14 August 1983
As usual, the Austrian race took place just a week after the German, and the local media caused a bit of a stir by reporting – incorrectly on both counts – that local F2 driver Jo Gartner would drive a second ATS, and that Niki Lauda would have his new TAG McLaren ready. In the event, the entry was unchanged from Hockhenheim except that Tyrrell had a new car, the 012, with an odd forward-swept rear wing to allow for the mounting of a turbo engine, if Ken Tyrrell find a supplier he hadn’t accused of cheating. Williams, meanwhile, announced a deal for Honda turbo engines in 1984, with a new car expected before the end of the year. Spirit would keep the engines for the balance of 1983 at least but it looked like the team would be after new motors in 1984.
The weather was cool and damp after overnight rain as the cars went out for Qualifying and once again it was the Ferraris who were class of the field, with Tambay taking his second successive pole just ahead of Arnoux. Lotus had pulled off a shock win in 1982, and Mansell put his example in a fantastic third on the grid for Sunday’s race, with Piquet, Prost and Patrese lining up behind him. Bruno Giacomelli had a great day to end up in seventh, with Cheever, Baldi and Warwick making up the top ten. With the circuit another high-speed turbo-friendly one, the atmospheric cars suffered: Lauda the best in 14th, Rosberg 15th, Watson 17th and Laffite down in 24th. Both Osellas qualified for the first time, with Boesel’s Ligier joining Cecotto and Acheson in non-qualification.
Race day dawned clear, the sun bathing the gorgeous scenery as the cars took their parade lap. There was almost a problem as Alain Prost headed for the wrong grid slot, only to notice just in time and line up correctly, if a bit skew-whiff. The lights went green and the Ferraris hared off the line cleanly, but as the field arrived at the first-corner chicane there was chaos further back. Giacomelli had got away badly and found de Angelis in front of him, turning into the corner, and t-boned the Lotus, putting last year’s winner out on the spot, while the Toleman limped back round to the pits with one of its nose radiators broken. Further back still, Jacques Laffite’s Williams clipped Ghinzani’s Osella, became briefly airborne, landed, hit Marc Surer’s Arrows and pushed it into Sullivan’s Tyrrell. Surer and Sullivan were out and Laffite’s wing was damaged, while John Watson also bent his front wing somewhere in the melee.
Four cars were out already and that became five on lap 3 as Derek Warwick capped a bad afternoon for Toleman with a blown turbo. The leading seven – Tambay, Arnoux, Piquet, Prost, Patrese, Mansell and Cheever – began pulling away from the Alfa Romeo pair of de Cesaris and Baldi, who were dropping back into the clutches of Winkelhock, with Johansson, Lauda and Alboreto behind. On lap ten, Lauda got past Johansson and Alboreto tried to follow, only to suffer from understeer and drive right into the Spirit-Honda, punting both cars into the barriers. Both drivers climbed out, but Johansson took a quick look at his car, climbed back in, bump-started it and headed off to the pits.
Mansell was struggling on his Pirelli tyres and dropped back behind Cheever and de Cesaris, while Baldi soon disappeared with an engine failure. The top four were pulling away, until Tambay came to lap Jean-Pierre Jarier in 12th. Jarier had both a recently-acquired reputation for being a reluctant lap-ee and also a bit of a grudge against Tambay dating back to 1981 when Tambay took over the Ligier seat that Jarier wanted. Jarier moved left and right, apparently deliberately blocking Tambay, and both Arnoux and Piquet got past as he tried. Prost was right up behind Tambay but peeled off to come into the pits for the first of the fuel stops. A few laps later, Arnoux was in, while Tambay put his foot down to try and retake the lead, only for his engine to sputter to a halt, out of oil – and Patrese’s BMW expired apparently in sympathy at the same time. When the pit stops shook out, Piquet was in the lead thanks to sterling pit work by the Brabham team, with Arnoux second and Prost third, all three racing close together with Cheever some distance back and Mansell – still wrestling with the car even on new tyres – unable to challenge.
Piquet’s BMW engine was starting to falter, though, with top-end power down and Arnoux and Prost were soon all over the Brabham, both bundling past at the chicane on lap 37. Uncharacteristically for Prost, rather than take the six points for second place, given his championship lead, he continued to harry Arnoux until, on lap 48, he swept past his rival to take the lead and the win, with Cheever almost nabbing third at the last, crossing the line just metres behind Piquet. A frustrated Mansell brought the Lotus home in a lonely fifth, with one point for Niki Lauda scant reward for a tough afternoon’s driving. There were smiles at Osella, whose cars both finished for the first time, in 10th and 11th, and Johansson came in 12th after his accident to log Spirit’s finish.
With four races to go, Prost led the Drivers’ Championship by 17 points from Piquet and Arnoux, both equal on points with Tambay just three behind them, while Renault went back into the Constructors’ Championship lead by two points over Ferrari.
|11||Andrea de Cesaris||6|