Racing car: Williams FW14B

Jenks on 1992 San Marino GP

It would be an understatement to say Williams-Renault dominated the San Marino Grand Prix. It was the grand prix, playing to a hushed audience in a packed house, with a large supporting cast. It was hushed because the red cars were effectively non-existent.

But after cheering for Ferrari an Italian enthusiast will cheer for a job well done, so as the Williams-Renault drivers did their slowing-down lap the large crowd showed their appreciation in a very healthy manner. On the inside, among people who get free tickets to watch motor racing, there was too much moaning about the monotony of another Williams 1-2. Either those people have short memories or they are new to the game, because I don't recall complaints about McLaren, Lotus, Tyrrell, Cooper and others dominating their particular era of GP racing. These unknowledgeable people spend too much time trying to dream up ways of making grand prix racing more entertaining for the public.

By any standards it was a pretty serious motor race, and afterwards, if you had said to Patrick Head: "That was a very fine demonstration of total domination", he would have given his satisfied smile and replied: "Yes, I suppose it was." Senna, in third place in the McLaren-Honda, never really saw which way the two Williams went, and most of the remaining runners only saw them as they went by to lap them.

McLaren was not particularly enthusiastic about its performance, for while the rest of the starters would have given all they possessed to be next best behind the two Anglo-French cars, third place was not good enough for the Woking team. As the two Williams crossed the line flat out to go off on their slowing-down lap, Senna arrived much more slowly and promptly pulled over to the side after crossing the line. He was physically drained, having driven as hard as he could for the entire race, and was suffering from cramp in the upper half of his body, brought on by the seat-harness pressing on a nerve.

At the end of the slowing-down lap, the two Williams-Renaults arrived slowly, nose to tail, and drove to the finish line between the packed grandstands and the crowded pitwall. They coasted to a stop, revving their V10s, slightly out of synch with each other, as if to say: "VVhaa-am, whaa-am, beat that the rest of you." As they stopped with a final "whee-am" it was a very moving scene, regardless of the whys, wherefores, likes or dislikes. The crowd then engulfed them as only an Italian crowd can, and anyone just arriving could have been forgiven for thinking Ferrari had won.

Had there been two Ferraris in that crowd it would have been 10 times the size, but the enthusiasm for grand prix racing in Italy shown today was impressive nevertheless. --- DSJ
July 1992