As has been said in recent days, if one were to look only at the bare figures, Michele Alboreto and Ferrari should have no chance of overtaking Alain Prost and McLaren in the fight for the F1 world title. The Frenchman has won every second race this year. It is unthinkable that in the next six races (but will they really be six, with the last round scheduled in South Africa? The Federation should make an immediate decision to avoid resounding controversy at the last moment) the winning pairing will have a resounding collapse, or Ferrari will manage to turn things around. Fortunately, however, motorsport is subject to the rule of the imponderable. One can have the best car, get the pole position, be the fastest in the race, stay in the lead until the last lap and then lose a race already won, for example, because of a puncture 300 meters from the finish line. Therefore, being now tied on points (50) Michele Alboreto can still hope to beat his direct opponent. A difficult but not impossible feat. An important role will be reserved for outsiders who can tip the scales for or against the two title contenders.Ayrton Senna in Austria, taking second place behind Alain Prost, unintentionally took two points away from Michele Alboreto. In fact, Prost complained that Lotus, Brabham and Williams, usually strong in qualifying, became much less dangerous in racing, allowing Ferrari to limit the damage on several occasions. The downside is due to the reliability of the Maranello cars. Ten races run, only two retirements due to mechanical failure and two due to accidents (Johansson alone). McLaren, on the other hand, out of twenty participations, had two off the track and one disqualification (Prost), and eight retirements (all by Lauda).
This is a fact not to be underestimated. The biggest problems for Ferrari arose in qualifying, which often forced Alboreto and Johansson into miraculous recoveries. It is in this direction that the Maranello team should work. It now seems clear that the difficulties encountered in practice are due to the car-engine complex. Since a lot of aerodynamic pressure must be used to achieve good grip, a lot of horsepower is required from the engine. Using it to the maximum risks breakage. Which does not happen in the race and especially not on slow circuits, where the extraordinary acceleration of Ferrari's six-cylinder engine gets the better of its opponents. If the Maranello team succeeds in these few available days (the races follow one another without too many interruptions) to solve this problem with some modification or innovation, Alboreto will have a better chance of fighting on equal terms with Prost. Sand dunes, steel-colored sea, the sun coming and going, alternately hot and cold. The setting for the Dutch Grand Prix is the same as always, and although the reception for the circus is little more than lukewarm, in every sense of the word (there is an air of crisis in these parts, perhaps because the best tickets are expensive), there is an air of great tension in the Formula 1 circle. On Sunday, August 25, 1985, the world title is at stake, which by then has become a private matter between Alain Prost and Michele Alboreto, between McLaren and Ferrari. Any challenge can be decisive. What's more, we are also in the final squeeze of the drivers' market, at least for the places that count. On Thursday, August 22, 1985, McLaren officially announced the Hiring of Keke Rosberg for next year. By now the news was public knowledge, better to tell the truth now, also to dispel certain suspicions that might come to nothing.
"I'm moving to McLaren after four seasons at Williams with a world title behind me. New motivation, another very competitive team. But don't think I'm willing, in the races that remain, to give gifts. If opportunities arise, I will take them without looking anyone in the face. First because I like to win, second because I am a professional and therefore tied to Williams and its interests until the last day".
The other news of the day, while waiting for the first round of timed practice to quantify the values of the cars in the field, concerns Andrea De Cesaris. The Italian driver, who had been vacated by Guy Ligier, will be on the track. In extremis the Ligier people have reconsidered and have set him up with a single-seater, with no backup car. But there is trouble ahead. The French manufacturer has sent a letter to the Italian driver. Ligier is informing the driver that, as compensation for the damage caused to the team in the spectacular Zeltweg accident, his skills are being curtailed. They will take money away from him. De Cesarls does not stand by the joke:
"I may have made a mistake, but it was certainly not for my pleasure that I flew through the air. I'm going to do this race because they asked me to, but after that I'm abandoning them".
There is an explanation for this intransigent attitude. Andrea De Cesaris, from the Italian Grand Prix will drive the Brabham, which would leave Marc Surer free. Why such a move by Bernie Ecclestone's team? It is simple: having fled Nelson Piquet to Williams, there is not much choice left among free top-drivers. Better to secure right away a driver who, all things considered and in spite of everything, has the reputation of being among the fastest. Of course, the risk is considerable on both sides (the Brabham is currently not an easy car to drive), but in Formula 1, he who stops is lost. Among many rumors, some also concern Ferrari. In the past and these days many names have been mentioned around the Maranello team, possible and impossible, from Ayrton Senna to Andrea De Cesaris himself. On Thursday, however, Piero Lardi Ferrari says:
"We are happy with our own".
And it speaks well of Stefan Johansson, still not at peak performance in practice, but excellent in the race. Inside the Maranello team there is a lot of concentration. At Fiorano, work is done during the August holiday season and some technical innovations are prepared, an interesting one already for Zandvoort, others will be tested at Monza on Wednesday, August 28 and Thursday, August 29, 1985. At Zandvoort one notices a particular wing arranged under the fairing chute in the lower part of the rear of the car. An aerodynamic solution that should, in intent, have the function of increasing the depression under the Maranello single-seaters, to have a kind of ground effect, what Toleman probably found with its triplane wing. In short, everything possible is done to put Michele Alboreto in a position to fight on equal terms with Alain Prost. This circuit is said to be favorable to Ferrari, friends if Alain Prost won last year, ahead of his teammate, Niki Lauda. The Italian driver retired due to engine problems and René Arnoux finished 13th, five laps behind, due to electrical problems. The tradition, however, is positive but needs to be confirmed. However, on Friday, August 23, 1985, Nelson Piquet's Brabham flew, author of the new circuit record, 1'11"074, at an average of 215.370 km/h, and McLaren defended itself very well with the Frenchman in third place (behind the usually wild Keke Rosberg). All the top teams, with thirteen drivers under the old limit, are more or less at the top of the rankings after the first day of practice of the Formula 1 Dutch Grand Prix. Only Ferrari is missing from the date. The Maranello team, unfortunately, is in crisis, one of the most serious in recent years. It is a real blow to ambitions to win the world title. Maybe anything can happen in the race, and the balance could be saved as has happened on other occasions, but reality indicates an abysmal gap between the Maranello team's cars and their closest rivals: Michele Alboreto, with the sixteenth time, is 2.651 seconds behind Nelson Piquet. Stefan Johansson is seventeenth. It was an almost dramatic day for the Maranello team. The cars were not fast in free practice and were even slower, proportionally, in the qualifying hour. Apart from the fact that Michele Alboreto immediately breaks an engine, it is visibly noticeable that the drivers are in trouble: road holding, grip, traction appear insufficient. The powerplant is by no means under indictment: both in the morning and in the afternoon the two Ferraris recorded the highest top speed at the finish line, 309 km/h for Johansson, 329 km/h for Alboreto. So what? Alboreto takes stock of the situation in tones that leave little hope for illusions. Immediately after speaking - one presumes - with Enzo Ferrari on the phone, the Italian driver says:
"I am ready for a second washout. This known is a small crisis, but a real disaster. I thought I would do much better at Zandvoort. This result calls into question all the talk we had been having about the adaptability of the different cars to the circuits we will have to race on in the next races. In short, at this point we are no longer talking about the title".
On what does this meltdown depend?
"McLaren has progressed, and so have the others. Not only in suspension but also in engines. Our powertrain is very good, putita speeds also, but it's not enough. The car jumps too much and it doesn't depend on the track. I don't think that with only one day to go we will be able to improve what it takes to not start with a serious handicap. Maybe we also paid for not coming to test in Holland a month ago like many other teams. But we were busy in Imola solving other problems".
Antonio Tomaini, Ferrari's on-track technical manager, gave this explanation:
"We lose a lot in the corners, that's the truth. We have four chronometric surveys that show us that. Now we're trying to put the data together to see if we can find some remedy, even partial remedy".
Ferrari's step backward makes Alain Prost even more confident. The Frenchman does not seem to be worried about being ahead of Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg for now.
"We don't have a chance to put too much pressure on the turbos in practice, but for the race I'm optimistic, with all the necessary precautions".
In fact, he has a point: Piquet with the Brabham in race trim (the Brazilian driver also breaks an engine at the end of practice) is not a big danger, Williams has not seemed very reliable lately, and Niki Lauda on this circuit is not very competitive. The various Ayrton Senna, Teo Fabi and Patrick Tambay (in order for the moment behind the top three) so far have made much smoke and little fire. In short, the scales are tipped toward McLaren. Yesterday, meanwhile, we saw how, with the increase in power, this track has become dangerous. The braking at Tarzan corner, with cars ending the straight at 340 km/h, is deadly. The lap average has risen about 8 km/h from last year, and what was considered a medium-slow circuit has become fast (and perhaps this is also the source of some of Ferrari's trouble). In the first few laps Nelson Piquet went off the track (no damage), then Derek Warwlck violently crashed into Riccardo Patrese, losing a front wheel. And on Friday the tussle will be even tighter. Aside from Ferrari's sudden failure, two topics are on the agenda on Friday, August 23, 1985. First: Ayrton Senna, author of an incredible episode and, second, the drivers' market. Andrea De Cesaris, in particular, is implicated in a strange case. But let's go in order. The Brazilian Lotus driver is the protagonist of a simultaneously stoic, courageous and foolish action that could have endangered the lives of many people if everything had not miraculously gone smoothly. As the Brazilian driver tests along the circuit, a turbine on his car breaks down. Ayrton Senna stops at the side of the track, in the Hugenholz corner, as high flames rise from the thruster. Ayrton Senna waits for a few moments for firemen or service workers to intervene to put out the fire.
When he realizes that no one is coming, Senna squeezes through an exit of the circuit and, risking among other things to run over those who try to stop him at the barriers, crossing the inner roads of the circuit, he rushes to the paddocks (behind the pits) with the fire on board. He then jumps to the ground and, this time, the fire extinguishers are put into action, before the flames can spread to a place where gasoline and incendiary materials could have triggered explosions or disastrous fires. Ayrton Senna is then summoned by the stewards, who, according to the rules, could have excluded him from the race for this incident, as stopping outside the track fences is prohibited. However, in view of the fact that help did not arrive quickly to the scene, that the driver entered the paddock to save the car, he is only fined $5.000. And on to the case involving Andrea De Cesaris. The Italian driver is in real danger of being sidelined. His move since the next race to Brabham, which was practically certain, seems to have faded. It seems that Bmw has objected to Marc Surer's replacement, reasoning that the British team's Italian sponsors (Pirelli and Olivetti) have had to put on a good face, reserving the right to intervene for next year in favor of the same driver, or possibly Andrea De Angelis and Riccardo Patrese. Either Brabham will field a third car (unlikely because it would take advance notice to sign up) or Andrea De Cesaris may be without a car this time, since he has fallen out with Guy Ligier.
It must be said, however, that the French team does not know who to get to replace him, reasoning that it is not excluded that everything remains as before. Speaking of the market-drivers. By now we are almost in science fiction: we hear a lot of them, with the wildest fantasies. From Ayrton Senna and Gérard Ducarouge at Ferrari (given the crisis in Maranello), to Nelson Piquet still free to decide (while he should be at Williams) until events that are almost unrepeatable. There is also room for jokes, with the hope that someone will take the bait: $5.000.000 offered to Lauda by Beatrice to change the decision to quit racing. It is obvious that there is someone interested in spreading certain news to create smokescreens, to provoke interest in sponsors. This is why, for example, Bernie Ecclestone would like to delay the announcement of Nelson Piquet's move to Williams as long as possible. What is certain is that Ferrari will face a major difficulty in the Dutch Grand Prix. The Maranello cars seem to be artificially burdened by negative performances. They carry with them the burden of a lack of competitiveness evidenced by nearly three seconds per lap disadvantage on the best. A gap that was not closed in the second practice session: nothing changed because of the rain. The starting grid, therefore, always sees Nelson Piquet with his Biabham in pole position, the Brazilian's 18th, the second on Pirelli tires this season, ahead of Keke Rosberg, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Teo Fabi and Patrick Tambay. Michele Alboreto is on the eighth row with the 16th time, Stefan Johansson in ninth. And you cannot ask the Italian driver for a miracle with a car that is not up to the task. On other occasions Alboreto has been forced to start from a distance for contingent reasons, due to boredom of the moment. Now there are no excuses: the 156/85 has brutally shown its limits. If a positive result will come, it will be only because of the driver's commitment, because of luck, because of an engine that is among the best, because of other people's troubles, because of that reliability that until now has been the Maranello team's most effective weapon. On Saturday, Alain Prost had time to test the two single-seaters he has at his disposal: they look as good on the wet track as they do in the dry. McLaren mechanics spent part of the day polishing the cars, while the Frenchman, extremely confident and calm, quips about Ferrari's situation:
"I feel sorry for them, I'm really worried".
Michele Alboreto, however, remained in the motorhome and then calmly, but certainly not in high spirits, analyzed the situation.
"It's one thing to be a span away from McLaren, another to be 100 meters away. Unfortunately, we have fallen behind. Here theoretically we have no hope. We have to think about the future, try to make up for it in the next races. We had made a test program. Me at Brands Hatch, Johansson at Monza. It has been changed: I will go to the Monza racetrack on Wednesday and Thursday to try all the new things we have prepared. It is our last hope. Either we recover immediately, or there is no point in continuing to talk about fighting for the title".
What will be new is the suspension. They will be changed, the front ones and the rear ones. In fact it has been established that this is Ferrari's sore point. Cars on road surfaces that are not exactly smooth jump around. The suspension, instead of cushioning the blows, cushioning them as it should, multiplies them, causing the car to pitch. Thus the Ferraris also break down aerodynamically, losing trim. Chronometric measurements were taken at a corner at Zandvoort. Where Alboreto passes in 7.4 seconds, Johansson scores 7.6 seconds and, for example, the Alfa Romeos (slower overall) pass in 6.9 seconds: 0.5 seconds less in a short stretch. At the exit of the Slotemaker Bocht (another corner) the Toleman, McLaren and Williams are on average 20 km/h faster. The suspension is under indictment, partly because it does not make the tires work properly. Starting on the eighth row is not only an objective difficulty for Michele Alboreto. Between Nelson Piquet and the Italian driver there are 91 meters of distance, which at an average speed of 200 km/h could be covered in 1.6 seconds. But Michele Alboreto, assuming the car in race trim becomes more competitive, will have to battle with Piercarlo Ghinzani, Gerhard Berger, Jacques Laffite and Derek Warwlck before he sees the tail end of Elio De Angelis' Lotus, which is in 11th position. Then there is also the danger of rain, although the forecast is not bad. If the track were to be wet, the situation would be even worse. It is difficult to make predictions. From Ayrton Senna to Nelson Piquet, from Keke Rosberg to Teo Fabi, everyone can win, but the number one candidate is Alain Prost. Niki Lauda does not have much of a chance to win.
He starts tenth, the track does not excite him, especially if the race will be held in the rain, and he does not seem to have the grit shown at Zeltweg.
"I don't consider myself beaten at the start, but it will be difficult. Prost is in great shape and has a seemingly unbridgeable lead".
Four years at Ferrari (with which he won two of his three world titles), perhaps the Austrian is the best driver to speak consciously about the Maranello team's current crisis.
"Por Ferrari there is little to do. The car doesn't run. The engine is good, it consumes less than we do, but the grip is bad. In my opinion, it's not just suspension but also aerodynamics. Not the external one that you can see, but the internal one, hidden. McLaren in this field is a masterpiece. When aerodynamics matters a lot, like at Zeltweg, we are unbeatable. Here it is less important, but we are always competitive".
How do you explain such a step backward by Ferrari?
"I can only make a guess. I think there are too many heads thinking. Teamwork is fine, but there has to be only one brain. In terms of the technical setup of the cars, of course".
Do you think the Maranello team will be able to overcome these difficulties as well?
"I believe that. But it may be too late to win this World Championship".
Latest driver-market news. It does indeed appear that Andrea De Cesaris may race at Monza with Brabham, but the announcement would not be made until next week. There are also rumors that Ecclestone's team is interested in the Ducarouge-Senna pair, who are linked by a symbiotic contract with Lotus. If the French engineer decides to leave, it could in a sense free up the South American driver as well. On Sunday, August 25, 1985, Patrick Tambay, in the warm-up, goes off the track at Tarzan, destroying the front end of his car. The reserve car has engine problems; this forces the Frenchman to start from the pit lane. At the start of the Dutch Grand Prix, Nelson Piquet and Thierry Boutsen remain stationary on the grid. The other drivers manage to avoid contact, and the race continues smoothly. At the first corner Keke Rosberg takes the lead in the race, followed by Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Teo Fabi. Behind the Italian driver comes Niki Lauda, who started from tenth position. Fabi, already on the first lap, passes Prost. Both Boutsen and Piquet manage to take the start; the Brazilian is also helped by the marshals, after being stationary for about a minute on the grid. On the second lap, Prost retakes third from Fabi. Pierluigi Martini goes off the track, at great speed, at one of the chicanes. The single-seater is destroyed, but the driver turns out unscathed. On the same lap both Alfa Romeos abandon the race, due to a turbo failure. On the fifth lap Fabi is forced to cede fourth position to Lauda, while, from the rear, Michele Alboreto rises, passing Marc Surer, placing ninth. Patrick Tambay, who started from the pits, also makes an extraordinary comeback, so much so that he is thirteenth, after ten laps. Rosberg finds himself, on lap ten, with a 2 ½ second margin over Senna, who is increasingly pressed by Prost. Lauda finds himself more detached, more than 5 seconds behind the race leader. Fifth is Fabi, battling with Mansell, Warwick and De Angelis. The two McLarens pass Senna on lap 14, and moved closer to the race leader, Rosberg. On lap 18, Elio De Angelis was forced to return to the pits, due to a puncture in his left front tire. The Italian driver returned to the track in fourteenth position. Meanwhile, Senna attacks Lauda, unsuccessfully, while Fabi notices, on a braking, that he has a problem with a rear tire, which seems to be not well fixed.
The Toleman driver has to return to the pits, to perform a check. Rosberg's race ends on lap 20, when the engine of his Williams explodes. He passes to the lead of the race Alain Prost, who finds, behind him, no longer Niki Lauda, who has returned to the pits to make the tire change, but Ayrton Senna. Behind the Lotus driver is Derek Warwick, who precedes the other Renault, that of Patrick Tambay, who has just overtaken Nigel Mansell. Michele Alboreto and Marc Surer follow. Tambay's race ended on lap 23, betrayed by a transmission failure. On the same pass, Alboreto gets the better of Mansell, putting him in fourth place. The Briton waits one more lap, to stop at the pits, and change tires. Senna waits, instead, for lap 27, to switch to soft tires. Senna returns to the track in sixth position, just ahead of Lauda. The Austrian, taking advantage of the warmer tires, passes Senna on the outside of the Tarzan. At the same time Alboreto, passing Warwick, moves up to second. On lap 27 Warwick is also forced out of the race, due to a gearbox problem. On the same lap Lauda manages to pass Surer. After 31 laps Prost is in first position, with a 24.7-second margin, over Alboreto, and by almost 29 seconds over Lauda; he is followed by Senna, who has just passed Marc Surer. Alboreto stopped in the pits, to change tires, on lap 30, and returned to the track in seventh position. On lap 31, however, the Italian driver is forced to give up his position to Nigel Mansell. Shortly afterwards Prost also returns to the pits: the long stop, 18 seconds for the tire change, costs him the first position: the Frenchman re-enters the track behind Senna, in third position. On lap 37 Marc Surer, penalized by a turbocharging problem, gives up fourth position to Elio De Angelis. Three laps later the Swiss also sees Michele Alboreto give up his position. Meanwhile, Nigel Mansell is forced to make a second stop, to change tires. De Angelis gives up, on lap 45, fourth place to Michele Alboreto. After a few laps of pressure on Senna, Prost manages to pass him on the straight, having taken his slipstream at the last corner. Also on lap 48 Nigel Mansell passes Marc Surer. With twenty laps to go Niki Lauda has a lead of more than 8 seconds over Alain Prost, 14 seconds over Ayrton Senna, nearly 39 seconds over Michele Alboreto, and 44 seconds over Elio De Angelis. At this point Alain Prost, in an attempt to retake his teammate, increases the turbo pressure on his car. The Frenchman reduces the gap to 5 seconds at the end of lap 54, and to less than 3 at the end of lap 60.
Alain Prost takes advantage of the lapping difficulties facing Niki Lauda, first over Nelson Piquet and then over Elio De Angelis. The Frenchman tries to pass Lauda, on lap 68, at the Marlboro chicane, but the Austrian proves resolute in his defense. Alboreto, on the final lap, also tries to pass Senna, even going so far as to lightly rear-end him, but without succeeding on the podium. Niki Lauda comes the Austrian Grand Prix, followed by Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Michele Alboreto is fourth, followed by Elio De Angelis and Nigel Mansell. Niki Lauda, Alain Prost and McLaren honored in the best way possible the sport of motorsports and a world, that of Formula 1, where business interests often prevail over sporting ones. Although their fratricidal struggle could have been risky and ended up benefiting Alboreto, the Austrian and the Frenchman put on a show to the last meter without team games. Niki Lauda won, beating Alain Prost across the finish line by 0.232 seconds. With this success, the Austrian driver achieved his achievement number 25 in Formula 1, bringing him within two victories of the all-time record holder, Scotsman Jackie Stewart. He now has a chance to catch up (or even surpass him) before his retirement, announced for the end of the season. With his second-place finish, Alain Prost still passed Michele Alboreto by three points in the World Drivers' Championship standings. A minimal but significant advantage, given the inferior conditions in which the Italian was forced to struggle. The result even went beyond expectations for Ferrari, after practice in the past few days had shown a crisis for the Maranello team, although in the race both Michele Alboreto and his car were on average the best after the McLaren. The race was very beautiful, full of emotions, of duels, animated, at least in the initial part, not only by McLaren but also by Williams and Lotus. On the podium, Niki Lauda and Alain Prost shake hands. For them there are only compliments and smiles. They act like two old friends, while until a few moments before, on the track, they had been battling each other, perhaps even jeopardizing the double team success. Niki Lauda and Alain Prost show no acrimony about what happened. On the contrary, theirs was an extremely sporting conduct that elicits, among other things, a salvo of applause from the sparse audience present. Niki Lauda does not speak much. But one can see in transparency his happiness. After crossing the finish line, the Austrian driver banged his fist on the car body several times as if to say:
"I did it".
This is his explanation for what happened In the race:
"Maybe I should have changed tires six or seven laps later. But I wanted to take some advantage against my rivals with an early change. That was probably the right move. Or maybe that caused my difficulties in the finale. Of course in the last laps I wasn't going for a walk, but I pulled hard. My tires were more deteriorated than Prost's and I was struggling to contain his action. However in the head-to-head of the last laps I was calm. I knew he would catch up with me, but not overtake me".
Was it hard?
"It was so hard. Having Prost behind you is a danger to everyone. He is a true champion".
How many more races do you expect to win before the end of the season?
"All of them. Goodbye".
But won't you give your teammate a helping hand?
"Only in the last race. I have a contract until the end of the season for McLaren but I haven't committed to working for the team. I only race for myself. I was also told that I helped Alboreto. That is absolutely not true, I only sought victory".
Prost is also particularly serene, as if he has freed himself from a burden:
"I wanted to start with four harder tires, but I let myself be talked into it. Maybe I made a mistake. Niki's victory, from the point of view of sportsmanship and team serenity, is important. It is better die Lauda was able to find his victory. We agreed not to do each other any favors. And in fact I didn't expect anything from him".
What do you think of Alboreto's fourth place?
"Good for me. It was important to put it behind me before the Monza race. I hope that over there, at that track, there are no excesses. the Italian fans don't want to realize that we are faster than Ferrari, so they boo me. But Michele is also in danger of being jeered. Anyone who drives a Ferrari and is not competitive certainly does not please the fans of Monza".
For the World Championship victory, do you think it's done now?
"Definitely not. Ferrari has some problems with the suspension, that has been seen. If they don't solve it they are in big trouble. We can still win at Monza, as free practice has shown. Theoretically the Maranello team could beat us only in the Australian Grand Prix, on a track nobody knows. I, by then, by November, hope to have already wrapped up the title fight and go to Adelaide on vacation".
Should the last race in South Africa not be done?
"The 16th race of the championship is scheduled in Kyalami. I consider myself a worker. If the race is organized, we will go there".
No celebration, at Ferrari, for Michele Alboreto's fourth place and some regret for II Stefan Johansson's retirement that compromised the Constructors' World Championship standings, even though the Maranello team is still five points ahead of McLaren. The sporting director, Marco Piccinini, says laconically:
"The ranking of the Dutch Grand Prix reflects the overall values seen on the track".
Michele Alboreto, loudly supported by many fans, applauded at length, is serene, calm but certainly also disappointed.
"It was a very tiring race, we did our best. Getting some points was important, but I don't know if I will need them. Overall, fourth place is better than what could be expected after practice. But at the sum of the facts I am not happy, as I could have at least passed Senna. If I hadn't run into him on the last lap and could have caught up with him a few minutes earlier, I definitely would have passed him. We touched, I hit his Lotus in the rear, breaking the nose of my car, because he would not let me pass and was zig-zagging. This is certainly not the way to behave".
What was the moment, the most critical moment of this race?
"Definitely the start. Once again a car stopped and we all risked a pileup. Fortunately, it went well. The best moment, however, was when I changed tires: with the new tires the car was going really well. We still have to catch up with McLaren because they are clearly ahead of us".
What about the World Championship?
"I don't even think about it. It is a matter best left alone. It is clear that I will do everything I can to counter Prost's march, but it becomes difficult. Very important, as I had already said, will be this week's tests at the Monza circuit on Wednesday and Thursday. We will test with some new suspension and figure out, I hope, which direction to work in to try to close the gap from McLaren. Unfortunately, we have not been able to take full advantage of the favorable moments at the beginning of the season, and now we are again behind the British team".
Did Niki Lauda do him a favor by beating Prost?
"I think Niki did his race, behaving as he has always behaved Throughout his career. I am convinced that he did not want to do me a favor, although indirectly he helped me because he took points away from his teammate".
Stefan Johansson, stuck with engine failure from the start, could not do much for either the team or Michele Alboreto:
"It was a pity, as I was really counting on a positive result. In the past few days we suffered a lot, but in the morning, during testing, the car had improved, after, the work on the shock absorbers and in the aerodynamic part. I'm not saying we could beat McLaren, but installing both of us behind Prost and Lauda was possible. For me it's a two-sided season: I was lucky to move to Ferrari, but I definitely didn't have good luck on my side in the results. Now we go to Monza and I hope to win the hearts of the Italian fans with a good race".
The news of Renault's withdrawal at the end of the season does not take Formula 1 by surprise. There had been numerous warnings in recent days that had predicted such a decision. State of tension in the team, embarrassment of the management, the fact that the French team had not confirmed its drivers, Tambay and Warwick, or even sought others. Everyone comments on the affair negatively; it is obvious that the renunciation of a major car company takes prestige away from the World Championship. However, it seems that the French company's place may be replaced by the imminent arrival of other major names, Ford as engine supplier to the Beatrice since 1986 (and later to other teams as well), perhaps the Inclusion of Toyota, the possibility of Porsche making a car of its own within a couple of seasons. If the topic of the day is about Renault however at the center of the comments In general are always the fight for the world title, the beautiful race of Prost and Lauda, the crisis of Ferrari, mitigated only partially by Alboreto's fourth place. The men of the Maranello team do not hide their difficulties even if some seem to be content with the fact that behind the English team there are always Maranello cars. However, the difficulties encountered especially in qualifying have triggered a series of interventions that will be made to try to make up the disadvantage. The Italian driver, who was to go to Brands Hatch, will go to Monza, where the car will be studied in depth while, at the same time, the Swede will test in England.
"If we don't find the solution now, we are doomed. In Monza I will try new suspension, hopefully it will help us regain competitiveness. McLaren has made strides since the beginning of the championship, we have obviously been standing still. A lot of work needs to be done, with the hope of going in the right direction".
But what is wrong with the 156/85? Ferrari is consistently the car that has so far finished the most races. It has finished on seventeen occasions out of twenty-two. McLaren, for example, has finished only twelve times, but with a better quality of results (only Lauda has retired in seven races). There should be no consumption problems. Apart from the Imola episode, explained by a failure in the supercharger, Ferrari has always finished races with plenty of gasoline in the tanks. However, we need to see what power is being used. The engine is certainly one of the best, elastic and progressive, with unparalleled acceleration. The Maranello team, however, does not have qualifying thrusters, so it struggles in time trials. And this would also be the cause of certain unexpected breakdowns. In the opinion of the drivers, the chassis is not outstanding, but not bad either. It has some rigidity and is very strong and safe. At this point, however, it is difficult to modify it. And the front section of the aerodynamic aspect is good, while the rear section goes crisis. The need to cool radiators and heat exchangers is a problem for all teams, but it is clear that McLaren and Toleman are the teams that have solved the equation best. It is therefore the suspension that is under indictment. On undulating tracks (such as Zeltweg and Zandvoort) they react by breaking down the cars. Instead of absorbing to make good use of the tires, they send the driving into crisis and abnormally deteriorate the tires. At Monza they will be changed in both the rear and front. If the re-made calculations are right, the 156/95 should improve its performance and put Alboreto back in a position to fight with Prost, who in any case now restarts with a three-point lead in the standings.