Lauda's final stand: When Formula 1 last visited Zandvoort

On the weekend Formula 1 heads back to the dunes of Zandvoort for the first time in 36 years, we look back at the last edition of the Dutch Grand Prix.

Lauda's final stand: When Formula 1 last visited Zandvoort

Formula 1 was a very different place the last time the coastal resort of Zandvoort hosted a grand prix. Three-time world champion Niki Lauda was in the twilight of his career, doing battle with rising stars like Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Nelson Piquet was right in the middle of his illustrious F1 career, heading towards a tough end to his time at Brabham.

Not for the first time, the 1985 edition was hit by rain on Saturday, which meant the grid was formed based on Friday practice times. That handed pole to Piquet in the Brabham, ahead of the Williams of Keke Rosberg. McLaren's Alain Prost and Lotus driver Ayrton Senna shared the second row.

Teo Fabi was an unlikely fifth on the grid in his Toleman, alongside Renault driver Patrick Tambay. Nigel Mansell was seventh in the second Williams, while reigning world champion Niki Lauda had his work cut out starting from tenth in the McLaren.

Piquet may have benefitted from Saturday’s washout, but that all came undone at the start of a dry race on Sunday. The Brazilian stalled his BMW engine, handing the lead to Rosberg.

The Finn managed to keep a reasonable gap to second-placed Senna in the opening stages, while the McLarens vaulted up the grid and soon dispatched Fabi’s Toleman.

Senna would then suffer niggling engine issues with his Lotus-Renault, which allowed both Prost and Lauda past. Meanwhile Fabi retired with a faulty rear wheel bearing, ending his hopes for a dream result.

The 70-lap race of attrition would soon claim another victim. On lap 21 leader Rosberg ground to a halt with a smoking Honda engine.

That appeared to be the sign for Lauda to make a pitstop for fresh tyres. Lauda was stuck behind McLaren teammate Prost while Senna, who had managed to get going again, starting ramping up the pressure.

With Prost leading from Senna, Lauda rejoined in eight, but the Austrian’s afternoon was made a whole lot easier by the retirement of both Renaults.

Following Senna's pitstop for new rubber, Lauda moved back up to third. Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto made a brief cameo in second place, splitting the McLarens before his pitstop.

Prost was next in at the end of lap 33, but suffered a disastrous pitstop and fell back behind Senna but in front of Alboreto.

That left a cunning Lauda out in front at the halfway point, effectively undercutting his rivals before that term was even a thing in Formula 1.

Prost quickly caught Senna and passed the Brazilian into Turn One on lap 47, and then set his sights on his teammate.

As the Frenchman closed the gap to Lauda, the tens of thousands of fans crowding the Dutch dunes were excitedly anticipating a showdown between a world champion of the past and one of the future.

With no team orders at McLaren, Lauda made sure to take a central line going into the corners to block Prost on the narrow Zandvoort track. Prost found no way through and crossed the line two tenths behind Lauda.

Lauda took his 25th career win, putting him on equal terms with Jim Clark. Prost and Senna joined him on the podium, a sure sign of things to come. Alboreto was fourth ahead of Elio de Angelis and Mansell.

It would also prove Lauda’s last win and his only podium finish in a tough swansong season at McLaren.

Niki Lauda, McLaren
Niki Lauda, McLaren
1/9

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

Elio de Angelis, Lotus 97T Renault
Elio de Angelis, Lotus 97T Renault
2/9

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Jacques Laffite, Ligier JS25 Renault
Jacques Laffite, Ligier JS25 Renault
3/9

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

Teo Fabi, Toleman TG185 Hart
Teo Fabi, Toleman TG185 Hart
4/9

Photo by: Sutton Images

Stefan Bellof, Tyrrell 014
Stefan Bellof, Tyrrell 014
5/9

Photo by: Sutton Images

Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4/2B TAG Porsche
Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4/2B TAG Porsche
6/9

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Alain Prost leads Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4/2B TAG Porsche
Alain Prost leads Niki Lauda, McLaren MP4/2B TAG Porsche
7/9

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Niki Lauda leads Alain Prost, McLaren MP4-2B TAG
Niki Lauda leads Alain Prost, McLaren MP4-2B TAG
8/9

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Niki Lauda, McLaren, Alain Prost, McLaren, Ayrton Senna, Lotus
Niki Lauda, McLaren, Alain Prost, McLaren, Ayrton Senna, Lotus
9/9

Photo by: Motorsport Images

The 1985 Dutch Grand Prix was not just Lauda’s last stand, but also Zandvoort’s final F1 race.

While improvements were made to the circuit in the wake of several fatal accidents, including those of Piers Courage and Roger Williamson, the track was largely unchanged and room for improvement was limited due to the adjacent housing estate.

After Formula 1’s departure the track was effectively cut in half and reduced to a club circuit, keeping the first sector intact but bypassing fearsome corners like Scheivlak, Tunnel Oost and Bos Uit.

It would take another decade for Zandvoort to reinstate part of its old layout in a new international circuit, but by then the F1 dream was long gone.

A shock return to the Formula 1 calendar was to follow this very weekend, on the back of local hero Max Verstappen’s meteoric rise in the sport.

shares
comments

Related video

F1 drivers call for fans to minimise flare usage at Dutch GP

Previous article

F1 drivers call for fans to minimise flare usage at Dutch GP

Next article

Why Turn 3's Fibonacci angles could make it Zandvoort standout

Why Turn 3's Fibonacci angles could make it Zandvoort standout
Load comments
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Plus

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding 
into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? STUART CODLING talks to the man in charge

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory Plus

The hidden factors that thwarted Hamilton's bid for shock Turkish GP glory

Starting 11th after his engine change grid penalty, Lewis Hamilton faced a tough task to repeat his Turkish Grand Prix heroics of 2020 - despite making strong early progress in the wet. Instead, his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas broke through for a first win of the year to mitigate Max Verstappen re-taking the points lead

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021
How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form Plus

How pitstops evolved into an F1 art form

A Formula 1 pitstop is a rapid-fire blend of high technology and human performance. PAT SYMONDS describes how the science of margin gains makes stops so quick

Formula 1
Oct 10, 2021
Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems Plus

Why Mercedes' Istanbul edge is both stronger and weaker than it seems

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton dominated the opening day of action for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, on the Istanbul circuit’s much improved track surface. But the Black Arrows squad’s position isn’t quite what it seems. Here’s why

Formula 1
Oct 8, 2021