Racing began for me in 1992, and existed purely in Formula 1. This was the year of Nigel Mansell and Williams. The Williams FW14B remains one of the best looking racing cars I’ve ever seen.
1992 showed the nature of Formula 1 in so many different ways. Williams had the fastest car by a massive margin, and it showed. It enabled Mansell to win 9 races that season (a record at the time) on his way to the driver’s championship, and brought Williams the constructor’s title. It was a very clear display of the advantage of superior machinery.
There was one driver who was able to compete with Williams. That driver was Ayrton Senna. In a McLaren that was far off the pace of the Williams, Senna won 3 races that season, including at Monaco where he held off a much faster Mansell for lap after lap in the closing stages of the race. It was a demonstration that the great drivers can win without having the best car, and it showed the enormous skill of Senna.
The Belgian Grand Prix revealed another characteristic of Formula 1. In changing weather conditions, Schumacher took his first victory, after pitting for the right tyres at the right time. He won by over half a minute, which was a very clear indicator of the importance of race strategy and adaptability.
It was a year of exciting racing between great drivers. Senna, Mansell, Berger, a young Schumacher and Patrese all topped the podium during the season. The cars looked fantastic. It was still a time when cockpit sides were low, which allowed a view of the head, shoulders, arms and hands of the drivers at work. The cars scraped along the ground, with sparks flying from the front wing end-plates and from the rear of the cars down the straights.
1992 was my introduction to Formula 1, and has defined my view of racing ever since.