1988 French Grand Prix

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France  1988 French Grand Prix
Race details
Race 7 of 16 in the 1988 Formula One season
Paul Ricard 1986.jpg
Date July 3, 1988
Official name Rhône-Poulenc Grand Prix de France
Location Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet, France
Course Permanent racing facility
3.813 km (2.369 mi)
Distance 80 laps, 305.040 km (189.543 mi)
Weather Sunny and hot
Pole position
Driver France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda
Time 1:07.589
Fastest lap
Driver France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda
Time 1:11.737 on lap 45
Podium
First France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda
Second Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
Third Italy Michele Alboreto Ferrari

The 1988 French Grand Prix was a Formula One race held on July 3, 1988 at the Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet. It was the seventh race of the 1988 Formula One season.

Qualifying[edit]

The two McLarens lined up in their usual front row places, but, for the first time this season, Alain Prost was ahead of Ayrton Senna, the Frenchman beating the Brazilian by almost half a second to take his first pole since the 1986 Monaco Grand Prix and in doing so stopping his team mate from a record breaking 7th pole in succession. The two Ferraris filled the second row, Gerhard Berger beating Michele Alboreto by over 1.1 seconds, though neither driver believed they could race with the McLarens simply because of fuel consumption. On the third row were the two normally-aspirated Benettons of Thierry Boutsen and Alessandro Nannini, while the Lotuses of Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima filled the fourth row, Piquet being the last driver to qualify under 1:10. The top ten was completed by the Williams of Nigel Mansell and the March of Ivan Capelli, who had recovered after fracturing his left foot in a crash during practice in Detroit two weeks before.

Meanwhile, Ligier had a disastrous weekend on their home turf with both René Arnoux and Stefan Johansson failing to qualify, though they did have a celebration of sorts over the weekend as Arnoux turned 40 the day after the race. Julian Bailey also failed to qualify in his Tyrrell, while Piercarlo Ghinzani qualified 22nd in his Zakspeed but was excluded for missing a weight check, thus promoting Oscar Larrauri's EuroBrun to the last grid spot. Larrauri qualifying was to the displeasure of many of those towards the front of the grid as the Argentine in the slower than most EuroBrun-Ford Cosworth had developed a reputation of being a mobile chicane in both qualifying and races and most felt that would be a problem on the shortest track on the F1 calendar.

Race summary[edit]

Prost led away from Senna and the two Ferraris, with Piquet passing the two Benettons for fifth. Despite worries in the McLaren pit about overly high fuel consumption (the fuel readouts in the cars were showing less fuel used than what the Honda telemetry was telling the team), Ron Dennis was reportedly prepared to let his drivers run out of fuel at the expense of a perfect season if it taught them to be more conservative given their obvious advantage over the field, though ultimately the onboard readouts were proved correct. Prost maintained a two-second advantage over Senna until the mid-race pit stops, while an early stop for by Berger on lap 22 allowed team-mate Alboreto through into third. While both McLarens were racing each other out front, they were still pulling away from the field at sometimes a second per lap.

Senna made his pit stop three laps before Prost, enabling him to take the lead thanks to a slow stop for Prost with a sticking front wheel, but traffic on the Mistral Straight (including a less than helpful Piquet who most likely enjoyed seeing Senna lose the lead to Prost at close quarters) and a gearbox problem allowed Prost to close right up to him and then overtake him on lap 61 as they lapped Alex Caffi and Pierluigi Martini at the Signes corner. Meanwhile, Berger reclaimed third only for Alboreto to pass him again during the pit stops, while Mansell suffered his seventh consecutive retirement, dropping out on lap 49 with suspension problems though he had been dropping back for a number of laps with power loss from his Judd engine. After returning to the pits and getting himself cleaned up, the Englishman left the circuit profoundly fed up with the performance of the Williams, fuelling ongoing speculation in the press that he would leave the team at the end of the year to join Ferrari after the Italian team had announced they would not be keeping Alboreto for 1989. Despite the rumours turning out to be correct, Mansell continued to deny he was joining Ferrari.

In the closing laps, Prost pulled away as Senna's gearbox troubles continued, losing several gears. The Brazilian eventually finished nearly 32 seconds behind the Frenchman, though he was still nearly 35 seconds ahead of Alboreto, the last man on the lead lap. Berger was fourth ahead of Piquet, who also suffered gearbox problems in the later stages of the race; the final point went to the Benetton of Nannini. France was the first time since the 1987 Monaco Grand Prix that Alboreto had finished in front of his team mate in a race where they both finished.

The fastest lap of the race, a 1:11.737 set by Prost on lap 45, was over two seconds slower than the 1:09.548 set by Piquet in a Honda-powered Williams the previous year - a consequence of the restrictions imposed on turbocharged engines this season with the major difference being the speeds attained on the now 1 km long Mistral Straight. In 1987 the fastest turbo cars (Honda powered) were timed at 325 km/h (202 mph) on the straight. In 1988 the top speed was recorded at 311 km/h (193 mph).

For Prost it was his third win in his home Grand Prix after winning in both 1981 at Dijon (his first Grand Prix victory) and 1983 at the full length Paul Ricard. On both occasions he had been driving for the factory Renault team.

Classification[edit]

Qualifying[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Q1 Q2 Gap
1 11 France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda 1:08.171 1:07.589
2 12 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 1:08.456 1:08.067 +0.478
3 28 Austria Gerhard Berger Ferrari 1:09.032 1:08.282 +0.693
4 27 Italy Michele Alboreto Ferrari 1:09.624 1:09.422 +1.833
5 20 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Benetton-Ford 1:11.170 1:09.587 +1.998
6 19 Italy Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Ford 1:10.743 1:09.718 +2.129
7 1 Brazil Nelson Piquet Lotus-Honda 1:09.734 1:09.900 +2.145
8 2 Japan Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Honda 1:11.394 1:10.250 +2.661
9 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Judd 1:11.112 1:10.337 +2.748
10 16 Italy Ivan Capelli March-Judd 1:11.779 1:10.496 +2.907
11 17 United Kingdom Derek Warwick Arrows-Megatron 1:11.339 1:10.634 +3.045
12 22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Rial-Ford 1:11.854 1:10.861 +3.272
13 18 United States Eddie Cheever Arrows-Megatron 1:11.567 1:10.979 +3.390
14 36 Italy Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 1:13.144 1:11.211 +3.622
15 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Judd 1:11.671 1:11.286 +3.697
16 15 Brazil Mauricio Gugelmin March-Judd 1:11.315 1:11.404 +3.726
17 14 France Philippe Streiff AGS-Ford 1:12.004 1:11.466 +3.877
18 30 France Philippe Alliot Lola-Ford 1:12.286 1:11.511 +3.922
19 29 France Yannick Dalmas Lola-Ford 1:12.547 1:11.747 +4.158
20 33 Italy Stefano Modena EuroBrun-Ford 1:12.997 1:12.007 +4.418
21 10 West Germany Bernd Schneider Zakspeed 1:13.527 1:12.026 +4.437
22 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 1:13.039 1:12.268 +4.679
23 3 United Kingdom Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 1:13.063 1:12.316 +4.272
24 21 Italy Nicola Larini Osella 1:13.037 1:12.406 +4.817
25 24 Spain Luis Pérez-Sala Minardi-Ford 1:12.938 1:12.525 +4.936
26 32 Argentina Oscar Larrauri EuroBrun-Ford 1:13.888 1:12.538 +4.949
DNQ 25 France René Arnoux Ligier-Judd 1:12.654 1:12.736 +5.065
DNQ 4 United Kingdom Julian Bailey Tyrrell-Ford 1:13.839 1:12.697 +5.108
DNQ 26 Sweden Stefan Johansson Ligier-Judd 1:13.629 1:12.801 +5.212
EX 9 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Zakspeed 1:14.797 1:12.121
DNPQ 31 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Coloni-Ford

Race[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 11 France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda 80 1:37:37.328 1 9
2 12 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 80 + 31.752 2 6
3 27 Italy Michele Alboreto Ferrari 80 + 1:06.505 4 4
4 28 Austria Gerhard Berger Ferrari 79 + 1 Lap 3 3
5 1 Brazil Nelson Piquet Lotus-Honda 79 + 1 Lap 7 2
6 19 Italy Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Ford 79 + 1 Lap 6 1
7 2 Japan Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Honda 79 + 1 Lap 8  
8 15 Brazil Maurício Gugelmin March-Judd 79 + 1 Lap 16  
9 16 Italy Ivan Capelli March-Judd 79 + 1 Lap 10  
10 22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Rial-Ford 78 + 2 Laps 12  
11 18 United States Eddie Cheever Arrows-Megatron 78 + 2 Laps 13  
12 36 Italy Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 78 + 2 Laps 14  
13 29 France Yannick Dalmas Lola-Ford 78 + 2 Laps 19  
14 33 Italy Stefano Modena EuroBrun-Ford 77 + 3 Laps 20  
15 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 77 + 3 Laps 22  
NC 24 Spain Luis Pérez-Sala Minardi-Ford 70 Not Classified 25  
Ret 32 Argentina Oscar Larrauri EuroBrun-Ford 64 Clutch 26  
Ret 21 Italy Nicola Larini Osella 56 Halfshaft 24  
Ret 10 West Germany Bernd Schneider Zakspeed 55 Gearbox 21  
Ret 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Judd 48 Suspension 9  
Ret 30 France Philippe Alliot Lola-Ford 46 Electrical 18  
Ret 3 United Kingdom Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 40 Engine 23  
Ret 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Judd 35 Brakes 15  
Ret 20 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Benetton-Ford 28 Engine 5  
Ret 14 France Philippe Streiff AGS-Ford 20 Fuel Leak 17  
Ret 17 United Kingdom Derek Warwick Arrows-Megatron 11 Spun Off 11  
DNQ 25 France René Arnoux Ligier-Judd    
DNQ 4 United Kingdom Julian Bailey Tyrrell-Ford    
DNQ 26 Sweden Stefan Johansson Ligier-Judd    
DNPQ 31 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Coloni-Ford      
EX 9 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Zakspeed   Excluded  

Standings after the race[edit]

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.

References[edit]


Previous race:
1988 Detroit Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1988 season
Next race:
1988 British Grand Prix
Previous race:
1987 French Grand Prix
French Grand Prix Next race:
1989 French Grand Prix