Formule De


Pole: Mansell (Williams) 2 Gachot (Jordan) 3 Piquet (Benetton) 4 Alesi (Ferrari - me) 5 Modena (Tyrell) 6 Nakajima (Tyrell) 7 Prost (team mate) 8 Moreno (Benetton) 9 De Cesaris (Jordan) 10 Patrese (Williams).


The green light! Off in 1st gear, slow start. I'm watching Piquet in front, but in my mirror see Modena make a good start. Up into second gear, pulling slowly, Modena passes me on the inside. 3rd gear, into the bend on the inside, taking back 4th place nosing behind Piquet. 4th, losing ground, but see my partner moving up on the inside. Moreno comes from nowhere, and squeezes between us. 5th, heading into the long bend, not picking up speed at all. I can just see Piquet and Mansell around the bend, but Gachot is out of sight on the long straight. Moreno noses in front, but my partner hurtles past into 3rd, now Nakajima has just shot by. I have already dropped three places to 7th. Up to 6th gear, here I go; or not! I can see the others stretching ahead of me along this long straight before the hairpin...where did he come from? Patrese just passed me then slipstreams past Moreno. I'm 8th! The cars ahead all drop down for the hair-pin. Do I stay in 6th gear? If not I shall be out of contention for some time; if I risk 6th it may cost too much. Forget it; the road is blocked.

I've now caught up with the pack entering the bend, but the engine is protesting. I think I have taken some early damage. Down to 4th gear. There is not much room, but I hope to make it into the bend. Yes, just right. I am tailing Piquet, as Modena sneaks past me. 3rd, wheel hard right, up to 4th, risk the tyres...brilliant. Three of us come out in echelon, with only Gachot ahead, and he is not yet into the bend. Gachot takes it perfectly, but must have dropped a gear. Now's my chance. I am in 4th, shifting up to 5th puts my car into higher gear than anyone else, now put my foot down.

Superb, a little jink to the right has got me through the bend, a bit more tyre wear, but I am neck and neck for the lead, and in 5th! Should I risk staying in it for the next bend? It could cost all my remaining tyres, and the pits are some distance away, but what a recovery. Move out to the middle lane, then follow the camber back to the inside, I am just leaving the bend, looking at the shortish straight considering going into 6th. I have a fifty fifty chance of making it. If I fail, disaster.

Gachot is right up my exhaust pipe, then Patrese. A flash of Modena's car, and he is suddenly on my shoulder. The engine has just spluttered again. Only the first lap, and I could be in trouble. I can't afford to nurse it now that I'm in front. I failed to reach the bend! I'm going too fast! About eight lengths clear, but how do I keep control? Have to use up fuel, and the tyres just about survive. Patrese is right on my tail as we come into the penultimate bend of the first lap. Take it easy in 4th, then go wide as I can afford no more tyre wear. Just one more bend, then pits here I come. Gachot takes back the lead. I go past him down the straight, but will have to use more fuel to negotiate the bend, Modena just nips in front and I am back to third, but there are four of us almost touching. I leave the bend fourth, but all four leaders could still be covered by a blanket.

Patrese enters the pits. Modena goes straight past, but Gachot is blocking the pit lane, and I have to go in. Now he's blocking my way out so I use a bit of tyre wear straight away. It's now Modena, Piquet, me and then Gachot, with Modena ahead into the bend, and moving fast. I catch Modena as we enter the hairpin, but I too am going pretty quickly, and lose the front spoiler as I clip him. Piquet roars past, and Modena blocks my outside path. I use the rest of my spare fuel, dropping to 3rd gear. I am now back to fourth and the car is suffering.

Ahead, Piquet drops right down to complete the bend. I could catch him soon. Patrese scrapes some sponsors stickers off my rear. Piquet pulls out slowly, six lengths clear, but the four of us behind are still bunched together. I move into second place, going into the bend where I caught up first time round, but Patrese edges ahead of me. I can hear the screech of Piquet's brakes from here as he fights to stay on the circuit, but is there time to catch him, as he is one bend ahead? He can't have much left, so I use more tyres and slipstream past Patrese to retake second.

Piquet looks miles ahead. I just hold my place, but hear the roar of pursuit close behind. My engine almost packs in, but just survives, though I drop back to fourth. Modena enters the last 'S' bend, with Piquet just ahead. Things look hopeless, but let's have one last push. I scream round the next bend using the rest of the tyres, then braking hard for the first time. Modena takes Piquet, but surely he's going too fast? No, he makes it, just. Piquet crashes...he tried to stay with Modena and succeeded, but had a brake failure when he needed them.

Modena hasn't reached the chequered flag, but I'm still negotiating the bend. No fuel consumption left, out go the tyres - help! BANG!! Modena takes the flag as I climb dejectedly from the car, mercifully close to the pits. Gachot goes past with a wave as I salute in return (using the minimum number of digits), followed by Patrese. Roll on Monaco.

Dave Farquhar

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