20 Oct 1991
On 20th October 1991, Alain Prost finished fourth in the Japanese Grand Prix. It was the Frenchman’s thirty first and last race with Ferrari, as he was sacked by Maranello nine days later following remarks he made after the race. Much has been said and written about what Prost really said that day in Suzuka and the man himself felt obliged to go over the incident again when interviewed recently by the English magazine Autosport. “At the time no one wanted to know what things were really like,” said Prost. “After a few laps the dampers were no longer working and the steering was incredibly heavy: at the end of the race, I said it was like driving a horrible truck and not nice.”
This is not the place to return to an incident from 22 years ago, but we can recall one person who was definitely delighted with the decision: Gianni Morbidelli. The then 23 year old Minardi driver was also on the books with the Scuderia for testing purposes and Claudio Lombardi chose him to replace Prost in the final Grand Prix of the season in Adelaide. Morbidelli proved his worth, finishing sixth in what was the shortest race in the history of Formula 1, as it was ended after just 14 laps (52.920 km) because of heavy rain.