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Beyond the grid – These candid photos show why motorsport was better in the 1980s

Riccardo Patrese the matador, Enzo Ferrari the comedian and Alain Prost the ladies man. If you thought the Girardo & Co. Archive was strictly racing cars, you were very much mistaken. Put on your rose-tinted glasses – these are just some of the wonderfully candid snapshots we unearthed…

Weird weekends

Racing drivers are used to metaphorically grabbing the bull by the horn, but during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend at Jerez in 1988, Williams’ Riccardo Patrese and Benetton’s Alessandro Nannini briefly turned their hands to bullfighting. We’re not sure what the teams’ insurance companies would say about such a recreational activity today.

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A word from the boss

“Now are you going to stick this thing on the podium or what?” Fiat patriarch and perpetual style icon Gianni Agnelli has a brief word with the Swedish Ferrari driver Stefan Johansson ahead of the 1985 Italian Grand Prix. The pep talk clearly paid off – Johansson dragged his uncompetitive Ferrari 156/85 to an impressive fifth having started tenth on the grid.

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Warring factions

Jacarepaguá, Brazil, 1985. So concerned is McLaren’s Alain Prost that the local scrutineers will fudge local hero Ayrton Senna’s weigh-in results that he’s keeping an extra close eye on proceedings.

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Beating the heat

Meanwhile, in the sweltering Brazilian heat outside the garages in the packed grandstands, the feverishly excited crowds go wild as they’re given a welcome shower by the local fire department. Are we the only ones getting carnival vibes?

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Working lunch

Meandering through Lombardy, Piedmont, Liguria and Emilia Romagna, the Rally Quattro Regioni in Italy is not the most well-known event in the world of rallying. But there are so many things we love about this snapshot of the Lancia Jolly Club team lunch on the 1982 edition, from the vans carrying the 037 body panels on their roofs to the cartons of orange juice on the table. It couldn’t be further from the veiled corporate motorsport world of today. It’s just perfect.  

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Fighting the cause

Some press duties are less taxing than others, it seems. Here, ‘Le Professeur’ Alain Prost is pictured posing for an anti-drugs campaign during the 1985 Brazilian Grand Prix. Only in Brazil would scantily clad women and Formula 1 drivers be used to promote such a cause.

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Il Leone sleeps tonight

When his Ferrari’s engine let go on lap 43 of the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, there were a thousand things the notoriously bad-tempered Brit Nigel Mansell wished to do more than face the press, one of which was clearly rest his eyes and take a moment to simmer down.

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Conversation between capos

There were no roped-off glass-fronted hospitality suites back in 1986 – here, the Monegasque businessman and Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Marco Piccinini holds talks with Bernie Ecclestone, then the owner of Brabham, over a wonderfully low-key dinner during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend in Mexico City.

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Hanging on his every word…

Here the great Enzo Ferrari is pictured entertaining journalists and bystanders in the pits during a Formula 1 test at Imola in 1985, a scene of nonchalance and casualness which defies the obstinate and tricky reputation that precedes Il Commendatore. We imagine the experience for those listening remained with them forever.

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Time to spare

Miki Biasion was clearly so far ahead of the rest of the field during Rally Costa Brava in 1985 that he was able to take some time and indulge in what most visitors to the Spanish region do: soaking up the sun. He must have been warm in those overalls!

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The photos in this feature are from the Girardo & Co. Archive, which is our new treasure trove of three-million motorsport images from the 1970s to the present day, all of which are available to purchase directly from the website. CLICK HERE to search the archive and buy photos online.  

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