Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Grand Prix 1991’

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Pole position and a win after waving teammate & champion elect AyrtonSenna into the lead…and having the favour returned late in the race giving Berger his first McLaren win…

Even though it was ‘only’ built in the ’60’s this Honda owned track must be one of todays classics, by any measure? Even though ‘130R’ has been ‘softened’ the track is still a formidable test of man and machine and on my circuit ‘bucket-list’. Its a non-‘Tilke Template’ track which is a positive.

Honda’s first V12 since the Surtees ‘Hondola’ Era…

Neil Oatley’s new chassis carried the Honda ‘RA121E’ 3.5 litre V12, replacing the previous very successful V10’s. The chassis was longer to accomodate a larger fuel cell for the thirstier V12 but still torsionally stiffer than its predecessor.Early testing by Berger and Ayrton Senna was not promising, they were unconvinced of the engines superiority over the V10… but the car still won its first 4 races in Senna’s hands.

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Honda ‘RA121-E’ ,3493cc, circa 720BHP @ 13000 rpm. McLaren MP4/6 Monaco 1991(Pinterest)

Williams FW14 & Mansell…

Williams FW14 then found mid season form and reliabilty. Adrian Newey , recruited from March where he created some stunning cars on small budgets was now deploying far greater resources well! He designed a superb car, the Williams Renault had a semi-automatic, 7 speed gearbox following the trail blazed by the Ferrari 640 the year before. It was regarded as a more advanced car, technically and aerodynamically than MP4/6, albeit the McLaren was more reliable and consistent.


Monaco 1991, Ayrton Senna 1st. McLaren MP4/6

Ongoing Development…

Honda focused on improving the engine management system and  frictional losses, introducing new heads, cams and rods, Honda’s ongoing development legendary! Oatley evolved aspects of the car as well incuding its sidepods and wings. Linked rocker arms to reduce roll, as well as a cockpit operated ride height adjustment meachanism were also created. All of the foregoing, as well as some reliability issues and misfortunes at Williams turned the tide back in McLaren’s favor, the car winning 8 Grands’ Prix and 10 poles.

McLaren took their fourth straight Constructors title and Senna his third, and last, Drivers Championship.

Demise of Manual ‘boxes & V12’s…

MP4/6was  the last Grand Prix car car with either a conventional manual ‘box or V12 engine to win a World Title…Oh, now,  for both manual ‘boxes and the mix of skill required, and punishment of mistakes made, and the race interest thus produced… let alone the sweet scream of V12 engines in the current F1!

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MP4/6 Monaco…linked rocker arms were used later in the season to reduce roll and a cockpit activated ride height system…sheer artisrty isnt it?



Hold your breath…and remember these duels! Mansell & Senna , Williams FW14 Renault & McLren MP4/6, the 2 dominant cars of ’91. Mansell takes Senna for second…and later wins the race, Senna 5th. Spain, Catalunya, Barcelona sept ’91.

 The Previous Generation of Honda V12’s…


The previous generation of Honda V12’s…John Surtees in the Honda RA300, Mexican GP ’67, 4th. This car won the ’67 Italian GP in a last corner pass and dash to the flag, Surtees beating Jack’s Brabham BT24 Repco. The chassis was built by Lola , the T130, based on the successful Indy winning T90, hence the appelation at the time ‘Hondola’, Surtees having an enduring close association with Lola’s Eric Broadley.The ‘RA273’ engine was a 48 valve , 3 litre V12 producing circa 400 bhp. Honda’s 5 speed transaxle was also fitted. (The Cahier Archive)



Credits…, Pinterest,The Cahier Archive