1989 Japanese Grand Prix

Would Benetton unwittingly have played a role in influencing the outcome of the World Championship? That was one of the intriguing questions spewed out of the volcano that was the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix, an event that capped one of the most acrimonious and controversial seasons motorsport’s supposedly glittering prize has had to endure.

Cut away, for a moment, anything to do with Honda Marlboro McLaren and its warring drivers. Divorce yourself, too, from arguing over the culpability for that inglorious clash at the end of lap 47. Think, instead, of the one external influence that might have affected the situation and saved F1 from further unseemly polemics.

As the two McLarens enacted their impromptu mating dance, Sandro Nannini was the best part of a minute adrift, not exactly nursing his Benetton B189, but certainly not asking of it as much as he had during the early stages, when he had sprinted past Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari off the line and then settled into a steady if fruitless chase of its sister in Gerhard Berger’s hands.

Race Results

Qualifying

Circuit - Suzuka

Country

Japan

Location

Suzuka, Mie Prefecture

Type

Permanent road course

Length

3.641 (Miles)

Record

Ralf Schumacher (Williams FW23-BMW), 1m36.944, 135.208 mph, F1, 2001

3,420

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