Race of my Life: Mansell on the 1986 British GP

As Autosport launches the latest episode in its Race of My Life podcast series, we take a look back at 1992 Formula 1 world champion Nigel Mansell's choice as the race of his life - the 1986 British Grand Prix

Race of my Life: Mansell on the 1986 British GP

Car: Williams FW11

As one of Great Britain's most popular F1 world champions, it perhaps isn't too surprising Nigel Mansell picked a home win from his 31 grand prix victories.

But in a race that is remembered for both all-time highs and lows, Mansell's own achievement at Brands Hatch in the 1986 British Grand Prix stands out because he almost wasn't able to take part.

After suffering a broken driveshaft in the initial start, a nasty accident for Jacques Laffite which would cut short his F1 career triggered a red flag, and Mansell was permitted to take to the restart in the spare Williams car.

But to make the restart Mansell would need to race with the car set up for team-mate Nelson Piquet who had taken pole position ahead of the Brit earlier in the weekend.

With the home crowd roaring him on, Mansell beat his Williams team-mate in literally equal machinery in a race which became a memorable final F1 grand prix at Brands Hatch.

"The most satisfying race for me was the British Grand Prix in 1986 at Brands Hatch, when my racecar broke a driveshaft at the start. I had to climb into the T-car, which was set up for [team-mate] Nelson [Piquet], and I ended up winning in his car.

"Racing at Brands was awesome because we still had 1000bhp to play with. There was no peace - you were on it all the time.

"Coming across the startline into Paddock doing 196mph, then down the dip with negative G followed by positive G as you went up Hailwood Hill. You had to have the car pointing in the right direction at the right time.

"There were points on the track that you had to get technically right. If you didn't, you were slow and it was dangerous.

"When the driveshaft snapped, I thought, 'that's the race over'. And then there was Jacques Laffite's massive accident. Fortunately for me, the organisers decided to make it a completely new race, which let Williams swap cars.

Nelson Piquet, Williams FW11, Nigel Mansell, Williams FW11

Nelson Piquet, Williams FW11, Nigel Mansell, Williams FW11

Photo by: Sutton Images

"Looking back now, that was a real challenge. I had to get used to a car that was set up differently and not to my liking. The turn-in wasn't how I had mine set up and the balance wasn't the same. And the spare had been difficult all weekend, but that's what I had - we had no time to change anything, not even the pedals.

"I gave it a lap or two to get used to it, and Gerhard Berger got ahead of me. But I passed him on the third lap and then just got stuck in chasing after Nelson.

"The amazing thing is that the race was won and lost on just one missed gear change. Nelson missed a gear coming out of Surtees and it gave me half a car's length up the side - all I needed!

"It was a great technical race. There were a lot of cars to pass so you needed to stay focused.

"It was very satisfying jumping into someone else's car, that's not set up for you, and beating them.

"The crowd was phenomenal. They always were in Britain. The thing is you build momentum. Winning the '85 European GP at Brands, then the '86 British and at Silverstone '87 - doing the triple at home was very special."

 
shares
comments
How development freeze will save F1 teams money

Previous article

How development freeze will save F1 teams money

Next article

McLaren Group income tumbles as COVID-19 crisis hits

McLaren Group income tumbles as COVID-19 crisis hits
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Nigel Mansell
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021