Celebrating a rich F1 history at the Adelaide Motorsport Festival

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The streets of Adelaide came alive again to the sounds of Formula One last month (November 19-20) for the third edition of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival. This year, the festival organizers reunited three drivers from the Adelaide era (1985-1995) with their original cars to wind back the years to a golden era of Formula 1 and a special F1 city.

Images courtesy Adelaide Motorsport Festival.

The main F1 draw for 2016 was the return of Stefan Johansson, Ivan Capelli and Pierluigi Martini to drive their original cars from the Australian Grand Prix. Event organiser Tim Possingham explains, “Sourcing the cars is the most difficult task. There were a number of car and driver combinations we explored that did not end up eventuating.” Johansson got behind the wheel of the Ferrari F156/85 that he took to fifth place in the inaugural Australian Grand Prix of 1985. Ivan Capelli drove a Leyton House March CG981 and Pierluigi Martini piloted a Minardi M189, both of which they raced on the waterlogged streets of the city in 1989. Pirelli’s awesome qualifying rubber put Martini third on the grid that year, behind only the McLaren-Hondas of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. He managed to keep the car on track in the heavy rain on Sunday to finish in 6th place, 3 laps down on race winner Thierry Boutsen.

Through the streets

The F1 action began on Friday afternoon with a parade run through the streets of the city. An eight car convoy – including all seven Adelaide-era F1s in action at the event – drove from Victoria Park to a street party on Gouger street via Victoria Square, surprising many bystanders in the process! After all, it has been over 20 years since the Australian Grand Prix left Adelaide for its new home in Melbourne. See what the view was like for Stefan Johansson below and read his thoughts on returning to the city.

It was a great weekend – only [in Adelaide] could you do something like that. It was just how I remembered it from all those years past. It was a lot of fun and quite emotional to drive the old car actually. I last drove that car up the hill at Goodwood a few years ago but that doesn’t really count, as you can’t really lean on the car there as you do on a real racetrack. Apart from that my last drive in it was 30 years ago! It started to feel familiar after a few laps. It was kind of emotional when I started pushing it a bit and getting into the performance window of the car a little. Lots of memories… It was great using a manual gearbox and going through the gears and everything. By the end of day two I was getting some small blisters in my right hand from the gearshift, which is how it used to be back in the day. They didn’t have it cranked up to full power but it was still enough to get a good feel for it.
Stefan Johansson

Capelli sets a lap record!

On track, Ivan Capelli took bragging rights with a 43.28 second lap record of the Victoria Park Sprint course (see above). Not bad for a guy who last drove in F1 over 20 years ago! Also on track were several other Adelaide-era cars, including a Benetton B186 driven by Gerhard Berger in 1986 and now owned by a local collector, two more Ferraris – the ‘other’ Ferrari F156/85 from 1985 originally driven by Michele Alboreto and a 1994 Ferrari 412T (ex Jean Alesi) – and the 1985 Beatrice Lola driven by local hero Alan Jones in 1985.

Pierluigi Martini at the Australian Grand Prix in around 1989. Image by the author, Andrew Balfour.

The next edition of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival is scheduled for November 25-26, 2017. Who would you like to see on track next year?

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About the Author ()

Andrew Balfour is the Founder and Editor of F1Destinations.com. He originally hails from Adelaide, where he went to his first F1 race way back in 1987. He's been resident in Europe for almost 15 years and travels regularly to F1 races around the world.

Comments (1)

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  1. Blossom says:

    I am hoping young Josh (?) Keen will race again next year. He showed great potential.

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