Mansell secured his championship under a cloud of uncertainty about his future. James Hunt, Britain's last title-holder and now a BBC commentator, told his audience during yesterday's decisive Hungarian Grand Prix that Ayrton Senna had informed him he would drive for Williams for nothing.
A highly improbable scenario, perhaps, but a clear indication of his wishes. Alain Prost, like Senna three times a champion, is expected to come out of exile and take Riccardo Patrese's place at Williams, so that leaves one seat left - for Mansell or Senna.
The Formula One grapevine has suggested here that Mansell is in danger of pricing himself out of the market. A demand of dollars 23m ( pounds 12.23m) for next season has been mentioned. Whatever the truth of that, it seemed last night that Mansell was on the verge of a deal with Williams, even if it meant joining forces with Prost.
Mansell had a private talk with his boss, Frank Williams, before he left the circuit last night. The driver said: 'Now I am champion I would like the opportunity to defend my title and preferably with the same team. James Hunt is the ex-world champion. I am Britain's champion now. It's a pity he says certain things. He's said ridiculous things in the past, with TV companies competing against each other. Frank and I will be speaking over the next couple of days and I think we are pretty close to an agreement.' Told of Senna's alleged remark to Hunt, Williams quipped: 'Give me the phone, I'll ring him now. Seriously, though, the fact is I still have nothing to say on the driver line-up for next season. The situation is still under discussion.
'The important thing today is that Nigel is world champion. I am thrilled to bits for him. It's long overdue and he deserves it. You get out of life what you put into it and what he has achieved should be a lesson to us all.'
Hunt said: 'I congratulate Nigel and he deserves his championship. I hope he gets a chance to defend it with Williams but I also hope his demands are not too excessive.'
Senna has been offered a drive at Ferrari for next year but the Italian team are growing tired of his stalling tactics and have lined up his current team-mate at McLaren, Gerhard Berger. Senna may well stay at McLaren, particularly if Honda remain in Formula One for another year albeit under the Mugen banner.Reuse content