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Alain Prost

Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Silverstone, 1987

Today in 1987: Mansell defeats Piquet at Silverstone

Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Silverstone, 1987

One of Nigel Mansell’s greatest victories came 25 years ago today on home ground at Silverstone.

Mansell overcame a 28-second deficit to catch and pass his team mate and arch-rival Nelson Piquet to win the British Grand Prix.

But the manner of Mansell’s win had consequences for the team. Here’s the story of the race.

Piquet hits back

The Silverstone weekend ran back-to-back with the French Grand Prix and the events of the previous race were much in everyone’s minds as they arrived at Silverstone. Not least Piquet, who faced the press over a lacklustre performance at Paul Ricard.

While team mate Nigel Mansell romped to victory, Piquet had made a sluggish start then lost more time running wide and later allowed his engine to die during a pit stop. His more vocal critics, such as world champion turned BBC commentator James Hunt, had called for him to retire (see last Thursday’s round-up).

At a press conference ahead of the British race Piquet insisted he was still at his best and pointed out that while he had won two world championships his team mate had lost one.

This was just the latest public salvo between two drivers whose fierce rivalry was conducted both in and out of their Williams-Honda FW11Bs. At Silverstone, Piquet eyed an opportunity to put one over Mansell in front of his adoring home crowd – and avenge his defeat at Brands Hatch 12 months earlier.

Ecclestone vs Silverstone: Round one

There would be no return to Brands Hatch. This was the beginning of a new era for the British Grand Prix – since 1987 it has been held exclusively at Silverstone. The circuit had spent ??1m on upgrades but, in a taste of things to come, Bernie Ecclestone voiced his unhappiness at the lack of progress in some areas.

Ecclestone complained that Silverstone’s shortfalls made it hard for him to impress the need for high standards on a delegation from Suzuka visiting in preparation for the circuit’s first Grand Prix later that year (25 years on, much the same thing happened last weekend with a group from the Circuit of the Americas).

Among the changes Silverstone had made – at the request of the sport’s governing body – was a new chicane, designed to replace the old Woodcote chicane which had seen a worrying escalation in speeds. A slow left-right allowed the cars to take the old line through Woodcote.

But the onward march of car development in the two years since Silverstone’s last Grand Prix meant the introduction of such a slow corner did little to reduce lap speeds. Piquet set pole position with a lap of 1’07.110, just 2.6kph slower than Keke Rosberg’s record around the old circuit when he averaged of over 160mph.

A scare for Senna

Ayrton Senna, Lotus, Silverstone, 1987Mansell spun at the new chicane trying to better Piquet’s time, and recovered with a quick doughnut to the delight of the crowd. He had to settle for second, just seven-hundredths of a second off his team mate.

Ayrton Senna was third, over a second down on Piquet. Senna went into the race weekend leading the world championship by one point over Alain Prost.

Lotus’s active suspension system had helped Senna win on the slow, bumpy Monaco and Detroit street circuits – the latter remains Lotus’s most recent victory. But the extra weight of the system and bulkier aerodynamics of the Lotus 99T were a serious handicap on the quicker circuits. He was a lapped third at Paul Ricard.

He suffered a fright during practice when a piece of metal shed by a car – believed to have been Christian Danner’s Zakspeed 871 – flew at him, gouging a deep chunk into his front wing. There was considerable relief the debris hadn’t hit Senna’s helmet.

1987 British Grand Prix grid

1. Nelson Piquet 1’07.110
2. Nigel Mansell 1’07.180
3. Ayrton Senna 1’08.181
4. Alain Prost 1’08.577
5. Thierry Boutsen 1’08.972
6. Teo Fabi 1’09.246
7. Michele Alboreto 1’09.274
8. Gerhard Berger 1’09.408
9. Andrea de Cesaris 1’09.475
10. Stefan Johansson 1’09.541
11. Riccardo Patrese 1’10.012
12. Satoru Nakajima 1’10.619
13. Derek Warwick 1’10.654
14. Eddie Cheever 1’11.053
15. Alessandro Nannini 1’12.293
Minardi-Motori Moderni
16. Rene Arnoux 1’12.402
17. Martin Brundle 1’12.632
18. Christian Danner 1’13.337
19. Adrian Campos 1’13.793
Minardi-Motori Moderni
20. Alex Caffi 1’15.558
Osella-Alfa Romeo
21. Philippe Alliot 1’15.868
22. Philippe Streiff 1’16.524
23. Jonathan Palmer 1’16.644
24. Ivan Capelli 1’16.692
25. Pascal Fabre 1’18.237

A full field of 26 cars entered the race but Piercarlo Ghinzani was excluded from the meeting after committing two serious breaches. First his mechanics attended to his car out on the circuit, refuelling it and getting him started again after stopping.

Then when the session came to an end Ghinzani failed to heed the chequered flag and completed an extra tour. He was thrown out of the meeting leaving Rene Arnoux as the only Ligier representative.

‘Use brain power’

Frank Williams had one final piece of advice for Mansell which he gave on the team radio before the race begin: “I’ve only got two words to say, Nigel. And they are: brain power”.

Williams must have wondered whether his words had any effect as he watched Mansell lurch towards Piquet at the start. Piquet edged further to the right and neither saw the fast-starting Prost coming by on the left until it was too late.

It was to no avail for the McLaren driver. Honda power blasted Piquet back ahead by Maggotts and as they hit the Hangar straight Mansell took Prost too. And that was the last Williams’ rivals saw of them.

Mansell gave chase of Piquet but his team mate’s car was better set-up for the opening phase of the race on heavy fuel. Piquet had recently switched to a longer-wheelbase version of the FW11B and was revelling in the improved balance.

Mansell was less pleased with his car’s handling after lap 12 when a balancing weight came off one of his wheels. He pressed on but by lap 25 he was 4.5 seconds behind Piquet and the vibration was beginning to affect his vision.

Williams’ rivals drop back and drop out

Behind the dominant Williams pair the rest of the field were spreading out. Prost was 12 seconds behind and Senna a further 15 seconds back.

Gerhard Berger had spun out in his Ferrari after just seven laps. But unreliability accounted for many of the others, including Stefan Johansson’s McLaren. Andrea de Cesaris leapt from his Brabham with a major BMW turbo fire for the second race running.

Prost had briefly been passed by Senna, before the Lotus driver became fixated on his Honda’s fuel consumption which was giving him worrying figures. Senna got back ahead when Prost pitted but the McLaren driver joined his team mate in retirement 12 laps from home with clutch and electrical problems.

The Benetton drivers were also concerned by their fuel consumption – mistakenly, as it turned out – allowing Derek Warwick to pass the pair of them.

The chase is on

Nigel Mansell, Williams, Silverstone, 1987As with so many races today, the outcome hinged on tyre strategy. When Mansell arrived on pit road on lap 35 he had no choice to make about compound: Goodyear’s monopoly on F1 tyre supplier meant they only brought one type of tyre to most races, including Silverstone.

Nor were pit stops as exhaustively rehearsed as they are today. There was no lightning sub-three second stop for Mansell – he was stationary for almost ten seconds while his wheels were swapped.

After he returned to the track his deficit to Piquet had swelled to 28 seconds with 29 laps remaining. His hope was that fresher tyres would help him recover the deficit. Piquet had tried a similar thing at Paul Ricard, but 16 laps hadn’t been enough for him to claw back his 25-second deficit – he fell short by 7.7s.

At first it seemed as though Mansell’s gamble would not pay off either. Piquet matched his pace early on, turning the fastest lap on the 40th tour. Whereas today he would probably have ‘pitted to cover’ as a matter of course, in these early days of tyre strategy with slower and less reliable pit stops it was not unreasonable for him to stay out.

But Mansell, willed on by the crowd, now began one of his famed ‘charges’. Time after time the lap record fell. With ten laps to go the pair were separated by 7.6 seconds.

Mansell had run less wing on his car than Piquet, giving him better straight-line speed and fuel consumption. The latter perhaps played a role in his decision to pay little heed to his fuel gauge, which was giving increasingly alarming readings.

In the days before blue flags commanded backmarkers to dive out of the way immediately, both drivers were taking huge risks in traffic. Mansell in particular was diving up the inside of cars without waiting to see if they would pull off-line for him. The crowd tingled with tension as the laps ticked by.

Mansell makes his move

As they began the 63rd lap of 65 Mansell was less than a second behind Piquet and his fuel readout was in negative figures. But he wasn’t looking at it. As they blasted out of Chapel his gaze was firmly fixed on the car ahead growing ever larger in front of him.

Crossing the track as they approached Stowe, Piquet kept watching his mirrors for Mansell to move down the inside. Suddenly, Mansell lunged to the left. Was he really trying to pass on the outside? Piquet instinctively moved to cover him.

At the same time, Mansell dodged back to the right. It was a classic dummy move and in the split-second it took Piquet to realise what was happening, the other Williams was alongside him. Piquet squeezed Mansell desperately but stopped short of hitting his team mate. The crowd erupted with joy.

Those watching by the new chicane got a fright as the new leader arrived slightly too quickly for the corner and almost didn’t make it. But Mansell scrambled through and was on his way to victory.

His Williams did run out of fuel – but not before he had crossed the line to win his third consecutive home race. The crowd flooded onto the circuit and Mansell had to be whisked back to the paddock in a recovery vehicle.

But not before one final piece of theatre: As they reached Stowe he asked the driver to pull over. Mansell got out and kissed the tarmac where he had put one over Piquet.

1987 British Grand Prix result

Pos # Driver Car Laps Gap Reason
1 5 Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda 65
2 6 Nelson Piquet Williams-Honda 65 1.918
3 12 Ayrton Senna Lotus-Honda 64 1 lap
4 11 Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Honda 63 2 laps
5 17 Derek Warwick Arrows-Megatron 63 2 laps
6 19 Teo Fabi Benetton-Ford 63 2 laps
7 20 Thierry Boutsen Benetton-Ford 62 3 laps
8 3 Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 60 5 laps
9 14 Pascal Fabre AGS-Ford 59 6 laps
4 Philippe Streiff Tyrrell-Ford 57 8 laps Engine
9 Martin Brundle Zakspeed 54 11 laps Not classified
1 Alain Prost McLaren-TAG 53 12 laps Engine
27 Michele Alboreto Ferrari 52 13 laps Suspension
18 Eddie Cheever Arrows-Megatron 45 20 laps Engine
23 Adrian Campos Minardi-Motori Moderni 34 31 laps Fuel system
21 Alex Caffi Osella-Alfa Romeo 32 33 laps Engine
10 Christian Danner Zakspeed 32 33 laps Gearbox
7 Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW 28 37 laps Turbo
2 Stefan Johansson McLaren-TAG 18 47 laps Engine
24 Alessandro Nannini Minardi-Motori Moderni 10 55 laps Engine
8 Andrea de Cesaris Brabham-BMW 8 57 laps Turbo
28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari 7 58 laps Accident
30 Philippe Alliot Lola-Ford 7 58 laps Gearbox
25 Rene Arnoux Ligier-Megatron 3 62 laps Electrics
16 Ivan Capelli March-Ford 3 62 laps Accident

Honda achieved a one-two-three-four finish, but Senna and team mate Saturo Nakajima were one and two laps behind respectively.

Future BRDC President Derek Warwick was fifth ahead of Teo Fabi’s Benetton. Thierry Boutsen in the other Benetton was the only other turbo-powered finisher.

Jonathan Palmer’s Tyrrell was the highest-placed ‘atmospheric’ runner giving him a victory in the Jim Clark Cup, a class for non-turbo-powered drivers which only ran in 1987. Palmer went on to win the category.

Piquet makes up his mind

Senna retained a one-point lead in the drivers’ championship over Piquet and Mansell. Piquet trailled Mansell in both of the next races but on each occasion Mansell’s car failed and Piquet won.

But Piquet was unimpressed at Williams’ failure to protect him from Mansell’s charge at Silverstone by issuing team orders.

Since joining Williams the season before Piquet felt, with some justification, that the team had failed to give him the number one treatment he believed he was entitled to.

In the weeks that followed Piquet made arrangements to leave the team and join Lotus in 1988, who would retain Honda engines, while Williams would lose theirs to McLaren. Amid the euphoric scenes at Silverstone, the seeds of Williams’ downfall had been sown.

Grand Prix flashback

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Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, McLaren, Adelaide, 1988

Prost explains his objections to Senna film

Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, McLaren, Adelaide, 1988When the Senna film hit cinemas last year Alain Prost was widely reported not to have watched it.

This was despite Prost being interviewed for the film about his arch-rival, in which he featured heavily.

It now seems Prost has seen the film and, speaking to ITV during their coverage of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, he explained his complaints about the finished picture.

Asked if he was happy with his depiction in the film, Prost said: “Absolutely not. No I don’t agree at all.

“I’m really, I would say, upset, in a way. I tell you why in 30 seconds. Because I spent a lot of time shooting for this. I spent many, many hours trying to explain things.

“We had one Ayrton Senna before Formula One, we had the Senna when we were fighting in Formula One and we had the Ayrton Senna when I retired

“And then comes back the human side of the story with two personalities and people would understand much more what happened when we were fighting, why he was fighting like this, and would have understood much more the last three or four months where he was calling me almost once or twice per week asking me questions, asking me to go back to the GPDA, asking questions about Williams, about safety, about personal life – very big secrets that I will never tell anoybody.

“It would have been good to have that, it was all in the rush that I have done. And at the end they wanted to do a commercial thing going to the good and the bad. I don’t care too much about being the bad boy.

“But what I care is look at that. We are here in Goodwood, we have a lot of fans, it’s history of motor racing. I would have loved to have this end of the story.

“At the end of the day all of what you can see is the human side. Otherwise you have no history, you have no tradition and that is really a big shame.”

Read F1 Fanatic’s interview with Senna writer Manish Pandey on the subject of the film’s ‘bad guys’: The Making of Senna part 6: The perfect bad guy?

Senna movie

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Frank Williams, Alan Jones, Patrick Head, Carlos Reuteman, Williams, Jarama, 1981

30 years ago: Villeneuve’s last and best F1 win

Frank Williams, Alan Jones, Patrick Head, Carlos Reuteman, Williams, Jarama, 1981
Frank Williams, Alan Jones, Patrick Head, Carlos Reuteman, Williams, Jarama, 1981

Gilles Villeneuve’s victory at Jarama on this day in 1981 was instantly recognised as one of the great Grand Prix wins.

Villeneuve resisted constant pressure for 67 laps to win in what was clearly an inferior car.

It was his final triumph before his untimely death the following year. And it was a win that would simply be impossible to repeat today.

Last race at Jarama

Red line shows the configuration as it was in 1981.

The previous year’s Spanish Grand Prix had lost its status as a world championship event amid the bitter wrangling between the teams’ association, FOCA, and the governing body, FISA.

History nearly repeated itself in the run-up to the 1981 edition. The race organisers attempted to allow local driver Emileo de Villota into the race with his Williams FW07, usurping one of the ATS entries, which they claimed had arrived late.

The race organisers backed down when it was made clear to them the race would be stripped of its world championship status if de Villota was allowed to participate.

The Jarama circuit, north of Madrid, held the Spanish Grand Prix for the last time in 1981. It may have been designed by John Hugenholz, the man behind the popular Suzuka and Zandvoort, but Jarama’s compact, narrow layout was comprised mainly of slow corners and somewhat unloved.

Denis Jenkinson, writing in Motor Sport, complained about a “Mickey Mouse” circuit with “pretentious corner names, like Nuvolari, Ascari, Varzi, Bugatti etc…” This was to be the final race at the track and the last Spanish Grand Prix until Jerez arrived on the calendar five years later.

“It’s like a fast, red Cadillac”

Jarama’s few quick bends exposed the handling deficiencies of the Ferrari 126CK. “You put on new tyres, and it’s OK for four laps,” said Villeneuve.

“After that, forget it. It’s just like a fast, red Cadillac, wallowing all over the place”.

An impressive qualifying effort put him seventh on the grid, eight-tenths of a second faster than his team mate. Didier Pironi was beset by turbo problems – Ferrari had followed Renault’s lead in using 1.5-litre turbocharged engines in 1981.

Directly behind Villeneuve was Nelson Piquet, mystified by the unusually poor handling of his Brabham.

The Williams were running true to form near the head of the field but for the third year in a row at Jarama the grid was headed by Jacques Laffite’s Ligier.

1981 Spanish Grand Prix grid

Row 1 1. Jacques Laffite 1’13.754
2. Alan Jones 1’14.024
Row 2 3. Carlos Reutemann 1’14.342
4. John Watson 1’14.657
Row 3 5. Alain Prost 1’14.669
6. Bruno Giacomelli 1’14.897
Row 4 7. Gilles Villeneuve 1’14.987
8. Mario Andretti 1’15.159
Row 5 9. Nelson Piquet 1’15.355
10. Elio de Angelis 1’15.399
Row 6 11. Nigel Mansell 1’15.562
12. Riccardo Patrese 1’15.627
Row 7 13. Didier Pironi 1’15.715
14. Andrea de Cesaris 1’15.850
Row 8 15. Keke Rosberg 1’15.924
16. Patrick Tambay 1’16.355
Row 9 17. Rene Arnoux 1’16.406
18. Hector Rebaque 1’16.527
Row 10 19. Jean-Pierre Jabouille 1’16.559
20. Eddie Cheever 1’16.641
Row 11 21. Chico Serra 1’16.782
22. Derek Daly 1’16.979
Row 12 23. Siegfried Stohr 1’17.294
24. Eliseo Salazar 1’17.822

Six drivers failed to qualify and joined de Villota on the sidelines: Michele Alboreto (Tyrrell), Beppe Gabbiai (Osella), Slim Borgudd (ATS), Brian Henton (Toleman), Derek Warwick (Toleman) and Giorgio Francia (Osella).

Jones throws the lead away

Laffite bogged down at the start and was swamped by the chasing pack, slipping from first to 12th while the two Williamses sprinted into the lead. As they completed the first lap cars one and two were first and second, Alan Jones leading Carlos Reutemann.

Several cars had been creeping forward as the red lights turned to green. Villeneuve’s wasn’t one of them – but he made a blistering getaway to clinch third place.

Flogging his Michelins for all they were worth, Villeneuve quickly mounted an attack on Reutemann. Coming from an improbable distance behind at the start of lap two he thrust his way around the outside of the Williams into second place.

Reutemann must have sat back and consoled himself with the thought that the Ferrari’s tyres would go off before long. They hadn’t been holding up well and it was a particularly sweltering day in Spain.

This handed Jones a massive opportunity: he was leading, with rival Piquet out of the points in seventh, and his even bigger rival, Reutemann, now bottled up behind Villeneuve. A win, nine points and a reduced deficit to Reutemann in the championship beckoned.

But Jones made an error similar to that of a footballer bearing down on an empty goal who somehow contrives to chip the ball over the crossbar. He inexplicably spun off at the start of the 14th lap at Ascari, handing the lead to Villeneuve.

Laffite battles back

Laffite began his recovery, passing Riccardo Patrese, Bruno Giacomelli and Didier Pironi to move up to seventh. The Piquet collided with Mario Andretti, promoting Laffite to fifth.

Alain Prost was the next to drop out, spinning on lap 29, elevating Laffite to fourth.

Now chasing John Watson, the pair come upon Laffite’s team mate Jean-Pierre Jabouille – and Laffite seized an opportunity to pass, taking third on lap 49. Jabouille, struggling to recover from the leg injuries he suffered in a crash the previous year, retired from F1 after the chequered flag.

Traffic was proving a serious concern on the short, tight circuit. Laffite and Watson reeled in Reutemann, who was having to hold his car in third gear at times as he chased Villeneuve. As they filed past Eliseo Salazar, Laffite squeezed past Reutemann and Watson followed him by.

Villeneuve hangs on

Villeneuve carefully reduced the pace, taking all the time he needed in the slow corners where he couldn’t be passed, and using the Ferrari’s prodigious grunt to blast away on the straights. He held up the cars behind him to the extent that they stopped gaining on the next car to be lapped, Giacomelli’s Alfa Romeo.

Villeneuve’s defending was thorough but scrupulously fair: no sudden moves, no chops. He positioned his Ferrari carefully and played his one strong card – its straight-line speed – to perfection on every lap.

The cars behind were tripping over themselves in an effort to pass. Elio de Angelis’s Lotus caught up, making it a five-car train.

Laffite threw everything he had at the Ferrari but Villeneuve resisted him to the end. The five cars crossed the finishing line almost as one, separated by just 1.24 seconds.

“It wasn’t a race, it was a show,” complained Reutemann. “It was very slow, ridiculous, but there was nothing you could do.”

Villeneuve’s defensive tactics meant the average speed for the race was 3mph slower than it had been the year before.

It was a remarkable win – and one that would have been utterly impossible had his rivals had DRS.

1981 Spanish Grand Prix result

Pos Car Driver Team Laps Difference / Notes
1 27 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 80
2 26 Jacques Laffite Ligier 80 0.22
3 7 John Watson McLaren 80 0.58
4 2 Carlos Reutemann Williams 80 1.01
5 11 Elio de Angelis Lotus 80 1.24
6 12 Nigel Mansell Lotus 80 28.58
7 1 Alan Jones Wiliams 80 56.58
8 22 Mario Andretti Alfa Romeo 80 60.8
9 16 Rene Arnoux Renault 80 67.08
10 23 Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 80 73.65
11 21 Chico Serra Fittipaldi 79 1 Lap
12 20 Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi 78 2 Laps
13 33 Patrick Tambay Theodore 78 2 Laps
14 14 Eliseo Salazar Ensign 77 3 Laps
15 28 Didier Pironi Ferrari 76 4 Laps
16 17 Derek Daly March 75 5 Laps
3 Eddie Cheever Tyrrell 61 Not classified
25 Jean-Pierre Jabouille Ligier 52 Brakes
6 Hector Rebaque Brabham 46 Gearbox
5 Nelson Piquet Brabham 43 Accident
30 Siegfried Stohr Arrows 43 Engine
15 Alain Prost Renault 28 Accident
29 Riccardo Patrese Arrows 21 Brakes
8 Andrea de Cesaris McLaren 9 Accident

BBC highlights of this race are available to UK users here.

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Nigel Mansell, Carlos Reutemann, Jacques Laffite, Zolder, 1981

On this day in 1981: F1′s fiasco at Zolder

Nigel Mansell, Carlos Reutemann, Jacques Laffite, Zolder, 1981
Nigel Mansell, Carlos Reutemann, Jacques Laffite, Zolder, 1981

F1 counted the cost of a tragic and shambolic weekend at Zolder 30 years ago today.

Osella mechanic Giovanni Amadeo lost his life in an accident during practice. And viewers looked on in horror as the race began as another mechanic, Dave Luckett, was still on the grid, and was struck by one of his team’s cars.

The row over ‘ground effect’

The 1981 season began with the FIA fighting a battle with many teams over ‘ground effect’ aerodynamics.

The sport’s governing body wanted to ban the skirts used to generate increasingly high cornering speeds. Rules had been drawn up stating the gap between bodywork and road must be no less than six centimetres with suspension at its lowest point.

But by the time of the fifth race of the year at Zolder in Belgium, the reality was virtually every car on the grid failed to conform to the new regulations. Most passed the scrutineers? checks in the pit but were clearly illegal on track.

A ban on skirts, if successful, would put greater emphasis on engine power to the detriment of those teams using customer Cosworth V8s, such as Lotus, Williams and Brabham. These teams, under the banner of the Formula One Constructors Association (FOCA), wanted to ban the immensely powerful and expensive turbo engines which had been introduced by Renault and, for the first time in 1981, by Ferrari.

Beneath all of this lay a power struggle for control of the sport between the FIA, led by Jean-Marie Balestre, and FOCA, led by Brabham team owner Bernie Ecclestone. The FIA were siding with the manufacturer-run teams in an attempt to topple Ecclestone.

Giovanni Amadeo

Alan Jones, Williams, Zolder, 1981
Alan Jones, Williams, Zolder, 1981

The narrow pit lane at Zolder had long been criticised. Team managers and mechanics perched on a thin ledge while timing their cars and holding out pit signals. A few weeks before the 1981 race, its organisers announced that new pits and a wider pit lane would be built for 1982.

During Friday afternoon practice, Giovanni Amadeo was struck by Carlos Reutemann?s Williams in the pit-lane. He slipped from the ledge by the outer pit wall, and fell into Reutemann?s path.

The other half of the pit lane was taken up by parked race cars, mechanics and a sea of hangers-on. Reutemann had no time to brake and no room for him to swerve in avoidance.

Amadeo suffered a double skull fracture and, though attempts to resuscitate him in the ambulance were successful, he was not expected to survive. The sad announcement came after the race weekend had finished.

The order after Friday?s official session was Reutemann, Piquet, Pironi, Patrese, Watson, Jones, Villeneuve, Cheever, Laffite and Mansell. Saturday?s rain storm made this the grid.

1981 Belgian Grand Prix grid

Row 1 1. Carlos Reutemann
2. Nelson Piquet
Row 2 3. Didier Pironi
4. Riccardo Patrese
Row 3 5. John Watson
6. Alan Jones
Row 4 7. Gilles Villeneuve
8. Eddie Cheever
Row 5 9. Jacques Laffite
10. Nigel Mansell
Row 6 11. Keke Rosberg
12. Alain Prost
Row 7 13. Siegfried Stohr
14. Elio de Angelis
Row 8 15. Marc Surer
16. Jean-Pierre Jabouille
Row 9 17. Bruno Giacomelli
Alfa Romeo
18. Mario Andretti
Alfa Romeo
Row 10 19. Michele Alboreto
20. Chico Serra
Row 11 21. Hector Rebaque
22. Beppe Gabbiani
Row 12 23. Andrea de Cesaris
24. Piercarlo Ghinzani

Dave Luckett

On Sunday things started to go wrong just before 3 o?clock ?ǣ at which time the race was scheduled to go live to the world.

After the drivers arrived at the grid, many climbed from their cars in protest with the aim of delaying the start. The drivers were unhappy with the organisers? refusal to listen to their requests the day before for the maximum number of cars allowed to take part in qualifying to be reduced from 30 to 26. This refusal was the final straw and mechanics and some team owners promptly joined them on track.

The delay and ensuing confusion caused many drivers to become agitated and engines began to overheat. By the time all the cars were on the gird, Ricardo Patrese?s Arrows had stalled and he began to wave his arms in warning to those behind him.

In a scene of pure horror, his mechanic Dave Luckett jumped down onto the track to help start the car just as the race was about to start.

Cars dodged around the stricken Arrows until, in a horrible coincidence, Patrese’s team mate Siegfried Stohr arrived, and ploughed into Patrese and Luckett.

Nigel Mansell witnessed the carnage on track. In his autobiography, he said: “I was right behind them and watched this horror show play out in front of me. I was sure the guy was dead and I thought he?d probably been chopped in half.

“I was numb in the car, my legs wouldn?t work, my arms wouldn?t work and I felt rigid with fear. I felt sick and I was crying my eyes out inside my helmet. I didn?t know what we were doing there. I thought, ??We?re driving these machines that kill people. That?s two people this weekend?.”

Despite Mansell’s fears, Luckett survived with broken legs.

Autosport’s race reported noted: “It appears there was some confusion among the teams as to whether there would be another orderly, warm up lap, or the start of the race. Whichever, the track was out of bounds when Luckett went to restart Patrese?s car. In fact, the TV cameras clearly showed that Jones, behind the Arrows, was already reacting to the green light before Luckett reached Patrese.”

This video shows what happened:

No signal to stop

Nelson Piquet, Brabham, Zolder, 1981
Nelson Piquet, Brabham, Zolder, 1981

An ambulance was on the scene within seconds but the race was allowed to continue. Yellow flags were waved but at the end of the second lap, Nelson Piquet was leading by more than ten seconds.

No signal was given for them to stop and it wasn?t until Ferrari’s Didier Pironi slowed down and stopped to applause from the pits, that the organisers were forced to stop the race.

Forty minutes later, when Luckett had been taken to hospital, the cars re-assembled on the gird, minus the two Arrows.

Reutemann led the re-start, but Pironi flew down the inside towards the first corner and was ahead. Piquet and Alan Jones squeezed through but it was short-lived, as Piquet crashed into the catch fencing at the chicane and stormed back to the pits. Jones? gearbox failed soon after and he ploughed into the barriers and badly burned his thigh when the gearbox oil leaked into the cockpit.

Reutemann regained the lead and kept it until, after 55 laps, rain began to fall and the Belgian Grand Prix was brought to an end. Two-thirds distance had been covered and full championship points were awarded. The rain had stopped by the time the half-hearted presentation took place.

It was Reutemann?s 15th consecutive points finish and his 12th and final victory. It was Mansell?s first podium finish.

In his autobiography, Nigel Mansell says: ??It began to rain and as the downpour got heavier the race was cut short. Carlos Reutemann was declared the winner with Jacques Laffite second in the Ligier and I was third. I felt on top of the world. It was an overwhelming experience. The swing of emotion I had experienced in two hours, from the shock and paralysing fear at the start to the ecstasy at the end, was enormous.??

Carlos Reutemann, Williams, Zolder, 1981
Carlos Reutemann, Williams, Zolder, 1981

His car may have won, but Frank Williams was far from happy. He summed up the fury at the needless injury and bitter wrangling over the technical rules, saying: “Why do people part with money to come in and watch this bloody fiasco any more? Can you give me an answer to that? Because I can?t give you one.

“And I?ll tell you something else. I can?t think of a good reason to persuade my sponsors to stay involved in it, either.

“You can only suppress hypocrisy and lies for so long in this world. Eventually it all bubbles to the surface, and we?ve got it now. We?re paying for the past.”

1981 Belgian Grand Prix results

Pos Car Driver Team Laps Difference
1 2 Carlos Reutemann Williams-Ford 54 1:16:31.61
2 26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Matra 54 36.06
3 12 Nigel Mansell Lotus-Ford 54 43.69
4 27 Gilles Villeneuve Ferrari 54 47.64
5 11 Elio de Angelis Lotus-Ford 54 49.20
6 3 Eddie Cheever Tyrrell-Ford 54 52.51
7 7 John Watson McLaren-Ford 54 1:01.66
8 28 Didier Pironi Ferrari 54 1:32.04
9 23 Bruno Giacomelli Alfa Romeo 54 1:35.58
10 22 Mario Andretti Alfa Romeo 54 1 lap
11 14 Marc Surer Ensign-Ford 53 2 laps
12 4 Michele Alboreto Tyrrell-Ford 52 2 laps
13 31 Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Ford 50 4 laps
6 Hector Rebaque Brabham-Ford 39 Accident
25 Jean-Pierre Jabouille Ligier-Matra 35 Transmission
21 Chico Serra Fittipaldi-Ford 29 Engine
32 Beppe Gabbiani Osella-Ford 22 Engine
1 Alan Jones Williams-Ford 19 Accident
8 Andrea de Cesaris McLaren-Ford 11 Gearbox
5 Nelson Piquet Brabham-Ford 10 Accident
20 Keke Rosberg Fittipaldi-Ford 10 Gearbox
15 Alain Prost Renault 2 Clutch
30 Riccardo Patrese Arrows-Ford 0 Collision
29 Siegfried Stohr Arrows-Ford 0 Collision
DNQ 18 Derek Daly March-Ford
DNQ 16 Ren?? Arnoux Renault
DNQ 17 Eliseo Salazar March-Ford
DNQ 9 Slim Borgudd ATS-Ford
DNQ 33 Patrick Tambay Theodore-Ford
DNQ 36 Derek Warwick Toleman-Hart
DNQ 35 Brian Henton Toleman-Hart

Were you at this race? Do you remember it? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Jerez, 1986

25 years ago today: Senna beats Mansell by 0.01s

Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Jerez, 1986

On this day in 1986, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna crossed the finishing line in Jerez just 0.014 seconds apart.

The 1986 Spanish Grand Prix witnessed one of the closest finishes in F1 history.

Mansell came desperately close to scoring Williams’ first win since team founder Frank Williams had been dreadfully injured in a road accident.

And the three points he missed out on would have made him champion at the end of the closely-fought 1986 season. Here’s the story of that celebrated race and its epic finish.

The accident

One month earlier, Frank Williams had suffered a dreadful accident which cast a shadow over his team.

On March 8th, Williams were at Paul Ricard for the final test session before the season opened in Brazil. The new Williams-Honda FW11 was already proving competitive. Mansell and Nelson Piquet had put the car through its final paces, with Frank Williams keeping an eye on proceedings.

Satisfied with progress, Frank Williams set off on the 90 minute journey towards Cannes and Nice, with the team’s PR co-ordinator Peter Windsow in the passenger seat.

About 15 minutes into the journey in the hills near the village of Meounes-les-Montrieux, Williams lost control of the car. It ploughed nose-first into a field several feet below the road and landed upside-down. The left-front corner of the roof collapsed, trapping Williams underneath.

Williams survived but suffered paralysis and was kept away from his team for months while he made a slow recovery.

In his absence the team pulled together. Mansell said: “We will close ranks. We have already put Plan B into operation, with Frank’s approval. The best thing we can do, and myself and Nelson Piquet, is get the success the team and especially Frank deserves.”

Rio de Janiero

At the season-opener at the Jacarepagua circuit in Brazil the teams had their first taste of racing under new fuel regulations, with the maximum permitted fuel load cut from 220 to 195 litres. This created an efficiency challenge which the Honda-powered Williams excelled at.

Piquet beat Senna’s Lotus-Renault, with 12 litres of fuel still left in the tank and still managed to shave a second off Alain Prost’s two-year-old lap record.

Mansell’s race was much shorter and less successful – he collided with Senna on the first lap and was out.

In his autobiography he said: “On the first lap of the race in Rio I got a good start and thought I had done enough going down the straight to pass him down the inside into the fast left hander. I got alongside, my right front wheel level with his shoulder and began braking, but he suddenly came across and hit me. I braked hard to avoid an accident, but his left rear wheel hit my right front and sent me off the road into the Armco, tearing off my left front wheel.”

“We did not talk about it afterwards, but I learned an important lesson about racing against him that day. If I hadn’t backed off we would both have hit the Armco and it could have been a serious accident. As it was I came off worse and it would not happen again. His tactic was to intimidate and I refused to be intimidated.”

Three weeks later, the teams were in Jerez for the Spanish Grand Prix.

Jerez de la Frontera

After a four-year hiatus, the Spanish Grand Prix had returned to the world championship calendar with a race at the brand new Jerez de la Frontera circuit near Seville.

It was a brand new circuit, 4.218km in length, 16 corners in all, and regarded as more than adequately wide everywhere. It has been modified since, as the map above shows.

But the spectators’ enclosure was almost empty. There was no Fernando Alonso or any Spanish driver or team to draw in the crowds. Others were put off by the cost of entry – £25 to get in then and at least another £50 for a grandstand seat.

Senna was typically dominant in qualifying. The official Lotus press handout said it all: “Ayrton senna was the quickest driver round the new Jerez circuit [...] setting a time of 1’21.605. Second fastest driver, Nigel Mansell, set a time of 1’23.024 in his Williams.”


1986 Spanish Grand Prix grid

Row 1 1. Ayrton Senna
Lotus Renault
2. Nelson Piquet
Williams Honda
Row 2 3. Nigel Mansell
Williams Honda
4. Alain Prost
Row 3 5. Keke Rosberg
6. Ren£ Arnoux
Row 4 7. Gerhard Berger
8. Jacques Laffite
Row 5 9. Teo Fabi
10. Johnny Dumfries
Row 6 11. Stefan Johansson
12. Martin Brundle
Row 7 13. Michele Alboreto
14. Riccardo Patrese
Row 8 15. Elio de Angelis
16. Jonathan Palmer
Row 9 17. Alan Jones
18. Patrick Tambay
Row 10 19. Thierry Boutsen
20. Philippe Streiff
Row 11 21. Piercarlo Ghinzani
Osella-Alfa Romeo
22. Marc Surer
Row 12 23. Christian Danner
Osella-Alfa Romeo
24. Andrea de Cesaris
Minardi-Motori Moderni
Row 13 25. Alessandro Nannini
Minardi-Motori Moderni

On Sunday morning, Senna got away from the line and it was the scene was largely uneventful at the first corner. At the end of the opening lap it was Senna, followed by the two Williams cars, then Rosberg, Prost and Arnoux.

Mansell said in his autobiography: “I was getting rather worrying information from my fuel consumption readout so I decided to drop back a bit and see how things worked out. It worked; by lap 19 the readout said that I was on target again and I put in some hard laps to try to make up some of the ground I had lost.”

He passed Piquet from second place on lap 34 and forced Senna to get boxed in behind a benchmarker for long enough to pass him. He opened up a lead of around four seconds and held it until his tyres began to disintegrate with ten laps to go.

A nail-biting finish

Today the 1986 Spanish Grand Prix is remembered as a classic. But some commentators at the time saw it very differently (how little has changed), not least of which Motor Sport’s venerated Denis Jenkinson.

His race report said: “As always, testing and qualifying was the most interesting time, the race itself being a different matter altogether and the 72 laps round the new Jerez circuit was no exception.

“With fuel limited to 195 litres and tyre wear being critical it was a race of tactics rather than gutsy racing. For the first half the leading bunch, of Senna, Piquet, Rosberg, Mansell and Prost, circulated in [single] file letting Senna set the pace, which he did on his fuel consumption gauge rather than his rev-counter.”

But what most people remember is the nail-biting finish.

By lap 66 Prost had closed in to make the leaders a trio. Senna saw a gap and dived through on lap 68 and Mansell retreated into the pits. His rear diffuser panel was coming loose and one of the rear tyres had picked up a slow puncture.

He came straight back out to record a lap time in the 1’29s from a standing start – just 1.3s slower than his fastest flying lap.

With eight laps to go, Mansell was third behind Prost, almost 20 seconds behind Senna. It took Mansell just half a lap to overtake Prost. With two laps to go, Mansell was 5.3 seconds adrift. One lap later, he closed that down to just 1.5 seconds.

Mansell said: “[Senna] was on the limit and so was I. Under braking from the final hairpin I was too far behind to try to pass, but coming out of it I was right on his gearbox. He weaved, but I wasn’t going to be deterred and I kept my foot in.

“We raced for the finish like 100m sprinters ducking for the tape and although I passed him halfway down the straight, he had crossed the line first by 0.014 seconds, or 93 centimetres. If the finish line had been five yards further down the road I would have won. And those [three] extra points would have made a big difference at the end of the year.”

The McLarens of Prost and Keke Rosberg finished third and fourth, believing they had severe fuel consumption problems when in fact they were seeing faulty cockpit readouts. The reliable Benetton B186s of Teo Fabi and Gerhard Berger took the last of the six points-paying places. Only two other cars were classified.

In the words of Nigel Mansell: “Afterwards Prost came up to me and apologised. He said: “I thought that Ayrton was too far ahead for either of us to catch him. If I had known you could do it I would have let you past!’”

1986 Spanish Grand Prix result

Pos Car Driver Team Laps Difference
1 12 Ayrton Senna Lotus-Renault 72 01:48:48
2 5 Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda 72 0.014
3 1 Alain Prost McLaren-TAG 72 21.552
4 2 Keke Rosberg McLaren-TAG 71 1 Lap
5 19 Teo Fabi Benetton-BMW 71 1 Lap
6 20 Gerhard Berger Benetton-BMW 71 1 Lap
7 18 Thierry Boutsen Arrows-BMW 68 4 Laps
8 16 Patrick Tambay Lola-Hart 66 6 Laps
11 Johnny Dumfries Lotus-Renault 52 Gearbox
3 Martin Brundle Tyrrell-Renault 41 Engine
26 Jacques Laffite Ligier-Renault 40 Halfshaft
17 Marc Surer Arrows-BMW 39 Fuel System
6 Nelson Piquet Williams-Honda 39 Engine
8 Elio de Angelis Brabham-BMW 29 Gearbox
25 Ren£ Arnoux Ligier-Renault 29 Halfshaft
27 Michele Alboreto Ferrari 22 Wheel Bearing
4 Philippe Streiff Tyrrell-Renault 22 Engine
22 Christian Danner Osella-Alfa Romeo 14 Engine
28 Stefan Johansson Ferrari 11 Brakes
21 Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Alfa Romeo 10 Engine
7 Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW 8 Gearbox
23 Andrea de Cesaris Minardi-Motori Moderni 1 Differential
14 Jonathan Palmer Zakspeed 0 Collision
15 Alan Jones Lola-Hart 0 Collision
24 Alessandro Nannini Minardi-Motori Moderni 0 Collision

Were you at this race? Do you remember it? Tell us about it in the comments.

Grand Prix flashback

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Image © Williams/LAT

Champion of Champions: Michael Schumacher vs Alain Prost

Michael Schumacher vs Alain Prost

Champion of Champions: Michael Schumacher vs Alain Prost

Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost won more races than anyone else. That’s 142 Grand Prix victories between the two of them.

Of the 839 races that have counted towards the world championship since 1950, one in six were won by one of these two drivers.

While even Prost falls well short of Schumacher’s record total wins, it will be remembered that he drove alongside world championship-winning team mates in five season. Schumacher did so in just five races.

Similarly Schumacher’s tally of titles seven out-strips Alain Prost’s four, but it bears remembering how close Prost came to three more: two points away in 1983, half a point in 1984, and in 1988 he amassed more points than champion Ayrton Senna, but had to discard more under the ‘best 11 results count’ rule.

But it would be wrong to overlook that Schumacher was championship runner-up in 1998 and 2006 (and in 1997, prior to his disqualification).

The pair are almost unequalled in having spent over a decade at the sharp end of Formula 1, challenging for wins and championships.

But that success was sometimes accompanied by controversy: Prost’s collision with Senna in 1989 which sealed his third championship had much in common with Schumacher’s notorious collision with Damon Hill just five years later (and with Jacques Villeneuve three years after that).

Their careers overlapped for little more than a season. Their most interesting encounter came in the 1993 Portuguese Grand Prix, where Schumacher’s tenacity on old tyres allowed him to snatch his second F1 victory. Prost settled for second place behind the Benetton, enough to secure his fourth and final world championship.

It’s down to you to pick which of these drivers belongs in the Champion of Champions final.

Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Michael Schumacher Alain Prost
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Bahrain, 2006 Alain Prost, Williams, 1993
Titles 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993
Second in title year/s Damon Hill, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi R??ikk??nen, Rubens Barrichello Michele Alboreto, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Ayrton Senna
Teams Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, Mercedes McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, Williams
Notable team mates Nelson Piquet, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell
Starts 268 199
Wins 91 (33.96%) 51 (25.63%)
Poles 68 (25.37%) 33 (16.58%)
Modern points per start1 14.05 12.48
% car failures2 8.21 16.58
Modern points per finish3 15.30 14.96
Notes Missed several races in 1999 after breaking his leg at Silverstone Lost ’83 title by two points and ’84 title by half a point
Retired in 2006 after 11 seasons with Ferrari Controversial clash with Senna sealed third title
Returned with Mercedes in 2010 Returned from sabbatical to clinch fourth title with Williams
Bio Michael Schumacher Alain Prost

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Round three

Round two

Round one

[poll id="231"]

This poll remains open until February 4th.

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Read the F1 Fanatic Champion of Champions introduction for more information and remember to check back tomorrow for the next round.

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Images ?? Ferrari spa (Schumacher), Williams/Sutton (Prost)

Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Niki Lauda

Alain Prost vs Niki Lauda

Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Niki Lauda

The second Champion of Champions quarter-final features two drivers who were team mates at McLaren for two years.

During their time together Niki Lauda won his final championship title in 1984 and Alain Prost claimed his first the following year.

These are also both drivers took time out of the sport and made successful comebacks.

It looked like Lauda had quit for good when he told Bernie Ecclestone he was leaving Brabham as practice began at Montreal in 1979. He had already agreed terms to continue driving for the team, and his change of mind potentially cost him two years in cars capable of winning the championship.

Ron Dennis convinced Lauda to make a comeback with McLaren in 1982. He won twice in his first year back and once McLaren arranged a deal to use Porsche turbo power he was on his way to world title number three.

It came after a season-long battle with Prost which Lauda won by the smallest-ever margin of half a point. The following season Lauda was dogged by unreliability and retired for good.

Prost’s 1992 sabbatical and 1993 comeback was characteristic of his approach to the sport. He bided his time until the seat he wanted at Williams became available. When he got his hands on the car he emulated Lauda by winning a title on his return.

And both can also talk about championship near-misses. Lauda’s terrible crash at the Nurburgring in 1976 arguably cost him the title that year.

And 1984 wasn’t Prost’s first or last taste of missing out on the title by a small margin: he lost to Nelson Piquet by two points the previous season and was runner-up to Ayrton Senna in 1988 and 1990

So these are two champions with a lot in common. But which of these drivers should go through to the Champion of Champions semi-finals?

Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Alain Prost Niki Lauda
Alain Prost Niki Lauda
Titles 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993 1975. 1977, 1984
Second in title year/s Michele Alboreto, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Ayrton Senna Emerson Fittipaldi, Jody Scheckter, Alain Prost
Teams McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, Williams March, BRM, Ferrari, Brabham, McLaren
Notable team mates Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell Carlos Reutemann, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost
Starts 199 171
Wins 51 (25.63%) 25 (14.62%)
Poles 33 (16.58%) 24 (14.04%)
Modern points per start1 12.48 7.85
% car failures2 16.58 34.50
Modern points per finish3 14.96 11.99
Notes Lost ’83 title by two points and ’84 title by half a point Badly burned in 1976 crash, withdrew from title-deciding race in heavy rain
Controversial clash with Senna sealed third title Clinched second title for Ferrari in 1977 then left team
Returned from sabbatical to clinch fourth title with Williams Ended two-year retirement to return to McLaren and win third title
Bio Alain Prost Niki Lauda

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Round two

Round one

[poll id="228"]

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Images ?? Honda (Prost), Gary Faulkenberry (Lauda)

Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Mika Hakkinen

Alain Prost vs Mika Hakkinen

Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Mika Hakkinen

Next up in round two of Champion of Champions are two drivers who had long and successful careers with McLaren.

Alain Prost won three titles with them in a six-year stint with the team. Mika Hakkinen won the championship twice in an even longer time with the team, lasting from 1993 to 2001.

Prost had the benefit of driving a series of highly competitive McLarens. Only the 1987 car was unable to challenge for the championship.

But he faced tough team mates in the shape of Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna – both of which became three-times champions.

With no disrespect to Hakkinen’s long-term team mate David Coulthard, he wasn’t in the class of Lauda and Senna. But it took until 1998 for Hakkinen to get his hands on a championship-contending car.

He delivered a pair of titles, but Michael Schumacher wrested the crown from him in 2000.

Hakkinen left F1 one year later. What was originally supposed to be a sabbatical from the 2002 season turned out to be permanent retirement.

Prost has also gone on sabbatical ten years earlier – but the difference was, he came back. He arrived at Williams, won the 1993 championship in the devastatingly quick FW15C, then retired.

Prost was a four-time runner-up as well as a four-time champion. He finished second in 1983 (to Nelson Piquet), 1984 (to Lauda), 1988 and 1990 (to Senna).

Which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Don’t miss F1 Fanatic’s interview with Mika Hakkinen tomorrow. Leave a comment on the round-up if you’ve got a question for him.

Alain Prost Mika Hakkinen
Alain Prost Mika Hakkinen, McLaren, 1999
Titles 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993 1998, 1999
Second in title year/s Michele Alboreto, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Ayrton Senna Michael Schumacher, Eddie Irvine
Teams McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, Williams Lotus, McLaren
Notable team mates Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell Johnny Herbert, Martin Brundle, David Coulthard
Starts 199 161
Wins 51 (25.63%) 20 (12.42%)
Poles 33 (16.58%) 26 (16.15%)
Modern points per start1 12.48 8.58
% car failures2 16.58 24.22
Modern points per finish3 14.96 11.33
Notes Lost ’83 title by two points and ’84 title by half a point Stunned Ayrton Senna by out-qualifying him in their first race as team mates
Controversial clash with Senna sealed third title Recovered from head injuries after crashing at Adelaide in 1995
Returned from sabbatical to clinch fourth title with Williams Won back-to-back titles for McLaren in 1998 and 1999
Bio Alain Prost Mika Hakkinen

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Round one

[poll id="221"]

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Images ?? Williams/Sutton (Prost), Bridgestone Corporation (Hakkinen)

Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Keke Rosberg

Alain Prost vs Keke Rosberg

Champion of Champions: Alain Prost vs Keke Rosberg

Earlier this week we had one pair of team mates from the eighties, now here’s another: 1986 McLaren duo Alain Prost and Keke Rosberg.

That was Rosberg’s final year in Formula 1 and while he endured a win-less season struggling to get the most out of the MP4-2C, Prost clinched his second championship title.

Rosberg spent the previous four seasons with Williams. The team signed him after Alan Jones suddenly announced his retirement late in 1981.

Rosberg joined the world championship-winning outfit having previously driven for minor teams. He won the title in his first year with the team, coming out on top in the turbulent 1982 season after a single win at Dijon.

Over the following seasons he added more wins but as Williams made the switch from Cosworth to Honda turbo power Rosberg found his car was first reliable but short on power, then powerful but lacking reliability.

With the benefit of hindsight, he left the team at exactly the wrong moment, just as the Honda engine was coming good.

Prost came close to succeeding Rosberg as champion in 1983. But his warnings to Renault that they were falling behind in the development race fell on deaf ears, and Nelson Piquet grabbed the championship from him at the final round.

After switching to McLaren, Prost fell short again in 1984. This time by the narrowest-ever margin of half a point, to team mate Niki Lauda. He finally delivered his first title the following year.

While Rosberg arrived at and left McLaren within a year, Ayrton Senna proved a tougher challenge for Prost, beating him to the 1988 title. Prost turned the tables the following year, but controversially collided with Senna at Suzuka to seal his third title.

Prost moved on to Ferrari in 1990 and was in the running for the title once again – until Senna took the opportunity to remove him from the race and the championship at Suzuka.

After a dire 1991 Prost was dropped by the team and spent a year on the sidelines waiting to get a drive for Williams. He won on his return in 1993, wrapped up a fourth title with the dominant FW15C, and then retired for good.

Which of these drivers should go through to the next round of the Champion of Champions? Vote for which you think was best below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Alain Prost Keke Rosberg
Alain Prost, Williams, 1993 Keke Rosberg, Williams, 1983
Titles 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993 1982
Second in title year/s Michele Alboreto, Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna, Ayrton Senna Didier Pironi
Teams McLaren, Renault, Ferrari, Williams Theodore, ATS, Wolf, Fittipaldi, Williams, McLaren
Notable team mates Niki Lauda, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell Jacques Laffite, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost
Starts 199 114
Wins 51 (25.63%) 5 (4.39%)
Poles 33 (16.58%) 5 (4.39%)
Modern points per start1 12.48 5.22
% car failures2 16.58 38.60
Modern points per finish3 14.96 8.50
Notes Lost ’83 title by two points and ’84 title by half a point Four years with minor teams before sudden promotion to Williams
Controversial clash with Senna sealed third title Won more races in 1985 than title-winning 1982 campaign
Returned from sabbatical to clinch fourth title with Williams Retired after winless 1986 with McLaren
Bio Alain Prost Keke Rosberg

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

[poll id="207"]

You need an F1 Fanatic account to vote. Register an account here or read more about registering here.

Read the F1 Fanatic Champion of Champions introduction for more information and remember to check back tomorrow for the next round.

You can still vote in the previous rounds of Champion of Champions. Find them all below:

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Images ?? Williams/Sutton

Poster for "Senna" - The Ayrton Senna movie

“Senna” – the Ayrton Senna movie reviewed

“Senna” opened in Japan two months ago but British fans will have to wait until June to see the film on big screen.

Luckily I had the chance to attend a private screening of the film in London yesterday where I also spoke to the film’s author and co-executive producer Manish Pandey.

In making “Senna” the producers had access to Formula One Management’s extensive video archive. That vast amount of material has been condensed into a film which lasts little longer than a Grand Prix.

I’m sure that, like myself, many F1 Fanatic readers would have been happy to watch a Lord of the Rings-style three-part epic. But exerting discipline over what to include and what to cut has clearly been to the film’s benefit, and not just in terms of making it suitable for a mainstream audience.

“Senna” tells the story of his life and F1 career through original footage, much of it never before seen. It avoids the dry documentary style of talking head interviews, using instead voice-overs from several contributors plus clips from television commentaries.

Thanks to this approach the film moves along rapidly, introducing Senna with his breakthrough performance at Monte-Carlo in 1984 and speeding through to the onset of his rivalry with Alain Prost in 1988.

Although the film has plenty to say about Senna’s character, his charitable work and, of course, his death, his bitter battle with Prost is the film’s principle focus.

Poster for "Senna" - The Ayrton Senna movie

While no one should underestimate the difficulty the producers had in choosing what to leave out of the film, the decision to skip over some events inevitably shapes the film’s view of the main figures.

Two important moments in the rising hostility between Senna and Prost are omitted. These are their wheel-to-wheel battle at Estoril in 1988 and the row that erupted over the restart at Imola in 1989.

Perhaps these weren’t thought significant enough to include, but putting them in might have helped to balance the film’s view of Senna, which verges on the saintly at times.

It is not Prost but FISA President Jean-Marie Balestre who is ultimately portrayed as the villain, and the glimpses of his heavy-handed and partisan interventions do him no favours at all.

As well as these controversial episodes there are moments of great humour, none of which I’m going to spoil by giving them away here.

For a lifelong Formula 1 fan who discovered the sport at the height of the Senna-Prost war, the film is a treasure trove of fascinating moments from a great era.

Telling a story which most people already know the end of presents problems of its own. Watching “Senna”, you know what’s coming – and you don’t want it to get there. You just want to watch the black-and-gold Lotus dancing its way around Adelaide in 1985. And you want to see more of the remarkable behind-the-scenes footage of his first home win at Brazil in 1991.

The film reaches a poignant and moving conclusion. It’s impossible to re-watch the events of that Imola weekend without feeling heavy-hearted and the final sequence strikes an emotional chord.

As Manish wrote here in October: “Many non-F1 people know [Senna] because of his death: hopefully, they will now have some insight into his life.”

“Senna” accomplishes that brilliantly. Quite simply it’s the greatest film about motor racing I have ever seen.

F1 Fanatic rating out of five

Rating five out of five

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“Senna” opens in the UK on June 3rd, 2011. It has already opened in some regions including Japan and Brazil. Please share information on when it opens in your area in the comments.

“Senna” – the Ayrton Senna movie trailer

Senna movie
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