In spite of de Angelis trying to upset the equilibrium by crashing the spare car (94T/3) on Saturday morning, Team Lotus are undismayed and their Italian driver makes fastest time in both qualifying sessions, content to use only one set of his qualifying tyres on Saturday afternoon, as no-one got close enough tubes time of 1'12"092 to worry him. For once there isn’t moaning and whining about the Pirelli tyres they are using and such tyre bleating as there is come from the Goodyear runners this time. All isn’t perfect in the Pirelli camp, however, as the Toleman-Hart cars are hardly any better on soft qualifying tyres as they are on hard race tyres. Rubber continues to be a black art, continually misguide and misdirect by the opinions voice by the drivers, when their problems can well be something entirely different, but tyres are the easiest things to blame for not being an ace-driver or taking pole position on the grid. Everyone is trying very hard, especially those at the front of the grid, for Brands Hatch is an awful circuit for overtaking so that every place you can gain on the grid is a useful bonus. Apart from the minor accident that de Angelis has, his compatriot de Cesaris has a pretty major one and Rosberg has a minor one and add to this there are a few blown up engines, including the Porsche V6 in Lauda’s McLaren, and a few harmless spins from drivers like Piquet. Although the pace seems to be fast and furious, the pole-man’s time is a long way off that of 1982 which is surprising as at most of the circuits this year lap times have come remarkably close to 1982 times. The point being that this year ground effect is banned in an attempt to slow things down and this is the ﬁrst time the new cars can’t approach the lap times of the old ones. It is just possible that only Team Lotus has all the variables correct and their times represente what will normally be the second and third rows on the grid and that has the combinations of Arnoux-Ferrari, Tambay-Ferrari, Prost-Renault or Piquet-Brabham got things right then pole-time will be 1'11"0 or even 1'10"5, which will have compare favorably with the 1982 time of 1'09"54.
Something has to be blame and it varies from the 1000 kilometer sports car race of the previous week-end leaving a lot of rubber on the surface, to the Black and Gold aura creates by John Player sponsorship getting into the electronics of the Longines automatic timing apparatus. Whatever it’s there isn’t gainsaying the fact that de Angelis was on pole-position with Manuel third, Patrese lining up his Brabham-BMW in second place, but Nelson Piquet is alongside Mansell and the Brazilian’s presence is sufficient to disturb any aspiring race winner. As if that isn’t enough the two Ferraris of Arnoux and Tambay are on row three and nobody in their right mind discounts a Ferrari. On the back row of the grid is Jonathan Palmer about to have his ﬁrst Formula One race and alongside, in 26th place is the unusual sight of Alboreto, in a Tyrrell 012. The Tyrrell team has produce a second 012 model, which Sullivan qualify comfortably, while Alboreto only just scraps in with his 012, and is far from happy with it, so on race morning Ken Tyrrell changes his two drivers over, or rather he changes the two cars over, Sullivan having 012/1 and Alboreto 012/2. Another team in trouble on race morning is the Spirit-Honda for they ﬁnd the fuel consumption of the Japanese engine to be astronomical, so the turbo pressure is reduce to lower the temperature and improve the consumption but, of course, this meant reducing the power down to little more than a Cosworth DFY. In practice the new Spirit 101/1 is try but the short exhaust pipes between the engine and the turbochargers gave rise to too much heat, which the inter-coolers could not combat and the car has to be abandone in favor of 201C/5, the middle one of the three cars built by Spirit. The Honda engine men have assure John Baldwin that the short exhaust pipes will be alright, but they are wrong! Watching the cars line up for the start is a chastene Jacques Laffite, a philosophical Corrado Fabi, and a sad Kenny Acheson, all three having fail to qualify.
Apart from Jarier breaking the transmission of his Ligier actually on the grid, the ﬁeld got away to a good start, de Angelis suffering from being on the lower side of the sloping start area, and Mansell trying to win before the ﬁrst corner. Patrese lead de Angelis, Mansell, Piquet, Cheever, Winkelhock, Arnoux, Prost, Tambay and Warwick at the end of the opening lap and already it’s obvious that there is something wrong with Mansell or his Lotus, for he is holding everyone up and Patrese and de Angelis are fast disappearing. It later transpire that Mansell can feel something wrong with his Pirelli tyres and don’t have the conﬁdence to lean on them as he should have done. One by one his followers elbowed their way by until the Brummie is down to seventh place and the race could get under way properly. Piquet is hard after the two Italian drivers, pulling away from the rest and on lap 11 he must have grin inside his helmet, for ahead of him at the entrance to the climbing left-hand turn leading out of the stadium onto the fast back part of the circuit, he see the leading Brabham and the Lotus spinning in all directions. De Angelis tries to run up the inside of Patrese’s car as they break for the corner, the right front wheel of the Lotus hits the left rear of the Brabham and round they both go. As Piquet goes by Patrese gathers himself up and sets off in second place, but poor de Angelis is well out on the grass and revving and wheel-spinning his way back onto the track while Prost, Cheever, and Arnoux go by. As a race the Grand Prix of Europe is now all over, for Piquet has a clear road ahead of him and he simply drives away from the opposition, just as he had done at Monza two weeks before. Patrese lost conﬁdence in his Brabham as the thump from the Lotus has derange the rear suspension slightly and de Angelis trickle into the pits on lap 13 with a sick Renault engine.
Prost is very comfortably in second place, but can do nothing about Piquet, and the Frenchman is fairly happy to be where he is anyway, for practice is depressing, not due to trouble but simply due to the Renault not getting to grips with the Brands Hatch circuit. Behind the winners there are one or two interesting scenarios. Watson and Lauda are running smoothly in the McLaren-Porsches, holding on to, Warwick’s Toleman-Hart, which is going well on Pirelli race tyres, and further back Johansson in the Spirit-Honda is struggling to stay ahead of Alboreto and Sullivan in their DFY-powered Tyrrells. Palmer has move up a couple of places and he is following Thierry Boutsen, the Belgian newcomer from Formula 2 driving his usual smooth and fast race in his Arrows A6. At the end of all the fast turbo charge cars, and ahead of Giacomelli and Baldi, is the irrepressible Rosberg, hopefully driving with Cosworth power for the last time, before starting afresh in South Africa with Honda power. Unbeknown at the time, it’s to be the last race for the Spirit-Honda, for during the following week Honda are to make the decision to withdraw their engines from the team for 1984, concentrating all their efforts on the Williams team. Lauda’s race ends on lap 26 when his Porsche engine suffers an internal breakage, and then Sullivan goes out in a cloud of smoke and ﬂame as an oil leak onto the engine ignites, causing him to spin due to the oil on his rear tyres. The race is over the usual Brands Hatch distance of 76 laps and as the halfway point approach pit stops began, Watson be brought in early as part of the rear aerofoil is coming adrift. While the car is refueling and the tyres change, the loose bits are ripped off and he is sent on his way while preparations are make to bring him in again and replace the rear aerofoil.
This never happen, for on the fastest part of the circuit, approaching Westﬁelds corner the whole aerofoil structure began to break up and a large part detached itself upsetting the balance of the car and throwing it off the road and into the tyre barriers, a bemuse Watson being carry along as a passenger. He is quite unhurt, but the left front suspension is smashed as well as there being damage to the rear. After his poor opening laps Mansell has settle into sixth place, moving up into ﬁfth place when Arnoux spins his Ferrari at South Bank Bend (Surtees Corner) on lap 20 for no obvious reason other than inattention, and while all the pit stops are in progress Mansell is momentarily in second place until his own stop. The Lotus lads excel themselves with a routine stop in 9 .62 seconds, the fastest ever recorded, and Mansell respondes by rejoining the race full of tiger, especially when he ﬁnds the car handling the way he wants it to on its new Pirelli tyres. In contrast the Brabham pit stops go all wrong, a misﬁt rear wheel delaying Patrese for more than 25 seconds and a faulty wheel-nut gun delaying Piquet for more than 19 seconds. Patrese drops from third to tenth place, from where he never really recover, but Piquet has such a commanding lead before he stops that the delay doesn't worry him. By lap 45 all the routine stops are over, but Cheever then make an unschedule one as his helmet visor has come adrift and need patching up with sticky tape, so the race order is Piquet (Brabham-BMW), Prose (Renault), Tambay (Ferrari), Mansell (Lotus-Renault), de Cesaris (Alfa Romeo), Warwick (Toleman-Hart), Giacomelli (Toleman-Hart), Patrese (Brabham-BMW), Winkelhock (ATS-BMW), Arnoux (Ferrari), Surer (Arrows), Cheever (Renault) and Alboreto (Tyrrell). The rest had been lapped by Piquet, and were in the order Boutsen (Arrows), Guerrero (Theodore), Palmer (Williams), Johansson (Spirit), Boesel (Ligier) and Ghinzani (Osella).
It isn’t Rosberg’s weekend, for after a very uncharacteristic accident in practice, his engine blew up in the race on lap 44. As far as the leader is concerned it really is all over and Nelson Piquet only has to cruise home at his ease, for Prost isn’t menace at all and the Brazilian demonstrates once again his very capable ability to ease right back on the power and still maintain his lead. Tambay looks secure in third place, even though Mansell is going well in fourth place, but in the closing stages the Ferrari rear brakes begin to fade and the Lotus closes the gap dramatically, passing into third place as they starts lap 66, Tambay moving over to let Mansell through on Paddock Bend in gentlemanly fashion once he realize he can’t keep ahead any longer. Two laps later, while trying to defend fourth place from de Cesaris, Tambay has his right front brake lock on going into Druids Hairpin and he slides gently off the track, across the grass, into the tyre barrier and out of the race. Mansell is now well and truly wound up and he sets the fastest lap of the race on lap 70. Piquet made his own fastest lap on lap 38 and thereafter didn't need to try desperately hard, whereas Prost made his fastest lap on lap 73, just in case Mansell’s momentum became dangerous to his second place. Warwick is running in ﬁfth place, behind de C,esaris’s Alfa Romeo and has serious designs on passing the Italian, but before he got the chance his cockpit ﬁre-extinguisher begin to leak and for a couple of laps he drives round in a CO2 mist, suffering low-temperature burns on his right hand and on one leg. Although this prevented any further thoughts of fourth place it doesn’t upset his ﬁfth place and he led his team-mate Giacomelli over the line to give the Toleman team a very satisfying 5th and 6th. Piquet’s win is very popular with the British crowd and they also applaud Mansell and Warwick most warmly for putting Britain well into the Grand Prix picture, while the Team Lotus record pit-stop gives the boys in Black and Gold something to be proud of. It hasn’t been an exciting Grand Prix of Europe (or British Grand Prix 2) but it has been an eminently satisfactory one from all points of view, not least the weather which has been a real Indian Summer type of day.