Nigel Mansell was an IndyCar champion (Photo: Indycar)
Exactly 30 years ago, one of the main exchanges between Formula 1 It is India ended in success. English Nigel Mansell of Newman-Haas won the stage at the Nazareth oval and lifted the category title with a race in advance, a year after achieving maximum glory in the F1 World Championship.
Even with the title on it Formula 1 After one of the most dominant seasons the sport has seen to date, Nigel went toe-to-toe with Williams. The renewal of the contract was delayed due to the high financial demands of the English driver. As the team had already signed an expensive contract with the then three-time champion, Alain Prost and I always had the desire to have Ayrton Sennano agreement was reached with the “Leão”, who announced his retirement from the World Cup.
Shortly after, it was announced that Mansell had signed with Newman/Haas to form a team with Mario Andretti in the group. Indiareplacing Michael Andretti, who left his post in the United States to join McLaren.
Nigel’s impact on the category was immediate. In his first race, in Surfers Paradise, Australia, the Englishman took pole position and victory. During the following round, in Phoenix, he suffered an accident during free practice which prevented him from racing. Then, a podium at Long Beach and a third place at India 500.
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At Milwaukee, Mansell earned his first oval victory. The Englishman consolidated his position at the top of the championship, but ended up losing the lead in the ninth race when he retired from the Toronto GP, seeing Emerson Fittipaldi, from Penske, as first. However, Nigel responded very well, with victories on ovals in Michigan, New Hampshire and a podium in the mixed race at Road America, which put him in excellent position for the title.
In Nazareth, Mansell reached the championship with 169 points to 156 for Fittipaldi, who came closest in the fight for the title. And both shared the front row on the oval. At the start, Nigel was swallowed up by the Penske cars, also losing second place to the Canadian Paul Tracy.
On a short track marked by heavy traffic of latecomers, Mansell had the pace to close in on Fittipaldi, who had already lost the lead to Tracy. After passing the Brazilian, he dives inside the Canadian and regains the lead.
From that moment on, he was no longer seen by the competitors, neither with the pit stops and attempts to change strategy of the opponents, nor with the frequent traffic of latecomers disrupting the rhythm of the stopwatches (despite numerous complaints by Mansell himself). The Penske cars lost contact with the Englishman and fell behind, with Walker’s Scott Goodyear taking second.
Mansell took the checkered flag with only Goodyear on the same lap. Tracy completed the podium at Nazareth, while Fittipaldi finished fifth, also behind Bobby Gordon, and with Nigel’s lead surpassing 23 points, the Englishman clinched the title even before the final round, at Laguna Seca. In total, it was a season of 5 triumphs, including 4 on ovals.
The year of defending his title hasn’t been as smooth for Mansell. The driver remained with Newman/Haas, but saw Penske indoctrinated the following season with Al Unser Jr, Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy, who took the first three positions in the championship. Nigel finished eighth, without winning and with 3 podiums.
At the same time, Mansell received a call-up from Williams to replace Ayrton Senna, who died in a crash at the San Marino GP. Nigel took over the cockpit of the FW16 at the French GP and also at the final three stages, when the season India was closed. The Englishman won F1 for the last time at the 1994 Australian GP. He still signed with McLaren for 1995, but chose to retire after just two races for the team.
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