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Bellof’s rain dance

2 years ago

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Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


18 February 2022

When I was young, I was taught a mantra that has stayed with me ever since. I’m not sure I believed in it then and I certainly don’t now, but it has a seductive quality whose appeal I cannot deny even half a century later: ‘Tell the truth and nothing but the truth. But how much of the truth you tell is entirely up to you.’

And the truth and nothing but the truth is that Ayrton Senna was the rightful winner of the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix. Armed with only a Toleman TG184 with a four-cylinder Hart engine and pitched against the might of the McLaren MP4/2 driven by the almost always faultless Alain Prost, Senna was leading the race when it was stopped after just 32 of its scheduled 76 laps had been completed.

Why was it stopped? It has been a bone of contention ever since. The official reason was that the Clerk of the Course decided the weather conditions had deteriorated sufficiently for racing to no longer be safe. But others smelled a rat. Wasn’t it just a little too convenient that the decision allowed a Frenchman to win an all-but home race? MotorSport magazine’s experienced and always level headed reporter Alan Henry thought the weather conditions no worse than they’d been in 1972 when the race had been allowed to run its full distance. Keke Rosberg opined that he’d won the International Trophy F1 race at Silverstone in 1978 in no better conditions, while Ken Tyrrell pointed out that, in his view, the conditions at the time of the race’s cessation were actually better than they’d been at the start, an hour earlier.

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