Nigel Mansell scored a long overdue victory for the British in their Grand Prix in Brands Hatch, England, yesterday, winning a thrilling duel with a teammate and overtaking a rival in the drivers' title race.
Mansell, 31, became the first Briton since Jim Clark in 1964 to win the race over the 2.6-mile Brands Hatch track. His winning time was 1 hour 30 minutes 38.471 seconds for an average speed of 129.775 mph. Brazilian Nelson Piquet was clocked in 1:30.44.045.
But, more importantly, the victory gave him the lead in the world drivers' championship, ahead of Alain Prost of France. Mansell has 47 points and Prost has 43. The Frenchman, who had a one-point lead going into the 75-lap race, finished third, but more than a lap behind.
Instead, the race was a battle between the two Williams Honda teammates, Mansell and Piquet. The only times the two drivers were out of each other's sight were when they had their tires changed.
They repeatedly broke the lap record. Mansell finally lowered it to 1:09.593 for an average speed of about 135 mph.
"We were constantly nose to tail. Nelson kept pushing and pushing all the time. He gave me half an inch and that was it," Mansell said.
Piquet said, "Nigel was too good today. I tried to overtake him but he just closed the door. After that, I never had another chance."
More than 100,000 fans watched the duel between Mansell and his teammate. But first they witnessed a nine-car pileup that resulted in an 85-minute delay and serious injury to France's Jacques Lafitte.
Lafitte was tying Graham Hill's record of 176 Grand Prix races. But his car was hit during the pileup, which happened on the first bend. Lafitte, 42, broke both legs and his pelvis after being trapped in his Ligier Renault when the crash occurred seconds after the start of the race.