After his second place behind Nelson Piquet in front of home fans in Jacarepagua , Ayrton Senna went one better at Jerez as the new addition to the Formula One calendar saw one of the closest finishes ever.
Senna took pole position on the new circuit ahead of the Williams pair of Piquet and Nigel Mansell. But when the lights went out a poor opening few laps relegated Mansell to fifth behind Alain Prost and Keke Rosberg. Mansell regrouped though and soon climbed through in to second and took the lead on lap 39, while Piquet dropped out with engine failure.
Senna and Prost kept pace, however, and then Senna retook the lead with ten laps to go, his move at the hairpin pushing Mansell wide and also allowing Prost through in to second place. Mansell gambled and pitted for fresh tyres, rejoining 20 seconds behind the leaders with nine laps left.
Seemingly out of contention at that point, a series of on-the-limit laps saw Mansell reel in Senna, but he struggled to pass Prost and lost almost a second to the leader in getting by. On the final lap Senna and Mansell were 1.5s apart, but Mansell didn't get an overtaking opportunity and had to resort to trying to out-drag Senna to the line. He got a better exit out of the final corner on fresh rubber and pulled alongside, but the line came just too quickly and Senna held on to win by just 0.014s.
Prost completed the podium ahead of Rosberg and the Benetton pair of Teo Fabi and Gerhard Berger. Only eight drivers finished the race, with one retirement seeing Stefan Johansson's Ferrari ploughing in to the tyres at speed after a brake failure, leaving Johansson in clear pain as he climbed out of the car.