- May 31 down the years
Double frustration for Mansell, double joy for SennaWhat happened on May 31 in Formula One history?
A disappointing day for Nigel Mansell who was forced to retire while leading the Monaco Grand Prix, allowing Ayrton Senna to cruise to an easy win. Alain Prost also retired three laps from the end while lying in third place. "The car felt terrific and I was under no pressure at all," reflected Mansell. The only serious injury of the day came when Philippe Streiff's Tyrrell crashed into a guard rail on the approach to Casino Square and a piece of wreckage flew into a stone statue outside the casino itself.
Another table-bangingly frustrating day in Monaco for Mansell who was forced into the pits by a loose wheel nut while leading eight laps from the end, again handing the win to Senna. But it was a cracking finish as Mansell, who smashed the lap record on fresh tyres, was brilliantly kept at bay by Senna whose tyres were shredded. It ended a run of five straight wins for Mansell, who went on to take the drivers' title. "When I got up behind Ayrton I thought my eyes were playing tricks because it seemed there were three McLarens across the track ahead of me," Mansell said. "He made his car very wide but it was absolutely fair. He was entitled to drive like that." Senna just smiled: "I used my equipment to the maximum."
Gilles Villeneuve delivered Ferrari's first win in a turbocharged car at the Monaco Grand Prix. Nelson Piquet initially led before crashing while overtaking backmarkers, and then defending champion Alan Jones suffered a fuel-feed problem which allowed Villeneuve to overhaul him four laps from the end. There was chaos immediately before the scheduled start when a fire in a hotel storeroom above the tunnel resulted in water cascading onto the track, and for a time the whole grand prix was in doubt as fears were expressed that the tunnel's electric lighting could fail. In the event, the race started an hour late.
Bill Vukovich recorded his second successive victory in the Indianapolis 500, and set a record as the first man to lead the race for the most laps for three straight years - in 1952 he had been forced to quit through exhaustion while ahead eight laps from the end.
A memorable day for the British BRM team as it won its first grand prix, after many years of trying and "countless heart-breaking disappointments", in the Netherlands. It was also the first win for Sweden's Jo Bonnier, but it was in thanks partly to Stirling Moss, who had taken the lead from him after 60 of the 75 laps, being forced to retire with gearbox failure three laps later.
Andrea de Cesaris, born in Rome on this day, drove 208 grands prix between 1980 and 1994 without ever winning one. Initially wild, that he survived early setbacks was down to wealthy backers. He had the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix at his mercy when he ran out of fuel on the final lap, and again led at Spa in 1983 when his engine blew. Thereafter there were a succession of teams - nine in all - and by the time of his last appearance he was the second most experienced driver in F1 history.