Legends Of The Sport
Formula 1 Print 1986 - Ayrton Senna offers advice or caution to Nigel Mansell at the 1986 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal
Pole Position and race winner Nigel Mansell (GBR) receives advice or a caution (we'll never know - can you please tell us Nigel?!) from his arch rival Ayrton Senna (BRA) at the 1986 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on June 15th. Senna, 2nd in qualifying, only finished the race fifth. Mansell drove the Williams-Honda FW11.
The 1986 Formula One season was the 37th season of FIA Formula One motor racing. It featured the 1986 Formula One World Championship which commenced on 23 March and ended on 26 October after sixteen races. The Formula One World Championship for Drivers was won by Alain Prost and the Formula One World Championship for Manufacturers was awarded to Williams. Prost became the first driver since Jack Brabham 26 years before to defend his championship title.
The championship culminated in a points battle between the Williams duo of Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell versus McLaren's Alain Prost at the final race, the 1986 Australian Grand Prix. Mansell's tyre blew in spectacular fashion and Piquet, in the lead at the time of the incident, was brought in for an unscheduled pit stop soon afterward by Williams to prevent the same happening to his tyres. This enabled Prost to take the lead and the race victory (his fourth of the season) and to secure his second consecutive Drivers' Championship. Mansell, Piquet, Prost, along with the new-rising star Ayrton Senna, dominated throughout the season and formed what was popularly dubbed as the "Gang of Four".
For the first time, turbocharged engines were compulsory due to a ban on naturally aspirated (atmospheric) engines. The law banning atmospheric engines was rescinded in 1987, in preparation for a ban on all forced induction engines for 1989. For 2014 turbocharged engines are now the norm effectively ending naturally aspirated (atmospheric) engines.
The Formula One cars of 1986 are the most powerful Grand Prix cars to ever have raced. There were still no limits on engine power, and some engines, including the powerful but rather unreliable BMW M12/13 1.5 litre single turbocharged straight-4 engine used by the Benetton, Brabham and Arrows teams, could throw out 1,350+ hp at 5.5 bar boost (79.7 psi) during qualifying; this would happen when the engineers took the boost restrictors off the engine – then the power of the turbocharged engines was so great that it could not even be accurately measured until years later, when the technology was advanced enough. Purpose-built drivetrains had to be fitted to the chassis of each car for specific sessions – there were qualifying engines (as described above) nicknamed "grenades" that had unrestricted boost pressure, and qualifying gearboxes, ones that were designed to withstand the engine's immense power; these components would only last about 3–4 minutes (2–3 laps) during use. These drive train units were then taken out and then replaced with the boost-restricted engines and specifically prepared gearboxes for races (if too much power was used, the engines would be so worn that the combusting in the engine would burst right through the block due to the immense stress on the metal caused by the extreme temperatures of the combustions in the engine's internals, hence the nickname "grenade"). When these turbocharged engines were fitted to the cars, the whole package weighed about 540 kg (1,190 lb) – so the power-to-weight ratios were extreme. For qualifying, the power to weight ratios were about 2,500 hp/ton+ for the Benetton-BMW and 1,850 hp/ton for the Benetton's race trim; compared to about 1,175 hp/ton for a modern F1 car – and all Formula 1 cars had manual stick-shift gearboxes then. To put that in perspective, a modern family car produces about 80–100 hp/ton and the fastest modern road-going cars produce about 450–550 hp/ton. But a consistent problem for these new turbo engines that was somewhat smoothed over (particularly by Ford and Honda) over the years was the terrible turbo lag; engines were mechanically turbocharged in those days. The power would only come on all at once 2–3 seconds after the driver put his foot down; it would usually measure out from 100–300 hp for the first 2–3 seconds then the engine would go immediately to the top of the power range (usually 900–1000 hp). The black and white nature of these engines made them very difficult to drive; drivers had to anticipate when the power would come on, so they would floor the gas pedal much earlier than usual to get the power on at the right moment.