Austrian GP 1987
AUGUST 16, 1987
Austrian GP, 1987
Nelson Piquet's fortunate win in Hungary gave him a seven point lead in the World Championship over Ayrton Senna with Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost 11 points behind Senna. Nigel Mansell was handicapped slightly by the fact that he had had a wisdom tooth removed before practice began and this affected his performance in qualifying, allowing his Williams-Honda team mate Nelson Piquet to take pole position. Mansell was second with Gerhard Berger third in his Ferrari and Thierry Boutsen fourth in his Benetton-Ford, just ahead of his team mate Teo Fabi. Michele Alboreto was sixth in the second Ferrari ahead of Ayrton Senna's Lotus-Honda, Riccardo Patrese's Brabham-BMW, Alain Prost's McLaren and Andrea de Cesaris in the second Brabham. Stefan Johansson had a big fright in practice when he found a deer in the middle of the road and hit it at high speed. This destroyed the McLaren's suspension and he crashed heavily, cracking a rib in the ensuing accident.
The safety of the Austrian track was becoming more of an issue and on race day the problems were underlined again. At the start Piquet got away ahead of a fast-starting Fabi but the race was stopped when Martin Brundle's Zakspeed went out of control, hit a barrier and bounced back into the middle for the track. Rene Arnoux (Ligier) and Adrian Campos (Minardi) collided while the two Tyrrells hit one another and Piercarlo Ghinzani's Ligier was also out with a broken suspension.
The grid was reformed and the field tried to get away again. Piquet went into the lead but Mansell had a problem and was crawling away slowly. Berger too slowed suddenly as he tried to pass the Williams and so there was serious congestion behind with the result that Patrese hit Eddie Cheever (Arrows-Megatron). Johansson hit the back of Cheever and Brundle hit the rear of the McLaren. This resulted in Ghinzani braking and being hit by Alex Caffi's Osella and Ivan Capelli (March), Philippe Alliot (Larrousse Lola), Christian Danner (Zakspeed) and Philippe Streiff (Tyrrell) all becoming involved and then Pascal Fabre (AGS) driving over the back of Jonathan Palmer's Tyrrell. The track was blocked again and the race red flagged for a second time.
Remarkably most of the field was able to take the third start with only Streiff missing, although Brundle, Caffi, Danner and Fabre all started from the pitlane. Prost's McLaren refused to get away and so he jumped into the spare and joined the queue in the pitlane. At the end of the parade lap Alboreto went into the pits to have his steering wheel fixed and so there were sixth cars starting from pitlane.
This time Senna stalled but everyone avoided the Lotus and Piquet took the lead from Boutsen, Berger, Mansell and Fabi. At the tail of the field Senna, Prost and Alboreto were beginning to charge through the backmarkers.
Berger disappeared with a turbo failure after only a few laps and Boutsen disappeared on lap 15 with a gear-linkage which had come loose. This left Piquet and Mansell at the front with Fabi third. On lap 21 Mansell took the lead as the two Williams drivers were diving through backmarkers. Once ahead Mansell was able to keep his lead at the pit stops and Fabi remained third so attention turned to the battles further down the field as Alboreto and Senna battling it out. The two collided and Senna had to pit for a new front wing. He dropped out of the points but managed to pick up places when Alboreto retired with an exhaust problem and Prost was slowed with a similar failure. This meant that Boutsen was fourth with Senna fifth and Prost sixth.