#387 1983 European Grand Prix

2022-08-22 00:00

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#1983, Fulvio Conti, Rebecca Asolari,

#387 1983 European Grand Prix

One thing we now know is that the South of England is still a rich and plentiful part of Great Britain. Back in the spring Brands Hatch held the Race

One thing we now know is that the South of England is still a rich and plentiful part of Great Britain. Back in the spring Brands Hatch held the Race of Champions as a one-off non-Championship Formula One event to give the enthusiasts in the South a chance of seeing the 1983 Formula One cars in action as the British Grand Prix is due to be held at Silverstone. At that time there are 17 Grand Prix events schedule for the 1983 World Championship series and Mr Ecclestone, speaking on behalf of FOCA who do the Grand Prix financial negotiations, state emphatically that any rumors about races being cancel are nothing more than malicious rumor; there will be no cancellations, he says. The Swiss Grand Prix due to be run at Dijon-Prenois is cancel, the Grand Prix in the car park at Las Vegas is cancel and the New York Grand Prix never even got starts, so, in spite of “little Bernie’s words, the World Championship series is reduce from 17 to 14 events and one or two of the sponsors who pour money into the Formula One teams say: Just a minute, we paid for 17 events and now there are only 14. A number of other sponsors are now paying per race rather than a lump sum at the start of the season, and others are paying on results. There is still a great deal of money involve in Formula One but these days you have to earn it, as well as earning your start-money base on grid position and results money which FOCA pays out on behalf of the organizers. It’s tough at the top! Actually it’s much tougher at the bottom. With a shortage of races on the calendar, John Webb of Brands Hatch goes smartly into action with the RAC and the result is that FISA and FOCA agrees to there being a Grand Prix at Brands Hatch as well as at Silverstone. As Silverstone has the RAC title of the British Grand Prix, we can’t call the propose race the British Grand Prix 2, so the title of Grand Prix of Europe is resurrect and given to the Brands Hatch race.
When all the Grand Prix races are in Europe, each year one of them was honored by being given the title Grand Prix of Europe but it’s a meaningless title and it eventually disappear from use but remained on the statutes. I suppose we can suggest the Grand Prix of London (SE) or the Grand Prix of Kent, or even the Isle of Sheppey Grand Prix, but Grand Prix of Europe is acceptable to everyone and it leaves John Webb and the RAC a bare three months to get organize. By a nice gesture of mutual agreement, so rare in Formula One circles, it’s agrees that no publicity for the Grand Prix of Europe will begin until the British Grand Prix at Silverstone is over and thus it’s. But now the question arose as to whether the paying spectator can afford to attend another major Grand Prix event so soon after Silverstone. Most people have got through at least £120 (for a man and his wife) at Silverstone and it’s hard to see how they can afford to do it again in three months time, while there are other problems such as un-pay enthusiastic marshals, helpers, officials and so on taking off yet more time from work and the Trade and Industry and Advertising world which fills and pays for the back-cloth to a World Championship event have misgivings about finding a second helping from the kitty. The 1982 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch was sponsored by Marlboro cigarettes so that everything that could be painted was painted Red and White. Now John Player agrees to sponsor the Grand Prix of Europe so everything that can be paint must be painted Black and Gold. Even the toilet rolls change color, I have told you! It’s a monumental task and while certain sections of British industry are losing contracts because of saying It can’t be done, Brands Hatch management got on and did it. The result is a highly successful Grand Prix of Europe to which something like 65.000 people turn up on race day to enjoy a very full day of racing and entertainment.
In fact there is so much going on that you can be an excuse for missing the two hours that it takes to do the Grand Prix. When Bernie Ecclestone says come the Formula One troops act as one man and all the teams are present ready for the Friday practice with a few minor alterations. The entry for the second Theodore car is withdrawn and Johnny Cecotto is there on holiday and the Williams team enter an extra car for Dr Jonathan Palmer as a one-off drive in return for all the test-driving he is doing for the team during the summer. There is a vague hope that the first Honda powered by Williams will be try out in practice, but nothing transpire. One notable thing that do appear in practice is a crop of vast rear aerofoils copy from the Ferrari. All season Ferrari is using these very large rear aerofoils known in the paddock as the tea tray and the opposition are saying that the Ferrari engine must have a lot of surplus horsepower if it can afford the drag of this large device, even if it does create a lot of down-force. The ATS team make a copy of it, which they is using for most of the season and now these large tea trays appear on the Renaults, the Brabham-BMWs and the McLaren-Porsches, the theory being that down-force is more important than maximum speed on the twisty, undulating, Kentish circuit, which seems reasonable enough. Practice takes place on Friday and Saturday mornings at the regulation time of 10:00 a.m. to 11"30 a.m. and each afternoon there is an hour in which to qualify for grid positions. To anyone watching from a distance or by remote control, like television, the pace during the qualifying hour is not apparent, but to those lucky people watching from the pits it is a different story, especially for those vying for the front of the grid or for the last place on the grid, for three of the 29 drivers aren’t going tube in the race. It seems that Team Lotus are inspire by the Black and Gold scene surrounding them and with the cars giving minimal trouble both de Angelis and Mansell rose to the occasion and dominate both qualifying hours.

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.



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