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1992 German Grand Prix

Circuit Hockenheimring-1992.svgHockenheimring
26 July 1992

With the 1992 championship seemingly as good as over already, thoughts turned to the future and renewed rumours that Alain Prost would be returning to race in 1993 with Williams. What did that mean for Mansell? And indeed for Senna, whose contract with McLaren was up at the end of 1992 and who was known to be keen to drive one of Frank’s cars next year as well. Particularly if the other Related imagebig rumour was true: that Honda would be withdrawing from the sport as an engine supplier at the end of the year. All would no doubt become clear over the coming months but while Mansell and Williams seemed to have the title sewn up there was plenty of competition further down to decide.

 

Image result for 1992 hockenheim schumacherThere was a real sense of excitement about Hockenheim this year, too, as the German fans felt they had a real chance of seeing a German win a Grand Prix for the first time since Jochen Mass in 1975. However, the nature of the circuit meant that the smart money was on the Renault-powered Williams cars, and qualifying just underlined this fact. With the Andrea Modas disposed of in pre-qualifying as usual (the hapless McCarthy was disqualified for missing a weight check, but it hardly mattered), Mansell and Patrese took the front row by over a second from Senna and Berger. Alesi was 5th, and local hero Schumacher sixth – a distant 3.172s off pole. On row 4, the unusual sight of the two Ligiers of Comas and Boutsen, followed by Brundle a disappointed 9th and Wendlinger Image result for 1992 hockenheiman encouraged 10th. Herbert and Häkkinen were 11th and 13th respectively in their Loti, sandwiching Ivan Capelli. At the back, Hill and van de Poele both failed to qualify the ailing Brabham (the Englishman had a big off in the attempt), and would be joined on the pitwall by Andrea Chiesa – rumoured to be on his last legs at Fondmetal – and an unhappy Modena, which meant that Zanardi would start his first 1992 race in the Minardi.

Image result for 1992 hockenheimWhen the lights went green on Sunday afternoon, Mansell got away slowly – his semi-automatic gearbox selecting third instead of second – and Patrese again surged into the lead, but Mansell was quickly past before the first chicane. Senna and Berger had a similar experience; the Austrian getting away better only to lose the place to his team-leader shortly afterwards. Behind them came Schumacher, and in sixth; Brundle, who had got a flyer, overtaking both Ligiers and Alesi to tuck in behind his team-mate. Another good starter was Capelli, who got past Herbert and Boutsen. So on lap one it was Williams, Williams, McLaren, McLaren, Benetton, Benetton, Ferrari, Ligier, Ferrari, Ligier.

That was still the order fourteen laps later when Mansell – by now five seconds ahead of Patrese and nearly 20 ahead of Senna, having already broken the lap record – came in for an early pit-stop, believing he had sustained a puncture. Rejoining fourth, he set about regaining the lead. Berger made things easy, coming in himself and then coming in again Image result for 1992 german grand prixthe following lap to retire with a misfiring Honda. Schumacher, with his little V8 Ford proved no problem but Senna is always difficult to pass. The Brazilian, running non-stop, made his McLaren as wide as possible and a battle reminiscent of Monaco developed, with Mansell unable to get enough momentum to pass even on the long straights. At the remodelled Ostkurve chicane, he missed the turn entirely and took a shortcut across the apex but still without getting past. Perhaps if he had, he would have been sanctioned in some way but as it was the stewards made no murmur and the pair raced on. After a couple of laps, Senna waved Mansell through, apparently unwilling to risk being hit by an impatient Nigel.

On lap 20 Mansell retook the lead as Patrese stopped for tyres, and rejoined behind Senna and Schumacher – another non-stopper – who was actually gaining on the Brazilian despite his relative lack of grunt. Patrese may have increasingly been seen in 1992 as a subservient sidekick to Mansell, but he’s still a racer at heart and set about Schumacher with gusto. For ten laps, the local boy in just his 16th race held back the veteran of 234, until he slid a little on his own leaking radiator fluid and Patrese was through at the chicane.

Image result for 1992 german grand prixPatrese, lest we forget, was still in the title hunt himself and now really had the bit between his teeth as, with just ten laps to go, he reeled in Senna, breaking the lap record twice until he was right on the McLaren’s tail. As Mansell before him had found, getting past Senna is another matter entirely and the two took up the duel. No waving past this time: Senna wanted those six points and a chance at a win if Mansell should falter. The closing laps saw a ding-dong battle until, on the very last lap, Patrese made a last, desperate lunge into the stadium section and spun off, stalling his engine in the process. Mansell took the win with Senna second and Schumacher delightedly Image result for 1992 german grand prix comasinherting third place, followed by Brundle, Alesi and Comas with Boutsen seventh: the Ligiers had done well for a change at this circuit which was all about their Renault power.

Mansell’s win was his eighth of the season, equalling Senna’s 1988 record and meant that his great rival could no longer win the title: the Brazilian was 62 points behind with six races to go. Moreover, if Mansell scored four more points that Patrese at the next race in Hungary – for example, if he won in a Williams 1-2 – then he would be crowned champion.


Drivers’ Championship

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Nigel Mansell 86
2 Riccardo Patrese 40
3 Michael Schumacher 33
4 Ayrton Senna 24
5 Gerhard Berger 20
6 Martin Brundle 16
7 Jean Alesi 13
8= Michele Alboreto 5
8= Mika Häkkinen 5
10= Andrea de Cesaris 4
10= Erik Comas 3
12 Karl Wendlinger 3
13= Ivan Capelli 2
13= Pierluigi Martini 2
13= Johnny Herbert 1
16 Bertrand Gachot 1
POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 126
2 Benetton-Ford 49
3 McLaren-Honda 44
4 Ferrari 15
5 Lotus-Ford 7
6 Footwork-Mugen Honda 5
7= Tyrrell-Ilmor 4
7= Ligier-Renault 3
9 March-Ilmor 3
10 Scuderia Italia Dalara-Ferrari 2
11 Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini 1

 

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1992 British Grand Prix

Silverstone 1991.jpgSilverstone
12 July 1992

1991 had seen “Mansell-Mania” at Silverstone, but 1992 was even crazier. It was a good time to be a British motorsport fan; Nigel’s win in France had not only made his lead in the title race look almost unassailable but Martin Brundle had joined him on the podium (the first time two Brits stood on the podium together since Hunt and Watson in France 1977. Not only that, Johnny Herbert had made it three Brits in the top six for the resurgent Lotus team. For a nation whose other sporting endeavours seemed best summed up by England’s embarrassing early exit from the 1992 European  Football Championships in Sweden the previous month, Mansell’s success after years of hard trying was a fairytale story. And they came in their droves to – hopefully – watch their hero score another dominant win on his way to the world title.

Image result for andrea moda silverstoneBut first, there was pre-qualifying, and another British driver: Perry McCarthy went out and completed two laps on wet tyres – the only ones available – before his clutch packed up, and his team-mate Roberto Moreno fared little better, 1.5s off the next-fastest man. The Fondmetal and Venturi Larrousse teams need have little fear of the PQ sessions, even if it is an annoyance to have an early start on a Friday. That done, the main qualification session could begin and Mansell and Patrese could demonstrate their new, improved Renault RS4 engine – and indeed they did. Mansell was fastest in every session and took pole a whopping 1.9s ahead of Patrese, who suffered a smash on Saturday morning. A further 0.8s behind was Senna, alongside Schumacher, with their respective Image result for 1992 British Grand Prixteammates on row three. 7th and 9th were the Loti of Herbert and Häkkinen – a fine qualifying performance, sandwiching Alesi’s Ferrari. The Ligiers of Comas and Boutsen were an equally encouraging 10th and 13th, with Capelli down in 14th. Minardi had replaced Fittipaldi with Alessandro Zanardi, but the Italian was rusty and failed to qualify alongside Belmondo, Chiesa and van de Poele, meaning that Damon Hill would make his first start, in 26th place at a track where his illustrious father had often raced but never won.

Mika Häkkinen almost didn’t make it to the race – held up in the notorious Silverstone traffic on Sunday morning, he was then arrested by police and charged with dangerous driving in his attempts to make it (presumably to wisecracks like “who d’you think you are then? Nigel Mansell?”). He made it just in time for the drivers’ briefing, while Johnny Herbert had been using the time to tinker with his setup and would start in the spare car, set up for Mika, after finding it worked better for him.

Image result for 1992 British Grand Prix150,000 fans – the majority there to see Mansell – packed into the circuit on Sunday. When the lights went green there was a collective intake of breath as Mansell spun his wheels and allowed Patrese to take the lead while Brundle got out of the traps like a greyhound, slithering along the pit wall to slot into third, having overtaken Berger, Schumacher and Senna. The German had got past Senna too, and overtook Brundle, only to run wide at Maggots and slip back to fifth. Herbert was up into 6th, past Berger, and soon Mansell Image result for 1992 British Grand Prixwas back in the lead. By the end of lap one, he had already got a huge lead of 3.2s and was still pulling away. By lap 4 the gap was already over 10s – to the delight of the assembled masses, who didn’t seem overly concerned about the accusations of “monotonous” domination.

Patrese’s second place was equally secure, but a terrific scrap was going on for third place between old Formula 3 sparring partners Brundle and Senna. The McLaren was faster in some sectors but the Benetton, running minimal wing, was just fast enough to stay ahead. On lap 29, Berger came in for tyres, promoting Häkkinen into 6th, which became 5th the following lap when Herbert’s gearbox packed up, joining Wendlinger and Katayama who had both had similar problems a couple of laps earlier.

Mansell came in from his whopping 39s lead around then too, the team taking their time but still returning them in the lead. With the data from Mansell and Berger’s tyres, the Goodyear technicians advised Patrese and Senna that they could stay out, while Brundle decided to do so too. Schumacher did have to stop, his tyres damaged by his first-lap excursion, and his stop took the pressure off Senna, who had fallen back from Brundle. He sped up again, re-caught Image result for 1992 British Grand Prix senna brundleBrundle and the two resumed their battle, while further back, Häkkinen valiantly fought to hold on to fifth from Berger and Schumacher but the pair had fresher tyres and were soon past. Alesi had been part of the battle too but had an odd retirement: his fire-extinguisher had gone off in the cockpit and frozen his bum.

With seven laps to go, there had still been only 8 retirements, until the 9th (and last) Image result for 1992 British Grand Prix senna brundlebecame Ayrton Senna – another victim of a broken transmission, just two corners after getting past Brundle for third. Mansell cruised to a home win by a massive 39 seconds (after showboating with a lap that broke the lap record) from Patrese with Brundle third – a replica of the French podium two weeks earlier. Schumacher, Berger and Häkkinen took the rest of the points positions. Alboreto was seventh for the fourth race running, Capelli trailed in ninth and Damon Hill soldiered gamely on to finish 16th and last, four laps down. The lurid pink Brabham crossed the line close behind Mansell, giving young Hill a moment in the limelight on the TV screens.

Image result for 1992 British Grand Prix mansell sennaThe supporters broke ranks and ran onto the circuit even while the remaining drivers were still racing – Mansell paused on his parade lap to give Senna a lift back to the pits on his sidepod, but the pair never made it: the crowds on the circuit halted him at Club corner and he had to be rescued by a circuit vehicle. He didn’t mind and neither did the fans: Mansell’s seventh win of the year put him 36 points clear of Patrese and 47 ahead of third-placed Schumacher. Senna, now fifth, looked to be out of the title running; with seven races still to run he was 58 points off; a disappointing title defence so far.

Mansell’s 28th career win saw him become the most successful British driver ever, overtaking Jackie Stewart’s 27 wins. At the next race in Germany, Michael Schumacher would hope to be buoyed to his first win by the same level of local support.,,


Drivers’ Championship

 

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Nigel Mansell 76
2 Riccardo Patrese 40
3 Michael Schumacher 29
4 Gerhard Berger 20
5 Ayrton Senna 18
6 Martin Brundle 9
7 Jean Alesi 11
8= Michele Alboreto 5
8= Mika Häkkinen 5
10 Andrea de Cesaris 4
11= Karl Wendlinger 3
11= Erik Comas 3
13= Ivan Capelli 2
13= Pierluigi Martini 2
13= Johnny Herbert 1
16 Bertrand Gachot 1
POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 116
2 Benetton-Ford 42
3 McLaren-Honda 38
4 Ferrari 13
5 Lotus-Ford 7
6 Footwork-Mugen Honda 5
7 Tyrrell-Ilmor 4
8 March-Ilmor 3
8= Ligier-Renault 3
10 Scuderia Italia Dalara-Ferrari 2
11 Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini 1

1992 Half-Term Report

Image result for 1992 mclaren mp4/7McLaren-Honda

Disappointing so far for the Woking Wonders – their only wins coming in Monaco and Canada when the Williams cars had problems. The MP4/7 seems to be suffering from a lack of power from the Honda V12 which, combined with its greater weight, is a handicap. They never give up though: watch for more developments.


Image result for 1992 tyrrellTyrrell-Ilmor

Reliability has been the team’s achilles heel so far this year, with just one finish in the first four races. When they are running, de Cesaris has been putting in some good performances and his two points finishes have been thoroughly merited. Grouillard looks less comfortable, however.


Image result for 1992 williamsWilliams-Renault

Following their disappointments in 1991, the Williams team have really got it together for 1992; they have not only the fastest car in the field by some margin but also the most technologically advanced with traction control, active suspension and more. It’s difficult to see anyone stopping Mansell’s triumphant march to the world title.


Image result for 1992 brabham bt60Brabham-Judd

Brabham have never quite been the same since their sale by Bernie Ecclestone at the end of 1987, but rarely have they sunk so low as now, with just one qualification – van de Poele in South Africa – so far and a constant threat of winding-up hanging over their heads. Can they make it to Australia?

 


Image result for 1992 footworkFootwork-Mugen Honda

Much better than last year already, with Alboreto scoring a string of points places in Brazil, Spain and San Marino, followed by three frustrating seventh place finishes just outside. Suzuki, by contrast, is struggling and has failed to qualify twice – still, the team are much more buoyant than this time last year with the execrable Porsche engine.


Image result for 1992 lotus 107Lotus-Ford

The new Lotus 107 has been a revelation in its first few races and its double-points finish in France suggests that the illustrious team may once again be headed for the top. If they can hang on to their talented drivers and raise some sponsorship, possibly a works engine deal, the future can be bright for Hethel.



Image result for 1992 fondmetal gr02Fondmetal-Ford

The underfunded Italian team introduced their new car, the GR02, in Canada and although it’s early days yet it looks promising. Tarquini set the 8th-fastest lap in Montreal, though neither driver went further than six laps in France. Fondmetal, and before them Osella, have spent their entire existence yearning for the security of midfield, and the GR02 might get them there yet.


Image result for 1992 march f1March-Ilmor

Driving last year’s car, almost devoid of sponsorship, Karl Wendlinger has been driving his socks off to little avail, and his 4th place in Canada was a just – if scant – reward for his efforts. With the team focussed on Wendlinger, Belmondo has had the short end of the resources stick, but it’s notable that he’s brought the car home safely on the three occasions he’s made it to the race.


Image result for 1992 benetton b192Benetton-Ford

The works Ford team with their distinctive shark-nosed car are having a good season so far. Martin Brundle had an unlucky start but has definitely come good, while Schumacher is underlining his star quality (and still hasn’t been in F1 a full year!). The low-tech (by Williams standards) B192 chassis with its down-on-power Ford V8 is nonetheless a nice little runner and currently lies second in the championship race.


Image result for 1992 dallaraBMS Scuderia Italia Dallara-Ferrari

Despite Martini’s brace of points finishes, things are not going well for the “other” red Italian team. The F192 doesn’t handle well and the raised-nose design with deep end plates isn’t quite working. Still, it’s usually reliable, and Lehto has had a string of top-ten finishes – if they can tweak the aerodynamics a bit and find some speed, it could still come good.


Image result for 1992 minardiMinardi-Lamborghini

Reliability has been Minardi’s problem so far this year. The old chassis finished just once in four races, though the new M192 looks a little better on that score, finishing four times in the next four races. Christian Fittipaldi looked lively in his debut season, but his accident in France was nasty and the team will need to find someone to replace him for a while.


Image result for 1992 ligierLigier-Renault

Another team with a reliability problem, the JS37 is also not great on bumpy circuits, hence the problems in Mexico, Monaco and Canada – and the much improved performance at the billiard-table Magny-Cours. Thierry Boutsen seems thoroughly disillusioned, the usually genial Belgian being openly scathing about the car, while Comas has scored all the points so far.


Image result for 1992 ferrari f1Ferrari

The “revolutionary” F92A hasn’t been as successful as everyone hoped, and a disappointing winless 1991 has become a thoroughly miserable 1992. Jean Alesi has driven the wheels off the thing to take two third places, which has only increased the pressure on his team-mate Ivan Capelli, not enjoying life at Ferrari after the chummy, laid-back atmosphere of March/Leyton House.


Image result for 1992 venturiVenturi Larrousse-Lamborghini

After bankruptcy at the end of 1992 and a buyout by Venturi, this is Larrousse’s first in-house car and it’s been a baptism of fire. Early signs were encouraging and Gachot managed a priceless point in Monaco, but Katayama in particular has struggled to get the best out of the car.


Related imageJordan-Yamaha

What a shame – Eddie Jordan’s team had a spectacular debut season in 1991, but spent a lot of money doing so and now things have come home to roost: the “free” Yamaha engines are a millstone around the team’s neck: Gugelmin has finished twice in eight, Modena has DNQed twice and retired in the other six races. Short of ditching the engines, there’s not much they can do and look to have a hard road ahead.


Image result for 1992 andrea modaAndrea Moda-Judd

The little Italian team has had a colourful first half-season in F1 to say the least and while most in the paddock wish them well and hope they’ll find their feet soon, there are echoes of the ill-fated Life team in their shambolic organisation and spectacularly off-the-pace performance. The talented Moreno deserves better than this, and the (presumably) talented McCarthy certainly deserves to actually be allowed to drive it occasionally.

1992 French Grand Prix

Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours (1992-2002).svgCircuit de Nevers Magny-Cours
7 July 1992

The French Grand Prix of 1992 was highly anticipated – not for the circuit, which was still regarded as somewhat “Mickey Mouse” despite its excellent facilities, but because after five flawless Mansell wins, there had now been two McLaren wins on the trot and neutrals and Senna/McLaren fans alike were hoping this would mark the start of a fightback to keep the championship race alive. Williams, on the other hand, were keen to get back to winning ways at the home of their engine supplier Renault, while Ligier were not only Renault-powered but also based at Magny-Cours – “we might be less uncompetitive here than usual” was Boutsen’s cynical opinion. It was also the last race before pre-qualifying would be reassessed and so there was plenty at stake for the backmarker teams too. One thing was for certain: for the first time since 1980, Alain Prost would not be standing on the podium on Sunday afternoon.

The race almost didn’t happen at all: French lorry drivers, striking over the government’s proposed new traffic laws, blockaded the (already thoroughly inadequate) roads into the circuit. Somehow, almost all the team’s trucks made it through – the only team unable to compete was – somewhat inevitably – Andrea Moda, while the Yamaha unit was also stuck and unable to provide support to Jordan, while fuel trucks from Agip, BP and Mobil Image result for 1992 french gp startwere also stranded. Other than that, things could get underway as normal and in the absence of Andrea Moda pre-qualifying was skipped.

The Williams-Renaults were in devastating form in qualifying, with Mansell taking pole and Patrese second, with Senna third some 1.3s adrift of the Briton. Berger duly lined up fourth, with Schumacher and Alesi on row 3, and their respective number 2s Brundle and Capelli behind. Boutsen and Comas were delighted to qualify 9th and 10th on the circuit at the Ligier team’s factory gate and they were followed by the two Lotus cars, in the same grid slots as their car numbers: Häkkinen 11, Herbert 12. At the back, both Image result for 1992 magny cours brabhamFondmetals made it into the race, which would help their odds of escaping pre-qualifying, while a striking new paint job and revised undertray couldn’t help the Brabhams into the race. Damon and Eric were joined in non-qualification by Paul Belmondo and Christian Fittipaldi, who had a nasty smash on Friday which cracked his fifth vertebra and may well keep him out of the Minardi for a while.

When the lights went green on race day, everyone was on slick tyres, but it had rained in morning warm-up and there were clouds lowering overhead as Patrese got off like a scalded cat and went ahead of Mansell into the first corner. Berger did the same to his Image result for 1992 french gp startteam-mate, and Senna was left trying to fend off an enthusiastic Michael Schumacher. A little too enthusiastic as it turned out; at the Adelaide hairpin he collided with the McLaren, putting Senna out on the spot and wrecking his own nose into the bargain. Perhaps distracted by the debris flying ahead of them, Gachot, Gugelmin and Chiesa also had accidents at Adelaide and were out, while the rest of the field picked their way past. So as Schumacher limped round to the pits for a new nose, the order now was Patrese – Mansell – Berger – Brundle – Alesi, with Häkkinen now sixth, having gained five places.

Berger retired with a blown engine on lap 11 to complete McLaren’s dismay, and Brundle was promoted to third, while Mansell continued to harry Patrese looking for a way past and Alesi and Häkkinen trading places. On lap 20, the rain that had been threatening Image result for 1992 french gp startbegan to fall and, with the race officially deemed Dry, the red flags went out and the race was stopped. According to the rules, the race would be restarted and run for the 51 remaining laps (part one being backdated to lap 18), with the times of the two parts aggregated to give a result. All of which meant that the position on the track was not necessarily the final position on the race, which was never a fun time for commentators and viewers.  Although the rain had turned out to be a brief shower, and the track was again dry by the time the restart was ready (so everyone opted for slicks once more), it was nonetheless deemed a Wet Race, meaning any further cloudbursts would not stop proceedings.

Image result for 1992 french gp startPatrese led away with 20 cars still running – Grouillard jumped the start in his Tyrrell and was penalised with a 10-second stop-go. Mansell recommenced attacking Patrese, getting past at Adelaide but immediately losing the place again, at which point Riccardo pulled to one side and waved him through. Nigel gratefully accepted and shot off into the distance, while as the field streamed through Adelaide, Schumacher did it again – clouting Modena. Perhaps karmically, this time it was the Benetton that broke, while the Jordan continued unworried.

As the Williams cars strolled away as usual and commentators sat with lap charts and calculators trying to work out the aggregate positions, the audience was treated to a cracking fight on the track between Brundle – struggling with a misfire caused by a loose connection – and a charging Alesi. The Ferrari was past on the road, and then a few laps Related imagelater on lap 43, was past on aggregate too, as Brundle fell behind Häkkinen too. Behind Mika, Boutsen had been running sixth but his clutch packed up, spinning him into retirement. His place was taken by team-mate Comas, with Herbert’s Lotus in hot pursuit. Then it rained again – hard. Apparently, the fact that the second race would be considered Wet hadn’t been well communicated and several teams expected it to be stopped again and delayed switching to wet tyres. Mansell was in first, retaining his lead, then Brundle and then Patrese – the rain ironically helped Martin Brundle, whose loose connection wasn’t so troublesome with the lower G-forces, and he had held onto fifth place.

Jean Alesi stayed out on slicks, gambling that the rain wouldn’t last, and he amazed spectators with his car control before finally losing it and spinning at 170mph – keeping it on the road, he came slightly sheepishly into the pits to do what his team had been telling him all along and change to wet tyres. Stalling on the way out again, he dropped back down the order and was soon out with a blown engine anyway. Brundle thus re-Image result for 1992 french gp startinherited third place and despite spinning on the oil from Alesi’s blow-up, he finished third and the only car other than the Williams drivers to go the full distance. Häkkinen finished a best-yet fourth place, with Comas fifth and Herbert sixth – great news for the Lotus team and just as encouraging for Ligier, who had scored two races in a row including at their home GP. But it was Williams and Mansell who were the big winners of the day with both McLarens and Michael Schumacher all failing to trouble the scorers.

 


Drivers’ Championship

 

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Nigel Mansell 66
2 Riccardo Patrese 34
3 Michael Schumacher 26
4= Ayrton Senna 18
4= Gerhard Berger 18
6 Jean Alesi 11
7 Martin Brundle 9
8 Michele Alboreto 5
9= Andrea de Cesaris 4
9= Mika Häkkinen 4
11= Karl Wendlinger 3
11= Erik Comas 3
13= Ivan Capelli 2
13= Pierluigi Martini 2
13= Johnny Herbert 1
16 Bertrand Gachot 1
POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 100
2 McLaren-Honda 36
3 Benetton-Ford 35
4 Ferrari 13
5 Lotus-Ford 6
6 Footwork-Mugen Honda 5
7 Tyrrell-Ilmor 4
8 March-Ilmor 3
8= Ligier-Renault 3
10 Scuderia Italia Dalara-Ferrari 2
11 Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini 1

1992 Canadian Grand Prix

Gilles Villeneuve Circuit Montreal (88-93).svgCircuit Gilles Villeneuve
14 June 1992

In the tenth anniversary year of the death of Gilles Villeneuve, Canada showed no signs of losing interest in Formula One and there was another bumper turnout. “Salut Gilles” had been painted on the start-finish line in its new position from last year, and the Francophone crowd had already adopted Jean Alesi who drove Gilles’ old number 27 Ferrari with more than a hint of his dash and commitment. Less popular among the Image result for 1992 canada wendlingerFerrari faithful was Ivan Capelli, still the subject of much speculation after his Monaco exit. Local newspapers, meanwhile had run a story about the troubled financial state of the March team and for the weekend the aqua blue car was gratifyingly festooned with local one-off sponsorship decals.

After their heroics in Monaco, the Andrea Moda team were in disarray in Canada as their Judd engines had failed to arrive. Team boss Andrea Sassetti managed to scrounge a spare from the Brabham team – only in Canada thanks to a last-minute new sponsor – to allow Moreno at least to have a go but perhaps inevitably he was some 18 seconds off the pace and failed to pre-qualify, while McCarthy didn’t turn a wheel.

Related imageQualifying proper saw a turn-up for the books: Ayrton Senna on pole. Not a surprise in the usual run of things (it was his 61st pole) but in 1992 it was a good sign that things might be about to get more interesting. Alongside Senna was Patrese, with Mansell down in third – distracted, said rumours, by rumours linking Prost with Williams for 1993. Berger was fourth, with Schumacher fifth alongside Johnny Herbert – his best-ever qualification and a fillip for the Lotus team, who also had Häkkinen 10th. Brundle and the two Ferraris of Alesi and Capelli were 7th, 8th and 9th respectively. At the back, Fittipaldi and Grouillard lined up on row 13, with both Brabhams, Andrea Chiesa and Aguri Suzuki missing the cut on this occasion.

Sunday was hot and humid and when the lights went red Senna hared in to the lead, while Mansell got the drop on Patrese and had a look at Senna before slotting in second and Gabriele Tarquini lost transmission on his Fondmetal almost straight away. The Image result for 1992 montreal mansellMontreal circuit suffered from harsh winters which buckled and rippled the surface and it was expected that Mansell and Patrese, with their active suspension systems, would have a big advantage – and early on it certainly seemed as if Senna was holding the pair up. Further back, Häkkinen had got ahead of both Ferraris so the Loti were running 7th and 8th behind the Benettons, while further back Venturi team-mates Katayama (who qualified an excellent 11th) and Gachot collided and sent Bert into the pits for a new nosecone.

For 14 laps, Mansell stayed close behind, waiting for his chance while behind him Patrese, Berger, Schumacher, Brundle, Herbert and Häkkinen all ran nose-to-tail likewise awaiting developments. Gachot blotted his copybook again by hitting a wall and stalling – Image result for 1992 montreal mansellthe marshals push-started him but he was disqualified. Then, as they came round to finish lap 15, Mansell made his move on the little right-left jink before the straight. Senna stuck to the racing line and Mansell was left with nowhere to go but off. Bouncing across the gravel, he rejoined the track minus his front wing, spun and wound up sideways on the grid watching the rest of the field stream past with a stalled engine. Worried viewers watched as Mansell simply sat in his car. Was he hurt? No, he was just waiting for Senna to come back round in order to gesticulate at him. That done, he got out and went off to complain to the organisers that he felt Senna had pushed him off. In all the confusion, Berger also got past Patrese and took up Nigel Mansell’s role of harrying Senna looking for a way to get past.

A few laps later, Capelli’s nightmare season continued when “something broke at the back” of his car and he went into a wall at high speed and demolished his car. And then for a while things settled down; Senna continued to control the pace with Berger, Patrese, the Benettons and Loti following in sequence, though Häkkinen was dropping back towards Alesi, with Wendlinger an excellent 9th.  On lap 35, Herbert’s fine drive ended with a clutch failure, and his team-mate Mika was out a lap later with a box full of neutrals. Still no joy for Lotus, then, but further proof that the new 107 can be a good car if it can be made reliable. Another retirement on the next lap – Stefano Modena’s Jordan with transmission troubles, and then on lap 38, Ayrton Senna was touring off with dead electricals.

So Berger now led, at the front of a four-car train with Patrese and the Benettons hot on Related imagehis heels – only now it was Brundle ahead of Schumacher; the Briton getting past the German when the latter was baulked by traffic. Behind the leaders, Alesi and Wendlinger were conducting their own private battle for 5th. Able now to run to his own pace, Berger turned up the wick, setting the fastest lap but still unable to draw away from Patrese. Brundle broke the lap record in his efforts to catch the remaining Williams – which he did on lap 44 when Patrese’s gearbox broke for the team’s first double-DNF of the year. Brundle was thus up to second – but not for long as his own transmission expired just two laps after Riccardo’s, and he pulled off, beating his steering wheel in frustration.

All of which promoted Schumacher to second leading Alesi, Wendlinger, Katayama and de Cesaris, with Comas, Alboreto, Martini and Lehto rounding out the top ten. Williams, Senna and Brundle may have had bad races, but the March, Venturi and Tyrrell teams were not complaining, particularly the impecunious March team. Schumacher was beginning to gain on Berger, and with the way things were going so far a maiden win was not out of the question for the young German (still only in his 13th race). Meanwhile Alesi was also charging – not that he ever did anything else – but with a 30+ second gap to Schumacher there didn’t seem to be much he could do.

On lap 62 of 69, Ukyo Katayama’s race came to a sad end when his Lamborghini engine burst into flames when running fifth, which promoted Erik Comas into the points and added extra spice to his entertaining scrap with Alboreto. And that was that – Gerhard Berger held on to a fine win – his first for McLaren if you don’t count the Japanese Grand Prix of 1991 gifted to him on the line by Senna, and his seventh overall.

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A delighted Austrian veteran was joined on the podium by two young chargers – Schumacher and Alesi. Karl Wendlinger brought his March home a fantastic fourth, with de Cesaris fifth and Comas scoring Ligier’s first point since 1989 in sixth. Alboreto was seventh as he had been in Monaco, followed by the two Dallaras, Boutsen tenth, Morbidelli, Grouillard, Fittipaldi and finally Paul Belmondo, five laps down but still going to finish only his third race.


Drivers’ Championship

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Nigel Mansell 56
2 Riccardo Patrese 28
3 Michael Schumacher 26
4= Ayrton Senna 18
4= Gerhard Berger 18
6 Jean Alesi 11
7= Michele Alboreto 5
7= Martin Brundle 5
9 Andrea de Cesaris 4
10 Karl Wendlinger 3
11= Ivan Capelli 2
11= Pierluigi Martini 2
13= Johnny Herbert 1
13= Mika Häkkinen 1
13= Bertrand Gachot 1
13= Erik Comas 1

Constructors’ Championship

 

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 84
2 McLaren-Honda 36
3 Benetton-Ford 31
4 Ferrari 13
5 Footwork-Mugen Honda 5
6 Tyrrell-Ilmor 4
7 March-Ilmor 3
8= Lotus-Ford 2
8= Scuderia Italia Dalara-Ferrari 2
10= Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini 1
10= Ligier-Renault 1

 

1992 Monaco Grand Prix

Circuit_de_Monaco_1986Monte Carlo Street Circuit
31 May 1992

In the weeks following Ferrari’s disappointing showing at Imola, the Italian motorsports press had been vocal in its criticism of Ivan Capelli, and there were persistent rumours that he was about to be dropped in favour of team test driver Gianni Morbidelli or any of a selection of other drivers including Nelson Piquet and Karl Wendlinger. Ivan’s case wasn’t helped when Gianni tested the car extensively between races, and Luca Montezemolo issued an official statement that Capelli’s seat was safe, and that he’d been on holiday when the tests were done – which Capelli in turn denied. Safe seat or not, things were clearly not well at Maranello. Other rumours doing the rounds included Mansell having signed terms with Williams for 1993-4 and being joined by Prost in the team, and reigning IndyCar champion Michael Andretti, son of Mario, linked with Ferrari, Benetton or a new US-based Lola-Ford team.

Related imageOver at Hethel in Norfolk, on the other hand, Team Lotus had Monaco native Olivier Beretta shaking down a second new 107 chassis for Mika Häkkinen to use around the principality and were hoping for a good weekend.

The 50th Monaco Grand Prix was as eagerly anticipated as any of its predecessors: amid rumblings of discontent about Williams’ domination, everyone knew that the street circuit had the capacity to mix things up and provide a surprise. Pre-qualifying was a good sign: Alboreto and Gachot cruised through as expected but in third was Roberto Moreno’s Andrea Moda, the Brazilian putting his team through to qualifying proper for the first time. Andrea Chiesa was the final pre-qualifier with Katayama having an oil leak and crashing and the hapless Perry McCarthy (still without a proper seat) unable to set a time as the team wanted to preserve his car as a spare for Moreno.

Image result for monaco andrea modaQualifying saw Mansell fastest again, with Patrese his usual second, 0.8s behind. Senna was third, then came Alesi, Berger and Schumacher. Brundle and Capelli lined up on row four, with Johnny Herbert 9th in the new Lotus. Andrea de Cesaris’ Tyrrell rounded out the top ten. The non qualifiers were the Brabhams of Hill and van de Poele, Chiesa’s Fondmetal and Belmondo’s March – which meant that, yes, Roberto Moreno had dragged the Andrea Moda into the race for the first time: 26th and last with a time just 0.03s faster than van de Poele, but there on Sunday nonetheless.

Image result for 1992 monaco grand prixRace day dawned overcast but dry and in the morning warm-up session Patrese was fastest with Alboreto second and Mansell down in fifth, but he wasn’t fazed: when the lights went green, he got away first and led through Ste-Devote, with Senna pipping Patrese to second place and Schumacher getting ahead of Berger for fifth. Everyone got through the first corner without incident and by the time they reached the end of the lap Senna was already 0.8s behind Mansell’s car while Martini spun his Dallara into the wall at Portier and out of the race. Patrese was being held up by Senna with Alesi and Schumacher close behind, as Morbidelli (who had started from the pitlane) suffered a gearbox failure, as did Wendlinger, while on lap 4 Grouillard’s Tyrrell gave up the ghost.

The early retirements continued as Stefano Modena – front-row starter in 1991 and podium finisher in 1989 – spun his recalcitrant Jordan on lap 7, by which time Mansell was pulling out a comfortable lead of over 6 seconds while Senna was leading a huge snake consisting of Patrese, Alesi, Schumacher, Berger, Brundle, Capelli and Herbert. If it looked like another Mansell victory was inevitable, the F1 aficionado knew that not only was concentration vital at Monaco where a tiny lapse could put you in a wall, but this race more than almost any other was a marathon rather than a sprint. It was far from a foregone conclusion. By lap 12, Tarquini (engine) and de Cesaris (gearbox) had also Image result for 1992 monaco grand prix alesi schumacherretired, putting Moreno up to 19th, when he toured in with a misfiring Judd and retired the Andrea Moda which had nonetheless had its longest run out to date. At the same time, Schumacher lunged inside Alesi at the Loews hairpin but misjudged it and made contact, almost tipping the Ferrari into a spin. Alesi controlled the car masterfully and held the place, while Brundle nearly got past Berger at Portier as they slowed to avoid the collision.

Patrese was now suffering gearbox gremlins of his own and dropped back from Senna, while Herbert’s Lotus stepped out on him and put him in the barriers at the Rascasse and Brundle bounced across the kerbs at the Nouvelle Chicane after trying to pass Berger and had to pit to replace a deranged nose cone. Alesi, meanwhile, slowed and Schumacher got past and started to drive away: the Ferrari had suffered damaged electronics in the earlier contact. Back in the race, Brundle set the fastest lap while his Benetton team-mate reeled in Patrese. On lap 28, Alesi was out, his gearbox giving up after the earlier damage, and two laps later Häkkinen’s Lotus suffered the same fate. Another two laps and it was Berger’s turn for a gearbox failure and he too pulled off, just as Brundle set another fastest lap.

Image result for 1992 monaco grand prix patreseBy half distance Schumacher was right up behind Patrese and crawling all over the back of the Williams around corners while Patrese’s Renault V10 had the legs on Schumacher’s Ford V8 in the straight(er) sections. As they made their way through traffic, Schumacher hoped that an errant backmarker would hold Patrese up and let him through, but the pair made their way through the field with no trouble. The pair running together were, however, providing much of the entertainment on show, with only half the field still running and mostly strung out, with the exception of Martin Brundle who was charging up the field and now crawling all over the back of Bertrand Gachot’s Larrousse for seventh place. He was soon past and then made his way up into sixth place past Alboreto, who promptly had a spin at Loews after being passed. A lap or so later, Brundle was up to fifth as Ivan Capelli lost the Ferrari and parked it diagonally on the barrier with his left-rear wheel sitting atop the armco – he had hit a barrier earlier and damaged his steering .

At the end lap 70, Mansell – having looked serene so far at the front and with a 30-second lead, suddenly peeled into the pits just 8 laps from the end. Senna raced through into the lead with Mansell rejoining second, and getting the hammer down to try and catch and Image result for 1992 monaco grand prix patresere-pass Senna for the lead. The McLaren was some 5 seconds ahead, while Mansell had to negotiate backmarkers too – but Mansell never did know the meaning of giving up and set a new lap record with 5 laps to go, making a gung-ho move on Erik Comas in the process. A lap later the gap was down to 1.9s and on the next lap the two were running absolutely together. For three laps, Mansell on fresh rubber tried every trick in the book to get past Senna, who likewise employed all his experience to keep Mansell behind. It was riveting stuff; Mansell wanted his first Monaco win very badly, Senna wanted his fifth just as badly, and the result was one of the most nailbiting finishes in recent F1 history.

Image result for 1992 monaco grand prix patreseIn the end, it was Senna who kept it ahead – just – to take the chequered flag for his fifth Monaco win by 0.215s, equalling Graham Hill’s record, and he and Mansell toured back round to the pits together, both waving to the crowd and Senna punching the air so much he nearly hit the barriers on a number of occasions. Almost unnoticed, Patrese hung on to third place with Schumacher fourth, Brundle a satisfied fifth and Gachot picking up the last point for the Larrousse team – their first since Mexico 1991 – and Alboreto just missing out in 7th place.


Drivers’ Championship

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Nigel Mansell 56
2 Riccardo Patrese 28
3 Michael Schumacher 20
4 Ayrton Senna 18
5 Gerhard Berger 8
6 Jean Alesi 7
7= Michele Alboreto 5
7= Martin Brundle 5
9= Andrea de Cesaris 2
9= Ivan Capelli 2
9= Pierluigi Martini 2
12= Johnny Herbert 1
12= Mika Häkkinen 1
12= Bertrand Gachot 1

Constructors’ Championship

 

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 84
2 McLaren-Honda 26
3 Benetton-Ford 25
4 Ferrari 9
5 Footwork-Mugen Honda 5
6= Lotus-Ford 2
6= Tyrrell-Ilmor 2
6= Scuderia Italia Dalara-Ferrari 2
9 Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini 1

1992 San Marino Grand Prix

1280px-Imola.svg

Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari
17 May 1992

Nigel Mansell had equalled Ayrton Senna’s record set the previous year of four straight wins, and unlike the Brazilian, Nigel had made it look easy. Could he now go one better and make it five? Given the domination of the Williams-Renault so far it would be unwise to bet against it. Imola’s usual sell-out crowd were mostly hoping for a miracle – the so far underwhelming Ferrari had done reasonably well last time out but weren’t looking competitive with the Benettons and McLarens, let alone the Williamses.

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Riccardo Patrese had a huge crash at Tamburello during pre-race testing, but was at Imola racing nonetheless, and the only change in the paddock from Spain was the appearance of the new Lotus 107 – just one example, for Johnny Herbert. In the event, numerous teething troubles beset the car in free practice and Herbert was forced to use the older 102 to qualify. Another team having technical problems was Jordan, who saw five Yamaha blow-ups over Friday and Saturday.

Pre-qualifying eliminated the two Andrea Modas, though the team were showing signs of progress: Moreno missed out by just 0.1s while McCarthy actually got some laps under Image result for 1992 imola sennahis belt and was improving every time. Ayrton Senna was optimistic after practice with a best time just 0.1s behind Mansell, but the Briton was in devastating form in qualifying, finding a perfect lap to take pole by a whole second from Patrese, who was 0.2s ahead of Senna in third. Berger lined up fourth, with the Benettons 5th (Schumacher) and 6th (Brundle), the Ferraris a disappointing 7th (Alesi) and 8th (Capelli), Alboreto an encouraging 9th in the ever-improving Footwork and Boutsen 10th in the Ligier, despite being openly critical of the car before the weekend. Wendlinger had another good session in the underfunded March, parking it 12th, with the stricken Jordans 18th (Gugelmin) and 23rd (Modena). At the circuit where they had done so well in 1991, Lotus had a nightmare with their elderly chassis: Herbert squeaked onto the grid in 26th and Hakkinen had a rare DNQ after two engine failures. He would be joined in missing the race by Andrea Chiesa and the two Brabham drivers.

Image result for 1992 san marino grand prixThe start was aborted when Karl Wendliger stalled his March, but everyone got away on the second attempt on a very hot day where track temperatures would affect tyre wear and make reliability the key. No surprises at the front as Mansell went straight into the lead with Patrese slotting in behind him, and Senna giving chase. A great start though for Martin Brundle, who leapfrogged both Schumacher and Berger to go fourth – until the Austrian muscled back past him to retake the place. Mansell had said before the race he planned to get ahead, build up a lead and then control the pace to conserve his tyres, and that was exactly what he did, setting six fastest laps in the first nine laps to be 5s ahead of Patrese and a whopping 18s of a fading Senna by lap ten. There had already been two retirements by then: Christian Fittipaldi’s Minardi and Johnny Herbert’s Lotus had both had gearbox failures: Johnny had started in the 107 figuring he had nothing to lose, and the admittedly brief runout for the new car had been encouraging.

Image result for 1992 imola brundleWith the top three stringing out already, there was a good race further back, with Schumacher trying to get past Brundle, who was having none of it, and the Ferraris watching behind, wearing harder C compound tyres and waiting for the D runners to make their tyre stops. Ivan Capelli was already coming under fierce criticism from the notoriously impatient Tifosi for his lacklustre performances so far and he didn’t help his cause by sliding off on lap 12, putting Boutsen up into the points with Alboreto, Martini and Lehto all giving chase.

By lap 20 – one-third distance – the Ferrari strategy was starting to look good as the D compound tyres were already wearing heavily. Patrese came in on lap 19 for a new set, while Schumacher slid off at Rivazza and clouted a wall. He kept the Benetton going and Image result for 1992 imola bergercame in for new tyres but was out the following lap having deranged his suspension. With Senna and Berger stopping over the ensuing laps, Alesi was up to third by lap 30, but the McLaren twins were faster and slowly reeled him in. Running absolutely together, by lap 40 they were alongside, crossing the line almost together. Senna got a tow through the high-speed Tamburello and then slingshotted inside the Ferrari as Alesi braked for Tosa. Berger tried to follow through, tapped Alesi’s rear wheel and both spun in to retirement.

Image result for 1992 san marino grand prix lotusAll of which put Brundle fourth, with Alboreto fifth and Martini sixth in the Dallara, fending off his team-mate Lehto while chasing the Footwork. It was an absorbing race between the three of them but most of the fans weren’t interested; thousands streamed out of the circuit, but those that stayed seemed happy to watch their erstwhile hero, Il Leone Mansell cruise to a record-breaking win: not only had be beaten Senna’s record of four in a row at the start of the season but it was his 26th win; only three people had now won more races than him: Prost, Senna and Stewart. Patrese cruised in second, just under ten seconds behind, with Senna a lonely third, 48s off Mansell’s time. Martin Brundle held on to fourth place for his first finish of the year, with Alboreto and Martini picking up the last points.

As the circus headed to the glamorous surroundings of Monaco, the 1992 championship was already looking all sewn up for Mansell and Williams – but then, the 1991 season had looked like a McLaren whitewash at this stage too and there was still plenty of racing to go.


Drivers’ Championship

POSITION DRIVER POINTS
1 Nigel Mansell 50
2 Riccardo Patrese 24
3 Michael Schumacher 17
4= Ayrton Senna 8
4= Gerhard Berger 8
6 Jean Alesi 7
7 Michele Alboreto 5
8 Martin Brundle 3
9= Andrea de Cesaris 2
9= Ivan Capelli 2
9= Pierluigi Martini 2
12= Johnny Herbert 1
12= Mika Häkkinen 1

Constructors’ Championship

 

POSITION CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Williams-Renault 74
2 Benetton-Ford 20
3 McLaren-Honda 16
4 Ferrari 9
5 Footwork-Mugen Honda 5
6= Lotus-Ford 2
6= Tyrrell-Ilmor 2
6= Scuderia Italia Dalara-Ferrari 2