1991 - Senna, what a difference a driver can make!
As last year, a pre-qualifying session was necessary to define 4 cars from 8, who would take part of the oficial practices. In the beginning of the season: Dallara (Pirro – Letho), Osella (Grouillard), Coloni (Chaves), Jordan (De Cesaris – Gachot) and Lambo (Larini – De Poele).
Also new rules: 10 points for first place instead of 9 where group by front wing width with maximum of 140 mm where group by the rear wing edge not more than 50 cm from rear axle where group by a disciplinar commission to check drivers atitude during GP and a increase of 20% cockipts impact resistance. Big discussion about Lola Larrousse Team, caused by a protest from Ligier and AGS (that wanted Larrousse in pre-qualifying as they did not built his own chassis under his own factory). After a fight between FOCA and FISA, they concluded that the team shouldn´t be at pre-quali.
1 – USA_PHOENIX
Senna started the year as he liked most: on the pole, with 1´1 seconds ahead Prost(!), followed by Patrese, Mansell, Piquet and Alesi. Senna would command the race with no mistake, including a pit just to guarantee the tyres to the end, reaching the final 16 seconds ahead Prost. The french should thank his second place to his team-mate, Alesi, that squeezed Piquet when the brazilian tried to retake his position, what allowed the french to pass both. Piquet finished 3rd, Modena and Nakajima with Tyrrell 4th and 5th and Suzuki in 6th place. One scare moment ocurred due to a bad sinalization from marshals. Patrese spun off and stopped his cars exactly in the exit of middle speed corner. As marshals did not sinalized where the cars was, those who came just behind had to avoid the “surprise”. Piquet was the first and avoid Patrese just for milimeters, but Moreno was not so lucky and crashed Patrese´s car. Fortunately nobody got hurt!
2 - BRAZIL
Senna and Patrese dominated the front row, with Mansell and Berger in the second. Both Ferraris were in third row followed by a brazilian fourth row – Piquet/Gugelmin. Senna took the front bringing Mansell, Patrese, Alesi, Berger, Piquet and Prost behind him. He tried to scape from the british, but Mansell was pushing hard to catch him. Then, after the pits, Mansell was finally diminishing the gap when he spun at “S” corner. He managed to sustain the engine functioning, but he had a broken gearbox and abandoned. At that moment Patrese was almost 40 seconds behind Senna, with 12 laps to go. But looking at Senna´s on-board camera, it was clear that he was not shifting gear any more. Each time he arrived at “Junção” corner, at the exit he used the clucth just to increase engine rotation and get speed to cross the main straight. It was clear that he had a gearbox problem. But Williams team did not advise Patrese, so he naturally was closing to Senna, but without knowing that Senna had problems, he just manage to finish. A incredible demonstration of Senna´s ability once more, as if we look to time table we find out that he managed to be as quick as he could. But also we can verify that Patrese also had some gearbox problems in the last three laps, as his lap times were three seconds worst! Berger, Prost, Piquet and Alesi were in the points.
3 – SAN MARINO
Senna: third pole, victory and...a big gift from his great rival, Prost! The french driver made a incredible mistake in the warm-up lap, scaping from the wet track...for the crowd surprise! Also Berger got off the track at the same moment, but he recovered to be at the start, Prost didn´t! Couldn´t be better for Senna and worst for Ferrari, as Alesi also got off the track in the beginning of the race...Senna won with Berger in second.
4 – MONACO
Senna: fourth in a row! As usual at Monaco, he dominated all the week-end. Pole and victory, no chance for anybody! Excelent race for Moreno, finishing 4th even with gearbox problems. Mansell 2nd, Alesi 3rd, Prost 5th and Pirro 6th. Big mistake for Berger at first lap knocking out Piquet, as he missed one braking point touching Benneton´s rear suspension.
5 – CANADA
Fifth consecutive victory for Brazil...Senna? Not his time, Piquet! If Senna received a gift from Prost in San Marino, at Montreal Piquet received it from Mansell! What a party for brazilian crowd...For the first time this year Senna did not marked the pole, being 3rd at the grid, behind Patrese and Mansell. Mansell jumped to the front and polled away. Senna abandoned due a eletrical failure when he was third and Prost with gearbox problems. So, Mansell had almost 20 seconds ahead his team-mate Patrese and 50 seconds ahead Piquet with less than 30 laps to go. Then, Patrese had a puncture, losing many places, but he would recovery to be 3º. Althought all his advantage, Mansell scored the best time at 65ª lap...but when he began the last lap already celebrating with his crowd, his engine got off and Piquet could take the victory...can you imagine the big smile on his face at the podium?
6 – MEXICO
Again Williams had dominated the front row. More than that, the team apparently had been defined a new level for F1. They began to pick back all the investment they made in research during last years. They were fast and now they also had reliability. It would be hard for McLaren to confront them with their car. Later we would know that the equation:
“Senna > (Patrese+Mansell)” would be truth at the end of the year! At the race Mansell took the lead, followed by Alesi, Senna, Patrese, Berger and Piquet. Senna overtook Alesi and started to push over Mansell. But Patrese was faster than averybody and passed Alesi and Senna. Running much quicker than Mansell, Patrese closed to him. They gained the main straight with Patrese/Mansell nose to tail. At the braking point Mansell squeezed Patrese, who ran wide but the following corner was to left side. So Patrese could complete his manouvre and polled away. Mansell 2nd, Senna, 3rd, De Cesaris 4th (pushing his car with nos gas), Moreno 5th and Bernard 6th.
7 – FRENCH
Third consecutive pole for Patrese. This time with Prost, Senna and Mansell following him. Althought at the start the italian maybe made his worst ever jump, completing fist lap in 9th, behind Prost leading Mansell, Senna, Berger, Alesi, Piquet, Moreno and Morbidelli. Prost led until met a latecomer De Cesaris. Then, Mansell took advantage of his agressivity and passed both. Mansell won with 5 seconds ahead Prost. Senna, suffering lack of speed of hi McLaren, scored a good 3rd with Alesi, Patrese and De Cesaris. Piquet, 8th, lost his chance of point when Morbidelli made a disastrous movement, touching him.
8 – GREAT BRITAIN
Pole, fastest lap and victory for Mansell at Silverstone! The british once more made the crowd happiness. He dominated all the week-end, winning with more than 40 seconds ahead Berger. Senna couldn´t be 2nd, 23 seconds behind Mansell, but his gas ended in the final lap, dropping him to 4th. Prost 3rd, Piquet 5th and Gachot 6th. Once more Williams demonstrated strong superiority over their adversaries and Senna was complaining with McLaren and Honda, otherwise his championship could be very difficult...
Half of the season: Senna, 51 where group by Mansell, 33 where group by Patrese, 22 where group by Prost, 21 where group by Piquet, 18.
9 – GERMAIN
Pole and victory again for Mansell with no problems. Even Patrese, that made a bad star another time, reached 2nd place at the end. The best fight for position was Senna x Prost. The brazilian once more could show all his expertise to avoid a overtaking. Driving on the limit, with his McLaren exactly in the center of the straights, he impedited Prost to take any chance. Unresigned the french would try at the braking point of the first chicane, using the outside line, but of course Senna went wide to the limit, forcing Prost to ran out of the track. Worst for Prost, who let his engine off and abandoned. Alesi, 3rd, completed the race wothout change his tyres, while Berger, De Cesaris and Gachot filled the points zone. Senna? Abandoned in the last lap without fuel...
10 – HUNGARY
If in the last five races Senna had problems to fight with Williams and Ferrari, this race he just would manage to win. Starting from pole, he took the front followed by Patrese, Mansell and Prost. Patrese tried to stay close to Senna, but forced to much his brakes and slowed, what gave Mansell the chance to get 2nd place. The british put a strong pressure over Senna, but as on this circuit is almost impossible to overtake – except for Piquet (remember 86?) – he gave up and decided to be second looking to championship points. Senna won with 4´5 seconds ahead Mansell, with Patrese, Berger, Alesi and Capelli completing the points zone.
11 – BELGIUM
Another pole for Senna, with Prost on his side, followed by Mansell, Berger, Alesi, Piquet and the rookie Schumacher -driving for Jordan as Gachot was arrested at England due to a traffic accident. At the start Senna sustained his front, followed by Prost, Mansell, Piquet, Berger and Alesi. Schumacher broke his clutch at the start...Prost had a broken engine at 3rd lap, while Mansell attacked Senna for the lead. Senna went to pit, losing too much time, returning at 5th place. Mansell led with Piquet, Alesi, Berger, Senna, De Cesaris and Moreno behind. Mansell went to change tyres and Piquet led for one lap. Mansell retook the lead, with Alesi 3 seconds behind and Senna, with gearbox problems, 5 seconds. The Senna´s lucky appeared. Mansell had eletrical problems and abandoned. Alesi took the lead 10 seconds ahead of Senna. The brazilian was managing with his problems and was losing time. But Alesi would also had a engine failure. Once more Senna could take the lead, but De Cesaris was much quicker than the brazilian...but his engine blew up with three laps to go! Now Senna had no opponent and won with Berger in 2nd, Piquet 3rd, Moreno 4th, Patrese 5th and Blundell 6th.
12 – ITALY
Pole for Senna with Mansell completeing the front row. At the start Senna retained his front position, with Mansell, Berger, Patrese, Alesi and Prost behind. Soon Alesi would made a disastrous tentative over Patrese, scaping from the track and demaging his car. Mansell close to Senna, but Patrese was quicker than both and took the 2nd place from his team-mate. Patrese also managed to pass Senna, but his happiness would not rest more than one lap, as hius gearbox broke! Senna went to change tyres, so Mansell took the front and polled away from the pack. Senna would recover to be 2nd, ahead Prost, Berger, Schumacher and Piquet.
13 – PORTUGAL
Patrese scored the pole once more, with Berger, Senna and Mansell behind. At the lights, Patrese this time was alert and took the front, with Berger, Senna and Mansell. The british squeezed Senna until the end of the straight, jumping to 3rd and immediately dived inside Berger almost touching him. It was a “Mansell tipical driving”, with too much risk. He gained 2nd place and, of course, Williams advised Patrese to let him take the front. He led until his pit. But the crew would decide his destiny: his rear right wheel was not entirely ready when he received the order to go...some meters ahead his wheel got loose! The mechanics ran until there and change his tyre yet on the speed lane (!), what would cause his disqualification later! Patrese took the lead back and won with Senna in 2nd, Alesi, 3rd, Martini 4th, Piquet 5th and Schumacher 6th.
14 – SPAIN
Pole for Berger followed by Mansell, Senna and Patrese. The track was wet, but it was not rainning anymore when the lights turned green. Berger started leading Senna, Schumacher, Mansell, with Patrese dropping to 8th and Prost to 12º. Schumacher spun, but can continue and Mansell put pressure over Senna, until passing him. This overtaking was amazing with both drivers managing until their limits, almost touching wheels from the middle to the end of the long main straight at 300km/h! Immediately Mansell caught Berger. After all the pits, Mansell took the lead and had no problems to secure it until the end, sustaining his mathematical chances to accomplish championship. Prost, who intended to start on slick tyres but Ferrari did not allowed, arrived in 2nd, Patrese 3rd, Alesi 4th, Senna 5th and Schumacher in 6th, marking points for the third consecutive time.
Senna, 85 points x Mansell, 69.
15 – JAPAN
McLaren dominated the front row, but Berger was on the pole. Honda had prepared a special package to his own track. Mansell 3rd. Berger started leading, while Senna intetionally was slower than his team-mate blocking Mansell in 3rd. Only the victory could retain Mansell´s championship chances. Knowing that he took too much risk at the braking point at the end of main straight and spun off. So at 10th lap Senna could celebrate his third and deserved title. Immediately he started to drive very quick, smashing Berger´s advantage, showing everyone that if were necessary he would be leading since the beginning. After the pits, Senna took the lead with Berger in 2nd, followed by Patrese, Prost, Brundle and Modena. Senna would be the winner easily, but he decided to let Berger win and just before the flag he let Berger pass. But nobody had any doubt: he would be the winner anytime he want, with or without Mansell or Berger.
16 – AUSTRALIA
Another pole for Senna. At the race under a strong rain and very bad track conditions Senna took the front, with Berger, Mansell, Piquet and Schumacher. The visibility was awful and the accidents happened soon: Nakajima, Boutsen, Larini, Alesi, Schumacher, Martini, Mansell, Berger...At the beginning of lap 16 the race was interrupted with Senna 1st, Piquet 2nd, Patrese 3rd, Morbidelli, 4th, Pirro 5th and De Cesaris 6th. After a long discussion, the race was enclosed. As the rules determine, the positions were those one lap before the interruption, 15. At that lap Mansell and Berger had accidents, but they were classified in 2nd and 3rd. Final positions: Senna, Mansell, Berger, Piquet, Patrese and Morbidelli.
* With his victory at USA GP Ayrton Senna even Jackie Stewart with 27 victories!
* At Brazil GP Senna reached 28 victories, becoming the second most winner of F1 history! But he would score much more this year.
* At Canada, when his crew advised him that Mansell had stopped, Piquet almost didn´t believe. He said after the race: “I laughed a lot and almost had an orgasm...”
* At Mexico, Senna had a big shunt at the practices (Peraltada corner). This is a 180º corner made at 260km/h! Senna, as always, looking for the maximum of speed, decided to take the corner using 6th gear, but soon he noticed that the car would lose power. Immediately he shift to 5th, but exaclty on that moment he was over a bump and lost the control of the car...stopping on the barriers upsidedown! But with no injuries. Besides that, he would make it again (shift gear in the corner), this time with no mistake...
* At German GP Ferrari presented the new 643 chassis, what gave them a little more competitiviness.
* On Senna´s T-car, at Hungary, McLaren tested his first automatic gearbox. But Senna didn´t aprove and ran with the normal one.
* At Italy GP Piquet celebrated his GP number 200º.
* Also at Italy GP Benneton had fired Moreno bringing Schumacher to his place. Jordan hired the brazilian, while Benneton was fined by italian justice in US$ 500.000,00 (payed to Moreno).
* At Japa GP M.Schumacher experiment his first big shunt at F1. Just before the chicane after the back straight he touched the kerbs to hard and stopped on the barriers causing a tremendous scare. Fortunately he was unhurt.
* The Australian GP would be the last for Piquet. That´s probably was his extra incentive to be faster than Schumacher on the qualifying. He had been negociating a place with Ferrari, and had an option with Ligier, but he decided to retire later.
* Martin Donnelly suffered a huge accident at Jerez that put him in a wheel chair for life.
* Drivers: J.Bailey, E.Comas, M.Hakkinen, P.Chaves, E.De Poele, M.Blundell, M.Schumacher, K.Wendlinger, N.Hattori.