• 1993

Prost retires after clinching fourth drivers' title

ESPNF1 Staff
January 1, 1993
Alain Prost anounced his retirement after clinching his fourth drivers' title © Sutton Images
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Season's results | Drivers' Championship | Constructors' Championship

Domination by one driver was the name of the game. And yet again the driver was in a Williams, but this time it was Alain Prost, who had been helped by a year away from the cockpit to regain his composure and passion for racing.

It was known in 1992 that Frank Williams was anxious to have Prost or Ayrton Senna in place of Mansell, triggering his departure to Indycars. Williams duly began 1993 with Prost and Damon Hill upgraded from the test team. McLaren signed Indycar racer Michael Andretti to replace Gerhard Berger who'd left for Ferrari, the Italian team anxious to find a driver who'd do better than Ivan Capelli had in 1992.

Capelli found a ride with Jordan, but he was soon replaced by Thierry Boutsen who also wasn't to keep the drive for long, with Marco Apicella, Emanuele Naspetti and Eddie Irvine all having a go in the second Jordan. Rookie Rubens Barrichello was the team's star.

Having lost his ride with Williams, Riccardo Patrese had joined Benetton alongside Michael Schumacher, with Martin Brundle moving to Ligier, where he was partnered again by Mark Blundell. Tyrrell had a Japanese feel with Yamaha engines and Ukyo Katayama in its second car.

One driver who nearly didn't join in was Senna, as he'd spent the winter considering whether to continue, anxious at Honda engines giving way for Ford power and finally agreed to start the season on a race-by-race basis. This left Mika Hakkinen on the sidelines as he'd reckoned on Senna quitting and joined from Lotus. He'd spend the year on the sidelines until Andretti quit.

Brabham, Fondmetal and March all failed to return, while the Dallara team run by BMS Scuderia Italia was back, but now known as Lola BMS Scuderia Italia in deference to the fact that its chassis were now built by Lola not Dallara. They weren't a success, with even Michele Alboreto struggling to qualify them. Far more successful was a new team from Switzerland: Sauber. Having run sports cars successfully, latterly for Mercedes, Peter Sauber's team arrived with Ilmor engines and a strong driver line-up of JJ Lehto and Karl Wendlinger.

Senna made the early running for McLaren at Kyalami, but Prost hit the front and beat Senna by 20s, with Ligier's Blundell a surprise third. Prost was leading in Brazil when rain started and he hit a car that had spun. This put Hill in front, but he became Senna's prey and lost out to finish second.

Rain hit the European Grand Prix at Donington Park, but Senna starred as he forced his way from fourth into the lead by the end of a stunning first lap and roared away as his rivals tiptoed in his wake. The other star was Barrichello who was heading for third place when his engine failed.

Hill led the early laps at Imola but spun off, leaving Prost to triumph. Hill led from the start at Barcelona, dropped behind Prost but reapplied the pressure and was looking good until his engine blew, leaving Prost to win from Senna and Schumacher. Andretti finally finished a race for McLaren, doing so in fifth. Prost led at Monaco, but was given a stop-and-go and magnified this by stalling. This put Schumacher in front, but his hydraulics failed, and so Senna took over for his sixth win in the principality. Hill came second, with Alesi third for Ferrari.

The Canadian Grand Prix marked the start of a four-race streak for Prost. Considering the superiority of Williams, it was surprising that it took until round eight before they scored a one-two. Fittingly, it was on Renault's home patch in France. Hill led from pole, but was delayed in the pits and was demoted by Prost. Hill led at Silverstone until two-thirds distance when his engine blew, letting Prost motor on to his 50th win. Schumacher and Patrese finished second and third. Hill was set for victory in Germany until a tyre blew two laps from home. Prost - 10s behind after a stop-and-go - flew past as Hill tried to struggle back to the pits, with Schumacher and Blundell second and third. Hill finally won at the Hungaroring, leading throughout after Prost was forced to start from the rear of the grid after stalling on the parade lap. Senna shadowed Hill, but retired.

Schumacher and Prost trailed Hill at Spa-Francorchamps, while Alesi and Andretti were second and third behind Hill at Monza. Prost should have won to clinch his fourth world title, but his engine blew five laps from home.

Schumacher won at Estoril, but he really had to work for it, as Prost was on his tail. Second was enough for Prost to claim the title and he duly announced his retirement.

Senna won in Japan, but then punched debutant Irvine who he felt had blocked him en route to sixth. Prost and Hakkinen - in at McLaren in place of Andretti - ran second and third all race. The season ended in Adelaide, with a win for Senna. Prost was second and Hill third.

Reproduced from The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Formula One published by Carlton Books

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