Gerhard Berger in the GP of Mexico, 1986. Photo: Creative Commons
The circuit Hermanos Rodriguez, the venue this coming weekend of the Grand Prix of Mexico, held the penultimate round of the World Championship of 1986. Had been 16 years since the last visit of the Formula 1 to the central american country. Four riders were coming in with options to win the title: Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet (Williams-Honda) Alain Prost (McLaren-TAG) and Ayrton Senna (Lotus-Renault). Mansell, in fact, had options to become champion this weekend, but at the time of the truth the four favourites succumbed to an unexpected guest: Gerhard Berger.
The team Benetton played his first season (the textile firm Italian had purchased the Toleman a year ago). Had the BMW engine turbo (according to numbers not contrasting, reached the 1400 hp version of classification), but the reliability of the set was far from ideal. The third place of Berger at Imola was up to that point his best result. In Mexico, Gerhard was ranked fourth, behind Senna, Piquet and Mansell, while the fourth in discord for the title, Prost was sixth.
The race took place under a scorching heat that proved fatal to the teams who were running on Goodyear tyres and, therefore, all candidates for the title. By contrast, the Pirelli’s that wore the Benetton endured the entire distance without the need of replacement, and Berger won with a surprise victory, the first for both him and his squad… and the last of the BMW engine, who three years before had been the first propeller turbo to win a world title.
After passing by Ferrari (in two stages, 1987-1989 and 1993-1995) and McLaren (1990-1992), Berger back to Benetton in the post-Schumacher and, in a case of curious symmetry, prevailed in the Great Prize of Germany of 1997: the final victory both for you and the team.