Mansell becomes champion at last

Click to follow
The Independent Online
NIGEL MANSELL became the 1992 World Drivers' Champion yesterday when his second-place finish in the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest gave him an insurmountable lead in the


When the Formula One season concludes in November, the 39- year-old from Upton-upon-Severn will succeed his Brazilian rival, Ayrton Senna, who won yesterday's race, as the champion.

Mansell, who twice in his career has had the title wrenched from his grasp at the season's end, and has been the runner-up three times, will be the first British world champion since James Hunt in 1976 and will join six of his compatriots as the winner of motor racing's grandest prize.

It was 12 years ago today that Mansell made his Formula One debut, in Austria, and yesterday was his 176th race at the highest level. From his 11 starts so far this year, he has won eight times.

The Briton, who drives for the Williams-Renault team, arrived at the Hungaroring hoping for the victory that would finally realise his dream of being the champion. But when the only drivers who stood a mathematical chance of stopping him - his team-mate Riccardo Patrese, of Italy, and Germany's Michael Schumacher - both retired, second place was sufficient for Mansell to claim the crown.

Starting from second place on the grid behind Patrese, Mansell made a conservative start to the race and was quickly overtaken by Senna and Gerhard Berger. As Patrese established a convincing lead during the early stages, Mansell drove by Berger then became involved in an exciting duel for second as Senna held his own on a circuit notorious for the limited opportunities to pass.

When Mansell stopped for fresh tyres because of a slow puncture, he re-entered the fray in sixth - a position that was not high enough to guarantee him the title. But he fought back through the field to take second place behind Senna, Patrese having already retired, and stayed there until the chequered flag that signalled his triumph.

Race report and details, page 26