On this day in F1… 8th August
1953 Our Nige was born
One of the underrated greats of Formula One, Nigel Mansell celebrates his birthday today. ‘Il leone’ as he was known to the Tifosi for his fighting drives for Ferrari was born in in Upton-on-Severn in 1953.
Mansell seemed destined never to win the F1 drivers title, seeing the crown slip from his grasp in 1986 (losing the title to Alain Prost at the last race in Australia after he suffered a spectacular tyre blow out). Also Mansell was deprived of glory in 1987 (losing to team mate Piquet despite looking the faster driver all season) and again in 1991 (losing out to Ayrton Senna due to poor reliability in the undoubtedly fast Williams).
Despite finally sealing the title in 1992 Mansell was forced out as Williams signed Alain Prost, so Mansell skipped off to IndyCar, winning the title at the first attempt in 1993.
In 1987 Mansell gave himself a perfect birthday present by taking pole position in his Williams for the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring, edging out Gerhard Berger in a Ferrari.
Mansell’s birthday weekend would be ruined the following day when he lost a wheel nut 5 laps from the finish and was forced to retire while leading the race, handing victory to his bitter rival Nelson Piquet, who would go on to take the drivers title that year.
1982 Piquet and the beginning of fuel strategy
In 1982, at the German Grand Prix, Piquet was involved in a bizarre incident. Piquet, who had retired from the lead in the seasons previous two Grand Prix at the French and British Grand Prix with mechanical problems, let his frustrations get the better of him after he crashed out of the race from the lead.
Piquet, needing to make up time at the front of the race as his Brabham would be stopping to take on fuel (a unique tactic at that point in Grand Prix History), was pushing to make time as he lapped slower cars. He passed Eliseo Salazar’s ATS on the outside coming into the Ostkurve chicane, but Salazar got his breaking wrong, and clipped into the back of Piquet’s Brabham as Piquet turned in, spinning Piquet through the tyre barriers that marked the chicane and forcing him out of the race.
Piquet immediately jumped out of his car, shaking his fists at Salazar, before going over to confront him, shoving Salazar in the face with both hands before swinging wildly with his left fist then right and half kicking out at the bemused Chilean, who still had his helmet on! Salazar helmet now off, walked after Piquet appearing to try to offer some sort of excuse or explanation, but didn’t know which way to look as Piquet slammed his gloves down on the ground in disgust, so he cautiously backed away from the enraged Brazilian.
So next time when you hear Kimi moaning about blue flags, think of Nelson, and remember it could be much worse!!!