It seems as if the rain may stay for race day so most drivers had a few laps in the rain, and when the rain stops and the sun shone brieﬂy there is a ﬂurry of activity, but it’s a waste of time as the rain returns and only de Angelis got below 1'30"0, more than 10 sec off a poor qualifying time of Friday. It’s now all over and Fabi is taking his ﬁrst pole position in Formula One. It’s also the ﬁrst time on pole position for Pirelli, Brian Hart’s engine, the Toleman car and their sponsors Benetton. Behind the scenes in the paddock there is genuine pleasure all round for the Toleman-Hart team, from rival engine manufacturers, other teams and ex-Toleman drivers. The only sad bit is that Rory Byrne isn’t there to enjoy it all. The Germans may have built a New Nürburgring, but it is still the same old weather in the Eifel mountains and nobody is very convince that Sunday will stay dry, though surprisingly it does, even though heavy clouds ﬁll the skies. In the morning warm-up session, where everyone is running in race-trim, the heavies like McLaren, Lotus, Brabham and Ferrari are looking more their normal selves, but even so Fabi is still in with them with the Toleman. The 67 lap race is due to start at 2:30 p.m. and at 2:00 p.m. the pit lane is open to let everyone drive round the circuit to the dummy grid, most drivers putting in more than one lap. With Teo Fabi on pole position and Stefan Johansson in second place, these two comparative newcomers to the fore-front of Formula One must be a little apprehensive knowing that they have behind them a pretty tough bunch of racers in Prost, Rosberg, Senna, Piquet, de Angelis, Alboreto, Patrese, Mansell and Lauda. In the back half of the grid is the sad sight of three works Renaults, mingling with RAMs, Arrows and Tyrrells. The New Nürburgring starting grid is just after a slow corner so that though Fabi and Johansson take their places promptly at the front after the parade lap, it seems an age before the back of the ﬁeld was in position after creeping round the slow corner.
The Toleman clutch seem to be dragging as Fabi held pole-position and Johansson got the jump on him as the green light comes on. The Toleman then spins its rear wheels violently and is swamp by the chargers from behind. In the rush to the ﬁrst corner Senna made another Villeneuve start and is into the lead from Rosberg, while Alboreto locks his brakes and slid into his team-mate’s right rear wheel, puncturing the tyre. Senna and Rosberg are away, but round that opening lap the Honda-power Williams storms past the Renault-power Lotus and takes the lead with remarkable ease. Poor Johansson, who is looking forward to a really good race from the front, has to limp round the opening lap arriving at the pits long after everyone has gone by, with his right rear tyre in shreds. It’s replace and he rejoins the race as the leaders come up behind the paddock to ﬁnish their second lap. Of the 27 starters only 26 havd go by for Laffite has inadvertently punts his team-mate de Cesaris, off the track and into retirement in the ﬁrst-corner fracas. In no time at all Rosberg and Senna opens up a gap to their followers, led by Alboreto, with de Angelis, Prost, Piquet, Mansell, Fabi and Patrese following. The Toleman driver has his moment of glory. A RAM retire almost at once, as seems inevitable, and the Renault team are so far back that they can’t see who is in the lead of the race. Back in the race Johansson is lapping fractionally faster than the race leader, which makes his ﬁrst corner shunt all the more infuriating, and is galloping up on the tail-enders, but with little hope of getting in the top six, though it isn’t for want of trying. Patrese retires his Alfa Romeo in a cloud of smoke and the Zakspeed expires with engine trouble, and then the Renault camera car ﬁzzled out with clutch trouble, thus putting an end to an expensive little TV experiment after only a few seconds transmission. The second RAM retires. By 10 laps a pattern has taken shape. Rosberg and Senna are well out in front, very evenly match, with Alberto, de Angelis and Prost in close company with third place at stake. Then comes Mansell leading a train of cars comprising the Brabham of Piquet, the Toleman, Boutsen’s Arrows-BMW, Lauda’s McLaren and Jack Lafferty in the Ligier. Cheever’s Alfa Romeo is leading the rest, which include Tambay and Warwick in the factory Renaults.
On lap 14 Senna decides he has to follow the Williams-Honda for long enough and make a lunge through the inside at the hairpin at the far end of the circuit. Rosberg is unimpressed and sat it out with the young Brazilian, but on the next lap Senna is more forceful and is by and into the lead. There is still little to choose between the two of them and it looks as if stalemate is approaching, but on lap 27 fate step in with another cruel blow for the brilliant Brazilian driver. This time Renault are blameless, unlike at Silverstone, for the Lotus let him down in the shape of a broken drive-shaft universal joint. How many times has Ayrton Senna retires while leading a race? Tambay spins off into the sandy run-off area on the corner before the pits and gets bogged down into retirement, and Warwick retires at the pits with electrical problems. Piquet is out in a cloud of ﬂame and smoke as his turbo-charger blows up, and before half distance Cheever is out and also Fabi, the Toleman expiring onto the grass verge with no drive to its rear wheels. Rothengatter retired the Osella with a broken gearbox, de Angelis retires with Renault engine failure, and so it goes on. Rosberg has seem to be completely uncatchable but as lap 40 approaches he begins to lose ground and Alboreto and Prost close up on him. As they end lap 45 there is a bit of pushing and shoving as they break for the last corner and Rosberg goes into it in ﬁrst place, but comes out of it in third place. The Williams breaks are behaving oddly and Rosberg has to leave the other two to go. A fair way behind him Mansell is still holding off his pursuers, but they are now down to Boutsen and Laffite, for Piquet has gone out spectacularly, as already mention and Lauda has gone into the pits with a nasty grating noise somewhere behind him. A piece of ducting has come loose and is chaﬁng a tyre, so it’s just as well that he stops to have it removes, and he has new tyres while he is there. Boutsen’s tyres are wearing badly and Laffite ﬁnds a way by, into ﬁfth place and begins to close on Mansell. Throughout all these happenings Johansson has never ease up and is driving splendidly, now up into seventh place.
With ten laps to go Rosberg is into the pits for a change of tyres, but it’s to no avail as four laps later, he’s back to retire with brake trouble. In the closing phase of the race the leading Ferrari begins to smoke slightly as it accelerates out of the slow corners, and Prost must have smile to himself, thinking it will only be a matter of time before he inherits the lead. However it doesn't work out that way. At the end of lap 57 Rosberg is heading for the pits and a new set of tyres, and Mansell and Laffite go by, and at the end of the next lap Prost locks up his rear brakes into the last corner and spin off into the run-off area. He keeps the Porsche engine running and is able to get back on the track without losing his second place, but now all hope of catching Alboreto is gone, and the smoke from the Ferrari isn’t getting any worse, so obviously it’s not serious. As Alboreto cruises through the remaining laps, with Prost trailing some ten seconds behind, Laffite and Mansell are having a splendid ding-dong. The Honda engine in the Williams is losing turbocharger boost and subsequent power, while the Renault engine in the Ligier is very healthy and the two cars pass and repass, but with three laps to go the Honda sounds very rough and Laffite got away, while Boutsen catches and pass Mansell, and within sight of the ﬁnish Lauda catches and pass the sick Williams-Honda. Johansson’s climb up through the ﬁeld has suffer a setback at the end of lap 63 when erratic wearing brakes catch him out and he spins, letting Berger’s Arrows get ahead again, and a lap later Bellof in the TyrrellRenault passes the Ferrari. Martin Brundle’s drive in the totally outclass Tyrrell-Cosworth V8 is a classic example of the right stuff. Although he is last, some four laps behind the leader, he never gives up driving hard and quite a few factory team drivers will do well to copy his example. As a Formula One race it’s not exactly enthralling and as the Großer Preis von Deutschland it’s a shadow of its former self. The new Nürburgring is what the Formula One establishment demands under the guise of the great god safety, and that is what they have got. I don’t think very much adrenaline ﬂowes either on the track or among the handful of spectators.