1984 Canadian Grand Prix
- Sunday, June 17, 1984
- Grand Prix Labatt du Canada
- F1 World Championship
Piquet’s performance at Montreal was more typical of his 1983 Championship-winning season than the shambles we’ve witnessed of the Brabham organisation so far this year. He grabbed pole position convincingly with a lap in 1 min. 25.442 sec., just beating the McLaren MP4/2 of Alain Prost for premier position on the front row and it was clear that these two very serious contenders, neither of whom ever cause any surprise when they win a race, would probably fight the contest out to the finish.
In the event, Nelson Piquet triumphed quite comfortably. Although Prost was first away from the grid and led the field down to the hairpin at the far end of the circuit, Piquet drove past him coming back along the return straight with an ease that reminded us just how powerful BMW’s four-cylinder turbocharged engine is when it is running efficiently. It has been suggested this year that one of the reasons the McLaren cars have been able to run so quickly and, at the same time, look so unobtrusive and undramatic out on the circuits is because the Porsche-built V6 engines develop sufficient power to haul large rear aerofoils down the straights at competitive speed while still retaining enormously efficient cornering performance. Since the McLarens have been so reliable as well, there has been a tendency to regard them as the most powerful cars in the business. But perhaps Montreal taught us that the Brabham team’s mechanical misfortunes had allowed us to forget F1’s established pacemakers over the past six months. We really shouldn’t have been surprised at Nelson’s performance in Montreal, bearing in mind what we already know about him!
Prost chased hard for the first half of the 70 laps race, but the Brabham-BMW always seemed well in control, particularly when it came to threading its way through slower cars. The Frenchman later complained that his engine refused to rev. willingly over 10,000 rpm for much of the race and on lap 44 he conceded second place to his team-mate Lauda. The Austrian had only qualified eighth after making, by his own admission, some mistakes in the detailed set-up of his chassis and in the opening stages of the Grand Prix he demonstrated a restraint that is only bred by true self-confidence. Knowing full well that the Montreal circuit, with its hairpins at either end, is hard on tyres and brakes, Lauda kept the pace of his race down in the early stages in order to conserve these components while the car was still heavy with a full load of fuel. After 20 laps or so he really began to pile on the pressure and disposed of Prost with no difficulty at all before settling down to try and catch Piquet. Lauda subsequently reported that his car had run perfectly “apart from a slight problem selecting fourth gear from time to time” and his only big drama came when Elio de Angelis went autocrossing across the apex of one of the hairpins, lurching back onto the track in an unruly manner that obliged the McLaren driver to put all four wheels “on the dirt” to avoid the wayward Lotus. At this point Lauda had only just overtaken his team-mate and Prost very nearly re-took second place in the ensuing scrum, but Lauda managed to keep his advantage and quickly regained his rhythm.