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Your classic grand prix - race six

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Andrew Benson | 10:25 UK time, Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The 1984 Monaco Grand Prix is our selection for the latest edition of our classic races series, and it fits the description on every level.

It was not only a superb race, but it was also packed with controversy and in addition marked the emergence of two stellar talents, Ayrton Senna and Stefan Bellof, both of whom were later to die in racing cars.

It was a wet race, ultimately won by Alain Prost in a McLaren, one of seven victories by the great Frenchman that year. But behind that rather banal statistic lies a compelling story.

The full 'Grand Prix' highlights programme from the time is embedded here, with the links to shorter cuts of all the options linked below, along with the hour-long highlights programme of last year's race.

Classic F1 is currently scheduled to go up on satellite and cable from midday BST on Wednesday 12 May and will run until the start of first practice on Thursday. It will be available on Freeview from 1900 BST on Wednesday 12 May and should run until 2300 BST the same day.

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Now, to the story of that 1984 race.

Prost was on pole position, and he led from the start, while behind him there was a crash involving Renault drivers Patrick Tambay and Derek Warwick, who both suffered leg injuries caused when their suspension wishbones pierced the monocoque of their cars.

The McLaren was the fastest car that year, but its TAG/Porsche turbo engine was not the easiest to handle in the wet, and Prost never looked comfortable in the lead.

He was passed by Nigel Mansell's Lotus-Renault on lap nine and as the Englishman pulled away at around two seconds a lap he looked on course for his maiden victory - until he made a very famous mistake.

Climbing the hill out of Sainte Devote towards the Casino, one of Mansell's rear wheels touched a white line painted on the road, and he spun heartbreakingly into the barriers. Team boss Peter Warr, who thought Mansell had been pushing too hard, was furious - and continues to castigate Mansell in interviews to this day. It was to be another season and a half - by which time Mansell had switched to Williams - before he broke his duck.

Prost re-took the lead, but by this time Senna, then in his rookie year for Toleman, was second.

Senna had arrived in F1 with a fanfare after a stellar rise through the junior categories. But so far he had been generally under the radar.

All that changed that afternoon in Monaco as he began carving chunks out of Prost's lead. Meanwhile, another rookie, the highly rated German Bellof, had quickly moved through the field from the back of the grid in his Tyrrell, and was catching both of them!

As the top three got ever closer together, heavy rain continued to fall on the streets of Monaco, and there were inevitable conversations about whether the race should be stopped.

Prost, for one, certainly thought things were getting too dangerous, and he gesticulated to the race officials to throw the red flag.

On lap 30, Senna was just seven seconds behind Prost and it was at this time that race director Jacky Ickx decided that conditions were too dangerous to continue. He waved the red flag at the end of the next lap.

The decision caused enormous controversy for two reasons.

Firstly, because Senna had closed rapidly on Prost in the course of lap 31, and was right behind him as the McLaren crossed the line, taking the lead just afterwards (although he was classified as seven seconds behind, because in a red-flag situation, results are taken from the end of the previous lap).

Secondly, Ickx at the time was a driver for the Porsche sportscar team - and Prost had an engine that had been built by Porsche, even if its official name was TAG after a McLaren sponsor which paid for it. And some scented conspiracy, a charge Ickx - a winner of eight grands prix himself, including six for Ferrari - rejected as ridiculous.

Ever since, the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix has generated debate. Was Prost the rightful winner? Was Senna? Was Bellof, who was reeling them both in?

Adding spice to the debate is the result of that year's championship.

Ultimately, Prost lost out to team-mate Niki Lauda, who won two fewer races than him but had better reliability, by the smallest margin in F1 history - just half a point.

Because Monaco was cut short, only half points were awarded - giving Prost four and a half for his victory.

Had the race continued until 75% of the full distance had been completed - 57 laps - and had Prost finished second to Senna, he would have been awarded six points. And he would have been world champion.

To many, that - in the case of both the race and the title - would have been the rightful result.


  • Comment number 1.

    Glad 1984 won.


    Hope it rains in Monaco.
    The Monaco GP has had some great races.
    1996- one of the craziest races ever
    1982- drama in the final laps.
    1992- close race between three-time world champion Aryton Senna and Brit Nigel Mansell. And Mansell

  • Comment number 2.

    Agreed - '84 in my opinion was the best choice from the bunch.
    Let's hope no more election coverage spoils the Freeview running of these excellent race highlights.

  • Comment number 3.

    Can't wait. Wish it was Sunday already!

  • Comment number 4.

    Anybody else not able to see the full highlights of '84? It was up before but now seems to have disappeared.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi all,

    Glad you approve of the choice. As regards Cal's comment (#4), we had a couple of small problems with the 1984 full-length video which mean we had to take it down for a while. I did tweak the blog to say that; apologies if you didn't spot that. The video has now been fixed, and the video is embedded in the blog again. You can also watch it here:

  • Comment number 6.

    Thanks Andrew, great blog as per usual, looking forward to Sunday!

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Andrew.
    could it be possibel to fix the link for the 1961 race please. it's been down for around 6 months now.


  • Comment number 8.

    Re post 7, I'm afraid we had to take that story down, as there were rights issues with it.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thanks for this one Andrew, a real joy to relive!

  • Comment number 10.

    Will they realy be on Freeview? The Classic Spanish GP weren't last week & the Freeview onscreen guide is indicating that a re-run of last Sunday's race is being shown at 19:00 today.

  • Comment number 11.

    I actually hope it will on Freeview. Will it really be on Freeview please?

    @1@ Good idea about 'The Chain' campaign to be at No1. And yes I would be interested. Would anyone else be interested?

    1980- Remembered for Derek Daly's crash. Reuetemann winning the race.
    1984- one of the wettest races. Two big stars, Senna and Bellof who tragically died in Spa in 1985.

  • Comment number 12.

    Great I choice 84` and proud to watch it

  • Comment number 13.

    Great to see these races, thanks for persuading the powers that be to put them on Freeview. I like the fact you've shown full highlights for last year as well as an older race. Maybe you could continue to do this, it's good promotion for your coverage this weekend considering the presentation team is exactly the same, and might help negotiations with whoever decides what gets on the Freeview red button in future.

  • Comment number 14.

    Thanks again Andrew. I'm always seeming to be saying that lately. I'll enjoy this. Thanks.

    On another point Re1: If there is an effort to make "The Chain" No1, I am big on Fleetwood Mac and hope it really works out.

  • Comment number 15.

    Thanks to Andrew and his collegues for setting these video's up.

    In regards to the idea of getting 'The Chain' to number one, I'm up for it too.


  • Comment number 16.

    Well done for getting these onto freeview. Just had a great hour sat on the sofa with a cuppa watching these. I forgot how eventful the 2004 race was as well.

    Shame you couldn't put last weeks Spanish Classics onto Freeview after the election hijacked them last week, but i'll let you off seeing as a few Classic Monaco GP's are far more entertaining than a decade at Barcelona.

    Keep up the great work and fantastic to see the BBC making use of their vast motorsport archive

  • Comment number 17.

    A very happy Freeview viewer, Thanks.

  • Comment number 18.

    Where is the 1996 Monaco GP?!

    That race has to be the most exciting Monaco GP in my lifetime!

    - Schumacher crashing in the first couple of laps
    - Hill's engine blowing up when he was sure to win
    - Olivier Panis the unlikely winner
    - The 3 car pile-up involving Eddie Irvine
    - Only 6 finishers

    That race had everything and is always one I remember from the past.

  • Comment number 19.

    Enjoying the classic F1 as always but I wish the times for freeview coverage could be accurate. You say 7 to 11pm Wednesday (which I missed) but at 4am Thursday I've just discovered it's still on, and the EPG says it should be Spanish GP highlights. I've started recording and keeping fingers crossed I'll get to see everything in the morning.

  • Comment number 20.

    Ickx was in a no-win situation about when to stop the '84 race.

    If he had let the race carry on a few more laps and Senna had got past Prost, he could have been accused of favouring a non-Marlboro car (Ickx's sportscar team was sponsored by Rothmans cigarettes).

    If he'd let the race run long enough for Bellof to get past both Prost and Senna, then there could have been the accusation he'd favoured his Porsche sportscar team-mate.

    And if he'd let the race run to the end, he might have been accused of putting all the drivers in unnecessary danger as the conditions were getting so bad.

  • Comment number 21.

  • Comment number 22.

    Hi Andrew could you tell me why they are doing practice today and not tommorrow man thanks pete

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Andrew,

    I was very surprised to see that included in the available Monaco GP highlights was Jenson's very boring 09 win from pole and not Lewis' epic 2008 win in the wet! Do you think it is possible to add that race?


  • Comment number 24.

    Highlights from past GPs on the website are great, but it would be better if you didnt say exactly what happens directly under the window:
    "Watch the BBC's "Grand Prix" programme from the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix as McLaren's Alain Prost wins an eventful rain-shortened race ahead of Ayrton Senna in a Toleman."
    Just tell us where and when it was and let us enjoy the race, especially for the older ones where less of us are likely to remember the result.

  • Comment number 25.

    Thanks to the BBC Red Button interactive schedulers for the classic Monaco coverage, kind of made up for no Spain last week, though I did manage to see it elsewhere eventually - Freeviewers everywhere if you're unhappy complain to BBC sports schedulers not Andrew and ask around any friends/family that have satellite or cable just in case. Must admit I'd forgotten all about Bellof, what a great drive though - a crying shame he was unable to continue on to greater things like Senna :-( Finally, all the best with trying to get The Chain to No. 1 - for my money one of the greatest TV themes ever. Though It'll be tricky as it seems everyone is starting get to No. 1 campaigns now ever since RatM beat the X-Factor. I wont be downloading it though, as I've already got the fantastic Rumours album.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hello Andrew hello everyone. Great work again Andrew. 1984 Monaco grand prix was a great race. Drivers showing tremendous skill in awful conditions.

  • Comment number 27.

    I cant believe monaco 1996 didnt get shortlisted for the highlights package, it was my second favourite race of all time, i have only been watching since about 1994 (i was 7) and was a massive Damon Hill fan, and even though its so sadening to see his engine blow through the tunnel, that race was full of incident and had a great result

  • Comment number 28.

    1969 was a classic. You can find it on the web. The race decided at the last corner.

  • Comment number 29.

    I just find it incredible that the 1992 battle between Mansell and Senna is not on the list of 'classic' Monaco Grand Prix videos? It was,imo, the best Grand Prix ever and the one that made me passionate about the sport. Gooo on Nigel, you can pass him....

  • Comment number 30.

    Monaco '84: Interesting for a lot of reasons. For starters Monaco in the rain is always interesting. Secondly you had a pre-World Champion Prost vs a pre-Grand Prix winner Mansell vs a rookie Senna. Just seeing Lauda vs Senna was interesting enough.

    As for the finish, well Prost was definately lucky as Senna was eating him for breakfast. Conspiracy? Hell knows.

  • Comment number 31.

    Glad you approve of the choice. As regards Cal's comment (#4), we had a couple of small problems with the 1984 full-length video which mean we had to take it down for a while. I did tweak the blog to say that; apologies if you didn't spot that. The video has now been fixed, and the video is embedded in the blog again. You can also watch it here:


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