During the PDC World Championship of Darts, there was Phil Taylor. Phil Taylor was the absolute number one and people are still singing, “There is only One Phil Taylor.” In the Formula One there was Nigel Mansell. The song would suit Mansell his personality perfectly, because we all love the moustache. It seems that in the late 80s and early 90s almost all the teams were interested in Nige. Let’s deep it out, and see which offers he received.
1984 JPS had more influence then Peter Warr at Lotus
Something interesting was going on for Lotus regarding their 1984 line up. After Colin Chapman passed away, the team became one big mess. Senna did not want Derek Warwick to be his teammate in ’84. However, JPS demanded a British driver for one of the cars. This is when Mansell came in the scope. Warr tried everything to sack Nigel. It was more the team manager that did not want Nige.
This is more or less the average chaotic Italian story. For the 1987 season, Mansell was in speaking terms with Ferrari. Nothing special. However, Ferrari claimed at some point they signed the deal with Mansell as one of their drivers. Obviously, he was not. That season he drove for Williams.
Mansell seemed to be very happy at Ferrari in 1990. While the Ferrari 641 was a good car with good results. Mansell did not fit in the team. In the early days of Footwork the team was well funded. Announcing a deal with Porsche works engines for 1991 made it even more interesting. They offered Mansell a driver for 1991. Oh boy, what was that Porsche engine a Joke Luckily chose Nige for Williams in 1991.
Mansell decided it was enough and signed a deal with Newman/Haas Racing to race for the in the Indy Car World Series in 1993. Where he, even with a DNS on Phoenix, won the championship. It was known he had a dispute with the Williams team. There was a contract signed for 1994 and even 1995. Sadly this never materialised due to the matter of Alain Prost signing a deal with the team and Senna pounding on the Williams doors. Eventually during the Italian Grand Prix Mansell received an 11hour from Williams. However, Mansell announced his retirement during a press conference.
Eventually he returned in 1994 back to Williams when he was asked to race the last three races of the season. He even won the Australian Grand Prix.
At the end of the 1993 season it was clear that Patrese had to leave Benetton. He signed three weeks too early in 1992 a contract with Benetton, otherwise he was one of the Williams drivers in 1993. In late 1992 it seems that there were some talks with Mansell to become one of Benetton drivers. Imagine Schumacher and Mansell together in one team!
Showing the Williams team that he still had the will to race and was still able to win races in the Formula One. It is said that Williams offered the Brit a contract to race for the team in 1995. Damon Hill would been his teammate then. Would have loved to see an all-British team.
Was it a PR gimmick yes, though there was also a form of truth in it that he was a possibility to race in 1997. In 1996, Nige tested with the Jordan 196 on Catalunya. That season was not bad though neither good for the team, though Benson & Hedges expected more. The 16th of December Ralf Schumacher already drove with the 196. When it was Nige his turn he completed 49 laps and was only 0.46 seconds slower then Ralf. Mansell told that there was a 60/40 chance he would make another comeback in the F1.
In 1997 British American Tobacco purchased the rights of the Tyrrell team. Their plan was to appear with their own team on the grid in 1999. Well it was also more or less a Jacques Villeneuve ode. The team was built around him eventually. For 1999, Nige was considered to be the perfect second driver for the team along Villeneuve. Nige was already 46 at that time!
Eventually Nige would race with the Minardi two seater in 2001 when he crashed in the back of Spaniard Fernando Alonso at Donington, a story of this will follow. In 2004 Mansell would re-appear once again in a Jordan. He did a demo run in London in the EJ14.