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Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 05 August, 2014 16:26
thanks tedsouf, I thought that too- which was why indy was so galling. Japan would still have been a bittersweet losing deserved winner sendoff, like Massa, plus the constructors was at stake, but both those went down in flames too- not even a consolation prize and moment in the sun sad smiley

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
AlanJones 05 August, 2014 16:34
Great list AJ- I'm glad to open minds up about HHF.
Nico Hulkenberg is a RACER. He may only have been finding his feet in 2010, but towards the end of 2012 vs Di Resta, he was thoroughly convincing, and has been ever since- his Sauber points charge last season was a delight, as is his relentless pummelling of Perez. Nowadays, I look to see where Williams are, then Nico, then the title protagonists. Not only can you rely on him to be fast in qualifying, but you can rely on him to string a race result together and rely on him to race safely, and assertively. In short, he is consistently at or above the car's maximum potential. That is rare. The only time he's failed was when Perez flipped out in Hungary- Nico should choose which teammates to beat more wisely! That one is a bad sport!

Well, one must agree that Heinz Harald Frentzen is one hell of a great driver name. Just like the ones of Carel Godin de Beaufort, Wolfgang von Trips or Charles de Tornaco.
But if Im honest, I would raise my hand for hulk to get another drive at our team. Next to Bottas. That would be my dream team at this moment. A realistic dream team that is.

Had he not blown up his engine at Suzuka when he was in that very comfortable lead, Schumacher would have finished 9th that race and thus outside the points. Kimi would have been 3rd and Monty would have won the title with 92 points against 91 for Schumi and 89 for Kimi.

Correction, Monty lost the title in Indianapolis, one race before Suzuka. Had he won in Suzuka the score would be 92-92 and Schumacher would have got it thanks to his wins (6 to Monty's psesumable 3).

Sad ending none the less as we did lose the WCC that day...

Thou art right. But how the hell did I came to 92 points for Schumi..

Edit: That would have been the 92 points in 1994 for Schumi vs the 91 of Hill

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/08/2014 16:36 by AlanJones.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
diegorv 06 August, 2014 05:09
Can anyone tell me if the montoya 2003 and 2004 reviews exist?
Couldn't find them..
cheers all

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 06 August, 2014 08:07
I think it was taken down to be reformatted. I shall message mhf.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 12 January, 2015 10:46
And now time for the utterly fascinating

Nelson Piquet

Best WDC Finish for Williams: 1987 F1 World Champion
Total number of races entered for Williams: 32 (P15)
Total points: 143 (P9)
Best result for Williams: 1 (x7) (P5 joint with Prost)
Debut: 1986 Brazillian GP
Last Race: 1987 Australian GP

The nature of his arrival
Nelson Piquet Souto Maior kicked off his career in suitably mischievous fashion, misspelling his mother's maiden name "Piket" in order to pursue go-karting in secret when he was 14, railing against his father's wishes for him to be a professional tennis player. Despite looking a promising talent, winning tournaments and moving to California to train, his heart wasn't into tennis, and eventually, Nelson returned to Brazil aged 19.

Inspired by Fittipaldi, he bought a go kart, twice won the brazillian kart championship, and came over to Europe hailed as a prodigy, breaking Jackie Stewart's record of 9 British F3 wins before understandably getting a drive with Ensign, subbing for Daly for 1 race in Germany.


He started 21st, with teammate Harald Ertl 17th before both suffered engine failures.

He then landed a deal for 3 races with a customer McLaren, but he was overshadowed by Brett Lunger, generally qualifying outside the top 20 though he managed to pick up a plucky 9th from 14 finishers in Italy to finish on the same lap as the leaders.

Largely trading on his pre-f1 efforts, Brabham, then a top 3 team and multiple podium and race winner, entered him in a 3rd car for the final race of 1978 and again, he failed to impress. Watson and Lauda lined up 4th and 7th, both retiring, Piquet qualified 14th and trailed home a lap down in 11th.

Watson moving to McLaren should have been a lucky break for Piquet. Nelson got called up to race full time alongside Lauda as his number 2, but sadly for Brabham, their answer to ground-effect, the-very impressive fan-car was withdrawn for political reasons and this left them less competitive as Gordon Murray struggled with the aerodynamics of the BT48. Worse, the engine became woefully unreliable as Alfa started work preparing their own team. Piquet scored his career 1st points, and only score of the season in 4th of 7 finishers in Zandvoort, a lap down, and ended the season 16th, 1pt behind Lauda who by this point was fed up going round in circles and quit before the season was over. Lauda was clearly unmotivated with the situation, but what didn't help was his inexperienced teammate showing he was faster on a number of occasions (quallie head to head, 6-6) Rather than this battle being exclusively at the back, both threw in some star qualifying efforts, with Piquet catching everyones' attention finishing 2nd in the non-championship race at Brands Hatch, and lining up 3rd in Belgium and Britain, 4th in France, Germany, and Canada, and a career best 2nd in the USA GP as Brabham switched to Ford power for the final race- however, all championship races ended in retirements. All told it was an impressive season showing enormous speed vs the best - Nicki Lauda, and despite the miserable results, his reputation must have gone up considerably. Reutemann had been crushed by Lauda, yet this young brazillian had gone toe-to-toe with the best all year.

As if to demonstrate how easily the coin can turn on a number 1 driver without a formal contract, according to Bernie, in one qualifying session, Brabham brought 5 sets of tyres, 2 for each driver, and one spare. Lauda was slower than Piquet and came in to try the 3rd set only for Bernie to refuse him. When Lauda complained that he was the number 1 driver in the team, Bernie replied "not today your'e not".

Now armed with reliable Ford power, and one of the best ground-effect car's in the field after Williams, Piquet made a huge impact. Having been in F3 just 2 seasons ago, he won 3 GP, and finished the season as runner up, forcing title leader Jones into acts of intimidation to keep the cheeky brazillian in his place. Piquet utterly destroyed his teammates, Rebaque and Zunino, scored 54 of the teams' 55 pts, and was regarded as a big star of the future, being 6 years younger than Jones and on a steeper learning curve, whilst Jones was still trying to shake of the reputation of being a tough nobody given a lucky break.

The duel continued into 1981, where both Jones and Piquet proved fast but not immune to errors- at one stage, the stares and wheel-banging reduced Piquet to tears. Jones suffered the worst of the reliability, and Reutemann became Piquet's prime challenger, but internal pressures from Carlos' teammate combined with Nelson's greater mental resilience vs the Argentine enabled Piquet to win his first world championship as Reutemann cracked under the pressure. For some, Piquet winning was inevitable, yet Carlos had led for most of the year through luck and consistency and Jones had looked highly impressive after winning the title the previous year.

Having gone toe to toe with Lauda in his first full season, destroyed all comers to Brabham, and with both Jones and Reutemann retiring from F1, Villeneuve's passing and Pironi's injury, Piquet the reigning world champion was now considered the best man in the sport. He had the number 1 on the car, and got the number 1 treatment by Bernie. Brabham switched to BMW Turbos in an effort to keep up, and they proved fast but woefully unreliable, and ironically, it was the overlooked Keke in a Williams who had stuck with Ford who ended up winning the title with Nelson back in 11th, some 24 pts back. Piquet won in Canada, but a disqualified win in Brazil, and a collision whilst leading in Germany, endless retirements and his teammate beating him in the standings courtesy of leaving him for dead at his bogey-track in Monaco culminated in a frustrating year. It was a world away from 1979 where he had achieved even less, but then, he was making a name for himself vs the best, now, he had a big target on his back and didn't have the car to back it up.

As BMW increasingly got ontop of reliability and with a late season change of fuel, Piquet steadily hunted Prost down, beating him in Brands Hatch, claiming he had outpysched him, and going on to become the first Turbo powered World Champion as Prost's car became increasingly outmatched and less reliable. Prost by now was a highly impressive driver, but from Nelson's POV, normal service had been resumed and Piquet was now a Double World Champion with 3 GP wins that year and the right to be considered the undisputed number 1 in the sport.

Derek Warwick
"(Prost) was out-psyched. Not by the team - by Piquet. Piquet destabilised every driver out there. I raced with Nelson in 1978. He tried to unsettle me but he never did"

The defence of his title ended very early. Porsche mastered the fuel limited new formula better than anyone, and that, coupled with two ace drivers and a McLaren designed by John Barnard really put the pressure on BMW who, whilst still fastest, saw their reliability suffer in an attempt to compete, and were weighed down by fuel in the races. Piquet retired from the first 6 races, and was still stuck on 0 points in June, and remarkably, back to back wins in Canada and Detroit was already too little, too late. 4 more failures left him 5th in the championship, but 9 poles throughout the year reminded everyone just how fast he was, as the Fabi brothers couldn't get close.

A combination of car gremlins, Engine issues and driver errors left Piquet once again out of contention. Compounding his problems, Bernie took a punt with Pirelli and it backfired, as they proved impossible to warm up, leaving Piquet with an ill handling car plain lacking in pace at many tracks. He won 1 race in hot conditions, finishing in 8th in the championship, once again destroying his teammate, this time Marc Surer as Bernie pursued his policy of backing the one horse exclusively.

However, it wasn't enough to keep Nelson for 1986 as by midseason Nelson was shopping around for a better seat. With Williams coming on-song with Honda, Rosberg had decided way back in 1984 that he would never stay alongside Nigel Mansell, a man he had taken a mysterious dislike to, a dislike he rapidly got over after actually getting to know him, but that was after he had already made up his mind he was leaving once his contract was up at the end of 1985. A great shame.

Frank offered Piquet 3x the salary of Brabham - $3.3m dollars, which, it was rumoured, was largely due to Honda wishes- and Honda money, effectively making Piquet a Honda investment. Frank and Honda were losing their long-time proven champion and Nigel was still largely unproven, certainly in a championship fight, so Honda was prepared to pay big money to get the best, and Piquet with 2 titles had the best CV and provided Honda with the most reassurance. Piquet was considering going to McLaren, to replace Lauda, but it's very unlikely Dennis would have offered Piquet an exclusive number 1 position at McLaren, (or the same money) Piquet waved goodbye to Brabham no doubt expecting to be duelling Prost exclusively for the 1986 title as the man of the '80's, and the exclusive number 1 at Williams Honda. When Frank Williams announced Nelson Piquet, he declared he had just signed "the best driver in the world".

Nelson Piquet
"I raced for Bernie Ecclestone for 7 years and never had a contract. Frank Williams called me and I said to Frank "I will come and drive for you on 1 condition. I want to be number 1. I want to be undisputed the best driver. I know how to develop a car, I know how to win the championship and I want to help to do that again. His reply was "No problem". So we had a 19 line contract- everything was sorted"

With a proven record and team orders still a part of the sport, albeit a fading one, Mansell's sustained speed against him really was a genuine surprise for Nelson, and a major inconvenience for Piquet, Honda, and ultimately, Williams. How many titles could Honda, Williams and Piquet have won together had Mansell toed the line? Still, to win, you have to be faster, and with hindsight, Piquet seemed excessively full of himself, but when you see how it came to this point, Piquet's behaviour made a lot of sense, having never been eclipsed by a teammate and having always been given preferential treatment. In a way, you could argue that Piquet had been spoiled paired with B-class drivers whom he and Bernie found as willing servants, he had an inflated opinion of himself and therefore, he was always going to get a rude awakening at some point or other. He was no doubt very talented, but had never been without peer. He was only ever nip and tuck against an unmotivated Lauda in 1979, no better than Jones when he won in 1981, and had the best car by the end of 1983. He had won 2 tight titles from behind, 1 thanks to Carlos giving it away and thanks to Jones' unreliability, the other due largely to Renault unreliability, and a late fuel change, which could have easily gone another way and left Piquet with no titles to brag about, so for Piquet to be hailed as "the best driver in the world" in 1985 was perhaps laying it on a bit thick- an oversell for Honda's benefit and a bit of media pretention- particularly when you recall the job Prost was doing. It could even be argued he had perhaps only ever been consistently "one" of the best for a sustained period, and at no stage had been the clear best driver. All this, if anything, gave Mansell's fragile ego enormous encouragement when he got behind the wheel and found Nelson wasn't untouchable after all and from there, his confidence ballooned, and Piquet, for the first time in 7 years, had an internal fight on his hands when he had done everything possible to try and prevent it, and by simply being challenged, he had already suffered a considerable loss of face when that needn't have been the case.

the car 1986 / 1987
Williams had reemerged as serious front running contenders midway through 1985, after introducing the FW10 - an all carbon fibre chassis at the start of the year, and Honda introducing a more powerful, and drivable upgrade halfway through the year. The 1986 car, the FW11 was Heads' second Carbon Fibre effort and a better job aerodynamically, making the car even more competitive, and crucially, Honda had vastly improved their reliability. By the time the FW11 hit the track in testing at Paul Ricard, Piquet's prospects were looking good.

1986 Season
Piquet's story at Williams starts early- specifically in March 1986 where the team (minus Patrick Head who was back at the factory) were testing in Paul Ricard. Frank was pleased with the way Piquet and Mansell were dominating, and left in the afternoon to make a half-marathon the next day in Portsmouth. Rolling his car on the B-roads, Peter Windsor who had accompanied Frank was found by a local, who Windsor sent back to the track to find Nelson Piquet- who had fortunately indulged in a Mercedes hire-car complete with, according to Dernie, one of the first car-phone's in christendom. Phoning for an ambulance, Piquet drove Mansell, and Dernie to the scene of the accident just as the ambulance arrived, and followed the ambulance with Windsor and Dernie, whilst Mansell rode in the tiny ambulance. Nelson Piquet may not have a soft spot in many people's hearts, but Nelson Piquet had played an important role, doing all he could during the biggest crisis Frank Williams and the team had ever faced. This left Patrick Head to oversee Piquet's debut for Williams.

1986 Brazillian GP
Q 2 / 3 (Mansell) -0.4 (1-0)
R 1 / DNF (spun)
9 Piquet
0 Prost
0 Mansell

At Nelson's home Grand Prix, he out-qualified Nigel first-time out by 4 tenths, which considering Mansell's reputation for being fast but fragile, was an impressive job by Piquet, although both men had been eclipsed by Senna who had done a great job for Lotus.

In the race, Piquet lost out to Mansell who lit up his tyres off the line and half chopped, half barged his way infront of Nelson, as the pair were squeezed by Ayrton and Piquet was forced to lift by Mansell.

Brazillian GP Part 1

In P2, Nigel, with a head of steam and everything to prove, made an aggressive- albeit legitimate move on Senna up the inside, but as this was Senna, and this was Brazil, Ayrton wasn't having any of it, slammed the door, and barged Mansell into a spin and out of the race. It was unfortunate that Mansell already had a reputation for crashing, and had crashed out here last year, but still- he could have been more circumspect picking his spot to pass Senna, and because he hadn't been, he was out, and Piquet was in 2nd.

Piquet was more circumspect when racing Senna, On lap 3 Piquet turned up his boost, lit up the rear tyres and blasted past Senna before the braking zone for the next corner, largely because his engine's fuel-flow economy was better than Senna's who was planning on getting to the end. Piquet would go on to win, no doubt sniggering to himself every time he passed Mansell's stricken car.

(10 mins in)

From Piquet's perspective, this wasn't about whether Senna's driving tactics were fair or not- it was about being wise and knowing your competitors, and he wasn't going to throw away a win trying to prove a point and pandering to his ego. Senna's Lotus simply wasn't as fast across a full race distance, and Piquet made certain if he was going to try something, it would be something Senna couldn't contest.

Piquet was on a two stop strategy compared to the one-stopping Alain Prost and after his second stop, Nelson quickly hunted down Alain on fresher tyres to take the lead. As Prost's engine failed, Nelson marched home to win his home grand prix, his first Win for Williams in his debut-drive for the team, heading Senna off by almost 35 seconds, having overtaken both Senna and Prost during the race. As debut races for Wiliams' go, this was an enormously impressive one, staking his claim as title favourite, even if Mansell's initial pace had set off alarm bells.

Nelson Piquet
"This is a very special day. It was one of the easiest but one of the happiest wins of my career. I am happy because I was in front of my home crowd, at the first attempt for my new team and of course, because I hope it will help speed Frank's recovery"

1986 Spanish GP
Q 2 / 3 (Mansell) (2-0)
R DNF / 2 (Engine)
9 Piquet
6 Mansell
4 Prost

A repeat of the Brazillian GP grid to go 2-0 up over Mansell in qualifying, Piquet looked like he had Mansell under control. At the start, Piquet maintained his position in P2 ahead of Nigel, pressurising Senna, whilst Nigel was passed in quick succession, first by Rosberg, then by Prost.

But Nigel had been misled by an erroneous fuel gage, and quickly got back on in, re-passing the McLarens. Nelson, then oddly, started dropping back from Senna, and it could have been at this stage that he started trying to nurse his engine, with Hunt speculating that it sounded like he had a problem, and that he was fishing for gears. Less than a lap after catching Nelson, Nigel passed him comfortably for second into turn 1.

Piquet then fell back rapidly into the clutches of the McLarens, some 5 seconds behind the leaders on lap 36. What was looking like an indifferent race effort ended on lap 39 as his engine failed, underlining the fact that without technical issues, he had the speed to challenge for the win as he had been harrying Senna for the lead for a good while earlier in the race. In terms of Piquet vs Mansell, the jury was still out after two races, but it had been two top-class drives from Piquet who could have won both races but for his car letting him down. He hadn't found a way past Senna in the same way Mansell did, but Senna was on fresh tyres and the race panned out to be an extremely tactical one which Mansell lost to the Lotus due to charging off in the lead and failing to protect his tyres as well as Senna, despite having a faster car. Who knows whether Piquet would have been more circumspect?

short review highlights

1986 San Marino GP
Q 2 / 3 (Mansell) (3-0)
R DNF / 2 (Engine)
15 Piquet
13 Prost
6 Mansell

The top 3 in qualifying was identical to the previous 2 races, with Piquet 2nd once again, outpacing Mansell to go 3-0 up.

A strong start saw Piquet get into Senna's slipstream before powering past him to take the lead up to Tosa. From there, he rapidly pulled out a lead of 6 seconds by lap 10 as Senna and the Mclarens fought initially over 2nd- both McLarens emerging on top by lap 4. With Mansell, slipping to 5th, he had looked slow from the start before suffering an engine failure on lap 9- making it one engine failure apiece for each of the Williams drivers in 1986. Once again- in terms of Piquet vs Mansell in a clean fight across a whole race, the jury was still out, but Piquet was looking stronger, certainly in qualifying, and more consistent, on account of not having crashed in Brazil.

From there, the race became fuel-limited rather than having anything to do with outright speed, which negated Piquet's advantage. Nursing fuel, Piquet starting to get pressurised by Rosberg, as Prost sat back nursing his fuel.

Piquet made the call to pit first for fresh tyres, but never-the-less, after both McLarens pitted, they emerged comfortably ahead of Piquet who had gone into major fuel economy mode, getting caught by Alboreto's Ferrari in 4th, and falling 39 seconds behind Prost by lap 52, 14 seconds behind Rosberg.

The wisdom of his strategy became apparent in the closing laps as Rosberg dropped back dramatically to conserve fuel, but keen to stay ahead of Piquet, Rosberg pushed too hard and ran out of fuel, allowing Piquet to finish 2nd, as Prost, who was very marginal himself, limped over the line still 7.6 seconds clear of Piquet, jiggling his car to squeeze the last few drops of fuel out.

It's hard to tell whether the TAG Porsche engine had a better power-to-fuel ratio than the Honda, but judging by Rosberg's failure, that doesn't look to be the case, and it looked more like both McLarens simply took a more extreme route. It was a wise and well judged result from Piquet- demonstrating an enormous amount of self-discipline, but in comparison to Prost- who had judged it brilliantly- he had been outshone, even though Prost was about two corners away from stopping. Still- that 6 point swing would make all the difference at the end of the season for Prost. Who said Alain was risk averse? Many hail this season as his greatest triumph, and this race went some way towards justifying why.

1986 Monaco GP
Q 11 / 2 (Mansell) (3-1)
R 7 / 4
22 Prost
15 Piquet
9 Mansell

Nelson Piquet looked off-form during the Monaco GP weekend, having never liked slow technical street tracks and likening it to riding a tricycle around a living room. In qualifying he could only manage 11th, 9 positions behind Mansell on the grid, and he made no impression on Sunday, stuck behind Brundle, Tambay and Arnoux for most of the race, whilst in contrast, Rosberg, who qualified 9th charged up to 2nd as McLaren and Senna dominated the race. Piquet finished a lap down in 7th, behind both Ligiers, having craftily worked his way ahead of Tambay and Brundle as the leaders lapped them, but it was too little, too late. Mansell finished 4th, 1 min 11 seconds behind the dominant winner, Prost. Despite Piquet making it clear this was a one off issue related to a dislike of the track, Piquet lost a bit of the initiative he had built up in earlier races and by having bogey tracks, at such a pivotal stage in the fight between Nigel and Nelson, this would have given Nigel encouragement to have beaten "the greatest driver in the world" in both qualifying and the race after being called number 2 and trailing Nelson in qualifying and points. A very poor weekend for Nelson after three world-class drives.

1986 Belgian GP
Q 1 / 5 (Mansell) (4-1)
R DNF / 1 (Turbo)
23 Prost
18 Mansell
15 Piquet

Back on form, Piquet used the spare car to score his first Pole Position for Williams, the team's first of the season, as Mansell lined up 2 rows back behind Piquet, Berger, Prost and Senna. 4-1 to Piquet.

At the start, Piquet led away, as Senna squeezed Berger into Prost, emerging unscathed with Mansell picking his way through the carnage in a delayed 3rd. Prost pitted for a new nose courtesy of Senna.

Race Start- Large Photo

With Williams looking dominant at this power-track, Piquet pulled out a lead of 4 seconds over Senna in 3 laps, whilst Mansell caught and passed Ayrton for 2nd before getting over-exuberant, hitting the kerb at the bus-stop chicaine, spinning, and dropping to 4th. Another one for brains over recklessness perhaps as Mansell's high-speed-high-risk approach wasn't paying off as effectively?

Managing the race beautifully, looking every inch the 1986 champion in waiting, Piquet's Turbo dramatically failed on lap 16, denying him an easy win, as Mansell recovered well to beat Senna and win the race which should have been Piquet's by rights. This was a 13 point swing through no fault of Piquet's. With 2 engine failures to Mansell's 1 in 1986, it's fair to say Piquet was not getting the rub, falling behind Nigel in the championship and gifting Mansell a psychological boost after Nigel looked down and out in qualifying.

A great race, asserting the car's dominance effortlessly ahead of the best in the world, leaving Mansell a long way behind and at this stage of the season, looking like he just had a handle on Mansell, despite what the points said.

Belgian GP start

1986 Canadian GP
Q 3 / 1 (Mansell) (4-2)
R 3 / 1
29 Prost
27 Mansell
19 Piquet

Perhaps with Mansell fired up after his Belgian win, this was the race where the scales started to tip away from Nelson. Mansell took pole ahead of Senna with Piquet lining up a slightly disappointing third.

Piquet lost out to Prost off the line and sat behind an epic battle for 2nd as Mansell charged off in the lead. At a power track, this was unimpressive, and even more so after Rosberg slipped through to demote Piquet down to 5th. (7 mins in)

After a thrilling move on Senna by Prost, Rosberg barged through into 3rd, and Piquet tee'd up Senna to pass him comfortably for 4th into the next chicane. It was excellent opportunism. (10 mins 30 in)

From there, Williams were into fuel and tyre preservation mode, with Rosberg and Prost hunting Mansell down, and Piquet being rapidly dropped by the McLarens in 4th.

The three leaders all pitted for fresh rubber earlier than Piquet, with Mansell retaining the lead just ahead of Nelson in 2nd who rapidly fell back on old rubber, but having stretched out his first stint as far as possible (around half distance) Piquet then pitted for fresh tyres, slipping to 4th, but now with an advantage on the McLarens, he and went on a charge, catching and passing Prost for 3rd easily before passing Rosberg skilfully into the hairpin for 2nd. A nice combination of race planning and skilful racing.

BBC Highlights- apologies for non UK residents- darned FOM

Tarnishing this comeback, Piquet then overcooked his rear tyres, forcing him to pit again for fresh rubber- an error which ultimately cost him 2nd to Prost, picking off Rosberg at the end of the race for 3rd after Keke dramatically misjudged his fuel once again.

A hard fought podium for Nelson, but he now lay 8 points down on his teammate after being plain outpaced all weekend, finishing 36 seconds behind Mansell and his strategy blunder left Prost with a pivotal place over him on a day Piquet should have been duelling Mansell for the win. These were uncomfortable times.

1986 Detroit GP
Q 3 / 2 (Mansell) +0.2 (4-3)
R DNF / 5 (Accident)
33 Prost
29 Mansell
19 Piquet

Piquet was outqualfied again by Mansell who looked to be getting into the groove with the FW11, eroding Piquet's early-season advantage in qualifying.

short Detroit GP review

Piquet lost out to Arnoux at the start, dropping to 4th as Mansell battled his way past Senna to take the lead before screaming away, until Nigel started struggling with a rear brake issue that would afflict him for the rest of the race- having seemingly beaten Piquet up to that point.

As Mansell was swallowed up, first by Senna, then Arnoux, Nelson remarkably wasn't there to take 3rd, having inexplicably lost out to Laffite, then Prost. By lap 15 Piquet had fallen 13 seconds behind race leader Arnoux in a downright mediocre display. (Senna having pitted for a puncture)

But then Piquet pounced. Whether he'd been saving fuel, preserving his tyres, or measuring himself to Prost is unclear, but now he made his move as he stuck with Prost to hunt down Mansell and the Ligiers before Nelson sprung a surprising move on Prost to take back 4th once they had caught the leaders. From there, Arnoux had a tardy stop and Piquet found a way past Mansell for 2nd. In no time, Piquet caught and passed Laffite for the lead, putting in a devastating spell of driving to open up the race for himself.

Senna too had been charging through the field on fresh tyres, but once they were both in clear air, Piquet pulled away from him.

In a winning position, Piquet pitted for tyres at mid-distance, but a botched wheel change on the front right left him stationary for 18 seconds, gifting Senna the luxury of pitting and remaining 11 seconds ahead of Piquet in 2nd.

Surely frustrated with the pit error, Piquet charged hard setting a fastest lap before dumping his Williams in the wall and out of the race. He had shown great self control and circumspection all year, but for all his guile and experience, Piquet was not immune to error. As Mansell would describe in 1992, he was somewhere between Prost and Senna in terms of composure, and racing aggression- he could be canny, calm and combative, yet he could also be outpaced, and error prone. He's a hard one to typecast- a jack of all trades, with a few tricks of his own thrown in, as we shall see...

The silver lining was Prost only finishing 3rd, and Mansell a brake-limited 5th, but Piquet was firmly on the back foot now in championship terms, courtesy of 2 engine failures and a crash, each time whilst running in the top 3.

A flawed drive- a critical error after getting flustered in adversity, but up until that point, Piquet had shown excellent circumspection, self control, and devastating speed and racing skills.

1986 French GP
Q 3 / 2 (Mansell) (4-4)
R 3 / 1
39 Prost
38 Mansell
23 Piquet

Just like in Canada, Piquet was once again eclipsed by Mansell all weekend. Outqualified on Saturday, his form was consistently strong, never lining up outside the top 3 except in Monaco, but once again his status as "best driver in the world" was under scrutiny.

At the start, Nelson reacted incredibly slowly to the lights, falling to 7th behind Johnny Dumfries who had lined up 9 places behind him on the grid. In contrast, Mansell led the race. Piquet passed Dumfries for 6th by lap 2, Rosberg doing the same on the following lap. Oil on the track saw Senna crash out, promoting Piquet to 5th, but that became 6th again after a gas-guzzling Rosberg charged past.

At this stage, it was unclear whether Piquet was conserving fuel, or pacing himself for a 1 stop strategy, but if so, he quickly realised 2 was the way to go as he started upping the tempo later in the race. It was this deliberately slow stage of the race that cost his a chance of beating Prost and perhaps racing Mansell.

As Berger ahead collided with a backmarker, Arnoux pitted very early before Piquet caught him, promoting Piquet to a distant 4th. Piquet pitted a few laps later, retaining track position on Arnoux despite Rene's undercut.

Piquet maximised his own undercut to jump Rosberg on lap 32 by 9 seconds - quite a turnaround. From 3rd, Piquet hunted down and caught Prost for 2nd, who had made his single stop and was curing his tyres. As Nelson needed to press on to make his 2 stop strategy work, Prost had him trapped, and the charging Rosberg was able to catch him on his fresher tyres- passing him down the back straight after Piquet had been delayed momentarily in traffic.

However, after Piquet pitted for a second time, Rosberg in 3rd was snookered behind Alain. Keke chose to stay out until the end, but he hadn't looked after his tyres like Alain and this left him easy pickings for Piquet who hunted him down relentlessly in the closing stages before neatly passing him for 3rd and the final podium spot down the start finish straight and into the first chicane.

This left Piquet to once again stare up at his victorious "number 2" teammate. The worst thing was, in both Canada and France, he had not been close enough to even benefit from team orders had they been imposed because on both occasions, Prost had been between them. Much like in 2007 in Spain with Alonso, this led to the South American media speculating that the British Williams team were favouring their British driver, rather than face up to the painful realisation that what was playing out was an absence of favouritism, and it was starting to go sour for Nelson. Mansell was now 15 points ahead, and whilst Piquet had suffered misfortune in Belgium and Spain, he only had himself to blame for crashing out of the lead in Detroit and being plain outpaced in Canada and France.

A decent race, but just like Canada, eclipsed by Mansell and Prost, finishing 37 second down on the leader and not the job expected of the best driver with the best car.

French GP Review

1986 British GP (Brands Hatch)
Q 1 / 2 (Mansell) (5-4)
R 2 / 1
47 Mansell
43 Prost
29 Piquet

Responding to the pressure, Piquet took pole position in Britain, the 20th of his career, his second for Williams, no doubt delighting in putting one over on Mansell at his home race, though Mansell argued it was because he had experienced engine problems throughout practice and wasn't able to run with maximum boost.

Piquet Pole Lap

British GP Highlights

Mansell's driveshaft failed off the line, which would have made it 2-2 in mechanical failures if only the race hadn't then been restarted. A lucky break. At the restart, Piquet got a great start to lead the British GP as Berger powered past Mansell to take second. On lap 3, Mansell repassed Berger to take 2nd, 1.7 second behind Piquet.

From there, the gap stabilised as both Williams men went into a nervy fuel/boost management phase.,%20Nelson%20Piquet%20leading%20Nigel%20Mansell,%20both%20in%20the%20FW11.%20They%20finished%202nd%20and%201st%20respectively-herowide.jpg

Eventually, Mansell completed his phase and Piquet came under intense pressure from the charging brit driving Nelson's own spare car in-front of thousands of cheering fans. The pressure of everything that had happened that season got to Piquet who on lap 23, uncharacteristically missed a gear, and Mansell flashed through.

Dropping a couple of seconds behind Mansell, Piquet pitted first on lap 30 with Mansell responding 2 laps later. As Piquet had got his tyres warmed up, the rejoining Mansell saw his slight lead evaporate as Piquet hunted him down- having a look into Surtees, a look down the outside of Paddock, and finally looking genuinely set to pass Mansell into Druids before catching a backmarker who blocked half the track- by which point Mansell was fully up to speed. That in effect, cost Piquet the win.

After harassing Mansell for most of the final stint (when he wasn't alternately nursing the fuel) Piquet mounted another assault on lap 52 having more looks into paddock bend, and druids, but he was unable to sustain running with high boost, and eventually had to give up and settle for 2nd as Mansell, who had held his nerve with the boost under pressure earlier in the stint, opened it up in the final laps to win by 5.5 seconds.

This was an impressive performance by Piquet who looked back on form. He looked equally as capable of winning as Nigel Mansell, the only difference being that slight error Piquet made under pressure and the misfortune of catching a back-marker at the worst possible moment. An excellent performance, yet losing to Mansell must have been gutting at this stage of the season as Mansell had taken the championship lead and opened out an 18 point lead over him. Mansell was visibly winning the psychological fight.

Piquet vs Mansell

So emotional was Nelson after the race that when Frank made his next appearance in Hungary, Piquet appealed to him tearfully. Being overtaken, then blocked by Mansell wasn't the kind of service he believed he had been promised by Frank. Worse than simply feeling disrespected, Piquet must surely have realised by Britain that this was far more serious than that. This was about Piquet, and indeed Mansell, his peers and the rest of the world being forced to reassess Piquet's position in the pecking order. It was painfully obvious that Piquet was not at this point the de facto greatest driver in the field, he was losing in a straight contest and he was finding it traumatic adjusting to reality. Mansell had achieved far less than Piquet and both drivers had wildly disparate reputations prior to 1986. Nigel had achieved little and was the butt of a lot of jokes for his crashes, whilst Piquet had the respect of the paddock and Brazil as a Double World Champion.

Therefore, in many ways, coming into 1986, it was inevitable based on pre-existing disparate public opinion that Mansell would come out feeling a lot better, and that Piquet had set himself up for a fall, despite them both being very closely matched. I think this greatly contributed to the difference between them at this stage of the season- Piquet looking tight, nervous, unhappy and error prone, seeing his reputation plummet, and Mansell looked relaxed, confident, he was enjoying himself and building up a head of steam. Regardless of the personalities involved, I think this is just human nature- Mansell wasn't naturally a cooler man than Piquet under pressure, it was simply a matter of context. Perhaps had Frank been there at the start of the year, Piquet could have pressurised Frank into controlling Mansell, and thus broken his confidence, but by Hungary, the horse had long since bolted.

Nelson Piquet
"I first met Nigel Mansell when we were in British Formula 3. When I was at the front winning races, he was a @#$%&-driver, always at the back.

"It became a big mess for me with the accident because I had a very easy contract with Frank but he was gone for one year. It was complete @#$%& in the team from my side. When I went there I was already twice champion. In my contract I was number one driver. I had the spare car, everything. When I came to the first race it was not like this.

I arrived at the first race in Brazil and had nothing- no T-car but I could not talk to Frank because his problems were 100,000 times bigger than mine were. So I kept my mouth shut and did my job. then I started to fight with Nigel. It was an English team with an English driver. I was a two times champion. He was nothing.

I know my time there was not very good because Frank was in hospital and Patrick Head did not like me very much.

"Nigel was a nice guy. I tried to start a fight with him because I wanted to divide the team.
(i'm guessing in order to stop information-sharing) "So I said his wife was ugly. The problem is people in England don't fight with their hands like they do in Brazil. I tried everything I could to get him to hit me. I called his wife everything under the sun. But I had nothing against him- he's not a bad guy really"

Frank Williams
"What had in fact been discussed was that in the classic case that one driver would be leading the Championship and needing every bit of support, then we would control his teammate, but he was not given unconditional priority over the second driver. We took the view that if they were both running for the Championship, they would have to fight it out between them"

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 12 January, 2015 10:47

1986 German GP
Q 5 / 6 (Mansell) (6-4)
R 1 / 3
51 Mansell
44 Prost
38 Piquet

It's amazing how quickly things can turn around in F1. Neither Williams was on form in qualifying, in 5th and 6th, but they may have been protecting their engines, or focussing on race set up with Piquet emerging slightly ahead, as he had a habit of doing on a saturday in 1986.

Short German GP Highlights

At the start, Piquet maintained 5th behind the McLarens, Senna and Berger, with Mansell slipping to 7th behind Patrese.

By lap 2, Piquet had passed Prost for 4th. He then slipstreamed Berger for 3rd, then Senna for 2nd, before hunting down Rosberg for the lead. This was classic racing.

By lap 6, Piquet slipstreamed Rosberg and took the lead- 5th to 1st in 6 laps, and with his teammate down in 6th! Good times. Perhaps compounding his advantage, on lap 15, after the Williams pit-crew were all ready for Mansell, with his tyres ready, Piquet pitted and took on Mansell's tyres to the comical fury of Patrick Head. Perhaps this was an honest error on Piquet's part, but far more likely- it was a deliberate attempt to sabotage Mansell's race and rub his nose in it the fact that Mansell was losing and Piquet was in a position to bully him and get under his skin. From a Williams perspective this was despicable- from Nelson's perspective? It was smart thinking from an incredibly cunning individual seeking any advantage versus his title protagonist. If you think scruples are for losers, this was genius gamesmanship, though personally I feel ambivalence about it- a feeling Piquet constantly provokes.

In a fuel-limited race (as ever) he built up a 3 second lead on Rosberg once the McLarens had both made their single stop before Piquet took his second pitstop on lap 29, emerging back in 3rd. He then slipstreamed Prost for 2nd on lap 3 before hunting down Rosberg who had a sizeable lead- slipstreaming him on lap 39 to be back in the lead. With both McLarens limping home with fuel issues, Piquet took the chequered flag- in dominant style, some 15 seconds clear of Senna, and a whopping 44 seconds clear of his teammate who he had throughly trounced, and who was very lucky to have finished ahead of the McLarens. This was Piquet's second win for Williams (and much overdue)- the 14th victory of his career, and both of them had been taken in dominant fashion, with Piquet passing the very best drivers in the world- repeatedly- at will.

Another consideration is, without Piquet, Williams would not have won at this power track, with Mansell absolutely nowhere, nor would McLaren have been stretched hard enough to run out of fuel to the benefit of Mansell. A truly emphatic return to form in what was a great race by Nelson Piquet, closing the deficit down from 18 points to 13 in the championship.

Hungary - Diff-Gate

It's a well known tale for anyone who knows their Williams history, though the tale varies wildly depending on who tells it.

In short- Piquet tested a new differential in practice, Mansell did not choose to race with it, Piquet did, and by race warm up, Piquet was going well and it was too late for Mansell to have the diff fitted. After some screaming in the motorhome where Mansell accused Piquet of not playing fair, Piquet dominated Mansell in the race, lapping him in the process.

Nigel Mansell
"Nelson's done it with every team he's been in, he had Frank Dernie in his pocket"

Alan Challis- Chief Mechanic
"The diff itself was a bit iffy- there was no guarantee it would last the race, but it was an open book; you could walk in and look at the engineers's sheets. I'm not sure how much of a difference it made, but it suited Nelson's psychological bit to know he'd put one over on Nigel."

After Frank Williams' accident, Frank Dernie and Patrick Head shared the workload with Patrick focussing on Mansell's car and Dernie running Piquet's.

Frank Dernie
"Nelson and Nigel by then didn't want to talk to each other very much. (After the driver's briefing) Patrick and I used to go over everything once the drivers had gone so the story about not knowing about the diff is bollocks. Nelson didn't make a big thing about how brilliant the diff was, but it was known that he's had it in and it was known that he was keeping it in. He'd said "there's not much in it" but he would say that wouldn't he?"

I suppose the real question was whether Nelson had been successful in disguising any performance advantage from Patrick Head who had access to the telemetry or whether Mansell had not been interested until Piquet actually went faster?

I do question Mansell's work ethic after reading the story of how, years later he would walk into the Ferrari garage, ask them to bolt on Prost's painstakingly developed set up, and then feel paranoid that he may not be able to trust what he had been given. When you consider how angry he was here, it's hard not to see it as a flaw in Mansell that he wasn't prepared to match Prost and Piquet for work ethic and suggests he was a bit too lazy for his own good. He was asking an awful lot of his more experienced title-rival to advise Nigel about how good something was when Mansell could have found out for himself. There's teamwork, and there's laziness and whether coerced or not, Mansell really should have asked to try it himself. It was Piquet and Prost's technical abilities which made them what they were, and their hard work behind the scenes which made then such assets- it's a bit rich for Mansell to leave them to do the hard graft only to be given the fruits of their labour on a plate.

The counter argument is that it DID matter from a Honda perspective that Williams lost the drivers title in 1986. Had Mansell beaten Senna for 2nd in Hungary- which he may well have done had he raced with the new differential, those two championship points would have gifted him and Honda the title at the end of the season, which could have seen them stay with Williams long-term. A pity Honda couldn't see it that way.

Ultimately however, it was not Piquet's responsibility to provide advice, however, I can't understand how Piquet could get through the weekend without it's "brilliant" benefits becoming apparent sooner- surely it would have been apparent simply by comparing slow corner exit speeds on the telemetry? If it was genuinely so good that Piquet could lap Mansell based entirely on the diff, that sort of advantage would have been hard to hide for 2 days from Patrick Head which makes me question whether what we saw was largely psychological. What was unusual at this stage in the season was for Mansell to be trounced by Senna's Lotus too, suggesting that Mansell was just off-form at this new track, a hangover, or continuation of Piquet's dominant form in Germany, and that the diff was partly an excuse by Nigel to protect his fragile ego, but it ended up becoming self-defeating as Piquet pressed home his advantage, and Piquet used it as another opportunity to outpsyche Mansell, regardless of how much benefit it was, and it was this factor that cost Mansell a shot at 2nd.

A final word on sportsmanship. It's easy to see Mansell as a poor honest Brit tricked by a teammate who wasn't sharing information honestly for the mutual benefit of the team. But the hypocrisy of all this is the way Mansell would deliberately share the wrong data with Patrese in 1992 in an effort to lead him down false avenues. Mansell was given a harsh lesson by a cynical man in 1986, but by the end of his Williams career, I would describe Mansell's tactics vs Patrese as worse.

1986 Hungarian GP
Q 2 / 4 (Mansell) (7-4)
R 1 / 3
55 Mansell
47 Piquet
44 Prost

Beating Mansell once again in qualifying, its surprising to think he was 7-4 up in qualifying head-to-heads and there is a risk of getting too caught up in that disappointing spell earlier in the year which only really amounted to 2 mediocre races- which Mansell was in the middle of emulating now, albeit with diffs to whinge about now when Piquet had had contracts to moan over back then.

Mansell got a perfect start to demote Piquet to 3rd, but in a handful of laps, Piquet had passed Mansell down the main straight and swiftly caught Senna. After having a serious look into the back chicane, Piquet passed Senna neatly down the inside of turn 1 to take the lead on lap 12, having caught Senna by surprised by peeling out from behind him very late and failing to move to defend soon enough. Meanwhile, Mansell trailed around a long way back before being passed by Prost for 3rd.

[url]]Hungarian GP Part 3[/url]
(watch the first 3 minutes)

Pulling out a 5 second lead by lap 35 (1 minute over Mansell in 3rd) Piquet pitted for new rubber, falling over 28 seconds behind Senna as the Lotus driver really got the hammer down, having protected his tyres well, and Piquet on fresher tyres, was presumably nursing his fuel, or curing his tyres. This gifted Senna the chance to pit for fresh tyres and emerge ahead, and at this stage of the race, it looked like Piquet had dropped the ball. He hadn't.

With a deficit of 9 seconds, Piquet got the hammer down, hunting down Senna before catching him on lap 54. Acutely aware of Senna's habit of turning in on rivals when the situation was 50/50, and keen to finish ahead of Mansell at the very least, Piquet made sure any effort would "open the legs" of his compatriot, so he braked very late down the inside of turn 1 to make certain he was clearly ahead on turn-in, but on the dirty line, he was unable to brake efficiently, running wide in the middle of turn 1, and giving Senna the lead back.

But that wasn't the only trick Piquet had up his sleeve. Lining him up once again down the start finish straight, Senna, savvy to Piquet's surprise tactics down the inside by this point, pulled right to defend the inside line, and left Piquet with a run down the outside, to which Senna squeezed him so much he forced Piquet to put his left wheels in the dirt off the track. From this compromised position on turn-in, the car went into a spectacular 4 wheel slide, but Piquet controlled the drift brilliantly to rally-cross his way into the lead around the outside of Senna around a negatively cambered corner, This overtaking move has to be a prime candidate for the greatest overtaking manoeuvre of all time, not only due to the spectacular car control required, but because it was around the outside of Ayrton Senna of all people, it was for the race lead, it was against a championship rival, Nelson has the world title increasingly at stake, and it's even claimed that whilst sliding infront of Senna, in the act of taking the lead, Piquet flipped him the bird. If that's so (I struggle to spot it but there is hand movement) that has to be the most challenging and charismatic thing ever done in an F1 car- and with some of Montoya's heroics, thats a big claim. Frank loves his racers, and he was there in Hungary- I can only imagine his smile after watching that move. Piquet was a true great.

Senna vs Piquet- appropriately in Portuguese

Senna had put up a stern challenge, but unlike Jerez, this time, a Williams driver got the better of him as Piquet, on fresher tyres, marched away to win by 15 seconds, lapping "the fastest man in grand prix racing" in the process, to his obvious delight. This was Piquet's 15th Career win, his 3rd win for Williams, and general consensus was this was one of the greatest races of all time, thanks almost entirely to Piquet and Senna. Piquet closed the gap to Mansell from 13 points down to 8, and like all true champions, over the last 2 races, he had retaken the initiative.

BBC short Highlights (FOM are quite protective over this one for obvious reasons

Image link

Il leone or a @#$%& cat?

1986 Austrian GP
Q 7 / 6 (Mansell) (7-5)
R DNF / DNF (Engine / Halfshaft)
55 Mansell
53 Prost
47 Piquet

A mediocre practice session for both, Piquet lined up one place behind Mansell in 7th. At the start, Rosberg and Patrese both had bad starts, and with Piquet backing off from trying one up the inside of Mansell into turn 1, they emerged sensibly in 4th and 5th behind the two flying Benettons, and Prost.

As the Benettons dominated- then retired, the race boiled down to a battle between the Williams' and Prost, with Piquet, having initially looked combative, falling back rapidly from the duelling pair in-front and falling behind Rosberg. On lap 19 Piquet pitted for new tyres, falling to 6th behind Arnoux (and at one point, even Jones) who he would make no impression on before cruising into the pits on lap 29 with an Engine failure. A disappointing weekend- he looked capable of a podium, and possibly a win at one point, and it's hard tot tell whether his steady decline during the race was due to Piquet being off colour, or, more likely given his recent form- due to his engine being off colour. Unlucky. Mansell retired a few laps later, sharing his pain allowing Prost to run unchallenged to victory.

1986 Italian GP
Q 6 / 3 (Mansell) (7-6)
R 1 / 2
61 Mansell
56 Piquet
53 Prost

Another mediocre qualifying effort- though most of the damage was undone at the start. Fabi and Prost on the front row both failed to get away on the parade lap, and Senna retired at the start with transmission failure. With Berger beating Mansell off the line, this left Mansell and Piquet running in a fortuitous 2nd and 3rd in the opening stages.

Brief amusing Italian GP summary with an excellent Piquet interview at the end

Berger proved easy to dispatch- Mansell taking the lead, Piquet, a lap or so later under breaking down the outside into Parabolica in a bravely judged move.

With a 1.7 second deficit to Mansell, both looked like they had gone into limited boost mode, because the gap stabilised, but after a few laps, Piquet closed deliberately and tried a move down the inside into Variant della Roggia- to which Mansell defended. After that, Piquet resumed his fuel-saving watching brief with Alboreto shadowing the pair of them before spinning out.

Eventually, before the stops, Piquet drifted slightly further back- around 2.7 second behind, suggesting he had either used up more boost or more tyre life attacking Mansell. He certainly didn't look like he had much left in reserve. He pitted first for fresh rubber on lap 22, but his stop was a dreadful 17.5 seconds which led Hunt to observe that all Mansell needed was a smooth run without problems to extend his championship lead. Mansell pitted roughly 3 laps later, stopping for 8.3 seconds to emerge with a 10.1 second lead over Piquet which left the race, according to James Hunt, "all over bar the shouting"

It's hard not to feel a certain insidious delight at listening to the pro-Mansell commentary from a Piquet-perspective. With Mansell looking set to go 5-3 ahead of Piquet in wins in 1986, to open out an 11 point margin over his detested teammate, Piquet went on a charge.

In 5 laps, the gap was down to 5.8 seconds, and watching Piquet set a string of fastest laps, as Hunt and Walker started realising the threat, it was thrilling to watch Piquet appear closer, and closer down the long straights, hunting Mansell down at over a second a lap. He must have been conserving more fuel than Mansell in the opening stint whilst driving at the same speed, because he caught Mansell at a tremendous rate down the main straight, forcing Mansell to cover the inside left line into the chicane. This enabled Piquet to get a better run through the chicaine, and with more turbo-boost, he powered down the inside of Mansell before they had even reached the Curva Grande, giving a peevish little jink towards Nigel as he swept past, just to rub Mansell's nose in it.

Mansell turned everything up to get back on terms with Piquet, but Piquet had too much in hand, and eventually, Mansell gave up, defeated, and drifted back, eventually trailing home some 9.8 seconds behind the delighted, fist-pumping Brazillian.

According to Hunt, Mansell had generally dominated his teammate in 1986, but don't believe a word of it- Piquet had won in Brazil on merit, he was ahead of Mansell in Spain before suffering engine problems, he would have won Belgium by rights over Mansell who was very lucky to win despite a spin, thanks to more unreliability, and after an admittedly lacklustre spell in the middle of the year, Piquet had won 3 of the last 4 races hands down without luck coming into it. He was 7-6 ahead in qualifying, they had both won 4 wins apiece, he was 5 points down in the championship, but he had suffered more damaging bad luck in terms of unreliability, and but for his engine failure in Belgium, he would have been 5-3 up himself in wins and enjoying an 8 point lead in the championship- which does not paint the picture of a driver dominated overall in the least- Piquet was just as deserving of praise in 1986, and this run was an effort worthy of winning a world championship as one of Williams' very best drivers. Patrese could just about beat Mansell on occasion. In 1986, Piquet gave just as good as he got, AND provided the bulk of the development direction and set up expertise, and you have to wonder whether Mansell would have been able to be as consistently competitive as he was had it not been for Piquet's knowledge of set up. A great race by Piquet.

1986 Portuguese GP
Q 6 / 2 (Mansell) (7-7)
R 3 / 1
70 Mansell
59 Prost
60 Piquet

A mediocre qualifying session left Piquet in 6th, 4 places behind his title rival.
A good start saw Piquet out-drag Fabi and Prost to take 4th into turn 1, as Mansell beat Senna to take the lead.

Portuguese GP Highlights

At a tricky track to overtake on, Senna and Mansell opened out a gap as Piquet and Prost tried to get on terms with Berger. Piquet eventually passed Berger in an exquisitely judged overtaking move, getting brave on the brakes at the end of the back straight, and sliding the car ever so slightly, but controlling it perfectly.

By lap 10, Piquet was 4.4 seconds clear of Prost, 8.4 seconds behind Senna, and 12.4 seconds down on Mansell.

By lap 20, Piquet nibbled into the gap, now 11.1 seconds down on Mansell, and 6.9 seconds down on Senna, but the sense was they were all very closely matched, with Piquet on the back foot courtesy entirely of his poor qualifying effort. On race day, his pace was up there.

By lap 31, Piquet pitted for fresh tyres. Senna responded the following lap, but his stop was 3 seconds slower, and by the end of the lap, Piquet was glued to the back of Senna's gearbox. Prost leapfrogged the pair of them with his stop, and Mansell's stop went smoothy shortly after.

Crucially, both Senna and Piquet overtook Prost, perhaps due to his cold tyres, leaving Piquet dicing with Senna for 2nd with a world title very much at stake. A lot of pressure! Particularly in light of their monumental fight in Hungary. For lap after lap, the two would provide the entertainment as Senna turned up the boost on the straights, and Piquet swarmed all over him in the corners.

Coming up to lap Palmer, the Doctor cut up Nelson into the first few turns which was enough to cost him a couple of seconds to Senna. Desperate to make up the gap to Senna, he pushed the car right to the ragged edge, kicking up the dirt in his efforts to get back on terms, but under braking at the end of the back straight, Piquet lost the back end, spinning into the gravel. This was reminiscent of his other fundamental error in Detroit, where again, he had been overdriving after suffering misfortune in a duel against Senna. A nifty recovery from the gravel enabled him to resume in a distant 4th, and Senna- who had been using too much boost as it turned out- ran out of fuel on the final lap, with the net outcome being, by using so much boost, he had forced an error from Piquet.

Therefore, Piquet had been good enough for 2nd, but he finished a distant 3rd due to his impatience. He was Mansell's equal in terms of pace in the race, but a poor qualifying session, and a highly pressurised moment in the race forced a critical error which allowed a 4 point swing in points to Prost in the championship and dropped him 2 more behind Mansell. I doubt Prost would have made the same error who had gamely hung in there and finished 2nd.

This left Piquet 5/4 behind Mansell in wins, down to 3rd in the championship, and 10 points behind Mansell with 9 points for a win, and only 2 races left. In short- he had to beat Mansell or take points out of him in Mexico to stay in the title hunt. A strong championship contesting performance, but not consistent enough across the weekend to trouble Mansell who consequently, had shown him up at a crucial moment in the championship.

1986 Mexican GP
Q 2 / 3 (Mansell) (8-7)
R 4 / 5
70 (72) Mansell
64 (65) Prost
63 Piquet

A much better qualifying effort saw Piquet line up 2nd. With Piquet effectively able to "shoot from the hip" at this stage in the championship, Piquet got a storming start down the outside of Senna. As the pair duked it out into turn 1, Piquet extremely combatively directed his car at Senna a few times to try and narrow Senna's approach to turn 1 in a battle of nerves every bit as exciting as Mansell vs Senna in Barcelona 1991. Consequently, on a tighter line, Senna overcooked it, ran wide, and Piquet nipped down the inside to lead the race by turn 2 in swashbuckling style. In stark contrast, Mansell in 3rd, with enormous pressure on him, buckled under the pressure and stalled, dropping to 19th. All Piquet had to do was beat Mansell to stay in the hunt- and on lap 1, his title prospects were looking very good indeed.

Piquet/Mansell on grid

Mexican GP

From there, despite Senna threatening him into turn 1, Piquet slammed the door shut, looking every inch a man on a mission. He then paced himself to Senna, eking out a slight lead with Prost down in 3rd. At this stage Piquet was driving beautifully.

Mansell was the first to pit on lap 11, before getting his head down on fresh rubber, and by lap 20, Piquet's tyres started to fade and Senna and Prost both kept in closer touch. This nervy 3 way stalemate continued until Prost eventually pitted at half-distance, with Piquet responding shortly after, emerging ahead of Prost.

After Mansell stopped for a second time a few laps later, Piquet was able to lap his teammate as Senna managed to pit and stay ahead, and Berger refused to pit at all. Suddenly, on lap 40, it looked as though Piquet let Prost through in the middle of the back straight with seemingly half the power. He then started losing an enormous amount of time, and after Mansell unlapped himself from Piquet, Nelson came in for his second stop only a few laps after his first- perhaps suffering from a slow puncture, an imbalance, or a weirdly premature set of chewed tyres.

By lap 50, after Senna's second stop, Piquet was 5th, 11 seconds down on Senna, and a country mile behind Prost and Berger.

Just a handful of laps later, Piquet was crawling around again, and into the Pits again for fresh tyres. Few people in Britain care about Piquet's championship effort in 1996, or what went wrong for Piquet in Mexico after such a great start, but it was very pertinent for Williams in terms of Piquet vs Prost for the title, and therefore, it is highly relevant to Williams fans. How he could get to half distance with one set of tyres, and then have to pit a further 3 times and travel at a woeful pace is not something I have been able to find out, but it cost him an awful lot of time and potentially, the world championship. Even after his 3rd stop, emerging in 6th, and on fresh tyres, Piquet struggled for pace and was caught rapidly by Mansell who had effectively gained an entire lap on Piquet in half a race, as Piquet had conversely lost a whole lap to the likes of Prost and Berger.

It was only a turbo failure by Johansson and Patrese spinning off on his oil that enabled Piquet back into 4th with Mansell right behind him, but looking wary. If Mansell had been able to pass Piquet- or - controversially, hit him, Piquet would have lost the title there and then but Prost in 2nd was also a consideration for Mansell, and so that was how it remained to the end, despite Mansell having several looks. Piquet's title hopes were hanging by a thread.

A bizarre situation played out at the end as Johansson and Phillipe Alliot hitched a lift with Arnoux back to the pits, only for Arnoux to run out fuel and all three thumb down Piquet who carried the lot back.- resulting in a spectacular sight. Piquet was anything but dull and conventional.

Never the less, with 4 retirements to Mansell's 3 in 1986, the seasons' weird "best 11 results" kicked in, which meant Mansell's 5th wasn't good enough to count, and Piquet's 4th was, which meant Piquet was only 7 points down officially going into Australia. It was odd- but it seemed strangely justified from Nelson's perspective, having suffered one more retirement due to mechanical breakdown- so this rule evened things up ever so slightly.

Still, this race was a total enigma. For half a race it was a magnificent championship contesting effort from Nelson Piquet, looking fast, brave, and consistent with his tyres, whilst Mansell looked like he totally choked at the start, but given how well Piquet started, and looked after his tyres in the first stint, I'm totally baffled as to what happened at the end of the race, and I can only conclude there had been a bad batch of tyres or some issues with his suspension or engine after half distance, because even with an extra pitstop, you don't lose an entire lap to all your rivals without something else being severely wrong with the car. A great drive- a deserved winner, but bitter misfortune.

1986 Australian GP
Q 2 / 1 (Mansell) (8-8)
R 2 / DNF (tyre failure/crash)
72 (74) Prost
70 (72)Mansell
69 Piquet

For the title decider, Mansell pulled out all the stops to take Pole with Piquet doing a strong job to line up alongside him, although Piquet had to beat Mansell to stand any hope of taking the title. This meant the pair would tie 8-8 for the year in qualifying head-to-heads, which is quite appropriate and would serve to underline the closeness between the two in championship points and race wins that year.

An excellent start from Senna saw Piquet relegated to 3rd into turn 1. Senna then tried a move down the inside of Mansell into Wakefield and Piquet, defending from Rosberg on his outside- saw the opening and went for it too- demoting the necessarily cautious Mansell down to 3rd- who was then passed by Rosberg on the exit of the following corner.

From right underneath Senna's rear wing, Piquet peeled out from behind him, and for the second successive race, he took the lead from Senna, down the back straight with sparks flying- it was an excellent opening lap. Charging away, Piquet and Rosberg set a scorching pace, pulling out a 10 second gap over Mansell who passed Senna down the back straight for 3rd.

Rosberg then overtook Piquet for the lead, and Prost passed Mansell for 3rd, and at this stage, the McLarens looked fastest, as Rosberg stormed away and Prost rapidly closed down the gap to Piquet.

Under pressure with Prost right behind him, and with a blistered front right tyre, Piquet spun under braking: once again another critical error, which allowed Prost, and Mansell running a few seconds back- to get ahead. Piquet was firmly the 3rd favourite at this point.

As Prost made a call to pit for fresh rubber on lap 33, he suffered a puncture on his in-lap but that tyre change ultimately won him the Championship as the three in front heeded the advice of the Goodyear tyre engineers that a single set would last the distance comfortably. Piquet hunted down Mansell, and with Mansell reluctant to get in a tangle, Piquet passed Mansell easily into turn 1- overtaking him for the second time in the race to take 2nd back. With Piquet struggling to pull away, Prost on fresh tyres hunted down the two Williams who were struggling on old tyres but resolutely staying out.

Rosberg's tyre then failed, taking him out of the race, leaving Piquet in the lead of the race, with Prost overtaking Mansell for 2nd. Then Mansell's tyre failed spectacularly, taking him out of 3rd. Incredibly, after being so far behind in the championship in the middle of the year, and 7 points down coming here, Piquet found himself in a Championship winning position ahead of Prost, and it looked like he had done it again, and won a 3rd world title once again, from behind in a decider, but it was a deceptive situation because Piquet was suffering from massively worn tyres which were vibrating badly and there looked to be a high risk of Piquet suffering the same fate as Rosberg and Mansell. In an agonising situation, Piquet eventually did the sensible thing under orders from Patrick Head and pitted for fresh tyres- which gifted Prost the race lead and, ultimately, the title.

Frank Dernie
"We decided to stop Nelson for new tyres because there could be a fatal accident. It's preyed on my mind quite a bit as Nelson should have been world champion"

Dickie Stanford
"It was a big blow for everyone, even the guys on Nelson's car. We felt cheated. It was a case of pack up and get the hell out of there"

Unable to do anything about Prost ahead, Piquet finished the Australian GP in 2nd, having lost the race due to a flawed strategy relative to Alain, though it was a desperately close thing as Prost's fuel gage read empty before starting his final lap, having been forced to take a risk in pushing his car so hard from behind.

Piquet was obviously disappointed to lose the title, but seemed able to smile afterwards, perhaps because Mansell hadn't won it either, but the founder of Honda had made the trip to Australia to watch one of his cars win the title, and he was not amused, and Piquet took the opportunity to point out that had Williams prevented Mansell from taking points off him- a double world champion with a number 1 contract- Honda wold have won the drivers title- a sore point which was to register with Soichiro Honda, and lead to a fall out over Williams' continual refusal to impose team orders for Piquet's benefit which ultimately brought the Williams Honda relationship to an end. It had been another strong performance pace-wise from Piquet, just as he had done for most of the season, but that spin under pressure was not a championship winning act, and whilst his tyres may have lasted the distance, which would have made him champion, the risk was unacceptable.

Patrick Head
"I went up to Japan after the 1986 championship had ended so badly in Australia. Yes we had won the constructors championship, but we had lost the driver's championship, and Honda weren't impressed. They said we had lost because we had been fair to both drivers. It was because of Senna that they took on Lotus. And they pretty much told us that Lotus was going to @#$%& on Williams in 1987 with Senna. So there was a certain amount of pleasure to be had when it didn't work out that way and we wiped the floor with Lotus'

1986 Season Summary
In 1986, Piquet finished 3rd in the championship, 1 point behind Mansell and 3 points behind Prost. He scored 4 wins to Mansell's 5, but suffered several near misses: having the Belgian GP sewn up until an engine failure to the benefit of his teammate, losing from a winning position in Mexico due to an odd tyre issue and possible ailing car, crashing out of the lead in Detroit, losing the British GP by a whisker- perhaps in part due to an unfortunately positioned backmarker, losing the Australian GP due to poor advice from Goodyear, and suffering unreliability from very competitive positions in Spain and Austria.

To suggest Piquet was "dominated" by Mansell in 1986 seems like nothing more than partisan British rhetoric. Piquet gave as good as he got, having matched Mansell- one of the greatest drivers ever- in qualifying head to heads 8-8, and suffered, if anything, more misfortune during races rather than less, only ending up 1 point behind Mansell. Yes- there was a spell, after having suffered two mechanical failures in Spain and Belgium when Mansell went on a roll, and Piquet's championship position looked grim- which was all the more eye opening as Piquet was regarded as the greatest driver in the world and had never been eclipsed by a teammate before- which had all the hallmarks of Alonso's season vs Hamilton in 2007: but Piquet responded like a true champion with a searing spell of dominance, where he turned the tables emphatically, and that is what I will remember most of all about Piquet in 1986- his dominant wins in Germany and in Brazil- (for Frank!)- his thrilling hunt of Mansell in Italy, and crowned off with one of the greatest overtakes of all time, on Senna to win in Hungary. If the season had been played in reverse, it would have been Mansell playing catch-up on Piquet, with Piquet's unreliability being put down as the reason for costing him the title.

Another interesting fact is that 1986 was Piquet's most successful season in terms of wins: he scored 4 - yet he only finished 3rd in the championship, whilst his 3 titles came when he scored 3 wins which goes to show how competitive this era was and how wins alone are not a reliable indicator of performance.

Still- it wasn't a perfect year. Piquet threw in a dreadful race in Monaco, and looked distinctly mediocre in France and Canada. He also spun under pressure in Portugal and Adelaide, and missed a gear which cost him the lead in Britain. Whilst Mansell made his own costly errors, and across a whole season- Piquet's error's don't make for a long list- it made all the difference relative to Prost, who outthought Piquet in San Marino and Adelaide and barely put a foot wrong all year.

in general, Piquet was not a happy camper at Williams in 1986, and the evidence suggests he let Mansell get to him by mid-season. It also looks like he allowed Prost to beat him in an inferior car by driving with greater professionalism throughout the year, but I think we are talking about very fine margins here, as Williams' superior speed was hard to exploit most of the time during a fuel-limited formula where they could rarely use the full boost like they could in qualifying, and McLaren perhaps were better in races than they looked in qualifying due to not having as big a boost available, so it's easy to get carried away and miss the fact that Piquet had put in an excellent season. Versus Mansell, Piquet in 1986 was an inseperable match across a season with Williams' most successful driver, Mansell, and given Mansell was massively impressing the british public that year, makes it one of the most impressive season's ever completed by a Williams driver, despite his unpopularity and lack of class at times. Had he won the title that year, it would have been thoroughly deserved on merit.

1987 Brazillian GP
Q 2 / 1 (Mansell) (0-1)
R 2 / 6

6 Piquet
1 Mansell

Brazillian GP Brief Summary

Losing out to Mansell in qualifying, Mansell flunked the start, and Piquet scorched away to lead a Brazillian 1/2 to the delight of the crowd as Mansell tried to negotiate his way around the Benettons. Then on lap 7- with the race under control- Piquet had to make a lengthy stop to have paper litter removed from his sidepod which was causing his engine to overheat. Mansell suffered the same fate, and from there, Piquet would head off Mansell for the rest of the afternoon, made even easier by Mansell suffering a tyre puncture. Piquet's pace was strong at times, but unlike Prost, neither he nor Mansell could not make his tyres last as well as Alain, which may have been due to the extra power the Honda engine put through the tyres, which forced Piquet to make 2 pitstops, ending the race 2nd, 40 seconds behind Alain, with Mansell lapped down in 6th. A strong start to the season- good combative speed- and had the edge over Mansell from the start to the end, but once again, tyre management was the achilles heel of Piquet, Honda and Williams, as the fastest combination on paper was defeated once again by a man who had surely by now exploited the damage done to Piquet's reputation by Mansell and stolen the unofficial title of best driver in the world.

1987 San Marino GP
Q N/A / 2 (Mansell) (0-1)
R N/A / 1

10 Mansell
6 Piquet

If tyre issues had stymied Piquet's race in Brazil, they would virtually destroy his career in San Marino.

Having set the then-fastest time during Friday qualifying, Piquet had a horrific shunt in the middle of Tamburello, caused by a presumed tyre delamination, resulting in a hurt ankle and severe concussion. Sid Watkins refused to allow Piquet to participate in the rest of the weekend, forcing him to spend the rest of the event on the sidelines which made Piquet extremely angry. At vast expense, Goodyear shipped an entire new batch of tyres to Imola for the rest of the weekend.

With a championship at stake, it must have been torture to sit out and watch Mansell go on to win the race. Had Piquet been allowed to compete he could have finished second to Mansell and still been leading the title race after San Marino. Instead he was 4 points behind, but the damage done to Piquet was much worse than that, and was to have permanent consequences.

Piquet crash

The full extent to which this incident affected Piquet was not known at the time, as Nelson was keen to brush it off and get back in the car, but Piquet would go on to suffer from acute insomnia as a consequence of the crash, and impaired vision, which was to blight him for the rest of his career- a secret Piquet kept to himself for a long time, despite his form noticeably suffering from this point onwards.

I was no good anymore. I lost a lost of deepness in my view. I could not tell because if I tell people take me out of the [car]. And I was driving behind all the time.”

Whilst Piquet would go on to struggle relative to Mansell in terms of outright speed, I think his performance relative to Mansell prior to this incident should not be underestimated, and the fact that he was still able to win the championship despite his issues is an enormous credit to him. If Mansell was one of the fastest drivers in the world, Piquet still beat him to a championship despite being unable to sleep or see properly- a monumental achievement and one which surely changes the traditional way one measures greatness from raw speed towards incredible tenacity, improvisation, will power and triumph over adversity.

1987 Belgian GP
Q 2 / 1 (Mansell) +1.5 (0-2)
R DNF / DNF (Turbo/ Crash/damage)

10 Mansell
6 Piquet

short Belgian GP Highlights

Outqualfied by Mansell by a significant margin, the effects of his accident may well have contributed to the large discrepancy between them, despite lining up 2nd.

At the start, Senna got a magnificent getaway, slicing across the bows of Piquet to line up Mansell, which forced Piquet to back off and lose out to Alboreto into La Source. Piquet passed Alboreto on the exit to run 3rd behind Mansell.

In a repeat of Brazil '86, Mansell and Senna collided racing for the lead, this time, both spinning out and having a fight in the garage after the race. This gifted Piquet the race lead and he was looking good to win the race…which would have been a deserved endorsement of his slightly more circumspect driving tactics in wheel to wheel situations, until his Turbo failed, dropping him out of the race lead in Belgium and into retirement for the second year in succession due to mechanical failure.

It really had been a most unfortunate start to the season. He found himself a distant 4th in the championship despite not having put a foot wrong as both McLarens esp continued to hoover up the points.

A good race.

1987 Monaco GP
Q 3 / 1 (Mansell) (0-3)
R 2 / DNF (Exhaust)

12 Piquet
10 Mansell

Brief Monaco highlights

Monaco slightly redressed the balance in terms of karma. Mansell and Senna outqualified Piquet- Senna now with active suspension, and the race settled down in that order, with all three spreading out. Mansell's Exhaust/Turbo failed when running in a comfortable lead, and that left Senna to cruise home to win 33 seconds clear of Piquet.

To finish second, so far behind a Lotus that Mansell had the measure of looked uninspiring, but given how much Piquet had struggled at Monaco in the past, and the issues he was having with sleep and vision, to keep it clean and see see off the likes of Alboreto and Prost around such a challenging track was impressive in it's own way- a personal triumph. Piquet remained 4th in the championship, behind Prost, Senna and Johansson, but he was now 2 points clear of Mansell- a lead that was probably well deserved.

1987 Detroit GP
Q 3 / 1 (Mansell) +1.4 (0-4)
R 2 / 5

18 Piquet
12 Mansell

Detroit Full Race

An action-replay of Monaco in many ways, yet oddly, Piquet ended up impressing more. Piquet was blitzed by 1.4 seconds in qualifying to fall 4-0 behind Mansell.

In the race, Mansell led, steadily dropping Senna who rapidly dropped Piquet as an enormous rate. With a developing puncture, Piquet was passed for 3rd by Eddie Cheever before diving into the pits, dropping to 21st and dead last place.

(skip 21 mins 30)

From there, Cheever in 3rd led a train of cars which enabled Piquet to stay in touch until Cheever and Fabi collided. By lap 14, Piquet had risen to 9th despite their only being 4 retirements at that stage, before setting a fastest lap to catch Patrese- bullying him out of the way under braking shortly after catching him in a brave, finely judged move.

(skip 41 mins 30)

Mechanical issues with Johansson and Alboreto left Piquet 6th at half distance before passing Boutsen for 5th and Berger for 4th in what Murray Walker would go on to describe as one of the best drives of Piquet's career.

Hunting down Prost for 3rd, as Alain caught two backmarkers, Piquet looked to move to the outside before switching last-minute to take a brave and very tight line down the inside to catch out Prost and snatch a podium position away from the world championship leader. In wheel to wheel racing, Piquet had the moves on Prost and proved more consistent in that department than Senna and Mansell, particularly during the 1980's- an oft overlooked strength of Nelson Piquet. He wasn't immune to error, usually achieved all by himself when trying to catch or stay ahead of someone and spinning off- but his judgement when it came to overtaking was IMO second to none during the 1980's. He walked a peerlessly fine line between racing aggression, and respecting his rivals just enough to avoid major incidents during his time at Williams.

(skip 1 hr 14 mins 30 seconds)

Meanwhile, with an 18 second lead over Senna, Mansell started experiencing bad cramp in his leg due to acute dehydration: he had not prepared for the race properly. As Mansell pitted for tyres then started lapping erratically, he was unable to defend from Piquet, who shot past on lap 53 for 2nd, to the gleeful delight of Piquet. Mansell eventually fell to 5th, Piquet coming home a superb 2nd having kept his head down, not lost faith after such bad luck and with his teammate seemingly uncatchable, set a stellar pace and raced HARD. A champions drive.

(Piquet interview 1 hr 47)

This left Piquet 3rd in the championship with three 2nd places, now 6 points clear of Mansell. Yes- Mansell had looked much faster in the last few races and had lost a lot of points, but the fact is Piquet had done a much more professional job. If anything, Piquet had suffered more misfortune that was not of his own making, and if Mansell was falling massively short of his potential, he only had himself to blame for not being ahead of Piquet who found himself ahead of Mansell due to greater intelligence and better professionalism, in spite of an even rawer deal.

(Senna and Piquet perhaps discussing Mansell?)

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 12 January, 2015 10:48

1987 French GP
Q 4 / 1 (Mansell) (0-5)
R 2 / 1

24 Piquet
21 Mansell

Left for dead once again in qualifying, Piquet lined up a mediocre 4th, complaining bitterly that the team were no longer giving him equal equipment. This was probably a mischievous way of deflecting the brazillian media's attention away from the fact that he was not quite the same driver after his accident in Imola: Anything to keep Mansell's ego in check, distract him and provoke his victim mentality.

French GP short Highlights

In the race however, he looked much more competitive, making a race of it with Mansell in a straight fight for the first time since San Marino. He beat Senna off the line, and overtook Prost down the mistral straight for 2nd. Lapping at a strong pace, Piquet then bizarrely missed his braking point by miles, running wide and allowing Prost back through. The first of the leaders to pit, Piquet undercut both Prost, and the 1 stopping Mansell to lead the race before being passed by Mansell for the lead (Nigel on fresher tyres) and then deciding to roll the dice and come in for a second pitstop.

Hunt "Piquet should retire"

A stall in the pits cost him 8 seconds, and this perhaps denied him the chance of coming back and challenging Mansell for the win. In the commentary booth, James Hunt was ruthlessly critical, accusing Piquet of making multiple errors and attributing it to a lack of concentration and therefore, a lack of motivation, and that therefore, it was time for him to retire. Of course he was unaware of Piquet's medical issues in judging braking zones. Hunt had no doubt detected a slide in form - which was especially apparent in qualifying. The greatest driver in the world outqualified by 1.4 seconds demanded an explanation and the likes of Hunt was hardly likely to swallow the story that Williams were giving the guy with more points an inferior car, so it perhaps led him to believe Mansell had outpsyched Piquet who was now just going through the motions. This would require underestimating the fierce rivalry and pressure Mansell and Piquet put each other under- pressure which led to mistakes- because everything indicates Piquet was hell bent on beating Mansell throughout his time at Williams. Running competitively in the top 3 with a sniff of a win and with a points lead over his arch rival- a rival who left him in tears in 1986- is hardly a time which naturally lends itself to feeling either fatalistic or jaded. I think Hunt was just unaware of Piquet's condition and was providing a desirable soundbite for an anti-Piquet audience. With hindsight it's quite probable his impaired vision made it more demanding to spot precise braking points leading to the large error- there being less instinctive judgement at play- and the mistake in the pits was either due to the mental fatigue this caused, or the pressure he felt being so desperate to beat Mansell. He had history in this regard, with spins and missed gears in close moments as he struggled to keep a lid on the basics.

Nelson Piquet
“Every two weeks I was going to the hospital in Milan. And I was improving, improving but in the first months I lost more than 80% of deepness. I have to look at the numberplate to brake. I was very good to drive behind somebody but I could not drive in front! And that was ’87.”

It's hard to know when to believe Piquet, but based on his sudden drop off in outright qualifying pace and the evidence of this race, it would seem to ring true. He made this comment after he had retired when he had little need to make up excuses.

So basically, driving on memory from past seasons, and using brake markers rather than judgement, Piquet did a pretty remarkable job to catch up Prost on fresh tyres, pass him, and catch Mansell at over 2 seconds a lap to finish 7.7 seconds down, despite the stall, the error and the extra pitstop. All things considered, finishing 2nd in that manner was a very strong net effort.

With every excuse under the sun, after the race Piquet explained "I didn't stall it- it stopped!" Who knows whether this is the truth? Still, I doubt it made any difference to the final result as Mansell had backed off, but it did prevent Piquet from providing an exciting finish. A very strong, albeit scruffy performance.

1987 British GP
Q 1 / 2 (Mansell) -0.12 (1-5)
R 2 / 1

30 Piquet
30 Mansell

This was Piquet's first Pole of the year. It's unclear whether Piquet was exaggerating his 80% depth perception claim, because if so, to take Pole in that state seems hard to fathom. Either his memory of this track was brilliant, or the lack of long braking zones helped him, or he was picking his fights and wanted to knock Mansell of his perch in britain- he's a hard man to read. Perhaps all three came together and spurred him on, either way, it was a brilliant effort to be able to silence Mansell's home fans in the same car.

At the start, both drivers pulled off the line too aggressively, and Prost hooked it up better to lead through Copse. Taking it gently through the apex, Piquet got on the power early to pass Alain around the outside into Becketts for the lead, whilst Mansell followed Piquet through into Stowe to take second. A great start.

From there, the pair left the rest for dead, and Piquet genuinely looked the fastest driver, pulling out a 4 second gap at one stage before hitting traffic. Complaining of a vibration, Mansell pitted for fresh tyres (as did Prost) but Piquet stayed out, and I think that decision cost him a win that up until then, he had in the bag, on merit.

With a 28 second lead Piquet was reeled in on his old rubber, getting caught and passed with 2 laps to go falling for a dummy feint to the outside into Stowe; one of Mansell's greatest drives- to lose by 1.8 seconds.

Even Goodyear seemed unconvinced of the wisdom of pitting. A controversial point to consider could be that Mansell won purely by having no choice but to hope Goodyear were wrong after finding himself boxed in a losing position. He had no choice but to take a risk or lose, making this defeat a fairly ironic one for Piquet.

Still, it's hard to tell whether Mansell enjoyed an overall strategy advantage. He was clearly slower in the first stint, took a different strategy, and ended up winning, which suggests Piquet had been unlucky forcing Mansell to take a gamble- but as ever, psychology was surely a factor- with the thrill of hunting the leader down when shod with better tyres surely inspiring Mansell in a way he wasn't when losing in a straight fight. He claimed the crowd put 5 seconds in his pocket and I'm inclined to believe this wasn't just empty words- the crowd maybe made all the difference in Piquet's defeat. For Piquet. had the joy of "beating Mansell in Britain" reversed to misery at the sight of an inspired Mansell hunting him down? A key reason for why this race was described as Mansell's best was the whole gladiatorial drama and the psychology of it all for the fans and the drivers- snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, and I wonder whether, had Piquet been in second when Mansell pitted, Piquet may have set about the task of staying out with a more positive mainframe and seen it as an opportunity rather than suffer the pressure of being hunted down for a race win he thought had in the bag? He may have enjoyed more success by pitting a lap later than Mansell and going toe toe with him on fresh tyres; it's likely Mansell would have struggled to overhaul him- but one stuck wheelnut or engine "not starting" and the win would have slipped away.

If this was Mansell's greatest race, this was surely an excellent performance by a man still visiting hospital every fortnight; It takes two to make a great race, and the pair lapped the rest of the field. Perhaps spite was Piquet's main motivator?

Another aspect is wheel to wheel racing. For once, Piquet looked plain outraced wheel to wheel on track, and not so cunning, and as ever Hunt laid into him for it, though in fairness at that stage, he didn't have much of a hand to play, and may well have been passed on either side, such was Mansell's grip advantage at that stage.

BBC Extended Highlights

Sorry non-UK residents- its a heavily policed race, though I'm sure you're familiar with it.

1987 German GP
Q 4 / 1 (Mansell) (1-6)
R 1 / DNF (Engine)
39 Piquet
30 Mansell
McLaren were on form here having resolved an imbalance of the crankshaft, though Mansell still managed Pole. Conversely, Piquet suffered technical issues with car and engine throughout qualifying, winding up a poor 4th.

In the race, Piquet remained 4th until passing Senna who had led the first lap, but was suffering major handling issues with his active suspension. Piquet then dropped back from the leader Prost- and Mansell- a close second- at a rapid rate, allegedly because his visual display unit had failed, so he was forced to guess his fuel consumption, and wasn't taking any chances after last year where both McLarens ran out of fuel.

Nelson Piquet
"Frank Dernie was giving me information over the radio, but it's not the same"

Eventually, Mansell retired from 2nd with an engine failure and some time later, Piquet's VDU kicked in again, allowing him to hunt down Prost from half a minute back, only for Prost's differential to fail with 4 laps to go, gifting Piquet an easy victory- his first win of 1987, his 5th win for Williams, over a minute clear of Johansson, in a race which the 2001 German GP seemed to echo, when Ralf Schumacher took an easy win here at his team mates' expense.

You could argue he was slow and lucky, and that this was the pattern throughout much of 1987, but at this stage of the season, both of them had failed to see a chequered flag twice due to technical issues outside their control. If Piquet was leading Mansell by 9 points, it was by virtue of the fact that he hadn't taken himself out of a race lead in a collision, he had been fit enough to race through every event competitively, and he had beaten Mansell comfortably in Brazil.

For Piquet, this granted him the championship lead for the first time in 1987, with a 4 pt lead over Senna, 9 pts over Mansell, having amassed five 2nds, a 1st and 2 mechanical DNF's from 8 races. This was an increasingly impressive run of professional consistent good form, particularly after dropping to 21st and recovering to 2nd in Detroit. As Prost had proved before, Winning Championships wasn't about driving as fast as possible, even if Mansell had looked the fastest driver during most of 1987. The scales of fortune were pretty balanced now, and if Mansell was cursing his luck, the reality was Piquet had driven more professionally throughout 1987, in the same way Prost had in 1986,

The Driver Merry-Go-Round: The nature of Piquet's departure
It had been common knowledge for some time that Piquet was not happy at Williams and wasn't receiving the number 1 support he believed he had been promised or deserved. At McLaren, Ron Dennis was angling for Honda engines and discussed with Prost whether Piquet should be his partner for 1988. Prost felt Senna would be a genuinely better prospect- a reflection of how much Piquet's light had waned relative to the new brigade, and the rest fell into place from there. Honda confirmed to Senna that they would follow him to McLaren, and Peter Warr, keen to retain a supply of Honda engines, then contacted Piquet offering him number 1 status at Lotus. Honda reassured Piquet they would follow him to Lotus, and Piquet announced his plans in Hungary.

Before switching to Lotus, Honda had offered Frank use of their engines on the condition that Satoru Nakajima be signed alongside Piquet who was to be the exclusive number 1. Frank refused these terms and consequently, lost his Honda engine supply. As unfair as these terms sounded, it should be remembered that by now, Mansell was third in the championship, behind Senna, largely because of cramps, and worse, had taken points out of Piquet who could have had a larger lead had Mansell toed the line. Clearly, Honda viewed a civil war as deeply unhelpful, they had yet to win a driver's title despite massive investment, they had spent a lot of money on Piquet to win it, and Mansell wasn't doing a consistent enough job to convince them they should switch allegiances to him.

One of the most galling things about this is that Piquet's criticisms of his own teams' way of handling things contributed to Williams losing their engine supplier. If Honda were so set on their policy of driver priority, it begs the question why they were happy allowing Senna to go toe to toe with Prost at McLaren? I think Piquet's attitude had a part to play. Senna just wanted a McLaren seat and was prepared to settle for equal status to get it- he was never going to get number 1 status vs a 2 times champion, and perhaps explains this inconsistency of Honda policy- that it was greatly influenced by the personal politics of their chosen drivers. Piquet to my mind undoubtedly played a part in Honda forcing Williams to pick favourites or drop Mansell for Nakajima, although another aspect is the lack of regard Honda had for the effect of constructors. It's a shame Honda didn't appreciate that Williams were doing a much better job as a team than Lotus and that teams as much as drivers and engines, were all part of the equation.

After announcing in Hungary that he would be leaving Williams at the end of the year for Lotus, despite leading the world championship, Piquet's justification was that he would receive number 1 status at Lotus, whereas Williams had cost him a title last season, and he was concerned history may repeat itself again. As annoyed as Piquet felt, used to having everything given to him on a plate, I think there was also an element of self-preservation, as his reputation for being at least one of the very best was under jeopardy following his accident, and he needed the security of a number 1 contract and a tame teammate to prevent any further damage to his reputation. For Williams, they had been the team to beat for 2 seasons, but with the two times champion leaving them and few engine options in which to turn to,the future did not look bright.

1987 Hungarian GP
Q 3 / 1 (Mansell) (1-7)
R 1 / DNF (wheelnut)

48 Piquet
30 Mansell

Hungarian GP Highlights

Piquet was again outqualified by Mansell. At the start, he beat Berger off the line, but exiting turn 1, both Ferraris slingshotted past, demoting him to 4th.

With both Ferraris proving surprisingly competitive, the top 4 ran together as one, until Berger retired, promoting Piquet to 3rd. Mansell started to eke out a lead as Piquet fell back by over 8 seconds, nursing his tyres and falling a few second behind Alboreto.

Turning the wick up, Piquet then caught and passed Alboreto as Michele's tyres stated to fade, passing him around the outside into turn 2 and ruthlessly closing the door, before setting about Mansell's lead who, by lap 31 had built up a 15.5 second lead.

By lap 40 the gap had reduced slightly to 12.9 seconds. and by lap 64, it was down to 8.9 seconds. Finally, on lap 70, Mansell's wheelnut went flying, gifting Piquet a very fortunate victory and a 12 pt swing in his favour. He cruised across the line to win his his 6th Grand Prix for Williams, with the lap record already in the bag, amused as ever at Mansell's growing frustration.

Obviously by now, Mansell was suffering greater misfortune than Piquet. He would have slashed Piquet's 9 point lead down to 6, and instead it was up to 18, but that doesn't mean to say Piquet did not deserve to lead the Championship- just not by such a margin.

Performance wise, Piquet was Mansell's equal here, but he had lost the initiative at the start falling behind Alboreto. A very good race- a strong performance, but Mansell had him beaten before the wheelnut failure.

1987 Austrian GP
Q 1 / 2 (Mansell) -0.1 (2-7)
R 2 / 1

54 Piquet
39 Mansell

Whilst Piquet did not enjoy slow street tracks, he did enjoy fast sweeping tracks like Belgium, Silverstone, and here. Mansell may have suffered an absyss operation, but Piquet still managed to set the fastest lap of all time in a Williams at an average of 160.2mph.

Piquet won the first drag to turn 1 before the race was restarted due to a pile-up behind, he won the 2nd getaway as Mansell's clutch dragged, dropping him into the pack, causing mayhem again and fortuitously getting the race restarted, and Piquet won the 3rd getaway as Mansell was slow again, dropping behind Boutsen and Berger.

As Piquet hung on to the lead, Mansell overtook Berger, and Boutsen dropped out of the race, leaving Mansell with a very small deficit to Piquet. He rapidly caught and passed Piquet down the final straight before the start finish line as Piquet caught backmarkers, Piquet putting up little resistance, and from there, he either looked unable, or unwilling to make a contest of it, being left for dead by a second a lap, albeit looking very comfortable in 2nd.

He eventually crossed the line a whopping 55 seconds down on Mansell, despite setting the fastest lap of the race, fully content to ease off and scoring yet another top 2 result.

He was all smiles on the podium, perhaps trying to wind up Mansell by implying that Nigel faced a monumental task if Piquet could still finish second so easily. He commented after the race that with a 15 point lead, and only 6 races to go, he was now free to go for it and take chances like Mansell, but I'm not sure whether that was just talk to provoke more future errors from Mansell.

In all honesty, the win had been his to lose, and he put up no resistance to Mansell. Had he won, he could have buried Mansell in championship terms, but instead, Piquet had been defeated on-track once again. Since Imola, Piquet had yet to beat Mansell on merit in a clean fight, even if taking it easy on machinery and aiming for 2nd when a win was only worth a 3rd more points was a pretty valid winning strategy back in 1987. This had been his 7th successive top 2 result; a remarkable statistic. A highly efficient, managed, albeit uninspired race effort.

1987 Italian GP
Q 1 / 2 (Mansell) -0.1 (3-7)
R 1 / 3

63 Piquet
43 Mansell

Having put in 4,500 km of testing to develop Williams' response to Lotus' electronic active ride- a simpler Hydraulic version, Williams were ready to launch it at Monza. Mansell, who had suffered multiple failures working on active ride at Lotus had refused to test or race it, and whilst he was fully justified to take a concern for his safety, it was appropriate that Piquet reaped the benefits of the system he personally had put in so much effort and risk developing at Monza. It was an advantage very hard earned, and provided a certain level of justification as to why Piquet argued he aught to be the number 1 driver- for his greater work ethic and greater technical expertise.

Nelson may not have set the world alight on track for much of 1987, but he deserves an enormous amount of credit for his contributions to Williams' legacy, as he would barely get to take advantage of a system that would go on to become enormously successful for Williams in 1992 and 1993: a system he put his neck on the line to pioneer.

Beating Mansell to Pole for the 3rd time in 5 races, Piquet was clearly getting back up to speed in qualifying. Off the line, Mansell got a much better start before getting outdragged into turn 1. Mansell may have simply fluffed a gearshift, but there was a growing rumour that Honda was providing Senna and Piquet with better engines in light of their decision to withdraw their supply of Engines to Williams at the end of the year.

Yoshitoshi Sakurai
"Our driver's engines are identical although we can and do make adjustments to compensate for their different driving styles"

Piquet pulled out a strong lead as Mansell got scrappy racing Berger and lost out to Boutsen. As both Williams drivers made 1 stop, and Senna, making none, took the lead, the growing disparity between the two Williams drivers perhaps had as much to do with psychology than actual superiority of equipment. Even the suspicion that he had a better engine, and the knowledge that his active suspension brought tangible benefits was enough to spur Piquet on to fight hard for the win and rub Mansell's nose in it - who ended up 44 seconds behind Piquet at the line. It's quite probable Piquet had simply got under Mansells skin same as he had in Hungary 1986, leaving Mansell to feel foolish for failing to recognise the benefits of active ride and start playing the martyr rather than the fool by stirring up claims of deficient power. It was Honda's fault he was 44 seconds down on Piquet, not his, right?

After stopping, Piquet hunted down Senna with his fresher tyres. All set for a grandstand finish, Ayrton then made a fundamental error under pressure, running wide and allowing Piquet to pass him and manage the gap to him, winning a thrilling race in what was his best drive of the year.

This was a great race from Piquet. As Mansell and Senna both made errors, Piquet was really cranking up the pressure on both of them, the stand out best driver that day- as he closed in on his third world title. Masterful. A thoroughly convincing 7th and final win for Williams.

Piquet Italy 1987

1987 Portuguese GP
Q 4 / 2 (Mansell) (3-8)
R 3 / DNF (Electrics)

67 Piquet
43 Mansell

Mansell broke the lap record at Brands Hatch testing the new active suspension system- convinced now that he would have to race it to stand any chance of overhauling Piquet, and come qualifying, Nelson was outqualified by Mansell, lining up 4th.

Portuguese GP Part 1

Off the line, Piquet was put onto the grass by a slow-moving Prost, then switched savagely across to defend from Senna, before Alboreto drifted across, squeezed, then banged wheels with him through turn 1, causing absolute carnage behind. Piquet had the inside line, and Alboreto didn't leave enough room. Perhaps this was a botched retaliation for Piquet's chop in Hungary, resulting in his own elimination, together with half the field?

At the restart, Piquet got a good start, Berger a terrible one, and Piquet found himself put on the grass once again, losing out to Senna in the process. Unlike 1986, Piquet was able to overtake Senna down the back straight to take 3rd, but by that point, Berger and Mansell were a long way clear.

Portuguese GP Part 2

Piquet was all set to lose a couple of points to Mansell on account of his poor qualifying- until that is, Mansell retired with electrical trouble, gifting the increasingly lucky Piquet 2nd on the road.

With Berger miles clear, Piquet drifted back into Alboreto and Prost's clutches- losing his 2nd place to Alboreto before repassing him boldly into turn 1 as they went through the backmarkers.

He was then undercut by Prost in the pits, and wasn't quite able to pass him on warmer tyres before Prost overtook the yet-to-stop Fabi and went on a breathtaking charge to hunt Berger down to win the race. In contrast, Piquet looked disinterested. His two rivals were out, Senna and Mansell and ended up 3rd, over a minute behind Prost, and 43 seconds behind Berger at the flag to record his 9th consecutive podium and extend his lead over Mansell to 24 pts with 4 races left.

Portuguese GP Part 3

A dull, uninspired effort, albeit, statistically, crushing.

1987 Spanish GP
Q 1 / 2 (Mansell) (4-8)
R 4 / 1

70 Piquet
52 Mansell

Piquet totally hoodwinked Mansell in practice. Both drivers had 2 cars each: one active, one passive, and the battle for pole looked very close, with Piquet favouring the active car, Mansell preferring the passive: until Piquet, in the closing stages, pulled out 6 tenths of a second, catching Mansell completely by surprise, and resulted in a farcical situation as Mansell realised the active car was much the faster, desperately tried to get back into the active car, was stopped at the weigh-bridge and ran off down the pitlane to get into the active car. This earned Mansell a $3,000 fine and it earned Piquet his 4th Pole of the year. Unquestionably, a victory for intelligence over stupidity. For Mansell fans it was a tense moment, from Piquet's perspective, it was utterly hilarious.

Quite why, in his 8th year in F1, Mansell had to wait for his teammate to go faster before appreciating the speed of the active car when he had his own active car in the garage is hard to fathom: after all, Mansell had already been caught out badly without it in Italy, gone faster in testing with it in Brands Hatch, and been more competitive with it in Portugal. Mansell was proving very slow on the uptake, and spending too much time looking over his own shoulder, and not enough time doing his due dilligence. This lack of thoroughness- this lazy reliance on his teammate to work out something that should have been blatantly obvious to Mansell demonstrated once again why Piquet was not undeserving of his title. He was bringing to Williams skills that only he, and probably Prost possessed at that point in the 1980's- the ability to develop a car. Without Piquet, Mansell would have stuck with the passive car that was at least 6 tenths slower, because he didn't want to adapt to it and didn't believe it would be worthwhile. In 1988, without Piquet and under Mansell's leadership, Williams would decide the active suspension system was undriveable, and have the system removed: and you have to question whether this would have happened had Piquet remained behind the wheel. In fact, you have to wonder whether Williams would have Active Ride at all without Nelson Piquet.

Still: its a shame Piquet didn't pull this stunt on race-day, because by then, Mansell had learned his lesson and was in the active car. Piquet led at the start, but an angry "nothing to lose" Mansell dived up the inside into the final turn, and Piquet- with everything to lose: gave him the space. As Mansell screamed off into the distance, he was able to pit and emerge still ahead of Piquet, who once again, could not match his teammate for pace. Piquet was unable to overtake Mansell on warmer tyres, and made an error in the pits when he failed to keep his foot on the brakes, causing hassle for the mechanics and leaving him stationary for 19 seconds.

From there, Piquet passed Prost, before spinning on the dirty side on the track(that's 2 errors), before re-passing Prost, then Boutsen, then Senna, who were all queued up behind each other, to retake 2nd in fine racing style. A superb recovery on a tough track to pass on and another reminder that Piquet was an excellent clean racer, despite his earlier error.

Piquet's charge

Sadly, Berger shedding oil on the track, induced errors from Piquet (running wide over the grass) and from Boutsen (spinning out of the race) . This forced Piquet to make a second stop to clear his sidepods, and dropped him to 4th- preventing him from scoring his 10th successive podium.

Piquet explained after the race "I made more mistakes than I have in the whole of the rest of the season" but I think only two of those mistakes were purely his fault. The net result was his worst finish of the season, and he had been throughly outshone by Mansell, so you can hardly say it was a great effort, but it still involved passing 3 of the best men in Grand Prix racing, and that move on Senna for 2nd was beautifully judged, so its hard to categorise this race. Further, his qualifying effort was a masterclass and it was only misfortune that denied him scoring a swashbuckling 2nd.

1987 Mexican GP
Q 3 / 1 (Mansell) (4-9)
R 2 / 1

73 (76) Piquet
61 Mansell

A very convoluted event. Piquet was outqualified once again by Mansell, but with both Williams inexplicably lining up on the dirty side of the grid, Mansell had a shocking start and Piquet passed him down the straight by managing his wheelspin better. With Mansell down to 5th, Piquet 3rd, Nelson had Prost on his gearbox on lap 1. Then Prost, quite out of character, dived down the inside whilst still half a car behind, and Piquet, with a title on the line, unexpectedly turned in on him. The way Piquet had sewn up his previous 2 titles driving extremely cautiously was undoubtedly what Prost was gambling on as his own chances of retaining his crown were looking desperate. By closing the door, Piquet drew a mark in the sand, but was left facing the wrong way in the process. From a dangerous position, he eventually received a push start - raising questions as to whether he aught to be in the race and set fastest laps trying to recover from a distant last.

Mexican GP Highlights Part 1

By lap 15, both McLaren's had taken each other out, and both Boutsen and Berger, having great races, suffered mechanical failures running 11 seconds clear of Mansell, gifting Nigel an unlikely 1st, Piquet 6th.

Warwick caused the race to be stopped on lap 31 and split into 2 aggregate races, Piquet lining up 4th on the restart, 45 seconds back on aggregate, and with a brilliant start, both Piquet and Mansell diced into turn 1 before Piquet swept past Mansell around the outside to take the lead,- a glorious move, albeit perhaps with Mansell knowing he had a massive time advantage and could not afford to lose this race in a collision with only 3 races left and an 18pt deficit, leaving him a bit more circumspect. This played out again when Mansell, looking faster 2 laps later, had the inside line and backed out of it once again.

Mexican GP Highlights Part 2

(Classic Move 4 Mins in)

After that, Mansell backed off, trailing Piquet by 26 seconds by the flag, but still winning on aggregate with ease whilst Piquet, charging hard, took 2nd on aggregate with ease.

All told, it was a swashbuckling drive from Piquet, who seemed emboldened by a large points lead, and looking to assert himself. In many ways he was massively lucky to get 2nd after crashing and getting a push start, but equally, Piquet was the victim of a highly speculative move by Prost, never gave up, lapped faster than anyone (even though Mansell was clearly pacing himself) and raced hard with a thrilling move on Mansell for the lead, making it a classic Williams drive. He may have lost ground to Mansell, but with 2 races left and still a 12 pt lead (based on best results) it was a good afternoon's work for Nelson. Another untold aspect was Nelson setting fastest lap and building a 26 second lead, despite being the only man in field who had opted for the harder Goodyears that weekend. Everyone was allowed a free tyre-change off their worn softs for the restart, and that effectively denied Piquet a strategic advantage. Had they not been permitted to do so, or had Prost not been so desperate, Piquet may well have won.

1987 Japanese GP
Q 5 / DNS (Mansell) (4-9)

73 (76) Piquet
61 Mansell

Having been outpaced for most of the season by his teammate, it was appropriate that Nelson Piquet would win his 3rd world championship - his first for Williams- in one of the easiest manners imaginable. After a war of words in the press following Mexico, where Mansell argued he was clearly faster and had been blocked inappropriately, Nelson defended his approach by pointing out that "Ive won two Championships, he's lost one".

Pushing hard through the Essess in friday qualifying, Mansell put a wheel on the dirt, went spinning into the barrier, half flipped, landed with his head arched back in agony, and with internal bruising, on Saturday Sid Watkins deemed him unfit to race. Thus, the only challenger capable of beating Piquet in the championship had been rendered incapable. Had Piquet pressured Mansell into it or was it simply a lapse of concentration at a challenging racetrack Mansell had never raced at before? I'm sure from Piquet's perspective he may have believed this was vindication of his mindgames that had, in the event, proven even more effective than anticipated to the extent he hadn't even needed to leave the garage from saturday onwards to win after his idiot teammate had gone charging around and hurt himself. After the war of words before the event, perhaps it's true?

On Saturday, Nelson Piquet became the 1987 Drivers World Champion, following in the footsteps of Alan Jones and Keke Rosberg, as the third driver to win for Frank Williams. With Williams Honda already crowned the Constructors World Champions for the 4th time, Honda had many reasons to be happy at this, the first Japanese GP in over a decade, as the coveted number 1 would now be coming with them and Nelson to Lotus in 1988 leaving Williams with Judd engines.

For Honda, Williams and Piquet, the good news ended there. Piquet could only manage 5th on the grid at this challenging twisty new track, as Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton stepped forward with their nimble packages. In the race, Piquet got a mediocre start, Alboreto an even worse one, and Senna jumped both. After Boutsen's inevitable retirement, and a puncture for Prost, Piquet spent 46 laps harassing Senna.

Piquet pressuring Senna

Like a race from the 2000's, it was stalemate for lap after lap, with both pitting on the same lap to change tyres, and getting leapfrogged by the earlier pitting Johansson. Resuming the battle with Senna, now for 3rd Piquet suffered the disgrace of an engine failure just a few laps from the end.

Piquet retirement

Having won 20 of the last 30 races, it was a bittersweet event for Honda as Berger in his now more fuel economical remapped Ferrari romped home to victory, and Williams ended the weekend with no result. A decent performance- he was clearly faster than Senna, but with the best package in the field, he had left himself too much work after qualifying to win, and was lucky his engine failure came after he had won the title and not before.

Later, when questioned about the nature of his championship win, Piquet stuck the knife in by famously stating that "this is a victory of luck over stupidity". Was he right? Well by my estimation, Piquet was at least a net 19 points "luckier" overall relative to Mansell across the season when singling out mechanical issues. He won the title by 12 points, so yes, luck was a major factor. It's hard to point the finger at Mansell when his wheelnuts are falling off or his electrics are failing and claim Piquet deserved it for being more "sympathetic", so a good case can be made that Mansell had done a better job than Piquet and had been unlucky. Had Piquet not been more lucky than Mansell, his greater consistency would not have been enough to overcome Mansell's superior pace.

But such had been Mansell's superiority that he could have overcome all his net misfortune and still won the title if he had only driven as consistently as Piquet. Of his three self inflicted errors - tangling with Senna in Belgium when 2nd would have been sufficient, crashing by himself in Japan, and cramping up in dehydration in Detroit, eliminating 2 of these would have given him the title in a season when Piquet had given virtually nothing away in errors all year. So you have to say Piquet was right: he won his title through luck and better sense, both of which had been needed to weather the storm.

1987 Australian GP
Q 3 / 7 (Patrese) (1-0)
R DNF / 9

73 (76) Piquet
61 Mansell

With Mansell still hurting from his crash, Williams saw this race as a good opportunity to give Riccardo Patrese, Piquet's replacement for 1988, an early start alongside Nelson who was competing in his final race for Williams. This race was also to be Williams' final event with Honda power. With both titles won, it was, therefore, a pretty unique event.

Piquet lined up 3rd behind the star of the late season, Gerhard Berger, and Prost. Nelson had tried both active and passive suspension in practice, but settled for passive with Patrese lining up 4 places behind.

Piquet had another brilliant start, a bit like the Mexico restart, charging through from the second row to lead into turn 1. Sadly, Berger was too strong, and reposed him a few corners later.

Australian GP review

After drifting back in 2nd with Prost on his gearbox, Piquet went for a tyre change on lap 34, dropping to 6th but still staying ahead of Patrese. On lap 54, running in 4th, Piquet suffered a left front brake failure, along with Patrese a few laps later, as did both McLarens, suggesting Williams had messed up here, and also suggesting that Mansell would probably not have had the opportunity to beat Piquet even without the crash in Japan. Still- at the other end of the spectrum, Senna finished safely in second only to be disqualified for oversized brakes so Williams were in good company finding brakes a problem.

Piquet's performance had been very strong again, eclipsing his new teammate easily , but like Mansell in Mexico, he struggled to handle Berger's Ferrari once again. Williams were fully focussed on 1988, as confirmed by Patrick Head, sore at losing Honda engines and keen to give them something to think about in 1988, so it's not clear whether Berger was doing a better job as a driver or not.

1987 season summary
Piquet ended the season with 2 DNF's in the final 2 races, but it was a testament to his consistency, and Williams' reliability and dominance that Nelson still equalled Alain Prost's single season points record of 76 pts set in 1985. That he should achieve this record in spite of an ultra competitive teammate, a mid season shunt and a debilitating bout of insomnia and affected vision which left him clearly below par in terms of raw speed just goes to highlight the phenomenal strength in depth and adaptability of a man who had such a range of strengths to fall back on. In no other season was it so clearly apparent that the champion was not, on average the fastest driver out there, yet Piquet cannot be blamed for this, having proven in 1986 he could beat Mansell in a straight fight just as often as not.

And yet, despite this challenge, it was Mansell crashing under pressure, running up and down the pitlane, complaining about unfair treatment and constantly up against it. With 11 podiums in 16 races, Piquet only failed to finish a race on the podium once, and only then because of an oil-slick on the track- a remarkable feat of sustained high quality, consistency and sensible decision making. Married to that, Piquet exploited advantages in Italy and Spain through sheer hard graft and greater technical expertise, making it clear how much Mansell was relying on Piquet to ensure he had a competitive package. When misfortune struck in the form of Prost taking a ludicrous lunge down the inside in Mexico, or a tyre puncture in Detroit, on each occasion his race looked over, but instead of giving up, or overdriving, he responded like a true champion, blending experience with faultless race craft and panache' to carve his way all the way through the field and finish 2nd.

Piquet may have only won 3 races to Mansell's 6, and two of those were inherited at his teammates' expense, but when you consider where he was after Imola- down on points and facing a long slow physical recovery, it's important not to judge Piquet's worthiness, or talent based on his speed alone this season. this world championship title was a class act- a great escape- a houdini-act, that was less about going toe-to toe, and more about bringing every other strength to the fore, be it technical skills, failed blackmailing of Frank, mind games, race-craft, or just plain, wise circumspection, realising, just as Prost had by 1986, and Lauda had in 1984, that the man who best understands how close to the limit he can push himself and his machinery without going over it stands a very good chance of beating the man who tests his limits too hard, too often. You could say he still needed luck- and he did, but how lucky is a guy, really, who for several months lost 80% of his depth perception due to a tyre delaminating through no fault of his own? By getting up to speed, adapting, and rethinking his craft to record a string of podiums, you could say Piquet largely made his own luck and deserved every scrap of extra fortune thrown his way.

1987 was a funny year, and an odd season to weigh up relative to other titles and failed efforts. Just like Prost's title in 1993, the class demonstrated was often hard to appreciate and more subtle than other Williams champions- whilst it's easy to appreciate a champion winning by driving flat out and beating the best, like Jones in 1980, or building a massive lead like Mansell in 1992, the net result is both Prost, Piquet, Jones and Mansell all achieved the same goal in a Williams- 1 championship. Indeed, it is surely more impressive that a driver can achieve the same goal without stretching himself and with the luxury of still leaving something on the table- whether voluntarily, or perhaps in Piquet's case, forced. Both 1993 and 1987 were demonstrations of drivers who knew their craft inside out, and were able to defeat their rivals with strengths that went beyond pure speed, so yes, Piquet was outpaced in Belgium, Monaco, Detroit, France, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Spain, Portugal etc, and many people will not forget that, but that he could win the title so easily suggests he knew something Mansell didn't, and that were were reasons he was still winning titles when Mansell had yet to open his account that went beyond random luck. When going toe to toe with Mansell in 1986, Piquet made several rash errors. In 1987, Piquet was generally unable to go toe to toe on account of his accident, yet as a consequence, he tided up his act and it was this which proved decisive.

No review of Nelson Piquet would be complete without a link to perhaps the most eloquent 20 minute video compilation on youtube. Enjoy!

@#$%& Nelson Piquet says

Piquet won 7 races, and scored a total of 21 podium appearances in his 32 races for Williams- so it is small wonder he ended up winning a Championship for Williams- a remarkable contribution of sustained form in a relatively short period- he could have easily won both seasons, and would have done had he got his wish for driver priority. During the same period, Mansell scored 11 wins and 16 podiums by driving his socks off. Piquet won a World Championship and a very close 3rd, Mansell finished 2nd both seasons. If Mansell is the greatest Williams driver of all time, what does it say when a guy rated lower than him can beat him to a title, easily, despite impaired vision with such ease, he was able to wind Mansell up and watch him crash without lifting a finger? In terms of raw speed, Piquet could go toe to toe with Mansell as he did regularly in 1986. For obviously greater speed, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Hungary 1986, or Italy 1987 all stand out, and there were many occasions he beat Mansell when the picture was muddy but he had looked faster. For wheel to wheel racing, his efficiency, and calculated bravery when slicing through the field in Spain 1987, Detroit '87, and Mexico 87 was hard to beat. His charge through from 5th to 1st in Germany '86 was ruthlessly efficient, and he regularly peppered his races with great moves like on Senna in Mexico '86, Alboreto in Hungary '87, or Berger in Portugal '87. For sheer, breathtaking audacity with a title on the line, his pass around the outside of Mansell in Mexico '87 and on Senna in Hungary '86 - both times for the lead vs a title rival- are emphatic demonstrations of guts and skill that cannot be eclipsed. Piquet and Montoya are rarely compared, but in this department, I think the two are tough to separate.

Where they can be separated, and indeed, where Piquet has the edge on Mansell, is with technical leadership. Perhaps with time Mansell improved or found his own preferences, but when you see how consistently competitive Piquet was for most of his career, there was a reason he and Prost picked up so many titles- they both knew what made them fast, and could communicate with the team in a way that allowed them to get what they needed- and more, put the hard work in behind the scenes, risking his neck to bring active ride on, and making Mansell look lazy, incompetent and plain immature when Nelson's greater judgement made itself regularly manifest in the garage.

On the public side, it's hard to love him. His comment about still being alive was cruel, but it's clear all Nelson Piquet really cared about was driving a racing car, which he loved with a passion, especially when he won, which he did often enough to become a triple World Champion. Some critics decided his refusal to play a role in the showbiz aspect of his sport made him an unsatisfactory World Champion. "What do they mean by that?" Nelson wondered. "Do they mean doing a lot of publicity? I don't want to make friends with anybody. I don't give a @#$%& for fame. I just want to win."

And his fearless inhibitions and refusal to conform to PR expectations by being outspoken (surely an admirable Williams driver trait?) allowed Piquet to provide enormous entertainment at times, and make some incredibly astute observations. One aspect I didn't appreciate was his spoiled attitude to driver priority which hurt Williams badly for 1988 and seemed poor reward for Williams having given Piquet such a competitive car- to rob them of their engine supply. But if Piquet was clearly wrong, he wouldn't have won Honda around to his way of thinking, so perhaps Williams have to shoulder their own share of responsibility. Defending their right to allow their drivers to race is admirable, and no doubt SFW had noted Piquet was struggling for pace in 1987, but had Williams enforced team orders or allowed Nakajima to replace Mansell, Williams may well have won more titles in the 1980's than they did- in that regard Piquet was perhaps right- but at what cost?

Still with hindsight, Williams' refusal to play favourites gave us the best internal duel in Williams history, and allowed Williams to pick up Renault engines for 1989, so ultimately, it all worked out for the best.

Piquet was a jack of all trades, an all round driver able to challenge the best in every department. That makes him hard to classify, and easy to forget how good he could be- particularly at racing- as many were distracted by a sense of distaste at his his shameless gamesmanship, but that shouldn't eliminate the fact that Piquet was the complete package, he never took himself too seriously and he was one of the most cunning, wily, intelligent drivers ever to sit in an F1 car- a man with his own brand of greatness.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/2015 14:31 by crusty_bread.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
j-s 13 January, 2015 01:09
Well done Crusty. Plenty of research and a thoroughly good read. Nice. All the profiles would make for a nice coffee table book.

I've never much cared for Piquet... He was very good but not the type of driver I'd ever follow or appreciate beyond his stint with Williams. The more I learn about him the more he creeps me out.

Having said that, he was a force to be reckoned with...

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 13 January, 2015 09:41
Thanks j-s. I certainly feel he gets overlooked far too much when assessing him as a racing driver, and this has been the most fascinating review to put together so far, but understanding him better hasn't made me like him any more- much like Ralf Schumacher. The idea of putting him ahead of Montoya makes sense logically based on his job as a driver, but all the other crap, and the fact that I like Montoya so much more makes it a battle of heart vs head.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
Mansell`s flying wheelnut 13 January, 2015 09:54
Excellent in depth piece and yes Hungary 87 is where I got the inspiration for my username, the moment that wheel nut went flying is stuck in my memory, I have always had a bit of a soft spot for Piquet and cant understand some of the bile that comes his way from some quarters.

There are stories that Williams will go the way of Tyrrell. Well, over my dead body. No way. That's not going to happen. My dream is to make this a world championship-winning team again. Claire Williams

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 13 January, 2015 13:30
Hehe, glad you spotted my little nod to you.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
Ozzy Osbone 14 January, 2015 17:27
I think it's because he is the anti-christ, which of course is not his fault. You can't pick your parents. Good driver no doubt.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
A.Fant 15 January, 2015 10:52
Great write-up as usual Crusty! I always love when people look past the narratives and see what actually happened. I'd say Nelson improved by a rung in my book after reading this.

Though I was terribly disappointed to learn that he didn't use Nelson PK as a pseudonym in karting rather than Nelson Piket.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 30 January, 2015 15:47
Hold onto your butts...

Keke Rosberg

Best WDC Finish for Williams: 1982 F1 World Champion
Total number of races entered for Williams: 63 (P7)
Total points: 131.5 (P10)
Best result for Williams: 1 (x5) (P8)
Debut: 1982 South African GP
Last Race: 1985 Australian GP

The nature of his arrival
Both Keke's parents had competed in motor-sports; his father was a rally driver, his mother was in Karting, but by the 1970's, the sport was rapidly changing. It was getting too commercial and Keke's parents had been forced to give it up because others were outspending them, and Finland wasn't recognised on the international scene. After many years of karting with little money, Keke, aged 23 wasn't getting anywhere either despite winning 5 Finnish Karting championships, because he didn't have the money to make the next step and hailing from Finland, noone was noticing him. So when Keke bought an FVee car in 1972 with little backing, his dad refused to speak to him for a year, knowing the pain his son was in for, feeding an addiction that would only leave him penniless and frustrated; a humbling experience for Keke.

Keke knew nothing about cars, but at the end of 1972, after racing with no new tyres and no engine rebuilds, he took the initiative to source his own sponsors locally; a novel idea back then, and a decision which was to prove the launchpad for his career. Running his own car like a business man, He proudly declared he broke even in 1973 as a result, having not spent any of his own money, and the extra funding he'd drummed up enabled him to win the formula Vee European championship. This result was to get him picked up by another FVee owner for the next two seasons, as Keke, with no real dreams of F1, made more contacts. Getting restless, he then took an opportunity to race in F2 with a brand new team who struggled to find their feet in 1976. Picked up by Fred Opert's Chevron outfit, Keke raced in Formula Pacific, Formula Atlantic and European F2 for 1977, scoring several wins and earning a reputation, at least in Opert's view that he was even faster than Gilles, but money was limited, reliability poor and he made too many errors in his anxiousness to win and get noticed, which meant he could only manage 6th in F2.

Keke had been forced to marry talent with business acumen in order to make the breakthrough that would establish Finland on the international motor racing scene, and the result was Keke arrived in F1 pretty late, aged 29. It's small wonder he arrived as a determined, mature and commercially aware racing driver, no stranger to hardship, and with no delusions of grandeur.

Keke made his F1 debut with Theodore. For those unfamiliar, Theodore was a racing team owned and funded by energetic, charismatic Chinese businessman Teddy Yip. They ran from 1976 - 1983, and their best season was with Tambay in 1977 with two points finishes in P5 and P6 with a customer Ensign chassis. For 1978, Yip had his own car designed- the TR1, but it was really no more than an overweight, modified F2 car. He asked Eddie Cheever to make his debut for him, but after two DNQ's, Cheever jumped ship to Hesketh and Keke was not too proud to fill his place for South Africa, qualifying 24th and retiring with a clutch failure after 15 laps.

"I am an F1 driver because I was always very realistic about the difficulties in getting there. I knew my chance was to take something noone else wanted and prove what I could do, even in less favourable circumstances. Theodore probably took me because when Cheever turned them down- he was a BMW F2 works driver- they thought they'd better take someone who was less of a hotshot"

Then came the non-championship event at Silverstone, where he lined up 11th out of 16 cars in a field featuring Hunt's McLaren, Andretti and Peterson's Lotuses, Lauda's Brabham, and Depallier's Tyrell. In waterlogged conditions, most of the big guns crashed out of a flooded track early, leaving Keke to emerge in 3rd, impressively ahead of Depallier and behind Daly and Stuck. Daly - yet to drive in F1- looked impressively fast, but crashed out, and Stuck's engine failed in the lead, leaving Keke to fend off multiple championship winner Emerson Fittipaldi hunting him down and putting him under enormous pressure, who menaced ever more threateningly as the track dried. Keke held his nerve, sliding spectacularly at times, and managed to win for Theodore in a field that was down to 5 cars by the end, lapping the customer McLaren in 3rd three times and earning himself some major recognition in the process.

BRDC International Trophy 1978

In the next 4 dry races, he was unable to even qualify the TR1. As grateful as Keke was to team manager Sid Taylor for hiring him, Keke claims to have got a black ball for his outspoken opinions, feeling the team wasn't being run correctly, and that it was affecting his career.

"The team was a disaster. Everybody was fighting everyone else. There was no team spirit of any sort. It was an absolute pig of a car""

He managed to get his mechanic changed, but promises that Yip would find another car didn't materialise, and the team missed the next 2 races. Keke had taken an offer to race for ATS until Yip could secure a decent chassis, so Keke raced as Jochen Mass' number 2- a modest step up, but just about good enough to allow him to actually qualify for races, the team having bought the March outfit. At Brands Hatch, Yip had a customer Wolf ready, but the organisers refused his late entry, forcing Keke to ask for his seat back at ATS as a one off. He qualified ahead of Mass, and with first class tyres fitted by some miracle, Keke ran an impressive 4th, until that is, his rear axle broke.

In a Wolf/Theodore, Keke managed 10th despite a shunt, and another 10th in the rain; he was reduced to 2 gears having charged up to 8th initially. To an astute observer, 1978 indicated on several occasions that Keke had speed, despite scoring no official points. Sadly for Theodore, a jammed throttle in Zandvoort and an engine failure resulting in non-qualification in Italy meant Yip would give up for 1978, so Keke returned to ATS, qualifying decently but not getting a chance of points.

Turning down an offer to race for ATS in 1979, Keke focussed on Can-Am racing after being offered a drive by Haas. Then Jackie Stewart intervened, claiming Keke's style wasn't "smooth" enough, leaving Keke stuck with an unreliable Chevron before he had been able to turn a wheel, leaving him furious at being double crossed. In one event, a tyre blow out in qualifying saw Keke try and race with broken ribs, concussion and a damaged wrist. He had to tape his hand to the wheel before having to retire after the warm up lap. He dominated the series with 8 poles in 9 races, but his engine blew on a regular basis.

Keke (reflecting in 1985)
"I drive naturally. Jackie Stewart said "This guy is not smooth, he'll never be able to drive a racing car." He has yet to prove me wrong. Niki and Nelson drive smoothly- I've also seen them struggle against cars that weren't handling smoothly. Then they look less smooth. Villeneuve was never smooth; he was pretty quick. The same was true of Ronnie Peterson , who was quick as hell. Alan Jones was no smoothie. Each man's handwriting is different."

Back in F1, James Hunt had decided to retire mid-season, and Peter Warr, manager of Wolf had duly noted Keke's speed and offered him the vacant seat for the French GP onwards. Keke was hopeful he could improve on Hunt's best finish of 8th, so he signed up, but the Wolf team were reaching the end of a terminal slide. Wolf had bought into Frank Williams' reading based team in 1976. By 1977, Wolf had replaced Frank with Peter Warr, and Scheckter duly went on to challenge Lauda for the title with 3 wins and 9 podiums. Scheckter was still good for 4 podiums and P7 in 1978 but the sport was moving onto ground effect and under Postlethwaite, Wolf were slipping back. By 1979, Wolf were no more than unreliable midfielders, and ironically, this was just as Frank Williams' team was beginning to dominate the field.

In Keke's first race, he qualified 16th, and went on to finish an impressive 9th of 18 finishers, beating both McLarens of Tambay and Watson, and Reutemann's Lotus after battling hard with him. This proved Keke was a worthy replacement for Hunt, and in 1979, Keke earned the same respect from Warr and James Hunt as he had from previous bosses Yip and Opert, but Peter Warr warned Keke not to get any ideas.

"I learned a lot from Peter because I was willing to listen and take his advice. With Peter I could take a different attitude than with Teddy Yip and Sid Taylor. When you're with people who know even less than you it's hard not to be impatient."

Every other race that year followed the same pattern as Hunt- qualifying respectably (with a high of 8th in Zandvoort) before retiring every time with mechanical issues. At Silverstone, Keke dragged the Wolf into an impressive 5th for a while, prompting Postlethwaite to comment that Keke was like Jody Scheckter and less like James Hunt in terms of demanding changes to set up.

"He's a man out to get ahead and that will to win makes up for his mistakes: it's that extra effort that gives him that extra speed. James had given up."

It's an interesting conclusion to draw, contradicting Williams' vague implication that he was technically inept. By the end of 1979, Harvey had jumped ship to Ferrari, and Wolf, with 0 points and therefore no championship money, had given up and sold out, with Keke his final driver.

The man Walter Wolf sold his team to was none other than Emerson Fittipaldi, (33) the man Keke had beaten in his Theodore duel in 1978. Fittipaldi was expected to hire a young brazillian as his number 2 but instead he offered Keke (32) the drive, after being pressured by Warr, his new manager, and Postlethwaite, his new designer. Keke outqualified Emerson first time out in Argentina, lining up 13th, and went on to record his first ever points finish with an eye-catching 3rd.

He went on to outqualify Emerson again in Brazil before finishing 9th- again , ahead of his esteemed double world champion teammate whom Keke felt hadn't got to grips with modern F1.

"Emerson was not a competent manager of money or of much else. I got on all right with Emerson, especially at the beginning. We used to run every day on the beach. Everything went well until I started beating him. He didn't take to that. In Sao Paolo I overtook him in the race and he went off a lap later in front of his home crowd. He blamed it all on me. According to him I was an idiot. We didn't have anything in the contract that said I wasn't allowed to pass, but the TV was all over me. For the last 6 months of that year I was working to get out of there."

Keke outqualified Emerson 10-4 that year, with a best grid start of 6th, and 3 DNQ's thrown in. He scored a 3rd and a 5th in races, finishing 10th in the championship, 1 pt clear of Fittipaldi, and satisfied to have more points than Scheckter and the same points as Watson and Villeneuve. A promising season, finally scoring points, demonstrating sustained speed in qualifying and flashes of real speed in the races, but Keke hadn't been allowed the chance to really establish himself amongst the front-runners meaning he wasn't widely recognised as hot property- his age and lack of previous results perhaps counting against him.

The withdrawal of Skol funding and the change of rules regarding skirts left Fittipaldi struggling for both money and performance, having lost their designer Postlethwaite. Emerson stepped aside for younger brazilian Chico Serra. Keke maintained credibility by beating Chico 14-0 in qualifying, but whilst earlier in the year that was good for the midfield, increasingly that wasn't enough to get him out of pre-qualifying, failing to make the grid on 5 occasions as the money steadily dried up. A 9th in Brazil was his best race result before as the car proved itself unreliable once again. The only highlight had been finishing 4th, a lap down, in the drenched non championship GP in South Africa at the start of the year when only FOCA teams entered. Having scored no points in 15 races, Keke was unlikely to be taken seriously by the top teams unless something unusual happened.

"I have a feeling I've become a wh*re. Even the cheque doesn't make me happy"

As Keke felt his career had already peaked in 1980 at Fittipaldi, with his solitary podium, Williams had been enormously more successful, winning 15 Grand Prix, and the last 2 constructors championships with their tidy, aerodynamically efficient ground effect FW07 and trusty and reliable Cosworth engine. However, normally aspirated technology had ceased in development, whereas rival Turbo technology had seemingly limitless potential, having already eclipsing Cosworth for power. The game was up, prompting all teams to start seeking Turbo power; it was the future, and Frank had begun negotiations with Honda at the end of 1981, but they dragged on all season as Williams slipped ever further back.

Williams may have been the defending champions, but as rivals worked away on a technology with massive potential over winter, Williams were starting 1982 with the old, underpowered Cosworth and the familiar FW07- now 3 years old, whilst a brand new car, the FW08 was introduced 4 races into the season, after Head's 6 wheeler design had been banned by FISA on account of cost. As it would turn out, Williams' fate was often taken out of their hands in 1982, with Renault, Ferrari and Brabham's reliability dictating whether Williams could get a good result or not, but this put a massive emphasis on the Williams drivers being able to scrap for anything on offer, with far less leeway than in the past. They needed to exploit any opportunity presented, either by beating the turbos at the slow tracks, beating ailing turbos at the fast tracks and crucially, beating the Carbon-Fibre normally aspirated McLaren's of Lauda and Watson on all tracks. Throw in a 3-way tyre war and political instability resulting in disqualifications and strikes, and 1982 represented a plum seat for tail-enders, but a formidable challenge for anyone dreaming of winning the championship in a Williams, even for the likes of Jones or Lauda; Taking a risk on a tail ender was the last thing Frank wanted when the task at hand required the very best.

Sadly for Frank, just as the noose tightened on the technical side so the world seemed to collapse on the driver's side. With perhaps the best 2 drivers in the world on their books in 1981, Jones had grown deeply upset after Reutemann failed to honour Jones' number one status. Frustrated and angry, and suffering worse unreliability, Jones declared late in the year that he was retiring at the end of 1981. Even worse, as Frank tried changing Jones' mind, Carlos too threatened to retire after throwing away the 1981 championship. This left Frank in a dreadful situation; a championship winning car, a great challenge ahead, and no proven great driver available or willing to drive it.

He contacted both Watson and Lauda, but he was unable to reach an agreement with either. Villeneuve and Pironi were already committed to Ferrari, Prost with Renault, Piquet with Brabbham, Laffite with Ligier, which left the Constructors Champions having to trawl the second division just as they had with Jones. The difference was back in 1978, Williams were unproven. This time, it was a bitter pill to have to swallow.

Frank Williams (in early 1982)
"“All Alan had to do was to tell me in July that he was thinking about stopping. I could have told Didier or Nelson or Alain – I knew it was too late to get Gilles – not to sign anything until they’d spoken to me.“I don’t think for a second that Alan’s decision was deliberate. It’s just that he’s very inconsiderate, quite honestly. Patrick and I both told him that we considered him guilty of gross thoughtlessness, but he said he thought that September was early enough to let us know. Every year I take a slightly tougher attitude towards drivers. And, let me be honest about this, I’m probably particularly jaundiced about them at the moment, thanks to all this messing around with Alan and Carlos. All I care about is Williams Grand Prix Engineering and the points we earn. I don’t care who scored them."

With Frank smarting in the aftermath of a painful jilting, having gone sour on drivers like a newly made misogynist, Keke was offered a test with the team, but only because they needed to test the car, and neither Frank, nor Patrick felt it necessary to attend. He clearly felt based on what he said that Jones, Prost, Pironi, Piquet, Prost and Villeneuve were all more desirable. Throw in the fact that Lauda and Watson were approached first and that put's Rosberg at best 8th in the pecking order, 9th if you include Reutemann.

Patrick Head
"I don't think we really thought "let's give Keke a run and we'll decide whether he can race for us" We thought "he's the best Formula 1 driver we can get to test for us. I think Frank thought he could get Carlos back and then he could ease Alan out of retirement. I was working on the FW08 so Charlie Crichon-Stuart and Frank Dernie went to Ricard. They rang up saying "This guy's really good. He's not just your average; he's something pretty special. So more or less on the say of Frank Dernie and Charlie, we signed up Keke for 1982. Frank rang Carlos in Argentina and said "we've run Keke Rosberg. He's actually gone quite well, and Carlos said "I don't know Frank, the big gold watch, the big gold rings, the briefcase, I don't know."

"I was lucky to get the Williams drive. I'd been in touch with Frank Williams for years. Every time he had a seat available, I would call. I'm sure my persistence had something to do with me getting the drive. I came from nowhere, did this test, and he signed me up more or less straight away. He told one of my sponsors "well, you know you kind of need a driver, but the driver''s not very important, he's just there to drive the car round in circles"

From here, Frank made it clear that he valued the Constructors Title above everything. He would never recreate that "first time" experience again; and winning the drivers title with Keke looked a long-shot. Keke just hadn't had the opportunity to convince anyone he was a world beater, and so a Williams mantra was born; it was all about the Constructors Championship; in part because of how much he had trusted Jones, in part because of how little he trusted Keke, and in part, because after being screwed, he felt a lot less sentimental towards drivers in general, putting up an emotional wall to avoid getting caught out in future; a legacy of Jones which would have major repurcussions.

Keke(in 1985)
"I gave up trying to get close to Frank two years ago. I came to see he didn't want to make friends. And I would have thought too that having lived through the reality of the fraught situation between Carlos and Alan, where those relations deteriorated seriously and damaged the team, Williams would have appreciated better than most teams how important communication and human relations are."

And so commenced 4 seasons of turbulence, triumph and turmoil with Keke Rosberg sauntering through the middle, battleaxe slung over one shoulder, and by the end of 1985, Keke was widely considered to be the fastest man in the sport.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 30 January, 2015 15:48

1982 South African GP
Q 7 / 8 (Reutemann) (1-0) -0.4
R 5 / 2

9 Prost
6 Reutemann
2 Rosberg
1 Watson

The season kicked off with a drivers strike regarding driver licences.

"I thought it was ridiculous. If it had depended on me alone, I would have gone right through the picket line, got into my car and raced. After years and years of work I had finally made it to the top. I knew exactly how Frank felt about it."

When the strike ended, Keke qualified 7th, impressively ahead of Carlos Reutemann as the leading normally aspirated car- making an impression on both Frank and Carlos. Renaults, both Brabhams and both Ferraris proving untouchable on a single lap of boost. At the start Keke took a very strong 5th as both Brabhams struggled to master Turbo getaways. By lap 5, Keke was struggling.

Keke (1982 Rio)
"as I went into a corner and changed down, the gear knob came off in my hand. It rolled around getting in the way of my feet and the pedals for the rest of the race"

This was unfortunate because it enabled Reutemann to get ahead, and by lap 41, they found themselves P2 and P3 behind Arnoux, passing Pironi and benefitting from Prost's puncture and Villeneuve's blown Engine. Prost and and Lauda both worked their way ahead of the struggling Rosberg, who, never the less, was 5th and very happy to score points for the first time in over a year. But whilst Carlos has sat up and taken note in qualifying, and whilst Keke had a very good reason for falling by the wayside, finishing 31 seconds behind Carlos wasn't the best way to open a championship campaign. It was one of the very few occasions Keke would ever finish behind a teammate.

Short Highlights

1982 Brazilian GP
Q 3 / 6 (Reutemann) (2-0) -0.8

13 Prost
8 Rosberg
6 Reutemann
4 Watson

An excellent qualifying performance saw Keke qualify 3rd, over 0.8 clear of Carlos. Over one lap, Carlos had been peerless- better even than Jones, so this really validated Keke's speed and potential; and self confidence. Perhaps he was even faster than Jones?

Jumping Prost at the start by getting brave through turns 1 and 2 to take 2nd, Keke briefly, heroically, threatened Gilles for the lead through the slow stuff before both Renaults blasted past him down the straight. What was so special about this effort was that Keke was a small name and with a small engine, challenging the biggest names in the sport boasting vastly superior horsepower, despite the easily forgotten strengths of Keke's car. After several laps, both Brabhams worked their way ahead of him as well. Both Renaults then started to fall back- Prost with a misfire, allowing Rosberg back ahead, and he managed to pass Patrese, then Piquet to take 2nd brilliantly. He and Nelson diced for many laps, swapping places and reeling in Villeneuve, who was eventually forced into a back-off or use the grass scenario which left Gilles in a grassy bank.

Keke (1982 Rio)
"In Rio Nelson and I had fights that were pure pleasure, in which we passed and repassed each other. We were both doing something well and each felt he knew what the other was doing. Even as we raced against each other we felt mutual respect"

Short Highlights

Full Race
(i highly recommend watching the full race if you have time. A brilliant race and superb demonstration of Keke's driving skill. Check esp;
12:00- the opening lap
38:00- Keke passing Patrese and Arnoux
44:00 - 1:00.00 Keke / Piquet / Villeneuve classic fight, Keke's car control is visibly impressive. Note how well spoken Hunt is regarding Keke, having shared the same Wolf back in 1979.
1:55:00- Hunt speaking about Rosberg, Race Finish and Podium)

An excellent race and classic Rosberg racing, finishing 2nd to Piquet. He had been clean, fair, fast and combative- albeit a bit scruffy at times trying so hard. He was the plucky underdog so easy to love and admire, able to keep in touch through sheer will power and fitness to notch up a hard earned and well deserved first podium for Williams, having gone toe to toe vs Piquet at his home race in a Brabham that was often better than Williams in 1981 and had beaten them to the world drivers title. A champions drive, Keke claimed he was on a real high after that race, with a possible championship beckoning.

As a sulky Reutemann fell back out of the points in Rio, he collided with Lauda and Arnoux and took all 3 out of the race. With that, Reutemann was finished with F1, and Frank was left with another empty seat and no-one obvious to fill it.

Patrick Head
"Carlos would go through the grid and say "the old boy, the young lion, old boy, old boy, young lion. He was very aware of the new brigade coming through and he'd seen in South Africa that Keke was going to be aggravation as a teammate. It was not going to be a walk in the park".

After such a mentally destroying feud with Alan Jones, and the demoralising nature of his championship defeat in 1981, Carlos had been left feeling insecure and unhappy, and Keke no longer seemed the kind of guy he could handle. Carlos had had his fill by 1982. He had no interest jeopardising his reputation and mental wellbeing against a nobody who was proving to be faster. This left Keke to be paired with Mario Andretti for Long Beach.

"Being confirmed as the team's number one driver did wonders for me. At the beginning of the season I wasn't really at ease".

1982 USA West GP
Q 8 / 14 (Andretti) -0.9
R 2 / DNF (accident)

14 Rosberg
13 Prost
12 Lauda
5 Watson
6 Reutemann

After Keke was asked to test the FW08 at Dijon, he was back in the FW07 for California.

He went on to eclipse Andretti by 0.9 of a second, who was complaining that the car was 50% stiffer than Keke's and behaving like a pogo-stick. Still, Keke was 8th, 1.1 seconds behind the normally aspirated McLaren of Lauda in 2nd, so it felt like a missed opportunity at a slower track, having struggled to get the car set up on Saturday.

A great start saw Keke jump Piquet but still get outpowered by Pironi. Keke repassed him for 7th, and that became 4th after Prost hit the wall, and Giacomelli collected Arnoux. Watson then came charging past the developing battle for 4th between Villeneuve and Rosberg, leaving the McLarens in 2nd and 3rd, as Keke and Gilles engaged in a "2 dimensional" battle of turbo power vs cornering grip.

Keke (1982)
"Gilles was a hard man but he was also very fair. If you came up alongside him he was always the last one to brake. We passed each other 4 or 5 times in Long Beach. We both kept our lines, but Gilles outbraked me on the outside which noone can do on that corner. In the end he only outbraked himself. That was his way of doing things."

Short Highlights

Full Race

(41:00-47:00- Gilles and Keke- the battle)
(47:00- 56:00vWatson Vs Rosberg)

Winning 4th, Keke charged down Watson before passing him for 3rd after a tough stalemate, before Watson frustratedly pranged the wall, losing speed and dropping steadily to 6th. Watson may have taken Keke's 2nd in Rio on a technicality, but Keke had reasserted himself at Long Beach. 3rd became 2nd, 40 seconds behind Lauda when De Cesaris' engine blew, Lauda nursing his car to the flag to win by 14 seconds to Rosberg.

A combative, cool headed recovery drive after missing an open goal on saturday, Keke had been outshone by Lauda and De Cesaris, but it had been a classy, highly professional drive to underline his position as a genuine world championship contender in the last race for the FW07, his second Podium for Williams, and the world championship lead.

Only it wasn't. FISA would take Keke's 2nd away from him in Brazil. Williams, and (for Brazil the Ford powered) Brabham were appealed by Renault and Ferrari for topping up their cars with water, and after Long Beach, their appeals were, controversially, upheld. Prost was made the winner despite Keke beating him, and Keke lost his championship lead; going from 1pt clear of Prost to 10pts down. Reutemann's 2nd in South Africa had been unappealed and was therefore, allowed to stand, leaving Reutemann, misleadingly, ahead of Keke in the championship, and leaving Keke languishing in 5th after Williams' boycott. Worse, without the watercooler, Williams chances looked even slimmer.

"Maybe FISA wants a french world champion? was what I said before Frank made me shut up." Nelson and I had driven fine races in gruelling conditions. We had finished one-two after giving the spectators full value for their money. I was leading the championship having given it my all. Now politics was going to take that all away from me. The water tank gave us at least a theoretical chance to compete with the turbos. Without the water tank we were finished".

1982 San Marino GP

18 Prost
12 Lauda
10 Pironi
10 Alboreto
8 Rosberg
8 Watson

After learning that Renault and Ferrari's appeal had been upheld, the FOCA teams determined to strike in San Marino, which merely compounded the issue, and left Keke beside himself with frustration; from championship leader to behind again and having to miss a race. Ferrari and Renault both raced and Tyrell broke ranks to sneak a 3rd with Alboreto. Fortunately, neither Renault driver scored points, and whilst the Ferrari team scored a 1/2 and looked a formidable threat, this race would set a chain reaction off that cost Villeneuve his life in Zolder. Nor would Pironi, the race winner be racing by the end of the year, meaning in championship terms, it had little impact on the end of season championship battle. At the time however, Keke was not to know this.

1982 Belgian GP
Q 3 / 13 (Daly) (1-0) -2.3
R 2 / DNF (accident)

18 Prost
17 Watson
14 Rosberg
12 Lauda
10 Pironi

Derek Daly got the nod over Derek Warwick for the second Williams drive, and made his debut for Williams at Zolder.

"I never connected with Keke. His lifestyle was different to mine. He was out at night drinking, smoking - I didn't do stuff like that. There was no doubt he had brilliant raw speed, didn't understand what the car was doing, but had that speed. And balls. Oh yes. One of the bravest guys i'd ever seen. I'd known that from F2"

The FW08 was also making its debut, having impressed massively in testing. It was based on the FW07, only with cleaned up aerodynamics, and such good ground effect that a front wing was rarely needed. Never the less, the competition was never still, and Williams had a new package to learn how to race, which wasn't a seamless a transition.

Back on form in qualifying, Keke took a superb 3rd behind the turned up boosted Renaults, but ahead of the Brabhams and McLarens. This was the same session that claimed Villeneuve's life. Keke felt "numb" and tried to shut it out until the end of the weekend, having raced against Gilles in Formula 2 .

Keke (1982)
"The image the world has of my style is that if the door isn't open I'll drive right through it. I'm not sure that's an exact image but I'm stuck with it and it suits me. I think I'm as self-protective as you can get. Maybe my limit is higher than some people's. Gilles was probably too high. I liked him a lot as a driver. His death didn't hit me right away. I was in the thick of the championship and I had constantly to put Gilles out of my mind. For some reason I drove by the track. Have you ever been on a track on a Monday all on your own? It's the emptiest place in the world. After all that activity and intensity It's dead, not a soul, Nothing but litter. And parked out there was Gilles' helicopter. Then it hit me very hard."

On Sunday morning, despite the pace of the FW08, the race was effectively decided when Pierre Dupasquier insisted Watson tried out a tyre that was "clay and concrete" on the left hand side of the car. After much objection, he went along with it and found it slower initially, but after 5 laps felt the car was less inclined to understeer. Watson tried to persuade Lauda to do the same, but it was already the final debrief and Niki wasn't prepared to take the gamble without being able to test it himself.

At the start, Keke slotted into second ahead of Prost and stalked Arnoux, visibly faster, before passing him when Rene''s car encountered technical gremlins.

"That was the first time I'd actually led a race. We'd been to Zolder in testing and I knew the car was going to be outstandingly good. We beat the Renault turbos out of sight and only Piquet's Brabham was faster on the straight."

As Keke built a lead over Lauda, Watson on his hard tyres started making up ground, rising from 9th to 5th before getting stuck behind Patrese, now with BMW Turbo power, until lap 31. De Cesaris cleared Lauda and started hunting down Rosberg until his clutch broke, and when Watson finally cleared Patrese, Lauda offered no resistance, and that set up a thrilling climax as Watson hunted down Keke, who was on tyres that were far more worn, for the win.

Due to Keke's ever lengthening braking zones, backmarkers compounded the issue. On the penultimate lap, Keke desperately tried to clear Mark Surer's Fittipaldi before the chicane to use him as a buffer, but he slid wide pushing too hard the corner before. Watson took the lead, and for all the world it looked like Keke had simply choked having never won a Championship Race, finishing 2nd, some 7.2 seconds back.

"Wattie would have taken me anyway. What I tried probably wasn't possible, but it was the only thing that might have worked."

"The thing about Keke was, he was always very, very honest and fair as a racing drive, no dirty tricks, no nasty moving or anything like that. He also had this sense of knowing when something was about to happen or when he was about to be beaten. I was pulling him in at about 2 or 3 seconds at that stage."

"Frank was sore. He thought I should have won and he didn't hide his feelings. He wasn't the only one. It was one of several low points that year. No one can work properly if he's low. You can have a low for one race, but when you hit a whole low period- Brazil points gone, Imola gone, a possible win gone- then it takes a real effort of will"

From Frank's perspective, with Daly proving miles off the pace, the season was proving just as frustrating for him as it was for Keke. Rosberg, his new number one, had put in 2 great races before Zolder, but this had been the first time Keke had led, and he had made a mistake. Keke had yet to prove his mettle under pressure, and Frank didn't have the patience to console him or recognise that Dupasquier had simply outfoxed Frank Williams for tyre strategy, (Frank generally made the call on tyres) leaving Williams, the double reigning World Champions without a win after 5 races, and Keke, perhaps harshly, in the hot seat, despite recovering to 3rd in the drivers championship and blowing Daly's socks off (a staggering 2.3 seconds clear in qualifying! Small wonder Daly didn't warm to him) For Keke, he had beaten Watson 3/1 in 1982, and yet he was behind him in the championship largely on account of an epiphany by Dupasquier, and FISA intervention effecting a 9pt swing Watson's way.

A great drive for second, scruffy as ever, but decide for yourself whether Watson would have passed Keke- I'm 50/50 - it would have been nice to see Keke force Watson to work for it as Zolder wasn't an easy track to pass on, but he had looked pretty menacing prior to encountering backmarkers. I think 2nd was a very good effort and probably the best Williams could have hoped for on those tyres. 1st or 2nd, either way it had been a superb performance to beat the Renaults and the kind of races that builds championships without really being celebrated.

Final 3 Laps footage

1982 Monaco GP
Q 6 / 8 (Daly) (2-0) -0.7
R DNF / 6 (Front Suspension)

18 Prost
17 Watson
16 Pironi
14 Rosberg
12 Lauda

"The team wasn't particularly up. I just concentrated on getting my own adrenaline going. It's easy to be happy when you're on top. At the time, we weren't. I try to pay attention to the feelings of others in a positive way: come on cheer up, let's get the job done."

Keke qualified 6th, vitally, blocked by traffic- the first time he had made the Grid at Monaco, but deeply frustrated as without a Turbo, he was convinced his only chance of winning had been to get Pole. Daly, denied the spare car after a blow-up, was 8th.

At the start, Rosberg dropped to 8th. He overtook Alboreto and as Giacomelli and Arnoux retired, Keke caught De Cesaris for 4th, brandishing his car, feeling the heat to "start winning" but getting chopped each time, ending up stuck behind De Cesaris' Turbo for most of the race. Finally on lap 65, as the drizzle began to fall and with Daly catching the pair, Keke hit a kerb.

"I caught Keke right before the chicane at the seafront and saw him hit the kerb on the right hand side"

This broke Keke's suspension and put him out of the race. 2 errors in 2 races, this time terminal.

"A mature mind can think out a season; it can see the season as a whole and realise that every day counts towards the whole package. What does a young driver know about completeness? His whole life is a series of moments. The only times I have acted dangerously in my wiser years has been when I was up against someone who who hadn't learned his trade properly, like Andrea De Cesaris in Monaco in 1982, when I really blew my cool. His attitude is that if someone is on his tail trying to get by, he should prevent it by any means possible. Twice I got right alongside him. By misjudging it an inch and a half I blew it. Andrea's engine was sick and when his engine faltered, I wasn't able to adjust quickly enough. It was my first retirement at Williams and it hurt- but not as much as my hands which looked like two pieces of steak."

Rosberg vs De Cesaris
(all very entertaining, but Rosberg never "opened ze legs" and De Cesaris never forced a crash, so Keke was being a bit harsh IMO; he never got fully alongside, so it was probably his frustration talking.)

Daly would spin at Tabac, and all hell broke loose as Prost crashed, De Cesaris ran out of fuel, Patrese spun, Pironi limped with a misfire, and the net result was of the main title contenders, only Pironi would score on a day Rosberg had blown it. A lucky escape, a stressful weekend, and a stressful period for Keke, who wasn't feeling the support of Frank and his driving was suffering as a result, despite his obvious pace. A critical error; he had no oil or downpour to excuse himself, and may well have won had he kept a clear head, even though it sounds like a horrible scenario; a car slowing when you are in the middle of a corner. Then again, had Frank not been so negative towards him after Belgium, perhaps he would have been a little more circumspect and emerged the winner? Just like Zolder, you could go either way on this, but future evidence suggests that Keke should have been given a break.

1982 USA GP
Q 3 / 12 (Daly) (3-0) -2.0
R 4 / 5 (Front Suspension)

26 Watson
20 Pironi
18 Prost
17 Rosberg
12 Lauda

Keke qualified an impressive 3rd, a country mile clear of the normally aspirated pack. At the start, he had a good getaway but no room, forced to follow De Cesaris again until Andrea's driveshaft broke. Running 2nd, 3 seconds behind Prost, the race was restarted on lap 6 due to a crash and was run on aggregate- Watson , having qualified 17th was 13th, 15 seconds or so behind Keke on aggregate, and here, Dupasquier came into play again, recommending that Watson switch to a harder compound.

As the race restarted, Keke proved Prost wrong that you couldn't overtake by passing him superbly around the outside as in the middle of the turn, Alain was beginning to slow with a fuel feed issue. Keke roared off into the lead, keen to assert his championship challenge and become a proven GP winner. As Watson came flying through the field, passing cars everywhere, he emerged in 2nd, 12 seconds back.

"I thought "Damn" is this going to be Belgium all over again?. Watson's tyres seemed magical"

Worse, Keke lost 3rd and 4th gear, leaving him a sitting duck for the rest of the afternoon. Denied another chance of victory, he ended up 4th over a minute behind Watson and Cheever, 10 seconds clear of Daly as Lauda, irritated that Watson had proved you could overtake here, tried a hesitant move on Keke and wiped himself out, which Rosberg found hilarious. A super effort, he had the race in his lap on merit, but a combination of superior behind the scenes tactics and poor unreliability had robbed him of a long overdue victory. Keke was desperate to prove himself, as if he hadn't already, due to the pressure he was under, which was a shame as with hindsight, in a high attrition championship, 4th represented a fairly handy result. He had been desperately unlucky, but so had many others, with the exception of Watson who was proving very fortunate, and better advised, opening up an 8 pt lead.

"Noone does the sort of overtaking he did in Detroit and gets away with it. Watson was a chameleon- it was out of character. Of course I was worried after Detroit."

Short Highlights

1982 Canadian GP
Q 7 / 13 (Daly) (4-0) -1.0
R DNF / 7 (Gearbox / Out of fuel)

30 Watson
20 Pironi
19 Patrese
18 Prost
17 Rosberg
12 Lauda

"My attitude going there was "what chance have I got on that circuit? Friday went fine, I led both sessions. Then my engine blew. When I went out in the spare car it was all but undrivable. Somehow it had not been set up right. It bounced all over the place, it wouldn't steer properly through the esses. The best I could do was 7th"

At the start, Pironi stalled on pole, and the ensuing carnage claimed the life of Paletti. On the restart, Giacomelli shunted, leaving Rosberg 6th but a miserable lack of pace, getting stuck behind Patrese and another gearbox failure compounded a terrible weekend as he struggled all afternoon in the spare car, retiring on lap 52 after running behind Watson and even being overtaken by Daly in the number 2 Williams. Watson inherited an easy 3rd that really should have been Williams'.

An unimpressive performance from Keke, though whether this was proof he was lacking in technical set up skills as a team leader, or a lack of adaptability to the spare car, or whether the car was plain faulty is difficult to establish. The rarity that Keke was ever lacking for speed relative to teammates in races suggests there was an unidentified fault with the car. He had gone well on Friday, but this would open the door to suggestions that Keke couldn't set up cars; a complaint that would arise whenever Williams were uncompetitive during 1983-1984 as Keke was never given the benefit of the doubt. Williams were world champions, Keke hadn't won a race yet; therefore, the fault lay with him.

The irony here is that it was Keke's set up skills that had impressed the team and got him the job in the first place. Either Keke was doing an inconsistent job, or the spare car was sub par and Williams were coming across as inconsistent in their judgement of Keke, being unable or unwilling to find fault with themselves.

Frank Williams
“I feel that Keke could be about where Jones was at the beginning of ’78. He’s got three hard years behind him and not too much to show for it. I certainly think he’s got a lot of talent. He went very well when he first tested for us at Ricard – his times were good, and he was like Alan in that he’d be right on it from the first lap and was decisive on Set-up. Frank Dernie, who’s worked with a lot of drivers, was very impressed. He gave good information, didn’t spin and went quickly. I think Keke might surprise a few people in ’82.”

A final theory was that with so many setbacks after leading the championship, Keke lost heart, but given his speed on friday and his commitment behind the wheel, I doubt it. Keke was too mature to fold like that.

Never the less, it's moot, because the biggest issue was the DNF due to the gearbox, making Keke's pace immaterial; he would always have been 13pts down on Watson after this race whether he had been leading or last when he retired. As far as Keke was concerned this was the low point of the season as an awful lot had been expected of the FW08 and the results weren't coming, due to a combination of errors, unreliability, misfortune, and now this.

"Neither I nor anyone else thought I had much of a chance left. It was at that point that Frank tried to trade me off to another team for the following year. The whole team was down. It's reasonable to think they were saying "well what can you expect with two unproven drivers? With me and Derek it seemed to be falling apart. Frank was edgy, Patrick was edgy. Teams go through low points and that was ours. Williams never forgave me for not being Alan Jones."

As far as Patrick was concerned, he and Jones had developed an almost wordless intuition over their 4 years working together. Jones could pinpoint exactly what Patrick needed to know. It was around now that Head in his frustration with Keke handed technical liaison over to Dernie, and would shift his focus onto a Metro Rally project. It really did seem as if the management had given up on him, even if the irony was, Williams had cost Keke a win in Detroit and this was their 2nd gearbox failure in a row. Perhaps a lot of Head's frustration enabled him to deflect frustration from himself?

Patrick would later spend a productive test working with Keke before Austria. It's perhaps no coincidence that as time progressed and the FW08 and subsequent FW08C evolved, so Keke was increasingly able to thrive as the car responded well to his unique hustling driving style. Sometimes, new drivers, new cars and engineers need time to settle down, and if Williams could ill afford a single off colour performance, it seems harsh to base a stereotype on one or two efforts and ignore 60 other top line jobs with the set up.

1982 Dutch GP
Q 7 / 13 (Daly) (5-0) -0.6
R 3 / 5

30 Watson
29 Pironi
21 Rosberg
19 Patrese
18 Prost
17 Piquet
15 Lauda

Keke lined up 7th, only Lauda of the normally aspirated cars close, as the rest of the top 10 was comprised of Turbos. Frank Williams decided to go out and watch Keke perform trackside at the turns behind the pits, and discuss driving with his disappointing charge.

Slipping to 9th having not been able to see the starting lights, Keke had a hard scrap with Giacomelli before passing both him and Lauda for what had then become 6th. He then passed Tambay's Ferrari turbo impressively for 5th. That became 3rd after both Renaults retired, as Keke reeled in Piquet for 2nd, Pironi proving too fast in the lead. A classic charge.

Gareth Rees- trackside spectator
"Bos Uit was the daunting challenge that really set the men from the boys, the non-Turbo Cosworths had to give it their all just to stand a chance of keeping in the slipstream of a turbo. Rosberg of course was the big hero, who even passed a couple of Turbos under breaking for Tarzan, and was visibly on the limit in Bos Uit."

Keke Rosberg lap

"Zandvoort is the race where we finally pulled ourselves up out of the slump. I just drove as fast as I could. On the last lap I had Piquet in sight, then I was right up on him. It wasn't until Dijon that I actually set winning the World Championship as my goal. Maybe it was too sweet to dare think about? That's the curve: a high at the beginning, a huge drop in the middle and then a slow rebuilding."

An excellent race, classic Keke, but sadly, no footage of his scrap with Giacomelli. Interestingly, Lauda was 4th, Watson a distant untroubled 9th, in part because of no tyre tricks up his sleeve, in part because Teddy Meyer was leaving McLaren, and Dennis had spent a lot on Lauda, allowing Barnard to start to engineer the car towards Lauda's liking- more pointy- and too pointy for Watson's liking. This would allow Rosberg to eventually overhaul Watson, but make Lauda more of a threat; so it really was a good result to beat Lauda and be top Cosworth when Lauda had everything exactly to his liking. A champions drive.

1982 British GP
Q 1 / 10 (Daly) (5-0) -1.4
R DNF / 5

35 Pironi (2nd)
30 Watson (spun)
24 Lauda (1st)
21 Rosberg (fuel pressure)
19 Patrese
19 Prost (6th)
17 Piquet

"Brands Hatch was going to be my race. I knew it in my bones. It was one of those circuits best suited to my style of driving. My only real worry was the McLarens"

Fastest on Friday, the hot weather on Saturday left him sitting pretty- his First Pole in F1.
Sadly, it was all for nothing as the fuel pressure became vapour blocked, forcing the team to push-start Keke on the formation lap and dropping him to last on the grid.

"A disappointment but no disaster. I said to myself you're going to win from the back and that will look even better! I knew I couldn't be beaten. 70 laps is a lot of laps."

Keke's charge was indeed impressive- adrenaline pumping stuff, as he scythed through the field. After half a lap he was up to 15th, passing Mass, Baldi, Mansell, Laffite, Surer, Henton and Watson. He then passed Guerrero, as Serra, Jarier and Watson all crashed out, and then passed Giacomelli for 10th by lap 5, as the fastest man on the track in clear air. Piquet retired, as a rampant Rosberg ate up Tambay's Ferrari in an incredible display, taking him for 8th, and De Cesaris for 6th as Prost started coasting.

"However, there was another problem. Goodyear had come up with a new tyre. With the full tanks we'd had a serious understeering problem. Maybe we hadn't done enough testing with full tanks. If you are understeering the tyres are going to heat up that much more. The front tyres let go. When I came into the pits I could see the team was in despair. There's nothing worse for a driver. When he sees the team trying to do a quick change and not being able to get it right because everyone's in a panic, his world collapses around him. There was Patrick Head and Frank Dernie with faces 10 feet long.

When I got going, the engine had a misfire and finally stopped "Now we're equal" I said when I got out of the car. "I blew Monaco and you've blown this race for me". I really let them have it. Here was the one race of the season in which we were absolute favourites and we'd blown it."

An emphatic charge, utterly destroying Daly for pace, and fast enough for a lights to flag win but for his Engine issues. The last two races earned Keke a lot of attention and plaudits, and went a long way to restoring confidence between Keke and the team. The only question mark was that Daly ran from lights to flag without pitting, even if his pace faded poorly, suggesting Keke's exuberant sliding style was at least part of the problem in terms of generating too much heat and having to pit, which would have made the fight for the win pretty exciting. Never the less, his car was unreliable and by Williams missing an open goal; their 3rd mechanical fault in 4 races, it left Keke behind both McLarens and Pironi's Ferrari in the championship with power tracks coming up. A champions drive.

Brands Hatch Full Race

(skip 27:00 for Keke charge)

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 30 January, 2015 15:49

1982 French GP
Q 10 / 11 (Daly) (6-0) -1.0
R 5 / 7

39 Pironi (3rd)
30 Watson (battery)
25 Prost (2nd)
24 Lauda (8th)
23 Rosberg (5th)
19 Patrese
17 Piquet

On this clearly unsuited, Turbo-track, Keke set his worst grid position of the year in 10th, affected slightly by an irate Lauda blocking his best lap. Still, on this power track the top 8 were all turbos, and Rosberg was 3.3 seconds off Pole, 0.01 behind Lauda, and a second clear of Daly, to go 6-0 up in qualifying. All told, it was another excellent job.

Dropping to 12th by running briefly off track, Rosberg had a solid afternoon, keeping his head down, racing hard and benefitting from retirements but suffering tyre degradation and poor handling. He managed to fend Alboreto off to take 5th as Alboreto had taken it easier on tyres, but Rosberg won out, finishing a minute and a half down on Arnoux, behind two Ferraris and two Renaults, but significantly ahead of Lauda, as Watson retired. All told, it was a decent weekend for Keke under the circumstances, as 4 of the Turbos proved worryingly reliable for once. A champions drive.

1982 German GP
Q 9 / 19 (Daly) (7-0) -3.0
R 3 / DNF (Engine)

39 Pironi (DNS)
30 Watson (Suspension)
27 Rosberg (3rd)
25 Prost (Fuel)
24 Lauda (DNS)
19 Patrese
17 Piquet

Looking dead and buried in championship terms, Rosberg was 16pts down on the ever more reliable, and fast Pironi, who was on provisional Pole here, some 5 seconds down the road. Then Lauda crashed and had to sit out the weekend with a bad arm. Then Pironi tragically smashed into Prost in the wet Saturday session, breaking his legs and ending his career, despite sitting on a decent championship lead. This gave Prost, Rosberg and Watson an unexpected opportunity to make headway.

Keke lined up 9th, 2nd best non-turbo, 0.2 behind Alboreto, and a whopping 3 seconds ahead of Daly with no noises about unequal equipment, but Keke was forced into the spare car last minute as the engine played up in his race car. A difficult afternoon unfolded as the car handled badly, Watson working his way ahead of Keke, easing away and pulling out a gap as Keke kept Alboreto at arms length behind, Laffite finding a way ahead until he had an off. Prost looked best set to exploit the championship opportunity until inevitably, his Engine was starved of fuel on lap 14. Piquet smashed into Salazar, Patrese's engine blew, and this left Watson 3rd until his front suspension broke 9 laps from home.

"I more or less inherited 3rd after Prost and Watson dropped out"

With Arnoux and Tambay 2nd and 1st, neither in the title fight, it was a great result for Keke, as the opposition had effectively destroyed itself, even though in the spare car Keke's performance had looked no better than in Canada. Now he was effectively 2nd, just 3pts behind the highest placed Championship active- Watson and he was being regarded as a viable player again. John had been very unlucky here, with a good opportunity to have extended his 7pt lead on Rosberg, but Keke had endured far more misfortune than Watson in 1982, so it's hard to feel too sorry for him. Keke's podium attracted the ire of Lauda hinting that Keke winning the title would be a "disaster" for the sport. How much this was gamesmanship, and how much this was out of a genuine belief that noone had heard of Keke, who had yet to win a race, is hard to tell, but what is clear is that from a driving perspective, Keke had shown just as impressively as Lauda in 1982, he was very unlucky not to have won on at least 3 occasions, he had retired once through driving error to Niki's twice, both had suffered 1 DSQ, Lauda had suffered 1 more mechanical failure albeit from less promising positions (Keke having suffered limiting issues in races he finished) leaving Lauda with no excuses for why he was still behind Keke's normally aspirated car in the championship.

Short Highlights

A dogged, determined, dull drive under challenging circumstances.

1982 Austrian GP
Q 6 / 9 (Daly) (7-0) -1.7
R 2 / DNF (Accident)

39 Pironi
33 Rosberg (2nd)
30 Watson (water pipe)
26 Lauda (5th)
25 Prost (Fuel)
22 De Angelis (1st)
19 Patrese
17 Piquet

Qualifying a superb 6th, Keke was the best Cosworth again at this hot power-track, with De Angelis an impressive 7th, albeit 1.4 seconds further back. The hero of Austria? 10th, although in fairness to Lauda, Michelin seemed less competitive in general here.

Keke's initial getaway was if anything, too good. He had to swerve around Tambay onto the dust over the white line, and that cost him traction as both Tambay and, crucially, De Angelis slowly overhauled his lead and passed him before turn 1.

It's a total mystery how, by lap 5, Mansell, Fabi and Warwick found their way past Keke, (all off camera) but the consolation was, both McLaren's were still behind him, and by lap 7, both Turbo powered, Pirelli-shod Tolemans of Fabi and Warwick had retired and Mansell had fallen back, and Rosberg was left to hold the gap to De Angelis some 12 seconds up the road, where it stayed for most of the race. Jones speculates he had an off early on. For a little perspective, 1982 had seen Lotus pioneer the 91- which was based on the FW07 ground effect, the McLaren carbon fibre chassis, pioneered active ride, and had carbon fibre brakes- the latter 3 Keke was lacking. Whilst they rarely got the whole thing working as effectively as the FW08, they were often strong points contenders and there was no great shame losing to them even if Austria was an anomaly.

On a day no turbo would finish, the race would prove sickening for Prost's title aspirations, left in the lead as the last running turbo with a handful of laps to go until he too retired, and the fight for the race win would boil down to De Angelis vs Rosberg, with Rosberg carrying the weight of a title fight on his shoulders. From 10 seconds back with 10 laps to go, Keke started reeling in De Angelis by a second a lap, either due to superior tyre management or greater fitness through the long high-g turns and incredible heat. This set up one of the closest finishes in GP history, as Keke was visibly more committed on the final lap, forcing De Angelis to defend as Keke considered diving down the inside over the bump-kerb with greater momentum on the last corner. In the end, he opted against it, and tried to get a better exit, but he knew by then he had already lost and despite getting desperately close, it was Elio De Angelis winning his first GP and not Keke Rosberg, with just 0.050 of a second being the difference.

Full Race

(Skip 1:07:00 for the hunt)

"It was a frightening place to drive. Jacqus Laffite blocked me when I was lapping him. Apart from that, no excuses. I can't say that I take immense pleasure in finishing second in a race. The only exception was in Austria. Boy would I love to have won that! But I was aiming for the Championship. Besides, I like the young man and it was his first win. I was pleased for him. The truth is I wasn't brave enough on the last corner. I could have done it, that is, if it hadn't been for the championship being at stake. I could have gone straight over the kerb on the inside. There is plenty of room and no obstruction. But at the top of the hill I hesitated trying to figure out which side I should go on. At the end of the day I think I was right. What good would it have been if we'd had a shunt? Which ever way I'd tried to go he would have sought to block me. I had just re-signed with Frank. Whatever his doubts during the dark mid-season, he was now full of encouragement. The only oddity was that here was Rosberg leading the championship (ignoring Pironi) and he hadn't yet won a Grand Prix. There were sections of the press that wouldn't forgive me for that but I didn't give a damn."

A hard performance to weigh up. What happened at the start? Why did he lose to a Lotus he had beaten all year? Had Lotus got it right, or had Keke got it wrong? The Turbos were much faster, the Michelin shod McLaren's far slower, so there was only really De Angelis to measure his performance against. The only thing perhaps worth pointing out is that at faster tracks; ie, Canada, Germany, Austria and Italy, Williams struggled to win the Cosworth class. It was a sensible drive, and the kind of performance that wins championships - at least in 1982, as once again, Daly qualified lower in the pack and was wiped out at the start. To beat Lauda and wipe the smirk off his face in Austria was a good result, Rosberg was now in the championship driving seat, having overtaken both McLarens in the drivers championship.

1982 Swiss GP
Q 8 / 7 (Daly) (7-1) +0.3
R 1 / DNF (Accident)

42 Rosberg (1st)
39 Pironi
31 Prost (2nd)
30 Watson (13th)
30 Lauda (3rd)
23 De Angelis (6th)

Dijon featured one long straight and an infield dominated by constant fast cornering. It was still a Turbo-track, albeit, more of a contest.

Keke 8th, had underperformed in qualifying, as Lauda got his Cosworth 4th, Daly 7th, meaning Keke was outqualified by a teammate for the first time in 1982, having suffered from chronic understeer. As it turns out however, Daly had cut half the track by missing his braking point, taking care not to emerge infront of Watson. This gained him 2 seconds. However, before the mistake, he had run with front-wing, and felt he had cured the understeer that had been plaguing both Williams. To explain his massive gain, he revealed the advantage of the front wing in order to keep his short-cut secret from Keke, and therefore, to retain his time, and ironically, this revelation allowed Keke to beat Daly on Sunday, leaving Daly the one feeling irritated, despite having cheated. In Sunday practice, the team tried out the front wing, and fitted 3 different compounds to Keke's car and finally hit the sweet-spot.

Neil Oatley
"The tyre choice was generally left to Frank after consultation with Patrick and the drivers. Purely technical decisions were almost entirely Patrick's, but when it came to tyres, Frank really got involved."

At the start, Keke was boxed in by Daly behind a slow-starting Piquet, but getting brave, Keke swept around the outside of Piquet, Daly and De Cesaris through turn 1 in an incredible wall of death to emerge in 5th.

Blasted down the straight by Piquet on lap 1, Rosberg and Lauda were left to duel for 5th, swapping places several times until Patrese ran wide and in the confusion, Keke emerged in 4th, all off camera, stalking Nelson for 3rd, as Lauda was held up by Patrese behind. Both caught Arnoux for 2nd, Piquet powering past, Rosberg as the top Cosworth, gamely keeping in touch with Arnoux as he maintained a gap to Lauda. When Piquet eventually pitted, Rosberg rose to 3rd but courtesy of an idiotic lapped De Cesaris, fell some 11 seconds behind Arnoux, 18 seconds behind Prost. Here was where his neutral handling car came to the fore as both Renaults started to experience tyre degradation, and Prost damaged a skirt, leading to a concertina effect as Arnoux closed on Prost, and Keke thrillingly closed on the pair of them. with 7 laps to go, Arnoux suddenly slowed with a Fuel Pressure failure, gifting Keke 2nd, just as he came to lap De Cesaris for the second time, for whom he forced onto the grass down the main straight to teach him a lesson for his ignorant tactics earlier.

Keke (1982)
"If I had a long stick in my hands I would have banged him on the head."

Short Highlights-great commentary

Full Race
(well worth watching the complete final laps from 1:25:00 and the podium ceremony from 1:35:00)

The rest speaks for itself. As Prost struggled with degraded tyres, a damaged skirt, albeit extra power, Keke tore chunks out of his lead through the corners, catching Prost, hustling him through the corners and eventually forcing Prost to crack under the pressure and slide wide, before Keke covered him off from powering past him again. With a title on the line between them, this was a hugely significant moment in the championship fight, with the 6 point swing earning Keke an 11 point lead over Prost with Monza to come. Keke was a GP winner at last, the first Finn ever to win, and what's more, he had put in a classic drive to do so racing from 8th to 1st, beating the Turbo's, and to put himself the clear favourite to win the World Championship. Williams' first win of 1982. A sweet debut win if ever there was one, and long overdue, made all the sweeter by how astonished the paddock were that Keke had beaten a Renault Turbo. Lauda trailed Keke in 3rd 35 seconds back. Watson had been forced to pit for a new skirt having not looked a threat, finishing nowhere.

As a final aside, when Alain was leading with 2 laps to go, a french official made to wave the chequored flag early, on that lap, only to be restrained by a furious Peter Collins- Lotus team manager. 1982 truly was a mad season. But for his selfless act, Williams would have been denied their only victory of the year and Keke would have become the first WDC ever to win the title without winning a single race.

Patrick Head
"Keke and I worked together on a test and then he finished second in Austria and almost won it. He did win the next race in Dijon. Now it wasn't directly because of those tests, but we definitely got to grips with some of the problems. The FW08 was a very critical car and you had to run it as stiff as a brick with it's skirt system. It was all about finding where the sweet spot was. I put quite a bit into that with Keke in those tests."

"Actually by this time, Jackie had changed his mind about me; he was man enough to admit he'd been wrong."

With the title at his feet, that "first win" monkey off his back, his excellent performance under pressure, with Keke already re-signed at Williams for 1983, and Patrick Head and Keke Rosberg making some headway together with the car, all was well in the world again.

1982 Italian GP
Q 7 / 13 (Daly) (8-1) -1.4
R 8 / DNF (Accident)

42 Rosberg (8th)
39 Pironi
33 Watson (4th)
31 Prost (spun)
30 Lauda (brakes)

Keke was again the lead Cosworth qualifying 7th, some 3 seconds off Pole, but ahead of both Alfas, with Lauda a second further back in 10th, Watson 12th. Good Job. Prost was the main threat starting 5th, but Keke could afford to finish 2 positions behind either Lauda or Watson in the lower points and still eliminate their title aspirations.

Both Alfas blasted Keke before turn 1, and Watson, benefitting from a change to the flexibility of the skirts, enjoyed a calmer handling car and raced on Keke's tail before allegedly passing Keke under yellows. Keke had been taking it calm and wasn't too worried until he heard a bang, found himself implausibly powering past Giacomelli's Turbo and saw Giacomelli frantically waving as the italian repassed Keke under braking. Assuming he had a puncture due to poor handling, he came into the pits, screaming at the mechanics for seemingly doing nothing until it was explained his rear wing had fallen off.

"It was one of those occasions when afterwards you don't have to say something. If you see a guy suffering already, you don't need to "hit" him. Patrick is one of those. You know that it breaks his heart.""

With Prost's fuel injection failing yet again, Alain was out of the championship. The same applied to Lauda whose brakes failed. Rosberg could have easily picked up 5th and won the title from Watson in 4th but for this unprecedented engineering failure. Instead, he recovered to finish 8th, needing only 2 points in Las Vegas to win the title- even if Watson won. He was heavy favourite now, and the 4 title contenders had become 2. F1 would see a new driver crowned Champion in Las Vegas and it couldn't be a Turbo driver. A reasonable performance, although its curious how being in the lower top ten and losing to Watson was fine here and in Germany so long as Daly was further back, but almost got Keke fired in Canada when Daly looked on top form. I guess when you're behind in the championship having recently made a few errors, team bosses start losing their patience; but when you're nursing out a world championship win having already proved yourself, all is rosy.

Short Highlights

1982 Las Vegas GP
Q 6 / 14 (Daly) (9-1) -0.8
R 5 / 6 (Accident)

44 Rosberg (5th)
39 Pironi
39 Watson (2nd)
34 Prost (4th)
30 Lauda (Engine)

"Towards the end of a season a driver will go for the number of points he can safely score to win the championship. That's what I did in Las Vegas in 1982." It was a hard circuit on the driver, physically tough, but I never had a problem in the race because I was mentally strong. I used to run at lunchtime- Ibiza- wherever I was. It raises your pain barrier in the heat. It wasn't the exhaustion- it was the heat."

In a special lightweight qualifying chassis, with all roll bar adjusters and adjustable cables taken off (the only complaint of unfair treatment all year from Daly) Rosberg was 6th, this time behind the inspired Alboreto in 3rd. Watson was back in 9th.

"The Tyrrell had something slightly dodgy in terms of the skirt operation they were running which gave a significant advantage."

On the first lap, Keke was jostled out by Andretti's Ferrari and Watson lost out to Warwick and Daly, and then Laffite. Then Watson went on a charge, passing all three, then Piquet as Watson's car felt "like it did in Detroit", before passing Rosberg with ease.

"When John came by me I knew there was no way I could stay with him. It was clear to me at that stage that he could win the race, and for the first time, I concentrated my attention on the championship rather than the race. It was my 52nd Grand Prix and everything I'd been working for since the start of my career was at stake. I didn't care how I'd won it."

When Andretti retired on lap 27, Keke was up to that vital P5.

"Wattie was never going to win the championship at that stage any more. I was only worried about the DNF really"

He got up to 2nd, but Alboreto proved too tough. The moment Michele crossed the line to win, Watson had already lost the championship, but Keke sealed his title on his own steam by finishing 5th. Keke Rosberg was the 1982 World Champion, with 44pts, 5pts clear of Watson and Pironi, the second driver ever to win the World Championship for Frank Williams, following in the footsteps of Alan Jones and making good on Carlos Reutemann's mysterious failure to clinch the title here at Las Vegas last year.

Full Race
Short Highlights

Reaction / Aftermath

Patrick Head
"1982 was a remarkable season. The championship should have been won by Villeneuve. The Ferrari was by far the best car. Keke was a fighter. He got on well with Frank Dernie. I'm not saying that I didn't get on with Keke, but I was probable a bit less touchy feely carey. Frank Dernie was the person who said to Frank that this guy was seriously good, so he always had a very good relationship with him."

Keke (1982)
"The atmosphere at Williams that afternoon was typical. "Okay, that's done, next?" But it was also a lot of fun. There was a gang on nice people around Frank in 1982; Patrick and Charlie and Alan Jones was around quite a lot. We used to take the @#$%& out of Frank. It was good fun, but it was businesslike too. When I won the championship, that was it for the day. No bullshit."

"Just as I was winning the championship I found out that I was being offered to another team. As a trade-in. It wouldn't do my reputation any good to put on record the name of the team or the driver that was supposed to come to Williams. Let's just say it was a driver who has yet to pick up any results. Back then I was still cheap. I keep a good relationship with Frank. I would have liked it to have been deeper, but after that piece of disloyalty, that's not going to happen. I realised that you never stop looking elsewhere. I start hunting in May. That day was Mansour Ojeh's 30th birthday and he went to San Francisco to celebrate. There was a specially made cake with a great sharks fin, we rolled around in an open Rolls Royce singing, dancing, drinking, eating hamburgers, but I was too tired to enjoy the party properly, too overwhelmed physically and mentally so I left early. When it's over it was like a balloon. You let the air out and all there is left is a pile of rubber. That's how I felt."

Chris Witty - Autosport
(after Keke confessed how in SuperVee, Autosport had really helped him through with good press) "It was my first experience of a World Champion being humble."

Keith Botsford (1982)
"In general, Keke has had a poor press since he came into F1. And when he became World Champion he got an even poorer press, largely because the Williams team had a distinctly ambivalent attitude towards the press. A fierce nationalist, shy and afraid of being misunderstood, (Frank) put a sign in his english motor home window that said "english press welcome" He understood the English press and largely got sympathy and respect. From the French, Italians and others, not unnaturally, he got neglect. Thus the notion grew that Keke was an outsider, a loner. The truth is quite other. What Williams did directly affected Keke"

Keke (1982)
"I work much harder in the off-season than I work during the championship itself. The public is your bread and butter. My championship came too quickly. My businesses weren't ready for it- I came from nowhere. In terms of self-exploitation, Niki was doing everything right, and Nelson was doing everything wrong. I don't want to race cars for the rest of my life. A world championship requires a very special form of exploitation. You have to make your jackpot right there and then. Noone can guarantee that your going to be sitting pretty the next year".

At the FISA prize giving gala, Keke, unhappy with the authorities that year and convinced they had it in for him for being an outspoken "cocky ba$tard" says he only attended because he would otherwise have earned a $10,000 fine. Enraged that his prize giving ceremony was held in French when everyone spoke English, he spoke in Finnish just to make a point.

1982 Review

1982 was a messy season through no fault of Rosberg's. It was impossible to draw driver comparisons when the disparity of equipment was so great. Many drivers could have won the championship, but no driver had obviously done a better job. Whilst Gilles and Didier looked more likely to have won, and perhaps a certain sadness and perhaps guilt overshadowed Keke's Championship victory as a result, the fact is, they had better equipment at their disposal which begs the question as to whether it was really they, or Ferrari who "deserved" the championship? As harsh as this sounds, it was their errors which cost them, and it was Keke, with a slightly more circumspect approach who managed to complete the 1982 championship season. It's a rather touchy route to go down, but as Keke said himself, his limit was high, whereas Gille's limit was perhaps 'too' high. At some point, a certain balance between aggression and self preservation has to be struck, and no other driver struck a better balance than Keke across the 1982 season.

Whilst everyone complains 1982 was a low scoring championship, in reality, it wasn't that low. To put it in perspective, Carlos scored 49 pts, Jones 46 pts in 1981 vs less reliable, less consistently fast competition. That doesn't mean they did a better job; it means they had more of an opportunity. With 1 win and 44 pts in 1982, relative to 1981 it was an impressively small drop off, which can only reflect positively on Keke.

The "1 win" complaint is neither a reflection on Keke's driving, nor of his general performance level. He had victory in Detroit seemingly secure until a gearbox failed, he looked favourite to win in Brands Hatch until he had an Engine problem on the grid, and it was only because Dupasquier had a last minute moment of inspiration that denied Keke victory in Belgium after an excellent drive, so 4 wins were very possible, without even looking at Austria or Monaco.

Despite giving away at least 200bhp to 8 rivals, Keke was able to take the fight to the turbo cars in Kyalami before his gearstick broke, Brazil, Long Beach, Belgium, Monaco, Detroit, Britain, The Netherlands, Dijon and Las Vegas, with Brazil and Dijon in particular being most impressive. Even then, the competition was fierce, as Brabham, Ferrari and Renault had worked hard reducing Turbo lag and marrying the car to the chassis better, but it was in these fraught races where Keke earned his championship, beating the Renaults and Pironi and charging down Villeneuve in Brazil, beating the Ferraris and Renaults at Long Beach after duelling Villeneuve, charging past the Renaults at Zolder with his aggressive, sliding driving style through the long turns, charging past Tambay for a podium in Zandvoort and scaring Prost off the road to win in Dijon having superbly beaten Renault, Ferrari and Brabham. This was the essence of his championship win; not a slow, steady and lucky driver but a fast brave and consistent challenger of rivals racing cars that were effectively a racing category higher than Keke's Cosworth, and Keke gave them hell. Keke won the world championship, not just by bridging the great divide better than any other Cosworth powered car, but by regularly overrunning the other side. The technology and results suggests Keke was slow and steady in 1982. The reality was Williams only won the 1982 Drivers World Championship courtesy of Keke's blinding speed and racing skills.

Never the less, such was the enormity of the task, In San Marino, Canada, France, Germany, Austria and Italy, the turbo cars ran entirely uncontested, pulling out 5 seconds on Keke in Germany on 1 qualifying lap, and further, they were far more reliable than 1981. Factor in Williams being disqualified, then going on strike, a smattering of unreliability, and a new car to understand, and it makes Keke's feat seem all the more incredible. So for Keke to stand on the podium 6 times (officially) and beat Niki Lauda and John Watson, also in normally aspirated cars was an excellent achievement. Keke broke down twice, crashed once as his fault compared to Lauda and Watson's twice, and scored in every race he didn't have a mechanical fault.

It's worth noting how regularly Keke utterly destroyed Derek Daly, who had proved very fast in the lower categories, and had been able to regularly compete with Jarier and qualify his Tyrrell in the midfield in 1980- speed wasn't Daly's issue until he met Keke Rosberg. Although Daly explains he was going through a divorce, it's hard not to believe that Rosberg, who had already eclipsed Reutemann for speed, left Daly reeling and seriously struggling for confidence, as Keke qualified on average 1.5 seconds faster across their 10 races together. As this pattern would repeat itself with Laffite, I think it's fair to say Keke was doing a stunning job in 1982, and performances which received criticism such as Zolder when he lost the win really aught to have been regarded with the highest praise. Neither Daly nor Laffite had reputations for being slow, but against Keke Rosberg, they are hard to take seriously, and that's all down to Keke's talent.

The same shifting of perceptions and reputation occurred with Carlos Reutemann, Keke beating him 2 / 0 in qualifying - the fastest man on a Saturday in GP racing, and went on to beat all 3 teammates 14/1 courtesy of Daly's shortcut. Did that make Keke the new fastest man in Grand Prix Racing? In 1982 at Williams, Keke was utterly dominant. His dominance over his teammates in terms of speed was the largest of any driver pairing, and he gave the least away in terms of driver error across the season, meaning that speed didn't come at a price, like, sadly it did for Gilles, but he also made fewer driving errors than Lauda and Prost, proving Keke really had struck gold in terms of marrying raw speed with dependability.

Set up and tyres seemed ever more complicated in 1982; and a black art relative to modern day technology, made all the more troublesome by a 3 way tyre war. Niki Lauda, priding himself in his technical skills was frequently shown up by Watson and frequently left for dead by Keke. Whilst Keke himself wasn't always on top of things, relying on Daly in Dijon, chewing his tyres in Britain and disappearing in Canada, over a whole season, his performances were extremely consistent, and extremely strong, despite a bad patch in Monaco and Canada where it seemed widespread frustration and Keke's lack of previous results led to an overreaction from Williams management and a crisis of confidence. However it says it all that during Williams' sternest test, where the pressure on him was perhaps even greater than on Hill in 1995, or Frentzen in 1997, (both times Williams expected to win, but were on a downslide) Keke triumphed where they failed, and came out of the season ontop, having silenced even his most vocal critic, Jackie Stewart in the process. He faced a far tougher task than Hill or Frentzen as they were sat in extremely fast cars, and Keke had 200bhp to make up, yet the results were the polar opposite. Keke had effectively been set up to carry the can for a high profile Williams failure in 1982. As evidence of the greatest driver achievement in Williams history, look no further than Keke Rosberg in 1982 and how he turned the tables on everyone.

So was Keke a deserving Champion? Hell yes. Neither Jones, Piquet, Mansell, Prost, Hill or Villeneuve had to overcome such odds as Keke to win their championships, and it's a testament to Keke Rosberg that 1982 was the only time in Williams history that they won the drivers championship and not the constructors championship. This was an ironic outcome, and a bit of a f**k you when you consider after losing Jones and gaining Keke, Frank had made such a big deal about the constructors championship in 1982.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 30 January, 2015 15:50

Ground Effect was banned for 1983. In response to this, the Williams wings were made bigger and the sidepods were shortened, and that was about it- a modified FW08-C, a car which was fittingly dwarfed in both size and power by most of the field. Joining Brabham, Renault, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo with Turbo engines was Lotus Renault, ATS BMW, Osella-Alfa Romeo and Toleman Hart. As soon as the Turbo brigade sorted out their unreliability, Williams would be buried. McLaren were hard at work on their own late season introduction of a TAG Porsche Turbo, and Frank Williams having been negotiating with Honda since 1981, had finally secured an exclusive deal by February 1983, providing hope for a future which couldn't come soon enough. As Honda were busy preparing their engine for a late season introduction, it was on a hope and a prayer that Keke set about the defence of his championship as Williams battled on with an increasingly hapless Cosworth, with ever diminishing returns.

On the driver side, Keke was to be paired with Jacques Laffite, a driver Williams had scored a cheeky 2nd with back in 1976. Since then, Laffite had completed a 7 year stint at Ligier, racking up 6 wins and establishing himself as a proven talent, having proven himself at the very least equal to Pironi, a championship favourite last year, equal to Patrick Depallier, Grand Prix winner and better than Patrick Tambay; also a grand prix winner. Most of Keke's doubters had already been silenced by the end of 1982, but this represented an acid test for the new world champion to prove himself versus a top class established talent.

1983 Brazillian GP
Q 1 / 18 (Laffite) (1-0) -3.7
R DSQ / 4 (push start)

9 Piquet (1st)
3 Laffite (4th
0 Rosberg (DSQ)

Any lingering doubts regarding Rosberg's true pace evaporated in the first qualifying session of the season, where despite a decent sized straight, Keke managed an utterly implausible Pole, with no less than 7 successive Turbo cars massed behind him, and with Niki Lauda the next best Cosworth all the way back in 9th, 1.4 seconds back, Keke having smashed the lap record by a whopping 2 seconds. Despite the Turbo's ability to turn up the boost, Keke had monstered the corners in the nimble FW08C to leave the competition utterly dumbfounded. It was Cosworths' last Pole, and perhaps the Greatest Pole position in Williams team history- if not in F1 history. It's not only because of the context- although it did make for a glorious example of triumph against overwhelming adversity, of a golden era refusing to lie down and give up, beating everyone despite using an engine effectively a racing category lower than half his rivals; but because of sheer raw pace. Senna may have eulogised over his own Pole in Monaco in 1988, with his dominant Honda power and dominant chassis, beating Prost into 2nd in what was a private contest by 1.4 seconds, but Keke was a staggering 3.7 seconds clear of Laffite in 18th. Isn't that more than twice as impressive? Senna should have been on Pole. Keke shouldn't have been in the top ten. By modern standards he shouldn't have been on the same grid. but a phlegmatic, smoking, moustachioed Finn in his mid 30's was harder to eulogise over than a neurotic young handsome Brazillian talking about god, so there you go. Good luck finding any footage.

The way Keke would go on to destroy Laffite this year in a similar way to how he destroyed Daly in 1982 was perhaps a reflection of an incredible harmony Keke had with the FW08- and particular the FW08C; a car that allowed Keke's flamboyant ovesteering style to unlock incredible chunks of time. Would Prost or Piquet have been able to extract as much laptime from an underpowered FW08C? I'm incredibly doubtful. So all told, not a bad day's work from the reigning world champion.

"We were 8th fastest officially but our own timers had been down at the hairpin to fool the rest, so we knew we were quickest. I set Pole position. That was an incredible pleasure for me. It was "stuff the turbos" "stuff everyone saying "Keke won the world championship last year because he was lucky! 1983 was going to be my best season but by then the turbo's had us. In 1983 I really thought I could walk on water and it's a very dangerous feeling."

Rocketing away at the start, Keke built a 4 second lead in 2 laps as the light-fuelled BMW powered Brabhams were stuck behind Prost. As both cleared Prost, Keke was slowly hunted down, the top 3 looking in another class. Keke could do nothing when Piquet entered the back straight vaguely in touch yet screamed past by the next corner on lap 7. Patrese caught Keke but made heavy work of it, never getting close enough onto the back straight, before retiring on lap 19 with an exhaust failure.

As it transpired, both Keke and Piquet were on half tanks, and Keke pitted first, suffering a fuel-fire during his planned pitstop. Keke had to leap out of the car, and the team had to push the car down the pitlane to get the engine started, his 25 seconds lead over Watson turned into a 1 minute deficit, leaving Rosberg 1 lap down right on Piquet, the leaders' tail, out of the points, albeit now on fresh tyres. As Keke harassed Piquet, who had yet to pit and now visibly slower, the pair sliced though the field, Keke being politely waved past by Laffite.

Fuel-Fire 7 mins in, then fighting Piquet

His final stint was absolutely superb. Watson retired with Engine trouble leaving Keke to hunt down the non-stopping Tambay, Prost and Lauda for 2nd, finishing some 40 odd seconds down on Piquet after eating them alive.

Skip 4:50 in

It had been a very hard earned podium, truly a demonstration drive from a driver at the top of his game, visibly faster through the long fast corners, and one of Williams' all time best races. Explaining how Williams stole a march on the Turbos isn't easy- perhaps other teams had found it harder to adapt to the lack of ground effect? And yet, Laffite finished behind Prost and Lauda, and gave perhaps 2 minutes away to Keke during the race, suggesting this was the work of a genius at the very top of his game, riding the crest of a towering wave of confidence, turbo cars be damned.

How did FISA react? Why, to disqualify him of course for that post-fire push, leaving Keke rightfully beside himself with a red mist that would carry him through to Long Beach.

1983 USA West GP
Q 3 / 4 (Laffite) (2-0) -0.7
R Collision / 4

9 Piquet (Throttle)
6 Laffite
0 Rosberg

Qualifying a strong 3rd behind both Ferraris, an incredible start saw a fired up Keke power slide out from behind Tambay, and force a gap in-between both Ferraris by barging Arnoux aside to take the lead, only for Tambay to hook it up and power clear, leaving Keke in 2nd. Hustling Tambay, Keke looked up the inside, only to back out of it last minute, hit a bump, do a 360 degrees spin, and recover in 3rd right behind Laffite.

"There was a bump on the track, but I was trying a leg-breaking act which simply wasn't on. When I went to Long Beach in 1983, I had just been disqualified after coming second in Brazil, a result i'd fought for and burned myself out for. I thought to myself, Keke, you are going to win and show those @#$%& at FISA. It was the second year running i'd been disqualified in Brazil and I was angry."

As Tambay pulled clear, the ever-polite Jacques let Keke back through. Watching both cars running closely, it's clear how much more confident Keke was on turn-in, either trusting the back end would stay glued to the track, or trusting if it wouldn't, he could control it and slide it round, enabling him to take the corners faster. Laffite in contrast seemed to be trying to smother the car's propensity to slide.

Opening Laps

Keke caught Tambay with much greater cornering speed which enabled him to hustle the Ferrari. What followed was an exhaustingly lengthy and frustrating stalemate due to Tambay's vastly superior power and the lack of room to pass in the middle of corners. As Keke tried everything, everywhere, to get through, eventually, Keke got half alongside into the hairpin, but braked earlier. Tambay left some room, but not enough, Keke tried to back out of it and the result was a clumsy accident as Tambay was punted out and Keke, with damaged suspension limped up an escape road. The Williams was probably not as good on the brakes, lacking Carbon Fibre material. With hindsight a cheeky 'outbreak and take him wide with you" may have done the trick , but this was still a fairly gentlemanly era where you either passed cleanly or not at all.

Lengthy Fight and collision

A fundamental error from a frustrated man, Keke had shown he had the pace to win. Just like Monaco 1982, the frustration of not being able to overtake, added to frustration carried into the event had resulted in a driver-related DNF, leaving him on 0 points when he could have been on 15. Still, impressive pace as ever, starring for the second race in a row as a standout driver in the field.

1983 French GP
Q 16 / 19 (Laffite) (3-0) -0.3
R 5 / 6

15 Piquet (Throttle)
9 Prost (1st)
7 Laffite
2 Rosberg

The sheer size and number of straights and the lack of corners resulted in a depressing weekend as Keke's 16th on the grid left him a staggering 5.7 seconds off pole.

After yet another great start Keke somehow emerged in 9th on lap 1 before battling past Warwick's Turbo Hart for 8th, and dicing heroically with De Angelis' Renault Turbo powered Lotus. By keeping it clean, Rosberg inherited 5th 1 lap down ahead of Laffite to score his first points of the season, best Cosworth runner and the best possible result Williams could have managed.

Short Highlights

Whilst he couldn't fight at the front, and with hindsight, could have coasted and still finished 5th, he really had no right making it such a contest in what should have otherwise been a dull and depressing weekend. He may have made a fundamental error in the USA, but it's easily understood given the effort he was putting in and the harshness of the stewards. In three successive races, Keke had the beating of Laffite and had stood out spectacularly each time as a driver conspicuously outperforming his equipment. Excellent race.

1983 Race of Champions GP
Q 1
R 1

Right after the French GP, Brands Hatch organised F1's final non-championship event, despite hosting the European GP later that season. In a depleted field of 13 cars, Williams only ran the spare car. There was no Laffite, and of the Turbo cars, only Arnoux's Ferrari, Mansell's Lotus Renault and Rebaque's Brabham BMW competed together with Johansson trying out a Spirit equipped with the Honda Turbo Williams were frantically designing the FW09 to house, having only penned the deal 2 months ago. At a Rosberg-friendly track, he took Pole by a tiny margin, only for Arnoux to Power past down the straight. This season, Ferrari would encounter tyre troubles, pitting multiple times before running out of them and retiring, gifting Keke the lead back. Having scrubbed his tyres before the start, Danny Sullivan's tyres held up better, enabling him to catch and harass Keke in the closing stages, but he was unable to get ahead despite getting alongside, as Keke defended well, enabling the Finn to win and relieve some of his frustration.

1983 San Marino GP
Q 11 / 16 (Laffite) (4-0) -0.8
R 4 / 7

15 Piquet (Engine)
15 Prost (2nd)
7 Laffite
5 Rosberg

3.8 seconds off Pole in qualifying, the 10 cars in-front were all Turbos, so it was another good effort.

Benefitting from retirements ahead, Keke worked his way into the top 6 after 5 laps, rapidly dropped by the 5 Turbo cars ahead, but managing to stay clear of Baldi's Alfa Turbo and De Angelis' Lotus Renault. Making amends for Brazil, Williams gave Keke his first pitstop without incident, a then race best 14.1 seconds on a day many people opted to stop, and emerging 7th behind a recovering Piquet. From there, Piquet, De Cesaris and Patrese all retired, gifting Keke a quietly impressive 4th, 1 lap down. 5 points from the last 2 races was the maximum Williams could have achieved. A very good, professional weekend.

1983 Monaco GP
Q 5 / 8 (Laffite) (5-0) -1.4
R 1 / Gearbox

21 Piquet (2nd)
19 Prost (3rd)
14 Rosberg (1st)
7 Laffite

Monaco enabled Keke to compete again, and boy did he. An inspired qualifying lap saw him hustle the Williams into 5th, 1 second clear of Piquet in 6th and fractions of a second away from P3.

The race was damp for the start, and drying which represented a tremendous opportunity for Williams. Not only would the unwieldy torque of the Turbo's prove a nightmare in low-grip conditions at slow speed with no margin for error, but Williams with their nimble handling chassis felt brave enough to gamble on slicks- an opportunity less open to the Turbos which needed every scrap of adhesion they could find. Throw in the fact that Keke had been starting brilliantly all year, and was already very happy with a car sliding beneath him, and the signs looked very good for a possible upset.

Neil Oatley
"There wasn't any standing water and the Goodyear tyre engineer said that the dry compound was a huge amount softer than the wet compound, so provided you didn't lose it on the first lap or so, you could be there."

Keke, with more drivable power, left Cheever, Tambay and Arnoux floundering as he catapulted up from 5th to 2nd- a stunning getaway. Hounding Prost for the lead, Keke took the lead at the end of lap 1, sadly off camera, but presumably into, or out of Ste Devote. Whilst Keke had an increasing advantage as the track dried, it still took an enormous amount of skill and touch initially to overtake on slick tyres on a damp track without losing it at the very beginning. As the rest pitted for slicks, already a long way back, Laffite emerged in 2nd, having also started on slicks, but having not taken anything like the same amount of risk, and proved unable to overtake the Turbos on their worn out wets until they pitted. Keke, out of sheer bravery had carved out a staggering 30 second lead over his number 2, with Cheever in 3rd over 1 minute back in just 5 laps after a devastating opening stint on slick tyres equal to anything Senna, Alesi or Schumacher would produce in damp conditions in future. The race was utterly at his mercy.

Aside from catching traffic so early they didn't recognise they were being lapped, where Keke kept his cool, the race was very easy and unspectacular, apart from suffering from a virus which prompted him to vomit in his helmet, Keke opting to manage the gap, which allowed Laffite to close, yet remain safely a long way back - his suffering was clear on the podium. The only enjoyment was watching Keke habitually sliding his Williams around the principality, just to entertain the crowds and remind everyone why he had the number 1 on the car. Keke's 2nd Win for Williams was a walk in the park thanks to a devastating opening 5 laps of driving brilliance. The presence of Laffite in an easy 2nd was proof Keke had an advantage with car and tyre here, but the speed with which he was able to exploit that advantage was mesmeric. In the end, Laffite retired from 2nd and Keke coasted home 18 seconds clear of Piquet; an emphatic victory parade. With this win, he went 4th in the championship despite 1983 seemingly being a case of marking time until Honda were ready. He was 7 points behind Piquet and back ahead of the McLaren drivers, despite his disqualified 2nd, and his crash when trying to take the lead in Long Beach. Was this the best Williams drive of all time, or merely an excellent drive made easy by circumstance? It certainly looked very convincing...

Keke Highlights

1983 Belgian GP
Q 9 / 11 (Laffite) (6-0) -1.2
R 5 / 6

28 Prost (1st)
24 Piquet (4th)
16 Rosberg (5th)
8 Laffite

9th in qualifying, best of the Cosworths once again, 3.3 seconds down on Pole, clear of at least 4 Turbo cars, Spa was another turbo track, albeit with Eau Rouge mitigating the damage a little. To still have 1.2 seconds over Laffite 6 races into the season was testament to the awesome job Keke was doing in 1983.

At the start Keke passed Winkelhock's BMW powered ATS by picking a clearer, wider line into La Source, getting Cheever on the exit to take 7th. As Patrese's engine blew, Winkelhock powered past Keke, leaving him 7th. Keke, having opted for the harder Goodyear tyre, passed Winkelhock when his Engine hit trouble, allowing Keke up to 6th, and incredibly to charge down and catch Piquet and Arnoux, harrying the tyre-fading Arnoux once Piquet had cleared Rene'. Watching the enormous chunks of time Keke was able to take out of the Turbo car through Eau Rouge was breathtaking, taking the deadliest corner in Formula 1 SIDEWAYS in the middle of a race in the forlorn hope that somehow he could take 5th through Raidillon and stave the Turbo off all the way up to Les Combes. Small wonder Frank came to expect the very highest standards from his drivers; Keke set the bar incredibly high.

close up Eau Rouge camera angle

(48:00-51:00 Rosberg vs Arnoux- overhead camera)

A round of stops for everyone, coupled with Arnoux and De Cesaris retiring left Keke in 5th behind Cheever, and that was how it finished, Keke just 8 seconds down on Piquet and a whopping 43 seconds clear of Jacques in 6th. You could say his speed and commitment was for nothing here, but Keke was a master of chasing lost causes and it's hard to watch his efforts without allowing ones' perception to be coloured by admiration: at the very least, he was providing a lot of entertainment. Great for team morale, a superb drive once again to form part of one of the most impressive periods behind the wheel in Williams history. Forget the stats; you just had to watch him to know he was doing something very special indeed.

"I run on the very edge of endurance throughout a race. I fight against the car and against myself the whole time. I'm sure I don't need to do it like that, it just happens to be my nature. I thought that when I won the world championship I'd change; I'd no longer have anything to prove. I thought I would be pleased, relaxed. Maybe it's the fear of falling back? A year in a Cosworth powered engine when all the rest were in turbos is fall enough!. I am made in such a way that I only really enjoy racing on the limit. I have to dampen that enjoyment by using my brain. The public thinks I drive with my balls. I live very strongly within my limits. Fortunately, that image- of being totally self destructive - does me no harm. I couldn't have a better one. But it's totally wrong."

1983 Detroit GP
Q 12 / 20 (Laffite) (7-0) -1.6
R 2 / 5 +1m25
28 Prost (8th)
27 Piquet (4th)
22 Rosberg (5th)
10 Laffite

A bad qualifying job by the team left them 12th and 20th, missing a great opportunity to beat the turbos. Underlying the missed opportunity, Surer's Arrows was 5th, Alboreto 6th, Boutsen's Arrows 10th and Guerrero's Theodore- Keke's former team, was 11th.

Keke, keen to make up for his gearbox problem when leading here last year, was left with far too much work to do in the race to win. The fastest way was to pit which gave him a chance to overtake, but with Alboreto not pitting and back on form, just as his team were in Las Vegas '82, Keke couldn't afford to lose time to the cars around him. It was a hopeless task.

At the start, Keke launched away brilliantly and swept around the outside of turn 1 to emerge in 7th- 5 places gained already. As de Angelis retired, Keke passed Warwick and Alboreto, before taking until lap 11 to clear the turbo powered De Cesaris. As Piquet was nonstopping on full tanks, Keke closed down a 15 second gap and then overtook him for 2nd- a superb opening stint; 12th to 2nd almost entirely off his own back at a hard track to overtake on vs opposition with 200bhp+ advantage. Keke was king of the overtakers.

After Rosberg pitted, he fell 25 seconds behind Alboreto, and when Laffite pitted, Arnoux retired and Piquet suffered a puncture, Rosberg found himself back up to 2nd, on fresh tyres, closing on Alboreto, but unable to catch him, finishing 7.7 seconds short at the flag.

Short Highlights

Had Williams not messed up qualifying, they could have started infront of Alboreto and De Cesaris, and had the speed and the clear air to beat the Tyrrell and Win. Never the less, that shouldn't detract from another classic drive where Keke was clearly the driver of the day. It put him 4th in the drivers championship just 6pts off the championship lead with 22pts, despite crashing in Long Beach and being disqualified in Brazil. But for that DSQ for a push start Keke would have been leading the championship. Considering the massive investment the manufacturers were putting into their Turbo Engines, Keke was embarrassing an awful lot of people. If 1982 was surprising, 1983 was taking the proverbial. Small wonder FISA were cutting him no slack; vs the might of FISA, BMW, Renault and the French government, Ferrari, and Alfa Romeo, Keke Rosberg with his little Cosworth still looked capable of beating them all; for now...

1983 Canadian GP
Q 9 / 13 (Laffite) (8-0) -0.7
R 4 / Gearbox
30 Prost (5th)
27 Piquet (throttle)
25 Rosberg (4th)
10 Laffite

At this turbo track, the top 12 were all Turbo-powered; barring Rosberg that is in 9th, 2.7 seconds off Pole. King of the Cosworths, Keke went 8-0 up in qualifying head-to heads vs 6 time GP winner Jaques Laffite. Didier Pironi had never come close to that.

A good start by Giacomelli left Keke 10th, before being unable to make a move stick on Winkelhock at the hairpin- those steel brakes coming back to bite him. The same problem occurred when trying a move on De Cesaris- this time making contact but no damage. As De Cesaris, Winkelhock, Patrese Prost and Piquet all encountered mechanical issues, Keke was best positioned to inherit 4th behind Cheever's Renault and the two Ferraris, impressively keeping on the same lap despite the enormous power deficit. Another (virtually!) perfect weekend. This put him, remarkably, closer to the title lead, just 5pts back, already half way after 8 races to the golden "50 pt" total he felt represented a good chance of winning the World Championship. With 6 points scores in a row, Keke had been maximising every scoring opportunity with the exception of Long Beach when he crashed, and Detroit when he finished 2nd after a poor qualifying.

Short Highlights

1983 British GP
Q 13 / 20 (Laffite) (9-0) -1.5
R 11 / 12
39 Prost (1st)
33 Piquet (2nd)
25 Rosberg (11th)
10 Laffite

Silverstone, another Turbo track, was also the start of the slide in Williams' overall form as the Turbo cars really hit their stride. Most rivals were working on their current packages, whereas Williams were working on the FW09, and sooner or later, that was going to tell. Keke lined up 13th, a whopping 4.2 seconds off Pole, albeit, incredibly, still top Cosworth. Laffite was 20th, 5.7 seconds off Pole and struggling just to make the grid.

Up to 11th at the start, Rosberg attempted passing a Toleman around the outside of Stowe, being forced on the grass and dropping behind Laffite. Laffite lost 4 positions, perhaps as a consequence of slowing to let Keke back through. Racing in 11th, De Angelis retired, gifting Keke 10th until Lauda came past on lap 5, followed by Baldi's Alfa, Watson on lap 20, and Jarier's Ligier. Keke finished 11th, 2 laps down, ahead of Laffite, whilst Lauda was the only Cosworth to pick up any crumbs from the high table in 6th, 1 lap down. A tough event for the team: Williams' Goodyears weren't lasting well. All the Goodyear runners fell back, (Ferrari, Tyrrell, Arrows) whereas those who passed Keke had been on Michelins or Pirellis. Still, a very sobering day.

1983 German GP
Q 12 / 15 (Laffite) (10-0) -1.0
R 10 / 6
42 Prost (4th)
33 Piquet (fire)
25 Rosberg (10th)
11 Laffite

Keke was the lead Cosworth-powered car once again, 5.9 seconds off Pole. This session underlined the extent to which F1 had become a two-category sport.

Both Williams' rocketed away in 9th and 10th, Keke forced onto the grass allowing Laffite to get a nose ahead on the inside, but leaving Keke room to get the better exit from turn 1. Watson beat Laffite to best of the rest spot in 5th, Laffite 6th. Keke ended up 4 places behind Laffite, losing out to Laffite, then Surer, Jarier and Boutsen to be the 5th best non-turbo which on the face of it looked like the worst race of Keke's career. However, Keke had the speed here, beating Laffite by 1 second in qualifying, so it seems highly likely there had been mitigating circumstances- ie, an incident or technical gremlin, making it difficult to draw any conclusions from this race.

1983 Austrian GP
Q 15 / 24 (Laffite) (11-0) -1.4
R 8 / Vibrations
51 Prost (1st)
37 Piquet (3rd)
25 Rosberg (8th)
11 Laffite

The Ostereichring represented no reprive: the 4th power track in succession, leaving Keke 15th, 5.5 seconds off Pole, and ceding best Cosworth to Lauda in 14th in a field flooded with Turbos. A great start once again saw Keke rise to 10th before steadily losing out to Lauda and Jarier, beating Watson to finish 8th as Lauda got the final point- in many ways a repeat of Britain. Laffite was hit at the start and coasted around before retiring. Either Williams had gone too soft with their Goodyears, Keke was wearing them too much, Goodyear were again no match for Michelin, or Williams were just slipping back in general. Its very hard to tell. Perhaps with no chance of racing the turbos, Keke was feeling uninspired?

"I have a very big inner drive. I'm very hungry. That's what keeps me going. Even if the car was uncompetitive I was still giving 100%. That's what I was paid for and that's what I delivered. I have a clear conscience and some satisfaction; at least I'd done my job well."

As Williams were flat out at the factory preparing the FW09 for introduction before the end of the season, Williams lost interest now they were at the turbo tracks, to the point that post race debriefs were starting to be skipped. Maintaining that inner fire from earlier in the season must have been very difficult.

1983 Dutch GP
Q 23 / 17 (Laffite) (11-1) +0.4
R Ignition / Handling
51 Prost (spin)
37 Piquet (crash)
25 Rosberg
11 Laffite

To line up as the 7th best Cosworth on the grid, 23rd, 4.7 seconds off Pole on a twisty track when he should have been comptitive and what's more, behind Laffite, it was a Keke's worst qualifying session of the year.

"It has been very difficult for a team thats been on top for 4 or 5 years to find itself slowly and steadily in the $hit. In 1983 Williams was a happy, if troubled team. They just blocked it all out and thought about tomorrow. Zandvoort in 1983 is a good example. It was the absolute bottom for Williams and for me. I was 23rd on the grid. Great!

Still, I made a fantastic start. At the end of the first lap I was already 13th. I was doing a great job and really enjoying myself. I wasn't sitting there in the car cursing, knowing that in 10 laps or so I'd be in the $hit. As expected everything falls apart- the tyres, everything. Comes the end of the race it's into the pits, back to the motor home- but they're packing their briefcases; they're already on their way. I think this is the worst sort of collapse- to run away when faced with frustration. I wanted to talk- the usual briefing never came. You sit on your anger. They would say it's not very productive to analyse a car you know is not good enough. I think there's always something to be learned even from disaster. You begin to think if its wise to think so much about the future that your'e not even willing to learn from a present mistake you've made. Hey! I wanted to say. We've paid a hell of a lot of money to take part in the Dutch Grand Prix, and maybe we should try to get something out of it. Five years ago I would have been very upset because I would have expected the team to say "Fantastic! You did a great job at the start". But teams can teach you cynicism".

It's hard to tell whether Frank knew he had picked too soft a compound and didn't care being told so by a frustrated driver, whether the Goodyears were just not holding up here, or whether Keke's driving style was wearing them out, but they had found the same problem in practice and knew they hadn't solved it; suggesting perhaps the problem was unsolvable. Still, debriefs went out of fashion at Williams this stage of the season, which was a shame as cracks had begun to develop in their all round performance which needed addressing.

1983 Italian GP
Q 16 / 28 (Laffite) (12-1) -2.0
R 11th / DNQ
51 Prost (spin)
37 Piquet (crash)
25 Rosberg
11 Laffite

6.1 seconds off Pole was bordering on the absurd at the fastest track on the calendar, but not as absurd as Laffite who was 8.1 seconds off Pole and failed to qualify. Believe it or not, 16th made Keke the leading Cosworth, as McLaren were now 2 races into their partnership with TAG. Toleman, Lotus, Ferrari, Renault, Brabham, ATS, Alfa and now McLaren were all boosted by Turbo power.

Another super launch put Keke 11th into turn 1, initially looking to the inside off the line before realising there was no room, forcing him to go to the outside and cross the white line to avoid hitting the car ahead. That earned him a $2000 fine which enraged Keke after having spoken out about being allowed to cross the white line on the grounds of safety.

In the race, Surer and Jarier both beat Rosberg, who finished 11th, but at least he made it into the race, unlike Laffite who was putting his feet up. As the reigning world champions with sponsors to please, it must have been a painfully humiliating period for them with noone really to blame but the Engine. There is a risk putting in effort would have merely added to the frustration for the rest of the team, but Keke claims he was still charging around racing his heart out.

"There is no sport like F1 for frustration. There are moments of joy, but 75% of the time there is frustration. Continuing frustration does something to the mind. It hardens you. I'm proud of the fact that I don't have off days, however great the frustration."

Having endured 3 miserable seasons prior to joining Williams, Keke, aged 34, was hardened and mature enough to endure such spells without rocking the boat, even if it was a bitter pill to have the number 1 on his car and be forced to race around like a tail-end minnow; he had fans and sponsors to entertain.

1983 European GP
Q 16 / 25 (Palmer) / 29 (Laffite- 13-1) -2.5 / -3.3
R Engine / 13th- Palmer
57 Prost (2nd)
55 Piquet (1st)
25 Rosberg
11 Laffite

Back at his favourite track, Rosberg was the leading Cosworth runner again, beating the Arrows, Tyrells and Ligiers, and beating his two teammates by a massive margin- Laffite failing to qualify for the 2nd race in a row. That only got Keke 16th, 2.8 seconds off Pole.

Boxed in, Keke made no headway at the start, before the Turbo class raced off on their own. What Keke may have managed is unclear because he retired after half distance when his Cosworth failed; a disappointing end to the Williams / Cosworth relationship which had yielded 2 Drivers and 2 Constructor's Championships. There were no sulks, no glove throwing, just Keke keeping his head up and helping the marshalls move the car. Nice.


Palmer soldiered on, finishing the race in 13th, but to put Keke's performances in perspective, Palmer finished behind Guerrero's Theodore and Boutsen's Arrows, whilst Laffite spent the day with his feet up. A miserable race, but Keke did as well as could be expected and it was a remarkable qualifying margin he had over his teammates, reminding anyone with a keen eye of his incredible speed, commitment and leadership.

1983 South African GP
Q 6 / 10 (Laffite- 14-1) -0.6
R 5 / Spin
59 Prost (2nd)
57 Piquet (1st)
27 Rosberg
11 Laffite

And so began the second phase of Keke's Williams' career, with Williams bringing the long anticipated Williams FW09 Honda V6 Turbo to Kyalami. Unlike the TAG Porsche engine, built to John Barnard's specifications, the Honda was based on an F2 Engine, with Power delivered in one lump within a very narrow rev-range.

Patrick Head
"Honda sent us an engine and it was literally a block with a couple of heads on it and a sump. The turbos came in a cardboard box. I sent Mr Kawamoto a telex asking for a thermal balance. He sent back a telex saying "please design what you think."

As for the FW09, it was based on the FW08. The main difference was the blocky nose, making it perhaps the least attractive Williams ever penned. The FW09 was Williams' final aluminium chassis- despite most of their rivals having already made the switch to Carbon Fibre- Renault, Ferrari, McLaren, Ligier, Brabham, Toleman, Alfa, ATS and Lotus had all gone down Honeycomb routes already, either partly or fully. Head was cautious about committing to Carbon Fibre before he fully understood the benefits of it; a decision which was to cause a lot of tension in 1984. Carbon Fibre is known to be lighter, stiffer, and better at shock absorption. Further, in order to compensate for the extra power of the Honda, and lack of stiffness of the aluminium, Head would have had to use extra material to maintain rigidity. As aluminium was in any case a heavier material than Carbon Fibre, it would be roles reversed for Keke. Now he would be lugging around a car with a hammer-blow engine, but grossly overweight relative to the competition in the corners, handicapping Keke's greatest strength. And that wasn't the worst of it either.

"Everything felt soft. The Engine was soft, the car was soft and the power was like an on-off switch. When the power came in, it was terrible."

Keke (speaking in Austria 1984, but applying to the FW09 at most tracks to varying degrees.)
"Back in the pits, they don't know that your car is going into a 200kph right hander and is deciding instead to go left. They don't know that when it does the same thing five times it's a bit hard to take."

The issue here was complex; Patrick Head knew his beefed up aluminium chassis could cope with the Honda power delivery without flexing, but that did not corroborate with Keke's (and Laffite's) description of the car feeling soft- a description Head found to be very annoying. They tried all manner of set-ups and "fixes" throughout 1984 to solve the car's evil handling and chronic understeer, but it was to no avail because the root cause of the problem wasn't identified. This led to Frank Williams getting frustrated with Patrick for sticking with aluminium, and Patrick to start questioning whether Keke knew what he was talking about with regards to car behaviour because Head knew the chassis wasn't the issue and Keke always had the same complaint, despite wildly varying performances. 1984 would see simmering tension as Keke's reputation as a poor development driver worsened together with the results, whilst Williams were chasing their tails. As it turned out, both Head and Rosberg were perfectly correct in their judgement, and the team eventually traced the issue to flexing cylinder blocks and engine mounts rather than the chassis itself. The irony is, with hindsight, Keke's description was perfectly eloquent and highly accurate, and sounds uncannily similar to the type of feedback Rubens Barrichello gave, and was revered for. Most of the following quotes come in the midst of this fallout, before they had learned the true cause of Keke's difficulties, so don't read them at face value; they are included because this misunderstanding was to have consequences.

Qualifying 6th, 0.7 seconds off Pole was an encouraging start; in an instant, Williams had found seconds on the Cosworths, with the best placed normally aspirated car some 3.8 seconds back. Williams had gone from 530bhp to 850bhp in an instant. Williams were back at the races. Keke beat both Alfas, McLarens, Lotusses, Tolemans- even Cheever's Renault, despite both Keke and Honda being on a steep learning curve.

"I knew nothing whatever about driving a turbo car. I had to learn a whole new technique of driving: what makes it go, how to make it last. The world of the turbos is full of secrets"

The turbos were a pig to get off the line, but Keke maintained position, jumping Arnoux, but jumped by De Cesaris, as Laffite spun out of the race.

(watch Keke sliding the car into the corner 6mins in)

Lauda then came sailing through the field, demoting Keke to a fading 7th, his pace poor. Eventually Warwick got through, but thanks to attrition, that left Keke 5th, 1 lap down and ahead of Cheever's Renault at the chequered flag, having overtaken Eddie, presumably after making a pitstop.

(skip 10 mins for racing action)

That ended a 6 race pointless streak, and closed out the 1983 season on a generally positive note, with Keke going into 1984 feeling very optimistic.

1983 Season Summary
Keke finished the 1983 season with 27pts compared to his 44pts in 1982. Unlike 1982, the second half of the season saw him unable to score points for 6 races, as more Turbo powered teams developed their packages and improved their reliability, which explains the difference in points between the two seasons.

Keke was even more impressive in 1983 than in 1982. The FW08C seemed tailor-made for him, allowing him to drive the car from the back end, flicking it sideways into corners, and with his confidence soaring after his championship win, he extracted some spellbinding performances. Basically, every race between Brazil and Canada was a demonstration of a driver totally outclassing his equipment, and arguably outclassing all his rivals, taking on the vastly more powerful Turbos by flinging his tiny Williams spectacularly through the corners, slingshotting his equally tiny engine out onto the straights despite being a whopping 320bhp down on power, and sailing past them like it was somehow normal. Brazil, Monaco and Detroit may have been the easiest races to admire; all exhilirating, blood pumping drives; but Keke did a great job all season, despite driving equipment that was increasingly swallowed up by the competition. The sustained chasm between himself and Laffite in qualifying- beating him 14-1 and usually by massive margins, was testament to the consistently awesome job Keke was doing, even during the bad times. Laffite had been a world class driver for almost a decade, matching up with Pironi and Tambay; Keke made him look like a journeyman, as if there was no merit in beating him; in much the same way he had with Daly. Laffite just didn't look the same driver vs Keke, and that is all to Keke's credit. It says a lot that after returning to Ligier, Laffite seemed comptitive, seeing off De Cesaris and Arnoux, and wracking up the podiums again. What that suggests is that Rosberg was significantly faster than the lot of them, exaggerated perhaps with Laffite recognising he couldn't beat Keke and losing his focus and confidence as a result.

"I was probably the fastest I'd ever been in my career. I just refused to accept that anybody could beat me and to stay with the turbos I was prepared to take massive risks."

In Laffite's hands, Williams went from the midfield to non-qualifiers. In Watson's hands, McLaren bowed out gracefully. In Keke's hands, by mid season, he should have been leading the championship, as he continually seemed to defy the laws of physics; most notably on his qualifying lap in Brazil, and through Eau Rouge in the race. Keke inexplicably made it look as if a title was on the cards despite driving an Engine that should have been in a lower racing category, and the team simply turning up and going racing with what they had, whilst the manufacturers poured in the investment and for a while, looked hilariously as though they may end up with red faces yet again. Small wonder the team was happy early in the year- the joke was on the rest.

Its a shame all that adrenaline and momentum built up over the opening races fell away so quickly as the nature of the tracks changed, but that just goes to show how Williams and Keke had played to their own strengths so well, stretching out the competitiveness of the Cosworth way beyond it's shelf life. When it fell away, it did so rapidly, and with finality.

"To have finished 5th in the championship in 1983 made me neither disappointed nor elated. Noone who had to struggle through that year with a normally aspirated engine did better."

His season wasn't perfect- he threw away a possible win in Long Beach due to frustration at getting disqualified (again) though that was understandable; left with a car massively faster yet too slow on the brakes. Had he and Williams sorted out qualifying in Detroit, they could have won there too- but that would have only earned Keke 4th in championship. He had a duff qualifying session in Zandvoort, a weird race in Germany and a recurring issue of fading pace which seemed tyre related as the season wore on. Keke was dependable, but he was no robot. Never the less, this was perhaps the best season behind the wheel any driver for Williams has put together, wringing an unbelievable amount of speed out of the car than never looked on in Laffite's hands.

Early 1983 with the FW08C is my favourite period of Williams history to watch and review; it was an iconic time that captured the imagination, and which crystallised both Keke's reputation as a supreme talent, and the Williams team's reputation as fierce, gritty competitors; a reputation which lives on to this day. A lot of that reputation, some 30 years later is cliche', a lot of it hasn't applied to many drivers since, but the fact that it has lingered on for so long was in no small part thanks to Keke Rosberg picking up the baton from Jones and swinging it around menacingly for 4 seasons, with 1983 being perhaps the most impressive display of all. Simply put, there was just nobody like him in 1983, Keke combining almost mythic, flamboyant speed with hard racecraft, maturity, and a no nonsense attitude out of the car.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 30 January, 2015 15:52

1984 Brazillian GP
Q 9 / 13 (Laffite- 15-1) -0.9
R 2 / Electrics
9 Prost
6 Rosberg
0 Laffite

Qualifying 9th in the heavy FW09 with it's almost unusable powerful Engine made worse by bad packaging, Piquet and Prost both fluffed their starts allowing Keke to race in 7th. Then Piquet, Prost and Cheever's Alfa overtook him together with Fabi's Brabham. A hard race to appreciate, Rosberg was doing a marvellous job keeping the thing on the road and competitive, beating Laffite comfortably again before Laffite's retirement. As Alboreto, Arnoux, Lauda, Mansell, Warwick and Tambay all retired ahead, and Piquet, De Angelis, Fabi, and Cheever pitted for new tyres, (the Brabhams then retiring anyway) Rosberg drifted up to a very lucky 2nd, albeit ahead of De Angelis' Lotus Renault; the only real bragging rights the team could claim. Keke finished 50 seconds down on a McLaren who was taking it easy; Williams had a lot of work to do.

"Brazil began the troubles because the result flattered the truth. The car was very difficult to drive; it was like a rodeo horse. I was lucky. I held the bull by the horns. I told the team the car was just about the worst car I'd ever driven, but what I said probably wasn't given sufficient weight because of the result."

Rare footage of the FW09 in action- 4mins-8mins as Tambay slows with low fuel and Keke takes 2nd- podium included

1984 South African GP
Q 2 / 11 (Laffite- 16-1) -1.7
R Driveshaft / Transmission
15 Prost
6 Rosberg
0 Laffite

Keke artfully extracted an enormous chunk of time from the car through the turns in qualifying to be 2nd, 0.1 off pole, opening up a 1.7 second margin on Laffite at the same track Keke had tested and raced the Honda at the end of 1983. It seemed Keke had found some trick; some knack of keeping the revs up in the turns, or getting the power down early without spinning off, and of ignoring the weird handling and keeping his confidence; something which eluded Laffite, but it wasn't something safely repeatable in the race nor was it something Keke could repeat at many other tracks. Knowing Williams' future with Honda, it looked as though this 2nd was Keke fulfilling the partnership's potential. Knowing 1984 better, it was, in reality a moment of brilliance; beating so many rivals with lighter cars, more drivable engines, no chronic understeer, no flexing struts and no erratic handling on the bumps.

In the race, Piquet fluffed the start, gifting Keke a massive lead into turn 1, and something for Honda to boast over, though the credit should really go to Keke. Sadly, Piquet, Fabi and Lauda all hunted down and passed Keke courtesy of cars that were handling much better. As Keke fended off Warwick for 4th, the cars queued up behind.

"I had quite a fun battle with Warwick. He was quicker on the tricky bits of the circuit, but I managed to hold him off on the straights. Still, by then I knew the car had a serious understeering problem. But I said to myself understeer can be dialled out of any car. Unfortunately it didn't turn out that way."

For a chance to watch Keke drive the FW09, this video is excellent, as the director stays on Keke basically all the time from the start, 26mins in, to his pitstop 1:11:00 in. The fight isn't particularly fun to watch but its great for seeing the FW09 in action.

It was the polar opposite of Keke's 1983 season with Cosworth- fast down the straights, hobbled through the turns. The only thing that hadn't changed was that Keke was still night and day faster than Laffite, though Laffite seemed closer in race conditions. In the end, the driveshaft failed after losing lubrication when a 3rd or 4th was likely looking at the final race result, albeit courtesy of Brabham unreliability. A fantastic effort, an unlucky result.

1984 Belgian GP (Zolder)
Q 3 / 15 (Laffite- 17-1) -2.7
R 4 / Electrical
15 Prost
9 Rosberg
0 Laffite

Another great qualifying job- 3rd, 0.5 seconds off Pole, Keke was free to turn up the boost and charge and he made an incredibly good job of it, revealing his raw natural talent. At a track that was all corners, Laffite was 2.7 seconds down in 15th, which was perhaps more representative of what most drivers could have managed with this car.

At the start, Keke sputtered away with no revs, dropping to 20th.

"I think I'm a good starter, but with a turbo it's become more difficult. With a turbo you have to get your wheels spinning or else you stall. It's very hard to keep the revs constant. You can blow the start even if you're doing everything by the book."

With such a narrow power band for the Honda engine, it is understandable he struggled- much like Prost with the clutch in 1993. Keke's starts had been consistently excellent for years prior to Honda.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the race however. I was very competitive having a lot of fun passing people. My only complaint was that the car was still understeering."

In a tyre and fuel limited race, Keke powered past Lauda and Tambay, leaving Laffite for dead before Jacques suffered another Electrical problem.


He then reeled in Cheever and De Angelis, before getting a great exit, blasting through to take 7th, then getting aggressive with his lines to prevent a counter attack- classic Keke.

12mins of battling- pass 9:45 in

Dispatching De Angelis and Winkelhock, he hunted down Piquet for 3rd, scaring Piquet off the track on his more worn tyres before catching Warwick for 2nd at an incredible rate. With the bit between his teeth, Keke went on another one of those charges he was becoming well known for.

Watch from 7-11mins

Passing him for 2nd off camera, and taking chunks out of Alboreto's lead, Williams opted to make an early call to pit and charge rather than start to slow and limp around nursing the car like the rest- a call hard to appreciate given the speed advantage he was still enjoying. This dropped him to 6th, a minute back, costing him over 40 seconds, and defending from Arnoux who had also pitted, who went on to pass him. As Arnoux dealt with those ahead, Keke followed, spectacularly passing both Bellof and De Angelis in one weaving move for 5th like a knife through butter.

Watch from 10-12 mins

As Arnoux pulled away, the pair hauled in Piquet in 3rd, Arnoux passing quickly, leaving Rosberg to fight Nelson for 4th.

the first 8 mins is thrilling- you can tell with the car body language the adrenaline was pumping!

As it turned out, Arnoux had been running too hard- he ran short of fuel and started cruising, leaving Keke in 3rd having passed Piquet for the second time. With just 1/2 a lap to go, Keke ran out of fuel and stopped, allowing the cruising Arnoux to inherit 3rd, leaving Keke 4th, 1 lap down.

"I felt I had read the gauge right; team Williams thought I had made a mistake. Racing drivers have to be drawn maps and charts. I felt we hadn't discussed the matter in sufficient detail. After the race, each went his own way. It wasn't a happy situation and it left a certain amount of bitterness."

3 mins in

An incredible race to summarise, it was a brilliant charging, flawed effort, having stalled and run out of fuel, but what also stood out was Keke's speed and race-craft. Zolder was a bit like Brands Hatch with its long fast gradiented corners. It meant nailing the throttle with perfect timing was less critical, as corners were long with more scope for a range of approaches, but it still must have taken awesome skill maintaining speed and feel through long fast turns with an engine that was 100% on or off, and getting around the corners in an overweight understeering car. Keke had stood out impressively in Zolder in 1982 and 1984, but interestingly, it was in two very different machines, underlining Keke's versatility. It is harder to appreciate someone making a powerful car look drivable as opposed to a drivable car look fast, but both require considerable, albeit very different skills. Another factor is the incalculable motivation of catching others, which Keke responded better than anyone to. Like Senna vs Prost, being technically perfect and sublimely talented can be trumped by passion and artful aggressive genius.

1984 San Marino GP
Q 3 / 15 (Laffite- 18-1) -3.1
R Electrical / Engine
24 Prost
9 Rosberg
0 Laffite

Another brilliant qualifying job, 3rd, 0.9 off pole and an inexplicable 3.1 seconds clear of Laffite. The FW09 represented the biggest driving challenge of their careers, and as such, the gap opened out even more between them as Keke adapted faster to the challenge, and was probably on a bit of a confidence-high after Zolder.

With Lauda right behind him on the grid, he said "For Christ's sake this time get off the line". Keke answered;

"If I do, you wont see me again" At the time I still thought of myself as the hot-shot of the season".

Sadly, he crawled away again, and was very lucky not to get hit, aided by the fact that Lauda had an even worse pull-away. It happens to the best. From the tail of the field his Electrics failed on lap 2, his ultimate potential left unclear.

Short Highlights

1984 French GP
Q 4 / 12 (Laffite- 19-1) -2.5
R 6 / 8
24 Prost
10 Rosberg
0 Laffite

4th in qualifying, 0.7 seconds off pole, 2.5 seconds clear of Laffite, Keke's consistent qualifying form suggested the car was good enough to repeat his Zolder performance on a regular basis, leaving the team, according to Keke, still confident of having a good season.

"In between Belgium and France we had been testing. The Engine seemed to be going fairly well, but our consumption was not as good as we would have liked and and the understeer was still there despite all the adjustments. At Dijon the understeering reached a new low. I finished 6th in a dull race. I nearly had a big one with Niki on the fast esses. I was a bit hungry, it was I who backed out."

Short Highlights

Keke was 6th, 1 lap down. A sobering day, albeit another excellent job by Keke; no mistakes and far better than Laffite. Perhaps San Marino, sadly, would have followed the same pattern, and similar to Rio and South Africa? A fast qualifying but a slow race as understeer killed the tyres, and got steadily worse as the outer tyres wore out?

Still, why the understeer didn't kill him in the race in Zolder is unclear.

One theory is it was the driver. Keke had to drive a lot slower to make the end of the race without crashing. With a heavy car, understeer and a hammer blow engine, it's possible exiting low speed corners with low downforce consistently on the absolute limit may not have been possible to sustain beyond one, massive risk taking qualifying lap where 4 wheel drifts may have been required. It really must have been a case of straighten up...and launch with the Honda mallet, which is slow, or alternatively, to 4-wheel drift and risk spinning on every exit; which just isn't very realistic across a full race distance when you have turbo lag and a flexing "package" to handle as well. Exiting high speed corners with high downforce is much lower-risk in terms of spinning off than exiting low speed corners without downforce, so Keke was forced to wait before boosting off. 1984 was if anything, a season of risk management. As Clive James comments in his F1 season Review;

"Rosberg had managed to make the Williams look driveable, which everyone including Frank Williams knew it really wasn't"

Another theory is it was the heat, combined with the FW09's natural propensity to understeer which killed the tyres, making the car inherently slower. Either that, or Keke was forced to wait an eternity before getting on the power to protect the tyres, or power drift and kill the tyres. A catch 22. How you manage tyre wear when there is no progression in the power delivery is hard to answer; you have to drop the hammer at some point, and when you do, at low speed, there will be wheelspin. It all sounds like a bit of a drivers' nightmare.

Finally, and this may be attempting too fine-a-point, Williams opted to pit in Zolder, so tyre wear was an issue, but their overall race performance was much better than France. If understeer really was killing the tyres in France, Keke would have been making multiple stops, only, he wasn't. France was much harder on fuel economy than Zolder where he didn't make the finish, therefore, perhaps France was a combination of these factors;

1) A fuel inefficient Engine forcing Keke to run on lower boost
2) Heat worsening tyre wear / understeer
3) Track layout posing a greater risk of spinning, resulting in Keke not feeling as confident throughout the race.
4) Team / Keke not doing as good a job on set up. Perhaps the "adjustments" made the car worse, as the team still hadn't identified the cause of the flexing "soft" issue.

1984 was a season of riddles.

1984 Monaco GP
Q 10 / 16 (Laffite- 20-1) -1.6
R 4 / 8
28.5 Prost
11.5 Rosberg
0 Laffite

"Monaco was not a good prospect for us. It was going to be a very difficult race because of the bumps combined with our engine characteristics."

10th was a fair reflection of this. Still 1.6 seconds clear of Laffite, the gap was closer between them, albeit still a large one at this drivers track. Keke seemed to intimate Laffite was always given equal equipment.

"Apart from one or two things which had nothing to do with his racing, Jacques was always treated very fairly by the team."

The hard thing to understand was the gap was always larger at faster tracks, though that could have been because Keke was better managing the power on exits - a nightmarish task, which was magnified on the stop-watch down longer straights.

The race was totally waterlogged. A crash at the start gifted Keke 6th, Mansell and Lauda both crashed out and Alboreto spun. After Senna had screamed past, Keke slowly but surely hauled in Arnoux for 3rd, Bellof briefly starring passing Keke into the new chicane before retiring. Keke, unlike Frank, was very happy the race was stopped in 4th, feeling sorry for Ickx for the flack he got from Senna. He was faster than Arnoux and threatening for a podium- after a solid drive- a great demonstration of driving skill considering that the wet had if anything, compounded Williams' problems with car handling and power delivery. Senna outdrove everyone that day by quite a margin, but he had a far more nimble chassis and better power delivery, so its important to put Keke's drive into perspective. Driving Monaco in the wet with this car must have been hideous, so all told, a brilliant effort. 4th here was in some ways, as impressive as a win.

1984 Canadian GP
Q 15 / 17 (Laffite- 21-1) -0.6
R Fuel Feed / Turbo
32.5 Prost
11.5 Rosberg
0 Laffite

"Montreal is bumpy and fast, with tight chicanes, fast bumpy esses and a hairpin. one is bad for the suspension, another for the chassis, a third for the engine. Either I had no power or full power and in both cases I was in trouble"

Keke had been accused of losing the plot on set-up at Canada in 1982; he had almost been traded in over it. In '84 with a powerful Engine, to wind up 3.8 seconds off Pole, it's easy to look to the drivers for blame, particularly when he was 3rd on the grid in San Marino, and 15th here. Therefore, either set-up or bumps must have been the issue. A track of almost exclusively bumpy low speed exits onto long straights mixed in with fast bumpy esses sounds pretty nightmarish for this package, and the suspicion I have is that Keke understandably lost his confidence and no longer felt able to push; something Laffite had been doing all year.

Keke had an uneventful race, retiring at mid-distance in the midfield with a fuel issue. It was an abysmal weekend.

Funny grid scene

"By this time I had started to bi*ch to my long-time mechanics. From your own you know you can get some moral support. Charlie Crichton-Stuart had left the team and I missed his laughter. Had he been around, the edges wouldn't have got so frayed."

It was at this stage that it became clear to Keke the car's problems hadn't been identified, and doubts began to arise as to whether Keke was making excuses. If he could qualify 3rd in San Marino, why was he 15th here? This must have been annoying for Keke, because he was being presented with a hideous task and being blamed for not coming out ontop every time, when there was clearly an issue with the car that was contributing massively to his problems. Never the less, the extent to which he was uncompetitive and the closeness between himself and Laffite does suggest he had left a bit of performance on the table, getting perhaps demoralised and less willing to take risks for a team that weren't doing anything to make his job easier, and didn't seem to understand the problem. Throw in the demoralising effect of having to lift and watching others get away with keeping their foot down, and I guess it's hard to keep your chin up.

1984 Detroit GP
Q 21 / 19 (Laffite- 21-2) +0.3
R Turbo / 5
34.5 Prost
11.5 Rosberg
2 Laffite

5.5 seconds off pole, 21st on the grid; it was rock-bottom. Keke had been eclipsed by Laffite; he had fluffed qualifying at Detroit for the second year in a row, suggesting that for once, Keke was part of the problem. Sat on the pitwall before the race, and perhaps with his ego a bit bruised, he claims to have given a really poisonous interview, depressed, and resigned to not being competitive in 1984, though he was frank enough to admit that Jacques was better coping with "horrible understeer" than he was. I suspect the realisation that after a painful end to 1983, that this new Honda era was proving just as hard, and even less enjoyable probably hit him around this time.

"I honestly thought I was talking to a blank wall. When things get so bad that an innocent schoolgirl can see what's wrong, then it's best to be honest with yourself and tell the truth. In this sort of situation, the natural tendency is to look for a scapegoat. I'd been hired to drive cars and give information on how the cars behaved. It reached the point where it was noised around the team that I couldn't really command the English language. That is, I wasn't capable of describing complicated matters about the cars. As I'd had no difficulty in 1982 when we were champions, I suppose I must have become an ignorant Finn since then."

"I'm not an engineer or a technical man, so I can't pinpoint responsibility and say Patrick Head was wrong or right not to change to carbon fibre for the chassis. If Patrick says he can make as rigid a chassis out of aluminium, I will believe him. I know it takes time to develop a turbo engine and relate it to the proper chassis. I didn't have any rows, though others might have. I maintained a good relationship with the team, but a driver is a very impatient animal and my patience had begun running out some time ago. I was $hit-tired of going downhill."

"What could I do? I'd tested the car for 6 months and it had become worse. Either they had to think I was useless at testing or they'd get around to improving the car."

Perhaps revealingly, Keke had a much better race, similar to 1983. As the attrition proved chronic, Keke worked his way up the field ahead of Brundle and Fabi to 4th- and close to De Angelis in 3rd, until his exhaust pipe failed and he started slowing, retiring on lap 47. Laffite was the final finisher in 5th having been eclipsed by Keke again. A good recovery drive in the circumstances, most overtaking was done in the pits or past stationary cars, and all off-camera, but the performance was fairly good, albeit not good enough to match Honda, Williams and Keke's expectations, as the car was no doubt still a pig to drive. Perhaps the frustration that had affected him in Canada led to Keke being seen as the problem, which compounded his frustration and left him in a proper sulk on Saturday, but nothing the allure of racing couldn't fix on Sunday.

Rosberg retirement, 1:31:25 in

1984 Dallas GP
Q 8 / 25 (Laffite- 22-2) -4.5
R 1 / 4
34.5 Prost
20.5 Rosberg
5 Laffite

8th, 1.7 seconds off Pole, it's hard not to consider the discrepancy between Detroit qualifying and here to be driver-related, and that this was more representative of Keke's best efforts. But getting the best out of this car shouldn't be seen as "par for the course", as Keke's best efforts were far better than perhaps anyone else when driving evil-handling machinery; as evidence of that, you needed to look no further than Laffite, a whopping 4.5 seconds back. By qualifying, the track surface was melting and bubbling up, becoming very slippy and described as "Rallycross" driving as rivals had to deal with massively varying levels of grip throughout the lap and adapt accordingly. Clearly, having coped far better than Laffite reacting to an unpredictable car, Keke was in his element, familiar dealing with uncertainty, and with having to improvise all the time, living on his reflexes, testing his finer judgements to the limit and maintaining speed, confidence and consisitency. Further, who knows? Perhaps the slippy broken surface brought the car back to life, eliminating the deadening understeer and allowing Keke to slide the car around in the way he was so good at. By the race, the track probably made everyone feel like they were driving FW09's, despite having easier-to-handle packages.

"The whole key was the heat. In Dallas I was sunbathing when Elio and Nigel were standing under umbrellas packed in ice- I knew I had them already. Did I think beforehand I could win it? Yes. I had thought anyone who survived in those conditions was in with a chance. I didn't think I would come up as fast as I did at the beginning."

With Arnoux starting from last, Keke held 7th at the start before overtaking Prost off-camera halfway around the first lap. Senna then spun off, promoting Keke to 5th. Warwick spun trying to take Mansell for the lead, and Keke found a way past Lauda, again off camera, before he chased down the two Lotuses and pulled away from Lauda at a rapid rate. Keke was on a charge!

After a tense 3-way battle, Keke outbraked De Angelis on a dirty inside line after a failed attempt from De Angelis to pass Mansell. Harrying Mansell from side to side in classic Keke fashion before getting brutally chopped, waving his hands at times when he felt Mansell was being too aggressive or dangerous, It was spellbinding viewing. The familiar, hustling, sliding, bucking, drifting out of corners Keke was back as Prost slowly caught the delayed Keke. This was Keke at his confident best; overcoming the car's limitations and raising his limits with adrenaline and sheer will-power.

5 mins-15, Keke from a distant 3rd to battling for 1st

brutal fight

Enfuriatingly, Mansell totally fluffed a chicane, Keke was wrongfooted and forced to virtually stop, and this enabled Prost back through.

brutal fight continued- pass

Keke launched past Prost when exiting a chicane to take 2nd, and on the following lap he managed the same move on Mansell to take the lead, feeling the car better underneath him and managing the slide better. He then exorcised some frustration by returning the favour to Mansell from earlier by squeezing, then chopping Mansell. Opening a gap, Prost got past Mansell and stayed around 5 seconds behind. One slow-mo revealed a planted rear end, and Keke, foot to the floor, steering left and right to maintain a smooth sliding exit. It was awe-inspiring.

drift slow-mo 5 mins in

As the track deteriorated, or perhaps as Keke's tyres faded, or indeed perhaps as Keke grew tired of reacting to the car and eased his pace slightly to keep safe, Prost caught Keke and passed him under breaking but it wasn't a pace Prost could maintain as he opened up a 7 second lead, only to hit the wall- a most un-Prost-like mistake.

Rosberg wins

On a day Piquet, Prost and Lauda all hit the wall, On a day Laffite in the same equipment was lapped two times by Rosberg, on a day Mansell flopped about on the floor like a parched fish, Keke kept his evil handling car out of the barriers, travelling at a speed rivals in faster and better handling cars couldn't sustain without making an error. It was a pure drivers-win- his 3rd career victory, his 3rd with Williams. Keke had absolutely no right winning this race based on the car- by all rights he should have crawled around like Laffite to pick up points, or trashed the car and been perfectly excused. This was perhaps one of those rare, (usually Keke-esque moments) when a Williams win was owed entirely to a driver totally flattering an inferior car. The track had given everyone else a dose of what Keke had been managing all year, testing the drivers in a way Keke had been tested all year, and it was telling that under such conditions, Keke won and his greatest rivals stuffed it in the barrier trying to compete with him. Honda could claim to have won their first Turbo-charged Grand Prix, but the credit was all Keke's. Unquestionably on the shortlist of "Greatest Williams Drives of all time"- a 2 hour exhibition of how to ride a bucking bronco at incredible speed without falling off. Brilliant.

Nigel Roebuck
"Keke remains the great improviser of Formula 1. If freak conditions are likely, if a track surface is breaking up, if the hot is really torrid, the race unusually long, my money would always be on him."

Patrick Head
"It was like being a rally driver. Keke was good at that kind of stuff."

Brian O'Rourke
"I was removed from most of the racing, which was just as well because we were racing the FW09. Patrick used to say it's surprising how good a car looks when it wins. Well that car won, and I don't remember it getting any better looking afterwards."

1984 British GP (Brands Hatch)
Q 5 / 16 (Laffite- 23-2)
R Turbo / Water Pump.
34.5 Prost
20.5 Rosberg
5 Laffite

At Keke's favourite track, he massaged the car into 5th in qualifying, the difficulty of managing wheelspinning, understeering exit slides mitigated by the high speed corner exits, much like Zolder. A pure drivers effort from Keke, on a confidence high after Dallas, keeping control of the car through the long turns with a 100% on-off Engine must have been devilish, and awesome to overcome. Laffite was back in 16th.

A slow start dropped Keke to 7th, before passing Mansell on lap 1. 5 laps into the race, Keke's Engine failed, the only thing noteworthy was as Keke walked off to the garage, Frank ran after him insisting the Engine wasn't blown, angering Keke, and promping him to snap "if I say the Engine's blown, it blown". 3 minutes later, Frank admitted Keke had been right. This incident underlined both Frank's drive to win regardless, and Keke's feelings of being perpetually second guessed, as part of a process of being made the scapegoat, even when the facts were clear. A great shame, a chance of a result gone begging after another super performance.

1984 German GP
Q 19 / 12 (Laffite- 23-3)
R Electrics / Engine
43.5 Prost
20.5 Rosberg
5 Laffite

Keke was 19th in qualifying.

"Hockenheim was another low. It had lots of chicanes from which I knew I couldn't exit properly because of the understeer. The whole layout of the track simply emphasised how bad the problem was."

Confounding this theory of course was the fact that Laffite was 7 places higher on the grid, Jacques having one of his best qualifying sessions of the year. Now I'm not claiming Keke was wrong- the car almost certainly was understeering; you can tell that from the general car body language relative to 1983, but that doesn't explain why he was this slow relative to Laffite, nor why Keke was so fast in the race. Looking at the facts from someone like Patrick Head's perspective, it's easy to find Keke's claims hard to swallow. How can a car that is useless in chicanes, qualify 3rd in San Marino, 6th in Monza, and 19th at Hockenheim? It's easy to imagine Patrick Head listening to Keke and feeling the understeer excuse didn't wash.

"Chicanes deny your driving skill; they are simply the antithesis of driving; they are obstacles; they are cheap, that's why they exist."

Here's my theory for what it's worth. Understeer was a problem, and it was costing the Williams lap time, but it wasn't the only factor at play. Keke didn't like the track, and he was either unable or unmotivated by qualifying to learn how and when precisely to to hit the hammer and unleash 850bhp+ in the kind of powerslide necessary to exit the chicanes in a competitive manner. It took enormous bravery, skill, precision, and concentration to flick a switch in the middle of an understeering exit, and to pinch time by doing it early in a controlled drift, and at tracks like Germany with slow corners, it was hit and miss; there was no middle ground. Laffite, with his job on the line had probably taken a lot of risks to get 12th; Keke had the ability to do better.

Throw in the fact that Keke was generally unhappy with the team and the way the season was developing, that he was unhappy after Brands Hatch, and that it was easy to overtake at Hockenheim regardless of grid position, and I think Keke gave less than his best once again in qualifying. Why bother perfecting the art of keeping the Turbo Engine in the precise, very narrow rev range, or alternatively guessing, when flooring the throttle, at what exact point the lag will end and the power will kick in at yet another circuit when you can pass easily in the race?

"As I've grown used to these turbos I find I don't use the clutch at all for the higher gears. I just let the throttle fall back by half or three quarters. Other drivers use the clutch and don't lift the throttle at all. The difference is my engine wont blow up. They let the engine fly over the limit without drive."

It's also easy to forget that Rosberg and Laffite were in a transition year too. Not only were Williams learning about Turbos and failed to get it right first time, but so the drivers needed to be given some leeway too. The power increase represent the equivalent of changing racing categories, making them "rookies" all over again, and rookies are generally forgiven for not quite knowing their art consistently, everywhere, provided they show some flashes of speed and potential. But the Turbos - and in particular, the Honda Turbo represented a devilishly difficult challenge, and Rosberg was the only one really prepared to take that challenge on, that is, when he wasn't being blamed for the car's flaws.

The car and Engine made it a total lottery of instinct and confidence, it's flaws and foibles exaggerating driver flaws cruelly, which is why it wasn't possible for Keke to produce a consistent season, and why he wasn't able to regularly qualify and race in the top 3. To get the car there took genius, and masses of risk-taking, motivation, confidence and car control, not mere competency- the potential was there but it was a tiny, cruelly demanding target to hit and reliant on dumb luck that the flexing Engine mounts would behave when on the power over the bumps, and on an ability to overcome the overweight chassis. This why 1984 is such a hard season to look back on; was Keke throwing in a lot more off-color performances, making excuses, making the task sound much harder than it really was as he struggled with a new challenge and allowed his motivation and confidence to suffer, or was Keke boxed in a corner, and yet frequently able to to pull out moments of pure brilliance, outstripping even his greatest achievements in the much easier to drive FW08C?

So in short, from Keke's perspective, saying "the car was understeering" is a simple, diplomatic, palatable explanation that kept his market value higher than if he said "hey i'm 19th rather than 3rd because the car is really tricky and because I wasn't prepared to try."

In the race Keke's qualifying woes proved irrelevant. Keke on full tanks rose to 16th on lap 1, then passed Mansell, Laffite, Winkelhock and Cheever to go 12th on lap 2, power-sliding his car on the exit of turn 1, over the kerb and visibly faster than the rest in doing so.

Watch14:08 - Keke is the one sliding and using the most kerb

Passing Arnoux, Fabi Tambay and Warwick on track, all off camera, and with Senna and De Angelis retiring, Keke had gone from 19th to 4th in 9 laps, guessing the precise moment to hit the bomb and finding enormous chunks of time on the rest in the process. With Lauda in his crosshairs, Keke retired on lap 10 with a throttle sensor failure after a barn-storming charge in a race he could well have won, travelling much faster than the leader Prost. An incredible charge, an amazing turnaround. What was that about chicanes?

"I walked back to the pits feeling sick and watched the race on television."

The only question was whether he was using too much fuel or boost, and wouldn't have been able to finish at that speed, but fuel limited or not, this was such a convincing display that it was a great performance regardless. Superb! Given the devilish equipment relative to the rest, this charge through the field was one of the most impressive comebacks in team history, even though sadly, it was almost all off camera. It's a shame to have dwelled on qualifying so much when he so often got it right. By lap 2, Keke was already having a great afternoon, so overall, for Keke, it was a net brilliant weekend, and a very unfortunate end, which didn't help Keke's mood a jot.

1984 Austrian GP
Q 9 / 11 (Laffite- 24-3)
R Handling / Engine
48 Lauda
20.5 Rosberg
5 Laffite

Qualifying a respectable 9th, Keke had a slowish start before passing Arnoux and Mansell to go 8th. Then, falling away from De Angelis, on lap 15 Keke was in the pits.

"I've never given up a race because of ill handling before. Quite simply, I couldn't control the car. It wasn't because I wasn't enjoying racing. I was always in the wrong place. It's very difficult for someone not in the car to understand. Back in the pits, they don't know that your car is going into a 200kph right hander and is deciding instead to go left. They don't know that when it does the same thing five times it's a bit hard to take. Pulling in like that is quite a test of the relationship. I like to go fast, the car has it's own ideas- we don't match. I know Frank went through a short period of time in which he carefully considered whether relations with Rosberg were worth pursuing."

As the team didn't know what had changed, nor whether Keke would be able to drive on subsequent tracks, it's hard to know what to do- Keke had a contract for 1985, he was super talented, and he hadn't done this before. Austria was a very fast track and in Keke's words "frightening". it's likely the same issues Keke had been managing on reflexes and instinct all year had finally unnerved him here. He may have had an issue the team couldn't identify, such as fatigue of the aluminium chassis but it's more likely the car was just a nightmare as ever and Rosberg wasn't prepared to put his neck on the line racing at his usual improvisational lightening speed. The car demanded massive motivation to race hard in, and Austria demanded perhaps even more than normal, and after 2 mechanical DNF's, and no championship hopes, it's easy to understand why Keke had drawn a line here. Given Keke's increasingly sporadic performances since Canada, despite Keke's claims to the contrary, I think Keke's patience and motivation was beginning to match that of Laffite's.

A low point, but as it was discovered with hindsight, the package was both flawed and knife-edge, making Keke's position easier to understand. His description of the car is pretty eloquent and understandable too. It's possible too Keke was also making a stand, to force the team to address the problem with the chassis rather than leaving the drivers to get on with it. He had sounded off in Detroit to no avail, and now he was parking the car in a race. Keke, it seemed, was on strike.

1984 Dutch GP
Q 7 / 8 (Laffite- 25-3)
R 8 / Engine
54 Lauda
20.5 Rosberg
5 Laffite

"Zandvoort was a period of deep discussion within the team. I was trying to be both constructive and yet critical. I was complaining that noone would pay attention to me. The discussions led to Neil Oatley becoming my engineer instead of Patrick Head, who took on Jacques. We were not communicating well with each other and it was Patrick's decision. It only lasted for one race."

Keke vs Mansell vs Prost

A respectable 7th in qualifying at a track that made for a more manageable challenge, Keke passed Lauda and Warwick off the line to take 5th. He then caught and passed De Angelis and Tambay to take 3rd. As Piquet retired, Rosberg was passed by Lauda, leaving Keke in a safe 3rd behind the two Mclarens. Realising he didn't have enough fuel to finish, Keke tried nursing the car, but he felt even that wouldn't be enough, under pressure from the Lotuses behind. Mansell and Prost (a lap ahead) caught and passed Keke and 2 laps before the end, he ground to a halt. It's worth remembering it had been 8 races since Keke had needed to watch fuel. It's also worth remembering Keke had messed up in Belgium as well, and would go on to do so on a regular basis at McLaren, suggesting he may have lacked self discipline in this area, racing more with his heart than his head, but logically, what's the point limping around frustratedly out of the points because your engine is too inefficient to stay competitive anywhere other than street tracks? Classified 8th, it was another bad race after having shown such promise, and did nothing to improve driver-team relations.

The Nature of His Departure

At Zandvoort, Frank still hadn't decided who would take the number 2 seat. Understandably, Laffite wasn't to be retained, having failed to show any speed or progress, to which Keke felt sad as they had got on well. Frank wanted Senna, but Senna had already signed at Lotus to replace the sporadic Mansell who had been the Lotus number 2 for 5 seasons largely on account of De Angelis' wallet, but also because De Angelis had proved the most mature. Mansell and De Angelis were well matched for speed, but De Angelis was the most dependable, making Mansell a flawed proposition. Frank asked Derek Warwick to race for him but revealingly, and perhaps a vindication of Keke's ability and Williams' troubles, Warwick turned Frank down, accepting a renewal offer with Renault instead, feeling they had the better prospects; small wonder Keke was left feeling frustrated with the idea of another year at Williams.

Mansell had raced for Lotus for 5 seasons. He had five 3rd places, a string of crashes, and a very public feud with Peter Warr who had been obliged to honour Mansell's long term contract ("the only time Colin Chapman had ever shown weakness"), despite stating that Nigel Mansell would "never win a race so long as I have an ar$ehole". As two men with massive egos, they had clashed badly, and Keke Rosberg, who had got on very well working with Warr over 3 seasons, was no doubt influenced by his friend's feud, trusting Warr's judgement and coming down on Peter Warr's side by assuming Mansell was an unreasonable man to work with. In Dallas, after Keke had battled with Mansell, he described Nigel's driving as "Not up to professional standards". He clearly held a dim view.

Patrick ran out of patience in Zandvoort and told Frank to make up his mind; the team would make it work whomever Frank chose, (Keke's feelings be damned) and after consulting Keke and disregarding his feelings, the deed was done. Frank left the Motorhome and signed Nigel Mansell as a fast but fragile number 2 to Keke. For Keke, it was the final straw. He hadn't been enjoying the team atmosphere, and this was only going to make it worse. The announcement was made in Monza that Nigel Mansell would be partnering Keke Rosberg for 1985, and the media had a field-day.

Keke (speaking in 1984, when still under contract)
"It takes no imagination to realise that by Monza the atmosphere in the team was electric. My services had been assigned to Williams for 1985, so there wasn't any point discussing alternative plans. However, at Monza Frank announced that Nigel Mansell was going to join the team. Everyone, inside and outside the team knew that that was not exactly my wish. I've always liked Mansell privately. I criticise only his working relationships. The team was already under considerable stress and I felt that Nigel was only likely to increase that stress. I knew there had been tensions around Nigel in F2 and it is no secret that he did not enjoy a perfectly happy relationship within Lotus. I know Elio De Angelis, Peter Warr and Ducarouge pretty well. Frank had decided quite rightly that was running team Williams. Frank asked his number one driver what he thought. I told Frank what I thought. "You'll get along" he said. "It wont be a problem. to which I say "amen, god I hope so."

Keke (speaking many years later)
"The only time I ever had a cross word with Frank was when he told me Mansell was joining the team. I said I didn't want him and I was leaving. Frank said "no you're not" I insisted that I didn't want to stay but Frank held me to my contract. Unfortunately that moment affected my thinking about the team because I decided to leave as soon as I could. I paid my dues until the end and then left, but only because I said I would without really considering the quality of the team and the promising future if I had decided to stay. "

In all likelihood, Mansell's signing was merely the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of Keke's relationship with the team. By this point, the lingering memory of Frank's "disloyalty" in trying to trade Keke in 1982, the frustration of the second half of 1983, which had rolled into 1984, the unresolved issue with the flexing cylinder blocks and engine mounts leading to a festering standoff and the breakdown in relations with Patrick Head, and the lack of certainty that he would ever be listened to or that it would ever be solved for 1985 were surely all factors in Keke resolving to leave, and not all put secondary to a concern that Mansell may not, according to Warr, be a nice man to have to work with. I had suspected before that, like Prost joining Williams and Mansell leaving, that Keke had felt threatened by Mansell's speed, and didn't like having his reputation put at risk, but I honestly don't think that's the case; I think Rosberg felt he could handle anyone. The real issue was the lack of cooperation it represented in a relationship with Head and Williams that had already reached rock bottom..

All the team's hopes had hanged on this Engine partnership, but the season had been a crushing disappointment despite flashes of promise, and development had reached an impasse'. Rosberg had publicly criticised the team, refused to drive in Austria, and those are all signs of a breakdown in relationship between team and driver. Small wonder with Mansell's arrival, and Williams' refusal to respect his concerns, Keke decided he had had enough, and if anything, that resolution was the key that enabled Keke and Mansell to get on in 1985; they weren't fighting for control over Williams- and further, Keke found Mansell an unexpected ally, backing him up on car behaviour and getting Patrick to trust his word. Mansell was effectively being groomed by Rosberg, with no title at stake, and with none of the gamesmanship that would affect Mansell in later seasons, but all that was in the future, and Keke still had a miserable season to finish.

1984 Italian GP
Q 6 / 13 (Laffite- 26-3)
R Turbo / Turbo
63 Lauda
20.5 Rosberg
5 Laffite

In the spotlight and with a point to prove, Keke was 6th on the grid, underlining what an anomaly 19th in Hockenheim was, veering between defiance, anger, frustration and despondence.

A poor start dropped Keke to 9th, losing 2 further places on lap 1. Running 2 or 3 places clear of Laffite, both turbo's failed by lap 10, and that was the end of another miserable weekend.

1984 European GP (Nurburgring)
Q 4 / 14 (Laffite- 27-3)
R Collision / Turbo
66 Lauda
20.5 Rosberg
5 Laffite

An impressive 4th in qualifying on this smooth new track, it was made all the more impressive as his engine blew exiting the final corner, and despite the fact that Keke professed to hate the track.

"The circuit was computer planned and designed, but it still has to be driven by human beings. I finds driving there just about as exciting as playing a video game."

Keke got away well, but in the middle phase of acceleration, his engine sputtered, allegedly a misfire, perhaps a premature upshift, leaving him to drop to 8th into turn 1. Having recovered back up to speed, Senna behind outbraked everyone in order to slam into the back of Rosberg, wiping both out and extending Rosberg's miserable run further.

"He flew right over me. When I got out of the car I asked him what happened. He said he was hit up the backside by Surer. But when I looked at the pictures after the race, I couldn't find Surer within 27 miles of him; he wasn't even on the same side of the track."

A great qualifying, Keke was blameless in the race.

Short Highlights if you can face it

1984 Portuguese GP
Q 4 / 15 (Laffite- 28-3)
R Engine / 14
66 Lauda
20.5 Rosberg
5 Laffite

"There was only Estoril left, about which I had fond memories of fantastic races in F2- the track had really been changed into a super track for F1. On the day, it was very muddy from construction. There was zero grip, speeds were kept low and suddenly the car was competitive again from the word go."

Described as putting in a meteoric qualifying lap by Murray Walker, Keke Rosberg was hellbent on ensuring the FW09 went out with a bang- one way or another- and no title fight was going to get in his way.

Roaring into the lead from 4th, using a little grass to avoid the recklessly veering Senna, Keke rallycrossed his way to pull out a staggering lead on lap 1, as his teammate dropped back from 15th. Watching Keke's opening laps, sliding and twitching his evil shed of a car, and actually pulling away from everyone has to go down as one of the all-time great feats of driving. When Prost eventually chauffeured his dominant McLaren up to the visibly outmatched Rosberg, needing to win for the championship, Keke was having none of it, flinging his car to exit the final corner, taking an inside line and outbraking Prost. Quite how Rosberg was able to make a nuisance of himself in Portugal remains one of F1's greatest driving feats- just as in Dallas, the low grip gave Keke the opportunity to slide the understeering FW09 around the corners, and allowed Keke's peerless car control and reflexes to come to the fore as his rivals were put to the test; every corner was a scintillating rollercoaster ride.

Pure Awesomeness

Eventually, after some stand up heroics in defence, Prost got through, leaving Keke to serve Mansell a piece of the same dish Mansell cooked for him in Dallas, slamming the door into turn 1 and forcing Nigel onto the grass. Talk about releasing some frustration! Keke came desperately close to forcing a collision with a driver set to be his teammate from the next Grand Prix on; perhaps the only time I felt dubious about his tactics, even if they were in retaliation.

"After about 8 laps I knew it was all over. I spoke to Alboreto after the race and he said the same thing; eventually the car beat the tyres."

Lotus, Ferrari and Williams were on Goodyears, and Keke's pace at the start meant he suffered with degradation sooner than Mansell which enabled him to pass, before all the Goodyear runners came under pressure from Senna's Pirelli-shod Toleman, and Lauda's Michelin shot McLaren. Senna passed Keke, demoting him to 4th, and from 4th, on lap 39 Keke's engine failed, and his season was over. What can you say? A brilliant effort, relegated to a mere footnote in history due to tyre-wear and and an Engine failure. Keke would have been disappointed with 5th, Laffite rounded out his Williams career in 14th.

1984 Season Review

In a season of 16 races, Keke retired from 8 Grand Prix with unreliable equipment. He retired from 1 race being wiped out by Senna, he felt the car undriveable in another, which only left 6 point scoring opportunities, Laffite had 5. Keke picked up 20.5 pts, Laffite 5 pts. Keke was 8th in the drivers championship, Laffite was 14th. Had it not been for Rosberg, 1984 would have been a total disaster for Williams. On 13 occasions Keke was able to qualify the FW09 in the top 10, often in the top 4. Laffite managed it on just one occasion in 8th at the Dutch GP. The season was a transitional, learning year for both Williams and Rosberg, and a development year for Honda. The engine was impractical; it was flawed, as was the way it was packaged, and the car was overweight, and that left the drivers with perhaps the biggest driving challenge of their careers.

It's possible to see 1984 from 2 points of view. One is that a car with a powerful engine capable of qualifying in the top 3 only looked on for scoring podiums roughly 4 times, making this perhaps Keke's least consistent season, one which he allowed his lack of technical knowledge and his frustrations at adapting to a new driving challenge to increasingly get the better of him and affect his performance on track- getting lapped, qualifying 21st, parking the car etc.

The alternative view is that to have featured at the sharp end at all represented a tremendous feat of skill and bravery; far more challenging than flinging an underpowered nimble car through corners like in 1982, and 1983, even if that was far easier for fans to watch and appreciate. There is no getting away from the fact that in every single race, Keke was faster than his teammate, once lapping Laffite twice despite Laffite having no issues. His charges in Belgium, Zandvoort and Hockenheim, and his drives in South Africa and Monaco were all admirable, and his drives in Portugal and Dallas were perhaps two of the greatest feats ever accomplished behind the wheel of a Williams. In the middle of adversity comes the greatest opportunity to excel, and on several occasions, in particular during qualifying, Keke's efforts were off the scale in terms of achieving something which simply didn't look on.

Extracting the best from the FW09 and the Honda required massive confidence; there was no easy limit to hit; it wasn't a case of someone more professional being likely to string together a better run; with such a knife-edge package, there was no middle ground. Getting performance required acts of brilliance that were sadly impossible to appreciate outside the cockpit, barring Portugal and Dallas where his sliding skills were easy to spot. Keke was forced to deal with a flexing package, an overweight chassis, and and a hopelessly impractical engine. Only Laffite had to endure the same challenge as Rosberg, and the chasm which opened up between them was a reflection of how Keke was able to rise to the challenge when another multiple grand prix winner could not. In the races, Williams generally suffered due to unreliability, but also poor tyre wear and fuel economy, and it's hard not to consider that the overweight chassis, and violent power delivery contributed to both these issues.

1984 was a fraught, polarising season. It's a shame the car was butt ugly. It's a shame the car was overweight, its a shame the Engine was both unraceable and unreliable. it's a shame Keke had to endure a second season out of title contention. It's a shame Williams didn't discover the cause of Keke's complaints until after he had resolved to leave, and it's a shame Keke seemed at times to lose his motivation and focus. 1984 was the darkest period for Keke and Williams and yet it still contained some of the brightest moments, by scoring Honda's first ever turbo win against all the odds, and making the FW09 look drivable at times when in reality, it wasn't. 1984 was the hardest test of Keke's career, magnifying Keke's strengths and weaknesses. By maintaining the same edge over Laffite he had in 1983 when he had been driving better than ever, it's tempting to conclude that Keke had done as equally good a job in 1984, and arguably, a far more significant one; Imagine Honda's attitude had Keke not been around to give Williams an air of respectability?

During 1984, Brian O'Rourke, a stress engineer had been given the massive challenge of working out the tooling, buying the facilities, extending the factory and installing an autoclave in order to prepare Williams for the manufacture of carbon fibre.

Brian O'Rourke
"I had the feeling that Patrick slightly resented having to go down this carbon fibre route, as in 'bloody John Barnard has gone and built a carbon fibre chassis for McLaren. @#$%& it, now we're all going to have to do the same."

Glad to be rid of the FW09, Keke got his hands on the FW10 in testing, and it was an instant improvement, proving to be much lighter and stiffer. The engine was the same; all power or nothing in a very narrow band, making it very fuel inefficient, but it was at least mounted properly, and after Honda sent out two technical consultants late in 1984 to witness the car and the unreliability, they came around to accepting that there was, perhaps an issue, and would have a more drivable, and hopefully more reliable engine ready for Canada 1985. For Keke, it was time to enjoy his racing again. Better still, during 1985, Nigel and Keke quickly resolved their differences.

Nigel Mansell
"It was wonderful to be teammates with Keke. It was difficult initially because how can one formulate an opinion about someone who slags you off in the press so terribly? I did a bit of soul searching and Keke and I got together to set this straight. I said "If you think I'm a c*** then tell me". He denied this was true. We gelled within a matter of a few weeks testing and racing. We went from strength to strength. He admitted he'd been wrong about me, explaining that he'd been fed poisonous propaganda before I joined Williams. You knew where you stood with Keke. He was straight, a great guy."

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 30 January, 2015 15:53

1985 Brazillian GP
Q 2 / 5 (Mansell -1.0 (1-0)
R Turbo / Exhaust
9 Prost
0 Rosberg
0 Mansell

Nigel Mansell was an extremely fast racing driver, keen to prove to Peter Warr and the whole world just how fast he was in every session of every weekend. Keke was 1 second faster, managing the horrible Honda power delivery with more skill, and more bravery, and extracting the maximum out of the new chassis to qualify 2nd, 1 tenth behind Alboreto's Ferrari. Bam.

At the start, Keke and Nigel both got great starts, Keke taking the lead into turn 1, whilst Mansell in 2nd was ahead, marginally on the outside of Alboreto, but he tried to bully Alboreto onto the grass, collided with Michele, and spun out of the race which was to ultimately cost Williams the chance of winning.

Keke's opening lap was sublime, blipping the engine on/off/on/off through the turns, sliding the car spectacularly on the exit, and doing it with far more confidence now he was in a lighter car with less understeer and more direct feel, opening up a 2.5 second lead on the first lap alone, thanks primarily to him being the bravest and most spectacular on the throttle. Keke's dander was up.

Race Start and opening laps

As Alboreto and Lauda started stalking him in generally faster packages at this point in the season, Keke looked fairly safe hanging onto the lead, inducing oversteer on entry and exits to entertaining effect until his turbo failed and denied him a possible win.

A classic drive whilst it lasted, proving once again Keke was one of the fastest- if not THE fastest driver in the business.

1985 Portuguese GP
Q 3 / 9 (Mansell -1.7 (2-0)
R Spin / 5
12 Alboreto
2 Mansell
0 Rosberg

Beating Mansell by a staggering 1.7 seconds in qualifying, there was a risk this would rapidly go the same way as Laffite.

The race was waterlogged, and the Honda was still 100% on/off, leaving both drivers a difficult job. Mansell spun on the parade lap and Keke undid all his good work by stalling from 3rd and requiring a push-start. Mansell spun again, and Keke, up racing backmarkers, spun out of the Parabolica and losing the engine in the middle of the track. This was the first time since Monaco 1983 that Keke had crashed out through his own fault, despite racing the horrible FW09 and the violent Honda engine, making this race a rare blip on any otherwise exemplary record. Mansell carried on, slowly, to finish 2 laps down in 5th, but the fact he finished and Keke didn't had more to do with luck than anything else, having made his own errors and escaped unscathed.

A very challenging circumstance, a poor result. Keke had not finished a race since Dallas 1984.

1985 San Marino GP
Q 2 / 7 (Mansell -0.8 (3-0)
R Brakes / 5
16 De Angelis
4 Mansell
0 Rosberg

Another superb qualifying left Keke 0.027 seconds short of his first Pole since Brazil 1983, Mansell was over three quarters of a second behind; Nigel's best effort yet, underlining just how phenomenally talented Keke was, and how difficult Mansell was finding adapting to the challenging Honda engine characteristics.

Another poor start left Keke 5th ahead of Mansell in 6th. This was the first opportunity all season to directly compare race pace, and Keke rapidly left Mansell behind as Piquet queued up and passed Mansell. Eventually, Piquet and Lauda passed both Williamses, demoting Rosberg to 7th in what became a fuel management contest, Rosberg repassing Piquet for a distant 6th. Then Johanssons Ferrari with a faulty fuel gauge came charging through, and Keke was forced to retire with brake failure on lap 23. It was Keke's 10th successive retirement.

A hard race to read, it's possible the Engine's fuel inefficiency was the reason Williams were so fast in qualifying, and so slow in the race. Most of the leaders ran out of fuel in the end, allowing Boutsen's Arrows to sneak 2nd, and suggesting that despite appearances, Keke was playing it smart and was headed for a very good result.

1985 Monaco GP
Q 8 / 2 (Mansell +0.8 (3-1)
R 8 / 7
20 De Angelis
4 Mansell
0 Rosberg

Having outqualified De Angelis on all four of his visits to Monaco, Mansell finally turned the tables on Keke, leaving the Finn 8th, 0.8 seconds adrift.

Retaining 8th at the start, Rosberg passed a very slow Mansell, who seemed to be majorly down on power. With attrition, Rosberg worked his way up to 4th with little pace himself, half a minute behind, and holding up De Cesaris of all people; ironic given it had been roles reversed here in 1982. Pitting for new tyres made little difference other than to give Nigel back the initiative, both Williamses proving hopelessly off the pace, Mansell finishing 7th, 1 lap down, Keke 8th, 2 laps down after a very dull, glaringly off-colour performance. I can only assume both were nursing issues, perhaps with the Turbo or Engine. With no points and perpetual unreliability, 1985 was beginning to look a lot like 1984.

1985 Canadian GP
Q 8 / 16 (Mansell -1.7 (4-1)
R 4 / 6
27 Alboreto
5 Mansell
3 Rosberg

8th for Rosberg was the best he could manage, the new engine with it's progressive delivery wasn't an instant success, and had probably taken a few sessions to get used to; all that was to change by Sunday. Mansell was back in 16th a whopping 1.7 seconds behind. Normal service had been resumed.

Keke got a great start, passing Boutsen but boxed in, preventing him from bettering 7th. Senna pitted for 5 laps with major issues from the lead just as Keke passed Prost promoting him to 5th. However, Keke immediately pulled in for unscheduled early stop around lap 10, where not a great deal looked to be happening, dropping Keke off the radar, as Mansell worked his way past Cheever into 6th, and Keke appeared almost a lap down on Alboreto the leader.

With 51 laps gone, having pitted again, Keke was still over 1 minute behind the leader, in 7th, but travelling at an incredible speed, as he and Senna were consistently the fastest 2 cars on track. Off camera, he screamed past Tambay and Mansell, having a spectacular spin on his first attempt on Tambay as he pulled out from behind the Renault and touched the grass. By lap 65, he was up to 5th, 38 seconds down on Alboreto the leader, 12 seconds down on De Angelis, but 23 seconds clear of Mansell in 6th. His speed was absolutely staggering.


Within 2 laps he made up a 12 second deficit to catch and pass De Angelis, powersliding out of the first hairpin and whipping past the Lotus as if it was travelling in slow motion, Keke either with far more boost due to more fuel on board, or phenomenally better grip. When Keke was on it, in 1985 it was more mindblowing than ever as Keke looked like he was on another planet.

pass on De Angelis

By the chequored flag Keke finished just 27 seconds down on Alboreto, 16 seconds clear of De Angelis, and 50 seconds clear of Mansell after an amazing charge, taking anything between 3 - 6 seconds a lap out of everyone bar Senna for most of the race, and literally took an entire lap out of both De Angelis and Mansell. But for that unscheduled stop, Keke would have won the Canadian Grand Prix. An awesome recovery drive, almost totally off camera and making Mansell look like a journeyman. Simply jaw-dropping.

1985 Detroit GP
Q 5 / 2 (Mansell +1.0 (4-2)
R 1 / Accident
31 Alboreto
12 Rosberg
5 Mansell

Keke was 1 second down on Mansell in qualifying, lining up 5th, as Williams looked generally competitive. For such a fast driver, 1 second was a disappointing margin to lose by to his number 2. Either Keke had got in a rut qualifying in Detroit, his 3rd successive poor showing, or he was setting up a show for Sunday, preferring the role of hunter...

Keke was up to 4th at the start, driving onto the dirt to avoid Alboreto who missed a gear. Keke was immediately hustling Prost, passing him for 3rd under breaking on lap 1, before getting immediately onto Mansell's gearbox, passing Mansell off-camera to take 2nd in another classic Keke opening lap. Swarming all over Senna at the start of lap 2, he looked unstoppable until Senna picked up the pace and the pair rapidly dropped the rest, Keke having a cheeky surprise attack every now and again.

Just like so much classic driving of Keke's, the idiot race director missed Keke's pass on Senna for the lead of the Detroit Grand Prix. Unleashed, Keke screamed away, flinging his car around the low grip track in a manner now familiar, but no less thrilling to watch, opening out a 14 second lead over Mansell in 12 laps.

Unable to keep safely within 1 second of Keke's laptimes, Mansell slid off in 2nd, joined by Prost and Senna in the same wall. Now with the luxury of a pitstop lead over Johansson, Keke took the opportunity to pit for fresh tyres and to clear out a couple of happy meals from his sidepods.

Rosberg Race Highlights- rare Rosberg verbal commentary!

Never the less, he still had the speed to open up a 57 second lead again; a rampant display of utter dominance to score his 4th Career win with Williams. After his performance in Canada, the new engine had transformed Keke's season and now he was looking like a serious championship outside threat, despite failing to score in the first 4 races.

As an aside, his commentary really hammers home how intelligent and knowledgable he is, and how excellent his english was, even back then, leading me to feel the rumours that he was technically poor and unable to communicate were generally misplaced. Was it Keke's fault the team couldn't find the cause of the problem in 1984? I think a big difference between Jones and Keke was that Jones worked with Head on a simple and successful ground effect car that was born well, and Keke worked with Head on the fundamentally flawed FW09, and Head didn't like what Keke had to say. The Engine mounts were never fixed, and the car was always overweight despite Keke explaining the car felt soft and understeering, so it's understandable Keke's relationship with the team had soured.

1985 French GP
Q 1 / 8 (Mansell) -1.7 (5-2)
R 2 / DNS
31 Alboreto
18 Rosberg
5 Mansell

Mansell had to sit out most of the second qualifying session and the race, injured after having a major tyre delamination when 0.7 seconds slower than the time Keke carried over from Friday. He was injured and forced to miss the rest of the weekend. Unconcerned the same could happen to him, Keke jumped in the car, flashed past the now cleared scene at 200 mph, and found another second to score his and Williams' first Pole since Brazil 1983. Frank was suitably impressed.

Going into the fast sweeping turns 1 and 2 with Senna alongside him at the start, the director broke the golden rule and looked away from the leaders. Rosberg emerged ahead. Some of Keke's most classic moments have never been seen, and this was another one.

Keke initially pulled away in the lead, opening up the Honda down the Mistral straight, but the race was scorchingly hot, and Piquet, who had been hobbled on rock hard Pirellis all year, found his tyres were perfectly suited, passing Senna and catching Rosberg. As Keke realised his tyres were hopelessly outmatched, some of the sliding moves he used to keep Piquet at bay are once again, spectacular.

6 mins in

I just love how hard Keke fought for everything; how on the edge he looked to defend a doomed lead. A perfect Williams driver. Eventually, Piquet passed Keke easily on the entry to a right-hander, only for Keke to power-slide the FW10 on the exit in a last ditch effort to take back the lead; to no avail. Why can't drivers race like this nowadays?

Still, fighting Piquet had damaged Keke's tyres further, and the McLarens caught him, Keke holding them off for lap after lap as Lauda got very close on the straights and Keke measured his lines, deciding when to block off Lauda and when not to in a 200mph game of chess. Lauda's engine then gave out, unleashing Prost, and the gloves really came off, Prost with the faster car, Keke with far more self-assurance in wheel to wheel situations. Prost was eventually forced to pass Keke down a dirty inside line into the fast first chicane.

Prost / Lauda / Rosberg

Demoted to 3rd, Keke decided to stop for new tyres, emerging in 4th before passing De Angelis, and going on a charge. On lap 44, he was 25 seconds behind Prost, 38 behind Piquet. On the final lap he was 1.5 seconds behind Prost; halfway round the lap, he was already through, and back to 2nd behind the Pirelli shod Piquet. By keeping Prost back for so long, he was able to stretch the first stint long enough to have fresh tyres right to the end, and by opting to stop, then pass Prost, not only had he outraced Le Proffesseur, he had out-thought him too. A Champions drive.

Short Summary

1985 British GP (Silverstone)
Q 1 / 5 (Mansell) -1.0 (6-2)
R Exhaust / Clutch
37 Alboreto
18 Rosberg
5 Mansell

Keke Rosberg was fastest in qualifying until a light shower interrupted the session. The cooler weather and drying track saw Senna and Piquet threaten his Pole. Keke flicked his cigarette to the floor, ground it with his heel, reached for his helmet and said "okay, let's do it". On a still-damp track, with between 1,000-1,250bhp under his foot, Keke was the first man to complete an F1 lap at an average speed above 160mph; a record which lasted more than 19 years until Montoya beat it at Monza in 2004, making it one of the most celebrated Poles in F1 history. Mansell was 1 second adrift in 5th.

Frank Williams
“I remember Keke’s 160mph pole lap at Silverstone. It was a typical Rosberg lap: ballsy, flamboyant and swashbuckling. People ask me what he said when he got out of the car, but I think he just looked at me and went “puff, puff” on his cigarette!"

Nice interview and grid footage

Keke got a great start, Senna in 4th got an amazing one, passing Keke around the outside of Copse. Keke, had a few looks at Senna into Stowe for the next few laps, with Mansell in 3rd. Keke was spectacular sliding his way through the woodcote chicane as Mansell was left trailing a long way behind, losing out to De Cesaris and Prost. Keke then started falling back rapidly towards Prost, who pulled a very brave move on Keke for 2nd into Woodcote. Losing a lot of time over the next 5 laps Keke pulled in with a damaged exhaust to retire on lap 23. It's unclear when exactly the issue began, so it's impossible to tell whether without it he had the pace to win this race, but with Senna slowing for fuel having run too hard early on, it's fair to say for the 4th race in a row, a win for Keke had looked very possible. Never the less, he was Williams' best driver once again, doing an excellent job to have kept on top of the highly talented Brit so far that year. Good drive. Awesome qualifying lap, the sniff of a championship was slipping away, now 19 pts behind after Alboreto, who was far slower, picked up 2nd.

Short Highlights

1985 German GP (Nurburgring)
Q 4 / 10 (Mansell) -0.7 (7-2)
R Brakes / 6
46 Alboreto
18 Rosberg
6 Mansell

A wet Saturday allowed Fabi's Toleman to sneak Pole based on Friday times, Keke behind Johansson and Prost in 4th, well ahead of Mansell once again at this "video game" track to go 7-2 up against the"greatest" Williams driver elect.

At the start, Keke cleared all 3 ahead, and would have led into turn 1 if Senna hadn't outbraked him remarkably from 5th. Getting a brilliant exit onto the back straight on lap 1, Keke passed Senna to take the lead off him for the 3rd time in 4 races, and finally, the move was caught on camera.

first 5 mins=start and lead lap

Opening up a 2 second lead, Senna then started to catch Rosberg. A daring late lunge into the hairpin got Senna through quite surprisingly, outbraking Keke once again from a seemingly safe position, and Keke putting up no resistance. Rosberg fell 7 seconds back until Senna came into the pits on lap 27 with a broken CV joint, leaving Keke with a 6 second lead over Alboreto, with Mansell a further 15 seconds down in 5th. The race win looked in the bag.

The gap from Keke to Alboreto and Prost behind slowly came down until, 20 laps later, Alboreto surprisingly caught Keke and he too tried a late move into the last turn, barging Keke out of the way in what looked like a bit of an unplanned moment of improvisation on Alboreto's part and Prost followed immediately through. As it turned out, Keke had been managing gradually worsening fading brakes, explaining how he had been so fast initially only to be gradually caught. He had the power to recatch Prost down the straight, and he had the speed in the corners, but he had no performance in the braking zones which was why everyone had been able to make late, improvised moves on him under braking. By lap 58, the situation had deteriorated to the point that he fell to 5th over a minute behind Alboreto before dropping out of the points and retiring 6 laps before the end.

A crying shame, Keke had the speed to win, and unreliability had done for him again. He could have won in Brazil, Canada, Britain and here, and now found himself 28 points down on Alboreto having suffered a 13 point swing here, and an 11 point swing in Britain alone. Having poor reliability hurt Keke badly in 1985. He had the speed to mount a championship challenge that was never allowed to get off the ground. A super job managing fading brakes for almost an entire race distance, this was another top job from Williams' number 1, with a championship winning run of consistent performance. It was also impressive how he kept it on the road and led for so long despite his championship chances being cruelly strangled corner by corner. Mature stuff.

1985 Austrian GP
Q 4 / 2 (Mansell) +0.3 (7-3)
R Oil pressure / Engine
50 Alboreto
18 Rosberg
6 Mansell

A much improved job from Mansell saw him pinch 3 tenths on Keke to qualify 2nd, Keke 4th.

Rosberg was trapped behind Mansell who fluffed his start, before getting around him in 4th, passing Patrese and charging up to Lauda until the race was restarted.

Mansell did the same again on the restart, Keke reacting instantly to swerve around him and having enough momentum to beat Lauda for 2nd- great start. Harrying Prost initially for the lead, Keke settled down a second behind Alain, with a gap on Lauda and Mansell a distant 6th in traffic. On lap 4, Keke, still a close 2nd, slowed and pulled into the pits, this time with an oil pressure failure. Another possible win gone, another top job by Keke. The growing list of missed opportunities was beginning to mount up, and at this stage, the gap in terms of potential between the two drivers was marked; 6 races in succession Keke had looked like a possible winner, whereas Mansell hadn't come close.

Short Highlights

1985 Dutch GP
Q 2 / 7 (Mansell) -1.0 (8-3)
R Engine / 6

56 Prost
18 Rosberg
7 Mansell

Handing Mansell his a*** once again, 1 second clear, Rosberg was 2nd to a surprise Piquet on pole. Piquet failed to get away, and Rosberg pulled out a 2 second lead on Senna, with Mansell back in 6th.

Start 6mins, Rosberg leading 8:30

Looking untroubled in the lead, Prost eventually cleared Senna and caught Keke. Looking fairly secure from Prost, albeit slower around this twisty track, Keke's engine blew 20 laps in, forcing Keke to retire from the lead. This was getting a bit rich.

Rosberg's smoky end and pit arrival, 3-5mins

This was Keke's 4th successive mechanical failure whilst either leading, or in with a shout of winning on merit. Whether Keke would have beaten Prost isn't the point. Ever since Canada, 7 races ago, Keke had left Mansell trailing in his wake and been good enough either to win or finish a competitive second, which is the kind of consistency of form which normally makes world champions. After Keke's resolution to leave the team last year, this frustrating run of sustained unreliability, now lasting over 1 and a half seasons, was hardly likely to sway him when a reliable championship winning McLaren seat looked on the cards. Keke had been a top driver for 4 years, and this was his 3rd successive season where he had been taken out of title contention due to his equipment as Prost won and opened up a 38 pt lead over Keke: it was all over. He wasn't the only one feeling frustrated.

1985 Italian GP
Q 2 / 3 (Mansell) -0.3 (9-3)
R Engine / Engine
65 Prost
18 Rosberg
7 Mansell

2nd on the grid, another good qualifying to go 9-3 up on Mansell in qualifying head to heads, Keke got a good start with a slight lead into turn 1 over Senna who was on the inside- a dangerous proposition. Keke left barely enough room, Senna went on the kerbs and by luck or judgement, avoided hitting Keke's back end, getting jumped by Mansell on the exit.

Williams ran 1/2 for the first time since Monaco 1983, Keke leading, Mansell second until Mansell slowed with an electrical glitch. At this power-track, the rest were left trailing, Keke opening out 9 seconds on Prost and 21 seconds on De Angelis in 3rd by lap 12. The only thing that could stop Keke from winning at a canter was unreliability. Keke never got the opportunity to dominate a championship in a Williams like Prost or Mansell, but that didn't mean he couldn't routinely race at the front, as this lengthy spell illustrated; it was only reliability that separated Keke from the other 2, and that's overlooking the fact that in Mansell's hands, the FW10 rarely looked in contention. Further, you could hardly consider the FW10 to be on the same level as the FW14 and FW15 in terms of it's potential to dominate, as the latter 2 cars both enjoyed a clear technological advantage over its rivals and had the benefit of an aerodynamic genius. Keke had none of this, and it didn't matter; he didn't need it. All he needed was reliability.

After pitting and falling a lap down, Mansell was able to just about keep up with Keke, keeping within 2 seconds of him. Keke didn't look remotely spectacular - no kerbs, no sliding, but the pair were easing away from Prost so it was a decent performance from Mansell, even if Keke, after Prost went fastest, responded by opening up a 13 second lead on Alain, dropping Mansell as Nigel encountered traffic.

Then Keke pitted. Whether it was to correct a fault, or opt for fresh tyres is unclear; Keke hadn't looked like he had been trying flat out to build a lead on Prost; but it looked moot as Keke on fresh tyres hunted down Prost rapidly, passing him with ease half way down the straight exiting Ascari.

Rosberg's charge- 1:30-7:00

With just 8 laps to go and a long overdue 2nd win of the season in his sights, his FW10 started trailing smoke and he came into the pits to retire; another 9 pts had gone up in smoke. This was his 5th successive mechanical failure, making it 8 from 12 races. Prost scored 5 wins in 1985, but 4 of them were at Keke's expense. A similar argument could be made the other way around in 1982, but Prost enjoyed competitive, and often domianant machinery throughout his career which enabled him to rack up 51 wins, whereas Keke's career haul of wins grossly undersells the routine awesome speed he was able to extract from whatever equipment he was stuck with. Keke was a force to be reckoned with in the 1980's; when he had the equipment, he could dominate, when he didn't have the equipment, he settled for heroics.

Short Highlights

1985 Belgian GP
Q 10 / 7 (Mansell) +0.7 (9-4)
R 4 / 2
69 Prost
21 Rosberg
13 Mansell

A rare poor session left Keke way down in 10th, though how much Keke and Mansell's qualifying sessions were affected by factors like reliability is unknown. Boxed in at the start, Keke gained 2 places courtesy of an incident. The track was damp and drying, Senna led, Mansell was 3rd, Rosberg 8th, before passing De Angelis and Boutsen, only for the cheeky Belgian Arrows driver to repass him for 6th; as we know, he was a specialist both in the wet, and at Spa. After Alboreto spun, Keke was gifted 6th.

As a dry line emerged on a still wet track, Mansell had been making a better fist of the conditions on wet tyres, passing Prost for 2nd, so Keke made a brave call and was the first to switch to slicks, dropping to 17th, 1 minute down, before immediately banging in a fastest lap. As we had seen several times before, Keke was in his element improvising on slicks in low- grip conditions, and his confidence allowed the tyres to warm up faster than the rest. As Hunt slammed the "stupidity" of the rest for not coming in, my impression was they were perfectly aware of how fast Keke was going and yet they doubted very much that they could do the same and go any faster on slicks in what was still a very wet track. Once the leaders eventually plucked up confidence to put on slicks (a hilariously long time) Keke was up to 3rd, passing Prost and on another charge, exuberantly sliding the car through the bus stop and under breaking into La Source. After Mansell recovered from a quick spin, Keke slowly closed the gap to Mansell to around 5 seconds with Prost lurking behind him.

A brief shower saw Prost drop back and Mansell have another spin, allowing Keke to close right onto his gearbox, and the battle raged, Keke launching his car out of Stavelot, Rivage, having looks into La Source; it was briefly broken up by lapping Boutsen in 5th, only for Keke to catch Nigel immediately.

Rosberg v Mansell 8:30
Battle Cont

Then with 2nd place almost in his grasp, Keke slowed dramatically, much like Mansell in Italy or himself in Canada, either with an electrical glitch or a puncture, because a quick stop solved the problem and, 20 seconds down on Alain, Keke was forced to settle for 4th.

So a mixed weekend. A poor qualifying and being outshone by his teammate on wets allowed Mansell 2 spins and still stay ahead, yet Keke was extremely brave on slicks in wet conditions to recover the situation, he was much faster in the dry, and he could still have been 2nd but for an issue with the car, so it was a net strong weekend for Keke, able to demonstrate to Mansell that he was still the faster man overall, despite Mansell scoring his first podium for Williams and showing lots of potential. Keke was a joy to behold in 1985.

1985 European GP
Q 4 / 3 (Mansell) +0.2 (9-5)
R 3 / 1
72 Prost
25 Rosberg
22 Mansell

Rosberg was pipped again in qualifying against an on-form Mansell, buoyed by his 2nd in Belgium and performing infront of his home crowd. Still, 4th was a good job.

Spectacular Qualifying Lap

Piquet pulled up short of his grid slot, forcing Keke out of his slot to make room. Nelson failed to get away, forcing Keke around him in a distant 3rd, but as Mansell and Senna forced each other wide, with an excellent exit from Paddock Hill bend, Keke made a bold move on Mansell into Druids, Mansell outbraked himself and Keke took 2nd, Mansell 4th, before swarming all over Senna for the lead. Marvellous speed and initiative to turn the tables so quickly on Mansell, same as in Austria.

Harrying Senna for the lead, Keke committed into Surtees. Keke's move was a little cheeky; he was not fully alongside. Keke was taking a chance, but he was probably asking Senna to modify his line through a long radius late entry corner, and the scene of many a side-by side dice rather than plain let him through. I think after the long run of misfortune Keke had suffered, Keke was probably being a little impatient. Added to that, Keke had passed Senna multiple times for the lead in 1985, making a pass seem inevitable. Finally, Keke had never, despite coming close, won, or even finished at Brands Hatch in a Williams, despite regularly starring, so all told, it makes sense that for once, he would miscalculate by over-committing.

Senna chose to turn in. Keke was left with no choice but to spin to avoid wiping both of them out. Keke was used to a more gentlemanly era where crashes were dangerous and to be avoided at all costs; he had never forced another driver into crashing in order to avoid hitting him before, because the risk is that next time around, they wont feel so courteous. What keeps that system working is if the guy behind respects that and doesn't start using it to gain an advantage, which, admittedly, Keke was doing a little here.

Keke was faced with the reality of a driver who was prepared to force an accident to teach a guy a lesson, and after he instinctively, and politely spun to avoid taking out Senna, he realised afterwards that by doing so, Senna was putting one over on him; on Keke; a World Champion. Senna had forced an incident, and Senna was still leading, whilst Keke was having to pit to repair a puncture, so his frustration was understandable, though a lot of that probably had something to do with a badly bruised ego, and a secret realisation that for once, he had miscalculated; Senna wasn't a soft touch and was prepared to have a crash in order to prove it.

For guys like Prost, it took him a long time before retaliating. For Keke? it took him as long as the pit exit before retaliating in his own, unique manner. A lap down, he blocked the leader, Senna into Druids in a delightful bit of role-reversal, allowing Mansell to pass Senna and costing Senna the lead. Not finished, he then allowed Mansell through before blocking Senna again, taking deliberate slow lines and spoiling his own comeback in the process, as he was faster than Mansell. Some could call it petulant; compounding his own error with a piece of unsporting driving, but Senna had cost Keke a lap due to his nihilistic driving attitude, and Keke wasn't about to sit down and politely wave him through.

Full Race- start/fight/crash/lap incident=10m-24m / Keke charge= 1:30-1:33

In short, it was perhaps fair they both made the podium. Keke had the speed to win, but he should have been a bit more circumspect, and for Senna there was something called Karma; don't force crashes and expect there to be no repurcussions. Rosberg and Senna had a clash of egos and the net winner was Mansell's.

Anyway, Keke's charge was brilliant; unlapping himself from Mansell and tearing off, gaining perhaps 20 seconds on an admittedly cruising Mansell as Keke was forced to clear car after car. From outside the top 20, he was up to 6th before storming up behind Prost and De Angelis in the closing stages, driving on another planet, and benefitting from Surers retirement to join Senna on a frosty podium, for them at least; neither bothering to spray the champagne. A super drive after that incident, underlining, as if it was necessary that Keke Rosberg and Williams was generally the fastest race combination in 1985. Another chance to win gone begging, if Keke had only forgotten all his built up frustration and been patient, (a tough ask admittedly) he could have added to his absurdly low wins total.

Re: The All Time Greatest Williams Drivers 2
crusty_bread 30 January, 2015 15:54

1985 South African GP
Q 3 / 1 (Mansell) +0.1 (9-6)
R 2 / 1
76 Prost
31 Mansell
31 Rosberg

Rosberg was pipped by Mansell by 1 tenth in qualifying to line up 3rd, Mansell no doubt buoyed up by his win, his massive ego now beginning to swell, and by doing so, he was presenting Keke with a bit of extra motivation. Mansell / Piquet was a thrilling fight, but it was tainted with politics and whining. Rosberg / Mansell would have been pure adrenaline on track; that is, if Mansell had the speed and confidence. 1985 evidence suggests he would have been hard pressed to beat Rosberg for speed across a whole race distance, and that was probably the reason why in 1985, Mansell often looked nowhere. On days like Hungary '86, or Italy '87, Piquet was plain faster and Mansell folded. I think Keke had been achieving the same thing from Canada - Dutch GP, and even since, after Mansell showed much improved pace, Keke still maintained an edge in the races.

Keke started well initially, rising to 2nd, but presumably he missed a gear because he slowed suddenly and dropped to 6th as Mansell pulled away in the lead. Outbraking Surers' Brabham for 5th halfway round lap 1, that put him right behind his friend Senna again, passing him safely down the main straight at the end of lap 2 for 4th. Bottling up his anger from Brands Hatch and venting it on the race track, his aggressive sliding lines were a major tell as he sought to get back on terms with Mansell. De Angelis was taken in the same way as Senna for 3rd the following lap, and Piquet's BMW proved no match for Keke's Honda at the end of lap 4. 6th to 2nd in 4 laps; impressive. But Keke wasn't done yet, hauling in Mansell and passing him easily into turn 1 to take the lead and stamp his authority over the race; and over his increasingly quick teammate.

Then cruel fate was to deny Keke a win once again, as Ghinzani's Toleman Hart blew up, dropping oil all over turn 1 where no yellows were waved. Martini arrived first; he spun and got going before the charging Finn arrived on the scene; he spun and dumped his car in the sand. Mansell, just behind, was able to witness Keke's fate and was just about able to lock up and stay on track. Now with dust everywhere and waved yellows, the rest were forewarned, and Keke, the sucker first on the scene, was able somehow to drive out of the sand and get back up to racing speed in 5th albeit 10 seconds down. Back up to speed, and passing De Angelis, Keke's dominance was so apparent Hunt called him the favourite still, despite being 4 places back, and in the same equipment as Mansell, but the damage had already been done, and Keke was snookered.

Sadly Keke's initial charge, the heat, the spin, the sand, and Keke's need to push hard to recover again, resulted in Keke's tyres wearing out first, Keke electing to pit on lap 27, but effectively, such was the heat and the wear across the field, he was already condemned to a 2 stopper- having no chance from behind with older tyres of winning once the rest stopped for their own fresh rubber a few laps later. It would have required him to spend half the race on older tyres than his rivals and overtake them, on tyres that had done 3 fifths race distance at a track where tyre life was critical; after half a race, everyone was limping, so Keke's only hope was to push, catch them, and pit again. By lap 40, Prost and Mansell made their 1 stop, and partly thanks to Keke's undercut, all 3 were within 5 seconds of each other when Rosberg made his final tyre change, dropping Keke over 30 seconds behind Mansell.

Setting a string of lap records in the final stint, monstering the kerbs, using the grass beyond the kerbs, laying down thick black lines everywhere, and deliberately putting his outside wheels in the dirt to force a controlled oversteer slide as his normal racing line, Keke caught Prost who put up no resistance, steaming into 2nd. Keke closed on Mansell at an alarming rate, but his task was impossible even for him, and he crossed the finish line 7.5 seconds down. So despite his bad start, and despite an extra stop, Keke finished within the 10 seconds+ he lost going off on the oil slick; Keke would have beaten Mansell. Frank Williams remembered this race 2 decades later as one of the rare moments that really made him smile, not because it was Mansell's second Win for Williams, but because it was the only time he had ever encountered a marshall who actively sought him out just to remark that in all their years of marshalling they had never seen anything like Keke monstering the same kerb for lap after lap using pure momentum; a kerb few people ever got near. Mansell described it as the hardest drive of his life, having Keke come at him twice and that he was very lucky having seen Keke's plight on the oil. For anyone still in doubt as to why Keke Rosberg is so revered, just watch this;

Rosberg's charge

Short Highlights

Mansell was now tied on 31 points with Keke, and technically ahead in 5th in the championship, with 2 wins to Keke's 1, which in no way fairly reflected the relative jobs each driver had done across the 1985 season, Keke having dominated for the majority of the season, and Mansell only winning at Keke's expense; Keke running into trouble when ahead in the last 2 races.

1985 Australian GP
Q 3 / 2 (Mansell) +1.3 (9-7)
R 1 / Transmission / Damage
76 Prost
40 Rosberg
31 Mansell

Having been fastest on Friday, Keke Rosberg, curiously, watched from the pitwall towards the end of Saturday when the track was at it's fastest in preparation for his final race with Williams, as Mansell and Senna, both feuding over a collision on friday, drove each other to ever greater heights. This left Keke 3rd on the grid.

Whether it was strategic or enforced, it worked out perfectly for Keke because on Sunday, Mansell and Senna collided once again on lap 1, with Senna doing precisely what Keke had done in Brands Hatch; commit speculatively from behind, and Mansell doing precisely what Senna had done; slam the door and force an incident. Mansell was punted wide, Senna lost momentum and Rosberg was leading with Mansell out and Senna 2nd.

In a race that was demanding on brakes, and extremely hot, brakes and tyres rather than raw speed would prove the limiting factor. For a while, Senna was faster, pressurising Rosberg as the pair dropped the rest, but after 10 laps, Senna fell back as his rear tyres faded, and Rosberg pulled out a 9 second lead over Senna, and a 20 second lead on Prost by lap 20.

But a combination of rapidly deteriorating tyres and bad traffic cost Rosberg a lot of time, allowing Senna to catch Keke. Keke, coming in for fresh tyres and slowing for the pitlane, was hit from behind by Senna, who damaged his front wing and limped around for 2 laps as he missed the pit entry understeering into the gravel, enabling Rosberg on fresh tyres to ironically catch the hobbled Senna…just as he was coming into the pits. Thankfully, Keke was more circumspect and avoided losing his own wing, taking the lead, 30 seconds clear of Lauda and Senna.

After just a handful of laps, Senna and Rosberg both suffered appalling rear tyre graining, Keke electing to pit again, where he was stopped for 24 seconds due to a delay on the left front, Senna staying out, getting caught and passed by Lauda, before Niki's brakes failed.

Rosberg, on fresh tyres from 11 seconds down on Senna, closed by 3 seconds a lap, albeit as gingerly as he could. Just as he caught Senna, Ayrton's Engine failed and the race was Keke's, but not before making a 3rd tyre stop. Keke coasted to his 5th Career Victory, all scored with Williams, finishing some 43 seconds clear of his former Williams teammate, and good friend Jacques Laffite. With Frank Williams joining them on the podium. It was a happy note for Keke to end his 4 years at Williams.

Collision=1hr03, last few Williams laps 1h48
Short Highlights and podium

A difficult race to summarise from Keke's perspective. He was fast, and had always been in contention for the win, as he had been for most of the season. It was flawed; his tyre management was awful, but only Senna lapped fast enough to challenge him and Senna's tyre management was awful too. Lauda may have won, but he was much slower, so it's hard to tell what would have happened. A good win in massively demanding conditions and a well deserved winner, as Senna acknowledged.

1985 season summary

Keke finished 1985 with 2 wins, 40pts and 3rd in the drivers championship, with Mansell back in 6th on 31pts. Before reviewing Rosberg, I always found the fact that Mansell didn't see off the "old-timer" in 1985 to be rather irritating, and the reason for that was the conceited "big 4" nonsense so easily trotted out, which only applied in 1986 as a slap in the face to Keke. It sounded like those four could walk on water, but 1985 paints a very different picture. So how could Rosberg beat Mansell in the championship in 1985, especially when Mansell was easily a match for Piquet in 1986? Mansell was in in his 6th season in F1; inexperience wasn't an excuse. Was it because Mansell was 'unlucky" in Adelaide?

The facts underline Keke's genuine advantage. He beat Mansell 9/7 in qualifying, but on average qualifying times, he came out 0.34 seconds ahead; ahead of the fastest Williams driver ever. (allegedly). When Rosberg beat him, he did a damn good job of it. Mansell was always fast; he was fast vs De Angelis; but he had an inferiority complex, which either made him the bully, or the victim. Against De Angelis and Piquet he gave as good as he got. Against Rosberg he was generally dominated until the end of the season, where misfortune for Keke jump-started Mansell's self belief, realised who he was beating, and that allowed him a slender advantage at times in qualifying, and to run Keke a lot closer in the races.

But it's the races that really stand out for Keke. When, exactly, was Keke not on top, or at least, not clearly the faster man? At Monaco both limped around a lap or 2 down; does that really count? At Spa, Mansell was faster on wet tyres. Otherwise? In fairness, Mansell ran Keke close in the dry several times, but Keke always seemed to have the edge, and when he didn't, it's because he was dominating. Brazil Portugal, France and Australia all deny us a real race comparison, but in San Marino, Canada, Detroit, Britain, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium (on slicks) Brands Hatch and South Africa, Keke was clearly the better man. There was no trouble-free dry race where Mansell looked like beating Rosberg on merit across a race distance, and this, for me, is a big revelation, and a career-defining achievement for Keke. Based on this evidence, Keke was simply a better driver than Mansell.

Keke had more races with an edge over Mansell than Piquet could manage over 2 seasons, and I put that down to Keke's greater self belief behind the wheel, enabling Keke to keep his chin up and respond rather than over-think the consequences of defeat. That, and bucketloads of speed, enthusiasm and heart. If Piquet looked beaten, he would often fold. If Mansell was ahead, Keke would get inspired, realised there was scope to go faster and charged past him; nothing personal. It was as simple as that, and reminiscent of Carlos Reutemann daring to outqualify Jones; all it normally achieved was to paint a target on his back, as Keke was inspired to get ahead and return the favour in Detroit, Austria, Brands Hatch, and Kyalami, and would probably have done so in Belgium too.

"there is no question he was the best teammate I ever had."

IF is F1 spelled backwards, but;

1) Keke could have won in Brazil; he retired when leading.
2) He had the speed to win in Canada but for a long pitstop; he gained almost a lap on the leaders
3) He would have won in France but for high temperatures gifting Piquet an advantage.
4) He could have won in Britain, retiring in 2nd behind Senna who was overdoing his fuel.
5) He would have won in Germany, suffering fading brakes whilst leading.
6) He may have won in Austria, suffering oil pressure failure when a close 2nd.
7) He had the win in the Netherlands secure; boom.
8) He had the win in Italy locked down; boom.
9) Had Belgium been dry he was the fastest in the race. He would still have passed Mansell for 2nd but for an unplanned stop.
10) He would have won at Brands had he been patient: he was 2 places ahead of Mansell and the fastest that race.
11) He had South Africa won but for that oil slick costing him 10 seconds and forcing him to attack.

Everyone had their own sad song to sing, but in 1985 Keke's is the saddest, losing a potential 68 points, whereas Mansell had relatively little to complain about. 13 wins were potentially on the cards, he came home with 2, and he was only to blame once. I know thats a very single-minded way of looking at 1985, but the fact that Keke wasn't even allowed to duke it out with Prost for the title, or score at least 2 or 3 more wins to make his career stats look more respectable really was rough justice. At least 1985 provided us with a tantalising glimpse of what Keke could do when finally given the fastest equipment, even if in Mansell's hands, for most of the season it didn't look anything like the fastest package. IMO, had Keke stayed at Williams for 1986, he would have had the speed in the races to sustain an edge over Mansell. Therefore, it's safe to claim that but for unreliability, he could have been the 1985 World Champion, and but for his ego, he probably would have been the 1986 World Champion.

Epilogue; What went wrong at McLaren?

The great elephant in the room of course is why, if Keke was so good, did he manage to lose so badly to Prost in 1986 and not even be classified in the "big four?" Going into 1986, he was expected to give Prost hell; many considered him the fastest man in Grand Prix Racing; himself included.

John Hogan (Marlboro)
"I thought Keke was going to be like lightning in that car. I'd always had the highest admiration for him. He was 100% committed on every lap. But Barnard had a theory that Keke couldn't drive the car the way Alain liked it and John insisted on the cars being more or less the same. Keke got the hang of it in the final race…he went like $hit off a shovel, but by then it was too late"

This phenomenon happens far to often for it to be dismissed as an excuse. We saw Mansell get "engineered" out of competitiveness vs Prost in 1990 at Ferrari. Equally, we have seen how Mansell went from equal with Patrese, to utterly dominant once the Williams active ride was introduced. Prost misliked the active ride car in 1993, and struggled to dominate to the same extent, so it stands to reason that Mansell would have stood a very good chance of getting one back on Prost in 1993 had they both sat alongside each other; being as they would have been in Mansell's car at Williams as opposed to Prost's car at Ferrari. You cannot define Mansell's career relative to Prost based on 1990 alone, just as you cannot define Keke's career relative to Prost based on 1986 alone. The key is to appreciate the strengths of each man when they were given what they needed.

Back in 1982, the see-saw effects it had on driver form was obvious at McLaren, and the message from Watson was identical to that of John Hogan regarding Keke 4 years later. If you recall earlier, Watson's championship challenge was dramatically curtailed after Teddy Meyer stepped aside and Ron Dennis, with big bucks and Niki Lauda came in. With a car developed around Watson's smooth style and stable rear end, Lauda insisted that the car had to be more 'pointy'. John Barnard changed the design of the car, and their relative form turned around. Keke, with his aggressive oversteer style wouldn't have thrived in a smooth, stable car that from his perspective "understeered"- it was Prost's car. It restricted him and forced him to play a game he was never going to beat Prost at- ie, drive as precisely as possible with his finger-tips. Keke and Alain's styles were diametrically opposed. As Alain had just won the championship (at Keke's expense) and was 2 years established at McLaren, Keke was refused by Barnard to change the car away from Prost's preferences and run with his own set up, (which I'm assuming extended beyond mere wings and went into aspects such as suspension layout and weight distribution) and consequently, Keke decided that it was time, aged 37, that he would rather be doing something else. The results were, Keke was beaten 12-4 in qualifying head to heads with a grid average of 4.37 vs 6.44.

But the real killer was the races. With TAG Porsche suffering badly on power relative to the competition, the drivers were faced with the unpleasant proposition of either going slower, or tuning the boost up to a level that allowed them to race, but at a far less efficient manner than the competition, and this just played even more into Prost's hands. By Spain, Keke was able to race Prost only to realise Prost had been travelling at the same speed whilst running efficiently enough to finish comfortably. Keke had to drop almost a lap to see the chequered flag, having believed Prost had been running just as hot. Alain's driving style was tailor made to carry momentum with minimal throttle input. Keke's problem all year wasn't speed; he could run in the top 5, he could pass Prost on a whim, but he wasn't efficient, and Prost's fuel efficiency was what gained him the edge in a season that was, for McLaren, more of an egg-and-spoon race than a flat out sprint. Hardly surprising therefore that Keke, faced with the same dull prospect for 1987, chose to call it a day. Never had a team during such a specific moment in the regulations made what had barely been a consideration before look like a gaping weakness in Keke's makeup. as Clive James observed, the sport had changed, and it was to everybody's loss Keke's flamboyant style was no longer suited; even if for most teams it was less critical, and the regulations soon changed. Had McLaren only designed a bigger tank, it's likely Prost would have had a hard time from Keke in the races.

Then throw in reliability. Prost had 3 DNFs; 1 Engine failure, 1 crash and 1 DSQ. Keke suffered 2 Engine failures, 2 Gearbox failures, 2 Electrical Failures, 2 Punctures and 1 suspension failure; 9 DNF's in total. Of the 7 races he was classified in without mechanical issues, he lost places at the end due to forcing the issue on fuel on 5 occasions, with Monaco allowing him to finish 2nd, and Monza being a fuel-limited 4th. This all added up to an embarrassing 74-22 pts defeat, but in reality, he was never going to win the championship with all these factors against him. Keke's heavy right foot may look stupid, but when faced with the prospect of boringly having to drive as efficiently as Prost and inevitably lose, or, give yourself a chance, enjoy yourself and try and squeeze a little more fuel out to try and fluke a result, it's kind of a no-brainer; gamble or lose. Keke had looked a player at most races; his charge at Monaco, his Pole and race speed in Germany, his ability also to run ahead of Prost in Brazil, Canada, and looking to have Australia won all showed he wasn't lacking for talent; his decisive moves once again on show, but a bit like 1984, Keke was hobbled with an unresponsive car, and ultimately, backroom politics and a down on power engine denied us the chance to see Keke mount a flamboyant championship challenge.

Alain Prost
"Keke was very skilled, highly motivated and extremely hungry. Okay, perhaps he didn’t have quite the necessary finesse to get the very best out of the turbocharged fuel consumption era of racing we were in at the time, but he was certainly a great competitor as well as a good friend.'

Keke Rosberg
"I still think that I was fundamentally the fastest driver out there in 1986, and I was sure I could have given Alain a good run for his money had we been driving a car with a different handling balance,

Anyway; all that was at McLaren, not Williams winking smiley


Keke Rosberg had always left me unconvinced up until now, and it's my fault for not looking closer at his career. The reason for my negativity is largely because I was viewing his career from the perspective of a Williams fan, not a Keke fan. Keke's period at Williams was typified by the team being relatively unsuccessful, but bookended either side by happy periods of dominance with Jones and Reutemann in 1979-1981, and Piquet and Mansell from 1986-1987. Keke's desperate '82 championship was tarnished by a memory of what had been; of paradise lost when Williams could just turn up and win, and worse, this attitude was reflected in the men we still admire today: Frank and Patrick. Keke was the uncelebrated second son walking in the shadow of the first, and their coolness influenced my own attitude. 1983 was made all the harder to watch knowing how far Williams had fallen, and 1984 was made difficult knowing how good Honda and Williams would become. So all told, there is not as much to boast about between 1982-1985, Williams descending into and climbing out of a valley, and it's hard not to allow this relative shame, for want of a better word, reflect negatively on Keke as a result. Keke raced for a great team, and his results really didn't measure up relative to Jones, Mansell, Piquet etc who won championships from the front with wins off their own bat; you know, how Williams should win, so it was always going to be a hard sell to convince me Keke was as "great" as these, despite a few exciting flashes in the pan. Another issue is that 1985 was always seen from Mansell's perspective knowing he represented the future, Keke the past which meant I rarely noticed or appreciated Keke's efforts that year, which were soured by unreliability in any case. I wanted to believe Williams were the best and had the best drivers, and Keke was about to become the enemy.

In light of this, he had always struck me as having more style over substance, ranging from; slow, consistent and lucky in 1982, sporadically fast in unique conditions in 1983/1984, where he was a part of the reason Williams' car was slow, preferring to play the martyr and wrestle an idiosyncratic, slow car, rather than develop a fast one, to miraculously finding himself in a fast car (where the team get all the credit) where Keke was admittedly a pain beating Mansell by being fast and unlucky. In 1986, he was exposed for what seemed clear ever since 1984 (but confusingly, not before); that Keke was not all-round professional or consistent enough to mount a proper championship challenge; thereby completing a mental u-turn.

His biggest trump card always seemed to be all too few flashes of speed hyped up through rose tinted glasses during a period of little pride for Williams. How can a man with fewer wins than Williams' 6 other Champions, with the worst wins-to-starts ratio of all, and with an unconvincing title where he was outpaced and only scored 1 win, possibly be considered the Greatest Williams Driver of all time? Isn't that being a little too Avant Garde? A hipsters way of seeking attention? He just struck me as a funny looking weirdo. Sure; he did some cool things, but does fluking a 'WDC' really make him any greater than, say, Montoya, who was unlucky not to win a title, who also thrilled for 4 seasons, who also raced with passion and who scored a similar number of wins?

But that is a poor sketch of reality formed by someone only casually looking back, and contains within it a mass of contradictions. The key to appreciating Rosberg is to actually watch footage of him, when F1 wasn't the fuel limited nonsense he faced at McLaren. For 4 seasons he was Williams' number 1 and for 4 seasons he was a massively intimidating presence; blowing the doors off his teammates, keeping Mansell quelled, sending Reutemann off with his tail between his legs, wrestling results out of the car that never looked remotely on by Laffite or Daly, reducing both to the status of embarrassing journeymen, visibly more committed, and applying more energy than anyone else in the field behind the wheel, testing himself and his reflexes on every single corner of every single lap to the thrill and delight of fans. He was the quintessential embodiment of a classical hero racing driver, turning the tables on Frank Williams from trying to get rid of him, to Keke leaving for better pastures, annoyed never to quite get the respect, support or enthusiasm he deserved.

"Keke will always be remembered for his flamboyant style. He was a terrific entertainer. He seemed so laid back off track, but then he's put out his cigarette, climb into the cockpit and throw the car all over the place. He was an instinctive driver; another typical Williams racer."

Gerald Donaldson writing for the F1 website
"The original Flying Finn was a swaggering swashbuckler whose dashing, daring, darting style of driving enlivened every race he was in. Radiating extrovert confidence, with his flowing moustache, untamed mane of long blond hair and swaggering walk he resembled a swashbuckling pirate who might plunder and pillage for pleasure. He used his car like a sword, swinging it about ferociously, cutting a swathe through the corners, kicking up dust, grass and tyre smoke and carving great chunks of time out of each circuit."

it becomes blindingly obvious when assessing his 4 seasons at Williams that Keke Rosberg was a brilliant racing driver; an intimidating presence, a force of nature. Keke came through F2 banging wheels in mid-air with Gilles Villeneuve. His racing style was so similar it strikes me as weird that he isn't revered as much, or spoken of in the same hushed tones as "Gilles", because out on the track, his heart, flamboyance, pure blinding speed, incredible passion and self belief to win against the odds are almost impossible to tell apart from Gilles. Fred Opert believed Keke was faster.

I think if there is a reason Gilles is rated higher and more romanticised, it has nothing to do with anything on-track. Its because of: Keke hitting the big time at an advanced age, and having spent too long in poor machinery; something that carries a stigma that goes beyond common sense; Appearance; come on, don't tell me it doesn't!

The 'old man' adored Gilles for having a slight build similar to Tazio Nuvolari. Keke looked like a middle aged plumber, who you hope doesn't decide to smoke inside or lean on anything. Off-track demeanour as well: Gilles enhanced it with his sensitive nervousness, Keke lit up, looked unbothered, and and wouldn't tolerate any nonsense. Then there were Bosses' attitudes; Frank went through a period of being fed up with drivers just as Keke arrived, courtesy of Jones and Reutemann. Keke was the man Frank had always dreamed of: the flamboyant art and speed of a Reutemann, and the combative spirit of the fight Jones possessed, but Frank's heart was stuck in the past. The biggest factor of all was, and meaning no disrespect; Keke didn't die prematurely, and Keke actually won a championship, so Gilles needed to be remembered in other ways.

Indeed, how could Keke actually win a whole championship against the odds, and still not be spoken of with the same awe? I think awkward embarrassment from the established stars for having given bragging rights away to an obscure man racing conspicuously outmatched machinery was a big factor. He would have earned more credit had he won it a season or two into his Williams career. Another factor was it was won at Gilles' expense, but that was only because Keke's car was slower, not because Keke was any less talented. Both Keke and Gilles could be provoked, but crucially, Keke drew the line a fraction shorter when racing rivals, and this is why Keke survived and Gilles did not.

Now that takes us to allusions that Keke had more balls than brains; that he couldn't develop a car, and that he wasn't dependable or intelligent enough to string together results in the same way as the redoubtable, technically adept Alan Jones. Rubbish. Regarding technical skills, what strikes me is how intelligent and eloquent he really was regarding feedback on car behaviour. Sadly, this reflects less well on Williams and Honda; in 1984 it was they who were unable to develop the FW09 and Honda Turbo fast enough to satisfy ambitions. All year the chassis was overweight, the Cylinder blocks and Engine mounts were flexing, the Engine was delivering uncontrollable power and was blowing up routinely on both cars. All year, Keke was describing the problem accurately whilst still extracting more from the car. Was that ever fixed during 1984? No. I see no reason therefore, why Keke's technical skills need be singled out as an issue. He threw in 2 slow races in a spare car in 1982, a handful of (lets face it) unmotivated qualifying sessions in 1983 and 1984, and thats it; in 4 years.

In 1985, Williams solved these issues (barring reliability) and Keke was routinely at the front from Canada onwards, which confounds such a theory that Keke gave poor quality feedback. The FW10 was the response to Keke and the team racing the FW09, and it was excellent. Indeed, before Canada and the new more drivable engine, despite a faster, lighter, more rigid chassis with a better mounted engine, Mansell looked consistently worse than Keke had in 1984, and no-one questions Mansell's ability to give good set up feedback. I think Keke's technical skills were sound, and had nothing to do with the disappointing performance of a Williams team managing a major transition that would eventually yield them 3 world championships. It was Williams' first period encountering hardship, and it's a sad fact that their greatest asset didn't escape the finger-pointing. As Mansell notes regarding 1982;

"That success proved his ability to do a solid management job"

Keke routinely outqualified and outraced all teammates, and often by massive margins. In 63 races, I can count on one hand the number of times he had a poor qualifying session, and on all but 1 occasion, he recovered to put in a great race performance. The same for driving errors; on one hand. Much like Montoya, Keke married highly combative racing skills with remarkably few incidents; its worth remarking that he made fewer fundamental driver errors between 1982-1985 than Alain Prost. When you consider the string of possible wins Keke was denied through no fault of his own in 1985, all told, I believe it's safe to conclude that Keke was the real deal; a consistently fast and dependable all rounder.

Therefore it's ironic that a man so obviously fast and unlucky would have his only championship victory coloured by a perception of him being slow solid and lucky, which had everything to do with the car he was driving, and the errors his competitors made, when in reality he was driving the socks off the FW08. Keke had challenged for the lead vs Villeneuve at Rio, would have won at Long Beach and Zolder but for Michelin doing a better job, had Detroit in the bag, and came very close to winning in Austria, and all that despite being outmatched for power. Keke had been a player all year, and had worked his way to being heavy favourite 2 races before the end of 1982. That championship was not a fluke. That championship was the greatest achievement of any Williams driver in history, with Keke's raw speed being the only thing that kept Williams in the hunt. Keke effectively won the F1 championship taking on half a field boasting F1-class engines with the equivalent of a Formula Renault engine; he was the only Williams driver in history to win the championship without a dominant car; in fact, with a hilariously outmatched package. Quite why that should count against the driver makes zero sense with hindsight; Prost won in 1986 with a slower engine and that was heralded as a true drivers championship win. When you saw Derek Daly limping home 13th in the championship, Keke outqualifying Carlos Reutemann and Keke Rosberg going on to overshadow Mansell, 1982 was the ultimate drivers championship win and Williams' finest racing achievement. It was a number 1 worn with pride.

The issue for many is how Keke managed to combine so many strengths in such a unique way that defied stereotype? How could he be as flamboyant as Gilles, faster than Reutemann and as reliable, sensible and pragmatic as Jones?

Keke was tested with all manner of different cars and each time, he compensated for the car's weaknesses, and maximised its strengths far better than could be reasonably expected; he remains the only Williams driver to have won multiple races that could be put down unquestionably to driving brilliance and not car advantage. No other Williams driver has led the team through so much change, and so admirably, and it's that versatility, overcoming massive change and maintaining his dominance in the team that is Keke's biggest trump card. Piquet and Mansell ebbed and flowed, Mansell lost to Keke, Jones was outshone in qualifying by Reutemann, Prost struggled with Hill, but Keke endured from from Reutemann to Mansell, from Cosworth to Turbo Honda, from aluminium to Carbon Fibre, from slow cars to fast; Rosberg reigned supreme.

Montoya never faced the same wholesale change, or the same driving challenges as the FW09, which is why I consider Keke's achievements to be more admirable than Montoya's. JPM may have been very fast, passionate, dependable, and a superb wheel to wheel artist, but he always drove with the same Engine, and a similar car type. The regular margins of extra speed Keke found, the feats he accomplished, the visible greater driving flamboyance, and Keke's consistency of speed vs Mansell, when Montoya was often left for dead by Ralf Schumacher all give Keke the edge in my mind.

I never realised how relentlessly fast Keke was until this review. No other Williams driver has dominated every teammate so emphatically on the stopwatch, and no other driver made Mansell look so consistently slow across a season. Keke spirt was instrumental in developing a cliche' that is as much Keke's legacy as it is Jones'- that of the mature, no nonsense, hard charging racer, who didn't need nannying, and sure as hell wasn't. Whenever I see an image of Keke now, it is not a "streaky oddball" I see, its the awe of seeing a true racing legend; fearsomely fast, fearsomely committed, dependable, mature and passionate. A tough act to beat, which is why, at Williams, he never was.

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