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
How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive Plus

How Tyrrell’s post-Stewart era descended into a fight to survive

Glory days for Tyrrell became increasingly infrequent
 after Jackie Stewart’s retirement. But in the latest instalment of his history of the team for Autosport's sister title GP Racing, 
MAURICE HAMILTON recalls how Ken Tyrrell’s plucky and defiantly small team stayed bold enough to innovate – springing a surprise with F1’s first six-wheeled car

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start Plus

The forgettable final car of a former F1 giant that gave Damon Hill his start

While it launched the F1 career 
of a future world champion, STUART CODLING recalls that the BT60 was also the final nail in the coffin of a once-great marque 30 years ago. Here is its story

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2022
How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future Plus

How departing F1 boss Brawn views F1’s new rules - and the future

Multiple-title-winning designer and team boss Ross Brawn is finally leaving Formula 1 after nearly 50 years in motorsport. But he still has plenty of insights on what’s working and what comes next, as he revealed to Autosport in a far-reaching exclusive interview in Abu Dhabi

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2022
The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat Plus

The key F1 management call Ferrari must make to avoid more defeat

OPINION: Mattia Binotto’s departure from Ferrari will naturally bring a range of changes across the Formula 1 team. But how the changes shape up and the impact they could have is set to be dictated by a key direction Ferrari’s top dogs will need to pick

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2022
The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants Plus

The difference between Mercedes’ stumble and the fall of F1 giants

OPINION: Mercedes endured its worst season of the hybrid Formula 1 era, but was mercifully spared its first winless campaign in over a decade late on. It has owned up to the mistakes it made which led to its troubled W13. And while its task to return to title-challenging contention is not small, its 2022 season seems more like a blip than the beginning of a downward spiral.

Formula 1
Nov 29, 2022
The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star Plus

The physical focus bringing out the best of an F1 midfield star

Esteban Ocon likes to point out he’s the first driver since Lewis Hamilton to emerge from a spell as Fernando Alonso’s team-mate with a superior overall points record. While some may disagree, as LUKE SMITH discovered, the 2021 Hungarian GP winner reckons it’s not just luck which has made him France’s pre-eminent Formula 1 driver of the moment…

Formula 1
Nov 28, 2022
How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy Plus

How Red Bull's dynamic leader shaped its F1 philosophy

The death of Dietrich Mateschitz last month has not only deprived Red Bull of its visionary founder, it has shorn Formula 1 of one of its most influential benefactors. Mateschitz himself was famously media-shy, preferring to let the brand do the talking on his behalf. And, while it’s now normal to speak of Red Bull F1 titles and champions made, Mateschitz never assumed it would be easy or even possible – as ANTHONY ROWLINSON discovered during this previously unpublished interview from 2006…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2022
Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom? Plus

Can Mercedes break Formula 1's cycle of doom?

OPINION: Teams that have dominated for long periods throughout Formula 1's history often take years to get back to the top of the tree once they've slipped down. But it remains to be seen whether the same will happen to Mercedes after a challenging 2022 season

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2022