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Mansell gets the bullet

AS suggested two weeks ago in F1 FOREIGN REPORT, Nigel Mansell's F1 career has come to an end with the announcement just before the start of the Monaco Grand Prix weekend that the British driver - World Champion in 1992 and Indycar Champion in 1993 - would not be continuing with the McLaren team.

Mansell's relationship with the team has been ill-fated from the start with Nigel missing the first two races because the MP4/10's cockpit was not big enough to accommodate him. The team worked flat out to build a new car - the MP4/10B - but Mansell's performance in Imola was lackluster and in Barcelona he pulled out of the race, complaining that the car was "undriveable".

This upset the team, and although the announcement of the split suggested that the parting was on "the best possible terms", team insiders at McLaren have made it quite clear that Mansell leaves the team with the imprint of Ron Dennis's boot on his rear.

In order to save further embarrassment and bad publicity all concerned have agreed to a pay-off and no mud-slinging. The word is that Nigel has been given $2 million to go away.

The team has announced that Mark Blundell will replace Mansell for the next couple of races and the Englishman is expected to be signed for the whole year after the Canadian GP in a fortnight. The Italian press has reported contacts between McLaren and Riccardo Patrese, but this is more wishful-thinking than reality.

Mansell leaves F1 after a career which dates back to 1980 when he made his debut for Lotus at the Austrian GP. He raced for Lotus, Williams, Ferrari and McLaren, competing in 187 GPs, winning 31 times. He holds the record for the most wins in a single season, having scored nine in his championship winning year in 1992, in the dominant Williams-Renault.

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