The 1984 San Marino Grand Prix, otherwise officially known as the IV Gran Premio di San Marino, was the fourth round of the 1984 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Autodromo Dino Ferrari on the 6 May 1984. The race, which was the fifth World Championship race to be staged at Imola, would see Alain Prost claim a second dominant victory of the season in yet another race dominated by mechanical fatigue.
Qualifying had seen a rather predictable outcome, for Nelson Piquet had powered to a dominant pole position in his Brabham-BMW as Michelin shod cars came to the fore. Indeed, second on the grid would go to Prost, ahead of the best Goodyear runner in the form of Keke Rosberg, with Derek Warwick and Niki Lauda completing the top five.
A customary poor start for Rosberg saw him tumble down the order, leaving Prost clear to attack and pass Piquet into the first corner. Another driver in trouble would be Lauda, who burned up his clutch, although the rest of the field charged through Tamburello without issue.
Indeed it was at Tosa where things finally kicked off, with Patrick Tambay sent skating into the barriers after contact with Eddie Cheever. Out front, meanwhile, Prost would complete the opening tour with a small lead over Piquet, Warwick and Arnoux, while Manfred Winkelhock had the ATS-BMW in an impressive fifth.
The men to watch during the opening laps, however, would be Michele Alboreto and the recovering Lauda, who both powered through the midfield to join the "lead group". Indeed, a series of impressive moves from both left them running fifth and sixth before the end of lap ten, with both steadily closing on Arnoux as the Frenchman fell away from Piquet and Warwick.
Indeed, Lauda would duly pass both Ferraris before his race was curtailed by an engine failure on lap sixteen, while Warwick blasted past Piquet for second. Prost, meanwhile, would push hard knowing that he would be making a stop, and hence built a huge lead before half-distance.
The ploy worked, for the Frenchman was able to pit and rejoin without losing the lead, while Warwick's pace deteriorated late on. Indeed, the Brit would eventually lose out on a podium spot as Arnoux and Elio de Angelis used fresh rubber to make a late charge up the order, while Piquet's race was ended by a turbo failure, his fourth retirement in four races.
With that the race was run, with Prost cruising home to claim a dominant victory for McLaren-TAG, while Arnoux was the only other man on the lead lap in second. de Angelis was classified in third in spite of running out of fuel on the final lap, with Warwick, Stefan Bellof and Thierry Boutsen completing the points scorers.
Less than a week after the smokey battle around Zolder the Formula One field rolled into the paddock at the Autodromo Dino Ferrari for the fourth round of the season. Indeed, the quick sprint from Belgium meant that most of the field had to prepare their cars in the pits the day before official practice, rather than ship them back to their own workshops. Yet, everyone would successfully prepare themselves for the race, with at least one team even managing to add a second car to their line-up.
Indeed, Osella-Alfa Romeo would be the culprits, with Jo Gartner added to their line-up alongside Piercarlo Ghinzani. It was to be the Austrian racer's debut at at Formula One event, although his hopes of qualifying were undercut by the fact that he was using an older FA1E, using an non-turbocharged Alfa V12. Ghinzani, meanwhile, would use his familiar turbo powered Osella, with no changes made after the Italian retired in Zolder.
Elsewhere, Ferrari sent their cars back to Maranello, rebuilt them, and then had both René Arnoux and Michele Alboreto conducting testing at Fiarano. Their trio of 128C4s were then transported the 60km to Imola with no need to be worked on, with Arnoux and Alboreto confident of copying their performance in Zolder. Furthermore, Ferrari had a transporter full of spare engines after the particularly bruising battle around Zolder, all with the aim of winning on home soil.
Another team with a van full of spares would be the BMW engined Brabham squad, who would again field Nelson Piquet and Teo Fabi. Indeed, their spectacular run of failures at Zolder had prompted BMW's fuel suppliers to come up with a new blend ahead of the "San Marino" race, designed to burn better than the previous versions. This blend was also available to the BMW engined ATS of Manfred Winkelhock, as well as the lone Arrows-BMW entered for Marc Surer. Surer's teammate Thierry Boutsen, meanwhile, would use his old Ford Cosworth engined Arrows A6.
Alfa Romeo, meanwhile, would not have time to ship their cars back to their base, meaning Riccardo Patrese and Eddie Cheever had to wait for their cars to be serviced in Imola. Their cars were unchanged from the previous race, with another large van arriving in the paddock full of engine components for the quadrifoglio badged squad. This supply was also open to the Osella team, although there was only one spare V12 unit for Gartner.
Into the Hart engined portion of the field and Toleman were in trouble, for their lead driver Ayrton Senna was unhappy with their supply of tyres from Pirelli. Indeed, the Brazilian racer had already convinced his mechanics and key staff that their lack of pace was a result of their Pirelli sourced rubber, prompting a diktat from the Toleman's hq in Brentwood, Essex to not run the cars. As such, Senna and Johnny Cecotto would miss-out on running in the opening day of running in San Marino, with negotiations with Pirelli carrying on across the weekend.
Of the other Hart teams, RAM were concerned that they would fail to qualify at all, although Jonathan Palmer and Philippe Alliot both had 1984 spec cars for the second race in succession. Likewise, the lone Spirit entry of Mauro Baldi also made the trip, but required so much work upon arrival that Baldi would miss the start of the opening practice session.
The factory Renault squad came to Imola on the back of another positive result courtesy of Derek Warwick, although Patrick Tambay was still unsatisfied with his miserable run of issues. Lotus, meanwhile, were still satisfied with their start to the season, with Elio de Angelis and Nigel Mansell hoping that updates for the 95T would push them further up the field in France. The Renault section of the field was to be completed by the two Ligiers of François Hesnault and Andrea de Cesaris, which had been fairly anonymous in the opening three races.
Williams-Honda would run as they had done in Zolder, with Jacques Laffite and Keke Rosberg hoping that a new set of transmission would solve their issues getting off the line. McLaren-TAG, meanwhile, were hoping to avoid a repeat of their misfortune in Zolder, for Alain Prost and Niki Lauda had destroyed seven engines between them during the visit to Belgium. Completing the field were the two Tyrrells of Martin Brundle and Stefan Bellof, with the pair expected to struggle once again with their under-powered Cosworth V8s.
Into the Championship and Prost had retained his lead in spite of his rather smokey performance in Belgium, although his advantage had been cut to five points. Warwick was his closest challenger arriving in San Marino, the Brit having moved ahead of Lauda and Rosberg to claim second. Those two, as well as Zolder winner Alboreto, were tied on nine points, with the Italian ahead on count back.
In the Manufacturers' Championship it was McLaren-TAG who led the hunt upon arrival, although their non-score at Zolder had allowed the rest of the field to close up. Indeed, a double podium for Ferrari last time out had seen them shoot up into second, despite having failed to score in the first two races, and would start the San Marino weekend eleven off of the Anglo-German squad's lead. Renault were third, a point behind the Scuderia, while Williams-Honda and Team Lotus-Renault completed the top five.
The full entry list for the 1984 San Marino Grand Prix is shown below:
Qualifying for the battle of San Marino would follow the established format, with four sessions split evenly across Friday and Saturday ahead of the race on Sunday. The mornings of Friday and Saturday were given over to untimed race practice, leaving the afternoon sessions free to set the grid, based on one lap pace. As for a target time the old qualifying record of 1:29.765, set by René Arnoux in 1982, was expected to fall, with turbo power now fully able to supplant the outlawed influences of ground effect.
Friday morning's practice session would be delayed by half-an-hour after the medical helicopter failed to appear in time for the official start. When the session did get underway it became clear that it was going to be another weekend dominated by tyres and engine reliability, with Eddie Cheever opening the session with smoke pouring from the back of his Alfa Romeo before the end of his first lap. Osella, meanwhile, were having to put asbestos bungs in Piercarlo Ghinzani's exhausts when ever they shut off the engine, while the two Tolemans sat in the pitlane without firing up at all after their fallout with Pirelli.
Rain would sweep across the Autodromo Dino Ferrari at the end of the practice session, and continued to fall steadily as the opening qualifying session of the weekend began. As such, there was a "deafening silence" across Imola during the opening minutes, with only the sounds outside of the garages coming from the rain itself. Indeed, it was only when the Renaults ventured out after a long wait that there was any threat of running, although it was clear that the circuit was simply too wet to really push.
Indeed, barring an odd few laps there would be little on-track action until the circuit began to dry late in the day, the rain having stopped shortly after the Renaults had appeared. The sudden change in conditions ultimately saw everyone bundle onto the track, with provisional pole swapping numerous times before the chequered flag appeared. Indeed, within a minute Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost, Patrick Tambay, Derek Warwick, Teo Fabi, Niki Lauda, Andrea de Cesaris and Keke Rosberg would all sit at the top of the charts, with the final order only resolved a few minutes after the session came to a close.
The official time sheet revealed that Piquet had recorded the fastest time of the afternoon, although his 1:35.493 was set to be easily beaten if the second qualifying session was dry. Prost was his closest challenger ahead of Tambay, while de Cesaris caused a stir as he beat Warwick to fourth, although the Brit's session had been hampered by a turbo failure mid-session. Notably absent from the top end of the field were the two Ferraris, with Michele Alboreto down in 24th position having run out of fuel during the late rush.
Saturday morning would see the rain return, meaning the order was still largely unknown ahead of the final quali-session. Indeed, the practice had only really been of note for featuring the two Toleman-Harts and their seemingly offensive Pirelli tyres, with Ayrton Senna and Johnny Cecotto well inside the top twenty-six throughout. Fortunately the rain would stop at the end of the session, and the heat of late spring saw the circuit begin to dry ahead of the final bout.
Into the final qualifying hour and the times would fall throughout the session as the conditions improved, with the circuit completely dry by the end of the day. Regardless, the entire session would be dominated by a duel for pole between Piquet and Prost, with the Brazilian in the super-light spare Brabham-BMW, and the Frenchman in his better balanced spare McLaren-TAG. Indeed, the duo would consistently nudge each other off of the top spot, before Piquet landed a killing blow with a few minutes to go, recording a 1:28.517.
Try as he might Prost could not match the effort, and hence had to settle for a 1:28.628 and second on the grid. Rosberg was next having shadowed them for most of the day, although the Finn was unable to join them in the 1:28.000s late on. Instead, the Williams-Renault would have to fend off a last minute challenge for third from Warwick in his factory Renault, while Lauda bested René Arnoux to fifth in his McLaren-TAG.
At the back of the field, meanwhile, there was to be a major shock when Senna failed to qualify, the young Brazilian's challenge having been curtailed early on by an engine issue. Piercarlo Ghinzani had suffered a similar fate in his Osella-Alfa Romeo, meaning Jonathan Palmer and Jo Gartner scraped through onto the grid, despite the fact that they were over ten seconds off the ultimate pace. Indeed, both Palmer and Gartner would earn the ire of their fellow qualifiers throughout the day, with the pair responsible for several ruined laps.
The full qualifying results for the 1984 San Marino Grand Prix are outlined below:
|1||1||Nelson Piquet||Brabham-Alfa Romeo||1:35.493T||1:28.517T||—|
|8||23||Eddie Cheever||Alfa Romeo||1:42.731||1:30.843T||+2.326s|
|10||22||Riccardo Patrese||Alfa Romeo||1:40.439||1:31.163||+2.646s|
|11||11||Elio de Angelis||Lotus-Renault||1:38.423||1:31.173||+2.656s|
|12||26||Andrea de Cesaris||Ligier-Renault||1:36.613||1:31.256||+2.739s|
|20||18||Thierry Boutsen||Arrows-Ford Cosworth||1:40.920||1:36.018||+7.501s|
|21||4||Stefan Bellof||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:39.765||1:36.059||+7.542s|
|22||3||Martin Brundle||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:41.123||1:36.531||+8.014s|
|26||30||Jo Gartner||Osella-Alfa Romeo||1:50.979||1:38.948||+10.431s|
|DNQ||24||Piercarlo Ghinzani||Osella-Alfa Romeo||1:40.790||2:05.421||+12.273s|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- Bold indicates a driver's best/qualifying time.
|Elio de Angelis||12|
|______________||Andrea de Cesaris|
Raceday dawned bright and warm, although the skies would steadily darken ahead of the Grand Prix start. Warm-up, meanwhile, would see a lot of on track action as teams tried to perfect their dry-weather setups, meaning there was no clear picture as to how the race would go. Indeed, in the chaos Patrick Tambay would cook his engine after a radiator blank was left on his Renault, although the Frenchman was able to take the start after a rapid engine change.
However, while Tambay would make it to the grid there would still only be 25 starters, for the Renault engine in Andrea de Cesaris' Ligier refused to run properly. By the time the Ligier team convinced all six of his V6 cylinders to work together, the Italian had run out of time to join the grid, and so had to sit at the end of the pit lane for the start. The rest of the field, meanwhile, would complete the formation lap without issue, with Nelson Piquet lined up perfectly in pole position.
Yet, when the lights went green it was not the Brazilian's Brabham-BMW that shot into the lead, for Alain Prost would get a barnstorming start in his McLaren-TAG. Indeed, the Frenchman would rocket away from the grid, leaving Piquet to fend off the attentions of Derek Warwick and René Arnoux into the first corner. Behind, meanwhile, there would be chaos as Keke Rosberg limped off the line, sending the field scattering around the Williams-Honda.
Miraculously no-one managed to hit the Finn's slow starting Williams, with Rosberg only just getting going before de Cesaris was released from the pit lane. Instead, the first accident of the day would come at Tamburello, with François Hesnault getting flicked off the circuit by Jacques Laffite, leaving the Ligier with suspension damage. Further round and Tambay's race was to come to an early end, with the Frenchman sent skating onto the grass at Tosa after a clash with Eddie Cheever.
Rosberg's woes would continue on that opening lap, with the Williams also throwing itself into a self-induced spin when its Honda engine suddenly cut in mid-corner. The Finn therefore completed the opening lap in nineteenth, only ahead of the walking wounded, while Prost powered clear at the head of the field. Indeed, as it all kicked off behind the Frenchman had simply pulled away from Piquet on the opening tour, with a second between the McLaren and the Brabham as they crossed the line.
Indeed, the race would follow a similar pattern during the early stages, with Prost easing further away from Piquet, while the Brazilian tried to break away from Warwick. Rosberg, meanwhile, would endure another high-speed spin before retiring his Williams, the Honda engine eventually succumbing to an electrical failure on lap three. Elsewhere the two Ferraris were making no progress on the lead group, and were instead being hounded by the ATS-BMW of Manfred Winkelhock.
Ultimately, however, the German racer would burn through his brakes while harassing the scarlet cars, and hence had to fall back at the risk of destroying his race entirely. He therefore avoided joining Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese on the sidelines, who had retired with brake and electrical issues. Indeed, Mansell's failure had been rather spectacular, with the Lotus-Renault flinging itself off into the gravel after a brake disc mount split apart.
Niki Lauda was the man to watch for a short while, with the Austrian carving his way back through the midfield after getting baulked by Rosberg at the start. By lap ten Lauda had latched onto the back of the Ferraris, and two quick fire moves saw the McLaren-TAG ahead of both René Arnoux and Michele Alboreto without too much bother. Fortunately for the Scuderia, and their rather silent fans, Lauda's race was to end a few laps later, with the TAG engine in the back of the McLaren detonating itself as Lauda lined up a move on Warwick for third.
With that the race settled down, although Piquet, Arnoux and Alboreto all pitted for fresh tyres to try and revive their races. However, with Piquet rejoining in third, Arnoux sixth, and Alboreto failing to appear at all with an exhaust issue, there was little change to the overall order. Indeed, the only result in their stops had been to put Warwick into a lonely second, albeit with serious fuel concerns, Teo Fabi into fourth, and Elio de Angelis briefly into fifth.
Further stops saw the field steadily sort itself out, with Prost stopping and rejoining without losing the lead, while Piquet got back ahead of Warwick as the Brit nursed his fuel. Behind, Fabi was powerless to prevent Arnoux from passing, with the Frenchman then going onto catch the cruising Warwick. A move on the Brit on lap 40 almost got a cheer from the crowd as the Frenchman claimed third, although he was so far off of Prost, and even Piquet, that third was likely all he was going to achieve.
de Angelis hence became the main entertainment as he recovered from his stop, passing Martin Brundle, Stefan Bellof and de Cesaris to climb back into the points. Cheever was also on the move as he tried to make up for his early collision with Tambay, although he eventually found himself stuck between the two Tyrrells of Brundle and Bellof. Indeed, the Italian born American would only manage to get ahead of the former Tyrrell when the group came up to lap Jonathan Palmer, who blocked his compatriot for so long that the Tyrrell team decided to pit Brundle to swap tyres and top up their ballast tanks.
Out front, meanwhile, hopes of a home victory for Ferrari would take a huge boost, with a sudden smoke eruption from the back of Piquet's Brabham signalling the demise of another BMW engine. Indeed, it proved to be a very bad moment for the entire Brabham team, for Fabi's engine would expire in an identical fashion in exactly the same place a few seconds later, leaving both Brabhams at the side of the circuit. Arnoux, meanwhile, powered through the smoke screen to claim second, although he would still need to see Prost's McLaren at the side of the circuit to have any hope of claiming victory.
Into the closing stages and there was a brief sign of an issue for the #7 car, for Prost was sent spinning by a lock-up under breaking for Rivazza. However, the Frenchman would complete his pirouette without leaving the tarmac, and duly drove away with no signs of an issue. Behind, Arnoux was now a secure second with Warwick still trying to conserve fuel, with the Brit's situation so bad that he had to let both de Angelis and de Cesaris throughout without even a hint of fighting.
With that, barring a late retirement for de Cesaris as his Renault engine ran out of fuel, the race was run, with Prost cruising home almost fifteen second clear of second placed Arnoux. Third would go to de Angelis in spite of the fact that he too would run out of fuel on the final lap, while Warwick limped home to fourth after being lapped. Bellof, meanwhile, would inherit fifth ahead of Thierry Boutsen as a result of some late retirements, while de Cesaris was classified in seventh ahead of Cheever, another man to run out of fuel.
The full results for the 1984 San Marino Grand Prix are outlined below:
|3*||11||Elio de Angelis||Lotus-Renault||59||Out of Fuel||11||4|
|4||16||Derek Warwick||Renault||59||+1 Lap||4||3|
|5||18||Thierry Boutsen||Arrows-Ford Cosworth||59||+1 Lap||20||2|
|6*||26||Andrea de Cesaris||Ligier-Renault||58||Out of Fuel||12||1|
|7*||23||Eddie Cheever||Alfa Romeo||58||Out of Fuel||8|
|8||21||Mauro Baldi||Spirit-Hart||58||+2 Laps||24|
|9||10||Jonathan Palmer||RAM-Hart||57||+3 Laps||25|
|DSQ†||4||Stefan Bellof||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||59||Disqualified||21|
|DSQ†||3||Martin Brundle||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||55||Disqualified||22|
|NC‡||20||Johnny Cecotto||Toleman-Hart||52||+8 Laps||19|
|Ret||30||Jo Gartner||Osella-Alfa Romeo||46||Engine||26|
|Ret||22||Riccardo Patrese||Alfa Romeo||6||Electrical||10|
|Ret||12T||Nigel Mansell||Lotus-Renault||2||Spun Off||18|
|DNQ||24||Piercarlo Ghinzani||Osella-Alfa Romeo|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- * de Angelis, de Cesaris and Cheever were all still classified despite retiring as they had completed 90% of the race distance.
- † Brundle and Bellof were retroactively disqualified following the "ban" of the Tyrrell 012 after the 1984 Detroit Grand Prix.
- ‡ Cecotto was unable to be classified as he failed to complete 90% of the race distance.
- Fifth World Championship Grand Prix to be staged at the Autodromo Dino Ferrari.
- Debut race for Jo Gartner.
- Tenth entry for Spirit as a constructor.
- Riccardo Patrese made his 100th Grand Prix start.
- 50th start for Andrea de Cesaris.
- Nelson Piquet secured his tenth pole position.
- Alain Prost claimed his eleventh victory.
- Also the Frenchman's twentieth podium visit.
- McLaren secured their 33rd victory as a constructor.
- Twentieth podium for René Arnoux.
- Elio de Angelis scored the 140th podium finish for a Lotus chassis.
- Piquet secured the 40th fastest lap award for a Brabham chassis.
Victory ensured that Alain Prost took command in the Championship fight, the Frenchman leaving San Marino with almost double the number of points of closest challenger Derek Warwick. Indeed, the Brit himself was more than a win behind the Frenchman, with René Arnoux and Elio de Angelis a more immediate threat for the Brit. Elsewhere, Michele Alboreto just held onto a top five spot, still level with Keke Rosberg and Niki Lauda.
McLaren-TAG, meanwhile, had control in the Manufacturers Championship, rounding out the San Marino weekend with 33 points to their name. Ferrari remained their closest challengers, but had slipped fourteen points behind after Prost's triumph. Renault meanwhile, retained third ahead of customers Lotus-Renault, who had moved into fourth at the expense of Williams-Honda.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- 'San Marino GP, 1984', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 2014), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr392.html, (Accessed 02/02/2019)
- '4. San Marino 1984', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/saint-marin.aspx, (Accessed 02/02/2019)
- D.S.J., 'The San Marino Grand Prix: Dull', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/06/1984), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/june-1984/22/san-marino-grand-prix, (Accessed 02/02/2019)
- 'Notes on the Cars at Zolder and Imola', motorsportmagazine.com, (Motor Sport Magazine, 01/06/1984), https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/archive/article/june-1984/30/notes-cars-zolder-and-imola, (Accessed 01/02/2019)
- 'San Marino 1984: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/saint-marin/engages.aspx, (Accessed 02/02/2019)
- 'San Marino 1984: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/saint-marin/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 02/02/2019)
- 'San Marino 1984: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1984/saint-marin/classement.aspx, (Accessed 02/02/2019)
- '1984 San Marino GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2014), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1984&gp=San%20Marino%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 02/02/2019)
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