1988 San Marino Grand Prix
|Race 2 of 16 in the 1988 Formula One season|
|Date||May 1, 1988|
|Location||Autodromo Dino Ferrari, Imola, Emilia-Romagna, Italy|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
5.040 km (3.131 mi)
|Distance||60 laps, 302.4 km (187.986 mi)|
|Time||1:29.685 on lap 53|
The 1988 San Marino Grand Prix was a Formula One race held at Imola on May 1, 1988. It was the second round of the 1988 Formula One season. Ayrton Senna scored his first victory since joining McLaren at the start of the season. Turbocharged Honda powered cars swept the top three positions.
The McLaren-Hondas totally dominated qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost occupied the front row of the grid with times of 1:27.148 and 1:27.919 respectively. Their nearest challenger was the Lotus of reigning World Champion Nelson Piquet with a time of 1:30.500. All the more interesting was that Piquet's Lotus was powered by the same specification turbocharged Honda engine that powered the McLarens and was faster through the speed trap on the run to Tosa, yet he was over 3 seconds slower than Senna.
Nigel Mansell missed qualifying on the front row of the grid for the first time since the 1986 Mexican Grand Prix. He qualified his Williams-Judd in 11th place, five places behind team mate Riccardo Patrese in 6th. The fastest atmo car in qualifying was the Benetton-Ford of Alessandro Nannini who ended up 4th on the grid in front of the disappointing Ferrari of Gerhard Berger who, along with team mate Michele Alboreto (who qualified 10th, almost 4.5 seconds slower than Senna), found the turbocharged Italian V6 engines down on power throughout.
The claims of Berger and Alboreto were backed up by the speed trap figures. The fastest cars on the long run to Tosa were the Lotus-Hondas which were timed at 302 km/h (188 mph), with the McLarens less than 1 km/h slower. The Ferraris were much slower at 293 km/h (182 mph), and were some 16 km/h (10 mph) slower than the McLarens over the start-finish line (McLaren were fastest there at almost 250 km/h (155 mph). In fact, both Ferraris were almost 5 km/h (3 mph) slower over the start line than the atmospheric Benettons, showing just how much trouble they were in.
The EuroBrun-Ford Cosworth of Oscar Larrauri, the Ligier-Judd's of Stefan Johansson and former Imola pole winner René Arnoux, and the Zakspeed turbo of Bernd Schneider all failed to qualify, while the Osella of Italian Nicola Larini was excluded after scrutineering when it was discovered that the cars engine mounting points had been illegally changed.
After qualifying, Lotus team boss Peter Warr made the claim that despite the three second gap between the McLarens and the rest of the field, he believed the Lotus and even the Ferraris were better aerodynamically than the McLarens and that would hurt their fuel consumption on what was one of the most fuel thirsty circuits on the calendar. He predicted the McLarens would not be able to maintain their advantage and still finish the race on their 150 litre fuel limit.
The McLaren of Ayrton Senna led from the start, whilst his teammate Alain Prost had his engine stall coming to take his place on the grid (Prost later reported that the engine had also stalled earlier on the parade lap). The car was still rolling so he bump started it but it almost stalled again as the race started and he dropped to 7th place behind the Arrows of Eddie Cheever. Whilst he was able to recover these places and get back to second place by lap 8, he could not catch Senna who controlled the gap according to the traffic. Maintaining a lead of 6–10 seconds, Senna slowed on the last lap to make sure he finished without running out of fuel which reduced the gap to the pursuing Prost to just 2.3 seconds at the line.
Nelson Piquet battled with an ill-handling Lotus but used superior Honda power to maintain 3rd place ahead of a train of cars including both Benettons, both Williams and Berger's Ferrari. He was lucky to make it to the finish line as the extra boost needed to keep his position cut severely into his fuel. Had he not been lapped only four laps from the finish (meaning he only had to complete three of the remaining laps), he might not have had enough fuel to complete his last lap.
Nigel Mansell made a superb drive from a poor 11th place on the grid to be briefly up to 3rd place after taking Piquet under braking for the Rivazza on lap 40 (less than a lap later Piquet used his Honda's superior power to slipstream Mansell through the Tamburello and re-take 3rd through Villeneuve). However fleeting the move was, Mansell would retire just a lap after dropping to 4th with a faulty voltage regulator.
Thierry Boutsen's Benetton came home in 4th ahead of Gerhard Berger in the Ferrari (Boutsen's late race was hampered by a down on power engine thanks to a cracked exhaust on his car), and rounding out the points was Alessandro Nannini. Nannini had been fighting for 3rd place with Piquet, but despite being consistently closer in the corners, he had to yield to the Lotus' superior Honda power on the straights. Piquet and Nannini tangled at the Tosa hairpin, with the more experienced World Champion continuing on with a wider gap to the now 3rd Boutsen who slowed to avoid his spinning team mate, while Nannini dropped to 7th. A fired up Nannini then put in the fastest atmospheric lap in a climb back into the points and 5th place. Nannini had to settle for 6th though after being passed on the last lap at the Acqua Minerale chicane by a grass-cutting Gerhard Berger, now charging thanks to being lapped and having to drive one less lap on fuel.
Both Senna and Prost recorded a fastest race lap faster than Nelson Piquet's qualifying time and both McLaren drivers had lapped the entire field up to and including Piquet in 3rd place by lap 56 of the 60 lap race. That was actually good news for Piquet and Berger in their turbo powered cars against the atmosphetic Benettons as it meant they had to do one less race lap on their allowed fuel and could push harder for the final three laps of the race. Prost's second place earned him 6 points which saw him surpass his 1984 and 1985 McLaren team mate Niki Lauda as the all time career points leader, with 421.5 to Lauda's 420.5 points.
In what had become standard practice at McLaren since Prost's disqualification for being 2 kg underweight at 1985 San Marino Grand Prix, both McLarens stopped within metres of taking the chequered flag. Prost had started the last lap some 7 seconds behind his team mate but was only 2.434 behind at the flag as Senna had driven only as fast as he needed to both win and conserve fuel at what was traditionally one of the most fuel thirsty circuits on the Formula One calendar.
|8||20||Thierry Boutsen||Benetton-Ford||no time||1:31.414||+3.993|
|16||22||Andrea de Cesaris||Rial-Ford||no time||1:33.037||+5.889|
|21||4||Julian Bailey||Tyrrell-Ford||no time||1:33.874||+6.726|
Standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
- Unless otherwise indicated, all race results are taken from "The Official Formula 1 website". Archived from the original on 7 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
1988 Brazilian Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
1988 Monaco Grand Prix
1987 San Marino Grand Prix
|San Marino Grand Prix||Next race:
1989 San Marino Grand Prix