Masters Season 4
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The 1991 FF1M Season was the fourth FF1M Season. Although now called the 1991 Season, it did not follow the 1991 Formula Calendar nor did it contain drivers solely from that year, being run at the time as a Masters event. However from this season onwards the series did start to link each series to a year and used liveries from that year. It was the beginning of the series transformation from a 'Masters' event to a year on year rewriting of Formula 1 history which would be completed at the end of the Season 8.
In a tightly contested championship, Alain Prost won the Drivers Championship for the second successive season in his first season with Maestro Motorsport, once again beating Fernando Alonso at the final race of the season. Maestro Motorsport also won the Constructors Championship after a late surge helped them to overhaul Exolite.
The season is notable for the introduction of testing and an overhaul in the points system. Previously, points were awarded down to 6th place under a 10-6-4-3-2-1 system, whereas from this season onwards, points are awarded down to 8th place under a 12-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system. It has remained unchanged since then.
Teams and Drivers
Round 1 - Australia
An overhaul to the regulations saw pre-season and in-season testing introduced to FF1M for the first time. In the previous three seasons, car development was determined by quizzes set by the AFIA. The new rules seemed to benefit the two teams from Yorkshire, as the Goodyear-shod Exolite of Damon Hill won the first race of the season in Melbourne ahead of FJR's Jean Alesi, also on Goodyears. With the other FJR of Jenson Button in 5th place, they shared the championship lead with Exolite. Completing the podium was Gui Racing's Nelson Piquet, running on the Bridgestone tyres. Reigning constructors champions M-Sport had a disastrous start to the season as both Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, many teams' dream line-up, failed to reach the chequered flag.
Round 2 - Brazil
Exolite continued their stunning start to the season with another victory, this time from Kimi Raikkonen, who finished ahead of M-Sport's Michael Schumacher and the other Exolite of Damon Hill. The two Brazilian teams both finished in the points, with AquinoPlus securing a 4th and 6th for Fernando Alonso and Mika Hakkinen, while Rubens Barrichello took 7th for Gui Racing. His teammate Nelson Piquet failed to finish.
Round 3 - San Marino
The first European race of the season saw a race of high attrition with incidents aplenty throughout the whole field and only eight finishers. It looked as if Jean Alesi would take his first ever FF1M win, but a suspension failure robbed him, which meant that the shrewd Alain Prost for Maestro Motorsport took the win, a good result after a somewhat quiet start to his championship defence. With Damon Hill retiring from the race, Prost took the lead of the championship. Joining him on the podium were Pedersen's Gerhard Berger and the other Maestro of Lewis Hamilton. Like in Australia, M-Sport recorded another double DNF.
Round 4 - Netherlands
For the first time in FF1M's history, the dunes of Zandvoort played host to a race, and the race was dominated by the two Exolites, as Kimi Raikkonen won ahead of Damon Hill. It was the team's second career 1-2 having achieved their first at the Nurburgring from the previous season, and both drivers overtook Alain Prost in the drivers championship. 3rd was Fernando Alonso, his first podium of the season after an inauspicious start to the season. To date, this is the only time FF1M has visited the Netherlands.
|3rd||Alain Prost||Maestro Motorsport||23|
Round 5 - Spain
Barcelona saw a welcome return to form for M-Sport after a difficult start to their championship defence. Having retired from the first four races, Ayrton Senna won the Spanish GP with teammate Michael Schumacher coming home in 5th to leapfrog the team up to 4th ahead of AquinoPlus, Gui Racing, and Pedersen. Completing the podium were championship leader Damon Hill, and for the first time this season, FJR's Jenson Button. Home hero Fernando Alonso came home 4th, while 1990 winner Alain Prost recorded his first retirement of the season, as did Kimi Raikkonen.
Round 6 - Europe
Once again, the Nurburging played host to the European GP, and the race would see a fifth different winner of the season, as Pedersen's Nigel Mansell took the victory, his first since the 1989 Italian GP when he drove for Gui Racing. He was joined on the podium by Lewis Hamilton and an on-form Ayrton Senna. In front of his adoring fans, Michael Schumacher came home in 5th place, while both Exolites failed to score, as did Alain Prost.
Round 7 - Mexico
The circus headed across the Atlantic Ocean for not one, but two races in the North American continent. The first of which was another venue and country hosting a race for the first time, the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City. After two non-scores in the previous two races, Alain Prost returned to winning ways. Finishing in 2nd was Exolite's Kimi Raikkonen, with Fernando Alonso taking his second podium finish of the season. Damon Hill's 2nd retirement of the season meant that Prost retook the lead of the championship, but only by one point.
Round 8 - Canada
The second North American race at Montreal saw Ayrton Senna take his 2nd win of the season ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, whose 8 points propelled him into the lead of the championship for the first time. Taking another 3rd place was Fernando Alonso. Damon Hill once again suffered a retirement and slipped down another place in the championship. Exolite still held a commanding lead in the constructors championship, however, as the halfway stage of the season was approaching, both championships were anyone's guesses.
|2nd||Alain Prost||Maestro Motorsport||39|
Round 9 - France
The third new circuit of the season saw the French GP move from Magny-Cours to the super-fast Dijon-Prenois. Fernando Alonso continued his resurgence as he took his first win of the season ahead of Damon Hill, who took his first points since Spain. Finishing in 3rd place was Nelson Piquet, his first podium since Australia. Prost took a somewhat anonymous 6th place, which actually moved Hill back into the lead of the championship. Meanwhile, FJR recorded their first non-score of the championship after a retirement for Jenson Button and a poor race for Jean Alesi.
Round 10 - Great Britain
After a quiet couple of races, reigning champion Alain Prost returned to form with a commanding win ahead of Ayrton Senna and teammate Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton was in fact the only Brit to finish in the points after Damon Hill, Jenson Button, Nigel Mansell, David Coulthard, Martin Brundle, and Johnny Herbert all failed to scored. Of those, only Nigel Mansell was still running when the chequered flag fell.
Round 11 - Germany
Both Exolites utilised their extremely powerful Ferrari engines to lock out the front row at the long straights of Hockenheim, but both got into a lot of bother on the first lap when they collided with each other at the first chicane. Hill was the big loser in this incident while Raikkonen kept the lead, but still on the first lap, he crashed out at the stadium handing a massive lead to Jenson Button. Unlike Imola, the FJR didn't break down, and Button dominated the race to take the team's first ever victory.
Alain Prost kept out of trouble to finish 2nd ahead of Ayrton Senna, who had taken his 5th podium in seven races, cementing his status as a championship contender. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher could only manage 6th place, which was actually his first points finish since his other home race in what had been a terrible season for him so far.
The race contained two other significant landmarks; the first time a driver change occurred as Ajay's Gianmaria Bruni was replaced by Andreas Zuber before the race. The change had obviously worked as Zuber scored a very respectable 8th, and not by virtue of a high attrition race either as 16 cars finished. This race opened the floodgates for other teams to make driver changes, as Gui Racing replaced Rubens Barrichello with Nelsinho Piquet for the next race to make it a father-son combination.
The other landmark saw the first instance of a disqualification. Both Dodgems of Giancarlo Fisichella and Johnny Herbert were kicked out after the race after it was believed that team principle Boris Johnson was seen promoting a wild commentator's delight at Button's first ever FF1M win. Nobody had the heart to tell Johnson that Button had won the 1990 Brazilian Grand Prix
Round 12 - Hungary
Having seen a chance of victory ruined by his own teammate, Damon Hill bounced back brilliantly to win the Hungarian GP in front of the consistent Fernando Alonso and Jean Alesi, who almost inspired by his teammate's win in the previous race, took his first podium since Australia. Prost recorded only his second retirement of the season so far, but his consistent form from previous races kept him at the top of the drivers championship, albeit with many very hungry drivers hot on his heels.
|1st||Alain Prost||Maestro Motorsport||62|
Round 13 - Belgium
In another high attrition race, none of the top four championship contenders managed to finish the race. Ayrton Senna was the best of the contenders with a 4th place, but it was redemption for Jean Alesi who finally took his first ever win ahead of Gerhard Berger and Jacques Villeneuve, his first time on the podium since Portugal last season. The race also marked the first time both Piquets finished in the points.
Round 14 - Italy
Monza provided yet another unpredictable race with another new winner, the ninth of the season. This time around, it was the Gui Racing of Nelson Piquet (The older one) who took a surprise win, which delighted team boss Guillerme Cramer. Once again, key championship contenders failed to finish, including both Exolites, who were in real trouble with their Ferrari engines consistently failing to complete a full race distance. The main beneficiary was Jenson Button, who took a very useful 2nd pace to move within 15 points of the leader, Alain Prost, and completing the podium for the first time this season was Mika Hakkinen.
With just three races to go, both championships were still wide open. The drivers championship still had 36 points on offer for all drivers, which meant that even 10th placed Mika Hakkinen had a mathematical chance to overhaul Alain Prost. As for the constructors championship, there were 60 points available for all teams. Mathematically, 7th placed Gui Racing were still in contention, even though their 59 point deficit to Exolite made their chance completely unrealistic. If form was anything to go by, then FJR and Jenson Button had good potential to steal both championships.
|1st||Alain Prost||Maestro Motorsport||62|
Round 15 - Portugal
Estoril saw Alain Prost answer any doubters in the most convincing way possible, by taking a crucial win to bridge the gap between his rivals. Fernando Alonso's 2nd place made him the Frenchman's nearest challenger, as Damon Hill suffered yet another engine failure, as did his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who was now out of mathematical contention for the championship. Worse for Exolite, Maestro Motorsport had now taken the lead of the constructors championship. One more victory would give Prost back-to-back championships, but the constructors championship was still all to play for with five teams still in with a chance. Meanwhile, Gerhard Berger's 3rd place in the race edged Pedersen further clear of Gui Racing in the battle for 6th in the championship.
Round 16 - Japan
Two races ago, ten drivers were in contention for the drivers championship. After Suzuka, that number had been whittled down to just two. Fernando Alonso stole a march on the opposition and won the race, while Prost was rooted down in 5th. The Spaniard's victory moved him to within two points of the Frenchman heading into the final race. Completing the podium were Lewis Hamilton and Mika Hakkinen.
As for the constructors championship, a double retirement for FJR mathematically ruled them out of the battle, but Maestro Motorsport, AquinoPlus, and ExoliteF1 were separated by just nine points, but the odds favoured Maestro.
|1st||Alain Prost||Maestro Motorsport||79|
Round 17 - Oceania
For the first and so far only time in FF1M's history, Australia held two races in one season, with Adelaide playing host to another championship showdown. The championship was a straight fight between Alain Prost and Fernando Alonso, and in the race, both raced hard against each other, but despite Alonso's best efforts, Prost was just too good. He won the race, and with it back-to-back driver championships. Prost's 5th win of the season also guaranteed the constructors championship for Maestro Motorsport, the first of their career. Joining Prost and Alonso on the podium was the driver who won the 1989 championship, Nigel Mansell, so it was a fitting end to a magnificent season. This marked it the only time during the season that a tyre manufacturer had monopolised the podium, with Bridgestone occupying the top three places.
Results and Standings
Race by Race
Damon Hill - 7
Michael Schumacher - 4
Ayrton Senna, Kimi Raikkonen - 3