The 1991 San Marino Grand Prix was the third round of the 1991 Formula One Championship, and the first race to be held in Europe that year. Held in Imola at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the circuit saw World Champion Ayrton Senna take a landmark 55th career pole, now 22 ahead of Jim Clark's previous record.
It was a good day for the Brazilian on Sunday too, as he maintained his 100% start to the season, claiming his third victory in a row. A dominant display by McLaren-Honda saw Gerhard Berger take second, two seconds behind Senna and the only man to stay on the lead lap, while JJ Lehto took a shock podium in his Dallara-Judd.
The month break between Brazil and San Marino saw a wave of new machinery hit the paddock, as several teams completed their winter projects. Benetton unveiled the new B191, replacing a car that had already taken Nelson Piquet to the podium, while Footwork had been hard at work on building two new FA12s for the European season. It would not be a successful debut for the new Footwork-Porsches, however.
Brabham released their latest creation, the BT60Y in partnership with Yamaha, while there was large upheaval at AGS. A favourite to crumble both over the winter and in the early stages of the new season, AGS had seen a lot of staff leave in the previous weeks, but were given renewed hope when a set of buyers adopted the team. Patrizio Cantu and Gabriele Rafanelli were the men behind the new investment, and their first move was to replace the under performing Stefan Johansson with debutant Fabrizio Barbazza.
But, these changes were unlikely to upset the dominance displayed by Ayrton Senna in the Drivers' Championship, with the Brazilian born ace now eleven points ahead, despite there only being two races so far. Alain Prost was second, ahead of Riccardo Patrese and Nelson Piquet, both sat on six. Aguri Suzuki and Jean Alesi completed the point scorer's table with a point apiece.
McLaren-Honda were also dominating the Constructors Championship courtesy of Senna's early form. Already fourteen points ahead of Ferrari, and with the Williams-Renaults proving to be more of a problem to themselves than their British rivals, few would suggest, even at this early stage, that McLaren were the team to beat. Benetton, Tyrrell and Lola were the only other Constructors with points to their names.
The full entry list for the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix is shown below:
Practice was dominated by a huge accident for Michele Alboreto in the new Footwork-Porsche coming through Tamburello on Friday. A suspension failure pitched the car into the wall, obliterating the new car and leaving the Italian driver with a distinct limp, but no serious injuries. Alboreto would compete in the older car for the rest of the meeting, although he was still shaken by the accident.
Pre-Qualifying was back once again as the eight worst cars from the second half of last season did battle for four places in the full qualifying session. The FIA had pushed for the session on safety grounds, believing that 30 cars was the upper limit for any circuit approved for Formula One, with 34 cars entering each race in 1991.
For the second race in succession, both Jordan-Ford Cosworths made it through into the full qualifying, with the added bonus of Andrea de Cesaris topping the session. JJ Lehto also made it through, joined by Eric van de Poele in the Lambo-Lamborghini, as Lehto's team mate Emanuele Pirro dropping out. He joined three familiar casualties from pre-qualifying, as Nicola Larini, Olivier Grouillard and Pedro Chaves all missed out once again.
There was almost a shock result in qualifying, as Ayrton Senna only took pole by a small margin, 0.080s to be precise. His sixth pole in a row (and 55th of his career) was almost lost to Riccardo Patrese, who put together a stunning lap in the Williams-Renault to take second. Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell would share the second row, both ahead of the second McLaren-Honda of Gerhard Berger, who was joined on the third row by Stefano Modena.
De Cesaris' form continued into the full session, as he and Gachot put their two Jordans onto the sixth row, with Lehto taking sixteenth in his Dallara-Judd. Van de Poele took 21st after making his way into qualifying, while the Lotus-Judd duo were saved when rain affected the second qualifying session, scraping through in 25th and 26th. Out went the two AGS cars, as well as the two Footwork-Porsche machines, Alboreto still not comfortable after his practice crash.
Full Qualifying ResultsEdit
The full result for the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix is outlined below:
|8||24||Gianni Morbidelli||Minardi-Ferrari||1:24.762||No Time||+2.885s|
|9||23||Pierluigi Martini||Minardi-Ferrari||1:24.807||No Time||+2.930s|
|11||33||Andrea de Cesaris||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:25.491||1:44.118||+3.614s|
|12||32||Bertrand Gachot||Jordan-Ford Cosworth||1:25.531||1:44.897||+3.654s|
|13||19||Roberto Moreno||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:25.655||1:45.216||+3.778s|
|14||20||Nelson Piquet||Benetton-Ford Cosworth||1:25.809||1:42.911||+3.932s|
|15||15||Mauricio Gugelmin||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:25.841||No Time||+3.964s|
|17||29||Éric Bernard||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:25.983||No Time||+4.106s|
|18||7||Martin Brundle||Brabham-Yamaha||1:26.055||No Time||+4.178s|
|20||30||Aguri Suzuki||Lola-Ford Cosworth||1:26.356||No Time||+4.479s|
|21||35||Eric van de Poele||Lambo-Lamborghini||1:26.550||1:47.619||+4.673s|
|22||18||Ivan Capelli||Leyton House-Ilmor||1:26.602||1:52.949||+4.725s|
|DNQ||17||Gabriele Tarquini||AGS-Cosworth||1:28.175||No Time||+6.298s|
|DNQ||18||Fabrizio Barbazza||AGS-Cosworth||1:29.665||No Time||+7.788s|
|DNPQ||14||Olivier Grouillard||Fondmetal-Ford Cosworth||1:26.789|
|DNPQ||31||Pedro Chaves||Coloni-Ford Cosworth||1:31.239|
The starting grid for the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix is shown below:
|12||Andrea de Cesaris|
|22||Eric van de Poele|
Clouds gathered over the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari as the start time approached, with water coating the surface of the Imola based track as the field left the grid. There were no issues for the leaders on the formation lap, until Ayrton Senna led the field through Rivazza, a down hill turn half way through the lap. Unsighted, Alain Prost hit a pool of water close to the apex, sending his Ferrari into a spin on the grass down the outside of the turn. A similar fate struck Gerhard Berger in the second McLaren, although the outcome of their respective incidents could not have been more different. As Prost slid down the hill and stalled on the wet grass, Berger reacted quickly to bring his McLaren back into line, recovering to take his grid slot before the end of the formation lap.
The sun broke through the clouds as the lights went out, with Riccardo Patrese making a perfect start to grab the lead from Senna off the line, as Berger and Nigel Mansell lost out to Stefano Modena. For Mansell, a third gearbox problem in as many races ruined his start, before a clumsy challenge by Martin Brundle put Williams into a spin. Unable to find a gear, Mansell was out again, as Patrese established a small lead over Senna on a quickly drying circuit.
But, the circuit was still incredibly slippery, as a triple World Champion was the next driver to fall victim to the conditions. Nelson Piquet ran wide at Tosa on the second lap, before the wet grass on the outside of the track dragged him into the gravel further on. He would soon be joined on the side lines by Jean Alesi, who pulled a move on Modena for third, but was going too quickly to make the hairpin of Tosa, ending his day in the gravel as well. Also out was Aguri Suzuki after an unseen spin, while Senna began eating away at Patrese's lead.
Senna's mastery of wet conditions was already well noted, so it was no surprise when he swung his way past Patrese on lap ten, with Patrese pitting immediately after with a misfire. After losing several laps, the Italian returned to the circuit, only to retire with a much larger electrical issue. Berger, meanwhile, had retaken Modena for second leaving the McLaren-Hondas running one-two, although Senna was already well ahead by the time Patrese called it a day.
Only four cars remained on the lead lap when the field swept into the pits for slick tyres, with Senna easing off and allowing Berger to catch him. It was soon to be just the McLarens on the lead lap, as the two Tyrrell-Hondas of Modena and Satoru Nakajima retired soon after with identical transmission issues. JJ Lehto was the man on the move afterwards, forcing his way through the field in his Dallara-Judd to take third from Roberto Moreno as Modena cruised off the circuit, as, further down, the two Jordans retired within seconds of one another with unrelated issues.
The two Lotus-Judd cars were promoted into the points in the closing stages, Moreno falling victim to an engine failure soon after Lehto's move. This gave Mika Häkkinen two points in only his third race when the pair crossed the line in fifth and sixth, Julian Bailey notching the only point of his career in the second car. Pierluigi Martini scored three points at Minardi's home race, finishing fourth, with Lehto remaining unchallenged to take a career best third place.
But, there was no denying who were the class acts in Imola, as Senna and Berger crossed the line two seconds apart to take their first one-two of 1991, scoring sixteen points for the dominant McLaren-Honda partnership. The dominance was no better demonstrated than by the fact that the pair were a lap ahead of Lehto in third, two laps in front of Martini, and three ahead of the Lotuses. Mention must also be made of Eric van de Poele, making his first Grand Prix start at Imola, who was fifth until he ran out of fuel just four laps from the end.
- * Moreno, Gugelmin and van de Poele were still classified despite retiring before the end of the final lap.
Dominance was the word on everyone's lips after San Marino, as Ayrton Senna left Italy with effectively a two race advantage over team mate Gerhard Berger in second. Alain Prost already looked out of the title fight, 21 points behind already, with Riccardo Patrese and Nelson Piquet for company. The future of F1 was shown to be in good hands, however, as Mika Häkkinen scored his first career points in only his third race, defeating more experienced team mate Julian Bailey to fifth.
Much like their star driver, McLaren-Honda already looked like the 1991 Constructors Champions, an incredible 30 points ahead of Ferrari, as the Italians faltered at their home circuit. Williams-Renault and Benetton-Ford Cosworth also looked out of the fight even at this early stage, while Lotus-Judd secured their first points of the season. JJ Lehto's shock podium also paid off for his team, as Dallara-Judd found themselves in sixth place.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 'GRAND PRIX RESULTS: SAN MARINO GP, 1991', grandprix.com, (Inside F1 Inc., 1999), http://www.manipef1.com/results/1991/sanmarino/race/, (Accessed 09/08/2015)
- ↑ '1991 San Marino Grand Prix', wikipedia.org, (WikiMedia, 28/07/2015), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_San_Marino_Grand_Prix, (Accessed 01/08/2015)
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 senorsoupe, '1991 FIA Review, Round 3, San Marino', youtube.com, (YouTube, 20/07/2008), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdhysblW7bA, (Accessed 02/08/2015)
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