The 1992 Canadian Grand Prix was the seventh round of the 1992 Formula One season, held at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on 14 June 1992. The 69-lap race was won by McLaren driver Gerhard Berger after he started from fourth position. Michael Schumacher finished second for the Benetton team and Ferrari driver Jean Alesi came in third.
After a five round domination by Nigel Mansell and Williams-Renault, Ayrton Senna and McLaren-Honda were able to issue a response, capitalising on a tyre failure costing Mansell victory in Monaco, and thus allowing Senna to take his fifth win at the principality. Nonetheless, even Senna had to admit that he had only taken victory due to Mansell's puncture, the Williams remaining the dominant car in the field.
After a career of repeated bad luck, Mansell was finally having a season where everything was working to his advantage. However, being robbed of his first Monaco win was a reminder he was not going to have it all his way in 1992. In fact, whilst the Mansell and Williams pairing seemed dominant, the first cracks in their relationship had began to show. Whilst early in the season, Mansell had expressed a willingness to commit to Williams for multiple seasons; further complications in the contract negotiations were bringing that idea into question. After a claim made by BBC commentator and former world champion, James Hunt that Mansell had signed for another two seasons at Williams, Mansell angrily retorted that nothing had been decided and he was still in negotiations. Mansell knew that if he was to partner either Alain Prost or Ayrton Senna in the Williams the following season, he would need to ensure the deal would be to his advantage.
Ayrton Senna was carefully observing the potential for the Williams drive; however, his win in Monaco had help to restore faith in the McLaren-Honda partnership. The more powerful Honda engine had allowed for a small speed advantage for Senna and McLaren, allowing them to remain in contention for the win once the Williams dropped back. Whilst McLaren did not have the technological sophistication and refinement as the Williams FW14B, it maintained an advantage in the power of the engine, with Honda still outpacing the Renault. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, host of the Canadian Grand Prix, would provide another opportunity for the McLaren-Honda combination to perform. The long straights of the circuit allowed for a power advantage for Honda, combined with the renowned overtaking difficulty of the circuit; Ayrton Senna and McLaren would not have a better chance to defeat the Williams.
Being invited as guests to the McLaren motorhome for the weekend were Mario Andretti, the 1978 world champion and his son, Michael. The now 52-year-old Mario remained active in motorsport in the IndyCar Series; however, a return to Formula One was now beyond him. However, his son, Michael, who had won the 1991 IndyCar championship and had previously been linked to a move to Formula One for several years, was looking likely to sign for McLaren for 1993. Whether he would be taking the place of Senna, who remained interested in the Williams drive, or his good friend Gerhard Berger would yet to be seen.
The full entry list for the 1992 Canadian Grand Prix is outlined below:
The dominant run of the Williams-Renault combination in taking pole positions had finally come to a close. McLaren were back in contention, as Senna took pole position once again. In the post-qualifying press conference, Mansell expressed concern that the Honda engine was now faster than his own Renault power. In response, Senna merely stated that Honda were making vast improvements and that he would personally tell Mansell when they would be faster.
|______________||Andrea de Cesaris|
During the warm-up, the Benetton's of both Schumacher and Brundle were exceptionally fast. Brundle had consistently led the time sheets until Mansell pipped the fastest time by a hundredth of a second in the closing moments of the session. Tom Walkinshaw, Benetton's Engineering Director, revealed to Eurosport's John Watson that the team were left feeling quietly confident heading into the race. Brundle had earlier stated, "If only we could get this car further up the grid, we would be in a position to win a race."
As Senna led the cars away on the formation lap, Modena's Jordan stalled on the grid; his horrid season would continue. Once his engine was restarted, he would be forced to start from the back of the grid. He would once again have an unremarkable race before retiring.
Mansell got a flying start from third position; however, Senna kept the inside line heading into the first corner, forcing Mansell, who had made his way past Patrese, to remain in second position. After only half a lap, Tarquini's Fondmetal had succumbed to gearbox issues, forcing him out of the race.
Berger maintained fourth ahead of Schumacher, Herbert and Brundle; however, on the second lap, heading into the hairpin, Brundle made his move past Herbert's Lotus. The two Lotus cars remained in contention, with Herbert now holding seventh ahead of teammate Häkkinen, who had made it past the two Ferrari's at the start. Alesi's Ferrari ran ninth, whilst Capelli had fallen behind Wendlinger's March.
After a promising qualifying for Venturi-Larrousse, Gachot had managed to climb to thirteenth right behind teammate Katayama. However, a promising opportunity for Gachot was lost when he collided with the back of his teammate on the third lap heading into the hairpin. Katayama continued whilst Gachot was forced to make a pit-stop for a new nosecone. Gachot would soon thereafter have another incident at the hairpin, another failed manoeuvere. This time, Grouillard's Tyrrell left him swiping the barriers. He frustratingly gestured to the marshalls to move his car; although the marshalls would help him out of his position, he would later receive the black flag for receiving outside assistance.
At the front, Senna was employing similar tactics to as he had done in Brazil, running at a comfortably slow pace as he backed the top eight into one another. Interestingly, Häkkinen in eighth place had set the fastest lap of the race in the opening stages of the race. Patrese's Williams would quickly take the new fastest lap time; the two Williams cars loomed behind Senna, who was cautiously managing the lead.
Berger managed to make a move past Patrese at the start of the twelfth lap; at the end of the same lap, Mansell made his move on Senna at the final corner. Attempting to outbrake Senna into the corner, Mansell lost control of the car and flew through the gravel trap before bouncing back onto the circuit in front of the pit wall. Senna was lucky to avoid the out of control Williams as it spun back onto track, as were the other six cars behind him. Mansell's mistake had meant he would retire for the first time this season. There was slight concern for Mansell as he failed to exit his car; however, when Senna came round to complete the next lap, Mansell shot out of his car, angrily gesticulating at his rival. Clearly unhurt, Mansell freely moved from his car, moving to the McLaren pit wall to vent his frustrations to Ron Dennis, in what his view was unfair driving from Senna. Thereafter, Mansell stormed from the circuit without much further word.
Unnoticed due to the drama with Mansell, Gugelmin had also quietly retired his March with transmission troubles. A few laps later, Capelli's Ferrari, running in tenth place, slammed into the concrete wall at the exit of turn four, a frightening accident in which the force of the high speed crash had meant Capelli's helmet had nearly collided with the wall. Luckily, he exited his car unscathed, although the incident would further hamper his already deteriorating relationship with Ferrari.
McLaren were now looking confident for their first one-two of the season; Senna continued to lead slightly ahead of Berger. Patrese, the remaining Williams, and the two Benetton's of Schumacher and Brundle remained shortly behind. The Lotus cars could not maintain the pace of the leaders and had begun to drop back; the team were denied the opportunity for a good result when Herbert retired on lap 34, whilst a lap later, Häkkinen would also retire from the race. This allowed Alesi, who had not been competitive in Montreal, to move into the points.
Senna continued to drive conservatively, with the five cars behind him running at a much faster pace; however, Senna refused the cars behind him an opportunity to overtake. His tactical driving would all be for naught, as on the 37th lap, he retired due to an electrical problem forcing his car to a halt. Senna remained by the circuit to watch the race in quiet reflection before opting to return to the pits. A frustrated Senna refused all interviews from the determined journalists.
Berger thereafter inherited the lead, with Patrese, Schumacher and Brundle remaining close behind him. On the 39th lap, whilst exiting the final corner, Schumacher was held up behind Morbidelli's Minardi. Taking advantage of Schumacher's troubles, teammate Brundle managed to overtake both cars heading into the first corner. Having followed his teammate throughout the race, Brundle was now free to push, and quickly closed on the rear of Patrese's Williams.
With the retirement of his main rivals, Mansell and Senna, Patrese was denied the opportunity to close the championship battle when he retired his Williams with gearbox trouble on the 43rd lap. Williams, who had appeared untouchable throughout the first half of the season, had for the first time suffered a double retirement in 1992.
Brundle, who had shown to be impressively quick in the warm-up, was unleashed, setting the fastest lap of the race, and quickly gained on Berger's McLaren. However, Brundle would be denied the opportunity to take his first win; only a lap after Patrese's retirement, Brundle pulled off the circuit with transmission troubles.
Thereafter, Berger was free of any serious challenge to the lead of the race. Schumacher had been struggling to lap the traffic effectively throughout the day, and was not demonstrating his teammate's pace. A frustrated Schumacher raised his fist in the air as he moved past Wendlinger's March. The gap between him and Berger had fallen to eight seconds; Schumacher had throughout the day struggled with navigating traffic.
Alesi had, to much of his and his team's surprise, inherited third position, as the Ferrari's were being highly uncompetitive throughout the weekend. Wendlinger's March was now in fourth, whilst Katayama looked set to score his first points in fifth, and De Cesaris's Tyrrell sat in the final points place. Comas and Alboreto loomed as outside contenders for the points places.
After a solid drive, Katayama was denied his first points when his engine failed him with eight laps to go. Fittipaldi's Minardi, which was well out of the running, was the final retirement of the race. His engine had failed him, and the Minardi driver snatched a fire extinguisher from the marshalls to put out the developing fire at the rear of his car. Following Katayama's retirement, De Cesaris had taken fifth whilst Comas moved into sixth place. However, in order to take his first career points, the Ligier driver still had to fend off Alboreto's Footwork, which continued to threaten behind him.
Berger would go on to take his second victory for McLaren, although it would be considered his first earned victory for the team after Senna had allowed Berger to take the victory under team orders the previous year at Suzuka. Schumacher had not been at his best; however, he still went on to take yet another well earned podium position. Alesi in third took a surprising but much needed podium for the Ferrari team. Niki Lauda, now acting as consultant for the team and as an RTL commentator, left the commentary booth laughing in total surprise of his team's result.
Wendlinger's fourth for March was incredibly important for the survival of his team, as the result asw able to attract sponsors for the struggling March outfit. De Cesaris had been struggling with engine troubles in the later stages, but luckily took fifth place slightly ahead of Comas and Alboreto. Comas took sixth and the final points place, his first points in his Formula One career.
Standings after raceEdit
|V T E||Canadian Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Mosport Park (1967, 1969, 1971–1974, 1976–1977), Mont-Tremblant (1968, 1970), Montreal (1978–1986, 1988–2008, 2010–present)|
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