The 1992 British Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 12 July 1992 at Silverstone, Northamptonshire. It was the ninth round of the 1992 Formula One season. The 59-lap race was won by Nigel Mansell for the Williams team, from a pole position start. Riccardo Patrese finished second in the other Williams car, with Martin Brundle third for the Benetton team.
After Mansell won his home Grand Prix, the British spectators invaded the race track to congratulate their hero. Mansell's car was blocked by the crowd, preventing him from driving back to the pits. Eventually Mansell was returned to the pits by track marshals to attend the podium ceremony. Not only had Mansell scored a Grand Slam (led every lap from pole position and set fastest lap of the race), he had become the most successful British Formula One driver of all time, surpassing Jackie Stewart's 27 wins with his 28th win.
Future World Champion Damon Hill made his first start, for the Brabham team. Two further future champions (Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen) scored points.
Ayrton Senna retired his McLaren from fourth place due to transmission failure on lap 52, leaving his hopes of retaining the world title minimal. Coincidentally, his car stopped at the same spot where he had run out of fuel in the 1991 British Grand Prix and had been classified fourth.
Gerhard Berger's McLaren had an engine problem in the closing stages of the race and he just managed to finish fifth, right behind Schumacher's Benetton.
Schumacher got himself into trouble yet again; when trying to lap the Jordan of Stefano Modena, Schumacher wanted to get through when there was no room for Modena to make space, and they collided for the second straight race.
For British motorsport, there had not been a more successful period since the glory days of James Hunt winning the world championship for McLaren back in 1976. Whilst British constructor's had been the dominant force in Formula One since the 1960's, Britain had failed to put two British driver's on the podium at the same time since James Hunt and John Watson stood on the podium in the 1977 edition of the French Grand Prix. Fifteen years later, at the same Grand Prix, with both Nigel Mansell and Martin Brundle standing together on the Magny-Cours podium, the feat of multiple British drivers standing on the podium had finally been matched.
After near misses in 1986 and 1987, Nigel Mansell looked set to finally take the world title in 1992. Mansell and his technologically dominant Williams FW12B, designed by Patrick Head and Adrian Newey had won six of the opening eight races. His nearest rival, Riccardo Patrese had failed to amount a single victory against Mansell and sat 32 points adrift in the world championship. However in France, Patrese appeared set to take his first victory of the season, putting up an aggressive defence against a charging Mansell. Yet, under mysterious circumstances, Patrese waved Mansell into the lead to take the victory. Patrese refused to elaborate on the reasons for his concession, however a statement by team principal, Frank Williams that read "While we are trying to win the championship, the way the team is run is our business and noone elses". This suggested that team orders may have influenced the outcome of the race. Williams who had always claimed to treat Mansell and Patrese on equal terms were seemingly swinging to favour the more competitive Mansell. With Alain Prost seemingly set to return to Formula One with Williams in 1993, Patrese had felt his days with Williams were numbered and had begun to engage in talks with the head of Benetton, Flavio Briatore for the following year. It seemed certain that Patrese would be leaving, however the question would remain in whether it would be Nigel Mansell or Ayrton Senna that would be racing alongside Prost at Williams in 1993.
Benetton's young aggressive charger, Michael Schumacher was the closest non-Williams rival for Mansell in the championship, however he sat a distant 40 points adrift in the standings. Despite showing to be capable of fighting among Formula One's fastest in only his first full season of Formula One, impetuousness and inexperience were proving to be his downfall in 1992. Overly aggressive driving in Magny-Cours had cost him the chance to close the gap to Mansell. After knocking out the reigning champion, Ayrton Senna on the opening lap in Magny-Cours, he then caused a near identical accident after the second start with Stefano Modena's Jordan. His driving had seen him come under wroth of the world champion, Senna angrily berating Schumacher on his driving before the second restart of the race. A double retirement in Canada and France had all but ended Senna's hopes of reclaiming his title for a fourth time in 1992. Senna was enduring one of his most difficult seasons, his natural speed having no answer to the technological superior Williams FW14B. Nonetheless, in talking to BBC commentator Murray Walker, Senna noted that he will never give up on his title aspirations and would continue to try until it was mathematically impossible for him to win.
Mansell's success in 1992 would mean he would be facing a record sell out crowd for his home grand prix at Silverstone. In the Silverstone tyre tests prior to the French Grand Prix, Mansell and the Williams FW14B looked to be indomitable. This form, he would be hoping would progress into the race weekend at the circuit two weeks later. Following the race at Magny-Cours, Mansell and the other British representatives in Formula One, Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert, Damon Hill and Perry McCarthy were guests of Queen Elizabeth II ahead of their home race.
Whilst Mansell was the clear favourite, Brundle who had for the first time in his career gained a competitive car was an outside contender for the race win. Brundle had a difficult start to the season, however by the mid-point of the year had improved his favourability, the Benetton was nearly on par for the second fastest team in Formula One alongside McLaren. Brundle had also increased his competitiveness and was regularly running at the level of his hot shot young teammate, Michael Schumacher, a rising star in Formula One.
Johnny Herbert was also running his best season to date, him and his Finnish teammate, Mika Häkkinen had scored Lotus's first double points finish of the season in Magny-Cours. There was hope for Lotus fans that the once great team was set for a performance revival, the team's new 107 chassis had become one of the leading midfield runners. However despite the efficiency of their new car, the limited budget and serious financial struggle that had afflicted the team in recent years, continued to plague the team.
Britain's final runners, Damon Hill and Perry McCarthy were stuck struggling in Formula One's two slowest teams, Brabham and Andrea Moda. Both drivers had been having a nightmare season and had failed to qualify for a single race. McCarthy in particular appeared to be going nowhere in his Formula One career. In only, his second race for the team in Barcelona, he had lost the support of his team. Andrea Sassetti, the team owner of Andrea Moda had throughout the season wanted to replace McCarthy, however having already used up his two permitted driver line-up changes at the beginning of the season, he was unable to rid McCarthy.
Hill, likewise had failed to qualify, his team, Brabham, who had once been one of the great champion constructors was barely holding out for the season. However, unlike McCarthy, Hill maintained his driving reputation. Not only was he the son and legacy of the late Graham Hill, one of Britain's greatest driver's, he also had the advantage of being the Williams test driver. Whilst he was racing one of the slowest cars on the grid, outside of the races he helped to develop Formula One's fastest car. He had also received the praise and recommendation from Nigel Mansell, the man leading the Williams charge. Whilst he was believed to be quick, he had yet to qualify for a race, Brabham's single start of the year had come courtesy of Hill's teammate, the less reputed Eric van de Poele, who had put the Brabham BT60B on the grid for the opening race of the season in South Africa. To maintain his reputation, Hill would be expected to prove himself in the lowly Brabham car.
There were changes at the Minardi team, Christian Fittipaldi, who had been ruled out of action after cracking his fifth lumbar vertebra during the Magny-Cours qualifying had been ruled unfit to drive for at least six weeks. Whilst the Brazilian recovered, Alessandro Zanardi had been selected to serve as his replacement. Zanardi had previously done three races for Jordan in 1991, he had been selected as apart of the Tyrrell line-up for 1992, however had lost his seat before the season began to the better backed, Andrea de Cesaris. He had since served as the Benetton test driver before making his racing return with Minardi in Britain.
After criticism of the regulations in France regarding what was believed to be an unneccessary stopping of the race, the regulations surrounding the red flag were changed ahead of the British Grand Prix. The safety car for the first time would become a dedicated element in Formula One. Its usage would prevent the necessity to stop the race in non-severe circumstances, allowing for greater flow and efficiency for the races.
The full entry list for the 1992 British Grand Prix is outlined below:
Friday Practice Edit
Friday Qualifying Edit
Ahead of qualifying, Renault would unleash their new and more powerful RS4 engines for both Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese. The RS4 had been a response to the increased power output from the Honda, that was being run by Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger in the McLaren team. The power of the engine had been the one weakness in the all-powerful Williams team, however the new engine was proving to be much more powerful and faster than their Honda-badged rivals.
Mansell was completely untouchable throughout qualifying, not even Patrese in the same equipment whose best time was five tenths slower was able to match him. The two McLaren's of Senna and Berger were a full two seconds down on Mansell. Commenting on his form at home, Mansell noted "a fantastic lap, wonderful team. Renault have done a superb job and here it is a circuit where you have to commit into the corners, very very fast corners indeed and, you know, it suits my driving style. I'm here in my own country and as I have said to you before, I get the job done here."
Saturday Practice Edit
Williams were set to dominate once again, however a very nasty accident for Riccardo Patrese during practice put a severe dint in what had so far been a perfect weekend for Williams. Due to an afflicting gearbox issue, Bertrand Gachot had spun his Venturi-Larrousse at the exit of Stowe corner. As a result, the yellow flags were brought out and most of the cars approaching the corner, including Patrese, slowed in response to the waved yellows. However the Ligier of Érik Comas failed to take note of the flags and in the approach to Vale corner, rear ended Patrese's Williams. Comas speared left into the barriers, before his car was pitched back into the middle of the track. Patrese, however was smashed into the Vale barriers, he luckily was spared a head-on collision when his car hit the barriers at an oblique angle. Comas was seen from the television screens limping away from his car in shock. He would not participate in the afternoon qualifying session, however was expected to return to the track for the race. Patrese, likewise was incredibly shaken, however neither driver suffered injury and were prepared to take the start for the afternoon qualifying session.
Saturday Qualifying Edit
By the afternoon, a heavy downpour had washed over the Silverstone circuit. It became clear that the rain was not going to abate during the session and the times that were set during Friday qualifying would determine the grid. Despite the wet conditions, the British fans determinedly arrived to support Nigel Mansell and the other British drivers ahead of the race. At the beginning of the session, the television cameras panned to a notable fan banner reading 'Murray Walker, he's the talker. Nigel Mansell, he's the stalker. Move over boys, you've got no chance. He'll do the same as he did in France'.
Martin Brundle was the first driver to make a move in the wet conditions, he had set a 1:42.701 as the initial benchmark. His teammate, Michael Schumacher was running in third, the two Benetton's being split by JJ Lehto was pushing his Dallara to the limits, catching a spin on several occasions. Stefano Modena's Jordan was running in fourth place, before Nigel Mansell became the fifth car to enter the circuit.
Mansell was driving cautiously, his first lap running two tenths slower than Brundle's best time. However on his second lap, Mansell set a time that was three seconds faster than Alesi who was now the second fastest man. Schumacher had since displaced Brundle's time who had now dropped to fourth in the standings. Patrese had also entered the track and had since moved up to second position.
Once the two Williams cars had returned to the pits, the two McLaren cars of Senna and Berger made their entrance onto the circuit. Neither Senna or Berger were setting particularly fast times, instead the two drivers merely scouted out the wet conditions before returning to the pits. Mansell meanwhile sat in his pit garage discussing the race with the BBC's Jonathan Palmer.
Saturday had failed to see a development in the qualifying times due to the wet weather, meaning the Friday times would determine the grid. Mansell was sitting in a convincing pole position, with teammate Patrese alongside him. The Williams was looking more competitive on their home territory than on any other circuit. Senna was a distant third ahead of Schumacher, Berger and Brundle. Herbert ensured it was three Britain's in the top ten, whilst the fourth British driver to qualify, Damon Hill would be starting his first grand prix at his home race.
Herbert swapped his Lotus for the t-car that was set-up for teammate Häkkinen. He had expressed frustration when he found he could go half a second quicker in a set-up that was equal to that of his teammate. Häkkinen had missed the morning warm-up, he had been delayed in traffic jams on his way to the circuit. He was then subsequently charged with dangerous driving by police in attempt to arrive in time for the morning warm-up. Häkkinen arrived only just in time for the compulsory driver's briefing.
As was expected the British fans had arrived in their thousands to attend the British Grand Prix. The expectation was that Mansell would go on to take his fifth grand prix victory on home turf. Banners of 'Red Five' and the Union Jack could be seen flying in support of Nigel Mansell. However there was also support for the other contending British racers, one particular banner read 'The Fab Four: Mansell - Brundle - Herbert - Warwick'. This alluded to Britain's perceived top racers, Derek Warwick had been out of Formula One for over a year and a half, however his recent domination with Peugeot in the World Sportscar Championship had provided hope of a Formula One return for 1993. The least well known British driver, Damon Hill would start from the back of the grid. After six attempts, Hill had finally managed to qualify the underpowered Brabham for a race. The conditions were somewhat overcast, however it was unlikely that any rain would afflict the circuit.
At the start, Patrese got a flying getaway and like in France took the lead heading into the first corner. Mansell followed right on Patrese's tail, and heading into Maggotts reclaimed the lead. Brundle had got a flying start to move into third position. Schumacher had ran wide in the entry to Maggotts and subsequently dropped to fifth behind Senna. He then lost a further position as Berger moved past down the Hangar Straight.
In the approach to Priory, Senna attacked Brundle around the outside, however Brundle refused to give way and forced Senna wide. As the cars exited Luffield in the approach to Woodcote, Berger ran wide allowing Schumacher to retake fifth, whilst Herbert in the Lotus also managed to sneak past the McLaren. On the second lap, Schumacher attacked Senna down the Hangar Straight, however in the approach to Stowe, Senna firmly closed the door.
After only four laps, Mansell had pulled out a dominant eight second lead over teammate Patrese. Patrese meanwhile held only a small lead over Brundle who was in third position. Senna in fourth place had continued to be harried by his new nemesis, Schumacher in the Benetton. Behind them came Herbert, Berger, Alesi, Comas and Häkkinen.
After nine laps, Mansell had broke the lap record for the new configuration of the Silverstone Circuit, he had further extended to his lead over Patrese to fifteen seconds. Patrese, meanwhile had extended his lead from Brundle in third place. The Benetton's were clearly running as the second fastest team. Brundle was running a comfortable third, Senna appearing unable to catch him as the second Benetton of Schumacher continued to tail him. By only lap eleven, Mansell had achieved the optimum 20 second lead over Patrese in second position.
On lap 14, Mansell began to lap the first of the backmarkers. Hill at the back of the field was the first driver to be lapped whilst a few corners later, Mansell had also lapped Martini's Dallara. As the other leaders closed on the slower cars, Senna saw managed to create an advantage to pull away from Schumacher whilst managing to close on the rear of Brundle in third place. Whilst lapping the traffic, Patrese had lost a lot of time and maintained only a marginal lead over the battling trio of Brundle, Senna and Schumacher.
Through the Maggotts and Becketts complex, Brundle began to lose a significant amount of time to Senna behind him. However Brundle's better straight line speed through the Hangar Straight allowed him to consistently pull away from Senna. Senna once made an ambitious move around the outside at Stowe, however once again Brundle held firm and maintained third position.
The other McLaren of Berger had been struggling in seventh place and was being hounded by Häkkinen's Lotus. He became the first of the lead runners to come in for a tyre stop. Shortly after, Mansell who held a convincing 40 second lead made the decision to come in for new tyres. The McLaren mechanics continued to wait on stand-by for Senna's stop, however the Brazilian continued to determinedly charge after Brundle's Benetton.
The race had nearly got to half distance without a single retirement, however on lap 27 both Katayama and Wendlinger pulled out of the race with mechanical failure. More significantly, Herbert who had been performing well in sixth position suffered a transmission failure on lap 31 forcing him to ground to a halt at the entry of the pit lane.
A pit board for Patrese's Williams signalled 'Mansell's Tyres Okay'. This provided a good indication that the Williams cars were not suffering significant degradation. With this confidence, Patrese began to put in some faster laps after a brief stagnant period. Nonetheless some of the leaders opted to come into the pits. Schumacher opted for new tyres as did Alesi's Ferrari. The Goodyear technicians confirmed to Jonathan Palmer that the wear on the tyres was slightly more than they were expecting, however they did believe the cars that did not stop would be capable of going the full distance. With the retirement of his teammate and Schumacher's pit-stop, Häkkinen had moved up to fifth position. At the mid-point of the race, Mansell led Patrese, Brundle, Senna, Häkkinen, Schumacher, Berger, Alesi, Capelli, Alboreto, Comas, Boutsen, Suzuki, Modena, De Cesaris, Grouillard, Lehto, Gugelmin, Morbidelli, Tarquini and Hill.
Capelli was the next driver into the pits, he encountered a slow stop as he struggled to engage the gear to leave his pit-box. There were further retirements when Gachot followed his Venturi teammate, Katayama, out of the race whilst Gugelmin blew his Jordan's engine. The surviving Jordan of Modena then encountered trouble, when for the second race in succession he was knocked off the circuit by Schumacher's Benetton. Approaching Luffield corner, Schumacher locked up and slammed into the side of Modena's car whilst attempting to lap him. Modena would temporarily continue, however like teammate Gugelmin he would be forced out of the race with engine trouble.
Schumacher who like in France continued to suffer from his impeteousness had dropped behind Berger's McLaren after his incident with Modena. Alesi then pulled his Ferrari off the track with mechanical troubles and shortly after De Cesaris had spun and stalled his Tyrrell at Club.
Häkkinen who had chose not to pit for tyres, soon had the two cars of Berger and Schumacher who had both previously pitted hounding the rear of his Lotus. Berger repeatedly looked to challenge Häkkinen at Stowe before finally getting the maneuver completed on lap 47. The same lap, Schumacher also attacked and overtook Häkkinen heading into Bridge corner.
After chasing and failing to get past Brundle all day, Senna suffered a transmission failure which forced him to stop at the exit of Maggotts corner. His car was quite ironically parked right next to a Mansell fan banner that read 'Don't worry Nigel, only nuts come from Brazil'. With his retirement, it now had become mathematically impossible for him to reclaim his crown. Jonathan Palmer reported that he had saved some particular curse words for the McLaren pit wall upon his retirement.
In the final laps, Mansell pushed hard, breaking the lap record once again. On his final lap, Mansell came round to lap the Brabham of Hill for a fourth time before going on to take his 28th race victory, a feat that had made him the most successful British driver in history. Patrese came round to finish second whilst a relieved Brundle had taken third after reliving his F3 days in battling Senna throughout the race. The final points places were completed by Schumacher, Berger and Häkkinen. On the final lap, Berger's engine had blown heading through Woodcote, whilst he was able to limp over the finishing line, he was forced to concede fourth to Schumacher
As soon as Mansell had crossed the finish line, the crowd had manically broken through the barriers and had invaded the circuit. Even before Patrese had crossed the line for second, spectators had crowded around the start-finish line. All around the circuit, spectators broke ranks and flooded the circuit. At the exit of Copse corner, Mansell was forced to stop the car as his fans crowded around his car. Unable to pass through the swarm of spectators, Mansell required a van to take him back to the pits.
Commentator's Quotes Edit
"The Williams and Ferrari cars are fitted with a device that is called traction control. And what it boils down to is that it limits to almost zero, the wheel spin. And in conditions like this, where on parts of the circuit there is literally a film of water between the tyres and the track, that is beneficial to put it mildly. Last week, we saw Jean Alesi in third position driving around lap after lap on slick tyres in speeds that were almost identical to Riccardo Patrese who was going around ahead of him on rain tyres." Murray Walker. Saturday Qualifying. BBC.
"You would have noticed he had all four wheels locked up there, when you spin a racing car, the skillful thing to do is you hit the brake pedal, lock the wheels up and you want to keep going in a straight line." James Hunt. Saturday Qualifying. BBC.
"There in the middle of the picture, wearing the headset is Patrick Head, the design chief of the Williams-Renault team. To the right of Patrick, the man with the fair hair is David Brown, who is Nigel Mansell's race engineer. On the left is Adrian Newey, and Adrian Newey is a man you have heard me talking about a lot, he used to be with the Leyton House team and then went to Williams, and is certainly one of the most gifted aerodynamicist's in grand prix racing. Murray Walker. Saturday Qualifying. BBC
"This immense superiority of the Williams, wet or dry. And Silverstone really seems to suit the car even better than the other circuits, this is probably the high speed corners, remember the active suspension system keeps what is already the most aerodynamically efficient car in the business, keeps it working at it's optimum level by keeping the ride height of the car controlled perfectly at all times. And that takes what is already an advantage in terms of aerodynamics into a very big advantage indeed." James Hunt. Saturday Qualifying. BBC
"That's Michael Schumacher, the brilliant young German and he is still only 23 years old. And we lose sight of the fact that he has not yet completed a full year of grand prix racing. Because when he starts in the British Grand Prix tomorrow, it will only be his 15th grand prix. His first race was in Belgium last year for the Jordan team, and yet already in his short career he has finished twice in second place, two third places and two fourth places. Schumacher is third in the championship, ahead of him is Riccardo Patrese, eight points. So he really is an incredible young man." Murray Walker. Saturday Qualifying. BBC.
"And what is more important as far as Lotus is concerned, they have just received a massive injection of new sponsorship. And if there is one thing that Formula One team's need more than anything else, it is money and lots of it. Now Johnny Herbert is very much a star of the future in my opinion, a potential replacement for Nigel Mansell. There is the young Englishman, came originally from Romford, made his name in Formula Ford racing, won the Formula Ford Festival, became the Formula 3 Champion. Had the most appalling crash at Brands Hatch in Formula 3000 that shattered both his legs. But came back into racing and at Brazil for the Benetton team finished in fourth place for his first race for the team. He took a step backwards after that because of recovery problems with his legs, but now he is with Lotus, a happy team, a small team, a very well knit team. Herbert and his teammate Mika Häkkinen have responded magnificently from the guidance they are getting from Peter Collins, the team manager and a superb car from Peter Wright and his colleagues, backed by an excellent engine that is probably ideal for these conditions." Murray Walker. Saturday Qualifying. BBC.
"Damon Hill at this moment of time has qualified for the race. And what tremendous news that is, because he has really worked very hard for a shot at a grand prix team. He has done a tremendous amount of work for the Williams grand prix team, extremely good work in testing, and driven the car very quickly indeed. He clearly has the ability to be running in a grand prix, and how nice for him to be qualifed for the British Grand Prix. Remember though he may have to defend his position, because if it does dry out he may really have to work." James Hunt. Saturday Qualifying. BBC.
"That looks like Mika Häkkinen coming towards us, Johnny Herbert's teammate. And they constitute an exceptionally talented line-up, a pair of young drivers, both of whom are outstandingly quick. The Lotus team seems to be one team that is moving in the right direction, they have got the new sponsor emblazoned on the car. Their financial position one hopes is vastly improved because they have struggled, the team was nearly closed down. Big problems only three or four months ago, they have hung on and survived. They have got a new car, that is a vast improvement on their old one. And they have got two of the most promising, most talented drivers in the business." James Hunt. Saturday Qualifying. BBC
"Häkkinen has a big slide there, you saw him working away. And that's the Scandinavian car control, remember these guys are brought up on stern ice all winter. And mind you, these cars slide a lot more quickly that you can drive on snow or ice, they let go very quickly indeed". James Hunt. Saturday Qualifying. BBC
"Ayrton Senna, [laughs] looking for a little help, I think. They have actually got a monitor, high above looking at the times on it". Joking on how Senna is looking directly above him from his cockpit. Murray Walker, Saturday Qualifying. BBC.
"My outstanding impression on the race thus far, apart from Mansell's domination is how well the Benetton's are doing. And the Benetton's very nimble, they are lighter than the multi cylinder cars ahead of them. By virtue of the fact they have the V8 engine, that means to say they are lighter and they can carry less fuel, the fuel economy is better, they may even start to go better in the latter stages of this race. And Michael Schumacher in his first race at Silverstone is wearing away at Ayrton Senna." Murray Walker. Race. BBC
"And Martin Brundle has got his confidence back. I was talking to Eddie Jordan, for whom Martin used to drive for in Formula Three. And he reminded me that Martin Brundle had beaten Ayrton Senna, nine times in 1983. Well he is ahead of him at the moment, and is showing every sign of staying there." Murray Walker. Race. BBC.
Standings after raceEdit
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