Rarely have Formula 1 cars run as closely together as they did during the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix.
When it comes to wheel-to-wheel duels, the battle for the lead between Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna at Barcelona that year takes some beating. Under immense pressure to win in order to keep his diminishing title hopes alive, ‘Our Nige’ moved in to challenge his Brazilian rival on lap three, and coming onto the main straight for the fifth time he was tucked right up beneath the McLaren’s rear wing.
As he daringly pulled alongside halfway along the straight, the two cars ran literally inches apart at almost 200mph for what seemed like an eternity, with neither driver willing to yield. As they danced ever-closer to disaster and the crowd held its collective breath, ultimately Senna on the outside line was forced to concede the corner. From there on a tyre-hobbled Senna would fall back down the order into fifth place at the chequered flag, while Nigel went on to win the race and with it resurrected his slim championship chances.
It would all be to little avail, however, as ‘Il Leone’ spun his famous Red Five-nosed Williams into retirement at the beginning of lap ten of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka three weeks later, thereby instantly handing Senna his third world championship crown. Little did anyone know at the time, it would also be his last.