1988 Australian Grand Prix

The 1988 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at the Adelaide Street Circuit on 13 November 1988. It was the sixteenth and final race of the 1988 Formula One World Championship, and the last race for which turbocharged engines would be eligible until the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.

1988 Australian Grand Prix
Race 16 of 16 in the 1988 Formula One World Championship
Adelaide (long route).svg
Race details
Date 13 November 1988
Official name LIII Foster's Australian Grand Prix
Location Adelaide Street Circuit
Adelaide, South Australia
Course Temporary street circuit
Course length 3.780 km (2.362 miles)
Distance 82 laps, 309.960 km (193.684 miles)
Weather Cloudy and hot
Pole position
Driver McLaren-Honda
Time 1:17.748
Fastest lap
Driver France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda
Time 1:21.216 on lap 59
First McLaren-Honda
Second McLaren-Honda
Third Lotus-Honda
Lap leaders

The 82-lap race was won by Frenchman Alain Prost, driving a McLaren-Honda. It was Prost's seventh victory of the season, and the McLaren team's fifteenth, a record for a constructor in a single season that would stand until 2014. Prost's Brazilian teammate and new World Champion Ayrton Senna finished second, having started from pole position, while Senna's compatriot and outgoing champion Nelson Piquet came third in a Lotus-Honda, achieving what would turn out to be the final podium finish for the original Team Lotus.


As had become normal in 1988, qualifying was the domain of the McLaren-Hondas. Senna and Prost easily led the time sheets on both Friday and Saturday, with Prost initially fastest on Friday with a 1:18.179 lap, 0.153 ahead of his teammate. The pair traded pole laps in the second qualifying session, with Senna doing his usual act of snatching pole on the last lap of qualifying with a 1:17.748 lap, only 0.132 in front of his teammate, but 1.7 seconds faster than the next fastest car, Nigel Mansell in the Williams-Judd. During qualifying Senna was hampered by a sprained left wrist having injured it during a game of beach soccer in Bali where he had taken a small holiday after winning the championship in Japan. His injury was such that there was speculation the teams test driver Emanuele Pirro would drive in his place, but the new World Champion refused to be sidelined and took his place in Adelaide, though he admitted that driving the MP4/4 on a tight, bumpy street circuit while nursing a sprained wrist was hard. Prost on the other hand had spent his time between Suzuka and Adelaide playing golf at a resort in the Australian state of Queensland. There was also speculation that Honda would run their V10 engines (intended for 1989) in Adelaide instead of the V6 turbo. However, team boss Ron Dennis explained that racing the V10 was never part of the 1988 plan, and that with the RA168-E proving so dominant, Honda wanted to finish the turbo era on the highest possible note.

Third on the grid on both days was Nigel Mansell in his atmospheric Williams-Judd, though he was 1.7 seconds slower than Senna. Mansell was ahead of 1987 pole winner Gerhard Berger in his turbocharged Ferrari. Fifth was Nelson Piquet, finally finding some balance in his Lotus on the only street circuit he liked, despite a couple of spins in qualifying. Mansell's teammate Riccardo Patrese lined up sixth.

Gabriele Tarquini (Coloni), Julian Bailey (Tyrrell), Pierre-Henri Raphanel (Larrousse-Lola making his first appearance in F1 in place of Yannick Dalmas who had contracted Legionaire's Disease) and Bernd Schneider (Zakspeed) all failed to qualify. The Osella of Nicola Larini with its ancient "Osella V8" turbocharged engine (which started life as the Alfa Romeo 890T in 1983 and was actually the most powerful car in the 1988 field with approximately 700 bhp (522 kW; 710 PS)) failed to pre-qualify.

For the most part in 1988, qualifying and race times had generally been faster than those set in 1987, showing the advances in development despite the leading turbo powered cars having approximately 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) less than they had the previous year. In Adelaide the drop in power meant a big difference to the top speeds on the 900-metre-long Brabham Straight and times were slower as a result. In 1987 the faster cars were topping 320 km/h (199 mph) on the straight, while in 1988 those speeds were down to 300 km/h (186 mph) or less. Senna's 1988 pole time was 0.481 slower than Berger's time in 1987 while Berger himself, driving an updated version of his 1987 Ferrari, was 2.25 seconds slower than his 1987 pole time of 1:17.267.


Prost led off the start from Senna, Berger, Piquet, and Mansell in his last race for Williams before joining Ferrari in 1989. By lap 4, Prost's lead over Senna was 5.5 seconds, with Berger close behind the Brazilian. Michele Alboreto's last race for Ferrari ended in retirement shortly after the start, when he collided with Alex Caffi's Dallara.

Berger passed Senna on lap 5 at the Racetrack Hairpin, a tight second-gear right hander at the end of the Brabham Straight, and began a determined drive, catching and passing Prost at the same place on lap 14. He had a three-second lead when he came up to lap Stefano Modena in the EuroBrun and René Arnoux in the Ligier on lap 23. Arnoux appeared to ignore his mirrors and the blue flags instructing him to let Berger past, causing the Ferrari's left front wheel to ride the Ligier's rear right wheel and send both cars into a spin. Berger retired immediately with suspension damage, putting Prost back into the lead with Senna second.

Behind the McLarens, Piquet was maintaining third ahead of the Williams pair of Patrese and Mansell. The Italian opened a small gap on his teammate and closed on Piquet, making several attempts to pass the Brazilian. However, he spun on lap 53, letting Mansell past. The Englishman was no more successful in trying to pass Piquet, and he retired on lap 66 when his brakes failed and he spun into the wall. By lap 59 Prost was putting in a succession of fast laps, extending his lead to over 30 seconds and lapping the whole field up to the fifth-placed Rial of Andrea de Cesaris.

On lap 46, Pierluigi Martini spun his Minardi at the chicane and was almost collected by Stefan Johansson's Ligier. Maurício Gugelmin slowed his March to avoid the pair, only to be hit from behind by Satoru Nakajima's Lotus, putting both cars out. This crash also had an effect on Prost who was the first car upon the scene. The McLaren ran over some debris which broke off part of the front wing end plate, causing the car to understeer for the rest of the race, though Prost was able to play with his car's onboard settings to compensate and would set the fastest race lap later in the race.

Alessandro Nannini spun his Benetton; Jonathan Palmer's Tyrrell suffered transmission problems; and Arrows drivers Derek Warwick and Eddie Cheever both suffered engine failures. Driveshaft trouble accounted for the EuroBruns of Modena and Oscar Larrauri, while Caffi succumbed to clutch failure in his Dallara.

At the finish, only eleven cars were classified, of which just seven saw the chequered flag: de Cesaris, Johansson and Philippe Alliot's Larrousse-Lola all ran out of fuel in the closing laps, while Philippe Streiff's AGS suffered an electrical failure. Prost led home Senna in yet another McLaren 1–2, with Piquet third and Patrese fourth. De Cesaris' misfortune handed fifth place to Thierry Boutsen in the Benetton despite a spin and a stuttering engine, with Ivan Capelli taking the final point for sixth in his March despite a puncture.

In the last race in which cars with turbocharged engines were allowed to compete until 2014, all three podium positions were taken by cars powered by Honda turbos.



Pos No Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 36   Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 1:21.519
2 33   Stefano Modena EuroBrun-Ford 1:21.901 +0.382
3 31   Gabriele Tarquini Coloni-Ford 1:22.022 +0.503
4 32   Oscar Larrauri EuroBrun-Ford 1:24.634 +3.115
DNPQ 21   Nicola Larini Osella 1:28.440 +6.921


Pos No Driver Constructor Q1 Q2 Gap
1 12   Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 1:18.332 1:17.748
2 11   Alain Prost McLaren-Honda 1:18.179 1:17.880 +0.132
3 5   Nigel Mansell Williams-Judd 1:19.427 1:19.508 +1.760
4 28   Gerhard Berger Ferrari 1:20.019 1:19.517 +1.769
5 1   Nelson Piquet Lotus-Honda 1:20.477 1:19.535 +1.787
6 6   Riccardo Patrese Williams-Judd 1:19.925 1:19.998 +2.177
7 17   Derek Warwick Arrows-Megatron 1:20.086 1:20.495 +2.338
8 19   Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Ford 1:20.331 1:20.182 +2.434
9 16   Ivan Capelli March-Judd 1:21.136 1:20.459 +2.711
10 20   Thierry Boutsen Benetton-Ford 1:21.114 1:20.486 +2.738
11 36   Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 1:20.781 1:20.881 +3.033
12 27   Michele Alboreto Ferrari 1:20.844 1:20.964 +3.096
13 2   Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Honda 1:21.542 1:20.852 +3.104
14 23   Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 1:21.905 1:21.133 +3.385
15 22   Andrea de Cesaris Rial-Ford 1:21.944 1:21.164 +3.416
16 14   Philippe Streiff AGS-Ford 1:22.170 1:21.262 +3.514
17 3   Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 1:21.959 1:21.307 +3.559
18 18   Eddie Cheever Arrows-Megatron 1:21.393 1:21.514 +3.645
19 15   Maurício Gugelmin March-Judd 1:21.871 1:21.554 +3.806
20 33   Stefano Modena EuroBrun-Ford 1:21.972 1:21.856 +4.108
21 24   Luis Pérez-Sala Minardi-Ford 1:23.022 1:21.893 +4.145
22 26   Stefan Johansson Ligier-Judd 1:23.417 1:21.988 +4.240
23 25   René Arnoux Ligier-Judd 1:23.547 1:22.028 +4.280
24 30   Philippe Alliot Lola-Ford 1:22.420 1:22.211 +4.463
25 32   Oscar Larrauri EuroBrun-Ford 1:23.413 1:22.213 +4.465
26 9   Piercarlo Ghinzani Zakspeed 1:22.348 1:22.271 +4.523
27 31   Gabriele Tarquini Coloni-Ford 1:23.650 1:22.393 +4.645
28 4   Julian Bailey Tyrrell-Ford 1:23.530 1:22.529 +4.781
29 29   Pierre-Henri Raphanel Lola-Ford 1:23.393 1:22.733 +4.985
30 10   Bernd Schneider Zakspeed 1:24.221 1:23.025 +5.277


Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 11   Alain Prost McLaren-Honda 82 1:53:14.676 2 9
2 12   Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 82 +36.387 1 6
3 1   Nelson Piquet Lotus-Honda 82 +47.546 5 4
4 6   Riccardo Patrese Williams-Judd 82 +1:20.088 6 3
5 20   Thierry Boutsen Benetton-Ford 81 +1 lap 10 2
6 16   Ivan Capelli March-Judd 81 +1 lap 9 1
7 23   Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 80 +2 laps 14  
8 22   Andrea de Cesaris Rial-Ford 77 Out of fuel 15  
9 26   Stefan Johansson Ligier-Judd 76 Out of fuel 22  
10 30   Philippe Alliot Lola-Ford 75 Out of fuel 24  
11 14   Philippe Streiff AGS-Ford 73 Electrical 16  
Ret 9   Piercarlo Ghinzani Zakspeed 69 Fuel system 26  
Ret 5   Nigel Mansell Williams-Judd 65 Spun off 3  
Ret 19   Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Ford 63 Spun off 8  
Ret 33   Stefano Modena EuroBrun-Ford 63 Halfshaft 20  
Ret 17   Derek Warwick Arrows-Megatron 52 Engine 7  
Ret 18   Eddie Cheever Arrows-Megatron 51 Engine 18  
Ret 15   Maurício Gugelmin March-Judd 46 Collision 19  
Ret 2   Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Honda 45 Collision 13  
Ret 24   Luis Pérez-Sala Minardi-Ford 41 Engine 21  
Ret 36   Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 32 Clutch 11  
Ret 28   Gerhard Berger Ferrari 25 Collision 4  
Ret 25   René Arnoux Ligier-Judd 24 Collision 23  
Ret 3   Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 16 Transmission 17  
Ret 32   Oscar Larrauri EuroBrun-Ford 12 Halfshaft 25  
Ret 27   Michele Alboreto Ferrari 0 Collision 12  
DNQ 31   Gabriele Tarquini Coloni-Ford    
DNQ 4   Julian Bailey Tyrrell-Ford    
DNQ 29   Pierre-Henri Raphanel Lola-Ford    
DNQ 10   Bernd Schneider Zakspeed    
DNPQ 21   Nicola Larini Osella    
Fastest lap:   Alain Prost (McLaren-Honda) – 1:21.216 (lap 59)

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Bold text indicates World Champions.
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings. Drivers could only count their best 11 results; numbers without parentheses are points counting towards the Drivers' Championship, while numbers in parentheses are total points scored. Points accurate at final declaration of results. The Benettons were subsequently disqualified from the Belgian Grand Prix and their points reallocated.


  1. ^ "1988 Australian Grand Prix". Formula One. Archived from the original on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Australia 1988 – Championship". StatsF1.com. Retrieved 6 March 2019.

Previous race:
1988 Japanese Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1988 season
Next race:
1989 Brazilian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1987 Australian Grand Prix
Australian Grand Prix Next race:
1989 Australian Grand Prix