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Playing throw and catch with Keke Rosberg at Detroit in 1983

Kicking off a new series of articles showcasing the work and processes behind one of Formula One’s best photographers, Richard Kelley retells the stories of his most memorable images.

1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg rotates his Williams FW08C toward my left eye at Turn 7, on his way to taking second at 1983 Detroit Grand Prix after qualifying 12th. Ground effects were banned for 1983 season - replaced with flat bottoms, so every driver had to adjust his driving style to cope with less downforce - except Rosberg. 

While Williams waited for their new Honda Turbo engine for the ’84 season, Rosberg had to use Ford’s lighter Cosworth DFV. Employing his old Formula Atlantic “throw and catch” style, Rosberg’s more nimble FW08C was unearthly quick on tight courses. 

He had opened the season with pole position at the Brazilian Grand Prix (the last for a Cosworth DFV powered car) and then captured the car's last win at the Monaco Grand Prix before finishing 5th at power-hungry Spa just two weeks before Detroit. 

Keke’s style begged for a “very exotic interpretation of speed” - and this spot delivered. Rosberg approached the turn onto Beaubien coming off of the fast winding Congress Street East straight, consistently using a braking point that would have forced Sir Isaac Newton to recalculate his theorems. 

Barely slowed, he then had to turn in for the corner blind as he flicked his the 08C toward my left eye. 

Being inches close on his fly-by left me breathless, but in those days, I wouldn't have traded those impressions, or frames for the world - nor would I today.


If you fancy owning a high-quality print from one of F1’s greatest photographers, check out Richard Kelley’s entire collection available in the CD Shop.