrical instruments were registering so rather than try and find the fault in the few minutes available all the electrical circuits were isolated except the ignition circuit and "Wattie" was faced with starting the race without anything to look at, even the electric tachometer having to be isolated.

Starting Grid:

* 15 Alain Prost (Renault V6 t/c) (T) 1:48.890 3 (1:56.312) 16 René Arnoux (Renault V6 t/c) 1:49.256 3 (1:55.825) 1 Nelson Piquet (Brabham-BMW t/c) (T) 1:49.415 7 (1:54.035) 27 Patrick Tambay (Ferrari V6 t/c) 1:49.570 29 (1:54.805) 2 Riccardo Patrese (Brabham-BMW t/c) 1:49.760 3 (1:56.460) 3 Michele Alboreto (Tyrrell-Cosworth V8) 1:52.625 5 (1:58.190) 22 Andrea de Cesaris (Alfa Romeo V12) 1:52.786 6 (1:57.838) 6 Keke Rosberg (Williams-Cosworth V8) (T) 1:52.892 6 (1:57.882) 7 John Watson (McLaren-Cosworth V8) 1:53.073 14 (1:57.000) 23 Bruno Giacomelli (Alfa Romeo V12) 1:53.887 40 (1:58.193) 25 Eddie Cheever (Ligier-Matra V12) 1:54.211 5 (2:00.033) 11 Elio de Angelis (Lotus-Cosworth V8) 1:54.476 20 (1:58.246) 35 Derek Warwick (Toleman-Hart t/c) 1:54.594 38 (1:57.794) 26 Jacques Laffite (Ligier-Matra V12) 1:54.982 19 (1:57.454) 9 Manfred Winkelhock (ATS-Cosworth V8) 1:55.223 2 (2:03.946) 4 Brian Henton (Tyrrell-Cosworth V8) 1:55.474 13 (1:58.848) 12 Nigel Mansell (Lotus-Cosworth V8) 1:55.866 39 (1:58.447) 5 Derek Daly (Williams-Cosworth V8) 1:55.876 18 (1:57.927) 31 Jean-Pierre Jarier (Osella-Cosworth V8) 1:56.250 3 (2:01.238) 14 Roberto Guerrero (Ensign-Cosworth V8) 1:56.489 35 (2:00.167) 10 Eliseo Salazar (ATS-Cosworth V8) 1:56.537 17 (2:00.040) 30 ** Mauro Baldi (Arrows-Cosworth V8) 1:56.680 2 (2:15.546) 18 Raul Boesel (March-Cosworth V8) 1:57.245 12 (2:01.692) 20 Chico Serra (Fittipaldi-Cosworth V8) 1:57.337 3 (2:01.238) 29 Marc Surer (Arrows-Cosworth V8) 1:57.402 34 (1:59.025)

Did not qualify:

33 Tommy Byrne (Theodore-Cosworth V8) 1:59.007 17 Rupert Keegan (March-Cosworth V8) 1:59.951 36 Teo Fabi (Toleman-Hart t/c) No time Withdrawn after practise: 8 Niki Lauda (McLaren-Cosworth V8) 1:52.683


* 28 Didier Pironi (Ferrari V6 t/c) 1:47.947 not on grid. ** 30 Mauro Baldi (Arrows-Cosworth V8) started race from pit lane in T-car. (T) denotes use of spare car for practise time or for race. N.B. Times in brackets are best laps recorded in race. Number is lap on which recorded.

The 25 starters were ready to go and without Pironi it was Prost who had to take responsibility for the parade-lap. As they drove off relatively quietly Baldi's Arrows refused to start, even after a push, so it was wheeled off the track and the little Italian lad ran across to the pits to be strapped in the spare car and await permission to join in, which, according to regulations, would be after the field had completed a lap. It was a poignant reminder of the disaster of the previous day when the 24 cars returned to the grid led by the two Renaults and took up their places leaving pole-position on the grid empty. It was a good start, and Arnoux shot off into the lead followed by Prost, while Piquet hung fire for a brief moment as he got too much wheelspin, but soon gathered himself up and passed Prost. At the end of the opening lap it was Arnoux, Piquet, Prost, Tambay, de Cesaris, Patrese, Alboreto, Cheever (after a meteoric start from the back), Rosberg, Watson and Warwick. Next time round Piquet was away on his "sprint” to start pulling outs second and a bit each lap, so as to build up sufficient lead to allow for a stop for another half tank of petrol and a new set of pre-heated tyres. Arnoux, Prost and Tambay seemed to be following discreetly but even so there was already a sizeable gap before Patrese appeared followed by the rest, with the exception of Cheever, whose splendid start was to no avail — a sideskirt had been ruined and he was in the pits for attention. Right at the back, Baldi had joined in with the spare Arrows A4 but it was running terribly badly and he was getting nowhere. Before long Winklehock was into the pits to retire his ATS gearbox trouble, de Angelis was in for attention to his skirts, and Jarier had spun the Osella off the track and out of the race.

Piquet was pulling away impressively and if the BMW engine kept going it looked as if we would see the much publicised pit-stop routine take place for none of the other turbo cars could match the pace of the "sprint" Brabham. On lap 4 Tambay had taken his Ferrari past the Renault of Alain Prost, and Patrese, getting into his stride, was joining the front-running group of turbocharged cars, so it was BMW, Renault, Ferrari, Renault, and BMW, with Tambay upholding Ferrari honours in the middle. The rest were being led by de Cesaris in his 182 Alfa Romeo, which would have been impressive a few years ago, but was now obsolete. Behind him came Rosberg, Watson and Alboreto, with Warwick in the Toleman leading Daly (Williams) and Laffite (Talbot). In spite of having no tachometer, Watson was going well having overtaken Rosberg, and on lap 9 he passed the Alfa Romeo of de Cesaris, but in doing so he had a slight collision with it, using his left front wheel to nudge the Italian car out of the way. It did not upset the McLaren, but de Cesaris came slowly round to the pits where it was found that an oil cooler had been damaged so his Alfa Romeo was out of the race. Two laps later and Prost was into the pits, his Renault engine "off-song"; a broken injection pipe was discovered, and the leader was to go by five times before the Renault rejoined the race. To add to the Renault gloom, Tambay had just taken his Ferrari past Arnoux, so now the scene was Piquet some sixteen seconds ahead and still going as hard as he could, Tambay content to hold second place and hope that the BMW engine in the car ahead would blow up, Arnoux in third place and Patrese fourth though a fair way back. Then came Watson, Rosberg, Alboreto, Laffite, Daly, Warwick and Giacomelli; among the remainder Mansell and Henton were having a little scrap, but the rest were just driving round.

After 13 laps Patrese drove slowly into the pit lane with a cloud of smoke coming from under the engine cover as his BMW engine expired, and it was a pity that Tambay could not have seen it as it would have given him great encouragement in his lonely battle for Maranello. This let Watson up into a distant fourth place, and, as Piquet began to lap the tail-enders on this relatively long circuit with its lap time approaching 2 minutes, it meant that the "rabbits" were almost in another race. The leader got by Boesel's March, then Serra's Fittipaldi F9, then Guerrero's Ensign, which the woolly-haired lad from Colombia was driving without a clutch, as it had gone solid, and next was Salazar in the remaining ATS. Piquet was still pressing on urgently, even though Tambay in second place was not showing any signs of being troublesome, and the Brabham caught the ATS on the approach to the "safety" chicane at the Ost-Kurve. Piquet dived through on the inside on the right-hand curve before the braking area, which forced Salazar out to the left onto virgin tarmac, and as they braked side by side the ATS did not stop at the same rate as the Brabham which was on a more grippy surface and better placed for the left-right-left of the chicane. As Piquet's car turned in to the corner, the ATS struck it and both cars slid off, the Brabham spinning through the pile of old tyres protecting the corner. Caught by surprise, Piquet let the engine stop as he spun. Clearly, he had not anticipated the consequences of forcing the ATS off its line on the approach to the chicane, so it was not surprising that he reacted in a rather tempestuous manner when he climbed out of the Brabham, whose only serious damage was to the rear aerofoil. The mild-mannered Salazar, whose ATS was badly bent at the front, viewed the explosive little Brazilian with disdain and refused to be involved in any sort of unseemly behaviour by the reigning World Champion.

A very contented Patrick Tambay sailed by into the lead while the Brabham team packed up all their refuelling apparatus yet again and switched off the gas-heater that was warming the new set of tyres. Once again it was all over for them, but it was not BMW's fault this time. "The best laid plans of mice and little men . . . ." It was all over and only 19 of the 45 laps had gone, for Tambay knew that he had the measure of Arnoux in the remaining Renault, and Ferrari engines do not often go wrong, especially if they are looked after, and the elegant Frenchman did not intend to do anything stupid or indulge in any heroics. A smooth gentle drive home was all that was called for and Tambay provided exactly that. He and his compatriot toured round, carefully lapping all the other runners until they were the only two on the some lap. Behind them Watson was driving along in an equally secure third place, followed by Rosberg, whose spare Williams had never felt quite as good as the car he had intended to race, so that the effervescent Jacques Laffite was giving him trouble; while the JS19 Talbot-Matra V12 was not exactly going -s whole lot better than before, it was not as bad stir has been and Laffite was doing his best, which is always pretty good. After working away valiantly he finally scrabbled pest Rosberg but almost immediately came upon Mansell's Lotus 91, which had been in the pits twice, once for a new side-skirt and once for tyres. Liffite caught the Lotus as they passed the pits and went into the long right-hand corner that leads out of the stadium too fast and on the wrong side of thy road. The Talbot slithered across the bows of the Lotus, took to the grass verge, missing the catch fences, and had a long "moment" while Laffite fought valiantly and finally came safely back on to the track, but with rumpled side-skirt edges. While all this went on both Rosberg and Alboreto, whom Laffite had fought bitterly to get by, most past) Mansell merely smiled, it was nothing to do with hirn. From the back of the field Boesel had disappeared, stranded out on the circuit with a flat tyre, de Angelis had given up, feeling very unwell with stomach ache and Daly had switched his engine off hurriedly when it made a nasty noise. Tambay lapped Giacomelli, who was still plodding round in the remaining Alfa Romeo, then the luckless Laffite, after that Alboreto who was driving neatly and tidily as always in the Tyrrell, and then Rosberg came within the sights of the turbo-charged Ferrari. With no warning at all Watson's secure third place went out the window in a flurry of dust as his McLaren slid off the track with its right front wheel at a funny angle. Either the lower wishbone had broken or the two bolts attaching the ball-joint of the hub carrier to the apex of the wishbone had sheared. Whatever it was there was nothing Watson could do about it; third place was gone and his race was over. Inspection afterwards did not ascertain which part had broken first, but it was almost certainly a long term effect from the accident Watson had had in the morning which had failed to reveal itself during the hurried rebuild. This left Rosberg in third place, but as Tambay lapped him with five laps to go to the end of the race it was not exactly a valiant third place, and anyway the Williams engine was misfiring so that Alboreto's fourth place was not too impressive either. Giacomelli trailed home fifth and Marc Surer was six., having started from last place on the grid and only getting into the race because Lauda withdrew, for which the Arrows team must be eternally grateful. Surer's drive was a nice example of keeping going and doing your best while others fall about the place and was well-deserved, for he had caught and passed Serra, Guerrero and Henton in the early stages of the race and they also subsequently ran through non-stop.

Laffite had eventually stopped at the pits to see if anything could be done about the ragged edges under his Talbot JS19, only to find the team had no more side-skirt material available, so he gave up. Warwick had been forced to stop when a front tyre began to lose air and with a new set of tyres the Toleman ran through faultlessly to the end of the race, the Hart engine never missing a beat. As Warwick was leading Giacomelli when his Pirelli lost air it is reasonable to assume that he could have finished fifth, but equally Piquet could have won if Salazar had not collided with him, and Salazar would not have collided with the Brabbam if Piquet had not forced hint off line . . . . and so it goes on.

It was Tambay's first Grand Prix victory, after many wasted years in the mish-mash of uncompetitive teams, and while he has no pretensions about being as good as Pironi or Piquet, and could never hope to replace Villeneuve, he had done a good clean job and salvaged the Ferrari team from the depths of despair. Uncle Enzo was no doubt very pleased with him. — D.S. J.

RESULTS GERMAN GRAND PRIX – Formula One – 45 laps – Hockenheimring – 6.797 kilometres per lap – 305.865 kilometres – Warm

1 Patrick Tambay (Ferrari 126C2/061) 1 hr. 27 min. 25.178 sec. – 209.9 k.p.h. 2 René Arnoux (Renault RE38B) 1 hr. 27 min. 41.557 sec. 3 Keke Rosberg (Williams FW08/1) 1 Lap Behind 4 Michele Alboreto (Tyrrell 011) 1 Lap Behind 5 Bruno Giacomelli (Alfa Romeo 182) 1 Lap Behind 6 Marc Surer (Arrows A4) 1 Lap Behind 7 Brian Henton (Tyrrell 011) 1 Lap Behind 8 Roberto Guerrero (Ensign MN16) 1 Lap Behind 9 Nigel Mansell (Lotus 91/7) 2 Laps Behind 10 Derek Warwick (Toleman TG181B) 2 Laps Behind 11 Francesco Serra (Fittipaldi F9) 2 Laps Behind 12 John Watson (McLaren MP4/7) Retired on lap 37 – broken suspension 13 Jacques Laffite (Talbot JS19/03) Retired on lap 37 – gave up 14 Derek Daly (Williams FW08/6) Retired on lap 26 - engine failure 15 Raul Boesel (March 821/7) Retired on lap 23 – tyre failure 16 Elio de Angelis (Lotus 91/8) Retired on lap 22 – driver unwell 17 Nelson Piquet (Brabham BT50/3) Retired on lap 19 – accident with 10 18 Eliseo Salazar (ATS D6) Retired on lap 18 – accident with 1 19 Alain Prost (Renault RE36B) Retired on lap 15 – electrical failure 20 Riccardo Patrese (Brabham BT50/4) Retired on lap 14 – engine failure 21 Andrea de Cesaris (Alfa Romeo 182) Retired on lap 10 – accident damage 22 Eddie Cheever (Talbot JS19/01) Retired on lap 9 – car undriveable 23 Mauro Baldi (Arrows A4) Retired on lap 7 – engine trouble 24 Jean-Pierre Jarier (Osella FA1C) Retired on lap 4 – off track 25 Manfred Winkelhock (ATS D6) Retired on lap 4 – transmission

Fastest lap: Nelson Piquet (Brabham BT50/3) on lap 7 in 1 min. 54.035 sec. – 214.576 k.p.h.

25 starters – 11 finishers