Rahul Sharma (Editor)

1991 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Date  22 September 1991
Course length  4.350 km (2.703 mi)
Location  Autódromo do Estoril
1991 Portuguese Grand Prix
Official name  XXIII Grande Premio de Portugal
Course  Permanent racing facility
Distance  71 laps, 308.850 km (191.910 mi)

The 1991 Portuguese Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at the Autódromo do Estoril on 22 September 1991. It was the thirteenth round of the 1991 Formula One season. The 71-lap race was won by Williams driver Riccardo Patrese after he started from pole position. Ayrton Senna finished second for the McLaren team with Ferrari driver Jean Alesi third.



The only change to the driver line-up was that Johnny Herbert was back at Lotus and managed to qualify, something that Michael Bartels had failed to do in his three outings for the team. The sunny Estoril was a popular venue among the drivers and qualifying saw a bit of a role reversal with the top teams' second drivers beating the championship contenders with Riccardo Patrese on pole alongside Gerhard Berger, with Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell third and fourth respectively. The top ten was rounded out by Alain Prost, Jean Alesi, Maurício Gugelmin, Pierluigi Martini, Ivan Capelli, and Michael Schumacher, the Benetton team a little off their usual pace.

On Sunday Morning Prost's Ferrari had a rather dramatic blowup in the warmup, and the Frenchman had to start the race in the spare car. The start was very eventful with Patrese getting away well and with Mansell aggressively chopping across the front of Senna. Unimpressed, he tried to retake Mansell going into the first turn but Nigel held his line and then proceeded to sweep underneath Berger to grab second at the second corner. After lap 1 the order was Patrese, Mansell, Berger, Senna, and Alesi. Mansell seemed content to shadow Patrese until lap 18 when he slipstreamed past his teammate on the main straight and proceeded to pull away. Things were looking well for Williams until Mansell came in for his stop on lap 29 and things went horribly wrong. The right rear tyre men got confused and one mechanic raised his hand when the other had not gotten the wheel perfectly on. Mansell set off down the pitlane but his tyre did not want to comply, the tyre fell off and the frustrated Englishman was left stranded in the middle of the pit lane with three wheels. The team ran out and put a fourth wheel on the car, breaking many rules in the process.

Mansell emerged in 17th place and started a furious charge through the field. He was up to sixth when he was inevitably shown the black flag on lap 51; with this disqualification, his championship hopes hung by a thread. The whole accident left Patrese comfortably in the lead from Berger and Senna, and Senna went second when Berger's engine blew on lap 37, he was followed out of the race by Prost's Ferrari, which also decided it had enough. On lap 40 the order was Patrese, Senna, Alesi, Martini, and Capelli, with the latter three being involved in an exciting battle for third place; Alesi didn't make errors despite being under pressure from the Minardi, and so the order remained unchanged until the late stages when the fifth placed Capelli suffered a front wing problem and ended up in the barriers. Patrese cruised home to his second win of the season and fifth of his career. Senna was second and tightened the screw on his third drivers title. Alesi, Martini, Piquet, and Schumacher rounded out the top six. With three races to go Senna led Mansell by 24 points.

Championship standings after the race

  • Bold text indicates who still has a theoretical chance of becoming World Champion.
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
  • References

    1991 Portuguese Grand Prix Wikipedia