#401 1984 Netherlands Grand Prix

2021-09-11 00:00

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#1984, Fulvio Conti, Rebecca Asolari,

#401 1984 Netherlands Grand Prix

QUALIFYING The Zandvoort circuit is a very straightforward one, fast and interesting and producing few complications for competitors and spectators al



The Zandvoort circuit is a very straightforward one, fast and interesting and producing few complications for competitors and spectators alike as far as the racing is concerne. Twenty-six cars are line up on the dummy grid in good time, the late-comer being Lauda for leaking a radiator is discover at the last moment, but all is well and he takes his place in sixth position. It’s a superb start by everyone, and the whole field roars away on the opening lap in good order. As they stream up the hill from the hairpin behind the pits Winkelhock spins and stalls the ATS but marshals get him going again long after everyone has gone. Piquet’s progress on the opening lap is meteoric and the crowd gasp in surprise when he appears in view at the end of the long straight, already way out on his own. Prost followed, as is to be expect, then Tambay, de Angelis, Rosberg, Warwick, Laffite, Alboreto, Lauda, Boutsen, Fabi, Senna, Arnoux, Mansell and the rest. For 10 laps the Brabham-BMW pull away and then on lap 11 as it disappears over the Hunzerug hill a great spume of smoke billow out of the back and it’s all over; we don't see Piquet any more and Pratt now settles down in first place. But meanwhile there is some mild heroics behind the McLaren, but not close enough to cause concern. Rosberg has battle his way past de Angelis and then sits it out with Tambay into the Tarzan hairpin and forces his way to the inside line and third place, but at the same time Lauda is moving up fast after a relatively slow start. Just as Piquet disappeares Lauda dealt with Rosberg in a most forceful manner under braking for the Tarzan hairpin, and when the smoke has clear the McLarens are first and second and the Brabham is stationary by the trackside. Down at the back of the field Chooser is off on the grass in a big way on the opening lap, dropping to the penultimate position, and then set off in a very aggressive mood among the backmarkers and begins picking them off steadily, climbing from the back to the tail of the mid-field runners.
In the Williams-Honda in third place all isn’t well, for a recent spate of piston trouble has cause the Honda engine men to run their fuel injection a bit richer and Rosberg is finding that his fuel consumption instrument is indicating too high, so he is backing off on the boost pressure and the rpm to save fuel. This meant that he hasn’t hope of staying with Lauda, but seem safe enough in third place, and the McLaren pit are keeping Prost advises about the gap back to Rosberg. As it’s increasing steadily the Frenchman also eases off, not knowing that Lauda is in second place and gaining on him. In fact he doesn’t really know until he’s aware of the other red and white car in his mirrors, at which point he opens up and holds the gap steady. Providing nothing goes wrong it’s a mere formality for the two Porsche-powered McLarens to cruise round in complete command. For the rest of the runners it’s drama time, either through their own fault like Fabi spinning under braking on lap 22 and then stopping for new tyres, or other people’s fault, like Warwick and Winkelhock spinning off on oil deposits by Laffite’s Williams when its Honda engine disintegrates in a big way, or Alboreto retiring when his Ferrari engine blew up, or Tambay stopping for new Michelins and then going very well until a broken fifth gear slows him towards the end of the race. As the two McLarens cruise round they soon cautch up with the tail-enders and then with the mid-field runners and then with the faster cars. Arnoux is lap, which must have cause anguish to television viewers in Italy, including Enzo Ferrari, and then Frost is up behind the two Lotus-Renaults. After a slow start Mansell has really got the bit between his teeth and has catch right up with his team-mate who is holding fourth place behind Rosberg’s Williams. The Lotus pair are now pressuring the Finn and it’s all getting a bit unruly, not to say rough, and Frost is sitting behind watching it all, clearly not intending to lap them until they have sort themselves out.
On lap 53 there is a big pushing-and-shoving match under braking for the hairpin, with Mansell being very brave and on the point of losing control but somehow gathering it all up and coming out of the corner in third place, and on the next lap Prose laps him, putting everyone a lap behind except Lauda in the other McLaren. For 10 laps Frost maintains his pace and then on lap 64 he eases up and allows Mansell to unlap himself. On lap 59 Arnoux has stop for new tyres and in doing so has cause an accident that can be very nasty. Coming onto the long straight he has Boutsen behind him in the Arrows-BMW and the young Belgian tucks in behind the Ferrari as it shows no signs of slowing for the pits. At the last moment Arnoux lifts off to pull into the pit lane entrance and the Arrows driver hasn’t time to dodge. The Arrows right front wheel rode over the Ferrari’s left rear at full speed down the straight. It flew up into the air and crashed down, fortunately still going straight, and break its front suspension, the wheel folding back and nearly hitting the driver on the head. A very shaken Boutsen courageously steers the wayward Arrows as best he can down to a stop on the left of the track. Meanwhile the Ferrari pit has fit new wheels and tyres to Arnoux’s car and he is back in the race, few people in the pit lane realizing what has happen. With new tyres Arnoux records the fastest lap in the race on lap 64, by which time everyone else is easing off as the race end draws near. For the two McLaren drivers it’s a complete walkover, their almost total domination of the season ensuring McLaren International of the Manufacturers Championship and putting the two drivers in line for the Drivers Championship, with no challengers. For the rest of the competitors it’s total demoralization, either due to retirement or the knowledge that Frost has lap them once or more times in 71 laps, apart from Mansell who is allows the courtesy of finishing a good third on the same lap as the winner. In the closing stages the Dutch Grand Pets fizzles out for some, notably Rosberg who runs out of petrol with two laps to go.


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