SPORTING IMAGES / Those memorable moments that lit up the world of sport in 1992: Motor Racing: Mansell pulls fast one at Silverstone

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The Independent Online
IT IS a measure of the domination enjoyed by Nigel Mansell and his Williams-Renault team this past season that the Englishman was rarely required to conjure the sort of extravagant overtaking manoeuvre that became his trademark in Formula One, writes Derick Allsop.

Mansell, on course for the world championship from the first race of the season, had to set his own standards and targets, often leaving the rest stranded with a devastating burst from the start of the race. His one consistent opponent was the clock, and it was in qualifying that we saw him fully extended.

He took pole position a record 14 times in the 16-race season. Some of his fastest laps were stunning. Monaco was one. But perhaps the most memorable of all was at Silverstone, on the first day of practice for the British Grand Prix.

During the heady build-up to his home race, Mansell had repeatedly declared this to be his own track and that no one was permitted to beat him. He was only half joking. Here Mansell was at his best, attacking every daunting corner, at one with his magnificent Williams FW14B. He drove with absolute confidence in himself and his highly sophisticated machinery.

His early qualifying burst was enough to take him below the 1min 20.939sec that secured him pole the previous year. This time there was much more to come. But how much more?

Mid-session he was into the 1:19s and, we thought, had reached his limit at 1:19.161. We were wrong. 'I thought I'd give it another go because there were so many people here,' he said.

Another go produced 1:18.965, an average speed of more than 148mph - a staggering lap, as his fellow drivers willingly conceded. Riccardo Patrese, in the other Williams-Renault, was almost two seconds slower, and he was the second fastest. Third-placed Ayrton Senna was more than 2.7sec adrift.

Rain washed away any prospect of improved times on the second day, but then no one harboured thoughts of beating Mansell's mark. Not even Mansell. 'I cannot imagine going faster than that,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)

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