- May 17 down the years
Mansell and Senna come to blowsWhat happened on this day in Formula One history?
Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna ended up in a pit-lane scuffle at Spa Francorchamps, after Mansell tried to make an audacious overtaking manoeuvre for the lead around the outside of Senna at the Campus chicane. Mansell stormed down to the Lotus garage to make his feelings know. "I went over to him, grabbed him by the overalls and pushed him up against the wall," Mansell recalled. "He wore loose overalls in those days and I pulled the zip up beyond his chin to just below his nose. 'Next time you do that,' I said, 'you're going to have to do a much better job'." Alain Prost won the race ahead of McLaren team-mate Stefan Johansson, the only other driver to finish on the same lap.
Mansell set a new record for consecutive wins at the start of the season by taking his fifth at the San Marino Grand Prix. From the outside it appeared to be an easy victory ahead of his team-mate Riccardo Patrese but from inside the cockpit Mansell told a different story. "It was very tough and I finished the race with cramp and muscle spasms on my right side," he said. "It was 32 degrees and I think I must have lost eight pounds in weight. It was not a simple race - we had several 'alarm calls' with oil and water, then Gerhard [Berger]'s accident and a marshal out on the track when we were doing 200 mph."
Rudolf Caracciola won the Tunis Grand Prix in a Mercedes after the team's fierce rivals, Auto Union, suffered a series of setbacks. Achille Varzi was caught by a gust of wind which caused him to lose control at around 150mph and his car rolled and disintegrated before coming to rest in a wood; amazingly, he walked away unhurt. His team-mate Bernard Rosemeyer's vehicle also caught fire while Hans Stuck's engine failed.
Williams' Carlos Reutemann took his second win of the season at the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, after a weekend highlighting the dangers of F1's packed pit lane. Thirty-six cars entered the grand prix, although only 31 took part in qualifying, narrowed down to 24 in the race. During Friday practice an Osella team mechanic slipped off the pit wall and was killed after being run over by Reutemann's Williams. The drivers threatened to strike over the poor safety standards but the race went ahead anyway. At the start, however, Riccardo Patrese stalled his car on the grid and a Lotus mechanic jumped over the pit wall to try to restart it. As the rest of the field got underway the mechanic was still stood at the rear of the car. Most of the drivers managed to avoid the stricken Arrows, but Patrese's team-mate Siegfried Stohr was unsighted and crashed into the back of him. Fortunately the mechanic escaped with only minor injuries but as the drivers came around for another lap they pulled up and stopped the race of their own accord.
In a bizarre outburst Ralf Schumacher attacked Rubens Barrichello for trying to beat his brother Michael at Ferrari. "Rubens should stop trying to beat my brother and putting pressure on himself," said Ralf. "[He should] concentrate instead on helping Michael win the championship". Barrichello put Ralf's behaviour down to an overtaking manoeuvre he had pulled on him at the previous race.
In reaction to Ferrari implementing team orders at the Austrian Grand Prix to ensure Michael Schumacher beat Barrichello, a group of Brazilian hackers changed the headline on Ferrari's official site. The Ferrari website read: "Sorry Ferrari, but your site has been disordered." The offending headline was changed within minutes.