European Grand Prix History Part 1 of 4

By Carlo Carluccio (aka Angry Old Man Yelling at Clouds)

Written in association with Missed Apex Podcast. Listen in the player below the article and please don't forget to comment.

September 25th 1983 was the first running of the European Grand Prix since 1977 and it took place at Brands Hatch in the UK. My father and I headed down to the circuit, that morning, to attend what would be our 3rd F1 event in just over a year.

Ferrari were still fighting for both the drivers and constructors titles against the might of the French Renault team and the gloriously liveried dart known as the Brabham-BMW which was driven by the obnoxious Nelson Piquet.

Having attended the previous year’s British Grand Prix at Brands and 1983’s British event at Silverstone, the seasonal change from summer to autumn gave it a slightly different feel – the heat of summer replaced by the heat of a title battle.

As the cars emerged for the morning warm-up…

Oh crap!! Sorry, dear readers…

I’m recalling a memory that Mr Ecclestone has deemed beneath the current generation of race goers. You see, back in the day, F1 catered for the track-side fans. The people who had followed the sport throughout its history.

A race weekend had sessions on Friday and Saturday mornings with unlimited running. In the respective afternoons a full hours qualifying session would be run to determine the grid for Sunday’s race. On the Sunday morning the teams would run for 30 minutes to check the car setups before the race that began at 13.00.

In between all these hours of F1 action would be a full race support package and air displays – obviously in the days before Health and Safety got their grubby mitts on Bernie’s Filofax.

Anyway on to the race.

My papa and I set ourselves up at the exit of Druids hairpin from where the trusty Canon was called into action as I recorded the freeze-frame images to individual cells of the photographic film. These would be processed at a later time by a chemist whose work would leave me disappointed, once again, by my poor attempts at photography.

Of course I imagine this experience as a young teenager, left an indelible mark upon my psyche which is why I preach to my children about viewing life through a telephone screen…

Anyway, back to that Sunday afternoon, the Lotus of Elio De Angelis led from pole position ahead of Ricardo Patrese’s Brabham. Just behind was local hero Nigel Mansell in the other Lotus and the aforementioned Piquet.

There followed the Ferrari duo and then the canary yellow Renaults. Further down the grid was the laughable Mclaren duo of Niki Lauda and John Watson in their Tag powered cars. It was joyous watching this team struggling with their Porsche designed engines. What did the Stuttgart manufacturer know about F1.

In my defence, we have all been naive 15 year olds once upon a time…

76 laps passed quickly and the memories that linger 33 years later - without looking back at photos – is the ‘shotgun’ sound of the DFV powered cars as they changed gears, the glorious spectacle of F1 cars navigating Brands Hatch’s voluptuous landscape and the abject failure of Ferrari once again.

Who would have guessed that it would be another 16 years before they won another title.

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