28 – 1989 Hungarian GP


A series taken from the 162-page Motor Sport special 100 Greatest Grands Prix (other specials are available here).

Ayrton Senna could ‘do business’ with Nigel Mansell. Racing against Alain Prost was akin to nailing jelly to a tree, whereas the moustachioed Englishman was a passionate racer, at his happiest wheel-to-wheel. 

Beating Prost was more important. Beating Mansell was more fun. Hell, losing to Mansell was more fun.

His Ferrari handling badly, as was Gerhard Berger’s, Mansell concentrated on race set-up during qualifying, which caused him to line up 12th – and be quickest in morning warm-up. Although overtaking was notoriously difficult here, he had passed four by the time he exited the first corner.

After a period of consolidation, he then picked off Thierry Boutsen’s Williams and Alex Caffi’s Dallara (on Pirellis) before chomping into Prost’s 17-second advantage. The latter’s Honda turbo was hesitant, while team-mate Senna was bottled up by the leading Williams of Riccardo Patrese, the unexpected pole-sitter. The usually dominant McLarens had been denied their escape.

View this race on the Archive and Database

Buoyed by the news that Berger’s stop for new Goodyears had been unnecessary, Mansell passed Prost without difficulty and closed on Senna for what became the lead when poor Patrese’s radiator was holed by mechanical debris.

With 25 laps to go, Mansell was prepared to wait for his chance. It came six laps later when Stefan Johansson’s Onyx emerged in front of the leader. The Swede had pitted because of a gear-selection glitch, which proved elusive to his team but promptly returned once back on the track. Badly baulked, Senna braked… and rapid-response Mansell flicked right to pass him. 

Senna gave chase until Mansell set fastest lap on lap 66 and Senna’s fuel read-out flashed ‘red’. It was rare for him to settle for second yet he was smiley at the finish. The reason? He had ‘done business’ with Mansell and beaten Prost. PF

About 100 Greatest Grands Prix | From the editor Damien Smith
The Grand Prix motor races we can never forget…

This was a special one-off magazine, dedicated to our love of Grand Prix racing and produced by the same team that brings you Motor Sport each month.

It seemed a good idea: whittle down 107 years of racing history to come up with 100 GPs that could be considered the ‘greatest’ – then rank them in meritocratic order. By week three, the old grey matter was beginning to ache…

Defining greatness was the first task. There were the obvious races – the wheel-to-wheel duels, the comeback classics. But there were also individual performances of supreme dominance, races that might not necessarily have been the most exciting to witness. Greatness goes way beyond thrill-a-minute, we decided.

Choosing which races should make the list was hard enough; ranking the top 100 in some sort of order was even tougher, especially when it came to the crunch: which should be number one? We never did agree unanimously on the ‘greatest’, but if the magazine was to be finished a decision had to be taken. And that’s what I’m here for!

Will you agree with our choice and order? Probably not. But if steam begins to issue from your ears, take a deep breath. In any exercise such as this, there is no definitive list – because there can’t be. Our top 100 is based on opinion, nothing more, designed to be a bit of fun and to spark good-natured debate among fans of the world’s greatest sport.

You can download 100 Greatest Grands Prix in PDF form in the Motor Sport app.

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