1988 Japanese Grand Prix

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Japan  1988 Japanese Grand Prix
Race details
Race 15 of 16 in the 1988 Formula One season
Suzuka circuit map (1987-2002).svg
Date October 30, 1988
Official name XIV Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix
Location Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan
Course Permanent racing facility
5.859 km (3.641 mi)
Distance 51 laps, 298.829 km (185.670 mi)
Weather Cool and mainly dry, some rain toward the end
Pole position
Driver Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
Time 1:41.853
Fastest lap
Driver Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
Time 1:46.326 on lap 33
Podium
First Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
Second France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda
Third Belgium Thierry Boutsen Benetton-Ford

The 1988 Japanese Grand Prix was a Formula One race held at Suzuka Circuit, Japan, on October 30, 1988. It was the fifteenth and penultimate race of the 1988 season.

Qualifying Summary[edit]

As expected at the Japanese track where engine power can make up for a lot, it was no surprise to see the McLarens of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost on the front row on this, Honda's home track (the company in fact owns the Suzuka Circuit and McLaren's test driver Emanuele Pirro was based there almost full time). At times in 1988 the turbos had been qualifying (and often racing) faster than they had in previous seasons despite the restricted 2.5 bar of turbo boost available. At Suzuka the situation was reversed, Senna's pole time was 1.8 seconds slower than Gerhard Berger's 1987 time. Berger himself could only manage 3rd on the grid with a time that was 3.3 seconds slower than his 1987 time in an updated version of his Ferrari, though with about 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) less.

He was joined on the 2nd row by the sensational Ivan Capelli in the naturally aspirated March-Judd. The March team's late season showing made their sponsor (Japanese real estate company Leyton House) very happy. Capelli qualified in front of the two Lotus-Hondas of outgoing World Champion Nelson Piquet who was suffering from a virus, and home town favourite Satoru Nakajima.

Nakajima, not normally the best of qualifiers or racers despite having equipment superior to most, including the same all-powerful Honda V6 turbo engine as the McLarens, could have easily been excused for performing poorly this meeting and indeed from actually taking part at all. Only 30 minutes before the start of Friday morning's practice session he was informed that his mother had died that morning. In the circumstances his effort in Saturday qualifying to equal his more illustrious team mate's time right down to the thousandth of a second was exceptional. Piquet and Nakajima qualified 5th and 6th respectively, Piquet in front only for having set his time earlier in the last qualifying session. Nakajima had actually been faster than the triple World Champion on Friday, an effort that won the much-maligned Japanese driver new fans and much praise in the F1 paddock considering his personal circumstances.

Lotus showed great faith in Nakajima by announcing they had re-signed him for the 1989 season. This was despite the team having to use Judd V8 engines after Honda's announcement a few races earlier that they would not be supplying their engines to the team after 1988.

French driver Yannick Dalmas was declared medically unfit for the race and was replaced in the Larrousse team by Japan's Aguri Suzuki who had been competing in and would win the 1988 Japanese Formula 3000 championship. Suzuki qualified 20th on his F1 debut, one place behind temporary team mate Philippe Alliot. Dalmas, originally thought to have an ear infection that kept him out of both Japan and the final race in Australia, was diagnosed with Legionaire's Disease later in the year.

Race summary[edit]

The all-McLaren front row was the 11th of the year, but its drivers had contrasting fortunes. Prost led away from Berger and Capelli, while Ayrton Senna stalled on the grid. However, Suzuka Circuit had the only sloping grid of the year and he was able to bump start his car into action, albeit in 14th place by then. Derek Warwick and Nigel Mansell collided and had to pit for a puncture and a new nosecone, respectively. Senna was trying very hard to make up for the lost positions, and had gained six places by the start of lap two. He then passed Riccardo Patrese, Thierry Boutsen, Alessandro Nannini and Michele Alboreto to take fourth place on lap four. Meanwhile Capelli had not only set the fastest lap but also passed Berger – who was troubled with fuel consumption problems – on lap five to take second place. Alboreto spun out while he was in sixth place.

On lap 14 the weather started to come into contention as rain began on parts of the circuit, benefiting Senna. On lap 16 Capelli seized his chance to pass Prost for the lead, the first time a non-turbo car had led a Grand Prix since 1983. Prost had been slowed when the Lola of the debuting Aguri Suzuki had spun at the chicane and got going again just as Prost and Capelli were braking for the tight right-left complex. He then missed a gear coming out of the chicane thanks to a troublesome gearbox and was passed by the March, but Capelli's lead only lasted for a few hundred metres as the extra power of the Honda turbo engine allowed Prost to regain the lead going into the first turn. Capelli made several further attempts to overtake Prost before ultimately retiring 3 laps later with electrical failure.

Nigel Mansell's race lasted until lap 24 when he had a coming together with the Lotus of Nelson Piquet whom he was trying to lap (Piquet had spun his Lotus into the gravel trap outside of turn 1 and had been pushed back onto the circuit by the marshals, as had Alboreto a few laps earlier). At the chicane Mansell tried to go on the inside of Piquet but the cars touched with the Williams taking flight and almost going over. Mansell was out on the spot while Piquet, still unwell with a virus and complaining of double vision, would continue for another 10 laps before retiring through fatigue.

By then Senna was catching Prost rapidly, and with traffic, Prost's malfunctioning gearbox, and a tricky wet and dry surface, conditions were favourable to the Brazilian. On lap 27, as they attempted to lap Andrea de Cesaris, Satoru Nakajima and Maurício Gugelmin, Senna managed to force his way through as Prost was delayed by the de Cesaris' Rial. BBC commentator James Hunt famously called de Cesaris a "disgrace" for blocking Prost and publicly lambasted him during the commentary for his driving (it wasn't the first or last time Hunt would criticise de Cesaris' driving during his commentary).[1] Senna then put in a succession of fast laps, breaking the former lap record and building a lead of over three seconds, despite being delayed while lapping Nakajima.

With slick tyres on a track that was now wet, Senna was gesturing for the race to be stopped but this was not to be. The race ran out its entire distance and Senna led home from Prost; Honda was delighted with a 1-2 in their homeland.[citation needed] Boutsen took third place, whilst Berger recovered to fourth place after Alboreto held up Nannini, who had to settle for fifth. Patrese finished in sixth, and Nakajima was 7th.

With victory in the race, Senna clinched the World Championship. Due to the scoring system in 1988, Prost could only add three more points to his total even if he won in Australia, which would give him 87 points in total. If Senna then failed to score they would be equal on points, but Senna would still win the title, having taken more wins (8 to 7). Victory in Japan was also Senna's eighth win of the season, which beat the record for total wins in a single season, previously held by Jim Clark and Prost.

Classification[edit]

Qualifying[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Q1 Q2 Gap
1 12 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 1:42.157 1:41.853
2 11 France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda 1:43.806 1:42.177 +0.324
3 28 Austria Gerhard Berger Ferrari 1:43.548 1:43.353 +1.500
4 16 Italy Ivan Capelli March-Judd 1:44.583 1:43.605 +1.752
5 1 Brazil Nelson Piquet Lotus-Honda 1:45.171 1:43.693 +1.840
6 2 Japan Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Honda 1:45.156 1:43.693 +1.840
7 17 United Kingdom Derek Warwick Arrows-Megatron 1:46.915 1:43.816 +1.963
8 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Judd 1:44.448 1:43.893 +2.040
9 27 Italy Michele Alboreto Ferrari 1:44.909 1:43.972 +2.119
10 20 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Benetton-Ford 1:44.882 1:44.499 +2.686
11 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Judd 1:45.510 1:44.555 +2.702
12 19 Italy Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Ford 1:45.047 1:44.611 +2.758
13 15 Brazil Mauricio Gugelmin March-Judd 1:45.138 1:45.156 +3.285
14 22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Rial-Ford 1:48.393 1:45.558 +3.705
15 18 United States Eddie Cheever Arrows-Megatron 1:45.845 1:46.189 +3.992
16 3 United Kingdom Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 1:47.828 1:45.916 +4.063
17 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 1:47.638 1:46.449 +4.596
18 14 France Philippe Streiff AGS-Ford 1:47.583 1:46.486 +4.633
19 30 France Philippe Alliot Lola-Ford 1:47.057 1:46.521 +4.668
20 29 Japan Aguri Suzuki Lola-Ford 1:48.448 1:46.920 +5.067
21 36 Italy Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 1:47.813 1:46.982 +5.129
22 24 Spain Luis Pérez-Sala Minardi-Ford 1:48.769 1:47.134 +5.281
23 25 France René Arnoux Ligier-Judd 1:49.165 1:47.193 +5.340
24 21 Italy Nicola Larini Osella 1:48.706 1:47.547 +5.694
25 10 West Germany Bernd Schneider Zakspeed 1:49.897 1:47.599 +5.746
26 4 United Kingdom Julian Bailey Tyrrell-Ford 1:49.420 1:48.589 +6.736
DNQ 26 Sweden Stefan Johansson Ligier-Judd 1:49.127 1:48.716 +6.863
DNQ 32 Argentina Oscar Larrauri EuroBrun-Ford 1:50.224 1:49.265 +7.412
DNQ 9 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Zakspeed 1:49.706 1:50.550 +7.853
DNQ 33 Italy Stefano Modena EuroBrun-Ford 1:49.812 1:50.047 +7.959
DNPQ 31 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Coloni-Ford 1:52.234

Race[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 12 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 51 1:33:26.173 1 9
2 11 France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda 51 + 13.363 2 6
3 20 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Benetton-Ford 51 + 36.109 10 4
4 28 Austria Gerhard Berger Ferrari 51 + 1:26.714 3 3
5 19 Italy Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Ford 51 + 1:30.603 12 2
6 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Judd 51 + 1:37.615 11 1
7 2 Japan Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Honda 50 + 1 Lap 6  
8 14 France Philippe Streiff AGS-Ford 50 + 1 Lap 18  
9 30 France Philippe Alliot Lola-Ford 50 + 1 Lap 19  
10 15 Brazil Maurício Gugelmin March-Judd 50 + 1 Lap 13  
11 27 Italy Michele Alboreto Ferrari 50 + 1 Lap 9  
12 3 United Kingdom Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 50 + 1 Lap 16  
13 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 49 + 2 Laps 17  
14 4 United Kingdom Julian Bailey Tyrrell-Ford 49 + 2 Laps 26  
15 24 Spain Luis Pérez-Sala Minardi-Ford 49 + 2 Laps 22  
16 29 Japan Aguri Suzuki Lola-Ford 48 + 3 Laps 20  
17 25 France René Arnoux Ligier-Judd 48 + 3 Laps 23  
Ret 22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Rial-Ford 36 Overheating 14  
Ret 18 United States Eddie Cheever Arrows-Megatron 35 Ignition 15  
Ret 21 Italy Nicola Larini Osella 34 Brakes 24  
Ret 1 Brazil Nelson Piquet Lotus-Honda 34 Driver ill 5  
Ret 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Judd 24 Collision 8  
Ret 36 Italy Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 22 Spun Off 21  
Ret 16 Italy Ivan Capelli March-Judd 19 Electrical 4  
Ret 17 United Kingdom Derek Warwick Arrows-Megatron 16 Spun Off 7  
Ret 10 Germany Bernd Schneider Zakspeed 14 Driver unfit 25  
DNQ 26 Sweden Stefan Johansson Ligier-Judd    
DNQ 32 Argentina Oscar Larrauri EuroBrun-Ford    
DNQ 9 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Zakspeed    
DNQ 33 Italy Stefano Modena EuroBrun-Ford    
DNPQ 31 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Coloni-Ford

Notes[edit]

Standings after the race[edit]

  • Bold Text indicates World Champions.
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Drivers could only count their best 11 results; numbers without parentheses are Championship points; numbers in parentheses are total points scored. Points accurate at final declaration of results. The Benettons were subsequently disqualified from the Belgian Grand Prix and their points reallocated.

References[edit]


Previous race:
1988 Spanish Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1988 season
Next race:
1988 Australian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1987 Japanese Grand Prix
Japanese Grand Prix Next race:
1989 Japanese Grand Prix