With the exception of a change from Michelin to Goodyear tyres after the French company’s withdrawal from F1, Ron Dennis’ team took the attitude that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and kept drivers, engines and chassis continuity from 1984. Clive James, Australian narrator of the FIA’s official season review video had noted drily that “Anything as fast as the McLarens fell apart, anything as reliable finished later”, and the team would be hoping the same would be true in 1985.

Of course, in Formula One staying still is as good as going backwards, and the MP4/2 chassis was given new, cleaner aerodynamics (with the smaller rear wing as required by the new regulations), the suspension was redesigned to get the best out of the Goodyears and the Porsche technicians massaged another few horses into the TAG engine.

Lauda1. Niki Lauda at

“Niki the Rat” had won his third world title not by being faster than Prost – in fact, over a single lap, Prost was usually the quicker of the two – but by using his experience and patience. Regularly he would put in a bad qualifying lap, move up the field in the early laps and then just settle in and wait for the others to fall by the wayside. He could certainly put in a scorcher when he needed to, but he was wily enough that he seldom needed to. He took wins where he could but was usually quite happy with second place and six points, his eye on the title rather than the race. There had been questions before the season about the elder statesman’s motivation, and he had provided a convincing answer.

Prost2. Alain Prost fr

For the second year in a row, Prost had been pipped to the title at the last race of the season, but he looked happier at McLaren than he ever had at Renault in 1983 and it showed in his cool demeanour at the end of the season. He and Lauda brought out the best in each other and never clashed like Prost had with Arnoux. Prost’s mechanical sympathy was a dream for his mechanics, his smooth, fast driving style suited the car – everything seemed in place for his title and really it was only a bit of bad luck that denied him, retiring while leading Lauda at Brands Hatch and Monza. Can 1985 finally be Prost’s year?

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