On this day 35 years ago Alain Prost won a dramatic Monaco Grand Prix after a spectacular crash between two other drivers cost Michele Alboreto the lead. Here’s a look back on the race weekend in pictures.Rainer Schlegelmilch’s famous photograph of Stefan Johansson’s flame-spitting Ferrari 156/85 during that race weekend.
It was Johansson’s third weekend with F1’s most historic team. He had started the season at Toleman, but they were unable to take part in the opening races due to a dispute over tyres. When Rene Arnoux was unexpectedly kicked out of Ferrari at the start of his third season with the team, Johansson was handed an enviable promotion.
Not that it did him much good in Monaco. He struggled to 15th after hitting a barrier while swerving to avoid – what else? – a Toleman, driven by his former team mate Teo Fabi.
In the days before electronic timing screens were widely used, Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto studied a printed list of the fastest lap times during practice.
Lotus arrived in Monaco enjoying a terrific start to the season with their Renault-powered 97T. Elio de Angelis had won the previous round at Imola following Alain Prost’s disqualification while Senna, who starred the rain-soaked Monaco Grand Prix two years earlier for Toleman, had taken his breakthrough win in a similarly drenched race at Estoril.
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The hugely powerful turbo cars were outgrowing the tight circuit. The 1985 race was the last time the fast harbour chicane after the tunnel was used. In 1986 a new, slower version was created using land reclaimed from the harbour.
Race director Jacky Ickx’s role in the previous year’s race had been closely scrutinised after it was red-flagged in a deluge as Senna hunted down Prost. Ickx returned to oversee the 1985 race. The six-times Le Mans 24 Hours winner made his final start in the endurance classic later that year.
New team Minardi were making their first appearance at Monaco. Having used a Ford-Cosworth DFV for their first two races, the team had switched to its Motori Moderni engines at the previous round. Unfortunately Pierluigi Martini crashed the team’s sole entry on Saturday and failed to qualify.
Due to the circuit’s tight confines, grid sizes were reduced from the usual 26 to just 20, meaning six drivers would not start the race. Neither RAM made the cut, nor did Piercarlo Ghinzani in the sole Osella.
Stefan Bellof, another star of the wet race 12 months earlier, surprisingly failed to qualify, though Martin Brundle got the other Tyrrell on the grid. The sixth non-qualifier was Francois Hesnault who continued to struggle in the Brabham, and would be replaced by Marc Surer before the next race.
For the first time in 1985 Toleman made it to a race as well. The team which had almost won the Monaco Grand Prix this year before missed the first three races of the new season after failing to agree a tyre deal with either Goodyear or Pirelli. However the withdrawal of the Spirit team opened up a supply of Pirelli for the team to use, and Teo Fabi duly nabbed the last spot on the grid. Remarkably, just five races later he would be on pole position.
The two most recent world champions were to be found down on the seventh row of the grid. Two-times Monaco Grand Prix winner Niki Lauda made his final start in the principality from 14th, one place behind Nelson Piquet.
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Nigel Mansell put his Williams (still in its ‘pre-red five’ guise) on the front row for the first time and he followed Senna into Sainte Devote at the start.
Further back Johansson’s miserable weekend was complete when he was hit by Patrick Tambay’s Renault as they navigated Gerhard Berger’s slow-starting Arrows.
The other Ferrari was going much better – Alboreto took second place off Mansell on lap two and began chasing Senna.
Senna’s spell in front proved short-lived. He had over-revved his engine during the morning warm-up, and on lap 13 it failed.
One lap earlier Eddie Cheever had already posted the latest in a long line of retirements for Alfa Romeo. They left F1 at the end of the season, returning in a sponsorship and technical collaboration with Sauber in 2018.
The demise of the other Alfa Romeo was more spectacular. Riccardo Patrese was holding off Piquet for ninth place when the pair collided approaching Sainte Devote. The crash also accounted for Lauda who spun on oil at the corner, stalled his engine and couldn’t restart.
The prime beneficiary of the collision was Prost: Alboreto spun off, letting the McLaren driver by into the lead.
Undeterred, Alboreto struck back, retaking Prost at Sainte Devote. But it didn’t last – on lap 32 he was forced to pit with a puncture, and Prost was through to score his second of what proved to be three consecutive Monaco Grand Prix wins.
Third place for De Angelis – almost a minute and a half in arrears – meant he kept a two-point lead in the drivers’ championship over Prost and Alboreto.
Andrea de Cesaris had smashed one Ligier up in practice but made amends by coming home a lapped fourth. With team mate Jacques Laffite sixth, the French squad scored their best result for three years at the track where they would score their final win 11 years later.
De Angelis’s spell in the lead of the drivers’ championship proved short-lived. Alboreto chased Prost hard, but having come close to winning the previous two titles, Prost finally delivered the championship.
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12 comments on “Classic F1 gallery: 1985 Monaco Grand Prix”
19th May 2020, 13:12
Great feature :)
“Philippe Allliot, RAM, Piercarlo Ghinzani, Osella, Monaco, 1985” those look like 1984 crazy double rear wings.
19th May 2020, 13:54
Alliot drove the number 10 RAM for the first nine races of 1985, including Monaco. Manfred Winkelhock drove car 9. Alliot switched to 9 when Kenny Acheson joined the team after Winkelhock was killed.
That aside though, these are brilliant photos, loved looking at them. I was only four so I don’t remember this era of F1 at first hand.
Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine)
19th May 2020, 14:58
Good point – I’ll sort that out.
19th May 2020, 13:32
Fortunately sports channels in India have started airing classic F1 races and this was one of the races aired couple of days back. By modern standards those cars look quite bulky and unsafe(given how drivers were being recovered after crashes).
20th May 2020, 5:56
The image of Martini in the Minardi really shows how little there was in the way of crash protection at the time – there’s basically a thin skin between him and anything that hits in front of the sidepods. And I’m pretty sure the sidepods didn’t contain any kind of crash structure either.
20th May 2020, 16:56
Also drivers placed far in front of the car. Many drivers were sitting with legs going beyond front wheels which ended with many drivers suffering serious leg injuries.
19th May 2020, 15:50
I always thought that header picture was a fan-art. What a piece of art!
19th May 2020, 17:39
brilliant, love the content
long time unasked question, how do you put the racefancs watermark on the pictures? do you buy/pay the rights to the owner? clearly some old pictures were made long before the internet was a thing, let alone the site
Phil Norman (@phil-f1-21)
19th May 2020, 18:57
A fascinating article and photos. I may well have watched this race as a young man but I don’t remember it.
20th May 2020, 1:45
Iconic to a different generation I guess :). 40 years old, been watching F1 for 25 years and I can’t remember ever seeing that picture, lovely as it is.
20th May 2020, 9:57
Great photos and memories – thanks Keith!
20th May 2020, 17:54
Like a re-issue of Grand Prix International
Comments are closed.