Sparks Flying

Mansell, Williams, Brands Hatch

The 1985 F1 season was one to remember. The turbo-engined cars now ruled the grid with ever more power on tap. Nigel Mansell established his credentials as a coming star; Ayrton Senna was increasingly seen as a new and decisive talent now in his second F1 season; Alain Prost won his first Championship; Keke Rosberg showed his courage with his astounding Silverstone record lap in qualifying; and Niki Lauda announced his retirement.

Here, a switched-on Mansell passes the start/finish area at Brands Hatch during the October 6, 1985 European Grand Prix in his Williams FW10-Honda at about 190 mph in front of a huge and partisan crowd. Sparks are released from his car’s titanium rubbing strips under compression from the dip on the Brands top straight. Mansell’s Williams had been competing all season with Prost’s McLaren MP4/2-TAG Porsche, Senna’s Lotus 97T-Renault, Nelson Piquet’s Brabham BT54-BMW and Michele Alboreto’s Ferrari 156/85, all sensational machines from the 1980s turbo years. With almost 1000 hp in race trim and perhaps close to 1500 hp for one-lap qualifying, the F1 cars of this period of racing were truly spectacular.

This was the second F1 race in England in 1985, as the British Grand Prix had already been held at Silverstone, won by Prost when Senna ran out of fuel. Here Senna had taken pole position with a truly impressive lap and shared the front row with Piquet, but the two Williams of Mansell and Rosberg were right behind them. Senna led the first laps while Rosberg and Piquet had a contretemps which resulted in a puncture for the former and retirement for the latter. Mansell then passed Senna and led the rest of the way to win from Senna by 21 seconds with Rosberg recovering from his enforced pit stop to finish third ahead of Prost. This was Mansell’s first Grand Prix victory while Prost sewed up his first World Championship with his fourth place finish and which gave McLaren the Constructor’s Championship as well.

Photo by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection –



  1. Miller, David · · Reply

    Great stuff — thanks. One minor point: the text refers to the October 6, 1985 race; but clicking on the photo of Mansell reveals the TKC date as June 10, 1985 (which was a Monday). I believe the October date is correct, the June date appears to be an error. All the best.

    Kind regards,


  2. Good catch. That is an old typo and it is now corrected.


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