1988 Australian Grand Prix
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|Race 16 of 16 in the 1988 Formula One season|
|Date||13 November 1988|
|Official name||LIII Foster's Australian Grand Prix|
|Location||Adelaide Street Circuit
Adelaide, South Australia
|Course||Temporary street circuit
3.780 km (2.362 mi)
|Distance||82 laps, 309.960 km (193.684 mi)|
|Weather||Cloudy and hot|
|Time||1:21.216 on lap 59|
The 1988 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One race held at the Adelaide Street Circuit, Adelaide, on 13 November 1988. It was the 53rd Australian Grand Prix to be held since the original 100 Miles Road Race was held in 1928, and it was the fourth race to be held on the streets of Adelaide as part of the Formula One world championship. It was the sixteenth and final race of the 1988 Formula One season, as well as the last race for which turbocharged engines would be eligible.
The race was won by French driver Alain Prost driving a McLaren MP4/4. It was the third and final time Prost won the race after winning the race in 1982 and 1986. Prost's 36 second win over his Brazilian team mate Ayrton Senna was McLarens 15th race victory for the season, a new record for a constructor in a single season. Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet finished in third place driving his Lotus 100T, allowing Honda powered cars to clean sweep the podium. It was Team Lotus' final podium finish.
As had become normal in 1988, qualifying was the domain of the McLaren-Hondas. Senna and Prost easily led the time sheets on both Friday and Saturday, with Prost initially fastest on Friday with a 1:18.179 lap, 0.153 ahead of his team mate. The pair traded pole laps in the second qualifying session, with Senna doing his usual act of snatching pole on the last lap of qualifying with a 1:17.748 lap, only 0.132 in front of his team mate. Third on the grid on both days was Nigel Mansell in his atmospheric Williams-Judd, though he was 1.7 seconds slower than Senna. Mansell was ahead of 1987 pole winner Gerhard Berger in his turbocharged Ferrari. Fifth was Nelson Piquet, finally finding some balance in his Lotus on the only street circuit he liked, despite a couple of spins in qualifying. Mansell's team mate Riccardo Patrese lined up sixth.
Gabriele Tarquini (Coloni), Julian Bailey (Tyrrell), Pierre-Henri Raphanel (Larrousse-Lola making his first appearance in F1 in place of Yannick Dalmas who had contracted Legionaire's Disease) and Bernd Schneider (Zakspeed) all failed to qualify. The Osella of Nicola Larini with its ancient "Osella V8" turbocharged engine (which started life as the Alfa Romeo 890T in 1983) failed to pre-qualify.
In 1988, qualifying and race times had generally been faster than those set in 1987, showing the advances in development despite the leading turbo powered cars having approximately 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) less than they had the previous year. In Adelaide that meant a big difference to the top speeds on the 900 metre long Brabham Straight and times were slower as a result. In 1987 the faster cars were topping 320 km/h (199 mph) on the straight. In 1988 those speeds were down to 305 km/h (190 mph). Senna's 1988 pole time was 0.481 slower than Berger's time in 1987. Berger, driving an updated version of his 1987 Ferrari, was 2.25 seconds slower than his 1987 pole time of 1:17.267.
Before the race, Lotus announced that they had re-signed their Japanese driver Satoru Nakajima for the 1989 season. The signing was good for Nakajima, as many felt that if not for Honda he would not have been in Formula One on merit. Nakajima was staying with the team despite Lotus having to use the Judd V8 engine in 1989 after losing their supply of Honda's, the Japanese company deciding to supply their naturally aspirated V10 engines exclusively to McLaren.
Prost led off the start from Senna, Berger (who planned to go out in a blaze of glory, and despite knowing it would cause him to run out of fuel well before the finish, had his turbo boost turned up its full 2.5 Bar limit), Piquet, and Mansell in his last race for Williams. By lap 4 Prost's lead over the World Champion elect had grown to 5.5 seconds, with Berger crawling all over the back of Senna's McLaren which was already having gearbox trouble. Michele Alboreto's last race for Ferrari ended in retirement shortly after the start after being hit by Alex Caffi's Dallara. Alboreto had the same plan as Berger but never got the chance to execute it, retiring just a few hundred metres from the start line (for the last race of the turbos, Ferrari apparently went along with its drivers plans with the belief that regardless of fuel issues, it was better to go out in the lead than plugging along in the wake of the McLarens).
Berger passed Senna on lap 5 at the Racetrack Hairpin, a second-gear right hander at the end of the Brabham Straight, and began a determined drive, catching and passing Prost at the same place on lap 14. By lap 23 he had a three second lead before coming up to lap the Eurobrun of Stefano Modena and the Ligier of notorious blocker René Arnoux. True to form, Arnoux seemingly ignored the flags and his mirrors telling him he was about to be lapped and turned into the hairpin, causing the Ferrari's left front wheel to ride the rear right wheel of the Ligier and send both cars into a spin. Both cars stopped in the middle of the corner, with the Ligier having stalled and the Ferrari unable to continue with suspension damage. All this handed Arnoux's ex-Renault team mate a lead he would not lose as he cruised past just a few seconds later (many, such as BBC commentators Murray Walker and 1976 World Champion James Hunt, blamed Arnoux for taking Berger out of the race, but the Austrian explained in a television interview with Barry Sheene after he'd returned to the pits that his hard early charge had left him with a "long brake pedal" and that he simply didn't have the stopping power to pull up before Arnoux turned into the corner. Sheene also interviewed Arnoux a few minutes later and the Frenchman expressed regret for having taken Berger out of the race, but also admitted that he had not actually seen the Ferrari, confirming what most already believed, that he rarely used his mirrors).
This left the McLarens in their usual 1–2 position, although Senna's faulty gearbox was getting progressively worse as the race wore on. Piquet was maintaining third ahead of the Williams pair of Patrese and Mansell (the Englishman made a good start and looked like being third into the chicane, but was muscled out of it by Berger's Ferrari with its turbo boost off the clock. He was then passed by Piquet using superior Honda power on Brabham Straight, while Patrese then drafted him past the pits and out braked him going into the chicane at the start of lap 2). The Italian opened a small gap on his team mate and closed on Piquet, making several attempts to pass his former Brabham team mate but was hampered by his Judd V8's lack of power on the straights compared to the turbocharged Honda V6 in the Lotus. Patrese would often be all over the Lotus through the tighter sections of the circuit, but once onto the straights Piquet put enough distance between them that they were not close enough to pass under braking. The Williams team mates were also hampered by Piquet finally having his Lotus handle to his liking on the only street circuit he actually liked (though despite this, in the first half of the race Piquet was still lapping over a second a lap slower than Prost (and Berger), and around half a second slower than Senna).
On lap 53 Patrese spun at turn 13, letting Mansell past, but he was equally unsuccessful in passing his former team mate and 13 laps later retired when his brakes failed and he hit the wall on lap 66, also at turn 13 (Mansell had said in a television interview during qualifying (aired on the BBC as part of their pre-race "Pit Bits" segment) that the team had shot itself in the foot for the race by having major brake trouble at a track notoriously hard on brakes. The team was predicting that both cars would run out of brakes well before the end). By lap 59 Prost was putting in a succession of fast laps, gaining a lead of over 30 seconds and lapping the whole field up to 5th placed Andrea de Cesaris' Rial who had started 15th and was putting in his best drive in a long time (many in the press and in the F1 paddock were puzzled by this. The wide open spaces of Suzuka had not been wide enough for the Italian, yet here on a tight street circuit surrounded by concrete walls he was driving his best race since finishing 3rd in Belgium almost 18 months earlier).
The circuit's demanding nature was obvious: The Minardi of Pierluigi Martini spun out of the chicane and was almost collected by the Ligier of Stefan Johansson. Maurício Gugelmin (March) slowed to avoid the pair and was hit from behind by Nakajima who had just come out of the pits on 'cold' tyres and couldn't stop in time. Both cars were out on the spot with the front of the Lotus looking very second hand, though both drivers were unhurt. Alessandro Nannini spun his Benetton, Jonathan Palmer (Tyrrell) retired with transmission problems, whilst engine problems claimed Arrows team mates Derek Warwick and Eddie Cheever. Driveshaft failures accounted for the EuroBruns of Stefano Modena and Oscar Larrauri (Modena, who had stalled his car at the start of the parade lap and started from the back of the grid, had two spins). Alex Caffi succumbed to clutch failure in his Dallara and Philippe Alliot (Larrousse Lola) ran out of fuel. The crash which took out Nakajima and Gugelmin also had consequences for Prost who was first on the scene. The McLaren ran over debris which took off a front wing end plate, causing a severe handling imbalance for the 36 laps until the finish, though Prost was able to set the fastest race lap later in the race.
At the finish, only eleven cars were classified of which just seven reached the chequered flag, with three cars running out of fuel in the closing laps and Philippe Streiff having an electrical failure in his AGS in the last nine laps. Prost led home Senna in yet another McLaren 1–2, Piquet claimed third and Patrese fourth. De Cesaris' Rial – which had the smallest fuel tank in the field – ran dry just four laps from home, handing fifth place to Thierry Boutsen (Benetton) despite a spin and a stuttering engine, whilst Ivan Capelli (March) came home sixth despite a puncture.
This was the last race in which turbocharged cars and fittingly, the podium was filled by turbo powered cars. Turbocharging, which had been introduced to Formula One by Equipe Renault in 1977, was banned from 1989 allowing only normally aspirated engines to race, mostly due to increasing concerns in safety regarding the speeds the cars were reaching with 351 km/h (218 mph) seen in 1986, as well as the cost involved with companies like Honda and Ferrari spending countless millions on R&D for their cars and engines. Banning the turbos was the FIA's attempt at reducing costs in F1. Turbos will make their long awaited return to Formula One in 2014.
There was also some criticism of the scoring system. Prost scored 105 points during the season and finished first or second in each of the 14 races he completed. However, Senna won the World Championship scoring only 94 points, including a fourth and a sixth but had won 8 races to Prost's 7. This was because of the "discard rule", which counted only the best eleven results of the year toward the Championship total; this meant that Prost ended the season with 87 and Senna with 90, the system would not change until 1991. Senna become only the second champion after John Surtees in 1964 to win the Championship without having scored the largest number of points (in that year Surtees scored 40 points and won by a single point from Graham Hill who earned 41, but had to drop 2 from his worst finish, a 5th in Belgium).
|15||22||Andrea de Cesaris||Rial-Ford||1:21.944||1:21.164||+3.416|
- Lap Leaders: Alain Prost 70 (1-13, 26-82), Gerhard Berger 12 (14-25)
Standings after the race
- Bold Text indicates World Champions.
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Drivers could only count their best 11 results; numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored. Points accurate at final declaration of results. The Benettons were subsequently disqualified from the Belgian Grand Prix and their points reallocated.
- Unless otherwise indicated, all race results are taken from "The Official Formula 1 website". Retrieved 2007-07-12.
1988 Japanese Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
1989 Brazilian Grand Prix
1987 Australian Grand Prix
|Australian Grand Prix||Next race:
1989 Australian Grand Prix