Unexpected F1 Winners Who Defied Expectations


2. Alessandro Nannini (Japan 1989)

Unexpected F1 winners

The 1989 season wasn’t as hegemonic as the one before the McLaren but, without a Ferrari, one could only dream little glory. And, as in 1988, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost came to Suzuka with so much at stake. The Brazilian needed to win to keep his title hopes alive (Australian GP ensued), and that he did, after a tangle with his rival on the chicane – a poor getaway meant he had to pursue Prost and try to find the smallest gap in which he could overtake. Something not easy to do, considering their immense rivalry.

Exiting the crucial 130R turn the right way was more than necessary and, when it happened (lap 46), they made all the following straight until the chicane side-by-side. Having less to lose than Senna, Prost kept his car on the line. Since there was space for only one of them, out of the track they went. It was game over for the Frenchman, but Senna was able to rejoin.
But the powers that be disqualified Senna for using the escape road to return to track. That handled the top spot of the podium to a surprised and elated Alessandro Nannini. The driver from Siena would be glad only to be at the lower spot, but ended as the victor.


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