European Grand Prix – 1985


Coming off of his big win in Belgium, Ayrton Senna arrived at the Brands Hatch circuit, in England, as a favorite, even though the race conditions did not favor his Lotus. After three podium-finishes in a row (Austria, the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium), Ayrton wanted to be among the top-three once again, to establish one of the best results in the beginning of his F1 career.

There was a void at the starting grid of that weekend in England in the shape of Niki Lauda. The Austrian was having a troubled season and, on top of that, was forced to see his teammate, Alain Prost, lead the championship, 16 points ahead of Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto. This time, Lauda was absent even from the practice sessions due to a pain in the wrist he had injured in the previous race. His McLaren replacement was John Watson, a driver who had retired from Formula One two years before and was coming back exclusively for a good-bye of sorts.

The qualifying session was characterized by a spectacular duel for pole position between Senna and Nelson Piquet. Ayrton Senna won the position, and the first row would be occupied by two Brazilians, something that had never happened in F1. Senna scored the pole position with a time of 1min07s169, 0s313 quicker than his countryman. It was his sixth pole in the season, a feat no one would be able to match in 1985.

The second row had both Williams’ drivers, Nigel Mansell and Keke Rosberg, in third and fourth places, respectively. The championship leader, Prost, finished the qualifying rounds in a modest sixth place, but still ahead of Alboreto, who would be starting in 15th.

Senna started the race well and kept the lead, but with Mansell right behind his Lotus. Piquet was a little slow and his Brabham fell down to fourth place. Still in the first lap, Mansell’s and Rosberg’s Williams almost crashed – to the Britton’s chagrin, since he missed the entry for the Druids corner and saw Piquet reclaim the third position.

Senna was pressured by Rosberg in the course of the following laps. The Finn decided to strike at Surtees, on the seventh lap, but Ayrton cut him off and they almost touched. The Brazilian kept the lead, while Rosberg spun in the middle of the track. Piquet was right behind and hit Keke without force, but it was enough for him to lose the front wing and break his suspension. Nelson retired from the race and Rosberg had to change a flat tire.

Even though he was successful in holding back Rosberg and Piquet, now Senna had to battle it out with Mansell. With a more balanced car, the Britton quickly gained on the Brazilian and, on lap 8, took the lead. He was helped out by Rosberg, who, even as a backmarker (he was now one lap behind), deliberately stood in Senna’s way, as a kind of payback for the previous incident – and also, obviously, as part of a team effort to favor Mansell.

From then on, two drivers displayed beautiful performances at Brands Hatch: Alain Prost and Keke himself. The Frenchman started in 6th place, fell down to 14th at the start and made a spectacular recovery to finish in 4th, securing that year’s world title, since Michele Alboreto had left the race with turbocharger problems. Rosberg also had a remarkable race, finishing in third place even after blowing up a tire.

Senna knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with Mansell and Rosberg’s Honda engines, so he saved on gas to make it to the end came in second place, securing this fifth consecutive podium-finish in the season – a feat he would repeat in 1988, when he became world champion, racing for McLaren.

“At least I had the pleasure of preventing the Williams twosome from finishing in front of Keke Rosberg.”

It was Senna’s second time on the Brands Hatch podium as a Formula One driver. He had been there the previous year during his debut season, when he finished in third place. The Brazilian’s experience in Formula Ford and the British F3 apparently helped a lot, every time Senna raced in England.

Those six points were Senna’s last ones in the 1985 season. A great season, without a doubt: 38 points and the 4th position in the World Drivers Championship.

The European Grand Prix also marked the first time a Frenchman won the F1 world title and Mansell’s first win ever in the category. Both drivers would be part of the golden age of Formula One that had Senna as its protagonist. The following race was scheduled to take place in Kyalami, South Africa.

Resumo da Corrida

  • 1 Ayrton Senna
  • 2 N. Piquet
  • 3 N. Mansell
  • 4 K. Rosberg
  • 5 P. Streiff
  • 6 A.Prost
  • 7 M. Surer
  • 8 D. Warwick
  • 9 E. de Angelis
  • 10 J. Laffite
  • 11 R. Patrese
  • 12 T. Boutsen
  • 13 S. Johansson
  • 14 P. Ghinzani
  • 15 M. Alboreto
  • 16 M. Brundle
  • 17 P. Tambay
  • 18 E. Cheever
  • 19 G. Berger
  • 20 T. Fabi
  • 21 J. Watson
  • 22 A. Jones
  • 23 P. Alliot
  • 24 I. Capelli
  • 25 C. Danner
  • 26 P. Martini
Voltas 71
Tempo Nublado
Volta mais rápida J. Laffite - 1´11´´526
Podium 1º N. Mansell 2º Ayrton Senna 3º K. Rosberg
Carros 26
Abandonos 14