Nigel Mansell reflects on Williams axe less than 24 hours after title win

Nigel Mansell reflects on Williams axe less than 24 hours after title win

Nigel Mansell with Sir Frank Williams upon his return to the team in 1994. Credit: Alamy

31 years after his World Championship victory, Nigel Mansell has reflected on the 24 hours that followed in which he lost his Formula 1 seat.

It’s not often that a newly crowned Formula One world champion is left without a place for the following season, but that’s exactly what happened to Mansell.

After Mansell won the championship in 1992, he was told Williams no longer needed his services, but it was an incident that was long underway.

Despite his most successful season, all was not well behind the scenes between the driver and the team.

Around the Hungarian Grand Prix, Mansell claimed Williams had broken a deal to extend his contract and not only had they not offered the money he was looking for, they might go for the man he liked most on the entire grid hated.

Mansell and Alain Prost became team-mates at Ferrari in 1990 and after a season of political maneuvering by both, Mansell threw his gloves to the crowd at Silverstone before announcing his retirement.

He finished that season with a single win, four fewer than teammate Prost, and it looked like his career was over when Frank Williams stepped in and offered him a spot.

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When Mansell was told in 1992 that Prost would be his teammate again the following season, the mustachioed man reacted angrily to the news.

Tensions may have calmed down over the past 30 years, but Mansell’s memory of the moments following his title win is as clear now as it was then.

Reflecting on that sequence of events on the Beyond the Grid podcast, Mansell said he wasn’t surprised Frank Williams wanted rid of him.

“I was looking forward to defending my title, I was looking forward to a great year in 1993,” said the 69-year-old. “Whether Prost was my teammate or not.

“Then, less than 24 hours after winning the title, I found out I had no ride for the following year! If I really wanted to race, I would do it on half the 1992 salary. That wasn’t a really good offer, was it!”

“This is nothing new [Frank Williams wanting to get rid of him]he’s already done it with a number of drivers.”

While Mansell became the fifth champion not to defend his crown the following season, he became the first to do so because he had not been offered a seat.

However, he would find fame elsewhere when he moved to IndyCar and won the championship straight away, becoming the only person to hold both the F1 Drivers’ Championship and the American Open Wheel National Championship at the same time.

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