Nigel Mansell was one of Britain’s greatest ever grand prix drivers, winning a total of 31 races. He was the Formula One champion in 1992, winning what was then a record of nine races in a season, and he had earlier finished in second place in the driver’s championship in 1986, 1987 and 1991.
He was in his 13th season in Formula One before he became world champion, a feat he had already come frustratingly close to achieving in three previous seasons. He was second in 1986, but would have won had his tyre not exploded while he was leading the final race. He lost out to Alain Prost in the championship. The following year he was again second, despite winning the first six races of the series. An injured back caused him to miss the final two races and he was beaten by team-mate Nelson Piquet. In 1988 he could only manage 9th in the championship after 12 retirements, and he switched from Williams to Ferrari the following year. After only three wins in two seasons he was back with Williams and after a poor start to the 1991 season he secured five victories and second place in the championship.
Nine victories in season
The following year he finally achieved his ambition and realised his undoubted potential. He won the first five races, and by the end of the 12th race he had secured eight wins, three seconds and one retirement, to put the championship beyond doubt. He went on to wine one more race that season, scored a record 108 points, fell out with Williams and retired from Formula One.
Following his retirement from Formula One he won the American Cart championship in 1993, making him the only driver ever to be Formula One and Cart champion at the same time. He was twice BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
During the early nineties, Mansell was commonly known, by the British media especially, as Our Nige. During the 1980s and early 1990s while he raced in Formula One, he was extremely popular in Britain and the entire F1 community, especially in Italy and Brazil, even among the Tifosi after he left Ferrari to return to Williams in 1991. His bull-headed bravery was his trademark for which he was much revered. He was also known for his dramatic and spectacular driving style, which earned him millions of fans around the world.
Mansell remains the second most successful British Formula One driver of all time in terms of race wins, behind Lewis Hamilton, and is seventh overall on the Formula One race winners list behind Michael Schumacher, Hamilton, Sebastien Vettel, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Fernando Alonso. He was rated in the top 10 Formula One drivers of all time by longtime Formula One commentator Murray Walker.
He moved to Jersey with his family in 1997 and had a shore-side property in St Brelade
Hall of fame
Nigel Mansell’s entry in the Formula One website Hall of Fame sums up his career and personality:
No driver fought harder to get into Formula One racing and few fought harder when they got there. Hugely determined, immensely aggressive and spectacularly daring, he was one of the most exciting drivers ever. With his win or bust approach - 31 wins and 32 crashes - he became the most successful British driver and ranks third in the world in fastest laps, fourth in wins and fifth in poles. With the Union Jack on his helmet and a chip on his shoulder, he was both quick and controversial. His awkward personality made him some enemies, his heroic performances made him millions of fans. Nigel Mansell was a driven man and it showed.