#412 1985 British Grand Prix

2022-07-31 00:00

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#1985, Fulvio Conti,

#412 1985 British Grand Prix

The Italian teams did not perform well in the French Grand Prix. While the presumed crisis of Ferrari, which managed to salvage its balance with Johan


The Italian teams did not perform well in the French Grand Prix. While the presumed crisis of Ferrari, which managed to salvage its balance with Johansson's fourth-place finish, might be temporary, the situations of Alfa Romeo, Osella, and Minardi have become chronic. It's disheartening to see teams like Cheever and Patrese's Alfa Romeo struggling against RAM and hearing a team executive comment on the final result by saying:


"Well, at least we reached the bottom".


Turning to Minardi, one can be more forgiving. It's a young team with a new engine and an inexperienced driver; this season could be considered a transitional one. However, the real trouble lies with Osella, which, despite the team's efforts and Ghinzani's commitment, has been unable to take off. The financial problems make the team's existence precarious. Osella will not participate in the upcoming British Grand Prix, and the entire season is in jeopardy. Everything depends on feverish meetings taking place at the moment. It's unfortunate because Osella had built a good reputation over many years of hard work. As for Ferrari, the outing at Le Castellet was disappointing, but calling it a national disaster seems exaggerated. A car that won a race, secured several top positions, leading Alboreto in the World Championship standings and Johansson, a last-minute addition, in fifth place, cannot suddenly be considered a failure. Immediately, blame was placed on the chassis, engine, aerodynamics, fuel, and more. One day on the altar, the next in the dust. Certainly, the fact that Ferrari was caught unprepared at Paul Ricard is surprising. On a track where many tests were conducted, a more consistent performance was expected. However, today's cars, these 1000 HP Formula 1 machines, are so sophisticated that a one-degree deviation in setup can lead to a halt. On July 9, 1985, at Fiorano, a lot of work was done, and the team's official spokesperson, Franco Gozzi, said:


"We have solved the problem with the engines". 


It's not an explanation that clarifies what happened, but at least it was known that the technicians immediately addressed the issue. The most likely hypothesis is that some modification or evolution was made to the car that turned out to be negative. Meanwhile, many teams have started testing at both the Nurburgring in Germany and Zeltweg in Austria. Few laps were completed because the cars arrived late. The best time at the Nurburgring was set by Piquet with a modified Brabham in the rear aerodynamic part. Surer's car caught fire. On Wednesday, the Brazilian Roberto Moreno is expected to test the Toleman. He is a candidate to join Teo Fabi if there is a second car. On July 18, 1985, on the eve of the British Grand Prix, all eyes are on Ferrari. After the crisis at Le Castellet (contested by the Maranello team), Alboreto's rivals in the fight for the world title are eager to see if it's an isolated incident, a contingent result, or if the 156/85 cars are not suitable for high-speed circuits. The British Grand Prix, the eighth race of the World Championship, held on a track where the current Formula 1 achieves the highest average speeds, is the perfect test. The official track record of 4719 meters belongs to Arnoux, who in 1983 set a time of 1'09"462 at 244.549 km/h. However, Prost, about a month ago, recorded a time of 1'06"80 at the fantastic pace of 253.940 km/h in free practice. It is highly probable that on Friday, July 19, or Saturday, July 20, 1985, even faster times will be achieved. Teams have worked hard for the race, particularly focusing on aerodynamics. Different types of wings, many biplanes, various appendages, fins, and new air intakes are seen on Thursday. The Ferrari has an important innovation - the two turbines have been moved outside by about five centimeters, and the water radiators have been aligned horizontally with the bodywork, probably to achieve a more direct airflow over the heat exchangers cooling the turbines. The rear wing is also of a new or at least previously unused shape. Piero Lardi confirms:


"We have identified the causes that caused the engine problems in France. This does not mean that the issue has been completely resolved. We hope so. In any case, even if we struggled in the last race, it cannot be said that it was a disaster, as some have claimed. Alboreto set the third time in qualifying, and Johansson finished in fourth place. It doesn't seem like we deserve rejection. Let us at least have the chance to make amends".


Therefore, the Maranello team's performance in the British Grand Prix is awaited, after which a partial assessment of this part of the season can be made. Michele Alboreto says:


"I will try to defend my position as the leader in the standings, even though my temperament always pushes me to attack. If the car allows, I certainly won't just watch the others". 


For Johansson, the situation is different. The Swede, in good form, can fight without too many problems. However, it won't be easy. Prost is very confident, Rosberg is charged up, and Piquet is confident of performing well, at least as at Le Castellet (weather permitting: Thursday has only 15°C of atmosphere, and the Brabham with Pirelli tires seems to prefer higher temperatures). Only Lotus seems to be in difficulty, even though Senna is always the one who seeks pole position. As for news, it's noted that Renault has two new-type cars (one also for Warwick). Mansell, forced to miss the last race, has said he is well and wants to race (Williams has confirmed him for next year, while Rosberg's contract has not been renewed yet). Alfa Romeo is fitting carbon brakes on Patrese's car and brings an old chassis that seems to perform well on fast corners. Osella is also present, having temporarily overcome financial problems, hopefully for the entire season. The Turin-based constructor complains that there was speculation about its withdrawal. Still, it cannot deny that it was on the brink of not making it to Silverstone until the last moment. One last consideration: fuel consumption will likely be crucial again at the English track, with the danger that someone may not finish the race on Sunday. So, watch out for surprises, especially in the last laps. Marco Piccinini, Ferrari's sports director, is not present with the other team members. He will be in England on Friday, coming from the United States, where he went to make contact with the organizers of Indianapolis. The news that Ferrari intends to renew its participation in the famous American race next year is gaining more and more credibility in Formula 1. However, claiming that Ferrari will abandon Formula 1 to participate in the CART championship requires some difference. Unless a CART race program is developed in Europe (Monte Carlo, Imola, etc.) involving other teams currently engaged with the Maranello team, as an alternative to the FISA and Ecclestone's World Championship. On July 19, 1985, a feat by Keke Rosberg ignites the first day of practice for the British Grand Prix. 


The Finn, driving in his own way, all disheveled, with the car swaying in every part of the circuit, sets the best time, lining up all rivals in the increasingly uncertain fight for the world title, in the order of Prost, Senna, Alboreto, and De Angelis. And, of course, his Williams sets a new, fantastic lap record: 1'06"107, at an average of 256.961 km/h. The highest speed ever recorded by Formula 1 cars, especially considering they are racing on circuits full of chicanes and with engines of only 1500 cc, albeit turbocharged. However, to give an idea of what happened, it must also be said that the first four classified drivers all go below Prost's unofficial record (1'06"80), and thirteen beat the official one held by Arnoux. An incredible progress that indicates increasingly refined and advanced automotive technology. And to think that there was even a risk of having to cancel the first practice session of this eighth race of the World Championship. Heavy rain, with autumnal cold and low clouds, had prevented the military helicopter used for emergency services from taking off in the morning. Therefore, the entry of the cars onto the track had to be postponed until 1:45 p.m., for twenty minutes of non-timed tests. Then the sun came out, dried the asphalt, and a one-hour qualifying session took place from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. In these sixty minutes, Alboreto immediately took the lead, followed by Johansson. Then Rosberg passed, then again the Ferrari of the Italian driver, and finally, seven minutes from the end, the Williams. Perhaps in the Maranello box, with the ever-looming threat of rain, they risked the softer tires too early. In fact, Alboreto was overtaken by Prost and Senna in the final laps when the Ferrari's tires were already worn out. The fact remains that the Maranello cars, with Johansson in eighth place, brilliantly pass the first test at Silverstone, despite all the fears of the eve. As mentioned, the tests, revolutionized in their program, may not be too indicative, and positions could change quite substantially on Saturday if the weather situation normalizes. The fact remains that the test for Ferrari was positive, and no inconveniences of any kind were recorded. 


Michele Alboreto says:


"I didn't sleep well last night. Now I feel more confident, and I believe we can have a good race. In my best lap, I was slowed down by an Arrows. I think I can at least get close to Rosberg, if not beat him. But let's wait before talking".


Saturday should be a fresh start since all competitors have something to complain about. While Rosberg calmly states that it will be difficult to do better, Prost, Senna, Alboreto, and De Angelis all promise to move up the starting grid. If the Frenchman uses a perfectly tuned McLaren, the two Lotus drivers still have something in reserve. Especially the Italian, who had to use the car with race settings, small turbines, and too long gears. Teo Fabi's performance is surprising, sixth with the Toleman powered by the Hart engine, considered less powerful than others. The driver's predisposition to fast circuits (as seen with the pole position in Indianapolis) and the car's suitability for tracks where chassis matters are evident. It seems that Brian Hart has managed to add some horsepower to his four-cylinder by working on electronic injection. On the other hand, Piquet is in trouble with a turbine failure on one of his Brabhams and a poorly fitted gearbox (gears reversed) on the other. Nigel Mansell, just back to racing after the incident in Le Castellet, demonstrates his courage once again: when he saw flames under the Williams after stopping on the side of the track due to a turbine failure, he pushed a hesitant marshal, took the fire extinguisher from his hand, and personally extinguished the incipient fire. A small controversy at Alfa Romeo (no longer news). Patrese records the tenth time, Cheever the twentieth.


"They told me that in tests at Balocco, a hybrid car with last year's chassis was two seconds faster, and they let my teammate drive it. Here is the result. It seems that there is not a clear strategy".


However, Cheever had problems due to a drop in turbo pressure. Speaking of Formula 1 and the speed of these single-seaters, generally, a paraphrase is used to indicate their maximum speed of 300 km/h. In the case of today's British Grand Prix, the situation is quite different. This time it is indeed a race at the limit of the highest averages ever recorded, on a circuit where the lowest gear used is the third and where, on September 20, 1985, in qualifying, Keke Rosberg reaches almost 260 km/h per lap. The Williams driver confirms his second consecutive pole position of the season by twice beating the track record he set on Friday. He first laps in 1'05"957, then, with his foot glued to the accelerator, indifferent to the repeated passing of others (Patrese and Johansson), he goes down to 1'05"591, exactly at an average of 258.983 km/h. The crowd rises in the stands and welcomes the Finn with a long and well-deserved standing ovation. Rosberg and Williams are unbeatable, but with a pack of formidable opponents close behind. Behind him is a very dangerous Piquet, then there are Prost, Senna, and Mansell, all people to be wary of. In sixth place on the starting grid is Michele Alboreto with the Ferrari, while his teammate Stefan Johansson is eleventh, in the sixth row. A superficial analysis of the situation would suggest a lack of competitiveness, at least compared to the very top teams, for the cars from Maranello. However, a closer examination gives hope for a good race with a chance, if not for victory, at least for a top placement. The Ferraris performed quite well with a full tank of fuel and a race setup, always considering that tire choice and any issues can influence the final result. There is an impression (not only in these days) that Ferrari cannot exploit the full potential of the cars in qualifying. It is true that Johansson does not yet have full control over the use of qualifying tires, but Alboreto can be trusted. The Italian driver (one of the ten drivers who did not improve their time) did not have the opportunity to do a maximum lap for several reasons. In any case, the starting position is not decisive at Silverstone. Overtaking is possible, and it's crucial to have a valid setup in the race. Certainly, it won't be easy to attack Rosberg if he doesn't have problems, nor to challenge Piquet's position. Piquet is lively, pleased with the performance of the BMW engine and the Pirelli tires, which improved even in qualifying, as confirmed by Andrea De Cesaris's excellent seventh place with Ligier. 


Many themes for the race. In addition to the battle for victory involving at least the top six at the start, keep an eye on the usual De Angelis (eighth time, defenseless due to an unimpressive engine), Teo Fabi with an improving Toleman, and Niki Lauda, tenth, but so far unlucky that one would think that sooner or later something will go well for him. For the rest, unless there are surprising developments, we are at the level of extras, from Renault to Alfa Romeo, which this time almost hit rock bottom with Cheever's twenty-second place. The others, without naming names with a bit of malice, can only be considered mobile chicanes on this super-fast track. A news item: on Saturday, Marco Piccinini, sports director of Ferrari, returned from his exploration trip into the world of American motorsport, following the threatened withdrawal of the Maranello team from Formula 1 to CART (Indianapolis). He says he will report to the Modena constructor. The impression, beyond conventional phrases, is that he found an excellent reception (who wouldn't want Ferrari in the race?) but that the technical quality of that championship and the organizational difficulties of such an expedition leave room for long consideration. On Sunday, July 21, 1985, Elio De Angelis, Keke Rosberg, and Teo Fabi are forced to face the Grand Prix with reserve cars. The Italian from Lotus damages his main car during the warm-up after a collision with Pierluigi Martini, while the Finn encounters an engine problem in the car used in qualifying. Martin Brundle experiences a technical issue during the formation lap but, thanks to the intervention of Tyrrell mechanics, manages to start the race. The light rain that begins to fall a few minutes before the start is not enough to change the track's grip. As the lights go out, Ayrton Senna immediately passes Nelson Piquet and, at Copse, also overtakes Keke Rosberg, taking the lead. Prost and Mansell also manage to pass Piquet, positioning themselves behind Rosberg. At Copse, Patrick Tambay, going off track, collides with Stefan Johansson, and the Frenchman loses his right front tire. Back on the track, the tire causes chaos: Philippe Alliot, to avoid it, hits Piercarlo Ghinzani's car. Johansson is the only one of those involved in the incident able to continue, but with a damaged oil radiator, he spills oil on the track. At Stowe, Rosberg tries, unsuccessfully, to overtake Senna; Mansell, however, succeeds in passing Prost at the same point. In the next lap, the French McLaren driver attempts to regain the position, attacking Mansell at Woodcote but ends up on an oil patch left by Johansson. Prost manages to control his car, continuing the race but conceding the fourth position to De Cesaris. 


Meanwhile, De Angelis overtakes Michele Alboreto, moving up to seventh place. With a strong pace, De Cesaris climbs to third place after passing Mansell on the fifth lap, although the leading duo of Senna-Rosberg manages to create a ten-second gap in a few laps. The British Williams driver is later overtaken by Alain Prost. On the eighth lap, Nelson Piquet is passed by Elio De Angelis, and one lap later, Andrea De Cesaris gives way to the advancing Alain Prost. De Angelis's race is compromised on lap 13 due to an engine problem. He returns to the pits, hoping that Lotus technicians can resolve the issue. On lap 16, Prost overtakes Rosberg, who had slowed down in the previous laps to manage his tires better. After 17 laps, Senna leads Prost by 9.5 seconds and Rosberg by 10.5 seconds. De Cesaris follows further back, over 20 seconds behind. Mansell, in fourth place, retires on the same lap with a malfunctioning clutch. Niki Lauda moves up to fourth, passing De Cesaris on lap 21. The surviving Williams of Rosberg also retires on the next lap, as the engine explodes due to air entering an exhaust manifold leading to the turbo. After these retirements, behind Senna and Prost, there are Lauda, De Cesaris, Piquet, Alboreto, Warwick, and Laffite. Piquet, having trouble with the fuel consumption computer, slows down and is passed by Alboreto. Prost closes in on Senna, penalized during the lapping of Warwick and Laffite, and manages to stabilize the gap to about one second. Many drivers struggle with fuel consumption to reach the end of the Grand Prix. On lap 41, Senna overtakes Alboreto, and with Prost facing difficulties in making the same move on Piquet, Senna increases his lead, albeit slightly. Meanwhile, after half an hour of work, Lotus mechanics send De Angelis back into the race. On lap 42, De Cesaris's race is compromised as the clutch fails, forcing him to retire. The battle between the top two continues with fast laps, both drivers manipulating turbo boost for more power. Senna manages to extend his lead over Prost to 3 seconds. However, in the final laps, Senna's race is affected by fuel consumption problems, forcing him to slow down. On lap 58, Prost secures the lead, overtaking Senna at Becketts. In the same lap, Laffite passes Piquet. On lap 59, the leaders reach Chapel, where they encounter Niki Lauda. However, Lauda retires due to an electrical problem, inadvertently affecting his teammate. 


Senna takes advantage of Prost's slipstream and passes him at Stowe. An initial attempt to counterattack at Woodcote is thwarted by the presence of Marc Surer's car. The race is decided on lap 60. The lack of fuel in Senna's Lotus tank (due to an electrical problem affecting one bank) allows Prost to regain the lead, and Senna is forced to retire. A sensor failure in his engine causes the injection system to malfunction, leading to a lack of fuel. The final twist involves the race direction, which shows the checkered flag one lap before the scheduled end. The race thus concludes on lap 65, with Alain Prost as the winner, a lap ahead of Alboreto and Laffite, who complete the podium. Prost wins at an average speed of 235.425 km/h, the highest since the 1971 Italian Grand Prix. With a football-like defense, Ferrari salvages the balance in the British Grand Prix. The Maranello team responds to Alain Prost's brilliant victory for McLaren with Michele Alboreto's second place, finishing ahead of veteran Jacques Laffite. However, it's a second place obtained with a one-lap gap, not a cause for celebration on a technical level. Nevertheless, thanks to a cautious race conducted at a consistent pace, the Italian driver retains the lead in the World Championship, albeit with only two points ahead of his French rival. The race wasn't exhilarating, even though the duels at the front involving Rosberg, Senna, and Prost in the early stages kept the audience in suspense. The victory of a British car was celebrated, but the crowd also had to applaud a French driver, as the top local favorite was Martin Brundle, seventh with the new Tyrrell turbo. The championship is still long and open to any outcome. This race, however, confirms that the fight for the world title, barring unforeseen changes, should now have identified protagonists. While Elio De Angelis interrupts a streak of seven consecutive useful results, and Rosberg's pursuit since Montreal comes to an end, Alboreto and Prost continue their head-to-head battle. If the Italian is the king of placements (one win, four second places, one third), the Frenchman is certainly the most effective driver with four victories (one deducted due to disqualification) and two third-place finishes. Michele Alboreto and Alain Prost respect and fear each other, exchanging jabs. Alboreto says:


"It would have been better if Lauda had won because this guy is very dangerous. But I'm not humiliated by having suffered a lap of disadvantage. It would be enough for me to beat him in the next race with a meter of advantage".


The response from the French McLaren driver doesn't take long:


"Alboreto was lucky. If my teammate hadn't stopped, and even if Senna had been satisfied with a placement instead of blindly attacking, I would now be leading the World Championship. But I don't want to think about the title right now. Let others dream as I did in past years. We'll settle the accounts at the end".


An open rivalry but without acrimony. After all, other competitors like Keke Rosberg could still enter the fray. Meanwhile, Alain Prost increases his tally of victories to 19, behind Stewart (27), Clark (25), Fangio, and Lauda (24). He is only missing the world title, and Alboreto is not willing to concede it, Ferrari permitting. Ferrari doesn't exactly celebrate for Alboreto's second place, accepted with satisfaction but without hiding the competitiveness problems highlighted by the cars in both qualifying and the race. Sports director Marco Piccinini says:


"I'm sorry for Johansson because in the morning tests, his car was fine and went faster than Michele. So, we haven't stolen anything. As for the shortening of the race by one lap, we are at least surprised. They told us it was a human error. A little too little as an excuse, even if perhaps it wouldn't have changed anything. It's about the professionalism of Formula 1. We would like to see if the same thing would have happened with Ferrari leading at Imola or Monza..."


Michele Alboreto, however, is content to have saved the lead in the World Championship.


"The second place is fine for me, especially considering how the race was shaping up. I had some engine problems; its performance wasn't at its best, and there were some issues with the setup. It's no secret that we need to work to stay at the top. So, for me, it's like winning. After halfway through the race, I realized that I could achieve a good result, among the top contenders".


Technical manager Tomaini reiterates the concept:


"Positive result, negative performance on the balance sheet. We'll try to remedy that".


Alboreto expresses words of encouragement:


"With Silverstone, we've overcome what, on paper, was the most challenging circuit for us. Now we're heading to the Nurburgring, where things should go better. Among the difficult tracks, only Zeltweg should be a challenge. But we must not rest. In any case, we've adjusted to our capabilities".


Prost, of course, is happy.


"It wasn't a difficult race. I had a plan to follow based on fuel consumption, and it turned out to be accurate. I let Senna vent his frustration. When I passed him, he applied pressure to catch me, but he was running on fumes. Let's not talk about the championship now. My car at Silverstone was perfect. In the past few days, we've had quite a few inconveniences, but we managed to overcome them. In the morning, we installed a new engine, with which I could win without difficulty. When, in the final laps, I checked the onboard computer for fuel consumption, I saw that everything was in order. I read the display, and when I saw the numbers, it was as if there was a sign saying: go and win".


Note that Prost's McLaren is weighed after technical checks at 552 kilograms, 12 more than the minimum limit. Considering that the cars of the English team are generally just over 540 kilograms, it means there was still enough fuel. Alboreto's Ferrari weighs in at 568 kg, indicating a good fuel reserve but also a slight overweight that should be eliminated to make it more competitive. However, Alboreto remains moderately optimistic.


"The important thing is to be in the mix. Here for the race, I have to admit we didn't find the right adjustments. So we aimed to collect the result that duly arrived. If you finish second when things go wrong, you win when they go well. I don't make calculations for the championship. Now we focus again on trying to close the gap that the British Grand Prix highlighted between us and McLaren".


As soon as he gets out of the car, Ayrton Senna, the absolute protagonist of the race until five laps from the end, literally attacks the Renault technicians, whose engine powers the Brazilian's Lotus. The driver gestures, shouts, seems to make threats. In any case, he is furious.


"It's not possible that we ran out of fuel; everything was supposed to be calculated. I wasn't supposed to take risks. I never exceeded the turbo pressure beyond the allowed limit. You can't run a race like this, giving it your all, and then collect nothing but disappointment".


When the Lotus is weighed, the scale needle marks 548 kilograms. 


This means that there was very little fuel left in the English car's tank, insufficient to complete the race. Then, when they examined the engine, the engineers realized there was an electrical problem, operating on alternating current, i.e., with only one bank. This issue may have caused irregular fuel consumption. But Senna is not satisfied with this explanation and replies:


"Is it possible that there's always something that doesn't work? When will I be able to have a race without problems? I had a magnificent start, resisted the attacks from Rosberg and Prost. And then the retirement, without achieving anything. By now, I can consider myself definitively out of the fight for the World Championship".


Perhaps with his fiery temperament, Senna tried to create a smokescreen around his performance. There's nothing to say about the Brazilian's skill, but when it comes to strategy... How could he think of finishing at that pace? With a more cautious tactic, he certainly could have fought for the victory or at least the second place. Keke Rosberg takes the defeat more philosophically, having never thought of contending for the title this season. He only regrets not being able to have a good race after the exceptional pole position achieved with the highest average ever recorded in Formula 1.


"I had some problems right away with the tires because they flattened during the start. Then, the engine immediately started acting up. An air leak in an exhaust manifold leading to the turbo. It was like driving a 1500 cc car with very few horses. I knew it would happen sooner or later. I don't make a drama out of it. I've always said that this year I'm still living day by day. I'll try to make up for it at the next opportunity".


More sorry was the English Nigel Mansell, who would have liked to make a good impression in front of his fans. But he burned the clutch of his Williams almost immediately, never getting into the heart of the fight. For the Williams-Honda, it's a day to forget. Also, for the Anglo-Japanese team, the 1985 World Championship is still full of ups and downs. After the highs of Montreal and Le Castellet, Rosberg's voice becomes hoarser. It hadn't happened since 1982 that a car lapped all competitors. On that occasion, it was Riccardo Patrese with the Brabham giving a lap to the opponents in Monte Carlo. And, as fate would have it, Didier Pironi with the Ferrari finished second. There are no other analogies between the race three years ago in Monaco and the one in Great Britain. On that occasion, the result was also determined by an incredible series of incidents, failures, and misfortunes. However, what remains is that this time, as then, the Ferrari team achieved a good placement but left doubts and questions on the technical front. If the not-too-brilliant result of the previous race at Le Castellet could be considered accidental or due to problems later resolved, the performance gap observed on the extremely fast English track, purely in terms of lap times, between the Maranello cars, Prost's McLarens, Lauda's, and Senna's Lotus is worrying. It's true that Michele Alboreto, by finishing behind the French driver, maintained (by two points) the lead in the championship standings and practically distanced all other rivals, especially Elio De Angelis. But it's also worth noting that the situation doesn't appear as much under control for Ferrari as it was after the double American stint. Looking ahead, it should be considered that Alain Prost, out of eight races, theoretically won four (considering the one disqualified in Imola), on tracks and under various weather conditions. From the heat of Brazil to the city circuit of Monte Carlo, to the super-fast Silverstone track. What does this mean? Simply that the McLaren is a versatile car, no longer having the supremacy of the previous year but still a formidable rival, growing and ready to achieve a spectacular overtaking in just two weeks at the Nurburgring. Not to forget Williams, Lotus, and Brabham, which can always pose a threat. However, what is more alarming is the inconsistent performance of the Maranello cars. Let's take an example: at Le Castellet, on the first day of practice, Alboreto and Johansson were in trouble, lagging behind in times. Then Michele made up for it with a third-place in the starting lineup. On Friday, the Italian set the fourth fastest time, the Swede the eighth. By the half-hour mark of Sunday morning tests, Stefan shines with a third time while the Italian driver is in the middle of a group full of troubles. 


It would have been very interesting to see Johansson in the race if he hadn't been pushed off by Tambay at the first corner. By looking at the lap-by-lap data provided by Olivetti, it's discovered that while Prost raced like a fury for three-quarters of the race, Alboreto went much slower, losing about two seconds per lap, accumulating a one-lap disadvantage. Beyond the discussion about the incredible and blameworthy decision of the race director Cooper to wave the checkered flag one lap before the end, the fact remains that there is a loss of competitiveness for the 156/85. Now there are many possible hypotheses. Since Ferrari has absolutely no fuel consumption problems (668 kilograms at checks, which should mean a lot of fuel in the tank), one might think that the Maranello team's technicians cannot put more pressure on the turbines to avoid the risk of breaking the engines. But so far, it was not thought (especially said by the other competitors) that the Maranello engine is the best in Formula 1? Or are there other issues, aerodynamic or chassis-related? Or the cars cannot be tuned to their maximum potential. The only certain thing is that, to specific questions, the team's officials answer that if they knew what the problem was, they would have already sought a solution. Now we have to wait: from Wednesday, July 24, 1985, Ferrari is testing at Imola, probably until Friday. Who knows if something will be discovered, awaiting further confirmation in two weeks in Germany where reliability might not be enough to stop McLaren. Meanwhile, the war between FISA and FOCA continues, or rather, it's only just begun. While Jean-Marie Balestre is studying some initiatives to curb the escalation of power and operating costs in Formula 1, alliances are forming on both sides. The small teams are pushing in one direction to try to compress expenses and become more competitive with a leveling of engine performance, while the teams that in one way or another rely on an automaker do not want to change the regulations after investing tens of millions of dollars in researching the best solutions for the future, which includes a reduction in consumption for the next year (195 liters of fuel) and the adoption of 1200 cc engines starting from 1988. It seemed that Ferrari, the first to protest a possible breach of the Concorde Agreement (the treaty that ended disputes between FISA, FOCA constructors, and legalists according to which a multi-year program of regulations was prepared), was isolated. Instead, it turns out that the Maranello team has important allies, and if there is a split, it could even mean the end of Formula 1. The Ferrari team threatens to go racing in the United States. Honda, on the other hand, would even be willing to withdraw. Frank Williams, the English team manager whose team uses Japanese engines, says:


"If even a comma is changed without unanimous agreement, Honda will withdraw immediately. And I understand that Ford, ready to enter with Beatrice in 1986, will do the same. You can't make plans and investments and then change direction every moment".


Even BMW, supplier of Brabham and Arrows, agrees with this thesis. Paul Rosette, head of German Motorsport, says:


"Limiting engine power with a valve in the supercharging system would be stupid, technically".


Contrary opinions are held by Carlo Chiti for Motori Moderni (Minardi), Enzo Osella, Jean Sage (Renault), and Gianni Tonti (Alfa Romeo). Faced with many ideas, many interests, and the needs of those who want to survive above all, there is only one solution. Sit down at the table and discuss until a compromise accepted by all is found. There are many proposals. Let them be analyzed, studied thoroughly, without trampling on anyone's rights. The intention to make the qualifications, for example, based on an average of ten laps, is not stupid but not easily implementable, especially considering the weather conditions that can change from one moment to another. An imposition by FISA at this time, however, would not be a fair move, as it would taste like a self-interested action to favor someone in this new controversy. Many people wonder if the regulation limiting fuel consumption to 220 liters per car during a Grand Prix is fair. Especially several experts argue that this situation takes away spectacle and conditions the drivers. Indeed, seeing a race like the one played by Ayrton Senna, beautiful, courageous, seemingly without inhibitions, ending with the Brazilian stopping early because he ran out of fuel, leaves one perplexed. However, it is enough to reason to realize that this rule is not groundless, that it has a foundation, a logical explanation. In fact, a different regulation with unlimited fuel quantity would not change the situation much, but it would multiply the risks to the detriment of safety, already precarious given the performance levels reached by the cars. Now the speeds of the cars are partially reduced by the specter of consumption. In essence, the technical challenge is to find the best compromise between the power to be exploited and the available fuel. If the tanks had, for example, 250 liters instead of 220, the drivers would ask for higher supercharging pressure, and the technicians, to win races, would listen to them. For this reason, someone would end up consuming the precious liquid equally before the end of the races. And moreover, the engines, pushed to the limit, would break very easily, causing many retirements. The situation would not change, but it could even worsen. Certainly, the times when only skill, the heart of the drivers, counted are over. But, after all, would Juan Manuel Fangio have won five world titles if he hadn't had better cars than those of his opponents on many occasions? The skill of a champion is the sum of many qualities, not least the ability to use the brain and to manage the accelerator.


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