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|Race 16 of 16 in the 1989 Formula One season|
|Date||5 November 1989|
|Official name||LIV Foster's Australian Grand Prix|
|Location||Adelaide Street Circuit
Adelaide, South Australia
|Course||Temporary street circuit
3.780 km (2.349 mi)
|Distance||70 laps, 264.600 km (164.43 mi)|
|Time||1:38.480 on lap 64|
The 1989 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One race held at Adelaide on 5 November 1989. It took place in wet conditions, and was stopped and restarted following a first-lap collision. Andrea de Cesaris spun at the same corner on two consecutive laps. As Formula One cars are not as fast in wet conditions as they are in the dry, the race was stopped at the two-hour mark with 70 laps being completed, 11 short of the scheduled 81 laps.
The race weekend began with the debacle surrounding the events in Japan 2 weeks earlier. Alain Prost was confirmed as World Champion and Ayrton Senna was far from happy with the FIA in particular Jean-Marie Balestre whom he accused of rigging the championship for his fellow countryman Prost. Senna initially threatened to boycott the event and leave Formula One altogether. Convinced by his family and his boss Ron Dennis, he reluctantly showed up at Adelaide and immediately set the pace on Friday, showing the F1 circus he would be stronger for 1990. Prost was determined to go out on a high note in his last Grand Prix for McLaren before joining Ferrari. Two drivers announced their retirements on Friday, Piercarlo Ghinzani driving an Osella and René Arnoux in the Ligier both bowed out.
Pre-qualifying eliminated both the Zakspeeds. This would be their last entry in a Formula One race, providing a finishing touch for what had been a horrible season for the outfit, who were once headlined to be the next Ferrari. Ghinzani pre-qualified in his last race while Nicola Larini and Philippe Alliot both drove impressively to pre-qualify. The other driver was JJ Lehto in an Onyx. The two surprises were Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson both former Ferrari drivers, who were both very disappointing and failed to pre-qualify. All four pre-qualifiers were under Gerhard Berger's 1987 lap record.
Friday Qualifying saw Prost pip Senna to pole, with Thierry Boutsen impressing to come within under a tenth of a second behind Senna in third. Pierluigi Martini also impressed with fourth in his Minardi. The positions 4th-9th were filled with Italians with Alessandro Nannini fifth, Riccardo Patrese sixth, Stefano Modena doing well to come seventh, followed by the two Dallaras of Andrea de Cesaris ahead of team-mate Alex Caffi. British driver Martin Brundle was 10th. Ferrari were all at sea even before the downpour on Sunday and were very disappointing with Berger eleventh and Nigel Mansell way down in 16th.
Saturday was cooler, and Senna did a spectacular lap to qualify below the 1:17s, to take pole overall for the race. Prost did not improve and settled for 2nd, while Martini did an excellent lap to beat Nannini to third by just one tenth. The two Williamses were fifth and sixth with Nigel Mansell doing much better to qualify seventh going a second faster than he did on Friday while Berger, in his last race for Ferrari before joining McLaren in 1990, fell to 14th. Berger was unable to better his Friday time as his car experienced engine failure on the track and he was forced to use Mansell's race car for his qualifying run which was halted when the onboard fire extinguisher was triggered (Berger couldn't use the spare Ferrari as it reportedly had a development engine planned for 1990 and it was strictly for Mansell's use only. Rumor has it that McLaren boss Ron Dennis popped his head into the Ferrari garage and jokingly told Berger he could use the spare McLaren if he wished). The Dallaras were a remarkable 9th and 10th on the grid with Nicola Larini in the Osella in his (and the team's) highest qualifying result in 11th.
Only 24 seconds before the end of the final qualifying session Eddie Cheever in his Arrows-Ford caused the red flag to be shown as he had heavily crashed his car at the entrance to the pit straight directly opposite the pits. Television viewers worldwide were treated to a drivers eye view of the accident as the Arrows of Cheever and Derek Warwick were carrying forward facing cameras for the weekend. Coming out of the final hairpin onto pit straight Cheever ran wide and went over the curbing and hit the concrete wall that protected the grandstand from the cars severely damaging the left front and rear of the car and leaving a large pool of oil on the racing surface as the car came to rest laying across the middle of the track. Cheever himself was unharmed, after he threw his steering wheel away in disgust he climbed from the car, ran across the track and jumped the wall into the pits.
The four unfortunate ones that failed to qualify were Jonathan Palmer in his Tyrrell, which would be his last race before being a pit lane reporter for the BBC. Luis Pérez-Sala in the Minardi, significantly slower than teammate Martini, and the two Rials, in what was also their last race. Despite an excellent fourth for Christian Danner at the Phoenix Grand Prix, it was not enough to save the team for next season. Bertrand Gachot and Pierre-Henri Raphanel were two seconds slower than Sala.
Come Sunday, the paddock was woken up rather early with a heavy rainstorm which hit Adelaide. At the drivers meeting before the race Ligier driver René Arnoux announced his retirement from Formula One racing at the age of 41. He qualified 26th and last for what would be his 149th start in Grand Prix racing having begun his career back in 1978 with the Automobiles Martini team and a career that included teams such as Surtees, Renault, Ferrari and Ligier with 7 wins, 22 podiums 18 pole positions and 12 fastest laps.
Come the warm-up session, the conditions had not improved, and a lot of drivers aquaplaned off the circuit, some on their out lap, notably Prost and Berger. Both drivers along with Nelson Piquet, Thierry Boutsen, Riccardo Patrese and Alessandro Nannini discussed not racing over safety concerns with Prost, Berger and Piquet in particular telling a world wide television audience that the conditions were too bad to race in.
An hour before the race the conditions significantly worsened, and Prost and Berger's proposal was being seriously considered by a lot of drivers. One driver who remained silent throughout all the impromptu drivers meetings on the grid was World Champion Ayrton Senna who had other reasons for wanting to start despite the appalling conditions (Senna was one driver who actually remained in his car the whole time). With McLaren's court action over his disqualification in Japan still pending the championship was technically not yet settled and to keep any chance of retaining his World Drivers' Championship he simply had to win the race. Senna later privately confessed to a friend that even he thought it was too dangerous to race but that he was a contracted driver and racing was what he was paid to do. Prost and Berger's arguments failed and it was agreed the race would go ahead.
The lights went out before the grid had even properly lined up causing some confusion at the back. Prost got the jump on Senna at the start, but into the first corner, Senna braked significantly later, and regrabbed the lead, nearly hitting the Frenchman. Further back, Martini fishtailed and Nannini overtook him for third. Other drivers who made a good start were de Cesaris and Brundle.
However on the first lap, Olivier Grouillard spun off at turn 4, nearly collecting teammate Arnoux. As the field drove round, clinging on to the road as much as possible, a lot of drivers made mistakes including Nelson Piquet and Modena. But JJ Lehto's accident just after the first chicane partially blocked the road, causing the race to be stopped. While that was happening, Prost had pulled into the pits, withdrawing because of safety, before going on to criticise the race organisers for allowing the race to have been started in the first place.
As the cars waited on the grid, drivers argued whether the race should be restarted. The main drivers arguing for the race to be abandoned were Berger, Patrese, Piquet, Mansell and Nannini. Those arguing for the race to restart were Senna, Martini, Brundle, Jean Alesi (despite suffering from bronchitis) de Cesaris and Caffi. Bernie Ecclestone also pressed the race organisers to restart the race. He would get his way.
The restart was minus Prost; Ron Dennis' persuasion techniques failing this time.
At the 2nd start, Larini stalled before he even made his grid slot, while Alesi started from the pit lane for stalling on the grid. At the front, Martini made a great a start to get level with Senna, but the Brazilian kept the lead by cutting across him. Everyone else kept order behind.
While Senna pulled away at impressive speed, the race became more of a guessing game as to who would go off. The Williamses both passed Nannini and Martini and started to match Senna's pace. The first retirement was Arnoux after he was pushed into a spin by Eddie Cheever and was beached on a high curb, ending his career on a low. Arnoux had actually been 2nd fastest in the wet pre-race warmup behind Senna. Berger and Alliot then collided at the East Terrace bend, Berger taking out Alliot and Derek Warwick spinning down the road. Then in the space of two laps, six cars retired. Both Dallaras spun out at the same place at Brewery Bend, while Mansell, Nannini, Piquet and Cheever all had off track excursions. However, the major accident was Ayrton Senna running into the back of Brundle while lapping him and Piquet, in a famous incident recorded by a rear view camera in the back of the Brabham which commentator Murray Walker described as a scene like Jaws. Senna was out and the Williamses were one-two. Ivan Capelli also retired.
Five laps later, Mansell spun out and then there was a major collision involving Piquet and Ghinzani. Piquet ran into the back of the Osella and one of Ghinzani's rear tires hit Piquet on the head, in a scary accident. Ghinzani was very lucky not to hit Martini.
Following these incidents the race was a gingerly affair, with drivers not driving to win but to stay on the circuit. The only major action was Satoru Nakajima setting the fastest lap making his way through the field, while Martini went backwards.
After two hours 70 laps had been completed out of 81, and Boutsen won his second race of the season followed by Nannini. Patrese finished third with Nakajima fourth having a good last race for Lotus. Emanuele Pirro came home fifth and Martini eventually came sixth, 3 laps down. The remaining survivors were Mauricio Gugelmin and Stefano Modena.
Everyone was relieved the race went without any significant incident in such treacherous conditions.
|9||22||Andrea de Cesaris||Dallara-Ford||1:18.828||1:19.487||+2.163|
|2||19||Alessandro Nannini||Benetton-Ford||70||+ 28.658||4||6|
|3||6||Riccardo Patrese||Williams-Renault||70||+ 37.683||6||4|
|4||12||Satoru Nakajima||Lotus-Judd||70||+ 42.331||23||3|
|5||20||Emanuele Pirro||Benetton-Ford||68||+ 2 Laps||13||2|
|6||23||Pierluigi Martini||Minardi-Ford||67||+ 3 Laps||3||1|
|7||15||Maurício Gugelmin||March-Judd||66||+ 4 Laps||25|
|8||8||Stefano Modena||Brabham-Judd||64||+ 6 Laps||8|
|Ret||10||Eddie Cheever||Arrows-Ford||42||Spun Off||22|
|Ret||26||Olivier Grouillard||Ligier-Ford||22||Spun Off||24|
|Ret||27||Nigel Mansell||Ferrari||17||Spun Off||7|
|Ret||21||Alex Caffi||Dallara-Ford||13||Spun Off||10|
|Ret||22||Andrea de Cesaris||Dallara-Ford||12||Spun Off||9|
|Ret||9||Derek Warwick||Arrows-Ford||7||Spun Off||20|
1989 Japanese Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
1990 United States Grand Prix
1988 Australian Grand Prix
|Australian Grand Prix||Next race:
1990 Australian Grand Prix
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