Brazilian GP 1989
MARCH 26, 1989
Brazilian GP, 1989
The start of a new era in Formula with all the teams using normally-aspirated engines. There was also a new tire war with Pirelli returning with seven teams. All the major teams stayed on Goodyears.
World Champions McLaren-Honda retained Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost but used a new Honda V10 engine. Ferrari finally had the new John Barnard-designed Ferrari 640 chassis (powered by a V12 engine) but pre-season testing was terrible and neither Nigel Mansell nor Gerhard Berger held out much hope of any big result. Benetton had switched to Ford V8 engines and taken the controversial decision to hire Johnny Herbert as Sandro Nannini's team mate. Thierry Boutsen had moved on to Williams to partner Riccardo Patrese with the new Renault V10 engine. Lotus had done a deal to use Judd V8 engines and Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima remained the drivers. Arrows had Cosworth V8s for Derek Warwick and Eddie Cheever while March retained Judd power for Ivan Capelli and Mauricio Gugelmin. Tyrrell was still struggling for money but had signed up Michele Alboreto to be Jonathan Palmer's team mate. Ligier had signed a deal to use Cosworth engines and had hired Olivier Grouillard to be Rene Arnoux's partner, Stefan Johansson having gone off to race for the new Moneytron Onyx team (also with Cosworth power) alongside newcomer Bertrand Gachot. Rial expanded to two Cosworth-engined cars and hired Christian Danner and Volker Weidler. Larrousse had exclusive use of the new Lamborghini V10 engine and ran Philippe Alliot and Yannick Dalmas once again but team partner Didier Calmels had disappeared, being arrested after shooting his wife in a domestic argument. AGS became a two car operation for Philippe Streiff and Joachim Winkelhock, Manfred's brother. Unfortunately in pre-race testing Streiff had a huge crash in the new car, rolling and going over the barriers. The rollover hoop was torn off and Philippe suffered serious back injuries which resulted in partial paralysis.
The Pirelli teams were led by the revived Brabham operation which had a supply of Judd V8 engines and drivers Martin Brundle and Stefano Modena. The team was no longer under the control of Bernie Ecclestone, having been sold to a Swiss financier called Joachim Luhti. Scuderia Italia expanded to two cars and hired Andrea de Cesaris to race alongside Alex Caffi in the Cosworth-engined Dallaras. Osella expanded to two Cosworth-powered cars for Nicola Larini and Piercarlo Ghinzani with major new backing from the Fondmetal company. Minardi continued with Cosworth engines and Pierluigi Martini partnered by Luis Sala, while Coloni also had two cars for Roberto Moreno and Pierre-Henri Raphanel. EuroBrun reduced its involvement to one car for Swiss Gregor Foitek while Zakspeed continued with Yamaha and ran Bernd Schneider and Aguri Suzuki.
With a total of 38 cars, a pre-qualifying session became necessary with only four of 12 cars getting through. This high-pressure Friday morning session meant that anyone who had a problem was out for the weekend and some very competitive cars were in trouble.
The winter testing revealed that the McLaren team was still very competitive and it was no surprise that Senna was pole ahead of Patrese, Berger, Boutsen, Prost, Mansell, Capelli, Warwick, Piquet and the hugely-impressive Herbert, who outqualified Nannini first time out.
It was very hot on race day and Senna made a poor start which enabled Patrese and Berger (using an electronic gearchange) to get on either side of him. As they all went into the first corner Senna found himself caught in the middle and both he and Berger spun off. Patrese took the lead with Boutsen second then Mansell, Prost, Capelli, Warwick, Nannini and Herbert. Mansell quickly moved ahead of Boutsen (who retired almost immediately afterwards) . This lifted Prost to third and Capelli to fourth. On lap 15 Mansell went into the lead with a brave high-speed move. When he pitted Patrese went ahead again but after he stopped Prost was briefly ahead until he stopped. Mansell then went back into the lead although he lost it briefly at the second stops when Prost again stayed out slightly longer. Once the McLaren had pitted Mansell went ahead again and, to his own amazement, he led home Prost, Gugelmin and the remarkable Herbert, all covered by 11 seconds. Fifth place went to Warwick with sixth going to Nannini.