French GP 1992
JULY 5, 1992
French GP, 1992
After the Canadian Grand Prix where World Championship leader Nigel Mansell had made a fool of himself, the Formula 1 circus headed to France where the lorry drivers were on strike, blockading the roads all over the country. With plenty of back roads leading to Magny-Cours Formula 1 does not have to worry about such matters and the only team affected by the blockade was (inevitably) Andrea Moda Formula. This meant that there was no pre-qualifying. Apart from that the field was as before except that Fondmetal had two GR02s for Gabriele Tarquini and Andrea Chiesa for the first time.
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.
The Ligier-Renaults were suddenly on the pace despite a spectacular accident which befell Erik Comas when Gerhard Berger swerved into his path in practice. Comas flew over the McLaren and into a wall. He was unhurt. Later in the day in wet conditions Christian Fittipaldi shunted his Minardi-Lamborghini after a brush with Michele Alboreto's Footwork. The Brazilian suffered a fractured fifth vertebrae when he went backwards into the wall.
Nigel Mansell took pole from his team mate Riccardo Patrese and Ayrton Senna was third ahead of his McLaren colleague Gerhard Berger. Michael Schumacher (Benetton) outran Jean Alesi (Ferrari) for fifth while Martin Brundle took seventh in the second Benetton and Ivan Capelli was eighth in the second Ferrari. The top 10 was completed by the two Ligiers of Erik Comas and Thierry Boutsen while the two Lotuses filled the sixth row: Mika Hakkinen ahead of Johnny Herbert on this occasion.
On Sunday the weather was uncertain and the track was damp when the race began with Patrese taking the lead from Mansell. On the run down the back straight Schumacher made a mistake and ran straight into the rear of Senna. The Brazilian was out. Further back there were other incidents which wiped out half of the midfield, notably F1 debutant Chiesa, who demolished his brand new Fondmetal chassis and was lucky to emerge unscathed when the front suspension of his car sliced into the rollbar above his head.
Patrese led Mansell, Berger, Brundle, Alesi, Hakkinen, Boutsen, Comas, Herbert and Capelli. Berger disappeared early with engine failure and then it began to rain. Hakkinen impressed by overtaking Alesi for fourth place but then conditions became so bad that the race was red-flagged and stopped.
When the storm eased the grid formed up again for the second part of the event and Patrese took the lead again at the restart. At the end of the main straight Mansell edged ahead but Patrese retook the position and it was not until they reached the pits that Riccardo very obviously waved Nigel into the lead.
|7||9||Michele Alboreto||Footwork-Mugen Honda||68||14|
|r||4||Andrea de Cesaris||Tyrrell-Ilmor||51||Spin||19|
|r||30||Ukyo Katayama||Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini||49||Engine||18|
|r||10||Aguri Suzuki||Footwork-Mugen Honda||20||Spin||15|
|r||15||Gabriele Tarquini||Fondmetal-Cosworth||6||Throttle Linkage||23|
|r||29||Bertrand Gachot||Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini||0||Accident||13|
|nq||7||Eric van de Poele||Brabham-Judd||29|