Motor Racing: Driving on with peace among the passengers: Nigel mansell: The Williams driver, who came second at Spa on Sunday, is giving his views in The Independent during the season

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The Independent Online
THIS momentous season for the Williams-Renault team has been justly crowned with the Formula One Constructors' Championship. We added that prize to my drivers' title with second and third places in a fabulous Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.

I felt I could have made it a ninth victory of the year but for an exhaust problem which caused a massive loss of power in the closing laps and my team-mate, Riccardo Patrese, was similarly affected, so we were relieved and lucky in the end to collect our points.

I wish to take nothing away from the victory of Michael Schumacher and Benetton-Ford. It was a tremendous performance by a young driver with a big future and a team which have been consistently competitive all season.

There can be no doubt, however, that Williams and our partners have been the outstanding team of 1992. I believe our strength has been a bond between the drivers, mechanics and engineers that I have rarely, if ever, come across in my 12 years of Formula One racing. We have had a common objective and pulled together to achieve it.

We have broken the four-year domination of McLaren-Honda and we have done it in the most comprehensive manner. There can't have been a better season for Williams and this, of course, is the success Renault have dreamed of since they launched themselves into this championship 15 years and exactly 200 races ago.

Naturally, Riccardo would have liked the drivers' championship and he is entitled to be disappointed things haven't always gone his way. He was big enough to come to terms with the fact this was not going to be his year and played his full part for the team.

I would very much like the team effort to continue next season and to be involved again. We have built up a fantastic force here and I appreciate what it has done for me. I don't see why, given the same commitment, dedication and unity, we shouldn't go on to reach new landmarks next season.

I was proud to make a British record 177th world championship appearance at Spa-Francorchamps passing the career total of the great Graham Hill. I was also hoping to make it an all-comers' record of nine wins in a season, and we certainly looked in good shape through practice and qualifying.

Spa is a magnificent circuit, both in terms of its setting and its challenge to the driver. It is my kind of track. It is fast and exhilarating. It also has a couple of the most daunting sections in the world: Blanchimont, a high-speed, sweeping left-hander; and Eau Rouge, the little flick down the hill from the hairpin.

Erik Comas had a big shunt at Blanchimont on Friday and had to miss the rest of the meeting. Then, on Saturday, when the heavens opened, Gerhard Berger spun into the barrier going down the hill and careered backwards into the barrier at Eau Rouge. He was badly shaken but, fortunately, not hurt and was able to race. That is, he was able to line up. He couldn't move the car off the grid]

The weather can always be a crucial factor at Spa. It can change so quickly and so dangerously. This is the longest circuit in Formula One and you can encounter different conditions from one part to another. On Saturday though, little changed. It was a downpour most of the day, with rivers of rain water running across the track. Drivers were losing control through no fault of their own. They were just passengers.

For the umpteenth time this season I wasn't able to hold my pole advantage into the first corner, this time losing it to Ayrton Senna. But this is not Monte Carlo or Budapest and, after having a couple of looks, I went by the McLaren on the second lap. The fun was just beginning.

By the following lap it was raining heavily and I stopped for wet tyres. Most of the others did, too, but Ayrton gambled by staying out. Unfortunately for him he got it wrong and was too far back when he did eventually change rubber.

I managed to work my way up to the front again, despite being hit by Jean Alesi's Ferrari. I was thankful I could continue, but Jean spun out of the race. It was an afternoon packed with incident and there was much more to come as the clouds lifted and a dry line began to appear on the track. Timing the switch to slicks was inevitably going to be crucial but we had a bit of a misunderstanding over our stops. The upshot was that I had to wait until Riccardo was clear before I could come in. Schumacher, who'd stopped three laps earlier after going off, was able to jump into the lead.

With 10 laps to go the gap was 5.7 seconds. I chipped away and, with six laps left, had it down to three seconds. I was looking forward to a really good finale.

But then I had the exhaust problem and suddenly I found I was losing around 1400 revs. I had to use fifth gear all the way up the hill because that was quicker than changing to sixth. I was flat out but had no chance of keeping up with the Benetton. It was just bad luck and a great shame, but that's motor racing.

Nigel Mansell was taking to Derick Allsop

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