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.

It began to rain again and all the frontrunners pitted for wet tyres except Alesi who ran second for eight laps before accepting that he had to pit. A few laps later his Ferrari engine blew.

Mansell duly won the race on aggregate with Patrese, Brundle, Hakkinen, Comas and Herbert completing the top six.

Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault  69 1h38m08.459s  
Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault  69 1h38m54.906s  
20 Martin Brundle Benetton-Cosworth  69 1h39m21.038  
11 Mika Hakkinen Lotus-Cosworth  68  11 
26 Erik Comas Ligier-Renault  68  10 
12 Johnny Herbert Lotus-Cosworth  68  12 
Michele Alboreto Footwork-Mugen Honda  68  14 
24 Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Lamborghini  68  16 
21 JJ Lehto Dallara-Ferrari  67  17 
10 22 Pierluigi Martini Dallara-Ferrari  67  25 
11 Olivier Grouillard Tyrrell-Ilmor  66  22 
27 Jean Alesi Ferrari  61 Engine 
Andrea de Cesaris Tyrrell-Ilmor  51 Spin 19 
30 Ukyo Katayama Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini  49 Engine 18 
25 Thierry Boutsen Ligier-Renault  46 Spin 
28 Ivan Capelli Ferrari  38 Electrics 
16 Karl Wendlinger March-Ilmor  33 Gearbox 21 
32 Stefano Modena Jordan-Yamaha  25 Engine 20 
10 Aguri Suzuki Footwork-Mugen Honda  20 Spin 15 
19 Michael Schumacher Benetton-Cosworth  17 Accident 
Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda  10 Engine 
15 Gabriele Tarquini Fondmetal-Cosworth  Throttle Linkage 23 
29 Bertrand Gachot Venturi Larrousse-Lamborghini  Accident 13 
33 Mauricio Gugelmin Jordan-Yamaha  Accident 24 
14 Andrea Chiesa Fondmetal-Cosworth  Accident 26 
Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda  Accident 
nq 17 Paul Belmondo March-Ilmor    27 
nq 23 Christian Fittipaldi Minardi-Lamborghini   Accident/injury 28 
nq Eric van de Poele Brabham-Judd    29 
nq Damon Hill Brabham-Judd    30