Season closer: when November meant F1 in Adelaide


Two decades ago, the start of November usually meant one thing: the Australian Grand Prix, held around the tough, bumpy and exciting street circuit in Adelaide, South Australia.

Win or lose, McLaren tended to play a starring role in almost all of Adelaide’s 11 memorable grands prix.

Let’s take a look at some of the McLaren highlights – and lowlights – of that classic old-school track.

1986 Alain Prost’s second world title

“Colossally… That’s Mansell!” spluttered BBC TV’s Murray Walker, and as the luckless Brit’s left-rear tyre exploded, so did his title hopes, unexpectedly handing the world championship to McLaren’s Alain Prost.

1988 Prost takes final win of the turbo 1.0 era

It was the 15th win out of 16 races for the (almost) unstoppable MP4/4. With Ayrton Senna already crowned champion, Prost stroked it home to take the last win for a turbo-engined F1 car for 25 years.

1989 Senna’s ‘Jaws moment’ on Martin Brundle

The rear-facing camera on Martin Brundle’s car told the whole story. In the wet murk, Senna failed to see the Brabham and pranged into the back of it while flat-out along the back straight. A painful retirement.

1991 The shortest F1 race – EVER!

If 1989 had been wet, the race in 1991 was even wetter. In fact, the weather was so atrocious, and conditions so dangerous, that the whole thing was called off after just 24 minutes. Ayrton took the spoils.

1992 Senna & Mansell’s dainty pirouette

Under braking for the final corner, Ayrton misjudged his braking point and ploughed into the back of Nigel Mansell’s Williams. The impact tore a wheel off the McLaren and eliminated both cars on the spot.

1993 Senna’s final F1 victory

On the podium for their final race together, Ayrton put aside old differences with his rival Alain Prost, quietly wondering where he’d find his Mojo now that the Frenchman was retiring. It was to be the Brazilian’s final win in Formula 1.

1995 Mika’s life-changing accident

A left-rear puncture caused a huge accident, and only an emergency tracheotomy saved the Finn’s life. He would return an even stronger racer in 1996, and two commanding world titles would follow.