F1’s final non-points race: Beer and curry secret of its star

No person knew on the time, besides maybe for Bernie Ecclestone, nevertheless it was to be the final non-championship System 1 race ever held.

Ecclestone realised that there could be no room for oddball races that did not contain factors, and didn’t match the uniform sample that he was attempting to determine for all facets of the game, not least the ever-rising race internet hosting charges paid by promoters of Grands Prix.

The idea of the non-championship race was to be forgotten for many years till the final couple of years, when it was talked about by Ross Brawn as a potential approach of testing new race codecs.

Extra lately because the COVID-19 disaster first hit turning a grand prix right into a non-points race was touted as a chance ought to a specific staff be unable to get into a rustic due to immigration restrictions.

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At one stage non-championship occasions have been the norm, and the larger races carried extra status and had higher entries than some World Championship occasions. Many carried the “Grand Prix” title, and followers and opponents alike barely seen that they did not rely for factors.

There have been 14 such occasions within the first 12 months of the World Championship in 1950, and whereas some British and French races featured solely native entries there have been main worldwide wins for Juan Manuel Fangio (Pau, San Remo, Geneva, Pescara), Giuseppe Farina (Bari, Silverstone) and Louis Rosier (Albi, Zandvoort).

All these races featured consultant fields, and but inevitably the outcomes are missed when profession statistics are tallied up and people guys are in contrast with drivers from later eras. Contemplate that Jim Clark scored 19 non-championship wins, Stirling Moss 18, Jack Brabham 15, and Fangio 13.

As late as 1971 there have been eight non-championship races in a single 12 months, however thereafter the quantity fell. Silverstone’s Worldwide Trophy was final held for pukka F1 vehicles in 1978, whereas Imola staked its declare for a Grand Prix with a one-off occasion in 1979.

Rene Arnoux, Ferrari 126C2B, leads Keke Rosberg, Williams FW08C-Cosworth, Danny Sullivan, Tyrrell 011-Cosworth and Alan Jones, Arrows A6-Cosworth

Photograph by: Motorsport Photographs

Spain 1980 and South Africa 1981 ran with out factors by default as the peak of the FISA/FOCA struggle, after which in 1982 – for the primary time ever – there have been no non-championship races.

The Race of Champions had been lacking from the calendar since 1979 earlier than its closing hurrah 4 years later.

In opposition to the chances, Manufacturers Hatch promoter John Webb was capable of revive an occasion that was first run in 1965, and which often heralded the beginning of the European season. In 1983 an early April date was discovered, squeezed in between the US GP West and the French GP.

Ecclestone’s common take care of the groups as intermediary was that they solely needed to ship one entry, and that is what the massive gamers did.

There have been single vehicles from Ferrari (for Rene Arnoux and never Patrick Tambay), Williams (Rosberg and never Jacques Laffite), McLaren (John Watson and never Niki Lauda), Lotus (Nigel Mansell and never Elio de Angelis) and Tyrrell (Danny Sullivan and never Michele Alboreto).

The most important disappointment surrounded Ecclestone’s personal Brabham staff, which trusted its sole Brazilian GP-winning automotive to its rusty 1981 driver Hector Rebaque, as regulars Nelson Piquet and Riccardo Patrese weren’t out there.

Arrows despatched two vehicles, for Chico Serra and – in a lift to the entry – former world champion Alan Jones, who had simply made his F1 comeback at Lengthy Seashore. Theodore/Ensign additionally had fielded two, for normal Roberto Guerrero and native favorite Brian Henton. In RAM’s sole entry was rookie Jean-Louis Schlesser, whereas Ligier had a automotive for Raul Boesel.

The established groups have been boosted by an additional entry within the type of the F1 debut of Spirit, the F2 staff that had made the step as much as function the cell check bench for Honda’s new V6 turbo.

There have been some good names, however the closing tally of 13 vehicles was slightly unlucky. So who was lacking? Toleman was the one British-based staff to not present up, becoming a member of continentals Renault, Alfa Romeo, Osella and ATS in failing to seem.

All of the absent groups (bar ATS) opted as an alternative for a clashing Michelin/Pirelli tyre check at Paul Ricard, with the French GP only a week away. That additionally accounted for the likes of Piquet, Lauda and De Angelis, whereas the opposite situation was a WEC race at Monza, which claimed Lancia drivers Patrese and Alboreto.

Danny Sullivan, Tyrrell 011 Ford, leads Alan Jones, Arrows A6 Ford

Danny Sullivan, Tyrrell 011 Ford, leads Alan Jones, Arrows A6 Ford

Photograph by: Motorsport Photographs

Ecclestone made it clear that he was shedding curiosity within the concept of non-championship races.

“Our settlement with Webb was that we did not wish to come,” he informed journalists. “I defined the issues to him – of getting back from Lengthy Seashore, and operating simply earlier than a World Championship Grand Prix – and I informed him he’d have issue with the entry.”

Ecclestone was clearly on the defensive when the poor entry was questioned – however his personal failure to supply certainly one of his star drivers – however he was eager to level out that Enzo Ferrari had saved his phrase and despatched an entry for Arnoux.

You solely want two vehicles to make a race, and fortuitously for followers (and certainly BBC TV viewers) it was to be a memorable contest, starring an unlikely underdog hero.

In solely his third F1 begin, Danny Sullivan’s efficiency was so spectacular and surprising that when a number of years later I requested him to appoint the Race of his Life for Autosport he selected Manufacturers Hatch over his well-known spin-and-win 1985 Indy 500 victory.

What he solely revealed then was his unorthodox pre-race preparation regime on the Saturday night.

“I used to be staying in London with Russell Wooden, who had been a fantastic driver in F3,” he informed me. “I had an enormous battle with my girlfriend on the phone, so Russell and I went out for a curry.

“He mentioned it was okay to have one beer the evening earlier than the race. So we have been consuming a poppadum and having a beer, and we have been consuming one other poppadum and having a beer. The dinner was slightly late… And the following factor I used to be simply ripped! So I received up on race morning with a heavy head.”

Rosberg had put the Williams on pole, however he was handed on the primary lap by Arnoux. Additional again within the subject Sullivan acquired a punt and went large at Paddock Bend, and in so doing he managed to cross Jones and Watson – winner of the earlier race in Lengthy Seashore – in a dramatic lunge across the outdoors. Greater than slightly luck was concerned.

“Wattie got here as much as me afterwards and mentioned, ‘That was a helluva cross,’ and I assumed, ‘John for those who solely knew that I used to be hanging on for pricey life attempting to assemble it up!'”

After a number of laps early chief Arnoux pitted for the primary of a collection of stops with blistered Goodyears. The sector then fell aside. Johansson’s Honda turbo had failed early, and Mansell, Watson and Rebaque have been additionally retirements, earlier than Arnoux retired for good.

Keke Rosberg, Williams FW08C Ford, leads Danny Sullivan, Tyrrell 011 Ford

Keke Rosberg, Williams FW08C Ford, leads Danny Sullivan, Tyrrell 011 Ford

Photograph by: Motorsport Photographs

It may have become farce, however fortuitously we nonetheless had a race. Chief Rosberg’s shock pursuer was Sullivan.

Tyrrell had pulled off a strategic masterstroke. Within the morning warm-up the badly hungover American ran extra laps than rivals and had gently put some temperature into the Goodyears with which he was going to take the beginning.

Thus come the race he did not undergo the type of blistering issues that troubled Arnoux and chief Rosberg.

From half distance Rosberg’s left rear confirmed the tell-tale black mark of a blister, which step by step received worse and worse. Not like Arnoux, he opted to remain out.

“I may see his blistered rear tyre,” Sullivan defined. “However he wasn’t hanging round, and there was solely slightly drawback in a few the corners.

“Keke is likely one of the finest guys I’ve seen in hostile situations. I could not get round him sufficient to cross him in a spot the place he would not anticipate it. There was no approach he was going to go away the door open for me going into Clearways or no matter. He wasn’t going to do this.”

Sullivan got here shut occasionally on the run as much as Druids. That is the place I used to be watching with a crowd that was having fun with an surprising deal with, regardless of the small turnout of vehicles.

“He was slightly gradual at Paddock,” mentioned Sullivan. “And I received an excellent run at him on the final lap. He blocked me going up the within into Druids, so I assumed okay, and I simply tried to go round him. I figured that when he shut the door he would by no means anticipate me to go spherical the surface!”

It did not work, and having survived a contact of wheels Sullivan needed to accept second. Nonetheless he had actually made a reputation for himself, and he was up there on the rostrum with the reigning World Champion. One other champ, Jones within the Arrows, completed a distant third.

It was a fantastic day for Sullivan, who as a penniless teen driving for Elden in FF1600 had as soon as lived throughout the road from Manufacturers Hatch.

Ken Tyrrell was naturally delighted together with his new protege’s efficiency, blissfully unaware of his uncommon beer-fuelled Saturday evening preparations.

“Ken was actually happy. It had been a final minute deal, as Alboreto was presupposed to do the race, and Ken had rung me in California the Wednesday earlier than.

“After the race he mentioned, ‘I do not know what it was, however you have to do it extra usually.’ He wished me to fly to Grands Prix from California on the final minute!”

Podium: Race winner Keke Rosberg, Williams, second place Danny Sullivan, Benetton, third place Alan Jones, Arrows

Podium: Race winner Keke Rosberg, Williams, second place Danny Sullivan, Benetton, third place Alan Jones, Arrows

Photograph by: Motorsport Photographs


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