ALAIN prost’s other teAmmAtes
n 1984, Alain Prost led 345 laps to Niki
Lauda’s 168, scored seven wins to Lauda’s
five, had one fewer DNF, and outqualified
him for all but one race. So how did the
Frenchman lose the title?
Well, when Prost finished behind Lauda,
it was usually the result of a mishap to the
Frenchman, be it a poor pit stop, mechanical
frailties, etc. The fact that four of Niki’s wins
came on days when Alain scored zero gives
an indicator of the real balance of power,
whatever the championship standings say.
In ’ 85, Prost marginalized the reigning
champion, who struggled for motivation
and slipped further away from Prost’s pace.
He also got struck by an un-McLaren-like
spate of reliability issues and he quit at the
end of the year. He did, however, have fun
beating Prost one last time at Zandvoort.
NIKI LAUDA & KEKE ROSBERG
1984-’ 85 & 1986
After two years as test driver for the
Williams-Renault team, Damon Hill got
the chance of a lifetime when Nigel
Mansell quit F1 for CART Indy cars.
As a rookie teammate to Alain Prost,
Hill was never going to mount a World
Championship challenge, and several
times Alain’s method of doing just
enough to prevail was flattering to
Damon’s performance. But there were
also days when the introspective Brit
genuinely appeared to be a match for
the eventual World Champion, such as
in qualifying in France and Portugal,
where Hill took pole position, and in
the races at Silverstone and Spa.
In 1980, F1 rookie Alain Prost triggered
a confidence crisis in John Watson at
McLaren. Although the Ulsterman did
eventually respond well, their cars were
hopeless. Eddie Cheever scored four
podium finishes alongside Prost at
Renault in ’ 83, while Stefan Johansson
took five top-threes at McLaren in ’ 87
and finished sixth in the points standings,
only two places behind Prost.
In ’ 91, despite their mediocre Ferraris,
Prost was able to swiftly dismantle the
reputation of third-year driver Jean
Alesi as being F1’s “Next Big Thing,”
outqualifying his compatriot 12-4.
Hill learned well from Prost, made few errors,
and eventually made himself into a champ.
Prost celebrates his “traditional” French GP
win, with ’ 83 teammate Cheever in third.
Lauda’s successor, 1982 champion Keke
Rosberg, was expected to give Prost a far
harder time, yet the oversteering Finn was
neutered by the understeering McLaren
MP4/2C. John Barnard’s design was now
in its third year and, given its success over
the previous two seasons, McLaren was
unwilling to alter it to suit a newcomer.
Rosberg also struggled at fuel saving,
which had become essential in the war
against the superior Williams-Hondas.
At Hockenheim, rear wings trimmed
out for the enormous straights, Keke
finally had the tail-happy car he wanted
and he took the last pole position of his
career. But that was the exception. Most
weekends during 1986, he wasn’t on the
same level as Prost. Like Lauda, Rosberg
retired at the end of the season.
Do not adjust your
eyes. In deference
to Marlboro’s desire
to promote its Lights
brand, Rosberg ran
this yellowish livery
in the Portuguese
Grand Prix in ’ 86.
in their final race
together, in Australia,
Mansell edged Prost
in qualifying and blew
him away on race day.
(FAR LEFt) Prost’s
arrival at McLaren
put Lauda on the
defensive, but niki
couldn’t help liking
Alain, and instead fell
out majorly with team
principal Ron dennis.