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1990 Hungarian Grand Prix

220px-Circuit_Hungaroring1989Hungaroring
12 August 1990

Like Germany, Hungary had seen a lot of change in the 12 months since the last race in the summer of 1989. Then, a sense of revolution had been in the air as the border with neutral Austria was opened and thousands of East Germans poured through en route to the West. In October, the Hungarian Communist Party reinvented itself as the Hungarian Socialist Party and called free elections for March. The teams arrived in a Budapest full of all the attractions of previous years, but also with a spring in its step and such luxuries as bananas on sale. So there was a sense of relief when Bernie Ecclestone announced the renewal of the race’s contract for a further 5 years.

As the teams arrived, there was one piece of news that had been coming for a while: Camel announced it would cease its sponsorship of the Lotus team at the end of the year, and had signed a 1991 deal with both Williams and Benetton (who also announced that they had re-signed Piquet and Nannini). Brabham’s nightmare season continued with the team reportedly locked out of its factory due to owing rent arrears. Pre-qualifying saw the Ligiers and AGSes get through to the main session. Qualifying is vital in Hungary, where passing is difficult, so there was a lot of pressure to get good grid places and for once McLaren were having trouble. The 1990 chassis still wasn’t quite working perfectly and both Senna and Berger had offs on Saturday meaning that for the first time this year Image result for hungarian grand prix 1990there was no red and white car on the front row. Instead, Thierry Boutsen took his first-ever pole position, and alongside him sat Riccardo Patrese: the first all-Williams front row since the heady days of 1987. Berger and Senna lined up third and fourth, with Nigel Mansell fifth. Williams and Ferrari were both using new iterations of their engines and it was clear which had worked and which hadn’t. Alesi was sixth on a circuit he was expected to go well at, with Nannini, Prost, Piquet and de Cesaris  filling out the top ten. At the blunt end, Caffi’s Arrows brought up the rear while the four non-qualifiers were Dalmas, David Brabham and the two Monteverdis. In fact, the now Swiss-based team were in deep trouble. JJ Lehto suffered from having had his differential installed backwards – again – while Foitek had a wishbone snap on him, pitching him into the gravel. It was the last straw, and he walked out of the team.

Sunday dawned bright but not overwhelmingly hot and the usual bumper crowd watched Prost go fastest in the morning warmup, leading pundits to wonder aloud if Ferrari might come good after all – especially given Mansell’s win from 12th last year. Still, as they lined up after lunch, the smart money was still on the Williams cars to bring home the points, assuming their cars kept going. The other determining factor would be tyres: with high wear from constant cornering but the need for high grip too, the right Image result for hungarian grand prix 1990compound and the right strategy would be key.  Senna had to transfer to his spare car on the grid after his race car sprang a radiator leak, and his day got worse at the start as he was uncharacteristically sluggish off the line and dropped from fourth to sixth while Boutsen made the most of his pole and sprang into the lead, with Berger getting the drop on Patrese to go second. Mansell followed, with Senna behind – though he quickly lost fifth place to a charging Alesi, making the most of his nimble Tyrrell. Alain Prost, meanwhile, had had a dreadful start and lost three places to de Cesaris and the Benettons of Nannini and Piquet.

Given the relative performances so far of the Williams and McLaren cars, one might have expected Boutsen to have trouble keeping his former Benetton team-mate behind him, but the twisty circuit, the extra Renault power and the smoothness of the engine’s power-curve and Boutsen’s driving style all combined to keep the quiet Belgian at the front for lap after lap, while everyone jostled for position behind. It took Senna 21 laps to force his way past Alesi, and no sooner had he done so than he had to come in with a Image result for hungarian grand prix 1990 nanninipuncture and dropped back to tenth.  By this time, Boutsen, Berger, Patrese and Mansell were off in a race of their own while Alesi had been holding everyone else up. Nannini, now promoted to sixth, got past Alesi and set off in pursuit of the leaders, with Prost following through – but not for long: a transmission failure sent the triple champion spinning out on lap 37. Just afterwards, Alesi himself was out, tripping over Martini’s Minardi as he tried to lap it. With those two out of the way, Senna was back on a charge and caught quickly up to the top five, which became a six-car train – great viewing for the fans!

Eventually, Berger decided to come in for fresh tyres to see if that would make a difference, dropping to sixth, while Mansell made an unsuccessful lunge at his old mate Patrese. In lifting to avoid contact, Il Leone ended up losing two places instead as Nannini and Senna barged through into third and fourth. With Patrese second, Boutsen started to pull away, leading some to speculate that he was deliberately helping his team-mate by holding the rest up, but soon enough he peeled into the pits, suggesting that it was just a tyre problem after all. So Nannini and Senna were now second and third and Image result for hungarian grand prix 1990 nanninithe Brazilian scented a win after all. On lap 64 – 13 to go – he tried to get past Nannini and made contact. The Benetton was catapulted into the gravel trap and out, but Senna continued unhindered and set off in pursuit of Boutsen. Mansell, now third, had Berger breathing down his neck, with the McLaren boys thinking even about a double-podium. On lap 72, Berger tried the same move Senna had but this time it didn’t work: both cars ended up in the kitty-litter. All of which left Piquet in third, some distance from second place, and the last five laps saw Senna put in blistering lap after blistering lap as he hunted Boutsen down.

Image result for hungarian grand prix 1990 boutsenBut it wasn’t to be: Senna just couldn’t catch and pass Boutsen in time and the Belgian took his third race win – and his first that wasn’t inherited thanks to wet weather. Senna and Piquet took the lower steps of the podium with Patrese fourth, Warwick a very encouraging fifth to give the Lotus boys a lift and Bernard sixth in the Lola (just ahead of Donnelly in the second Lotus).

Nigel Mansell was justifiably fuming at his old Ferrari team-mate at having taken him out with just four laps to go, given his bad luck so far this year. Senna’s second place and Prost’s retirement increased the Brazilian’s lead in the championship to ten points, while Thierry Boutsen would look forward to a hero’s welcome at the next race at Spa-Francorchamps.


Drivers’ Championship

Position Driver Points*
1 Ayrton Senna 54
2 Alain Prost 44
3 Gerhard Berger 29
4 Thierry Boutsen 27
4 Nelson Piquet 22
5 Riccardo Patrese 15
6 Jean Alesi 13
= Nigel Mansell 13
= Sandro Nannini 13
10 Ivan Capelli 6
11 Éric Bernard 5
12 Derek Warwick 3
13 Stefano Modena 2
= Alex Caffi 2
15 Satoru Nakajima 1
= Aguri Suzuki 1

* Top 11 finishes only are counted.

Constructors’ Championship

Position Constructor Points
1 McLaren-Honda 83
2 Ferrari 57
4 Williams-Renault 42
5 Benetton-Ford 35
5 Tyrrell-Ford 14
6 Leyton House-Judd 6
= Larrousse Lola-Lamborghini 6
8 Lotus-Lamborghini 2
9 Brabham-Judd 2
10 Arrows-Ford 2

1990 German Grand Prix

512px-Circuit_Hockenheimring-1970.svgHockenheimring
29 July 1990

Since the 1989 race, much had changed in Germany – the fall of the Berlin Wall in November had been just one in a series of dramatic events that had turned Europe on its head. With the borders open and the East and West German governments in talks about how to proceed and an agreement to an economic and customs union, many assumed that full reunification would follow. Meanwhile in F1 the rumour mill was already in full swing as various Image result for berlin wall fallcontenders for Mansell’s seat (Nannini? Alesi? Capelli? Modena?) were suggested and various dooms were prophesied for the underperforming Tyrrell and Lotus teams.

As in 1989, there was no German representation at the race, so the closest the locals got to a home hero was Austrian Gerherd Berger. First though, back to pre-qualifying with the Ligier team making their first appearance in the dreaded Friday morning session. They needn’t have worried: the blue cars sailed through easily enough with Grouillard and Dalmas progressing as usual. Main qualifying on this power circuit saw the McLarens absolutely dominant, with Senna taking pole by just 0.236 seconds, and Prost third a whole 1.5s behind. Mansell was fourth, then came the two Williams cars of Patrese and Boutsen. 7th and 9th were the Benettons (Piquet and Nannini), split by Alesi’s Tyrrell. Capelli was a promising 10th in the Leyton House. The four non-qualifiers were de Cesaris (for the first time in 1990), Barilla, Dalmas and Grouillard, meaning that both Monteverdi (“Onyx” now officially dropped) cars made it into the race: on the back row.

Image result for german grand prix 1990Predictably enough, the McLarens roared off into the lead at the start, with Prost and Mansell tucking in behind. Further back, Stefano Modena got a slow start and team-mate David Brabham swerved to avoid him, clipping Pirro’s front wheel and launching the Dallara backwards into the barriers. Pirro sat unmoving in the cockpit, and was still there, medics in attendance, when Senna & co came back round. Eventually, Pirro was extricated from the car complaining of back pain and sent off to hospital in a precautionary collar. Meanwhile, Phillippe Alliot, who had come to a halt avoiding Pirro’s bouncing wheel, had marshals first come up and unbuckle his seatbelts, then refasten them, give him a push and send him on his way.

Image result for german grand prix 1990All of which meant yellow flags while the mess was sorted out, with Senna, Berger, Prost and Mansell running together, with Boutsen, Patrese and the Benettons behind. When the green flags came out and racing resumed in earnest, Mansell commenced trying to get past Prost, while the four all drew away from Boutsen (who soon dropped back with a gear selection problem) and Patrese, who seemed to be holding Piquet and Nannini up. On lap 11, Piquet’s frustration led him to get out of shape one one of the chicanes trying to get past Patrese and he was passed by Nannini. Then, three laps later, Mansell’s ill luck struck again. On lap 14, as the first set of stops was approaching, he suddenly slithered approaching the Ostkurve, bounced across the kerbs, and limped back to the pits to retire. The reason? “I ran over something on the approach to the Ostkurve…” So that was six DNFs out of nine so far.

The first of the front-runners to come in for tyres was Berger on lap 16, rejoining behind the Benettons. Prost was next but he was severely held up with a sticking rear tyre nut and dropped back to seventh. So now Senna led Patrese, Nannini, Piquet and Berger, but the multicoloured Benettons were charging, making use of their new generation Ford engines to power past Patrese and then on lap 18, Senna came in to the pits. Could Nannini take the lead? Commentators and fans alike had one eye on the frantic McLaren Image result for german grand prix 1990  nanninipit crew and one eye on the track as Senna was released just as Nannini blasted across the line. Senna put his foot down and the pair were neck and neck as he emerged from the pitlane but with cooler tyres he had to give way and Nannini was past. And stayed there – even once his Goodyears warmed up, Senna just couldn’t make any inroads into Nannini’s lead. It was the same story behind, with Piquet easily keeping Berger behind him until he suffered a blown Ford V8 on lap 24.

In fact, Senna seemed to be backing off a little, the Honda engine struggling in the heat, while behind them, Berger now led Boutsen, who in turn had Prost right on his gearbox with Patrese following. Boutsen was in trouble, though, and Prost got past for fourth followed by Patrese. Boutsen went in for new tyres and dropped to ninth in the closing stages but did at least set the fastest lap – his first, and a lap record to boot – and make his way back up to sixth before the end. Prost could make no impression on Berger, though, as he had a badly set-up gearbox which wasn’t giving him enough top-end power.

Image result for hockenheim 1990Senna was not going to settle for second, though, and slowly began to reel in Nannini, who was not stopping and whose tyres were now beginning to go off. Over 16 laps he gradually closed and on lap 34 he slipstreamed past. There wasn’t much Nannini could do about it, and indeed Berger was now closing fast, and nearly made it. Senna took the win, and retook the championship lead, with Nannini second, but with another lap or so Berger could have taken the second spot. Prost came in fourth, with Patrese and Boutsen rounding out the points in their Williamses.


Drivers’ Championship

Position Driver Points*
1 Ayrton Senna 48
2 Alain Prost 44
3 Gerhard Berger 29
4 Nelson Piquet 18
= Thierry Boutsen 18
6 Jean Alesi 13
= Nigel Mansell 13
= Sandro Nannini 13
9 Riccardo Patrese 12
10 Ivan Capelli 6
11 Éric Bernard 4
12 Stefano Modena 2
= Alex Caffi 2
14 Satoru Nakajima 1
= Derek Warwick 1
= Aguri Suzuki 1

* Top 11 finishes only are counted.

Constructors’ Championship

Position Constructor Points
1 McLaren-Honda 77
2 Ferrari 57
3 Benetton-Ford 31
4 Williams-Renault 30
5 Tyrrell-Ford 14
6 Leyton House-Judd 6
7 Larrousse Lola-Lamborghini 5
8 Brabham-Judd 2
= Arrows-Ford 2
10 Lotus-Lamborghini 1

Half-Term Report

Prost CoverFerrari

Four wins for Prost puts Ferrari at the head of the Drivers’ table for the first time in years, but Mansell’s continuing reliability woes prevent them from being better in the Constructors’ table. The Englishman has been so frustrated over the last season and a half that he has decided to retire, and there will be many drivers interested in succeeding him. What remains to be seen is how Mansell’s motivation will fare; will he fade away or feel renewed with a weight off his mind?


Image result for tyrrell 019 imolaTyrrell-Ford

Though never quite doing as well again as their spectacular debut at Phoenix (Alesi second, Naka-san sixth), another second place in Monaco for Alesi and a point in San Marino are a pretty good haul so far. Alesi is clearly a bigger talent than Nakajima, who has also had the lion’s share of reliability issues. The car is good and with Honda power next year could be very good indeed – but Alesi is undoubtedly being chased by bigger teams.


Image result for 1990 british grand prix boutsenWilliams-Renault

Still not quite living up to their potential: the Renault V10 engine is powerful enough and the chassis is quite handy, but aside from Patrese’s popular win at Imola the results have been a little sparse. The weak link may be the drivers – a shame to say, as they’re both personable and popular, but seem to just lack that cutting edge or the force of personality to take a team by the scruff of its neck and drag it upwards. One or other may have to give way in 1991.



Image result for brabham bt59 imolaBrabham-Judd

Fifth place in Phoenix seemed to bode well but the team are in real trouble – a shame after their bright comeback last year. David Brabham, though undoubtedly a gift for the PR and marketing departments, doesn’t seem quite ready for F1 yet, has failed to qualify three times and only finished once. The undoubtedly talented Modena has had better luck, with a top finish so far of 7th in Canada – but things don’t look particlarly great so far.


Image result for arrows 1990Arrows-Ford

Not a happy season so far for the newly-rebranded team. Alex Caffi scored in Monaco, sure, but both he and veteran ex-Ferrari driver Alboreto have failed to qualify twice and seem destined to struggle in midfield at best. Porsche engines for 1991 might be a godsend, but only if the German firm doesn’t pull out on the strength of the season so far.


Image result for 1990 lotus lamborghiniLotus-Lamborghini

Still no joy for the veteran team; the eagerly-awaited Lamborghini engines have not delivered the results and both Warwick and Donnelly are looking distinctly downhearted, especially as there seemed to be an improvement and a point in Canada. Nothing the team tries seems to be working and with a third straight disappointing season there must surely be question marks over their continued funding by Camel.


Image result for 1990 osellaOsella-Ford

Not a huge amount to report, but Osella have in many ways done better than they could have. Grouillard has qualified for five of eight races, and has come through pre-qualifying pretty comfortably in all bar one of the meetings so far. It’s not enough to bring them out of pre-qualifying, but it does bode well for the future.


Image result for 1990 leyton houseLeyton House-Judd

After a brilliant 1988 and a disappointing 1989, the team’s first season with its new name has been nothing short of a disaster, with six DNQs on record so far, which has cost them their talented designer Adrian Newey. Fortunately the changes he made before leaving seem to have done a lot of good – witness the magnificent showing in France – and the team will be hoping to carry that momentum into the second half of the series.


Image result for 1990 agsAGS-Ford

The little French team have found it tough going so far, with both talented drivers struggling to pre-qualify and only Dalmas making it through to Sunday on two occasions. They are masters at making a little go a long way but are having to make less and less go further and futher…


Image result for 1990 benetton nanniniBenetton-Ford

If “common knowledge” is correct and Piquet is indeed on a $100,000 per point contract, it seems to be working out quite well for him so far: he’s scored in every race except when disqualified in Monaco. Sandro Nannini has had all the bad luck so far but has at least managed a podium/fastest lap combo in San Marino and a further points finish in Mexico. He is one driver already being touted for Mansell’s Ferrari seat in 1991. Benetton to chalk up a win by the end of the season? Don’t bet against it.


Image result for 1990 dallaraScuderia Italia Dallara-Ford

With one exception, the cars have qualified for all races so far but Pirro and de Cesaris have only seen a chequered flag once each so far; the Magneti Marelli ignition and engine-mapping electrics seem to be their main problem but de Cesaris’ erratic driving does seem to be exacerbating things.


Image result for 1990 minardiMinardi-Ford

1989 was a good year for Minardi, with excellent qualifying performances leading to points, though never as many as they really deserved. 1990 so far, however, has been one to forget. Paolo Barilla looks rather out of his depth, failing to qualify twice in the new M190 so far, while Martini took two top-10 finishes in the old M189 but has only finished once, 12th, in the new one. Ferrari power next year, but like Arrows they must be nervous about their new supplier getting cold feet.


Image result for 1990 ligierLigier-Ford

From bad to worse for the French “national team” who must now suffer the indignity of pre-qualifying for the rest of the season. Alliot’s brace of 9th places are the best results so far. Despite this, the friendship between Guy Ligier and French president Mitterrand means that state sponsorship in the form of Gitanes cigarettes and the national lottery is forthcoming and there are even rumours that Renault are looking to buy the team for a return to F1 as a constructor.


Image result for 1990 mclarenMcLaren-Honda

Senna and McLaren still look the class of the field although Prost and Ferrari have made a lot of headway. Of eight races so far, it’s 4-3 to Prost with Patrese taking the odd one, but McLaren’s second driver has had more luck than Ferrari’s. Berger looked a little out of sorts at the start of the season as he tried to squeeze his lanky frame into the car, but with adjustments made he’s had four podium finishes and two more points finishes. He still doesn’t look in the same league as Senna, but as the season progresses he will hope to give his illustrious team-mate a race.


Image result for 1990 larrousseLarrousse Lola-Lamborghini

The other Lamborghini-powered team have been in a class of their own in pre-qualifying so far this year and their great result at Silverstone – 4th and 6th – means they will be getting a lie-in on a Friday morning from now on. They still have reliability problems, but have finished just outside the points often enough that they must be confident of scoring again before the end of the season.


Image result for 1990 coloni subaruColoni-Subaru

What a disaster. The clunky, overweight C3B chassis with its clunky, overweight Subaru 1235 Flat 12 engine has not even looked like prequalifying so far and Carlo Chiti’s Motori Moderni concern (who actually designed and built the engine) had not done their already tarnished reputation any favours. The only thing stopping Coloni from being the laughing stock of the paddock is the existence of the even more risible Life team.


Image result for 1990 eurobrunEuroBrun-Judd

Another team having a pretty bad year, though the EuroBrun squad seem to have little other kind. With lack of money meaning no testing and precious little development, Moreno has done well to drag the thing into the race twice so far, but you have to wonder why they even bothered to expand to two cars if Claudio Langes seems only to be given enough laps to have “entered” by the letter of the rule and avoid a fine.


Image result for 1990 monteverdi onyxMonteverdi Onyx-Ford

The Onyx team’s story has been many things but not dull; however the current shenanigans with new owner Peter Monteverdi attempting to move the team – over the vocal objections of most of its staff – to a new base in Switzerland, Karl Foitek hiring his son and a threatened lawsuit from spurned driver Stefan Johansson and other top personnel may well be the end, sooner or later, of what looked like a promising squad just a year ago.


Image result for 1990 life racingLife

One disadvantage of the new regulations making entry to F1 more affordable is that every industrialist with money to burn seems to regard the sport as a potential billboard. Gunter Schmid tried with Rial for two lean seasons, and Ernesto Vita can only envy his success. To put it bluntly, his car doesn’t work. The “revolutionary” engine he’s trying to promote can’t do more than a lap or two before giving up and the chassis, lest we forget, was disowned by its original designer as unsafe. Lap times, when they are set at all, are hilariously off the pace. Perhaps the best we can hope for from Life is that they make it to the end of the season without killing or seriously injuring the affable Giacomelli, or anyone else.

1990 British Grand Prix

Silverstone_1987Silverstone
15 July 1990

The British Grand Prix was the home race for many of the constructors, but had taken on an additional significance for the minor teams in 1989 and again this year as it was the 8th race of the season after which the Pre-Qualifiers would be reassessed. But what the hordes packing into the Northamptonshire circuit were interested in was Nigel Mansell and his continuing struggles with the Ferrari. He’d taken pole in France but was a victim again of his car’s Image result for 1990 mansell retirement press conferenceunreliability. Could he break his 1990 duck on home ground, where he usually went well? Ferrari had beaten McLaren twice in succession so far, after all. Almost unnoticed in all the Mansell-Mania was that here his former team-mate Riccardo Patrese would become the first driver to start 200 races.
This would be the last race on the high-speed Silverstone circuit – an updated, lower-speed but higher-challenge circuit had been designed and – with funding from Tom Walkinshaw –  the construction teams were visible around the circuit ready to swing into action. Once more, the two Larrousse cars cruised through PQ with ease and were joined in the main session once again by Tarquini and Grouillard, with Langes, Gachot and Giacomelli once more far adrift of everyone else. Qualifying proper saw Mansell take his second pole in a row – and a career 14th – with a stonking lap, a comparatively huge 0.6s ahead of second-placed Senna. Berger was second and Boutsen third, the Renault engine on song here. In fifth was Prost, alongside Jean Alesi in the Tyrrell, who didn’t seem to have got the memo that this was a power circuit and he wasn’t supposed to be this high up. In seventh was Patrese, and then, sensationally, were Bernard and Suzuki in the Larrousse cars, 8th and 9th. Ivan Capelli lined up 10th, hoping to prove France wasn’t just a fluke and the team had put their Image result for 1990 british grand prix benettonproblems behind them. The Benettons of Piquet and Nannini could only manage 11th and 13th, but Nelson was very confident in the new high-revving Ford V8 and had reportedly placed a sizeable bet on himself to win. Grouillard and David Brabham were joined in non-qualification by Foitek and Lehto, whose newly-renamed Monteverdi Onyx team seemed to be falling apart rapidly as its owners continued to try and force through a relocation to Switzerland.

Image result for 1990 british grand prixWith Mansell fastest in the warmup – and Piquet a promising second with that new engine – the fans were looking forward to the race which took place in glorious sunshine and 30-degree temperatures. However, when the lights went green it was Senna who got away fastest, with Mansell and Berger hot on his heels. Piquet, meanwhile, remained stationary, his engine stalled – he got moving eventually, now at the back of the field.

Image result for 1990 british grand prixMansell wasn’t about to let his Brazilian rival disappear off into the distance as usual, though, and as the opening laps of the race played out, he stuck doggedly with the McLaren, looking for a way past. On lap 9, he made it past at Bridge, but ran wide on the exit and couldn’t hold the position. Not daunted, he kept at it and on lap 12 he was ahead again, to stay this time. Two laps after that, Senna had an uncharacteristic spin and dropped to fifth, then to tenth a few laps later as he pitted to replace his flat-spotted tyres.

Image result for 1990 british grand prix mansellSo Mansell now led Berger by about 3 seconds, with Prost third, Boutsen fourth and Suzuki a very impressive fifth place – the first time he had run in the points. Meanwhile, in 8th place, ahead of Ayrton Senna, was Nelson Piquet, who had been carving through the field like a hot knife through butter and had made up 18 places in 14 laps! His team-mate Nannini had also been doing well, qualifying in 13th and making his way up to 10th before colliding with Patrese on lap 16 and retiring – Patrese made his way in for repairs before returning to the race some way back.

Image result for 1990 british grand prix mansellOn lap 21, Mansell’s engine started making funny noises, suddenly rising and falling in pitch in unfamiliar places; his gearbox was acting up again. Berger rapidly caught and passed the home hero, who was nonetheless able to keep his car going sufficiently quickly to retain second place. In fact, to the relief of the crowd he seemed to get it under control again and caught up with Berger – having handling problems of his own – and re-took the lead on lap 28, with Prost following through three laps later to make it a Ferrari 1-2 as they approached half distance. Senna, meanwhile, was stuck back in 9th, having passed Martin Donnelly but no-one else. Behind Berger, Capelli had made his way past Boutsen and up to fourth, with Piquet now sixth and still charging.

For some time, the gap between Mansell and Prost remained stable with the Frenchman seemingly not pushing, but gradually the number 2 Ferrari began to slow and Prost caught up. On lap 43, he was past and Mansell was clearly struggling. For another 12 laps he held on but it was not to be – with just nine laps to go he pulled over and, furious, got out of the car, flung his driving gloves into the crowd and stormed off. The fans began also to depart. Meanwhile, Ivan Capelli’s fine race had similarly run its course, the Leyton House out with a fuel leak.

Image result for 1990 british grand prix boutsenSo Prost led Berger and Boutsen with Senna now up to fourth past Piquet who had had a spin and was down to fifth. Despite Senna’s fine run, McLaren were having a bad day at
the office by their standards and it only got worse when Berger’s throttle packed up just  a few laps before the end and he was out, promoting Boutsen to second, Senna onto the podium and Aguri Suzuki into sixth – both Larrousses now in the points.  On the final corner, Eric Bernard elbowed his way past Piquet to take a fine fourth place and seal a very good day for the Larrousse team. Alain Prost moved to the top of the Drivers’ Championship table – the first time since 1987 that anyone other than a McLaren driver had been there.

Following the race, Nigel Mansell held a press conference to announce that he had decided to retire at the end of the season after ten years in Formula One. “It’s nothing to do with today”, he reassured everyone, saying that he had been considering it for some time and was looking forward to working on his golf handicap…


Drivers’ Championship

Position Driver Points*
1 Alain Prost 41
2 Ayrton Senna 39
3 Gerhard Berger 25
4 Nelson Piquet 18
5 Thierry Boutsen 17
6 Jean Alesi 13
= Nigel Mansell 13
8 Riccardo Patrese 10
9 Sandro Nannini 7
10 Ivan Capelli 6
11 Éric Bernard 4
12 Stefano Modena 2
= Alex Caffi 2
14 Satoru Nakajima 1
= Derek Warwick 1
= Aguri Suzuki 1

* Top 11 finishes only are counted.

Constructors’ Championship

Position Constructor Points
1 McLaren-Honda 64
2 Ferrari 54
3 Williams-Renault 27
4 Benetton-Ford 25
5 Tyrrell-Ford 14
6 Leyton House-Judd 6
7 Larrousse Lola-Lamborghini 5
8 Brabham-Judd 2
= Arrows-Ford 2
10 Lotus-Lamborghini 1

1990 French Grand Prix

220px-Paul_Ricard_1986Paul Ricard
8 July 1990

The French Grand Prix, in a masterpiece of bad timing, fell on the same day as the World Cup final in Rome – fortunately for concentration during the race, the final saw Argentina play West Germany: neither country had any representation in the F1 paddock. The “Ferrari derby” of Mansell’s England against Ferrari’s Italy for third place had been resolved in the latter’s favour the previous day.

Image result for 1990 french grand prixThere were dismaying rumours circulating that this would be F1’s last visit to the popular circuit at Le Castellet with a new modern facility being built by the French government further north. If this was indeed the case, Prost would be even keener to record his fifth home win, and post-Mexico testing seemed promising for the Scuderia. Pre-qualifying saw four French cars going through, with the two Larrousse Lolas taking their habitual top two slots and the two AGSes also both making it through – Tarquini for the first time and Dalmas for the second. Life (pictured) put in their now traditional token appearance with no time set while Gachot could only manage a time of over four minutes in the terminally tubby Coloni-Subaru.

Image result for 1990 french grand prixQualifying proper did indeed end with a Ferrari at the head of the grid, but it was the wrong one for the home crowd: Mansell took top spot ahead of Berger, with Senna and Prost on row two. Behind them were Nannini and Patrese, with in 7th place a real surprise: Ivan Capelli’s Leyton House. Neither of the turquoise cars had qualified in Mexico and two of their main backroom men – Adrian Newey and Tim Holloway – had departed, but they had left behind them some aerodynamic revisions that seemed to have made a world of difference. Capelli’s team-mate Gugelmin was tenth, behind Boutsen and Piquet. David Brabham and Yannick Dalmas brought up the rear, with Barilla, Tarquini and both Onyx cars.

Image result for 1990 french grand prixThe lights went green on a scorching Provence Sunday and the cars erupted off the grid. Mansell led Berger and Senna into the first corner, while Prost was crowded out and dropped to sixth behind Nannini and Patrese. Mansell, though, seemed to be having a problem; Berger was in the lead and pulling out by the end of the lap and Senna was right on Mansell’s gearbox. As he too passed the Ferrari commentator Murray Walker wondered aloud whether the McLaren team had been sandbagging – deliberately underperforming, or at  – so far this weekend. The top four – Berger, Senna, Mansell and Nannini – continued to run close together for lap after lap, with Senna unable to make an impression on Berger who was running less wing and was faster on the straights. Behind them, Prost was clearly being held up by Patrese but was likewise unable to get past thanks to the grunt of the Renault engine in the straights.

Image result for 1990 french grand prixPiquet made the first stop for fresh tyres on lap 20, dropping from 7th to 15th but hoping that he would make up places as the others stopped, which promoted Alesi and Capelli to 7th and 8th respectively, the pair having an almighty scrap until the Tyrrell came in on lap 22. Soon Capelli was nipping at the heels of the Patrese/Prost battle, while Nannini almost bumped wheels with Mansell as he tried to make his way past. On lap 27, Prost peeled in for new tyres, still unable to get past Patrese – just as Senna took Berger for the lead and Mansell almost followed through as well. An uncharacteristically slow McLaren stop put Berger back on the track in 11th, with Patrese third and hot on his heels. Three laps later, Senna pitted for tyres and had an even worse stop than Berger, dropping to eighth.

Image result for 1990 french grand prixAll of this promoted Mansell to the lead but on lap 33 he was in for his stop – a good one this time – promoting Patrese, with Capelli behind and Gugelmin now third, with Prost chasing. Capelli overtook Patrese for the lead as the Italian came in himself, meaning that on the track the two Leyton House cars were running first and second – however they hadn’t stopped yet and Prost was gaining rapidly on Gugelmin with Nannini, Mansell and Senna following. So the question was how would it shake out when the Leyton House cars came in for tyres. Gugelmin was holding up Prost and Nannini was catching up, the Frenchman all the while trying to get past the Leyton House.

Image result for 1990 french grand prix nanniniBy lap 47, it was becoming obvious that Leyton House were in fact not going to stop, and now Nannini was right behind Prost and trying to get past the Ferrari, who was in turn becoming increasingly frustrated at his inability to get past Mauricio Gugelmin. Finally on lap 54 he sold the Brazilian a dummy and got past, setting off in pursuit of Capelli, who was starting to make the odd wobble suggestive of tyres going off. Nannini was now left behind Gugelmin with Mansell and Senna in 5th and 6th places gaining on him.

Prost soon reeled in Capelli as Nannini took Gugelmin four laps later, and the second Leyton House shortly afterwards toured off with a cracked fuel line. Tyres fading or no, Capelli kept Prost behind him for lap after lap and indeed put up the fastest lap on lap 62. But there were still 18 laps to go and Prost was determined. Mansell had come in the previous lap, dropping to eighth, and was charging back up, harrying Patrese for 7th place and setting fastest lap on lap 64. Capelli and Prost approached traffic – there had been relatively few retirements and there was still a lot of traffic on the circuit – but it was no problem for the Italian and he emerged the other side two seconds further ahead than he was earlier!

Image result for 1990 french grand prixAs the laps ticked down, the gap from Prost to Capelli got shorter, then longer, then shorter again but there was still no way past and the Miami Blue car had now led for over 40 laps. On lap 72 of 80, Mansell was harrying Berger for 6th when his engine let go and he pulled off – rumours were already rife that he was unhappy at Ferrari and this wouldn’t help. A couple of laps later, Prost was right up with Capelli and dodged out, but Capelli held the line and Prost had to start again. Nannini went out from a fine third place with electrical failure but all the attention was on the front.

Finally, with just three laps to go, and to the cheers of the crowd, Prost dived down the inside at the double right-hander and took the lead and pulled out a second a lap to take his 42nd Grand Prix win, his fifth in France and Ferrari’s landmark 100th Grand Prix. Capelli, with dropping fuel pressure in his last couple of laps, hung grimly on for a popular second place just 3 seconds ahead of Senna (who had been over 10 seconds behind when Capelli lost the lead), Piquet fourth, Berger fifth and Patrese. Like the Mexican and Canadian races, it had been a corker, and the 1990 season was shaping up to be a vintage one.

Image result for 1990 french grand prix podium

Prost thus closed up to within three points of Senna, and the two were equal on three wins each, and next up was Silverstone where Mansell would be determined to (and usually did) go well in front of his home fans.  But lest we forget, it’s McLaren’s home race too and they wouldn’t want to have Ferrari put one over on them there.


Drivers’ Championship

Position Driver Points*
1 Ayrton Senna 35
2 Alain Prost 32
3 Gerhard Berger 25
4 Nelson Piquet 16
5 Jean Alesi 13
= Nigel Mansell 13
7 Thierry Boutsen 11
8 Riccardo Patrese 10
9 Sandro Nannini 7
10 Ivan Capelli 6
11 Stefano Modena 2
= Alex Caffi 2
13 Satoru Nakajima 1
= Éric Bernard 1
= Derek Warwick 1

* Top 11 finishes only are counted.

Constructors’ Championship

Position Constructor Points
1 McLaren-Honda 60
2 Ferrari 45
3 Benetton-Ford 23
4 Williams-Renault 21
5 Tyrrell-Ford 14
6 Leyton House-Judd 6
7 Brabham-Judd 2
= Arrows-Ford 2
9 Larrousse Lola-Lamborghini 1
= Lotus-Lamborghini 1

1990 Mexican Grand Prix

220px-Autódromo_Hermanos_Rodríguez.svgAutódromo Hermanos Rodríguez
24 June 1990

While the Formula One circus moved south from Canada to Mexico, the eyes of much of the world were still trained on Europe, where the football World Cup was underway in Italy. The first of the knockout stages was beginning this weekend, with particular interest in the paddock being paid to the Brazil-Argentina clash in Turin taking place on race day, with Italy taking on Uruguay and England (having just scraped through the group stage) facing surprise package Cameroon. FImage result for 1990 mexican grand prixootball fans or not, the drivers and teams’ thoughts would be fixed on Mexico (whose team had been excluded after fielding ineligible players during the 1988 Olympics). Senna in particular had reason to celebrate – this would be his 100th Grand Prix start.

With no lineup changes, Pre-Qualifying took place with the usual four going through to the main session – today the order was Grouillard-Bernard-Moreno-Suzuki – with the AGSes just off the pace following the departure of technical director Hugues de Chaunac, with Claudio Langes putting up a token couple of laps for EuroBrun to comply with the rules (he had actually been sacked just before the Canadian race, only to be recalled to fulfil their requirement to field two cars). The farce that was Life Racing continued, with Bruno Giacomelli not even getting a single lap in before his engine blew.

Image result for 1990 mexican grand prixAs in Canada, the weather played a part in Qualifying, with a wet Saturday morning session seeing both Larrousse drivers have big offs. It was the usual McLaren pole, but Gerhard Berger instead of Senna. In fact the Brazilian was down in third place for his 100th Grand Prix, behind Riccardo Patrese. In fourth was Mansell after a fantastic effort. Boutsen and Alesi took up row 3, with Martini and Piquet on row 4. And Prost? After being unable to get his qualifying setup working, he decided to spend the rest of qualifying working on his race setup and could only manage 13th. Missing out on race day would be Roberto Moreno – disqualified for receiving a push start in Saturday’s qualifying session – along with Alex Caffi and both Leyton House cars amid rumours that designer Adrian Newey would be on his way sooner rather than later.

Sunday was sunny with clear skies and the drivers and teams knew that tyre choice would be vital – the abrasive, bumpy surface more suited to the harder “B” compound but the softer “C” offering more grip in the twisting infield section. In the event, the majority of the leading teams opted for the Cs, with Williams alone opting for Bs and Lotus mixing the two with Bs on the left side which got more wear. When the lights went gImage result for 1990 mexican grand prixreen it was Riccardo Patrese who leaped into the lead with Berger dropping to third (perhaps being more circumspect with the start than usual) behind Senna. However, on harder tyres and without the extra horses of the Honda engine, by the time he came around to start lap two, he had Senna right alongside and he was soon past and Berger along with him. Behind Patrese was Boutsen, then Piquet and Alesi, with Mansell having dropped back to 7th.

Predictably enough, the McLarens immediately started pulling out a lead but behind them it was tremendous racing as Prost and Nannini both began to make their way up through the field and Piquet got past Patrese for third on lap 5. On lap 11, Emanuele Pirro became the first retirement, with engine failure, then on lap 12 there were three more: David Brabham went out with electrical problems and the two Japanese drivers, Suzuki and Nakajima, collided. That same lap, Berger (now some ten seconds behind Senna) came in for tyres, hoping to get his stop out of the way early and give himself an advantage later. He rejoined in 12th place, just as Eric Bernard completed Larrousse’s bad afternoon by retiring with brake failure.

Senna now led Piquet, Boutsen, Patrese, Mansell and Prost, with Nannini seventh. The Ferraris were going really well, particularly Prost, and now they began to put pressure on the Williamses ahead of them. Setting a series of fastest laps, Mansell reeled in Patrese, then Boutsen to go third by lap 32 with Prost still close behind in fourth place and Nannini had also made his way up into the points in sixth as Patrese struggled with Image result for 1990 mexican grand prix piquethis tyres. on lap 35 – around half distance – Mansell overtook his old rival Nelson Piquet for second place and Prost was not far behind, getting past on lap 41 as Piquet struggled on rapidly-wearing tyres and the Ferrari was running better and better with Prost putting up a series of fastest laps. Could the Ferraris even overhaul Senna and take the lead? The Brazilian was some distance ahead, but the scarlet cars were going great guns and nobody wanted to bet against them here.

While Mansell and Prost were slowly gaining on Senna, Berger was charging back up the field, now on the same combination of B and C compound tyres which Lotus had begun the race on. Up to 8th, he had Alesi between him and the points, and the nimble Tyrrell was struggling for pace on the long straights. On lap 46, Piquet came in for tyres, rejoining behind Berger and shuffling everyone up a place: Senna led Mansell, Prost, Boutsen, Nannini, Alesi and Berger. Slowly but surely Mansell and Prost chipped away at Senna’s lead, until on lap 54 Prost overtook his team-mate and set about reeling in his great rival. The laps ticked down and so did Senna’s lead, and commentators began to wonder aloud if there was something wrong with the McLaren. On lap 61, Prost was with Image result for 1990 mexican grand prixSenna, and – almost anticlimactically – past and into the lead. The following lap, Mansell followed suit and it seemed certain that there was something amiss indeed with the McLaren. Two laps later we found out what as the slow puncture he’d been struggling with finally burts, leaving his right-rear tyre in shreds. Ron Dennis admitted he’d gambled in keeping Senna out in the hope of hanging on for third or fourth rather than bringing him in and dropping him right back.
So there were two Ferraris at the front for the first time since that famous win in Monza 1988, but closing at a rate of knots was Gerhard Berger, who had put up several fastest laps on his way to third and now had his old team-mate Mansell in his sights. Nigel had had a spin which he’d recovered from easily enough but lost time and with time running Image result for 1990 mexican grand prix ferrariout, Berger passed him with a banzai manoeuvre on lap 67 of 69. Nigel was having none of it though, and stuck with Berger, staying in his slipstream until he moved out and pulled off a simply sensational move, going around the outside at the notorious high-speed Peraltada corner which ended the lap.

Alain Prost thus took his 41st career win and became the first multiple winner in Mexico since Jim Clark won three non-championship races, with Mansell second to complete a great weekend for the Scuderia after so many recent problems. Berger’s fine drive netted him third, with the Benettons of Nannini and Piquet fourth and sixth, sandwiching Boutsen’s Williams. Ferrari managed to take a chunk out of McLaren’s substantial Constructors’ Championship lead into the bargain.


Drivers’ Championship

Position Driver Points*
1 Ayrton Senna 31
2 Gerhard Berger 23
= Alain Prost 23
4 Jean Alesi 13
5 Nelson Piquet 13
6 Nigel Mansell 13
7 Thierry Boutsen 11
8 Riccardo Patrese 9
9 Sandro Nannini 7
10 Stefano Modena 2
= Alex Caffi 2
12 Satoru Nakajima 1
= Éric Bernard 1
= Derek Warwick 1

* Top 11 finishes only are counted.

Constructors’ Championship

Position Constructor Points
1 McLaren-Honda 54
2 Ferrari 36
3 Williams-Renault 20
= Benetton-Ford 20
5 Tyrrell-Ford 14
6 Brabham-Judd 2
= Arrows-Ford 2
8 Larrousse Lola-Lamborghini 1
= Lotus-Lamborghini 1

1990 Canadian Grand Prix

Gilles Villeneuve Circuit Montreal (88-93).svgCircuit Gilles Villeneuve
10 June 1990

Back across the Atlantic everyone went, though nobody minded the visit to Canada – always a good atmosphere and a circuit everyone enjoyed. Last year’s race had seen Thierry Boutsen take his maiden win in the rain, and the forecast suggested it might be wet again this year. With no changes to report – other than McLaren having finally got Gerhard Berger’s seat “90%” right for him – it was off to the Pre-Qualifying lottery on Image result for 1990 canadian grand prixFriday morning, where Roberto Moreno managed to top the timings in the EuroBrun, nearly 19 seconds ahead of his team-mate Claudio Langes. Second was Grouillard in the sole Osella, and then the two Larrousse Lolas. Giacomelli managed to get seven laps out of the Life before its engine expired – a majority stakeholding in the struggling team has been bought out by an Italian conglomerate who are rumoured to be trying to buy Lotus’s old 1989 Judd engines.

With rain putting paid to Saturday’s session leaving just Friday’s times to decide the grid, it would be another all-McLaren front row with Senna pipping Berger to his 30th pole in 37 races by just 0.066s. Behind them were Prost and Nannini, with Piquet fifth – a good showing from the Benetton boys. Boutsen was sixth, Mansell and Alesi shared row four, and Patrese and Modena rounded out the top ten. Lotus had another encouraging session to line up 11th (Warwick) and 12th (Donnelly). Watching from the pitwall would be Roberto Moreno, Gugelmin (Capelli squeaked in in 24th), Barilla and Brabham, the latter two driving the circuit for the first time on Friday and unable to set a better time in Saturday’s rain.

Sunday dawned wet, but by the time of the race it had stopped and although the track was still wet, it was drying. Everybody was starting on wet tyres, but it was obvious that Image result for 1990 canadian grand prixthe decision on when to come in and change to slicks would be key – the choice made more interesting in that Pirelli (but not Goodyear) had an interim tyre, a grooved slick, available. Gerhard Berger got the best start – too good as it turned out; he moved a fraction of a second early, realised what he had done and lifted, just as the light went green and everyone else streamed away with Berger reacting fast enough to keep second behind Senna. Prost muffed his start and dropped back to sixth behind Nannini, Alesi and Piquet and by lap 4 had dropped behind Boutsen as well.

On lap 10, it was announced that Berger would be assessed a one-minute penalty at the end of the race, and the same lap Patrese was the first of the front runners to come in for slick tyres. Nannini caught and passed Berger for second, and as he did so Piquet moved up into third place past Alesi, whose wet tyres were rapidly going off on the drying track. Senna came in, leaving the Benettons first and second, but only briefly as everyone streamed in for tyres over the next few laps. Senna returned to the track just in front of Berger in second place, but moved over to allow Berger to pass. On lap 16, Nannini came in with a 16 second gap, but was stationary for a very long 13 seconds and emerged well behind. No sooner had he done so than he hit a stray groundhog out on the track and had to come back in for a new nose.

All of which left Berger ahead on the road and charging but effectively in 8th place, with Image result for 1990 canadian grand prixSenna leading Prost, who was being challenged by 1989 winner Boutsen. Piquet was running fourth with Mansell fifth. On lap 20, Prost was balked by Larini, sticking doggedly to the dry line in his Ligier. Boutsen saw a chance and moved out, put his wheels on the wet bit and gracefully pirouetted into the side of Larini, taking both of them out and leaving Prost untouched. As Boutsen limped back to retire, Alesi spun at exactly the same spot and returned to the track, spreading gravel across the racing line.

Prost wasn’t free and clear yet though, because he now had Piquet behind and Mansell behind him, while working his way back up, Nannini hit a wet patch trying to pass Nakajima and slid backwards into a tyre wall and out of the race. Berger and Senna were up ahead on the track with plenty of traffic to keep them occupied. Alesi was in amongst this group, having dropped back after knocking off a front wing against de Cesaris, and emulated Nannini, hitting that same wet patch, shooting off backwards and ending up sitting on top of both Benetton and tyre wall, thankfully unhurt.

Berger was now running fifth on time, and with Senna acting as rear-gunner Image result for 1990 canadian grand prix(unbeknown to everyone outside the McLaren garage, Senna was missing first gear) he was charging hard to try and make up time to the Prost/Piquet/Mansell battle. He had already lapped everyone up to 7th place on the track and would only need to catch up to them, not pass them, to take the position on times. All this time the battle for second was raging away, with the three cars running nose-to-tail for lap after lap, often looking like Piquet might get past Prost but never quite making it.

On lap 45, Patrese, having just been lapped by the Prost train, pulled in to retire with fading brakes, then on lap 49 Piquet finally got the line on Prost and made a neat pass, only to pull immediately away. The reigning Champion’s brakes were starting to fade and soon Mansell was past as well and chasing his former team-mate for second place. Putting up a fastest lap (that was almost immediately beaten by Senna), Mansell was closing rapidly on the Benetton in the closing laps, almost losing the car on the marbles as he passed Alex Caffi, too wrapped up in his own race to see the Ferrari coming. Instead of catching Nannini, he was now having to defend himself from Prost again. Berger, meanwhile, was putting up lap record after lap record as he tried to make up time.

Berger took the chequered flag first, with Senna undoubtedly the winner – but where would Berger finish on times? Piquet came home second, Mansell third and Prost … fifth! Berger took fourth place, splitting the two Ferraris. In sixth place for his and the team’s first points this year was Derek Warwick, with the second Lotus of Donnelly just behind. The team had had a good if unspectacular race, with the smooth power profile of the Lamborghini engine an advantage in the conditions.


Drivers’ Championship

Position Driver Points*
1 Ayrton Senna 31
2 Gerhard Berger 19
3 Alain Prost 14
4 Jean Alesi 13
5 Nelson Piquet 12
6 Riccardo Patrese 9
= Thierry Boutsen 9
8 Nigel Mansell 7
9 Sandro Nannini 4
10 Stefano Modena 2
= Alex Caffi 2
12 Satoru Nakajima 1
= Éric Bernard 1
= Derek Warwick 1

* Top 11 finishes only are counted.

Constructors’ Championship

Position Constructor Points
1 McLaren-Honda 50
2 Ferrari 21
3 Williams-Renault 18
4 Benetton-Ford 16
5 Tyrrell-Ford 14
6 Brabham-Judd 2
= Arrows-Ford 2
8 Larrousse Lola-Lamborghini 1
= Lotus-Lamborghini 1