Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)
Driver: Ayrton Senna (Brazil)
Team: McLaren Honda
Car: McLaren MP4/6
Results: 7 wins, 12 podiums, 8 poles, 2 fastest laps
McLaren retained their successful 1990 lineup of Senna and Gerhard Berger. Williams re-signed their former driver Nigel Mansell on the promise that he would be the top driver in the team after several years as number two to Nelson Piquet at Williams and then Alain Prost at Ferrari. He was partnered by Riccardo Patrese, retained from 1990. Ferrari kept Alain Prost as lead driver and replaced the departed Mansell with Jean Alesi, a young driver who had impressed at Tyrrell.
Senna captured his third title in 1991, taking seven wins and staying largely clear of controversy. Prost, due to the downturn in performance at Ferrari, was no longer a serious competitor. Senna won the first four races. By mid-season, Mansell in the more advanced Williams was able to put up a challenge. There were some memorable moments, such as at the Spanish Grand Prix when Senna and Mansell went wheel to wheel with only centimetres to spare, at over 320 km/h (200 mph) down the main straight, a race that the Briton eventually won. Quite a different spectacle was offered following Mansell’s victory in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Senna’s car had come to a halt on the final lap but he was not left stranded out on the circuit, as Mansell pulled over on his parade lap and allowed the Brazilian to ride on the Williams side-pod back to the pits. Though Senna’s consistency and the Williams’ unreliability at the beginning of the season gave him an early advantage, Senna insisted that Honda step up their engine development program and demanded further improvements to the car before it was too late. These modifications enabled him to make a late season push and he managed to win three more races to secure the championship, which was settled for good in Japan (yet again) when Mansell (who needed to win), went off at the first corner while running third and beached his Williams-Renault into the gravel trap. Senna finished second, handing the victory to teammate Gerhard Berger at the last corner as a thank-you gesture for his support over the season.
Prost won no races, only getting onto the podium five times. He took it out on the Italian team, publicly criticising them (at the 1991 Japanese Grand Prix he famously described his car’s handling worse than “a truck”),and was fired prior to the end of the season.
The 1991 also saw the debut of Michael Schumacher. At Belgium GP he filled the seat of imprisoned Bertrand Gachot’s Jordan. Before the next race Schumacher signed a deal with Benetton which displeased Jordan who went to court. The court decided in favour of Benetton because Jordan had not signed a contract with Schumacher previously.