Love Nigel Mansell? Or loathe him? It’s hard to be indifferent about him, and this is so in large part as, whatever else you think of Mansell, gripping theatre was never far away with him.
And this of course manifested on track where Mansell provided some of the most astonishing and dramatic drives in motor sport history. We look at eight of Mansell’s best.
1981 Monaco Grand Prix
Mansell in his Lotus 87 at Monaco in 1981
It is said often that Nigel Mansell was a late developer. His first four-and-a-bit years as an F1 driver, at Lotus, did not amount to much in hard results with poor and unreliable cars plus having a difficult relationship with boss Peter Warr.
But there still were clues therein about Mansell’s potency. He’d shown grit with which he’d become synonymous in time, such as by taking part in Lotus’s selection test with a broken back then doing his F1 race debut sitting in a pool of fuel. And he also showed skill, by qualifying third for the 1981 Monaco Grand Prix, setting a mark barely a tenth off pole.
Denis Jenkinson for one was impressed, drawing sharp contrast between Mansell and his team-mate Elio de Angelis. “While the young Italian was fiddling about and looking for ways to make the car help him go fast, and getting petulant if it didn’t, Mansell got stuck in and put all his effort into his driving,” Jenks said in his Motor Sport race report.
Again it didn’t convert to a hard result, as on lap 14 Mansell “got a bit sideways” and Carlos Reutemann’s Williams ran into the back of him. Mansell had to drop out with a broken rear suspension rocker arm.
1983 British Grand Prix
Mansell exits the pits in his Lotus 94T in the 1983 British Grand Prix
For Mansell, 1983 didn’t start promisingly. It was the year turbo engines took hold; trouble was Lotus only had one such Renault unit, and that went to ‘number one’ de Angelis. But for the British Grand Prix, all changed. New designer Gérard Ducarouge had produced two new and much-improved 94Ts, and both had a Renault turbo in the back.