1991 Japanese Grand Prix

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Japan  1991 Japanese Grand Prix
Race details
Race 15 of 16 in the 1991 Formula One season
Suzuka circuit map (1987-2002).svg
Date October 20, 1991
Official name XVII Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix
Location Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan
Course Permanent racing facility
5.864 km (3.644 mi)
Distance 53 laps, 310.792 km (193.117 mi)
Weather Dry, warm, cloudy
Pole position
Driver Austria Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda
Time 1:34.700
Fastest lap
Driver Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
Time 1:41.532 on lap 39
Podium
First Austria Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda
Second Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
Third Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault

The 1991 Japanese Grand Prix was a Formula One race held at Suzuka on October 20, 1991. It was the fifteenth round of the 1991 Formula One season.

Report[edit]

Formula One moved to Japan with the fight for the title still open; this was the fifth year in a row that the title would be decided at the Suzuka circuit. The organizers were hoping that the events of 1990 would not repeat themselves. Both championship contenders Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell knew exactly what they needed to do, Mansell had to win with help and Senna needed to beat Mansell. There were several changes to the driver lineup, the most notable being at Leyton House where Ivan Capelli had been replaced by young Austrian Karl Wendlinger. Elsewhere AGS had run out of money and did not make the voyage to Japan, while fellow stragglers Coloni had hired local driver Naoki Hattori, but he failed to pre-qualify. Johnny Herbert was back behind the wheel of the Lotus after having missed a few races in the second half of the season due to Japanese Formula 3000 commitments.

Qualifying saw many large accidents, including young sensation Michael Schumacher and Ferrari driver Jean Alesi. The biggest of these accidents was the one that befell Éric Bernard who broke his ankle and would not take any further part in the race. At the end of the qualifying sessions it was a McLaren front row with Gerhard Berger ahead of Ayrton Senna. Mansell was third followed by the unhappy Alain Prost, Riccardo Patrese, Jean Alesi, Pierluigi Martini, Gianni Morbidelli, Michael Schumacher, and Nelson Piquet. Senna was right where he wanted to be, while Mansell knew he had his work cut out for him.

At the start of the race Berger got away well and Senna blocked Mansell the way that Mansell had done to him in Portugal. Elsewhere Jean Alesi's day ended on the first lap in a cloud of smoke, his Ferrari engine having blown. At the end of lap 1 the order was Berger, Senna, Mansell, Patrese, and Prost. There was a huge accident on lap two when Andrea de Cesaris spun his Jordan while leading other cars, and the resulting accident took Wendlinger, Pirro, and Lehto with him. At the front Berger pulled off into the lead while Mansell hounded Senna. It all ended on lap 10 when Mansell made a mistake on the first corner and spun off. His Williams was stuck in the gravel and Mansell was left to wonder about what might have been.

With the news of Mansell's retirement, Senna and Berger both went off into the distance, with Berger waving his recrowned world champion teammate through. The two ran in formation for the rest of the race with Senna letting Berger through on the last lap to win his first race for McLaren.

Patrese finished third followed by Prost, Martin Brundle scoring the last points in the history of the Brabham team, and Stefano Modena in the Tyrrell. Senna had won his third world championship but the Brazilian put a damper on the celebrations in the post-race interview by making scathing comments about outgoing FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre and admitting that he intentionally rammed Alain Prost off the track the year before at Suzuka, leading to much resentment and criticism of Senna from the F1 community.

Classification[edit]

Pre Qualifying[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 7 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Brabham-Yamaha 1:41.289
2 10 Italy Alex Caffi Footwork-Ford 1:42.382 +1.093
3 9 Italy Michele Alboreto Footwork-Ford 1:42.479 +1.190
4 14 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Fondmetal-Ford 1:43.025 +1.736
5 8 United Kingdom Mark Blundell Brabham-Yamaha 1:44.025 +2.736
6 31 Japan Naoki Hattori Coloni-Ford 2:00.035 +18.746

Qualifying[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Q1 Q2 Gap
1 2 Austria Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda 1:36.458 1:34.700
2 1 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 1:36.490 1:34.898 +0.198
3 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault 1:36.529 1:34.922 +0.222
4 27 France Alain Prost Ferrari 1:37.565 1:36.670 +1.970
5 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 1:37.874 1:36.882 +2.182
6 28 France Jean Alesi Ferrari 1:37.718 1:37.140 +2.740
7 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ferrari 1:40.176 1:38.154 +3.454
8 24 Italy Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Ferrari 1:41.088 1:38.248 +3.548
9 19 Germany Michael Schumacher Benetton-Ford 1:39.742 1:38.363 +3.663
10 20 Brazil Nelson Piquet Benetton-Ford 1:40.557 1:38.614 +3.914
11 33 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Jordan-Ford 1:40.407 1:38.842 +4.142
12 22 Finland JJ Lehto Dallara-Judd 1:40.191 1:38.911 +4.211
13 32 Italy Alessandro Zanardi Jordan-Ford 1:39.051 1:38.923 +4.223
14 4 Italy Stefano Modena Tyrrell-Honda 1:39.245 1:38.926 +4.226
15 3 Japan Satoru Nakajima Tyrrell-Honda 1:40.100 1:39.118 +4.418
16 21 Italy Emanuele Pirro Dallara-Judd 1:41.246 1:39.238 +4.538
17 25 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Ligier-Lamborghini 1:39.946 1:39.499 +4.799
18 15 Brazil Maurício Gugelmin Leyton House-Ilmor 1:40.714 1:39.518 +4.818
19 7 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Brabham-Yamaha 1:40.867 1:39.697 +4.997
20 26 France Érik Comas Ligier-Lamborghini 1:41.251 1:39.820 +5.120
21 11 Finland Mika Häkkinen Lotus-Judd 1:41.485 1:40.024 +5.324
22 16 Austria Karl Wendlinger Leyton House-Ilmor 1:41.639 1:40.092 +5.392
23 12 United Kingdom Johnny Herbert Lotus-Judd 1:40.512 1:40.170 +5.470
24 14 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Fondmetal-Ford 1:42.835 1:40.184 +5.484
25 30 Japan Aguri Suzuki Lola-Ford 1:41.528 1:40.255 +5.555
26 10 Italy Alex Caffi Footwork-Ford 1:40.517 1:40.402 +5.702
27 9 Italy Michele Alboreto Footwork-Ford 1:41.536 1:40.844 +6.144
28 34 Italy Nicola Larini Lambo-Lamborghini 1:43.057 1:42.492 +7.792
29 35 Belgium Eric van de Poele Lambo-Lamborghini 1:46.641 1:42.724 +8.024
30 29 France Éric Bernard Lola-Ford DNS*

* pre-qualified but injured during practice (broken leg)

Race[edit]

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 2 Austria Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda 53 1:32:10.695 1 10
2 1 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 53 + 0.344 2 6
3 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 53 + 56.731 5 4
4 27 France Alain Prost Ferrari 53 + 1:20.761 4 3
5 7 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Brabham-Yamaha 52 + 1 Lap 19 2
6 4 Italy Stefano Modena Tyrrell-Honda 52 + 1 Lap 14 1
7 20 Brazil Nelson Piquet Benetton-Ford 52 + 1 Lap 10  
8 15 Brazil Maurício Gugelmin Leyton House-Ilmor 52 + 1 Lap 18  
9 25 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Ligier-Lamborghini 52 + 1 Lap 17  
10 10 Italy Alex Caffi Footwork-Ford 51 + 2 Laps 26  
11 14 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Fondmetal-Ford 50 + 3 Laps 24  
Ret 26 France Érik Comas Ligier-Lamborghini 41 Alternator 20  
Ret 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ferrari 39 Electrical 7  
Ret 19 Germany Michael Schumacher Benetton-Ford 34 Engine 9  
Ret 12 United Kingdom Johnny Herbert Lotus-Judd 31 Engine 23  
Ret 3 Japan Satoru Nakajima Tyrrell-Honda 30 Spun off 15  
Ret 30 Japan Aguri Suzuki Lola-Ford 26 Engine 25  
Ret 24 Italy Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Ferrari 15 Wheel 8  
Ret 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault 9 Spun Off 3  
Ret 32 Italy Alessandro Zanardi Jordan-Ford 7 Gearbox 13  
Ret 11 Finland Mika Häkkinen Lotus-Judd 4 Engine 21  
Ret 33 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Jordan-Ford 1 Collision 11  
Ret 22 Finland JJ Lehto Dallara-Judd 1 Collision 12  
Ret 21 Italy Emanuele Pirro Dallara-Judd 1 Collision 16  
Ret 16 Austria Karl Wendlinger Leyton House-Ilmor 1 Collision 22  
Ret 28 France Jean Alesi Ferrari 0 Engine 6  
DNQ 9 Italy Michele Alboreto Footwork-Ford        
DNQ 34 Italy Nicola Larini Lambo-Lamborghini        
DNQ 35 Belgium Eric van de Poele Lambo-Lamborghini        
DNQ 29 France Éric Bernard Lola-Ford        
DNPQ 8 United Kingdom Mark Blundell Brabham-Yamaha        
DNPQ 31 Japan Naoki Hattori Coloni-Ford        

Standings after Grand Prix[edit]

  • Bold text indicates World Champions.
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.

References[edit]


Previous race:
1991 Spanish Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1991 season
Next race:
1991 Australian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1990 Japanese Grand Prix
Japanese Grand Prix Next race:
1992 Japanese Grand Prix