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From the Motor Sport Archive
Rio de Janeiro, March 25th
In sharp contrast to previous years, the Formula 1 "close season" has been very much longer this winter, stretching from Kyalami in mid-October 1983 until the Brazilian Grand Prix opened the 1984 season on March 25th. In the past many teams have spent time moaning that the break is far too short, giving them nowhere near sufficient time to complete development programmes and construct new cars. Now for some, it seems that the gap is too long: many of those who complained on the previous count could now be heard grumbling that the off-season had been far too long! There are some contrary, forgetful people with short memories in this Grand Prix game.
To those watching with revived enthusiasm from the touchlines, the long winter break had borne worthwhile fruits. Instead of fumbling through the first few races relying on last year's machinery, the vast majority of the teams had brand new 1984 cars all ready to race and, moreover, extremely well tested. There were lots of interesting new faces strapped into familiar cockpits, but probably the main technical interest surrounded how easily the engine manufacturers were going to cope with the problem of running a full Grand Prix distance (up to 200 miles) on the regulation 220 litres (49.5 gallons) of fuel without encountering consumption problems. Pit stops for refuelling are now prohibited by the 1984 Formula 1 regulations, but there is nothing to stop people running on soft tyres for the first part of the race and stopping somewhere beyond half distance for a set of fresh rubber. The much-discussed and debated question of the minimum weight limit came to the forefront of attention once again with plenty of rumour and speculation as to the way in which several teams would circumvent the spirit of the rules: water tanks for the injection system, or the brake cooling systems - or just water tanks for no real purpose apart from ballast - were regarded as the most popular choice.