The Hungarian Grand Prix marked an interesting point in the 1991 Formula 1 season.
At this stage Ayrton Senna was just driving to the championship, while Williams were there (but still not quite there) and Alain Prost was still struggling in his Ferrari.
Wins in the previous two Grand Prix had brought Mansell back into the championship race, but it must be noted that Senna had lost them by running out of fuel. Added to this was tension between Senna and Prost, which was eventually resolved to a degree by FISA via some rather unorthodox methods. Unfortunately this was the only interesting thing about the Hungarian Grand Prix as the race itself is very fucking boring.
Senna claimed his 57th pole position during Saturday Qualifying by one second ahead of Ricardo Patrese and Nigel Mansell – this set the pattern for most of the Grand Prix. At one point during the race, Murray Walker asks co-commentator James Hunt how frustrating it must be for the drivers to drive around with next to no chance of passing and in one fowl swoop Walker conveys the feeling of the viewing public without realising it. The top three of Senna, Patrese and Mansell are close together for most of the Grand Prix, but there are no moves at all.
It took nearly 50 laps for this race to get going at which point it really took off. Senna led from the start with Ricardo Patrese in second and Mansell in third, while Prost held fourth was keeping vigil with the leaders until his Ferrari blew up on lap 28. That Mansell’s team-mate was sitting in second for so long despite being nowhere in the championship raised some eyebrows and it wasn’t until lap 46 that Patrese decided to let Mansell through, at which point Mansell began to charge Senna.
Realistically there was just nowhere to go and Mansell ended up trailing Senna by a couple of seconds for the remaining 29 laps, while Patrese seemed to get bored. There are times that I feel sorry for drivers in Patrese’s position – unable to pass Senna for the lead, but required to let his team mate through for the championship. Senna’s mastery was apparent here though as the extremely hot weather in Budapest destroyed the tyres of a majority of the competitors, yet the Brazilian tempered the tyrewear. In the end, Mansell had to cool it as his tyres were wrecked.
The Hungaroring rarely produces epic racing of any sort and this was another example of this. Senna won by 4.5 seconds from Mansell – he simply didn’t need to go any faster – and Patrese picked up an easy third with Gerhard Berger in the second McLaren finishing in fourth place. An invisible Jean Alesi was fifth in the Ferrari and Ivan Capelli was sixth for the Leyton House team. The win in Hungary gave Senna a 12 point lead in the World Championship as Formula 1 headed for Belgium and Spa-Francorchamps.
In addition, this is the last Grand Prix that didn’t have the name Schumacher until the 2008 Australian Grand Prix.