A final race with three title contenders would already be remarkable, but the 1986 Australian GP, which saw Alain Prost twice champion, insisted on going beyond that. On the streets of Adelaide, Formula 1 turned a state of madness into one of the most iconic races in history.
In a year that had a discard system – that didn’t matter, let’s say Nigel Mansell reached the finals like a champion. The Englishman had 70 points, Prost had 64 and Mansell’s teammate Nelson Piquet appeared with 63. It was also fair to say that the Brazilian was more likely than the French, as was the superiority of Williams on McLaren and the rest of the grid. .
With 9 points to grab, Mansell only needed to finish fourth so as not to depend on anyone else. In other words, given Nigel’s results of the year and Williams’ strength, it was crossing the finish line that the title would come. Well, didn’t come.
1986 Australian GP launch (Photo: Adelaide GP/breeding/Instagram)
️Subscribe to two Grand Prize YouTube channels: GP | GP2
In qualifying, Mansell confirmed his favoritism and took pole position, just behind Piquet and Prost in fourth place, behind Ayrton Senna’s Lotus, who finished fourth in their great season. The distance between Prost and Williams attracted attention: 0s9 for Piquet and 1s2 for Mansell, inclusive of the championship keynote.
The start arrived and the first lap set the exact tone of what would happen from then on: madness and chaos. Mansell came out well, but had only two corners at the end, when Senna pressed on and took the position. To avoid a clash with the Brazilian, the Englishman also opened the door for Piquet and Keke Rosberg, who were making a memorable first lap from seventh to third. Meanwhile, Prost had dropped to fifth.
Piquet overtook Senna at the end of Lap 1, but the lead was short-lived. It’s just that Rosberg was absolutely on fire. In the final race in F1, the Finn decided to do what he had not been able to do in previous years and, to help his fellow Prost become champion, he took the lead and tried to fit in a series of quick laps. of, increase in profit.
Nelson Piquet also led the 1986 Australian GP (Photo: Pinterest)
The truth is that McLaren’s performance in Adelaide was much stronger than most of that year’s calendar. With Keke slipping in front, Prost also rose, surpassing Mansell and on lap 23, Piquet became second when he rode alone. But the drama was not over yet.
Almost right after Nelson’s round, Prost, who had a flat tyre, pitched and returned to fourth. The race continued and there were three title contenders in second, third and fourth, with Piquet one ahead of Mansell who was more conservative than usual, and one Prost who was starting to get closer to Williams. The championship looked like Nigel’s, but the fight in the race was very open.
It turns out that what happened to Prost, still at the start of the race, was a preview of something that would happen again and shake up the championship. Williams and McLaren’s tire supplier Goodyear, in response to Gerhard Berger’s win over Benetton at the Mexican GP using Pirelli tyres, decided to properly pick up new compounds in the final. And without any pit-stops. But the reaction to Goodyear’s attempt became a factor in the turmoil of the final race.
Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell were the title contenders in the last race of 1986 (Photo: Adelaide GP/Reproduction/Instagram)
There was an idea to hold a non-stop race in Australia, but the plan did not materialise. In 63rd place out of 82 laps, Rosberg’s stellar performance ended with a tire cut, which forced the Finn to retire. Piquet was back in the lead, with Prost passing a Mansell that was almost dragging himself up to the title.
By the way, Nigel could easily go to the pits to change a tyre, after all, fourth-placed Philippe Streiff was already back on his tyre. did not have time. On lap 64, Mansell’s left rear tire burst, taking a lap over Philippe Eliot, along with his dream of becoming champion.
Alain Prost won the bi-championship in a crazy race in Adelaide (Photo: F1 / Reproduction)
Desperate, Williams also ordered Piquet to stop, as the Brazilian tires were vibrating too much. Prost, who had made a back pit stop after a puncture, took the lead. The Frenchman’s lead over the Brazil fell and fell by about 15 seconds in the final two laps, but with fuel at the limit, Alain crossed the finish line from the front and sealed the cup.
Prost’s double-championship is considered one of the greatest in F1 history. In a year in which he worked alongside Williams in a few competitions, the Frenchman showed consistency, regularity and opportunism. In a clear year for Williams, he ‘professed’ to McLaren.