Japanese GP 1989

Japanese GP, 1989

Three weeks after Ayrton Senna's dominant victory at the Spanish GP, the Brazilian needed to win again in Japan to keep the World Championship open. Senna duly took pole position from the World Championship leader Alain Prost with the Ferraris of Gerhard Berger and Nigel Mansell sharing the second row. Then came Riccardo Patrese (Williams), Sandro Nannini (Benetton), Thierry Boutsen (Williams), Philippe Alliot (Larrousse Lola Lamborghini), Stefano Modena (Brabham) and Nicola Larini in an Osella. At the start Prost made a good start and took the lead and for the first half of the race he chipped away to build up a lead of five seconds. Then Senna began to come back at him and by lap 40 they were only a second apart. Prost had the advantage on the straights, Senna was better in the corners.

At the end of lap 46 Senna made his move at the chicane. Prost saw him coming and turned into his teammate's path. The two interlocked McLarens slid up the chicane escape road. Prost, thinking the World Championship was over, climbed out.

To separate the cars the marshals pushed Senna backwards on to the track. They put the car into a dangerous position and so had to push it forwards again. As they did so Senna bump-started the engine. He drove through the chicane and rejoined. The nose of his car was damaged and he had to pit but he rejoined only five seconds behind Nannini. Senna's chase was furious and merciless. On lap 50 Ayrton sliced past Nannini at the chicane to take the lead and won the race.

But it was Nannini who appeared on the podium. Senna had been excluded for missing the chicane. McLaren appealed the decision but the FIA Court of Appeal not only upheld the decision but fined Senna $100,000 and gave him a suspended six month ban.

In the record books the win still belongs to Nannini but anyone who was there will remember it as one of Senna's greatest days. A day when, in equal machinery, the titans of the 1980s went up against each other - and Senna won the battle.

Behind Nannini were the two Williams-Renaults of Patrese and Boutsen while Nelson Piquet (Lotus) was fourth, Martin Brundle (Brabham) fifth and Derek Warwick (Arrows) sixth.

dq Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda  53 Push Start After Accident 
19 Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Cosworth  53 1h35m06.277s  
Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault  53 1h35m18.181s  
Thierry Boutsen Williams-Renault  53 1h35m19.723s  
11 Nelson Piquet Lotus-Judd  53 1h36m50.502s  11 
Martin Brundle Brabham-Judd  52  13 
Derek Warwick Arrows-Cosworth  52  25 
15 Mauricio Gugelmin March-Judd  52  20 
10 Eddie Cheever Arrows-Cosworth  52  24 
21 Alex Caffi Dallara-Cosworth  52  50 
10 22 Andrea de Cesaris Dallara-Cosworth  51  60 
Alain Prost McLaren-Honda  46 Accident 12 
Stefano Modena Brabham-Judd  46 Alternator 
27 Nigel Mansell Ferrari  43 Engine 
12 Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Judd  41 Engine 12 
Jean Alesi Tyrrell-Cosworth  37 Gearbox 18 
30 Philippe Alliot Lola-Lamborghini  36 Engine 
28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari  34 Tranmission 
20 Emanuele Pirro Benetton-Cosworth  33 Accident 22 
26 Olivier Grouillard Ligier-Cosworth  31 Engine 23 
16 Ivan Capelli March-Judd  27 Front Suspension 17 
17 Nicola Larini Osella-Cosworth  21 Brakes 10 
Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Cosworth  20 Fuel Leak 26 
34 Bernd Schneider Zakspeed-Yamaha  Drive Shaft 21 
23 Paulo Barilla Minardi-Cosworth  Clutch 19 
24 Luis Sala Minardi-Cosworth  Accident 13 
nq 25 Rene Arnoux Ligier-Cosworth    27 
nq 29 Michele Alboreto Lola-Lamborghini    28 
npq 38 Paul-Herni Raphanel Rial-Cosworth    29 
nq 39 Bertrand Gachot Rial-Cosworth    30 
npq 31 Roberto Moreno Coloni-Cosworth    31 
nq 18 Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Cosworth    32 
npq 36 Stefan Johansson Onyx-Cosworth    33 
npq 35 Aguri Suzuki Zakspeed-Yamaha    34 
npq 33 Oscar Larrauri EuroBrun-Judd    35 
npq 37 JJ Lehto Onyx-Cosworth    36 
npq 40 Gabriele Tarquini AGS-Cosworth    37 
npq 41 Yannick Dalmas AGS-Cosworth    38 
npq 32 Enrico Bertaggia Coloni-Cosworth    39