1986 Australian Grand Prix
|Race 16 of 16 in the 1986 Formula One season|
|Date||26 October 1986|
|Official name||LI Foster's Australian Grand Prix|
|Location||Adelaide Street Circuit
Adelaide, South Australia
|Course||Temporary Street circuit
3.780 km (2.362 mi)
|Distance||82 laps, 309.960 km (193.864 mi)|
|Time||1:20.787 on lap 82|
The 1986 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 26 October 1986 at the Adelaide Street Circuit, Adelaide, Australia. It was the last of 16 races in the 1986 Formula One season. The event itself was remembered as the race that decided the Drivers' Championship for that season, particularly for it being a three-way tussle for the title and the dramatic manner in which it was settled. The drivers in contention for the title were; Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, both of whom were racing for the Williams-Honda team, and McLaren's Alain Prost.
Mansell took pole position for the race, but this advantage was cancelled out following a poor start off the grid, with teammate Piquet, Ayrton Senna and Keke Rosberg all overtaking him and demoting the Brit down to fourth by the end of the first lap.
A few laps into the race, Finland's Keke Rosberg, in his final Grand Prix, took the lead from Piquet. However, the Finn retired with a tyre puncture on lap 63, handing the lead back to Piquet and elevating Mansell into second place, which would have been sufficient for the Englishman to secure the championship. One lap later, Mansell's race ended as his left-rear tyre exploded on the main straight with only 19 laps remaining. The title was then between Piquet and Prost with the Frenchman needing to finish ahead of the Brazilian if he wanted to successfully defend his title. Following the tyre failures of Rosberg and Mansell, the Williams team called Piquet in for a pre-cautionary stop and he came out of the pits 15 seconds behind Prost. Piquet made a late charge to close the gap to 4.2 seconds but Prost took victory to win his second of four titles.
It was not until the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix that there were again three possible drivers' title contenders entering the final race of the season.
Coming into the race, three drivers had a chance of winning the '86 title. The leader of the championship prior to the race was British driver Nigel Mansell; six points behind him in second was Alain Prost, who was looking to defend his title and one point behind Prost was Mansell's teammate at Williams, Nelson Piquet. In fourth was Ayrton Senna, who was guaranteed to finish in that position regardless of what happened. Prost was aiming to become the first driver since Jack Brabham in 1959 and 1960 to win back-to-back World Drivers' Championships.
The Williams cars of Mansell and Piquet were far superior in speed to Prost's McLaren. However, Prost's consistency had seen him accumulate points all year, while the Williams pair battled with one another and their mind games eroded what would have been a dominant season for the team.
To win the championship Mansell needed either third position or higher, or for both Prost and Piquet to finish in second place or lower. For Prost or Piquet to win the championship, they would have to win the race, and see Mansell finish in fourth position or lower.
Unlike the Drivers' Championship, the Constructors' Championship had already been decided in Williams' favour, as they had a 48-point advantage over McLaren. While the Woking based team couldn't take the title, their place as runners-up was safe, however, as they were 30 points ahead of third placed Lotus.
Mansell took pole position for the race with a time of 1 minute 18.403 seconds. His teammate, Nelson Piquet, and Lotus' Ayrton Senna were the only drivers within a second of Mansell's time. The third title contender, Alain Prost, was on the second row of the grid in fourth.
Mansell started from pole position but yielded the lead to Ayrton Senna's Lotus at the second corner on lap 1 and fell behind both Piquet and Keke Rosberg on the same lap. Piquet also overtook Senna on lap 1 to take the lead but it would last only six laps as on lap 7, Rosberg took the lead from Piquet and began to build a sizeable gap between himself and the rest of the field.
On lap 23 Piquet spun, although no damage was sustained to the car, and he continued the race despite dropping back several places. Prost suffered a tyre puncture a few laps later and he dropped back to fourth after having to pit. Piquet charged back through the field, passing Mansell for second place on lap 44 but Prost closed on the two Williams cars and, with 25 laps to go, all three championship contenders were running together in positions 2, 3 and 4.
The battle became one for the lead on lap 63 when Rosberg suffered a right rear tyre failure and retired from the race (Rosberg later revealed that he would never have won the race anyway unless Prost failed to finish or had sufficient problem not to be able to challenge, as he had promised Prost and the team that he would give best to his team mate to help his bid to win back-to-back championships). Mansell was elevated to second behind new leader Piquet, but Prost passed him almost immediately. Mansell did not resist because he only needed a third place finish to win the championship.
Mansell was still in third position when, on lap 64, his left rear tyre exploded at some 180 mph (290 km/h) on the high-speed Brabham Straight while lapping the Ligier of Philippe Alliot, sending a shower of sparks flying behind him and severely damaging his left rear suspension. The Williams coasted to a stop in the run-off area at the end of the straight, Mansell managing to avoid hitting anything, but it was his championship hopes took the biggest hit. Fearing the same happening to the second car, Williams called Piquet to the pits and Prost took the lead. Piquet would make a late charge, closing the gap from 15.484 seconds with 2 laps remaining to just 4.205 at the finish and Prost claimed both the race and the World Championship (Prost was so marginal on fuel he pulled up only metres past the finish line).
In his last race for Ferrari, Stefan Johansson completed the podium in third place, albeit a lap down on Prost and Piquet. Martin Brundle ran out of fuel as he crossed the line in fourth place in his Tyrrell-Renault. His team mate Philippe Streiff finished fifth 2 laps down, while Johnny Dumfries finished sixth in his Lotus-Renault which drove the race with an onboard camera.
By winning, Alain Prost became the first and so far only driver to ever win the AGP in both non-championship and World Championship form, having won the non-championship 1982 Australian Grand Prix run for Formula Pacific cars at the Calder Park Raceway in Melbourne.
This was the last race for the Renault turbo engine, the French company being the pioneers in F1 turbocharging back in 1977, as well as Renault's last Formula One race as an engine supplier until their return with Williams at the 1989 Brazilian Grand Prix. It was also the last Formula One race for Australia's 1980 World Champion Alan Jones and his team mate Patrick Tambay, and the last race for Team Haas, whom both Jones and Tambay drove for (Tambay also carried an onboard camera on his car). It was also the last race for Lotus driver Johnny Dumfries, Osella's Allen Berg, Zakspeed's Huub Rothengatter, and 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg.
|2||6||Nelson Piquet||Williams-Honda||82||+ 4.205||2||6|
|3||28||Stefan Johansson||Ferrari||81||+ 1 Lap||12||4|
|4||3||Martin Brundle||Tyrrell-Renault||81||+ 1 Lap||16||3|
|5||4||Philippe Streiff||Tyrrell-Renault||80||Out of Fuel||10||2|
|6||11||Johnny Dumfries||Lotus-Renault||80||+ 2 Laps||14||1|
|7||25||René Arnoux||Ligier-Renault||79||+ 3 Laps||5|
|8||26||Philippe Alliot||Ligier-Renault||79||+ 3 Laps||8|
|9||14||Jonathan Palmer||Zakspeed||77||+ 5 Laps||21|
|10||19||Teo Fabi||Benetton-BMW||77||+ 5 Laps||13|
|NC||16||Patrick Tambay||Lola-Ford||70||Not Classified||17|
|NC||22||Allen Berg||Osella-Alfa Romeo||61||Not Classified||26|
|Ret||23||Andrea de Cesaris||Minardi-Motori Moderni||40||Mechanical||11|
|Ret||24||Alessandro Nannini||Minardi-Motori Moderni||10||Accident||18|
|Ret||21||Piercarlo Ghinzani||Osella-Alfa Romeo||2||Transmission||25|
Standings after Grand Prix
- Bold text indicates the World Champions.
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
1986 Mexican Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
1987 Brazilian Grand Prix
1985 Australian Grand Prix
|Australian Grand Prix||Next race:
1987 Australian Grand Prix