• September 21 down the years

'Flawless' Mansell sets up gripping finale

What happened on this day in Formula One history?
Four world champions - Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, and Nelson Piquet pose ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix © Getty Images

At the Portuguese Grand Prix Nigel Mansell completed what the Guardian described as "possibly the most important win of his career" to leave him needing victory in the penultimate race in Mexico to secure the championship. It was not to be, but it was "flawless performance" to set up the finale. Ayrton Senna, who started on pole, appeared set for second until he ran out of fuel on the last lap, a situation caused by a malfunctioning computer which showed he had enough left.

Jacques Villeneuve took his tenth career win at the Austrian Grand Prix from pole position for Williams. However, relative newcomer Jarno Trulli was the star of the show. In only his 14th grand prix he qualified third for the struggling Prost Team. On race day, Trulli managed to take the lead during the first lap and began to build up a good lead but was cruelly denied the win when his engine blew on lap 59, pouring oil all over the track and leading to his retirement. It was another weekend when Michael Schumacher brought the stewards into play - an overtaking manoeuvre under yellow flags and a resultant ten-second penalty meant he finished back in sixth.

In the chaos of post-war Europe, resuming racing was far from easy, with pre-war cars and spares to the fore. The first French Grand Prix took place at Lyons and was won by Monaco-born Louis Chiron in his Talbot-Lago car. On the same day at El Torreon in Argentina Óscar Alfredo Gálvez, whose one championship race saw him come fifth in Argentina in 1953, won the Mar del Plata Grand Prix.

Ken McAlpine was born on this day in Chobham, Surrey into the wealthy building family. He discovered his love of racing cars during his late twenties, and using his family money he was able to compete in seven grands prix between 1952 and 1955 before retiring to concentrate on the business. His first and last Formula One grands prix were at British circuits.