The LXIX Grand Prix de France, better known as the 1983 French Grand Prix, was the third meeting of the 1983 Formula One Season. The race was held in April, two months earlier than usual, mainly due to the fact that many of the drivers took part in the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch the weekend before. Alain Prost took his first win since the 1982 Brazilian Grand Prix by taking victory for Renault, beating Nelson Piquet and team mate Eddie Cheever.
Niki Lauda came to the first European race of the year as championship leader, his tally of 10 keeping him ahead of Nelson Piquet and team mate John Watson (both on 9). McLaren were also on top in the constructor's championship, their one-two in the United States giving them a total of 19 points, 10 ahead of nearest challengers Brabham.
Chico Serra returned to Arrows after Alan Jones decided to think about his comeback once again (he would not be seen until 1985 as a driver), although the Arrows remained as blank as an ox. Alfa Romeo, meanwhile, gave Mauro Baldi a new toy to play with, updating his car to the 183T chassis already used by Andrea de Cesaris. RAM also brought a new car to the grid, partnering Eliseo Salazar with the debuting Jean-Louis Schlesser, bringing the number of entries up to 29.
The full entry list for the 1983 French Grand Prix is shown below:
The practice session showed that the Renaults of Eddie Cheever and Alain Prost were the cars to beat, with the pair the only cars to set times under 1:39.000s. Jean-Louis Schlesser had a quiet session in the second RAM, despite having only driven a Grand Prix car the week before in the Race of Champions.
Prost was in a different league from everyone else in the main qualifying session, setting a time more than two seconds quicker than Cheever in second. Riccardo Patrese and René Arnoux got their cars inbetween the Renaults and the Renault-engined Lotus of Elio de Angelis (whom had been third in pracice). Nelson Piquet was fast enough to beat the two Alfa Romeos (which shared the fourth row), while Derek Warwick and Manfred Winkelhock ensured an all turbo top ten.
Sadly, the decision by RAM to bring a second car backfired, with both Eliseo Salazar and Schlesser failing to qualify. They were joined by the Osella of Piercarlo Ghinzani, as all of the non-turbo cars struggled. It was Niki Lauda who claimed the best starting position for a Cosworth engined machine, taking twelfth but more than four seconds behind Prost.
* Andrea de Cesaris' time was disallowed.
Alfa Romeo failed to have de Cesaris' time from practice reinstated (which would have seen him start from second), meaning he remained in seventh on the grid. There were no changes to the grid before the race,with the 26 cars set to battle around the Circuit Paul Ricard.
From the start, Prost established a dominant lead over the pack, as Riccardo Patrese jumped Cheever, and Patrick Tambay leapt from eleventh to sixth after a poor qualifying session. Elio de Angelis moved backwards from the start, falling behind Nelson Piquet, while the Williams and McLarens began their slow climb up the order. By lap three, Cheever had got back to second and Piquet claimed third from his Italian team mate.
Patrese and de Angelis were the first to fall by the wayside from the leading group (the three brits John Watson, Derek Warwick and Nigel Mansell had retired early on), as Piquet rushed past Cheever on the 18th lap. By this stage, the attention turned to pitstops, with Prost only changing tyres and Piquet (now flying up behind the Frenchman) taking on fuel. Despite this, the order remained unchanged, and the now fuel laiden Brabham began to fall away from the Renault.
In the closing stages, the Williams duo of Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite (working together as the McLarens had done in the US a few weeks before) finally broke into the points, moving past Rene Arnoux on low fuel. They would not progress any further, however, finishing fifth and sixth (the FInn ahead of the Frenchman) behind Tambay. He finished well behind Cheever, who had begun to close the gap to Pqiuet (but was still some way off the Brazilian), while Prost ran away for another home victory.
* Giacomelli was still classified as a finisher despite his gearbox failure.
- First win for Alain Prost since the 1982 Brazilian Grand Prix.
- Second home win in three years for Prost.
- Third win a row for Renault in France.
Standings after raceEdit
Only the top 5 drivers are displayed.
Only the top 5 constructors are displayed.
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