15 August 1982
One week after the German race, the trucks headed south for the Austrian Grand Prix, held at the Österreichring in the beautiful Styrian hills. Once again, it was a power circuit which would favour the turbo cars, and the elevation and thinner air would give an extra advantage as well. With just a week since Pironi’s accident, Ferrari opted to run a single car for Patrick Tambay but with all to play for in the constructors’ championship they were expected to find a driver for the remaining three races – rumour had it that Warwick had turned down the drive. Rupert Keegan continued with March after Jochen Mass decided to take his German accident along with his innocent involvement in Villeneuve’s fatal crash as a sign that it was time to hang up his helmet for good. Lotus announced a deal to run Renault turbo engines in 1983, which of course restarted the rumours about the Renault team, while seeming to confirm that turbo engines were here to stay and the other teams would need to go turbo or go home.
Qualifying went much as expected in that the turbos locked out the top five places on the grid, but a surprise was exactly how much quicker the Brabham-BMWs were than their rivals; Piquet was on pole, Patrese second but then a full second was the difference back to Prost in third. Tambay fourth and Arnoux fifth. Rosberg was best of the atmospheric cars in fifth – 1.5s faster than any other DFV runner, but 2.7s off Piquet’s pace. De Angelis was 7th, Alboreto 8th, Daly 9th despite an off and Lauda 10th, back from injury for his home race. The Austrian’s team-mate John Watson saw his championship challenge ebbing even further as, struggling with understeer, he could only manage 18th, while Tommy Byrne would make his F1 debut from last place on the grid. Boesel, Salazar and Jarier were the non-starters.
Marc Surer’s Arrows failed to fire on the parade lap, so he would start from the pit-lane and the sun was out as the remaining cars lined up on the narrow start-finish straight. The lights went green and Piquet leaped into the lead with Prost slotting into second, while Rosberg started well, but got squeezed between the two Renaults and ended up dropping back to 7th. The other Williams, with Daly at the wheel, got away badly and, in avoiding him, the two Alfa Romeos collided, sending Giacomelli straight into the left hand barrier, while de Cesaris collected Daly as he swerved across the track to the right. All three were out, as was Rupert Keegan who clobbered a barrier avoiding the whole thing. Lap 2 began and as the field streamed through the start-finish straight, several were damaged by debris from the earlier accident. Patrick Tambay picked up a puncture in fourth place and had to limp round for a new set of boots, while Alboreto’s tyre disintegrated entirely, pitching him backward into the barriers.
Patrese, having got back past Prost on lap 1, dived past his World Champion teammate into the lead on lap 2, and the field had already split into pairs of teammates: Patrese and Piquet, Prost and Arnoux, de Angelis and Mansell, Rosberg. Behind the Finn were the two Tolemans of Warwick and Fabi, car working well on the fast circuit, and in formation they followed Rosberg past Mansell by the end of lap 4. By this point, Patrese had a decent 1.5s lead over Piquet and the two were pulling away from the Renaults at a terrific rate, while Prost and Arnoux seemed content to hang back and wait for the Brabhams to break down as usual. Three laps later, the Tolemans both disappeared almost in formation; Fabi with transmission problems and Warwick with a broken suspension. Rosberg went back up into 5th place, with Laffite 6th – finally getting the Ligier working – followed by Henton’s Tyrrell, Lauda in a McLaren that just wasn’t working right, and Mansell dropping back in his Lotus.
Arnoux pulled into the pits to retire on lap 17, which only increased the Brabhams’ advantage, and Mansell did likewise the following lap. The same lap, Piquet suddenly peeled into the pits from second place, taking his pit crew by surprise as he wasn’t due in for his fuel stop for another 8 laps but his tyres were blistering badly. Nonetheless, they refuelled and changed his tyres in good time and he went back out in fourth place behind Prost and de Angelis and ahead of Rosberg. However, he was now also suffering from a misfire and struggled to make any headway on the Lotus. On lap 24, the first planned fuel stop happened as Patrese made his way in for an impressive stop of just 13.8 seconds, leaving the pits still in the lead by about 3 seconds over Prost. The Renault began to gain as Patrese’s tyres were still cool, but Patrese managed to make his Brabham wide enough and in the process got his tyres up to temperature, but to no avail – four laps later his BMW seized up, locked the rear wheels and sent him backward into the armco at Texaco Chicane.
Prost was thus left in the lead, with de Angelis second, Piquet third and Rosberg swarming all over the Brabham in fourth place before finally getting past, prompting Piquet to give up and retire. Brian Henton was up to fifth but his engine also died robbing him of his first points, leaving just nine cars running including Patrick Tambay, making his way back up into the points after his first-lap puncture. Prost seemed set for a win, but five laps from the end his engine went up like a bonfire and he pulled off, leaving Elio de Angelis leading a Grand Prix for the first time, with Keke Rosberg in hot pursuit. The Finn saw his maiden win hanging before his eyes, and went on a charge. The gap was 3 seconds with three laps to go, then 2.2 seconds, then 1.6 seconds and by the last lap he was right on the gearbox of the black and gold Lotus, whose engine was running out of petrol and occasionally cut out from the lack of fuel pressure. For half a lap, Rosberg ducked this way and that, only to be checked by de Angelis at every turn. Coming out of the final corner, Rosberg got the slingshot and pulled out, but not quite in time – de Angelis took his maiden victory and Lotus’ first win since 1978 by just 0.05s. Jacques Laffite was delighted to have nursed his oversteering Ligier home for third place, Tambay was satisfied with three points for fourth, Lauda happy with 2 points in a disagreeable car at his home race and Mauro Baldi was happy with a point after a combative drive. Even Chico Serra, the only finisher not to score, was happy to finish in the new Fittipaldi F9.
The Italian’s popular win meant he moved up to 6th place in the championship and became the last of 6 men who could win the championship in the remaining three races – though he would need to win all three with none of the others scoring. Rosberg moved up to second, moving ahead of John Watson who now hadn’t scored since Canada.
|6||Elio de Angelis||22|
|17||Andrea de Cesaris||5|