1982 French Grand Prix
- Sunday, July 25, 1982
- Grand Prix de France
- F1 World Championship
Team Lotus had to make another substitution as, after attempting the British GP with his injured arm, Nigel Mansell was back on the sick list, so Geoff Lees was co-opted into the second Lotus 91. Otherwise everyone made the transfer from Britain to France safely and in order. A management decision within the Talbot-Ligier team decreed “no more time-wasting with the old JSI7” and there were three of the 1982 JS19 cars in the pits, number three being the new one that Laffite had raced at Brands Hatch (not number two as reported). Renault had to dig out an old one to replace the new one Arnoux crashed on the Brands Hatch start line, and this was RE38B, last seen at Monte Carlo. There was a distinctly nervous air about the team, as if the Guillotine was poised above them, ready to drop if they failed to win their own race, and rumour had it that already development money was being held back. The Fittipaldi team were preparing to run their new F9 car as their first string, keeping an old F8D as a spare, and some of the smaller teams like ATS and Tyrrell had come up with smoother bodywork in the hope of gaining a few extra m.p.h. down the long Mistrale straight.
Some people still find it hard to accept that the real heart of any racing car is the engine and that power is all-important, and when you get to a circuit like Zandvoort or Paul Ricard with a long straight, all the clever chassis design and aerodynamic know-how is useless compared to a powerful engine, and Ferrari, Renault and BMW all have very powerful engines even if they are only half the capacity of the Cosworth V8, the Alfa Romeo V12 and the Matra V12. Of course, they have forced induction, supplied by exhaust-driven turbochargers and that more than makes up for only having 1,500 c.c. compared to their rivals’ 3,000 c.c.
With adjustable aerofoils front and rear and good control of the air flow under the car, and over it as well, today’s Formula One car can be adjusted for maximum speed or maximum cornering power and the trick at Paul Ricard was to find a nice compromise. One small Cosworth-powered team went to the extreme in the search for top speed clocking 300 k.p.h. through the timing beam, but the car was so uncontrollable round the corners that it failed to qualify for the race, in spite of the driver being quite competent. The Williams and McLaren teams got it about right with their combination of speed on the straight and good cornering, while others were as much as 20 k.p.h. slower than the aforementioned small team down the straight, yet qualified comfortably.
Le Castellet, Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
Permanent road course
Keke Rosberg (Williams FW10-Honda), 1m39.914, 130.072 mph, F1, 1985
First Race1970 Paul Ricard F2