F1 / 7 April 1985, Brazilian GP: ‘Made in Italy’ debuts and podiums – History

The passage of Antonio Giovinazzi from F1 to Formula E has generated a sad statistic for Italy in the Circus: to date, in fact, there is no tricolor driver present on the starting grid, with our country remaining in the top flight ‘only ‘thanks to the participation of teams such as Ferrari and AlphaTauri. The latter reality, moreover, is today closely linked to what happened on April 7, 1985exactly 37 years ago, when the world championship of that year was inaugurated with the Brazilian Grand Prix. On the Jacarepaguà track, in fact, for the first time the Ford-Cosworth engines started the one who, some time later, became the team we know today as Alpha Tauri, but which in the past was known as Minardi.

Founded by Gian Carlo Minardi in 1979 in Faenza, it immediately became one of the major points of reference in the peninsula for young promises of motorsport, as well as one of the most valid teams in the minor categories. Also thanks to these credentials, the team managed to enter F1 in 1985 – after some previously failed attempts – deploying another Italian as the only driver. Pierluigi Martini, also in its absolute debut. Before being sold to Red Bull in 2006, with the transformation into the current AlphaTauri – known until 2020 with the name of Toro Rosso – Minardi thus managed to realize its sporting dream, perfectly representing a country in excellent shape. in the world of competitions, also reflecting a society and an economy completely different from that of today.

To confirm this last aspect there was, among other things, the rich presence of Italian pilots in that season, with ben seven signatures included in the list of participants of the Brazilian GP. With the continuation of the 1985 World Cup, moreover, the overall number will then even increase in double figures, reaching a total of ten. An entire nation’s dreams of glory were placed primarily in Michele Alboretoin his sophomore year in Ferrari. The collective hopes were initially respected at the first try, already from the qualifying session: the Milanese, in fact, obtained the best time in qualifying, conquering what would become his second and last pole position in Formula 1. Alain Prost disappointed, only 6th with his McLaren, while another Italian was particularly highlighted as Elio De Angelis, 3rd with the Lotus.

The race – which remained in doubt until the end about its regular development due to the critical health conditions of the President of Brazil Tancredo Neves – however, saw the Frenchman as an authentic protagonist, thanks to a good comeback also favored by the retirements of the pilots in the top positions , above all Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna Niki Lauda and Nigel Mansell, the latter author of a contact with Alboreto. The ‘Teacher’, after passing the Ferrari driver on the track, he managed to keep the leadership even after the pit stops, keeping the lead in front of Alboreto himself and De Angelis, third in front of a René Arnoux who was also in great shape with Ferrari. In this way, the first race of the world championship ended with two Italians on the podium, also giving way to a battle between Prost and Alboreto that would last for the whole of 1985: the challenge, in the end, was resolved by a whisker in favor of the French. A duel still today synonymous with the last Italian driver capable of seriously fighting for the conquest of the world title; a sweet sporting memory that manages to integrate perfectly with the personality of a man who is still lacking by many today, just like his compatriot Elio De Angelis. Two talents who left us too soon. Two drivers and two men from other times, from an Italy that no longer exists, not even in F1.


FP | Alessandro Prada


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