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FIA Formula One World Championship season
|Races by country • Races by season|
The 1984 Formula One season was the 35th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 1984 Formula One World Championship for Drivers and the 1984 Fomula One World Championship for Manufacturers which were contested concurrently over a sixteen-race series which commenced on March 25, 1984, and ended on October 21.
In the Championship for Drivers, the season became a duel between McLaren's Alain Prost and Niki Lauda. Lauda eventually prevailed by the slimmest of margins – half a point – despite Prost winning the last two Grands Prix of the year.
Team and driver changes
- Brabham retained their 850 bhp (634 kW; 862 PS) BMW engines along with reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet. Italian brothers Teo and Corrado Fabi replaced Riccardo Patrese and shared the #2 seat allowing older brother Teo to honour commitments in the US based CART World Series.
- Tyrrell had an all new driver line up. Gone were Michele Alboreto and Danny Sullivan and in were F1 rookie Martin Brundle and young West German ace Stefan Bellof. Tyrrell were the only team to run the full season with the naturally aspirated, 530 bhp (395 kW; 537 PS), Cosworth DFV V8.
- Williams retained their 1983 line up of 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite. Williams also had exclusive use of the Honda V6 turbo engine for the entire season after having only run it in the last race of 1983 in South Africa.
- McLaren had exclusive use of the new TAG-Porsche turbo engine while Frenchman Alain Prost replaced John Watson and joined double World Champion Niki Lauda in what was seen as the strongest driver line up of the season.
- Lotus promised to get back to their glory days with the Renault engines and their 1983 driver line up of Elio de Angelis and Nigel Mansell who would drive the all new Lotus 95T designed by former Renault chief designer Gérard Ducarouge.
- After a disappointing end to the 1983 season which saw the factory Renault team lose its way at the end of the year costing Alain Prost the Drivers' Championship and the team the Constructors' Championship, the major changes to the national French team was its drivers as well as the loss of designer Ducarouge. Prost and American Eddie Cheever were replaced with Patrick Tambay and Englishman Derek Warwick. The all new RE50 which was designed by Michel Tétu and Bernard Dudot, was powered by the 800 bhp (597 kW; 811 PS) EF4 engine.
- Toleman, who were an up and coming team in Formula One, lost Warwick to Renault but signed Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto who was a former Grand Prix motorcycle World Champion in the 350 and 750 classes, as well as a rookie from Brazil by the name of Ayrton Senna, the reigning British Formula 3 Champion. The team continued to use the turbocharged Hart 415T engine for the 1984 season to power their 1983 car, the TG183B and their new car which appeared for the first time at Dijon, the TG184.
- Alfa Romeo lost major sponsor Marlboro and replacing the red and white was the green and red of Italian clothes manufacturer Benetton. Also gone were drivers Andrea de Cesaris and Mauro Baldi, replaced by Riccardo Patrese and Eddie Cheever. The team continued to use the thirsty, and moderately powerful (680 bhp (507 kW; 689 PS)) 890T V8 turbocharged engine for the season.
- Ferrari introduced the latest version of their successful 126C model, dubbed the 126C4, which was powered by the 850 bhp (634 kW; 862 PS) Tipo 031 V6 engine. With Tambay having departed for Renault, the team signed its first Italian driver since 1973 with Michele Alboreto to join Frenchman René Arnoux, who had finished third in the Drivers' Championship for Ferrari in 1983. It was reported that Enzo Ferrari broke his own rule against signing an Italian driver when he signed Alboreto who would be the first Italian driver at Ferrari since Arturo Merzario.
The season had been expected to see a continuation of the Brabham-Renault-Ferrari battle, with supporting roles for McLaren, Williams and Lotus. McLaren however had stolen a march on its competitors thanks to its TAG turbo engine and the John Barnard-designed MP4/2. The combination of dual World Champion Lauda, nine time Grand Prix winner Prost, the TAG-Porsche and the MP4/2 quickly becoming the class of the field.
The FISA had introduced new fuel economy rules aimed at reducing speeds, ruling that cars must have a 220 litre fuel tank, with re-fueling now banned (the tank had to be 220L but teams were free to try and squeeze more in if they could, which some tried with methods such as freezing the fuel inside the tank). TAG, who had switched from being just a sponsor with Williams to being a partner with McLaren team boss Ron Dennis, commissioned German sports car manufacturer Porsche to design and build a V6 turbocharged engine. Porsche had extensive experience with similar economy rules due to its participation in endurance racing and this translated in superior fuel economy.
Reigning world driver's champion Nelson Piquet and his Brabham-BMW were usually the fastest combination on track but appalling early season reliability, where the reigning Drivers' World Champion failed to score a point due to numerous engine and turbo failures before his win in Canada, meant he was never able to challenge consistently, and by half way through the season it was apparent he wouldn't repeat as champion.
The season saw a titanic battle between both McLaren drivers Niki Lauda and Alain Prost. Prost had been sacked by Renault after failing to win the 1983 title (Prost had openly criticised Renault for failing to develop the RE40 during the season, resulting in the loss of both the Drivers' and Constructors championships). Fast and ambitious, the Frenchman quickly established his dominance over his teammate, especially in qualifying, though Lauda's race driving saw him often a match for his younger team mate.
Austrian Niki Lauda had returned to F1 in 1982 and soon showed he had lost nothing of his earlier determination and guile. He regularly matched the pace of his 1982-1983 McLaren team mate John Watson, but Alain Prost was a different kettle of fish. Lauda quickly realized he could not beat his young team mate on speed. The wily Austrian therefore ignored qualifying and concentrated on his race strategies. By winning races when Prost ran into trouble and scoring relentlessly when Prost proved quicker, Lauda was just able to win the title. He was the only second driver after Denny Hulme in 1967 to have ever won the title without achieving a single pole position in the season.
During the season, the Tyrrell team had its results stripped after a technical infringement.
McLaren dominated the season, with Prost winning a record 7 races, and Lauda winning 5. The team also scored four 1-2 results during the season to easily win the Constructors Championship with a then record 143.5 points, some 86 points in front of second placed Ferrari. McLaren won 12 of the season's 16 races, with Brabham's reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet scoring two wins and Michele Alboreto (Ferrari) and Keke Rosberg (Williams-Honda) won one race each. For Japanese giant Honda, Rosberg's win in Dallas would be the first of 40 wins for their turbocharged V6 engines until the turbos were phased out following the 1988 season.
Drivers and constructors
- ^ Half points awarded after race was stopped due to dangerous conditions.
1984 Formula 1 World Championship for Drivers: Final standings
Points towards the 1984 Formula 1 World Championship for Drivers were awarded on a 9-6-4-3-2-1 basis to the first six finishers in each race.
† Half points were awarded at the Monaco Grand Prix as less than 75% of the scheduled distance was completed.
1984 Formula 1 World Championship for Manufacturers: Final standings
Points towards the 1984 Formula 1 World Championship for Manufacturers were awarded on a 9-6-4-3-2-1 basis to the first six finishers in each race.
- On 18 July, Tyrrell was disqualified from all races so far that season, and banned from competing in remaining races, due to a technical infringement which was discovered at the Detroit race.
- † Half points were awarded at the Monaco Grand Prix as less than 75% of the scheduled distance was completed.
- 1985 FIA Yearbook, Red section, pages 84-85