Monday 6 August 2012

Retro F1: 1991 Belgian Grand Prix

With a full four weeks now until our next F1 race I thought it would be jolly nice to hold the latest Retro F1.

And given that the next race on the F1 calendar is at the magisterial Spa-Francorchamps, I decided to make this Retro F1 a Spa race. We therefore watched the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix. It was a great topsy-turvey affair, and stars no less than Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell, as well as one Michael Schumacher making his F1 debut in the beautiful Jordan 191.

Retro F1 is when we watch a classic F1 race in full online, and chat about it on Twitter as we go, using the #RetroF1 hashtag. All are welcome!

The link to the race on YouTube is here, and can also be watched below.

Highlights of the Twitter chat follow:

Hey y’all, welcome to the latest instalment of Retro F1. Watching 1991 Belgian GP at magnificent Spa, starring such titans as Senna, Prost, Mansell, and one Michael Schumacher making his F1 debut. I would love to hear your thoughts as we go. Remember to use the #RetroF1 hashtag!

Now holding aloft the 5 minute board for Retro F1.
@F1isP1 Just left the pits on my formation lap...
Quality, just about to form on the grid :)

Right-o, clicking play now.

Click ‘Skip Ad’ :)

Some scene setting: the year is 1991 and Ayrton Senna has been on top of the pile all year. He won the opening four rounds of the season. But since then he has faced a strong challenge from the Williams FW14 (designed by one A. Newey), especially in hands of Nigel Mansell. 'Our Nige' got within 8 points of Senna by mid-season, but in the last round at Hungary Senna struck back by winning (with Mansell 2nd).

Ayrton Senna - a star of the race
Credit: Jmex60

All of a sudden, we’re off.
@F1isP1 Great start by Senna! Who is the debutant - Michael Schumacher or something like that?
Nah, he'll never make it. Ditch him!

‏@djtrickster77 The measured tones of James Hunt...How I miss that!
The inimitable Murray Walker and James Hunt, the double act that I grew up watching F1 with.
‏@LoisMarketing I love James Hunt. Always will.

@CamillaKristel Schumi out already.
Schumi lasts less than a lap on his debut, but in qualifying 7th has done enough to be snapped up from Jordan by Benetton before the next race. And thus he was on his way. EJ wasn’t happy though.
‏@F1isP1 Schumacher out - will he get another chance in F1?
‏@mario_eb A shame Michael retired too soon in the race. Who would've imagined all those records he was going to set?

‏@MKaipio Shame we didn't see any more of Schumi there. Would've been interesting to see his race pace. Good car that Jordan 191!
Yes, given what happened later who knows where Schumi would have ended up (hope I haven't given anything away!)

Anyway, Senna's McLaren leads from Mansell's Williams, who's just passed Prost's Ferrari on lap two. Great names.
@djtrickster77 Mansell's up to 2nd...oh how I love that Williams!! 
@F1isP1 Wow - great driving by Mansell, no love lost with Prost there!

‏‏@kanemelegatti Prost out!! 
@SharksfinnF1 What a shame.
@djtrickster77 Prost is out in the Ferrari!! Blow up? Not surprised.
Yep, wasn't reliable that Ferrari. And Ferrari generally was busy tearing itself apart at this point of history (as it used to do from time to time).
‏@CamillaKristel Gutted that the tiny Frenchman had to retire from the race already... 

‏@djtrickster77 Mansell has the fastest lap and is gaining on Senna in the McLaren!

@F1isP1 Are my ears deceiving me or is Mansell visibly closer to Senna?
It's Murray Walker operating under a pseudonym!

‏@djtrickster77 Sparks coming off Senna's McLaren #LoveIt 

‏@F1isP1 Patrese forces his way past Capelli - clean pass.
If you're wondering why Riccardo Patrese in the Williams is so far back: he qualified 2nd but was dropped to 17th when scrutineers discovered his reverse gear wasn't working! Thus they struck his qualifying times from the Saturday session from the records. Over-harsh penalties from F1 stewards are nothing new.

@MKaipio Senna and Mansell are in a class of their own. About 5 seconds ahead of 3rd place man Piquet in the Enstone car.

‏@F1isP1 Mansell running less rear wing than Senna - still struggling to get to off Eau Rouge.
@djtrickster77 I noticed that! :-)

Australian TV goes for an ad break. Was that 'Welcome to the Pleasure Dome' by Frankie Goes to Hollywood or was I imagining things? Here's the song in question. Make your own minds up:

Mansell still hounding Senna at the front, looking the quicker of the two. The pair are leaving the rest behind, 10 laps in. Thing is, Senna was never easy to pass, especially with a Honda engine at his back

‏@SharksfinnF1 Mansell is the man no mistake.
‏@MKaipio Mansell is getting ever closer to Senna...very close now.
‏@kanemelegatti Moustache-man pushing on Senna... #epic  
‏@CamillaKristel Top 2 has gained quite a gap. I'd say it's only a matter of time when Mansell will pass Senna. Or at least try to. 

Satoru Nakajima and Eric Bernard scare each other off the road. Satoru whose son also drove in F1 (Kazuki).

‏@F1isP1 TV network focusing on Mansell and Senna - what's going on behind them?

‏@djtrickster77 It's a 2 horse race so far between Mansell & Senna...You won't hear me complaining.

@djtrickster77 Patrese is now up to 7th!!
@SharksfinnF1 Nice move from Patrese.

Stefano Modena. Everyone thought he'd be the next big thing. He wasn't.

@MKaipio Murray Walker notes the McLaren-Honda has a new engine induction system, which helps at slow and mid-speed. 
Variable trumpets, I believe. Used for the first time this weekend.

‏@djtrickster77 God!! Jonathan Palmer....those were the days as a reporter and not a track owner.

‏@FakeAndrewGreen Giancarlo Fisichella takes pole position for Force India.
Correct track, but 18 years out :)

@djtrickster77 Mansell's so close to Senna he could almost touch him.

Reckon Nige should use his DRS (I know I make that joke every time).
‏@kanemelegatti Senna will defend with KERS... #lol

Nigel Mansell - hounded Senna early on
Credit: Jmex60 / CC

With Senna, Mansell, Prost, Piquet and Schumacher on the grid in this race I make it 18 drivers' championships on show.

@F1isP1 Both leaders look like they're running on rails - solid through corners - Senna looks more stable under braking. 

@MKaipio Andrea de Cesaris is running 6th in the Jordan 191, designed by the future BBC man Gary Anderson :-P
What a fine and beautiful car that Jordan 191 was too. A classic.
‏@MKaipio Absolutely. In the Irish green colour, sponsored by 7-up.
‏@Parnelli98 Gary Anderson'a Jordan 191 was one of the best looking cars ever.
@mario_eb One of the most beautiful F1 cars ever, the Jordan 191. Now, de Cesaris, another story :s 

The beautiful Jordan 191
Credit: Ceaton89 / CC

Tyre stops soon by the sounds of things, Senna and Mansell having a bit of a ceasefire right now.
‏@SharksfinnF1 Here comes Mansell; hopefully Senna will pit first.
‏@MKaipio Are they hitting tyre trouble? It's 2012 all over again...errr...!

@kanemelegatti Eau Rouge... What a beautiful part of the circuit. 

@djtrickster77 Ligier..those were the days!

@SharksfinnF1 No surprise, Capelli out.
Leyton House. The team that sacked Adrian Newey. D'oh!
@richarddonaghy So glad I've not a clue who wins. As for Leyton House as a team sounds like a hotel I stayed in last year.

It's rumoured that Newey in effect designed the car that would become the 1991 Williams FW14 before leaving Leyton House, but Leyton House binned his design!
@toybot5000 Aero wasnt understood then so they just didn't know what he was talking about, and he was wanted at Williams.
Part of the problem too was that Leyton House had a dodgy wind tunnel, so a lot of Newey's designs hadn't worked.

The Leyton House - not designed by Adrian Newey
Credit: Stuart Seeger / CC

Funny to hear James Hunt, in effect, talking about the undercut 21 years ago!
@MKaipio Things haven't changed much, really. 

And Senna pits, going for the undercut ;)
@SharksfinnF1 Senna is in. ‏
@djtrickster77 Go Mansell!! 
@SennaLoveAlways Nooooooooo, GO SENNA!!! ;))) #SennaLove
‏@F1isP1 Slow stop for Senna - still under 10 seconds so not too shabby ... 
‏@djtrickster77 Is that a taste to come for piss poor pitstops & McLaren?

Mansell in. If you look closely, the Williams lollipop man is one @PeterDWindsor
@SharksfinnF1 Banzai stuff out of the pits from Mansell.

Mansell returns from the pits, and is still ahead of Senna. A much quicker stop by Williams, as well as a great in lap from Nige.
@F1isP1 Mansell pit stop 7.4 seconds - great work by Williams to beat McLaren's time by 2 seconds! 
@djtrickster77 Wow!!! Mansell's miles in front after the pit stops!

‏@CamillaKristel Here's a pic of Schumi taken during this weekend. Wonder who's sponsoring the team? 
Yes, they're being a bit subtle about it aren't they?

@F1isP1 Mansell breezes past Berger - sterling drive from our Nige! 
‏@SharksfinnF1 No KERS or DRS needed by Mansell in the overtake of Berger.
@mario_eb DRS in 1991? No way :D I wonder what Senna would've said about DRS. 
‏@Parnelli98 I think he would've used it to his advantage as much as he could.

Oooh, poor stop for Berger and then he compounds it by spinning coming out of the pits(!)
@F1isP1 Dramatic pit exit by Berger - he spins or does he decide to try donuts to warm his tyres? 

Alan Jones's comments got me thinking, imagine if Berger had done that to Modena today (rejoining in front of him) - it would have been an instant drive through penalty! Then, no one cared!
‏‏@djtrickster77 Alan Jones commentating #Legend 

@richarddonaghy So good to see the bus stop chicane again Spa is a massive favourite.
Agree with you, hate the way they vandalised the bus stop section so many times over the years!

Mansell leading and stretching his advantage, Senna's stuck behind Alesi's Ferrari who hasn't pitted yet.
‏@SharksfinnF1 Stunning drive from Mansell so far.

‏@Dinalli I love Spa. 

‏@SharksfinnF1 How steep is Eau Rouge?

@SharksfinnF1 Doesn't that Williams look stunning.
Yes, I love the look of the 1991 cars. Big slick tyres, uncluttered aero.
@MKaipio I love how the cars looked back then! Wish they would still look like that.
@SharksfinnF1 Yes. When F1 was F1. Great cars.

Oooh, Nigel is slowing, Alesi and Senna pass!
‏@F1isP1 Mansell slowing - looks terminal - won't help his championship challenge.

Mansell is slowing and is out, puff of smoke.
@djtrickster77 WTF has happened to Mansell & he's now out of the race!! 
@MKaipio Electric problem for Mansell
‏@SharksfinnF1 Just as I say how good the Williams looks it bloody blows up.

@LoisMarketing Multi-tasking! Olympic tennis, Retro F1 .. and breakfast :)
‏@F1isP1 Me too - except the breakfast!
Sounds fun :) Especially the Retro F1 bit.
‏@CamillaKristel ...and me too. Loosing my temper with the internet bank soon. 
That's what they're there for.

So, Alesi in the Ferrari leads, not for the first time, but he's yet to win an F1 race. Senna is not making much of an impression on him.

@CamillaKristel Seems like Patrese is the only one able to pass at the moment. (Excluding the pitstops). Now ahead of de Cesaris. DRS anyone haha? 

‏@djtrickster77 I take it Alesi hasn't pitted yet or did I miss that and he's super human!
Alesi hasn't pitted, looks like he's trying a non-stop run. Pity is with the rules these days no one can try a non-stop race! Sergio Perez would probably try...
‏@djtrickster77 Well it seems to be working so far...wonder when they'll drop off a cliff.

‏@SharksfinnF1 Going to Spa this season as long as my passport comes in time. Can't wait to tread on that historic circuit.

Now James Hunt talking about the problems of dirty air, 21 years ago. Some things never change.

Oooh, what now? Senna slows and now Piquet etc from third place downwards are right on his tail!
@F1isP1 Senna struggling - has he got a problem?

Alesi now leads by 11 seconds, Senna is holding off a train of cars in second. Behind Senna we have Piquet's Benetton, Patrese's Williams and (get this) de Cesaris in the Jordan.
@djtrickster77 Senna, Piquet, Patrese & de Cesaris....Very close! 
‏@SharksfinnF1 Come on Patrese.
‏@MKaipio Senna is managing an issue, for sure. 

Look at all those cars going outside the lines of the track at La Source. Give them all penalties ;)

Patrese now up to P3, ahead of Piquet.

‏Or is he...he's back behind de Cesaris now, replays show he went off immediately after passing Piquet!
‏@F1isP1 Patrese up to 3rd - then undoes his good work with an off - very agricultural.
‏@djtrickster77 Remember the kitty litter isn't your friend.

James Hunt will no doubt see this as a wonderful opportunity to diss Patrese. Not that he usually needed a reason.
@F1isP1 I think Hunt's dislike of Patrese stemmed from Monza 1978 - Patrese was widely blamed from crash that claimed Ronnie Peterson. 
Hunt certainly blamed him, but most onlookers thought Hunt himself was more at fault. Possibly it was all a guilt thing.

Riccardo Patrese battled up the order
Credit: Jmex60 / CC

‏@SharksfinnF1 This is a stunning action packed race and look no DRS or KERS and no bloody Pirelli tyres.
Well actually there were Pirelli tyres.. no sorry I won't go there :)

Cor blimey, it's all happening. I can't keep up.

Alesi drops out of the lead with a smoky Ferrari, and de Cesaris immediately passes Piquet for second place!
@F1isP1 Terrible luck for him, yet another win snatched from him. 
@CamillaKristel Bad day for Ferrari. 
@richarddonaghy Is anyone going to finish this race?
It's actually amazing to think about the number of wins Alesi had taken away through no fault of his own. He could easily have won ten Grands Prix rather than just one.

Quite liked the way James Hunt dissed Ferrari too. It's the one thing he liked more than dissing Patrese (1976 died hard).
@SharksfinnF1 I wonder if any of those old Minardi cars exist still?

‏@F1isP1 de Cesaris pushing Senna for the lead in his Jordan - wonder where Schuey would've been if he'd not retired on lap 1?

Jonathan Palmer confirms Senna lost time before with a gear selection problem, de Cesaris in the Jordan is closing in...

‏@djtrickster77 de Cesaris in the Jordan is in the podium spot!! Yippee!! (but for how long?) 
‏@mario_eb de Crasheris on the podium? That would've been interesting to see ;) 
‏@djtrickster77 Hahaha!! Hes 2.7 secs behind Senna.
‏@mario_eb Close, but de Cesaris overtaking Senna with that Jordan? That would've been a miracle :D 
@MKaipio Fantastic to hear EJ's comments there, from the pit wall! 
Eddie Jordan says he's aiming to win. By the way, doesn't he sound a bit different 21 years on, or am I imagining things?

‏@djtrickster77 Patrese has to get past Piquet....he's past!! Yeah!! 
Patrese now up to P3, and he stays on the track this time. Senna under a lot of pressure from two cars now.

‏@djtrickster77 I swear I saw smoke from the back of the Jordan.

Gerhard Berger up to P4 past Piquet, calm down @SartoMutiny
@djtrickster77 Loving Berger overtaking Piquet! Berger was one of the good guys in F1.

‏@Rick_Baumhauer It’s amazing to witness, once again, role that widespread mechanical failure used to play in just about every race. 
@djtrickster77 Quite an expensive car park.
@Parnelli98: Kind of strange to see such unreliability, since retirements in 2012 are few and far between.
@LoisMarketing Very different then.
I sometimes think that too, unreliability adds an exciting variable, such as at Valencia this year. I miss it a little bit...

Murray does his best to give Senna the famous Murray kiss of death. 'I've been known to be wrong before'. Yes Murray, you have.

Andrea de Cesaris: known for crashing and having lots of Marlboro cash that sustained his career. But on the odd occasion, such as here, he could be impressive.
‏@djtrickster77 De Cesaris sounds very similar to a present day F1 driver...Loads of cash, lots of crashes and flashes of brilliance.
Thought the same thing. At least Pastor has time to learn, unlike de Ceasris who was still crashing after 200 GPs!
‏@djtrickster77 Good point! Pastor has time to learn...I wish him well. 
‏@F1isP1 de Cesaris = Petrov 

‏@mario_eb Wow! The first time I heard about Mauricio Gugelmin and Roberto 'El Pupo' Moreno was in IndyCar (90s). Great Brazilian drivers :)

Berger sets fastest lap and is now hounding Patrese in P3. What a drive. @SartoMutiny now apoplectic.
@SartoMutiny Meh, it's all about @johnnyrussell27 these days.
Poor Gerhard. He'll feel so neglected.

Gerhard Berger - strong late in the race
Credit: StuSeeger / CC

@Lucas_Alliot Räikkönen is out on the last lap, and now Alonso wins! 
Erm, OK. Clearly watching a different race...

'Piquet looking for another team'. Turns out his team made the decision for him.
‏@djtrickster77 Hahaha!! Couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke.
Yep, being blown away by Schumacher for the remainder of this season did nothing for Piquet's negotiating position.

@Parnelli98 Shame the audio can't replicate exactly how loud these '91 cars were. Screaming banshees they were! 
Plenty of lovely V12s on the grid, Honda, Ferrari etc :)

Still tight at the front: Senna, de Cesaris, Patrese, Berger.

Martin Brundle holding up the leaders when being lapped. Wonder what Martin Brundle the commentator would have made of that...
‏@MKaipio What is Brundle doing?! Get out of the way! 

Three laps to go, the top four within sight of each other.

Aaarrrggghhh, de Cesaris out, a second place out of the window.
‏@F1isP1 de Cesaris out - terrible luck for the fledgling Jordan team. 
‏@SharksfinnF1 Unlucky EJ.
@CamillaKristel Feel bad for Eddie now :( Just a few laps to go. 
‏@mario_eb Engine issues for de Cesaris. A beautiful chassis, but its reliability wasn't at the same level that the beauty.

And now Patrese is slowing! Does anyone want to finish?!

So, we're denied a grandstand finish, McLarens are 1-2 and Berger won't challenge Senna. Patrese soldiering on, but slowly...

Love that about Murray, the way he'd get incredibly excited if a British driver got a point.
‏@djtrickster77 Brundle, Blundell, Herbert...Before they were F1 presenters.

‏@F1isP1 Senna starts last lap - surely victorious? 

@SharksfinnF1 Senna wins the Belgium GP. Fantastic race.
So, a McLaren 1-2 with Senna ahead. Bit of a lucky result that owed to no one else finishing it seemed. But to finish first...
‏@djtrickster77 Well done Senna, Berger and Piquet for a great race at Spa in 1991!! #Class 

Cut to Ron Dennis looking smug.

‏@Parnelli98 Four in a row for Senna at Spa. He loved to go fast!

@F1isP1 Senna climbs out of his McLaren - what a beautiful car! 

‏@MKaipio Certainly would've been interesting to see Schumi's performance. We know how good he is/was around there, and the Jordan had pace!

Yes, the way the race went Schumi could have won. He qualified 4 places and 7 tenths ahead of de Cesaris, who nearly won.

@Parnelli98 Murray mentions Shell fuels. Weren't the fuel companies still mixing exotic blends in '91?
Yes, 'jungle juice' I believe they called it back then.
@Parnelli98 Another 'good old days' flashback (fuel). Any advantage the teams could get! 

And with a further blast of Frankie it's all over. Hope you all enjoyed Retro F1. Thanks for contributing.

‏@SharksfinnF1 Great Retro F1, really enjoyed it thanks.

‏@F1isP1 Great choice race for Retro F1 - great fun mate! Thanks!

‏@CamillaKristel Thank you for a great Retro F1 :)

‏@djtrickster77 Thank you for arranging Retro F1 this weekend!! You know I love it!! So thank you :-)))

No problem, it's always good fun to do. And thanks to you for joining in and contributing, always good to hear!

@mario_eb Formula One cars that were present in 1991. ‏Senna, Berger, Piquet, Moreno, Patrese, Blundell, Herbert, Pirro, etc, etc. Those were the names and times :) 

‏@mario_eb 1991 Belgian Grand Prix final results

@F1isP1 Wow - look what's trending!
Brilliant - fame at last!

As always I'm delighted to hear requests for future Retro F1 races to watch. So long as they're available online and for free I'm happy to consider them. Do let me know if you spot anything!

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