The 1984 Monaco Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Monaco on June 3, 1984. It was the sixth round of the 1984 Formula One season. It was the only race of the 1984 season that was run on a wet track.
During practice, Tyrrell's Martin Brundle had a huge crash at the Tabac corner. He landed upside down and was slightly injured, but it was enough to make him a non-qualifier for the race. Brundle later told that he ran back to the pits but was not allowed to get into the spare car as it was discovered he could not actually remember how he returned to the pits. Formula One medical chief, Prof. Sid Watkins concluded Brundle was slightly concussed and the decision was made not to let him return to the track.
With only 20 grid spots available on the tight Monaco circuit, qualifying always threw up a few surprises and 1984 was no different. The most surprising were the turbo cars of Eddie Cheever (Alfa Romeo) and Thierry Boutsen (Arrows-BMW) both failing to qualify.
Alain Prost took his first pole position for McLaren with a time of 1:22.661 to be just ahead of the Lotus-Renault of Nigel Mansell. Prost's pole was also the first pole for the McLaren MP4/2 as well as for the TAG-Porsche engine. Stefan Bellof was the only non-turbo qualifier in his Tyrrell-Cosworth. Bellof qualified 20th and last while Brundle's crash behind the pits at Tabac saw him as a spectator for the race. Bellof's time edged the Arrows-Cosworth of Marc Surer by just 0.156.
BMW had built specially detuned engines for Brabham to use at Monaco. Instead of the normal 900 bhp (671 kW; 912 PS) engines, the Brabhams only had around 700 bhp (522 kW; 710 PS) to play with, the theory being that full power was not needed at Monaco and the detuned engines would be more drivable. It was also an attempt at better reliability as the team had yet to score a point for the year. Never at ease at Monaco, reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet qualified 9th. With Teo Fabi having commitments to race the US based IndyCars at Milwaukee on the same weekend his brother Corrado Fabi drove the second Brabham, qualifying 15th.
The race, held amidst heavy rain, was one of the most contentious in Formula One history, and announced the emergence of at least two new stars. Alain Prost took the first of his four victories at the circuit.
The race start was delayed by 45 minutes due to the heavy rain. With the rain soaking the track, Niki Lauda sought out Bernie Ecclestone on the grid in a bid to have the tunnel flooded as well. The tunnel was dry but coated with oil from the previous days' use (as well as from the historic cars which were on the program that weekend) which Lauda explained had turned it into a fifth gear skid pad when the cars came racing in carrying the spray from their tyres in the morning warmup. Ecclestone used his power as the head of the Formula One Constructors Association to do exactly that, with a local fire truck called in to water down the only dry road on the track.
Pole-sitter Prost led the race from the start, while first corner contact between Ferrari's René Arnoux and the Renault of Derek Warwick pitched the Englishman's car into the fence on the outside of St. Devote and into the path of his team-mate Patrick Tambay. Both drivers suffered leg injuries, Warwick bruised his left leg while Tambay broke his leg after his car's suspension punched through the carbon fibre monocoque, causing him to miss the next round in Canada.
Prost was passed on lap nine by Nigel Mansell, leading a Grand Prix for the first time, when Prost's TAG engine was misfiring and he was delayed by both Corrado Fabi's stalled Brabham and Michele Alboreto's about to be lapped Ferrari just before the tunnel (Prost actually hit a marshal who was pushing Fabi's car away but thankfully with no serious injury). Mansell pulled away from Prost at around two seconds per lap, before going off six laps later on the run up to Casino Square after hitting a painted white line, damaging his car and retiring from the race.
Lauda disposed of Arnoux but Prost assumed the lead again, only to have the Toleman-Hart of Ayrton Senna, who had also passed the Ferrari, quickly closing in. Senna had started the race thirteenth, the first Formula One street race in his rookie season, in the generally uncompetitive Toleman and was showing his wet weather skills that would become legendary. On lap 29, Prost waved to the stewards of the race to indicate that he felt the race should be stopped. He was also suffering from a major brake imbalance as his McLaren's carbon brakes were locking due to not generating enough heat in the conditions, the same problem that had caused Lauda to spin at Casino Square on lap 23, whereupon he stalled his engine and was out of the race. A slowing Prost waved again on lap 31 as he passed the start/finish line.
The red flag to stop the race was shown at the end of the 32nd lap after clerk of the course Jacky Ickx decided that conditions were too poor for the race to continue. Senna passed Prost's slowing McLaren before the finish line, but according to the rules, the positions counted are those from the last lap completed by every driver – lap 31, at which point Prost was still leading. The stoppage was controversial, as it benefitted Prost with a Porsche-designed engine, and was made by Ickx, the lead driver with the factory run Rothmans-Porsche team in sports car racing. Ickx was suspended from his race control duties for not consulting with the stewards over his decision before making it. The rain was not falling as hard at this stage as it had previously been. Speculation that the early red flag cost both Ayrton Senna and Toleman their first race win proved to be false when the team's mechanics later revealed that suspension damage to his car would have forced him to retire within a few laps of when the race was stopped.
Had the race been allowed to continue until 75% of the laps, full points would have been awarded and Prost could have had six points from a second place (or nine for a win) instead of 4.5 points from the half-race win, had he actually finished. Prost would eventually go on to lose the championship to Niki Lauda by only half a point.
Senna and Mansell were not the only new drivers to run near the front – Stefan Bellof, running in the only naturally aspirated car in the race, finished third and had been closing on both Senna and Prost. Bellof had qualified 20th and last in his Tyrrell 012-Cosworth. His drive from last to third was a stand-out achievement in his tragically short career, and is often overshadowed by the now legendary drive by Senna. Observers note that Bellof's car was the only non turbocharged car on the 1984 Monaco grid, which, debatably, suited the inclement conditions more than the other cars. (The superior throttle response of the car in this debate is balanced against the loss of approximately 200hp difference against the turbo runners). The drive, which was punctuated by some brave and unusual overtaking manoeuvres, was enough to get Bellof noticed by Enzo Ferrari, who negotiated with him a drive for 1986 alongside Michele Alboreto, as René Arnoux had an airtight contract which couldn't be broken in 1985 for the German. The Tyrrell team's results were erased later in the season due to weight infringements, meaning that Bellof was stripped of his podium finish, with his place being taken by René Arnoux. It would prove to be Bellof's only podium visit during his curtailed (22 races, 20 starts) Formula One career. It has been speculated over the years that Tyrrell was targeted by FISA for being a non-turbocharged team in an era when other cars were turbocharged, as the allegations of impropriety after Detroit were changed in appeal.
This was the first time that Ayrton Senna had set a Formula One fastest lap. It was also Toleman's second and last fastest lap in Formula One (Derek Warwick had set the team's only other fastest lap during the 1982 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort).Stefan Bellof originally finished 3rd in his Tyrrell but was later disqualified due to weight restrictions broken by Tyrrell.
Alain Prost 26 (1-10, 16-31), Nigel Mansell 5 (11-15)
Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Points accurate at final declaration of results. Tyrrell and its drivers were subsequently disqualified from 1984 results and their points reallocated.