A quarter of a century ago today (August 16th), Nigel Mansell finally secured the Formula 1 Drivers’ World Championship title after 12 years and 176 Grand Prix races.
On this day in... 1992
But before the Englishman, who’d taken nine poles and eight victories from the first 10 races of the 1992 season aboard the all-conquering, Renault-powered Williams FW14B, could be sure of his first crown with five GPs still to run, there were some mathematics to do.
Mansell would be assured of the title if he won, or finished at least third if Williams team-mate Riccardo Patrese failed to score. The Italian veteran was his nearest challenger, albeit 46 points adrift, and gave Mansell a headache in Hungary by outqualifying him for only the second time all year.
Patrese duly led into the first corner, with a cautious front-row-starting Mansell also letting McLaren duo Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger past. Fourth would not be enough for him to head to Belgium a fortnight later as Britain’s seventh F1 champion.
Mansell relieved Berger of third on lap eight but would soon find himself back behind the Austrian after stopping to change a punctured tyre on lap 31. He quickly caught and repassed the McLaren driver to settle back into third.
His cause was helped when Patrese mysteriously spun at half-distance while holding a commanding lead; the number 6 Williams dropped to seventh and would make no impression on the leading six until engine failure on lap 55 ended his afternoon.
Senna had inherited the lead after Patrese’s error, with Mansell thus sitting pretty in second place.
And that’s how they finished. The Brazilian took his second win of the year, having beaten Mansell in an epic scrap at Monaco, with Berger completing the podium.
Outgoing champion Senna hugged Mansell in parc fermé in a show of appreciation for what he’d been through over more than a decade of trying to win the title. Having finished runner-up in 1986, ’87 and ’91, he’d finally added his name to a special list comprising Mike Hawthorn, Graham Hill, Jim Clark, John Surtees, Jackie Stewart and James Hunt.
A sad footnote to the weekend was the final appearance in the World Championship by a Brabham. The sole Judd-powered BT60B driven by Damon Hill finished 11th and it marked the disappearance of a multiple World Championship-winning marque from F1 after 30 years.
Hungarian GP, 1992
1. Ayrton Senna (BR) – McLaren MP4-7A-Honda, 77 laps
2. Nigel Mansell (GB) – Williams FW14B-Renault, +40.1s
3. Gerhard Berger (AUT) – McLaren MP4-7A-Honda, +50.7s
4. Mika Hakkinen (FIN) – Lotus 107-Ford, +54.3s
5. Martin Brundle (GB) – Benetton B192-Ford, +57.4s
6. Ivan Capelli (I) – Ferrari F92A, 76 laps
Photography courtesy of LAT Images
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