On this Day in 1987: Prost powers into record books

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"The Professor": Alain Prost.

Alain Prost secured his spot in Formula One history on this day 29 years ago, his 28th career win putting him in an exclusive club.

The Frenchman reached the record mark at an eventful Portuguese Grand Prix, ending Sir Jackie Stewart’s 14-year spell as the man with the most victories.

Driving his McLaren, Prost relentlessly harried long-time leader Gerhard Berger until the Austrian spun his Ferrari with only two laps remaining. The race at Estoril also had to be restarted after a multi-car pile-up on lap two.

In a career containing four Drivers’ Championships, Prost would retire in 1993 with 51 wins. Only Michael Schumacher, with 91, has more.

More memorable events on this day:

1896: First organised motorcycle race takes place, on a 476-mile return course from Paris to Nantes.

1919: Baseball legend Babe Ruth tired Ned Williamson’s major league mark of 27 home runs in a season.

2007: Manager Jose Mourinho leaves Chelsea for the first time.

2015: Wales won their Rugby World Cup opener against Uruguay 54-9, but were hit by a series of injuries.

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Vettel enjoys battling from back of the grid

F1i 19/09/2016
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Sebastian Vettel.

The Ferrari driver suffered a technical failure on Saturday which wrecked his qualifying prospects, and initially the situation hardly seemed to have improved at the start of the race on Sunday.

“I had a really bad start, didn’t go anywhere, had a lot of wheel slip – it was obviously really low grip.

“Very different if you start last – I think this is probably my first time really dead last. I think I’ve started from the pit lane a couple of times, but not last on the grid.

“Then there was the incident on the main straight but I was far back enough to have a lot of time to see where the car was going.”

Although he had been hoping for a safety car at some point in the race to help him fight his way back through the positions, the one for Nico Hulkenberg’s accident on the starting grid came too early to be of any help, meaning that he had to do it the hard way instead.

“After the safety car, I was trying to make progress which at the beginning was quite good and then I got stuck behind the Sauber for quite many laps.

Then I think running into the back of the Force India of Sergio I think was the limit on those tyres. [There was no further] safety car which I think both of us we were hoping for that could have helped.

“Tthen really on the ultrasofts I could make use of the pace of the car and make big progress, had some good overtaking and some good battles,” he added. “Obviously overtaking here is rare but I was able to get a couple of guys especially into turn 7.

“Then it was quite interesting the fight I had with Esteban [Gutierrez] and Carlos [Sainz]. It didn’t last too long but it was very close at some point. Three cars going together into turn 9, but in the end I was happy I came out of it – I had a big smile on my face going into turn 11.”

Vettel found himself up to fifth place by the end of the race, and was still pushing in case he could claim more points for the team.

“Obviously at some point I thought we maybe could get close to the battle for third with Kimi and Lewis but in the end the gap was a bit too big – I think we lost a bit too much probably in the opening stages of the race.”

It was still an impressive fight back that meant he was voted Driver of the Day by fans.

“That’s nice. Thank you very much, whoever voted thank you. Is there a trophy for that? No, I don’t want to be too greedy!

“Anything can happen here,” he summarised. “For sure it was a long way away and seemed out of reach after the poor start, but then I think we slowly got into the groove and especially in the last two stints the car really came alive and we make good progress so it was good fun, I enjoyed it a lot.”

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Rosberg must prove he can dethrone Hamilton

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Rosberg in pole position

Eight points clear with six races remaining is hardly job done for Nico Rosberg but his victory on the streets of Singapore is significant because it capped a weekend when he basically blew his team-mate Lewis Hamilton away and that will give him a vital confidence boost at a critical time of the season.

This was his third consecutive win since the summer break, his first victory in Singapore and it swings the championship pendulum in his direction as we enter the business end of the season.

The German has led the championship before and has previously been in a position to win the title, particularly in 2014 when it went down the final race of the season, but has always fallen short, ending up playing bridesmaid to Hamilton, so although he is unlikely to have suffered any kind of inferiority complex the perception was that perhaps he didn’t have what it takes to beat his team-mate when it really mattered.

But the dominant manner in which he won Sunday’s race, holding off the charging Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo, shows that after 200 grands prix he has the ability, the experience and the determination to win his first world crown this season.

But has he got the maturity to take it all the way without being dazzled in the full glare of the spotlight with Hamilton breathing down his neck?

Rosberg has always had the pedigree to become a great, being the son of former world champion Keke Rosberg, although it was never nailed on that he would become a Formula One driver.

He considered becoming a professional tennis player before his destiny proved to be motorsport and he has enjoyed relative success since moving to Mercedes in 2010 with Michael Schumacher as his team-mate.

He constantly outperformed Schumacher, who was in the twilight of his career, before the German legend retired in 2013 and his new team-mate was a different story – Lewis Hamilton who moved from McLaren and he soon found himself being outperformed.

He might have wrestled the championship lead from the defending champion in Singapore Sunday but he can expect the Brit to fight back ferociously and the fact that Red Bull appear to have finally got their act back together will add to what should be a fascinating final six grands prix, although it still looks like two-horse race with Ricciardo 86 points behind Hamilton.

Ferrari, tipped to be stronger this season and finally challenge Mercedes have again failed to deliver, although both Sebastian Vettel, who finished fifth after starting last, and Kimi Raikkonen, who did give Hamilton a run for his money, drove well Sunday.

But, barring a miraculous recovery, their season will go down as another disappointing failure.

So although Red Bull and Ferrari might run a little bit of interference in the remaining races in Malaysia, Japan, America, Mexico, Brazil and finally Abu Dhabi it looks like another shootout between Rosberg and Hamilton who I still believe is the superior driver.

And it is precisely because I think Hamilton is better than the German that Rosberg must take full advantage of the initiative he now has and prove me and others wrong.

As we have seen, Hamilton is not unbeatable; he is prone to mood swings and openly hates losing, as all champions do, but he is an exceptional driver and I still think he will win the title.

It is going to be close and let’s hope it goes to the wire and the final race in Abu Dhabi when we will find out if Rosberg, a little bit like Felipe Massa at Ferrari, is a champion or just another excellent driver who never quite managed to emerge from the shadow of a superior team-mate.

His reputation is on the line. Game on, Nico!

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