A Checkered Flag

Hockenheimring, klemcoll, checkered flag

This photograph was taken at the unusual ending of the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on July 26, 1987. It had been a truly unpredictable race in that it was unsure until the very end that any of the 26 starters would actually finish. This was at the height of the competition between the 1.5 liter turbo F1 cars and the Cosworth-powered 3.5 liter normally aspirated runners, introduced before the 3.5 liter limitation would take over in 1989. These races balanced the need for the turbo cars to avoid running out of fuel against their less powerful but more reliable normally-aspirated competitors. For the mid-field turbo teams it was also a case of not keeping up or blowing up.

Hockenheim was at the time a real power circuit with its long runs through the forest out to the Ostkurve and back, broken only by three chicanes. Therefore, the five non-turbo cars had been relegated to the back of the grid during qualifying only trailed by a single Osella-Alfa Romeo turbo. Twenty-one of the turbo contingent took the start – by the finish only two were running and only two more barely made it to the checkered flag. 

Lotus, Williams McLaren, German GP, klemcoll, Ayrton SennaQualifying gave pole position to Nigel Mansell with one of the two Williams FW11B-Hondas two-tenths ahead of Ayrton Senna’s Lotus 99T-Honda with Alain Prost (McLaren MP4/3-TAG Porsche) and Nelson Piquet in the second Williams behind them. At the start Mansell did not execute very well and Senna came through to take the lead for a lap, as seen at the left with Michele Alboreto’s Ferrari F1/86 almost next to Piquet. 

Soon the retirements began in earnest among the turbos especially. Alboreto and Gerhard Berger (Ferraris) were both out along with both Ligier-Megatrons, both Brabham-BMWs, both Arrows-Megatrons, both Minardi-Motori Modernis and both Benetton-Ford Turbos. Mansell was out near half-distance as well.

Williams, Nelson Piquet, klemcoll, German GPAs the race wound down, Prost seemed to have it wrapped up for McLaren with Piquet running second and Stefan Johansson’s McLaren a distant third. Five laps to go and Prost was out with an alternator belt failure and Piquet, at the left, would inherit the win. Johansson had a tire explode on his last lap and somehow made it to the flag as a tricycle before Senna, who was a lap down in third, could catch him. The two 3.5 liter Tyrrell-Fords and a similar Lola had moved up as the turbos blew up, finishing fourth through sixth.

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

To see more photos from our archive go to: http://www.klemcoll.com/TheGallery.aspx

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