The 1992 Japanese Grand Prix (formally the XVIII Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held at Suzuka on 25 October 1992. The race, contested over 53 laps, was the fifteenth race of the 1992 Formula One season and was won by Riccardo Patrese driving a Williams-Renault, with Gerhard Berger second for the McLaren team and Martin Brundle third for Benetton. This was Patrese's final Grand Prix victory.
The grand prix at Suzuka would mark the penultimate race of the season. Although there were still two races that were yet to run in the 1992 season, the domination of Nigel Mansell and Williams-Renault had meant the team's had turned their attention to the preparation of the 1993 season.
At Williams, their world champion, Nigel Mansell, was focussing on what was expected to be his final races in Formula One before his move to the IndyCar Series in 1993. Mansell would be hoping to secure his first ever victory at the Suzuka Circuit before his departure from grand prix racing.
Mansell had lost his position of power in Formula One's most dominant team when Williams signed his former teammate and multiple world champion, Alain Prost. Prost had immediately began to settle into the team, conducting his first day of running at Estoril in a test session following the Portueguese Grand Prix.
Prost was satisfied after his first day of running in the Williams, stating "The car is very comfortable and well-balanced, but I can't push it to its limits. I don't yet know it." However, the fastest time of the session would go to the Williams test driver, Damon Hill, albeit Hill had set the time on Goodyear's faster 1993 specification tyres.
Prost's teammate for 1993 had yet to be determined by the Williams team. Despite Ayrton Senna's angered outburst in calling Prost a "coward" for blocking his entrance into the Williams team for 1993, Williams had sought not to attempt to secure his services. The team had wanted to retain Riccardo Patrese, however Patrese had signed to race with Benetton, having previously believed he would not be retained by the team for 1993.
Williams was also receiving bad publicity from the British press, the team being labelled unpatriotic for releasing the services of British driver, Nigel Mansell, in favour of France's Alain Prost. In order to rectify this, the team had planned to sign a British driver to partner Prost in the team. Martin Brundle, having been dropped by Benetton, was a popular choice, however the team expected to sign their test driver, Damon Hill to the race seat in 1993. Frank Williams admitting "it's not easy to choose".
Ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, Martin Brundle confirmed to the press "Frank Williams has told me quite categorically that he can't offer me anything for next season." Williams would decline to announce Damon Hill as their new driver, suggesting they were still not yet satisfied in securing their line-up. The team announced that their final line-up announcement would come at the end of the season.
Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One Management were certainly not pleased that they were losing Formula One's world champion to the rival IndyCar Series. There will still further attempts to secure a position for Nigel Mansell in Formula One in 1993. There were rumours that Ferrari would be willing to buy out Nigel Mansell's IndyCar contract where Jean Alesi would be released to join the Williams team. However there were denials all around, to which Mansell simply stated "I think I'm getting out at just the right time, and I have to say that I am not disappointed. The new era of F1 is an era in which everything is controlled."
More recent news for Ferrari would be that the team had terminated their contract with Ivan Capelli before the completion of the season. It had long been known that Capelli after a dismal season would not be retained for 1993 by Ferrari. The team would not give him the opportunity to complete the season, instead the team's test driver, Nicola Larini would partner Jean Alesi for the final two races in Japan and Australia.
Prost was not the only returning grand prix driver to participate in the test. Derek Warwick, who having left Formula One in 1990, had since won the World Sportscar Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans with Peugeot. In Estoril he was testing with the Footwork team, expecting to replace Michele Alboreto in the team for 1993.
At March, Jan Lammers, who had not participated in a Formula One race since 1982 was preparing for his return to grand prix for the Japanese Grand Prix. Lammers, would take the place of Karl Wendlinger for the final two rounds, Wendlinger had moved to the newly formed Sauber team for the 1993 season.
Luca Badoer, the newly crowned Formula 3000 champion had commenced testing with the BMS Scuderia Italia team at Estoril. He was expected to take the race seat, alongside Michele Alboreto, moving from Footwork.
The full entry list for the 1992 Japanese Grand Prix is outlined below:
Standings after raceEdit
|v·d·e||Nominate this page for Featured Article|