Rising Lotus star Ayrton Senna started on the pole and came away with a hard-earned win, the fourth of his career. Senna charged through the field after dropping to eighth with a deflating tire for his first USGP victory.
With Patrick Tambay recovering from his leg injuries from Canada, the Beatrice Lola team hired Eddie Cheever for the weekend, while Christian Danner transferred from Osella to Arrows to replace the injured Marc Surer and so Canadian Allen Berg took over the second of the Italian cars.
Qualifying resulted in another pole position for Ayrton Senna in his Lotus-Renault with the two Williams-Hondas of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet second and third. Rene Arnoux was fourth in the Ligier-Renault ahead of Stefan Johansson’s Ferrari and Jacques Laffite in the second Ligier. Then came Alain Prost’s McLaren-TAG, Riccardo Patrese’s Brabham-BMW, Keke Rosberg’s McLaren and Cheever.
Sunday was hot and humid with a chance of rain.
At the start Senna took the lead with Mansell second under pressure from Arnoux.
On the second lap Senna missed a gear and Mansell went ahead, quickly leaving Senna to fight with Arnoux. Mansell was in trouble with brakes, however, and so Senna was soon able to catch him again and on the eighth lap Senna took the lead again. He was also on harder tires than Mansell so he was well placed for a victory. Mansell dropped back behind Arnoux and Laffite.
On lap 12, however, Senna had a puncture and had to pit and so there was a Ligier 1-2 with Arnoux leading Laffite for a couple of laps before Jacques went ahead. Mansell was third with Prost fourth, Piquet fifth and Senna sixth. The pit stops got rid of the Ligiers as a competitive force, the team being much slower than the other front-runners and with Piquet and Mansell both slower than they should have been, Senna was ahead again when the stops were over.
Piquet then crashed and the car was hit by Arnoux, who then tried to keep going and reversed into the path of Thierry Boutsen’s Arrows. This left Senna a long way ahead of Prost with Laffite third and closing. Prost had a misfire and could do nothing to stop Laffite taking second before the finish.
During his slowing-down lap, Senna saw a fellow Brazilian next to the track with a Brazilian flag. He didn’t think twice before stopping, taking the flag and finishing the lap while holding it up – a gesture made famous through several of his victories.
Fourth place went to Alboreto with Mansell fifth after he had been up an escape road and Patrese was sixth.
|1. Ayrton Senna||Lotus 98T-Renault||1h 51m 12.847s|
|2. Jacques Laffite||Ligier JS27-Renault||+ 31.017|
|3. Alain Prost||McLaren MP4/2C-TAG Porsche||+ 31.824|
|4. Michele Alboreto||Ferrari F186||+ 1:30.936|
|5. Nigel Mansell||Williams FW11-Honda||+ 1 Lap|
|6. Riccardo Patrese||Brabham BT55-BMW||+ 1 Lap|