The sixth round of the 1991 Formula One Championship was staged at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, advertised as the 1991 Mexican Grand Prix. With a high altitude circuit, bumps and the famous Peraltada corner, the Mexican Grand Prix had a cult following, providing a challenge to every F1 driver on the grid.
Italian veteran Riccardo Patrese claimed both pole and victory in Mexico for Williams-Renault after a faultless display, joined by Nigel Mansell and Championship leader Ayrton Senna on the podium. The race served to show that the Williams FW14 was superior to the McLaren MP4/6, which had previously taken Senna to four victories in the first four races.
The largest news stories to break between the Canadian and Mexican Grand Prix involved Championship leader Ayrton Senna and the Tyrrell-Honda team. First, Senna was involved in a jet-ski accident, having ten stitches in his head as a result, although he was deemed fit to drive in Mexico. While, at Tyrrell, talented designer Harvey Postlethwaite was drafted into the Mercedes Benz Sportscar Programme, meaning they lost his services for the season.
The Championship was still dominated by Senna despite his retirement in Canada, as Nelson Piquet closed the gap to 24 points, leaving the World Champion with more than two races in hand. Alain Prost was third, a point ahead of two drivers on ten points, Riccardo Patrese and Gerhard Berger, with Stefano Modena in sixth with one podium to his name. Julian Bailey and Aguri Suzuki were at the foot of the table of those that had scored points, with a point apiece.
McLaren-Honda led the Constructors Championship with a healthy 31 point lead over Benetton-Ford Cosworth in second. Williams-Renault had retained third, as Ferrari slipped to fourth, as their latest creation proved to be slow and unreliable. Tyrrell's strong start had left then in a safe fifth, with the two teams that dominated pre-qualifying, Dallara-Judd and Jordan Grand Prix, tied on five points, having qualified for every race in 1991.
The full entry list for the 1991 Mexican Grand Prix is shown below:
With 34 entrants again in 1991, pre-qualifying returned for the Mexico race again, with the best 26 cars at the end of last season automatically getting into the full session. The remaining eight would then try to set their best time in a separate session to earn four places in the full session as well. The session had often been dominated by the Jordan Grand Prix and Dallara-Judd teams, who had often filled all four spots between them.
Jordan and Dallara were, true to form, on top in the pre-quali session, with JJ Lehto and the two Jordans of Bertrand Gachot and Andrea de Cesaris making it through. Emanuele Pirro, on the other hand, stuggled to match his team mate's pace, leaving him out of qualifying, replaced by Olivier Grouillard, whom had often been at the back of the group. Joining Pirro on the side lines for the rest of the weekend were the two Lambo-Lamborghinis of Nicola Larini and Eric van de Poele, as well as Pedro Chaves in the Coloni. Larini was excluded from the entire session after an unspecified infringement.
It was a second consecutive pole position for Riccardo Patrese, who was joined, again, by team mate Nigel Mansell on the front row. Ayrton Senna lined up third, but completely wrote off his McLaren during the first session, having attempted to take the Peraltada at full throttle, where he lost the back of the car and flipped over when hitting the barrier. Jean Alesi beat team mate Alain Prost for fourth alongside Senna, with the former Champion also behind Nelson Piquet and Gerhard Berger on the grid.
One incredible story to emerge from qualifying was the performance of Grouillard in the Fondmetal, with the Frenchman (who had failed to get to qualifying in all the previous races), taking a sensational tenth place on the grid. de Cesaris, next best from pre-quali, was to be found in eleventh (half a second off Grouillard), with Lehto in sixteenth. Gachot also qualified, but suffered a Senna-esque crash at the Peraltada. Out went Érik Comas, Gabriele Tarquini, Stefan Johansson and Fabrizio Barbazza.
Full Qualifying Result
The final result for the 1991 Mexican Grand Prix is outlined below:
|6||20||Nelson Piquet||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:18.168||1:19.117||+1.472s|
|9||19||Roberto Moreno||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:18.589||1:18.375||+1.679s|
|10||14||Olivier Grouillard||Fondmetal-Ford Cosworth||1:18.453||1:29.500||+1.757s|
|11||33||Andrea de Cesaris||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:20.053||1:18.935||+2.239s|
|12||8||Mark Blundell||Brabham-Yamaha||1:19.064||No Time||+2.368s|
|18||29||Éric Bernard||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:20.442||1:19.785||+3.089s|
|19||30||Aguri Suzuki||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:21.737||1:20.049||+3.353s|
|20||32||Bertrand Gachot||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:20.050||1:20.551||+3.354s|
|21||15||Mauricio Gugelmin||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:20.200||1:20.535||+3.504s|
|22||16||Ivan Capelli||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:20.252||1:21.053||+3.556s|
|DNQ||17||Gabriele Tarquini||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:22.258||1:22.398||+5.562s|
|DNQ||18||Fabrizio Barbazza||AGS-Ford Cosworth||1:22.899||1:23.920||+6.203s|
|DNPQ||35||Eric van de Poele||Lambo-Lamborghini||1:30.655|
|DNPQ||31||Pedro Chaves||Coloni-Ford Cosworth||1:37.144|
- * Larini was excluded from the results of the entire weekend.
The grid for the 1991 Mexican Grand Prix is shown below:
|Andrea de Cesaris||12|
The rain on Saturday night drew in clouds for Sunday, although there was no threat of rain as the start time approached. Yet, there were to false starts to the race, the first caused by a marshal. Having seen the back of JJ Lehto's Dallara smoke as it came to a hault, one of the marshals on the grid sprinted to the back of the car with an extinguisher, only to find that there were no issues. Another formation lap followed, with Olivier Grouillard then switching off his engine as the second grid formed, calling an abort to that start too, after the Frenchman thought he had seen a yellow flag.
Third time was the charm, and with Grouillard at the back, and Michele Alboreto in the pitlane, the lights finally went out to signal the start of the race. It was a mirror image of Canada at the front, as Nigel Mansell beat Riccardo Patrese off the line to take the lead, with Ayrton Senna slotting into third. Or so it seemed, as Jean Alesi suddenly shot up the inside of Senna after the Brazilian had moved across to block his progress. The pair's momentum also carried them up the inside of Patrese into the first corner, with the pole sitter suddenly finding himself down in fourth after a few hundred metres.
Senna was crawling all over the back of Alesi through the first lap, using a quick run through the Peraltada at the end of the lap to line up a move into the first corner. Alain Prost, meanwhile, had dropped to ninth at the start, before Andrea de Cesaris got underneath the Ferrari through the infamous turn, putting him even further down the order. Back at the front and Senna got past Alesi on the start/finish line, diving across the front of the Ferrari as the Scilian tried to pick up a tow. A sudden dart to the inside by Senna into the braking zone prevented an immediate retaliation by the Ferrari driver, meaning Senna was second.
A lap later and the exact same move was pulled on the #28 Ferrari by Patrese, who had now got the confidence to fight his way back to the front despite the stomach cramps he was suffering from all weekend. Within half a lap, Patrese was on the back of the World Champion, and proceeded to hound the McLaren at every opportunity. Lap five then saw a dramatic engine failure for Berger in the sister McLaren, while Patrese's assault continued on the back of Senna into the first corner.
The rear facing camera on the back of Berger's car caught the engine failure, as well as an accident through the Peraltada. The Minardi-Ferrari of Pierluigi Martini lost control through the corner, possibly on the oil dumped by Berger, and ended up hitting the tyre barrier backwards after bouncing through the gravel. The Italian was unhurt, as Senna and Patrese continued to exchange blows around the Autodromo, until Patrese lined the Brazilian up again through the Peraltada, slipping past Senna into the first corner on lap six.
It took Patrese only a handful of laps to catch team mate Mansell, launching his first attack on lap 10 into the first corner, although Mansell was quick to block the move. A lap later and Alesi was through past Senna into the first corner, with the Brazilian failing to defend against the move, while Andrea de Cesaris battled past the Benetton-Ford Cosworths of Roberto Moreno and Nelson Piquet for sixth in the Jordan. Stefano Modena was running in a quiet fifth.
Mansell and Patrese's fight was getting physical, with both weaving either side of the track to gain an advantage over the other. Patrese finally found a way past, having forced his nose up the inside of Mansell through turns one, two and three on lap fourteen, Mansell finally ceeding the place. He began to fall into the clutches of Alesi, who had ditched Senna quickly, with the Brit now suffering with an overheating engine.
Alesi got alongside Mansell through the complex on that same lap, but caught the dust and dirt that had gathered there, throwing himself into a spin. He dropped behind the two Benettons, as Piquet found a way past de Cesaris unseen by the cameras, before taking Modena for fourth. Alain Prost, meanwhile, limped the #27 Ferrari into the pits to retire, an alternator failure ending his dismal day in ninth, behind Alesi despite the Sicillian's spin. De Cesaris, meanwhile, pounced on Modena into the first corner, retaking fifth place, with Moreno snatching sixth from the Tyrrell driver soon afterwards.
Martin Brundle suffered a pitstop blunder on lap 20, when a wheel came off of his Brabham-Yamaha after he left the pits, although there was minimal damage otherwise. Alesi, meanwhile, was on a charge after his spin, slowly drawing in a three way duel for third, as Senna fended off Piquet and de Cesaris. Mansell, meanwhile, had managed to overcome his engine issues and was now starting to get to grips with catching Patrese.
De Cesaris lined up and completed a move past Piquet into fourth, allowing Senna to gain a small gap as Piquet came in to change tyres a lap later. Alesi caught a passed de Cesaris over the following laps, while Mansell's pace began to waver again, allowing Senna to attack once again. Alesi and de Cesaris disappeared into the pits for new tyres, as Modena became embroiled in Mansell and Senna's fight, but the Brit was defending his position stoutly.
The pair battled for over fifteen laps, as Alesi retired on lap 42 with a clutch problem, ending Ferrari's day. Piquet was the next of the leaders to drop out of the fight, a wheel bearing failure causing his axle to warp with the heat, putting him out of the race. Mansell's heating issues finally cleared up, with the Brit setting several fastest laps in a row to cut Patrese's lead by a third in the space of a few laps. Bertrand Gachot, meanwhile, had quietly climbed to fifth place behind de Cesaris in the second Jordan, until a spin ended his day, while Mark Blundell from seventh a few laps later after his Yamaha engine let go.
Patrese allowed Mansell to draw him in, before picking up his pace enough to hold a tantalisingly small gap to hold Mansell at bay. The final five laps did not present a change in the order, and so Patrese claimed his fourth career win, with Mansell safely taking second. Senna was a lonely fourth ahead of de Cesaris, whose car ground to a halt just metres from the line, leading the Italian to push his car to the finish. Moreno and Éric Bernard completed the points, the Lola-Ford Cosworth picking up its second points finish in 1991.
The final results for the 1991 Mexican Grand Prix are shown below:
- * de Cesaris was originally disqualified from the result for pushing his car, before the officials had deemed the race to be over when he did so.
- † Larini excluded from all results that weekend.
Riccardo Patrese's victory saw him leap into second from fourth, but Ayrton Senna still held a 24 point lead over the field. Nelson Piquet was third with rival Nigel Mansell now in fourth, pushing Alain Prost down to fifth. Gerhard Berger was the only other driver in double points, with Andrea de Cesaris leaping into the top ten after his second consecutive fourth place.
McLaren-Honda also retained their lead in the Constructors Championship with 21 points in hand over Williams-Renault, who threw into doubt the claim that the McLaren MP4/6 was the best car of 1991. Benetton-Ford Cosworth established their position in third, ahead of the struggling Ferrari team, while Tyrrell-Honda left Central America in fifth. Jordan-Ford Cosworth were now sixth in their debut season, seemingly in a straight fight with Dallara-Judd.
Videos and Images:
- '1991 F1 Grand Prix Mexico (FULL RACE) Part 1', youtube.com (YouTube, 05/03/2008),https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUC2rsivakE, (Accessed 05/08/2015)
- 'Classic F1 - Mexican Grand Prix 1991', bbc.co.uk, (British Broadcasting Company, 09/11/2010),http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/9119018.stm, (Accessed 05/08/2015)
- F1-history, 'Andrea de Cesaris (Mexico 1991)', deviantart.com, (Deviantart, 26/09/2012), http://f1-history.deviantart.com/art/Andrea-de-Cesaris-Mexico-1991-329314223, (Accessed 05/08/2015)
- 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: MEXICAN GP, 1991', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 1999), http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/rr506.html, (Accessed 04/08/2015)
- F1gameshowsradio4, 'Formula 1 1991 Mexican Grand Prix Highlights', youtube.com, (YouTube, 26/09/2012), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TwfrcPoOOw, (Accessed 04/08/2015)
- '1991 Mexican Grand Prix', wikipedia.org, (WikiMedia, 03/08/2015), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Mexican_Grand_Prix, (Accessed 04/08/2015)
|V T E||Mexican Grand Prix / Mexico City Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez (1963-1970, 1986-1992, 2015-present)|
|Races (Mexican GP)||1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971–1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993–2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019|
|Races (Mexico City GP)|
|v·d·e||Nominate this page for Featured Article|