For a few days, Italian motor racing can dream. As the Monaco Grand Prix approaches (the race that was not to be held but will be held regularly on Sunday, 19 May 1985, in the Principality) two Italian drivers are leading the World Championship. Elio De Angelis in a Lotus and Michele Alboreto in a Ferrari lead the classification after three races (Brazil, Portugal and San Marino), with 16 and 12 points respectively. Behind them are regular driver Patrick Tambay on 10 points and, tied on 9 points, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. It is the first time in thirty-two years that two Italians are in this position. It doesn't mean much because the season is still long, but it is still the confirmation of a school that in recent times has produced a lot but. honestly, harvested very little. To say now what and how much chance De Angelis or Alboreto have of winning the title is more than difficult. One can only say that it does not depend so much on them as on the competitiveness of their cars and a little on luck, which is needed more than ever in a sport in which; a few drops of petrol can decide the outcome of a very tough race. In any case, it is interesting and fascinating at the same time to imagine that these two drivers, from completely different backgrounds, with different skills, could fight at the top, one against the other in a challenge that could become historic. On the one hand, a concrete young man, Michele Alboreto, who grew up in sacrifice, who climbed the ladder of success one step at a time, who arrived at Ferrari, thanks to a strong will and a couple of victories (with Tyrrell) conquered with courage.
On the other, what can be considered an upper middle-class young man, born into a wealthy family, who managed to make it on his own, even emigrating to Lotus, in England, to find a competitive team. The stories of Michele and Elio start from distant points, then cross paths and split again to meet again in this possible challenge. Alboreto the polite young man, who has to resort to the help of some friends to get ahead. And in the meantime, the engagement to Nadia Astorri and then marriage, a quiet life within the confines of numerous commitments. De Angelis, an offshore champion dad, the jet-set, the means at his disposal, Latin charm, beautiful girls, music with a passion for the piano. But also the struggle to prove that there is no need for support, that he can do everything on his own merit, with results. The arrival in an English team that prefers a home driver, which does not favour him. And then, when he seems to have found a place in the sun, another plunge into reality with the flanking of Brazilian Ayrton Senna, whom everyone already considered a phenomenon. Alboreto and De Angelis are not friends, just as Patrese and Cheever or De Cesaris and Baldi are not. That is, they don't hang out with each other outside racing. Formula One is an individual sport, there is no room for any sentiment with a minimum of depth. It may arouse esteem or respect in those who recognise intimately that their rival is stronger. But there is no trace of this kind of recognition in official statements. Alboreto can say that De Angelis is good or vice versa. Nothing more. In fact sometimes something emerges that is certainly not hatred but not even sympathy. Someone compared Alboreto and De Angelis to past or present champions. The two of them prefer to have no reference points, to be just themselves. The Ferrari driver says he races above all to win races:
"Better to win many races than a title with placings".
The Lotus driver is thinking about the World Championship and does not hide it. Perhaps this philosophy is the biggest difference between the two protagonists at the start of the Formula 1 season. However, at the moment both are probably dreaming of the same goal: to fight until the end of the World Championship at the top of the classification.
"From tomorrow we will have some beautiful sunny days. I foresee for Sunday a duel between Senna and Alboreto".
So says the lawyer Michel Boeri, president of the A.C. of Monaco, the Grand Prix that the international federation wanted to cancel and that until the last moment had been removed from the Formula 1 World Championship calendar, the race is being held regularly and the fact is already a source of satisfaction for the organisers. Perhaps so much enthusiasm makes the sun shine even when gloomy clouds hang over the mountains looming over the Principality.
Nor does the supposed challenge between the Brazilian's Lotus and the Italian's Ferrari seem to ignite people's interest: while in past years there was a sell-out on the eve of the Monaco Grand Prix, this time there are still many tickets on display, a sign that the controversy and uncertainty surrounding the Grand Prix have left their mark. And, to remain in the field of meteorology, it seems that some thunderstorms may arrive during the race. As you may remember, in 1984 the Monaco Grand Prix took place under torrential water and was interrupted by race director Jacky Ickx as Senna was about to join Prost. The Belgian has the same responsibility again this year and has already said that in a similar case he will behave in the same way. Rain or shine, however, the South American of Lotus is considered the man to beat. Says Michele Alboreto:
"Senna is a bad customer but it is the others that worry me. I still consider the McLaren men as favourites. That is Prost and Lauda".
"At Imola we could win, and I think we have a chance here too. Personally I like this circuit. In fact I like it too much, so much so that I am often inclined to exaggerate. I will have to concentrate hard. In any case we are racing for first place".
Stefan Johansson is also optimistic.
"I don't know the track well. I have only raced at Monte-Carlo twice in Formula 3, in 1977, when Pironi won ahead of De Angelis. I was fourth. The following year I retired because of a breakdown. I don't feel particularly responsible for a good race at Imola. I always try to give my best, even without any extra push. For me qualifying will be very important, a race within a race. First I have to win the time trials, then we'll see. It is decisive to start at the front of the grid, because here you cannot hope to recover from fifteenth place. Fortunately, however, there should be no problems with consumption".
There is no major news either, apart from the World Championship debut of the Toleman with Teo Fabi. The Italian driver, after testing the car at Le Castellet, says that the single-seater seems competitive to him. Meanwhile, for the first time this season there will be someone (six drivers) who will be left out of the race, as only twenty cars will be allowed, as usual. On the technical side, all the cars have been adapted to the characteristics of the circuit. On Wednesday rumours were circulating concerning two of the most prominent teams. It seems that Ron Dennis, together with other partners, sold his shares in McLaren to the Arab financier Mansour Ojjeh for 11.000.000 dollars. The latter would become the owner. Lotus, which has no great financial means, would also be for sale. But this does not create difficulties for the drivers. So much so that on Thursday 16 May 1985 Ayrton Senna continued to grind out records. Even at the Monte Carlo circuit, where only champions manage to stand out and the driver at least has a glove on the car, the Brazilian of Lotus beats everyone in the first qualifying round for the Monaco Grand Prix. The Brazilian runs a perfect lap, completed in 1'21"630, at an average speed of 146.063 km/h, and the circuit record collapses. Travelling at such speeds on these narrow roads is no mean feat. But apart from Ayrton Senna, all the drivers put on a show, engaging in passes a few millimetres from the guardrails, controlled swerves, braking to the limit of thrills. The result is an hour of high-tension time trials, full of emotions and surprises. The most remarkable was the inclusion of Riccardo Patrese in second place with the Alfa Romeo, ahead of Prost's McLaren and Alboreto's Ferrari. The Italian driver thus confirmed his good moment of form and the car's progress, which can be explained by the adoption of a new integral electronic injection and the fact that this relatively slow circuit can benefit a single-seater that normally has aerodynamic problems.
"I was lucky, because I immediately found a good lap, with no traffic. The car is good and so a very good time came out".
Ayrton Senna and Riccardo Patrese are practically the only ones not to complain about the circuit, which makes it very difficult to overtake even slow drivers who get in the way. What lies behind Alfa Romeo's leap forward?
"Nothing in particular, we have been working and here are the first results. The hour and a half of testing in the morning passed without the slightest inconvenience and so I was able to tune my car well. The engine is now very smooth and the circuit is perhaps well suited to the characteristics of the car, which among other things has a new, larger rear wing. I hope this is not an isolated incident. We should also improve on the other tracks. Here I could also go faster. When we gave the turbochargers maximum pressure, I realised that the ratios were getting too short and there was nothing I could do about an immediate change. So I was always arriving at the rev limiter. I am still satisfied, although I think it will be difficult to maintain second place tomorrow as the track will be faster".
If on the one hand Riccardo Patrese is happy, on the other hand Michele Alboreto says:
"I couldn't do a single lap without mishaps. And I must say that I did a lot of them, because the tyres allowed me to. I always encountered some obstacle, that is, a car running at a walking pace in places where I couldn't overtake".
The Italian driver speaks of a competitive Ferrari that would certainly have allowed him to do more. The same cannot be said for Stefan Johansson, tenth, who had problems with the carbon brakes that unbalanced his car, with the set-up causing him to first understeer and then oversteer. In any case, watching the Ferraris pass each other at the crucial points of the circuit, it was noticeable that under acceleration the Maranello cars vibrate unevenly at the rear. Perhaps the engine power is not discharged to the ground in the right way or the set-up is not ideal. There is also some trouble for the McLaren, with Prost busy correcting his trajectories in different ways depending on the tyres he has on. Lauda ended up against a kerb and the recoil on the steering wheel gave him a bruised thumb. Nothing serious. The Austrian does not seek excuses. Making progress, but still not perfect, was the Ligier that De Cesaris drove to eighth. The French car has undergone a slimming treatment (35kg less) but has not yet found good stability. De Angelis was delayed (11th time) due to traffic, Rosberg continued to break the turbines of his Williams-Honda. The main difference between the Monaco Grand Prix and other Formula One World Championship races is that this race offers a rest day between qualifying sessions. The break allows the engineers and drivers to meditate on the results obtained on the first day and attempt a recovery on the second. Yesterday's work was intense for all the teams with special efforts by Brabham (Piquet even went to the nearby Le Castellet circuit to test his car), Lotus, McLaren, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. On Saturday 18 May 1985 Ayrton Senna will try to defend his lead, all the others to improve their performance and thus their starting position, decisive for the race. An attentive observer of all phases of a Grand Prix has always been Jackie Stewart, three times World Champion, a man of great intelligence who has been able, at the end of a long and luminous career, to maintain an exceptional charisma. His opinions are also taken into account by experienced men like Niki Lauda.
"If nothing unpredictable happens, I think Senna has a great chance of winning the Monaco Grand Prix. He has a very good car that Gérard Ducarouge has made with a lot of ingenuity, but above all he can be considered the biggest favourite because of what he has shown at the start of the season".
Stewart, you can tell from his words, considers the Brazilian to be the best driver to come out of the limelight in recent years:
"The boy has many talents. First of all a great natural talent. Then a good maturity despite still being young and inexperienced. And he knows how to use his brain. But I think his best weapon is his driving sensitivity".
"People believe that a racing car is only driven to the limit with courage, heart and a heavy foot on the accelerator. Instead, it is always the head that is right. I can compare Senna to Fangio, Clark, Moss and Lauda, with an even stronger temperament".
As probable rivals to Ayrton Senna (by the way, there is talk of Ferrari's strong interest in him, to the point that some swear that in 1986 the boy will be behind the wheel of a Maranello car) in the title fight, Stewart mentions Alain Prost and Michele Albereto.
"The Frenchman is certainly an outstanding driver. However, it seems to me that he has less feeling than Senna. Alboreto is a very good driver, but he still needs a season of racing to rise to the top. On his side there is an iron will, a determination not to be underestimated".
Moving on to examine the teams. The Scot always puts McLaren at the forefront:
"I am convinced that it is currently the best team, as a whole: from the organisation to the drivers to the engine to the chassis. Races are also won with perfect management of the forces at your disposal".
If the good day dawns, the fourth Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season should be a very special race, the kind that keeps you in suspense until the last moment and the last metre. On Saturday, at the end of the second practice session, five cars were bunched within just 0.4 seconds and an incredible carousel on the track failed to give a true picture of what had happened. An hour full of emotions and also of controversy. Animator and absolute protagonist, once again, is the young Brazilian Ayrton Senna who, on the difficult Monte-Carlo circuit, did everything: best time (1'20"450, at an average of 148.206 km/h, the official record), spins in the first laps, a fight with Michele Alboreto and blocking against other opponents in the final part of practice. Ayrton Senna is happy to start on pole position, but this does not mean that the Brazilian is quiet. The Lotus driver maintains pole position (which is worth a lot of money to the team, as there is a $15.000 prize for the best time) at all costs, even listening to the suggestions of Peter Warr, the sporting director, and Gerard Ducarouge, the technical manager, who are certainly no slouches.
"I am afraid of Nigel Mansell. Having him on my side makes me fear an accident at the first corner. I can't let him get away, because here it is too important not to overtake, to overtake, but the Englishman is not the type to give up, perhaps, trying to pass me even if I start better than him. I have to be very careful, because you can ruin everything in a few metres".
As for the race, the Brazilian thinks the Lotus is capable of holding off all rival cars. But the possible course of the race will be influenced not only by the start, but also by the choice of tyres and the setting of the cars. For this reason, Alain Prost seems rather confident.
"At McLaren we have an extra weapon. Our carbon brakes are operated by a double caliper and cool better. We should have no problems. Whereas the others will either risk it or have to go back to metal discs".
Behind the terrible Brazilian Lotus driver (third consecutive pole position) follows the courageous Nigel Mansell in the Williams: in Monte-Carlo the Englishman is really enjoying himself. Then, in a row, Michele Alboreto with the Ferrari, an excellent Eddie Cheever with the Alfa Romeo, Alain Prost with the McLaren and the Belgian Thierry Boutsen, at the wheel of the Arrows. Says Eddie Cheever, with a huge smile, perhaps due to the fact that he overtook his team-mate, Riccardo Patrese:
"I have no uncertainties. I have already made my choice. The Alfa Romeo is going well now: I am not saying we can win, but I hope to have a good race. Here you have to drive well, be very careful and avoid overstressing the mechanics of the car. A prudent tactic, within the limits of possibility, should pay off sufficiently".
It has been a long time since there has been such a balance between six different teams and this is the indication of an uncertain and hard-fought race. Without looking for excuses, the only one who can complain about this starting line-up is Ferrari. Alboreto in the morning had set an exceptional time of 1'20"205, a result that the Italian driver was then unable, despite his efforts, to match.
"If Senna wasn't in my way, I could get to 1'19"8".
What happened? Well, let's go back and review the entire record of the last hour of practice. When it's just a few moments to 1:00 p.m., the Ferrari box is swarming. Michele Alboreto's morning time attracts a variety of curious onlookers. The fateful hour of the last timed practice runs out and the situation does not improve: journalists, guests (among others the young Giovanni Agnelli, Umberto's son), sympathisers (Didier Pironi with glazed eyes) and company outnumber technicians and mechanics. The hour at the Ferrari box begins with Stefan Johansson already ready in the car for quite a while. Michele Alboreto, on the other hand, shows up at the last minute, gets into the #27 car and drives off. The Swede waits patiently for his moment, while they patch up a wing with adhesive tape. All around, in spite of the crazy noise and earplugs, there is no end to the hustle and bustle. After seven minutes Michele Alboreto comes in with the second best time. Stefan finally starts, while the mechanics pour cold water on Michele's steaming tyres. At 1:12 p.m. Stefan Johansson is seen again, he talks to Antonio Tomaini, they change his ECU ('Carburetion too fat at idle'). Michele Alboreto restarts, Stefan Johansson immediately afterwards, and already the Italians, in the stands, rejoice: the #27 car has set the best time, 1'21"438. No champagne is opened in the pit box, the satisfaction is contained. Michele Alboreto returns to the pits at 1:18 p.m., changes tyres. Stefan Johansson also comes back to the pits, spirited: he complains about the traffic, they wet his tyres, take away petrol, replace a radiator because of an oil leak. The two restart after Ayrton Senna, at exactly half an hour, sets the fastest lap. Michele Alboreto's pole position lasts 16 minutes. The Italian driver immediately improves, is second again, then Nigel Mansell overtakes him. At 1:40 p.m. Stefan Johansson returns to the pits, shakes his head in front of Tomaini's goggles, puts on softer compound tyres. Alboreto also prepares the final sprint, letting his tyres cool down. But at 1:47 p.m., just in front of the pit, at the exit of the Rascasse, there is an accident between Johansson and Fabi: the Toleman is travelling slower, wide, on the left, Johansson tries to improve his position, he tries to pass by grazing the guardrail. The blond Swede is unhurt, but the car is battered, Stefan rushes back to the box, gets into the reserve car, but by now for him practice is over. Alboreto, on the other hand, tries again in the last five minutes, after having put two used front tyres back on. When the hour is up, he is still in third place. Not bad, after all. Michele, however, doesn't seem to think so: he pushes into the pits and leaps out of the car, screaming:
"Senna is an imbecile. He is an unsportsmanlike imbecile. After setting the best time he only cared about braking the others. He went slow on the slow track and accelerated on the straight. I found him in front of me six times and he always blocked me. On the last lap, exasperated, I forced him to go long at Rascasse. He put everyone's life at risk for a pole position. He may be fast, but he'll never be a true champion: someone with that kind of head doesn't go the distance. Also because this time I sent him out in second, but I swear that next time I'll throw him into the stands in fifth".
Then he sets off at a good pace to the paddock, signs autographs, but he doesn't calm down until after he has relaxed on the bus for about ten minutes. Niki Lauda and Alain Prost also vigorously join in the accusations against Ayrton Senna. Alboreto adds:
"In front of what Senna did, I feel bad as a man. I didn't go and tell him anything in the end because he will already have problems with his conscience. He can only be ashamed. This sport is not done to cheat others. However, nothing is lost: with those two in front, the public will have something to enjoy already on the first bend. I'll be II behind, I'll try to make them nervous, to force them to pull and make mistakes. I'll be honest: I don't think either that mounted kid or Mansell can go all the way on this track. Above all, the traffic on the track (which was also the case for De Angelis, Rosberg and Patrese) did not allow the Italian to make the most of the qualities of a car that is competitive at the moment, as was demonstrated by the very fast lap set in free practice. The Maranello team's other driver, Stefan Johansson, set only the fifteenth best time, just as he did at Imola. The Swede does not know the track, and that is a big problem. In addition, Johansson had no help from good luck: he had chosen a first set of harder tyres to set his car well. When he took to the track on soft tyres suitable for qualifying, he ran into an accident with Teo Fabi. A bent suspension and the need to take the spare car, which was certainly not up to the level of the other one. Stefan Johansson will have to give life to another day of chasing, as in the San Marino Grand Prix, if he wants to get a good result. But the Swede knows that it will not be possible to repeat the feat of Imola, when he went from fifteenth to first place.
"I cannot delude myself, because overtaking is prohibitive here. But I still promise that I will at least try to get to the finish line. My Ferrari in race trim is going strong and this at least allows me to hope for a good placing".
Elio De Angelis, who was haunted by a series of mishaps, is also missing from the roll call. The Italian driver set the ninth best time and never completed a lap without traffic. His Lotus reported an irregular engine running and a differential problem. Also lagging behind were Riccardo Patrese, Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda, for different reasons, lost in order from twelfth to fourteenth place. The Italian Alfa Romeo driver wore out his tyres in a vain attempt to confirm Thursday's splendid second place.
"It only took a few minutes and ten people passed me. I always found a lot of traffic on the track".
The Brazilian drives a Brabham that is too long for this circuit. The Austrian, World Champion, gives the impression of being nauseous about Formula 1 again, as in the days of his resounding retirement in Canada in 1979. It is not exactly exciting to see him drive with the caution of a fearful rookie. It is a black day for the small Italian teams. Minardi and Osella did not manage to enter that world catwalk that is the Monaco Grand Prix. The worst was for the Romagna team. Having only completed one lap on Thursday due to an engine failure, Pierluigi Martini had set off confidently with the revamped car during morning practice. Arriving at the fast St. Devote chicane, the Italian driver crashed into the guardrail, suffering a minor injury, and a contusion to his left knee, which swelled.
"I braked, and as soon as I lifted my foot I inexplicably lost control of the car. The impact was very violent, so much so that both suspensions bent to the left and one wheel also damaged the chassis and the cockpit, hitting me in the leg".
It is obvious that Minardi, with only one car available and with the driver out of action, could not participate in qualifying. Regardless, however, in the race the man to beat was the phenomenal Ayrton Senna. But even for the Brazilian the race is on a circuit where at every metre there is a risk, where overtaking is prohibitive, it is like a roulette shot. And the numbers of Nigel Mansell, Michele Alboreto and Alain Prost can come out. And even that of some surprise outsider. On Sunday, 19 May 1985, before the start of the Monaco Grand Prix, Patrick Tambay decides to face the race with the reserve car, equipped with the older Renault EF14 bis engine; Elio De Angelis also opts to mount a Renault engine of the same type, replacing the new EF15. At the start Ayrton Senna manages to resist Nigel Mansell's attack; Michele Alboreto, Alain Prost and Eddie Cheever follow. In the middle of the group Gerhard Berger misses the start.
To avoid a collision, Stefan Johansson crashes into Patrick Tambay who, in turn, hits Gerhard Berger's car. For the latter two the race ends immediately, while Stefan Johansson, with damaged suspension, abandons shortly afterwards. At the end of the second lap Michele Alboreto manages to move into second position after overtaking Nigel Mansell, attacking him at St. Devote. The Briton, at the end of the same lap, gives up third position to Alain Prost, on the finishing straight. The next lap Eddie Cheever also managed to pass Nigel Mansell, who was struggling with brake problems, and was also overtaken by Elio De Angelis and Keke Rosberg. The Alfa Romeo driver's race ended, in fact, on lap eight, when he was forced to return to the pits for an alternator failure. Arriving in the pits, pushed by the marshals to reach the team pit lane, Eddie Cheever even managed to restart, before abandoning - on lap 10 - the race due to the alternator failure. By lap 10 Ayrton Senna was leading the pack, less than two seconds ahead of Michele Alboreto. Alain Prost is eight seconds back, Elio De Angelis is fourth, over 16 seconds behind Keke Rosberg and Nigel Mansell. The Brazilian of Lotus was forced to retire with an engine failure on lap 14. The engine had probably been ruined by an off lap, which had occurred during the warm up. During the seventeenth lap Nelson Piquet attacked Riccardo Patrese on the pit straight: at the first braking the two cars came into contact. Piquet hits the barriers with his front suspension, while Patrese ends up against the barriers with his nose. The Alfa Romeo of the Italian driver rebounds, hitting that of the Brazilian. Flames also rise on the Brabham, but without consequences for the drivers. Teo Fabi, who was following the two, manages to pass unhurt, while Jacques Laffite is the author of a spin, without consequences. Michele Alboreto, who was close to lapping, finds himself in an uncertain situation. The Italian driver's car slipped on oil lost by Riccardo Patrese's car, allowing Alain Prost to take the lead.
Shortly afterwards, where the presence of oil was not reported, Niki Lauda also loses control of his car, ending up against the barriers. The Austrian is forced to retire. Michele Alboreto immediately sets off in pursuit of Alain Prost, managing to place himself less than a second behind the Frenchman, who is however slowed down by turbo problems. When Alain Prost misses a gear on lap 24, Michele Alboreto is back in first position. Behind the first two is Elio De Angelis, then Keke Rosberg, Andrea De Cesaris, Derek Warwick and Nigel Mansell. Keke Rosberg, like his team mate Nigel Mansell, was also slowed by a brake problem and had to give up his position to Andrea De Cesaris and Derek Warwick. On lap 32 Michele Alboreto hits the kerb at Loews, suffering a slow puncture, forcing him to have to make a tyre change. The Italian driver thus drops to fourth position. The chase thus begins again. On lap 39 Michele Alboreto passes De Cesaris at Mirabeau, while, in the meantime, Alain Prost resolves his turbo problems and can control his car's handling more easily.On lap 47 Keke Rosberg gives up his position to Nigel Mansell. A few laps later the Finn pits, dropping out of the top six. Meanwhile Michele Alboreto continues at a great pace, catching up several seconds on Elio De Angelis. By now behind his compatriot, the two avoid contact with Jonathan Palmer, who has spun. Then Michele Alboreto passed De Angelis at the St. Devote corner. In the final laps of the race the rain makes its appearance on the track. This forces the drivers to slow down the pace. Elio De Angelis slows down more than the others, due to a brake problem. On lap 75 Nigel Mansell spins out of the tunnel. Fortunately his car does not touch the barriers, allowing the driver to continue. Two laps later the Briton loses his position, to Jacques Laffite. Alain Prost thus wins the Monaco Grand Prix, followed by Michele Alboreto and Elio De Angelis. Andrea De Cesaris is fourth, ahead of Derek Warwick and Jacques Laffite at the finish line.
"It is not enough to have the best car to win".
This was the laconic comment of Piero Lardi Ferrari, son of the Modenese constructor, at the end of a thrilling Grand Prix in which Alain Prost took an easy victory while Alboreto was the protagonist of a beautiful race, which only allowed him a difficult second place. In fact, the Ferrari was the fastest car on the difficult circuit of the Principality, achieving a whole series of results to prove it. From the fastest lap to a whole series of laps that were significantly faster than all the other competitors. If you consider that the Italian driver practically stopped twice, the first time when he ran off the road due to the oil thrown up by the cars involved in the accident between Nelson Piquet and Riccardo Patrese, where his stop took at least ten seconds, and the second when he stopped to change a flat tyre in the pit box (a slowdown paid for with over 40 seconds) you can understand that the #27 single-seater could very well have fought for first place.
The gap at the finish between the winner Prost and Alboreto was 7.541 seconds. But that was not enough. The Frenchman arrived at the finish line completely out of petrol and on the verge of engine failure. In fact, it seems that a ducting in the allo circuit had broken and the McLaren was already smoking conspicuously.In any case, it is pointless to make recriminations. racing is like that, with sometimes disappointing results, although a second place at Monte-Carlo can always be considered a positive result. But Ferrari also had Johansson involved in an accident at the start and this lack of success cannot please. The only really positive fact of the day was the placing of the Italian drivers, with three men in the first four places behind Prost. From Alboreto to De Angelis to De Cesaris, it was a perfect race, with different styles and different cars, but with a single goal, that of getting to the top. Michele Alboreto was clearly better, perhaps he had the best race of his life, but, modestly, he says:
"My commitment is always the same, everything depends on the possibilities of the car. When the car allows it, I don't feel inferior to anyone and I attempt overtaking that is on the limit but always reasoned, always with a clear presence of the head and not just the foot pushing the accelerator. I took a bit of a risk with Prost. It was perhaps the most difficult moment of the race in which I took advantage of a mistake by the Frenchman and I experienced a few scary moments with De Cesaris at the Mirabeau hairpin, when I got on the inside of him because otherwise I would have been too many laps behind. Otherwise it was a great effort, in terms of concentration and determination. I hope I can repeat myself in other races, but I hope above all not to be subjected to what is now becoming a habit. I have already come second three times. It's time to win".
The fireworks with which the classic post-Grand Prix Gala ends illuminate the happy faces of Alain Prost and Michele Alboreto on Sunday evening. The two rivals are celebrated at length by the guests, who spare no compliments for both drivers. A short break before diving back into practice. On Tuesday 21 May 1985 most of the teams (including McLaren and Ferrari) test the tyres on the Le Castellet circuit. Thoughts, however, are turned to the Belgian Grand Prix, the fifth race of the World Championship, to be held on Sunday, 2 June 1985. Says Michele Alboreto:
"It is a fast circuit that I like a lot on which Ferrari should not have any particular problems. Where I hope to finally get a win. This story of the eternal second is already starting to annoy me. It is better to end it now, otherwise it becomes a nightmare. We have a very competitive car".
Indeed, the 156/85 proved itself on the difficult Monaco circuit as the fastest and also the most reliable car. A single-seater with which one can aim for victory in the World Championship. Best time in practice (even if only in Saturday morning's free practice), best lap in the race. If you calculate that Alboreto lost about fifty seconds between going off the track on oil after the accident involving Nelson Piquet and Riccardo Patrese, and the pit stop to change the punctured tyre, you can imagine that Ferrari could have beaten Prost's McLaren. It is true that the tyre change may have benefited the Italian driver, who was able to force the pace. It should be noted, however, that the second set of tyres was of a harder compound (type A) for safety, and that Michele Alboreto set the lap record by running 1'22"637. Furthermore, the McLaren could hardly have driven faster than it did, as Alain Prost arrived at the finish line with a completely empty fuel tank.
"In any case one cannot recriminate, now one must above all attack".
Michele Alboreto is determined, ready to give battle for the world title. However, he will need the help of Johansson, who up to now has not been able to take points off the Italian driver's direct rivals. The Swedish driver has highlighted shortcomings in terms of qualifying and the set-up of his car, and has also been unlucky. Just as it was not appropriate to exalt him too much for the good race at Imola, one should not now throw him into the dust. It is necessary to wait some more time to get a real idea of his value.