- October 22 down the years
Prost takes title as Senna left ragingWhat happened on this day in Formula One history?
Alain Prost won the world title, but the Japanese Grand Prix turned out to be one of the sport's most controversial. Prost arrived in Japan with the title all but in the bag, but his McLaren team-mate, Ayrton Senna, had other plans. With a 16-point advantage, Prost did not need a win to claim his third world title. To keep his hopes alive, however, Senna did and the Brazilian took pole position in qualifying by 1.7s. In the race, no one could touch them as they sped into the distance. On lap 47 out of 53, Senna made a dive up the inside into the chicane. Prost chose not to make any room for him and they collided. Prost was out, while Senna had to be pushed clear and pit for a new nose to maintain any chance of winning the race. However, he was then disqualified for cutting the chicane and Benetton's Alessandro Nannini was handed the victory despite Senna crossing the line first. Prost remained champion for five days until an appeal took the matter to court, albeit for the judgment to be found in his favour.
Third place at the Mexican Grand Prix was enough to give New Zealander Denny Hulme the world championship. Hulme only needed to finish fourth or better even if his closest rival Jack Brabham won; as it was Jim Clark took the chequered flag with Brabham second, while Hulme drove "with the calm that he said he would characterise his race here in playing for safety and the championship he wanted so much".
Michael Schumacher clinched the first of five consecutive world championships for Ferrari and himself with a record-equalling ninth win in the Malaysian Grand Prix. David Coulthard, who had pushed Schumacher all the way, apologised post-race for the war of words between the two. "I said sorry to Michael for the past year. We've had our differences and I'm embarrassed that sometimes I've said things publicly and not gone to him face to face. I thought that at the end of the season - and a good battle - was the time to apologise and say he is a great champion and I look forward to competing against him next season." But Johnny Herbert's F1 career came to an end with him limping away from a crash caused when his Jaguar suffered catastrophic suspension failure that hurled him sideways into a barrier. "There's nothing like ending your career with a bang," he shrugged.
It seemed to be the end of an era when Schumacher walked away from his Ferrari after a breathtaking drive to finish fourth at the Brazil Grand Prix. Coming into the race, he needed to win and hope Fernando Alonso failed to pick up any points in order to take an eighth world championship. But running fifth after nine laps, Schumacher was clipped by Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault and suffered a puncture, re-emerging in 20th. He cut through the field but it was all in vain as Alonso cruised to second place behind Felipe Massa and clinched his second successive title. As the tributes poured in for Schumacher, Mika Hakkinen presciently said: "When you drive at the top for so long there comes a point where you are tired and you need a break. But Michael is like me. He has racing in his blood. It's part of what he is. After a few years without the stress and the travel his batteries will be recharged and he will want to drive again. Like me, he will not be able to live without it. I have no idea where or when but he will get back in the cockpit one day."
Eleven years before, Schumacher won the second of his seven world championships with victory in the Pacific Grand Prix at Okayama in Japan. But the win was overshadowed by a row between Schumacher and Damon Hill, triggered when the German complained about Hill's driving. "I do not see how he can possibly object to anything I did considering what has passed between us this season," fumed Hill. "I find it hypocritical. We have rules and you stick to them. I have not been called up in front of the stewards so everything I did was okay." The anger spilled over into the post-race press conference when Hill interrupted Schumacher, saying: "Tell them what you just said to me." Schumacher refused to be drawn, replying: "It is a personal thing between Damon and me. I have got to discuss it with him when he is a bit more quiet and explain what I think was not right." Hill, who a day earlier had been labelled "the biggest whinger in Formula One" by F1's medical adviser Professor Syd Watkins, was accused by many of sour grapes.
Postponed for three weeks because of the Munich Crisis, the Donington Grand Prix attracted a huge crowd. As expected the race itself was dominated by the powerful Silver Arrows of Auto Union and Mercedes and was won by Tazio Nuvolari, who had had a lucky escape when he collided with a stag during practice. Hermann Lang was a distant second and collapsed as he climbed out of his car, suffering from circulation problems as a result of his head being exposed to extreme cold. It was to be the last grand prix at Donington for 55 years.
Jean-Pierre Beltoise won the World Championship Victory Race at Brands Hatch, an event which combined F1 and Formula 5000 cars. Beltoise's BRM benefited from using intermediate tyres when most other went the wet option, and he fought off the new Surtees driver Carlos Pace to win by 6.6 seconds.