Nigel Mansell was not a wealthy or sponsored race driver, having mortgaged his home to save his first F1 drive with Lotus, and learned his craft the old fashioned way — with mistakes. For all his determination, Mansell was known as a “bad winner,” quick to complain, easily offended and always ready to retire (which he did three times). Yet Nigel, who broke Jackie Stewart’s record for most career GP wins by a British driver, was one of the unluckiest blokes ever to travel with the Formula One circus.
The most profoundly poignant of such incidents was at Adelaide, Australia in the final race of the 1986 season. Mansell was driving the Williams-Honda turbo, and took pole position for the race, but this advantage was cancelled out following a poor start off the grid, with teammate Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna and Keke Rosberg all overtaking him and demoting the Brit down to fourth by the end of the first lap. A few laps into the race, Rosberg, in his final Grand Prix, took the lead from Piquet. This lead, however, wasn’t to last as the Finn retired on lap 63, handing the lead back to Piquet and elevating Mansell into P2, the World Championship all but clinched. Then the left rear tire on Nigel’s car suddenly exploded, sending his Williams careening down the tarmac in a shower of sparks. Nigel miraculously brought the car to a halt without hitting the barriers or anyone else, but the title was gone. Mansell did not complain, saying only how lucky he felt to be alive and in one piece. That World Championship title would have to wait another six years. Classifications.
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