Sunday 12th April 1987
Reigning world champion, Frenchman Alain Prost driving a McLaren MP4/3 won the Brazilian Grand Prix at Jacarepagua. It was Prost’s fourth victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix, expanding his own record. Prost won the race by 40 seconds over local hero Nelson Piquet driving a Williams FW11B.
At the start Piquet was fastest, taking the lead from Senna, while Mansell made a bad start; the Benetton B187s of Boutsen and Teo Fabi out dragged Mansell and Prost. Adrián Campos was disqualified for an incorrect starting procedure, he had forgotten his ear plugs and by the time he had fitted them on the grid the rest of the field had moved away on the warm-up lap. Campos resumed his grid position instead of starting at the rear and race officials removed him for his rookie mistake. Piquet’s lead did not last long: on lap 7, he had to pit with engine overheating caused by litter on the track getting into the radiator sidepods. He rejoined back in eleventh position, leaving Senna to lead Mansell (who in the meantime fought back to second) although he too entered in the pits to have his radiators cleared. He rejoined behind Piquet and the pair began to climb through the field.
Senna pitted because of handling troubles of his Lotus 99T and so Prost went into the lead. When Prost stopped for fresh tyres the lead was briefly passed to Thierry Boutsen, who was performing admirably with his Benetton-Ford, but his lead lasted less than half a lap before Piquet went back to first before his second stop, on lap 21. Prost then went ahead again and led for the rest of the race, never looking threatened as he preserved his tyres to only require two stops, while his rivals Senna and Piquet had three.
Mansell’s race was compromised late in the race by a tyre puncture, who sent him back to seventh place. On lap 51 Senna suffered an engine failure, causing him to retire from the second place he held for much of the race despite problems with the Lotus’ active suspensions. Senna, who pulled off the track in front of the pits, reported that his engine had not actually blown, but that he could feel it was seizing and felt it would be better to retire rather than to destroy the engine.
Prost won ahead of Piquet, his teammate Stefan Johansson, Gerhard Berger (who battled for the whole race with handling problems of his Ferrari F1/87), Boutsen and Mansell, who caught the last point. Satoru Nakajima’s first Grand Prix, saw him finish just outside the points in seventh in his Lotus. This was Prost’s 26th victory, which made him the second most successful Grand Prix winner at the time, moving him ahead of Jim Clark and just one win behind tying with Jackie Stewart as the most successful.