21 July 1985
With an unchanged field – except that Derek Warwick now had his own updated RE60B – the teams moved to Northamptonshire for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, another power circuit like Paul Ricard before it and Hockenheim to follow. Once again it was Rosberg who shone in a blustery qualifying, taking pole .7s ahead of Piquet in second. Prost and Senna took the second row, Mansell and Alboreto the third. The second Ferrari of Johansson was back down in 11th, the Swede having his usual unimpressive practice, just behind Lauda in 10th. The updated Renaults still weren’t helping much – 12th (Warwick) and 13th (Tambay) – while Stefan Bellof, adrift at the back again, was champing at the bit for a taste of the turbo powered car. Brundle had put his 20th, so it wasn’t a vast improvement, but still…
Race day was dry, although no-one would take bets on it staying that way, and as the grid set off on the parade lap, Martin Brundle stalled and would have to start from the back alongside his team-mate. When the race proper started, it was Ayrton Senna who got away best, diving into the lead on the inside of Copse, chased by the two Williams cars of Rosberg and Mansell. Further back, Tambay lost the front of his car and span, taking out Johansson in the process, and Ghinzani and Alliot also came together. Rosberg continued nipping at Senna’s heels as the pair drew away from Mansell, while Prost lost fourth place at Woodcote to a flying de Cesaris. So much so, in fact, that he was past Mansell into third, and the British driver soon dropped to fifth as Prost came past in pursuit of the Ligier. It took the McLaren 9 laps to get back past de Cesaris, who (contrary to his reputation) played hard but fair in defending his place. Once past, Prost was able to make inroads on Rosberg.
The Finn was, for his part, beginning to lose touch with Senna and by lap 11, the Lotus was already lapping backmarkers (Martini and Bellof the first to go), while further back Niki Lauda was coming back from a bad start to get up to 7th. The defending champion had still yet to score in 1985 and a title defence was looking impossible. On lap 15, Prost caught and passed Rosberg and began chasing Senna for the lead, while Lauda continued moving up, passing de Cesaris for fourth on lap 21, which immediately became third when Rosberg’s exhaust packed up and he toured off to cap a disappointing home race for Williams, Mansell having disappeared with a broken clutch five laps earlier.
Prost was now getting the hammer down and put in a series of fastest laps to catch Senna, but the Brazilian was proving a master in traffic and was able to use the backmarkers to keep distance between himself and Prost, while the McLaren was able to catch up when there was clear track. Even though both were driving with one eye on the fuel gauge, they were still pulling away from Lauda and de Cesaris, and the gap to third became even bigger when both drivers pulled off – de Cesaris on lap 41 with a dud clutch and Lauda on lap 57 with electrical gremlins.
Senna and Prost’s duel continued into the final laps, until on lap 60 with just five laps to go, Senna’s Renault engine coughed and Prost was through. Senna fought back, his engine working again, and got back into the lead, but a few corners later the engine cut out for good, out of fuel, and Senna was out, leaving Prost free and clear to take the win. The Marshals, though, managed to show the chequered flag a lap early. The McLaren team were paying attention and made Prost do the extra lap just in case, but behind him there were some problems; Laffite had taken the flag in third but run out of fuel on his way back round. Piquet went round and did the extra lap, but Warwick didn’t. Eventually, it was decided it was fairest to take the results as from the chequered flag, meaning that behind Alboreto, Jacques Laffite took a popular third place for Ligier, with Piquet, Warwick and Surer making up the points-paying positions. To complete the somewhat farcical end to the race, Prost dropped the trophy and Laffite was entirely absent, still making his way back from the far end of the circuit.
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