Girish Mahajan (Editor)

1985 San Marino Grand Prix

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5 May 1985

Ayrton Senna

Course length
5.040 km (3.132 mi)

1985 San Marino Grand Prix

Autodromo Dino Ferrari Imola, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Permanent racing facility

60 laps, 302.400 km (187.902 mi)

The 1985 San Marino Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Imola on May 5, 1985. It was the third round of the 1985 FIA Formula One World Championship. It was the fifth San Marino Grand Prix.



Before the previous race in Portugal it was revealed that René Arnoux had been fired by Ferrari, with no explanation ever given for his sudden departure by either the team or Arnoux. In his place was Swedish driver Stefan Johansson. Arnoux was in the pits at Imola, but was seen with the Brabham team, starting a false rumor he would soon join the team alongside Nelson Piquet. As it turned out, Arnoux would not drive in F1 again until joining Ligier in 1986.

Portuguese Grand Prix winner Ayrton Senna took the pole in his Lotus-Renault with a time of 1:27.327 which was 1.19 seconds faster than Nelson Piquet's 1984 pole time. Keke Rosberg proved the Williams-Honda would be a much more competitive package in 1985 than its predecessor by taking second on the grid, only 0.027 behind the Black & Gold Lotus. For Senna it would be the first of seven consecutive pole positions at Imola, a run which ended in 1992.

Filling out the second row was an all-Italian affair. Elio de Angelis in his Lotus-Renault in third, followed by arguably the only car and driver the Tifosi really cared about for the race, Italian Michele Alboreto in his Ferrari. Belgian Thierry Boutsen was a surprise 5th fastest in his Arrows-BMW ahead of the McLaren-TAG of Alain Prost. In his second race for Ferrari, Johansson qualified in 15th position.

The slowest qualifier, Mauro Baldi in the Spirit-Hart, was some 9.595 seconds slower than Senna around the 5.040 km (3.132 mi) Imola circuit.


Limited fuel allowances played a big part in the race, as a succession of drivers ran out in the last few laps. Alain Prost took the chequered flag before stopping on the slowing-down lap and being found to be 2 kg underweight in post-race scrutineering, leading to his disqualification. Elio de Angelis was initially disqualified for the same reason but was later reinstated. Summing up the general feeling that FISA's fuel limit rules had seen Formula One races reduced to mere economy runs, Williams driver Nigel Mansell (who was the last driver to actually finish, 2 laps down in 5th place, and was one of only four of the ten classified finishers to not run out of fuel) noted that "it wasn't really racing".

Stefan Johansson ran a good race in his second drive for the Prancing Horse. After starting 15th he steadily made his way through the field and by late in the race had moved to second (benefiting from others running out of fuel) and was poised to benefit from Senna also running dry 3 laps from home. Johansson took the lead from the Lotus to a thunderous applause from the tifosi, only to run out of fuel himself half a lap later coming out of the Acque Minerali chicane. A post race examination of his car revealed the Ferrari had an electrical malfunction that caused the engine to use more fuel than what the readout was telling the team or Johansson. The Ferrari's read out had told Johansson that he still had enough fuel to finish the race.

The win was the second and last Grand Prix victory for Elio de Angelis who finished a lap ahead of the field. It was also the second win of the year for the John Player Special Team Lotus after Ayrton Senna had scored his first ever F1 win the previous race in Portugal. Second place was eventually awarded to Belgian driver Thierry Boutsen - who ran out of fuel as he reached the start-finish straight on his final lap and pushed his Arrows across the finish line - with Frenchman Patrick Tambay third in his Renault RE60.

Championship standings after the race

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
  • References

    1985 San Marino Grand Prix Wikipedia

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