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Nigel Mansell

Nigel Mansell (born August 8, 1953) is a British former racing driver[?] who won world championships in both Formula One (1992) and CART (1993).

Mansell was born in Upton-on-Severn[?]. He had a fairly slow start to his racing career, using his own money to help work his way up the ranks. He struggled by the time he reached Formula 3[?], but thanks to his F3 manager, team owner Colin Chapman of Lotus gave him an opportunity to test drive for Lotus, one of the top racing teams in F1 at the time. Mansell's skill impressed Lotus enough to give him a pair of starts in F1 in 1980, and eventually gave him a ride for a full season the year after.

His four years as a full-time Lotus driver, however, were a struggle as the Lotus cars were unreliable, in addition to his own occasional shunts, and he managed a best finish of third place. Lotus did not keep him after 1984, and he eventually found a home with Williams as a replacement for popular driver Jacques Laffite[?]. 1985 appeared to be more of the same for Nigel, but he showed hope at Spa-Francorchamps[?] in Belgium with a second place and followed it up with a victory at Brands Hatch[?] in England. It was his 72nd start in Formula One when he finally emerged victorious, and he followed it up with a second straight victory at Kyalami[?] in South Africa. The end of 1985 helped in turning Mansell into a star in F1.

He followed up 1985 with five wins in 1986, a season which is most known for his now famous tyre burst with 19 laps to go in the season finale in Australia, a race which Mansell, Alain Prost, and teammate Nelson Piquet were all capable of winning the world championship. Five more wins followed in 1987 but yet another incident, this time a crash during qualifying at F1's maiden race in Suzuka[?] in Japan which caused him to miss the last two races of the season, characterized his season.

Nigel was quickly becoming a fan favorite, as the good-humoured Mansell with his down home manner reminded many people of the late Graham Hill, a two time champion with a similar rise up the F1 ranks in the 1960s. He was also popular for his aggresive (and fast) racing style. He also got a reputation in the F1 paddock for complaining about minor details and regularly felt that others were plotting against him.

A dismal 1988 crashed him back to earth, as he only finished two races of the fourteen he appeared in, an injury from a crash caused him to miss two more. He eventually ended up at Ferrari, and in his first apperance with the team won at Brazil. The rest of 1989 was characterized by gearbox[?] problems and a handful of disqualifications but finished fourth in the championship with help from a second win during the season. After a tough 1990 with Ferrari where he had more issues with the car, he returned to Williams in 1991.

His second stint with Williams was as good as the first, and he won five races with them in 1991, but finished second in the championship behind Ayrton Senna. 1992 would be Mansell's finest hour, as he started the year with five straight victories, and eventually won the drivers' championship by setting the then record for the number of wins in one season. Despite being drivers' champion, he had a falling out with Williams over money, and left to join CART in 1993. Again, he had a five-win season, and it was good enough to give him the championship in his maiden season in CART. He did less well in 1994, and eventually returned to Formula One with Williams, where he replaced rookie David Coulthard for the French Grand Prix and the last three races of the season, winning the final one in Australia.

Mansell eventually ended up with McLaren in 1995 but, frustrated with the team, he chose to retire after just two races with them. He retired with 31 victories in F1, the third highest number at that time, behind Prost and Senna; Michael Schumacher's success has since made him fourth of all time.



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