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1989 FIA Formula 1 Season

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1989 FIA Formula 1 Season
Photo Credit: Martin Lee.
Champion Constructor: McLaren Honda (GB,5,5)
Putative Constructor: McLaren Honda (GB)
Champion Driver: Alain Prost (FR,3,5)
Putative Driver: Alain Prost (FR)
Putative Constructor Entry Specification: Model MP4-5, 3.49-liter, ten-cylinder vee, aluminum alloy engine, DOHC, fuel injection, six-speed, ventilated carbon ceramic disc brakes, carbon fibre/aluminum honeycomb monocoque, double wishbone independent suspension, 690 horsepower (Steve Nichols, Neil Oatley, Gordon Murray, Nobuhiko Kawamoto).

The FIA in 1989 implements its highly anticipated ban upon blown power units, marking the sunset for the Formula 1 Turbo Era. The sanctioning body also mandates that the driver feet must rest behind the front axle for all qualifying entries for safety reasons, and standardizes the race distance at 305 kilometers (some exceptions) for all events. McLaren Honda easily captures its second consecutive and fifth overall constructors' crown, yet despite his six victories over the season, McLaren pilot and defending champion Ayrton Senna loses the drivers' title to teammate Alain Prost (four victories) at Suzuka in October after the latter deviously chops him into a gravel pit with only seven laps remaining. Senna, who recovers and rallies to victory in stunning fashion, nonetheless suffers a postrace disqualification for missing a chicane upon his return to the circuit after the Prost entanglement. AGS driver Phillippe Strieff suffers career-ending injuries during a practice session shunt at Rio de Janeiro in March. The Alain Prost-Ayrton Senna internecine rivalry only intensifies after Prost accuses Senna of breaking an agreement not to contest the Tosa corner after a race restart at Imola in April. F1 makes its inaugural visit to Phoenix in June. Alain Prost stuns the motorsports community after announcing his decision in July at Paul Ricard to leave McLaren and move to Scuderia Ferrari for the 1990 season, citing his belief that McLaren favors teammate Ayrton Senna with superior equipment. Alain Prost infuriates McLaren principal Ron Dennis after giving his winning race trophy at Monza to the tifosi crowd in September. German citizens begin tearing down the Berlin Wall, erected in 1961 by the Soviets as a bulwark against the West, in November. New Racing Makes: British Onyx. Racing Evolution: Paddled electronic semi-automatic gearbox on steering wheel (Ferrari).

HeM applies the Putative Model to all racing seasons for two primary purposes: First, to effectively normalize all racing seasons for empirical comparison across the decades, and second, to step clear of series organizers which score season championships primarily out of commercial interest or to attract manufacturer participation. The Putative Model simply scores all seasons in the same fashion as a standard track and field meeting, with the only purpose of tracking what takes place at the finishing stripe If the Putative Champion differs from the nominal Series Champion, please note the (SC) notation below.

McLaren Honda186     Prost108
Williams Renault96     Senna A94
Scuderia Ferrari78     Patrese51
Benetton Ford46     Mansell50
Tyrrell Ford17     Boutsen46
Lotus Judd15     Nannini39

Noteworthy 1989 Races

1989 XLVII Grand Prix de Monaco Monte Carlo1989 1989 XLVII Grand Prix de Monaco At Monaco for the Grand Prix (256.5 kilometers) in May, the race comes to a British McLaren MP4-5 Honda under Ayrton Senna (BR) in 1:53:33.3 (average 84.13 mph), under fifty-three seconds ahead of a companion McLaren entry. Senna leads the contest from wire-to-wire in comfortable fashion for his second victory in the principality. Photo Credit: Attribution Unascertained.
1989 XXVII Grand Prix du Canada Montréal, Quebec1989 1989 XXVII Grand Prix du Canada At Gilles Villeneuve for the Canadian Grand Prix (303 kilometers) in June, a British Williams FW12C Renault under Thierry Boutsen (BE) takes race honors in rainy conditions in 2:01:24.1 (average 93.02 mph), under thirty-one seconds ahead of a companion Williams entry. Boutsen moves out front after race leader Ayrton Senna in his McLaren loses drive with only three laps remaining, gifting Boutsen with his maiden F1 victory. Photo Credit: Sutton Images.
1989 LI Grosser Preis von Deutschland Hockenheim, West Germany1989 1989 LI Grosser Preis von Deutschland At Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix (306 kilometers) in July, a British McLaren MP4-5 Honda under Ayrton Senna (BR) takes the flag in 1:21:43.3 (average 139.54 mph), under nineteen seconds ahead of a companion McLaren entry. Senna moves out front after race leader Alain Prost in his McLaren slows with gearbox gremlins with only three laps remaining. Photo Credit: Sutton Images.
1989 V Magyar Nagydíj Mogyoród, Hungary1989 1989 V Magyar Nagydíj At the Hungaroring for the Grand Prix (305.5 kilometers) in August, a Scuderia Ferrari 640 under Nigel Mansell (GB) notches a victory in 1:49:38.7 (average 103.89 mph), under twenty-six seconds ahead of a McLaren entry. Mansell moves out front on Lap 58 of 77 after executing a breathtaking pass upon race leader Ayrton Senna in his McLaren as both drivers approach a slower backmarker at the third corner before Mansell motors away to a comfortable victory. Photo Credit: Mehes Karoly.
1989 XV Japanese Grand Prix Suzuka City, Japan1989 1989 XV Japanese Grand Prix At Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix (310.5 kilometers) in October, an Italian Benetton B189 Ford under Alessandro Nannini (IT) crosses first in 1:35:06.3 (average 121.74 mph), under twelve seconds ahead of a Williams entry. Drama ensues with only seven laps remaining after McLaren driver Ayrton Senna, hotly chasing race leader and teammate Alain Prost for victory and the F1 drivers' title, dives inside for a pass just before the start/finish line. Prost shamelessly shuts the door on Senna and both cars tangle before stalling in a nearby sand trap. Prost abandons his entry, yet race marshals push Senna back onto the track to continue the contest. Senna cuts through the incident chicane upon return, stops for service, and in one of the most memorable performances in F1 history rallies ahead to pass Nannini with three laps remaining for a three-second victory. Race officials afterwards strike the final result on grounds that the Senna-Prost shunt caused Senna not to complete a full lap (missed chicane) and thus Senna did not complete the contest. Race officials disqualify Senna, gifting Nannini his maiden F1 victory and Prost the 1989 drivers' title. McLaren appeals the decision, yet the FIA upholds the result and pours on the grief by fining Senna $100,000 USD, leaving the Brazilian to angrily accuse the FIA of plotting against him in favor of Prost. Photo Credit: Toshifumi Kitamura.