#445 1987 Hungarian Grand Prix

2023-01-12 23:00

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#1987, Fulvio Conti, Translated by Flavia Delfini,

#445 1987 Hungarian Grand Prix

First in Monte-Carlo, winner in Detroit. Ayrton Senna dominated the first part of the Formula One World Championship on slow tracks. That is why the B


First in Monte-Carlo, winner in Detroit. Ayrton Senna dominated the first part of the Formula One World Championship on slow tracks. That is why the Brazilian is considered the great favourite for the Hungarian Grand Prix, which will open hostilities in the second part of the season on Sunday 9 August 1987. The Budapest circuit, in fact, despite having a classic and permanent track, is comparable in configuration and average speed to city circuits. This is why Lotus, struggling on tracks such as Silverstone and Hockenheim, should allow its front man an attacking race, the chance to counter Williams and McLaren. However, the race represents a very important appointment for Senna, which goes beyond the contingent result. A success would allow him not only to put himself back in contention for the World Championship, but also and above all to assess in the best possible way his position within the team to which he belongs. It is no mystery in fact that the Brazilian driver is dissatisfied with his relationship with Lotus, disappointed in his expectations. Forced, in spite of himself, to develop the now famous active suspension, short of means (compared to teams with the financial and technical availability of Williams and McLaren), Ayrton Senna is negotiating his sensational move to Alain Prost's team, to which he could bring the Honda engine to form an invincible team, even if becoming the Frenchman's team-mate will certainly not be an easy task and confrontation. Lotus, in order not to lose its star driver, has already run for cover. Gerard Ducarouge, after having threatened to resign before Detroit, has created a partially new car, modified above all in its aerodynamics, narrower and lower, which should make its debut in Budapest. If the move proves to be successful, Ayrton Senna may well reconsider and agree not to change teams, even if real counter-evidence of the Lotus' speed improvements can only be had on the very fast Zeltweg circuit. Ayrton Senna, however, will not have an easy life in Hungary either, as Williams and McLaren themselves intend, for different reasons, to leave no room for their rivals in the Budapest test. 


Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell will have to give another demonstration of superiority after their fortunate success at Hockenheim, while Alain Prost has at this point the absolute necessity of recovering points in the World Championship standings in order not to be cut out of the fight for the title, since by now his gap in the standings has risen to thirteen lengths from the leader of the standings, Nelson Piquet. Lotus, Williams and McLaren still expected protagonists then, with few possibilities for the outsiders. Among these there is, as usual, at least in theory, still Ferrari, which for three consecutive races has failed to bring a single car to the finish line. In Germany especially Michele Alboreto had given the impression of being able to close the gap, but the failure of the turbo had forced him into another retirement.At Fiorano they worked, tried to find good solutions to eliminate the drawbacks. For the Maranello stable, too, the next engagement takes on the character of an exam. So far it has only failed and it is hard to believe in a miracle. The world is changing: the Hungaroring, the new circuit built on the outskirts of the Magyar capital, recently hosted an exhibition of Rolls Royces and Bentleys, symbols of unbridled capitalism. Hungary resumes exporting footballers, adjusting to market prices. Lejos De tari, midfielder of Honved, went to play in the German league. Two events that caused quite an uproar beyond the Berlin Wall. At the same time, interest is growing in Formula 1, which arrived in Hungary last year. If in 1986 the arrival of the Circus of motors was mainly greeted with curiosity, now the second edition of the Hungarian Grand Prix finds more fertile ground. Budapest is plastered with posters, the names of drivers and cars are on everyone's lips. It is a sign of a fast maturation, of the fact that people, through newspapers and television, have mastered the subject and follow the races with passion. An example? Michele Alboreto on his arrival in Budapest is overwhelmed with requests for autographs. Fans recognise him on the street, in the hotel, at the circuit. Says the Italian driver:


"It is a pleasant feeling, it makes us realise that the popularity of our sport is expanding, conquering new territories. And it also helps to overcome difficult moments like the one Ferrari is going through. We hope to reciprocate this new affection with a good result".


Michele Alboreto's speech introduces what is always the most discussed topic, namely the crisis of the Maranello team. What can the Maranello cars do on Sunday? Will the day of redemption finally arrive? No one expects a victory, no one expects to end the record of 31 races without success, but one hopes at least for a placing. 


And one hopes that Michele Alboreto and Gerhard Berger will make it to the finish line after three consecutive races ended prematurely. Says the Italian driver:


"I do not wish to cause illusions and consequent disappointments. But our cars have improved considerably since the days of Hockenheim. Nothing revolutionary, but at least we have found a good set-up and aerodynamic configuration. Now it's a question of searching for reliability. We've done a lot of work, maybe we're there. Our level should be that of Lotus. We probably can't compete with Williams and McLaren, but it's already a step forward".


Ferrari comes to the Hungarian Grand Prix with some novelties. A different rear wing, adapted to the demands of this very slow circuit, a change in the supercharger system that had caused the recent problems with the turbines. The front suspension has also been reinforced. John Barnard remains at home designing for the future. Within a short time his own car should be ready: they could be on track for experimental tests before the end of the season. Perhaps the English technician will make his return to racing at Zeltweg. Not all ills - as they say - come to harm. Lotus is taken as a benchmark by Michele Alboreto at a time when the British team is doing everything to return to the top. Gerhard Ducarouge has prepared a thoroughly revamped car for Ayrton Senna and the Brazilian is considered by many to be the favourite for this race. Says Michele Alboreto:


"But, despite everything, I don't think Senna can win the World Championship. Based on what we have seen so far, the title is a matter in the Williams family. For me Piquet and Mansell have an equal chance, fifty-fifty. Prost could still fit in, but McLaren will have to make an extra effort to improve".


Michele Alboreto's cautious optimism, as far as Ferrari is concerned, is not reflected in the Formula 1 environment. Everyone believes in the commitment of the Maranello team, the majority is convinced that John Barnard has the ability to solve problems from a distance. However, the current cars, such as they are, are not held in high regard. Mansell, for example, states:


"It is difficult to make a quantum leap without changing everything. As far as I am concerned, even for victories in every single Grand Prix, the men to beat remain my team-mate Piquet and in second order Prost and Senna. These last two are the only ones who will be able to trouble us".


On the one hand a cautious optimism. On the other a deep-rooted conviction that by now it is too late for Ferrari to catch up. We will see who will be right. Meanwhile on Thursday, 6 August 1987 Nelson Piquet, two-time Formula One World Champion, signs a contract for the 1988 season with Lotus in the course of the evening. This was announced in London by the British team, specifying that the contract signing took place at the headquarters of RJ. Reynolds international, sponsor of the team. There is talk of a $3.000.000 contract.


"I am looking forward to racing with Lotus. I am convinced that I will have an extremely competitive car".


Nelson Piquet will replace Ayrton Senna as Lotus' number one driver. Senna, who drove for the British team for three consecutive seasons during which he won six races, will move to McLaren. And some are betting that Alain Prost will quickly destroy the myth of Ayrton Senna, considered by many to be the fastest driver in Formula One. Meanwhile, news arrives that another German team, headed by manager Brunn, a specialist in Endurance racing, will launch itself into the Grand Prix world in 1988. The driver should be Oscar Larrauri, an Argentinean living in Italy, although Keke Rosberg is pushing for one of his pupils, the German Volker Weidler.


"I have not been fired. And it's not true that I left because of money. The decision to leave Williams was mine. A considered choice, caused by many factors. Lotus offered me a contract as first driver: in the current team I was no longer comfortable, in fact I never felt at ease. It was their fault that I lost the World Championship last year".


Nelson Piquet responds to the controversy, to the criticism provoked by his move from Williams to Lotus. He does so by attacking, even with harsh words. Seven years at Brabham, two seasons at Williams. And now a single championship contract with Lotus. Is this a sign of decline? Something must have really happened to force Nelson Piquet to change course.


"I certainly didn't suffer to act in this way. I had an agreement to be treated in a certain way. Unfortunately I had not defined it well in the clauses and Williams deceived me, favouring Mansell. I'm not the type who only wants to look for winning cars. I've proved it in the past, sacrificing entire seasons to the development of cars, tyres, accepting the good times as well as the bad. And besides, when I had decided to leave Brabham I could have gone to McLaren, but I wasn't given the necessary guarantees".


Continues the Brazilian:


"If the pacts had been respected I would have stayed until the end of my career. Instead I found myself in competition within the team as early as 1986. Now with Lotus I have made things clear: I will work for them, and I will receive maximum support in return. I am convinced that we will do good things together".


This is the future, but what about the present, the fight for the world title? Isn't there a risk of losing a World Championship that has gone very well?


"If Williams had not acted recklessly, I could be much further ahead. Of course, now I have to work hard, trying not to miss a single shot. But I don't think that having already announced a move to Lotus in 1988 is a big obstacle. There are people like Prost and Senna pressing on. And Williams, strictly speaking, cannot afford to make mistakes that it could pay dearly for. The danger could possibly come in the last races, if Mansell finds himself in a favourable position with the drivers of the other teams cut out of the fight. But I don't want to think about that".


Frank Williams claims that the divorce with Nelson Piquet was no surprise.


"The cars matter more than the driver. And there is no problem finding a replacement. There are many drivers who would do anything to come with us and there are also Italians on the list".


The names are numerous. There is always talk of Thierry Boutsen, but he would have to pay a penalty to Benetton, there are whispers of contacts with Keke Rosberg. Eddie Cheever and Stefan Johansson. As for the Italians, the interest is in Alessandro Nannini, Riccardo Patrese and Ivan Capelli. The latter is very much liked by the English manufacturer. Another question remains to be answered. What will Honda do now? If it is true that Ayrton Senna will move to McLaren bringing Japanese engines, if it is true that Lotus will not be abandoned, also because Satoru Nakajima has been confirmed, Williams may have to look for another supplier. But it is also not excluded that the Japanese company is planning a further expansion of its horizons. So Nigel Mansell's shares go up, pushed up also by the sensational news from the drivers' market. And Ferrari shares are rising on the Formula 1 stock exchange. 


For the first time this season, the Maranello team truly appears among the best, at least as far as Michele Alboreto is concerned. If on Friday, 7 August 1987, the Englishman of Williams set the best time in the first qualifying session of the Hungarian Grand Prix, obtaining a stratospheric circuit record, the Italian driver brilliantly installed himself in third place, behind Alain Prost. A confirmation of the improvements that have emerged from the Maranello cars in recent times. Friday was a strange day, characterised by bad weather. Cold, black clouds and fine autumn-type rain. But the track is barely veiled in water and Ferrari immediately opts for a somewhat risky solution: slick tyres. And you can see that the decision is the right one. Michele Alboreto and Gerhard Berger, even if only for a few minutes, lead the provisional ranking, even ten seconds a lap ahead of Williams and McLaren. The other teams, however, when they realise that the wet tyres can be removed, immediately retaliate.And as the asphalt gradually dried out, Alain Prost took the lead for a few minutes. Then Nigel Mansell silences everyone with a perfect lap that shatters the track record: 1'28"047, at an average of 164.121 km/h. The previous limit, from last year, was Ayrton Senna's 1'29"450. Says Nigel Mansell, who took two seconds off Alain Prost:


"It was good for me, because I didn't find anyone in my way. Here the problem is the traffic. In the morning I had some problems but we managed to solve them by better adjusting the supercharger system".


In an attempt to catch the unbridled Williams driver, the direct rivals ran into a few mishaps. Alain Prost and Michele Alboreto are the protagonists of spectacular spins, fortunately without consequences. The Frenchman had forgotten to adjust the braking distributor between the wet and dry track, while the Italian skidded on a damp patch at 200 km/h in fifth gear. Michele Alboreto explains:


"The car started suddenly and there was nothing I could do to straighten it out. I ended up on a dirt track and hit a lot of pebbles. Then the front left brake failed and a pipe came loose, and the engine took a very long time to respond. We still have to make small set-up adjustments, but my single-seater is basically fine. I could have done better: Mansell is perhaps unreachable, but we are able to get close to him".


Gerhard Berger, on the other hand, only set the sixth fastest time. But the Austrian was in a bad way on Thursday due to a congestion and therefore runs the tests without any strength. However, it seems that the Maranello team now has special, more powerful qualifying engines. And this would be another explanation for the progress made. In any case, the set-up of the cars appears to be better. This coincides, among other things, with the absence of John Barnard and the return to the track of Harvey Postlethwaite, responsible for the chassis and wind tunnel studies. Like Gerhard Berger, Nelson Piquet is also unwell. The Brazilian, fifth behind a loaded Thierry Boutsen, is struggling with a fierce stomach ache. There is serious technical trouble, on the other hand, for Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian scores only the eighth best time. The modified Lotus, six centimetres lower and narrower, reveals remarkable sprinting qualities, reaching 303 km/h at the end of the short pit straight. But the car lacks aerodynamic pressure and traction becomes precarious coming out of the corners, of which there are many. Ayrton Senna will probably make up for it on Saturday, hoping to be favoured then on the very fast Zeltweg track in a week's time. On the other fronts, business as usual. The Brabhams of Riccardo Patrese and Andrea De Cesaris continue to be mid-table. Teo Fabi does not impress like Thierry Boutsen, but he also broke two turbines in the morning. On the very slow Hungarian circuit, cars with naturally aspirated engines are able to show themselves with less heavy gaps than usual. Should it rain on Sunday, there could be some surprises. After the conclusion of the first day of testing, the second one opens.And for the first time this season it is not just the four musketeers, namely Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, who share the odds in a Formula One race. The Hungarian Grand Prix offers exciting news: Ferrari is also in contention for victory. Is it the east wind? Perhaps. Next to the Williams of Nigel Mansell, seventh pole position just to celebrate his 33rd birthday, there is a Maranello car, that of Gerhard Berger. 


A result propitiated by a bit of luck, perhaps, but there is no doubt that Ferrari have made further important progress. It hasn't happened since 3 August 1985 that a driver from the Maranello team won the front row (Johansson, in Germany). Although Ferrari seems to be finally on the right track, it is better not to be under too many illusions because the race will be full of pitfalls. However, that goes for everyone. And in any case, Budapest will be a race full of suspense. For many reasons. The fight for the world title, the family duel between Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, the attempts to recover by Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna and the inclusion of Ferrari, which also has Michele Alboreto in fifth position at the start. This was part of a particularly selective, narrow, twisty, slippery, tiring and slow track, where even the easiest overtaking could be a risk. The drivers' technical choices, brakes, tyres, race tactics, everything can determine a result, even a surprise. It is obvious that the Williams hold the favour of prediction. Because Nigel Mansell is on top and because of what has happened so far: the British team has been the most competitive so far. But for the first time - as was said - the panorama widens and the range of drivers who can impose themselves is now wider. The return of good weather, with sunshine and warm temperatures, after the rain of the previous days, makes the asphalt of the Hungarian circuit particularly slippery and numerous spins bring dirt on the track, turning the last decisive hour of qualifying into a sort of lottery. Gerhard Berger, ten minutes from the end, sets the best time of the day with an excellent 1'28"589. But only eleven drivers manage to be faster than Friday. And among them the Austrian of Ferrari is precisely the best. Gerhard Berger proves to be brave and skilful, a driver who finds the right lap time and manages to get the most out of the car. The front row is also thanks to him. Otherwise there would be no explanation for the time of 1'30"310 set by Michele Alboreto, who had an identical single-seater with exactly the same set-up. Moreover, not even Alain Prost, whose McLaren showed traction and grip problems, was able to improve, dropping to fourth place. Both Nelson Piquet (third place) and Ayrton Senna, who set the sixth best time, climb the classification. But on Friday the two Brazilians were so far behind that managing to catch up was not too difficult. The biggest problem concerned the trajectories. Says Nigel Mansell, overjoyed in front of a huge chocolate cake, laden with trophies and next to the seventh Vespa he has won after taking pole position, the eleventh of his career:


"You have to race as if you were on tracks. There are ideal trajectories, if you go off those the danger of ending up off the track is considerable. And when you overtake you lose several precious seconds, also because you get the tyres dirty and then you slide like in the wet. It will be necessary to be very careful. As far as tyres are concerned, we don't expect any changes, but a decision can only be made during the race".


A decisive role could also be played by the aspirated-engine cars, which are less powerful and less fast, but more manoeuvrable and lighter, especially in the final stages. Philippe Streiff in the Tyrrell set the 14th fastest time, ahead of many turbocharged single-seaters. This will also have to be taken into account in overtaking. While for fuel consumption there should be absolutely no problems for everyone. The Hungarian Grand Prix will be run over a distance of 76 laps, equivalent to 301.050 kilometres, but - as was the case last year - it will probably go up to the two-hour maximum limit set by the regulations. The drivers will therefore also be severely physically demanding: pure fatigue, as in the past. The circuit involves 20 bends, you have to change all the time and use the brakes to the limit. The failure of these and other mechanical organs is lurking. Ferrari has lacked reliability on many occasions this year. If it too is back, along with competitiveness, we can also dream that the long fast of 31 races without victories will be broken. But if Gerhard Berger or Michele Alboreto at least finished on the podium it would already be a good result, a further injection of confidence for the rest of this troubled and so far bitter season. Sunday, 9 August 1987, at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix Nigel Mansell does not get off to a good start but Gerhard Berger, who was beside him, helps him to keep the first position. The Austrian gets off to a bad start before the green light: the #28 Ferrari advances a metre, then stops. Gerhard Berger, excited and with a difficult clutch, realises that he would have run into a penalty (which, moreover, would have been imposed on him) and tries to make up for it by braking. 


Blocked for a few moments, the Austrian driver hinders those following him, forcing Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna to perform real stunts. Michele Alboreto, on the other side, widens his trajectory well to the right and tucks in behind Nigel Mansell. Then the Italian is forced to slow down at the first corner to give space to his teammate who quickly catches up with him. Michele climbs to third place, gaining two positions. It is the Ferrari's big moment. In the very first laps Gerhard Berger gives the impression he can attack Nigel Mansell, while Michele Alboreto manages to contain Nelson Piquet, with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost forced to chase. On a couple of occasions Gerhard Berger gets in Nigel Mansell's slipstream, but is unable to pass. Subsequently the Austrian loses contact, then pulls to the side of the track and gets out of the car. A transmission failure, a broken joint. It is lap 13. Michele Alboreto moves into second place, about 4 seconds behind Nigel Mansell, who increases his pace. The Italian driver is attacked by Nelson Piquet. In a first lapping Michele has to brake sharply and flattens a front tyre. This annoyed him and forced him to take a wide turn into the first corner after the pit straight. The Brazilian did not let the opportunity slip and passed on the outside, then closed the turn, forcing the Italian to block the Ferrari so as not to cause an accident. With the two Williams running away (Mansell first with about ten seconds on Piquet), Michele Alboreto, still unlucky in overtaking some lapped drivers, loses ground. Ayrton Senna approaches, engaged in a tight duel with Thierry Boutsen. The Ferrari gives the impression that it can still recover, but on lap 43 the driver is blocked by engine failure. With Alboreto out of the picture, victory became an internal matter for the Williams team. To the sound of lap records Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet fight a little at a distance, taking slight advantages now one now the other. But it was clear that the Brazilian could hardly catch his opponent. Then, on lap 70 Nigel Mansell lost a wheel nut and Nelson Piquet won the Hungarian Grand Prix, followed by Ayrton Senna, who was struggling with wheel vibrations from the start. His position could have gone to Thierry Boutsen's Benetton, but the Belgian had to abandon his pursuit with a broken turbine and settle for fourth place. Third was Alain Prost, whose McLaren always ran crackling due to an electronic problem. A beautiful race by Riccardo Patrese, rewarded by a fifth place that gives more credit to the driver than to Brabham. 


With the pressure of the turbo down, the Italian driver drove with his usual skill and aggressiveness: who knows whether the performance might not be worth him a good engagement in the future, maybe at Williams that is looking for an expert and valid driver to flank Nigel Mansell. Derek Warwick finished sixth. No Ferrari, once again, finished the race. Gerhard Berger retired due to a transmission failure. Michele Albereto for engine failure. Despite this disappointing result, Ferrari showed progress. Berger and Alboreto fought for most of the race between the leading positions, challenging the supremacy of the overpowering Williams and leaving the Lotus and McLaren behind. The Austrian, who had started on the front row with Nigel Mansell, held second place for 13 laps, attacking the Englishman several times, who in turn was forced to retire at the end. And Alboreto, after duelling with Piquet, left the Grand Prix while in third place. The Ferraris, as the tests in the days leading up to the Grand Prix had made it clear, were much improved compared to the last races. The cars have regained competitiveness: they are faster, have better road-holding and more powerful engines. They are still lacking in reliability, but the fans of the Maranello team are hopeful that the upturn has begun. It has been more than a year since Ferrari has been at the top of a Grand Prix. A miracle due not so much to the measures of the new designer John Barnard, who is absent, as to the continued commitment of the drivers, technicians and mechanics. In a week's time another Grand Prix, in Zeltweg, Austria. A very fast track, the occasion for the Scuderia Ferrari for a long-awaited revenge. The race was less spectacular than last year, but there was no lack of twists and turns and strong emotions. The first surprise came from the Ferrati, who returned to the East as a protagonist if not in terms of reliability at least in terms of competitiveness; the second came six laps from the end, when Nigel Mansell, who had dominated the Hungarian Grand Prix from the start, suddenly had to abandon. The Englishman's Williams swayed in the middle of the track and someone thought it was a petrol problem. In reality, in the TV footage, when viewed in slow motion, it is clearly visible that something came off the right rear wheel: it was the nut that had unscrewed. Thus Nigel Mansell lost a race he had practically won. And his team-mate, Nelson Piquet, at that moment second, thanked him and went on to win, increasing his lead in the World Championship standings. 


Nelson Piquet, with seven more races to go, now has 48 points, and enjoys a 7-point lead over Ayrton Senna, who was in turn given second place, and 18 points over Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost. One might say that the games are done, but it is not so. The Brazilian has only two victories under his belt, against the Englishman's three, and he has just evened the score with Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. And now the placings will count for little, as drivers will soon be forced to discard points (eleven points out of sixteen can be accumulated). Joy, then, for Nelson Piquet, bitterness for Nigel Mansell. The two great rivals finished the race in very different ways. The Brazilian smiling, almost rested, the Englishman distraught, his eyes damp.


"When I saw Nigel standing still, I almost couldn't believe it. I laughed like crazy under my helmet. What a stroke of luck, to say the least. Quite a gift. It's a speech I've already made on other occasions. How many times has the same thing happened to me. Anyway, I'm very happy. I tried to get close to Mansell but I couldn't, also because I was always losing contact in the lapped game. The World Championship? There are still seven races to go, the championship is still too long. In the end I only have a seven point lead over Senna. Mansell is much further away, but honestly anything can still happen".


Piquet admitted that he was surprised by the Ferraris:


"I had problems overtaking Alboreto. It seemed to me that he got a gear wrong. However, this track does not count to give a definitive judgement. Let's wait for Zeltweg, then we will talk about it".


After the race the Brazilian of the Williams goes to celebrate the victory in the Honda motorhome. Japanese toast with champagne. Then Peter Warr, sports director of Lotus (Piquet's team for next year) arrives and hugs and kisses follow. Not far away Nigel Mansell leans disconsolately against a net.


"It's unimaginable, impossible to lose like this. The nut on the right rear wheel has unscrewed. In practice we put a safety clip on it. But in the race it's different, because too much time would be lost with tyre changes".


And the World Championship?


"Maybe I can bid it farewell. Eighteen points behind my team mate and rival is an abyss. I don't have much left to hope for. Yet I made no mistakes, everything was perfect. I was always the fastest, I proved I was the best. But what's the use? I almost feel like crying".


For Nigel Mansell it is the second consecutive retirement while leading a race. And by coincidence it was on both occasions Nelson Piquet who took advantage. Will it become a nightmare?


"I hope not. I had said beforehand that I would live for the day. Now is the time to grit my teeth, to try to make up for lost points".


The Piquet-Mansell rivalry does not seem to faze Frank Williams, however.


"The World Championship is not over yet, we must not forget Prost and Senna. And then there's Ferrari. For me it has not been a revelation. It's in clear recovery and they have John Barnard, who is good".


Someone did not take it seriously at the beginning of the season when Nelson Piquet said that Williams would dominate the World Championship and that he would win the world title. There is no longer any doubt about the first statement, it was right: the British team won five out of nine races, scored two one-two wins and failed to score points in only one race, the Belgian Grand Prix. In the Constructors' World Championship standings Williams is on 78 points, compared to 49 points for McLaren, 47 for Lotus and 17 for Ferrari. As for the fight for the individual title, the situation is clearly in favour of the Brazilian driver who, let's remember, has run one race less than all his rivals (due to the accident in practice at Imola) and apart from the retirement due to a failure at Spa, has never finished lower than second place and has achieved two successes.


"The championship is still long and anything can happen. Senna is only seven points behind. Last year Mansell and I were mocked in the last race by Prost. It is clear that if the team supports me as it should, I will be able to defend myself better".


So the only question remains: will Williams bet on Nelson Piquet, who has already signed a contract with Lotus for 1988? The Brazilian enjoys Honda's favour and that is a point in his favour. But Frank Williams and Patrick Head, manager and designer of the British team, hold the keys to this World Championship in their hands. It will be an intense fight, also because it is not yet known exactly what the Japanese company will decide for next season. Hence, a no-holds-barred fight is looming within the team: on one side Nelson Piquet and Honda, on the other side the British who logically lean towards Nigel Mansell. Ayrton Senna took his seventh finish of the season, his sixth in a row. For the Brazilian it was all a gift, a help of fortune:


"I had terrible vibrations at the wheels, maybe because the tyres were not perfect. Finishing second like this is a nice advantage, as when everything goes right there will be nothing to do but grab a win. We should do much better in Austria: the new aerodynamics of our car could give us some advantages".


For Senna the World Championship is still open. To finish on the podium and not be very happy is a strange thing. But Alain Prost is not at all satisfied with his third place:


"It was the most difficult, stressful and nervous race of my career. Already in practice I had a lot of problems, the car had never gone well. At the start I immediately realised that there was something wrong with the electronics, the engine was scraping frighteningly, and I even feared that I would have to stop before the end. To get to the end, in these conditions, was a pain. Still, I picked up four points but this is not how I wanted to end the weekend. Piquet is now far behind in the World Championship standings".


The scene has been repeating itself for four races. While the other teams, the ones that count at least, were attentively following the race in its final stages, Ferrari was already packing its bags. But the atmosphere in the Maranello garage is now different from that of previous races. There is disappointment and bitterness, but also hope. Before leaving quickly, Marco Piccinini takes stock of the situation.


"With a full tank of petrol our cars were very competitive. Only Williams is still superior in terms of performance. Apparently we have solved the car's set-up problems. Now it's a matter of solving the reliability ones. It's obvious that when you're faced with a difficult situation, you go step by step. But we are on the right track".


Gerhard Berger. with two sick circles under his eyes, leaves Hungary on his way home to cure the ailment that has plagued him. 


In the morning the Austrian had been treated with a Chinese massage by Andrea Dungl, the 27-year-old daughter of Willy Dungl, Niki Lauda's physiotherapist. And just before the start he had also taken oxygen because he was not feeling well and was very worried that he would not be able to finish the race.


"However, when I got into the car I didn't think about it any more. The car was a winner. Mansell braked me, I could also have gone faster. But every time I approached the Williams. splashes of oil covered my visor and I was forced to give way. At the start I had a small problem with the clutch. I know they penalised me by a minute, but at this point it's useful to have these discussions. The fact is that it didn't go well for us. Now we go to Zeltweg and I hope to finally please my fans".


Michele Alboreto also came to the ritual interviews dark in the face, but not angry.


"At a certain point I believed in it, I believed in a good placing, I hoped to be on the podium at least. I was trying to keep up, because I knew anything could happen in the end. But I saw the end of the race on television...".


In practice you almost never have problems, how come you break so much in the race?


"The stresses are very different. The same happens to other teams. It's true that it shouldn't happen, but we will also solve these problems. I haven't lost confidence, in fact I am now convinced that we will soon get good results, even if every race is a leap in the dark, as you always change everything, given the characteristics of the circuit".


This time you had the chance to see the Williams more closely. What more do Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell's cars have than Ferrari?


"I think it's a better balance. They don't wear out the tyres and as time goes by, when the petrol tanks empty, they are more and more competitive, while we drop a little bit".


What will the continuation of the championship be like for Ferrari?


"Certainly more fun. Although at Zeltweg, as usual, you have to start from scratch. However, I am sure we will get good results by the end of the season".


What did Alboreto think when he found himself in second position behind Mansell?


"Bloody hell, there's another one ahead".


Ferrari's schedule is now not very busy. While Williams with Nelson Piquet from Tuesday 11 August 1987 will already be at Donington to test the active suspension, the men of the Maranello team will move directly to Zeltweg. No luck instead for other Italians such as Teo Fabi, who was immediately stopped by a transmission problem. Alessandro Nannini, on the other hand, covered at least ten kilometres with half a gear lever in his hand. The lever had come off and the Minardi driver finished the race in eleventh position, celebrated by all for his skill.


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