Report by Nigel Roebuck
A real strange one. Most of Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix was comparatively uneventful, close but not exactly tense. Alain Prost and Renault were heading for victory. Riccardo Patrese's Brabham had given honourable chase throughout, and was going to be second, followed by Didier Pironi's Ferrari and Andrea de Cesaris's Alfa Romeo, with Derek Daly's Williams next in line. That was the scenario as the race neared its end. Rain was beginning to fall.
Everything happened in the last three laps. Halfway round his 74th, Prost lost the Renault on the greasy run down from the chicane to Tabac, the car slamming head on into the barrier on the right, then bouncing back across the road into the opposite barrier. The car was heavily damaged; astonishingly , Alain was not…
That left Patrese in the lead - briefly. On lap 75 the Italian spun at the approach to Station Hairpin, coming to rest across the road, engine dead…
So Pironi took the lead, and was in first place at the start of the last lap. But the Ferrari was going slowly now, and finally ground to a halt in the tunnel, out of fuel. In a similar predicament was de Cesaris, whose Alfa was parked at the top of the hill…
By now Daly had clobbered the guardrail at Tabac, removing the rear wing from his Williams, and smashed open the gearbox. Eventually, all the oil ran out, and he too came to a halt…
In the meantime, Patrese was on the move again. His Brabham was judged to be in a dangerous place, and therefore allowed a push from the marshalls. Down the hill from Station Hairpin Riccardo found a gear, let out the clutch and was away. Thus it was that he alone was able to complete the full 76 laps, take the flag and the race. Had he not been able to re-start, the result would have been a Lotus 1-2, for Nigel Mansell and Elio de Angelis were still circulating, albeit a lap behind. If Patrese had not been able to take the flag, the race would have been theirs.
There it was then: Patrese, Pironi (stopped), de Cesaris (immobile), Mansell, de Angelis and Daly (stationary). Those were the points scorers.
Patrese's first Grand Prix win was thoroughly deserved, for he took the fight to the Renaults from the word go, keeping the pressure on Prost, despite being under pressure himself from Pironi and de Cesaris. No, he would never have caught Prost, and yes, he was fortunate to be able to re-start after his spin, but it was a drive full of merit.
© Autosport magazine - Reproduced with permission
Final Race Results
- Riccardo Patrese (Brabham)
- Didier Pironi (Ferrari)
- Andrea de Cesaris (Alfa Romeo)
- Nigel Mansell (Lotus)
- Elio De Angelis (Lotus)
- Derek Daly (Williams)
- Alain Prost (Renault)
- Brian Henton (Tyrrell)
- Marc Surer (Arrows)
- Michele Alboreto (Tyrrell)
"I was very cautious when I came to Loews, but I couldn't control it and I spun. Afterwards someone objected that the marshals had pushed me. I didn't feel any push. I think they pulled me back a little, as I was in an unsafe position, stuck in the middle of the track. Then they let go. The moment I released the brakes the car started to roll. I went down the hill, let the car get some speed, grabbed second gear and it started - with the Cosworth it was always quite easy to do a bump start."
"I didn't know I'd won the GP. On the last lap de Cesaris stopped, then Pironi. I thought Rosberg's Williams was still ahead of me because I thought he'd overtaken me. So I thought I was second. On the finishing lap everybody was waving flags and so on, while I was thinking I'd thrown it all away. I can remember thinking, 'maybe they are pleased I finished second and drove a good race', but I was very, very unhappy."
"I was not in a hurry to get to the podium, because in the briefing they said only the winning car should stop in front of it. Because I was not the winner I decided to give a lift to Didier. I dropped him off and instead of letting me go into the pits, I was shown the way to the podium. I didn't understand. I thought they changed the rule and wanted the first three. But only my car was there! However there were more than three drivers; there was me, de Cesaris, Pironi and de Angelis! There was a big discussion over who was first, second or third. Somebody came to me and started to shout, 'You won, you won.' Then I finally realised..."
"Whenever you win at Monte Carlo there's a very good party, and that year was even more special because it was the last time Princess Grace was there - she died in October of that year. I was quite young, and still a bit shy. She was really very kind and nice to me, and they tried to make me comfortable in that situation."