Motor Racing: Senna profits from Williams woe

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AYRTON SENNA of Brazil won the Italian Grand Prix from Britain's Martin Brundle when the script went wrong for the Williams-Renault team yesterday, writes Derick Allsop from Monza.

Nigel Mansell's parting gesture to his colleague, Riccardo Patrese, was not enough to give the Italian the maiden victory he craved in his home race. The world champion handed over the lead, as he had promised, and settled into his job of riding 'shotgun'.

Eleven laps from the end, however, Mansell had to retire, stuck in sixth gear, and then Patrese's active suspension system developed a problem which forced him to drop back into fifth place.

Michael Schumacher, Brundle's Benetton-Ford team-mate, was third, a result which lifts him to second place in the championship, above Senna and Patrese. Gerhard Berger, Senna's McLaren-Honda partner, finished fourth after starting in the pit lane in the spare car. Andrea de Cesaris, in a Tyrrell-Ilmor, was sixth.

Mansell started like a man intent on making a point to his team as well as achieving a record ninth victory of the season, while Senna out-manoeuvred Patrese into the first chicane and held that advantage until the 14th lap. The Englishman, meanwhile, opened up a comfortable lead. Unbeknown to onlookers, however, he was merely paving the way for Patrese, and, next time round, he duly allowed his partner through. The pair then gave a demonstration run in high-speed formation.

'Riccardo asked me before the race if I was willing to co-operate to let him win his home grand prix and I knew how much it would have meant to him,' Mansell explained. 'He said he would co-operate, if necessary, to help me get that ninth win at the next race, in Portugal, and I was happy to co- operate.

'The car was good and I was able to pull away, and after Riccardo went through I rode shotgun for him. I tried to encourage him to go quicker because Senna was getting closer, but had no intention of overtaking. Then the pressure accumulator for my gearbox faltered and I had no hydraulic pressure. I was stuck in sixth and had no choice but to retire.'

For Mansell it was only his second retirement and his first through mechanical failure this season. Patrese was at least able to salvage a couple of points, but those will scarcely console him.

Senna, who had sufficient pace and determination to keep the Williams pair within his sights, was there to take his opportunity. It was his third win of the season and 36th of his career.

Brundle has finished second before, although the official records do not acknowledge the fact. His endeavours at Detroit, in 1984, were rendered fruitless because of fuel irregularities. This time there were no complications, simply the satisfaction of delivering an excellent result after being released by the Benetton-Ford team.

'It's been a good race for me and, with three more races left, hopefully there are more good results to come,' the 33-year-old driver from King's Lynn said. 'It's a sad day for British motor racing with Nigel retiring, but I hope I put a few smiles back on British faces.'

Schumacher was smiling, too, content with third place after running into the back of Thierry Boutsen's Ligier-Renault and stopping for repairs at the end of the first lap. Britain's other driver, Johnny Herbert, was again left frustrated, having to park his Lotus-Ford with engine trouble.