As we wait for the 2018 Formula One season to begin, we look back at one of Nigel Mansell’s and F1’s finest ever race -the British GP 1986.
The British GP has a long and rich history with many exciting races.
One of the races from the history that many F1 fans still remember is the British GP 1986 which showcased the sheer pace of local boy Nigel Mansell, that too using a spare car reserved for his partner.
The British GP was the ninth race of the 16 races took place in 1986. It was the last Formula One race held at Brands Hatch, from 1987 onwards British Grand Prix was organised at Silverstone.
Before coming into the race, Alain Prost in his McLaren led Williams’ Nigel Mansell by a single point. Mansell had won the last race (French GP) and was looking to make it two wins in a row. However, it was his team-mate who started at pole and Mansell at second making it a Williams 1-2. Frank Williams made an appearance before the race which showed that he was on the mend after his car accident earlier that year which made him a tetraplegic.
The start of the race was dramatic with Ayrton Senna overtaking Mansell into second place but at the back there was multi-car pile-up, with all drivers coming out safe except one- Jacques Laffite breaking both his legs in the crash. Despite the crash happening just past the pits, the first doctor on the scene happened to be British driver Jonathan Palmer, who has started the race from 22nd place on the grid. Palmer stopped his Zakspeed just past Laffite’s crashed Ligier-Renault, jumped out and raced to assist the injured Frenchman. The race had been Laffite’s record equalling start for most Formula One career starts. The race was stopped after the incident. It took an hour for the race to restart.
That proved lucky for Mansell who was allowed to use the spare car after his drive-shaft failure. Ironically, the car was reserved for Nelson Piquet.
At the restart Piquet again had a good start, but after a few laps Mansell overtook him for the first place. Meanwhile Senna retired with a gear-box problem. After the first round of pit-stops Mansell remained ahead of Piquet. Piquet had an opportunity to overtake Mansell but a backmarker came between him and the first place.
Eventually Mansell managed to hold off Piquet and won the British GP 1986, much to the delight of a 110,000-strong crowd at the race. It was Williams’ first 1-2 of the season. The win also meant Nigel Mansell went ahead in the drivers’ championship. Both the Williams finished one lap ahead of every other car, including third place Alain Prost.
Mansell almost fainted after winning and the crowd roared as he celebrated in the back of an SUV on the way to the podium.