Formula 1's greatest drivers. Number 13: Nigel Mansell

BBC Sport has profiled 20 of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time. The BBC F1 team were asked to give their own personal top 20s, which were combined to produce a list. Veteran commentator Murray Walker provides his own reflections in a video of their career highlights and chief F1 writer Andrew Benson profiles the driver. Nigel Mansell is number 13 in the list.

Nigel Mansell was the personification of drama in a Formula 1 car.

Whether it be daring overtaking manoeuvres, his muscular handling of some of the sport's defining cars, or the histrionics and apparent persecution complex that accompanied much of his career, there was never a dull moment when the moustachioed Midlander was around.

Mansell's career coincided - and is inextricably linked - with those of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. He went toe-to-toe with these two titans and in so doing earned his own place in the pantheon.

His exciting, fighting style won him enormous adulation from fans, many of whom were not from the usual F1 audience demographic. But an awkward, complex, demanding personality often made him difficult to work with.

Mansell achieved the vast majority of his success in two periods with the Williams team. But even their boss, Frank Williams, said when Mansell left for the second time: "Nigel is conceited, he's arrogant and he's brilliant," adding: "We'll miss him as a driver but not as a bloke."

Whereas both Senna and Prost seemed preordained for F1 glory, Mansell had to convince many doubters along the way.

He battled lack of finance through the junior formulae, where his determination was obvious from an early stage - he broke his neck in a crash in Formula Ford but, despite being told by doctors that he was lucky not to be paralysed, discharged himself from hospital and returned to racing.

In F1, too, his refusal to give up became apparent from the very beginning.

During his grand prix debut with Lotus in Austria in 1980, a fuel leak into the cockpit gave him first and second degree burns, but he battled through the pain and stopped only when a mechanical problem forced him into retirement.

Mansell had a close relationship with Lotus founder Colin Chapman, but found life at the team more of a struggle following the boss's untimely death in December 1982.

Peter Warr, who stepped up from being Chapman's right-hand man to run the team, despised Mansell.

"Throughout his time with the team," Warr wrote in his autobiography, "Mansell made it clear that he felt the whole world was against him.

"It did not help his case that in many instances his demeanour and behaviour did nothing to convince the team that anything they did would help change his attitude to one where he was not continually suspicious of their real intent."

Warr was especially critical when Mansell made mistakes - the most high-profile of which during the Lotus years was in Monaco in 1984.

After taking the lead from the McLaren of eventual winner Prost in the pouring rain, Mansell crashed on the way up the hill - blaming the white lines painted on the road for his error.

Mansell was beaten more often than not during his years at Lotus by team-mate Elio de Angelis, a talented driver and charming man from a wealthy Roman background, and a very different personality from Mansell.

Lotus recruited Senna in his place for 1985 but Mansell was provided a lifeline by Williams. It was to be the making of him.

Williams took on Mansell expecting him to be a decent number two to Keke Rosberg and, for much of the year, the Finn outshone him. But Mansell came good at the end of the season - aided by engine supplier Honda shifting their main efforts from the Finn to the Englishman - and took two dominant wins.

Even so, Mansell was expected to play second fiddle to his new team-mate, the double world champion Nelson Piquet, in 1986.

Instead, Mansell was generally slightly quicker from the start and tensions soon mounted between the two men as they battled for the title in the fastest car in the field.

Their relationship quickly degenerated into one of mutual distrust and loathing, and Williams's refusal to impose team orders eventually led to both of them missing out on the title to Prost. Mansell's hopes were famously dashed when a rear tyre exploded in the final race of the season.

The Williams was so dominant in 1987 that the title was there for the taking.

Piquet won only three races to Mansell's seven - one of which was a thrilling fightback and pass of Piquet at Silverstone - but it was the Brazilian who ended the year as champion, Mansell suffering from worse reliability and some costly mistakes.

After a frustrating year in a normally aspirated Williams against the turbo-charged McLarens in 1988, Mansell moved to Ferrari in 1989 and immediately scored one of his most memorable victories.

The car had F1's first semi-automatic gearbox and it was dreadfully unreliable throughout pre-season testing and in practice before the opening race of the season in Brazil.

So convinced was Mansell that he would not finish that he booked himself on an early flight - which he then missed when the car not only lasted, but completed a most unlikely win.

It earned Mansell immediate adoration from Ferrari's famous fans, the tifosi, who christened him 'Il Leone' (The Lion) for his fighting spirit.

There was another sensational win that year in Hungary, when he fought from 12th on the grid and made an opportunistic pass on Senna's McLaren to take the lead.

But Mansell's relationship with Ferrari soured in 1990 when Prost joined the team to get away from the Brazilian at McLaren.

It was the Frenchman who battled Senna for the title. Prost outscored his new team-mate by five wins to one and the Englishman's frustrations and suspicions built quickly. After his car broke down in the British Grand Prix, he threw his gloves to the crowd and later that day announced that he was retiring.

Few believed he was serious, and indeed he entered negotiations to return to Williams. As before, it was the perfect move.

The FW14 was the fastest car in 1991, but Mansell was unable to recover the ground lost to Senna at the start of the year as Williams battled reliability problems with its new semi-automatic gearbox.

The following year, though, was a different story. Now fitted with active suspension, the FW14B was one of the most dominant cars in F1 history and Mansell cake-walked the season, taking nine wins and 14 pole positions to secure the title many felt he should have won years earlier.

Mansell being Mansell, though, there had to be a drama and sure enough his negotiations with the team over a new contract for 1993 foundered.

The apparent sticking point, unbelievably, was the number of hotel rooms the contract dictated the team would provide for him. But some wondered whether the fact that, had he stayed, he would again be team-mate to Prost might have had something to do with it, too.

Whatever the truth, Mansell turned his back on F1 to race in IndyCars - and stunningly won the title in his first season.

He will be remembered as a magnificent and exhilarating driver - good enough to be one of the best in one of F1's toughest eras.

Number 14 - Mika Hakkinen

Number 15 - Lewis Hamilton

Number 16 - Nelson Piquet

Number 17 - Emerson Fittipaldi

Number 18 - Jack Brabham

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