1991 Brazilian Grand Prix
- Sunday, March 24, 1991
- Grande Premio do Brasil
- F1 World Championship
After the dramatic inflation of recent months, and the manner in which most of them drive on what pass for roads in Sao Paulo, the local populace is used to scrapes and close escapes. Yet 70,000 of them held their breath throughout the closing laps of the Brazilian GP as their idol, Ayrton Senna, performed perhaps the greatest escape of them all. On seven previous occasions the McLaren Honda driver had failed to win his home race. Now, after a flawless performance, leading all the way from pole position, here he was being caught steadily by Riccardo Patrese’s Williams. When Patrese’s teammate Nigel Mansell had been forced to abandon his own challenge when his transmission malfunctioned on lap 60, the Italian had been 40s adrift of Senna, yet the manner in which the gap was diminishing made it clear that even Ayrton was not indulging in a little gamesmanship. He was in trouble.
Interlagos was not Phoenix. In the seasonal opener, to everyone’s surprise and consternation bar McLaren’s, Senna had walked away on a virtuoso demonstration run. If the United States victory had been one of his easiest, however, Brazil was one of the hardest. All weekend it was clear that Williams had made a lot of progress in setting up its FW14s. McLaren had competition.
Ayrton, of course, started from pole. The way things are currently, it might save everyone a lot of time and expense if FISA just reserved it permanently for car number one. For the first 25 laps, however, he was under sustained pressure from Mansell. The Briton, as ever, was in irrepressible form in a car that clearly is a quantum leap over last year’s uninspiring FW13B. True, he had to give best to Patrese in qualifying, something that won’t have pleased him after their near contretemps in Phoenix, but come the race Mansell was always going to be Senna’s principal opponent. Nigel was right in Ayrton’s wheeltracks when he came in on lap 25 for his scheduled tyre stop, but it was an agonisingly slow one as he struggled to find a gear. When he did, he sped back down the pit lane after giving the transmission its second racing start. Any mechanic will tell you, restarts from pit stops are worse because the tyres have literally just come out of the oven and thus have even more grip. The chase was back on.
Permanent road course
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes-Benz F1 W09 EQ Power+), 1m10.540, 136.621 mph, F1, 2018
First Race1971 Interlagos F2