The 1986 Australian Grand Prix was held on 26 October 1986 at the Adelaide Street Circuit, Adelaide, Australia. It was the last of 16 races in the 1986 Formula One season, and decided a three-way tussle for the Drivers’ Championship. The drivers in contention for the title were; Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, both of whom were racing for the Williams-Honda team, and McLaren’s Alain Prost.
The Ferrari’s were ninth and 12th, Alboreto ahead of Johansson. “How is my car?” Michele grinned. “Well, mmmm, terrible I think would be the best word.” In what way this time? “Oh, every way. Understeer is very bad – the car wont turn in properly. What else? Well, we have no traction out of the corners, just spin the wheels. And over the bumps the car is a joke, jumping everywhere. But the engine is good, I must say. Lot of power, but too much throttle lag.” Michele was not sad to see the back of 1986.
Nor, for that matter, was Stefan, having his last race for Ferrari. Friday began with a contretemps with Streiff: “For half a lap he gave me not quite enough room to pass, but when I finally did get by… we touched,” was how he ingenuously explained it. The Tyrrell driver indignantly claimed that Johansson had driven into him.
In the afternoon Stefan was caught out by the sudden rainstorm, spinning off the road and skating endlessly over the grass before hitting a concrete barrier, almost sideways on and with some force. He was quickly out of the car, but was clearly in some pain as he hopped across the road. X-rays revealed nothing broken, but there was some considerable bruising to his left calf. “The rain was so violent and suddenly I couldn’t see it,” he said, “and there were no flags at all.”
The Ferrari’s monocoque was destroyed in the accident, and in the morning Alboreto had also written one off after clouting a wall. That left the team with a single car, so overnight the mechanics built up a new one for Michele, Stefan taking over the muletta for the balance of the weekend.
At the start Arnoux had taken off very slowly, obliging Alboreto, behind him, to back off. In an instant the Ferrari was struck from behind, and after a single slow lap Michele came into the pits to retire.
The final drama of the day came on the final lap. Johansson, flying along after what he considered an unnecessary pit stop, caught up with both Tyrrells, both of which were running out of fuel. Streiff unluckily ground to a halt, losing third place in the process, but Brundle made it over the line – only after Stefan had gone by for another third place, and fifth in the world championship.