#442 1987 French Grand Prix

2023-01-15 23:00

Array() no author 82025

#1987, Fulvio Conti,

#442 1987 French Grand Prix

In one of his classic interventions, on Tuesday, June 23, 1987, Enzo Ferrari came on the scene with a three-line communiqué to state that Albereto and


In one of his classic interventions, on Tuesday, June 23, 1987, Enzo Ferrari came on the scene with a three-line communiqué to state that Albereto and Berger enjoy his full confidence and will still race with Scuderia Ferrari in 1988. It is trouble that Enzo Ferrari does not intervene more often or, in this case, that he has not done so before. But it is difficult, even for a man as experienced and sensitive as he is, to pick up moods, feelings, tensions of a team that operates far from Maranello (or Fiorano as the case may be). Certain situations come to him filtered through television images, press reports, reports from those in the field. Too bad, because Ferrari can’t but be loved, both for what it represents in the history of cars, racing and otherwise, and for what it expresses as an exponent of Made in Italy, in the world. The events of recent times, from the lack of competitiveness of the cars to John Barnard's statements, have violently shaken this image of Ferrari. It seems that there is considerable conflict within the Scuderia Ferrari, with many characters getting out of control. Technicians who talk too much and in circles, mechanics who are unloved and offended, drivers who are humiliated. True, the medicine to heal Ferrari had to be powerful, but here the doctor risks killing the sick person. Not only that: the Ferrari of redemption accumulates placings, not victories, the aerial, English transmits indecipherable technical messages, and in return hurls accusations left and right. Operation Barnard; advocated by Piccinini, is so far a failure. It should have allowed Scuderia Ferrari a quick return to competitiveness. Instead, it is turning out to be a mere transfer of technology and, moreover, in the wrong direction, from Italy to England, not vice versa. Maranello, in a tomorrow, could turn into an empty box. This is the main problem. Now let us not delude ourselves that the reappointment of Alboreto and Berger will transform Ferrari's future. It is a first step to restore serenity to the Scuderia Ferrari and the men who risk their lives at 300 km/h. But the basic question remains: is it possible that Made in Italy must, whatever it takes, still rely on this John Barnard who despises it? There had been talk of a summit in Maranello, or rather in Fiorano, where the heart of Ferrari racing is now, and summit it was, although the men of the Maranello team tried to draw a veil over the same. No wonder: it is the style of all time. Based on reliable rumors, it is known that the meeting took place early Tuesday afternoon in Fiorano, in Enzo Ferrari's studio. 


Present were Ferrari himself, his son Piero Lardi Ferrari, drivers Alboreto and Berger, and sports director Marco Piccinini, the person to whom the Barnard operation is owed. Missing is John Barnard himself, who remained in England, where in Guilford he heads Gto, Maranello's subsidiary and technological antenna in official statements, a dangerous pro-Barnard information-gathering center according to many observers.Of course, the contents of the meeting are not known, but it appears that Ferrari explained to Michele Alboreto and Gerhard Berger a communication sent to Barnard on Monday. In the message Ferrari is said to have reiterated to the English designer his confidence as a technician, but also reminded him that the management of the drivers, from a contractual point of view, and that of the image of the team and, more generally, of Ferrari is reserved for Marco Piccinini. As in: Barnard think about building winning or at least competitive cars, and exercise the role for which he was hired to the tune of millions of dollars. But don't concern yourself with the rest and let Piccinini, proconsul in the field, do his job. Apparently, this message was appreciated by Alboreto and Berger, so much so that Ferrari was then able to issue the communiqué confirming that the two drivers would remain with the team for 1988. For the Austrian, it is clear, Scuderia Ferrari made use of the option in his hands, for the Italian driver it must be a new contract. At the end of the summit Alboreto and Berger were then taken to the racing department to see the new naturally aspirated engine that Ferrari might employ in next year's World Championship, destined to mark, as is well known, the end of the turbocharged era. It is reportedly a 12-cylinder, 60° V-shaped unit with a displacement of 3,500 cc. Such a power unit is expected to be completed in the summer. Thus ends-at least it is hoped-the talk that has emerged in recent times about the future of Berger and, above all, Alboreto. Alain Prost will remain at McLaren, and the Italian driver renounces in an act of faith in Ferrari and Enzo Ferrari the possibilities offered to him by such a winning team as Frank Williams. On the table, however, other serious problems remain (Barnard himself, the Guilford center, the climate in the team). Only successes could solve them, at least formally. The following day, Wednesday, June 24, 1987, John Barnard, after a long meeting with his staff at Guilford, packs his bags and moves in the course of the evening to Modena. 


The designer leaves his beloved technology center to land in Maranello: a normal trip, since he will have to travel to his employer's headquarters from time to time, but, probably, also an opportunity to discuss with Enzo Ferrari the recent events of the last few days. Events that, at least on the surface, have ended with a downsizing of the role of John Barnard, who has been invited to build winning cars and leave the rest alone, from the drivers-especially Michele Alboreto-to appreciations of Italian work. The technician's record is modest for now, and having failed the mission on the slow city circuits of Monte-Carlo and Detroit, all that remains is to hope for some progress on the fast ones. First up is the French racetrack of Le Castellet, where it will be run on Sunday, July 5, 1987. However, the current situation is unlikely to be so easily changed. One of the unfavorable points of the Ferraris of Alboreto and Berger is aerodynamics. With an excess load on the front end and a consequent lightening of the rear end, the deficiencies in traction about which the drivers complained at Monte-Carlo and Detroit will increase at Le Castellet and, later, at Silverstone. How does John Barnard plan to solve this problem? Rumor has it that Barnard would put his hands out, trying to shift the focus to the engine. The designer, in essence, would put the six-cylinder engine that animates the 1987 Ferraris under indictment. He apparently argues with Mannello's team men that this heart is too underpowered, too brutal in power delivery, too limited in range of use. It would have about a hundred less horsepower than McLaren's Tag-Porsche (which has about 850, compared with 900 for the Honda powerplant of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet's Williams, and Ayrton Senna and Satoru Nakajima's Lotus) What are the consequences of such reasoning? Simple: with such an engine, it is a necessity to limit the aerodynamic load to the detriment of the car's stability. In this way Barnard would have taken a good chunk of responsibility off himself, shifting all blame onto the hapless motorists. All in the tradition of confrontation that has always been one of Ferrari's winning weapons, but which now, times, situations and personalities having changed, becomes counterproductive. On Thursday, June 25, 1987, in the course of the afternoon, two letters leave Maranello addressed to Mr. Philip Clarice, editor of the Sunday Times Magazine in London. This is the newspaper that on Sunday, June 14, 1987, published an interview with John Barnard, the new technician of the Maranello team, with very heavy content against Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari, who signs the first letter, mostly expresses displeasure: at the inaccuracies and platitudes referred to his company, at the accusations of Anglophobia directed at him. And he almost sweetly mentions the first time he went to England, in 1923. And he recalls that two of the six British Formula One World Champion drivers won the title behind the wheel of his cars. More terse is John Barnard's letter, asking for a correction to the article:


"An important piece of which, containing distorted and damaging comments, was added later, completely without my knowledge". 


Michele Alboreto, after his yes to Enzo Ferrari, allows himself a few days of vacation in Monte-Carlo: sun and sea to eliminate the tensions accumulated in recent months, especially off the track. The confirmation of Alboreto, who already held an option from Williams, represents the first step in a new course with which engineer Enzo Ferrari intends to restore serenity and confidence in the environment. After Enzo Ferrari met with John Barnard, confirming his confidence on the technical plano, for Michele this timely confirmation is a big victory. 


"I had to give an answer after Detroit to Ferrari, with whom I had discussed my problems before the American race. On Monday morning I decided to stay in Maranello, so I phoned the engineer and told him that I would drive for him again next season".


What did Ferrari tell her? 


"Nothing in particular, we gave each other an ideal handshake that is worth more than any written contract. He seemed very happy with this decision".


Will Barnard be as well? 


"I don't know. I haven't asked him, I hope so".


Why did he stay at Ferrari? 


"I thought that after four years of toil it would be foolish to leave the team just now when it is climbing back to the top. I sowed well, I'd say it's time to harvest".


Was the negotiation with Williams on track? 


"Yes, there were serious premises for a collaboration. However, for so many reasons, I was right to stay at Ferrari".


What more could Williams have given? 


"Definitely a car proven to victory after a few successful years. At Ferrari, on the other hand, we are rebuilding a winning car. That's why, especially at the beginning, everything would have been easier at Williams".


Has there been contact with other teams? 


"I was also in talks with McLaren, but I don't know if Prost, by staying, was willing to accept me on the team".


Now what will change? 


"I did not ask for anything more than what a Formula 1 driver asks for. I merely expressed a desire to have the same treatment as the other driver. That is, if there is development work to be done, I want it to be done in mutual agreement, following the needs of both".


Barnard will have to give it more consideration. 


"It's not about consideration, it's about hearing the opinion of both drivers, otherwise the car will adapt only to the one most listened to. I think this treatment will be granted to me, otherwise it will mean that I made a mistake. I would like to make it clear that I don't even want one bolt more than my partner, just parity".


For what reasons did Ferrari want to keep her in Maranello? Based on the latest evidence? 


"I didn't have to convince the engineer with whom I never had any problems. With the Ferrari racing team there were never any disagreements; the misunderstandings arose after the arrival of the new engineers with whom, either because of language problems, or because they were in a group of their own or because they did not particularly like Italians, a certain blockade had been established that led the engineers to work less with me than with Berger. All of this created imbalances that required a great deal of effort on my part in order to be able to achieve meaningful placements. The results were also thanks to the great work done by Maurizio Nardon, a very good young Italian technician".


Is there a chance to see in the coming races a Ferrari protagonist? 


"Everything has to be evaluated against Williams, which has a big superiority right now".


While the Lotus...? 


"I feared Ducarouge's car on the city tracks, and he actually won. Now I think they will be back in the pack, which will have to deal with the Williams. While I don't particularly fear the McLarens".


When is the victory? 


"It's still early, let's hope for the last races of the season".


Having closed the discussion concerning Scuderia Ferrari, we move on to the action. On Thursday, July 2, 1987, the Paul Ricard circuit is a furnace, ready to bake cars and men. This is how the French Grand Prix, the sixth round of the Formula 1 World Championship, presents itself at Le Castellet. The ambient temperature is high, already on its own, but, to further heat up the atmosphere, there is an atmosphere of challenge, as if the season were to be decided here, at Paul Ricard; the racetrack located between Toulon and Marseille. In the foreground is Ayrton Senna's Lotus. The Brazilian has won the last two races, held on the roads of Monte-Carlo and Detroit, and is leading the standings. His opponents are convinced that in France the superiority shown by the car with electronic suspension will end. This is clearly stated by Nelson Piquet, who is betting on a Williams victory:


"Now we stop playing slot machines, the real circuits have arrived".


And Alain Prost thinks so, too. The Frenchman is convinced that he has come to the last chance: 


"Either I return to the top here or everything becomes difficult for me".


But Gerard Ducarouge, Lotus technical manager, is not worried. 


"We have improved a lot. The free practice at Silverstone showed us that we have made up ground even on the fast tracks. We hope to give our rivals a nasty surprise, although here we will be content to go on the podium. The cars have been modified in aerodynamics and I have prepared some important changes for the next race in England".


Ducarouge says everything will count in France: driver, aerodynamics, engine, tires. And he argues that it will not be easy for Williams and McLaren to win, partly because other teams could insert themselves into the fight. He names Benetton, Brabham, Arrows and Ferrari. It must be said that he is one of the few still putting some money on Maranello. Says Gerhard Berner, the only one to show up on the track in the late afternoon, while John Barnard and Marco Piccinini have not yet made themselves available:


"I don't know if anything will change from previous races, maybe we will do better at Silverstone".


In short, it is postponed from Sunday to Sunday. However, it is necessary to emphasize how Ferrari came to Le Castellet in force. Three cars of which one is completely new, but with few visible novelties, except for adaptations to the type of circuit. The differential already used (with poor results) in Detroit, of American construction, will probably be tried, aerodynamics will be improved. Michele Alboreto, who took a day off after testing in England, lets it be known that he is quite happy, that the tests on fuel consumption (again very important here) were positive. But a real breakthrough, that leap in quality everyone dreams of, is not expected. It has been said many times that John Barnard is slow in planning, but he gradually gets there. Eight months have passed since his hiring at Maranello and, in truth, little has yet been seen. Giovanni Agnelli, at the Fiat shareholders' meeting in Turin, to a specific question about the Barnard affair and his statements to the Sunday Times, had replied: 


"I don't care what this gentleman says, but I feel sorry for the results he doesn't get".


A sign of keen interest in Ferrari and waning patience after twenty-eight consecutive races without success. But Ferrari's crisis knows no end. Even in the first qualifying round of the French Grand Prix, Maranello's cars highlight the shortcomings that have characterized the entire first part of the season. Sixth time for Gerhard Berger, eighth for Michele Alboreto: insertion problems in slow corners, no progress, not a glimmer of hope. Hero of the day, once again, Nigel Mansell, author of the fastest lap in 1'06"454. at an average of 206.561 km/h and the new circuit record (previous Senna, last year, in 1'06"526). The Englishman astonishes everyone within minutes. Three laps and no one can disturb him anymore. Behind him follows an ardent Alain Prost. Ferrari, on the other hand, while doing a considerable amount of work, is behind. The atmosphere is always quite tense, closed, with the novelty of John Barnard's absence. He was supposed to arrive Thursday night, the British technician. Instead he stayed to work in his Guilford studio, probably to prepare important innovations for the next race at Silverstone. Says Marco Piccinini:


Bernard is on his way; he will be here later".


While waiting for the designer, the other technicians deflect. One will have to wait almost an hour for some explanation. Gerhard Berger says: 


"The car understeers and I also got a flat tire".


Somewhat less succinct Michele Alboreto: 


"In the fast corners there are no problems. But in the slow ones we lose a lot. You have to lift your foot off the accelerator not to go straight. The left front tire deteriorates in a few laps. I've tried different solutions and even made the wrong choice, but it's not easy to solve such drawbacks in a single-seater that was born this way".


The sporting director, Marco Piccinini, stresses the reliability achieved by the cars, but it is not enough. Someone asks him what he thinks of Agnelli's recent statements. 


"I have not read them. In any case, the lawyer's only interlocutor is Enzo Ferrari".


It is clear that the moment is very sensitive and that one wants to avoid the escalation of controversy. But with the results that keep not coming, it is difficult to maintain serenity. And it is probably also for this reason that John Barnard preferred to delay his arrival at Le Castellet. It is learned, meanwhile, that Ferrari has booked the Imola racetrack for Tuesday, July 7, 1987: some tests of the Formula 1 cars (with some modifications to the front end) are scheduled with a view to future World Championship commitments. On other fronts there is an incident between Stefan Johansson and Adrian Campos in the morning, with a suspension torn off on the Swede's McLaren. Andrea De Cesaris also went off the track, resulting in damage, not serious, to his Brabham. Among the naturally aspirated cars, the best was Philippe Alliot in a Lola, but with the 21st fastest time. The announced press conference of Jean-Marie Balestre also took place in the morning. Confirmed is the $250.000 mega-fine to Ford for the irregularities of the Sierra Cosworth 4wd and the establishment for 1989 of a new world championship reserved for production cars, i.e., silhouettes, which should little by little take the place of Group A touring cars. The calendars for the next season are also presented, but these will be finalized in October. For Formula 1, sixteen more races the following year, starting in Brazil on March 20 and ending on November 13, 1988 in Australia. On Saturday, July 4, 1987, the tires leave a slimy, slippery rubber track on the track's abrasive asphalt. It is a tangible sign of the heat looming over the circuit of Le Castellet, a terrace in the mountains of Provence, where on Sunday, at precisely the hottest hour, 1:00 p.m., the second part of the Formula 1 World Championship season will begin with the French Grand Prix. A championship that so far has presented three winners (Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell), but which is ready to reshuffle the cards, even if the protagonists are likely to be the same. The musketeers aiming for the rainbow helmet are them, plus Nelson Piquet. so far three times second. Weather conditions are one of the many unknowns to be faced in this race, which promises to be very tough. Fuel consumption (on a track where the average is around 200 km/h) and tire consumption, a constant element in motor racing, will have to be taken into account. The scorching temperature also can affect the performance of the cars and that of the drivers, who are under particular physical strain. And it is in this incandescent climate in all senses that Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet. the four musketeers precisely, challenge each other, leaving the other competitors the role of outsiders or, worse, extras. They are the ones who monopolized qualifying, they are the ones who start in the first two rows. Nothing substantial happens on the second day of practice: the track a little dirty with oil and rubber, a headwind in the long straight of the Mistral do not allow significant improvements, so much so that only 12 drivers out of 26, those Friday finished further back, manage to score lower timings than the previous. At the top, In a tense and even somewhat dark battle, only Ayrton Senna makes a breakthrough, snatching third place from Nelson Piquet. The beauty of the affair is that all four are convinced they can win. Nigel Mansell says: 


"My car is perfect. If nothing happens to me, I don't even see them".


Alain Prost is equally confident. Seven years earlier, on Sunday, July 5, 1981, on this same track the Frenchman achieved his first Formula 1 victory in a turbocharged Renault. Since then the McLaren driver has won two world titles and 27 victories. On Sunday the World Champion has a chance to hit another goal: to become the driver with the most wins of all. The man to surpass is Jackie Stewart, whom he had caught up with at the Belgian Grand Prix.


"I remember that first success: it was one of the best in my life. A huge thrill, I couldn't get over how lucky I was. I had realized a dream and it felt like I had touched the sky with one hand. It has been a long time and I must say that nothing has changed in me. I obviously have a different kind of experience, but I still feel the same excitement and especially the same desire to win. To win a race is the goal of every driver. It counts more than a world title, which all in all is a table success, made up of points, of figures, valid to earn more money, to have better cars. The rest matters little. However, overtaking Stewart would be a source of great prestige". 


Alain Prost. 32 years old, 110 races, leaves with considerable optimism. 


"Here I can play my cards on an equal footing with rivals. McLaren and I form a complex that without false modesty is among the best on the track. Men to beat? That's easy: Mansell, Piquet and Senna. I will have to watch out for them. But for the first time since Monte-Carlo and Detroit, I feel calm and serene".


New buoyancy has Ayrton Senna, who claims to have a Lotus in his hands in continuous progress. Nelson Piquet clings on the fact that having been winless so far, it is his turn to come first. It will be a subtle game. a struggle also on the tactical level, just to save gasoline and tires. The one who will have been more astute, as well as good, will win. And we come to the painful notes, namely Ferrari. The arrival of John Barnard from England does not change the situation. Gerhard Berger remains in sixth place. Michele Alboreto in eighth. The English designer does not have a magic wand, although it must be said that the performance of the Maranello cars improves slightly, the annoying understeer of the first day of practice having almost disappeared. The focus is on reliability (but Alboreto remains stationary on the track due to a transmission failure) and on the fact that the Maranello single-seaters seem to be okay in terms of fuel consumption. To achieve a major result, however, would require the others to be stuck with numerous as unlikely troubles. John Barnard, more airtight than usual, is silent. Marco Piccinini jokes about the too much attention the British engineer is getting:


"We can't make daily medical bulletins for all Ferrari executives".


Michele Alboreto says:


"We'll see".


Gerhard Berger is entrenched behind the unknowns to be faced. In short, nothing has changed. Among the race's points of interest are the presence in the front rows of the Benettons of Thierry Boutsen and Teo Fabi, who, however, have many reliability problems, and the momentum of a few Italian drivers who are trying hard to put themselves on the map. Andrea De Cesaris overtakes Riccardo Patrese by a few thousandths, spoiling the Italian driver's celebration he will make for his 150th Grand Prix, Alessandro Nannini, Piercarlo Ghinzani and Alex Caffi are in the usual rearguard positions. Only Ivan Capelli with the March takes the satisfaction of being the fastest among the drivers with a naturally aspirated engine car. But that's a bit little for the tricolor patrol, which for too long has been sowing much and reaping nothing. On Sunday, July 5, 1987, at the start of the French Grand Prix, Nigel Mansell holds the first position while Nelson Piquet, after a few hundred meters, overtakes Alain Prost. And meanwhile, Ferrari's ordeal begins. Michele Alboreto sprints ahead of the signal and the judges give him a one-minute penalty. But the Italian driver bears no responsibility. He will explain little already late: 


"Don't have any intention of stealing a few meters. It happened that already on the reconnaissance lap the clutch was slipping. So when I inserted first gear the car shot forward. I did not brake to avoid shutting down the engine and causing an accident".


The group of drivers set off at a very high pace. The two Williams lead the race, followed by Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna inexorably detached, the two Benettons of Thierry Boutsen and Teo Fabi, Riccardo Patrese and Andrea De Cesaris started very well, and Michele Alboreto in eighth. Out of the fray immediately was Gerhard Berger, who was on the third row.


"I made a mistake and raised my arm to avoid being run over. So I went through the first laps in 18th position".


Gerhard Berger begins a fine chase, quickly moving up to ninth place behind a Michele Alboreto in obvious trouble, again with the clutch and also helped by the retirements of Andrea De Cesaris and Riccardo Patrese. 


Nelson Piquet attacked Nigel Mansell with thrilling overtaking attempts, but the Englishman resisted. On lap 10, the Brazilian is the author of a spin in the corner after the pit straight, and Alain Prost, who is following closely behind him, moves into second place. The mistaken maneuver forces Nelson Piquet to enter the pits first to change the tires that have deteriorated. Then everyone, one at a time, performs li pit stop to change tires. The positions remain unchanged until lap 34, when Alain Prost returns to the pits and Nelson Piquet moves into second, and later first when Nigel Mansell pits. The Englishman, having returned to the track, re-establishes the distances in a few kilometers. The Williams driver overtakes the McLaren Frenchman, slowed by electrical woes that affect the performance of the Porsche engine. Piquet remains in command until lap 45, until Mansell attacks him without regard, passing him on the inside. From this moment the positions will not change. with Alain Prost detached and Ayrton Senna lapped because of the lesser pace. The Ferraris are in fifth (Berger) and sixth (Alboreto, penalized, however, by one minute) positions. The Italian driver retires on lap 64 because of engine failure, probably worn out by clutchless gear changes. Gerhard Berger's car holds out until lap 70. But the Austrian also has his troubles: the engine does not work properly. Berger pits, losing several minutes, and re-enters the track in ninth position. But he, too, is destined not to make it to the finish line. 


"Already in the first part of the race I noticed that something was wrong with the rear suspension".


A suspension connecting rod broke and the Ferrari ended up dangerously spun. This opens the way for Teo Fabi to finish fifth, while the very regular Philippe Streiff takes sixth place, first among the drivers with a naturally aspirated car. The Tyrrell cars are not going strong, but they make it to the back. Too bad for Ivan Capelli, who had run a stupendous race and was on the verge of a major result. He was betrayed by the engine of his March on lap 52. Nigel Mansell won the French Grand Prix, followed by Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost. After about nine months of the Barnard cure, Ferrari hits rock bottom. As had happened at Spa, Maranello's cars failed to cross the finish line in the French Grand Prix. Retired Michele Alboreto with an engine failure, out of action Gerhard Berger with a suspension. Thus to the chronic lack of competitiveness is also added the total loss of reliability, the only weapon to which the men of the Maranello team still appealed. A real hard blow. What else to say about it? Nigel Mansell got his second win of the season (after Imola) at the end of a race all conducted on the attack, as is his style. The British driver is making it clear that if the car does not betray him, he can go strong anywhere. This was well understood by his teammate, Nelson Piquet, who was still relegated to second position (his fourth in 1987, his third consecutive), and Alain Prost, who had to settle for third place. For the World Championship, the standings are now tighter. Ayrton Senna remains at the top, but only one point separates him from Alain Prost, while Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell have moved up, so that the top four are separated by only six points. It must be said, however, that in light of the results of the French Grand Prix the championship speaks in favor of the Williams drivers. What future for Ferrari? Unanswered question. Undoubtedly something must be done about the cars. But no one knows what the plans are. Says the sporting director of the Maranello team, Marco Piccinini: 


"There will be a summit between the technicians and Enzo Ferrari. It is clear that we have some work set up. But we cannot reveal it in detail". 


A fair of platitudes and recognition of manifest inferiority, all presented with an incomprehensible sense of humor: 


"We certainly didn't have the best cars on the track. With the Williams there was nothing to be done and now there is also the lack of reliability. A situation emerges that puzzles me. I'm sorry I can't give better news".


Perhaps no one realized that the Ferraris were not competitive, but with these explanations now everything becomes clearer. Perhaps Ferrari in the coming races will try to win on the dialectical and political level, perhaps trying to convince Jean-Marie Balestre, the FISA president, to change the regulations. Jackie Stewart can also rest easy for one more week, as Alain Prost failed to win his 28th Formula 1 victory. On the other hand, those who increased their haul is Nigel Mansell, who came in at nine. The Englishman's stock is going up from race to race. He is the man of the moment. even if he is in fourth place in the rainbow standings, behind Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet. A success, Mansell's, accrued in a race dominated by the Williams, from the first to the last lap. The British driver won, yet at the end of the race he was furious. After spraying champagne alone on the podium (Nelson Piquet's and Alain Prost's bottles split as they fell to the ground), Nigel Mansell goes to the small room used for TV interviews. But they leave him waiting for about 15 minutes because Alain Prost is in front of the cameras. So, the British driver leaves, and the police then had to catch him in not-so-gentle ways to get him back on his feet. Having passed the anger, Nigel Mansell, a little tired, but undoubtedly happy, does not hesitate to say:


"Did you see that I am capable of winning on all tracks if the car doesn't betray me? It was all in all an easy race, although I also had a few little problems in the last laps, among other things, the gearshift was coming out and third and fourth gears were not going in properly. Other than that everything went smoothly. I had decided not to force it. When Piquet changed Ie tires, I did some math and realized that he would not be able to catch me. I also hit a car, maybe Johansson's, bending the front wing, but I adapted to driving a little different, with understeer. I pulled hard just to catch Nelson Piquet after the tire change. They say I took too many risks to pass my teammate. But races are only won if you overtake your opponents".


A definitive revival in the World Championship? 


"It's too early to tell, however, given the way the hole things are, I'd say I'll have to contend with Nelson and Prost. Senna doesn't seem like much of a danger to me, at least as long as his Lotus is running like this".


Less radiant Nelson Piquet, who does not like the role of the eternal second at all: 


"It was not a very hard race, but I am not satisfied. At the beginning Mansell must have had some problems. I tried to overtake him, but he made life very difficult for me and Prost caught up. Then I made a mistake in braking while checking the car's instruments and spun, partly because the rear brakes were locking the wheels. Nigel passed me after he in turn changed tires. He did it like crazy, if I held on like he did, no Williams would get to the finish line".


Among the day's losers are also and especially Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. The Frenchman's third place and the Brazilian's fourth have a definite meaning, although The response of the race is much more serious for The Lotus driver. After all, the World Champion only missed a good chance, but his car, while complaining of reliability problems, was at least competitive in terms of performance. Alain Prost however is quite disgruntled and disappointed. 


"I wanted and could have won. So finishing on the podium behind Mansell and Piquet is not good for me. At the beginning of the race I had no problem keeping up with the Williams' pace. I had decided to have a tactical race, to attack in the final part, trying to save engine and tires to the maximum. But immediately after the stop at the bars to change tires, the engine began to hiccup, making it difficult for me to drive as well. I quickly realized that there was nothing to be done, so I tried to bring home the maximum possible result. Too bad, because the car in terms of performance had nothing to envy Mansell and Piquet. Their only superiority lies in the fact that when you try to overtake them, thanks to extraordinary power, they give more pressure to the engine and do not let themselves be caught, wearing out their rivals". 


Does this mean that there will still be a chance to fight for the title? 


"Of course. We would miss that. Of course it bothers me that we lost reliability. My teammate Johansson was also stopped by an electronic problem. The only positive note comes from the fact that I realized that the Williams absolutely do not go as fast as the McLarens. That is why I will try to make up for it as early as next Sunday at Silverstone".


Black in face but basically serene, aware that he had done his best, Ayrton Senna admits the superiority of Williams with the same Honda engine.


"When everything was going well I was taking a second a lap. I can't think of fighting for the World Championship, winning only in Monte-Carlo and Detroit. The World Championship is made up of 16 races. In reality, my car is still inferior. I hope Ducarouge will prepare something new for Silverstone, some modifications that will allow me to get closer to the Williams, which in this race was clearly superior to Lotus".


©​ 2024 Osservatore Sportivo


Contact us


Create Website with | Free and Easy Website Builder