Echoes of 1986 - Andrew Noakes - Motoring Writer

If anything, the championship battle in 2007 is even closer than it was in 1986. Nigel Mansell was leading the 1986 championship with 70 points going into the final race at the Adelaide street circuit in Australia. McLaren's Alain Prost, fresh from second place in the Mexican Grand Prix, was second with 64 and Mansell's Williams-Honda team mate Nelson Piquet was third on 63. Just seven points separated the three title rivals.

Mansell had recorded five wins during the season, Piquet four and Prost three. Since the summer break between the Austrian and Italian Grands Prix, Mansell had notched up a second place behind his team mate at Monza and a win from the front row in Portugal. But in Mexico, where a win would have secured the title, he fluffed his start and spent the race battling through the field to finish fifth.


In Adelaide the Williams-Hondas for once got the better of Ayrton Senna's Lotus-Renault in qualifying and lined up on the front row, with Mansell on pole position. Prost's McLaren was fourth, his team mate Keke Rosberg back on the fourth row.

Rosberg, in his final F1 race before retirement, battled his way to the front and led convincingly until a rear tyre failed, putting him out of the race. Just a minute later, on Adelaide's long back straight, the left-rear tyre on Mansell's Williams failed spectacularly - at little short of 200mph (there's a video clip here - skip to 2m20s). Though Mansell kept the car out of the wall his race was run.

Alain Prost won the dramatic race from a charging Nelson Piquet - who set the fastest lap on the final tour of the race - and took the 1986 world championship.

So what are the parallels for 2007?


As we head into the final race Lewis Hamilton heads the table with 107 points despite failing to score at the last race in Shanghai. Fernando Alonso lies second on 103 and Chinese Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen is third with 100. Just as in 1986 there's a seven-point spread.

The top three drivers have won 13 of the 16 races this year (the 1986 top three had won 12 races out of 15) with Raikkonen on five wins, Hamilton and Alonso four each.

But there isn't too much we can infer from what happened 21 years ago. Today's cars are different, the drivers are different, the tracks are different. Even the scoring system has changed: now there are 10 points for a win, points down to eighth place and every point matters - in 1986 only a driver's best 11 scores counted.

As far as F1 fans in Britain are concerned, a repeat of the '86 finale - with our great hopes dashed by a tyre blowout - is not what we're looking for.

Let's hope all three of this year's championship contenders fight it out to the last lap in Brazil - and give us a race and a championship finale which, like 1986, will be talked about a generation from now.

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