Into the Pool

Mannelle Monaco Grand Prix, Lotus

Here is Nigel Mansell in the Lotus 97T turbo car turning into the Swimming Pool complex at the Monaco Grand Prix on June 3, 1984 as heavy rain pelts down. The Lotus with its instant-on turbo throttle was an especially difficult grand prix car on the Monte Carlo street circuit. But Mansell had excelled in practice getting onto the front row of the grid just a tenth behind the time of Alain Prost with the McLaren MP4/2.

After some first lap crashes at Ste. Devote, Mansell followed Prost until he got by on the ninth lap. That was all well and good, but the conditions got the best of the aggressive British driver and he went into the barriers a few laps later after being caught out on a painted white line, leaving Prost back in the lead which he held until the race was stopped because of the conditions.

However, that red flag in itself was not without controversy. For much of the race Ayrton Senna had been magical in the Toleman TG184 coming right through the field until he was running second and inexorably closing the distance to Prost. After the 31st lap the Chief Steward, the Belgian driver Jacky Ickx, no slouch in wet weather himself, decided to stop the race. Senna was furious with that decision as he had seen a path to victory with some 46 laps still to be contested. But after the race his mechanics said that his car would not have lasted. Stefan Bellof in a normally-aspirated Tyrrell 012 started 20th and last and came through to finish third. He was closing in on both Prost and Senna over the final laps.

The FIA decided to award half points for the shortened race which ultimately may have cost Prost the Championship as Niki Lauda, his teammate, would win it over Prost by a one-half point margin.

Photo by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com

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