Between 1948 and 1985 there were already some Grand Prizes in the Netherlands. First represented in the Formula 1 calendar in 1952, the race was held until 1985 before it was to disappear from the premier class for 35 years. In the last race for the time being, stars such as Alain Prost, Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna competed in the Dutch dunes.
Of course, a good rain shower is also part of a Grand Prix weekend in Zandvoort. Since it was wet on Saturday, the starting grid was formed from the result of Friday. Nelson Piquet was in pole position ahead of Keke Rosberg, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
The other names in the top 10? Teo Fabi, Patrick Tambay, Nigel Mansell, Thierry Boutsen, Marc Surer and Niki Lauda. The two Ferraris by Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson were only found on 16 and 17. At the very end of the grid there was a Dutchman: Huub Rothengatter.
Sunday took place in dry conditions, to the relief of tire manufacturer Goodyear. Because the rain tire was not of great quality, as it turned out in the wet sessions on Saturday.
Polesitter Piquet messed up the start and choked off his Brabham. With the help of some marshals, he was able to line up behind the field again. Boutsen also only came away with gags and chokes and fell behind. At the top, Rosberg could benefit with Senna, Prost and the surprising Fabi in tow. With the right choice of line, Lauda had already climbed to sixth place.
Teo Fabi did not seem to be impressed by the unusual situation at the top of the field and walked past Cheers with a nice braking maneuver in the Tarzanbocht. Lauda meanwhile escaped from Surer and also hunted the French.
Many problems at the top
There was even more spectacle in the first laps: the turbocharger went up in both Alfa Romeos and Pierluigi Martini flew off the track with his Minardi. Prost took over from Fabi a few laps later, while the Ferraris stormed forward. In lap ten Alboreto was ninth ahead of Johansson, but the Swede had to give up shortly afterwards with an engine failure.
The two McLarens opened the hunt for Senna, which narrowed the gap to leader Rosberg to a few seconds. Rosberg’s soft tires had already had the best of times, as had the Renault engine in Senna’s Lotus. Suddenly the Brazilian lost speed and had to let Cheers and Lauda pass. Shortly afterwards, the engine suddenly returned to full power.
Things also went wrong for the strong Fabi: due to a problem with the rear wheel, he had to give up and was able to write off the nice points position.
On lap 21, Prost took the lead from Rosberg when the Finn’s Honda engine broke. A little later, Lauda picked up new tires in the box while Senna increased the pressure. Prost led ahead of Senna and the surprising Renaults of Warwick and Tambay, both of whom had passed Mansell.
Unfortunately, the two dropped out within five rounds: Tambay with a differential damage and Warwick with a gearbox problem. Rumors in the paddock said that the two of them drove with very little fuel to impress the bosses at headquarters, and would not have made it anyway.
After the pit stops of Senna and Mansell, Prost had a comfortable lead in front of the strong Alboreto. After his stop, Lauda made up ground and snatched third place from Surer. Senna also used the new tires – the undercut was a well-known phenomenon even then.
Niki Lauda’s last win
McLaren did not wait for the others to catch up with Cheers and brought the Frenchman into the pits. But the team messed up the pit stop and Lauda and Senna came over. Cheers was now no less than ten seconds behind the lotus. De Angelis and Surer followed, while Alboreto was able to catch up after his stop.
Senna lost a lot of time lapping Brundle and quickly had cheers in his rearview mirror. After both overtook the Tyrrell, Senna could no longer keep his opponent behind.
Prost then went hunting for his teammate and quickly caught up. Eight laps before the end he hung on the leader’s neck, so fans could look forward to an exciting final. The Austrian did everything to keep his young teammate behind.
Senna and Alboreto also fought hard for the last place on the podium. In the end, there was no overtaking maneuver in both cases, which allowed Lauda to claim his 25th victory. That brought him up to par with Jim Clark, only two wins missing from Jackie Stewart’s record at the time.
Prost and Senna were also on the podium ahead of Alboreto, de Angelis and Mansell, who got the last point.
Alain Prost took the overall lead in the championship, but only by three points. Main rival Alboreto did not score a single point after the run in the Netherlands and Prost could safely walk to the title.