Everyone talkes about Senna’s breakout race as a rainy Monaco. But, the keen will talk about Bellof being more than a second faster per lap making for a substantial moment if the race were allowed to run full length.
He started 20th, Senna started 13th. We all know what Senna did and showed everyone up. But, Bellof was gaining on Senna in the race; Also in an uncompetitive car and engine combo. However, in the end not only did Belloff finish third, but they found the car just a bit lighter than legal...so they put him back to 20th. Senna also broke a suspension part near the end and was just on borrowed time. But had the race went on, we might have seen Bellof fighting with Prost and then getting awarded 19th with a +21 second penalty.
So why was he penalized for being underweight? Just how much underweight was he? And how much did that contribute to his amazing drive?
The minimum weight given to turbo cars and n/a cars was different. The N/A cars were able to build extremely light and run ballast in places to make the balance better. Also use same size gas tanks but run less gas. But that wasn’t all. When the cars were weighed, it was with operating fluids, which included full water tanks for water injection systems and cooling. The n/a cars didn’t need water injection but said they used it to cool the brakes, which they did at first, however what they also did was that sort of Smokey Yunick thinking but just a bit shy of full Yunick.
They would fill the car with all fluids, including the water tank, and weigh in just fine. Then in the race piss out all the water right away and when they refilled the water at the last pit stop, they added 140 pounds of led shot to the tank. But that was not all. In later races, they found that the water wasn’t all water, but actually a sort of fuel compound that they were able to use which upset how much fuel they could actually take. In short, they devised a way to run WAY lighter during the race, and a way to weigh in legally if ever weighed after.
I don’t know about you, but two hundred pounds lighter no matter the conditions is a huge advantage in short, slow and technical races. Bellof was fast and had mad skill, but this sort of action didn’t help his F1 career. Despite all of this, I’m sure only a rare breed could hustle that car like he did, even if it was lighter.
(later on, it was found the fluids inte water tanks was indeed water and not used as claimed by the FIA.. The last N/A team was just in the way of unanamous future rule voting requirements and was shoved around by the bureaucracy.)