On This Day in #F1: 27th March

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

– 1983: John Watson wins from 22nd on the grid

Nigel Mansell won the 1989 Hungarian GP from 12th on the starting grid. Fernando Alonso won the 2012 Valencia GP from 12th also.

Not impressed yet? Okay, how about Michael Schuamcher winning the 1995 Belgian GP from 16th or Kimi Rakkonen winning in Japan from 17th on the grid in 2005? Still nothing…? Tough crowd…

During qualifying Patrick Tambay had qualified the Ferrari 126 C2/B on pole position with a time of 1’26.117 – whereas the time set by John Watson was 1’30.100 (+3.983) and Niki Lauda on 1’30.188 (+4.071).One thing that is important to remember – these were genuine qualifying times that were not rain affected – not tyre limited.

1983uswjw1On this day Mclaren – having qualified 22nd and 23rd for the Long Beach Grand Prix – came through to record an incredible 1-2 finish.

From the start, Tambay led away but Rosberg elbowed his way past Arnoux to grab second place as his naturally aspirated engine responded quicker than the turbo engined Ferrari. Before the end of the first lap the reigning World Champion had clumsily spun in his attempt to take the lead.

On lap 26 Rosberg tried to grab the lead, misjudged it and rammed Tambay – obviously not one of the Finn’s better performances.

1983uswkrWith all this clumsy driving on display everyone had missed the unrelenting progression of the Mclaren cars as they worked their way to the front. On lap 33 Watson passed Lauda for third position

“At the start of the race, Niki was just ahead of me, and every time he made a pass I made sure I doppelganged him. About half way through I decided it was a race I was going to win, and I went for it. One of the brakes grabbed as I dived inside him, and my car sort of lurched towards his, which he took as an aggressive move, but it wasn’t, it was just the uneven surface. And that was it – we went on to finish one-two.”

The Mclaren duo closed the 20 second gap to Patrese and overtook him when he went up an escape road as he attempted to pass Laffite for the lead. On lap 45 they passed Laffite and pulled away to finish 1-2.

John Watson had always been renowned for being a great racer – he’d won a similar race in Detroit in 1982 starting from 17th on the grid – but here in Long Beach he won from the farthest anybody has ever won a Grand Prix.

Watson: “The reason we qualified so far back was that the Michelin tyres we were using at the time were more biased towards the turbo-charged cars, particularly the Renaults with their extra power and, especially, weight. Our car had the normally aspirated Cosworth engine, and it was very easy on the tyres in low-fuel configuration, so we weren’t able to make use of the qualifying tyre and there were long faces all round after we qualified outside the top 20. But when we put full fuel in it added weight, and the extra energy going through the tyres put heat into them, and the qualities of the car became apparent.”

“Throughout my career, I understood the philosophy of the overtake – you get inside someone’s head, you bully them, do lots of things to make them think you’ll pass them.”


7 responses to “On This Day in #F1: 27th March

  1. Keke Rosberg’s spin was so controlled – he only lost one place! There seems to be a lot more contact between cars then – lots of cars were bumping off each other while passing. Was it because their wings were narrower and there was less risk of punctures?

    It was almost the last year for the Cosworth DFV engine – 9 teams were using it at the beginning of the year but by 1984 only Tyrrell was still using it. It did win 3 races that year but it was the end of an era…

    What an amazing race through the field to win – I’ll have to watch it now – we have the full race on our computer:) Too bad the commentary is in ?French but the engines sound great!

    • Aerodynamics was still an emerging science – just compare the simplicity of the front wings then with the complicated 6,7,8 element front wings of today, and some of those elements are made of razor thin carbon fibre. So the results of contact are different. Also this was the era of ground effect when at some tracks the cars did not need front wings at all.
      I don’t remember that there was more contact then except on street circuits.

      • Thanks, that does make sense. If your front wing wasn’t as important it didn’t have as big effect as damaging it today. Did they have removable/replaceable front wings then?

      • Just a correction – the ground effect era had been outlawed at the end of 1982. These cars were all flat bottomed which is why so many have small sidepods.

        Back then aero was as you say just emerging and the wings were very basic designs and it’s easy to forget the chassis were not carbon fibre, nor the wings and all the suspension elements so it was certainly alot more robust.

        • Thanks for the correction – I was a year out.
          My reference to carbon fibre was regarding just the front wings as the the MP4/1 only appeared with CF monocoque in ’81. Not sure when other parts, or other manufacturers turned to carbon fibre.

    • I think the mindset was different then. The drivers leant on each other and respected each other. As to the puncture issue, I don’t know if constructions were different then, these were Goodyear and Michelin tyres and they would have four different grades available to the teams – A,B,C and D. Drivers could run any combination they liked.
      As to the front wing, I honestly don’t know the answer to that, I think I remember seeing nose changes but it wasn’t at the speed it is now, they were heavy and cumbersome aluminum

      • Thanks Carlo:) The differences in tyres they could use would have made the strategies even more diverse…

        I’d also forgotten that the cars hadn’t always been made of carbon fibre!

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