Looking Back

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Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Mon Jan 27 2014, 17:48

I have since a few weeks rekindled my interest in F1. Well, not the F1 of today, but that of my youth when I was still an avid (rabid?) fan. It was really the fault of the movie Rush, since the 1976 season fell precisely when I began properly following the sport. Seeing the movie Le Mans back in ’71 had gotten me irretrievably hooked on motorsports in general, but since we were living in the Middle East at the time I had little access to any form of racing on the TV. To be honest, I had little access to a TV during those years! In 1976 I was able to catch a number of races during the summer months as we spent time in Sweden, and then finally in 1977 we moved to Switzerland were I was finally able to watch the F1 races on a regular basis.

So, following up on seeing Rush, I began to watch the F1 reviews we have on the NAS starting with 1976. The first thing that struck me was the incredible interpretation Daniel Brühl did of Niki Lauda. Seeing the actual interviews of Lauda from ’76 was exactly like watching Brühl, with the only difference being the quality of the image! As a whole, the movie really was a particularly good rendering of what F1 was at the time, and definitely goes down as one of the best motor racing movies of all time.

I have now gotten up to the middle of 1983, and I am absolutely loving this long trip down memory lane. Although I remembered many of the highlights from those years, as well as some individual races perhaps more vividly, there are also so many things that I have forgotten. First of all, while actually living through those years it did not strike me as much the enormous extent the cars evolved in a relatively short time-frame. It was a time when rules were not as strict and well defined as they later became, allowing for car designers to try some really creative ideas. Some of those didn’t really work out, while others totally revolutionized F1 design forever.

Although aerodynamics had become an important part since the early ‘70s, much of the designs seen at that point were more the result of guesswork. The idea of trying to produce down-force was understood, and obviously a big wing would normally provide this. However, then it was also a question drag and wind resistance, and it all had to be balanced to provide a winning result. One design that clearly stood out was the Tyrrell P34. The thinking was that the four small front wheels provided a lower wind resistance, all the while providing increased mechanical grip. Well, the car never ended up being as successful as it could have, but it did get a race victory before the lack of tyre development lead to its demise. The really big change was about to come though, and with the Lotus 79 F1 was thoroughly revolutionized forever.

The arrival of the ground-effect car in 1978 made all the other cars look silly. There was no way an older generation design could compete, and Lotus logically won the season. As much as the actual ground-effect was an ingenious breakthrough idea that can still be found in today’s cars with the trick extractors in the rear, it also created very dangerous cars that would claim far too many victims over the coming years. Also Lotus was never really able to maintain that lead after 1978 season. By 1979, everybody was making ground-effect cars and the turbo engine was about to be become the next big thing.

It was also around this time that the driver’s position was moving further and further forward. Check out some pictures of the F1 cars from 1982 for example, and you will see what I mean. Unfortunately 1982 really stands out for being a terrible year on a human level, with the loss of Gilles in Belgium, Paletti in Montreal, and Pironi having his legs crippled in Hokkenheim. Luckily things became much safer after this, and it was not until 12 years later that there would be another death in an F1 race (not counting Elio’s demise in a 1986 testing accident). Because of all this tragedy, the ground-effect cars were finally banned, and 1983 enforced a flat bottom.

Being right in the middle of the 1983 season right now in my reviews, I personally think the cars were simply stunning that year. With the banning of the skirts, the side-pods suddenly became extremely short, and the cars became uncluttered arrows. The best example was the Brabham that year, but most of the others followed the same design. I actually even thought the Williams looked pretty good with the short side-pods. However, I had forgotten how horribly unreliable the turbo cars were. It was ridiculous how often the cars would break down, and the good old Cosworth engine cars still had a chance since they were that much more reliable. It was almost a given that the car leading the race from early on would never win, since the engine would simply blow well before the finish line.

Oh, I must also mention somebody who could really be Takagi’s spiritual father. Keke Roseberg’s stunning 360° during the first lap of the Long Beach GP in 1983 must be one of the all-time great spins. I suppose the big difference to many other spinners after him, Keke didn’t lose a beat and simply continued racing in second place like nothing had happened.

It's actually nice to watch F1 again...

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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Mon Jan 27 2014, 19:46


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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Sat Feb 01 2014, 11:29

Here is the start of Long Beach 1983:


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Re: Looking Back

Post by Gelert on Sat Feb 01 2014, 12:28

Loving the high-speed 360...!
A full-on affraid moment.

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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Mon Feb 03 2014, 15:10

I finished off the 1983 season this weekend, and have gotten started on 1984. As we all know, 1983 ended with Piquet just taking the title, one that perhaps Prost really deserved. Clearly the unreliability of the turbo cars was the decisive factor, and as it turned out the Renault was worse than the BMW. Just.

Starting off in 1984, Prost has moved over to McLaren, and move that will be one of the defining moments for perhaps the next 10 years of the sport. Much will come out of this, but we will get to that later on.

Having ended 1983 by testing a new turbo engine from Porsche, the McLaren fully joins the turbo brigade in 1984. Clearly it was simply not possible to stay with the turbos using a normally aspirated Cosworth. What is interesting in the first half of the season is that the new-comer is showing all the others how it should be done. The Renault, Ferrari and BMW engines continue to be horribly unreliable, but the Porsche is clearly showing that it is possible to build a reasonably reliable turbo engine. Granted the BMW is running rings around it during qualifying, something particularly obvious if you compare Piquet’s grid positions to those of Lauda, but that is simply the result of the Porsche not providing a pure qualifying engine. It is well document how insanely powerful that tiny BMW four-in-line became at its peak, and clearly pushing mechanics to the limits like that is just a bit too much to ask.

There are a number of other new things at the start of 1984 that will also help shape the future. The first is the real emergence of the Honda engine. Having been seen on the Spirit in the previous year, Honda is now providing engines to the Williams. Unfortunately the Williams chassis of 1984 is crap, and it is really only Keke that is able to make it look reasonably good. The engine however, in spite of being a bit raw, is proving to be rather good.

The other major happening is obviously Ayrton Senna. It is at Monaco 1984 that many believe he was robbed of his first victory, but regardless his talent in the wet was obvious to all.  It really does not matter that he did not win the race, and as it turns out at the end of the season, the results of ending the race early and thus handing the victory to Prost actually ends up biting him in the ass! Personally I think Belloff would actually have won the race if it would have continued until the end…

Having first been tested in 1982 by Brabham, pitstops became standard in 1983 and on pretty much for all. Having first taken some 20 seconds, they very quickly managed to improve on those times usually being just below the 15 second mark through 1983. Already in 1984, the time has come down to the occasional 10 seconds, and now cooling the fuel has started to become popular.


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Re: Looking Back

Post by PLAYLIFE on Tue Feb 04 2014, 20:35

1983 is a favourite season of mine too. It was very open, with 4 drivers capable of winning the WDC in the closing stages. It usually is a close season when the WDC is not in the WCC team.

Long Beach 1983 was a crazy race. I don't know what drugs Keke was on that day but he was wild. Perhaps Bernie bribed him to be ultra-entertaining in what is usually a fairly boring race.

Probably the most interesting concept to come out of the 1983 season was Tyrrell's very unsuccessful boomerang rear wing which they tested in Austria. The regulation stipulated a maximum rear wing width behind the rear axle hence this design was legal. Toleman came up with the double rear wing which had the second wing in front of the rear axle which lots of teams copied.




1984 they had banned refuelling which would explain the drop in pit-stop times.
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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Tue Feb 04 2014, 21:06

I missed out on the refuelling ban!

Tyrrell did manage another wing later that did catch on a bit more, but that was the front wing and in 1990, and it took a while for the others to catch on. That boomerang rear wing was not so successful.

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Re: Looking Back

Post by PLAYLIFE on Wed Feb 05 2014, 11:58

I think Brian Kriesky's commentary made the 1983 season review that little bit more entertaining. Maybe I'm just biased because it was a season review as a kid I would continuously watch on repeat...

Clive James is a ripper though, one of my favourites. Some classic lines in the 1982/84/86 season reviews. I don't know the name of the fellow who did the 1993 one, but thank christ they never used him again. Anyone with a serious speech impediment should not be narrating reviews! It was painful to sit through 2 odd hours of hearing the exploits of the soon to be World Champion ''Alan Pwost''.
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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Wed Feb 05 2014, 13:47

I liked the commentary from some of the 70's reviews. I am not sure who was doing it, but he liked to take the piss out of Bernie, which was always nice to hear...

It will take a while before I get to the 1993 season though. I really only watch them on the weekend, and since they are pretty long I can manage one season over the weekend. What I am doing is watching these as I jog on the treadmill....

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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Sun Feb 09 2014, 18:27

Finished off the 1985 season this weekend. First of all, the reliability issues and the fuel consumption actually made a lot of the races pretty boring and a bit of a lottery. It was frustrating to see Johanson take the lead in Imola thinking he had enough fuel to push, only to run out of fuel before the end due to faulty electronics. There were races when then winner was alone on the winning lap.

Still, a couple of good fights as well as the proper confirmation of Senna's brilliance. Certainly his first victory at Estoril in the wet showed the world how good he was in the wet, and his 7 pole positions the obvious outright speed he had. Keke was quite brilliant too, and it is funny to see a driver still lighting up a smoke on the podium!





Oh, and with no refuelling in the pits, the mechanics were still dressed in shorts during the hot races...

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Re: Looking Back

Post by PLAYLIFE on Wed Feb 12 2014, 10:55

Estoril 1985 was nothing short of amazing.  Vettel's win in the Toro Rosso at the soaking wet 2008 Italian GP reminded me a bit of it (pole in the wet, lead almost the whole race in the wet (50 of 53 laps, only due to pit-stop) and was his maiden win).

Imola was a strange race, the closest Stefan ever got to winning.  It was funny to hear the roar of the crowd when he took the lead.

How about Keke's record breaking qualifying lap at Silverstone?  Awesome!


But surely the most outstanding thing about the 1985 review, was Nigel Mansell's fantastically entertaining commentary:
Lap 1 "Keke, myself, Senna, Prost, Elio, Michele Alboreto and Nelson."
Lap 2 "Keke, myself, Alain Prost, Senna, Elio de Angelis, Michele Alboreto..."
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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Wed Feb 12 2014, 14:08

Indeed, Mansell's commenary! Didn't he even refer to himself in third person at some point? I have to say in general having the drivers due the commentary was perhaps not the best choice, at least not for some of them.

I did enjoy Keke's commentary for Detroit though.

As much as Senna's drive at Estoril was amazing, the one he then did at Donington a few years later I found even more extraordinary. I learnt a thing or two from watching that race that I was able to apply in karting. I remember one race I had in very wet conditions, bordering on snow as it was also very cold, and at the first corner I went for the inside line while everybody else took the natural outside line. I gained a huge advantage since there were no rubber deposits on the inside, and so I got really good grip. Afterwards the other guys were really wondering why I took such strange lines through the corners...

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Re: Looking Back

Post by PLAYLIFE on Thu Feb 13 2014, 12:09

Henrik wrote:Indeed, Mansell's commenary! Didn't he even refer to himself in third person at some point? I have to say in general having the drivers due the commentary was perhaps not the best choice, at least not for some of them.

I did enjoy Keke's commentary for Detroit though.

As much as Senna's drive at Estoril was amazing, the one he then did at Donington a few years later I found even more extraordinary. I learnt a thing or two from watching that race that I was able to apply in karting. I remember one race I had in very wet conditions, bordering on snow as it was also very cold, and at the first corner I went for the inside line while everybody else took the natural outside line. I gained a huge advantage since there were no rubber deposits on the inside, and so I got really good grip. Afterwards the other guys were really wondering why I took such strange lines through the corners...


Haha I remember Nigel referring to himself in the third person now you mention it, classic!

Keke is just a cool dude through and through isn't he.

At least for 1986 it's back to Clive James. The 1985 drivers commentary didn't work on a whole for me. Some were entertaining (Keke as you said), Alboreto was ok too given English is not his first language. Johansson's reaction to Keke's spin at Montreal is also a classic.


It seems the top drivers always seem to be able to find the grip better and/or quicker than anyone else. Schumacher's lines in Barcelona 1996 was another great example of it too.
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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Sun Mar 23 2014, 16:08

I have gotten up to '88 this weekend. Well this year was obviously all abut the MP4/4, and the real beginning of the Senna/Prost rivalry. Senna finally gets his first championship, and Prost seems to be a bit of a sore loser at the end...

What I had forgotten though was the Leyton House March designed by Adrian Newey! Honestly at the time I did not pick up on Newey's genius, bit watching the review this weekend it was quite amazing what that car was able to do with Capelli and Gugelmin. With a naturally aspirated Judd engine it almost was on par with the mighty Honda Turbo MP4/4 in some races! Well we all know how great Newey's designs would become over the next 20 years.


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Re: Looking Back

Post by PLAYLIFE on Mon Mar 24 2014, 13:14

I always thought the Leyton Houses of the late 1980s were one of the prettier looking cars.

Capelli's 1990 French GP was a stand-out, he should have won that race.

That one bad year at Ferrari really sealed his fate didn't it. Much-like Luca Badoer a few decades later.
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Re: Looking Back

Post by Gelert on Mon Mar 24 2014, 19:17

I was working at The Apollo (previously and then again now "The New") Theatre in Oxford in 1988.
Leyton House decided to hold their "Annual Jamboree" (AGM) there.
And being the House Electrician, I had to organise stuff, and then sit through it...

One of the "Star Attractions" at that year's AGM was that car:
We wheeled it off of the truck, down the ramp from Street-Level onto the stage (a drop of about 3.25 metres down a 13 metre ramp - yes, relatively steep!). The Leyton House F1 crew were having all kinds of meltdowns when we first showed them the gradient - but as there was no engine installed, there was no oil / fluids installed either - so nothing to slop about / overflow / transverse any internal baffles / etc.
And then, at the cue during the "show", the car was wheeled on-stage, through the traditional Strobes and Dry-Ice (think leaving a kettle boiling whist letting-off a load of camera flashes...) whilst "Enginey F1-styleé noises" were played over the well-over-the-top PA System that had been installed in the theatre by Leyton House for their AGM.

I'm not sure if anyone here is familiar with what Leyton House were??
Basically, they were a Pyramid Selling set-up...
Their "Product" was little Glass Ornaments (e.g. cute cats in various poses, made of glass).
Their AGM "Audience" was mainly middle-aged house-wives, who sold these glass ornaments to other middle-aged house-wives, in a "Tupperware Party" arrangement - almost a pre-cursor to Ann Summers Parties (er, it sez 'ere...).
The "AGM" consisted of "Positive Reinforcement Messages" in speeches made by various Yankeee-Doodle-Dandies, interspersed with inviting the various local area / country-area / whole country "Top Sales Achieving" saleswomen up onto the stage to receive their "Sales Awards" - which turned out to be e.g. vouchers for e.g. "free" Bermuda Holiday Cruises. You know, the ones where you pay for everything but it's still all, a'hem "free"...

The very last award - together with the invitation/opportunity to actually sit in the Leyton House Car on stage, in front of the entire audience - was for the "Highest Sales In The Whole UK" saleswoman. Basically, another middle-aged house-wife who'd managed to end-up at the top-of-the-UK pyramid.
Um - bugger - too fat to get into the car...LOL!
So instead, she went up to the lectern to collect her prize. Which was...

...a little glass ornament of a cute cat...  cheers 

And boy - incredibly, she was OVER THE MOON with this totally generous appreciation of all of her hard work...

Myself, and my colleagues couldn't believe what we'd just witnessed - to get that excited and animated about winning a little glass ornament that she could quite easily have taken herself from her sales-stock under the pretence of e.g. "transport damage"...

Anyhoo - that's my Leyton House experience.

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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Mon Mar 24 2014, 20:58

What a small world! At the time I did find out what Leyton House was as I too found their late 80's cars very good looking (still do for that matter). I was amazed that an outfit like that would want to sponsor an F1 team. And with hindsight, they did show off an early Newey genius.

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Re: Looking Back

Post by H8R on Fri Mar 28 2014, 14:43

Great thread.
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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Fri Mar 28 2014, 16:09

It does make me feel a bit like an old fart, but I don't care! It is fun to actually enjoy F1 again, even if it is all those old races...

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Re: Looking Back

Post by H8R on Fri Mar 28 2014, 16:56

I was at the 1983 LBGP. I got food poisoning and was throwing up in a trash can at the track for most of the race. That sucked.
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Re: Looking Back

Post by Henrik on Sat Apr 19 2014, 22:58

Cool that you were there in '83, not cool about the food poisoning.

Just finished off the '90 season this morning during my treadmill jog. We all know about the controversial Japanese GP, and that Senna got back at Prost from the previous year. There was some pretty good racing going on during the course of the season though.

First of all, I really think the Mclaren and the Ferrari from that year are some of the most beautiful race cars made. Clean design. There was also the rather surprising performance of the Benneton during the second half of the season, especially with Nannini. Then he had his helicopter accident, leaving Bobby Moreno to drive the car. This then saw Piquet win in Japan ahead of Moreno and Suzuki in third! Moreno there reminded me of Rubens when he later won his first GP.

Tomorrow I will attack 1991.

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Re: Looking Back

Post by PLAYLIFE on Thu May 01 2014, 14:31

Here's a couple of my happy snaps taken from the 1989 Australian Grand Prix.







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