Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio
– 1984: Lauda wins by a fraction
This story starts on 3rd June 1984 in the Principality of Monaco.
A rookie driving for one of the minnows of Formula One was blazing a trail so bright that the Formula One elite and the French run governing body couldn’t allow victory to pass to outsiders.
The story to this day is that Jacky Ickx – a works Porsche driver – waved the flag without FIA permission to stop the race… allowing a Porsche engined car to take the flag.
So Prost took the victory, Senna had his first experience of F1 politics and only half points would be awarded; something that would come back to haunt the Frenchman.
Mclaren dominated the season with their John Barnard designed chassis and bespoke Tag-Porsche engine. In addition to this, they were one of only four teams using the superior Michelin tyres.
Lauda’s nickname was ‘The Rat’ and he proved his guile and cunning throughout the season when he realised he no longer had the inherent speed of his young team-mate and he focused on setting his car up for the races.
The teams arrived in Portugal with the two contenders separated by a mere 2 1/2 points.
After qualifying, Piquet was on pole position, with Prost beside him. Senna qualified an impressive third with Rosberg fourth. There were a further six drivers before we found championship leader, Lauda, back in eleventh position on the grid.
From the start, Prost got ahead of a slow starting Piquet but had been passed by both Rosberg and Mansell. Prost overtook Mansell quickly and chased after the Williams Honda of Rosberg, passing him on the ninth lap. Lauda, at this point, was still back in ninth position.
Lauda passed De Angelis on lap 18, Johansson on lap 27 and by lap 28 he was through past Alboreto and in the points. He went ahead of Rosberg and on lap 33 fought his way past Senna.
The top three of Prost, Mansell and Lauda maintained this order until lap 51, but Mansell was struggling with a failing brake calliper and spun. He restarted before Lauda could claim the position but the Mclaren was right on his tail.
The following lap, Mansell spun once more and was forced to retire, but of more significance was Lauda had now assumed second position in the race.
So the final 18 laps of the Portugese Grand Prix closed an old chapter in Formula One history as the wily two times World Champion added another title to his remarkable story. After the race he said: “It’s been the hardest season of my life and that last lap seemed one of the longest. But I’ve done it by half a point and I can tell you, Alain Prost was a difficult man to beat.”
Marlene Lauda joined her husband on the podium in celebration just over eight years after he had been given the last rites and Prost and Senna flanked the new champion heralding a handover of generations.
A mere half a point!
Food for thought: If the authorities had allowed Senna to take his first victory in Monaco, the resulting points gain – six for second as opposed to 4 1/2 for first – would have secured Prost the title.