Alain Prost finally made it to the top in 1985. After being squeezed out in the previous two years, the Frenchman secured his first title at the end of a highly competitive year in the McLaren-TAG. Nothing could stop him now.
Two future World Champions made big career moves for 1985. Nigel Mansell left Lotus to join Williams. While Ayrton Senna quit Toleman for Lotus. Jacques Laffite returned to Ligier from Williams, while Arrows signed Gerhard Berger, who had shone for ATS, and Teo Fabi led a reorganised Toleman from Monaco on. Tyrrell finally joined the turbo club, landing Renault engines for Brundle and Bellof, albeit starting the year with trusty Ford Cosworths. New teams Minardi, Haas Lola and Zakspeed joined the show. Michele Alboreto began in fine form, taking pole for Ferrari in Rio de Janeiro. Keke Rosberg was alongside, and both led, but victory went to Prost, while Alboreto took second, ahead of Elio de Angelis's Lotus.
René Arnoux finished fourth in the second Ferrari, but fell out with Enzo and refused to turn out for a test session and was replaced by Stefan Johansson.There had been flashes of brilliance in 1984 with Toleman, so no one was too surprised when Senna put his Renault-powered Lotus on pole in Portugal. The race was soaking wet, but the weather only emphasised his skills as others aquaplaned off the track as he stormed to his first win. Alboreto was a distant second, finishing more than a minute behind.
Senna was again on pole at Imola, and led for 56 laps, then ran out of fuel. Johansson took over, but he too ran dry. So Prost was first home, only to be disqualified for being underweight. Thus victory went to de Angelis with the rest a lap behind...
In Monaco, Senna made it three straight poles, and he and Alboreto took turns in the lead, but Prost came through for his second win of the year. Alboreto kept up his scoring rate with second. Lotus swept the front row in Canada, this time with de Angelis ahead of Senna. Elio led for 15 laps before Alboreto took over and won, while Johansson made it a Ferrari one-two. Senna was back on pole in Detroit, but he was one of many to crash, along with Mansell and Prost. Rosberg took the lead early on to give Williams its first win of the year.
Rosberg took pole at Paul Ricard, but it was Brabham's day as Piquet won and gave Pirelli its first success since 1957! Rosberg took second, ahead of Prost. Silverstone saw the most impressive qualifying lap of the year as Rosberg stormed to pole at over 160mph. Yet Senna led for 58 laps until he ran out of fuel. Prost took over and won by a lap from Alboreto, while Rosberg dropped out of third with exhaust problems.
The all-new Nurburgring played host to the German Grand Prix for the first time, and Toleman's Teo Fabi took a surprise pole. Ferrari men Alboreto and Johansson tangled at the first corner, but Alboreto fought back to win after Rosberg and Senna had spells in front. Prost continued to pile up points with second place.
The Austrian Grand Prix had to be restarted after a first lap crash. Lauda led for the first time this year but retired and Prost went on to win. Senna and Alboreto were next up. The race was notable as it was the first one with an all-turbo field, Tyrrell finally ceasing to use its Ford Cosworths and running both of its cars with Renault turbos hereafter after several races of experimentation.
Zandvoort hosted a grand prix for the final time, and Piquet took pole, but Rosberg led early on. Prost took over when Rosberg retired yet again, but it was Lauda who came through the field to notch up his first win of the year - and what turned out to be the last victory of his career.
Monza was a familiar story, with Senna on pole and Rosberg leading early on. But Prost won from Piquet and Senna. Prost was on pole at Spa-Francorchamps, but Senna won from Mansell. As in 1983, Brands Hatch hosted the European Grand Prix, and Mansell came good in front of his home crowd, scoring his first win ahead of Senna and Rosberg. Meanwhile, fourth place clinched the title for a cautious Prost. Mansell was on top form now, and at Kyalami he took pole and led Rosberg home, with Prost third.
The season ended with a new race on the streets of Adelaide. Senna took pole, but Prost won, while Ligier ended the season on a high note, with Laffite and Streiff taking second and third. Lauda led a couple of laps, but crashed.
Although Formula One had enjoyed a relatively safe season, two talented drivers lost their lives in sports cars: Manfred Winkelhock, of ATS, died at Mosport Park, while Tyrrell's Bellof was killed at Spa-Francorchamps.