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Grand Prix Gold: Adelaide 1985

Submitted by on November 24, 2009

A quick scan through 60 seasons of world championship Formula 1 statistics – there are 820 races to choose from – reveals very few grands prix have taken place in November. Between 1950, when the world championship began at Silverstone in May of that year, and 1985, only two races (USA 1960 and Mexico 1968) had been run during the penultimate month of the year. The unfamiliar slot at the end of the season was soon filled by an event that was to become one of, if not the most, popular on the calendar.

On 3rd Nov 1985, Australia put itself firmly on the F1 map with a race around the streets of Adelaide. And, when all 120,000 raceday tickets were sold, the organisers knew the inaugural Australian GP would be the country’s biggest sporting occasion since the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. So impressive were the facilities laid on for the visiting teams and fans that F1’s impresario Bernie Ecclestone was moved to tell South Australia’s then Premier, John Bannon, that the event “had set a standard that had shown up a lot of other circuits around the world”.

Qualifying for the final round of F1 1985 was dominated by the Lotus of Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian, who was in his first year with the British team, set a best time nearly seven tenths quicker than Nigel Mansell’s Williams. Mansell’s team-mate Keke Rosberg, in his last drive for Williams, shared the second row with the McLaren of recently crowned world champion Alain Prost.

The race was an absolute cracker and one that justified the hype. Mansell and Senna clashed within a few corners – Mansell’s day was over after one slow lap in the damaged car, while Senna continued. Rosberg took up the leader’s baton, chased by the ever-determined Senna. The duo put on a mesmerising display on the slippery streets, including a coming together in which Senna lost his front wing. Undeterred, Senna fought back after a lengthy pitstop to replace the aerodynamic appendage. He was soon back on Rosberg’s tail and pulled off a clean move for the lead at the halfway mark.

Sadly, with 20 laps to run, Senna’s turbocharged Renault engine cried enough, leaving Rosberg clear at the front. Surprise of the day was the relentless charge up the field by the two Ligiers of Jacques Laffite and Philippe Streiff. The French machines had coolly and calmly worked their way up into second and third – where they stayed until the end. Fourth went to the Tyrrell of Ivan Capelli, the impressive young Italian in only his second GP.

The main plaudits went to Rosberg, however. The Finn’s second win of the season – his fourth and last for Williams – was a popular and, according to the man himself, hard—earned one.

“You can’t believe how tough it was out there,” he said. “But it was worth it!”

Australian Grand Prix-Adelaide-3 Nov; 82 laps x 2.349 mile

(World Championship race no. 420)

Pole Position: Ayrton Senna-Lotus-Renault 97T – 1m19.843s

1st: Keke Rosberg (FIN)-Williams-Honda FW10, 82 laps

2nd: Jacques Laffite (F)-Ligier-Renault JS25, +46.130s

3rd: Philippe Streiff (F)-Ligier-Renault JS25, +1m28.536s

4th: Ivan Capelli (I)-Tyrrell-Renault 014, 81 laps

5th: Stefan Johansson (S)-Ferrari 156/85, 81 laps

6th: Gerhard Berger (A)-Arrows-BMW A8, 81 laps

Fastest Lap: K.Rosberg-Williams-Honda FW10 – 1m23.758s

Henry Hope-Frost

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Images: Rainer Nyberg, Chamberland_f1, WilliamsF1.com

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