The 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, otherwise known as the XVI Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix, was the fifteenth and penultimate round of the 1990 FIA Formula One World Championship, staged at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture, Japan, on the 21 October 1990. The race would be remembered for the infamous first corner clash between title rivals Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, which ensured that the Brazilian claimed his second World Championship crown.
The penultimate round of 1990 was heralded by a series of unfortunate driver changes, after accidents on and off the circuit ended the careers of Martin Donnelly and Alessandro Nannini. The former had his legs shattered in an accident last time out in Spain, resulting in Lotus-Lamborghini hiring F1 rookie Johnny Herbert for the final two rounds. Nannini, meanwhile, had seen his right arm severed in a helicopter accident after the Spanish race, meaning Benetton-Ford Cosworth hired Roberto Moreno to partner Nelson Piquet.
Qualifying was a simpler affair than usual, for the three cars of Life and EuroBrun-Judd had withdrawn from F1 due to a lack of funding. That meant that there was no need for a pre-qualifying session, as Senna swept to pole position ahead of rival Prost at the head of the field.
Unfortunately the simplicity ended at the end of qualifying, for McLaren-Honda began a political battle on Saturday evening by demanding that the pole grid slot be placed on racing line, rather than the inside. The FIA opposed the move, prompting Senna to proclaim that the FIA and Ferrari were working together in Prost's favour, and that he would not leave room for Prost if the Frenchman made a better start.
Ultimately it was Prost who made the better getaway at the start of the race, with Senna trying to squeeze alongside the Ferrari into the first corner. True to his word Senna refused to back off and duly smashed into the back of the Ferrari, sending both cars across the gravel trap and into the outside wall. Both emerged uninjured, with Senna celebrating his second World title.
On track, meanwhile, it was Senna's teammate Gerhard Berger who emerged at the head of the pack, although a spin on lap two ended his race very quickly. That left the second Ferrari of Nigel Mansell in the lead ahead of the two Benettons, with the two Williams-Renaults also in tow.
The order remained static out front, with Mansell easing clear until his stop on lap 26, resulting in the Brit dropping to fifth behind the non-stopping Benettons and Williams'. Unfortunately in his haste to rejoin Mansell stamped on the throttle leaving his pitbox, and duly snapped his driveshafts.
With Mansell out the two Benettons were left flying in formation at the head of the field, with Piquet cruising home to claim victory ahead of teammate Moreno. They were joined on the podium by a thrilled Aguri Suzuki, who earned both his and Lamborghini's only podium finish after late stops for Riccardo Patrese and Thierry Boutsen.
Nigel Mansell, who was originally to retire at the end of the year, reversed his decision by signing for Williams on a two-year deal. This proved to be the best idea, as Mansell would become the World Champion in 1992.
Life and EuroBrun withdrew from the sport. EuroBrun's Roberto Moreno joined the Benetton team, replacing Italian Alessandro Nannini, whose Formula One career ended because of injuries suffered in a helicopter crash, after the Spanish Grand Prix.
A Pretender RemainsEdit
Alain Prost had kept his title hopes alive as a result of his victory in Spain, moving just nine points behind Ayrton Senna with two races to go. However, Senna would win the Championship in Japan if he finished ahead of Prost, while the Frenchman himself would effectively lose two points if he finished fourth or higher as a result of the dropped score rule. There were various other title permutations at the penultimate race, although Prost would likely have to win the race just to prevent Senna claiming the crown.
It was a similar story in the Constructors Championship, with Ferrari scoring enough points as a result of their one-two to keep their title ambitions alive. However, the Italian squad would still have to outscore Championship leaders McLaren-Honda by at least three points in Suzuka to keep the fight alive heading into Australia. McLaren-Honda, in contrast, were determined to claim the crown on Honda's home soil, knowing they would likely win the crown if they did not have another double dnf in the final two rounds.
The full entry list for the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix is outlined below:
McLaren driver Gerhard Berger was the fastest man in the first qualifying session, with a time of 1:38.374, ahead of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
Senna would eventually take pole position with a time of 1:36.996, ahead of Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell. Jean Alesi, Stefano Modena and David Brabham did not set a time in this session.
The full qualifying results for the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix are outlined below:
|6||20||Nelson Piquet||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:41.041||1:40.049||+3.053s|
|7||4||Jean Alesi||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:40.052||—||+3.056s|
|9||19||Roberto Moreno||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:41.719||1:40.579||+3.583s|
|11||23||Pierluigi Martini||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:40.899||1:41.964||+3.903s|
|13||16||Ivan Capelli||Leyton House-Judd||1:41.657||1:41.033||+4.037s|
|14||3||Satoru Nakajima||Tyrrell-Ford Cosworth||1:41.208||1:41.078||+4.082s|
|16||15||Maurício Gugelmin||Leyton House-Judd||1:42.049||1:41.698||+4.702s|
|18||25||Nicola Larini||Ligier-Ford Cosworth||1:43.396||1:42.339||+5.343s|
|19||21||Emanuele Pirro||Dallara-Ford Cosworth||1:40.230||1:42.361||+5.365s|
|20||24||Gianni Morbidelli||Minardi-Ford Cosworth||1:42.858||1:42.364||+5.368s|
|21||26||Philippe Alliot||Ligier-Ford Cosworth||1:44.106||1:42.593||+5.597s|
|24||10||Alex Caffi||Arrows-Ford Cosworth||1:43.270||1:43.887||+6.274s|
|25||9||Michele Alboreto||Arrows-Ford Cosworth||1:43.304||1:43.610||+6.308s|
|26||22||Andrea de Cesaris||Dallara-Ford Cosworth||1:43.601||1:43.647||+6.605s|
|DNQ||14||Olivier Grouillard||Osella-Ford Cosworth||1:43.993||1:43.782||+6.786s|
|DNQ||17||Gabriele Tarquini||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:44.281||29:56.038||+6.786s|
|DNQ||18||Yannick Dalmas||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:44.410||1:46.326||+7.414s|
|DNQ||31||Bertrand Gachot||Coloni-Ford Cosworth||20:22.535||1:45.393||+8.397s|
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car to set their best time in that session.
- * Alesi was unable to start the race after an accident during qualifying.
|______________||Andrea de Cesaris|
- * Alesi was unable to start the race after his accident in qualifying.
And so, because of Balestre's objection, the pole remained on the right side of the grid. However, this didn't stop Senna, as he sprinted away at the start, but Prost took the lead. Senna went through on the inside and deliberately collided with Prost, sending both drivers off the track. Senna was crowned the 1990 Formula One World Champion.
The reason for this crash was because of the controversial collision at last year's race, when Prost and Senna were McLaren team-mates. While Prost retired, Senna drove through the escape road to rejoin, and was ultimately disqualified, handing Prost the 1989 title. Senna did this as revenge on Prost for last year.
The race was won by Benetton's Nelson Piquet, his first in three years. Completing the podium were his team-mate Roberto Moreno and home hero Aguri Suzuki. This remains the last Grand Prix to date without a European driver on the podium.
The full results for the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix are outlined below:
- T Indicates a driver used their test/spare car.
- Ayrton Senna declared as the 1990 FIA Formula One World Championship Champion.
- It was also Senna's second World Championship title.
- McLaren-Honda declared as the 1990 FIA Formula One World Championship for Constructors Champions.
- AGS entered their 75th Grand Prix.
- Nelson Piquet claimed his 21st victory.
- Also the first win for Nelson Piquet since the 1987 Italian Grand Prix.
- Third victory for Benetton as a constructor.
- Maiden podium for Roberto Moreno.
- This was also the first one-two finish for Benetton as a constructor.
- Aguri Suzuki claimed his first (and only) podium finish.
- As of the start of the 2019 season this was the last podium not to feature a European born driver.
With that the 1990 FIA Formula One World Championship was effectively over, with Ayrton Senna the de facto Champion with a race to spare. Indeed, while Alain Prost was within a race win of the Brazilian's tally, the dropped score rule ensured that he would drop too many points to overhaul Senna's tally. The Frenchman would therefore have to settle for second, while Gerhard Berger faced an intriguing fight for third with Nelson Piquet in Australia .
Likewise, the Constructors Championship had been decided with a race to go, with McLaren-Honda holding an eighteen point lead over Ferrari in second. Indeed, with just fifteen points on offer in Australia there was no chance of Ferrari overhauling the Anglo-Japanese alliance, meaning they had to settle for second. Behind, Benetton-Ford Cosworth had seemed to have seized the imitative in their fight for third with Williams-Renault, moving eight points clear ahead of the season finale.
Only point scoring drivers and constructors are shown.
Images and Videos:
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ 'Japan 1990: Entrants', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2015), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1990/japon/engages.aspx, (Accessed 09/07/2019)
- ↑ 'Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 1', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1990/races/78/japan/qualifying-1.html, (Accessed 09/07/2019)
- ↑ 'Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix - QUALIFYING 2', formula1.com, (Formula One World Championship Ltd., 2019), https://www.formula1.com/en/results.html/1990/races/78/japan/qualifying-2.html, (Accessed 09/07/2019)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 'Japan 1990: Qualifications', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1990/japon/qualification.aspx, (Accessed 09/07/2019)
- ↑ 'Japan 1990: Result', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2016), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1990/japon/classement.aspx, (Accessed 09/07/2019)
- ↑ 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 '15. Japan 1990', statsf1.com, (Stats F1, 2014), https://www.statsf1.com/en/1990/japon.aspx, (Accessed 09/07/2019)
- ↑ '1990 Japanese GP', chicanef1.com, (Chicane F1, 2015), http://www.chicanef1.com/racetit.pl?year=1990&gp=Japanese%20GP&r=1, (Accessed 09/07/2019)
|V T E||Japanese Grand Prix|
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|See also||Pacific Grand Prix|
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