1989 Mexican Grand Prix
- Sunday, May 28, 1989
- Gran Premio de Mexico
- F1 World Championship
The power of Honda’s RA109E was ultimately Alain Prost’s downfall in the Mexican Grand Prix on May 28. That, and a gamble on tyre choice that didn’t come off. Throughout qualifying round the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez the Frenchman had stayed close to team rival Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian had been faster in both of Friday’s sessions as Prost rued his choice of front springs and dampers for this notoriously bumpy venue. Then on Saturday morning Alain topped the times. By the afternoon, however, Senna put in his familiar blast to beat him, not by the tenths that had became usual prior to Monaco, but by a massive nine-tenths of a second.
Prost filed that away in his mental notebook, which had already been throwing up data from the mid-part of 1988. Something felt wrong, and his warning sirens were sounding the way airliner’s do when it is about to stall. When he topped the race-morning warm-up, from Mansell and Senna, he felt better, but knew he would have to do something special about Ayrton.
In 1986, despite running on only five cylinders for most of the race, Prost had finished the Mexican Grand Prix in a brilliant second place. Gerhard Berger had won after a cunning non-stop run for Benetton and Pirelli as the Goodyear runners floundered. Title aspirants Piquet and Mansell, and Senna, had each made two tyre stops. The canny Prost, however, had made it through on two sets and thus only one stop. He couldn’t catch Berger but he did beat his main rivals, and the drive duly went a long may towards helping him retain his world title.