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1986 French Grand Prix

Grand Prix de France

Sunday, July 6, 1986
Warm, dry and sunny
Fastest Lap:
Mansell, 1m09.993
1986 season:

In the heat and the cold

There was a time when Formula One seemed very simple, almost too simple in fact; when nearly everyone had a Cosworth powered "kit-car" and the big technical break-through was when a team actually made its own gearbox casing. There were some "renegades" like Ferrari and Alfa Romeo, and Matra for a time, but the whole set-up seemed very uncomplicated. Practice took place on the two days before the race, from 10am to 11.30am and again from 1 pm to 2pm, and the times from the afternoon sessions counted for your place on the starting grid. Nobody talked of Qualifying or Q-engines or Q-tyres, or dangers, or cheating and there seemed to be very few rules and regulations to worry about.

Any team worthy of the name 'Grand Prix' would have been to the circuit already and done all the testing to find out about gear ratios, tyre choice, aerodynamic settings and so on, so that official practice seemed almost a routine formality. As long as you paid your money you got your race-prepared Cosworth engine and a suitable Hewland gearbox and there was very little to worry about. Apart from minor details the basic rules looked very settled, mainly because nobody could think of a better rule than 3-litre normally-aspirated engines. In a very short time all ths peace and boring tranquility was gone Renault appeared with a turbo-charged 1 1/2-litre V6 and things really took off.