Wednesday, 30th June 1990, Alain Prost is the fastest in the practice session that concluded at the Paul Ricard. The Frenchman (who has been working on set-ups and aerodynamics) scores a time of 1’03’’92 with race tires , while Senna with qualifying scores a time of 1’04’’52. The Brazilian’s McLaren came to a halt at the end, either due to a gearbox or engine failure, and the marshals intervened with a fire extinguisher to put out a star of a fire. Third fastest time for Boutsen (Williams), 1’04’’52. Following him are Patrese (Williams) 1’04”94, Bernard (Larrousse) 1’05”27, Alesi (Tyrrell) 1’05”64, Piquet (Benetton) 1’05”81, Nannini (Benetton) 1’05”99. On Saturday the Ferrari should test the cars to be sent to Montreal for Canada’s Grand Prix. Tuesday 5th June 1990 interviewed by a TV network; Alain Prost says that he would like to stay at Ferrari for another year. The Frenchman reveals that a decision will be taken in July, but the fact that the news was published by a newspaper close to the world champion, it makes one believe that the deal if it has not yet been reached it’s still very close. Alain Prost in the meantime Monday 4th June 1990 becomes a father a second time: after Nicolas, class 1981, his wife gives birth to another boy, Sasha. On the eve of the Canada Grand Prix, fifth test of the Formula 1 World Championship scheduled for Sunday 10th June 1990, Japanese company officials say that will accelerate the program to send on the track as soon as possible the new 12 cylinders motor already made by Wako’s workshops, fine tuning at the moment.
The news that is not supplemented by the presentation of a program emerges on Thursday, June 7, 1990, from a regular press conference organized by McLaren's own engine suppliers. After Senna and Berger confirm statements made at the end of the Monaco race ("By now we've been caught up, Honda has to get busy, they can't just demand more effort from the drivers"), it is thus learned by indirect means that the unprecedented multi-fractional power unit will be tested on a special chassis by the end of the month. And when you consider that the plans were to debut him next year, you can see how the turnaround was precipitous and necessary. It is strange that a team like McLaren, which has won two out of four races run since the beginning of the season, which has its drivers in first and second place in the overall standings, which is leading the World Constructors' Championship, should be considered in crisis. But it is Senna and Berger themselves who are raising the cry of alarm because they would like to maintain the supremacy that the British team has always shown in recent years. And it cannot be ruled out that the 12-cylinder will also serve as a bargaining chip to convince especially the Brazilian champion to sign the 1991 contract. McLaren remains the favorite for this Canadian Grand Prix. Last year on the Notre Dame Island track, in a race disturbed by rain, Senna and Prost were surprisingly defeated by the Williams of Boutsen and Patrese. But history is not likely to repeat itself. Not least because there is a Ferrari strongly determined to take back what it lost at Imola and Monte-Carlo. Says Nigel Mansell:
"We made further progress with the rear suspension modification, and with some aerodynamic adjustments. In theory we can aim for victory".
The Englishman repeats that he would like to stay in Maranello even if his contract has not yet been discussed and if he has already had a couple of good offers, including one from Williams. It seems, however-according to statements by Piero Fusaro, Ferrari's president-that the intentions are to reconfirm both drivers. This would be an extra charge for Prost and Mansell, who appear confident and optimistic, while maintaining a reservation about the reliability of the cars, the real bogeyman for Ferrari. The track, which is quite fast, but also demanding on brakes and engine, has in the past been quite favorable for the Maranello cars, which, since 1978, have won here with Villeneuve in the year the track was inaugurated, in 1983 with Arnoux and in 1985 with Alboreto.
"Good morning. Time passes quickly. But I'm dropped that you haven't forgotten the races I took part in. Do you remember those exciting snowmobile races, the world championship in the USA? Do you remember those unforgettable moments in the Trois-Rivieres circuit in Formula Atlantic? And do you also remember my arrival in Ferrari, my first victory right in Montreal in 1978? How can we forget those bitter duels with Jones, Arnoux, Depailler?. Yes, the days, the years, fly by. But it is also possible to stop the clock, to go back, to get back on track. How? By going to the Gilles Villeneuve Museum, located in Berlhierville. What memories await you. See you soon. Signed: Gilles Villeneuve".
This is the text published on a poster given to participants in the Canadian Grand Prix. There is also an afterword:
"A letter that could have been written by Gilles Villeneuve, had he not left us a few years ago".
A bit of naiveté, a typically American stage sense and also quite macabre. But one cannot help but think, in the face of this invitation, of the little Canadian driver, who in his fleeting appearance in the world of Formula 1, with only six victories, left a deep mark, becoming a myth. So much so that the French daily L'Equipe, in its latest magazine, dedicated to forty years of this cruel and fascinating sport, drawing up a ranking of all the personalities who have traversed the world of these races (first Enzo Ferrari, second Jim Clark, third Colin Chapman) slipped Gilles Villeneuve into 20th place overall, but 11th among the greatest drivers of all time, along with Clark, Ascari, Stewart, Lauda, Prost and Senna, ahead of World Champions such as Piquet, Andretti, and outliers such as Rindt and Moss. Above all, because of the mark he left. However, the fact of mentioning Gilles Villeneuve, and in particular his winning image, is interpreted by everyone here in Canada as an act of encouragement towards Ferrari. One reads in the local newspapers:
"The Maranello cars are back at the top. They could win at Imola and Monte-Carlo, it would be wonderful for them to return to success on the very circuit where the late Canadian champion played out some of the most exhilarating episodes of his short career. Prost and Mansell must do everything to honor his memory with a statement on Sunday".
An almost peremptory request, a kind of team order. It will not be easy to execute the task. Nevertheless, the French and British drivers feel charged to the max. Says Prost on the eve of the Canadian Grand Prix:
"These days we play a good part of the world championship. If we can't recover here, it will then be increasingly difficult to beat our rivals and in particular McLaren. Beyond the cheering, it is time to look at the concrete. And already today in practice we will see to set up the cars to look for great success on Sunday".
Friday, June 8, 1990, in Montreal, Canada, is double the satisfaction for Ayrton Senna: the Brazilian not only scores the best lap in the first practice session, setting the new official circuit record (1'20"399 against the 1'20"973 obtained in 1989 by his enemy number one, Alain Prost) but also wins a great challenge with his teammate, Gerhard Berger. The two duel for a long time, the Austrian in mid-trials is in the lead, then Ayrton gives him back half a tenth of a second. A trifle, but enough to extinguish Gerhard's illusions. Behind the McLaren duo is the usual super Prost, who on the last lap (1'20"826) subtracts third place from the Benetton of Alessandro Nannini, who precedes Nelson Piquet. Here, too, Ferrari is going strong but not super strong. Nigel Mansell is seventh, 1.3 seconds behind Senna. A few gearbox problems for Alain Prost in the morning, difficult set-up of the cars, but at the end slightly more smiling faces in the Maranello team. Alain Prost said:
"All good, I could have done better if I hadn't had to pass four cars on my best lap".
And Nigel Mansell adds:
"I punctured and then didn't have time to find the optimal set-up".
Ferrari brought several new features to Montreal. The most important (and visible) concerns the front wing: two kinds of semi-cylindrical appendages extend inward from the wheels. In a sense, if Tyrrell invented the gull-winged nose, the Maranello team responded with a wing that looks twisted. Also tried a different throttle control. Normal engines are being used in practice, while the twelve-cylinder evolution should be fitted on Saturday for testing and qualifying. Meanwhile, a technical controversy rises. As tall drivers complain that they do not fit in the cockpits (see Berger, Pirro, Barilla) someone among the manufacturers has asked for an exception to the regulations, with the intention of moving the feet of the racers 7 centimeters forward, who currently must stand behind the front wheel axle for safety reasons. The proposal immediately finds those who wanted to take advantage of the situation and as a bargaining chip would like a limitation of the available gasoline to 185 liters (currently it is free). Behind this is a struggle between those who have the 12-cylinder engines (longer and therefore bulky) and those who have the 8-cylinder engines, which are shorter and less thirsty for fuel. It is not ruled out that the plan aims to make the less fractionated powertrains competitive again with the consumption formula. Ford would be one of these companies, as the 12-cylinder project would still be behind, so much so that Piquet (close to renewing his contract with Benetton) has reportedly let it be known, as he has no assurances in this field, that he has received a tempting offer from Mercedes to leave Formula 1 and run with the German car in the world sports prototypes: $9.500.000. Is this just tactics on the part of the Brazilian to get a raise? As for Ferrari, Cesare Fiorio cuts to the chase:
"We don't care. We didn't ask to change the regulations, we are fine with the way they are because when we thought about the 12-cylinder engine we knew what we could get into, for better or worse".
On Saturday, Gerhard Berger will have it rough. Not on the track, where he will try to earn a good spot for the lineup for the Canadian Grand Prix, but immediately afterward, when the drivers, or at least most of them, will be running in front of their screens to enjoy the Italy-Austria World Cup show. The McLaren driver, Tyrolean by birth, will be the only one of the groups cheering for the Austrians, while the majority of his colleagues will be leaning toward the Azzurri, starting with Prost and ending with the young Alesi, and ending with Senna, who is obviously a supporter of Brazil, but in the absence of Careca and co. still prefers a Latin team. Says Gerhard Berger, joking:
"If Austria wins, as I hope, upsetting all the predictions as Carnerun did with Argentina, I will take good luck for myself. It seems that it is impossible to defeat my teammate Ayrton Senna. I tried, but he by only half a tenth of a second at the end still put me down. In the race it could be something else. Although I will also have to contend with the Ferraris, with the Benettons of Nannini and Piquet and with those Williams cars that always seem to be on the verge of going down and then in the race they go like the wind and because of their reliability they always end up collecting good results".
But Ferrari, that is, in a sense, automotive Italy?
"He has good foreigners, Mansell is a striker, a forward capable of scoring you a breakthrough goal. Prost, on the other hand, is one of those players who come out at a distance: they start in the middle of the field and when you least expect it you find them in front of the goal in a good position to score. Joking aside: Ferrari missed two good chances at Imola and Monte Carlo and could give us problems in Canada, although I think we are always a little bit superior. My only hope is not to have mechanical problems. I already have a terrible time driving, we would miss some trouble too".
Everyone, however, will have to deal with Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian intends to take advantage of the favorable moment, of a ranking that already sees him in the runaway:
"As time goes on, our opponents may increase in number and become more aggressive. That's why I absolutely must try to collect as many points as possible now, since they are within reach. So far Ferrari has won one race, two we in McLaren have taken away, one Williams. I wouldn't want outsiders like the Benetton drivers who went very strong here on the first day of practice. Their eight-cylinder engines consume less fuel, start lighter and therefore could impose a prohibitive pace in the first part of the race. It will be necessary to stop them right away. And that is the thing I will try to do, Ayrton Senna's word".
The Canadian Friday afternoon is colored by a polemical statement by Alain against the Montreal circuit, which is judged too dirty and dangerous. Prost lashes out mostly at Bernie Ecclestone, who he says is not working for the prestige of Formula 1. But that is not all. A Canadian newspaper quotes Bernie Ecclestone as saying that Formula 1 is a small mafia and adds in the headline: Don Ecclestone says so. Paraphrasing this headline, Prost adds in his arguments that perhaps there really is a mafia in the sport, otherwise it is not clear why it should be raced on a bad track like this one, which the Frenchman hopes can be abolished starting next year. The other news of the day is that magician John Barnard, after his disappointing experience with Ferrari, seems reborn. Flavio Briatore, team principal of Benetton, declares about it:
"In the morning at eight o'clock he is already at his desk calling everyone together for the first meeting. One day John told me something, he generally does not like to talk about his time at Ferrari. He told me that they used to have technical meetings in Maranello, too, where they would decide the do's and don'ts, and the next morning he would find everything spelled out in full detail in the Italian newspapers. How is it possible, he told me, none of us talked to anyone. That there are moles or bugs inside Ferrari?"
Then Briatore goes on, and about the designer a curious aspect comes out that at the time Ferrari had been carefully concealed:
"Barnard can't draw. He spends the whole morning sitting on a stool next to the draftsmen and to each one he says do this, round that way, more slant that way, correct this way, etc. He alone would not know where to start. Of course, he is a little slow, but the extraordinary thing is that at any given moment he has an overall vision of the whole car that has yet to be born. With next year's engines it will take a lot more gasoline. The problem is where to put it. In front of the tank is the driver, behind the engine, under the asphalt, on the sides it is forbidden to put gasoline. All that remains is to raise the tanks and move the center of gravity higher. A big trouble, not so much for us who have an eight-cylinder but for the others who have 12-cylinders, that is, very long engines that steal space. We get by today with 195 liters, those guys have to take 240 liters, and next year on certain circuits they will need to carry 260 liters".
Saturday, June 9, 1990 Rain curbs enthusiasm, resolutions of revenge and recovery. The second qualifying session for the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix turns into a dress rehearsal of water-weather set-ups and tires, with the drivers all worried about Sunday. The best times in the morning are set by Mansell and Prost in Ferraris. During free practice, Frenchman Eric Bernard goes off the track, smashing his Larrousse against a low wall. Fortunately, he is not hurt. Several spins are also noted (protagonists Berger, Alliot, Larini, Modena), all without consequences. In the afternoon the rain stops falling, but the track does not dry enough to allow improvements. Reason being, the line-up remains unchanged from Friday. The best time is set by Piquet (Benetton), who laps in 1'27"124. Senna takes his fourth consecutive pole position of the season and number 46 of his career. Meanwhile, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost do not speak to each other, they pretend not to see each other. Yet in their hearts they both know they will still have to challenge each other. The Brazilian and the Frenchman have two different ways of thinking and acting but a single denominator, the will to win.
Even on Sunday, in the Canadian Grand Prix, on the circuit that saw the exploits of Gilles Villeneuve and bears his name, the Brazilian and the Frenchman are the two favorites. Unless the rain announced by meteorologists mortifies the duel. With water on the track, Senna should have no worries: Prost detests slippery tracks and last year in Australia (but with the championship over) under a thunderstorm he did not even take the start.
"It is not right to drive in certain conditions, when car control is impossible and visibility zero. The risk is beyond the limits of a driver's ability, you just have to be reckless to agree to start. Senna himself, who is very good, at Adelaide in the last race of the 1989 season, took a big risk by rear-ending Brundle's Brabham. On this track, then, dirty and full of muddy water rivulets, racing when it rains is madness".
Prost makes it clear that in case of difficulties he will take whatever measures he sees fit.
"But let's think about a smooth, dry race. I have made no plans. Ours is an individual sport and you are always conditioned by the medium. I can only say that the championship is still long, that I will try to, live by the day, taking points if possible".
Is there, however, a point of reference?
"It is Senna, of course. He has won two races, Patrese and I one. The Brazilian already has a good lead, and you should not let him advance too far in the standings. In the last championship I won the title because I was even more regular than him".
And does Ferrari today offer a chance for success?
"Of course. I could have taken pole position on Friday. I passed four cars on my fastest lap, I hadn't tried qualifying tires in the morning, and I had a crack in the engine intake that certainly didn't help me. We are competitive. Unfortunately, we lack absolute reliability, and this, on a practical and psychological level, is the biggest problem for us. If no unforeseen events happen, there will be no limits for a positive result".
Senna's response comes by external means:
"I go my own way. Our McLaren is not perfect, but it is always a car that offers guarantees to win. You don't have to think about others, rivals, but about yourself. I am religious and that helps me. In the Holy Scriptures, it is not said that one must emerge at all costs, but it is indicated that one can and must put one's talent to good use and do one's best. My best is to win races".
On a strictly psychological level, however, it is more difficult to be alone against everyone.
"Let's say it's also challenging. Besides, I am never alone, even in my single seater".
Of course, with the passenger Ayrton means, everything can be easier… The opponents, however, do not know this. And so, on Sunday afternoon they will give him battle. Ferrari aside, lurking are the two Benettons of Nannini and Piquet and the two Williams of Patrese and Boutsen. With an outsider role for the now ever-present (in the front rows) Jean Alesi. The Frenchman in a race with games of tire changes and predictable trouble for some of the protagonists, could still return to the podium. Assuming he doesn't want to overdo it. And that is his danger.
On Sunday, June 10, 1990, at the start of the Canadian Grand Prix, Gerhard Berger slightly anticipates the start and is given a one-minute penalty. Reason being, the Austrian starts the race in P2, although he is actually in P15 and forced to chase. Ayrton Senna is not surprised and sprints into the lead, followed by his teammate, Alessandro Nannini, and Jean Alesi, who overtakes two World Champions, Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost, who started cautiously. Positions maintained in the first laps (only Boutsen passes Prost), but in the meantime the rain stops falling and the track dries. Thus begins the carousel of pit stops to replace the wet tires with slicks. First enters Berger who has nothing to lose, then gradually all the best. On lap 16 Senna leads the race, followed by Prost at 22 seconds, then Boutsen, Piquet and Mansell. But at this point the surprises begin. A collision eliminates Pirro and Arboreto, then Nannini, in an attempt to pass De Cesaris, touches the Dallara, bending the front mustache of the Roman's car. After stopping to check his Benetton, the Tuscan resumed the race and resoundingly left the track in reverse gear, crashing into the guards.
"I hit an animal".
Says the Italian driver shortly thereafter: it is one of the many marmots that live in the meadows of Notre Dame Island. For Alesi, too, the race ends on lap 27, when he loses control, and slips at full speed into the escape route where Nannini's single-seater is stationary. A terrible bump, and Alesi flies through the air, onto the rubber guards, having caused hundreds of millions in damage to both cars. Shortly before that, Boutsen, on Lap 19, in an attack on Prost had asked too much of the Williams' precarious stability, which ended up aquaplaning, and had hit the unsuspecting Larini, spinning out on the straight. Both out. With Patrese eliminated after several stops (lap 44), the race developed on three themes: the lone escape of Senna, by now ahead of everyone with a 30-second lead; the battle between Prost, Piquet and Mansell, closed in the group; and the fantastic pursuit, alone against the clock, of Berger, who little by little moved up to fifth place theoretically, although he was actually firmly in command. The two Ferraris and the Benetton do battle, but also having to be very careful in the lapping. On lap 49, at the hairpin turn leading back to the finish line, Piquet, taking advantage of the presence of Lehto's Onyx proceeding slower, threads Prost who appeared to be in trouble, not only in the maneuver. And in fact the Frenchman soon after is also overtaken by Mansell. In the final Senna reduces speed to avoid risking breakage and wins with just over 10 seconds ahead of Piquet. In third place Mansell, Prost fails to retain the fourth position. Because of the strange situation that occurred with the penalty given to Berger, the Frenchman is overtaken by the Austrian (author of the lap record on this very occasion) on the last pass. Prost, of course, does not see his rival: he knows from the reports that Berger was about to take fourth place from him, chronometers in hand. But there is nothing he can do to go faster, and by 0.966 seconds he loses a point. Sixth place is Derek Warwick, in the Lamborghini-powered Lotus. McLaren in crisis? Not by a long shot. Internal problems, driver complaints did not affect the performance of the cars.
So, Ayrton Senna in a Canadian Grand Prix that suffered from uncertainties due to bad weather takes his third win out of five races held. A dip back for Formula 1, after the start of the championship had hinted at greater balance. And not to mention that Berger finished fourth, just 14 seconds behind his teammate, despite suffering a one-minute penalty for a false start. The Austrian actually always led the race since he split from Senna, but he paid for his impetuosity. In second place, behind the great Ayrton, was another Brazilian, Nelson Piquet, who had not been on the podium for a year and a half. An outstanding result for the three-time World Champion. He drives a Benetton that has an excellent engine but still only eight cylinders. Also on the podium is Nigel Mansell. The best result of the year for the Englishman and overall, one of the best for Ferrari, which returned to bring two cars to the finish line after recent vicissitudes. But the Maranello team regained reliability, not competitiveness. Perhaps Ferrari suffered from the environmental situation, with the uncertainty over the choice of set-ups. But it was true for everyone. Probably with the start in the rain, the aerodynamic pressure of the cars was increased with a larger wing. When the track dried, the Ferraris appeared to struggle on top speed, whereas they had been the fastest in practice. The race started before the start. In the sense that rain resumed pounding the circuit 30 minutes before the start, forcing competitors to mount rain tires. A beautiful, gripping race, full of twists and turns and exciting episodes. But in the end always the usual winner: Ayrton Senna.
The Brazilian is already running away in the Formula 1 World Championship, with a lead over rivals, after five races, that already looks heavy: 12 points over Berger, 17 points over Prost, 18 points over Alesi, 19 points over Piquet. A success, in the Canadian Grand Prix, that the McLaren driver, when all was said and done, was gifted precisely by his teammate. Berger in fact gambled the first place with a false start. Forgiven at Imola, Gerhard was punished in Montreal and honestly admitted the impropriety.
"I wanted to burn everyone at the start because I knew this was my race, and unfortunately I got carried away, also because I was afraid at that point of burning the clutch or slipping on the wet asphalt. That was a real bummer because then I realized that the car was perfect, that I could easily have finished first. It's these opportunities that should not be thrown to the wind, because with someone like Senna you don't catch up anymore when he gets going".
Beyond Senna's achievement (the 23rd of his career) and Berger's fourth place, behind even Piquet and Mansell but ahead of Prost, that is, in between the two Ferraris, the Canadian race was a disappointment for those who hoped or thought of a McLaren crisis. Every race some dangerous opponent pops up (this time it was Piquet's turn in the Benetton to take the lion's share), but in the end the gaps are heavy. Certainly Senna did not force to the maximum when he was sure of first place, and Berger quietly made up almost all of the minute penalty the stewards gave him. A sign of manifest superiority that (unfortunately for those who dreamed of a more balanced championship) is likely to continue throughout the season and extinguish enthusiasm. Ferrari, while achieving one of the best results since the start of the championship (apart from the success in Brazil), has been disappointing. Not so much for the placings of Mansell and Prost (third and fifth), but for the fact that they did not prove competitive. It is true that the Frenchman had brake problems, but Piquet in the Benetton passed him quite easily when the time came, at the end of a long duel. The Englishman was never really in the race either, and when he tried to attack Piquet he was forced to give up. Still a lot of work to be done for the men from Maranello, then, waiting to develop the evolution-type engine, to refine the car further. Now Maranello's single-seaters will be sent to the Fiorano workshops for checks and more testing. But the time available is minimal: next Monday they must be boarded again on the air cargo plane to be transported to Mexico City, where the sixth round of the World Championship will be held on Sunday, June 24, 1990. Concluded, meanwhile, the race in Montreal saw some signs of happiness on the podium and an unexpected handshake because Senna, Piquet and Mansell have never been friends. Then, interviewed, none of the drivers say they are happy. Senna is very tired:
"A very hard race. I broke first gear again when I stopped to change tires, I was afraid that something serious would happen, that I wouldn't be able to restart. It is true that in recent years no driver had managed to have such a large lead in the standings after the first five races. But the championship is long and Benetton is coming out strong".
One consideration about Benetton that is puzzling. Unless Senna, knowing Barnard's technical potential, fears that the English designer will be able in a short time to put Piquet and Nannini in a position to win. However, this does not seem to be Piquet's opinion. Instead of being satisfied with second place he responds in a mournful tone:
"I got lucky by choosing a dry track set-up of the car. So, I was faster than the Ferraris and was able to pass Prost. But it was hard, because you could not get out of the lines because on the sides the track was wet. It is too early to say if we will be competitive".
The only one who appears happy with the result is Mansell:
"I had prepared the car in a hybrid way, a compromise that would be good in both wet and dry conditions. In reality the car was not perfect in either the former or the latter case. Anyway, I don't mind the result, hopefully it's the first in a series".
Nervous, however, Alain Prost:
"From the very first laps I had problems with the brakes overheating, because in the pits they had forgotten to remove the insulating tapes at the air intakes. For this reason, I could never risk more than that and was forced to suffer the initiative of the rivals. Too bad, once again, we could have done much better. Ferrari is no longer in the habit of winning, it needs to regain a certain mentality and the right concentration".
Cesare Fiorio echoes the words spoken by the French driver:
"Yet another good opportunity wasted. We had a troubled weekend. Continuous changes in set-ups and in the end the right solution was not found. The result overall is better than the previous ones, but it doesn't satisfy us".
At the end of the day, the only one who really should have recriminations is Berger, who actually won the race but was relegated to fourth place for impropriety at the start.
"It was my mistake, I really got an early start. And I'm sorry because I felt this was my race, which it was. I was first under the checkered flag at the finish, but I didn't get the satisfaction of victory".
Senna winner, after Berger, the Canadian newspapers rightly headline. Indeed, the fifth round of the Formula One World Championship saw the Austrian driver give his teammate a gracious gift. Berger led from Lap 15 to the end, was the fastest overall, but with the minute penalty he received for the false start, he only finished in P4. Let's do the math: the McLaren Austrian finished 14.8 seconds behind Senna. In theory, without the initial irregularity, Berger would have won by 45.2 seconds over the Brazilian. While considering that Ayrton's race probably would have been different if via radio he had not been warned of the situation immediately, Gerhard wasted an opportunity this time. So, Senna and McLaren on top. But there is one character, again in the limelight, who offers an interesting analysis of the situation. It is John Barnard, who with a few magical touches has given Benetton a good boost. Is this Ferrari, then, on the right track or the wrong track?
"It seems to me that the Italian team is making the right and predictable interventions for the natural evolution of that single seater. That is why I think they are working well, beyond Sunday's result".
A comment that promotes Scalabroni and Nichols, but does not acknowledge the two Ferrari technicians for any inventiveness. But what then is the most interesting car?
"After mine (i.e., the Ferrari 641, ed.), the only single-seater that says something different is the Tyrrell 019. The concepts are new, although it is difficult to make comparisons with others since, although it does not have an exceptional engine, the Cosworth, Tyrrell has a driver, Jean Alesi, who certainly puts something of his own and tires, the Pirelli, which sometimes give many advantages".
In essence, however, McLaren continues to dominate…
"I don't want to sound conceited, but the car driven by Senna and Berger is still a child of the one I conceived all those years ago. I realize, however, that there are engineers who have always designed a few parts of a car and now believe they can design a complete single-seater. It's not that easy; it takes a global vision, which is not for everyone. I then regret that a team like McLaren has not been able to put Berger in a position to drive the car well, which is too tight for him. What if he then breaks a leg?"
And Benetton, how did it improve its performance?
"The design is Rory Byrne's. I just revised the weight distribution, tweaked aerodynamics and suspension geometry".
He revised everything. But when will Barnard's new car be seen?
"It will be ready in 1991. And I hope it will have an automatic transmission. But it won't be revolutionary. I will just try to optimize the current philosophy".
Meanwhile, Benetton will have a new Ford 8-cylinder with 30 extra hp in France. Barnard will try to achieve a reduction in gasoline consumption for next year, as the American company does not seem to be willing to send the 12-cylinder project forward. In contrast, to the majority of teams shipping the cars directly from Montreal to Mexico in a caravan of trucks, Ferrari is sending the single seaters back to the workshop in Fiorano. Starting Wednesday, Prost and Mansell's cars will be disassembled and reassembled. On Thursday and Friday, Gianni Morbidelli is expected to take to the track for a series of tests and testing. Scuderia Ferrari will send three cars (including one with a new chassis) and a spare chassis to Mexico City. No major changes are planned, only aerodynamic and engine adaptations for the characteristics of the circuit located over 2,000 meters above sea level. The news should arrive (with the evolution engine for the race) for the French Grand Prix, after another series of tests at Silverstone between June 27 and 29, 1990. Finally, after much talk, some news has finally come about the introduction of doping tests in Formula 1. Apparently--the rumors, are reliable--we are moving toward procedures similar to those in place in soccer and athletics. Yesterday the drivers received at the traditional pre-race briefing, from FISA officials, a dossier with all the rules to be followed. Since they were told that there will be time until the next race in Mexico in two weeks to ask for clarification, it is assumed that the controls will start from the French Grand Prix in Le Castellet in the second week of July. The dossier was prepared by the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, at the request of motor sports authorities.
It contains a list of prohibited substances, similar to those in athletics: stimulants, beta-blockers, steroids, hormones. Doping control will take place-as is the practice in other sports-by drawing lots. To avoid misunderstandings and misconceptions, the riders have been asked to submit a list of the drugs habitually taken before each race. Adding to the anti-doping rumors in Canada were those about Porsche's new 12-cylinder engine, which is under construction. It is reportedly already running on the dyno and should be mounted for a series of tests on an experimental Arrows later this summer. Designer Metzger would have prepared an interesting solution by coupling two 6-cylinders, with a crankshaft and central transmission. The result would be a very compact and lightweight power plant. Formula 1 is a professional sport, but not in all cases. In Canada, not enough stewards could be found (160 were required) because Balestre outlawed the Quebec federation, handing authority to another, new body. The organizers were forced to place newspaper advertisements to fill the staff. Obviously, the people hired have no experience. On Saturday Prost was called into the race direction, after he had sharply criticized the dirty track conditions, and he was asked how the new stewards had behaved along the circuit. A lot of work has been done recently on the aerodynamics of the cars. Several designers have copied the rear bottom of the McLaren, which is made in arcs. This solution was copied by Leyton House and Lotus. For Benetton, however, Barnard has prepared a different rear chute that seems to be effective. Pirelli is not lacking in inventiveness either. In anticipation of a track with uncertain conditions, it had slick tires prepared with special handmade carvings. As the laps pass, the carving wears out and the tire returns to normal.