For the fifth year in a row, the result of Suzuka’s race was going to determine the season’s world champion. Ayrton Senna was directly involved in four of those contests. In 1988 and 1990 the Brazilian ended up with the title. Only in 1989 Senna wasn’t champion. And, in 1991, there was an important difference: this time, his rival was Williams’ Nigel Mansell.
Senna had six victories in the season, four of them in the first four races of the year (USA, Brazil, San Marino and Monaco). Mansell had won five races, three of them in a row (France, UK and Germany). Ayrton Senna arrived in Japan 16 points ahead of Nigel Mansell. So even if he finished the race behind the Britton, Senna could win the championship and become a Formula 1 three-time champion before the last race, in Adelaide, Australia.
Senna managed a better position on the starting grid than the Williams driver. The McLaren cars dominated the first row, with Berger in pole position, with a time of 1min34s700, less than two tenths of a second faster than Senna. Mansell started in third.
A. de Cesaris
position in championship following the race
championship points accumulated
If I had said that I hadn’t understood the request (to allow Berger to pass) everyone would have believed it. But Berger gave a beautiful performance and deserved to win as much as I did.