1987 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Brazil  1987 Brazilian Grand Prix
Race details
Race 1 of 16 in the 1987 Formula One season
Circuit Jacarepagua.png
Date April 12, 1987
Official name 16º Grande Premio do Brasil
Location Jacarepaguá Circuit,
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 5.031 km (3.126 mi)
Distance 61 laps, 306.891 km (190.70 mi)
Weather Sunny
Pole position
Driver Williams-Honda
Time 1:26.128
Fastest lap
Driver Brazil Nelson Piquet Williams-Honda
Time 1:33.861 on lap 41
First McLaren-TAG
Second Williams-Honda
Third McLaren-TAG

The 1987 Brazilian Grand Prix was a Formula One race held on April 12, 1987 at the Jacarepaguá Circuit in Rio de Janeiro. It was the first race of the 1987 Formula One season. It was the sixteenth Brazilian Grand Prix and the eighth to be held at the Rio circuit. It was held over 61 laps of the flat 5.031 km (3.126 mi) circuit for a race distance of 306.891 km (190.70 mi).

The race was won by the reigning world champion, Frenchman Alain Prost driving a McLaren MP4/3. It was Prost's fourth victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix, expanding his own record. Prost won the race by 40 seconds over local hero Nelson Piquet driving a Williams FW11B. Third was Prost's new Swedish team mate Stefan Johansson.


In almost a repeat of 1982, prior to the race there was talk of a drivers boycott due to the FIA's new Super Licence fees for 1987. Previously the fee for a drivers Super Licence had been US$825. However, from 1987 drivers who scored World Championship points in 1986 would be required to pay more (i.e. the more points a driver scored, the more he paid for his licence) with drivers such as World Champion Alain Prost and Williams pair Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet were all required to pay around $12,000 (while others such as Lotus rookie Satoru Nakajima only had to pay the basic fee). According to the drivers, it wasn't so about the money, it was the principle that a licence is a licence and that the fee should be the same for everyone. However, by the time the cars were ready for Friday morning's first practice session, everyone (or in some cases the teams) had paid the required licence fee.

Qualifying was dominated by the Honda powered Williams, with Mansell ahead of Piquet. Third was Ayrton Senna with his Lotus. The Lotus 99T, now in the Yellow and Blue colours of new sponsors Camel Cigarettes, was using the computer controlled active suspension for the first time in the hope that its advantages (keeping the car at the optimum ride height) would give them an edge over the rest of the field. The total number of cars entered for the event was 23, but on race day the March team, who went into the race with a modified Formula 3000 car for F1 rookie Ivan Capelli due to their new car not being ready, ran out of Cosworth DFZs, blowing their last in the Sunday morning warm-up and there were only 22 starters.

Qualifying also saw the FIA's controversial pop-off valves used for the first time on the turbocharged cars. The valves limited turbo boost pressure to 4.0 Bar where previously boost was only limited to what the engineers felt the engines could take. The valves were far from popular with the teams and drivers though with some drivers complaining throughout the weekend that they were cutting in too early and not allowing enough boost. Arrows driver Derek Warwick told that at times his valve was opening at just 2.6 Bar (a loss of approximately 280 bhp (209 kW; 284 PS)) while Benetton's Thierry Boutsen told that the two valves on his Ford V6 were both opening at different levels and both well below the 4 Bar limit. McLaren got around the pop-off valve problem by limiting turbo boost on their TAG-Porsche engines to just 3.6 Bar of pressure throughout the weekend, thus never allowing the valves to come into play.[1] One un-named team mechanic was reported to have said that the valves were the only crude piece of engineering on a modern grand prix car

The Ligier team was absent from Rio, missing their first race since the French boycott of the 1985 South African Grand Prix. The team had been set to use a new 4-cylinder, turbocharged Alfa Romeo engine for the season and were to use the Alfa Romeo 890T V8 turbo for the first race while debuting the new Alfa 415T in the second round in San Marino. However, during pre-season testing lead driver René Arnoux compared the new 415T to used food. This gave Alfa's parent company Fiat the excuse they wanted to pull out of its association with the team leaving Ligier without an engine for the season, though Ligier were able to secure a supply of Megatron turbo's from the Arrows team sponsors USF&G and would use them from San Marino until the end of the season.


At the start Piquet was fastest, taking the lead from Senna, while Mansell made a bad start; the Benetton B187s of Boutsen and Teo Fabi out dragged Mansell and Prost. Adrián Campos was disqualified for an incorrect starting procedure, he had forgotten his ear plugs and by the time he had fitted them on the grid the rest of the field had moved away on the warm-up lap. Campos resumed his grid position instead of starting at the rear and race officials removed him for his rookie mistake.[2] Piquet's lead did not last long: on lap 7, he had to pit with engine overheating caused by litter on the track getting into the radiator sidepods. He rejoined back in eleventh position, leaving Senna to lead Mansell (who in the meantime fought back to second) although he too entered in the pits to have his radiators cleared. He rejoined behind Piquet and the pair began to climb through the field.

Senna pitted because of handling troubles of his Lotus 99T and so Prost went into the lead. When Prost stopped for fresh tyres the lead was briefly passed to Thierry Boutsen, who was performing admirably with his Benetton-Ford, but his lead lasted less than half a lap before Piquet went back to first before his second stop, on lap 21. Prost then went ahead again and led for the rest of the race, never looking threatened as he preserved his tyres to only require two stops, while his rivals Senna and Piquet had three.

Mansell's race was compromised late in the race by a tyre puncture, who sent him back to seventh place. On lap 51 Senna suffered an engine failure, causing him to retire from the second place he held for much of the race despite problems with the Lotus' active suspensions. Senna, who pulled off the track in front of the pits, reported that his engine had not actually blown, but that he could feel it was seizing and felt it would be better to retire rather than to destroy the engine.

Prost won ahead of Piquet, his teammate Stefan Johansson, Gerhard Berger (who battled for the whole race with handling problems of his Ferrari F1/87), Boutsen and Mansell, who caught the last point. Satoru Nakajima's first Grand Prix, saw him finish just outside of the points in seventh in his Lotus. This was Prost's 26th victory, which made him the second most successful Grand Prix winner at the time, moving him ahead of Jim Clark and just one win behind tying with Jackie Stewart as the most successful.


Numbers in brackets refer to positions of normally aspirated entrants competing for the Jim Clark Trophy.

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 1 France Alain Prost McLaren-TAG 61 1:39:45.141 5 9
2 6 Brazil Nelson Piquet Williams-Honda 61 + 40.547 2 6
3 2 Sweden Stefan Johansson McLaren-TAG 61 + 56.758 10 4
4 28 Austria Gerhard Berger Ferrari 61 + 1:39.235 7 3
5 20 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Benetton-Ford 60 + 1 Lap 6 2
6 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda 60 + 1 Lap 1 1
7 11 Japan Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Honda 59 + 2 Laps 12  
8 27 Italy Michele Alboreto Ferrari 58 Spun Off 9  
9 10 West Germany Christian Danner Zakspeed 58 + 3 Laps 17  
10 (1) 3 United Kingdom Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 58 + 3 Laps 18  
11 (2) 4 France Philippe Streiff Tyrrell-Ford 57 + 4 Laps 20  
12 (3) 14 France Pascal Fabre AGS-Ford 55 + 6 Laps 22  
Ret 18 United States Eddie Cheever Arrows-Megatron 52 Overheating 14  
Ret 12 Brazil Ayrton Senna Lotus-Honda 50 Engine 3  
Ret 7 Italy Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW 48 Electrical 11  
Ret 8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Brabham-BMW 21 Differential 13  
Ret 17 United Kingdom Derek Warwick Arrows-Megatron 20 Engine 8  
Ret 21 Italy Alex Caffi Osella-Alfa Romeo 20 Withdrew 21  
Ret 24 Italy Alessandro Nannini Minardi-Motori Moderni 17 Suspension 15  
Ret 9 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Zakspeed 15 Turbo 19  
Ret 19 Italy Teo Fabi Benetton-Ford 9 Turbo 4  
DSQ 23 Spain Adrián Campos Minardi-Motori Moderni 3 Disqualified 16  
DNS 16 Italy Ivan Capelli March-Ford 0 Non Starter 23  

Standings after the race[edit]

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


  1. ^ Roebuck, Nigel; Henry, Alan (1987). Naismith, Barry, ed. "Round 1:Brazil The More Things Change...". Grand Prix (Glen Waverly, Victoria: Garry Sparke & Associates) 3: 40. ISBN 0-908081-27-8. 
  2. ^ Roebuck, Nigel; Henry, Alan (1987). Naismith, Barry, ed. "Round 1:Brazil The More Things Change...". Grand Prix (Glen Waverly, Victoria: Garry Sparke & Associates) 3: 40. ISBN 0-908081-27-8. 

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1986 Australian Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1987 season
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1987 San Marino Grand Prix
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