Portuguese GP 1992

Portuguese GP, 1992

In the two weeks between the Italian and Portuguese Grands Prix the promising Fondmetal team dropped out of the action when the team's major sponsor Sgommatutto announced its withdrawal because of economic problems in Italy. Team boss Gabriele Rumi decided not to sink any more of his money into the team and so there were only 26 cars in Portugal. The driver line-up was unchanged and so was the order in qualifying with the two Williams-Renaults ahead, Nigel Mansell taking pole from Riccardo Patrese and the McLarens of Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger. Then came the two Benettons of Michael Schumacher and Martin Brundle followed by Mika Hakkinen's Lotus, Michele Alboreto's Footwork-Mugen, Johnny Herbert's Lotus and Jean Alesi's dismal Ferrari. Ivan Capelli in the second Ferrari was back in 16th place.

On Sunday morning it was finally announced that Alain Prost had signed for Williams-Renault for 1993 which was not a big surprise. Nigel Mansell had already announced his retirement from F1.

The race finally got underway with Michael Schumacher having to start from the back of the grid after his car was late firing up. Mansell took the lead at the start and drove away from the field to score his ninth victory of the year (a record). Patrese ran second until his pit stop but then there was a problem with the rear jack and Riccardo dropped down the order. Mansell was able to stay ahead at his stop. Patrese charged back and was on Berger's tail when the Austrian decided to pit. Patrese failed to realise this and the Italian's right rear wheel hit Berger's left rear as he swerved to avoid the slowing McLaren. The car went high into the air and did not hit the ground for 100 metres, passing under a pedestrian bridge. Fortunately it landed rear end first and clattered down the pitwall, showering debris. Patrese was shaken but unhurt. The Williams team protested against Berger after the race but the stewards studied the incident and ruled that it was a racing accident - with no-one to blame.

The incident overshadowed the rest of the race - demolishing the midfield which ran across the debris: there were punctures and pit callers and bits of driveshaft jammed through monocoques. Chief among those to suffer was Schumacher who had to make two stops.

Mansell was long gone now and when Senna began to have handling troubles Nigel pulled further and further away. By the finish Senna had stopped four times and was still third; Berger was second with an exhaust sounding terrible, while Brundle, Hakkinen and Alboreto finished off the points scorers.

Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault  71 1h34m46.659s  
Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda  71 1h35m24.192s  
Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda  70  
20 Martin Brundle Benetton-Cosworth  70  
11 Mika Hakkinen Lotus-Cosworth  70  
Michele Alboreto Footwork-Mugen Honda  70  
19 Michael Schumacher Benetton-Cosworth  69  
25 Thierry Boutsen Ligier-Renault  69  11 
Andrea de Cesaris Tyrrell-Ilmor  69  12 
10 10 Aguri Suzuki Footwork-Mugen Honda  68  17 
11 17 Emanuele Naspetti March-Ilmor  68  23 
12 23 Christian Fittipaldi Minardi-Lamborghini  68  26 
13 32 Stefano Modena Jordan-Yamaha  68  24 
14 24 Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Lamborghini  68  18 
21 JJ Lehto Dallara-Ferrari  51 Accident/chassis 19 
16 Karl Wendlinger March-Ilmor  48 Oil Radiator/gearbox 22 
26 Erik Comas Ligier-Renault  47 Engine 14 
30 Ukyo Katayama Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini  46 Spin 25 
Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault  43 Accident 
22 Pierluigi Martini Dallara-Ferrari  43 Puncture 21 
28 Ivan Capelli Ferrari  34 Engine 16 
Olivier Grouillard Tyrrell-Ilmor  27 Gearbox 15 
29 Bertrand Gachot Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini  25 Fuelpressure 13 
33 Mauricio Gugelmin Jordan-Yamaha  19 Electrics 20 
27 Jean Alesi Ferrari  12 Spin 10 
12 Johnny Herbert Lotus-Cosworth  Accident/steeringarm