Date: 31 May 1992
Place: Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo
Winner: Ayrton Senna
In May 1992, the dominance of eventual champion Nigel Mansell was broken by Brazil’s greatest racing son in emphatic, dramatic fashion on another day of high tension at the world famous circuit.
Throughout his career, Aytron Senna habitually displayed impressive moments of charisma and courage, and it was needed in abundance ahead of the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix.
In his previous three races, reigning champion Senna had endured the worst possible start to his title defence. Two retirements and a hugely disappointing ninth place finish in Barcelona. Furthermore, it was not only the blistering form of Mansell that posed a threat to Senna’s fortunes, but also that of his second-placed Williams teammate Riccardo Patrese.
As per the expectations of race fans, Nigel Mansell claimed pole position – his sixth in a row since the start of the season.
From the green light, Senna overtook Patrese with great determination at the St. Devote corner, with the seemingly unstoppable Mansell firmly in his sights. Further down the grid, future F1 legend Michael Schumacher overtook Austrian rival Gerhard Berger on the first corner.
Over the following twelve laps, Patrese began fighting Senna in his attempt to reclaim second place. However, on a circuit where style conquers speed, the Italian challenger was no match for the reigning champion. Meanwhile, Jean Alesi’s afternoon went horrifically wrong, as he collided with Schumacher at the Loews Hairpin.
The subsequent damage to Alesi’s electronic box eventually forced his retirement from the race. After 60 laps, there was no change in the front three, as Senna kept pace with Mansell effectively.
What was arguably the defining moment of the race came when Michele Alboreto spun in front of Senna, nearly colliding with him. As a consequence, Senna wasted ten precious seconds in stabilising his car as he attempted to close in on Mansell for the proverbial kill.
On lap 70, Mansell’s fortunes changed drastically for the worse, with a loose wheel nut forcing a pit stop. He emerged behind Senna, but managed to more than halve a 5.2s gap as the race drew to a frenetic close. Despite his best efforts, there was not sufficient time for Mansell to retake the lead.
With a final flourish towards the finish line, Senna raced to victory by a mere 0.2s over Mansell. The podium was completed by Patrese. In his Benetton, Schumacher managed an honourable fourth place.
Mansell may have lost this time, but it proved to be a minor blip in a season of complete dominance for the British legend. A staggering 52 points was his final title-winning margin, and he duly retired that winter after a long and illustrious career – although there was to be a brief comeback in the mid 1990s.
The victorious Ayrton Senna was, by contrast, to endure a poor season in which he would experience no less than seven retirements. Senna’s victory would, however, put him on an equal tally of Monaco victories with Graham Hill.
Senna would win again at this circuit the following year and surpass the record, competing on it for the final time before his tragic death in May 1994.
By Tamhas Woods
For live updates of the Monaco Grand Prix, visit Motorsport24.com – race begins at 1pm BST.