1984 French Grand Prix
- Sunday, May 20, 1984
- Grand Prix de France
- F1 World Championship
Returning to the tortuous Dijon-Prenois circuit for the first time since 1981, this year’s edition of the French Grand Prix saw Niki Lauda deny the factory Renault Elf team another victory on home soil by taking his McLaren MP4/2 to a confident and convincing victory in the 79 lap race. For the McLaren International team it was another remarkable demonstration of the latest John Barnard-designed chassis and its Porsche-built V6 turbocharged engine: the fourth such success out of five races run so far this season. For Lauda, who drove with just the right blend of aggression to enhance his otherwise distinctively smooth style, the race marked his second victory this year and his 21st since he first triumphed in a Championship Grand Prix at Jarama, almost 10 years ago to the week, at the wheel of a Ferrari 312B3.
Practice and qualifying at the French Grand Prix was ruined by the weather and those who had failed to produce their best on Friday were left floundering the following day as the heavens opened and most of the central France disappeared under a gloomy blanket of torrential rain. Obviously hoping for a good showing on home soil, particularly in view of the much-publicised fuel consumption problems which has bugged its progress so far this season, the Renault team provided the focal point of most people’s attention.
Patrick Tambay also wanted to do particularly well after a series of disappointing outings, and he successfully took full opportunity of a gap in the traffic mid-way through the first qualifying session to throw pole position beyond the reach of his rivals with a 1 min 02.200 sec lap after which his RE50 suffered a major turbocharger failure which set light to the car’s rear bodywork and left him stranded out on the circuit. On this occasion his English team-mate Derek Warwick seemed to be on the receiving end of the trouble, his regular race car suffering engine failure during Friday morning’s untimed session which meant that he was consigned to the spare RE50 for the crucial dry timed qualifying session. Despite the cockpit not fitting him properly and the fact that he didn’t really feel “in the swing of things”, he recorded a 1 min 3.540 sec which was good enough for seventh overall.