French GP 1991
JULY 7, 1991
French GP, 1991
The French GP had been moved to Magny-Cours for the first time which was not a popular move. The lack of local facilities was the main grievance, there being not enough hotels, and people having to drive for hours to get to the area. The Footwork team had given up with the disastrous Porsche V12 engine and had gone back to Ford Cosworth, hoping to avoid slipping into pre-qualifying at the midseason. Dallara and Jordan were going to escape the difficult session but Brabham and Footwork were both in danger, having failed to score any points.
The system of pre-qualifying was developed in response to the increasing number of teams competing in Formula 1. It was decided that 30 cars were the maximum safe limit to compete for 26 grid places. The cars which had to pre-qualify were decided at the beginning and the midpoint of each season. The 26 cars which had achieved the best results in the previous two-half seasons automatically entered official qualifying for the race. All the other cars had to pre-qualify for the 4 remaining slots available for official qualifying. Those that failed to pre-qualify just went home.
Riccardo Patrese took his third consecutive pole position in his Williams while Ayrton Senna pushed his McLaren so hard that he lost control at the final corner and crossed the line while spinning into the wall. He was still third behind Alain Prost's Ferrari and ahead of Nigel Mansell's Williams. The top four were separated by only three-tenths of a second. Gerhard Berger (McLaren) was fifth with Ferrari's Jean Alesi sixth and then the two Benettons of Nelson Piquet and Roberto Moreno. The top 10 was completed by Mauricio Gugelmin's Leyton House and Gianni Morbidelli in his Minardi-Ferrari.
Patrese made a terrible start and was engulfed by the pack. Prost took the lead with Mansell second chased by Senna, Berger, Alesi and the Benettons (Piquet ahead of Moreno). Early on Berger went out with another blown engine while two laps later Morbidelli tried to pass Piquet and collided with the Benetton, taking Ivan Capelli (Leyton House) with him.
Mansell closed in on Prost and on lap 22 took the lead. During the mid-race pit stops, however, Mansell was slower and so Prost went back ahead. Mansell was second with Senna third, Alesi fourth and Patrese fifth. Mansell gradually caught Prost again and on lap 54 he got ahead again around the outside of the Ferrari in the Adelaide hairpin. Patrese was being lapped by then and allowed Mansell to go ahead but then held up Prost for a couple of extra seconds. In the closing laps Mansell extended his lead to win from Prost, Senna, Alesi, Patrese and Andrea de Cesaris (Jordan).
|6||33||Andrea de Cesaris||Jordan-Cosworth||71||13|
|7||15||Mauricio Gugelmin||Leyton House-Ilmor||70||9|
|r||19||Roberto Moreno||Benetton-Cosworth||63||Driver Ill||8|
|r||14||Olivier Grouillard||Fomet-Cosworth||47||Oil Leak||21|
|r||16||Ivan Capelli||Leyton House-Ilmor||7||Spin||15|
|npq||35||Eric van de Poele||Lamborghini||33|