Mansell runs out of road over contract

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The Independent Online
MONTHS of speculation about Nigel Mansell's future in grand prix motor racing appeared to reach a conclusion yesterday when the British driver announced his retirement from Formula One for the second time.

At a dramatic press conference before the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the 39-year-old, who last month became the first Briton to win the drivers' championship for 16 years, made it clear that he had lost patience with his team, Williams-Renault, and their perpetual shilly-shallying about who would drive for them next year.

Two years ago when he was driving for Ferrari, Mansell 'retired', frustrated with a car and a team which he thought had undermined him in his efforts to win a world championship which had eluded him for years. Two months later he joined Williams-Renault. Yesterday's announcement came from a man who had won the championship and been cast down by subsequent events.

Paradoxically it is his very success with Williams that appears to have forced his second departure. Such was the car's pre-season superiority that it became irresistible to one of Mansell's two greatest rivals, Alain Prost. The Frenchman, who has taken a sabbatical from Formula One this season, used his French connections to attract Williams and claimed to have been signed up for next year - something the team have never confirmed.

Mansell's other great rival, Ayrton Senna, of Brazil, muddied the water still further at the Hungarian Grand Prix by saying he was prepared to drive for Williams without being paid by the team. As a result, Williams are said to have withdrawn an offer they had made to Mansell and he was asked to take a pay cut.

Williams may have another version. Yesterday a spokesman tried to interrupt Mansell to ask him to reconsider. But Mansell was not to be stopped. He was going and that was that.