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Japan  1990 Japanese Grand Prix
Race details
Race 15 of 16 in the 1990 Formula One season
Circuit Suzuka.png
Date October 21, 1990
Official name XVI Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix
Location Suzuka Circuit, Suzuka, Mie, Japan
Course Permanent racing facility
5.859 km (3.64 mi)
Distance 53 laps, 310.548 km (192.966 mi)
Weather Sunny
Pole position
Driver Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda
Time 1:36.996
Fastest lap
Driver Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault
Time 1:44.233 on lap 40
First Brazil Nelson Piquet Benetton-Ford
Second Brazil Roberto Moreno Benetton-Ford
Third Japan Aguri Suzuki Larrousse-Lamborghini

The 1990 Japanese Grand Prix was a Formula One race held on 21 October 1990 at Suzuka.



This race is most famous (or rather infamous) for its first corner incident involving world championship contenders Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. Senna secured the pole, but was unhappy with the side of the track it was situated on, claiming that pole should always be on the racing line. He and Gerhard Berger then went to the Japanese stewards, to request a change of position of pole. The stewards initially agreed but an injunction by FISA president Jean Marie Balestre later that night rejected the decision. After this, Senna vowed that if Prost (starting second) got the advantage into the first corner, which most were sure he would, he would never make it into the first corner. This was exactly what happened come race day at the start, with Senna ramming Prost off the track at break-neck speeds into the gravel and the tire barriers. The crash meant that Senna had won the drivers' championship for a second time.

The two discussed the event afterwards[1] with Senna claiming it was not how he wanted it but how it had to be, with many others accepting his actions as a solution (or revenge, to an extent) to the incident the year before[2]. Prost was infuriated by this and publicly slammed the move as "disgusting" and Senna as "a man without value". He later admitted that he almost retired from the sport instantly after the incident.

The pair went on to win one more championship each and eventually reconciled their differences in their final grand prix together[3].

Aside from this there were many announcements prior to the race, Brabham announced they would use Yamaha engines for 1991, Footwork also announced a Porsche engine deal for 1991 and they also retained both drivers in Alex Caffi and Michele Alboreto. In other news the Life and Eurobrun teams withdrew from the sport. Eurobrun's Roberto Moreno joined the Benetton team replacing Sandro Nannini who was injured in a helicopter crash after the Spanish Grand Prix.

Nigel Mansell also announced a u-turn on his decision to retire by making public his agreement to join Williams-Renault for 2 years from 1991 after being given assurances from Frank Williams, Patrick Head and Renault that they could deliver him a car in which he could win a world championship.


Pos No Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 20 Brazil Nelson Piquet Benetton-Ford 53 1:34:36.824 6 9
2 19 Brazil Roberto Moreno Benetton-Ford 53 +7.223 8 6
3 30 Japan Aguri Suzuki Larrousse-Lamborghini 53 +22.469 9 4
4 6 Italy Riccardo Patrese Williams-Renault 53 +36.258 7 3
5 5 Belgium Thierry Boutsen Williams-Renault 53 +46.884 5 2
6 3 Japan Satoru Nakajima Tyrrell-Ford 53 +1:12.350 14 1
7 25 Italy Nicola Larini Ligier-Ford 52 +1 Lap 17
8 23 Italy Pierluigi Martini Minardi-Ford 52 +1 Lap 10
9 10 Italy Alex Caffi Arrows-Ford 52 +1 Lap 23
10 26 France Philippe Alliot Ligier-Ford 52 +1 Lap 25
Ret 11 United Kingdom Derek Warwick Lotus-Lamborghini 38 Gearbox 11
Ret 12 United Kingdom Johnny Herbert Lotus-Lamborghini 31 Engine 12
Ret 9 Italy Michele Alboreto Arrows-Ford 28 Engine 24
Ret 2 United Kingdom Nigel Mansell Ferrari 26 Transmission 3
Ret 21 Italy Emanuele Pirro Dallara-Ford 24 Alternator 19
Ret 29 France Éric Bernard Larrousse-Lamborghini 24 Engine 18
Ret 24 Italy Gianni Morbidelli Minardi-Ford 18 Spun Off 20
Ret 16 Italy Ivan Capelli Leyton House-Judd 16 Ignition 13
Ret 22 Italy Andrea de Cesaris Dallara-Ford 13 Spun Off 26
Ret 15 Brazil Maurício Gugelmin Leyton House-Judd 5 Engine 16
Ret 7 Australia David Brabham Brabham-Judd 5 Clutch 21
Ret 28 Austria Gerhard Berger McLaren-Honda 1 Spun Off 4
Ret 27 Brazil Ayrton Senna McLaren-Honda 0 Collision 1
Ret 1 France Alain Prost Ferrari 0 Collision 2
Ret 8 Italy Stefano Modena Brabham-Judd 0 Collision 22
DNS 4 France Jean Alesi Tyrrell-Ford Driver Unwell 7
DNQ 14 France Olivier Grouillard Osella-Ford
DNQ 17 Italy Gabriele Tarquini AGS-Ford
DNQ 18 France Yannick Dalmas AGS-Ford
DNQ 31 Belgium Bertrand Gachot Coloni-Ford


  • Lap Leaders: Gerhard Berger 1 lap (1); Nigel Mansell 25 laps (2-26); Nelson Piquet 27 laps (27-53)
  • Alesi did not start due to a neck injury during Friday's practice. As his grid position was left empty, this was the third race in the running to have only 25 starters instead of the usual 26.
  • Benetton hired Roberto Moreno to replace the injured Alessandro Nannini.
  • Both the Life and EuroBrun teams withdrew prior to the race.
  • Senna's move won him the Driver's Championship with one race left.
  • McLaren-Honda won the Constructor's Championship with one race left.
  • This was the only podium finish for the Larrousse team.
  • Last non-european podium in Formula One until the present day.


  1. ^ - Prost-biased review and discussion of the incident.
  2. ^ - Prost-biased exploration of the events.
  3. ^ - Adelaide Grand Prix review featuring images of Senna and Prost on the podium.
Previous race:
1990 Spanish Grand Prix
FIA Formula One World Championship
1990 season
Next race:
1990 Australian Grand Prix
Previous race:
1989 Japanese Grand Prix
Japanese Grand Prix Next race:
1991 Japanese Grand Prix


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