1989: ALAIN PROST

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1989
Driver: Alain Prost (France)
Team: McLaren Honda
Car: McLaren MP4/5
Results: 4 wins, 11 podiums, 2 poles, 5 fastest laps

Turbocharged engines had been banned at the end of 1988, as they were felt to be making the sport dangerous and expensive. McLaren-Honda, who had dominated the field in 1988, winning all but one race, stuck to their successful driver lineup of Alain Prost and defending champion Ayrton Senna. Ferrari were optimistic of being able to challenge for the title. As well as their first 12 cylinder engine since the1980 season, Ferrari boasted one of the sleekest and highly advanced designs. Ferrari also completed the signing of British driver Nigel Mansell to partner Gerhard Berger.

But in the end, it was Prost vs. Senna again. Round two. Both in McLaren, both going for the title. Suzuka was the title decider, and this is where one of the memorable moments in F1 history happened. Again.

Senna took pole, but Prost beat him away from the grid and led by 1.4 seconds by the end of the first lap. By lap 15, however, Senna was all over the back of Prost’s McLaren after moving through both Williams and Benettons. He whittled down Prost’s 5 second lead to just under a second by lap 30, but the latter pulled a few seconds ahead by the 35th lap. By the end of lap 46, with 7 to go, the gap was just over a second. Senna, further back than he had been earlier in the race, made a move on Prost in the chicane before the start-finish straight. True to his word, Prost closed the gap and the two skidded into the escape road and both engines stalled.Prost jumped from his car. Senna, however, got a push from the marshals and returned to the track. Prost later said that his car was undamaged, that he could have easily won the race with Senna delayed by his car’s damage, and that not continuing the race was one the biggest regrets of his career.

After pitting for repairs, Senna worked his way past both Williams and the Benettons to take a three second victory. However, his altercation with Prost seven laps earlier meant he had missed the chicane and not completed the lap. He was disqualified and Nannini reveled in his first grand prix victory. The new Williams FW13s finished second and third, putting them five points ahead of the Ferrari team in the race for second.

McLaren went to appeal the decision. With the matter hanging in the air, Senna went on record saying it was a plot and conspiracy against him by FIA and FISA president Jean Marie Balestre who he said favored Alain Prost. Senna would comment again on the matter after sealing his 1991 championship, reiterating his belief that he had been unfairly treated.

(Source: Wikipedia)

See the famous collision.

Or if you wanna see it from the Senna’s cockpit

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1988: AYRTON SENNA

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1988
Driver: Ayrton Senna (Brazil)
Team: McLaren Honda
Car: McLaren MP4/4
Results: 8 wins, 11 podiums, 13 poles, 3 fastest laps

The pre-season was a very contentious time, with many theories of the championship flying around. Would the Honda engines prove successful with McLaren? Would Ferrari be able to continue the trend set by the last two rounds of 1987 where Gerhard Berger took successive victories? Would Williams be able to continue their success without Honda and Nelson Piquet? Could World Champion Piquet succeed in defending his title with the Honda powered Lotus?

At Imola, however, it was plain to see what all the teams had feared. Gordon Murray’s MP4/4, combined with the championship winning Honda Turbo, made a mockery of the rest of the grid. Even the Lotus-Hondas of Piquet and Nakajima were left a lap behind race winner Senna, with team-mate Prost less than five seconds behind him. At the front of the grid, things were as tight as ever, however for everyone else it had become a race for third.

Despite what many expected, the championship would hardly be considered boring with the McLaren onslaught peaking with the drivers fighting in several feuds. It was the beginning of Prost vs. Senna era. Senna finally got a championship winning car when he joined (then 2 times world champion) Prost at McLaren. The two of them won 15 out of 16 races that year, and Senna took the crown in his very first year with McLaren.

The penultimate round in Japan was, once again, where the title was decided. Prost made a superb start to the lead, whilst Senna stalled, lucky in the fact that Suzuka had a sloping grid, helping to start his car. Senna knew he had nothing to lose and everything to gain in this race, and knew he could seal the championship here. By the end of the lap he had already made up six positions, and by the fourth lap he was sitting in fourth position. The top six cars were all sitting very close and when the rain started to fall, so did Prost. Capelli took this chance to become the first naturally aspirated car to lead a Grand Prix in over 4 years, thrilling the March team. Unfortunately, this was not to last as his electronics would eventually fail.

By then, Senna was hot on the tail of Prost. Prost hated the wet, as much as he hated to lose, and his failing gearbox only added to the Brazilian’s chances. When the pair came round to lap some back-markers, as Prost was caught up with de Cesaris, Ayrton went past to take the lead, and set three consecutive fastest laps and setting a new lap record. As he was now out on a wet track with dry tires, as many other drivers were, he signaled to stop the race. However, the race ran its full distance and Honda were reveling in their 1-2 finish, whilst Prost was bitter. He would go on to win in Adelaide, and score eleven more points in total than Senna, but only the eleven highest scores counted, with Senna’s eight wins and three seconds giving him a total of 90 points to Prost’s 87. He went on to be a proponent of the 90’s scoring system – all results counting to the final results with the winner scoring 10, not 9, points.

(Source: Wikipedia)

See the overtaking move on Prost

See the last lap

1987: NELSON PIQUET

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1987
Driver: Nelson Piquet (Brazil)
Team: Williams Honda
Car: Williams FW11B
Results: 3 wins, 11 podiums, 4 poles, 4 fastest laps

This season would be dominated by Williams drivers (Piquet and Mansell) with 9 victories and not scoring points in only three races. Piquet won 3 races plus 8 more podiums, while Mansell won 6 races but didn’t score in 7 races. Senna was 3rd with 2 wins while Prost was 4th with 3 wins.

The turbo pressure was limited to 4 bar, with all 1.500 cm3 engines equiped with a pop-off valve, also the aspirated engines were allowed again, but with 3.500 cm3. But the great novelty would be introduced by Lotus: active suspension used during all the season. Williams also will launch their own, but only Piquet were capable to manage with it.

(Source: Wikipedia)

See the season review

1986: ALAIN PROST

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1986
Driver: Alain Prost (France)
Team: McLaren TAG
McLaren: McLaren MP4/2C
Results: 4 wins, 11 podiums, 1 pole, 2 fastest laps

The season culminated in a points battle between the Williams duo of Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell versus McLaren’s Alain Prost at the final race, the 1986 Australian Grand Prix. Mansell’s tyre blew in spectacular fashion and Piquet, in the lead at the time of the incident, was brought in for an unscheduled pit stop soon afterward by Williams to prevent the same happening to his tyres. This enabled Prost to secure his second consecutive drivers championship, but Williams took the constructors’ title.

For the first (and to date only) year, turbocharged engines were compulsory due to a ban on naturally aspirated (atmospheric) engines. The law banning atmospheric engines was rescinded in 1987, in preparation for a ban on all forced induction engines for 1989.

Gerhard Berger said: “Forget everything after. The 1986 turbo Formula One cars… really were rockets. And to handle them, I think, you had to be a man.”

(Source: Wikipedia)

1985: ALAIN PROST

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1985
Driver: Alain Prost (France)
Team: McLaren TAG
Car: McLaren MP4/2B
Results: 5 wins, 11 podiums, 2 poles, 5 fastest laps

The 1985 Formula One season saw continued success for the McLaren-TAG team. After missing out on the championship by just half a point the previous year, Alain Prost would ultimately secure his first of four titles by a 23-point margin. The Formula One writer Koen Vergeer remarks that “it was about time, everyone knew he was the best”, reflecting a general feeling that Prost had been unlucky to finish runner-up twice, to Nelson Piquet and Niki Lauda. McLaren also took the constructors’ title.

The reigning champion Lauda competed in his final season of Formula One but was unable to match Prost for results, winning just once despite being close to his team-mate in terms of pace. For most of the season the points table was headed by Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto, who enjoyed his best season in F1. He won the Canadian and German Grands Prix, and was on the podium eight times. Ferrari’s results faded badly in the second half of the season as other emerging drivers took the fight to Prost. Among these were Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell, both of whom scored their first victories in 1985.

1.5-litre turbo engines had become universal by 1985, heralding the extinction of the Ford Cosworth DFV. Between 1985 and 1986 Formula One engines would achieve the highest levels of power ever seen in the sport, before serious restrictions and their ‘phasing out’ began in 1987.

The 1985 season is widely considered by the F1 community to be one of the best and most exciting Formula One seasons of all time. In a season full of excitement, it was the first and last of many things. The 1985 season was affirmation of Senna as one of the best drivers in the world in only his 2nd season of Formula One, the first championship win of 4 for Prost and the first and second race wins of 31 for Mansell and first and second race wins of 41 for Senna.

(Source: Wikipedia)

1984: NIKI LAUDA

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1984
Driver: Niki Lauda (Austria)
Team: McLaren TAG
Car: McLaren MP4/2
Results: 5 wins, 9 podiums, 5 fastest laps

The season had been expected to see a continuation of the Brabham-Renault-Ferrari battle, with supporting roles for McLaren, Williams and Lotus. McLaren however had stolen a march on its competitors thanks to its TAG turbo engine.

The FISA had introduced new fuel economy rules aimed at reducing speeds, providing 240 litres of fuel for the entire race. TAG commissioned German sports car manufacturer Porsche to design and build a turbo engine. Porsche had extensive experience with similar economy rules due to its participation in endurance racing and this translated in superior fuel economy.

Reigning world driver’s champion Nelson Piquet and his Brabham-BMW were usually the fastest combination on track but appalling reliability meant he was never able to challenge consistently.

The season saw a titanic battle between both McLaren drivers Niki Lauda and Alain Prost. Prost had been sacked by Renault after failing to win the 1983 title. Fast and ambitious, the Frenchman quickly established his dominance over his teammate.

Austrian Niki Lauda had returned to F1 in 1982 and soon showed he had lost nothing of his earlier determination and guile. He regularly matched the pace of his 1982-1983 McLaren team mate John Watson, but Alain Prost was a different kettle of fish. Lauda quickly realized he could not beat his young team mate on speed. The wily Austrian therefore ignored qualifying and concentrated on his race strategies. By winning races when Prost ran into trouble and scoring relentlessly when Prost proved quicker, Lauda was just able to win the title. McLaren easily took constructors’ title, winning 12 (Prost 7, Lauda 5) out of 16 races.

1984 was also debut season for great Ayrton Senna. He started his career with Toleman and immediately showed his talent – at famous 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, held admits heavy rain. Prost was leading the race, but Senna, in his first Formula One street race in his rookie season in a generally uncompetitive Toleman car, was rapidly catching him. On lap 29, Prost waved to the stewards of the race to indicate that he felt the race should be stopped. He waved again on lap 31 as he passed the start/finish line. The red flag to stop the race was shown at the end of the 32nd lap after clerk of the course Jacky Ickx decided that conditions were too poor for the race to continue. Senna passed Prost’s slowing McLaren at the finish line, but according to the rules, the positions counted are those from the last lap completed by every driver – lap 31 , at which point Prost was still leading.The stoppage was controversial, as it benefitted Prost with a Porsche-designed engine, and was made by Ickx, a Porsche employee in sports car racing. Ickx was suspended from his race control duties for not consulting with the stewards over his decision before making it.The rain was not falling as hard at this stage as it had previously been.

Had the race been allowed to continue until 75% of the laps, full points would have been awarded and Prost could have had 6 points from a 2nd place instead of 4.5 points from the win. In the end Prost lost the championship to Niki Lauda by half a point.

See the season highlights

See a clip from 1984 Monaco GP

See Murray Walker’s portrait of Niki Lauda

1983: NELSON PIQUET

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1983
Driver: Nelson Piquet (Brazil)
Team: Brabham BMW
Car: Brabham BT52
Results: 3 wins, 8 podiums, 1 pole, 4 fastest laps

After the ground effect cars were banned at the end of the previous season, the FIA mandated that all F1 cars be designed with flat undersides for safety reasons. The teams started to look for downforce with perfect aerodynamic body projects. The previously crucial sidepods were now generating lift rather than suction and so the Brabham BT52 had short, angular sidepods to keep lift at a minimum. The car featured a distinctive dart-shaped profile and oversized rear wing in an effort to claw back as much downforce as possible. The car was powered by the massively powerful BMW turbocharged engine which in 1983 produced about 850 bhp (630 kW) in qualifying trim and Nelson Piquet used this car to good effect. Fighting with Alain Prost (Renault) and Rene Arnoux (Ferrari), it seemed he would lose out on the title after a run of mid season bad luck. But after further development of the car was done, he became the first driver to win the world championship with a turbo engine after winning three races and scoring consistently. Ferrari won the constructors’ title. The season saw 8 different race winners in 15 races (Piquet, Watson, Prost, Tambay, Rosberg, Alboreto, Arnoux and Patrese).

See the season highlights