By 1991 the formula had emerged from the turbo era in rude health and there were no fewer than nine different engine manufacturers producing eight, ten or twelve cylinder motors (remember Yamaha, Lamborghini, Ilmor, Judd and Porsche as well as the usual suspects?), all of which sounded different to each other. Also there was active suspension, ABS and the cars (yet to come under the radical cockpit redesigns in the wake of the tragic events at Imola in 1994) looked more pared-down and enjoyed huge downforce. Also, as proved key at Monza, tyre stops weren’t necessarily needed …
1991 was, of course, Ayrton Senna’s last championship year. With Alain Prost having jumped ship to Ferrari and the Mansell/Patrese/Williams combination still had a short way to go to, the Brazilian ended up winning by 24 points from our favourite moustachioed Brummie.
At Monza though things didn’t quite go according to plan, not that this stopped Senna from demonstrating the majesty of his talent. He led from the start with Mansell, Berger and Patrese in tow. Despite pressure from Mansell, Patrese looked irresistible and began to charge hard, passing Berger, Mansell and then Senna before a gearbox failure forced him out. This left Senna in the lead, but in need of fresh rubber. He emerged from the pits in fifth place behind Michael Schumacher (who was in his first race for Benetton) whom he dispatched, followed by Berger.
This left Senna in third, with Mansell having scarpered up the road and Prost standing between himself and the second spot on the podium. Neither driver had needed to pit for tyres. This is where this week’s clip comes in. For those whose memory doesn’t extend as far back as 1991 and can’t remember the outcome we’ll stop short of giving away how things turned out, but even if you know who finally prevailed this is still worth watching, if only because it features two of the sport’s greatest rivals absolutely on the limit, with no quarter asked or given.
One thing we can’t decide on though is which sounds better: The howl of the Ferrari and Honda V12s, or the genial musings of Murray Walker and the late James Hunt?