1989 Hungarian Grand Prix

Pop 84 Magyar Nagydij

Sunday, August 13, 1989
Hot, dry and sunny
Fastest Lap:
Mansell, 1m22.637
1989 season:

From the Motor Sport Archive

To find the last time McLaren was really beaten fair and square in a Grand Prix — as opposed to losing a Grand Prix, which is another matter altogether — you have to go back to Adelaide 1987. In motor racing, that's an awful long time for anyone to be so dominant.

That explained a lot about the depth of feeling in the paddock at the Hungaroring after Nigel Mansell had scored the best victory of his career by taking the fight to McLaren and Williams, and winning the hard way.

McLaren lost to Ferrari at Monza last year, to the Prancing Horse again at Rio at the start of 1989, and to Williams in Canada, but each time it had been the top dog. In Hungary, that changed. It wasn't a situation that was likely to last during the remaining races, but on a course renowned for bunching times, the Anglo-Japanese cars for once weren't the pacesetters. Being McLarens, however, they still salvaged second and fourth places, in what for the team was A Bad Race. Anyone else in Formula One at present who says he wouldn't be delighted to have his team score such a result is a liar.

Mansell had been optimistic all along about Hungary, which is why qualifying proved such a rude shock. Everyone and his dog had understeer, but the Briton's Ferrari was worse than many and he was in big trouble. Things got so bad that the set-up was changed completely between Friday and Saturday, yet from ninth fastest he slipped to twelfth, his lowest grid position in years. At a circuit on which overtaking is damn near impossible, it seemed an insuperable handicap.

Mansell had one ace up his sleeve, however. The F1/89 felt so bad that it just didn't work on qualifiers, so Nigel qualified on Goodyear's softer C compound race tyres. On his way to arriving at that conclusion he gained more experience of running on the Cs and the harder Bs than anyone else in the place. Being Mansell, he parlayed that into a raceday advantage that he exploited fully.

If there was one delirious Ferrari driver, however, there was also another who was totally disgruntled: Gerhard Berger.