#385 1983 Dutch Grand Prix

2022-08-25 00:00

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#1983, Fulvio Conti, Maria Ginevra Ferretti,

#385 1983 Dutch Grand Prix

Enzo Ferrari keeps the pieces of his cars that break during races in a special room. He calls it the "Room of Horrors." These days, the collection mus


Enzo Ferrari keeps the pieces of his cars that break during races in a special room. He calls it the "Room of Horrors." These days, the collection must have grown: a valve from Tambay's car engine that stopped at Hockenheim, the distribution gear from the same driver's car, and the fourth gear crown from Arnoux's Ferrari, both from the recent race at Zeltweg. These last two artifacts both come from the recent race in Zeltweg. It seems that the end of the Formula 1 World Championship is highlighting a reversal of trends. Renault is perhaps becoming less fast but more reliable, while Ferrari dominates the practice sessions but, due to technical issues, fails to materialize its supremacy in the results. This situation raises questions. Is the new 126 C3 more fragile than the previous model? Are the drivers forced to take greater mechanical risks to keep up with rivals? What chances does Mannello's team have to counter Renault's pace in the remaining races? Mauro Forghieri, Ferrari's chief designer, responds:


"I don't believe the argument that the car that debuted at Silverstone is less reliable. We haven't had more problems in the last three races than the rest of the season. I would say that fate has been against us. Meanwhile, there is a consideration to be made: with the 126 C3, Arnoux finished fifth at Silverstone, won at Hockenheim, and came second at Zeltweg. Tambay only reached the finish line in England. This means that troubles concentrated on a single driver. Unfortunately, it was the one with more points."


Were the issues caused by lightening your cars?


"No, absolutely not. We transferred exactly the same mechanics from the old car to the new one. The chassis, bodywork, and suspension have changed. The breakdowns were different. If the same part had failed every time, we would have tried to find remedies by now. Instead, we are taken by surprise. We hadn't had a gearbox failure in a race for two years."


Could there be problems caused by excessively high temperatures in the mechanical parts?


"The temperatures we measure now are even lower. Assessments become difficult. I think it's just a dark period. If bad luck considers how it has struck us so far, it should spare us in the upcoming races... Joking aside, the probability calculation should be in our favor. There will be a race where others will also face some inconvenience."


Do you think there is still a chance to surpass Alain Prost at this point?


"The chances are few, our victory prospects are hanging by a thread. However, I want to clarify that we don't consider ourselves defeated yet. We will continue to fight until the end, until the last race of the championship. At most, if everything goes wrong, we will make the Renault championship more honorable."


Will you present any novelties for the conclusion of the championship, some secret weapon to try to win the title?


"Unfortunately, not everything depends on us, but also on what the opponents will do. We continue to work, to make the changes that the track suggests to us. There is no time for radical changes, for revolutionary innovations. Like what we did with the tires: when we realized at Silverstone that we were at a disadvantage, we changed the setups. Goodyear changed the tires. In short, we will leave nothing untried to win."


What is happening this year in the Formula 1 driver market? 


Usually, at this time of the season, the games are already over, and the teams for the next World Championship are formed. Now, however, all teams remain secretive, and there will probably be a great rush at the end of the championship. The causes for the delay are many. Generally, the series of changes from one team to another is consequential: the movements of the champions, the most sought-after pieces, also determine the hiring of less experienced or less skilled drivers. However, champions are expensive, very expensive. Managers must therefore deal with sponsors. Considering that the teams competing for the 1984 World Championship will have to have turbo engines (although the reduction in consumption, with the decrease in fuel tank capacity, could slightly increase the competitiveness of aspirated engines) and therefore face higher expenses, this is the reason for so much uncertainty. Some teams will resolve the situation by taking on a well-known salaried driver and another, perhaps young and with a fat wallet, willing to pay to race. In any case, it seems that the market is mainly conditioned by Ferrari. In recent times, it has been said that the Maranello team has contacted several drivers. Among others, Rosberg, Piquet, and Prost. Not all rumors may be true, but it is clear that Ferrari is looking around not to be caught off guard. Probably nothing will be decided before the Italian Grand Prix. The results of Arnoux and Tambay will count. It is certain that Brabham has offered a place to Michele Alboreto, and the Italian driver has asked for time to accept. If Alboreto has not immediately said yes to an important team like the English one, it is evident that he has even more attractive prospects. Like moving to Ferrari, which has promised him a car when he is free and asks for it. And Alboreto, whose contract expires at the end of 1983, does not want to stay at Tyrrell. But who is Alain Prost? The French driver, currently at the top of the World Championship, wanted to be a soccer player at St-Etienne, but he was advised to change sports because he was too small. So Alain Prost chose motorsport, a specialty where a jockey's physique can also be an advantage. He started young, the usual path: first karting (in 1975, French and European champion), then promotional formulas. It was immediately clear that he had the makings of a champion: at 23, in the Renault Challenge, he won 12 out of 13 races, setting 11 lap records. When he arrived in Formula 1 with McLaren in 1980, he finished sixth in the first race.


"Back then, I dreamed with my eyes open; now my goal can become a reality. I know very well that it won't be easy, that everyone will give me a hard time in the last four races of the season. But this is an additional reason to fight, to focus to the maximum on the remaining races."


Alain Prost is an anti-character. As a driver, among the young ones of the last generations, he can be considered a worthy disciple of Niki Lauda. In driving, never a mistake, little room for showmanship but how much determination, how much regularity. His main qualities coincide with those of the Austrian double world champion: sensitivity, technical knowledge, self-criticism, a lot of coldness. In his private life, known only to a few intimates, it is said that he is rather stingy, jealous of his feelings, introverted. He has been married for four years and has a son named Nicolas (perhaps a tribute to Lauda, the idol of the French driver). His wife Anne Marie never comes to the races; she is not a pit lane girl:


"I prefer her to stay at home, for two reasons: she is calmer, and I avoid having problems, thoughts that overlap with those of our dangerous and fascinating profession. If you want to win, you have to dedicate yourself full-time to the cars."


Some say that the small driver (about 1.60 meters tall, weighing 55 kilos, irregular face, pronounced nose, dark hair that seems to be cut by a greengrocer) owes his current position to the luck that accompanied him in the last races.


"People forget quickly. They don't remember that in the last two seasons, I started dozens of times on the front row and rarely finished, not my fault. I suffered, I went through bitter moments. And then they tell me that luck helps me if I finish fourth at Hockenheim with a broken gearbox. In Germany, I could have even come first, and I knew how to settle."


Certainly, sometimes he crosses the finish line first because his opponents have had problems. But Prost rejects the label of Formula 1 accountant.


"Racing with the brain does not mean being without courage. Ours is a sport subject to many factors. For nothing, you can throw away an entire season of sacrifices. It's not the case. Better a placement than a retirement."


So, will the title not escape Prost, who will be the first Frenchman to achieve the coveted goal, failed by many champions?


"Wait, now I have a good advantage, but there are still many points at stake. I will present myself in Zandvoort in the Netherlands in two Sundays to seek another victory. I will try to deliver the final blow to my rivals Piquet, Arnoux, and Tambay. I don't want to wait until the end of the season on October 15 in Kyalami, South Africa, to win the title."


On Friday, August 19, 1983, in front of a large audience (20.000 spectators, 7.000 paying), the second and final day of technical tests for Formula 1 cars took place in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix. Amidst the confusion, some troublemakers took advantage of the situation to throw stones at the cars of Piquet and Prost, rivals of Ferrari in the World Championship. A reprehensible act that the Maranello team certainly did not appreciate. Additionally, a 24-year-old, Attilio Corti from Como, was injured while attempting to climb over the fence of the grandstand above the closed boxes to the public. One of his arms got stuck in the fence, and the unfortunate man was hospitalized. On the track were Ferrari (Tambay and Arnoux), Renault (Prost and Cheever), Alfa Romeo (De Cesaris), Toleman (Warwick and Giacomelli), Williams (Laffite), and Osella (Fabi). De Cesaris set the fastest time, clocking 1'31"53, at an average speed of 228.196 km/h. Brabham tested only in the morning with Piquet, achieving the second-best time of the day, 1'31"68. Patrese did not drive as he had no more engines available (three had malfunctioned in two days). The same problem affected Lotus, which, with no engines left, had to withdraw Thursday night. Osella, with Fabi, took its place. Tambay tested two models, C2 and C3, and the new Goodyear radials. However, Ferrari technicians were not very satisfied with the performance, especially in the chicanes. They were scheduled to return to Monza on Tuesday, August 30, and Wednesday, August 31, for additional technical tests. 


Alfa Romeo, on the other hand, was satisfied with the good time set in the afternoon. While the tests were underway in Monza, Keke Rosberg renewed his contract with Williams for 1984. Frank Williams himself announced the agreement between the British team and the World Champion. As known, Williams will compete next year in Formula 1 with Honda turbo engines. The experimental car is expected to test at Brands Hatch on Sunday, September 25, driven by Jonathan Palmer. Regarding Rosberg, he is believed to have received a sum exceeding one million dollars, plus a series of bonuses based on the placements he achieves. At Zandvoort, the venue for the upcoming Dutch Grand Prix, two Renaults started on the front row last year, but Ferrari's Didier Pironi won. René Arnoux had a frightening off-road incident, while Prost was eliminated due to an engine failure. The Dutch Grand Prix, with its circuit among the sand dunes by the North Sea, has often provided big surprises. Therefore, it is logical to expect an unpredictable race on Sunday, August 28, 1983, especially considering the situation in the Formula 1 World Championship: either they fight, or everything is over in favor of Prost. The three pursuers of the small driver from St. Chamond have no choice. Not only do they have to try to win, but they are also forced to hope for a poor performance by the great rival. If possible, a coalition of Piquet - Arnoux - Tambay should be formed to try to recover points and then give their all in the final races of the season. Obviously, this alliance is impossible, as Formula 1 drivers are solitary creatures and not pack animals. They prefer to succumb rather than defend another, even if it's a teammate. Each on their own, therefore, all against Prost, who has the strength of tranquility on his side. The French driver says on the eve of the Grand Prix:


"I can even afford a complete halt, while my rivals know very well that whoever does not at least get on the podium will irrevocably be out of the title race. I will start to finish the race. If there is a favorable opportunity to close the deal, I won't back down."


It is clear that in this position, the Renault driver feels secure. However, there is always a bit of uncertainty, and until the math proves one way or the other, the World Championship will be interesting and heated. The statements of the directly involved parties contribute to the uncertainty, none of whom has lost hope. Piquet, calm and serene as usual, continues to fuel a small controversy against Arnoux, claiming that in Austria, the Ferrari driver cannot have broken the fourth gear while still recording times close to the track record in the last fifteen laps. Perhaps it's a pre-tactic. The Brazilian says:


"I'm not convinced by Arnoux's explanations. In any case, the matter does not concern me. Here in Zandvoort, I will aim for the first place to completely reopen the doors to reclaiming the title."


René Arnoux echoes:


"I don't care about what Piquet claims. I confirm that in Zeltweg, I lost the fourth gear fifteen laps from the end. Maybe Nelson doesn't know that the engine of our cars is better and more flexible than his. And I had removed the rpm limiter. However, these are things of the past. In the Netherlands, I have always raced well. It could be the right time to close the gap with Prost."


Tambay is a bit more cautious, as his position of fourth in the standings, 21 points behind, suggests.


"This track could be the most favorable, among those left to face, for Ferrari and our Goodyear tires. The ups and downs of the track put the mechanics of the cars to the test. Also, from a physical perspective, it's a circuit that doesn't allow a moment of rest. Anyone who is not prepared risks giving in at the end and making some fatal mistakes for the result. Then there are other dangers: the sand brought by the wind, making every turn treacherous, the tension of a race that could be the decisive one for the entire season."


However, the protagonists of the two days of testing and the race will be four. It is not seen, moreover, who could worry them. Not even Niki Lauda, with the McLaren equipped with the Tag-Porsche turbo engine, should be very dangerous at the moment. The English team finishes assembling the two cars only on Thursday, August 25, 1983, paints them in the afternoon, and sends them to the circuit on Friday morning. Lauda should participate in the qualifications, but it is difficult for the car to become immediately competitive without encountering the problems that all teams have had at the debut with turbocharged engines. However, this is also a reason for interest, and if Niki were to return to the top immediately, it would be trouble for everyone. From the top hat of the magical Dutch circuit, capable of offering even the strangest results, the Lotus emerges. In pole position drought since 1978, a year of absolute dominance with the brilliant discovery of miniskirts by the late Colin Chapman, on Friday, August 26, 1983, the English team regains competitiveness with the combination of four elements: the Renault turbo engine, Pirelli radial tires, the new car designed by the French technician Ducarouge, and, not least, the skill of the driver, the Italian Elio De Angelis. With great determination and the seriousness of someone who knows their worth, the Italian driver responds to the heavy criticism that has rained down on him from the British press, which recently accused him of being stagnant and the ruin of Lotus. The relationship between Lotus and De Angelis (who, at 25, has already had 68 Formula 1 races and a victory at Zeltweg last year) may have definitively cracked, so the good Elio may change teams at the end of the season. But the concentration has certainly not waned for the Roman, who, when his car is up to the task, does not miss the target. De Angelis leaves Prost and Mansell, both with Renault Turbo engines, behind. A sign of the competitiveness achieved by the French engine. 


His provisional first place confirms the progress of Pirelli tires, which propel Mansell to third and Warwick, with Toleman, to sixth place. If the weather conditions do not change (clear weather, sun, brisk wind), De Angelis should defend himself against the attacks of Renault, which absolutely wants to bring Prost ahead of everyone to favor him in the fight for the world title, and the probable recovery of Ferrari and Brabham, left behind in the first round of qualification in this Dutch Grand Prix. The Maranello team concludes the first day of testing with Tambay in fourth place and Arnoux in twelfth, one of the worst results of the season. Ferrari, however, has the excuse of not participating in the July free practice and spends the hours available to fine-tune the cars according to the characteristics of the circuit. Patrick Tambay explains calmly:


"During my best laps, I found Prost and Rosberg in the middle of the track. Also, I still have to make some adjustments to the car's setup. I think we can reach 1'16"0. Today we will definitely improve."


The same is even more valid for Arnoux, who can't catch a break. The French driver breaks the engine of the reserve car, and the race car refuses to run regularly. The technicians do everything, but for the moment, they cannot find the problem, which may involve the injection. René is quite annoyed because the moment is particularly important. But Piquet (fifth) is also in pursuit, as are the two Alfa Romeos (De Cesaris seventh and Baldi ninth). Everyone will try to make amends in the second round. Good test for Alboreto, the best among drivers with naturally aspirated engines, thanks to the new Tyrrell. The debut of McLaren with Niki Lauda's Tag-Porsche turbo engine is positive. The Austrian sets the sixteenth time, clocking 1'20"159, seemingly modest. The car had no mechanical problems and had just been finished building that morning.


"I am very satisfied. The engine runs perfectly, although I know very well that we could encounter unforeseen problems. Now we have to think about the aerodynamic setup and the overall tuning of the car. In a straight line, I reached 285 km/h, compared to the 288 of the Brabham and Ferrari, which were the fastest. I believe I can also race with the turbo."


The problem of balancing speed and grip on the Zandvoort circuit is challenging to resolve. A compromise must be found because the track has a fairly long straight where small wings would be necessary, but they are less suitable for the long mixed part of the racetrack. If Niki manages to find the ideal solution, he could be a tough opponent for everyone. In an atmosphere of terrible tension, Formula 1 practically puts the 1983 World Championship title on the line in the Dutch Grand Prix. Out of four contenders, only one, Alain Prost, can face the race with relative calm. The Renault Frenchman needs only a good placement to keep his rivals at bay. The other three drivers, however, have only one chance to continue hoping: victory. Therefore, Arnoux and Tambay are bound by this condition. Anyone who doesn't come first is almost certainly cut off from the fight, while a victory for the leader of the overall standings would still close the discussion, even if, purely mathematically, it will be necessary to wait a bit longer to assign the championship helmet that Keke Rosberg is preparing to relinquish, at least for a year. The uncertainty, heightened competition, enormous interests at stake, pressure from teams, the public, the imminent contract renewals with the risk for some of losing their seat, heat up the atmosphere. Many small incidents signal that the breaking point has been reached. On Saturday, August 27, 1983, in the second qualifying session that allows Nelson Piquet to take the pole position at the expense of De Angelis, who is also overtaken by Tambay with the Ferrari, several near-accidents occur. A single sentence from Prost synthesizes the situation.


"I don't want to name names, but on the track, I saw the same frenzy that last year cost Villeneuve his life. Someone lost their head: that's not how you behave."


Once again, the most sensational incident involves two Italians. Patrese and De Cesaris travel for about three kilometers one behind the other, committing all sorts of unsportsmanlike acts. Obviously, each blames the other. The Roman, getting out of the car in the pit, hits the helmet of the Paduan with two big blows. De Cesaris says:


"He ruined my best lap, touching me twice."


Patrese, on the other hand, is calmer and explains:


"I went out on the track with new tires and was going slowly. I saw De Cesaris coming to the Hungen Holtz corner, and I moved inside to let him pass. As soon as he passed, I noticed that the Alfa was slowing down. Andrea started making gestures, then he began to zigzag, and then suddenly he braked in front of my car and later, while I was overtaking him, he tried to push me onto the grass. His behavior was extremely dangerous, especially since we were traveling at 200 km/h."


This episode represents the climax of the day, but there is also a great braking by Piquet to avoid Arnoux, while De Angelis finds Sullivan very slow in the middle of a chicane. It is clear that at this point, intentionally or unintentionally, many drivers in qualifying do everything to hinder their opponents. Fortunately, flat-bottomed cars do not react the same way as those with miniskirts; otherwise, more dramas would be added to the history of Formula 1. From a purely sporting point of view, it is noteworthy that Piquet has secured the first position on the starting grid, using a special Brabham. The car has a larger turbine, and therefore more power for testing, and is equipped with a water cylinder that spreads liquid on the heat exchangers to cool them. Behind the Brazilian, Tambay is inserted, but Ferrari cannot push forward even Arnoux, who starts in the fifth row with the tenth time. Arnoux, increasingly grim and restless, changes two engines and two turbines between the race car and the reserve. It seems to be a problem related to some cable that goes to ground, preventing the engine from functioning properly when it reaches 9000 RPM. Everything will be changed on Saturday night, and we will see with what results. Problems also for De Angelis, who cannot defend himself due to the air loss caused by a defective rim with the first set of tires for a long time and being blocked by Sullivan while using the second set. About De Cesaris, it has been said, while for Alfa, Mauro Baldi limits activity due to tendinitis that hit one hand. Meanwhile, Lauda runs into the first problems with the Porsche engine, breaking a turbine. If he had only driven on Saturday, he would not have qualified. Therefore, a very uncertain, tense race is expected on Sunday. 


At the end, if all goes well, we will know who will be the World Champion or, in any case, if there are still hopes of beating Prost. On Sunday, August 28, 1983, the warm-up highlighted the superiority of Michelin-tired cars over Goodyear-equipped ones. At Brabham, they had to replace the engine on Nelson Piquet's car, and Riccardo Patrese's car had an oil leak repaired. During the formation lap, Manfred Winkelhock experienced an engine problem but resumed racing when the lap was nearly complete. However, instead of starting from the back of the grid as per regulations, he began from the seventh grid slot, as determined by the qualifying results. At the start, Nelson Piquet maintained the lead, followed by the two Renaults, Riccardo Patrese, Andrea De Cesaris, Elio De Angelis, and René Arnoux. Nigel Mansell, attempting to pass Riccardo Patrese, went off track, losing several positions. Patrick Tambay had a poor start, dropping to twenty-first place. On lap 2, Arnoux overtook De Angelis. By the fifth lap, Alain Prost passed his teammate Eddie Cheever, moving into second place, while Andrea De Cesaris retired due to a turbo failure. On the eighth lap, Cheever, experiencing engine problems, dropped another position, this time to Patrese. The Italo-American driver unsuccessfully attempted to regain the third position in the following lap. Shortly after, De Angelis also retired from the race while in seventh place. On lap 15, at the first corner, Arnoux overtook Cheever, who fell to fifth place. Meanwhile, Piquet continued in the lead with a 6.6s gap to Prost and over 14s to the other Brabham driver, Patrese. During the 21st lap, Arnoux tried to pass Patrese with a lapped car's assistance but was unsuccessful. 


He succeeded in the overtaking maneuver on the next lap. Mansell spun off on lap 27 while attempting to overtake Derek Warwick, dropping to the back of the field. On lap 32, a gearshift error by Patrese allowed Cheever to take fourth place. A lap later, Warwick, running sixth, had a lengthy pit stop for refueling, dropping to twelfth place. In the following laps, Prost closed in on Piquet. On lap 38, Cheever made his pit stop, allowing Tambay to enter the points after a remarkable comeback. On lap 39, Arnoux also made his pit stop, rejoining the race still in third place. On lap 40, Cheever decided to retire due to engine problems. Exiting the pits, Cheever's car collided with ATS technician Gustav Brunner. Despite the incident, Cheever continued the Grand Prix, while Brunner was attended to by ATS mechanics. Cheever's race ended after one more lap. Patrese made a quick pit stop, rejoining in sixth place, behind Tambay. On lap 42, Prost attacked Piquet at the Tarzan corner, but a lock-up caused a collision, resulting in Piquet going off track and retiring. Prost continued but, a few hundred meters later, another lock-up forced him off the track, marking his first retirement of the season. Arnoux thus took the lead, followed by Patrese, Tambay, John Watson, and Derek Warwick. Tambay and Watson's pit stops did not change the order. On lap 51, Winkelhock received black flags from the marshals for overtaking during the formation lap. In the remaining laps, Arnoux comfortably led the race, although he complained about Bruno Giacomelli's behavior during lapping. In the final laps, Tambay, benefiting from a loss of power in Patrese's BMW engine, closed in and overtook the Italian on lap 67. Patrese's situation was on the verge of retirement due to the engine issues, but he chose to continue, conceding several positions in the closing laps. 


It could have been a day of surrender, but it turned out to be a day of triumph. Ferrari secured the most beautiful victory of the season in the Dutch Grand Prix, one of the most significant and important in recent years. This success was attributed to the competitiveness of the cars, the focus of the team, and the skill of the drivers, who attacked without reservation, as necessary. René Arnoux, in perhaps the most spectacular race of the year, secured a valuable first place, while Tambay recovered from a shaky start to finish second. On the podium with the two Ferrari drivers was John Watson, who performed miracles with his naturally aspirated McLaren-Ford, demonstrating that he had the pace when needed. Ferrari's triumph held double significance since the 126 C3 had not particularly shone in qualifying, and the team's technicians were concerned about potential setbacks. Additionally, the strategic elimination of Alain Prost not only cost him certain points but also took out Nelson Piquet, a contender for the championship, clearing the way for Arnoux and Tambay. Even the most cunning scriptwriters could not have imagined such an unexpected and surprising outcome. Now, the battle for the world championship is wide open again. It cannot be said definitively that Prost and Renault are defeated, but the conclusion of the contest will have to wait until the final races. The French team's driver has an eight-point lead over Arnoux and a fourteen-point advantage over Piquet and Tambay, who are tied for third place. The race was undoubtedly one of the most interesting and hard-fought of the season. At the start, while Piquet easily maintained the pole position advantage, Patrick Tambay, starting from the front row, almost repeated the dramatic scene from Detroit, where he got stuck on the track.


"It was a terrible moment, again due to my mistake. I let the engine stall, and the clutch got stuck. I feared everything, stopping permanently, being rear-ended. The car still had some momentum, and I moved it to the left. A wild bunch passed by me hissing. Fortunately, the engine recovered with a hiccup, and I managed to restart."


This time, the professor received a lesson. After luck had already favored him in Zeltweg when he collided, wheel to wheel, with Piquet, Alain Prost made a serious blunder this time. He partially compromised his chances of winning the world title and tarnished the image of a driver who knows how to use his brain as well as the accelerator. Excessive confidence or perhaps the desire to conclude the World Championship discussion immediately led to a double fatal error. Gerard Larrousse, the Renault team's sports director, commented sternly:


"It was a mistake both in driving and tactics. Alain shouldn't have put himself in that situation, especially because he would have had to stop at the pits for refueling on the next lap. An incredible mistake. I wanted to pass Piquet because he was slowing me down. I thought I could gain a second per lap, and I knew Arnoux was catching up to us. Now, not everything is compromised, but it becomes much more difficult, especially since the next race will be at Monza, where the Italians, both cars, and fans, will certainly not be willing to give away anything."


Nelson Piquet, somewhat of a victim in the incident, remained calm and even went to Renault's pit to explain himself to his rival. It almost seemed as if both were contending for responsibility for the incident.


"These things happen in racing; I don't think there was any intention. I still have some hope, but I fear that the fight for the title is now limited to Ferrari and Renault. However, I won't give up. Of course, when I saw Prost getting closer and coming at me, I had a crash."


Meanwhile, Patrese cursed his misfortune:


"I really hoped to help Nelson by taking the second position from Tambay. Once again, the car betrayed me."


It had been since the San Marino Grand Prix of the previous year that Ferrari had achieved a one-two finish. At that time, Pironi and Villeneuve occupied the first two positions in a race deserted by English teams, with only fourteen cars participating. This time, Arnoux and Tambay shared the success without controversy, mainly because there was no possibility of it, considering the race's course. René Arnoux openly stated:


"Honestly, I didn't expect it. I was determined to attack, to go all out. But with little hope. In practice, I couldn't complete the qualifying sessions regularly, starting from the fifth row with the task of recovering. Moreover, I raced with the reserve car, as the one intended for the race had experienced some strange problems that have not been resolved to this day. The technicians and mechanics of my team were exceptional, and I dedicate the victory to them. They took the chassis of the other car and mounted the mechanics of the first on it."


The Frenchman then looks for Engineer Forghieri with his eyes to thank him. And he continues:


"Perhaps I could have come in first even without the incident between Prost and Piquet. I was gaining a lot in every lap, feeling the tires improving as the kilometers passed. Exactly the opposite of what we feared. Now the World Championship is open: I won't say I have it within reach, as Prost is still the favorite, but I can fight, there are possibilities. The appointment is for Monza."


Patrick Tambay suffered and fought like hell. After admitting his mistake at the start, the Cannes pilot analyzes the race.


"My heart is still beating furiously; it was perhaps the most exhausting race of my career. I wanted to fight, focus only on the lap times signaled from the pits. But in the overtakes, so many risks, so many fears. I don't know if I would have caught Patrese if he hadn't had trouble with the turbine. All in all, it's a positive day, also because the elimination of Prost and Piquet has opened the way in front of us. For the title, we'll see: with these twists, anything is possible, although I am perfectly aware of my duty to Ferrari."


The last words go to Engineer Forghieri, who does not express tenderness towards Prost:


"It was not a move worthy of a World Champion. In my worst-case scenario, he should have settled for getting into the points zone. Better for us, anyway, the World Championship is now more exciting and open. We are sorry for Tambay, but, in any case, we could not have done better than the first and second positions."


Fiat Auto CEO Vittorio Ghidella also attended the race.


"It is very difficult to give an opinion at such an emotional moment. In racing, as in life, luck can help a lot, but preparation also counts."


Ferrari's sporting director Marco Piccinini smiles satisfied. The Maranello team is again leading the Constructors' World Championship (80 points against Renault's 68), Arnoux and Tambay are in the fight for the Drivers' World Championship. A more than positive balance at the moment. An opportune moment to ask him something about the team's future. Many rumors have been heard, what is true? Rosberg, after confirming with Williams, officially stated that he had given up a contract with Maranello due to economic issues since Ferrari would not have allowed him the freedom to manage his affairs.


"All stories, we have never contacted the Finn. If anything, it was Rosberg who offered himself, but we were not interested. I can even reveal that he is not the only one: there is a driver, whose name I obviously cannot disclose, who haunts me with phone calls, appointments. I reiterate: we will communicate the composition of the team at the end of the season."


A black day for the German ATS team. Manfred Winkelhok has been disqualified, and the team's designer, Austrian Gustav Brunner, is in the hospital with a fractured left leg. The unfortunate and dramatic incident involved Eddie Cheever. Everything happened during refueling when Prost, from the car while chasing Piquet, signaled to delay his return. Renault then called Cheever back to the pits. After refueling and changing tires, the Italo-American driver had to return the next lap with the engine almost out of order. The French team, however, signaled him to go out again in a hurry because Prost was returning. Eddie did not start like a fury but could do nothing to avoid hitting Brunner. In conclusion, Alfa Romeo confirms its presence in Formula 1 for the next year, in its current form, with the management of the Euroracing team and the technical support of Autodelta. The president, Ettore Massacesi, who attended the Dutch Grand Prix, emphasizes that sporting activity does not serve to sell cars but contributes to the image.


"Our collaboration with Mr. Ravanello's team has satisfied us on the relationship level, although the results have been lower than our hopes. However, we must emphasize that we have developed the new turbo engine, taking a difficult path for everyone, as numerous examples demonstrate."


The head of the Milanese company also informs that there have been many requests for the turbocharged eight-cylinder engine.


"There was contact with Cosworth, which wanted to commercialize our engines. But they asked for a large sum of investment, which we could not and did not want to pay. The conversation is not closed, but it is also difficult to reach a positive solution."


Massacesi also confirms having reached a preliminary agreement to supply engines to Osella if the Turin team has the opportunity to pay for them, possibly even for a single car. Regarding the drivers, Andrea De Cesaris and Mauro Baldi have full confidence.


"But they have not yet given us an answer for 1984. We are patient, but we cannot wait indefinitely. If we were forced to change a driver, it will still be an Italian."


And now Alain Prost? The question arises. Fans ask it, it troubles the nights of Renault's leaders, especially general manager Gerard Larrousse, who did not expect such an error from his number one driver. The leader of the World Championship, after giving in to anger, disappointment, and bitterness at the moment, does not lose his composure. He analyzes the situation and declares himself optimistic.


"In the end, it had to happen sooner or later. Throughout the season, I had reached the finish line, almost always in the points zone. Statistically speaking, something had to go wrong for me. If I had broken the engine or if I had been involved in an innocent incident, it wouldn't have been such a drama. Did I make a mistake because I was too confident, because I saw that Piquet was in trouble and slowing me down? But I don't think a single mistake should change the evaluations of me."


Now, however, everything will become much more difficult. The opponents are charged up, and their gap in the standings, at least for Arnoux and Tambay, has decreased...


"True. I can no longer afford distractions. I think the conquest of the title is only postponed. I still have an eight-point advantage. Good placements will be enough for me. It is not said that my rivals will always have smooth races in the three remaining races. I have already paid my debts with good luck."


The next race is scheduled for Monza, where Ferrari has often dominated, a real stronghold for Arnoux and Tambay...


"The pressure from the fans is not always a positive thing. Let's remember that responsibilities play nasty tricks. I now know something about it. In any case, I don't think the Italian Grand Prix will be decisive. Everything will be played at Brands Hatch on September 25, and by that time, I will be ready for the battle. I recognize that before Zandvoort, my advantage was almost insurmountable, and the Italian team is formidable. But I am convinced that my opponents cannot race on velvet either. I have an excellent team that does not deny me trust, a competitive car. I will know how to defend all my chances."


In short, Alain Prost understands that he has missed a big opportunity, the most important of his career, but he does not give up. He accepts the challenge and is ready to make amends. However, a small stain remains on his racing career.


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