On this day in #F1: 12 October

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

– 1986: When Pirelli were the best

80’s fashion included wide shoulder pads, unusual make-up and crazy mullet hair; and that was just the men!


It was a time when PC meant personal computer, not political correctness and Formula One meant real men in real cars.

Men who could grow beards which covered all their face! Men who were not afraid of confronting one another on track or in person. Men who sweated during a race because changing gear, controlling traction with the right foot, turning the wheel without power assistance and generally driving 1,000 hp turbo monsters was an actual talent.

I’m angry.

The latest F1 game includes a classic section but what exactly does classic mean to todays generation of computer gamers and F1 fans? The voice-over is someone you instinctively know never saw any F1 racing in the 80’s. “Kick to the spine when the turbo spools up!” What a joke!

These gamers will be using buttons on their controllers and not appreciating the real talent that used to pilot these cars. It is much the same with the actual cars built today, buttons and dials to perfect the electronics that excites geeks not warriors. The games are entertainment, a quick fix to relax during the evening but to observe people believing that this is how it has always been is to frown on a population that has forgotten to appreciate history.

Gerhard Berger and Benetton celebrated their first ever Formula One victory in Mexico 1986. His victory owed much to the fact that he didn’t have to stop for replacement Pirelli tyres, whereas all his immediate competitors on Goodyear had to replace disintegrating rubber throughout.

Mansell had arrived in Mexico knowing that a finish in front of Prost and Piquet would secure him the World Championship. Having qualified third behind Senna and Piquet, he found himself vainly trying to insert first gear when the lights changed to green. Senna and Piquet were followed by the remainder of the grid as Mansell finally got away.

Berger followed in third position before Prost relived him of the position on Lap 7 and the race settled in to a tyre conservation procession as drivers nursed their cars on full tanks. Mansell pitted on Lap 12 to replace his worn tyres and such was his rate of progress he would stop once more on Lap 36.

Of the leaders, Prost blinked first on Lap 30, followed two laps later by Piquet. Senna finally pitted on Lap 36 and Berger took over the lead.

Berger had been distinctly off colour before the race, ” I had a temperature and took some oxygen to make me feel better before the start. Once in the car I forgot about feeling sick and concentrated on the race, but I had already made up my mind that I wasn’t going to stop and break my concentration. “

Piquet would stop again on Laps 44 and 52. Senna replaced his tyres again on Lap 46 which allowed Prost through to second where he nursed his car to the  finish with heavily blistered tyres and an engine running on five cylinders fearing “that if I stopped for fresh tyres it might die”

Berger took the flag to claim a popular victory, for both the Austrian and the Benetton team who had deserved it for so long.

“It’s the best day of my life, along with the day my daughter was born,” adding, “I am leaving Benetton at the end of the year, and this was certainly the best present I could have given them.”

Oh, and in the 80’s, people could actually use taxis!

7 responses to “On this day in #F1: 12 October

  1. Good piece of writing. May I remind the author though, that back in the good old days people also still used to die or being badly wounded during races and test sessions? It wasn’t all roses.

    • I don’t see any claim here that it was all roses… nor that the author needed reminding…
      But it was a lot less solemn back then… 🙁

    • I completely agree Danilo and I wouldn’t wish fatal injuries to any body who follows their passion.
      But there are some sports that attract a crowd because of the risks involved and the participants are fully aware of those risks.

      Some people see boxing as a barbaric sport, yet many others call it a noble art. People have died from injuries sustained in the ring but still we all watch the big fights and watch men violently hitting each other.

      What about motorcycle racing?

      People remember Simoncelli in 2011, but Tomizawa was killed in 2010 and further back Kato lost his life at Suzuka in 2003.
      The TT races at the Isle of Man account for some 200 deaths since 1910 but the course is largely unchanged and riders still choose to race there despite knowing the risks involved.
      The crowds do not go to watch a potential fatality but to watch these heroic men pushing their skills to the absolute limit.

      I do not want to return to the worlds of unsecured barriers, exploding fuel tanks and cars that crumble to pieces. But nor do I want to follow a series that regulates against absolutely everything.

      Sod the massive tarmac run off areas, they should be gravel. If a driver gets it wrong, they should be out of the race, not delayed by a couple of seconds.

      What has F1 become when a brilliant pass by Grosjean on Massa in Hungary is penalised? If that had been a grave trap he would have been out anyway.
      How forgettable would Laguna Seca have been in 1996 under current F1 rules. Zanardi would have been reprimanded? Or how could Dijon 1979 possibly happen now? Villeneuve and Arnoux both transgressed the white line rule..

      I raced a classic Formula Ford built in 1980, so you can imagine it’s safety against a modern race car, but when I competed, I was fully aware that a problem could prove fatal. It was a risk I was willing to take as is the choice to ride a motorbike on modern roads.

      I choose not to jump out of a plane, or trust my life to an elastic cord attached to my feet as I bunjee and I have no wish to swim with sharks or climb a mountain.

      Surely its a matter of choice how we live our lives without wrapping everyone in politically correct cotton wool?

  2. Loved the taxi sequence – what a joke…! 🙂
    Has our now over-regulated society forgotten how to laugh.
    Drivers weren’t just ‘men’ back then – they also had a sense of humour.

    • Yes and some of that humour was intentionally provocative.
      Piquet calling Senna “gay” and Mansell’s wife “ugly” in Brazilian playboy. Or do we have to go back to the 70’s to really appreciate the humour?

      Looking back, the more dangerous the era, the more human the drivers. They lived each day as if it might be their last, therefore embracing everything.
      Sometimes in the 21st century, it feels like a job for these guys.

  3. The bit on gamers is a little agressive I felt, geeks vs warriors? You misrepresent a huge portion of a community, based on a poor youtube review of a fairly arcady version of a racing sim.

    I think you will find that whilst everyone has fun on games, some of the online racing sim leagues are superb quality, and very good stand ins for the real thing, nothing like the speed or G-force, but excellent in terms of racing as a singular event. and FYI most of the leagues actually use Fanatec feedback wheels, which give a calculated level of resistance based on the cars actual feedback, driving a turbo on these is not easy.

    Generally the attitude of folks these days to go; “eee back in the day we did it proper, when men were men, and sheep were frightened” is equally as tiresome as the reverse. Calling out someones wife or sexual preference in a public forum just makes someone look like an arsehole, but then again, it was Piquet.

    By no means a personal attack Carlo, I enjoy your writings by and large, I just felt this was perhaps dwelling on the sentimental. (I am by no means an auld’yen, but I was born in the 70’s, just in case anyone wonders)

    • Hi Adam, thanks for your comments, some good points.

      The geeks vs warriors is a reflection of the way F1 has progressed not the computer/ console crowd.

      Vettel is a child of the computer generation but before him I remember Schumacher hated the FIA taking traction control, automatic gear boxes and other ‘invisible’ technology away because to paraphrase – he loved getting his car as close to perfection as possible. That’s what drove him.

      Yet Max Mosley proudly spoke of some correspondence sent to him by Senna where he thanked him for the banning of electronic controls for 1994.
      Senna always took pride in his mechanical sympathy in both terms of reliability and speed. He knew that the more systems came in to replace a drivers skill the more level the playing field would become.

      I would imagine that if you ask anyone their favourite era, it has much to do with when they were aged between 15 – 30. I have found the same to be true in football and music etc.
      It never stops you appreciating other stars, but the rose tints are usually stronger then.

      I was 15 in 1983, had been playing racing games since around 1982. I remember Pole Position or Outrun, Konami GT, Daytona and Sega Rally at the arcades.
      I had a ZX Spectrum and Vic 20, before migrating to Megadrive, Saturn, PS1, PS2, PS3 and on PC’s. Back in my day I was a geek!

      The best racing games I have ever played would be Ferrari Challenge, GT4 and probably Formula One by CRL back on the Spectrum.

      GT5 left me numb to be honest. I even tried it on a friends set up with wheel and pedals, but when you used to drive an Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV, racing one on screen just isn’t the same.
      Driving through London, Rome and Madrid was staggering; simply because of the detail but the nuances of driving are lost, the grip of the tyres, the actual flexing of rubber, the movement of suspension, the wind noise, it’s all essential.

      So I stop trying, its purely escapism for me, as is Call of Duty Black Ops, Grand Theft Auto V or Assassins Creed II

      I think your point of racing leagues is very accurate. I can spend evenings with friends playing all types of games, one crazy one is called “track mania” and it’s the competition which makes the game.

      Maybe I’m from a previous generation, but in the last couple of years we have had Lewis Hamilton and DC driving the 1988 MP4/4 which was Senna’s car. They were both blown away by it, the nostalgia, the lack of protection, the commitment needed to drive these flat out.

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