Japanese GP 1991
OCTOBER 20, 1991
Japanese GP, 1991
There were signs of change in the paddock in Suzuka. The Leyton House team was struggling for money following the arrest of Akira Akagi and so Ivan Capelli was dropped and Karl Wendlinger took over, bringing financial support from Mercedes-Benz. AGS did not turn up, while Arrows announced that the adventure with Porsche was over and that the team would use Mugen-prepared Honda V10s in 1992 with Aguri Suzuki and Michele Alboreto driving. Minardi also announced a change of engines with plans to run Lamborghini V12s in 1992.
Bertrand Gachot reappeared in the paddock, hoping to regain the Jordan drive he had lost when he was jailed but things had moved on and Alex Zanardi stayed in the car. Coloni was back in action having found Naoki Hattori to drive while Johnny Herbert was back in action for Team Lotus once again, having missed the previous race because of an F3000 commitment in Japan. On Friday morning Eric Bernard crashed his Larrousse Lola heavily and broke his ankle.
In qualifying World Championship favorite Ayrton Senna took pole for McLaren-Honda but his challenger Nigel Mansell was second in his Williams-Renault. Senna's McLaren team mate Gerhard Berger was third. Alain Prost was fourth in his Ferrari ahead of Riccardo Patrese in the second Williams, Jean Alesi in the second Ferrari, Pierluigi Martini and Gianni Morbidelli in the Minardi-Ferraris and Michael Schumacher in the faster of the Benettons. The German had a huge crash in qualifying while Nelson Piquet completed the top 10 in his Benetton.
Berger led Senna into the first corner and then drove away leaving Senna holding up the two Williams-Renaults. As Mansell needed to win the race to keep his World Championship hopes alive he knew he had to react.
Alesi disappeared quickly when his Ferrari blew and as a result de Cesaris spun. This caused JJ Lehto (Dallara) to brake and he was hit from behind by his team mate Emanuele Pirro. As more cars arrived de Cesaris tried to rejoin and drove into the path of Wendlinger who was then bounced into Lehto.
Mansell was beginning to look for a way to pass Senna when he went off at the start of the tenth lap. Senna was the World Champion. He then began to charge after Berger, who had sacrificed his tyres to help Senna. On lap 18 Ayrton took the lead. Senna and Berger traded fastest laps. As the race went on Schumacher went out with engine trouble and Martini with an electrical problem and so Martin Brundle (Brabham-Yamaha) moved to fifth and Stefano Modena (Tyrrell-Honda) to sixth. In the final laps Berger's engine began to misfire and he dropped back. Senna had agreed before the race that whoever led the opening laps of the race should win the race and so he backed off at the final corner and let Berger through to victory.
|8||15||Mauricio Gugelmin||Leyton House-Ilmor||52||18|
|r||12||Johnny Herbert||Lotus-Judd||31||Ground Wire/engine||23|
|r||24||Gianni Morbidelli||Minardi-Ferrari||15||Wheel Bearing||8|
|r||33||Andrea de Cesaris||Jordan-Cosworth||1||Accident||11|
|r||16||Karl Wendlinger||Leyton House-Ilmor||1||Accident||22|
|nq||35||Eric van de Poele||Lamborghini||29|