1989 French Grand Prix

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France  1989 French Grand Prix
Race details
Race 7 of 16 in the 1989 Formula One season
Paul Ricard 1986.jpg
Date July 9, 1989
Official name LXXV Rhône-Poulenc Grand Prix de France
Location Circuit Paul Ricard
France
Course Permanent racing facility
3.813 km (2.369 mi)
Distance 80 laps, 305.04 km (189.543 mi)
Weather Hot, dry, sunny
Pole position
Driver France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda
Time 1:07.203
Fastest lap
Driver Brazil Maurício Gugelmin March-Judd
Time 1:12.090 on lap 29
Podium
First France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda
Second United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Ferrari
Third Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault

The 1989 French Grand Prix was a Formula One race held at Paul Ricard on July 9, 1989.

Report[edit]

The race saw four drivers replaced by drivers making their first Formula One start: Jean Alesi replaced Michele Alboreto at Tyrrell after a rumoured contract dispute (Alboreto was personally sponsored by Marlboro and team boss Ken Tyrrell had signed their rival Camel as the team's major sponsor. Ironically Alboreto lost his Marlboro backing soon after). Éric Bernard replaced Yannick Dalmas at Larrousse after it was discovered that Dalmas was still suffering the effects of Legionnaires' disease, and Lotus test driver Martin Donnelly (on the recommendation of Derek Warwick) replaced Warwick at Arrows for one race after Warwick injured his back in a Kart race.

Another new face was McLaren test driver Emanuele Pirro who replaced Johnny Herbert at Benetton after it was decided Herbert needed more recovery time from his leg and ankle injuries suffered at Brands Hatch in 1988 (Herbert and Benetton found that he still could not push hard on the brakes which meant early braking resulting in slower lap times). Pirro's appointment caused some unhappy faces among Benetton team management who allegedly had wanted a British driver to replace Herbert. They were overruled however by the team owners, the Italian Benetton Group who wanted an Italian driver. Pirro, who had been based in Japan to test for McLaren and be close to Honda, was signed on short notice and despite having to catch an international flight and a sleepless few days, was reportedly just happy to be there. As a contracted McLaren test driver, Pirro needed permission to race for another Formula One Team, though McLaren boss Ron Dennis offered no objection to the move. Despite being allegedly unhappy, the Benetton team would become very impressed with Pirro's testing abilities as he helped sort out the new Benetton B189 which Alessandro Nannini debuted in France. Pirro continued to drive the older B188 until a second B189 was made available in Germany.

For the first time both Onyx cars qualified for a Grand Prix, Bertrand Gachot and Stefan Johansson dominating pre-qualifying before surprising many by qualifying 11th and 13th respectively. On the other hand Brabham, who had generally dominated pre-qualifying, struggled on their Pirelli tyres at the abrasive Paul Ricard Circuit, as did all other Pirelli runners (Onyx used Goodyear's). Stefano Modena only just pre-qualified, while Martin Brundle ailed to pre-qualify for the second race in a row. In an indication of Pirelli's struggles in France, only three cars using the Italian rubber made the race. Andrea de Cesaris, who had finished third at the previous race in Canada, failed to qualify his Pirelli shod Dallara-Ford.

Dalmas' team mate Philippe Alliot had been sacked by the Larrousse team after Canadian Grand Prix, but when the team couldn't find a replacement driver of experience to partner Bernard he was re-hired and kept his place for the rest of the season. Alliot, with a point to prove, responded by qualifying a career high 7th, only 1.3 seconds slower than pole man Alain Prost. Until that point it was a career best showing for Larrousse and its new for 1989 Lola LC89 chassis with its also new Lamborghini V12 engine.

The race is most famous for the multiple collision involving Nigel Mansell, Maurício Gugelmin, Thierry Boutsen and other cars on the first lap, which resulted in a restart. There was actually a little noticed second accident at the first turn as René Arnoux used Jonathan Palmer's Tyrrell to retard the progress of his Ligier JS33, launching his front wheels in the air. All of the drivers involved took the restart; some in spare cars. Alain Prost won the race for McLaren-Honda, ahead of Nigel Mansell who started from the pit lane in a car set up for his team mate Gerhard Berger. Berger, who raced the team's spare car after believing there was a small oil leek in his race car (which Mansell used to finish 2nd), again fell foul of the Ferrari's transmission with clutch failure leading to his 6th retirement of the season, leaving him with no points yet scored. Jean Alesi became an instant star when he drove his Tyrrell to 4th place and scored points on his F1 debut (in his first drive of the Ford DFR powered 018 in Friday morning's practice, he had shocked all by posting the 7th best time, though he would ultimately qualify slower than the other 3 debutantes). Olivier Grouillard scored his only F1 point on home soil saving face for the French Ligier team, while experienced Swede Stefan Johansson scored the Onyx team's first points. Incredibly, Gugelmin, who after his start crash where he had very nearly landed helmet first, had calmly walked back to the March pit and got into the spare car, set his first fastest lap, although he was not classified at the finish. Twelve cars failed to finish the race, seven of them with engine failures.

One who failed to finish, or start as it was, was World Champion Ayrton Senna, his McLaren's differential failed as the cars got away for the second start. Senna actually got away ok, but as he changed to second gear the diff broke and his car only travelled approximately 10 metres. It was the third Grand Prix in succession where Senna had retired due to mechanical failure and was the shortest Grand Prix of his illustrious career. Prost's second win for the season gave him an 11 point lead over Senna in the Drivers' Championship. The race was Alain Prost's fourth win on home soil after wins at Dijon in 1981 and Paul Ricard in 1983 for Renault, and 1988 for McLaren.

Classification[edit]

Pre Qualifying[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 37 Belgium Bertrand Gachot Onyx-Ford 1:09.617
2 36 Sweden Stefan Johansson Onyx-Ford 1:09.668 +0.051
3 21 Italy Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 1:09.726 +0.109
4 8 Italy Stefano Modena Brabham-Judd 1:09.917 +0.300
5 17 Italy Nicola Larini Osella-Ford 1:09.989 +0.372
6 7 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Brabham-Judd 1.10.181 +0.564
7 39 Germany Volker Weidler Rial-Ford 1:11.059 +1.442
8 34 Germany Bernd Schneider Zakspeed-Yamaha 1:11.098 +1.481
9 18 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Ford 1:11.528 +1.911
10 32 France Pierre-Henri Raphanel Coloni-Ford 1:11.953 +2.336
11 35 Japan Aguri Suzuki Zakspeed-Yamaha 1:12.031 +2.414
12 33 Switzerland Gregor Foitek Euro Brun-Judd 1:12.179 +2.562
13 41 Germany Joachim Winkelhock AGS-Ford 1:13.173 +3.556

Qualifying[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Q1 Q2 Gap
1 2 France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda 1:08.285 1:07.203
2 1 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 1:07.920 1:07.228 +0.025
3 27 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Ferrari 1:09.030 1:07.455 +0.252
4 19 Italy Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Ford 1:09.615 1:08.137 +0.934
5 5 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Williams-Renault 1:08.299 1:08.211 +1.008
6 28 Austria Gerhard Berger Ferrari 1:09.011 1:08.233 +1.030
7 30 France Philippe Alliot Lola-Lamborghini 1:09.478 1:08.561 +1.358
8 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 1:09.326 1:08.993 +1.790
9 3 United Kingdom Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 1:10.238 1:09.026 +1.823
10 15 Brazil Maurício Gugelmin March-Judd 1:10.122 1:09.036 +1.833
11 37 Belgium Bertrand Gachot Onyx-Ford 1:10.564 1:09.122 +1.919
12 16 Italy Ivan Capelli March-Judd 1:09.569 1:09.283 +2.080
13 36 Sweden Stefan Johansson Onyx-Ford 1:10.600 1:09.299 +2.096
14 9 Republic of Ireland Martin Donnelly Arrows-Ford 1:11.223 1:09.524 +2.321
15 29 France Éric Bernard Lola-Lamborghini 1:25.401 1:09.596 +2.393
16 4 France Jean Alesi Tyrrell-Ford 1:09.668 1:09.909 +2.465
17 26 France Olivier Grouillard Ligier-Ford 1:10.410 1:09.717 +2.514
18 25 France René Arnoux Ligier-Ford 1:10.725 1:10.077 +2.874
19 12 Japan Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Judd 1:12.125 1:10.119 +2.916
20 11 Brazil Nelson Piquet Lotus-Judd 1:10.473 1:10.135 +2.932
21 40 Italy Gabriele Tarquini AGS-Ford 1:11.136 1:10.216 +3.013
22 8 Italy Stefano Modena Brabham-Judd 1:10.910 1:10.254 +3.051
23 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 1:10.640 1:10.267 +3.064
24 20 Italy Emanuele Pirro Benetton-Ford 1:11.566 1:10.292 +3.089
25 10 United States Eddie Cheever Arrows-Ford 1:10.372 +3.169
26 21 Italy Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 1:11.409 1:10.468 +3.265
27 22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Dallara-Ford 1:12.078 1:10.591 +3.388
28 24 Spain Luis Pérez-Sala Minardi-Ford 1:11.539 1:11.079 +3.876
29 38 Germany Christian Danner Rial-Ford 1:12.569 1:11.178 +3.975
30 31 Brazil Roberto Moreno Coloni-Ford 1:14.746 1:11.372 +4.169

Race[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 2 France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda 80 1:38:29.411 1 9
2 27 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Ferrari 80 + 44.017 3 6
3 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 80 + 1:06.921 8 4
4 4 France Jean Alesi Tyrrell-Ford 80 + 1:13.232 16 3
5 36 Sweden Stefan Johansson Onyx-Ford 79 + 1 Lap 13 2
6 26 France Olivier Grouillard Ligier-Ford 79 + 1 Lap 17 1
7 10 United States Eddie Cheever Arrows-Ford 79 + 1 Lap 25  
8 11 Brazil Nelson Piquet Lotus-Judd 78 + 2 Laps 20  
9 20 Italy Emanuele Pirro Benetton-Ford 78 + 2 Laps 24  
10 3 United Kingdom Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 78 + 2 Laps 9  
11 29 France Éric Bernard Lola-Lamborghini 77 + 3 Laps 15  
12 9 Republic of Ireland Martin Donnelly Arrows-Ford 77 + 3 Laps 14  
13 37 Belgium Bertrand Gachot Onyx-Ford 76 Engine 11  
NC 15 Brazil Maurício Gugelmin March-Judd 71 Not Classified 10  
Ret 8 Italy Stefano Modena Brabham-Judd 67 Engine 22  
Ret 5 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Williams-Renault 50 Gearbox 5  
Ret 12 Japan Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Judd 49 Engine 19  
Ret 16 Italy Ivan Capelli March-Judd 43 Engine 12  
Ret 19 Italy Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Ford 40 Suspension 4  
Ret 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 31 Engine 23  
Ret 30 France Philippe Alliot Lola-Lamborghini 30 Engine 7  
Ret 40 Italy Gabriele Tarquini AGS-Ford 30 Engine 21  
Ret 28 Austria Gerhard Berger Ferrari 29 Clutch 6  
Ret 21 Italy Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 27 Clutch 26  
Ret 25 France René Arnoux Ligier-Ford 14 Gearbox 18  
Ret 1 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 0 Differential 2  
DNQ 22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Dallara-Ford    
DNQ 24 Spain Luis Pérez-Sala Minardi-Ford    
DNQ 38 Germany Christian Danner Rial-Ford    
DNQ 31 Brazil Roberto Moreno Coloni-Ford    
DNPQ 17 Italy Nicola Larini Osella-Ford    
DNPQ 7 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Brabham-Judd    
DNPQ 39 Germany Volker Weidler Rial-Ford    
DNPQ 34 Germany Bernd Schneider Zakspeed-Yamaha    
DNPQ 18 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Ford    
DNPQ 32 France Pierre-Henri Raphanel Coloni-Ford    
DNPQ 35 Japan Aguri Suzuki Zakspeed-Yamaha    
DNPQ 33 Switzerland Gregor Foitek Euro Brun-Judd    
DNPQ 41 Germany Joachim Winkelhock AGS-Ford    

Standings after the race[edit]

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.

References[edit]


Previous race:
1989 Canadian Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1989 season
Next race:
1989 British Grand Prix
Previous race:
1988 French Grand Prix
French Grand Prix Next race:
1990 French Grand Prix