The 1991 German Grand Prix served as the start of the second half of the 1991 Formula One Championship, held at the Hockenheimring in Germay. Otherwise known as the LIII Großer Mobil 1 Preis von Deutschland, the German Grand Prix of 1991 saw one German driver enter the race, Michael Bartels, who was hoping to make his debut in the Championship.
The race itself saw Nigel Mansell take a hatrick of wins in 1991 after he claimed victory ahead of team mate Riccardo Patrese. Jean Alesi claimed third ahead of Gerhard Berger, after Ayrton Senna retired on the final lap for the second successive race after running out of fuel.
A few changes were to be seen during the post-Britain break, as Alex Caffi returned to Footwork having recovered from his injuries sustained earlier in the year. Andrea de Cesaris passed a fitness test to race at Hockenheim, as did Ayrton Senna who had crashed heavily during a private test for McLaren a week before the race. One new face on the grid was a German, Michael Bartels, who finally joined up with Lotus-Judd having completed his International Formula 3000 commitments for the time being.
The German Grand Prix would also be a significant race for Jordan Grand Prix, as they were confirmed as gaining automatic entry into qualifying, just eight races into their Formula One debut. Dallara-Judd, and, surprisingly, Lambo-Lamborghini were also granted automatic entry, as a big name from the past replaced them. Brabham-Yamaha, having a poor season by their standards, would have to pre-qualify until the end of the season, joined by fellow strugglers AGS and Footwork.
The Championship battle, meanwhile, had begun to look like a fight, as Nigel Mansell continued to close the gap to Senna, now trailing by eighteen points. Riccardo Patrese was seemingly in a battle for third with Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger and Nelson Piquet, with their quartet split by six points after the halfway stage of the season. Jean Alesi was putting on a charge to join them, while de Cesaris could be found in the top ten for Jordan.
McLaren-Honda were also being drawn in by their nearest rival, as Williams-Renault closed the gap to twelve points in the UK, and had momentum behind them. Ferrari were alone in third, Alesi's form aiding them to gap Benetton, who were a solid fourth. Tyrrell-Honda were in fifth, but were now in a full on fight with newbies Jordan, who were just one point behind, ahead of their now former pre-quali partners Dallara-Judd.
The full entry list for the 1991 German Grand Prix is shown below:
Pre-qualifying was formed in 1991 as a safety measure by the FIA, who deemed that there could only be 30 cars on the circuit at any one time. With 34 entries, the top 26 cars from the most recent half-season were granted an automatic place in qualifying, leaving the worst eight to fight for four further places. So far, none of those who pre-qualified have failed to qualify for the race, although with the two teams that had dominated the session promoted, this trend may well have come to its end.
Much like Jordan and Dallara, Brabham ensured that they would get both cars through to qualifying, as Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell made it through. Brundle topped the group, while Blundell was beaten by Gabriele Tarquini and Michele Alboreto, who ensured that AGS and Footwork were still in with a chance of starting. The two familiar casualties from pre-qualifying, Olivier Grouillard and Pedro Chaves were joined by Fabrizio Barbazza and Alex Caffi on his return to the action.
Nigel Mansell completed an impressive pole lap on Saturday to take a fifth straight pole for Williams-Renault, as Ayrton Senna completed a lap good enough for second. Their team mates were to line up on row two, with Gerhard Berger ahead of Riccardo Patrese, as the two Ferraris were made to share the third row once again. Andrea de Cesaris took a season best seventh in his Jordan, enforcing their place as automatic entries, with the second car to be found in eleventh.
The two Brabhams did well to make it through to the race, Brundle in fifteenth and Blundell in 21st, behind both Dallara-Judd cars. But the perfect record for the pre-qualfiers was over, as Alboreto and Tarquini both failed to qualify, joined by the Lambo-Lamborghini of Eric van de Poele (his team mate Nicola Larini sneaking through in 24th). Also out was the debutant Michael Bartels, who could not match fellow youngster, and team mate, Mika Häkkinen.
Full Qualifying Result
The final result for the 1991 German Grand Prix is outlined below:
|7||33||Andrea de Cesaris||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:40.387||1:40.239||+3.152s|
|8||20||Nelson Piquet||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:40.560||1:40.878||+3.473s|
|9||19||Roberto Moreno||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:41.968||1:40.957||+3.870s|
|11||32||Bertrand Gachot||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:41.443||1:41.308||+4.221s|
|12||16||Ivan Capelli||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:42.025||1:41.330||+4.243s|
|16||15||Mauricio Gugelmin||Leyton House-Ilmor||No Time||1:41.735||+4.648s|
|22||30||Aguri Suzuki||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:45.037||1:42.474||+5.387s|
|25||29||Éric Bernard||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:43.797||1:43.321||+6.234s|
|DNQ||9||Michele Alboreto||Footwork-Ford Cosworth||1:44.362||1:43.409||+6.322s|
|DNQ||17||Gabriele Tarquini||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:43.787||1:43.918||+6.700s|
|DNQ||35||Eric van de Poele||Lambo-Lamborghini||1:44.489||1:44.207||+7.120s|
|DNPQ||14||Olivier Grouillard||Fondmetal-Ford Cosworth||1:44.645|
|DNPQ||10||Alex Caffi||Footwork-Ford Cosworth||1:45.282|
|DNPQ||18||Fabrizio Barbazza||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:46.604|
|DNPQ||31||Pedro Chaves||Coloni-Ford Cosworth||1:47.546|
The starting grid for the 1991 German Grand Prix is shown below:
|Andrea de Cesaris||8|
With Hockenheim bathed in sunshine, a hot and dry race was set to unfold on Sunday, with Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna set to do battle once again. Senna had already been fighting his corner in the Driver's briefing in the morning before the race, arguing that the tyre barriers that usually lined the chicanes be replaced with cones to prevent cars rolling over. FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre immediately baulked at the idea, before being persuaded to have a vote on the issue, in which the barriers were ultimately replaced.
Mansell lit up the rear wheels off the line to slide across the front of Senna and into the lead of the 1991 German Grand Prix, as Gerhard Berger snatched second away from his team mate, who made a relatively poor getaway. Riccardo Patrese once again went backwards, swallowed up by the two Ferraris, while contact further down involved three cars. Nicola Larini went out after hitting the spinning Mark Blundell, who had been punted by Érik Comas in the Ligier JS35.
Further round the lap, and the compression of the field into the first chicane, leading the two Lolas to take avoiding action from each other, although the rest of the lap passed without incident. A tame race emerged afterwards, with Patrese finding his way past Jean Alesi in the opening stages, while Mansell and Berger pulled away. Senna was left to defend from Alain Prost in the first of the Ferraris, with Patrese looking to take advantage of any mistakes ahead.
Berger was being drawn in by Senna and co. over the next few laps, with the Austrian darting in for a new set of tyres on lap 14. He caught his team unawares, however, and so his pitstop took twice as long as it should have, as the team still needed to bring the tyres out. Three laps later and McLaren found themselves in the battle with Ferrari in the pit garages, as Senna and Prost dived into the pitlane for tyres. McLaren won the battle, and gained Senna a few valuable tenths in their duel.
Mansell was in a lap later, although his lead was enough that he could afford the minor slip that Williams made during his stop. Patrese and Alesi flashed into the lead while Mansell was in the pits, but Patrese pitted a lap later emerging in the wake of Prost and Senna. With fresh rubber, Patrese drafted the pair down the long run to the first chicane, before using his superior speed to force his way right around the outside of Prost to snatch fourth.
Patrese was then in third by the end of the lap, having taken Senna into the Stadium section of the lap, setting off after Alesi, who Mansell had already taken. Alesi had opted to stay out for as long as possible, and was soon losing time to Patrese's charge, weaving in front of the Williams to defend. After a few laps working out Alesi's weaknesses, Patrese used his Renault engine to its full potential to get up the inside of the Ferrari into the first chicane, taking second on lap 36.
The next action was between two of Formula One's greatest rivals, as Senna had to defend from a fresh barrage by Prost on lap 37. The Brazilian held the inside line into the first chicane as Prost pulled alongside Senna as the pair came towards the braking zone. Senna then squeezed Prost onto the white line, causing the Ferrari driver to lock up his brakes and slide into the run off. Prost then had to wait for a marshal to wave him back onto the circuit, costing him valuable time and places, until the Ferrari stalled, putting Prost out of the race.
That put Andrea de Cesaris into sixth, with Bertrand Gachot trailing him in seventh, as the latter came under threat of being lapped by Mansell. Yet, the final piece of drama emerged for Senna, who ground to a halt on the final lap for the second time in two races, again out of fuel. That promoted Gachot into the final point position, as Mansell claimed a third victory in a row with another peaceful day in the lead.
Patrese's push ended with the Italian thirteen seconds behind, with Alesi managing to hold on to his tyres long enough to take third. Berger was fourth, 30 seconds back to keep McLaren scoring, but Williams' one-two handed them the lead of the Championship by one point. Gachot and de Cesaris completed the points for Jordan, as they continued to impress in their début season.
The final results for the 1991 German Grand Prix are shown below:
- * Senna was still classified for completing 90% of the race distance.
- First entry for Michael Bartels at a Grand Prix.
- First German Grand Prix to be held in a unified Germany.
For the first time all season, Ayrton Senna left a race win out a race win advantage over the rest of the field, as Nigel Mansell closed to within eight points of the Brazilian. Riccardo Patrese and Alain Prost held station in third and fourth, while Gerhard Berger climbed into the top five. Also on the move were Jean Alesi and Bertrand Gachot who climbed one place each in the table.
McLaren-Honda lost their lead in the Constructors' Championship for the first time all year, as Williams-Renault established a one point lead through Mansell and Patrese. Ferrari were left in third, with Benetton and equally lonely fourth. The shock of the season also began to emerge in fifth, as Jordan climbed into the top five for the first time in their short history, overtaking Tyrrell-Honda.
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: GERMAN GP, 1991', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 1999), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr509.html, (Accessed 09/08/2015)
- '1991 British Grand Prix', wikipedia.org, (WikiMedia, 03/08/2015), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_British_Grand_Prix, (Accessed 07/08/2015)
- 'Classic F1 - German Grand Prix 1991', bbc.co.uk, (British Broadcasting Company, 07/07/2009), http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8109544.stm, (Accessed 09/08/2015)
|V T E||German Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Nürburgring (1951–1954, 1956–1958, 1960–1969, 1971–1976, 1985, 2008–2013*), AVUS (1959), Hockenheimring (1970, 1977–1984, 1986–2006, 2008–2014*, 2016, 2018–2019)|
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|* Nürburgring and Hockenheimring alternated between each other during these years.|
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