In the 1985 Belgian Grand Prix, Ayrton Senna secured the second win in his F1 career. And he was perfect in every aspect.
The race on the circuit of Spa Francorchamps was going to take place that year, in June. Zolder was going to be replaced once and for all by the gigantic circuit in the region of Ardennes. In an effort to please everyone, Spa’s administration completely overhauled the track, paying special attention to its repaving: they used a much rougher asphalt, to improve the cars’ grip with full wets.
Unfortunately, the organizers scheduled the construction to start two months before the race, when the ideal timeframe would be 12 months. To make matters worse, they had to delay the construction due to snowstorms. The end result was that Spa’s new track was opened only ten days before the first practice session, with no time for the asphalt to “set”.
During the first free practice session, the extremely rough asphalt resulted in an impressive amount of grip. Case in point: Spa-Franchamps’ previous quickest lap record was demolished by more than ten seconds, in a comparison with the 1983 Grand Prix (the 1984 race took place in Zolder).
As the qualifying sessions went on, the track started disintegrating. And the more the cars used the track, the worse things got. So much so that, at night, an army of workers was summoned to patch up the asphalt. But their efforts seemed to be for nothing.
On Saturday, when the cars started running, things had changed dramatically. The previously “grippy” track had become extremely slippery, thanks to the new patches. Drivers had to drop two gears lower than usual, on some corners: complete chaos, and the race was postponed to September 15th.
The races previously scheduled for the three-month gap took place normally, and Senna had three great results in a row: second place in Austria, third in the Netherlands and third in Italy.
Even though he faced problems with his Lotus’ engine, he managed the second position during the qualifying session, falling behind Alain Prost (McLaren), who was only 0s1 faster.
His confidence level for the race, built after three consecutive podiums that season, already signaled that it would be an unforgettable weekend.
On Sunday, with the track partially wet, Ayrton Senna started well and passed Prost. He led pretty much from start to finish in one of the most demanding and treacherous Formula One circuits – Spa-Francorchamps – and completed all 43 laps without being threatened by anyone – except for slight pressure from Nigel Mansell (Williams) for a few laps.
“The car performed really well, especially in the rain. I’m delighted with my whole team in my second win this year.”
He stepped onto the podium’s highest place for the second time in his career, alongside Prost and Mansell. He celebrated enthusiastically and became emotional when he saw a banner signed by Corinthians soccer fans from Mogi das Cruzes, a city in São Paulo’s countryside: “Senna, you’ve got the heart and the feet of a champion”.
Check out the race’s highlights with Senna’s own commentary.