Nigel Mansell is one of the most successful and popular British drivers in the history of Formula One. He won the 1992 Formula One World Championship and the 1993 CART Indy Car World Series, becoming the only person to hold both titles simultaneously.
He also won 31 races, 32 pole positions, and was inducted to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2005. Mansell was known for his fierce determination, aggressive driving style, and spectacular overtakes. He had many rivalries, controversies, and injuries throughout his career.
This article will explore each stage of Mansell’s racing career, from his early days in karting and Formula Ford, to his Formula One debut and Lotus years, to his Williams years and near misses, to his CART Indy Car World Series and return to Formula One, to his Grand Prix master’s and sports car racing.
Nigel Mansell Birthplace and Childhood
Nigel Ernest James Mansell was born on 8 August 1953 in Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire.
He was the youngest of four children and had a passion for cars and racing from an early age. Mansell first drove a car in a nearby field at the age of seven.
He watched Jim Clark win the 1962 British Grand Prix at Aintree, which inspired him to become a racing driver.
Where Did Nigel Mansell Receive His Education?
Mansell attended Ross Grammar School in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, where he was a good student but not very interested in academic subjects.
He left school at 16 and joined Lucas Aerospace as an engineering apprentice. He also enrolled in a night school course to study mechanical engineering.
Nigel Mansell Parents
Mansell’s parents were supportive of his racing ambitions but did not have much money to help him.
Father Eric was a carpenter who also worked as a part-time mechanic for local racers.
His mother Joyce was a homemaker who helped run the tea shop. They sold their house and most of their belongings to finance Mansell’s early racing career.
Nigel Mansell Siblings
Mansell had three older siblings: two brothers, Graham and David, and a sister, Margaret. Graham was also a racing driver who competed in Formula Ford and Formula Three before retiring due to injuries.
David was an engineer who worked for Lotus and later became Mansell’s manager. Margaret was a nurse who married a doctor.
Nigel Mansell Wife and Children
Mansell met his future wife Rosanne when they were both 16 years old. They married in 1975 and have three children: Leo (born 1975), Greg (born 1978) and Chloe (born 1985).
Leo and Greg followed their father’s footsteps and became racing drivers, competing in various categories including
- Formula BMW
- Formula Renault
- Le Mans Series.
Chloe is a singer-songwriter who has released several albums. Rosanne has been Mansell’s loyal partner and supporter throughout his career and has also been involved in various charitable causes.
Nigel Mansell Net Worth
Mansell’s net worth is reputed to be $90 million.
Source – Link
How Tall Was Nigel Mansell When He Raced
Mansell was 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in) when he raced.
To see all the other F1 drivers’ height and weight follow this link.
Nigel Mansell – Motorsport Career
Mansell started karting at the age of 11 and won several championships.
He moved to Formula Ford in 1976 and became the 1977 British Formula Ford champion, despite suffering a broken neck in a testing accident.
Doctors told him he had come perilously close to quadriplegia, that he would be confined for six months and would never drive again.
Mansell sneaked out of hospital (telling the nurses he was going to the toilet) and raced on. Three weeks before the accident he had resigned his job as an aerospace engineer.
He had sold most of his personal belongings to finance his foray into Formula Ford2
Next, Mansell sold their house to finance a move into Formula Three. In 1979 a collision with another car resulted in a huge cartwheeling crash he was lucky to survive.
Again, he was hospitalized, this time with broken vertebrae in his back. Shortly after this, stuffed with painkillers and hiding the extent of his injury, Mansell performed well enough in a tryout with Lotus to become a test driver for the Formula One team.
Formula One debut and Lotus years
Mansell made his Formula One debut at the 1980 Austrian Grand Prix, driving for Lotus. A fuel leak in the cockpit left him with painful first and second degree burns on his buttocks. He finished 24th out of 26 starters1 He struggled with reliability and performance issues for the rest of the season, scoring no points.
Mansell became very close to Lotus boss Colin Chapman and was devastated by his sudden death in 1982. He stayed with the team for two more years, improving as a driver and scoring his first podium at the 1981 Belgian Grand Prix. He also had some memorable battles with Keke Rosberg and Alain Prost.
However, he also suffered from mechanical failures, accidents, and illnesses that hampered his results.
In 1984, Mansell left Lotus for Renault-powered Williams, hoping for a more competitive car.
Williams Years and Near Misses
Mansell’s first season with Williams was disappointing, as he scored only seven points and finished 14th in the championship.
He also had a near-fatal crash at Paul Ricard during testing, when a tire failure caused him to hit a guardrail at over 200 mph. He escaped with minor injuries but was shaken by the incident.
The 1985 Season
In 1985, Mansell finally broke through with his first race win at Brands Hatch in front of his home crowd.
He wept on the podium as he received the trophy from Stirling Moss. He followed up with another win at Kyalami and finished sixth in the championship.
The 1986 Season
He entered the final race in Adelaide with a six-point lead over Prost and a seven-point lead over Piquet. He only needed to finish third to secure the title.
However, on lap 64, his left rear tire exploded at 180 mph on the main straight, sending him into a violent spin. He managed to avoid hitting the wall, but his race and his title hopes were over.
Prost went on to win the race and the championship by two points.
The 1987 Season
In 1987, Mansell continued his rivalry with Piquet, who had insulted him and his wife in the press.
Mansell won six races and was leading the championship by six points over Piquet before the penultimate race in Japan. However, he suffered a serious qualifying accident at Suzuka that injured his back again (a spinal concussion) and forced him to miss the last two races.
Piquet clinched the title by 12 points.
The 1988 Season
In 1988, Mansell moved to Ferrari, replacing Michele Alboreto. He won his first race for the team in Brazil, becoming an instant hero for the tifosi.
He also won in Hungary, where he passed Senna for the lead with a daring move. Nigel finished fourth in the championship behind the dominant McLaren-Honda duo of Senna and Prost.
The 1989 Season
In 1989, Mansell had a difficult season with Ferrari, as he clashed with team mate Gerhard Berger and team manager Cesare Fiorio.
He also suffered from reliability issues and accidents that limited his results. He won only two races, in Brazil and Portugal, and finished fourth in the championship again.
The 1990 Season
In 1990, Mansell returned to Williams, who had switched to Renault engines. He won only one race, in Portugal. This was where he famously gave Senna a lift back to the pits after both drivers ran out of fuel.
He also had several near misses and retirements that frustrated him.
He announced his retirement from Formula One at the British Grand Prix, but later changed his mind and signed a new contract with Williams for 1991.
The 1991 Season
In 1991, Mansell had a strong season with Williams, winning five races and challenging Senna for the title.
He also had some epic duels with the Brazilian, such as in Spain, where he passed him inches apart at 200 mph. However, he also had some costly mistakes and misfortunes that cost him points.
He lost the title to Senna at the Japanese Grand Prix, where he spun off on lap 10.
The 1991 Season
In 1992, Mansell finally achieved his dream of becoming Formula One World Champion. He dominated the season with nine wins and 14 pole positions in his Williams FW14B.
This was was widely regarded as one of the best cars ever made. He clinched the title at the Hungarian Grand Prix with five races to spare, breaking Senna’s record for the earliest title win.
He also set a new record for the most consecutive wins in a season with five.
CART Indy Car World Series and Return to Formula One
In 1993, Mansell surprised everyone by moving to CART Indy Car World Series with Newman/Haas Racing. He was the first reigning Formula One champion to do so.
Nigel adapted quickly to the new series and won his debut race in Surfers Paradise, Australia. He also won four more races, including his first oval race at Michigan International Speedway.
Nigel beat Emerson Fittipaldi by 0.01 seconds in one of the closest finishes ever. He became the first person to win the CART title in his debut season.
He made history by holding both the Formula One and CART titles simultaneously.
The 1994 Season
In 1994, Mansell continued to race in CART but faced more challenges from his rivals and from oval racing. He had several accidents and injuries that affected his performance and confidence.
Nigel also missed two races due to a back injury sustained at Phoenix International Raceway. He won only one race, at Milwaukee Mile, and finished eighth in the championship.
Nigel Mansel F1 Comeback
Mansell also made a comeback to Formula One with Williams in 1994. It happened after Ayrton Senna’s fatal accident at Imola left a vacant seat at the team.
He raced in four Grands Prix at the end of the season, winning his last race in Australia.
In 1995, Mansell signed with McLaren to race alongside Mika Hakkinen in Formula One. However, he had problems fitting into the car due to his height and weight.
He also had difficulties adapting to the Mercedes engine and the electronics of the car. Mansel failed to qualify for his first race in Brazil and skipped the next two races while waiting for a modified car.
He returned for two more races in Spain and France but retired from both due to mechanical issues. He then parted ways with McLaren and retired from Formula One for good.
Grand Prix Masters and Sports Car Racing
In 2005, Mansell raced in the Grand Prix Masters series, which featured former Formula One drivers over 45 years old driving identical cars.
He won two out of three races and won the championship title and beat Emerson Fittipaldi by 0.01 seconds in one of the closest finishes ever at Qatar. He also won at Silverstone and Kyalami, where he had previously won in Formula One.
In 2007, Mansell signed a one-off race deal for the Scuderia Ecosse GT race team to drive their number 63 Ferrari F430 GT2 car at Silverstone. He finished ninth in his class and 22nd overall.
In 2010, Mansell competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with his sons Leo and Greg, driving a Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S for Beechdean Mansell Motorsport.
However, their race ended after only five laps when Mansell suffered a puncture and crashed heavily at the Mulsanne Corner. He was taken to hospital for precautionary checks but was later released.
Nigel Mansell is one of the most exciting and determined drivers ever to grace Formula One and motorsport in general. He won 31 races and 32 pole positions in Formula One, becoming the 1992 World Champion with a record-breaking season.
He also won the CART Indy Car World Series in 1993, becoming the only person to hold both titles simultaneously. Mansell raced in the Grand Prix Masters series in 2005 and won the championship title.
He also competed in sports car races with his sons Leo and Greg, including the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Mansell was known for his fierce determination, aggressive driving style, and spectacular overtakes. He also had many rivalries, controversies, and injuries throughout his career.
Nigel was popular with the fans, who nicknamed him “The Lion” and “Il Leone” for his courage and passion. He was controversial with some of his peers, who criticized him for his personality and behavior.
He was a legend of motorsport, who inspired millions of people with his performances and achievements.