What Happened On This Day May 31 In F1 History?

From BRM's first win in 1959 to another frustrating day for Nigel Mansell at the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix.


By Ben Bush
Updated on June 6, 2024

Senna vs Mansell 1992 Monaco Grand Prix
Senna holds up Mansell for the win at the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix.

What happened on this day, May 31 in Formula 1 history? Find out interesting facts and stories about Formula 1 on this day.


Bill Vukovich recorded his second successive victory in the 1954 Indianapolis 500, becoming the first man to lead the race for the most laps for three straight years. In 1952, he had been forced to quit through exhaustion while leading eight laps from the end.


The British BRM team celebrated a memorable day by winning its first grand prix in the Netherlands after many years of trying and “countless heartbreaking disappointments.” It was also Sweden’s Jo Bonnier’s first win, aided in part by Stirling Moss, who had taken the lead from him after 60 of the 75 laps but was forced to retire with gearbox failure three laps later.


Gilles Villeneuve delivered Ferrari‘s first win in a turbocharged car at the 1981 Monaco Grand Prix. Nelson Piquet initially led but crashed while overtaking backmarkers, and defending champion Alan Jones suffered a fuel-feed problem, allowing Villeneuve to overtake him four laps from the end. Chaos ensued before the scheduled start when a fire in a hotel storeroom above the tunnel caused water to cascade onto the track, raising concerns about the tunnel’s electric lighting. The race started an hour late.


Nigel Mansell faced a disappointing day at the 1987 Monaco Grand Prix, retiring while leading and allowing Ayrton Senna to secure an easy victory. Alain Prost also retired three laps from the end while in third place. Mansell reflected, “The car felt terrific and I was under no pressure at all.” The day’s only serious crash occurred when Philippe Streiff’s Tyrrell crashed into a guard rail near Casino Square, sending a piece of wreckage flying into a stone statue outside the casino.


Andrea de Cesaris, born in Rome on this day, May 31, 1989, drove 208 Grands Prix between 1980 and 1994 without ever winning one. Initially wild, he survived early setbacks thanks to wealthy backers. He had the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix at his mercy when he ran out of fuel on the final lap and led again at Spa in 1983 when his engine blew. He drove for nine different teams.


In another frustrating day for Nigel Mansell at the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix, a loose wheel nut forced him into the pits while leading with eight laps remaining, again handing the win to Senna. Mansell, on fresh tyres, smashed the lap record but was brilliantly kept at bay by Ayrton Senna, whose tyres were shredded. This ended Mansell’s streak of five consecutive wins, though he went on to win the 1992 drivers’ title. Mansell remarked, “When I got up behind Ayrton, I thought my eyes were playing tricks because it seemed there were three McLarens across the track ahead of me. He made his car very wide but it was absolutely fair.” Senna simply smiled and said, “I used my equipment to the maximum.”

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About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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