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Reflections: 1991 Hungarian Grand Prix (Round 10)

August 11, 2008

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.

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 1 Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 77 1:49’12.796 1 10
2 5 Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault 77 +4.599 3 6
3 6 Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 77 +15.594 2 4
4 2 Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda 77 +21.856 5 3
5 28 Jean Alesi Ferrari 77 +31.389 6 2
6 16 Ivan Capelli Leyton House-Ilmor 76 + 1Lap 9 1
7 33 Andrea de Cesaris Jordan-Ford 76 + 1Lap 17
8 19 Roberto Moreno Benetton-Ford 76 + 1 Lap 15
9 32 Bertrand Gachot Jordan-Ford 76 + 1 Lap 16
10 26 Erik Comas Ligier-Lamborghini 75 + 2 Laps 25
11 15 Mauricio Gugelmin Leyton House-Ilmor 75 + 2 Laps 13
12 4 Stefano Modena Tyrrell-Honda 75 + 2 Laps 8
13 24 Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Ferrari 75 + 2 Laps 23
14 11 Mika Hakkinen Lotus-Judd 74 + 3 Laps 23
15 3 Satoru Nakajima Tyrrell-Honda 74 + 3 Laps 14
16 34 Nicola Larini Lambo-Lamborghini 74 + 3 Laps 24
17 25 Thierry Boutsen Ligier-Lamborghini 71 Engine 19
Ret 23 Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ferrari 65 Engine 18
Ret 8 Mark Blundell Brabham-Yamaha 62 Tyre 20
Ret 7 Martin Brundle Brabham-Yamaha 59 Physical 10
Ret 22 Jyrki Jarvilehto Dallara-Judd 28 Engine 11
Ret 20 Nelson Piquet Benetton-Ford 38 Gear Box 11
Ret 29 Eric Bernard Lola-Ford 38 engine 21
Ret 30 Aguri Suzuki Lola-Ford 38 engine 22
Ret 21 Emanuele Pirro Dallara-Judd 37 Engine 7
Ret 27 Alain Prost Ferrari 28 Engine 4
DNQ 14 Olivier Grouillard Fondmetal-Ford
DNQ 9 Michele Alboreto Footwork-Porsche
DNQ 35 Eric van de Poele Lambo-Lamborghini
DNQ 12 Michael Bartels Lotus-Judd
DNPQ 17 Gabriele Tarquini AGS-Ford
DNPQ 10 Alex Caffi Footwork-Porsche
DNPQ 18 Fabrizio Barbazza AGS-Ford
DNPQ 13 Pedro Chaves Coloni-Ford
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