The 1991 Hungarian Grand Prix served as the tenth round of the 1991 Formula One Championship, held at the Hungaroring, near the Hungarian capital of Budapest. The paddock was stunned when Bertrand Gachot pushed his Jordan 191 around the circuit to set the fastest lap of the race with a time just a second off of his qualifying time.
The race win went to Championship leader Ayrton Senna, who began a counter charge against the Williams duo of Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese. Those two claimed second and third in the race, ahead of Gerhard Berger, Jean Alesi and Ivan Capelli, as Alain Prost retired from yet another race in 1991.
Johnny Herbert was absent racing in Japan at Formula 3000 level, leaving Michael Bartels to continue in his Team Lotus seat. FISA, meanwhile, had completed an investigation into the incident between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in Germany that had caused the Frenchman's retirement. In their opinion, it had been a racing incident, and Prost and Senna should work out their differences rather than waste time in the sporting courts; indeed, FISA had ordered a sit-down meeting between the two men in order to avoid another repeat of incidents like those that had taken place at the 1989 and 1990 Japanese Grand Prixes.
McLaren and partners Honda, meanwhile, had been busy developing several features over the summer to appease Senna, who was left increasingly frustrated by running out of fuel twice in the previous two races. Their semi-automatic gearbox was their more significant achievement, but was not race ready in time for the Hungarian race. The team would also wear black armbands throughout the weekend after the sudden death of Honda founder Soichiro Honda in the week before the race.
The Championship lead was still in Senna's hands after Germany, although Nigel Mansell had worked hard, and benefitted from Senna retiring at the previous two races, to close the gap to eight points. Riccardo Patrese was in third, proving that the FW14 was the strongest car on the grid, with Alain Prost left to battle Gerhard Berger for fourth. Nelson Piquet could also be considered part of that battle, although he had been struggling to score since his victory in the Canadian Grand Prix.
Williams-Renault had snatched the lead from McLaren-Honda in Germany, becoming the only other team to lead the Championship in 1991. Ferrari were left in a distant third, having created two uncompetitive cars in 1991, while Benetton were trying to catch them in fourth. Jordan, meanwhile, were in the top five after the German Grand Prix, having overtaken Tyrrell-Honda having had a double point score at the Hockenheimring.
The full entry list for the 1991 Hungarian Grand Prix is shown below:
34 entrants in Hungary meant pre-qualifying returned once again for Formula One, with eight drivers made to fight for four places in qualifying. Designed to prevent more than 30 cars on the circuit at any one time, pre-qualifying was also intended to remove the four slowest cars on the entry list, meaning races would be that much closer. Brabham had eased through the session in Germany after being demoted to participate in the session, and were favourites to do so again.
Indeed, it was the Brabham duo that dominated pre-qualifying, with Mark Blundell putting together a good lap to beat team mate Martin Brundle by over a second. An impressive display by Olivier Grouillard allowed the Frenchman to take the third quali-spot for Fondmetal, with veteran Michele Alboreto setting the fourth fastest time. Out before the weekend had even begun were Alboreto's team mate Alex Caffi, the two AGS drivers Gabriele Tarquini and Fabrizio Barbazza and Pedro Chaves.
Much like pre-qualifying, there was one all conquering performance in the full session, as Ayrton Senna completed a stunning lap on Saturday to take pole by over a second. Riccardo Patrese and Nigel Mansell were to be found in second and third, after their running on Friday had been harmed by numerous issues. Alain Prost beat Gerhard Berger to fourth, with Jean Alesi in sixth, ahead of Emanuele Pirro, who took the best starting position for the Dallara-Judd combination in 1991.
Despite being flattened by his team mate in pre-qualifying, Brundle cracked the top ten in the full session, going a second quicker than Blundell, who would start twentieth. Out went their two colleagues from the earlier session, Grouillard and Alboreto, joined by Eric van de Poele and Michael Bartels in his pay-to-play Lotus-Judd.
Full Qualifying Result
The final result for the 1991 Hungarian Grand Prix is outlined below:
|9||16||Ivan Capelli||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:21.068||1:19.794||+3.647s|
|11||20||Nelson Piquet||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:21.542||1:19.984||+3.837s|
|13||15||Mauricio Gugelmin||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:21.549||1:20.024||+3.877s|
|15||19||Roberto Moreno||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:22.077||1:20.584||+4.437s|
|16||32||Bertrand Gachot||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:21.884||1:20.655||+4.508s|
|17||33||Andrea de Cesaris||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:22.143||1:20.805||+4.658s|
|21||29||Éric Bernard||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:22.680||1:21.267||+5.120s|
|22||30||Aguri Suzuki||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:22.762||1:21.601||+5.454s|
|DNQ||14||Olivier Grouillard||Fondmetal-Ford Cosworth||1:23.593||1:22.438||+6.291s|
|DNQ||9||Michele Alboreto||Footwork-Ford Cosworth||1:24.593||1:22.521||+6.374s|
|DNQ||35||Eric van de Poele||Lambo-Lamborghini||1:27.339||1:23.162||+7.015s|
|DNPQ||17||Gabriele Tarquini||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:25.230|
|DNPQ||10||Alex Caffi||Footwork-Ford Cosworth||1:26.637|
|DNPQ||18||Fabrizio Barbazza||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:26.740|
|DNPQ||31||Pedro Chaves||Coloni-Ford Cosworth||1:26.945|
The starting grid for the 1991 Hungarian Grand Prix is displayed below:
|18||Andrea de Cesaris|
With no incidents to report during the warm up, and no threat of rain, the field prepared for a battle for the World Championship as Ayrton Senna prepared to fend off the two Williams-Renaults. With 77 laps scheduled on Sunday, and a tight first sector, many people were expecting an accident such as the one that caused Nicola Larini to retire in Hockenheim at the start. All would be revealed when the lights went out at 14:00 local time.
It was grid order off the line, although Senna had to dive late on the brakes to prevent Riccardo Patrese from snatching the lead into the first corner. Mansell held onto third by holding more speed through the first corner to fend off Prost, as the field all managed to get through the first sector unscathed. Mansell proceeded the attack Patrese over the course of the first lap, but was unable to get past, a factor that was soon to affect the whole field.
Indeed the opening third of the race passed without incident, with a tame race emerging throughout the field, with attrition joining action in a noticeable absence. That was, until Prost limped into the pits to retire on lap 28 with an engine failure, opening the floodgates for the retirements. Moments later, and Mansell was attacking Patrese around the lap, with the Italian opening the door for the Brit into the first corner, releasing Mansell to battle Senna. There was also a small trickle of cars coming in to change tyres, although none of the leaders opted to do so.
Senna continued his lead unabated, however, as Mansell gained little over the following laps. Further back, and four cars retired within a lap of each other, Emanuele Pirro, Nelson Piquet, Aguri Suzuki and Éric Bernard all ground to a halt with mechanical issues on lap 38. Andrea de Cesaris found himself in a battle for sixth with Roberto Moreno and team mate Bertrand Gachot, although they were under threat from Ivan Capelli who was on a charge on his fresh tyres.
Capelli was able to catch the trio in the final stages, completing something that had been impossible to do all day, overtaking. A quick flurry of activity saw him jump into the points, although de Cesaris tried to get back at him. Senna and Mansell, meanwhile, were trading fastest lap times, but the Brit could not close the gap, leaving Senna to take the win by five seconds. Patrese claimed third ahead of Gerhard Berger, while Jean Alesi was the first of those whom had stopped for tyres, ending the day in fifth ahead of Capelli.
The final results for the 1991 Hungarian Grand Prix are shown below:
- * Boutsen was still classified despite retiring as he had completed 90% of the race distance.
Ayrton Senna restored his one race advantage that he had held over the rest of the field for all but two races with victory in Hungary, as Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese became the only realistic challengers to the Brazilian. Gerhard Berger climbed above Alain Prost who was struggling with an unreliable Ferrari and numerous errors. Ivan Capelli added his name to the point scorers list, having claimed his first points since his podium at the 1990 French Grand Prix.
McLaren-Honda were to be denied the lead in the Constructor's Championship for only one race, as they established a two point advantage over Williams-Renault in their private duel. Ferrari continued to pull away from Benetton in their battle for third, while Jordan remained in the top five despite their scoring run coming to an end. Leyton House-Ilmor were also on the board for the first time all season, courtesy of Capelli.
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