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1991 Japanese Grand Prix

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1991 Japanese Grand Prix
Race 15 of 16 in the 1991 Formula One World Championship
Suzuka circuit map (1987-2002).svg
Race details
Date 20 October 1991
Official name XVII Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix
Location Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Japan
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 5.864 km (3.644 mi)
Distance 53 laps, 310.792 km (193.117 mi)
Weather Sunny, warm
Pole position
Driver McLaren-Honda
Time 1:34.700
Fastest lap
Driver Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
Time 1:41.532 on lap 39
First McLaren-Honda
Second McLaren-Honda
Third Williams-Renault

The 1991 Japanese Grand Prix (formally the XVII Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held at Suzuka on 20 October 1991. It was the fifteenth round of the 1991 Formula One season. The 53-lap race was won by McLaren driver Gerhard Berger after he started from pole position. His teammate Ayrton Senna finished second and Riccardo Patrese was third for the Williams team.


Formula One moved to Japan with the fight for the title still open; this was the fifth year in a row that the title would be decided at the Suzuka circuit. Both championship contenders Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell knew exactly what they needed to do; Mansell had to win with help and Senna needed to beat Mansell. There were several changes to the driver lineup, the most notable being at Leyton House where Ivan Capelli had been replaced by young Austrian Karl Wendlinger, with Capelli being freed up as a spare driver for Ferrari if Alain Prost decided not to enter. It was the first time the Leyton House/March team had not entered with Capelli as a named driver since their return to the grid in 1987, during which time he had partnered Mauricio Gugelmin in every race from 1988 onwards. Elsewhere, AGS had run out of money and did not make the voyage to Japan, while fellow stragglers Coloni had hired local driver Naoki Hattori. Johnny Herbert was back behind the wheel of the Lotus after having missed a few races in the second half of the season due to Japanese Formula 3000 commitments.


Pre-qualifying report

With the withdrawal of AGS from Formula One prior to this event, and the return of the Coloni team after missing the last grand Prix, the pre-qualifying pool was reduced to six cars.

A Brabham topped the time sheets for the seventh time this season as Martin Brundle was fastest, over a second ahead of Alex Caffi in the Footwork. It was only the second time in seven attempts that the Italian had pre-qualified. His team-mate Michele Alboreto was third fastest, just under a tenth of a second slower. The fourth and final pre-qualifying position went to Gabriele Tarquini for Fondmetal, the second time in as many attempts that he had pre-qualified for his new team.

For the first time in 1991, the other Brabham failed to pre-qualify, as Mark Blundell suffered an oil leak in his Yamaha engine during the session. His time was only good enough for fifth place. Coloni had hired the 1990 Japanese Formula Three champion, Naoki Hattori, to replace Pedro Chaves for the last two races of the season, but the car broke down before Hattori was able to post a representative time.[1]

Pre-qualifying classification

Pos No Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 7 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Brabham-Yamaha 1:41.289
2 10 Italy Alex Caffi Footwork-Ford 1:42.382 +1.093
3 9 Italy Michele Alboreto Footwork-Ford 1:42.479 +1.190
4 14 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Fondmetal-Ford 1:43.025 +1.736
5 8 United Kingdom Mark Blundell Brabham-Yamaha 1:44.025 +2.736
6 31 Japan Naoki Hattori Coloni-Ford 2:00.035 +18.746

Qualifying report

There were a number of accidents during the qualifying sessions, including young sensation Michael Schumacher and Ferrari driver Jean Alesi. The biggest of these accidents was the one that befell Éric Bernard who broke his ankle and would not take any further part in the race. At the end of the qualifying sessions it was a McLaren front row with Gerhard Berger ahead of Ayrton Senna. Mansell was third followed by the unhappy Alain Prost, Riccardo Patrese, Jean Alesi, Pierluigi Martini, Gianni Morbidelli, Michael Schumacher, and Nelson Piquet. Senna was right where he wanted to be, while Mansell knew he had his work cut out for him.

Qualifying classification

Pos No Driver Constructor Q1 Q2 Gap
1 2 Austria Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda 1:36.458 1:34.700
2 1 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 1:36.490 1:34.898 +0.198
3 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault 1:36.529 1:34.922 +0.222
4 27 France Alain Prost Ferrari 1:37.565 1:36.670 +1.970
5 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 1:37.874 1:36.882 +2.182
6 28 France Jean Alesi Ferrari 1:37.718 1:37.140 +2.740
7 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ferrari 1:40.176 1:38.154 +3.454
8 24 Italy Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Ferrari 1:41.088 1:38.248 +3.548
9 19 Germany Michael Schumacher Benetton-Ford 1:39.742 1:38.363 +3.663
10 20 Brazil Nelson Piquet Benetton-Ford 1:40.557 1:38.614 +3.914
11 33 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Jordan-Ford 1:40.407 1:38.842 +4.142
12 22 Finland JJ Lehto Dallara-Judd 1:40.191 1:38.911 +4.211
13 32 Italy Alessandro Zanardi Jordan-Ford 1:39.051 1:38.923 +4.223
14 4 Italy Stefano Modena Tyrrell-Honda 1:39.245 1:38.926 +4.226
15 3 Japan Satoru Nakajima Tyrrell-Honda 1:40.100 1:39.118 +4.418
16 21 Italy Emanuele Pirro Dallara-Judd 1:41.246 1:39.238 +4.538
17 25 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Ligier-Lamborghini 1:39.946 1:39.499 +4.799
18 15 Brazil Maurício Gugelmin Leyton House-Ilmor 1:40.714 1:39.518 +4.818
19 7 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Brabham-Yamaha 1:40.867 1:39.697 +4.997
20 26 France Érik Comas Ligier-Lamborghini 1:41.251 1:39.820 +5.120
21 11 Finland Mika Häkkinen Lotus-Judd 1:41.485 1:40.024 +5.324
22 16 Austria Karl Wendlinger Leyton House-Ilmor 1:41.639 1:40.092 +5.392
23 12 United Kingdom Johnny Herbert Lotus-Judd 1:40.512 1:40.170 +5.470
24 14 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Fondmetal-Ford 1:42.835 1:40.184 +5.484
25 30 Japan Aguri Suzuki Lola-Ford 1:41.528 1:40.255 +5.555
26 10 Italy Alex Caffi Footwork-Ford 1:40.517 1:40.402 +5.702
27 9 Italy Michele Alboreto Footwork-Ford 1:41.536 1:40.844 +6.144
28 34 Italy Nicola Larini Lambo-Lamborghini 1:43.057 1:42.492 +7.792
29 35 Belgium Eric van de Poele Lambo-Lamborghini 1:46.641 1:42.724 +8.024
30 29 France Éric Bernard Lola-Ford no time no time


Race report

At the start of the race Berger got away well and Senna blocked Mansell the way that Mansell had done to him in Portugal. Elsewhere Jean Alesi's day ended on the first lap in a cloud of smoke, his Ferrari engine having blown. At the end of lap 1 the order was Berger, Senna, Mansell, Patrese, and Prost. There was a huge accident on lap two when Andrea de Cesaris spun his Jordan while leading other cars, and the resulting accident took Wendlinger, Pirro, and Lehto with him. At the front Berger pulled off into the lead while Mansell hounded Senna. It all ended on lap 10 when Mansell made a mistake on the first corner and spun off. His Williams was stuck in the gravel and Mansell was out of championship contention.

With the news of Mansell's retirement, Senna and Berger both went off into the distance, with Berger waving his recrowned world champion teammate through. The two ran in formation for the rest of the race with Senna letting Berger through on the last lap to win his first race for McLaren.

Patrese finished third followed by Prost, Martin Brundle scoring the last points in the history of the Brabham team, and Stefano Modena in the Tyrrell. Senna had won his third world championship.

This was the last time Senna, Prost, Piquet and Mansell raced together.

Race classification

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 2 Austria Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda 53 1:32:10.695 1 10
2 1 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 53 + 0.344 2 6
3 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 53 + 56.731 5 4
4 27 France Alain Prost Ferrari 53 + 1:20.761 4 3
5 7 United Kingdom Martin Brundle Brabham-Yamaha 52 + 1 lap 19 2
6 4 Italy Stefano Modena Tyrrell-Honda 52 + 1 lap 14 1
7 20 Brazil Nelson Piquet Benetton-Ford 52 + 1 lap 10
8 15 Brazil Maurício Gugelmin Leyton House-Ilmor 52 + 1 lap 18
9 25 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Ligier-Lamborghini 52 + 1 lap 17
10 10 Italy Alex Caffi Footwork-Ford 51 + 2 laps 26
11 14 Italy Gabriele Tarquini Fondmetal-Ford 50 + 3 laps 24
Ret 26 France Érik Comas Ligier-Lamborghini 41 Alternator 20
Ret 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ferrari 39 Electrical 7
Ret 19 Germany Michael Schumacher Benetton-Ford 34 Engine 9
Ret 12 United Kingdom Johnny Herbert Lotus-Judd 31 Engine 23
Ret 3 Japan Satoru Nakajima Tyrrell-Honda 30 Spun off 15
Ret 30 Japan Aguri Suzuki Lola-Ford 26 Engine 25
Ret 24 Italy Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Ferrari 15 Wheel 8
Ret 5 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Williams-Renault 9 Spun off 3
Ret 32 Italy Alessandro Zanardi Jordan-Ford 7 Gearbox 13
Ret 11 Finland Mika Häkkinen Lotus-Judd 4 Engine 21
Ret 33 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Jordan-Ford 1 Collision 11
Ret 22 Finland JJ Lehto Dallara-Judd 1 Collision 12
Ret 21 Italy Emanuele Pirro Dallara-Judd 1 Collision 16
Ret 16 Austria Karl Wendlinger Leyton House-Ilmor 1 Collision 22
Ret 28 France Jean Alesi Ferrari 0 Engine 6
DNQ 9 Italy Michele Alboreto Footwork-Ford
DNQ 34 Italy Nicola Larini Lambo-Lamborghini
DNQ 35 Belgium Eric van de Poele Lambo-Lamborghini
DNQ 29 France Éric Bernard Lola-Ford Accident
DNPQ 8 United Kingdom Mark Blundell Brabham-Yamaha
DNPQ 31 Japan Naoki Hattori Coloni-Ford

Championship standings after the race

  • Bold text indicates who still has a theoretical chance of becoming World Champion.
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  1. ^ Walker, Murray (1991). Murray Walker's Grand Prix Year. Hazleton Publishing. p. 125–132. ISBN 0 905138 90 2.
  2. ^ "1991 Japanese Grand Prix". Archived from the original on 3 November 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Japan 1991 - Championship • STATS F1". Retrieved 18 March 2019.

Previous race:
1991 Spanish Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1991 season
Next race:
1991 Australian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1990 Japanese Grand Prix
Japanese Grand Prix Next race:
1992 Japanese Grand Prix
This page was last edited on 7 September 2020, at 12:14
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