• November 3 down the years

Dangerous and damp Down Under

What happened on this day in Formula One history?
Ayrton Senna leads Nigel Mansell at the curtailed 1991 Australian Grand Prix © Getty Images
Enlarge

1991
The shortest race in Formula One history lasted only 14 laps before torrential rain and angry drivers forced officials to suspend and then abandon the Australian Grand Prix. The decision to start was disgraceful and put money ahead of safety and almost from the off visibility was a matter of yards. Nigel Mansell, running in second behind Ayrton Senna, admitted he was just hanging on the McLaren's brake lights until he hit a deep puddle and aquaplaned into a concrete wall. As the red flag came out seconds later, Mansell was awarded second place. Senna, who had already secured the world championship slammed the organisers. "The event should never have been allowed to start," he said. "I only elected to take the start because of the loyalty of my team which has done so much for me over the past three seasons - and because of our interest in the constructors' championship. It was understood that I would use my judgment to stop any time that I felt the conditions were impossible. But it was not a race, just a procession of people attempting to keep their cars on the roads." Mansell agreed, adding: "It was a wonder nobody was killed."

1968
Graham Hill completed his second world championship with victory at the Mexican Grand Prix, narrowly pushing Jackie Stewart into second place. Hill went into the weekend with a three-point lead over Stewart and the pair were head to head for the first third of the race, Stewart even leading from the third to the seventh lap, before he fell back to seventh with engine failure. "I had a lovely time," Hill said after his win. "The car went beautifully. I am very pleased to have won." Denny Hulme had a lucky escape when the suspension on his McLaren broke and he piled into a wall.

Keke Rosberg leads the field on his way to victory in Adelaide in 1985 © Sutton Images
Enlarge
1985
Keke Rosberg signed off from Williams with victory in the inaugural Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide in front of 110,000 and in 30 degree heat. He survived a collision with Ayrton Senna midway through the race - Senna rammed the rear of Rosberg's car, sustained damage to his own front aerofoil, returned after repairs, retook the lead but then had to retire with engine trouble. If Rosberg was diplomatic, Nigel Mansell was not, labelling Senna "a total idiot". Niki Lauda's F1 farewell ended when his McLaren spun into a wall … he left saying "now it's time to grow up and start some sensible work". The late drama was provided by the Ligiers of Jacques Laffite and Philippe Streiff which collided on the penultimate lap when behind Rosberg. Streiff misread his pit signals and believed he was being caught by another car and so tried to pass Lafitte and the only succeeded in hitting him. Laffite came second while Streiff limped across the line at which point his wheel fell off.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Close