Posts Tagged ‘Keke Rosberg’

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(Getty Images)

Felipe Massa blasts his Ferrari F138 through the Monaco streets oblivious to chassis’ above as exquisitively proportioned as Maranello’s latest…

’twasn’t a great 2013 race for the Brazilian, he had an accident on lap 28 at Ste Devote mirroring one he had on Saturday morning, locking a brake over a bump and boofing the barrier hard on the outside of the circuit.

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Felipe Massa Ferrari F138 on Saturday before his accident, Monaco 2013 (Ercole Colombo)

Nico Rosberg won in a Mercedes F1 W04 emulating father Keke’s 1983 win in a Williams FW08C Ford. Seb Vettel and Mark Webber were 2nd and 3rd in their Red Bull RB9 Renault’s.

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Nico Rosberg in the oh so complex 2013 Mercedes F1 W04, Monaco 2013. Carbon fibre chassis, 2.4 litre V8 & KERS energy storage system, 7 speed semi-automatic gearbox et al (unattributed)

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30 years earlier in 1983 Keke wins Monaco in the oh so simple Williams FW08C. 3 litre Ford Cosworth V8 powered, 6 speed manual Hewland gearbox #27 is Patrick Tambay’s slightly more complex 1.5 litre V6 twin turbo-charged Ferrari 126C3 (unattributed)

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Keke, Monaco ’83 (The Cahier Archive)

Photo Credits…

Getty Images, Ercole Colombo, The Cahier Archive



1981 Williams FW07D Ford (P D’Alessio)

I’d forgotten about the speed of Patrick Head’s Williams 6-wheelers and what a serious attempt they were to address the teams position in 1981/82. And the rule changes to ban them such was their apparent speed…

Williams couldaa-wouldaa-shouldaa won World Titles in 1979 and 1981 to go with the ‘Jones Boys’ win in 1980.

In ’79 the ground-effect FW07 arrived late and took a while to find the reliability to go with its speed apparent from the start. In 1981 team orders and more ‘cooperation’ between Jones and Reutemann would have secured a title for one of them instead of ‘none’ of them.

The two ‘numero-unos’ caper seldom works does it? I am a Buddhist in some ways but I still love the way ole AJ totally crushed Lole at Vegas in that last round ’81 championship showdown. Sheer force of will and balls. Attributes the ebullient, combative Balwyn Boy had in spades.

By late 1981 the turbo teams were finding reliability to go with their speed. Renault only missed out on the ’81 title because of unreliability, Ferrari were new to the turbo game but the engine was great even if the chassis was not. Brabham had formed a partnership with BMW. The best of the Cosworth runners was the McLaren MP4, which, with the very first carbon-fibre chassis was putting to the road all the venerable DFV had to offer. Maranello unsurprisingly knocked back William’s request for a customer Ferrari V6 turbo.

What to do was the question the Didcot hierachy faced as the FW07 series of cars were at the end of their development cycle?


Alan Jones, Wlliams FW07D Ford, referred to as FW07E also, Donington Park, November 1981 (Sutton)

To make things worse, Alan Jones made a very late call to quit GP racing and become a farmer. He bought a property at Glenburn, in the Kinglake/Yea area of Victoria forcing the Williams team to shop around on the second-hand driver market. The population difference of 250 people in Glenburn and greater London’s many millions is a change in domicile of some scale! Frank and Patrick eventually signed Keke Rosberg to partner Carlos Reutemann. It turned out to be rather a good choice.

Patrick Head set upon two design paths in parallel; the FW07 replacement ‘FW08’ and a six-wheeler project. By mixing the two projects, Head accounted for the six-wheeled concept in the FW08 design. The FW08’s wheelbase was kept short to accommodate the addition of four-wheel-rear-drive, its short wheelbase is partially the explanation of FW08’s stubby looks.

What follows is a truncated version of a great 8W: Forix article on six-wheelers, click on the link at the end of this article for an excellent summary of six-wheelers starting with the 1948 Pat Clancy Special and finishing with the 1982 Williams FW08D. In addition I have drawn on the recollections of the Williams six-wheeler designer, Frank Dernie in a MotorSport article.

The Williams six-wheel configuration would be four smaller driven wheels at the back in a direct effort to improve straightline speed by getting rid of the big aerodynamically inefficient rear tyres and improve traction out of corners due to the increased rubber contact. A bonus was to allow the free flow of air along the sidepods all the way to the rear axle of the car.

‘As ground effects were permitted within the wheelbase of the car, Head cunningly interpreted this rule as being from front axle to the most rearward axle! In Head’s mind, these would be ground effects perfection. The leading rear axle was placed four inches ahead of its original place, with the driveshafts angled to cope. The most rearward axle was driven by an additional final drive added on the back of the transmission. Hewland provided assistance on the gearbox, using vital experience gained from Roy Lane’s March 2-4-0 hillclimber’ which you will recall was also two wheels up front and four down the back.

Jones briefly tested the car at Donington Park in November 1981 shortly after winning at Las Vegas, but still decided against continuing his GP career. Its said the weather was so cold in Leicestershire that day that Jones had to pour hot water on his Jaguar door locks to get into his car. It’s not that the concept of the six-wheeler was poor, simply that AJ needed a break.

He returned to Australia to race Formula Pacific and Sportscars but was back to Grand Prix racing soon enough, his decision to opt for the bucolic pleasures of country life in Australia was premature.

‘In November 1981, at a cool but sunny Paul Ricard Keke Rosberg climbed aboard the six-wheeled FW07 hack, which for reference purposes we shall call the FW07E, as its reported name (‘FW07D’) later became the designation for the regular 1982 FW07.

Reports in Autosprint magazine led everyone to believe that Keke’s times at Ricard were unusually fast indeed, although many warned not to read too much into winter testing times. However, Alain Prost’s lap record of 1.04.5 had been set on October 26, just two weeks before Keke and his FW07D/E lowered it to 1.04.3 on November 7.

Jonathan Palmer also tested the car at Croix-en-Ternois in the North of France to see what its performance would be like on a tight and twisty track, and matched the times set by the regular FW07C.

Eventually though, the FW07D/E wasn’t used in racing as the team found a major obstacle to its ‘perfect’ ground effects – the lower wishbones of the rear suspension.

So Head decided on incorporating this dilemma into the design of the FW08, which as stated above was predesigned to accommodate six wheels. The FW08 solution used fixed-length driveshafts that would be used as lateral lower location members as well, thus freeing the underwing tunnels from any obstruction’.


Williams FW08 Ford 1982: Aluminium honeycomb monocoque chassis, wishbone and rocker pullrod suspension at front and wisbones and rockers at rear, coil spring dampers, Ford Cosworth 3 litre DFV V8- about 490 bhp @ 10750 rpm in ’82 spec, Hewland FGA400 5 speed box (P D’Alessio)

1982 Season…

‘Buoyed by the performance of the latest FW07 regular development, the FW07D, the team started the season with this car, ‘Lole’ immediately taking second after the super-license affair at Kyalami, with Rosberg fifth.

While the politics continued unabated in Brazil, Williams were confronted by Reutemann’s shock retirement from racing but lifted by Rosberg’s strong second place at Long Beach, yet still behind Niki Lauda in McLaren’s miracle chassis.

The Imola boycott allowed the team to prepare two FW08s for Zolder where there was more drama in store for the Grand Prix community. With the Renaults faltering yet again, Keke grabbed another second place, this time following home John Watson in the other MP4/1’.

‘In the following races Rosberg and new team mate Derek Daly continued to be beaten by the McLaren and the Brabham BT49D, while the turbo-engined Brabham won its first race.


Williams Team FW08’s in the Detroit paddock June 1982 Derek Daly 5th behind his car. Rosberg was 4th, the race won by the carbon-fibre McLaren MP4 Ford of John Watson (unattributed)

In France, turbos finished one-two-three-four.

Obviously unaware of the final Championship result, the Williams team then pressed on with its six-wheeler project and during the summer of 1982 a new car surfaced.

This time an adapted FW08-01 codenamed FW08D, hit the Donington Park track. Its four wheel drive times were stunning. In fact, they were so good that the FIA issued their 1983 regulations including a clause that outlawed six-wheelers and four-wheel drive’.

Frank Dernie spoke of his FW08 six-wheeler design in MotorSport.

‘The biggest problem with traditional ground-effect cars is that the downforce is generated a very long  way forward so you need a draggy rear wing to balance it. The big plus with the six-wheeler was that its side-pods ran comfortably inside the narrow rear tyres, right to the back.’

‘I managed a sufficiently rearward centre of pressure, without too much loss of the underbody, to do away with wings; the car had a slotted-flap type underbody, part of it around the exhaust, part of it in the normal place. I couldn’t have done that with a four-wheeled car. When skirts have to stop ahead of the rear tyres, you’re knackered’.

‘The lift to drag ratio of FW08 was 8.2, and the FW08B six-wheeler was not much more…But the final quarter scale model of the six-wheeler that would have gone into production had a lift to drag of 13 point something’. With neither front nor rear wing, any necessary trimming was to be supplied by a Gurney type flap at the bodywork’s rear’.


Keke Rosberg aboard FW08D in 1982 (LAT)

Keke Rosberg, Jacques Laffitte, Jonathon Palmer and Tony Trimmer all tested FW08B as late as October 1982.

‘It was quite progressive’ said Palmer. ‘It was great fun to throw around, to get a bit sideways, because instead of one wheel losing grip, and, therefore losing 50% of your grip, if one wheel lost grip you still had three others giving you some grip’. The car showed promise on all types of track from the high speed sweeps of Silverstone to the twists of Croix en-Ternois.

Dernie again ‘Patrick was sure that the only limitation would be, with four driven wheels pointing straight ahead, masses of power understeer. But after only a few laps of ‘Croix, Laffitte admitted he had forgotten it was a six-wheeler’.


Jolly Jacques aboard FW08D at Crois en-Ternois in 1982 (unattributed)

‘If you get the weight distribution right for the tyres and make sure the aero is consistent, there is no reason why it wouldn’t feel like any normal racing car. To get the ultimate from it, though, tyres  specific to the rear would have been required. At that time however, we were just running six fronts’.

In a busy time for Williams GP Engineering Dernie was actively assessing active suspension, Rosberg was stringing together a consistent run in one of F1 nuttiest seasons, FW was courting Honda as an engine provider and as a result the six-wheeler slipped down the priority list.

‘We didn’t expect it to be banned. Though we thought that maybe it would be after everyone saw how quick it was’.

‘We didn’t have sufficient time or money to bring it to fruition. We only had one Hewland gearbox, for example. Its casing was completely different because the suspension mounts were different. The gear linkage was unique too. We would have to have made lots of new bits before racing it, and inevitably it was going to be a heavier than a normal car’.


Sibling similarity between four and six wheelers clear in this Monaco 1982 shot of Rosberg’s FW08, DNF collision. Ricardo Patrese won in a Brabham BT49 Ford (unattributed)

Williams’ efforts had come to nought. And with Keke suddenly picking up one useful placing after the other – outpacing the unreliable McLarens in the process – and taking his debut win at Dijon, the Didcot team stopped having reasons for arguing too strongly with the FIA. And they had their negotiations with Honda going on anyway.

8W:Forix ‘Joining them – as Lotus had done, as McLaren would ultimately do – instead of beating them became the new motto for the new Formula 1 era. It had no place for six-wheelers, just as it refused four-wheel driven turbine cars. Many years later, at the 1995 Festival of Speed, the Williams FW08D turned out one more time in the hands of Jonathan Palmer. On the hill at Goodwood it showed why it was outlawed before it got the chance to show it was a winner. The doctor comfortably set an FTD that was only narrowly beaten by Nick Heidfeld four years later, in a pukka 1998 McLaren’.

‘Today the answer to the question is simple again. ‘What does a racing car look like?’ It’s got four wheels and a steering wheel, with the engine in the back driving the rear wheels. Apparently, the 21st century is no time for playing around in another ballpark. Or it must be in The Thunderbirds.’

The last sentence says everything that is wrong about modern F1 of course- the sameness of the cars as a consequence of rules which are way too prescriptive.


FW08D, Paul Ricard 1982- four driven wheels. This shot shows just how long and far back those ground effect tunnels extend! (unattributed)


MotorSport March 2017

 Photo Credits…

Paulo D’Alessio, Sutton, Pinterest, LAT, F1 Fanatic

Etcetera: Williams FW08D Ford Goodwood 2012…


Top rear, rear! suspension shot- beautiful magnesium upright, lower wishbone, top rocker, G/E tunnel, fixed skirt, wonderful (F1 Fanatic)

Tailpiece: Williams FW08B Ford 1982- F1’s last six-wheeler, last 4WD…





Elliot Forbes-Robinson’s Spyder NF-11 Chev chases Jacky Ickx’ Lola T333CS Chev, Round 1 of the 1979 Can-Am Championship on May 6…

Terry Capps terrific shots capture the essence of this challenging Braselton, Georgia circuit and all of the ‘fun of the fair’ from a spectators perspective in watching and hearing these 5 litre beasties around the courses undulations.

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Keke Rosberg winner at Road Atlanta 1979. Spyder NF-11 Chev (Terry Capps)

Keke Rosberg won the race in another of Paul Newman’s Lola T333 based Spyders with Ickx and EFR second and third. Keke took pole in 8 of the 10 races but had poor reliability and a couple of shunts; Ickx took the title that year in the ‘factory’ Haas Lola.

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Jacky Ickx in Carl Haas’ Lola T333CS Chev. Road Atlanta ’79 (Terry Capps)

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Elliott Forbes-Robinson in the other Newman-Freeman Spyder NF-11 Chev. Road Atlanta ’79. (Terry Capps)

Tailpiece: A Spyder Departs…

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Road Atlanta 1979 (Terry Capps)

Photo Credits…Terry Capps


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(Terry Marshall/The Roaring Season)

Terry Marshall’s shots capture the zesty, attacking style which made Keke Rosberg a crowd favourite throughout his career. Here in his Chevron B39 Ford at Pukekohe during the New Zealand Grand Prix on January 7 1978…

The Kiwi’s changed their national formula from F5000 to Formula Atlantic/Pacific from the 1977 International Series whilst we Aussies persevered with the big V8’s.

Rosberg won the 1977 Series in a Fred Opert Chevron B34 from American Tom Gloy in a Tui BH2 and Aussie Grovewood Award Winner, Bruce Allison’s Ralt RT1.

He returned again in an Opert Chevron B39 in 1978 and took that championship as well; 6 wins of 10 races, 1 at Bay Park, both NZ GP rounds at Pukekohe and 1 apiece at Manfield, Teretonga and Wigram.

Aussie ex-F1 driver Larry Perkins was 2nd in a ‘Scuderia Veloce’ Ralt RT1, Bobby Rahal was 3rd in the other Opert Chevron entry and Danny Sullivan 4th in a ‘March Cars’ March 77B.

The fields were of great depth and included Kiwi Internationals Ken Smith March 76B, Brett Riley March 77B, Steve Millen Chevron B42 and David McMillan Ralt RT1.

Later in 1978 Rosberg contested many European F2 rounds in another Opert Chevron, a B42 Hart 420R 2 litre and critically his Grand Prix career commenced…

His first race was the South African Grand Prix in a Theodore TR01 Ford on March 4, he qualified 24th of 30 entrants and retired with a range of maladies.

The car was a clunker (an F2 Ralt acquired by Yip into which a Ford Cosworth DFV was bolted) with many non-prequalifications to follow later in the season, but things came together nicely a fortnight after Kyalami for his first F1 win, a stunning wet weather drive in the non-championship ‘BRDC International Trophy’ at Silverstone on 19 March.

Whilst many fell off in the streaming conditions Keke drove a fast, consistent race to win from from Emerson Fittipaldi in one of his own Fittipaldi F5A Ford’s and Tony Trimmer, McLaren M23 Ford. The field included Peterson, Andretti, Ickx, Hunt, Regazzoni, Lauda, Depailler, Mass and Arnoux.


Rosberg winning the ‘International trophy’ at Silverstone in March 1978. Theodore TR01 Ford. (unattributed)

Later in the season he had some drives in Wolfs’ WR3 and WR4 acquired by Teddy Yip given the lack of pace of their own Theodore. 10th in the German GP at Hockenheim in one of these cars was his best result of the year.

He also drove an ATS Ford in 5 events and whilst still not a competitive car he showed what he could do, and the rest as they say is history, Keke achieved ‘ a toehold in F1’ with Fittipaldi in 1980!

For sure his Antipodean Formula Pacific wins against strong competition enhanced his reputation by beating his peers in equivalent cars and made him ‘race fit’ by the time he returned to Europe.

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Rosberg on the Wigram grid, 29 January 1978. Chevron B39. (Terry Marshall/The Roaring Season)

Terry Marshall said of this shot; ‘Keke Rosberg what a star, always goofing around.

Here on the grid at Wigram. He had just pulled me down into the cockpit to tell me if i came to Germany with him he would jack me up a job as a magazine photographer there. I had a lovely wife and two kids, so i had to say no.’

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Rosberg, Chevron B39 Ford, Bay Park, NZ. 2 January 1978. 1st place. (Terry Marshall/ The Roaring Season)


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Rosberg relaxing in the Teretonga paddock, 22 January 1978. ‘Motoring News’ maybe?! Beautiful all enveloping body of the B39 helped it slip thru the air nicely. (Kevin Thomson Collection/The Roaring Season)

Chevron B39 Ford and Formula Atlantic/Pacific…

The Chevron B39 was Derek Bennett’s 1977 Formula Atlantic car, 11 were built, Keke’s Fred Opert Racing (the US importer of the cars) chassis was # ’39-77-08′.

Typical of the period, we are just before the ‘ground effects’ era remember, the car used an aluminium monocoque chassis, independent front suspension with upper and lower wishbones and coil spring/Koni shocks. Adjustable roll bars were fitted front and rear. Rear suspension comprised a single upper link, two lower links, two radius rods for lateral location, and coil spring/Koni shocks.

Steering was rack and pinion and brakes disc all round, inboard at the rear beside the ubiquitous Hewland 5 speed FT200 transaxle.

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Rosberg’s B39 being prepared for the Bay Park round of the series on January 2 1978. (Mike Feisst Collection/The Roaring Season)

The engine was the Ford Cosworth BDA, originally homologated for rally use in Ford’s Escort RS1600 to replace the ageing Lotus Twin Cam, which was also based on a Ford block. Other engines were eligible for Formula Atlantic, the class ‘morphed’ out of the SCCA’s 1600 Formula B which commenced in 1965, but the BDA soon became the engine of choice. Formula Atlantic/Pacific soon became a truly global class which was contested in North America, UK, Australasia and South Africa.

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Ford Cosworth BDA engine cutaway. Engine designed by Mike Hall, the original 1969 variant spawned engines successful in Rallies, F2, F Atlantic/Pacific and much more. (unattributed)

The ‘BDA’ had many variants, all were successful, the Formula Atlantic kit was called the ‘BDD’ and like many of the ‘BDA’s was based on the Ford Cortina/Formula Ford ‘711M’, 5 bearing cast iron block.

The head was DOHC the 4 valves per cylinder driven by a toothed rubber belt, one of the the first race engines to do so and one of the first production engines so specified as well. The engine was fed, as mandated by the class rules, by carburettors, usually 48DCOE Webers. The 1590cc BDD developed a reliable 205bhp plus @9000 rpm, one of lifes true pleasures is to drive one of these cars powered by this engine.

Rosberg’s performances were meritorius as, arguably, the B39 was not quite as quick a car as the contemporary Ralt RT1 or March 76/77B, but the dude behind the wheel more than made up for whatever the chassis gave away.

(Peter Brennan Collection)


Terry Marshall, Kevin Thomson, Mike Feisst/The Roaring Season. Click on this link to take you into TRS, all three collections are well worth trawling through for all sots of cars., Peter Brennan Collection


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Keke Rosberg tips his Williams FW10 Honda into ‘Stag Corner’, so named after the hotel behind him, for the long run down Rundle Road and onto Dequetteville Terrace. Adelaide GP 1985. The Stag Hotel is still there and a much nicer place to eat and drink than then! (unattributed)

‘Rossi Kekberg is on pole!’ our host Ralph announced as we pulled up at what would become our regular annual digs for the Adelaide Grand Prix for the next 10 years…

I was the designated driver for the second half of the long drive from Melbourne, but the rest of my mates were well pissed, so it was a relief to see our host similarly inebriated when we pulled up in leafy Tusmore, Adelaide. Ralph and Jill’s backyard provided our cheap accommodation only 1 km from the Victoria Park road circuit for years. Wonderful people they were and are.

Ralph was no racing enthusiast, he always struggled with the furrin’ drivers names, but his zeal for the race typified the way the average Adelaide citizen felt about the event each year despite the interruptions to normal traffic flows and all the rest. Adelaide is a small town which embraced the race in a way Melburnians en-masse never really have. The ‘Save Albert Park’ mob are still vocal despite the GP having support from both sides of politics.

There had been mumblings about Australia having an F1 GP on and off for decades, the lack of an F1 event was not such an issue in the sixties when we had the Tasman Series which was effectively 4 Grands Prix in 4 States in 4 weeks! And 4 races in New Zealand before the ‘circus’ arrived in Oz.

The ‘Tasman’ was a 2.5 litre formula dominated in the early days by ex-F1 2.5 litre Coventry Climax 4 cylinder FPF engined cars. Later on ‘bored’ 1.5 litre F1 engines were used and at the very end of the category, 2.5 litre versions of current F1 engines were built by Cosworth and BRM, in addition to the bespoke Tasman engines of Repco and Alfa Romeo. Magic it surely was!


Geoff Smedley’s shot captures all that was great about the Tasman Series. Here, at Longford, Tasmania in 1968; Clark from Hill, Amon and Gardner in yellow. Lotus 49 DFW X2, Ferrari 246T obscured and Gardner’s Brabham BT23D Alfa Romeo. This is the preliminary race, the main very wet event was won by Piers Courage in a McLaren M4A Ford FVA F2 car, a famous victory for the young Brit. (Geoff Smedley)

Later Bob Jane perhaps came close to an F1 event, his early 80’s Formula Pacific Grands Prix were intended to be replaced by an F1 event but Calder, love it as I do, is a bit of a ‘shithole’. It lacks any sort of visual appeal from a Teev viewpoint, nor does it represent a challenge to the best drivers in the world. It’s a great club, point and squirt kinda place.

Sandown looked best placed, the circuit was increased to GP length to host a 1984 World Endurance Championship Round but the Light Car Club emasculated a great circuit with the ‘Mickey-Mouse stop go’ additions to the circuits infield to get the track to the requisite length. The financial returns, or lack of them destroyed the oldest racing club in the country as well.


AGP Calder 1984. F1 drivers in F Pacific cars, Ralt RT4/85 Ford’s. Rosberg, 2nd on the inside, Lauda, DNF prang, on the outside. Roberto Moreno won the race in another RT4, his 3rd AGP win. (History of The AGP)

And so, pretty much outta the blue, with the support of the local business community, racer/business man Bill O’Gorman having pitched the idea to the committee set up to celebrate SA’s Sesquicentennial Year in 1986; South Australian Premier, John Bannon did a deal with Sir Bernie The Unbelievable to stage a race on the outskirts of Adelaide’s CBD. Part of the circuit defines the cities Eastern boundary, so ’twas a race in the city centre. Critically from an SA perspective, the Formula One Constructors Association wanted a street race, Calder and Sandown are not street circuits.

Sydney is Australia’s beautiful world city. The place doesn’t have to work hard to attract tourists who are drawn to all of its visual, cultural and sporting splendour, she is the ‘hot sister’ her sibling cities are the ‘fuglies’ in relative terms. They have to work a lot harder to get tourists into their cities.

Melbourne’s approach to combat that, is an event a month strategy, the very same Ron Walker behind the Melbourne GP was one of the founders of ‘Melbourne Major Events’ the body set up decades ago, to identify global events or develop local initiatives to get folks to come here. John Bannon grabbed an event the Victorians wanted and in fact the Victorians ‘stole’ it from the South Aussies some years later.


Derek Warwick Renault RE60, turning into ‘Stag Corner’, with the fruit markets in the background, Adelaide 1985. The building is still there. (unattributed)

Most of us hadn’t seen contemporary F1 cars. I hadn’t done the ‘big European trip’ at that point, the visits of Guy Edwards in a Fittipaldi to Sandown, and the Theodore Team to the ’79 Rothmans Series with an Ensign MN05 and Wolf WR4, all Ford Cosworth powered whetted the appetite, but none were current cars when they visited and by 1985 we were in the middle of the 1.5 Litre Turbo Era.

The sight and sound of those cars around the wide open expanses of Adelaide’s Victoria Park was something to relish. It was, and still is a street circuit but the GP circuit, the V8 Supercars use a truncated version of the track, was fast and flowing with the full gamut of corners, if not gradient changes to provide a ‘technical track’ for drivers to master.

adelaide map

Once we separated ourselves from Ralph, our host, his enthusiasm for ‘Rossi Kekberg’ undiminished, we went to the circuit, being unfamiliar with the city and were simply blown away by Victoria Park, it’s scale, the circuit itself and the standard of organisation. The event won awards from the start to the end of the period in which the races were held there. Little Adelaide had something to prove both within Australia and globally, and delivered in spades.

Typical of AGP’s is a chock-a-block program of events; that year the supports included F Pacific, F Ford, Group A Touring Cars (Gerhard Berger drove a BMW635csi in the taxi races), Historic Cars. The ‘what the FAAAAARK’ moment was provided on that Thursday, when, unannounced an RAAF General Dynamics F18 Hornet fighter did a treetops high, fast pass, with all of us in Victoria Park hitting the deck and realising what it would have been like to ‘kiss your arse’ goodbye if one of these things was flying with aggressive intent…

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Alain Prost nips a front brake, his carbon brakes gave him troubles as they did other cars similarly equipped, but a blown turbo wastegate put him out on lap 26. He won his first drivers title in 1985.(Phil Aynsley)

By the time the circus arrived in town Alain Prost had won his first F1 Drivers Title with victories in Brazil, Monaco, Britain, Austria and Italy. He lost a win at Imola when his car was found to be underweight.

The McLaren MP4/2 TAG’s were the class of the field in 1984, they were fast, reliable, handled well and were driven superbly by Niki Lauda, who took the title that year and by Alain Prost who joined the team from Renault. The McLarens took their advantage into 1985 but the year was made technically interesting by Williams first carbon-fibre monocoque and the emergence of Nigel Mansell, signed by Williams that season, as a force particularly in the seasons second half.

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Patrick Head’s first carbon-composite Williams, the FW10 Honda a superbly integrated design, the car of the second half of the ’85 season. Honda had also got the power delivery of its potent twin-turbo V6 more progressive than in 1984. Keke Rosberg here. (Phil Aynsley)

Patrick Head, Williams designer was conservative and cost-effective in his approach to such large design changes and was also concerned about the new carbon-composite materials. Head was impressed with the way his aluminium-honeycomb monocoques had withstood big impacts; Jones at Watkins Glen (FW06) in 1978 and Reutemann at Silverstone (FW07) in 1980.

Head determined to control the carbon-composite program inhouse, Williams built 9 carbon-composite FW10 chassis during the season. And gems of cars they were, right out of the box; Rosberg won in Detroit and Adelaide, Mansell at Brands Hatch and Kyalami.

In the early part of the season the cars were powered by ’84 ‘D-spec’ Honda engines but by the time they arrived in Adelaide ‘E-spec’ engines giving a reputed 1000/1250 BHP qualifying capability and a 6 speed, rather than 5 speed Hewland gearbox to harness the power was fitted.

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Williams FW10 and its Honda RA163E engine; 80 degree DOHC, 4 valve 1494cc twin IHI turbo V6. Upwards of 800bhp @ 12000rpm depending upon boost. Carbon fibre chassis, lower wishbone and rocker/ coil spring/dampers suspension. Hewland 6 speed gearbox. Brakes in this shot carbon, but cast iron brakes in Adelaide an important factor in the Williams win. 520Kg. (unattributed)

Qualifying was held on a beautiful, hot day, 30000 punters turned up to see Ayrton Senna do an absolute blinder of a lap, you could see and feel the effort being expended by the Brazilian on track and on the plentiful video screens around the circuit, to set pole 7/10 of a second from Mansell, Rosberg, Prost and Alboreto.

So; Lotus, Williams, Williams, McLaren and Ferrari were the top 5. Alan Jones had returned to F1 but was well back in 19th, the Lola Hart not the fastest combination in the field.


Alan Jones ponders his chances on the grid. Strategy was to ‘go for it’ knowing the car probably would not last. It didn’t! He stalled on the grid but recovered to be 7th by lap 18, when the engines timing caused his retirement. Team Chief, ex-McLaren owner Teddy Mayer beside the wing. Lola THL1 Hart. (Phil Aynsley)

We were well pleased with the first 3 days of entertainment, I was suitably jealous of a couple of mates who were part of the show, participants in the Formula Ford race and wishing I was part of history, as all the competitors in that year were. It was surely the most significant motor race in Australia’s Racing History?!

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Muzza and Keke. Murray Walker had the same cult following in this part of the world as elsewhere, deservedly so! He is getting the goss on the grid from Rosberg before the start. (Phil Aynsley)

We plodded into town and found a nice Italian joint to have dinner, as it happened La Trattoria, which is still in King William Street, still owned by the same family and still employs the same waiters, became a restaurant of choice for the drivers, especially the Italians.

We had not even ordered a Spag Marinara when Patrese and De Cesaris arrived with wives/friends, we were blown away to have stumbled on the place by luck; because we were first, and ate there every night, every year a table was kept for us, it was fantastic to live vicariously and get the occasional autograph without intruding too much on the drivers. Adelaide was and is a small place, this was a good example of the access the locals had, their simply were few places to stay, so it wasn’t hard to find the stars of the show.

parade lap

Grid departs on its parade lap. Mansell, Senna, Rosberg by the fence, then Prost and Alboreto. Adelaide Hills in the distance, gum trees, and a full-house. Circa 105000 people on raceday/ (Phil Aynsley)

‘Poverty tickets’ in that first year weren’t a smart purchase, practice crowd numbers meant we had a very early start to bag our viewing positions. Outside the turn 1 chicane, a top spot on lap 1 but also throughout the race with a video screen to follow the event, was our choice after much debate. Being early was key, over 105000 attended on raceday.

Ralph was keen for ‘Rossi’ to win the race, and so it was, Keke won, and after 3 pit stops!

senna grid

Senna awaits the start from pole. Lotus 97T Renault. Blinder of a lap to get pole, but his race performance was a bit erratic. (Phil Aynsley)

Mansell won the start but Senna carved him in half at the third turn, putting Noige outta the race. Rosberg then lead for 41 laps with Senna at a distance until his tyres went off.

turn 1

Lap 1 turn 1 Chicane; Mansell from Senna, Rosberg, Alboreto (Ferrari) Prost, Boutsen (Arrows BMW), Surer (Brabham BMW) on his outside and Warwick (Renault). Senna gave Mansell a tap which took him out of the race into the right hander at Wakefield Road. (unattributed)

Senna moved back towards Keke, having given his tyres a rest and regained some grip, he then made a mistake clipping a chicane on the entrance to Brabham Straight, giving Rosberg some breathing space. But crazily, Senna had another moment and boofed Rosbergs Williams up the chuff as Keke went into the pits for a scheduled tyre change. Senna had to pit for both tyres and a new nose cone.


Niki Lauda in the cockpit of his McLaren MP4/2B TAG during practice. We saw him twice in Oz, in ’85 he was a real chance but like so many others his carbon brakes were not up to the rigours of a hot race which went for the maximum possible time allowed for a GP of 2 hours, twas said the race was about 12 laps too long. In 1984 he raced a Ralt RT4 Ford F Pacific car in the last non-F1 AGP at Calder Park. Niki retired at the end of the ’85 Adelaide race. (Phil Aynsley)

Rosberg was in the lead but Niki Lauda, in his last GP was looking a possibility in 2nd. At this point the heat of the day was telling for those with carbon-brakes, which were failing, those with steel brakes faring much better.

Keke’s tyres had gone off, he lean’t on them too soon so pitted again, then a wheel nut jammed so he entered the track 45 seconds behind Senna and Lauda.

rosberg tyres

Rosberg frying the Goodyears of his Williams on the hot day, you can clearly see the graining. (Phil Aynsley)

Senna fried his tyres giving the lead to Lauda, a career ending win a possibility, but his carbon brakes failed and he was into a wall. Rosberg, with cast iron brakes was looking good, Senna with carbon not so much, but then a piston failed in his Honda engine so Ayrton was out.

keke and senna

Rosberg from Senna during their long and interesting battle. Ayrton DNF with piston failure brought an end to it, but the Brazilian’s carbon brakes would not have lasted the distance in any event. Shot captures the essence of the track, the view from this point, in the Victoria Park section of the circuit, on Pit Straight  is pretty much the same 30 years later. (unattributed)

Rosberg had the race won with 21 laps to go, last lap entertainment was provided by the Ligiers (Ligier JS25 Renault) with Jacques Laffitte and Phillipe Steiff managing to run into one another, the unfortunate Streiff misunderstanding a Laffitte waving arms gesture which meant ‘don’t pass’ rather than ‘do pass’ as Phillippe interpreted!

Ivan Capelli, Tyrrell 014 Renault Stefan Johannsson Ferrari 156 and Gerhard Berger Arrows A8 BMW rounded out the top 6.

east terrace

The cars blast down Wakefield Road heading into town and into the East Terrace section of the track. Proximity of Adelaide CBD and treed nature of the Victoria Park section of the track clear. A Renault chasing a Tyrrell. (Phil Aynsley)

What a memorable race and event it was; the last for Lauda, Renault as a team for a while, Alfa Romeo as a team and the first of many Grands Prix for Australia…and yes Ralph did master ‘Rossi’s’ correct name but it took him another year to do so…


Victory ceremony L>R Laffitte, Frank Williams with his hands on the cup, Rosberg, Streiff and in the suit John Bannon, SA’s Premier who brought the event to Australia. Williams was shortly to suffer the accident which made him wheelchair bound only several months later. Mitsubishi a welcome global and local sponsor. At the time, its now long since closed, Mitsubishi manufactured cars at Tonsley Park, a southern outer Adelaide suburb. (unattributed)


warwick and senna

Derek Warwick, Renault RE60 and Senna Lotus 97T Renault, a bit cocked up, coping with tyres fried by heat and the pressure he is applying to them. End of Brabham Straight perhaps. (Phil Aynsley)


Unusual Adelaide GP circuit angle and shot. Keke’s Williams Fw10 has gone through the fast left/right ‘Banana Bend’ kink, he is on the outside of the circuit, The Adelaide Fruit Markets to his left, by the look of it he is under brakes and plucking 2nd gear for the left hander at ‘Stag Corner’, to head east out of town along Rundle Road. The fruit market buildings are still there, but are now retail and residential space. (unattributed)

alboreto and patrese

Michele Alboreto Ferrari 156, DNF transmission, ahead of Riccardo Patrese, Alfa Romeo 185T, DNF exhaust. (Phil Aynsley)

noige hairpin

Red 5, Noige at the hairpin onto Pit Straight. Mansell a popular figure in Oz, Senna drove a nutty race, twould have been very interesting to see what Mansell would have done without Senna’s assault on him. Two wins in the previous 2 races, the ‘form combination’ coming into Adelaide. Williams Fw10 Honda. (Phil Aynsley)


‘Autocourse 50 Years of The World Championship’ Alan Henry, ‘History of The Australian Grand Prix’ Graham Howard

Photo Credits…

Phil Aynsley, Geoff Smedley, ‘History of The AGP’ Graham Howard