Puneet Varma (Editor)

1989 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Date  24 September 1989
Course length  4.350 km (2.703 mi)
1989 Portuguese Grand Prix
Official name  XXIII Grande Premio de Portugal
Location  Autódromo do Estoril Portugal
Course  Permanent racing facility
Distance  71 laps, 308.850 km (191.910 mi)

The 1989 Portuguese Grand Prix (formally the XXIII Grande Premio de Portugal) was a Formula One motor race held at the Autódromo do Estoril in Estoril, Portugal on 24 September 1989. The 71-lap race was the thirteenth of the 1989 Formula One season. It was won by Gerhard Berger to take his first, and only, victory of the season for Ferrari. Alain Prost finished in second place for McLaren, strengthening his championship chances after his team-mate and rival Ayrton Senna had been involved in a collision with Ferrari driver Nigel Mansell which resulted in them both retiring. Mansell had just been black flagged at the time of incident for reversing back into his pit box after overshooting it during a stop. The podium was completed by Stefan Johansson, who took both his last and Onyx's only podium, and also Onyx's last points.


During the race, Pierluigi Martini managed to lead a lap for the only time in both his and Minardi's time in Formula One. Ten drivers from ten different teams finished in the top ten places in the race, with Jonathan Palmer scoring his last ever point in sixth place. The race was also Alain Prost's 150th Grand Prix start, and Coloni's last, though it attempted races for another two years without a single start.


Ayrton Senna took his tenth pole position of the season by six tenths of a second from the Ferrari of Gerhard Berger. Alain Prost could only set a lap fast enough for fourth in his McLaren, as Nigel Mansell eclipsed his with a lap just one hundredth of a second faster to start from third in the grid. Pierluigi Martini put in an impressive performance to qualify his Minardi in fifth place, albeit seven tenths slower than Prost. His team-mate, Luis Pérez-Sala, also did well to qualify the car in ninth place. Alex Caffi qualified his Dallara in seventh position, sandwiched by the two Williamses of Patrese and Boutsen, with Boutsen ahead. Martin Brundle completed the top ten in qualifying, followed by his Brabham team-mate Stefano Modena. Eventual podium finisher Stefan Johansson put his Onyx into twelfth on the grid, despite having to pre-qualify and his team-mate failing to do so.

The performance in qualifying by the Minardis, Dallaras and Brabhams showed what most in the F1 paddock already knew, that the Pirelli qualifying tyres were superior to the Goodyears with all three teams using the Italian tyres. However, while Pirelli had produced better qualifying rubber, the Goodyears were still acknowledged as having superior race tyres.


Berger had a great start and managed to overtake Senna. Mansell was in third followed by Prost, Martini and Patrese. Berger quickly opened a lead while Senna was trying to keep Mansell behind. Then Mansell finally managed to overtake Senna and started to catch Berger. As the two Ferraris caught up with the slower cars and were starting to lap them, Mansell managed to overtake Berger. Positions at lap 24 were: Mansell, Berger, Senna and Prost. Prost was the first of the leaders to pit for new tyres from fourth position. He was quickly followed by Berger on lap 35 and then by Senna. Then came the crucial moment of the race. Mansell came into the pits slightly too fast, locked his tyres and missed his pit box by a few metres. Although his pit crew moved down the pit lane to try to change his tyres where he had stopped, Mansell engaged reverse gear and drove backwards the short distance into the correct spot. After the leaders went to pit for tyres, Pierluigi Martini led a lap in the Minardi, the only time in the F1 history that a Minardi car was at the front leading. Mansell was down in fourth. Berger, Senna and Mansell quickly overtook Martini and Mansell closed on Senna. However, as driving a car in reverse in the pit lane was expressly forbidden (the pit crew may legally push a car backwards), Mansell was black flagged. At the start of lap 48 Mansell tried to overtake Senna, the cars collided and both drivers were out. This damaged Senna's title chances, especially since rival Alain Prost came in second place. The race was won by Berger ahead of Prost and Johansson a surprising third in the Onyx.

Lap leaders

  • Gerhard Berger 54 (1-23, 41-71)
  • Nigel Mansell 16 (24-39)
  • Pierluigi Martini 1 (40)
  • Championship standings after the race

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
  • References

    1989 Portuguese Grand Prix Wikipedia

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