#396 1984 Detroit Grand Prix

2021-09-16 00:00

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#1984, Fulvio Conti,

#396 1984 Detroit Grand Prix

Wednesday, June 20, 1984, Formula 1 arrives in the world capital of automobiles. The atmosphere is euphoric due to the recovery of the market, product


Wednesday, June 20, 1984, Formula 1 arrives in the world capital of automobiles. The atmosphere is euphoric due to the recovery of the market, production, and sales by the major American brands (on the huge highways, bright signs indicate, moment by moment, the number of cars produced, which has reached 4.000.000 units since the beginning of the year). In 1982, there were 54.000 spectators, last year there were 71.000, and this time there may be even more, especially if Mario Andretti replaces Patrick Tambay on the Renault in case the Frenchman is not yet ready to return. Nelson Piquet's success at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit has given a boost to the fight for the world championship title. The battle seems wide open, although the advantage of Alain Prost and, in particular, McLaren with Niki Lauda in second place in the standings, is considerable. An interested spectator but also a protagonist in this contest is Elio De Angelis, fourth in the standings behind René Arnoux with 15.5 points. Despite his young age - he is 26 years old - the Roman is now a veteran in the field with 79 races and six Formula 1 World Championships. The ideal driver to take stock of the situation.


"I am satisfied with my position. On paper, Alboreto should have been much ahead of me, but he is behind me. Ferrari is potentially a team that can win the title, while we found ourselves, at the beginning of the season, with a car that seemed unbeatable. Then, unfortunately, the illusions faded. Lotus doesn't have many resources, and for the engine, it has to depend on Renault".


It is interesting to hear De Angelis's opinion on Goodyear tires, the same ones used by Ferrari:


"Undoubtedly, it is a problem. The American company works hard, tries to catch up, but with their new radials, they are not up to Michelin's level. McLaren and Brabham wouldn't be where they are without French tires. Six wins against one in seven races, I think it rarely happened before".


The Roman driver thinks that Prost is favored in the race for the title but warns:


"The Frenchman must be very careful of Lauda. Niki is better than him in the race, even if perhaps not as fast overall. When the Austrian smells the battle, the championship, he doesn't make mistakes, he takes advantage of every situation. Ferrari also has chances. I think they can solve the current problems relatively quickly in Maranello. We all know that these people don't give up easily. However, I wouldn't limit the discussion to McLaren and Ferrari. Piquet also has many chances. Let's not forget that the Brazilian won the last race last year. I myself do not exclude myself from the list. We have a fabulous chassis. If we can achieve appreciable results in these two remaining American races, when we get to the faster circuits, we could aim for some success. And who knows..."


Elio De Angelis is an attentive observer, a strict critic:


"This Formula 1 has a wrong regulation. The same tires should be used for qualifying and the race, perhaps reducing the displacement of the turbo engines that will soon reach a thousand horsepower, while the cars will gradually be brought to 500 kilograms. A frightening power-to-weight ratio. Useless, because even with less, you can entertain. Regarding the tires, in any case, certain types like Goodyear's C should be used with caution in the early laps of the races. Otherwise, you risk damaging them and having to replace them".


The reference to Arnoux, the Montreal race, seems evident. But the Roman does not commit himself. He certainly has no intention of confessing that he dreams of moving to Ferrari, replacing the Frenchman. The accounts will be settled, if necessary, at the end of the year. Meanwhile, it is certain that Nelson Piquet will be present in the race on Sunday, June 24, 1984. The burns suffered in Montreal are on the way to complete healing, and the Brazilian driver should not have any further problems. 


Also because the Brabham technicians are working to overcome the inconvenience of the radiator that had caused the accelerator overheating, probably using insulating materials. In the eighth world championship race, Palmer (who had been replaced by Tackwell in Canada) and Mauro Baldi will return, who will drive the Spirit on which the turbocharged Hart engine has been replaced by the old naturally aspirated Cosworth. Formula 1 reaches the halfway point of the championship by competing in a race among the skyscrapers of the capital of Michigan. A tough race, this eighth appointment of the World Championship, on a city track full of holes and jumps that the single-seaters and drivers do not seem to like very much. And yet, precisely on this circuit, the fate of the fight for the world title can be decided or at least reveal the games and possibilities of different protagonists. It's not the last chance for anyone, but those who make mistakes here may pay the price in the second part of the season. Lauda seems to be in a favorable position, even if it's just appearance. He is second in the standings, chasing Prost, who has an 8.5-point advantage. The Austrian is in great shape, also because at this moment, it is practically decided for the next World Championship, and Niki is looking for a contract that is at least equal to the current one. Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost, and Keke Rosberg are tied to their teams for 1985. He is the only one, among the greats, to be free. He can stay with McLaren if they offer him a generous salary, or he can look around. But only Ferrari and Renault could offer him what he is looking for. With Niki Lauda, the talks are always very explicit:


"I am analyzing the situation. Ferrari? The car is good, the engine as well. The big problem concerns the tires. It is Maranello's problem. I believe the difference between Michelin and Goodyear is mainly in the compounds. We almost never come with punctures like what happened to Arnoux in Canada. If the American team does not progress, Alboreto and his teammate may say goodbye to their championship dreams".


But is there, according to Niki, a real possibility for a return to the top for Ferrari?


"Tires allowing, the Maranello team is the only one that can make rapid and positive changes in a short time. During this period, there is no possibility to work in the workshop: races and tests follow one another at a dizzying pace. For this reason, I think it is difficult for everyone to catch up with McLaren, which is at the top. Even Brabham, after winning in Montreal, should not be a danger to us. No team can solve all the problems at once. For Piquet, I can foresee a series of ups and downs, while Ferrari should improve. And if it improves a little, it becomes truly competitive".


Niki Lauda does not want to give judgments on the two drivers of the Maranello team. Anyway, it wouldn't be correct. However, he always appreciates Michele Alboreto, and he has somewhat changed his mind about René Arnoux, who is racing with intelligence and accumulating the few points available.


"But in a team, it's not just the drivers that count. There must be harmony between technical and sports management, a serene environment even if a certain competitiveness between the two drivers is necessary. If you get carried away in controversies, if there are internal and external conflicts, everything becomes more difficult. I believe that Ferrari must gather itself at this moment, gather all the available forces. Of course, I say this with the hope that it does not disturb us at McLaren, even if, all in all, I could benefit from a more heated competition in the upcoming races".


A cunning Lauda, ready to take advantage of every misstep of his opponents, as usual. The two-time World Champion remains one of the few characters of style and weight circulating in a Formula 1 that has become, on the human side, poorer than in the past, even though technically the challenge is always higher and involves enormous interests. 


On Friday, June 22, 1984, the black and threatening shadow of Lotus reappears in Formula 1. The English team had dominated the tests of the Brazilian Grand Prix, the opening race of the season, at the end of March, then had a series of ups and downs. Now it reappears with Nigel Mansell, who sets the best time on the first day of the Detroit Grand Prix. A day of tension, with emotions, fears, and twists. The tests are disrupted by numerous accidents. A series of heart-stopping situations, fortunately without problems for the drivers. Six cars end up destroyed or damaged and cannot test, in addition to Ayrton Senna, Marc Surer, and Teo Fabi, also Derek Warwick (the Englishman from Renault also breaks a turbine) and Andrea De Cesaris. Two frightening accidents, fortunately without harm to the drivers, interrupt the first qualifying session. The first occurs on the fastest straight of the circuit, protagonists Teo Fabi and Surer. The Italian's Brabham and the Swiss's Arrows collide laterally and hit the barriers at 200 km/h. Subsequently, Senna, who at this moment has the third time and is literally unleashed, collides at 260 km/h in the chicane that leads to the finish straight. The young Brazilian goes straight, the Toleman skids, and the rear part hits the guardrail protecting the entrance to the pit lane. A terrific impact: the car is demolished, and Senna is miraculously unharmed. Firefighters have to intervene to extinguish a small fire, while a large oil stain spreads on the track. Detroit is under accusation: it is a very dangerous circuit due to its layout, too narrow track, and angled curves. There are no escape routes, and the road surface has bumps, manholes, and even the rails of a little train, says Patrick Tambay.


"On the straight where the incident between Fabi and Surer occurred, my Renault jumps so much that the rear wheels lift. In practice, the control of the car is lost, and we have to rely on luck".


Returning to the results of the qualifications, Niki Lauda, second in the standings, describes the track as an infernal city circuit where one could race at the maximum with go-karts ("It's like driving a Concorde from Rome to Milan") and delivers an outstanding performance that places him ahead of his teammate, Alain Prost. Immediately after is Nelson Piquet. There are three cars within 0.3s at the top, then the gaps gradually become more significant. Alain Prost, Patrick Tambay, and René Arnoux follow. Always painful notes for Ferrari, which is still much slower than the competition, about 1.7s slower than Lotus. The Maranello team is forced to work hard: in the free practice, there is not even time to carry out all the experiments that were supposed to be done, and then in qualifying, the two drivers almost never manage to complete a lap without traffic. But if Arnoux, a man who always excels on this type of circuit, achieves a somewhat acceptable result, Alboreto is far away, in fourteenth place. It is conceivable that on Saturday, Ferrari - which adopts slightly different types of integral injections on both cars, one with opposing dual injectors, the other with all injectors in the upper part - could make a leap forward. It has happened often during the season. But the American weather wizards predict rain, and in this case, it would be absolutely impossible to change anything in the starting lineup. And the other Italian teams? 


Alfa Romeo places the usual Cheever in twelfth position, while Patrese is seventeenth. Good, given its ambitions, the performance of Osella, which qualifies, for the moment, quite easily. Before the second day of testing takes place, Niki Lauda is sensationalistically removed from the classification after technical checks carried out at the end of the qualifying session. Lauda's McLaren is found with the rear wing irregular, 0.5 centimeters wider than allowed. The disqualification will not prevent the former World Champion from qualifying for the race, even if it rains, as the last in the lineup, Surer, completed a lap of over six minutes. On Saturday, June 23, 1984, Nelson Piquet confirms himself as the fastest Formula 1 driver of the moment. The Brazilian, at the wheel of his Brabham-BMW, conquers the fourth pole position of the season in Detroit. It is an incredible qualifying day, with the circuit record beaten at least a dozen times, both in free practice and in timed ones. All drivers unleash on this city track: a preview of what will be seen in the race. Nelson Piquet takes the lead, a great favorite after the victory in Montreal, but his opponents are not far away. Prost follows him, in the same row, in second place, while Mansell is in third place, alongside Michele Alboreto. The Italian driver and Ferrari make a good leap forward. Above all, the car impresses during free practice, which bodes well for the race. However, René Arnoux's performance is negative. 


The Frenchman only sets the fifteenth time and starts in the middle of the group. Arnoux makes a mistake at the beginning of the practice, making a spectacular spin right at the entrance to the pits, at the exit of the chicane that leads to the fast straight. The Ferrari is seen arriving quite slowly, then the Frenchman may try to force the issue, accelerating abruptly. The red single-seater skids, and only by a miracle does it not crash into the concrete barriers. This incident costs Arnoux the entire day as his car can no longer improve much. First, there is a problem with worn-out tires, and later, when he could perhaps make some progress, René finds oil on the track, and Bellof's Tyrrell is shattered against a wall after going off the track. It is not said that the Frenchman cannot have a good race, given that last year he was a protagonist on this same circuit, and surely few will reach the finish due to the significant difficulties that the track presents for both men and machines. A duel at the top is proposed, Piquet-Prost, with Mansell and Alboreto in the role of outsiders, in turn threatened by De Angelis and Warwick. Another excellent performance by Senna (seventh place) after the Toleman mechanics worked all night to repair the two cars involved in incidents on Friday. Finally, the Alfa Romeo of Eddie Cheever performs well, always consistent. The American thus honors his presence in the home Grand Prix. Patrese, on the other hand, will start from the penultimate position, just ahead of Ghinzani (Osella) due to a series of inconveniences that do not allow him to complete regular tests. First the fuel pump, then the traffic, do not allow him to reach his teammate. Niki Lauda is in slight difficulty, forced to start in tenth position. But the Austrian has no alternatives: he immediately goes out on the track, before everyone else, to try to qualify, after being excluded from the classification that had hit him the previous day. Lauda is forced to use both sets of tires available, then finds many cars on the track and fails to improve. This makes Alain Prost happy, who says:


"I don't like this circuit at all, but I'm in an excellent position and will try to give my best to prevent Piquet from winning again".


As for Ferrari, there is some optimism. The Magneti Marelli-Weber integral electronic injection, mounted only on Alboreto's car, as the engine had to be replaced on Arnoux's car, broken in the morning, seems to be working well. It remains to be seen how it will behave in the race, but in the meantime, Michele Alboreto says:


"We're doing quite well; I'm satisfied with the times we got with the race tires. We should finally be able to compete with the best".


On the night between Saturday, June 23, and Sunday, June 24, 1984, a heavy downpour hits the track, making it even more slippery due to the lack of the rubber layer left by the cars during the practice days. At the start of the Detroit Grand Prix, Nigel Mansell, starting from the second row, tries to squeeze between Alain Prost and Nelson Piquet but ends up sandwiched between the two cars: the French driver emerges unscathed, while the Brazilian spins. The Brabham collides with Michele Alboreto's Ferrari, and a wheel comes off, hitting Ayrton Senna's Toleman, fortunately in the front suspension. Marc Surer finds the stopped Brabham of Nelson Piquet in front of him and cannot avoid the collision. The race is suspended. Nelson Piquet (who took a hit to the neck and has a sore nape), Michele Alboreto, and Ayrton Senna restart with the spare car, while without a replacement car, Mark Surer is forced to retire. Nigel Mansell takes Elio De Angelis's car, who is thus forced to use the spare car. The Grand Prix restarts with the initial grid lineup for the entire scheduled race distance. On the second start, Nelson Piquet maintains the lead, followed by Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, and Michele Alboreto. In the early laps, Jonathan Palmer and René Arnoux retire after making driving errors that lead them to hit the walls around the track, while Andrea De Cesaris is forced to pit to replace a damaged linkage. Derek Warwick passes both Eddie Cheever and Michele Alboreto, moving up to fourth place. Meanwhile, Alain Prost tries to stay close to Nelson Piquet until his tires start to degrade, and on the tenth lap, he is overtaken by Nigel Mansell at Congress corner. Two laps later, Eddie Cheever moves up to fifth place after passing Michele Alboreto. On lap 14, Derek Warwick pits for hard tires, rejoining in sixteenth place. Subsequently, Nigel Mansell tries to close in on Nelson Piquet, but on the 17th lap, he begins to slow down due to a gearbox issue. 


Shortly after, Alain Prost pits to change tires after being passed by Eddie Cheever, Michele Alboreto, and Elio De Angelis. The race for the Italo-American driver ends on the 22nd lap due to an engine problem. In the same lap, Ayrton Senna also retires after hitting the barriers at the first corner. Meanwhile, Nelson Piquet continues undisturbed in the lead, followed by Nigel Mansell, Michele Alboreto, Elio De Angelis, Thierry Boutsen, and Keke Rosberg. On the 27th lap, Nigel Mansell retires due to a gearbox malfunction, while Thierry Boutsen abandons the race due to an exhaust problem. This promotes the two Tyrrells of Martin Brundle and Stefan Bellof to fifth and sixth positions. On the 33rd lap, Martin Brundle pits for a tire change, dropping to eighth place. In the 34th lap, his teammate Stefan Bellof goes wide at the exit of the last chicane, hits the wall, breaks a suspension, and is forced to retire. In the same lap, Warwick, in a comeback, overtakes Keke Rosberg for fourth place. On the 35th lap, the British Renault driver also passes Elio De Angelis, moving up to third place behind Michele Alboreto. However, his race is irreversibly compromised by a gearbox failure, forcing him to retire on the 41st lap. On the 45th lap, Martin Brundle climbs to fourth place after passing Keke Rosberg and begins to reduce the gap to Elio De Angelis, who also suffers from gearbox problems. Keke Rosberg's race ends on the 48th lap, with the engine on fire due to an oil leak. On the 50th lap, Michele Alboreto also retires from the Grand Prix due to an engine failure. On the 65th lap, Martin Brundle overtakes Elio De Angelis, moving up to second place, 20 seconds behind Nelson Piquet. During the last lap, Brundle starts to see Piquet's Brabham, but the Brazilian driver controls the situation without any problems and wins the Detroit Grand Prix. Champions are born, not made. And Nelson Piquet proves to be a true champion. The Brazilian Brabham driver secures victory in the second American race with a performance worthy of his name. Perhaps everything seems easy to those sitting in front of the television, but the South American has once again shown incredible sensitivity as a driver, capable of exploiting all the possibilities of his car and tires. The key to a grueling race, a true lottery on a circuit that would be suitable for a special rally, was found in the tires. All cars with Michelin tires struggled. 


Prost had to pit twice to change them, even Lauda stopped before retiring due to an electronic system failure. The Renaults also endured a ordeal with constant pit stops before definitive retirements. A race that saw a massacre of cars in the initial incident and then, lap by lap, a direct elimination that left only six cars at the finish line. Behind the great Piquet, the surprise of the day, not entirely unexpected: the Englishman Martin Brundle with the old, naturally aspirated Ford-Cosworth engine that had won the race last year with Michele Alboreto. Then, consistently, the Italian Elio De Angelis with the Lotus, forced to relinquish second place in the final laps because a piece of paper stuck to his car's radiator, causing the engine temperature to rise. Both Ferraris retired. A disastrous day for the Maranello team that started badly and ended worse. The two cars prepared for the race were practically damaged before they could even get into the thick of the battle. The first in the incident involving Alboreto at the start, with the gigantic pile-up caused by Mansell; the second with Arnoux falling victim to a misjudgment. These two cars had been equipped with full electronic injection and would have guaranteed the two Ferrari drivers a competition at a much higher level. Unfortunately, Alboreto had to start with the spare car without the electronic system and did what he could. The Italian driver, in fact, appeared very combative and particularly attentive. The engine betrayed him on lap 49, while he was in second place and was gaining ground on Piquet. Previously, in the early laps, René Arnoux had gone off while trying to gain some positions. Starting in fifteenth place, René had tried to attack. Perhaps a wrong tactic, given how the race ended, but those ahead of him absolutely didn't let him pass, and the French driver risked being cut off from the fight. In the corner before the pit chicane, Arnoux tried to approach Boutsen, who was in turn preceded by a Tyrrell. The Arrows driver braked much earlier than the Ferrari driver could predict, and the latter was forced to lock the wheels. The car jumped onto a track verge, and when it landed, it went sideways and hit the concrete barriers, breaking the front suspensions. After Arnoux's retirement, all hopes were focused on Alboreto. The race initially developed with many Italian drivers in the very top positions, while Mansell's attack quickly faded, eliminated due to a gearbox failure. Behind Piquet, Alboreto, De Angelis, and an excellent Cheever successively inserted themselves. 


Unfortunately for the Italo-American driver, a heat exchanger broke. Many incidents occurred. It's almost difficult to narrate them all. And particularly negative was the young Brazilian Ayrton Senna, who perhaps had not yet fully grasped the dimensions of Formula 1. Driven by his temperament, the South American driver made several mistakes until he ended up against the barriers, destroying his car for the second time. Now, regarding the battle for the World Championship victory, Nelson Piquet rises in the standings and begins to threaten the positions of the McLaren drivers. Alain Prost, particularly fortunate on this occasion when the car was not competitive, gained two more points, but the Brazilian is now launched, and it will be difficult to find anyone who can stop him. At the end of the Detroit Grand Prix, Nelson Piquet once again stands on the top step of the podium, accompanied by the young Englishman Brundle and Elio De Angelis, the driver who achieved the most placements among the top six in the entire field of competitors racing for the World Championship title. The Brazilian is obviously satisfied:


"After the initial incident, which scared me a lot, I raced with my brain. I feared that something would happen again, that the spare car wouldn't perform well, but then everything went smoothly. There was only one problem: they signaled to me from the pits to reduce the pressure because they were worried about seeing a piece of nylon on the radiator. But I checked the engine temperature and saw that it was perfect. I couldn't make sense of the signals anymore; I thought Alboreto was about to catch me. When I saw that he was twelve seconds behind, I accelerated again, and I didn't see him anymore. For the rest, it was an easy race, less tough than Montreal".


A straightforward success, therefore, for the Brabham driver who is now rapidly approaching the top of the championship standings, although he is currently still in fourth place behind Prost, Lauda, and De Angelis. However, the Brazilian has overtaken Arnoux, Warwlck, and Rosberg. As for Ferrari, only bitterness remains. Michele Alboreto says:


"The car was excellent, unfortunately, the engine let me down".


René Arnoux, on the other hand, even more angry, says:


"I couldn't stay behind, I had to pass".


The second place of the Tyrrell is not a big surprise, thanks to the young English driver Martin Brundle, one of the rookies in Formula 1. It was known that the car with the naturally aspirated Cosworth engine, a winner on the same track last year, could achieve a good result due to its lightness, agility, and reliability. But at the technical checks, the officials make a sensational discovery. It must be immediately said that the car is not disqualified because it is within the regulations. However, surprised technicians find evidence of another trick practiced by the ineffable British constructor. The Tyrrell competes at a disadvantage with its engine compared to turbocharged cars. Hundreds of HP less power. For this reason, the cars of Martin Brundle and Stefan Bellof weigh around 470 kilograms (minimum allowed 540), but due to the deficiencies of the regulations, they are always in compliance: they start with a full tank of fuel, and in the last laps, they stop to be weighed down with dozens of liters of water. At least that's what was believed until now. Disassembling the tank, the officials find about 60 kilograms of lead pellets, similar to those fired from a hunting rifle, and a black liquid; furthermore, an electric pump and a duct that can carry the vaporized liquid to spread on the engine's intake trumpets. The only explanation for this peculiar contraption is that Tyrrell uses it as an air additive. By mixing the soft metal with a particular liquid (probably acid), it can form tetraethyl lead, which, when mixed with the air sucked in by the engine, allows the use of higher compression ratios than those used in engines that run on regular octane gasoline. In practice, Tyrrell would travel as if it had a super fuel. The regulations state that additives cannot be put in gasoline but do not mention air. Therefore, Tyrrell, not having a turbo, has created a kind of ingenious homemade supercharging, although on the verge of correctness. 


This case will be discussed after analysis of the fluids taken on Wednesday, July 18, 1984, in Paris. On Monday, June 15, 1984, American newspapers praise Formula 1. Record attendance at the circuit (75.000 paying spectators), exceptional television audience, satisfied sponsors, high-level entertainment. But to say that the race was exciting would be a mistake. A race broken by two starts that changed the fate of the event. An endless series of accidents and breakdowns, only six cars at the finish, a true negative record. The city circuit in the capital of the automobile is not up to the situation. Assuming that it must be accepted by force, the road surface should be redone, new escape routes in the curves should be opened, and a faster system should be implemented to remove stopped cars. Nevertheless, Nelson Piquet's victory was exceptional, and it increases his prestige, having driven perfectly, definitively placing himself in the race for the World Championship title, even though Alain Prost's lead (16.5 points) is still considerable. From this kind of elimination test, the Italian teams are defeated on the practical result level. While Italian drivers have nevertheless honored themselves with Elio De Angelis' third place (the Roman's seventh placement in eight races) and Teo Fabi's fourth place (for the first time in the points zone, also confirming the goodness of the Brabham), Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Osella collect nothing. Speaking of bad luck in car races is always inaccurate. 


This time, however, Michele Alboreto saw his race car destroyed before the valid start, René Arnoux crashed into a wall, Eddie Cheever was blocked by the rupture of a heat exchanger while in third place, Piercarlo Ghinzani was doing well when he was hit by Teo Fabi and crashed into François Hesnault. Michele Alboreto also eventually broke the engine of the reserve car. Analyzing these facts, two points can be made in Maranello. First: Nelson Piquet, having destroyed the Brabham ready for the race in the incident caused by Nigel Mansell, then won with the reserve car. He therefore had two similar and competitive means at his disposal. Instead, the Ferrari reserve car was not up to the situation, without the Integral injection and with a much less smooth engine. Why this lack of reliability that was once the strength of the Maranello team? Didn't Enzo Ferrari promise that he would provide his drivers with four identical cars? The second consideration concerns Arnoux. The Frenchman self-eliminated in the second lap in an attempt to immediately recover on the leaders. Couldn't he wait, given that so few cars reached the finish line? Of course, this is hindsight. But perhaps Arnoux, burdened by responsibility, intimidated by the nervous atmosphere that had been created in the team, let himself get carried away. This is certainly not the case with Nelson Piquet, the most disillusioned, calm, and serene champion of the moment. Hit by Nigel Mansell at the first start, the Brazilian would have had every reason to lose his temper. Instead, he drove perfectly, without a mistake:


"Everyone asks me how I managed to finish with those same Michelin tires that were disastrous for others. There's a secret. I learned last year not to wear them out. You have to skid at the start to warm up the tires, but then in the first laps, you need to dose the power with the accelerator in the curves. That's what I did, and the results were seen. For the rest, it was simple. Brundle almost caught up with me at the end because I was strolling".


In the discussion about the world title, the Brazilian is cautious:


"Don't count McLaren out, we have to wait. Of course, if it continues like this, I can recover. We'll do the math at Brands Hatch, after two more races".


Called into question, Alain Prost responds:


"In bad luck, I still got two points: I don't complain, Lauda got nothing".


While the Formula 1 World Championship continues with its competitive and technical challenges, other major battles are being prepared for the future. If in the past the fight between teams and drivers was only partially conditioned by engines (in practice, there have been years of the Cosworth-Ferrari dualism, with few alternatives), now, with the advent of turbos, there has been a proliferation of engines. Currently in contention, in addition to the two engines already mentioned, are Alfa Romeo, Bmw, Tag-Porsche, Honda, and Hart. But it's not over yet. Several automakers are preparing or aspiring to enter the world of racing through its most advanced symbol, namely the Formula 1 World Championship. A kind of Japanese invasion is foreseeable: two engines from Toyota and Nissan have already been seen, and it seems that Mitsubishi is also working in the same field. Another industrial giant is preparing to make its comeback. Ford, which has its headquarters in Detroit, is said to be working on two fronts. After creating the eight cylinders that took the name Cosworth, the American company has a turbo in direct development, also a six-cylinder. Another project, supported by Ford, is practically ready: it is a four-cylinder developed by the specialized German workshop Zackspeed. The choice of one or the other engine will be made based on the test results and the regulations that will be approved on Wednesday, July 18, 1984, at the Formula 1 executive meeting in Paris. As known, the manufacturers have presented a program according to which the fuel limitation will be frozen at 220 liters until 1987, while the weight of the cars will be gradually reduced from 540 to 500 kilograms, year after year. 


Obviously, the technical decision will be made only when it is known exactly whether an agreement will be reached on these solutions because, otherwise, if the fuel were to be reduced to 195 liters as planned, work would have to be done in a different direction. In any case, with so many types of engines available, the greatest difficulty for various teams not directly linked to an automaker will be to choose the best engine. It is certain, however, that some brands will sell their product, as Cosworth did in the past. As for Ford, it seems almost certain that the first customer will be Tyrrell, but Brabham has also come forward. Bernie Ecclestone, a shrewd businessman, wants to have an alternative to Bmw. The Japanese will make their advances with other teams, but it is not excluded that they can also make their own cars. There is also the prospect of a new all-Italian car. Minardi, currently involved in Formula 2, is building a car to race in Monza with a naturally aspirated Cosworth engine (pilot Alessandro Nannini) waiting to have the Carma next year, a four-cylinder engine developed by the Facetti-Finotto duo for Endurance, where their car, the Alba-Giannini, is leading the C2 World Championship. The only certain thing is that soon these engines, subject to continuous improvements, will reach a power close to 1000 HP for qualifying (currently there is already talk of 900 HP for the most powerful), with a power-to-weight ratio of 2:1 when the cars reach 500 kilograms. Drivers, worried about this escalation, have asked for a reduction in displacement from 1500 cc to 1000 cc. But to transform all the engines again will take hundreds of millions of dollars.


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