Nigel Mansell now realises why his team-mates didn’t like him too much

Jamie Woodhouse
Nigel Mansell in a Ferrari. Goodwood, June 2022.

Nigel Mansell sits in the Ferrari 640 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Goodwood, June 2022.

Nigel Mansell was not sure why he was unpopular with his team-mates, such as Nelson Piquet, but looking back he now understands.

Mansell reached the summit of Formula 1 in 1992, winning the only World Championship of his career a season after finishing runner-up.

The Brit explains that in those 1991 and 1992 seasons, he was the number one driver, though prior to that he says this was not the case as he used to compete with number two status in the team.

Of course, his team-mates were far from unproven, Mario Andretti, Keke Rosberg, Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost all serving as examples from Mansell’s F1 career with title-winning experience before he secured World Champion status for himself.

 

 

When he was racing, Mansell could not see why some of his team-mates took a disliking to him, naming Piquet in particular, but after his career was over, he could look back and realise it was because Piquet did not like him beating him in the number two car.

“I was privileged when I first got in Formula One, there were seven, eight world champions racing together,” said Mansell in an interview with Adrian Flux.

“But, to beat the likes of Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet, Michael Schumacher, and this to name but a few, there was a lot of incredible great drivers at that time.

“And to do it when you’re sort of, okay, ’91, ’92 I was outright number one driver, that’s why I was competing for the championship, but people forget that when I was driving for the teams up until ’91, ’92, I was the number two driver, driving with four different world champions.

“And it’s amazing when I look back on my career, I understand far more now than I did then, because I never realised why they didn’t like me too much.

“But when you’re a world champion, or multi–world champion, and then you’re beating them in a number two car like I was with Nelson Piquet with Williams, he wasn’t my best friend was he?!”

In modern Formula 1 a team’s two cars are largely equal in terms of reliability, but Mansell stressed that back in this era, driving the number two car meant a significantly lower chance of making it to the race finish, and therefore missing out on the points needed to contend for the title.

“I retired at the end of 1990 at Silverstone,” Mansell recalled, “and the reason I retired was because I’d seen a lot of people, a lot of friends had died who I knew really well, and I was never getting the support to get the job done.

“I signed as number one for Ferrari for ’89, ’90, and then Ferrari bought the number one status back so that Alain [Prost] could come to the team in Ferrari.

“And the reliability of the cars back then was very, very crucial. If you don’t finish a race, you can’t get the points, you don’t accumulate the points, you don’t become world champion.

“If you’re the outright number one driver back in the 80s and 90s, you had a 30% better chance of finishing a race. If you’re a number two driver you could be as quick, but your car is not as good as the number one car from a reliability point of view.

“So, I decided at Silverstone, in fact, that enough was enough, I was never going to get the support that I actually needed to get across the line.”

The Classic will be held at Silverstone across the weekend of August 26-28 and will feature a host of attractions, including Mansell’s F1 world title-winning car from 30 years ago being part of an interactive display.