1989 Italian Grand Prix

The 1989 Italian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held at Monza on 10 September 1989. It was the twelfth race of the 1989 Formula One season.

1989 Italian Grand Prix
Race 12 of 16 in the 1989 Formula One World Championship
Monza 1976.jpg
Race details
Date 10 September 1989
Official name LX Coca Cola Gran Premio d'Italia
Location Autodromo Nazionale di Monza
Milan, Italy
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 5.80 km (3.6039 mi)
Distance 53 laps, 307.400 km (191.009 mi)
Weather Hot, dry, sunny
Pole position
Driver McLaren-Honda
Time 1:23.720
Fastest lap
Driver France Alain Prost McLaren-Honda
Time 1:28.107 on lap 43
First McLaren-Honda
Second Ferrari
Third Williams-Renault
Lap leaders

Alain Prost took his fourth and final win of the season after McLaren teammate and pole-sitter Ayrton Senna suffered an engine failure with nine laps to go, thus extending the Frenchman's lead over the Brazilian in the Drivers' Championship to 20 points. Knowing that he was moving to Ferrari for 1990, Prost dropped his winners' trophy from the podium into the crowd, to the severe disapproval of his team manager Ron Dennis.[1] Gerhard Berger, the man Prost would be replacing at Ferrari, recorded his first finish of the season with second, followed by the two Williams of Thierry Boutsen and Riccardo Patrese. The final points went to Jean Alesi in the Tyrrell and Martin Brundle in the Brabham.


Before the Italian Grand Prix, Alain Prost was confirmed as a Ferrari driver from 1990. To the Tifosi who had previously seen Prost as the villain, he was now the hero of the crowd. It mattered not that he was still driving for McLaren, he was a confirmed Ferrari driver now and was treated as such (in previous years he had been jostled, jeered, and even pelted with tomatoes by some of the Tifosi for daring to beat the Ferraris).[citation needed]

Prost's announcement allowed Frank Williams to re-sign Riccardo Patrese for 1990 (Prost had offers from both Ferrari and Williams). Lotus also announced at the Grand Prix that they would be using the Lamborghini V12 engine in 1990. They also confirmed that their 1990 drivers would be Derek Warwick and the teams test driver Martin Donnelly.


Pre-qualifying reportEdit

For the first time in six Grands Prix, Onyx were not fastest in pre-qualifying. That credit went to Larrousse-Lola, as their cars were first and second on Friday morning, with Philippe Alliot ahead of Michele Alboreto. Third was Nicola Larini in the Osella, with Bertrand Gachot's Onyx fourth. Gachot's team-mate Stefan Johansson missed out in fifth.

Sixth was the AGS of Gabriele Tarquini, with Roberto Moreno's Coloni seventh. Eighth was Larini's Osella team-mate Piercarlo Ghinzani, his eleventh pre-qualifying failure this season. As at the previous meeting, the Zakspeeds were ninth and tenth, Bernd Schneider again ahead of Aguri Suzuki. Argentine Oscar Larrauri had returned to EuroBrun for whom he raced in 1988, replacing Swiss driver Gregor Foitek, but with no improvement down in eleventh. Twelfth was the other AGS of Yannick Dalmas, ahead only of the second Coloni of Enrico Bertaggia.[2]

Pre-qualifying classificationEdit

Pos No Driver Constructor Time Gap
1 30   Philippe Alliot Lola-Lamborghini 1:26.623
2 29   Michele Alboreto Lola-Lamborghini 1:27.829 +1.206
3 17   Nicola Larini Osella-Ford 1:27.980 +1.357
4 37   Bertrand Gachot Onyx-Ford 1:28.344 +1.721
5 36   Stefan Johansson Onyx-Ford 1:28.588 +1.965
6 40   Gabriele Tarquini AGS-Ford 1:28.813 +2.190
7 31   Roberto Moreno Coloni-Ford 1:28.864 +2.241
8 18   Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Ford 1:28.884 +2.261
9 34   Bernd Schneider Zakspeed-Yamaha 1:29.472 +2.849
10 35   Aguri Suzuki Zakspeed-Yamaha 1:30.085 +3.462
11 33   Oscar Larrauri EuroBrun-Judd 1:30.089 +3.466
12 41   Yannick Dalmas AGS-Ford 1:30.882 +4.259
13 32   Enrico Bertaggia Coloni-Ford 1:31.606 +4.983

Qualifying reportEdit

Predictably, the McLaren-Honda of Ayrton Senna was the fastest in qualifying for his 38th career pole position. Second was a surprise as Ferrari's Gerhard Berger joined Senna on the front row, whilst his teammate Nigel Mansell was third. Prost was only 4th, some 1.79 seconds slower than his Brazilian teammate, publicly complaining all weekend of a down on power engine compared to Senna's.

Prost's claims that Honda were favouring Senna were refuted by both Honda and McLaren boss Ron Dennis. However the Frenchman had allies in former Honda drivers Mansell and 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg who also told the press that when it became known they would not be driving Honda powered cars any more that their engines did not work as well or have as much power as was previous. BBC commentator Murray Walker also reported during the race itself that Prost was over 7 mph (11 km/h) slower than Senna through the speed trap in the race morning warm-up session despite the two cars running similar wing settings.

Senna's time of 1:23.720 in his V10 McLaren-Honda was 2.254 seconds faster than he had been a year earlier in the turbocharged McLaren MP4/4. His time was only 0.26 seconds shy of the fastest ever lap of the Monza circuit set by Nelson Piquet in a Williams-Honda in qualifying for the 1987 race when the turbo engines were developing some 300 bhp (224 kW; 304 PS) more than the naturally aspirated engines of 1989.

Eddie Cheever, who had finished 3rd in the 1988 race, failed to qualify his Arrows-Ford. It was the second time in 1989 that the American had failed to qualify for a race. His teammate Derek Warwick qualified 16th. The Brabham-Judd of Stefano Modena was excluded from the meeting when his car was found to be underweight. This promoted the Minardi of Luis Pérez-Sala onto the grid.

Qualifying classificationEdit

Pos No Driver Constructor Q1 Q2 Gap
1 1   Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 1:25.021 1:23.720
2 28   Gerhard Berger Ferrari 1:24.734 1:24.998 +1.014
3 27   Nigel Mansell Ferrari 1:24.739 1:24.979 +1.019
4 2   Alain Prost McLaren-Honda 1:25.872 1:25.510 +1.790
5 6   Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 1:26.195 1:25.545 +1.825
6 5   Thierry Boutsen Williams-Renault 1:26.155 1:26.392 +2.435
7 30   Philippe Alliot Lola-Lamborghini 1:27.118 1:26.985 +3.265
8 19   Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Ford 1:27.162 1:27.052 +3.332
9 20   Emanuele Pirro Benetton-Ford 1:28.367 1:27.397 +3.677
10 4   Jean Alesi Tyrrell-Ford 1:27.399 +3.679
11 11   Nelson Piquet Lotus-Judd 1:28.135 1:27.508 +3.788
12 7   Martin Brundle Brabham-Judd 1:27.627 1:27.637 +3.907
13 29   Michele Alboreto Lola-Lamborghini 1:28.586 1:27.803 +4.083
14 3   Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 1:29.187 1:27.822 +4.102
15 23   Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 1:28.397 1:27.923 +4.203
16 9   Derek Warwick Arrows-Ford 1:28.092 1:29.031 +4.372
17 22   Andrea de Cesaris Dallara-Ford 1:28.129 1:28.180 +4.472
18 16   Ivan Capelli March-Judd 1:31.969 1:28.430 +4.710
19 12   Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Judd 1:28.769 1:28.441 +4.721
20 21   Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 1:28.596 1:28.708 +4.876
21 26   Olivier Grouillard Ligier-Ford 1:28.669 1:29.537 +4.949
22 37   Bertrand Gachot Onyx-Ford 1:28.684 1:29.058 +4.964
23 25   René Arnoux Ligier-Ford 1:28.685 1:28.843 +4.965
24 17   Nicola Larini Osella-Ford 1:29.265 1:28.773 +5.053
25 15   Maurício Gugelmin March-Judd 1:29.192 1:28.923 +5.203
26 24   Luis Pérez-Sala Minardi-Ford 1:29.592 1:29.293 +5.573
27 10   Eddie Cheever Arrows-Ford 1:29.884 1:29.554 +5.834
28 38   Christian Danner Rial-Ford 1:32.074 1:31.830 +8.110
29 39   Pierre-Henri Raphanel Rial-Ford 1:36.295 +12.575
EX 8   Stefano Modena Brabham-Judd


Race reportEdit

As the grid was in the process of forming up before the start, the McLaren team transferred the settings from Senna's car to Prost's in the hope of curing its handling problem (Prost had actually been more than 2 seconds slower in the race morning warm up than Senna). Prost would later say that while handling and grip were significantly improved, the down on power engine remained and despite the same wing settings he still could not match his teammate for straight line speed.[3]

Senna led from the start and built up a small lead over Berger, while Mansell (whose 'development' V12 engine was not revving right) and especially Prost struggled to stay in touch. Indeed, in the early stages of the race Prost, who was getting used to his cars new set up, was having a hard time holding off the V10 Williams-Renault of Thierry Boutsen, though the BBC's James Hunt explained that Prost was using a harder set of "B" compound tyres in the hope of not having to pit during the race.

Emanuele Pirro was the races first retirement, the transmission in his Benetton-Ford not lasting a single lap. Only just longer was the Lola-Lamborghini of Philippe Alliot. The V12 powered Lolas of Alliot and Michele Alboreto had easily been the fastest in pre-qualifying, and Alliot went on to qualify a fine 7th (ahead of the Benetton's) before spinning into the sand trap at Ascari on just his second lap.

Alessandro Nannini's Benetton lost its brakes on lap 33 putting him into retirement, while Nigel Mansell suffered gearbox failure on lap 41. Through all of this, Senna was still comfortably in the lead with Prost having fought his way past Berger into second following Mansell's retirement. Prost passed Berger in front of the pits and the main grandstand and this saw the unusual sight of the Tifosi cheering when a McLaren passed a Ferrari. It must be remembered though that Prost was a confirmed Ferrari driver for 1990 while Berger, the hero of the 1988 race, was leaving the Scuderia to take Prost's seat at McLaren. The Williams' pair of Boutsen and Patrese, having found the limits of the older FW12 model, were circulating in 4th and 5th places but at no stage threatened the leaders.

On lap 44 the roar of the crowd told the story as the V10 Honda in Senna's McLaren comprehensively blew up going into the Parabolica, dumping its oil onto the rear tyres and sending Senna into a gentle spin and retirement, handing Prost the lead which he held to win his first Italian Grand Prix since 1985. Berger finished second for not only his first points of the season but indeed his first race finish while Boutsen came home third. Despite Prost's engine complaints, he still managed to set the fastest lap of the race on lap 43.

Prost's win restored his 20-point championship lead over Senna with only four races remaining in the season. However, due to the "Best 11" scoring system, Prost had now scored major points in 11 races while Senna could still score from all four remaining races. This meant that unless Prost won races, he would be able to score only a small number of points for the remainder of the season while Senna could conceivably score a maximum of 36 points (and win the championship) if he won the last four rounds.

McLaren-Honda won the Constructors' Championship with four races left.

Race classificationEdit

Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 2   Alain Prost McLaren-Honda 53 1:19:27.550 4 9
2 28   Gerhard Berger Ferrari 53 + 7.326 2 6
3 5   Thierry Boutsen Williams-Renault 53 + 14.975 6 4
4 6   Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 53 + 38.722 5 3
5 4   Jean Alesi Tyrrell-Ford 52 + 1 Lap 10 2
6 7   Martin Brundle Brabham-Judd 52 + 1 Lap 12 1
7 23   Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 52 + 1 Lap 15  
8 24   Luis Pérez-Sala Minardi-Ford 51 + 2 Laps 26  
9 25   René Arnoux Ligier-Ford 51 + 2 Laps 23  
10 12   Satoru Nakajima Lotus-Judd 51 Suspension 19  
11 21   Alex Caffi Dallara-Ford 47 Engine 20  
Ret 22   Andrea de Cesaris Dallara-Ford 45 Engine 17  
Ret 1   Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 44 Engine 1  
Ret 27   Nigel Mansell Ferrari 41 Gearbox 3  
Ret 37   Bertrand Gachot Onyx-Ford 38 Radiator 22  
Ret 19   Alessandro Nannini Benetton-Ford 33 Brakes 8  
Ret 16   Ivan Capelli March-Judd 30 Engine 18  
Ret 26   Olivier Grouillard Ligier-Ford 30 Exhaust 21  
Ret 11   Nelson Piquet Lotus-Judd 23 Spun Off 11  
Ret 3   Jonathan Palmer Tyrrell-Ford 18 Engine 14  
Ret 9   Derek Warwick Arrows-Ford 18 Fuel System 16  
Ret 17   Nicola Larini Osella-Ford 16 Gearbox 24  
Ret 29   Michele Alboreto Lola-Lamborghini 14 Electrical 13  
Ret 15   Maurício Gugelmin March-Judd 14 Throttle 25  
Ret 30   Philippe Alliot Lola-Lamborghini 1 Spun Off 7  
Ret 20   Emanuele Pirro Benetton-Ford 0 Transmission 9  
DSQ 8   Stefano Modena Brabham-Judd    
DNQ 10   Eddie Cheever Arrows-Ford    
DNQ 38   Christian Danner Rial-Ford    
DNQ 39   Pierre-Henri Raphanel Rial-Ford    
DNPQ 36   Stefan Johansson Onyx-Ford    
DNPQ 40   Gabriele Tarquini AGS-Ford    
DNPQ 31   Roberto Moreno Coloni-Ford    
DNPQ 18   Piercarlo Ghinzani Osella-Ford    
DNPQ 34   Bernd Schneider Zakspeed-Yamaha    
DNPQ 35   Aguri Suzuki Zakspeed-Yamaha    
DNPQ 33   Oscar Larrauri EuroBrun-Judd    
DNPQ 41   Yannick Dalmas AGS-Ford    
DNPQ 32   Enrico Bertaggia Coloni-Ford        

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Bold Text indicates World Champions
  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  1. ^ Cooper, Adam (2000). "Memories are Made of This". Atlas F1. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
  2. ^ Walker, Murray (1989). Murray Walker's Grand Prix Year. First Formula Publishing. p. 101–108. ISBN 1 870066 22 7.
  3. ^ Roebuck, Nigel; Henry, Alan (1989). Naismith, Barry (ed.). "Round 12:Italy The Unhappy Victor". Grand Prix. Glen Waverly, Victoria: Garry Sparke & Associates. 5: 122. ISBN 0-908081-99-5.
  4. ^ "1989 Italian Grand Prix". formula1.com. Archived from the original on 18 January 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Italy 1989 - Championship • STATS F1". www.statsf1.com. Retrieved 18 March 2019.

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1989 Belgian Grand Prix
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1989 Portuguese Grand Prix
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1988 Italian Grand Prix
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1990 Italian Grand Prix