In 1984 I photographed the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time. It turned into a deluge and I was so soaked my electronic F3 Nikon stopped working. I soldiered on with my old mechanical Nikon F but photography was virtually impossible because of the downpour. Yet the action on the track was riveting, the drivers were still racing flat out. Alain Prost was leading in a McLaren but there was a new crop of drivers at his heels. A young Brazilian named Ayrton Senna in his first F1 street race was brilliantly driving his Toleman (a usually uncompetitive car) and catching Prost. The rain was one of the worst ever in F1 and the race was controversially red flagged before Senna could pass. Importantly, the third step on the podium was taken by another young driver, the German Stefan Bellof in a Tyrell that was significantly down on horsepower compared to the turbo machines. He had proved extraordinary in Sports Cars. In 1983 he set the lap record at the legendary Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit in a Porsche 956 and in 1984 he won the World Sports Car Championship.
1984 was Bellof’s first year in F1. He regularly laughed with his crew yet was particularly focused and intense when it came to his driving. On the track it was clear he was an exceptional talent.
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