United States GP 1991

MARCH 10, 1991

United States GP, 1991

The winter of 1990-1991 saw some major changes in the Formula 1 grid although World Champions McLaren stayed much the same with drivers Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger. There was a new Honda V12 engine but otherwise it was business as usual. Ferrari had taken on Jean Alesi as Alain Prost's partner with an updated 1991 car which was called the 642. Williams hired Adrian Newey and he designed the FW14 for Riccardo Patrese and Nigel Mansell, the British driver having decided not to retire after all. Benetton stayed with the Ford V8 and continued to run Nelson Piquet and Roberto Moreno. The team had taken on Ferrari designer John Barnard but the season started with the old B190 rather than the new B191. The team had also taken the decision to switch to Pirelli tyres.

There was a big shake-up at Tyrrell with new Honda V10 engines, a big sponsorship package from Braun and Epson and drivers Stefano Modena (from Brabham) and Satoru Nakajima. Brabham had a deal to run with Yamaha V12 engines and hired Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell but the team was short of money. This was not a problem for Footwork (Arrows) which had massive backing from the Footwork company for Michele Alboreto and Alex Caffi. There was a new Porsche V12 engine. Team Lotus was being rebuilt by Peter Collins and Peter Wright and started the year with revamped 102 chassis, fitted with Ford V8 engines for newcomer Mika Hakkinen and Julian Bailey.

The Osella team had been renamed Fondmetal and a deal had been struck for the cars to be built by a design centre in Bicester run by a number of ex-March staff under Tino Belli. The team retained Olivier Grouillard. The Leyton House team (formerly March) had a new car designed by Chris Murphy with the new Ilmor V10 engine. The team kept Ivan Capelli and Mauricio Gugelmin. The AGS team was still going but Cyril de Rouvre was struggling for money and had tried to merge his team with Larrousse. The team started the year with Gabriele Tarquini and Stefan Johansson. Minardi had done a deal for Ferrari V12 engines and had kept Pierluigi Martini and Gianni Morbidelli as drivers.

Scuderia Italia had the new Judd V10 engine and a car designed by Nigel Cowperthwaite, who had done a good job with the 1990 Minardi. Emanuele Pirro was joined by JJ Lehto. Ligier had Lamborghini V12s for Thierry Boutsen and Erik Comas. The Larrousse team on the other hand had lost its Lamborghini engines because of money troubles and so a supply of Ford V8s was organized for drivers Eric Bernard and Aguri Suzuki. Coloni battled on, Enzo Coloni having re-acquired his team from Subaru. The Italian team hired Pedro Chaves.

There were two new teams: Jordan Grand Prix and the Modena Team. Eddie Jordan had put together a sponsorship deal with 7Up. The team hired Andrea de Cesaris and Bertrand Gachot and ran Ford V8 engines in the back of Gary Anderson's sweeping 191 chassis. The Modena Team was rather hastily thrown together after Mexican businessman Fernando Gonzalez Luna's GLAS team failed to materialize. Italian businessman Carlo Patrucco took over the operation which had a Mauro Forghieri-designed chassis and Lamborghini engine for drivers Nicola Larini and Eric van de Poele.

There were 34 cars and so pre-qualifying remained an issue for the new teams, Scuderia Italia, Coloni and Fondmetal.

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 four other slots available for official qualifying. Those that failed to pre-qualify just went home.

In qualifying Senna was on pole for McLaren with Prost behind him and then the two Williams-Renaults, with Patrese ahead of Mansell. Piquet was next with Alesi sixth ahead of Berger, Moreno, Pirro and Lehto. Hakkinen made a good impression by qualifying 13th while Bertrand Gachot was 14th in his Jordan.

Senna took the lead at the start and never looked like being challenged while Prost chased until he dropped back when pitting for new tyres. He fought back up to finish second. Third place went to Piquet who profited from a non-stop strategy with his Pirelli tyres and Modena and Nakajima picked up fourth and fifth using the same strategy. The final point went to Aguri Suzuki.

Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda  81 2h00m47.828s  
27 Alain Prost Ferrari  81 2h01m04.150s  
20 Nelson Piquet Benetton-Cosworth  81 2h01m05.204s  
Stefano Modena Tyrrell-Honda  81 2h01m13.237s  11 
Satoru Nakajima Tyrrell-Honda  80  16 
30 Aguri Suzuki Lola-Cosworth  79  21 
34 Nicola Larini Lamborghini  78  17 
17 Gabriele Tarquini AGS-Cosworth  77  22 
9r 23 Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ferrari  75 Engine 15 
10r 32 Bertrand Gachot Jordan-Cosworth  75 Engine 14 
11 Martin Brundle Brabham-Yamaha  73  12 
12r 28 Jean Alesi Ferrari  72 Gearbox 
11 Mika Hakkinen Lotus-Judd  59 Oil Union/fire 13 
Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault  49 Gearbox/accident 
19 Roberto Moreno Benetton-Cosworth  49 Accident  
Michele Alboreto Footwork-Porsche  41 Gearbox 25 
16 Ivan Capelli Leyton House-Ilmor  40 Gearbox Oil Pump 18 
25 Thierry Boutsen Ligier-Lamborghini  40 Electronics 20 
Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda  36 Fuel Pump  
Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault  35 Gearbox 
15 Mauricio Gugelmin Leyton House-Ilmor  34 Gearbox 23 
Mark Blundell Brabham-Yamaha  32 Accident 24 
21 Emanuele Pirro Dallara-Judd  16 Gearbox 
24 Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Ferrari  15 Gearbox 26 
22 JJ Lehto Dallara-Judd  12 Clutch 10 
29 Eric Bernard Lola-Cosworth  Engine 19 
nq 26 Erik Comas Ligier-Lamborghini    27 
nq 10 Alex Caffi Footwork-Porsche    28 
nq 18 Stefan Johansson AGS-Cosworth    29 
nq 12 Julian Bailey Lotus-Judd    30 
npq 33 Andrea de Cesaris Jordan-Cosworth    31 
npq 31 Pedro Chaves Coloni-Cosworth    32 
npq 14 Olivier Grouillard Fomet-Cosworth    33 
npq 35 Eric van de Poele Lamborghini    34