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#413 1985 German Grand Prix

2022-07-30 00:00

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#1985, Fulvio Conti,

#413 1985 German Grand Prix

Since the beginning of the Formula 1 World Championship, there has been talk of the driver market. This one goes away, the other goes there, and so on

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Since the beginning of the Formula 1 World Championship, there has been talk of the driver market. This one goes away, the other goes there, and so on, in an incredible whirlwind of rumors, all more or less founded or with some degree of credibility. A situation that creates quite a few problems, determined, however, by an actual continuous movement of team managers, discussions, phone calls, not even too secret. There is a motivation behind all this: the attempt by drivers to increase their market value. What is happening in top-level motorsport is similar to what happened, for example, in football. Following in the footsteps of Niki Lauda, who has always managed to secure fabulous contracts, it now seems that top drivers are forming alliances to get what they want. Niki Lauda says:

 

"Some people don't realize that the protagonists of Formula 1 are us. Apart from Ferrari, which can make a driver famous just by hiring him, the other teams live and cash in the money from sponsors for the presence of one driver or another. Many team managers have become rich, live in castles, travel with a personal helicopter thanks to the risks we take on the track. Someone like Ecclestone, who has earned billions, has never wanted to pay a driver what he's worth. Only in the last two years, Piquet has understood the situation and managed to get a share of what he deserves, but we are still far from real and concrete evaluations".

 

In his role as a union representative, the World Champion is personally involved. And that's precisely why he hasn't decided anything about his future yet. Much depends, in fact, on the contract he will be able to secure with McLaren or another competitive team. The game has become subtle or heavy depending on the point of view. The drivers, the good and sought-after ones, know very well that they should achieve two minimum goals: earn a lot of money and at the same time be in a top team with competitive cars. So, they play, risking, however, to be disappointed in the end if, by aiming higher, the owners or team managers give up having a top-notch driver to pay much, perhaps choosing a young one willing to temporarily accept less money to drive a good car. It was recently rumored that Keke Rosberg had refused to sign a new contract with Williams, which had offered him £1.450.000 plus a free suit. It seems evident that the Finn would like to stay with the English manufacturer that has always given him certain guarantees in terms of team level. But Rosberg also adheres to the unwritten pact established with colleagues to try to get even more. The same goes for Nelson Piquet, who is trying (a difficult feat) to squeeze money out of Bernie Ecclestone's pockets. This explains the Brazilian's interest in Ferrari, Beatrice, and other teams. A tug-of-war that doesn't involve Prost (already locked in by McLaren even for 1986, reportedly with a handsome sum of $9.000.000 for three years) but according to which practically all moves for the next year are legal. It is known, for example, that if Piquet pulls too much, Brabham would be inclined to hire Elio De Angelis. It remains to be seen who will manage to win this difficult battle that involves not only the drivers mentioned but the entire Formula 1 (the Ferrari and Alboreto are not excluded, for example, sought after by other teams for the danger of triggering an incredible escalation of costs). Speaking of the World Championship, an important task awaits the new Nürburgring, the most modern track in the world, conceived and designed by a computer after Niki Lauda had rejected, for safety reasons, the old fascinating but also dangerous 22-kilometer circuit. Now the circuit (4542 meters) has been meticulously realized with curves calculated to the millimeter, wide run-off areas, and large protective nets arranged in rows. The most fitting definition for this undoubtedly safe track comes from Elio De Angelis, always very astute:

 

"Driving on this track with my car feels like being a fish that has slipped through the entrance of a fisherman's nets and is trying to get out without being caught like a sea bream. It's a track devoid of imagination, where the car matters much more than the driver".

 

Yet the Nürburgring could be the scene of one of the decisive races of the season. If on the eve of the French Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix the title race was open to almost all drivers, perhaps even those who hadn't scored a single point, now the situation has completely changed. At the moment, the challenge has become a head-to-head between Alboreto and Prost, between Ferrari and McLaren.

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None of the rivals seems capable of catching up with the top two in the standings. The Italian has 37 points, the Frenchman has 35, while the first of the pursuers, Elio De Angelis, with his 26 points, could still bother the leading pair as long as he scores many points, hoping that the leaders encounter difficulties. The characteristics of the circuit (short straights and fairly slow corners), with probable averages around 195 km/h for the race and around 210 km/h in qualifying, should give a certain guarantee to the Maranello cars, which have achieved the best results of the season in similar conditions. But Formula 1 changes from race to race, and it's always very difficult to make predictions and especially comparisons. We will have to wait at least for the first practices (weather permitting, as it's raining heavily on Thursday) to have some feedback. Ferrari presents itself with three cars in the classic configuration, that is, with the chassis and suspensions used in the early races with some success. It remains to be seen how the engines, which will be highly stressed, and the brakes will respond. Once again, fuel consumption will be crucial, as last year, behind Prost, the winner, Alboreto and Piquet fought for second place (the Italian won), practically without fuel, and the two cars stopped right after crossing the finish line. The statistics, therefore, would favor a McLaren in the role of the favorite, and Prost doesn't hide the ambition to deal a blow to his opponent.

 

"I am confident after the Silverstone race. I hope to confirm it on Sunday".

 

Alboreto, on the other hand, is cautious:

 

"Of course, I will do everything not to be overtaken. But unfortunately, it does not depend only on my will. We have worked, we believe we can be competitive, but we have to wait for verification. It is clear that this is an appointment not to be missed".

 

In the head-to-head between Alboreto and Prost, the candidates for a possible stage victory also come into play, namely Piquet, Rosberg, Lauda, De Angelis, and Senna. A novelty could be represented by the inclusion of Ligier, which after the third place achieved by Lafflte at Silverstone would like to improve further. De Cesaris is confident that he can start at least among the top five. But one thing is qualifying, another is the Grand Prix. The tires could have a certain weight: after Piquet's victory at Le Castellet, Pirelli quietly obtained third and fourth places in England. If the temperature is not too cold, the progress of the Italian tires should also be taken into account. With these premises, Friday, August 2, 1985, is the day of novelties. Although they are provisional results, as the situation could change on Saturday in the second qualifying session, for the first time, Teo Fabi and Toleman secure the pole position. Also, Pirelli tires are inserted in front of everyone in the timed practices (it had never happened since the return of the Italian manufacturer), and Stefan Johansson makes the first overtaking since he arrived at Ferrari, passing his teammate Michele Alboreto. The Swede sets the second-best time, ahead of Prost, Rosberg, Senna, Piquet, and De Angelis, while the Italian driver does not go beyond eighth place. However, Fabi and Toleman are causing the big surprise. A driver and a car picked up in the middle of the season (debut in Monaco), when the forward-thinking and also fortunate Luciano Benetton decided to buy the English team, blocked because it had no tire supplier. Now one wonders how a car that was conceived without large financial means, which has an engine considered so far the least powerful in Formula 1, which has a good but considered out-of-the-league driver, could break the circuit record and, above all, impose a lead of more than a second on the best rivals. Thirty-year-old Teo Fabi, smiling, with his calm bank clerk look, explains:

 

"There are no secrets. The car is perfect, with a lot of grip, competitive tires, accurate tuning, and there is a focused and motivated driver. I believe I can do even better; we'll see".

 

In recent days (after Ferrari's admissions about the intention to go to Indianapolis if the Formula 1 regulations are changed), there has been much talk about the magical American speedway. 

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Here suddenly appears the man who two years ago was the fastest on the most famous track in the United States.

 

"The pole at Indy is certainly more important than in a Grand Prix".

 

Hardly will the Italian driver be surpassed. The battle will unfold at least behind him. Ferrari is in a good position for now, with Johansson on the rise. However, there's an explanation for the gap inflicted on Alboreto. The Italian used up the two sets of soft tires available almost immediately. In the last minutes, a different setup was performed on Johansson's car, lowering the front of the car. The adjustment was successful, and Stefan was able to improve. The two drivers from the Maranello team worked in different directions throughout the day. Alboreto on the engine, which had no issues, and Johansson on aerodynamics and setup. The Italian driver says:

 

"It seems to me that we're not in a bad position. There's good progress compared to Silverstone. On a circuit like this, starting in a relatively high position matters little. For me, the final result is important, and that's the direction I'm focused on".

 

Indeed, Ferrari makes a good impression: Alboreto marks the highest speed at the finish line, on par with Mansell's Williams (253.343 km/h). It's worth noting that Ferrari #27 reaches 291 km/h in front of the Maranello box on its fastest lap, while Fabi reaches 278 km/h. Patrese performs well with Alfa Romeo (ninth place), but without much hope for the race. Two accidents occurred: a frightening flight of the Minardi due to a suspension failure (Martini found himself in the air as Winkelhock did in Formula 2, and his car fell back on the track on the rear side, shattering. No qualifications for Minardi), and Warwick also went off the track with the Renault at a speed of 250 km/h. In Formula 1, there's always room for surprises. Everyone claimed that the Hart engine (used by Toleman and RAM) was clearly the least powerful in the competition, but the English four-cylinder lined up against Ferrari, Porsche, Renault, and Alfa Romeo. Certainly, Toleman's result is more explained by the complexity of the car (and also by the extremely linear design of the circuit), but it's clear that Hart, like the tires, has its merits. While major industries struggle to find futuristic solutions with hyper-sophisticated materials, artisan Brian Hart is making giant strides. Compared to its debut in Monaco, not much has changed. The aerodynamics of the car designed by Byrne and Simond are very valid, as is the chassis. The engine has Magneti Marelli electronic ignition and in-house-built injection with the collaboration of Zimek, with four injectors per cylinder. Brian Hart says:

 

"We don't have much money, but we're working intensively. For a few months now, we've been developing the engine and electronics. Currently, we lease our engines to Toleman and sell them to RAM. I can't say how much money I have, but it's certainly many times less than that of major automakers. My goal is to be as competitive as possible when I equip the new American Beatrice team in September. If the results until then are good, someone might help me further develop my four-cylinder".

 

Meanwhile, the constructors decide to allow twenty-seven cars to start. So, there are no problems for anyone. Martini only needs to complete one lap to participate in the race. On Saturday, August 3, 1985, Teo Fabi's beautiful dream becomes a reality. The Italian driver will start in pole position in the German Grand Prix. Also thanks to a malicious rain that began to fall yesterday afternoon, exactly five minutes before the second qualifying session was about to end, no one managed to move in the starting lineup set on Friday. Therefore, next to Toleman, the Ferrari of Johansson remains in the front row, Prost maintains the third position, and Alboreto the eighth, forced to undertake a difficult pursuit. The dominant theme of the race is obviously the Prost-Alboreto duel, first and second in the World Championship standings, currently the main protagonists in the fight for the world title. The Frenchman is cautious in his forecast:

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"On a dry track, my McLaren is excellent. If it rains, anything can happen. These days I've had brake problems, a lot depends on the behavior and choice of tires. The Nurburgring circuit levels the performance of the cars, but I believe I will have an advantage in the upcoming tests. So, I just need to limit potential damage, even though it's clear that I aim to win".

 

Alboreto is very nervous. A behavior, all in all, understandable: in the morning, he managed to fine-tune the car almost perfectly (with an adjustment of the height of the front that improved the distribution of aerodynamic load) and hoped to move up in the starting grid. At the end of the tests, due to a misunderstanding, he even takes it out on the young technician Maurizio Nardon, who takes care of his single-seater. A solution that he wanted to submit to a test was not prepared in time. The driver raises his voice, but then admits to being wrong, and tempers calm down.

 

"Here I play an important card, and I don't want to waste opportunities. I'll have to be very careful at the start not to be involved in any accidents and then try to recover on the leaders. A very difficult task. I just hope to have found the right adjustments for the car and to be able to have a problem-free race. I don't expect help from Johansson, who starts in the front row. He has the right to run his race on a sports and human level. In any case, if I were to ever win the world title, I would want to win it on my own merits".

 

However, there's not only the direct confrontation between the two leaders in the standings to consider. Apart from Johansson being in the front row for the first time, all the usual lions are in the game, from Rosberg to Senna, up to Piquet. Not to forget the great passers like De Angelis and Lauda. The World Champion, however, is relegated to twelfth position, and the day will be very tough for him. The tire game, with Pirelli playing the role of a dangerous outsider, the problem of high fuel consumption here, and the possible presence of rain that could arrive before or during the race. In short, a series of complicated factors to consider. Last year at the Nurburgring, Prost won ahead of Alboreto. Immediately after the start, in the first corner, there was a spectacular accident involving seven cars. Those of Rosberg, Senna, Berger, and Surer were eliminated. It is hoped that with a better knowledge of the track, the drivers will be able to avoid such a traumatic start this time. For Italian colors, apart from Ferrari, having a Teo Fabi ahead of everyone at the start is already an important result. The hero of Indianapolis (in the wet, the author of a spectacular series of spins in the curve leading to the pit straight, ending with the Toleman severely damaged against the safety barriers) plays a leading role on this occasion, assuming that his car is up to the task over the distance as well as the lap. For Teo, a very difficult task also because many drivers (especially Rosberg) have not forgiven him for being the only driver during the famous strike in Kyalami in 1982. It is hoped that these resentments will be set aside. Perhaps there will be a chance to witness some scenes from the race live from the track: on Saturday, Hesnault, on whose Renault a mini-camera is mounted, transmits two spectacular spins. Finally, one last piece of news: it seems that Ghinzani has signed with Toleman and may race in the next race. In the meantime, we're back to controversies, endless discussions, internal struggles, technical and political battles. Formula 1 cannot stay out of these periodic crisis situations that afflict it. Perhaps this is the price this show has to pay for its great popularity. After Ferrari's clear stance, which three weeks earlier admitted to being ready to leave Formula 1 to possibly race in Formula Indy in the United States, the sports director of the Maranello team piles on with specific accusations.

 

"There are constructors who have adopted the tactic of repentance. After signing an agreement that foresees a certain evolution of the regulations (195 liters of gasoline from 1986, 1200 cc engines from '88, n.d.r.), now they want to change the game and ask to modify the rules. There's talk of cost increases, safety issues. But more than anything, so far, they've only thought about buying helicopters, jets, and castles. The companies that have invested in progress cannot accept these impositions".

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The speech is evidently prompted by the declared intentions of Jean-Marie Balestre, president of FISA, to change the regulations on his own initiative, without unanimous agreement, by adopting a valve that would limit the power of engines, putting everyone on the same level and undermining technical research. On Saturday, Balestre, in a meeting with only Italian journalists, says that it is his intention to invoke Article 15 of the sporting code, which says:

 

"For safety reasons, the Federation can change the regulations without notice".

 

A loophole to avoid complying with the aforementioned Concorde Agreement. In the world of Formula 1, however, it is said that the reasons for this position are quite different. Renault is in difficulty. Perhaps it will close the management, perhaps it will not even make the engines it currently supplies to Lotus, Ligier, and Tyrrell. It seems that in this case, the 75 engines built by the French company could be entrusted to the management of Guy Ligier, who does not have the possibility to develop them and keep pace with the other competitors, so the engines would soon be unusable. On Sunday, August 4, 1985, due to the Saturday accident, Teo Fabi is forced to use the reserve car in the race. At the start of the German Grand Prix, Fabi starts slowly from the pole position and is passed by various drivers. Already during the reconnaissance lap, the Italian had complained about some engine problems that would affect the entire race performance. Stefan Johansson briefly takes the lead, as Ayrton Senna and Keke Rosberg manage to get ahead at the first corner. At the first braking point, Michele Alboreto's Ferrari collides with the teammate Stefan Johansson's car, damaging the rear right tire of the Swede; Johansson is forced to return to the pits for a replacement. After a few turns, just before the chicane, Keke Rosberg takes the lead, followed by Ayrton Senna, Michele Alboreto, Elio De Angelis, Alain Prost, and Nelson Piquet. Meanwhile, Andrea De Cesaris is forced to retire after his car is touched by his teammate, Jacques Laffite. During the third lap, Nigel Mansell moves up to sixth place after overtaking Nelson Piquet. In the early laps, Rosberg and Senna slightly pull away from the rest of the group, and at the end of the tenth lap, the leading duo manages to extend the lead to over seven seconds against a trio of drivers, consisting of Alboreto, De Angelis, and Prost, who are fighting closely. On the ninth lap, François Hesnault's race comes to an end. 

 

Later on, due to an incorrect tire choice, Keke Rosberg's car begins to slow down due to greater wear on the rear tires compared to opponents, and during the 16th lap, he loses a position to Ayrton Senna at the Dunlop corner. Another driver slowed down by problems is Alain Prost, who, due to an underperforming engine (caused by a broken pipe between the turbo and a heat exchanger), is forced to moderate his pace. During the 24th lap, Nelson Piquet stops his smoking Brabham in front of the pits. There is also a small fire on the car, which the Brazilian driver helps extinguish. The top positions remain unchanged until the 27th lap when Senna is forced to retire due to a transmission joint problem. This allows Rosberg to regain the lead with a 4-second margin over his pursuers. Two laps later, Fabi also retires. Niki Lauda moves up to sixth place, but a few laps later, he has to make a pit stop to fix a poorly secured tire. During the 39th lap, Jacques Laffite moves up to sixth place, having passed Thierry Boutsen after a long duel. Two laps later, Elio De Angelis' race also ends, with his engine out of order. Rosberg's advantage, struggling with tire management, over Michele Alboreto and Alain Prost, decreases lap by lap. During the 45th lap, Alboreto, pressed by Prost, attacks Rosberg, but without success. Prost also tries to take advantage of the situation to overtake the Italian driver, but he is unsuccessful as well. A mistake by Rosberg subsequently allows Alboreto to get so close that, at the last corner of the track, the Italian driver takes the lead. Alboreto's maneuver forces Rosberg to run wide, and this also gives way to Prost. The Finn, in just a few laps, finds himself over 9 seconds behind Alboreto. Boutsen, in sixth place, makes a pit stop for a tire change during the 54th lap. The Belgian driver rejoins the track in ninth place. Three laps later, Keke Rosberg is also forced to return to the pits for a tire change. The Finnish Williams driver, who is also affected by a malfunctioning braking system, rejoins the track in fifth place. Laffite finds himself in third place after overtaking Mansell. 

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The battle between the Ferrari and McLaren drivers is resolved during the 58th lap when Prost spins, probably due to brakes that are no longer optimal, after attempting to overtake Alboreto. Meanwhile, the fight for third place between Mansell and Laffite continues. The two exchange positions in the next two laps: first, the Ligier driver returns to third place, passing Mansell at the pit lane, then it is Mansell who manages to regain the position. Alboreto quickly increases the gap over Prost, which, already at the end of the 61st lap, is over 20 seconds. Niki Lauda, lapped by Michele Alboreto, takes advantage of the latter's lapping of his teammate Stefan Johansson to overtake the Swede and move up to sixth place. The Swede is penalized by brake problems, which force him to relinquish the seventh position to Gerhard Berger. Meanwhile, the battle between Mansell and Laffite is resolved in favor of the French driver, also thanks to the loss of power in the engine of Mansell's Williams. Nigel Mansell, whose braking system is also compromised, in the last laps succumbs to the attacks of Thierry Boutsen and Niki Lauda, finishing the race in sixth place. Thus, the race comes to an end, and once again, there is an all-Italian victory in Formula 1. Michele Alboreto with Ferrari wins the German Grand Prix. With the first-place finish at the Nürburgring circuit, the Italian driver consolidates his position as the leader of the standings, although Prost, his direct rival, limits the damage by finishing in second place. Now the two title contenders are separated by 5 points (46 for the Italian, 41 for the French), and the rivals appear increasingly distant. However, they are not yet eliminated from the fight: the season is still very long. The race was exciting, and it must be said that Alboreto did not win solely due to the superiority of the car. Once again, the 28-year-old Italian driver has demonstrated, for those who still do not believe in his abilities, that he possesses enough courage, skill, and determination. The German Grand Prix showed a unleashed Alboreto, reminiscent of Villeneuve, with a bit of extra brain. He took risks, especially at the start, when from the fourth row, he aggressively moved up to third place without considering anyone (not even teammate Johansson, bumped at the first corner). Then, he overtook Rosberg in a corner, on the inside, at an almost impossible point, even touching the Williams of the Finn. A victory earned, therefore, deserved, and seized with the strength of will.

 

"Even a hard-fought success, one of the toughest of my career. Five times so far, I've crossed the finish line first, and perhaps this has been the most challenging feat. They were all stuck to me; I could hear their engines behind me, I could see their eyes in the rearview mirrors. First De Angelis, then Prost. But I had confidence; I charged myself, telling myself that I wouldn't let myself be overtaken easily, and I studied how to resist any overtaking attempts".

 

Surrounded by diligent mechanics, Alboreto talks at length, almost as if to unload the tension of these days. The Italian driver receives congratulations from Vittorio Ghidella, CEO of Fiat Auto, who has become a frequent visitor to the circuits and his personal admirer. Gisella says to the journalists present in Germany:

 

"A victory that confirms not only the validity of the choices and the program but also the qualities of the driver and Ferrari technology. We hope to continue on this path, even though it won't be easy".

 

But Michele Alboreto adds:

 

"Only one thing displeases me. I bumped into Johansson. I couldn't do otherwise. I had taken off risking everything. I zigzagged from one side of the track to the other, looking at the tires of the cars ahead to choose trajectories, find gaps. I arrived too long at the first corner, and even braking, I couldn't avoid the impact with the other Ferrari. I immediately go to apologize to Stefan; it's the first thing I have to do".

 

Then he concludes:

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"We have taken a big step forward. We have found a competitive engine, an exceptional gearbox. The car only showed a slight understeer, but this was due to the fact that due to the rain, we couldn't achieve a perfect setup. However, this is also the result of the work done in Imola, where I had covered the kilometers of three races in two days. Now we can't say we have the title in the bag. The road is still long and full of pitfalls. If we manage to get through the next race at Zeltweg without too much damage, we can face the finale with greater confidence".

 

The Italian driver will not have a break. From Tuesday to Thursday, Ferrari, like almost all the other teams, will be engaged in free practice at Monza. And it is certain that this time, there will be banners and shouts of encouragement at the track for a driver who knows how to make himself liked, especially with results and by giving a hundred percent of his abilities. However, before that, there is a lot of celebration once again, the second of the season, in the Ferrari pits. Alboreto's victory was expected; it was anticipated from this track, which bears the famous name of the Nürburgring, although changed in the essence of the layout, a victory to regain spirit and morale, to have a recognition of the work, of the changes made in the last few days. And all this came punctually, making the men of the Maranello team happy. Marco Piccinini, the sports director of Ferrari, says:

 

"The only downside of the day was Johansson's accident. Unfortunately, Michele unintentionally hit him. These things happen. However, I am convinced that this will not cause any problems between the two drivers. Regarding the championship, the road is still long, but we have to acknowledge that marching at this pace puts us on a good path. After Le Castellet and Silverstone, we needed a recovery like this".

 

Coach Tomaini explains that the cars were not yet 100% in shape as the recent rain had disrupted the setup tests. However, both cars proved to be very competitive, and if Johansson had not encountered the incident at the start, the result would likely have been even more positive and substantial. Johansson didn't make a fuss:

 

"I didn't even notice whose car hit me. The tire deflated immediately, and I had to go through a whole lap very slowly. Before the start, I already had some electrical problems, but everything was fixed before the reconnaissance. The car was perfect and very fast. Only towards the end, I had brake problems and had to slow down. But perhaps all of this was caused by the fact that I had to push the pace to recover a lap. Then, when I crossed the finish line, white smoke made me realize that I had also destroyed a turbine. But by then, it didn't matter anymore. I'm really unlucky, I hope to make up for it soon".

 

For Alboreto, the victory means a bit more tranquility:

 

"I must confess that I spent an almost sleepless night. I spent three hours on the evening between Saturday and Sunday thinking about how I should behave at the start. Everything went well, with some risk. Even when I touched Rosberg, I had a shiver of fear, but then I was so focused that I had no more psychological problems".

 

Many wondered if Alboreto's Ferrari could have stopped before the limit due to a slight smoke coming from car #27 at the turn leading to the pits. The technicians explain the issue: a slightly misplaced oil vent was throwing liquid onto the exhausts, causing only that lap's blue smoke that worried many. Prost himself says:

 

"I was always behind Alboreto, seeing that there was a problem, and I expected him to stop at any moment. Instead, it was a false alarm".

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Then he adds, joking and smiling:

 

"Maybe he wanted to throw a smoke screen between the Ferrari and my McLaren to put me in more difficulty".

 

However, the success does not lead to excessive optimism for the Ferrari team. It is well known that the upcoming races will be even tougher, and there will always be work and caution. Michele Alboreto says:

 

"The direct opponent is Prost, but I also fear Rosberg. His Williams is very competitive, and Keke is a driver who never gives up, until the end. Until he is mathematically ruled out from the fight, he must be considered a possible title contender. Now we go to Zeltweg, Austria. A fast track where we have rarely done well, and where last year we had the most problems. Let's hope that the 156/85 has solved these issues, at least in part. Then in the Netherlands, things should go differently, maybe like here in Germany".

 

Everyone expected to find Alain Prost almost in tears, unhappy with his race. Instead, the Frenchman is almost happy, smiling, as if he had won.

 

"In fact, for me, this was almost a victory. Second place on this track was probably my maximum goal. There was nothing to be done; already in the past few days, I had noticed that it would not be possible, except for a stroke of luck, to achieve a victory. Nevertheless, I have kept the gap from the leader of the World Championship to a minimum, and for this reason, I am very confident about the future. The championship is still very long".

 

When asked what happened when he definitively lost contact with Alboreto, Prost explains with extreme calm:

 

"I had problems with the carbon brakes from the beginning. Their behavior was irregular. For this reason, I couldn't push hard. Also, Michele's Ferrari was very fast on the straights and had a remarkable acceleration. When I tried to force the pace, that is, to overtake him, the calipers probably locked onto the front wheel discs. I put a tire on the grass and went into a spin. All in all, I was very lucky and could resume the race, securing this second place".

 

Much less satisfied is Niki Lauda, once again out of the podium, forced to settle for a fifth place that seems very tight.

 

"I could have won this race; I set the fastest lap and could really have come in front of everyone".

 

To prevent him was the carelessness of the mechanics, who incorrectly mounted the right rear wheel of his McLaren at the start. Lauda completed the first laps with very strong vibrations and was forced to stop in the pits, where both rear wheels were replaced. It was fortunate that nothing serious happened. At the end of the race, the mechanics went to apologize to Lauda, the least they could do at that point. The Austrian, however, takes it philosophically:

 

"At the pit stop, I lost almost a lap. Then I managed to recover, but it was too late. This year, nothing is going well for me. Let's hope for the next races. In any case, given the conditions in which I raced, I believe I have shown that I am always up to the situation".

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For McLaren, the trip to Germany still ended with a fairly positive balance: eight points in the Constructors' World Championship against Ferrari's nine. The duel continues at both the driver and team levels. The English team's technicians do not hide their expectations of a resounding result. Ron Dennis reiterates:

 

"Perhaps a one-two in the next race, in the Austrian Grand Prix".

 

A black day for Lotus, which lived up to its colors this time. De Angelis had an exceptional race until lap 40 when he was forced to give up due to an engine failure.

 

"It's a real shame. The car was going very well; Alboreto was acting as a bit of a cork, but I knew I could pass him sooner or later. Instead, the engine failure happened suddenly, and there was nothing more I could do. The World Championship? I've already forgotten it, even though there are still many races to go. However, our team is no longer as competitive as it once was, at least in terms of reliability. However, in terms of performance, we are always among the best, and this gives me hope for good results, at least partially".

 

Ayrton Senna is truly furious, having had a very good start. The Brazilian, second until lap 15, when he forcefully overtook the race leader Rosberg and was heading for another of his spectacular performances at the front of the race, was blocked by a broken half-shaft:

 

"There's nothing to be done; I can't even reap a minimum reward for all the work that the team and I do. It's a fate I don't like, but in any case, I have confirmed that I can always be a protagonist. On this track, the car values were quite leveled, and you would certainly have witnessed a magnificent duel in the final part of the Grand Prix. Unfortunately, I was no longer there, and I had to settle for watching my rivals from the box".

 

For Rosberg and Mansell, it was a race to forget. The Finn had the usual lightning start, securing the first position, but gradually gave way due to deteriorating brakes.

 

"These carbon discs are exceptional in terms of efficiency, but they don't have total reliability yet. They degraded almost immediately, and I had to let others overtake with the hope of finishing the race. In the end, I was only risking going off the track at every turn, so I retired".

 

Nigel Mansell was involved in a great duel with Laffite. However, he lost it:

 

"It's certainly not my fault. In the end, I completely lacked engine pressure, which was decreasing lap by lap. I even ended up in the last position good for earning points. Too bad, it could have been the time to achieve a great result".

 

The Formula 1 World Championship had a turning point in Germany. But it's not only the return to success for Ferrari with Michele Alboreto that changes the situation in terms of the standings. A five-point margin over Alain Prost is still not enough to claim victory, i.e., the world title. There are still too many races to be run, too many uncertainties to face. And while the Ferrari team and the Italian driver can now take a long sigh of relief, it doesn't mean that Prost, McLaren, or other potential opponents have been definitively beaten. The most challenging task is yet to come in a season that will conclude in November, with seven races on the schedule and many uncertainties. The significant aspect of the German Grand Prix lies in Alboreto's performance rather than the result itself. 

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A first-place finish was necessary and, all in all, it was within the expectations and possibilities of Ferrari, which has proven itself so far not only reliable but also very competitive on certain types of circuits that are not excessively fast, as demonstrated by the new Nurburgring. Michele had always said he didn't fear the fray, that he always gave his best in every race. However, there were those who had doubts, who considered the Italian a too rational driver, capable of pushing his car to the limit but not of overtaking with the courage, determination, and technical skill that make up the maximum performance of the man-machine complex. This time, the Italian driver performed at his best. It was a delicate moment, the tension was high, many could have lost their heads or made mistakes due to the pressure faced by athletes in any sport leading a World Championship. Alboreto realized that it was the opportunity to take risks. He took risks, everything went well, and he was rewarded for the gamble. One would have to put oneself in the driver's shoes to understand what Alboreto was capable of facing in these days. The Italian driver finds himself with only two points of advantage over Prost. In the last two races, he had to retire due to a mechanical failure (Le Castellet), and once he limited the damage in the face of overwhelming McLaren superiority (second place at Silverstone). Another setback could have meant a total crisis. In Germany, on the first day of practice, Alboreto took on the task of testing Ferrari's engine, while teammate Johansson dealt with setups and aerodynamics. In the end, during qualification, the Swede found the right setup and set the second fastest time. Michele was only eighth. On Saturday morning, he managed to adjust the car himself and was ready to climb the starting grid. At the beginning of qualifying, it rained, everything was in vain, the positions remained unchanged. The danger of accumulating tensions. Michele hardly slept at night, thinking about the tactics, understanding that he had to try everything, that this time using only the brain was not enough. And at the start, he took off like a fury, with anger, with determination. He attacked and defended, threw himself into a minimal gap left by Rosberg, leaving everyone astonished, including the Finn. In short, he transformed, showed another side of his personality. Prost is not yet beaten. Of the remaining races, theoretically favorable to McLaren are the next Austrian Grand Prix at Zeltweg, the tracks of Brands Hatch, perhaps Monza, and Kyaiami. Ferrari should do well in Zandvoort and Spa. The Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide is an unknown.


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