• European Grand Prix

Prost wins to take title fight to season finale

ESPN Staff
October 7, 1984
Ayrton Senna takes flight after making contact with Keke Rosberg's Williams © Sutton Images

Alain Prost's victory in the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring ensured the title race would go into the final weekend in Portugal. With McLaren team-mate Niki Lauda finishing only fourth, Prost cut his lead to 4½ points.

Lauda was the centre of attention in the build-up to the grand prix but only because of the increasing uncertainty as to where he would be in 1985. Talks with McLaren were stalling and it was only as the teams headed to Germany he issued a denial of reports linking him with Renault and Ferrari. Hours later he re-signed with McLaren.

It was Lauda's first race back at the circuit where he had almost burned to death eight years earlier. But before the race he had simply said: "Another race, another circuit."

After a multi-million dollar rebuild and also having been shortened from 14.2 to 2.82 miles, the Ring was almost unrecognisable. But there was nothing that could be done about the notorious weather and true to form, Saturday's qualifying session took place in unremitting drizzle. Friday times decided the grid.

Prost's preparations ended abruptly when he spun in the morning warm-up and slid into a course car. His McLaren sustained damage but nothing serious and he opted to use it anyway for the race itself.

Again Nelson Piquet took pole but it was Prost, also on the front row, who led into the first corner from the Renault of Patrick Tambay. Behind them an accident accounted for five drivers, among them Ayrton Senna and Keke Rosberg. That Lauda had only qualified in 15th worked in his favour as he was able to avoid the tangle of cars. By the fifth lap he was up to sixth.

Prost shook off Tambay and Piquet, but Lauda's hopes all but disappeared when he spun as he tried to follow Michele Alboreto's Ferrari through a narrow gap when lapping Jo Gartner and Mauro Baldi. Lauda kept the engine running but fell to sixth and he thereafter had to nurse a car affected by tyre imbalance.

Prost eased to victory and once Tambay's engine let him down 20 laps from home, Prost was never challenged.

Piquet seemed set for second but his Brabham spluttered as its fuel ran out within sight of the line allowing Alboreto to pass - although the Ferrari then also ran out and Piquet was almost able to claw back the runner-up's position.

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