English race car driver Nigel Mansell - biography, achievements and interesting facts

Nigel Mansell is an English racing driver who became the world champion of Formula 1 (in 1992) and the CART World Series (in 1993). He was the reigning world champion when he moved to the United States, becoming the first to win the CART in his debut season, and remains the only person in history to hold both titles at the same time.

His career in Formula 1 spanned 15 seasons, and he devoted the last 2 years of his performance in top-level competitions to the CART series. Mansell remains the most successful British Formula 1 racer with 31 victories and takes 4th place in the list of race winners for Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

Early biography

Nigel Mansell was born on August 8, 1953 in Upton on the Severn (Worcestershire, UK) in the family of Eric and Joyce Mansell. He started driving at 7 years old. At the same age, he saw the victory of Jim Clark from the Lotus at the British Grand Prix and decided to imitate the great Scot.

He began his racing career quite late, making his way for his own money. After considerable success in karting, to the disapproval of his father, he moved to Formula Ford. In 1976, Mansell won 6 of the 9 races in which he took part, including his debut performance at Mallory Park. The following year, he participated in 42 competitions and won 33 of them, becoming the champion of the British Formula Ford in 1977, despite the fact that he broke his neck in the qualifying session at Brands Hatch. The doctors told him that he was dangerously close to limb paralysis, that his movements would be limited to 6 months and that he would never ride again. Mansell escaped from the hospital and returned to racing. 3 weeks before the accident, he refused the job of an engineer in the aerospace industry and sold most of his personal belongings in order to finance his participation in Formula Ford. Later that year, he was given the opportunity to compete in the Lola T570 Formula 3 car at Silverstone. He took 4th place and decided that he was ready to move to the higher formula.

Racing driver Nigel Mansell

Formula 3

Mansell participated in Formula 3 from 1978 to 1979. He started the first season with a pole position and 2nd place. However, his car was not competitive, as a commercial deal with Unipart required his team to use Triumph Dolomite engines, significantly inferior to Toyota motors from the competition leaders. After three finishes seventh and one fourth in his last race, he broke up with the team. The following season, he participated in a paid race with Dave Price Racing. After the first victory at Silverstone in March, he took 8th place in the championship. His race went smoothly, but a collision with Andrea de Caesaris led to an accident in which he was lucky to survive. He was again hospitalized, this time with broken vertebrae. His driving was noticed by the owner of the Lotus Colin Chapman, and shortly after the accident, hiding the degree of injury painkillers, Mansell coped well with tests for a test pilot of the Formula 1 team.

1980-1984: Lotus

Nigel Mansell’s skill as a test driver, including setting his fastest time at Silverstone on the Lotus car, impressed Chapman enough to give him 3 starts in 1980, an experimental version of the car. At his debut performance in Formula 1 at the Austrian Grand Prix in 1980, a fuel leak occurred in the cockpit, which began shortly before the start of the race, which left painful burns of I and II degrees on his buttocks. Failures of the car forced him to leave this and the second race, and the accident at the third competition in Imola meant that he did not qualify. Team leader Mario Andretti wrote off his car before the final race of the season, and for his sake Mansell had to give up his own. Andretti announced that he was moving to Alfa Romeo at the end of the season, leaving a vacant seat in Lotus.

Despite the fact that Mansell was not liked, and speculation in the press that Jean-Pierre Yarier would fill the vacancy, at the beginning of the season Chapman announced that the place would be given to Mansell.

Mansell, unconscious

Four years Mansella as a full driver of the Lotus were difficult, because the cars were unreliable. Of the 59 starts, he finished only 24. At best, he took 3rd place, which happened 5 times in 4 years, including in the fifth Lotus race in the 1981 season and the 7th in Mansell’s career in Formula 1. His teammate Elio de Angelis unexpectedly won the Austrian Grand Prix in 1982 and was often faster than the less experienced Nigel.

In 1982, Mansell planned to participate in a 24-hour sports event in Le Mans to earn additional funds. His salary at Lotus was 50 thousand pounds a year, and he was offered 10 thousand pounds for the race. Chapman believed that participating in Le Mans, the rider would expose himself to unnecessary risk, and paid him 10 thousand pounds. At the end of the season, a contract was signed that made the English rider a millionaire.

As a result, Nigel Mansell became very close to the founder of the team and was stunned by his sudden death in December 1982. In his autobiography, Mansell wrote that when Chapman died, the bottom fell from his world. Part of him died with him, he lost a member of his family.

Nigel Mansell stopped using support, as Lotus manager Peter Warr did not really respect him as a driver. However, with the approval of the sponsor John Player Special, it was announced that the English rider would remain with the team.

In 1984, Mansell first entered the top ten and took his first pole position. At the Monaco Grand Prix in 1984, he surprised many by overtaking Alain Prost in the race for leadership, but soon stopped fighting, losing control on a slippery track. In the middle of the season, the new team managers signed with Ayrton Senna for the following year, leaving Mansell out of place. After receiving offers from Arrows and Williams, he first rejected the offer of the last team, but then signed an agreement with her.

Mansell that year was remembered by many when he crashed unconscious, pushing his car to the finish line after a transmission failure on the 1984 1984 Dallas Grand Prix lap. Then there was a record heat and after 2 hours of driving at 40 ° C Mansell fainted, pushing a car to save 6th place (and, therefore, 1 championship point) in the race, which he started first and led half the time.

Mansell’s last performance with Lotus was greatly compromised by Warra’s reluctance to issue new brake pads. The brakes failed 18 laps to go when Nigel was second.

1985-1988: Williams

In 1985, Frank Williams chose Mansell as his partner, Kecke Rosberg, as part of the Williams team. Nigel later called Keke one of the best teammates that had been in his career. The rider received the famous Red 5 number, which he transferred to subsequent Williams and Newman / Haas cars.

The 1985 season was the same for the British rider as the previous ones, but by the middle of the year it had become more competitive, as Honda engines got better. Nigel Mansell took 2nd place at the Belgian Grand Prix, and then was his first victory in 72 starts at the European Grand Prix in the British Brands Hatch. He then won the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. These achievements have turned the British rider into a Formula 1 star.

Mansell's victory in 1985

By the 1986 season, the Williams-Honda team had a car that could regularly win, and the British rider proved himself a potential contender for the world title. He also had a new teammate Nelson Piquet. The Brazilian publicly called Mansell "an uneducated idiot," and also criticized his wife Rosanne. The unflappable Nigel continued to win the race, in 1986 having chalked up 5 victories, and also participated in one of the closest finishes in the history of Formula 1, taking second place after Ayrton Senna at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez, with only a lagging behind 0.014 s The 1986 championship continued in Australia, where Prost, Piquet, and Mansell were still fighting for the title. The Brit was enough to take III place to become a champion, but he missed the victory when his left rear tire effectively exploded on the finish line 19 laps before the end of the race. He finished the season second after Alain Prost. Nigel Mansell's award for his efforts in 1986 was the announcement of his persona BBC Sports.

In 1987, another 6 victories followed, including the emotional and extremely popular at Silverstone, when he reduced the 20-second gap in 20 laps to beat teammate Pique when his car was running out of fuel. However, at the Italian Grand Prix, he made a mistake with the transfer and allowed Pique, who used an active suspension, to win. A severe accident in Japan during the qualification before the penultimate race of the 1987 season seriously damaged Mansell's back (he had a spine concussion), and as a result of his absence, Piquet became the champion for the third time, although in these two races he did not score a single point.

In 1988, Honda’s powerful turbo engines from Williams were transferred to McLaren, and the team was forced to be content with the Judd engine. The dark season followed, during which the Williams team experimented with a terribly unreliable (but innovative) active suspension system. Mansell completed only 2 of the 14 races of 1988, both times winning the prize. Ironically, one of them was the second at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, when the team used a passive suspension.

In the summer of 1988, Mansell fell ill with chickenpox, after driving in the hot conditions of the Hungarian Grand Prix in 1988, his condition worsened, as a result of which he skipped the following 2 stages.

1989-1990: Ferrari

Mansell was the last Ferrari driver to be personally chosen by Enzo Ferrari before his death in August 1988 and presented him with a Ferrari F40. In Italy he was called the lion for his fearless driving style. The season was one of the turning points in motorsport, because then turbo engines were banned and Ferrari introduced an electronic gearbox.

In his first performance, Mansell managed to snatch an extremely improbable victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix - his least favorite home track of his rival Pique. He later admitted that he had ordered plane tickets early, as it seemed to him that the new electronic gearbox would last only a few laps. Mansell was the first racer to win a race in a car with a semi-automatic gearbox.

Mansell at Ferrari Team

The rest of 1989 was characterized by problems, including a gearbox, a disqualification at the Canadian Grand Prix and an incident with a black flag at the Portuguese Grand Prix for the return move to the pit lane, as a result of which he was banned from participating in the next race to Spain. Nevertheless, Mansell took 4th place thanks to an unforgettable second victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Then he overtook Ayrton Senna, starting only 12th.

1990 was a difficult year for Ferrari, because then there were many problems with the reliability of the car, as a result of which rider Nigel Mansell left the track in 7 races. Then he paired with Alain Prost, the reigning world champion, who took the lead in the team and played on the Nigel inferiority complex. For example, at the British Grand Prix in 1990, a car driven by Mansell moved differently than in the previous race when he took the pole position. After an explanation with the mechanics, it turned out that Prost, seeing that his colleague had an excellent car, exchanged with him without his knowledge. After the race, Nigel announced that he would quit the sport at the end of the season. He won only once at the Portuguese Grand Prix in 1990 and took 5th place in the championship.

Mansell changed his mind about quitting motorsport after Frank Williams intervened. On October 1, 1990, he signed a contract with Williams, according to which he became the center of the team. He was paid £ 4.6 million per season, making him the highest paid British athlete of the time.

1991-1992: Williams

A second stay with Williams was better than the first. Returning to the familiar Red 5, in 1991 he won 5 races, which is most noticeable at the Spanish Grand Prix. Mansell walked along with Ayrton Senna at a speed of over 320 km / h in the finish line. A completely different spectacle was at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Senna's car stopped on the last lap, but instead of leaving his opponent on the sidelines, Nigel drove him to the pit stop.

Williams' decision to use the new semi-automatic gearbox since the start of the season has cost the team points in the early stages of the championship. By the time Mansell earned his first 6 points in Monaco, Senna already had 40. Despite a good performance in the middle of the season, including a hat-trick of wins, Senna's stable results (and the absence of a British rider in key races) meant that he was second again, this time after Senna.

Mansell drives Senna in 1991.

In 1992, Nigel Mansell's accomplishments were the best of his career. He started with 5 victories in a row (Michael Schumacher set the same record in 2004). In Monaco (6th race of the season) he took pole position and dominated most of the time. However, 7 laps before the finish, his wheel nut flew off, and he was forced to go to the pit stop and return already behind Senna. On new wheels, Mansell set a record time, driving a lap almost 2 seconds faster than Senna, and narrowed the gap from 5.2 to 1.9 from just 2 laps. The pair fought for victory in Monaco for the last 4 laps, but Mansell could not get around him, only 0.2 seconds behind. Mansell prematurely became the champion of Formula 1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where his 2nd place secured him the title for the least number of competitions, starting from the moment the 16-season season was introduced. Schumacher exceeded this achievement in 2002. Mansell also set a record for the number of wins in one season (9) and the largest number of pole positions (14).

CART IndyCar World Series

Despite being a world champion, Nigel Mansell resigned from Williams. In his autobiography, he writes that this was due to a deal made at the previous Hungarian Grand Prix that Williams had forgotten about, and also because of the prospect of Frenchman Alain Prost joining the Renault team. Mansell was informed that Prost only signed a contract for 1993 in the second race of the 1992 season in Mexico, which reminded him of their days at Ferrari.

Mansell resigned from Formula 1 to join the Newman / Haas CART team in 1993. He took the place of Michael Andretti, who joined McLaren. At the opening of the season in Surfers Paradise, Australia, he became the first “rookie” to take the pole position and win his first race. A few weeks later, however, he had an accident at the Foenix International Raceway, seriously injuring his back. At the Indianapolis 500 in 2003, Mansell led the race, but finished third, losing the lead to Emerson Fittipaldi and Ari Leidendeyk after an unsuccessful re-start. In the same year, Nigel avenged his loss in Indianapolis by winning the 500-mile race in Michigan. In 1993, he came first 5 times, which was enough to become a champion. Interesting fact: Nigel Mansell is the only racer in history to have both won Formula 1 and CART championships.

His Newman / Haas car in the following 1994 was much less reliable, and the results suffered.

Nigel Mansell participates in IndyCar in 1993.

Return to Formula 1

In 1994, after the death of Ayrton Senna, Mansell's racing career continued again in Formula 1. He replaced the Williams rookie David Coulthard at the French Grand Prix and in the last three races of the season. For this he was paid 900 thousand pounds. Bernie Ecclestone helped him get out of American contracts. For Formula 1, it was important that this season there was a world champion, and they needed Mansell. Nigel was slower than Damon Hill, but the signs that he was gaining shape became evident in Japan during a fantastic battle with Jean Alesi from Ferrari. He won the Australian Grand Prix, which was the last race of the season, beating two claimants for the title, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher. Initially, Mansell was supposed to protect Hill from Schumacher, but both riders bypassed him in the beginning, collided and Schumacher first became the world champion.

Transition to McLaren

Mansell was fast again and still in demand. His place in Williams was given to David Coulthard, and in 1995 Mansell signed with McLaren.

They never met Ron Dennis, but since the team sponsors wanted to have a world champion, Dennis had only 2 options and the second option, Schumacher, was already taken. The season did not start very well, Mansell could not fit into the car and could not compete until Imola, where he was far behind the pace of his teammate Mickey Hakkinen. In 1995, the McLaren car was understeer. Mansell's driving style implied braking before a turn and a turn during braking, but the McLaren did not. The second race ended with a similar result and disappointed with the handling characteristics of the car, and he left Formula 1.

UK Road Racing Championship

English racing driver Nigel Mansell returned to racing in 1998 at the British Ring Road Championship, piloting three stages of the Ford Mondeo. Be that as it may, Ford was extremely uncompetitive - the manufacturer finished the season 7th out of 8. Since number 5 was already taken, Mansell competed with red number 55.

Participating in 3 of 13 rounds, he finished 18th out of 21.

Nigel Mansell while playing golf

Personal life

Nigel Mansell married Roseanne, whom they met with students, in 1975. His sons Leo and Greg are also racers, and daughter Chloe became a designer. In 2004, Rosanna was diagnosed with cancer.

Currently, Mansell lives on the island of Jersey in the English Channel, and until 1995, during performances in Formula 1, his house was in Port Erin on about. Maine

In 2004, he bought a yacht, which he named Red 5.

Interesting Facts

  • Mansell won his first Formula 1 victory in 1985 on the Brands Hatch track on the Williams-Honda FW10.
  • Starting from the pole position at the Dallas Grand Prix in 1984, Mansell came in sixth, despite losing consciousness from heat stroke, pushing the car to the finish line.
  • The British rider, speaking at the Australian Grand Prix, was third and had to win the championship. However, 19 laps before the finish exploded its rear right tire. The world champion in 1986 was Prost.
  • In 1986, at Jerez, Ayrton Senna crossed the finish line 0.014 s earlier than Mansell.
  • He was the last rider to be personally hired by Enzo Ferrari. Despite everything, he won the first race for the Ferrari team.
  • In 1992, Mansell managed to become a world champion after only 11 stages. In the last competition - the Hungarian Grand Prix - he came to the finish line second.
  • Mansell became the CART IndyCar champion, remaining the 1992 Formula 1 champion. He is the only one who succeeded.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/A10251/

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