The 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix was the second race of the 1991 Formula One Championship, held at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The race represented the best chance for World Champion Ayrton Senna to win his home race, a feat he had not achieved so far in his Grand Prix career, his ultimate ambition.
Indeed, Senna was not to be denied in his eighth Brazilian Grand Prix, as both rain and gearbox problems failed to prevent his victory. Riccardo Patrese pushed his Williams-Renault hard to take second, with the rain hindering rather than aiding his late assault on Senna, with Gerhard Berger also on the podium.
The short break between the US and Brazilian Grand Prix in 1991 meant that little had changed for the 34 drivers on the grid, as several teams got to grips with their new tech. Williams announced that both of their cars, using a new semi-automatic gearbox, were struggling with issues caused by it, but also made it clear that they were on top of them. Regardless, all 34 cars had been shipped straight from Phoenix to Sao Paulo, with the same field set to battle for victory.
There were no surprises in the Championship, as Ayrton Senna led Alain Prost by four points, courtesy of his victory in the US. Senna's compatriot, and legend, Nelson Piquet sat in third, while the two Tyrrell entries of Stefano Modena and Satoru Nakajima sat fourth and fifth. Last of the scorers in the US had been Aguri Suzuki for Larrousse F1.
McLaren-Honda led the way in the Constructors Championship early on, with Senna's sole points enough for them to lead Ferrari. Tyrrell led Benetton by a solitary point, courtesy of their two point finishes to Benetton's podium, while Lola-Ford Cosworth (Larrousse) sat in fifth on one point. They had been the only constructors to score so far.
The full entry list for the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix is shown below:
As in the US, the 34 entries would be split into two groups before qualifying, with the lowest eight from the previous six months competing in Pre-Qualifying. The best four from these eight would join the other 26 in the main qualifying session, as the FIA maintained their recent safety decision despite using an established racing circuit in Brazil.
It was a Jordan and Dallara lock out of the four qualifying places, as JJ Lehto, Andrea de Cesaris, Bertrand Gachot and Emanuele Pirro all made it through to the main session. Their quartet was over a second faster than the rest of the Pre-Qualifiers, as Eric van de Poele, Nicola Larini, Pedro Chaves and Olivier Grouillard were all dumped out of qualifying before it had even begun. Lehto and co continued in the full session a few hours later.
It was a strong showing by the Brazilian bunch of drivers on the grid, with three of the four making into the top ten, although all of the attention was on Ayrton Senna. Once again on pole (for the fifth race in a row), Brazil's brightest star was over a second quicker than team mate Gerhard Berger in fourth, as the two Williams-Renaults split the McLaren-Hondas.Alain Prost was out-qualified by new team mate Jean Alesi for the first time, the two Ferraris down in fifth and sixth, followed by a brace of Brazilians, Nelson Piquet and Maurício Gugelmin.
Once again, the pre-qualifiers punched above their percieved weight as both Jordans and Dallaras forced their way onto the grid. Gachot was best placed, slotting into tenth in only Jordan's second race, while team mate de Cesaris was locked with Pirro for twelfth and thirteenth (the latter ahead by mere thousandths of a second). Lehto was down in nineteenth, although he was safely ahead of the final four places, as Brabham suffered a scare, almost losing both cars.
Ultimately, the two Footwork-Porsche entries of Alex Caffi and Michele Alboreto were lost, as was the AGS of Stefan Johansson. Also out was Julian Bailey for Team Lotus, who was almost three seconds slower than rookiee team mate Mika Häkkinen (who qualified in 22nd), suggesting that the young Finn had a bright future ahead, despite the struggling Lotus-Judd combination.
Full Qualifying Result
The full qualifying result for the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix is displayed below:
|7||20||Nelson Piquet||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:20.105||1:18.577||+2.185s|
|8||15||Maurício Gugelmin||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:22.196||1:18.664||+2.272s|
|10||32||Bertrand Gachot||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:21.493||1:18.882||+2.490s|
|11||29||Éric Bernard||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:22.127||1:19.291||+2.899s|
|13||33||Andrea de Cesaris||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:21.710||1:19.339||+2.947s|
|14||19||Roberto Moreno||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:21.266||1:19.360||+2.968s|
|15||16||Ivan Capelli||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:21.171||1:19.517||+3.125s|
|17||30||Aguri Suzuki||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:22.281||1:19.832||+3.440s|
|24||17||Gabriele Tarquini||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:23.618||1:21.219||+4.827s|
|DNQ||18||Stefan Johansson||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:24.698||1:22.432||+6.040s|
|DNPQ||35||Eric van de Poele||Lambo-Lamborghini||1:21.919|
|DNPQ||31||Pedro Chaves||Coloni-Ford Cosworth||1:23.231|
|DNPQ||14||Olivier Grouillard||Fondmetal-Ford Cosworth||1:23.951|
The starting grid for the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix may be seen below:
|14||Andrea de Cesaris|
There were no changes to the starting order after the warm up on Sunday, meaning all of the attention was on Ayrton Senna, as he tried to bring victory for Brazil by a Brazilian in Brazil for the first time since 1986. He was under potential threat from the fast starting Williams-Renault behind with their new gearboxes, but national pride was on the line. His Brazilian countryman, Mauricio Gugelmin took the start in severe pain, badly burned after his cockpit fire extinguisher had exploded during the warm up.
Drama ensued at the start of the warm-up lap as Aguri Suzuki's points-scoring Lola-Ford Cosworth failed to pull away from the dummy grid after a fuel pump failure, causing him to retire without even taking the start. Then, as the cars took their places on the grid, a small fire broke out at the back of Berger's McLaren. A perfect start by Senna saw him streak away at the head of the field as he had done two weeks earlier, as team mate Gerhard Berger tumbled down the order with an engine issue. Riccardo Patrese and Nigel Mansell left the grid cleanly too, with the Brit seizing the initative into the first corner to take second, while Jean Alesi sneaked into fourth around the seemingly troubled Berger. Alain Prost, meanwhile, got caught behind Berger of the line, and so saw Nelson Piquet cruise past into the first corner. Berger's fire seemed to blow itself out, while back in the midfield, Gugelmin swerved across the path of Gachot's Jordan, causing the Belgian driver to slow suddenly. Pirro swerved to avoid the Jordan and was forced onto the grass at the bottom of the Senna 's', damaging the Dallara's nose section and dropping him to the back of the field. A few moments later, Gabriele Tarquini lost control entering Descida do Lago, spinning onto the grass and into retirement. Gugelmin fell down the order quickly from 8th position on the grid, the pain from his burns in the warm-up becoming too much to bear. He pulled into the pits and retired on lap 10.
Prost and Piquet duelled until the Ferrari driver opted to pit for tyres on lap 22, while Senna continued to stroke out a lead, Mansell being his nearest challenger. The Brit pitted on lap 25 to try to gain an advantage on fresh rubber. but was hampered when his new gearbox refused to select first gear, turning a six second tyre stop into a fourteen second torture session for the Englishman. Once back in the race, Mansell set about chasing down Senna, having to come through Alesi and Patrese first.
Senna, Patrese and Alesi were all in in short order, leaving Mansell seven seconds behind the lead McLaren with 30 laps to go. He was steadily closing the gap too, with the home crowd sensing that their star Senna would be denied once again. Mika Häkkinen cost the Brazilian some time as he was lapped on lap 42, although Mansell could not close the gap any further than he had done by that point, his tyres beginning to suffer.
Martini spun his Minardi into retirement on lap 47, beaching the car on the curbing on the exit of Junçao, while Comas retired from his first grand prix three laps later at Ferradura, the back of his Ligier burning furiously. Roberto Moreno nearly retired at the same moment after running into Comas' oil and understeering onto the grass. It was not long after that Mansell was out of the race too, suffering an almost identical problem to Patrese in the US, whereby his gearbox slammed the car into neutral and then into second, causing him to spin at the first corner. Mansell managed to spin-turn the car and re-start, but as he attempted to change gears to accelerate back to racing speed, the gearbox finally failed, causing him to retire.
By that stage, Senna's pace was beginning to tumble too, suffering from an as-yet undiagnosed gearbox issue, costing him fourth gear. Senna's problems eventually worsened to the point that the McLaren became stuck in sixth gear, costing him valuable time as he desperately tried to prevent his car from stalling in the turns. That put Patrese in the prime position for victory, as his Williams remained as-yet unafflicted with the gearbox issues of two weeks before. He was taking two seconds a lap out of the Brazilian as the chequered flag neared, until the gods played their hand.
Senna had already, and consistently, demonstrated his masterful control in wet conditions, and as the clouds broke over Interlagos, the gap stabilised over the final two laps. By this time, Patrese was beginning to develop gearbox problems of his own, while third-placed Berger was struggling with a sticking throttle. Gesturing to the race officials as he crossed the line to start the final lap, Senna still wanted the race to be called to a halt early, but did not get his wish. Regardless, he still had a three second advantage over Patrese as he completed the final lap, claiming his first Brazilian Grand Prix victory, a life time goal achieved for the motor racing legend.
Patrese finished a frustrated second, a potential victory lost due to the late shower, while Berger finished third, having leap-frogged Alesi in the pits earlier in the race. Prost forced his way past Piquet at the stops to take fourth from the Brazilian legend, while Alesi was the last man on the lead lap in sixth. Other highlights from the finishers was a ninth place for Hakkinen in his second Grand Prix, eleventh for Emanuele Pirro in his pre-qualified Dallara-Judd, while Bertrand Gachot was classified as a finisher once again for Jordan, despite retiring eight laps from the end.
The complete results from the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix are outlined below:
So Ayrton Senna had already built a lead larger than a race win over his nearest challenger, Alain Prost, who'd recovered to fourth after a poor start in Brazil. Riccardo Patrese was now tied on points with former Brabham team mate Nelson Piquet on six, while Gerhard Berger completed the top five. Jean Alesi and Aguri Suzuki rounded out the point scorers, as Nigel Mansell failed to score again after reliability issues,
McLaren-Honda also held the advantage in the Constructors Championship after their double podium, now fourteen points ahead of Ferrari (with sixteen available each weekend). Williams-Renault were catapulted into third after Patrese's podium, while Tyrrell-Honda dropped to fifth. Lola-Ford Cosworth, entered through Larrousse F1 completed the scorers with Suzuki's sole point.
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: BRAZILIAN GP, 1991', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 1999), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr502.html, (Accessed 01/08/2015)
- 'Classic F1 - Brazilian Grand Prix 1991', bbc.co.uk, (British Broadcasting Company, 27/07/2011), http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/9118867.stm, (Accessed 01/08/2015)
- '1991 Brazilian Grand Prix', wikipedia.org, (WikiMedia, 28/07/2015), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Brazilian_Grand_Prix, (Accessed 01/08/2015)
|V T E||Brazilian Grand Prix / São Paulo Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Interlagos (1972–1977, 1979–1980, 1990–present), Jacarepaguá (1978, 1981–1989)|
|Races (Brazilian GP)||1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • |
|Races (São Paulo GP)||2021 • 2022|
|v·d·e||Nominate this page for Featured Article|