The 1991 Canadian Grand Prix, held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada, was the fifth round of the 1991 Formula One Championship. Held a little under a month after the Monaco Grand Prix, the Canadian Grand Prix served as the Championship's second visit to North America in 1991.
Ayrton Senna was denied both pole and victory for the first time all season in Canada, as Riccardo Patrese took pole and Nelson Piquet stole victory. Patrese's team mate, Nigel Mansell looked set to win having led every lap, until a late gearbox issue caused him to retire on the final lap, handing victory to Piquet. Stefano Modena beat Patrese to second while Senna retired before the halfway mark in his McLaren-Honda, while the new Jordan Grand Prix team collected their first points in Formula One.
A wave of changes affected the field in the break between Monaco and Canada, with a seizmic shift at Ferrari, where driver power was demonstrated to its fullest. Alain Prost and Sporting Director Cesare Fiorio had fallen out publicly in Monaco, prompting the Ferrari executives to take quick action to calm the situation for fear of losing their star man. Fiorio was dropped and replaced by Piero Lardi Ferrari, with the team quick to end any further speculation.
Benetton were in a patch of strife too, as Flavio Briatore and Technical Director John Bernard finally made their disagreements public, although Bernard was the one to lose out. He was expelled from the team, with Gordon Kimball filling his recently vacated shoes in short order. Elsewhere, minor techincal refinements were being made to the cars, while Footwork built their fourth new A12 to replace Alex Caffi's demolished challenger.
But, Caffi was not on the entry list for the Canadian Grand Prix, suffering from a broken jaw in a road accident after his huge accident in Monaco. Swede Stefan Johansson was drafted into the team, a little over a month after he was dropped by AGS, with Michele Alboreto seemingly happy with the new car. Team Lotus, meanwhile, saw Julian Bailey call time on his short and largely unsuccessful F1 career, with Johnny Herbert joining rising star Mika Häkkinen in the team, having previously raced for them at the end of the 1990 Championship.
1991 had so far proved to be about a single man, Ayrton Senna, who had taken pole and victory in every race so far, a run that meant he led the title fight by 29 points from bitter rival Prost. Senna's team mate Gerhard Berger sat in third, ahead of the two Williams-Renault drivers, Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese. They were joined by Nelson Piquet, a third racer on six points, with Jean Alesi in seventh on five.
It was all about Senna's team in the Constructors' Championship too, as McLaren-Honda already held a tally of 50 points, 34 in front of Ferrari. Williams found themselves in third, four behind their Italian rivals, with Benetton fending off Tyrrell and the impressive start that Dallara-Judd had made to the season. Lola-Ford Cosworth sat in ninth with a solitary point, as several big teams from the past had failed to score at all, most notably Brabham.
The full entry list for the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix is shown below:
Pre-qualifying had been introduced in 1991 with a specific set of rules for the first time in Formula One history, and it would be seen again in Canada. With four qualifying places up for grabs for the worst eight entries from the last half of the previous season, the morning session on Saturday had so far been dominated by Dallara-Judd and the new Jordan Grand Prix team, a run which was likely to continue in Canada.
And so it proved, as the familiar quartet of Emanuele Pirro, JJ Lehto (Dallara), Andrea de Cesaris and Bertrand Gachot made it through to the full qualifying session. With half a second seperating them, their battle in the full session (in which they had all been competitive) was set to excite, with none of the pre-qualifiers yet to fail to qualify for the race. Out went Olivier Grouillard, Nicola Larini, Eric van de Poele and Pedro Chaves, none of whom could get close to the time set by Gachot to take the final place.
For the first time since the 1990 Portuguese Grand Prix, Ayrton Senna was not on pole, or even on the first row, as the Williams-Renault duo of Riccardo Patrese and Nigel Mansell secured a lock out for the first time. Senna was left to take third, lining up alongside Alain Prost in a Ferrari that looked to be struggling, with Roberto Moreno sneaking his Benetton-Ford Cosworth ahead of Gerhard Berger. Jean Alesi and Nelson Piquet were next up, with Stefano Modena's Tyrrell-Honda just ahead of the pre-qualifiers in ninth.
Pirro had emerged at the head of the pre-quali battle in their session, and now beat de Cesaris to tenth in the full session, the latter lining up eleventh. Gachot found himself in fourteenth place, while Lehto was seventeenth, as the quartet once again proved that they deserved to be running in the full session permanently. Out of qualifying were the Italians Fabrizio Barbazza and Gabriele Tarquini, as well as two Brits, Mark Blundell and the latest #12 Lotus-Judd racer, Herbert.
Full Qualifying Result
The final result for the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix is outlined below:
|5||19||Roberto Moreno||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:35.897||1:20.686||+0.849s|
|8||20||Nelson Piquet||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:37.354||1:21.241||+1.404s|
|11||33||Andrea de Cesaris||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:37.097||1:22.154||+2.317s|
|13||16||Ivan Capelli||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:40.906||1:22.443||+2.606s|
|14||32||Bertrand Gachot||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:38.383||1:22.596||+2.759s|
|19||29||Éric Bernard||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:38.013||1:23.260||+3.423s|
|22||30||Aguri Suzuki||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:39.696||1:23.585||+3.748s|
|23||15||Mauricio Gugelmin||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:38.689||1:23.650||+3.813s|
|DNQ||18||Fabrizio Barbazza||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:40.555||1:24.491||+4.654s|
|DNQ||17||Gabriele Tarquini||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:41.946||1:24.653||+4.816s|
|DNPQ||14||Olivier Grouillard||Fondmetal-Ford Cosworth||1:24.795|
|DNPQ||35||Eric van de Poele||Lambo-Lamborghini||1:26.900|
|DNPQ||31||Pedro Chaves||Coloni-Ford Cosworth||1:34.475|
The full starting grid for the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix is outlined below:
|Andrea de Cesaris||12|
A warm afternoon in North America greeted the field on Sunday, as the air temperature hit 25°C as the grid formed. The question on everyone's lips was whether Ayrton Senna could force his way through to the front of the field, or would the Williams of Riccardo Patrese continue the Brazilian's trend and win from pole.
Nigel Mansell hooked up his start perfectly to pull alongside Patrese into the first corner, with the Brit snatching the lead on the inside. Senna remained in third after a clean start, fending off a challenge from Alain Prost around the outside of turn one, with Jean Alesi battling Roberto Moreno for fifth early on. The order remained stable during the first lap, until Gerhard Berger fell back from the leaders with a slowly emerging gearbox issue.
Alesi sneaked past Moreno as Berger fell away, while Nelson Piquet began an assault on the back of his team mate, putting Moreno down a further place on lap three. A dive down the inside of turn one was successful for the ageing Brazilian, as Aguri Suzuki lost his engine spectacularly a few moments later, a fire engulfing the car seconds after he exited it. Mansell and Patrese, meanwhile, began to pull a gap to Senna in third, who was now being stalked by the two Ferrari's, with Piquet also in close attendance.
A spin by Moreno revealed that he was out with a suspension failure on lap ten, promoting both Jordan's into the top ten of the field, with Andrea de Cesaris and Bertrand Gachot sandwiching Stefano Modena. Then, at the front, Prost fell behind Alesi and Piquet, unseen by the cameras, with the Frenchman working hard to get back at his two rivals. Back with the Jordans and Gachot, who had found a way past his team mate (with both losing out to Modena), lost the back end of his car out of the final chicane, spinning in front of de Cesaris and JJ Lehto in the Dallara. All three emerged unscathed.
The next drama was on lap 25, as Senna retired with an alternator issue, with his coast back to the pits causing Alesi to fall into the clutches of Piquet and the recovering Prost. The trio suddenly found themselves in a duel for third into turns nine and ten, with the Brazilian seizing the initiative, and the inside line to take third. The Williams, meanwhile, were formation flying at the front, with no mechanical issues to report as the race passed the halfway mark.
Prost suddenly crawled to a stop with a gearbox issue while battling Alesi, with the latter out on lap 34 with an engine failure, promoting de Cesaris and Gachot into the points. The Williams, meanwhile, were finally hit by problems, as Patrese suffered a puncture and lost his 32 second advantage to Piquet as a result, emerging in sixth. The next few laps saw Patrese fight through the field, taking Lehto on lap 46 to secure fourth, and a hunt for a podium, again.
Stefano Modena pitted to surrender third to Patrese a few laps later, before the cameras caught Gachot pull a good move on Pierluigi Martini for seventh, having lost ground through a stop. Patrese, meanwhile, unlapped himself from Mansell as the Brit began to cruise to flag, having already established a 52 second lead. Lehto dropped out in the closing stages with an engine issue, as casualties made the race a battle against attrition in the final moments.
Onto the final lap and Mansell was waving to the crowd, having produced a faultless performance to take an easy victory. But, while cruising around the back of the circuit, the Brit let the revs drop too much, causing his car to stall, and with no hydraulic pressure, he was out. A delighted Piquet flashed past his fallen foe to seal an unlikely victory for Benetton, as Modena crossed the line in second, ahead of the barnstorming Patrese in third, whose sudden loss of pace cost him second in the final laps.
But attention was also being paid to a jubilant Irishman, as Eddie Jordan saw de Cesaris and Gachot cross the line in fourth and fifth, securing five points for his new team. They were followed, on track, by Martini in the Minardi, but the Italian failed to overtake Mansell before he crossed the line, meaning the Brit took a single point despite failing to complete the final lap.
The final results for the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix are shown below:
- Last win for Nelson Piquet.
- Last podium for Stefano Modena.
- First points for Jordan Grand Prix.
- First time a driver (Nigel Mansell) had failed to win a Grand Prix they had led every lap of.
Ayrton Senna's lead remained largely unscathed by the result despite his retirement, as Nelson Piquet leapt into second. Nelson Piquet was now his closest challenger, still 24 points behind, as another pointless weekend for Alain Prost meant he fell to third. Riccardo Patrese remained in fourth and Gerhard Berger dropped to fifth, with Stefano Modena's podium shooting him into sixth.
McLaren-Honda now led Benetton-Ford Cosworth by 31 points having failed to score, but it was still a healthy lead. Williams-Renault retained third as Ferrari tumbled to fourth from second. Tyrrell-Honda were enjoying their season in fifth, while the two teams that consistently had to Pre-Qualify, Dallara-Judd and Jordan-Ford Cosworth were tied on five, ahead of the majority of the other Constructors in the Championship.
Videos and Images:
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: CANADIAN GP, 1991', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 1999), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr505.html, (Accessed 03/08/2015)
- '1991 Canadian Grand Prix', wikipedia.org, (WikiMedia, 03/08/2015), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Canadian_Grand_Prix, (Accessed 01/08/2015)
- 'Classic F1 - Mansell gifts win to Piquet at 1991 Canadian GP', bbc.co.uk, (British Broadcasting Company, 08/06/2010), http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8728461.stm, (Accessed 03/08/2015)
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