At this length of time after the event there is little point in recording an hour-by-hour or lap-by-lap account of the happening on the return of Grand Prix racing to the revised Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the wooded hills in south-east Belgium. Suffice to say that everyone seem to enjoy the event, a crowd of 80.000 turn up to watch, it is a real horsepower race and the character of the Grand Prix de Belgique as a great occasion has returned. For the record some brief notes will not go amiss. In spite of a few dismal jimmies forecasting doom, practice gets away promptly on Friday morning and it is noticeable how all the drivers are keen to get to grips with this challenging new circuit for Formula 1. The nature of the circuit brings out the best in them and Tambay, Laffite and Surer are a joy to watch anywhere for their sheer precision at high speed and their obvious delicate balance. Rosberg is good spectator value showing incredible determination and forceful driving and his speed comes from a big heart rather than inborn skill and artistry. If he is as smooth and precise as his Williams team-mate he would be really quick; as it is there is no one with a Cosworth V8 that can touch him at the moment. Young Andrea de Cesaris is brave and fast, especially on his entry to corners, but the most uncanny driver to watch is Alain Prost. There is no sign of eﬀort, no obvious speed, no feeling of artistry, in fact a rather dull proposition to observe, yet he is by far the fastest driver on the circuit. There must be a lesson there somewhere. In the qualifying hour on Friday afternoon in warm and dry conditions the scene is set with all the factory turbo-charged 1.5-litres up at the front, the real tryers in the middle and the odds and ends down at the back. Notable is Marc Surer who gets his Arrows A6 in between the two Williams drivers and Roberto Guerrero who gets his Theodore ahead of the two McLaren drivers, Lauda and Watson. The first day ends with everything looking good.
Saturday is a disaster. The clouds are on the ground on the higher parts of the surrounding area and the rain comes. In spite of the awful conditions all the drivers are eager to get out on the circuit on treaded rain tyres, they have not enjoyed themselves at a circuit like this in a long time. It is most heartening to see. The rain continues throughout the day so all hope of anyone improving on their Friday qualifying time is gone. The times for Friday settle the grid position and it is no real surprise that the two non- qualifiers are Salazar with the RAM-March and Ghinzani with the Alfa Romeo V12 engined Osella. Apart from Warwick being further down the grid than is reasonable, due to typical ‘Toleman Trouble’ and having to use the spare car, the Friday line-up is reasonable, so the fact that Saturday qualifying is a wash-out is not too serious. We have come to accept that neither McLaren driver tries too hard these days, for they don’t want to make it look as though the Cosworth DFY engine will keep them competitive through this season. They need to ram home the urgency of getting the new Porsche engine into racing as soon as possible and to try and force the internal political issue within McLaren International, between the various factions, notably the sponsors Marlboro and TAG and the Porsche engineers. Sunday is grey and over-cast but mercifully the rain holds off and conditions are good for racing. The half-hour warm-up period sees plenty of action as everyone tries to make up for the lost time on Saturday. The fashion started by Brabham last year, of starting the race with only 25 gallons of petrol in the tank and relatively soft tyres, and making a pit stop half-way through the race, has caught on. Apart from Brabham, the Williams team, ATS, Lotus, Renault, Ligier, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Toleman are all planning pit stops.
Maria Ginevra Ferretti