San Marino GP 1989
APRIL 23, 1989
San Marino GP, 1989
The field was as it had been in Rio de Janeiro except that Gabriele Tarquini had been signed to drive for AGS, replacing the injured Philippe Streiff. Tyrrell had completed the first of its new 018 chassis for Michele Alboreto while Jonathan Palmer remained at the wheel of a 017B.
After Nigel Mansell's unexpected win in Brazil there were hopes that the 1989 season would be rather more exciting than had been the case in 1988 but at Imola the McLaren-Honda challenge was dominant with Ayrton Senna ahead of Alain Prost in qualifying. Mansell was third fastest in his Ferrari with Riccardo Patrese fourth for Williams ahead of Gerhard Berger's Ferrari, Thierry Boutsen's Williams, Sandro Nannini's Benetton, Nelson Piquet's Lotus, Alex Caffi's Dallara and Olivier Grouillard's Ligier.
At the start Senna took the lead with Prost behind him followed by Mansell and Patrese with Berger fifth. At the start of the fourth lap, however, the Ferrari went into Tamburello and rather than turning as it should have done the car went straight on into the wall at around 160mph. The impact damaged the car considerably and it bounced down the wall from around 100m and then came to rest and burst into flames. The Imola fire crews reacted with impressive speed and efficiency and the fire was out in just over 20 seconds. Berger had a broken rib, chemical burns to his body (from the fuel) and second degree burns to his hands. The race was stopped while Berger was tended to.
The race would be restarted and the results declared on aggregate. Prost made the better start on this occasion and on the run down to Tosa Senna went ahead. Prost felt that the move violated a previous agreement they had had about not overtaking at Tosa on the first lap. It was the start of the breakdown of their relationship.
The end result was a McLaren 1-2 with Nannini third after Mansell went out with a gearbox failure after 23 laps. Patrese ran fourth early on but he went out with an engine belt problem and left the place to Piquet. he also retired with engine trouble and that left Boutsen to take fourth ahead of Derek Warwick's Arrows and Palmer's Tyrrell. Boutsen was later disqualified but then reinstated after a post-race dispute over the rules for the restart.