In 1986, Nigel Mansell was leading the world championship standings by six points from Alain Prost and seven clear of Nelson Piquet heading into the final race in Adelaide. He was in second place in the race with 19 laps remaining and that would have been enough to secure the title – but disaster struck.
In 1991, torrential rain caused the race to be red flagged after just 14 of the 81 laps had been completed, making it the shortest F1 race in history. Ayrton Senna won, and took out the world championship, with Mansell second and Gerhard Berger third. Mansell, however, was unable to make it onto the podium after being injured in a crash at the end of the race. Senna was blunt in his appraisal of the conditions.
The great Senna took out his final Grand Prix win in Adelaide in 1993. It was a masterful performance from the Brazilian in the McLaren, winning by nine seconds from fierce rival Alain Prost – for whom it was the final F1 appearance. Senna embraced Prost on the podium after the race. He moved to Williams for the following season but struggled with his new team, failing to finish a race before being tragically killed at San Marino.
In 1994, Michael Schumacher led the title race by a solitary point from Damon Hill. Schumacher held sway in the race until lap 36 when he struck the wall. He recovered, but his car was damaged and when Hill tried to pass the German, he steered into the Williams driver, forcing him out of the race and sealing his first world title.
Mark Webber made his F1 debut on home soil in the 2002 Grand Prix, which by now had shifted to Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit. Webber qualified 18th on the grid but defied the odds to finish fifth and immediately had his short-term contract extended. Although he didn’t land a world title, that performance was the launchpad to a fantastic career.