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Formula 1

Relive Nigel Mansell's last lap heartbreak in Canada

It was 30 years ago today that Nigel Mansell lost a certain win in Montreal, as he stalled his Williams coming out of the hairpin.

Article
To news overview © F1

It was on this day, back in 1991, that Nigel Mansell lost an easy victory within sight of the chequered flag.

The British driver had utterly dominated the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, with the Williams driver almost a minute ahead of Nelson Piquet starting the final lap.

But Mansell appeared less than focused starting the lap, waving to the crowds as he drove slowly around the circuit. Approaching the hairpin, Mansell only had one sector to go to claim the win.

But, for whatever reason, Mansell slowed going through the hairpin and wasn't able to get the car going again. Slamming his hands against the steering wheel, he was forced to pull over and stop, climbing out as he watched Piquet to take the lead and win the race.

Officially, the reason given for the stoppage was a gearbox failure, while some stories are that Mansell had taken the hairpin in sixth gear and let the revs drop too low. There's also the possibility that Mansell accidentally hit off a switch he shouldn't have, given he seemed less than focused on the job at hand as he waved to the crowds.

"It is almost unbelievable," a frustrated Mansell said afterwards.

"I went into the hairpin changed down from fifth to fourth, like I had done the previous 68 laps, and then it went to neutral and the engine cut almost simultaneously, like there was an electrical failure.

"It just stopped, it was as simple as that. When you are that far in front and have driven a fantastic race, like I think I did, there really is nothing to say except we’ll have to try again. Up to that point I had had no problems at all."

Even worse for Mansell was that it was his old nemesis and former Williams teammate Nelson Piquet that was there to take the glory instead. An unsympathetic Piquet said: "When I saw him, I couldn’t believe it. It was very, very good, very lucky. I don’t feel sorry for nobody!"

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