1985 Formula One season
The 1985 formula one season saw continued success for the McLaren-TAG team. After missing out on the championship by just half a point the previous year, Alain Prost would ultimately secure his first of four titles by a 23-point margin. The Formula One writer Koen Vergeer remarks that "it was about time, everyone knew he was the best", reflecting a general feeling that Prost had been unlucky to finish runner-up twice, to Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda.
The reigning champion Lauda competed in his final season of Formula One but was unable to match Prost for results, winning just once at Zandvoort despite being close to his team-mate in terms of pace. For much of the season the points table was headed by Ferrari's Michele Alboreto, who enjoyed his best season in F1. He won the Canadian and German Grands Prix, and was on the podium eight times. Ferrari's results faded badly in the second half of the season as other emerging drivers took the fight to Prost.
Among these were Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell, both of whom scored their first victories in 1985. Lotus team manager Peter Warr had replaced Mansell with Senna going into the season, a decision which initially seemed justified when Senna took a superb win in the wet at Estoril. However Mansell fought back with Williams, and chalked up two victories near the season's end, including his famous breakthrough win at Brands Hatch. Mansell would go on to mount a serious title challenge in 1986. Perhaps the fastest combination of the year was Keke Rosberg in the other Williams, who used the powerful Honda engine to set a new lap record around Silverstone in qualifying for the British Grand Prix - becoming the first man to lap at an average speed of over 160 mph (257 km/h). He finished third in the standings after wins on the street circuits of Detroit and Adelaide, but lacked the reliability to overcome Prost.
1.5-litre turbo engines had become universal by 1985, heralding the extinction of the Ford Cosworth DFV. Between 1985 and 1986 Formula One engines would achieve the highest levels of power ever seen in the sport, before serious restrictions and their 'phasing out' began in 1987. The power output of the engines was controlled in racing conditions by means of a strict fuel limit; however in qualifying trim teams were commonly able to increase the boost of their engines for optimum power. This fuel economy was key to successful race strategy in 1985; Mansell recalls the added interest of planning his fuel use in his autobiography. It also proved costly for Ayrton Senna, who lost victory just four laps from home at Imola when he ran out of fuel. After Prost was disqualified for an underweight McLaren, victory fell to the other Lotus of Elio de Angelis.
1985 also saw a welcome return to the calendar of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Although shortened from its dangerous 1960s form, it remained a challenge for the drivers. It also caused one of the few cancellations of Grands Prix in the sport's history, when the new all-weather track surface broke up badly during practice. Extensive repairs were needed and the race was rescheduled for later in the year; Senna was the winner, with Prost finishing on the podium again to take a big step towards his first championship.
The Dutch Grand Prix was the last Grand Prix for Stefan Bellof, who died in the World Sports Car Championship race at Spa Francorchamps in the famous Eau Rouge corner. He was the reigning world champion in this series, but decided against running for the Porsche factory team in 1985, to concentrate on formula 1, but was still driving in various WSC races for the private Brun team. Until his death Stefan Bellof was one of the rising stars in racing, being rumored to having an offer to drive for Ferrari in 1986. The summer of 1985 was remembered as the sadest weeks for German racing, as both German formula one drivers, Manfred Winkelhock and Stefan Bellof died within three weeks in WSC races.
Drivers and constructors
1985 Constructors Championship final standings
|1||McLaren-TAG||MP4/2B||TAG Porsche P01||G||90||6||12||2|
|11||Minardi-Motori Moderni||M85B||Motori Moderni Tipo 615-90||P|
|Alfa Romeo 890T||G|
|Alfa Romeo 890T||P|