Detroit Grand Prix : For Rosberg, a Bumpy Ride Leads to Victory
Keke Rosberg of Finland made the sparks fly Sunday, running off to a solid victory in the Detroit Grand Prix despite his car bottoming out on every lap.
“The skid pads in the rear were hitting the ground very hard,” Rosberg said. “The car hit hard on every lap, but there was really no problem because the skid pads are not something that breaks.”
Despite the hard ride, it was Rosberg’s day right from the beginning as he took the fourth Formula One victory of his career and his third on a temporary street circuit. Rosberg averaged 81.702 m.p.h., breaking the Detroit record of 81.679 set by Brazilian Nelson Piquet in a Brabham last year.
“I must have some sort of disadvantage on other circuits,” joked the 1982 world champion, referring to his mastery of the street courses.
He started fifth on the 25-car grid, got past Italian Ferrari driver Michele Alboreto, the current world championship point leader, at the start, and passed two other cars to grab second place behind the Lotus pole-winner Ayrton Senna of Brazil on the first lap.
Rosberg took the lead on the eighth lap when Senna pitted to change tires, and he stayed on top throughout the rest of the 63-lap, 157.5-mile race.
“There were some corners breaking up out there and it takes a very high level of concentration for two hours on a circuit like this, but the brakes were really my main problems,” he said. “Everybody had problems with brakes today.”
Rosberg made a strategic pit stop with just 14 laps remaining, getting four fresh tires but, more importantly, having his crew remove paper debris that had blown up from the track and covered his radiator.
“The car was overheating and I could not turn up the boost (turbocharger power) under those circumstances,” Rosberg said. “I had 25 seconds on Stefan (second-place Stefan Johansson of Sweden, driving the other Ferrari), so I felt it was very safe to pit.
“But if he starts pushing me, I can turn up more power. But I couldn’t do that if the car is overheating.”
As for the tire change, Rosberg said: “I radioed in to tell my crew I had to come in to have them remove the paper from my radiator and they decided to change the tires, too. I was surprised to get new tires. It takes five or six seconds extra, but you can get the time back easily with new tires.”
Johansson, who spun two laps from the end when a brake disc exploded, said he was gaining about a second on each lap before his brakes gave way.
“I had to be very careful because I had no brakes at times,” Johansson said. “That would have made it very difficult to get past Keke.”
Johansson, who was less than two seconds behind after Rosberg’s pit stop on lap 50, limped to the finish line after his spin a distant 57.549 seconds behind Rosberg.