1986. This was one hell of a decider. Team in-fighting meant the dominant Williams Honda pairing of Piquet and Mansell were still within striking distance of Alain Prost. Nigel Mansell missed a chance to clinch the title at the penultimate round in Mexico, allowing Prost to close in on Mansell. Prost and Piquet both needed to win and have Mansell finished lower than fourth… I think. The points rules was complicated. Both Nige and Prost had 12 scores but only the best 11 counted. Unless Nige finished fourth or better his points wouldn’t increased, Prost needed a fifth or better to increase points but he needed to win the increase it by 8 and discount a sixth place. I uh yeah…
Anyway, back to Adelaide. Nige was well on his way to winning the title, sitting in third with Piquet in front of him in second, former champ Keke Rosberg leading in his final Grand Prix. On the 63rd lap, 19 laps remaining, Rosberg’s tyre gave out down the back straight. A lap later, so did Nige’s at high speed down the back straight. He should have been given a medal for being able to control a three wheeled 1000+ horsepower mid 80’s Formula One car at nearly 200mph. Goodyear told Williams they should bring in Piquet as his tyres were also at risk, but the same message was not relayed to McLaren after Prost’s team mate, Rosberg, lost his tyres. Apparently Prost’s tyres weren’t as worn.
Piquet relinquished the lead to Prost, who held on to win. Prost, in the most unlikeliest of circumstances, had just won his second consecutive title. Although he would not be able to keep pace with the Williams the following year, as Piquet and Mansell dominated, he would go on to clinch a record for most career victories with 28, breaking Sir Jackie Stewart’s record. He built it up to 51, a record untouched until Michael Schumacher would match it 2001.
Both Piquet and Mansell would go on to win titles for Williams, Piquet in 87 and Mansell in 1992. For many, however, 1986 was best known as the beginning of a Golden Era of Formula One that would last into the early 90’s.