1987 Japanese Grand Prix

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Japan  1987 Japanese Grand Prix
Race details
Race 15 of 16 in the 1987 FIA Formula One World Championship
Suzuka circuit map (1987-2002).svg
Date 1 November 1987
Official name XIII Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix
Location Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 5.859 km (3.641 mi)
Distance 51 laps, 298.829 km (185.670 mi)
Weather Dry
Pole position
Driver Ferrari
Time 1:40.042
Fastest lap
Driver France Alain Prost McLaren-TAG
Time 1:43.844 on lap 35
First Ferrari
Second Lotus-Honda
Third McLaren-TAG

The 1987 Japanese Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Suzuka on 1 November 1987. It was the fifteenth and penultimate race of the 1987 FIA Formula One World Championship. It was the first Japanese Grand Prix since 1977, and the first as part of the Formula One World Championship to be held at the Honda-owned Suzuka Circuit, which originated as a test track for Honda motorcycles and automobiles.

Soichiro Honda was extremely enthusiastic about this race, and told his racing engineers "We have to win. And we have to keep winning..."[1] aiming for a hometown victory at Honda's home track in its native Japan. Soichiro Honda had reason for optimism as four of the entrants were powered by Honda-made engines. The Lotus 99Ts of Ayrton Senna, who had won races earlier in the season and was joined on Team Lotus with national favourite Satoru Nakajima, along with the dominating Williams FW11Bs driven by Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, who were both vying for the overall championship. However, after Nigel Mansell was taken out of contention by a qualifying crash, the other three cars of Piquet, Senna and Nakajima could only qualify in 5th, 7th and 11th places respectively, with the best finish for Honda being Senna's 2nd place.

The race was won by Austrian driver Gerhard Berger driving a Ferrari F1/87. It was the end of a 38-race losing streak for Formula One's most famous team and Berger's second Grand Prix victory having won the Mexican Grand Prix the previous year. Berger won by 17 seconds over Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna driving a Lotus 99T. Third was the McLaren MP4/3 of Swedish driver Stefan Johansson.

The World Drivers' Championship was decided during practice when British driver Nigel Mansell crashed his Williams FW11B heavily at the S curves. Mansell's injuries put him out of racing for the remainder of the season, leaving Brazilian Williams driver Nelson Piquet unopposed to claim his third World Championship, adding to his victories with Brabham in 1981 and 1983.


The 1987 Japanese Grand Prix was the first race to be held in Japan since James Hunt won in his McLaren at Fuji, in 1977. This time, the Grand Prix circus utilised the Honda-owned Suzuka Circuit. The scene was set for a tense championship deciding race between bitter Williams Honda teammates, Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell. However, Mansell suffered a huge crash during Friday qualifying while trying to better Piquet's time which put him out of action for both the Japanese race and the subsequent Australian Grand Prix. As a consequence, Piquet won his third World Championship before the race even began.

Qualifying once again demonstrated the return to form of Ferrari, as Gerhard Berger obtained his second pole position of the season, with the F1/87 being perfectly suited to the Suzuka circuit. Alain Prost qualified 2nd in his McLaren-TAG with Thierry Boutsen 3rd in his Benetton-Ford. Following Mansell's Friday crash, the three remaining Honda powered cars of Piquet, Senna, and Senna's teammate, local favourite Satoru Nakajima, could only qualify in 5th, 7th and 11th places respectively.


At the start Berger immediately imposed his authority by building a cushion. Prost, in his McLaren, perhaps the only driver capable of challenging Berger for the victory, suffered a puncture on the first lap and, therefore, was out of contention. Prost, however, drove a superb race to climb up through the field finishing just outside the points with the consolation of having the fastest lap. Boutsen's Benetton ran second early on but could not live with the pace set by Berger, ultimately fading to fifth. Piquet spent much of the race behind Senna's Lotus but was unable to find a way past his countryman. The new world champion eventually retired in the pits with oil pouring from the rear of his Williams. At one stage Stefan Johansson in the McLaren closed on Berger, but the Austrian driver responded and eventually romped to a seemingly effortless victory, the first Ferrari's victory since the 1985 German Grand Prix. Ayrton Senna dramatically passed Johansson on the last lap to take second place. Michele Alboreto, in the second Ferrari, got away very slowly at the green lights leaving him towards the rear of the field. However, the Italian drove an aggressive race to climb his way back up the order to finish an excellent fourth despite suffering from a dragging undertray causing a huge amount of sparks. Boutsen and Nakajima rounded out the points.

Johansson's third place was the 54th and last podium finish for the Porsche-designed TAG turbo V6 engine which had been first used in Formula One by McLaren at the 1983 Dutch Grand Prix.


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 28 Austria Gerhard Berger Ferrari 51 1:32:58.072 1 9
2 12 Brazil Ayrton Senna Lotus-Honda 51 + 17.384 7 6
3 2 Sweden Stefan Johansson McLaren-TAG 51 + 17.694 9 4
4 27 Italy Michele Alboreto Ferrari 51 + 1:20.441 4 3
5 20 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Benetton-Ford 51 + 1:25.576 3 2
6 11 Japan Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Honda 51 + 1:36.479 11 1
7 1 France Alain Prost McLaren-TAG 50 + 1 Lap 2  
8 (1) 3 United Kingdom Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 50 + 1 Lap 19  
9 18 United States Eddie Cheever Arrows-Megatron 50 Out of Fuel 12  
10 17 United Kingdom Derek Warwick Arrows-Megatron 50 + 1 Lap 13  
11 7 Italy Riccardo Patrese Brabham-BMW 49 + 2 Laps 8  
12 (2) 4 France Philippe Streiff Tyrrell-Ford 49 + 2 Laps 25  
13 26 Italy Piercarlo Ghinzani Ligier-Megatron 48 + 3 Laps 24  
14 (3) 29 France Yannick Dalmas Lola-Ford 47 + 4 Laps 22  
15 6 Brazil Nelson Piquet Williams-Honda 46 Engine 5  
Ret 25 France René Arnoux Ligier-Megatron 44 Out of Fuel 17  
Ret 21 Italy Alex Caffi Osella-Alfa Romeo 43 Out of Fuel 23  
Ret 14 Brazil Roberto Moreno AGS-Ford 38 Electrical 26  
Ret 24 Italy Alessandro Nannini Minardi-Motori Moderni 35 Engine 14  
Ret 9 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Zakspeed 32 Engine 15  
Ret 8 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Brabham-BMW 26 Engine 10  
Ret 19 Italy Teo Fabi Benetton-Ford 16 Engine 6  
Ret 10 West Germany Christian Danner Zakspeed 13 Engine 16  
Ret 16 Italy Ivan Capelli March-Ford 13 Accident 20  
Ret 23 Spain Adrián Campos Minardi-Motori Moderni 2 Engine 21  
Ret 30 France Philippe Alliot Lola-Ford 0 Accident 18  
DNS 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Honda Practice Accident    

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

Lap leaders[edit]

Gerhard Berger 50 (1-24, 26-51), Ayrton Senna 1 (25)


  • This was the first Drivers' Championship win for a Honda powered car.
  • 60th podium finish for Honda.
  • 150th Grand Prix start for Arrows
  • 214th and final Grand Prix start for Alfa Romeo. Although the Osella team would continue to use the Alfa Romeo 890T V8 engine in 1988, Alfa Romeo pulled its support from the team and the engine was badged as the "Osella V8" in 1988.[3]

Championship standings after the race[edit]

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


  1. ^ Sato, Masaaki (2006). The Honda Myth: The Genius and his Wake. Vertical. p. 349. ISBN 1932234268. 
  2. ^ "1987 Japanese Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on 3 November 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  3. ^ 1987 Japanese Grand Prix @ StatsF1

Previous race:
1987 Mexican Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1987 season
Next race:
1987 Australian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1977 Japanese Grand Prix
Japanese Grand Prix Next race:
1988 Japanese Grand Prix
Preceded by
1986 Mexican Grand Prix
Formula One Promotional Trophy
for Race Promoter

Succeeded by
1988 British Grand Prix