Retro F1: Silly season 1992, everyone wants Williams

Bad bonus hero?

Ah, 1992. The road is long! Michael Schumacher wins his first race at Spa with Benetton, Jean Alessi carries a Scuderia Ferrari down the pit at arm’s length, Paul Belmondo drives in March, mysterious Italian team Andrea Moda, whose boss Fricut with the Mafia, drives the wreck and drives the last woman Officially lined up in Formula 1, Giovanna Amati couldn’t do anything about the miserable Brabham Judd she shares with a rookie named Damon Hill. But 1992 is above all else the year of Nigel Mansell, who drove a rocket named Williams Renault that literally broke up the competition. With its fearsome active suspension and exceptional Renault V10, the FW14 outperforms all others. So much so that by finishing second in the Hungarian Grand Prix, in 11 of the 16 races of the season, Mansell finally won the world title, which he eluded in 1986, 1987 and 1991.

He is loved by fans for his boldness and incredible drive, but also mocked by part of the ring for his legendary blunders, sometimes clumsy manners and his gorgeous “loser” image, “the lion”, as he nicknames typhus. He enjoyed his time at Ferrari, and he didn’t miss his chance. Except for that at the end of the Hungarian Grand Prix that culminates in him, it’s a smack. Drunken by the success, Mansell asked Frank Williams for an extension for 1993 with a very large salary increase, even if prohibitive to some knowledgeable observers. Williams highlights the allegations of the English, because the deceitful British president, who is always clever in negotiations, has other irons on fire, not least: Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna!

Williams’ named wish

Forced to take a year off after Ferrari launched him like a mess at the end of 1991 (the truck!), Alain Prost abandoned his plan to take over Liger and made his comeback in 1993. The Frenchman returned to Renault and Elf, ten years after the bitterness of the first failed collaboration, With the support of the French engine manufacturer and tanker, he signed the pre-contract with Williams. But who else is knocking on Grove’s door (Williams headquarters, editor’s note)? Ayrton Senna of course! After Honda announced its withdrawal from Formula 1 at the end of the 1992 season (and they would leave forever, not like today…), McLaren finds itself for the 1993 season with an engine supply problem, not to mention that Woking was unable to develop a high-end machine Like Williams. Ron Dennis is doing his best to keep his Brazilian pearl, even to the point of considering buying Team Ligier in order to get a Renault V10 running on the blues! Senna is not interested in playing his personal card, via his management company “The Ayrton Senna Group” which he just founded with agent Julian Jacoby.

Contacts have been set up with Ferrari via Niki Lauda – we’re then talking about a 25 million salary and strong technical requirements – but Ferrari’s boss, Luca Di Montezemolo is closing the door, fully aware that Ferrari is not yet able to give Magic what to expect. This isn’t the first nor the last time Scuderia and Cena collide, but this collaboration fan fancied will never happen. Obsessed with success, Cena wants the best car to win and wants to put pressure on Williams, she even offers to drive for free! One can imagine the lure of Frank Williams, who allowed the Magic to take a first test in Formula 1 in 1983 which he nearly entered in 1985 before Lotus overtook him. Who wouldn’t want to put up with such a pilot? However, there is a snag: Alain Prost, who does not want to coexist again with his great rival, after an experience at McLaren was, to put it mildly, complicated! Prost’s contract includes a penalty clause in the event that Williams hires Senna! A dangerous match for Williams, who had already tried to play on several fronts in the previous year (with Jean Alessi in particular). Mansell in all of this? Forgot and pay!

Cena will patiently take his troubles, and Mansell goes into exile

Between the end of August and September, the chessboard is laid. Prost’s recruitment was announced with great fanfare before the Portuguese Grand Prix, for the 1993 and 1994 seasons, which provoked an extremely violent reaction in the media from Senna who denounced the “cowardice” of the Frenchman who refused to face him directly. The French get rid of these spades, denouncing the capricious child’s attitude to his opponent. This tension again between the two men, we will feel it throughout the 1993 season. The Brazilian must make up his mind and will hesitate between several options, from a sabbatical year to an extension by default at McLaren, passing the American temptation via the Indycar test with Penske which will take place at the end of the year at Laguna Seca.

Senna finally gave in to stay at McLaren and was satisfied with the Ford V8 customer, but demanded a $1 million per race(!) be paid before joining Williams in 1994 after Prost retired. Mansell, who did not feel wanted, who was offended by a lower salary offer from Williams and who certainly did not want to live again with Prost after his first painful experience at Ferrari in 1990, announced his retirement from Formula One on the sidelines. Italian Grand Prix. He went to Indycar with Newman-Haas to win the 1993 CART Championship and then returned to F1 in 1994, called up by Williams in disaster after Senna’s tragic death at Imola. Fate crossed.

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