With expectations running high, Brazilian fans received the first Grand Prix of 1986 at Jacarepaguá, in Rio de Janeiro, which would go down in history as the first direct confrontation between four F1 geniuses: Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansel and, of course, the young rising star, Ayrton Senna.
Ayrton Senna had shown, up to then, to be extremely competitive with Lotus, while Nelson Piquet debuted with Williams and promised to fight for more wins. The national duel was the topic of conversation that weekend and had fans extremely excited.
Lotus’ Brazilian driver also had a new teammate in 1986: a noble Englishman, Count Johnny Dumfries, who would prove a solid supporting player star during the season.
In qualifying sessions, it was Ayrton Senna who came out in front, winning the pole position one second ahead of Piquet. The crowd went wild in Jacarepaguá because, besides the Brazilian one-two on Saturday, it was Senna’s fist pole position in his home country. The São Paulo born driver had scored the most pole positions the previous year – seven in 16 races.
The second row, in Rio de Janeiro, had Mansel – Piquet’s new teammate – and René Arnoux, Liger’s French driver.
At the start, Senna managed to get a lot of traction from his Lotus and he kept the lead. Mansell started better than Piquet and took the second place. The Britton, emboldened after overtaking his teammate, decided to attack Ayrton, who closed the door on the “Lion”, sending him to the grass on the South corner.
After that, Senna and Piquet ruled the race, but with their places switched. In the third lap, on the same spot Mansell failed to pass him, Ayrton lost the lead to his compatriot from Williams. Ayrton Senna didn’t want to put his car in jeopardy soon into the first race.
The only driver who could change the fate of the race was Alain Prost. Starting in ninth place, the Frenchman was making an amazing recovery. But, in the 30th lap, he had to pull his McLaren over due to a busted engine. It was a discouraging start to the year, but Prost would end up winning his second world title in 1986.
So, it was Piquet who won, with Ayrton Senna coming in second, ensuring a great party for the Brazilian twosome – a good start to the season for the Brazilian drivers. With his victory, Nelson Piquet tied with Emerson Fittipaldi in F1 wins, both with 14.
It was only the third Brazilian one-two in F1 history. The first took place in 1975, at the Brazilian Grand Prix, featuring José Carlos Pace and Emerson Fittipaldi. The same drivers repeated the feat in the following year, but it was Emerson who won the English GP. That meant the 1986 race, in Jacarapeguá, ushered in a new golden age for Brazil in F1.
E. de Angelis
A. de Cesaris
position in championship following the race
championship points accumulated
I went slower at the end to save fuel. I knew there was nothing I could do about Nelson Piquet.