After Nigel Mansell's total domination of the South African Grand Prix, it was clear to all the opposition that Williams with its technologically superior FW14B chassis had a significant advantage over the rest of the field. The domination of Williams, meant that the reigning champions, McLaren-Honda left South Africa very concerned over their performance. Like in South Africa, McLaren would still be using their 1991 chassis, the MP4/6B and were likely to be left trailing the Williams again in Mexico. Now uncomfortably aware of the FW14B's superiority, McLaren began to hasten the development of their new MP4/7 chassis. The team's test drivers, Mark Blundell and Allan McNish were carrying out extensive testing in the new car at Silverstone in an attempt to bring the car ahead of its scheduled release at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. With none of their rivals prepared to match their pace, it was expected to be another Williams dominated weekend, unless perhaps McLaren or lesser rivals Benetton and Ferrari could do something drastic.
Further down the grid, Ligier team principal Guy Ligier confirmed that negotiations between him and world champion Alain Prost had come to an end. Prost was seemingly unable to raise the finances to secure a drive in the team. This decision had meant that Érik Comas would keep his place in the Ligier team alongside Thierry Boutsen. Between South Africa and Mexico, Renault and Ford commenced engine development test sessions at Silverstone. Williams test driver Damon Hill runs development work for Renault on their V10 engine whilst Alessandro Zanardi who had lost his Tyrrell drive to the cash of Andrea de Cesaris in the dying moments of pre-season testing had swapped to Benetton as their new test driver. Zanardi was commissioned to help improve the Ford V12 engine.
As the team's arrived in Mexico, the high altitude, fast-sweeping and heavily bumpy surface of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit was for sure to play havoc as it had always done. The race organisers had resurfaced the dangerous yet thrilling final corner named Peraltada after Ayrton Senna's large accident in qualifying the previous year. Nonetheless the drivers remained concerned of the safety standards for the Mexican circuit, the track had deteriorated even more than from the previous year and the circuit was bumpier than ever.
The full entry list is outlined below for the 1992 Mexican Grand Prix:
Predictably, the Williams cars continued to dominate. Nigel Mansell took control over the rest of the field, teammate Riccardo Patrese still seemed to be lacking in comparison to his teammate. In Friday qualifying, Mansell was a full second and a half faster than second placed Patrese, however by Saturday, Patrese had closed the gap between the pair down to three tenths, yet remained unable to unseat his teammate from the pole position. Mansell was unable to improve on his Friday time, on Saturday he had a big moment heading into the Peraltalda, nearly losing control on the exit of the corner. Luckily Mansell was able to keep control of his Williams upon the corner's exit.
It was another turbulent time for McLaren, after only one timed lap on Friday, Ayrton Senna hit a bump in the Esses section and slammed into the barriers. Senna needed assistance out of his McLaren by the marshalls and medical staff after sustaining bruising to his legs and a concussion. Senna's participation for the rest of the weekend was thrown into doubt. After sitting out most of Saturday qualifying, it was only when he had dropped among the non-qualifiers that Senna emerged from his physiotherapy session and did a single timed lap which placed him sixth on the grid, one place behind teammate Gerhard Berger. Berger also having a tumultuous session, after two spins on Friday, Berger went off for a final time on Saturday. Ironically, the same place that Senna had crashed the previous day. Berger luckily not being injured in the incident.
Ahead of the two McLaren's were the Benetton cars. Benetton were looking quick in Mexico, however Michael Schumacher in third place still remained a second off the pace to the Williams cars. The senior Benetton driver, Martin Brundle, could only manage fourth, a full second and a half off the pace off his younger teammate.
One team that had made huge improvements from South Africa was the Dallara team. JJ Lehto lined up an impressive seventh on the grid, behind him his teammate Pierluigi Martini was ninth. Sandwiched between the two Dallara's was Mauricio Gugelmin's Jordan. Gugelmin also providing improvements for the Jordan squad after their poor start to the season in South Africa.
One front runner that had notably lost out in qualifying was Ferrari. The Italian leaders were struggling terribly with the Mexican bumps, Jean Alesi could only manage tenth, behind their customer team of the two Dallara cars. Ivan Capelli on the other hand faired much worse and was a dismal twentieeth on the grid.
Andrea de Cesaris and Johnny Herbert were eleventh and twelfth, respectably doing well for their Tyrrell and Lotus teams. Their teammates Olivier Grouillard and Mika Häkkinen still seemed slower as they did in South Africa, the pair lining up fifteenth and eighteenth.
Bertrand Gachot had made improvements for Venturi-Larrousse and had put his car thirteenth on the grid, teammate Ukyo Katayama still languished among the back, 24th on the grid. Gabriele Tarquini was still the dominant Fondmetal, however teammate Andrea Chiesa had made improvements, putting his car eighteenth after failing to qualify in South Africa.
Stefano Modena's troublesome season continued, after failing to qualify in South Africa, he managed to place his Jordan fifteenth off the grid, however he was still well down on teammate Mauricio Gugelmin who was now within the top ten.
Christian Fittipaldi put his Minardi in nineteenth place, teammate Gianni Morbidelli struggling and only managing twenty first. After Karl Wendlinger's impressive qualifying performance in South Africa, the March squad were lamenting at the back once again for Mexico. Wendlinger, after a car failure on Friday could only manage nineteenth. Teammate Paul Belmondo for the second race in succession, failed to qualify.
Another big disappointment in qualifying was Ligier. The team had impressed in South Africa, yet their car struggled enormously with the bumpy surface in Mexico, Thierry Boutsen could only manage twentieeth whilst Erik Comas barely qualified, only just managing to scrape into the twenty sixth position.
Footwork were also a disappointment, Michele Alboreto just made it onto the back row of the grid for twenty fifth whilst teammate Aguri Suzuki failed to qualify. Alongside Suzuki and Belmondo in the non-qualifers were the two Brabham cars. Eric van de Poele and Giovanna Amati failed to make the cut for the race. Amati not getting any track time on Friday and then once again failing to make an impact on Saturday.
The start predictably saw the Williams cars pull away, Mansell leading Patrese. Behind them, Senna made a tremendous start to go from sixth to third. Schumacher on the other hand made a poor start, dropping behind Senna and teammate Brundle. Berger was sixth whilst Alesi managed to move up into seventh place.
There was mayhem at the back of the pack, Karl Wendlinger got a strong start, however he was caught among the slow starting midfielders. Forced to take evasive action, Wendlinger took a hard right to get around the midfielders, only to side swipe an equally fast starting Ferrari of Ivan Capelli. Capelli pirouetted across the track and slammed into the opposing wall. Wendlinger, was out of the race as well, for the second race in succession he had been caught in a first corner incident. Thierry Boutsen was lucky to not be caught up in the incident but had to slam on the brakes to avoid the two cars.
Likewise to be caught in his second first corner incident of the season was Andrea de Cesaris. In the run down to the first corner, De Cesaris punted off the Lotus of Johnny Herbert whom he attempted to overtake around the outside. Both cars continued, however Herbert found himself at the back of the pack. While one Lotus faltered, the other car of Häkkinen got a tremendous start to move into tenth position behind the Dallara cars of Lehto and Martini. Häkkinen will have disposed of the two Dallara's by the end of the second lap.
After a good qualifying, Mauricio Gugelmin was forced to pull into the pits and retire his Jordan with engine problems after a single lap. The second lap saw, Mansell immediately begin to open up a gap from Patrese behind him. Senna chased after the Williams's whilst Schumacher managed to move past Benetton teammate Brundle for fourth. The end of the second lap saw Christian Fittipaldi spin his Minardi off at the Peraltada and into retirement.
Mansell edged away from Patrese whilst behind them Senna and Schumacher chased after them. Schumacher was all over the back end of Senna's McLaren. The Benetton driver putting in some blinding lap times and apart from Mansell was the quickest car on the circuit. Nonetheless the power advantage of Senna's Honda engine in comparison to Schumacher's Ford, allowed the McLaren driver to pull away down the straights.
The wild racing De Cesaris managed to make his way into the top ten when he moved past Martini's Dallara to take tenth place. More significantly, the eleventh lap saw Senna pull off the circuit with a transmission failure. Senna would sit by the sidelines of the track and watch the events of the race unfold for the remainder of the race. His retirement allowed Michael Schumacher freedom to push after the Williams pair, Schumacher now going a second a lap faster than he had done before.
A lap later, Olivier Grouillard retired his Tyrrell when his Ilmor engine blew. The Ilmor continuing to be a troublesome engine, both their customer teams, Tyrrell and March experiencing many engine related problems throughout the weekend.
With the closing Schumacher in sights of his mirrors, Patrese simply increased his running pace demonstrating the superior capability of the Williams FW14B. Following Schumacher came Martin Brundle and Gerhard Berger who battled fiercely for fourth place. A long way adrift came Jean Alesi's Ferrari, it seemed the red cars were struggling to remain among the top runners this season.
In the mid-field, Pierluigi Martini had dropped out of contention with handling problems and was falling down the field. Häkkinen continued to maintain eighth ahead of De Cesaris, Morbidelli in the Minardi had done well to climb to tenth. Trailing behind was Tarquini's Fondmetal, Herbert in the Lotus who had fought his way from the back after his start line accident, then Comas who had also come from the back, then Boutsen, Gachot, Alboreto, Chiesa, Modena, Katayama and the ailing Pierluigi Martini.
After being dominated by Mansell in South Africa, Patrese appeared finally provide a threat to Mansell, after shaking off Schumacher's Benetton, Patrese began to close on the tail of his teammate. The two Williams cars were pushing hard, Mansell and Patrese trading the fastest lap times, lap after lap.
Lap 17 saw Stefano Modena pull into the pits with engine problems, Jordan's Yamaha engine proving unreliable with both their cars retiring with engine trouble. The same lap, Berger attempted a move on Brundle's fourth place. Brundle however had firm control over his position and Berger had to back off. Nonetheless with each lap, Berger edged closer and closer to the Benetton driver. Martini meanwhile became the first driver to complete a pit stop, the Dallara driver battling all sorts of handling issues.
At the back of the field, Katayama spun, the Venturi-Larrousse driver luckily kept his engine running and returned to the race. Towards the front, Berger continued to climb all over the rear of Brundle. Brundle was given a little relief from the charging Berger when the McLaren driver struggled to lap the Footwork of Michele Alboreto. Berger failed to make it past Alboreto through the Peraltalda and then to his surprise, the Footwork continued to outdrag him down the straight. It was not until the cars approached the first corner that Alboreto finally allowed his former teammate past.
One of the minor runners impressing was Andrea de Cesaris in the Tyrrell, he had past Mika Häkkinen's Lotus for seventh and was now challenging Alesi's Ferrari for the final points position. Alesi proving difficult to pass had already held up Häkkinen's previous attempts to pass him.
Lap 27 saw the second Minardi of Morbidelli come to a retirement. Like teammate Fittipaldi, Morbidelli had spun off at the Peraltada and landed in the barriers. Three laps later a more significant retirement came in the form of Jean Alesi. For the second race in succession, the Ferrari driver had a blown engine. Lap 36 saw Martini finally pull into the pits to retire after significant handling issues throughout the race. A lap later the Fondmetal of Andrea Chiesa spun off at the first corner and stalled, ending his race.
On lap 40, Berger finally got a proper run at Brundle coming into the hairpin, however as Berger shot past, Brundle managed to get the undercut and moved back into fourth going through the quick turn seven and eight section. Berger still pushing on behind in fifth position.
However only a lap later, Brundle began to approach the two Ligier cars of Comas and Boutsen, stuck behind Boutsen and losing time, Brundle went wide on the slippery entry to Peraltada. Berger making an opportunity of the situation, attacked through the inside of the corner and secured fourth position. Thereafter Berger began a charge to the leading Benetton of Schumacher in third. Schumacher however holding a ten second advantage over the surviving McLaren. Brundle meanwhile was lapping slower than De Cesaris in sixth yet maintained a 20 second lead over the Tyrrell. Nonetheless, it would all be in vain for Brundle who retired on lap 47 with engine failure.
Brundle's retirement put De Cesaris into fifth whilst inheriting sixth place was the Lotus of Mika Häkkinen. Häkkinen's final points position would be challenged by teammate Herbert who was chasing behind, Herbert staging a strong comeback after his first lap collision.
Berger was putting in some blistering lap times at the final stages of the race, setting a number of fastest lap times. Schumacher in third still held a strong nine second advantage. Williams continued to dominate out front, Mansell cruising, he once again had control over Patrese behind him who was unable for the second race in succession to make much of an impact on Mansell's momentum.
The final laps provided little excitement. Mansell had a scary moment whilst trying to lap the defiant Andrea de Cesaris, luckily the Williams driver was able to successfully navigate past the Italian. Likewise, Berger had a difficult moment whilst attempting to lap Häkkinen.
Mansell took a comfortable second win of the season, Patrese was second, still having work to do to catch his teammate. Michael Schumacher was the best of the rest, the Benetton driver getting his first career podium after a strong weekend. Berger did well for McLaren whilst De Cesaris did an excellent job to get Tyrrell's first points of the season. The final point going to Mika Häkkinen, Lotus having a stellar start to the season, both drivers now scoring in the opening two races.
Standings after raceEdit
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