Nigel Mansell turns 66 on Thursday (August 8) and, to celebrate the birthday of one of Ayrton Senna’s greatest rivals, we have selected several moments in which both F1 World Champions went head to head on the track. Throughout the years, they had several overtakes, a few crashes and a lot of admiration for each other. Take a look back:
United States GP – 1986
Ayrton Senna’s epic victory in Detroit, driving a Lotus in 1986, went down in history as the first time the Brazilian waved the Brazilian flag from inside his cockpit. But the win came only after a daring overtake on Mansell. Senna somehow found enough room between the Williams and the wall to take back the lead at the street circuit. It was the Brazilian’s fourth win in F1.
Spanish GP – 1986
The ending of 1986 Spanish GP is among the three tightest finishes in F1 history. Ayrton Senna was leading with his Lotus, while William’s Nigel Mansell tried everything he could think of to overtake him. Both drivers crossed the finish line practically side by side, with the Brazilian just 0s014 ahead.
Portuguese GP – 1989
The expression “if it wasn’t tragic, it would be funny” could be used to describe the 1989 Portuguese GP. Ayrton Senna was trying to catch up to Alain Prost in the championship leaderboard, and was ahead of his teammate during the race at Estoril. Ferrari’s Gerhard Berger was in the lead, and Senna became second after Mansell put his car on reverse at the pit-box, delaying his own pit-stop. Right after that, the Britton’s illegal maneuver was punished with a black flag, but he stayed on the track long enough to take Ayrton Senna out of the race. The Brazilian, who had nothing to do with any of that, could only watch as Prost widened the gap in the standings.
Spanhish GP – 1991
McLaren and Williams were the two dominant forces in the 1991 season. At the Spanish GP, when Nigel Mansell’s team had a better set up, the Britton and the Brazilian shared Barcelona’s main straight in one of the year’s most memorable scenes, thanks to the sparks that flew out and the cars’ close proximity. In the end, Mansell came out on top and won the contest, But Senna would secure his world title in the following race.
Japanese GP – 1991
After winning two championships in Japan – in 1988 and 1990 – Senna was after his third world title also in Suzuka. The only driver standing in the way of Ayrton’s feat was Mansell. If the Britton won the race, he would push the decision to the Australian GP. Berger was leading the race, and Senna had to hold Mansell back for ten laps. The Brazilian forced a mistake from Mansell and the Britton was unable to come back to the race after going into de gravel trap on the first corner. Senna’s third title was secure.
Monaco GP – 1992
It seemed like Senna’s hegemony in Monaco in 1989, 1990 and 1991 was coming to an end in 1992: less than 10 laps away from the end, Nigel Mansell was in control of the race. That was when the Britton had tire problems and had to stop at the boxes to make a change. Senna jumped ahead and, even with the Britton hot on his heels for eight laps, he was able to hold back the powerful Williams.