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Grand Prix Gold: San Marino 1985

Submitted by on May 6, 2010

WinnerHow many world championship grands prix can you recall that were won by a driver who didn’t lead a single lap? One such event took place 25 years ago this week at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in the Italian Republic of San Marino.

The third round of the 1985 Formula 1 World Championship, at Imola, featured great racing – for 56 of the 60 laps at least – and plenty of farce – for the final four laps at least.

Senna led earlyAyrton Senna controlled the race from the outset, the brilliant Brazilian continuing the sort of form that had allowed him to take his maiden victory in appalling conditions at Estoril just two weeks before. His John Player Special Lotus, still fitted with the older EF4 Renault powerplant – team-mate Elio de Angelis had the newer EF15 unit – fended off the second Lotus, the Ferrari of Michele Alboreto and the McLaren-TAG Porsche of Alain Prost in a typical mid-80s Sunday afternoon thrash.

Stefan Johansson during 1985However, with just four laps of the fabulous Imola circuit to negotiate, Senna’s car began to cough and splutter as its Renault engine sipped its last few drops of fuel. Behind him, the star of the race, Stefan Johansson – in just his second outing for the Scuderia – had fought his way up to second from 15th on the grid. The Swede was in inspired form and looked set to win until he too ran out of gas. Into the lead went Alain Prost, the Frenchman just crawling across the line – his McLaren also dry – to take his second win of the season. Behind him, the older and more fuel-efficient motor in De Angelis’s Lotus had allowed the Italian to keep going where Senna had failed. Third, most unexpectedly, was the Arrows-BMW of Belgian Thierry Boutsen.

Patrick Tambay during 1985 seasonThe farce continued into post-race scrutineering, when Prost’s winning McLaren was disqualified from victory. Its empty tank meant the car failed the minimum weight-limit test. Told you it was a farce! Victory, then, went to De Angelis – the second and final win for the popular Roman – with Boutsen promoted to second and Patrick Tambay’s Renault, having been nowhere all afternoon, getting onto the podium.

Thierry BoutsenWhat a pity the 1985 San Marino Grand Prix hadn’t run to just 56 laps…

San Marino Grand Prix-Imola-5 May 1985; 60 laps x 3.132 miles

(World Championship race no. 407)

Pole Position: Ayrton Senna (BR)-Lotus 97T-Renault – 1m27.327s

1st: Elio de Angelis (I)-Lotus-Renault – 60 laps

2nd: Thierry Boutsen (B)-Arrows-BMW A8 – 59 laps

3rd: Patrick Tambay (F)-Renault RE60 – 59 laps

4th: Niki Lauda (A)-McLaren-TAG Porsche MP4/2B – 59 laps

5th: Nigel Mansell (GB)-Williams-Honda FW10 – 58 laps

6th: Stefan Johansson (S)-Ferrari 156/85 – 57 laps

Fastest Lap: Michele Alboreto (I)-Ferrari 156/85 – 1m30.961s

Henry Hope-Frost

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