Schumacher had yet to invent his trademark leap, so this would
have to do... (LAT archive)
The 1992 Formula 1 World Championship is best remembered as the personal preserve of Nigel Mansell who, after several near-misses, made the season his own by winning more than half the season's races (9 of 16) and breezing to the World Championship title. But one of the races Mansell didn't win that year also proved historic, and it happened 20 years ago: the first victory of Michael Schumacher's incredible career, which continues two decades later with 90 more wins and seven world titles to his name.
The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps was the 12th round of the season. Mansell was still on pole, almost inevitably, with his dominant Williams FW14B-Renault, with the McLaren-Honda of Ayrton Senna alongside, and the increasingly impressive Schumacher third in his Benetton-Ford – a V8 engine, against the V10- and V12-powered cars ahead of him.
Senna got the jump on Mansell at the start and while the Englishman soon pitted for wet tires, the Brazilian gambled that the rain would not get bad enough and he would not need to change to rain tires – and this time the weather gods did not favor him. Just as he came in for wet tires, the rain stopped, forcing him to pit again. He would end up fifth.
Schumacher and Benetton's Ross Brawn executed a perfect strategy and some spectacular lap times in the mixed conditions to build a solid lead, but Mansell was cutting into the German's advantege until an apparent electronics glitch turned the Renault engines of Mansell and teammate Riccardo Patrese into V9s. So it was that Schumacher – one year on from his sensational F1 debut at Spa with Jordan – pulled away to a 36sec victory over Mansell, while Patrese's third place locked up the Williams team's first Constructor's title in five years.