The 1992 Italian Grand Prix (formally the LXII Coca-Cola Gran Premio d'Italia) was a Formula One motor race held at Monza on 13 September 1992. It was the thirteenth round of the 1992 Formula One season. The 53-lap race was won by McLaren driver Ayrton Senna after he started from second position. Martin Brundle finished second for the Benetton team with his teammate Michael Schumacher in third.
The futures of both Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna continued to be the major questions heading into the Italian Grand Prix. Senna had effectively conceded his attempts at securing a Williams drive, and unless Ron Dennis could convince Senna to remain with McLaren in 1993, Senna looked to be heading for a sabbatical. Mansell meanwhile, after claims that Williams were leaving him out of their negotiations had suddenly returned to the forefront of the negotiations for the second Williams seat alongside Alain Prost. However Mansell remained stubborn in his $23 million salary demands, something the Williams management were not prepared to accept. His relationship with Williams had further deteriorated in Belgium when the team's number two, Riccardo Patrese, was brought in for an earlier stop for wet tyres than Mansell. A move that ultimately had cost Mansell the race win to Michael Schumacher's Benetton.
With both their Formula One futures in doubt, both Mansell and Senna were being headhunted by teams' in the rival IndyCar Series in the United States. Both drivers were intrigued at the prospect of racing in the premier American series, however FOM boss, Bernie Ecclestone, remained incredibly determined to keep two of his sport's biggest stars in defecting to Formula One's great rival motorsport. However whilst Formula One risked losing two of its biggest stars to IndyCar, the sport would at least gain the satisfaction of claiming one of IndyCar's big names in 1993. Having negotiated a deal back in the Canadian Grand Prix, Michael Andretti, the reigning IndyCar champion and son of Formula One world champion, Mario Andretti, had announced he would be moving to Formula One with the McLaren team in 1993.
Ron Dennis was determined to keep Ayrton Senna in his team for 1993. The team had started the season, believing their conventional car would be enough to beat the Williams's on reliability and consistency as they had done in 1991. However Williams's investment in the electronics had payed off in 1992 and had subsequently dominated the field. For Monza, McLaren would be running an actively controlled suspension for the first time. McLaren would become the first team to make a serious attempt in the electronic warfare against Williams. However the question would be whether they could develop it enough to be able to challenge Williams for 1993. Honda had confirmed to the world that they were quitting Formula One and for now, McLaren were desperate to sign a new engine deal that would allow them to be competitive in 1993.
The future of Riccardo Patrese, the current number two at Williams had also been decided at Spa-Francorchamps. Ahead of his home grand prix, Patrese announced he had signed for the Benetton team on a two year contract. He would join Michael Schumacher, the team's young charger and now race winner, taking his first victory at Spa-Francorchamps. The team had been keen to sign him, given his knowledge on the advanced technological systems equipped on the Williams FW14B. Their current second driver, Martin Brundle, had despite a shaky start to the season, however had bounced back in the mid-season and was proving capable of fighting with Schumacher. Nonetheless, Brundle, would be dropped, Patrese being considered more favourable due to his Williams expertise.
The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is the home territory of the Scuderia Ferrari team. 1992 had been a particularly lean year for the squad at Maranello, their F92A chassis, whilst ambitious in design had been a dismal failure. At the Belgian Grand Prix, the team had significantly upgraded the chassis, renaming it the F92AT. It was another disappointing result in Belgium, however commenting on the performance of the F92AT, Jean Alesi stated "I am reasonably happy with the handling of the car. The anti-wheelspin systems work beautifully and helps the F92AT's good balance." Nonetheless, the team had a lot of work to do if they were to be ready to fight for wins in 1993.
The Scuderia Italia team, effectively the Ferrari 'B-team' were also getting a lot of attention in Monza. The team had confirmed to partway with the Dallara manufacturer, however would be forging a new partnership with Lola for 1993. Ivan Capelli, the current Ferrari number two who had been having a dismal season and was being dropped by Ferrari at the end of the year was linked with the drive as was Roberto Moreno.
After the scandal that involved the Andrea Moda team in Spa-Francorchamps where team owner, Andrea Sassetti was arrested on allegations of fraud, FISA had lost their patience with the little team. In their inaugral season, Andrea Moda had been involved with a number of clashes with the sport's governing body and after Sassetti's arrests, FISA made the executive decision to ban the team from the sport. FISA President, Max Mosley, justifying their actions as their team had consistently brought the sport into disrepute. It was the first time in the sport's history that a team had their participation status revoked by the governing body.
Also absent from the paddock were the Brabham team. The team had missed the Belgian round of the world championship as well, their continued financial struggles was preventing their participation in the world championship. With neither Andrea Moda or Brabham participating in Monza, the need for pre-qualifying was no longer necessary.
The full entry list for the 1992 Italian Grand Prix is outlined below:
Light rain had afflicted the circuit in the early morning, leaving a slightly damp track at the beginning of the session. The drivers were cautious on the new track, however the conditions remained dry and the track quickly dried out.The two Williams cars of Mansell and Patrese led the time sheets. Schumacher for Benetton was an impressive third, however a fuel pump failure which caused him to stop out on track hindered his session.
McLaren and their powerful Honda engine were expected to have the best straight line speed, however interestingly neither Senna or Berger were particularly fast in a straight line. The team had sacrificed top speed for a higher downforce set-up. Senna was fourth fastest whilst Berger, who encountered some engine problems was sixth fastest.
The Tyrrell's were proving to be competitive, De Cesaris put his car in eighth whilst Grouillard sat eleventh in the standings. Lotus's recent form was not looking set to continue in Monza, both Häkkinen and Herbert struggled throughout the session.Gabriele Tarquini stopped his Fondmetal out on track during his outlap and thereafter did not further compete in the session. Michele Alboreto notably ran one of the lowest downforce settings, his Footwork being the second fastest in a straight line. However his overall performance still was not a significant improvement.
The Williams cars immediately entered the track at the beginning of the session. Patrese set the initial benchmark with a 1:23.332, however Mansell quickly bettered his time with a 1:23.121. Mansell attempted a further flying lap, however increased traffic on the circuit among the tail enders prompted Mansell to return to the pits. In the early part of the session following after Mansell and Patrese's times were Grouillard, Boutsen, Alboreto, Gachot, Suzuki, Comas, Häkkinen and Martini.
After the Williams had pitted, the major runners to enter the circuit were Senna's McLaren and Brundle's Benetton. Brundle had set a relatively slow initial lap, only putting his car seventh fastest before returning to the pits. Senna, however moved his car into third position, however typically remained well of the Williams pace. When Senna returned to the pits, Mansell rejoined the track and improved the provisional pole time down to a 1:22.972.
The Ferrari's were late to come out in the session, however when Alesi emerged from the pits, he undoubtedly would impress the supporting Tifosi. His first flying lap saw him nearly lose control of the car at the exit of the Ascari chicane, however he held the car and went on to set an incredibly impressive lap time that put him second fastest. His second flying lap looked even more impressive, however he was slightly held up by the Dallara of Lehto at the Parabolica and was unable to improve. Thereafter Naspetti's March had a huge accident when he speared off at the second Lesmo and collided with the barriers.
Once this incident was cleared, Senna attempted another run, however failed to improve on his personal best. Schumacher's Benetton would also exit the pits for his first run of the session, however he was lacking the pace of the morning practice and could only manage the fifth fastest time. Capelli on his first run managed to put his Ferrari sixth fastest, however remained well down on teammate Alesi's time. Behind him came Grouillard, Boutsen, Gachot, Morbidelli, Brundle, Alboreto, Martini, Suzuki, Comas, Berger and Lehto.
Mansell had returned to the track and upon his first flying lap had further dropped the benchmark down to a 1:22.586. Berger had improved his time to move up to fifth position, now sitting only one place behind Senna, his McLaren teammate. Patrese and Alesi would attempt to further better their times, however to no avail. Senna would improve his time to move his car into the second fastest time. Senna having closed to within three tenths of Mansell's fastest time.
Gugelmin would lock his Jordan in the approach to the Variante della Roggia and bog his car in the gravel trap. The Jordan's were struggling massively, Gugelmin managing only to just maintain a time within the qualification zone. Teammate Modena however had dropped to among the non-qualifiers. Modena going on to hold up a lap of Senna's McLaren in his desperation to set a time to qualify. Senna's next lap was hampered as he encountered the slowing Benetton of Schumacher. As the session came to an end, Senna pulled off the track with a mechanical failure.
At the end of the session, Mansell led Senna, Alesi, Patrese, Berger, Schumacher, Brundle, Capelli, Häkkinen, Boutsen, Gachot, Comas, Alboreto, Grouillard, De Cesaris, Martini, Morbidelli, Suzuki, Lehto, Herbert, Naspetti, Tarquini, Gugelmin, Wendlinger and Van de Poele. Sitting among the non-qualifiers were Fittipaldi and Modena.
Alesi continued to charge in front of his Ferrari fans,however he suffered a big accident at the Variante Ascari when he lost control whilst lapping Morbidelli's Minardi and knocked his rear right wheel off. Häkkinen also had an unusual incident when his steering wheel disconnected from his car whilst he was accelerating down the pit-straight. Wendlinger put in a strong time to improve his time to go seventh fastest.
Saturday Qualifying Edit
Wendlinger became the first car to improve, moving from twenty fourth fastest up to the eighteenth fastest time. Schumacher was another driver early out of the pits, his first lap saw a slight improvement in his lap time, however he saw no improvement on his grid positioning. On his second lap, Schumacher lost control of his Benetton at the Variante Ascari and bogged his Benetton in the gravel at the exit of the chicane. He was forced to return to the pits on foot to get into the spare car.
Senna's also encountered troubles, on his outlap he suffered an engine failure which would require that he too would have to return to the pits for the spare car on foot. Schumacher had quickly returned to the track, his next flying lap putting up to fifth on the grid, ahead of Berger's McLaren. Boutsen in the Ligier then made a significant improvement to move up to seventh on the grid.
Alesi continued to charge hard, however his Ferrari was looking very unstable in the exit of the corners and he was failing to find an improvement on his third fastest time. Meanwhile Berger had reentered the track and had reclaimed his fifth grid spot from Schumacher's Benetton.
In the middle part of the session, Mansell finally made the decision to enter the track. He further consolidated his provisional pole time when on his second flying lap he had dropped the benchmark down to a 1:22.361. Once Mansell had returned to the pits, Senna and Brundle had come out of the pits for further runs, however neither driver could improve their times. Capelli, however made an improvement to put his Ferrari into seventh position. Thereafter Mansell returned to track and further improved his own time down to a 1:22.221. He then returned the pits, exited his car to walk into the paddock. Patrese had left his running until very late in the session, however he could only manage a minor improvement which did not influence his grid position.
There was excitement in the final stages of the session, the cameras caught an on-track altercation between Alboreto and Berger, the two drivers cutting one another off down the back straight heading into the Parabolica. De Cesaris then had an engine blow up which caused him to spin at the Variante del Retiffilo. Brundle, who had been having a miserable qualifying session then spun his Benetton deep into the gravel at the Variante Ascari.
Further down the field, Fittipaldi had pushed his Minardi out of the non-qualification zone. This had demoted Van de Poele's Fondmetal into the danger zone alongside Modena's Jordan. However Fittipaldi was bumped back down into the non-qualifers when Van de Poele improved his time.
Senna set the initial pace, however he began to develop a misfire in his Honda engine that required him to return to the pits. Thereafter Schumacher, Berger and Patrese had overtaken him in the standings. Schumacher testing the spare car, the chassis he believed being preferable to that of his usual race car. After the initial runs Brundle was fifth ahead of Grouillard, Lehto, Häkkinen, Morbidelli, De Cesaris and Tarquini. Brundle, who had struggled throughout qualifying appeared to have found an improvement in pace ahead of the race. Mansell's initial lap was comfortably faster than the rest of the field. De Cesaris would suffer his second engine failure of the weekend.
At the end of the session Mansell led Alesi, Patrese, Senna, Schumacher, Brundle, Berger, Alboreto, Häkkinen, Lehto, Martini, Comas, Capelli, De Cesaris, Grouillard, Gachot, Herbert, Suzuki, Boutsen, Naspetti, Wendlinger, Morbidelli, Gugelmin, Katayama, Van de Poele and Tarquini.
For the second race in succession, the McLaren of Berger was suffering from mechanical gremlins on the starting grid. His Honda engine had began to develop a misfire, which prompted the engineers to order him out of his race car and enter the spare car. As the cars had already lined up on the grid, Berger would be forced to start the race from the pit-lane and would have to forfeit his fifth place grid position.
At the start, Alesi got a strong getaway and initially had jumped Senna's McLaren, however in the approach to the Variante del Retifillo, Senna outbraked Alesi into the first corner to reclaim second position. Mansell maintained the lead ahead of Senna, Alesi, Patrese, Capelli, Boutsen, Schumacher, Häkkinen, Brundle and Herbert. Schumacher had a poor start to the race, after losing positions to Capelli and Boutsen at the start, he then collided with the rear of Boutsen's Ligier in the approach to the first corner. He thereafter lost traction, lost a further position to Häkkinen before pitting for a new nosecone at the end of the first lap.
Mansell began to open up a comfortable lead, whilst the second Williams of Patrese moved into third position, overtaking Alesi's Ferrari at the start-finish line. Senna sat two seconds adrift of Mansell's lead, however continued to maintain a lead over Patrese in third place. The two Ferrari's of Alesi and Capelli were running in tandum in fourth and fifth places.
Van de Poele had become the first retirement when he suffered a clutch failure off the start-line, whilst on the third lap Suzuki's Footwork had a suspension failure whist battling in the midfield which caused him to lose control and spin his car out of the race at the first Lesmo. The following lap Grouillard suffered a puncture which caused him to spear off at the Variante Ascari. He was luckily able to exit the gravel and limp back to the pits for new tyres.
Mansell had began to dominate the race, pulling away from Senna at around a second a lap, the McLaren was thereafter being closed by Patrese in third position. Häkkinen who was running well in seventh then had his day come to a premature end when his Lotus suffered an engine failure. Brundle who inherited seventh place then moved into the points when he overtook Boutsen's Ligier.
After starting from the pit-lane, Berger had began a storming comeback through the field and on lap 11 had overtaken Morbidelli's Minardi for twelfth position. Only three positions behind him, also storming through the field was Schumacher's Benetton who had climbed back up to fifteenth. Both Berger and Schumacher would be promoted following the retirement of Gachot's Venturi-Larrousse from eleventh. The leading Benetton of Brundle was performing well, he had disposed of Capelli's Ferrari at the starting line to move up to fifth. He was further promoted to fourth position when Alesi suffered an engine failure on the following lap.
Patrese who had been tailing Senna for a number of laps, made his attack on lap fourteen, moving past the McLaren and into second position at the Variante del Retifillo. The same lap saw the second Ferrari of Capelli retire from the race, when a mistake at the Parabolica caused him to spin into retirement. It was a disappointing day for the Tifosi, both their beloved Ferrari cars had retired from the race in rapid succession.
Berger who had fought his way back into ninth position had been unable to manage his tyres, forcing him to come in for new tyres on lap 15 which further dropped him down the field. After the first quarter distance, Mansell led Patrese by nine seconds, ahead of Senna, Brundle, Boutsen, Herbert, Comas, Lehto, Schumacher and Alboreto.
Lap 17 saw a further retirement of Naspetti's March who had suffered an engine failure which caused him to spin into the gravel at the Variante del Retifillo. Herbert in the Lotus then suffered an engine failure which brought him out of the race. Herbert's retirement allowed Schumacher to move into sixth position, the Benetton driver having recently disposed of the cars of Lehto and Comas.
Mansell who was holding a comfortable lead was then ordered over the pit radio to drop back and allow Patrese to take the lead after a pre-race agreement to allow Patrese to win the race. Patrese had taken the lead, however Mansell having conceded the lead continued to tail his teammate and prove to be much faster.
Schumacher's progress through the field continued when on the 27th lap he overtook Boutsen to take fifth position. His teammate, Brundle, remained multiple seconds up the road in third position. Grouillard who had been having a miserable race suffered an engine blow out down the main straight and headed into retirement. A few laps later, Tarquini had retired his Fondmetal with gearbox troubles.
Mansell continued to tail gate Patrese and despite a number of opportunities to pass, he remained firmly in his teammate's slipstream and refused to make the pass. Senna continued to loom in the background, he remained a couple of seconds out of reach of the leading pair.
As the leading cars of Patrese and Mansell approach the traffic of the midfielders, their lead over Senna's McLaren was slightly reduced. Berger had climbed back up to ninth position, having recently moved past Alboreto and De Cesaris. He provided some difficulty in allowing the Williams cars to pass, which provided further opportunity for Senna to close in on the leaders.
Mansell was lucky not to collide with the seventh placed Ligier of Comas who refused to give way at the Variante del Roggia. In the confusion, Lehto was able to move past Comas and only a few corners later, Comas had spun his car at the Variante Ascari and was out of the race. As the leaders moved past the troublesome backmarkers, Berger took the opportunity to overtake Lehto, as did De Cesaris's Tyrrell.
Mansell who had set continuous fastest laps suddenly slowed after lapping Boutsen's Ligier at the Variante Ascari. An electrical problem would force him into the pits and into retirement. At the same time, Boutsen whom he had just lapped also pulled out of the race with a throttle problem.
There was slight drama when Katayama's Venturi-Larrousse shot straight through the gravel at the Variante del Roggia. However more significantly, Patrese who was heading for his first win of the season then suddenly developed a problem with his active suspension with five laps to go. Over the team radio, Patrese complained that the front of his car felt 'up in the air'. Senna swiftly moved past the ailing Williams to take the lead of the race at the Variante del Retiffilo. Patrese limped on, Brundle had overtaken him, a lap after Senna, then the following lap, Schumacher had moved through into third position to put two Benetton's on the podium. On the final lap, Berger moved past Patrese to take fourth position.
A disappointed Patrese could maintain some positivity in salvaging a fifth place finish. Lehto who was looking on course for a sixth place finish suffered his own disappointment when an electrical problem forced him to pull off the circuit. Thereafter Gugelmin's Jordan also retired, marking the final retirement of the race. With Lehto's retirement, De Cesaris moved his Tyrrell into sixth position and into the final points placing.
Senna's persistence of pushing the Williams cars had payed off and he would go on to take his third victory of the season. One of the marshalls had produced a Brazilian flag for Senna, where he would stop on the circuit to receive and proudly wave his national flag. On the podium for the race, Senna continued to proudly wave his home country's national flag.
Standings after raceEdit
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