Motor Racing: Revival of a golden grand prix era: Derick Allsop reports on the battle between Britons and Brazilians in the quest for dominance in Formula One

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH tradition was revived when Nigel Mansell secured the Formula One world championship yesterday.

Despite the fact that the 39-year-old Williams-Renault driver is the first man from this country for 16 years to win motor racing's premier category, he strengthens Britain's position at the top of the sport's rankings.

Mansell is the seventh Briton to hold the title and brings to 11 the total number of championship successes achieved by British drivers. The other winners were Mike Hawthorn, Graham Hill (twice), Jim Clark (twice), John Surtees, Jackie Stewart (three times) and James Hunt.

Brazil has emerged as the main threat to Britain's pre-eminence. Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna have, between them, taken the championship six times in the past 11 years, building on the victories of their countryman, Emerson Fittipaldi, in 1972 and 1974.

Mansell's breakthrough, after 12 years in Formula One, has served to stem the Brazilian tide and rekindle memories of a dominant past, when British drivers were acknowledged as having the ideal temperament as well as the skill and courage for Formula One.

Britain's golden era dawned in 1958, with Hawthorn's championship. In the 1960s, Hill, Clark, Surtees and Stewart virtually turned grand prix motor racing into a one-nation show. Stewart and Hunt carried the flag in to the 1970s, but since then, British drivers have struggled for prominence.

John Watson was runner-up in 1982 and on three occasions Mansell had that dubious distinction. It seemed Mansell was destined to join Stirling Moss in the club of champions who never were.

There is a general belief that Britain has always had the talent but that, in more recent times, it has not had the opportunity to develop. We have heard many a lament that continental, South American, and now Japanese drivers find sponsorship money, essential in formative years, more readily available.

Stewart sympathises yet suggests South Americans may have brought with them a greater commitment as well as cash, and Mansell, who toiled harder than most for his chance, has proved the championship is not beyond the reach of British drivers.

His success should give a fillip to racing in this country and to the next generation of British drivers. Perhaps British industry will be encouraged to give greater support to our young hopefuls and ensure we do not have to wait another 16 years for our next world champion.

----------------------------------------------------------------- BRITAIN'S WORLD CHAMPIONS ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1958. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mike Hawthorn (Ferrari) 1962. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Graham Hill (BRM) 1963. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jim Clark (Lotus-Climax) 1964. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .John Surtees (Ferrari) 1965. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jim Clark (Lotus-Climax) 1968. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Graham Hill (Lotus-Ford) 1969. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jackie Stewart (Matra-Ford) 1971. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jackie Stewart (Tyrrell-Ford) 1973. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jackie Stewart (Tyrrell-Ford) 1976. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .James Hunt (McLaren-Ford) 1992. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nigel Mansell (Williams-Renault) -----------------------------------------------------------------

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