Home British GP Throwback: 1986 British Grand Prix
Throwback: 1986 British Grand Prix

Throwback: 1986 British Grand Prix


Britain has enjoyed a number of home drivers winning their race in recent years, but the final race at Brands Hatch in 1986 sought to end the hoodoo lasting ten years.

Ayrton Senna was the undisputed king of poles in 1986, having guided his Lotus 98T to five of the previous nine starting positions.

However compatriot Nelson Piquet demoted his countryman to third, forming a front row lockout with British team-mate Nigel Mansell, who went on to a rousing victory.

However the home favourite would initially benefit from a large dose of fortune, as his Williams FW11 driveshaft failed off the start to allow Senna through.

Further back, Thierry Boutsen’s Arrows-BMW found itself in the outside barrier heading into turn 1, rebounding onto the circuit and resulting in a colossal pileup of turbo-powered machines.

The incident saw Stefan Johansson and Jacques Laffite avoid the mayhem, and themselves go head-first into a barrier on the inside of the corner.

The race was stopped as Laffite was cut out of his vehicle, then being airlifted to hospital with broken legs that signalled his Formula One retirement.

The tragic incident also allowed Mansell to restart the race with a spare car, keeping the Briton’s hopes of a maiden home win alive.

However he would still need to overtake ferocious team-mate Piquet, who seized the restart and sped off into the distance as Mansell could barely contain Senna behind him into turn 1.

Gerhard Berger then pounced on Mansell over the tremendously quick crest, aided by having a powerful BMW engine in his B186 Benetton.

Not long after, Mansell would repeat the move back on Berger on the same straight, beginning his charge for the distant Piquet.

Putting pressure on the Brazilian, Mansell charged ahead on lap 23 as Piquet was alleged to have missed a gear.

But missing a gear would have been favoured by both Keke Rosberg and Senna, who retired on lap 7 and 23 respectively with gearbox failures.

Whilst both ended their races in the pits, the Mansell-Piquet fight would continue there, with the Brazilian pitting first before Mansell followed and managed to stay in front.

What ensued was a brilliant defensive drive by Mansell, who smartly used traffic to keep Piquet at bay until his tyres warmed.

In front of a rapturous 110,000 strong home crowd, Mansell held on to take a well deserved victory, as well as snatching the world championship lead off Alain Prost who finished third.

But full accolades would go to the Williams driver, who had capitalised the earlier tragedy to beat Piquet in his spare car.

The race would also be the last time Brands Hatch featured on the calendar, as Silverstone replaced the fan favourite for national Grand Prix thereafter.

However it is still remembered as the venue of one of Mansell’s most lauded victories, as he went on to come painstakingly close to winning the 1986 championship.