Japanese GP 1992

Japanese GP, 1992

There was more action off the track than on it. Alain Prost had signed for Williams with a deal excluding his old rival Ayrton Senna from joining the team, Senna's future being uncertain. Nigel Mansell had quit F1 and was tipped for a drive with the Newman-Haas team in CART racing in America. Riccardo Patrese had signed to be Michael Schumacher's partner at Benetton, leaving Martin Brundle out of a drive. Ferrari had signed Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi while McLaren had a deal with Michael Andretti and had talks with Mika Hakkinen in case Senna decided not to continue. At the same time Honda had confirmed that it was withdrawing from F1 leaving the team without an engine. Ron Dennis was trying to acquire the Renault supply from Ligier.

While all this was happening Ferrari decided to drop Ivan Capelli for the final two races of the year and replace him with test driver Nicola Larini. March needed more money and so Karl Wendlinger stood down and Jan Lammers took over, returning to F1 after 10 years.

The grid was settled on Friday as Saturday was ruined by torrential rain. It was a familiar story, however, with the Williams of Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese ahead of the McLarens of Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger. Michael Schumacher was fifth for Benetton with Johnny Herbert sixth in his Lotus ahead of team mate Hakkinen. Erik Comas was eighth in his Ligier-Renault ahead of Andrea de Cesaris's Tyrrell-Ilmor and Thierry Boutsen in the second Ligier. Ferrari was nowhere with Larini 11th in an experimental active Ferrari F92A and Jean Alesi was back in 15th position with the F92AT. Martin Brundle was suffering from food poisoning and was 13th.

At the end of the first lap Mansell was 3.1 secs ahead of Patrese. Senna was third but soon disappeared with engine failure. Berger was still there but he pitted early and so dropped behind Schumacher and the two Lotus drivers. On lap 13 Schumacher went out with a gearbox failure. Herbert's gearbox failed shortly afterwards and so he lost third place.

Just before the pit stops Mauricio Gugelmin crashed his Jordan heavily and Mansell ran over some of the wreckage. He pitted immediately. His stop coincided with the mid-race pits stops when the tires are changed. Berger and Brundle gained back what they had lost with their early stops and were third and fifth respectively. A few laps later both pitted again, but neither lost a place.

This left Mansell 20secs ahead of Patrese with Berger third. Hakkinen was fourth ahead of Brundle and Erik Comas and de Cesaris were fighting for sixth before Erik parked the Ligier with an engine failure.

At the end of lap 36 however Mansell pulled off the racing line. Patrese went into the lead. Mansell then speeded up again and began to hassle his team mate. This appeared to be a repeat of his performance in Italy. Mansell's second charade in three races ended with an engine failure. Patrese was delighted not to have to worry about Mansell playing behind him. Berger was second and, as Hakkinen had retired with an engine problem, Brundle was third. De Cesaris moved up to fourth while fifth and sixth places went to Alesi and Christian Fittipaldi (Minardi)

Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault  53 1h33m09.553s  
Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda  53 1h33m23.282s  
20 Martin Brundle Benetton-Cosworth  53 1h34m25.056s  13 
Andrea de Cesaris Tyrrell-Ilmor  52  
27 Jean Alesi Ferrari  52  15 
23 Christian Fittipaldi Minardi-Lamborghini  52  12 
32 Stefano Modena Jordan-Yamaha  52  17 
10 Aguri Suzuki Footwork-Mugen Honda  52  16 
21 JJ Lehto Dallara-Ferrari  52  22 
10 22 Pierluigi Martini Dallara-Ferrari  52  19 
11 30 Ukyo Katayama Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini  52  20 
12 28 Nicola Larini Ferrari  52  11 
13 17 Emanuele Naspetti March-Ilmor  51  26 
14 24 Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Lamborghini  51  14 
15 Michele Alboreto Footwork-Mugen Honda  51  24 
Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault  44 Engine 
11 Mika Hakkinen Lotus-Cosworth  44 Engine 
29 Bertrand Gachot Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini  39 Accident 18 
26 Erik Comas Ligier-Renault  36 Oil Pressure 
16 Jan Lammers March-Ilmor  27 Clutch 23 
33 Mauricio Gugelmin Jordan-Yamaha  22 Accident 25 
12 Johnny Herbert Lotus-Cosworth  15 Gearbox 
19 Michael Schumacher Benetton-Cosworth  13 Gearbox 
Olivier Grouillard Tyrrell-Ilmor  Accident 21 
25 Thierry Boutsen Ligier-Renault  Gearbox 10 
Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda  Engine