Everyone against Prost
The 1986 French Grand Prix was held at Paul-Ricard on 6th of July. It was the eighth race of the Formula One season that evolved around a fantastic battle between the Williams-Hondas of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet, the McLaren-TAG of Alain Prost and the Lotus-Renault of Ayrton Senna.
Picture-above: Ayrton Senna took pole position in his Lotus 98T-Renault with Nigel Mansell next to him on the front row in his Williams-Honda at the Paul-Ricard 1986. The Brazilian took a good start, but crashed at Signes early in the race after sliding on oil laid by Andrea de Cesaris’s failed Minardi.
The 80-lap race was won by Nigel Mansell, driving a Williams FW11B-Honda, it was the Brits third victory of the season. Alain Prost finished second in the first McLaren MP4/2-TAG taking good points and remaining in the championship lead, with Nelson Piquet third, 37 seconds behind his team mate, in the other Williams-Honda.
By 1986, the Williams FW11 had overtaken McLaren as the best car; notably, the MP4/2 mileage was not as good as it was in 1984-85, with the fuel tank reduced in size from 220 litres to 195 litres. Piquet and Mansell in the Williams fought a fierce battle while Prost cleverly built up his points total and snatched 4 wins from under the Williams teammates’ noses.
The Frenchman’s second consecutive world championship, obtained at the end of the season, was won more by stealth than speed, as by now the TAG-Porsche engine was past its best.