Following the death
of Ayrton Senna,
factions at Williams
and Renault felt their
squad was lacking
a driver who’d go
toe to toe with
Hill was in only his
second full season,
and David Coulthard
was a rookie.
Mansell’s return to
F1 for the French
GP. He qualified
alongside Hill on the
front row, but both
were beaten by
he raced at Jerez, but
spun out; at Suzuka
he finished fourth;
and in Adelaide, he
took pole and the
win (BELOW). He
would re-employ him
for ’ 95, but Frank
opted for Coulthard.
but still, he was up against Paul Tracy,
Al Unser Jr., Bobby Rahal, Fittipaldi,
Luyendyk and Mario Andretti.
“He reminded me of Rick Mears in that
he rotated the car in the corners and came
off them straighter and faster,” observes
McGee. “He also had a fantastic mind and
figured out tracks quickly. But Nigel’s strong
suit was he could make the difference. If the
car had too much understeer, he’d change his
style to compensate. He could drive around
a problem, and that’s a special talent.”
“Most guys who pound the wall like
he did would have been scared, but
Nigel came back to win four ovals”
AN EYE FOR THEATRICS
Enthusiasm for his dominant victory in
the Michigan 500 was tempered by his
theatrical side. At one point, he screamed
on his radio he couldn’t go on because of a
headache and he then staggered out of the
car, grabbed his neck and was apparently in
a state of near collapse...when he glanced up
to see second-placed finisher, 53-year-old
Andretti dabbing a few beads of sweat.
A month earlier, in Detroit, Mansell had
moaned that his car’s handling had gone
off so violently he couldn’t go another lap.
McGee calmly reminded his driver that, yes,
it would feel different with a full load of fuel
and everything would be fine in a few laps.
“He had his moments, but that was his
competitive nature and the Newman/Haas
guys loved working for him,” says McGee.
And there was plenty to love on Aug. 8,
(Nigel’s 40th birthday) in Loudon, N.H.,
where Mansell, Tracy and Fittipaldi staged
one of the great battles, constantly trading
the lead, making crazy passes and getting
50,000 fans up on their feet and roaring.
“He was fifth during the final caution and
on the radio he told us to watch because
this was gonna be fun,” chuckles McGee.
“He had that confidence and could adapt
to any situation. He was superb that day.”
Tracy, who’d tie Mansell with five
victories in ’ 93, marveled at his new
rival’s ability, as well as his moxie.
“Most guys who pound the wall like he
did would have been scared and said, ‘That’s
enough,’ but Nigel came back to win four
oval races. I respected him. He raced hard
and fair – and he was great for CART.”
Beating Fittipaldi to the title by eight
points despite missing Phoenix gave Mansell