The 1990 San Marino Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 13 May 1990 at Imola. It was the third round of the 1990 Formula One season. It was the tenth San Marino Grand Prix and it was the eleventh time Imola hosted a Formula One Grand Prix. The race was held over 61 laps of the five kilometre circuit for a race distance of 307 kilometres.

The race was won by Italian driver Riccardo Patrese driving a Williams FW13B. It was Patrese's third Grand Prix victory, his first since 1983 and his first for Williams. Patrese took a five-second victory over Austrian driver Gerhard Berger driving a McLaren MP4/5B. Third was Italian driver Alessandro Nannini driving a Benetton B190.


There was an unusually long two month break between the Brazilian and San Marino events in the world championship. As such, this extensive early season break would give the team's time to adjust to the new safety regulations that would be made mandatory at Imola.

The new regulations would see reinforced chassis, less constrictive cockpits, higher roll-over bars, red lights and a mandatory detachable steering wheel. FISA President, Jean-Marie Balestre, had demanded a safety overhaul for 1990 after the career ending crash of Philippe Streiff and Gerhard Berger's fiery accident at the previous edition of the San Marino Grand Prix.

Philippe Streiff would in fact be attending his first grand prix at San Marino since his accident at Jacerapagua which had left him a paraplegic. He would join the TF1 television broadcast as a pundit for the race and posed with fellow Formula One paraplegics, Frank Williams and Clay Regazzoni.

Imola was the home turf of the Ferrari team to which Murray Walker would note, "The only colour that matters is scarlet and where the magic symbol is the prancing horse. If your name is Prost or Mansell, you are a hero. If not, you are the enemy."

Ayrton Senna remained the championship leader, however the increasing competitiveness of the Ferrari's had meant that the McLaren superiority was well and truely being questioned in 1990. Alain Prost, having taken victory was expected to take victory by the Tifosi on their home turf at San Marino. Although Nigel Mansell endorsed the new car, Prost, however was cautious, believing the mandatory changes to the car for the new regulations may hamper their team's performance.

Circuit Changes Edit

In response to the enormous accidents of Nelson Piquet and Gerhard Berger at the Tamburello corner, the circuit organisers decided to make some changes to the layout of the corner. The grass that had lined the outside of the corner had been replaced by a concrete run-off. Its purpose was such that it would help prevent the cars from losing control in the high speed corner due to the added grip from the run-off area. ESPN's David Hobbs, however would note "I'm not sure of the overall safety of that."

Entry listEdit

The break in between Brazil and San Marino had seen extensive testing from the Formula One teams as they rapidly worked to adjust to the new regulations that would be enforced at Imola. Some of the teams took the time to release their new 1990 challengers at Imola to match the change in regulations.

Most prominently was Benetton with their B190 designed by Rory Byrne for Nelson Piquet and Alessandro Nannini. Team Principal, Flavio Briatore, demanded his drivers to take at least one victory before the conclusion of the season.

The full entry list for the 1990 San Marino Grand Prix is outlined below:

No. Driver Entrant Constructor Chassis Engine Model Tyre
1 France Alain Prost Italy Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 641 Ferrari 036 V12 3.5 G
2 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Italy Scuderia Ferrari Ferrari 641 Ferrari 036 V12 3.5 G
3 Japan Satoru Nakajima United Kingdom Tyrrell Racing Organisation Tyrrell 019 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 P
4 France Jean Alesi United Kingdom Tyrrell Racing Organisation Tyrrell 019 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 P
5 Belgium Thierry Boutsen United Kingdom Canon Williams Team Williams FW13B Renault RS2 V10 3.5 G
6 Italy Riccardo Patrese United Kingdom Canon Williams Team Williams FW13B Renault RS2 V10 3.5 G
7 Australia David Brabham United Kingdom Motor Racing Developments Brabham BT59 Judd EV V8 3.5 P
8 Italy Stefano Modena United Kingdom Motor Racing Developments Brabham BT59 Judd EV V8 3.5 P
9 Italy Michele Alboreto United Kingdom Footwork Arrows Racing Arrows A11 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 G
10 Italy Alex Caffi United Kingdom Footwork Arrows Racing Arrows A11 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 G
11 United Kingdom Derek Warwick United Kingdom Camel Team Lotus Lotus 102 Lamborghini 3512 V12 3.5 G
12 United Kingdom Martin Donnelly United Kingdom Camel Team Lotus Lotus 102 Lamborghini 3512 V12 3.5 G
14 France Olivier Grouillard Italy Osella Squadra Corse Osella FA1M89 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 P
15 Brazil Maurício Gugelmin United Kingdom Leyton House Racing Leyton House CG901 Judd EV V8 3.5 G
16 Italy Ivan Capelli United Kingdom Leyton House Racing Leyton House CG901 Judd EV V8 3.5 G
17 Italy Gabriele Tarquini France Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives AGS JH24 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 G
18 France Yannick Dalmas France Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportives AGS JH24 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 G
19 Italy Alessandro Nannini United Kingdom Benetton Formula Ltd Benetton B190 Ford Cosworth HBA4 V8 3.5 G
20 Brazil Nelson Piquet United Kingdom Benetton Formula Ltd Benetton B190 Ford Cosworth HBA4 V8 3.5 G
21 Italy Emanuele Pirro Italy BMS Scuderia Italia Dallara F190 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 P
22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Italy BMS Scuderia Italia Dallara F190 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 P
23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Italy SCM Minardi Team Minardi M189 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 P
24 Italy Paolo Barilla Italy SCM Minardi Team Minardi M189 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 P
25 Italy Nicola Larini France Equipe Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS33B Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 G
26 France Philippe Alliot France Equipe Ligier Gitanes Ligier JS33B Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 G
27 Brazil Ayrton Senna United Kingdom Honda Marlboro McLaren McLaren MP4/5B Honda RA109E V10 3.5 G
28 Austria Gerhard Berger United Kingdom Honda Marlboro McLaren McLaren MP4/5B Honda RA109E V10 3.5 G
29 France Éric Bernard France ESPO Larrousse F1 Lola LC90 Lamborghini 3512 V12 3.5 G
30 Japan Aguri Suzuki France ESPO Larrousse F1 Lola LC90 Lamborghini 3512 V12 3.5 G
31 Belgium Bertrand Gachot Italy Subaru Coloni Racing Coloni C3B Subaru 1235 F12 3.5 G
33 Brazil Roberto Moreno Italy EuroBrun Racing EuroBrun ER189B Judd EV V8 3.5 P
34 Italy Claudio Langes Italy EuroBrun Racing EuroBrun ER189B Judd EV V8 3.5 P
35 Switzerland Gregor Foitek United Kingdom Monterverdi Onyx Formula One Onyx ORE-1 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 G
36 Finland JJ Lehto United Kingdom Monterverdi Onyx Formula One Onyx ORE-1 Ford Cosworth DFR V8 3.5 G
39 Italy Bruno Giacomelli Italy Life Racing Engines Life F190 Life F35 W12 3.5 G


Friday QualifyingEdit

  • Donnelly was the first car to be seen out on track, however it was Senna who went on to set the initial pace times.
  • John Watson mused as to whether Senna would complete one of those "unbelievably fast qualifying laps" that would see him take pole position.
  • Mansell was quick in the initial stages having set a time to put him behind Senna in the time sheets. Watson commenting "well that's what he would have needed for this practice session. To be at the top of the lists and he'll be much happier as a result of that quick lap."
  • However, the timing screens would show that both Berger and Patrese would quickly take the position from him.
  • Patrese, who was described by Andrew Marriot as "enjoying his racing more than ever" was taking full advantage of the car upgrades that had been applied to the FW13B following the extensive tests at Donnington.
  • The McLaren's with their dominant Honda V10 engines and improved Goodyear qualifying tyres, seemed untouchable on the high speed Imola circuit.
  • Watson noted that the cockpit extensions to allow for Berger's large frame had meant "the problem with cramp is something that he is overcoming".
  • A reminder from Andrew Marriot that "Gerhard has already had two fastest laps this season" was then underlined when Berger snatched the provisional pole time from teammate Senna.
  • Berger was seen to be pushing his limits to the extreme. He could be visibly seen failing to slow down for yellow flags at the Acque Minerale for a stopped car out on the circuit. John Watson noting "normally you are supposed to respect the yellow flag when it is waved at you."
  • The surprise of Berger's speed, prompted the question from Andrew Marriot "What is Alain Prost going to think about that? What is Ayrton Senna going to think about that?"
  • Prost was barely seen by the cameras in the session, however his teammate Mansell, like Berger, was catching major attention in the session.
  • Mansell having dropped off the pace was described as having a "frustrating session". He had used up his first set of tyres having failed to surpass the times of Berger, Senna and Patrese. He was then held up by the very slow moving Grouillard at the Variante Alta.
  • Mansell could be seen angrily driving alongside Grouillard, shaking his fist and nearly running into him. Watson described Grouillard's driving as "cruising like a Sunday afternoon drive. He could have had the wife and kids with him at the speed he was going at." 
  • The session was then stopped when Martini had an enormous accident heading into the Acque Minerale bringing out the red flag. Martini was temporarily trapped in his Minardi and required the assistance of the marshalls and medical team to vacate his car.
  • Watson was quick to note he had "understeered" off the circuit, whilst Marriot also noted the "brake dust" coming off the back of his car before he hit the tyre barrier.
  • Watson criticised the lack of armco barriers at the corner. Noting "I would say that is almost too solid a tyre wall. You want those tyres to absorb impact, that is like hitting something solid."
  • The front of the car had been completely destroyed. Watson, noting "the new regulations are designed to save drivers. But the front of his car has been ripped off."
  • Having set the eighth fastest time of the day, Martini would be unable to participate in the rest of the weekend due to his injuries. Watson would further point out that the fact that Martini is a very "short driver" saved him from more severe leg injuries.
  • When the green flag resumed, Senna was seen to be the first car to return to the circuit.
  • Senna then took the provisional pole time with a 1:24.080, however he was then almost immediately beaten by Berger with a 1:24.027. "A staggering two seconds under last year's time" exclaimed Andrew Marriot.
  • Senna was unable to match this time before the end of the session. His McLaren teammate had beaten him to the pole time. He had been unable to bring out his qualifying best in the first session.
  • The session closed, with a second incident involved with a Minardi. Barilla lost control of his car at the Rivazza. His out of control car, nearly slamming into Mansell's Ferrari.
  • Mansell was forced to take evasive action and ended up in the gravel trap with Barilla. An angered Mansell could be seen walking back to the pits, however despite his own drama's in the day, he remained faster than teammate Prost.
  • Prost could be seen undoing his seatbelts and attempting to exit the car, before his mechanics had finished wheeling him into the garage.
  • At the conclusion of the session, Watson would note "there are three things that stood out. The first was Gerhard Berger, out Sennering, Ayrton Senna to take provisional pole position. Riccardo Patrese in the Williams, and that car now really looks very competitive indeed and finally Martin Donnelly. A superb twelfth place in the Lotus-Lamborghini.

Saturday Practice Edit

Patrese was ahead of Senna, Alesi, Boutsen, Berger, Mansell, Nannini, Prost, Piquet and Warwick.

Saturday Qualifying Edit

  • The McLaren's were once again on form for the second qualifying session on Saturday. Astutely noticed by Watson, both Berger and Senna were both visibly rough in their handling of the car throughout the Imola circuit.
  • Berger was the first of the two to enter the track, Watson noting "he is always up the kerb, he has been sliding up the kerb a little bit on this lap, but generally speaking its not been too bad". Despite his rough handling of the car, Berger was able to drop the provisional pole time by three tenths with a 1:24.079.
  • Senna meanwhile was being forced to respond, however he appeared to be having even worse handling problems than his teammate. Senna could be seen riding the kerbs heavily through Acque Minerale to which Watson noted every corner so far, he is overdriven the car. He is at this point trying too hard, I know its easy sitting here commentating to say that but he needs to control what he is doing a little bit more. That's wasting time, he's losing time and he is abusing the tyres, abusing the car and will actually go slightly slower than he would think he is capable of doing." 
  • Senna would go on to set an identical time to his previous best during the Friday session. Although he was struggling, he was able to continue to put in a competitive lap time, albeit he was still slower than teammate Berger.
  • Derek Warwick whom was running well in the morning practice session then ruined his afternoon when he spun his Lotus into the gravel trap.
  • There was further problems for Lotus when his teammate, Martin Donnelly then could be seen having to exit the car due to mechanical failure.
  • Boutsen whom had been struggling with his brakes in the morning practice session then improved his time to go fourth fastest. However he was still failing to match the pace of teammate Patrese who had been running extremely competitively.
  • Senna had returned to the track to which he had appeared to have solved his handling problems from his earlier run. Watson commenting "the car looks right, he looks totally in control of the situation and I think we are going to see a very fast lap from Senna."
  • Having struggled to match Berger all weekend, Senna put in an incredibly strong lap to take the provisional pole time with a 1:23.220. Senna's time nearly eight tenths faster than Berger's own best time.
  • At Ferrari, Mansell watched proceedings from a monitor whilst seated in his cockpit. As he prepared for his running, teammate Prost was already out on track. Andrew Marriott prompted the question "can the Ferrari's at least get onto the second row of the grid? They are on the third row at the moment."
  • Prost, however could only make a marginal improvement which consolidated his sixth placing grid position.
  • Mansell, whom was sitting in fifth thereafter came out of the pits for his first run. However like he had the previous day, Mansell once again encountered traffic at the Variante Alta. This time, Mansell encountered the slow car of Boutsen to which Mansell was forced to run wide off onto the kerbs to avoid the Williams. In defence of Boutsen, Watson noted "Nigel was slightly out of control before he got there".
  • A frustrated Mansell would attempt a second qualifying lap, however on this lap he missed his braking point at the Acque Minerale and shot straight over the grass and cut the chicane. Watson pointed out "that means the qualifying tyres have one life less than they would have had if he had not made that misjudgement."
  • With Mansell having failed to improve, Patrese's Williams further shaved time off, however still could not approach the times of the McLaren's.
  • Berger would return to track in a desperate final attempt to reclaim the pole from Senna. However as was noted by Watson "Its doubtful the tyres really have the performance left in them after that earlier hard run." Berger failed to find an improvement and was forced to settle for second position behind Senna.
  • Commenting on his incident with Barilla, Mansell noted "we've had a few problems in qualifying. We had severe traffic on my good lap and at the end there was absolutely amazing. I hope you got it on television. I don't know what made me look into the mirror as I took the corner, but as I looked in the mirror I could see a car coming backwards down the hill on the grass. And instinctively, if I turned into this corner now, the guy is going to t-bone me. So I braked hard and drove off the circuit and you saw him go past the front of my car at 60-70 miles an hour and we were very lucky."
  • Berger was frustrated to have lost pole to his teammate to which he stated, "Ideally, I want another 10 centremetres."

Qualifying ResultsEdit




The warm-up demonstrated that the race pace competition was looking to be extremely close between McLaren, Williams and Ferrari. Murray Walker commented, "Mansell and Boutsen, fifth and sixth on the grid did not look in all that marvelous shape yesterday in the half hour warm-up, there was only four tenths of a second covering the first five. Senna was fastest, but only 1 tenth of a second faster than Mansell who was followed by Berger, Boutsen and Prost." James Hunt would further comment "Patrese wasn't quite as quick in the warm-up, but I think he wasn't far away and with his performance in qualifying, I am sure he is there as well."

Pre-Race Edit

"The official crowd estimate is over 200 000 people. I mean you can compare the crowd to what comes to the Indianapolis 500, however the fanaticism is even greater. And it is a fanaticism for Ferrari."

Ahead of the race, there is a furious debate among the Goodyear runners as to whether the 'C' compound or 'B' compound tyres will run more effectively in the warm temperatures of the Imola circuit. As was noted by David Hobbs, "The 'C's are going to be a little bit marginal. That's a softer compound and it really depends on the temperature of the Sun."

This drama was further emphasised by John Bisignano whom noted, "The last minute decision was mainly to go with a 'B' type compound, not the soft compound. They think they may be able to go the full race. It is such a fine line, you cannot believe it. The team managers are a bit nervous."

Before the race began, Prost and the two Williams cars would be running on the hard 'B' compound tyre. Mansell was the only driver to dare running four softer compound 'C' tyres. James Hunt called this "A bit of a gamble. Theoretically quicker, however is very marginal on whether it will last the race or whether he'll have to stop. But he is going a gamble for speed."

McLaren meanwhile were running a unique strategy in which both Senna and Berger were running the 'B's on the right with the 'C's on the left. James Hunt noting "they've got their harder tyres on the right hand side of their cars which gets worked harder on this left handed track. And the softer tyres, the 'C' compound on the left hand side." McLaren appeared confident that their car would take victory, albeit the Williams-Renault combination was looking increasingly strong. John Bisignano would note "Ron Dennis is worried about Williams in the later stages of this event." 

Report Edit

  • Berger got an excellent start to take the lead, however Senna tailed him through Tamburello before reclaiming the lead at Tosa. Boutsen then also manages to move past Berger through Piratella. Moreno fails to get off the line due to a stuck throttle. Alesi had also made up a place, overtaking Prost through Villeneuve and being described as "by no means afraid to muscle his way in. He is not intimidated at all, even though he is the new kid on the block."
  • Behind them, the two Ferrari's ran wide at Tamburello, the cars of Mansell and Prost spitting up an enormous amount of dust into the air.
  • The pack had become all bunched up and as Nakajima approached the dust cloud, he slowed extensively, only to be rammed by Capelli and have his car flung into the opposing wall. Nakajima emerged from the accident with heavy bruising to his left arm.
  • The accident prompts questions as to whether the cause was a "case of not being able to see" due to Mansell's dustcloud. Nakajima's car was completely wrecked whilst Capelli was also forced out of the race.
  • At the Villeneuve curve, Donnelly had been forced wide by Bernard and spun his car. Amazingly, he did not come into contact with any cars as he went backwards through the Tosa hairpin.
  • After the first lap, Senna led ahead of Boutsen, Berger, Patrese, Alesi, Mansell, Prost, Piquet, Nannini, Warwick and Alliot.
  • After the second lap, Senna ranked as being six tenths ahead of Berger whom was being hounded by Berger. Patrese whom had dropped to fourth was seen locking his tyres whilst under pressure from Alesi at Rivazza.
  • The following lap, Mansell manages to overtake Alesi. Albeit the Tyrrell does not make it easy for him. Alesi blocking Mansell through Tamburello and Villeneuve before Mansell manages to take the position at Tosa.
  • Pirro loses control at the Variante Alta, he stalls his Dallara and is forced to retire.
  • Senna continues to hold a small margin over Boutsen in second position, however on the fourth lap, his right rear tyre is punctured heading into Rivazza. The McLaren driver is unable to control the car and spears off into the gravel trap. The Tifosi roar with delight.
  • Boutsen whom had been noted as being "slower than his teammate all weekend" by David Hobbs was now leading the race. He held a narrow margin over Berger, whilst a short distance behind the two leaders came Patrese and Mansell.
  • Mansell, however was emitting some heavy blue smoke from the rear of his car. However as was observed by ESPN, "it doesn't seem to be slowing him down too much." Nonetheless it was rasing concerns about his longevity in the race. However, this was not the first time the Ferrari's had emited blue smoke without issue.
  • Behind Mansell, his teammate, Prost had made advancements. Having overtaken Alesi, he was now slowly catching the battling duo of Patrese and Mansell. Alesi, meanwhile had gotten entangled with Piquet whom he forced into a spin. The unfortunate Piquet dropped to twelfth whilst Alesi continued on without issue.
  • Piquet drops behinnd Nannini, Warwick, Bernard, Suzuki and Alliot. With his teammate dropping back, Nannini in the second Benetton takes up the challenge against Alesi's Tyrrell for sixth.
  • Piquet is quickly back on the pace, Alliot quickly falls behind him as well as dropping behind Donnelly's Lotus. As Piquet begans to close in on the battling Lola's, Alesi drops down to seventh, Nannini spending very little time behind the Tyrrell.
  • Boutsen continues to hold the lead, Berger is 1.9 seconds behind, his teammate Patrese is an even further two seconds adrift. On ESPN it is commented "Thierry Boutsen has been slower than his teammate, all weekend. Until today of course and today is the one that counts."
  • Patrese is meannwhile occupied in attempting to hold Mansell's Ferrari behind him. Mansell having the current advantage with his softer tyres, although his engine continued to emit blue smoke.
  • Piquet is quickly climbing the field, in the three laps since his spin, he had overtaken Alliot, Suzuki and Bernard. Quickly gaining on Warwick, he looked soon to resume his battle with Alesi. This task was made easier with Alesi whom had now fallen away from the top six had ran wide and missed the chicane at the Variante Alta.
  • At the back of the field, Barilla attempts a desperate move on Grouillard at the Variante Bassa. He succeeds only in spinning his Minardi.
  • As a glum Senna heads for his helicopter to leave the circuit, Piquet's recovering drive continues as on lap 13 he retakes eighth from Warwick at Piratella. Commenting on the move, ESPN notes "he had to outbrake him into the corner."
  • Boutsen sets a new fastest lap of the race with a 1:29.084, whilst Berger continues to loom in the background. 
  • On the fifteenth lap, Gugelmin enters the pits, his Leyton House suffering from electical failure.
  • On the eighteenth lap, Piquet whom was described by David Hobbs as "whistling through the field", caught and passed Alesi through the exit of Tamburello.
  • Approaching Rivazza, Boutsen whom appeared set for his first non-wet race victory then had a sudden engine termination. Blue smoke began pouring from the back of the Williams. Berger, in his desperation to take the lead "came very close to collecting the back of him" through the exit of the corner.
  • For the second time in the race, Rivazza had been the place that had signalled the end of the leader's race.
  • Boutsen limped back to the pits before clambering out of his car in frustration.. David Hobbs noting the irony to which he said "The one thing that Renault engine has shown this year is tremendous reliability."
  • The same lap, Suzuki also pulls out of the race with transmission failure.
  • Patrese is now left as the lone Williams still in the race, now promoted to second, however he remained under intense pressure from Mansell's Ferrari behind him.
  • On the twenty second lap, Mansell dives down the inside of Patrese into Tosa to take second position. The Ferrari's were now picking up speed, Hobbs commenting "Prost was six seconds down three laps ago, now he is a mere 2.3 seconds behind."
  • Whilst the Ferrari's were quick, blue smoke continued to emit from Mansell's car to which it was noted "You have to wonder what is going through Mansell's mind."
  • Gugelmin whom continues to have mechanical trouble has a check-up of his car in the pits.
  • Mansell meanwhile was beginning the chase in attacking the race leader, Berger. Prost, meanwhile was having a challenge in finding a way to catch Patrese due to his choice of hard tyres.
  • However the drivers on softer compounds were encountering tyre degradation, Alesi became the first of the lead cars to make a scheduled tyre stop. Hobbs noting "That would explain why Alesi slowed up so much, he obviously ran his first set of tyres ragged."
  • Hobbs commented "Prost is putting Patrese under severe pressure." The lone Williams was doing his best to conserve his engine and his tyres.
  • Mansell was furiously chasing after Berger, however he was encountering difficulty with the backmarkers. First he caught Lehto napping and then as he approached Rivazza, De Cesaris whom wasn't checking his mirrors turned into the corner without seeing Mansell. Mansell is sidewiped over the inside kerbing, however luckily maintains control of his car. His charge on Berger's lead, however is severely hampered.
  • James Hunt called De Cesaris "A silly idiot." whilst Hobbs was more critical noting "The sooner De Cesaris is castigated, the better it will be for everybody. Because he had Nannini into the wall on Friday and it was as deliberate a mistake as you could ever see."   
  • Prost meanwhile was growing frustrated on his lack of progress on the hard tyres and entered the pits for a new set of soft tyres. He exits the pits behind Nannini whilst Bernard and Alliot also make entry into the pits.
  • The following lap, De Cesaris enters the pits to which he suffers a very slow stop. Gugelmin whom has encountered continuous problems throughout the race, finally pulls in to retire. 
  • De Cesaris would then shortly enter the pits to retire whilst Larini made a tyre stop.
  •  Although his chase had been hampered by De Cesaris, Mansell continued to hunt down Berger, setting a new fastest lap of the race in the process.
  • The brakes that were being put under heavy loading were evidently becoming a problem. For Modena, his brake trouble saw him spear into the gravel trap. He leaves with a damaged front wing, however his brakes are ruined and he opts to retire from the race.
  • On the thirty fifth lap, Mansell arrives on the tail of Berger. Exiting Tamburello, Mansell gains huge momentum, however Berger refuses to give way into Villeneuve. Mansell is forced onto the grass and at 300kph he spins out of control. He completes a 360 spin before amazingly regaining control of the car. Despite his spin, he has only lost two seconds to Berger. Hobbs comments "That is the most incredible spin I have ever seen!". He would further note "I tell you what a lot of the following drivers are going to come round and see those skid marks criss-cross onn the track and they are going to be looking for the wreckage and they are going to be thinking, 'What the heck hampered here?".
  • Although he had survived his spin, Mansell's charge on the lead seemed to have dissipated. Hobbs noting "I'd expect those tyres to be a bit rooted." Patrese was now closing back in on Mansell for second position.
  • Foitek retires from the race with a broken engine from fourteenth.
  • Prost meanwhile had taken over as the fastest driver on track, however he still remained a distance behind Nannini in fourth position.
  • Mansell's radiators are clogged with grass, however he still presses on and in fact manages to close the gap down to Berger once again. However his engine which had been smoking the entire race finally let go on lap thirty five.
  • Like Boutsen, exiting the Rivazza, Mansell's engine billows with smoke. He pulls into the pits to retire from the race.
  • Patrese was now placed in second position and was now taking up the charge on Berger's lead. He was described on ESPN as being "long overdue" for a race victory. 
  • Berger had worn down his tyres, however Patrese whom had been running conservatively throughout the race was now charging after the McLaren leader. The McLaren mechanics stood attentively in the pits, expecting a potential pit-stop from Berger.
  • Prost continued to lap as the fastest car on track, however he remained out of contention in fourth position.
  • Berger continued to attempt to distance himself from Patrese, however lost further time behind the backmarker of Grouillard. David Hobbs commenting "Grouillard has taken up the mantle from Rene Arnoux as blocker extraordinairre!"
  • Berger then began to approach the battling Lotus cars of Warwick and Donnelly. Approaching Rivazza, Berger dives down the inside of Donnelly in an incredibly risky maneuvere. At the exit of the corner, Donnelly shakes his fist in anger. Surprised by the ambitious move from Berger.
  • Nonetheless, Berger's daring overtakes on the Lotus cars had paid off. He had bought himself some time from Patrese whom was more conservative in lapping the backmarkers. Warwick is also proving troublesome to lap.
  • Further down the field, Prost had closed to within the wheels of Nannini. Nannini is then challenged when he must lap the troublesome Lotus cars. However he continues to maintain his position. Prost who has a developing clutch problem is conserving his equipment.
  • Patrese climbs all over the back of Berger, approaching the Acque Minerale he was bauked by a backmarker allowing Patrese to slip into the lead.
  • In the closing laps, Grouillard and Bernard retire whilst Berger drops away from Patrese whom now has a comfortable lead in the race.
  • Patrese took the victory whilst Berger whom was falling back into the clutches of Nannini and Prost finished second. Prost couldn't get on the podium albeit his car began to severely smoke near the end of the race.
  • Rounding out the final points places are Piquet and Alesi whilst Warwick fends off Donnelly despite a suffering engine. 


Patrese is ecstatic with his race victory. His last victory was at the 1983 South African Grand Prix and that came curteous of Nelson Piquet allowing him to take the win. Throughout the race, he was haunted by his performance at the 1983 San Marino Grand Prix when he threw away a race win due to a mistake. Patrese comments "My car was super perfect from beginning to end".

The Williams had demonstrated for the first time since 1987 to be the outright fastest team on track, albeit Frank Williams admitted their peformance was assisted by Senna's retirement. However the Williams could have had the potential for a one-two if not for Boutsen's retirement. Boutsen whom needed an outright win to secure his reputation retired due to a blown engine after failing to select the correct gear.

He noted after the race, "I had a problem with the gearbox from the very beginning and the gear selection was already very bad. I kept on missing gears. I selected third instead of first and the engine immediately went to 16 000 rpm and couldn't resist." Although he had a problem, there were continued suggestions that he had thrown away a certain victory.

Berger meanwhile had lost the race lead after he had worn down his tyres. Although at the end of the race, he claimed he had lost the lead simply because his Honda engine had began to lose power. Osamu Goto however reports that there was no loss of power in the engine. Berger further maintains that more cockpit extensions would be needed to ensure he could extract the maximum out of the car. Ron Dennis is in agreement and orders that continued modificiations be made to the car to allow for Berger's frame.

Berger had also gained some infamy in the race, the Ferrari team placing the blame of Mansell's retirement on the McLaren driver. Their press secretary Franco Liistro claims that a punctured radiator from Mansell's spin had cost a Ferrari home victory. However the media is not entirely convinced as Mansell's engine had been smoking the entire race.

Suspected problems with the Ferrari engine were further bolstered after Prost's engine was found to be in very poor condition. Prost had done well to bring his car to the finish after numerous problems with the car, however he wasn't able to maximise his performance on a day that his main championship rival, Senna, had retired.

Prost had made a poor choice in choosing the harder compound tyre at the start of the race. He was subsequently unable to match Mansell's pace whom was fighting for the lead on the softer compound. Realising his mistake, Prost had pitted for soft tyres in the middle of the race and whilst he was subsequently much faster, he had lost the opportunity to claim a podium.



Standings after raceEdit

V T E San Marino San Marino Grand Prix
Circuits Imola (1981-2006)
Imola 1981
Races 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006
V T E 1990 Formula One Season
Teams Ferrari • Tyrrell • Williams • Brabham • Arrows • Lotus • Osella • Leyton House • AGS • Benetton • Dallara • Minardi • Ligier • McLaren • Lola • Coloni • EuroBrun • Onyx • Life
Engines Ferrari • Ford • Honda • Judd • Lamborghini • Renault • Subaru
Drivers Prost • 2 Mansell • 3 Nakajima • 4 Alesi • 5 Boutsen • 6 Patrese • 7 Foitek • 7 D. Brabham • 8 Modena • 9 Alboreto • 10 Schneider • 10 Caffi • 11 Warwick • 12 Donnelly • 12 Herbert • 14 Grouillard • 15 Gugelmin • 16 Capelli • 17 Tarquini • 18 Dalmas • 19 Nannini • 19 Moreno • 20 Piquet • 21 Morbidelli • 21 Pirro • 22 De Cesaris • 23 Martini • 24 Barilla • 24 Morbidelli • 25 Larini • 26 Alliot • 27 Senna • 28 Berger • 29 Bernard • 30 Suzuki • 31 Gachot • 33 Moreno • 34 Langes • 35 Johansson • 35 Foitek • 36 Lehto • 39 G. Brabham • 39 Giacomelli
Other Drivers Dumfries • McNish • Montermini • Palmer
Cars McLaren MP4/5B • Ferrari 641 • Benetton B189B • Benetton B190 • Williams FW13B • Tyrrell 018 • Tyrrell 019 • Lola LC89B • Lola LC90 • Leyton House CG901 • Lotus 102 • Brabham BT58 • Brabham BT59 • Arrows A11 • Ligier JS33B • Minardi M189 • Minardi M190 • Onyx ORE-1 • Onyx ORE-1B • AGS JH24 • AGS JH25 • Dallara F190 • Osella FA1M89 • Osella FA1ME • EuroBrun ER189B • Coloni C3B • Coloni C3C • Life F190
Tyres Goodyear • Pirelli
Races United States • Brazil • San Marino • Monaco • Canada • Mexico • France • Britain • Germany • Hungary • Belgium • Italy • Portugal • Spain • Japan • Australia
See also 1989 Formula One Season • 1991 Formula One Season • Category
v·d·e Nominate this page for Featured Article