PROST CROWNED AMID McLAREN ACRIMONY
Alain Prost just about tolerated Ayrton Senna in 1988 despite his close shave with the Portuguese pitwall and championship defeat. But Senna’s victory in the 1989 San Marino GP, and his perceived betrayal of a pre-race agreement, escalated rivalry into full-scale feud.
New rules for 1989 stipulated 3,500cc normally aspirated engines limited to a maximum of 12 cylinders and turbos were banned. Longer engines led designers to wrap the fuel cell around the driver and into the sidepods. This raised safety concerns, especially when Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari caught fire when he crashed at Imola.
A record 39 cars entered, necessitating an hour of pre-qualifying at 8am on the Friday of each race weekend. Based on 1988 constructors’ points, 13 drivers took part with the fastest four progressing and the others eliminated. The unlucky 13 were reviewed after the British GP based on their 1989 race results thus far. This proved an unpopular system with cars that were easily capable of scoring points still subject to the perils of pre-qualifying in the first half of the year. However quick you were, one breakage or mistake and you were out.
F3000 teams GDBA and FIRST both planned to graduate in 1989 but neither did so. GDBA Motorsport was formed in 1987 by Gilles Gaignault (ex-FISA press officer), Jean-Paul Driot (team manager), Pierre Blanchet (owner of Blanchet Locatop) and seven-time GP winner René Arnoux. Moët et Chandon’s headquarters in Épernay was chosen for that F1 announcement in March 1988. F3000 drivers Michel Trollé and Olivier Grouillard were expected to remain, a new factory and wind tunnel were under construction at Le Mans, and Advanced Composites were commissioned to manufacture the chassis. But a self-imposed deadline to raise the money passed on 1 July 1988, Blanchet was diagnosed with cancer and quit (he died on 4 February 1989) and Trollé was seriously injured at Brands Hatch in August. GBDA closed down at the end of the season and its vivid turquoise colours were never seen in F1.
Lamberto Leoni’s FIRST Racing actually built the Richard Divila-designed, Judd-powered 189 that Gabriele Tarquini shook down at Monza on 3 February. FIRST moved into a new factory at nearby Agrate and Colin Bennett was hired as team manager. Julian Bailey visited in the hope of prolonging his F1 career but a singleton entry for Tarquini was confirmed on 7 February. However, the project was shelved just before the start of the season.
The destination of the United States GP was unknown until February. Bernie Ecclestone’s negotiations with Laguna Seca continued but circuit boss Lee Moselle was eventually left disappointed, despite commencing its extension. Detroit switched to Champ Cars and Road Atlanta was discounted so there was every prospect of no American round for the first time in championship history (including the Indianapolis 500 in the 1950s). Rumours of a street race in Phoenix, Arizona only surfaced in January with FOCA’s North American representative Jack Long and local businessman Howard Pynn prime movers. After the city council voted 7–1 in favour, Ecclestone arrived in Phoenix to confirm the event.
FISA’s Executive Committee was renamed the World Motorsports Council at a meeting in Paris on 26–28 June 1989. There were concerns that FISA technical chief Gabriele Cadringher was joining a team, crossing a divide that remains contentious today. Having worked for Prince Rainier of Monaco, Francesco Longanesi became FISA’s Press Officer based in Paris with Martin Whitaker relocated to London to develop television and radio opportunities.
On-board cameras had long been a thorny subject with the public keen but teams unhappy to carry extra weight. McLaren, Ferrari, Williams, Benetton, March, Arrows and Lotus all agreed to fit cameras at two races with rival cars each having 5kgs ballast to compensate. Ecclestone suggested a new arrangement to decide the World Champion at the 1989 Belgian GP. ‘I have always thought our points system is wrong. There should be gold, silver and bronze medals. Five gold medals are better than four, that’s how it should be.’ FISA seemed to discover a new revenue stream when $143,000 in fines were issued at Estoril and Jerez alone.
HONDA MARLBORO McLAREN
Having dominated the final year of the turbo era, McLaren revealed its new MP4/5 in Rio de Janeiro’s pitlane at the start of the final pre-season test. It had become McLaren’s practice to alternate design teams from year to year and it was Neil Oatley’s turn to lead the MP4/5 project. Although it bore a strong family resemblance to the ultra-successful 1988 car, the monocoque was redesigned and moulded in an exclusive new composite material from Hercules Aerospace. Removable, one-piece bodywork was retained while the shorter sidepods featured side vents.
The fuel tank and airbox were higher than before and, crucially, McLaren negotiated privileged access to Honda’s new 72-degree V10 engine (RA109E), which had been unveiled at the 1987 Tokyo Motor Show. This was initially driven through the MP4/4’s longitudinal six-speed gearbox but David North designed a transverse replacement. That was tested in the spring but selection issues delayed its introduction until the British GP. Suspension continued to be via pull-rods at the front and push-rods to the rear. Developed during 1988 and the close season, the engine proved both powerful and reliable. The MP4/5 was more difficult to set up than its predecessor but still won 10 races and both championships.
Initial testing was hampered by a handling imbalance but Ayrton Senna ended the week with the quickest lap. His prowess over a single lap was confirmed by pole position at 13 races (including the first five) and an unblemished record of front-row starts. His Brazilian GP was ruined by contact with Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari at the first corner and a subsequent pit stop to change the nose. Prost started fifth and led before losing his clutch, which prevented him from making his second tyre stop; as a consequence he struggled home second, just fending off Maurício Gugelmin and Johnny Herbert.
The simmering tension between McLaren-Honda’s superstar drivers boiled over at Imola. Dominant in qualifying, they agreed that whoever made the better start would lead out of the first corner, Tosa, rather than risk collision. Senna did so, but then the race was stopped following Berger’s accident on lap four. After a 50-minute delay, Prost made the better restart but Senna out-braked him into Tosa and drew away to victory. Had their agreement applied to just the start or the restart as well? Prost, who spun on his way to another second place, was in no doubt and was fined $5,000 for missing the post-race press conference rather than say something he might regret.
Ron Dennis insisted that the matter had been resolved when Senna apologised during a test at Pembrey but Prost remained incensed. ‘I do not wish to drag McLaren into difficulties caused by the behaviour of Senna,’ he was quoted in L‘Equipe. ‘McLaren has always been loyal to me. At the level of technical discussion, I shall not close the door completely. But for the rest, I no longer wish to have any business with him. I appreciate honesty and he is not honest.’
The MP4/5s featured a lighter engine and single-calliper brakes in Monaco, where Senna led another McLaren 1–2 in qualifying and the race. In Mexico he eased to another victory, his third in a row, as an unscheduled pit stop restricted Prost to fifth. Senna qualified on pole for the 34th time in Phoenix to beat Jim Clark’s long-standing record but his engine failed so Prost won to retake the championship lead.
In Canada Prost ended Senna’s run of successive pole positions (stretching back to the 1988 Portuguese GP) although he retired after just two laps. Senna was superb in Montréal, his performance with slicks on the wet track on another level, but he lost victory when his engine failed with just three laps to go. Prost admitted that talks about his future were affecting his performance. ‘I’m thinking too much about it [his future] at the moment. I can’t concentrate. My mind is only half on racing.’ It was little surprise when he announced during the French GP weekend that he was leaving McLaren at the end of the season rather than remain alongside Senna.
For the French GP Prost qualified on pole and won after Senna’s differential shattered on the restart and the Brazilian’s poor run continued at Silverstone. Senna used the transverse gearbox to annex pole for the British GP but spun at Beckett’s when having difficulty downshifting. That gifted Prost victory and a 20-point lead in the championship.
Senna led McLaren 1–2s in Germany (delayed by a slow pit stop but passing Prost when the Frenchman lost top gear) and Belgium. Senna was again at the head of the field in Hungary, but his hesitation when lapping Stefan Johansson’s Onyx-Ford on lap 58 allowed Nigel Mansell to snatch the victory with an opportunistic move; Prost charged back after a late stop to take fourth on the last lap. At Monza, where Prost was 1.790sec slower in qualifying and convinced he was not receiving equal engines, he inherited victory after Senna’s leading McLaren-Honda blew up, a failure blamed by engine chief Osamu Goto on a faulty piston. By now announced as a Ferrari driver for 1990, Prost infuriated Dennis by dropping the winner’s trophy from the podium to the adoring Tifosi below.
Senna lost further ground to his rival in Portugal when Mansell, who had already been black-flagged but refused to pit, crashed into him on lap 49; Prost’s elevation to second place further enhanced his points advantage. A week later Senna took pole at Jerez despite his initial times being deleted when he ignored black flags following an incident, a misdemeanour that cost him a $20,000 fine. He won the race and Prost was third.
That meant Senna had to win the penultimate race in Japan to maintain a mathematical chance of retaining his title. They qualified on the front row as normal but it was Prost who led from the start. Senna chased his rival throughout and attempted to pass into the chicane with seven laps to go. Prost shut the door and collision was inevitable. Prost was eliminated but Senna rejoined, changed his bent nose and retook the lead from Alessandro Nannini to win. Then, after much deliberation, Senna was controversially disqualified for short-cutting the chicane, a decision passionately, but unsuccessfully, appealed by Dennis and McLaren. Prost was World Champion for the third time with his team on the point of civil war.
The Australian GP was run in terrible conditions with poor visibility rendering the event a dangerous lottery. Prost withdrew at the end of lap one and Senna was 30 seconds in the lead after 13 laps when he crashed into the back of Martin Brundle’s Brabham.
The fall-out from Senna’s Japanese exclusion continued long after the racing had stopped. The Brazilian gave a 90-minute press conference in Adelaide that included a frank assessment of the situation: ‘What we see today is true manipulation of the World Championship.’ FISA’s Court of Appeal fined him $100,000 and issued a six-month suspended ban when it met on 31 October but he did not soften his stance in a meeting with Dennis and Jean-Marie Balestre in December. The Brazilian remained in conflict with the FISA President for years to come.
CANON WILLIAMS TEAM
Raymond Lévy was appointed President of Renault after the assassination of Georges Besse and the company began evaluating a new 3.5-litre atmospheric engine early in 1987. Renault Sport Director Bernard Casin confirmed that a V10 engine was under development in October that year and a three-year agreement with Williams, exclusive for the first season, was announced on 7 June 1988. Bernard Dudot led the project with his staff bolstered by the return of Jean-Jacques His from Ferrari.
Nigel Mansell decided not to stay and Thierry Boutsen signed a two-year contract to join Williams in July 1988. Negotiations with Michele Alboreto broke down in the summer so Williams exercised its option to keep Riccardo Patrese. Enrique Scalabroni left in September to join Ferrari’s technical team. Canon, Barclay and ICI all remained and Elf signed a three-year deal on 1 September.
The RS01 engine ran on the dyno in January 1988 and Patrese track tested it for the first time at Paul Ricard on 4 October 1988. This high-revving 67-degree V10 retained the pneumatically sprung valves from the turbo and a four-valves-per-cylinder head. A second ‘evolution’ engine was introduced in Germany.
Patrick Head modified the 1988 chassis to accommodate the longer power unit with the Williams FW12C-Renault extended by six inches as a consequence. The cars were converted to pull-rod suspension and magnesium replaced aluminium for the gearbox casing to save weight. The radiators were larger and an electronic system recirculated water if it was too hot before entering the engine. Even so, extra vents had to be introduced in Brazil to help combat the heat.
Pre-season testing suggested that Williams-Renault would be McLaren-Honda’s closest challengers. Making his record-breaking 177th GP start in Brazil, Patrese lined up on the front row, led the early laps and set the fastest race lap before retiring when third. Boutsen, who was bruised from a testing accident, made a good start from fourth on the grid to hold second before his engine blew after just three laps. The San Marino GP was stopped by Gerhard Berger’s accident, just as Boutsen changed a punctured tyre. He restarted from the pitlane and finished fourth despite understeer and malfunctioning clutch and brakes. Ligier protested that he had illegally changed his tyres during the stoppage but Boutsen was reinstated on appeal. Patrese qualified and ran fourth before another engine failure. Boutsen qualified third in Monaco but neither Williams scored points when delayed by loose rear wing end plates.
Patrese was second in Mexico and Phoenix as quicker cars fell by the wayside and Boutsen sixth after a puncture in the latter race. In need of a good result to bolster flagging confidence, Boutsen exploited Montréal’s changeable conditions to lead a Williams 1–2 and score his maiden F1 victory. It was Williams’s first win since Mexico 1987 and Renault’s first since Ayrton Senna’s Lotus won the 1986 Detroit GP.
Patrese was third in France despite a spin, crashed heavily at Silverstone on fluid that had leaked from his damaged radiator, and finished fourth in Germany. He took pole in Hungary with his FW12C handling perfectly and led a train of cars for 52 laps before a stone punctured his radiator, causing him to lose the lead and retire two laps later when the engine expired. Not as happy with his car’s balance, Boutsen qualified fourth and finished third.Boutsen was a lonely fourth in Belgium on his 100th GP start and third in Italy with Patrese fourth.
Patrese gave the much-delayed Williams FW13-Renault its shakedown at Silverstone on 13 September. This angular development of the FW12C had new push-rod front suspension but the pull-rod rear arrangement was unaltered. The monocoque was narrower, the fuel tank wrapped around the driver and the airbox was distinctive and tall. Both FW13s retired on début in Portugal when rubbish in their radiators caused overheating. Patrese preferred the FW12C in Spain where he qualified sixth and finished fifth. The drivers concentrated on the FW13 for the final two races of 1989 and at Suzuka they finished second (Patrese) and third (Boutsen) despite poor handling. Conditions for the Australian finale were awful but Boutsen and Patrese sailed between the accidents to inherit a 1–3 finish when Senna’s dominant McLaren-Honda crashed into another car.
A promising start for the Williams-Renault partnership yielded second place in the constructors’ standings. Patrese and Boutsen finished third and fifth respectively in the drivers’ championship.
John Barnard’s normally aspirated Ferrari 640 was a high-tech design with electro-hydraulic gearbox among its innovations. Systems had been tested on the interim type 639 since the autumn of 1988 and the definitive 640 bore a strong resemblance when it was launched at Fiorano on 1 February 1989. It had a narrow chisel nose with stepped floor, longer wheelbase, lower cockpit sides and full-length sidepods that swept out around the cockpit and tapered to the rear. The sidepod inlets were a couple of inches wider and larger radiators were fitted to optimise cooling. The airbox was narrower to improve airflow over the rear aerodynamics. Push-rod suspension was fitted all round.
The 65-degree, 60-valve V12 engine had proved problematic on the dyno and was underpowered when compared to the Honda V10. The ground-breaking electro-hydraulic seven-speed gearbox was mounted longitudinally. The driver used the clutch pedal when starting and paddle shifts behind the steering wheel thereafter, right to change up and left to downshift. Electronically controlled valves replaced the traditional gear linkage. This system was unreliable at first but eventually proved a major advance in F1 design, with gear changes faster and more reliable. Internal politics continued as rival factions plotted against Barnard and his remote-working Guildford Technical Office. It was hoped that new competition boss Cesare Fiorio’s arrival following spells at Lancia and Alfa Romeo would ease tensions and focus on beating McLaren. Pier Giorgio Cappelli returned to the Fiat Group. Nigel Mansell and Gerhard Berger were announced as Ferrari’s drivers on 5 July 1988 with Michele Alboreto negotiating unsuccessfully with Williams. J.J. Lehto replaced Roberto Moreno as test driver.
Mansell first drove the Ferrari 639 at a very cold Fiorano on 6 January but testing of the 640 was fraught with engine and gearbox problems. Those issues continued during practice for the Brazilian GP, where Berger qualified third and Mansell sixth. The Austrian made a good start only to be taken out by Ayrton Senna at the first corner. Mansell surprised himself by running cleanly to win on his Ferrari début.
Berger was on overnight pole at Imola but slipped to fifth after a wild second session. He maintained position at the start before crashing into the Tamburello wall at high speed on lap four with front wing failure eventually blamed. His 640 burst into flames and only swift action by the marshals prevented catastrophe. He needed skin grafts on his badly burned hands. Meanwhile Mansell’s gearbox failed after the restart.
With Berger recovering, Ferrari ran a single car for a ’flu-ridden Mansell in Monaco but podium finishes at that race and the next were lost to further gearbox failures. Osella’s Nicola Larini was placed on standby for the Mexican GP but Berger returned and ran in a brave fourth place before retiring. Both Ferraris suffered alternator problems when well placed in Phoenix and Mansell was black-flagged in Canada having started prematurely from the pitlane. Berger held second in Montréal before yet another gearbox failure.
Barnard bowed to inevitable political pressure and it was announced that his contract would not be renewed when it expired on 31 October. Ferrari hired Enrique Scalabroni, Patrick Head’s assistant at Williams, to start work in September and Franco Ciampolini was poached to run the electronics department. A surviving link with the old regime was severed when Enzo Ferrari’s secretary Pierpaolo Gardella left in July.
There was a palpable upturn in fortunes as reliability improved on the return to Europe although Mansell was hit by Maurício Gugelmin’s March at the original start at Paul Ricard and took over Berger’s discarded race car for the restart. Obliged to start from the pitlane as a consequence, he stormed through the field to finish in a fine second position. That was the first of five successive podium finishes that included another second place despite a puncture at Silverstone and a feisty victory in Hungary. On a track where passing was nigh-on impossible, ‘Il Leone’ came from 12th (handling, delay from traffic and an incident with Jean Alesi contributed to a poor grid position) to snatch an improbable victory when Senna was momentarily baulked while lapping Stefan Johansson’s Onyx-Ford.
It was among Mansell’s finest drives and prompted Fiorio to label Mansell ‘a great driver, one of the greatest Ferrari has ever had. His win today was one of the greatest I’ve ever seen.’
Berger’s barren run continued – always competitive but without a finish before September. Mansell was third in the wet Belgian GP while Berger aquaplaned off the road and stalled. It was Mansell’s turn to break his gearbox at Monza, where Berger qualified and finished second to finally take the chequered flag for the first time this season. The mood on either side of the Ferrari pit after the Portuguese GP provided a stark contrast. Mansell passed Berger for the lead on lap 28 but overshot his marks during his tyre stop 11 laps later. Black-flagged for reversing in the pitlane, he ignored the flags for three laps before crashing into Senna after 48 laps. Mansell was banned from the next race and fined $50,000 as a consequence, penalties that briefly led to his threat to quit F1. Berger assumed the lead after Mansell’s botched stop and eased to a popular fifth GP win.
Berger nursed his smoking Ferrari to second place in Spain but retired from the last two races of the season. His gearbox broke in Japan and he was not happy that the Australian GP was allowed to start in such terrible conditions. He spun early before being hit by Philippe Alliot’s Lola-Lamborghini after six laps. Mansell was fourth when his engine blew in Japan and endured just as fraught an Australian GP as his team-mate, spinning twice on lap 11 before crashing out seven laps later.
Ferrari were third in the World Championship with Mansell fourth in the drivers’ standings after a typically dramatic campaign.
Having expanded Benetton’s North American interests to over 800 shops during the late 1980s and despite professing to have no interest in motor racing, Flavio Briatore was appointed as commercial director of Benetton Formula at the start of 1989. He would remain an influential and flamboyant member of the F1 circus for the next two decades. In the short term, his appointment sparked internal divide as a battle for control raged within the team.
Benetton exercised its two-year option on Alessandro Nannini’s services at the 1988 Belgian GP but Thierry Boutsen decided to move to Williams. Team manager Peter Collins had been an admirer of F3000 star Johnny Herbert since the Englishman had completed a successful test on 9 September 1987 and pushed for Herbert’s promotion despite his serious ankle injuries suffered at the Brands Hatch F3000 race in August 1988. The likes of Michele Alboreto, Stefan Johansson and perennial favourite Eddie Cheever were all considered before Herbert signed at the end of September. He tested for the first time after his accident by the end of the year but his injuries were scarcely healed in time for the season.
Cosworth Engineering developed the new V8 Ford HB to be used exclusively by Benetton in the new B189. Four-valves-per-heads were retained with the cylinder banks angled at 75 degrees. Use of titanium, magnesium and aluminium plus carbon-fibre fuel injection air intakes kept weight for this compact unit at a minimum. The Ford EEC engine management system remained. Former Arrows designer Dave Wass helped Rory Byrne pen the new car, which was a clear development of the B188 with neat packaging and an extremely slender monocoque at its core. Noticeably higher and narrower sidepods housed the oil and water radiators with air intakes on either side of the cockpit as before. The step under the nose was less defined and Byrne explained that ‘the shape has evolved with the quest for aerodynamic efficiency.’ Computer-controlled suspension was evaluated with Johnny Dumfries hired as test driver. A major sponsorship agreement with the 7Up soft drink brand was announced in New York in January.
The old Ford DFR-powered B188 had revised suspension and brakes for the beginning of the season but it lacked traction and was prone to understeer. Clearly troubled by his injuries, Herbert made a sensational début in Brazil where he out-qualified Nannini and finished fourth – just 10.493sec behind the winner. Unfortunately, Herbert could not maintain that form as he struggled with his right foot too weak to brake heavily. Unable to qualify higher than 18th in Phoenix but fifth at the finish after a race of attrition, Herbert did not qualify in Canada and was promptly ‘rested’ for the next three months. He did not race for Benetton again until the end of 1994. Collins had steadfastly supported his protégé as factions within the team manoeuvred. The Australian’s relationship with Briatore was strained and Ford’s Michael Kranefuss was openly critical. Collins finally left Benetton on 21 August and Gordon Message became team manager.
Nannini was sixth after a troubled afternoon in Brazil and third at Imola. His Monaco GP was compromised by a poor qualifying performance (including a crash at La Rascasse on Saturday) but he withstood excessive tyre wear to finish fourth in Mexico. He qualified third in Phoenix only to suffer concussion and a bruised back in a substantial crash during the warm-up. He started nonetheless and spun twice before wisely abandoning after 10 laps. He started the Canadian GP from the pitlane but joined the race too early and was black-flagged.
The DFR could not fit into the B189 so the new car’s début was delayed until the new engine proved reliable, with excessive vibration and its crankshafts especially fragile during early track testing. It was finally introduced in France, where Nannini qualified fourth and ran strongly in second place before suspension failure caused a high-speed spin. Third at Silverstone confirmed the B189’s promise. Emanuele Pirro replaced Herbert from the French GP and qualified at the back before finishing outside the points in his two races with the old B188.
An early retirement in Germany and Hungary, Nannini finished fifth in the wet Belgian GP after dicing first with Riccardo Patrese and then with Derek Warwick. The B189’s handling was evil on the bumpy Iberian circuits but Nannini salvaged fourth at Estoril having not stopped to change tyres. He spun in Spain before scoring his maiden GP victory at Suzuka as the beneficiary of Ayrton Senna’s controversial exclusion. Despite not being happy in Australia’s monsoon conditions, Nannini finished second to claim sixth spot in the World Championship.
Pirro had his own B189 from Hockenheim, where he crashed out of fourth position after hitting a kerb entering the stadium. He was eighth after a troubled Hungarian GP meeting and 10th in Belgium despite illness and a mid-race spin. Pirro retired from the next four races, including spinning out of fourth in Spain, before concluding a disappointing half-season by scoring his first points with fifth in Australia following an early spin. Benetton-Ford slipped a place to fourth in the constructors’ standings.
TYRRELL RACING ORGANISATION
Tyrrell exercised its option on Jonathan Palmer’s services on 28 November 1988 and Ken Tyrrell persuaded Michele Alboreto to return after the Italian became surplus to requirements at Ferrari and his deal with Williams fell through. ‘During the last two years I have made a number of approaches to Michele to try to persuade him to sign up with us, and I am delighted that he is now joining,’ was the team owner’s assessment. Courtaulds switched allegiance to McLaren and once again the Tyrrells were devoid of logos at the start of the year.
Alboreto was reunited with Harvey Postlethwaite and Jean-Claude Migeot and Tyrrell’s new engineering line-up prompted a real sense of optimism. Work on the new car began in September but it was not ready for the Brazilian GP so updated Tyrrell 017B-Fords were instead sent to Rio de Janeiro. These were fitted with the 018’s new six-speed gearbox, which was mounted longitudinally and ahead of the rear axle. Both cars ran reliably to the finish with Palmer seventh.
The prototype Tyrrell 018-Ford was completed just before the San Marino GP. Its ultra-slim shape and waisted rear end were the result of painstaking work in the wind tunnel at Southampton University. The narrow cockpit and high airbox over the Ford DFR engine were à la mode for 1989 and the sidepods were a half-length arrangement. At the front, push-rods and transverse rocker arms operated a single shock absorber.
As the Imola race was on Alboreto’s home ground, he was given the new 018 but suffered numerous teething problems and did not qualify. So Palmer, who qualified a 017B, took the new car for the race and, despite a spin on lap two, finished sixth after a strong run. Resources were so stretched during build of the second 018 that Ken Tyrrell celebrated his 65th birthday by driving one of the trucks himself to Monaco, where Alboreto further demonstrated the 018’s potential by finishing fifth. He came third in Mexico and at Phoenix Palmer lost a fourth-place finish in the closing laps. Shortly after that race there was sadness when news came of the death of Maurice Philippe, Tyrrell’s long-time designer. Both cars retired from the wet Canadian GP but Palmer set the fastest lap.
Much-needed sponsorship arrived from Camel cigarettes before the French GP but that had consequences for Alboreto. As he had a long association with Marlboro, he was replaced for this one race by F3000 star Jean Alesi, who proceeded to run as high as second before finishing fourth. That Palmer qualified a career-best ninth was hardly noticed amid the clamour regarding the newcomer.
Alesi signed an 18-month contract while Alboreto joined Larrousse, stating ‘I want to be competitive and try to win races.’ Palmer’s car was damaged at the aborted start to the French GP and neither Tyrrell scored points at the next four races. Alesi spun when sixth in Germany and incurred Nigel Mansell’s wrath when he apparently brake-tested the Ferrari star during practice in Hungary.
Alesi missed the Belgian and Portuguese GPs while he wrapped up the F3000 title so Johnny Herbert, rested by Benetton so that his injured ankles could heal, deputised. He out-qualified a troubled Palmer at Spa-Francorchamps but crashed early and did not qualify at Estoril when laid low by suspected food poisoning. Alesi further cemented his growing reputation by finishing fifth in Italy and fourth at Jerez, on a weekend when Postlethwaite was hospitalised with appendicitis. Palmer was sixth in Portugal as Tyrrell briefly rediscovered its top-six form.
Both drivers struggled in the final two long-haul events and the ever-unlucky Palmer even failed to qualify for the last race of the year in Adelaide when caught out by an ill-timed red flag.
Tyrrell-Ford was an impressive fifth in the constructors’ points. With Alesi’s star on the rise, Palmer chose to further his career as McLaren’s test driver in 1990.
CAMEL TEAM LOTUS
Honda’s announcement during the 1988 Italian GP weekend that it had signed an exclusive engine deal with McLaren was a body blow to Lotus. At least Camel renewed its title sponsorship that weekend, but a short-term deal for Judd V8 engines was a retrograde step. Lotus signed an exclusive arrangement to develop Tickford’s five-valve cylinder head during 1989 but this was quietly abandoned.
Nelson Piquet remained under contract and, with no obligation to Honda, Lotus tried to entice Derek Warwick to be Satoru Nakajima’s replacement. However, the Englishman extended his stay with Arrows and at the 1988 Australian GP Nakajima was announced for another season thanks to continued backing from Epson and PIAA. Martin Donnelly signed as test and reserve driver with an option for 1990 and 1991.
The management and engineering team was restructured to allow Peter Warr to concentrate on long-term planning with his assistant Rupert Mainwaring assuming day-to-day responsibility as team manager. Frank Dernie arrived from Williams to replace Gérard Ducarouge as technical director with Mike Coughlan, who had been with Team Lotus since 1984, promoted to chief designer. Bob Dance took up a new factory-based role looking after engines and Richard Taylor was appointed chief mechanic, reporting to race operations manager Steve Hallam.
Piquet broke a rib in February when he fell down stairs while visiting a luxury yacht in the Tuscan port of Viareggio so could only watch Donnelly give the Lotus 101-Judd its first shakedown at Snetterton on 2 March. The new car, which featured a very narrow carbon-fibre/Nomex monocoque with a snug cockpit, was revealed at the Rio test in March. ‘I’m amazed by how tight the cockpit is,’ Donnelly reported. ‘Some of my suits are looser fitting.’ The only removable bodywork pieces were the nose/wing assembly and a single moulding that incorporated the engine cover and half-length sidepods. A six-speed longitudinal gearbox was retained to optimise airflow to the rear diffuser and wing. Pull-rod suspension was employed at the front with push-rods at the back. The chassis was a slight improvement on the 100T, but the Judd CV engine was underpowered and Piquet’s lack of motivation soon became palpable as a disappointing campaign unfurled.
Piquet qualified in the top 10 in Brazil and San Marino but retired from the opening three races, losing fourth at Imola when the engine failed and blocking the track at Monaco’s Loews Hairpin after crashing into Andrea de Cesaris. Nakajima began by finishing eighth in Rio de Janeiro but did not qualify at Monaco as he continued to struggle. Neither driver scored when way off the pace in Mexico and the United States, but then Piquet finished fourth in the Canadian rain to register the team’s first points from a distinctly lacklustre campaign. Nakajima’s woes continued in Montréal with his second non-qualification of the year.
Questions about both regular drivers were compounded when Donnelly proved quicker in the Silverstone tyre test. Piquet had tested the Tickford heads during that test and they were tried in practice in France, where they proved troublesome, so Piquet used a standard engine to snatch eighth on the last lap of the race. With his reputation on the wane, Piquet at least awoke from his competitive slumbers to qualify in the top 10 at both Silverstone and Hockenheim and score points for three races in a row.
There was also turmoil off the track as Team Lotus chairman Fred Bushell stood down in order to resolve legal difficulties relating to his part in the DeLorean affair. After Peter Warr also resigned, Group Lotus technical director and veteran engineer Tony Rudd was seconded to the racing operation as executive chairman. The team’s all-time low came in Belgium when both cars failed to qualify for the first time in this famous marque’s history. Piquet was seventh on the grid in Spain before hitting old F3 sparring partner Derek Warwick during an untidy race and he was classified fourth in Japan after Ayrton Senna’s disqualification. In Australia Nakajima survived contact at the second race start to equal his best F1 result, setting the fastest lap on his way to fourth place after a fine performance in the rain.
ARROWS GRAND PRIX INTERNATIONAL
With turbocharged engines banned, Megatron BMW-power was replaced by normally aspirated Brian Hart-tended Ford DFR engines, although the days of buying a customer engine and winning races on merit were long gone. USF&G remained as title sponsor and at the 1988 Italian GP Derek Warwick confirmed he was staying. Epson-backed Satoru Nakajima was expected to join but remained with Lotus, so Eddie Cheever stayed put in an unchanged line-up. James Robinson arrived from Williams as chief engineer.
Warwick first drove the new Arrows A11-Ford at Abingdon airfield on 25 February before it was unveiled at Paul Ricard on 2 March. Technical director Ross Brawn designed an elegant, compact machine with low, thin monocoque (the front bulkhead was just 12 inches wide) and high airbox. The atmospheric V8 was driven through a new transverse six-speed gearbox and AP carbon clutch. Deflectors were mounted in front of the short sidepods to channel air into the radiators. The cockpit was tight as was the fashion but it was overly cramped and required modification to fit the lanky Cheever. Suspension was now by pull-rods at front and rear.
Warwick began 1989 by regularly qualifying in the top 12 while Cheever struggled throughout, especially over a single lap. The Englishman finished fifth in Brazil (after a slow pit stop lost him the chance of a podium) and at Imola. Cheever’s difficult Brazilian weekend ended when Bernd Schneider’s Zakspeed-Yamaha crashed into him while being lapped and he was ninth after breaking an exhaust in round two.
Sixth on the grid in Monaco, Warwick triggered the red flag when he stalled at the original start before hopes of another strong score went up in smoke when his electrics caught fire on lap three. That was the first of four successive retirements that robbed points on each occasion. The cruellest failure came in Canada, where Warwick briefly led in the rain before his engine failed. Senna had just passed him but also retired, so Warwick would have won if he had finished. Cheever was seventh in Monaco and Mexico before surviving a race of attrition to finish third on the streets of Phoenix, the city in which he was born.
Warwick missed the French GP when he injured his back by spinning into a parked van during a charity kart race at Bouley Bay in Jersey. Martin Donnelly made a troubled début in his place: with his race car damaged at the original start, Donnelly switched to the spare and came from the pitlane to finish 12th following a spin. Cheever finished outside the points when seventh once more.
During the week before the British GP Arrows opened an additional factory adjacent to its existing Milton Keynes premises. These expanded facilities, with an area of 38,000sq ft, included a 40 per cent scale wind tunnel.
Warwick was fit for his home race but the A11 lacked grip so the team struggled. Cheever failed to qualify and Warwick could only finish ninth. Warwick was sixth in Germany and Belgium (on his 35th birthday) and Cheever, running without a tyre stop, finished fifth in Hungary after being passed by Alain Prost on the last lap. Cheever did not qualify in Italy and both cars crashed out of the Portuguese GP. They hit each other a week later in Spain but both finished in Japan, Warwick sixth and Cheever eighth. Misfires hampered their Australian GPs and both drivers spun into retirement. The 13 points Arrows-Ford scored were good enough for seventh overall but it had been the team’s 11th winless campaign.
Ross Brawn decided not to renew his contract that expired in April 1990 and he moved to Tom Walkinshaw Racing for the new season. Both drivers left Arrows with Warwick joining Lotus and Cheever searching for victory in Champ Cars. Watari Ohashi’s mail-order Footwork Corporation acquired a majority stake in Arrows at the end of the season.
BMS SCUDERIA ITALIA (DALLARA)
BMS Scuderia Italia held a press conference at the 1988 German GP to announce it was expanding to two cars for 1989 with Alex Caffi retained. They considered using Mauro Forghieri’s Lamborghini V12 but opted for Heini Mader-prepared Ford DFR V8s instead. Sergio Rinland returned to Brabham so Gian Paolo Dallara hired former Alfa Romeo and EuroBrun engineer Mario Tolentino to complete the new chassis. Chief mechanic Remo Ramazzani was promoted to general manager in a reshuffle in July.
Eventually preferred to J.J. Lehto, Andrea de Cesaris was confirmed as Caffi’s team-mate during the 1988 Portuguese GP weekend. Despite impressing without tangible reward during his first full season in F1, Caffi was required to pre-qualify as de Cesaris was officially number one driver. Much of the autumn was spent testing Pirelli tyres so it was no surprise when the switch to the Italian rubber was made. The compact new Dallara F189-Ford was launched on 2 February with carbon-fibre monocoque moulded in a single-piece and pull-rod suspension and half-length sidepods retained. The high airbox was slender and body shape refined, with rising floor under the nose.
Engine issues prevented Caffi from pre-qualifying in Brazil but he used sticky Pirellis to line up ninth for the next two races. He finished seventh at Imola after his initial disqualification, for changing a punctured tyre during the stoppage that followed Gerhard Berger’s accident, was overturned. A fine fourth-place finish followed in Monaco to deliver the team’s first points score. De Cesaris was eighth in the latter stages of the Brazilian GP when his engine failed and 10th following a spin at Imola. He lined up next to his team-mate on the fifth row in Monaco and ran fourth before colliding with Nelson Piquet’s Lotus at the Loews Hairpin.
The Dallara-Fords were a handful on México City’s bumps but Pirelli tyres were ideally suited to the streets of Phoenix, where Caffi qualified sixth. He was a strong third by mid-distance, briefly held second when Ayrton Senna changed tyres, then after his own pit stop lay fifth and was gaining when he was taken out by team-mate de Cesaris while lapping him. That prompted fury within BMS Scuderia Italia with team manager Patrizio Cantú vocal in his condemnation of de Cesaris. ‘He’s crazy. He threw away our best showing of the season. Alex would have been second… Nine years in F1 and he still doesn’t see people.’
De Cesaris qualified eighth and Caffi ninth in Canada, where both scored points in the rain. Both spun as the conditions worsened but they survived to take third (de Cesaris) and sixth (Caffi). It was an ecstatic de Cesaris who celebrated on the podium for the first time since the 1987 Belgian GP. But F1’s fickle nature was then illustrated by de Cesaris’s failure to qualify after a troubled weekend in France and Caffi’s inability to make it through pre-qualifying at Silverstone due to his engine cutting out in the fast corners.
With the team now sixth in the standings, neither driver had to pre-qualify during the second half of the season – but no more points were scored. De Cesaris finished seventh in Germany and Spain but his Belgian GP was overshadowed by a large road accident on the Friday evening and three spins in the race.
Caffi’s Hungarian GP showed the best and worst of Pirelli’s 1989 rubber. He excelled during qualifying when second on Friday and third on the final grid. He lay third during the opening laps on a track where overtaking was virtually impossible but he could not keep faster Goodyear runners at bay and faded to finish a disappointing seventh. He was seventh in qualifying at Estoril but poor tyres again hampered race pace before a collision with Nelson Piquet’s Lotus-Judd on lap 34. The Dallara-Fords filled row five in Australia but had no chance when it rained on Sunday, with Pirelli’s wet-weather tyres not up to the job. De Cesaris spun three times before becoming beached on a kerb and Caffi was badly dazed in a heavy crash.
Dallara-Ford slipped to eighth equal in the final standings.
MOTOR RACING DEVELOPMENTS (BRABHAM)
Brabham returned from a sabbatical spent building the Alfa Romeo 164 ‘procar’ for a stillborn silhouette category and organising a celebrity one-make series for the Italian manufacturer. Time away from F1 was spent refitting the Chessington factory and searching for new owners.
Former Williams team manager Peter Windsor tried to broker a deal that involved Walter Brun and golfer Greg Norman but that collapsed amid legal action and uncertainty. It was Swiss financier Joachim Lühti who took control with Herbie Blash, who had been running FOCA Television, directing operations at Chessington once more. Dave Stubbs (ex-Williams) joined as team manager. Teddy Mayer arrived on 1 June as managing director but left after just a month due to ‘differences in management style’ with Lühti, whose brief F1 sojourn was placed in doubt by August as he answered questions from the Swiss authorities concerning unrelated financial matters. Brabham’s holding company was eventually placed into liquidation in September with new ownership soon being sought.
With so much uncertainty off the track, it was impressive that there was some progress on it. World Sportscar Champion Martin Brundle was confirmed as lead driver before Christmas with Stefano Modena chosen as his team-mate. Contracts were signed to return to Pirelli tyres and use Judd CV V8 engines. Designer Sergio Rinland returned from BMS Scuderia Italia and penned the Brabham BT58-Judd with John Baldwin. In view of the late go-ahead, this was an entirely conventional chassis with pull-rod suspension, short sidepods and longitudinal six-speed gearbox. The front wings featured skirted front end-plates. Baldwin eventually moved to March’s unsuccessful Alfa Romeo Champ Car project in the autumn.
Having not raced in 1988, Brabham were required to pre-qualify both drivers during the first half of the season, something they did with ease unless they encountered problems. Sponsorship came from Bioptron and Nippon Shinpan. The BT58 worked well on low-speed circuits and those where Pirellis were an advantage, but it lacked straight-line speed.
Both drivers retired from the opening two races, with Modena crashing heavily at Rivazza on lap 19 of the San Marino GP. But they starred in Monaco when Pirelli rubber proved beneficial. Brundle overcame illness to qualify fourth and was running third when his Judd V8 developed a misfire; he stopped to have the battery changed and charged back to finish sixth. Modena was eighth on the grid but inherited a fine third-place finish as others faltered.
In contrast, Pirelli’s tyres compromised performance in Mexico, where Modena’s spin at the end of lap one brought out the red flags. Both qualified strongly in Phoenix and ran in the top six before issues with their brakes curtailed promising performances. The perils of pre-qualifying were amply illustrated by Brundle’s elimination in Canada and France after a catalogue of problems. Modena qualified seventh in Montréal but crashed into Pierluigi Martini on the opening lap, and in France a poor weekend ended when he withdrew from the race when he felt his engine tighten.
The points scored in Monaco meant neither Brabham had to pre-qualify from the British GP onwards. Both cars were off the pace at Silverstone before their engines failed. Brundle finished the next two races outside the points, after losing his brakes in Germany and hitting Jean Alesi on the first lap in Hungary. Modena qualified eighth in Hungary and again in Belgium, where both Brabham-Judds crashed on the way to the grid and retired early from the wet race.
Brundle was a steady sixth at Monza after Modena had been excluded from the meeting and fined $5,000 for ignoring instructions to go to the weighbridge. The Iberian races were compromised by niggling mechanical issues and in Spain Brundle was fined $10,000 due to speeding in the pitlane before the race. In Japan Brundle finished fifth despite contact with Maurício Gugelmin’s March and Modena suffered alternator failure while ahead of his team-mate in the closing stages. Modena qualified eighth in Australia but Pirelli wet tyres were hopeless so he slipped back and finished last. Brundle’s 1989 campaign came to a dramatic conclusion when he was hit by unsighted race leader Ayrton Senna after 13 laps.
MONEYTRON ONYX FORMULA ONE
Mike Earle formed Onyx Race Engineering in 1979 and second-tier success culminated in Stefano Modena’s F3000 title in 1987. Earle had managed unsuccessful F1 campaigns for David Purley in 1977 and Emilio de Villota in 1982 and now he returned in his own right. Former McLaren engineer Alan Jenkins joined from Penske Racing in mid-1987 but original plans to graduate with Modena in 1988 were scuppered when the sponsor withdrew. That was deferred a year but the project went ahead when Paul Shakespeare, an old acquaintance of Earle, agreed to finance initial development.
Twelve Ford DFR engines were ordered in June and staff were hired in the autumn. Stefan Johansson was persuaded to join as team leader in November and Bertrand Gachot signed as his team-mate before Christmas. The team moved into new headquarters at Westergate House, an 1830s country establishment in Fontwell, West Sussex, on 3 April. Following an introduction from Gachot, title sponsorship from Jean-Pierre van Rossem’s Moneytron investment company was announced in February and its vivid blue and pink livery ensured visibility. The eccentric van Rossem took a majority stake in the team by acquiring Shakespeare’s shares in May.
An original member of Onyx back in 1979, Greg Field rejoined as team manager but did not last the season. American shock absorber specialist Ken Anderson left Ligier and augmented the engineering talent for the last couple of months of its début season.
The Onyx ORE1-Ford was launched at London’s Hippodrome night club amid much fanfare on 13 March. It was a largely conventional design with a transverse six-speed gearbox developed in conjunction with Xtrac. The monocoque was carbon-fibre and aluminium honeycomb, suspension by push-rods and engines prepared by Brian Hart. Wind tunnel testing was carried out at Imperial College, London.
Both cars had to pre-qualify and that proved to be no easy task in view of limited testing. It was the Mexican GP before an Onyx-Ford made it through that early Friday morning session. Johansson retired in Mexico and Phoenix and was black-flagged in Canada after rejoining from a tyre stop with a wheel gun still attached. Gachot finally escaped pre-qualifying in France, where Johansson finished in a noteworthy fifth position (despite a couple of spins) to score precious points for the first time. He did not pre-qualify at Silverstone, where Minardi’s double points score consigned Onyx to pre-qualifying for the rest of 1989.
Johansson was eighth in Belgium but Gachot grew frustrated by a run of retirements and a DNQ following a spin in Germany. He aired his views in the media and was suspended by van Rossem on 20 September. J.J. Lehto was hired for the Portuguese GP, the Finnish F3000 driver having been testing for Ferrari at Fiorano when placed on standby. After spending Wednesday night sleeping in his hire car because he could not find a hotel, Lehto flew to Lisbon via London, failed to pre-qualify on the Friday and then travelled to Le Mans where he crashed on the opening lap of the F3000 race.
That said, Lehto did enough to be retained for the rest of the season, retiring twice and failing to pre-qualify in Japan. Johansson provided the team’s outstanding result by finishing third after running non-stop at Estoril but he missed the podium celebrations due to running out of fuel after the flag. A non-pre-qualifier for the last three races of the season, Johansson shared 11th in the drivers’ standings with Onyx-Ford 10th equal.
Working with van Rossem as majority stakeholder proved increasingly difficult and both Earle and financial director Jo Chamberlain left in December, with former Ferrari GTO administrator Peter Reinhardt and Johan Denekamp (Price Waterhouse) hired in their place. Van Rossem tried to secure works Porsche engines for 1991–93 but when that deal went to Arrows he put the team up for sale, in February 1990.
LOIS MINARDI TEAM
Pierlugi Martini and Luis Pérez Sala remained in an unchanged driver line-up with Minardi signing to use Pirelli tyres. Young Lotus aerodynamicist Nigel Couperthwaite joined at the end of 1988 while Aldo Costa reworked Giacomo Caliri’s existing design as the Minardi M188B, complete with Heini Mader-prepared Ford DFR engines and new rear suspension. Lois Jeans reduced its involvement but new sponsorship was found from the SCM Group, producers of wood-cutting machinery. Minardi was chosen to test Carlo Chiti’s new Subaru flat-12 engine but it was unreliable and uncompetitive so the team declined the opportunity to race the engine when it was deemed ready in 1990.
Martini twice qualified 11th from the opening three races as the updated M188B showed much improvement. The team was fined $2,000 in Brazil when Martini’s car contravened regulations that required the driver’s helmet to be under a line from the front of the cockpit to the roll-over hoop, and both cars retired before the race was three laps old. Imola and Monte Carlo also saw double DNFs, Martini retiring from eighth after just three laps in the Principality.
The new Minardi M189-Ford was unveiled at the Paul Ricard test that followed Monaco. Costa, Couperthwaite and the experienced Tommaso Carletti designed a compact if conventional Ford DFR-powered machine with slim monocoque, two-inch stepped floor behind the front wing and narrow cockpit opening. The water and oil radiators were mounted in full-length low sidepods. The car had a longitudinal six-speed gearbox and push-rod suspension all-round. It took time to sort the new M189 but it became the most competitive car in Minardi’s history.
Sala failed to qualify for two of the next four races and neither driver finished any of them, the team’s Canadian GP ending with both cars crashed. The M189’s radiators were altered for the British GP and Minardi enjoyed its best race to date with Martini fifth and Sala sixth. That double points score was all the more important because it meant the team avoided pre-qualifying for the rest of the season. Niggling problems stopped Martini scoring further points during the next four races as he continued to overshadow Sala. The Italian then qualified an impressive fifth in Portugal (with Sala ninth) and briefly led the race before finishing fifth – this was a high-water mark for the team in that guise. Martini then proved that performance was no fluke by qualifying fourth in Spain but he aggravated a rib injury sustained in Portugal when he fell down the Minardi motorhome’s stairs.
That injury stopped Martini from racing in Japan, where reserve Paolo Barilla retired on the opening lap of his GP début and Sala crashed into Satoru Nakajima at the start. Martini qualified third on his return in Adelaide and finished sixth despite Pirelli’s wet-weather tyres proving no match for Goodyear’s equivalent. Sala completed a disappointing campaign by failing to qualify for the fourth time and was not retained for 1990.
Martini’s heroics and an excellent chassis were enough for the Faenza-based minnows to claim, with Onyx-Ford, a share of 10th place in the championship.
LEYTON HOUSE MARCH RACING TEAM
Adrian Newey’s much-admired March 881 set the F1 design parameters for 1989 with tiny cockpit, narrow monocoque and high airbox now standard. Despite that, Leyton House March experienced a disappointing campaign that began under a shadow following the death in a road accident on 24 January of Cesare Gariboldi, a long-time associate and Ivan Capelli’s mentor.
The financial instability of the parent company was eased when Leyton House’s Akira Akagi traded his shares in March Group Plc and paid an extra £6 million in May to take over the F1 and F3000 operations as well as the wind tunnel at Brackley. Ian Phillips was promoted to managing director on a board that included Akagi, Newey and fellow engineer Tim Holloway. Additional backing came thanks to a three-year deal with BP in April and the addition of Autoglass windscreens a month later.
The Lamborghini V12 was evaluated and rejected before March commissioned John Judd to produce a narrow-angle (78-degree) V8 on an exclusive basis, designated the Judd EV. The team opted for stability when it announced that Capelli and Maurício Gugelmin had been rehired in August 1988.
Leyton House March began the season with little-changed 881s although larger water radiators were now housed in squat sidepods. It was an upbeat start in Brazil for Capelli qualified seventh and ran third before Gugelmin finished in that position to score his first podium. Unfortunately, that was a false dawn for Gugelmin did not score again and the ill-handling 881s both retired at Imola, Capelli having made a good start to run seventh before crashing at Rivazza on lap two.
The new March CG891-Judd (the ‘CG’ referring to Cesare Gariboldi) was ready for shakedown in the third week of April with Gary Brabham and Bruno Giacomelli also testing in subsequent weeks. This evolution was even smaller than its predecessor as Newey refined the aerodynamics and looked to improve performance in slow corners. A new six-speed gearbox was mounted longitudinally ahead of the rear axle.
Two CG891s were taken to Monaco for a troubled début. Gugelmin was forced to start from the pitlane in the spare 881 but retired while Capelli lost sixth when his engine failed on the penultimate lap. The Italian was a promising fourth in Mexican qualifying and also started from the pitlane only to break a CV joint after just a lap; a succession of setbacks and subsequent rain prevented Gugelmin from qualifying. Capelli then retired from seven races in a row as poor reliability haunted the CG891.
Gugelmin was black-flagged in Phoenix for adding brake fluid during a pit stop and then took centre stage at the start of the French GP. He crashed over Thierry Boutsen’s Williams and Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari after slamming into the back of them and came to rest upside down. Taking the spare for the restart, he had to begin from the pitlane and had a pit stop to cure a misfire, but managed to set the race’s fastest lap – an eventful day. Capelli climbed to second place before his electrics failed.
With the CG891 best suited to fast tracks, both qualified in the top eight at Silverstone, where Gugelmin was forced to start from the pitlane but charged up to fifth place before his gearbox broke. With his competitive spirit seemingly revived, the Brazilian out-qualified his team-mate for the next two races and ran fifth in Germany, but the CG891s retired on both occasions.
After the promise of 1988, the season brought slim pickings for Capelli. He was 12th in the wet Belgian GP when his car was reliable for once but retired from the last five GPs of his anticlimactic campaign. Gugelmin secured three seventh places during that time but more had been expected from Leyton House March. Even Capelli’s smile was eventually replaced by a frown during this unhappy season.
There had been promising moments during 1988 but Rial’s sophomore campaign descended into shambolic failure. Hans-Günther Schmid expanded to a two-car line-up with Christian Danner signed before Christmas and Volker Weidler in January, the latter having to pre-qualify from the start of the season.
The new Rial ARC2-Ford was launched at Paul Ricard on 1 March. Gustav Brunner had defected to Zakspeed by the end of 1988, so this evolution was penned by a committee that included Stefan Fober, Martin Goodrich and former McLaren aerodynamicist Bob Bell. The carbon-fibre/honeycomb chassis was strengthened and modified to accommodate Danner’s tall frame. The bodywork was refined with unconventional splitter under the nose, small sidepods and attractive engine cover. The 1988 pull-rod suspension arrangement was retained. Fuel was redistributed in small low tanks on either side of the cockpit with capacity increased to 200 litres. Heini Mader prepared the Ford DFR engines.
Danner was delayed by an unscheduled pit stop and late gearbox failure in Brazil and failed to qualify for the next two races. He safely made the field for the North American races and in the Phoenix heat scored a crucial if fortuitous fourth place from last on the grid. With the ARC2 struggling for traction and reliability, Danner did not qualify for the next seven races before Schmid decided on a change: Danner arrived in Spain to be told by journalists that Gregor Foitek had replaced him. Foitek crashed heavily on Friday when his rear wing fell off and the car could not be repaired, so the new man continued the run of DNQs. After Foitek decided to concentrate on finding a different seat for 1990, Bertrand Gachot drove the car at the last two GPs, inevitably failing to qualify on both occasions.
Weidler had a wretched time in the second ARC2. He did not pre-qualify for the first eight races, including being excluded from the session at Silverstone after missing the weighbridge. Danner’s American result meant that both Rials escaped pre-qualifying from Germany but Weidler was excluded from the German GP meeting after mechanics worked on his car away from the pits. He was fined $5,000 for a wing infringement in Hungary, where he failed to qualify once more. Weidler was replaced by Pierre-Henri Raphanel from the Belgian GP but the Frenchman fared no better and did not qualify for the last six races. That sorry run included his own $5,000 fine at Monza due to another wing infringement.
Christian Vanderpleyn joined from Coloni in August but the former AGS designer lasted less than two months before moving on. Danner’s lucky result in Phoenix gave Rial-Ford a share of 13th in the points but Rial withdrew at the end of the year.
Ligier’s engineering line-up remained in a state of flux for much of the winter and Stefan Johansson refused to re-sign until he knew the identity of the new technical director. Michel Tétu took Ligier to court to establish his right to work for another F1 team and won. Ligier were unsuccessful in attempts to hire Williams aerodynamicist Frank Dernie. Ken Anderson, a shock absorber specialist who had been Rick Mears’s race engineer in Champ Cars, was finally recruited in November 1988 and FIRST Racing designer Richard Divila joined in December. Porsche North America aerodynamicist Gary Grossenbacher, who had been due to start in February, decided to stay in Champ Cars with TrueSports due to his father’s ill health.
René Arnoux remained for a fourth season and F3000 star Olivier Grouillard replaced Johansson as his new team-mate. Divila and Anderson joined Michel Beaujon to design the conventional new JS33. Its monocoque was carbon-fibre with an inner layer of carbon/Kevlar honeycomb and the elaborate fuel tanks of the JS31 were abandoned. Bodywork was also a carbon/Kevlar mix and the aerodynamics were developed in the wind tunnel at London’s Imperial College, the car featuring a high airbox and waisted rear end, as was the fashion. The team switched to Ford DFR engines, prepared by Langford & Peck, and the longitudinal six-speed gearbox was new. Double wishbone/push-rod suspension was employed with dampers attached to the gearbox casing at the rear and ahead of the drivers’ feet at the front. Ligier continued with Goodyear tyres.
Ligier’s race-winning days were a distant memory and Arnoux was well past his best. The veteran failed to qualify for the first two races while Grouillard finished ninth in Brazil and qualified an impressive 10th at Imola. As difficult to lap as ever, Arnoux was a distant finisher at the next two races while Grouillard came eighth in Mexico despite being involved in the first start-line accident and losing his clutch after the restart. Neither driver qualified in Phoenix as mechanical failures punctuated a disastrous weekend. Grouillard was similarly unemployed for the Canadian GP but Arnoux survived the rain and a collision with Gabriele Tarquini to finish fifth and score Ligier’s first points since the 1987 Belgian GP.
Grouillard then scored his first championship point in France when sixth despite worn tyres and gearbox issues. Arnoux did not qualify at Silverstone, where Grouillard came from the back of the field to claim seventh, just 0.846sec behind Luis Pérez Sala’s sixth-placed Minardi at the chequered flag.
Arnoux was last in Germany and neither qualified in Hungary after another troubled couple of days. Matters were not helped at that time by Anderson’s surprise departure or by the way Grouillard’s relationship with Guy Ligier deteriorated with every incident. Arnoux collided with Philippe Alliot after four laps of Spa-Francorchamps and finished ninth in Italy when lapped twice.
Although Grouillard had totally eclipsed Arnoux at the start of the season, that promise seemed a distant memory when he failed to qualify at Estoril while Arnoux was similarly disappointed at Jerez and Suzuka. Grouillard retired from the last three races of the season and in Australia Arnoux spun twice (once with Grouillard) before his engine died on his last GP appearance.
Ligier’s 1989 performance had been an improvement but 13th equal in the constructors’ standings was far from the heady days of a decade earlier.
AUTOMOBILES GONFARONAISE SPORTIVE (AGS)
The precarious financial state of AGS and a mass walk-out of its technical staff in the autumn prompted the tiny French team to be restructured over the close season. Wealthy enthusiast Cyril de Rouvre acquired a majority stake with founder Henri Julien retained as a technical consultant. Ex-Ligier Claude Galopin arrived after a short stay with the GDBA F3000 team and Christophe Coquet joined as chief engineer. Michel Costa returned from Coloni in August. François Guerre-Berthelot remained as development director and sponsorship was found from Faure electronics.
Philippe Streiff remained under contract and AGS sought a monied driver for the second seat. Former Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Fabrizio Barbazza and F3000 runner-up Olivier Grouillard were considered before German F3 Champion Joachim Winkelhock used backing from Liqui Moly and Camel to secure the drive.
The existing chassis was converted to Ford DFR power but the team’s plans were rocked when Streiff crashed at over 150mph on 15 March when testing at Rio de Janeiro. The JS23B rolled into the barrier at high speed and was destroyed while Streiff suffered paralysing back injuries.
Gabriele Tarquini replaced the injured Frenchman at Imola although that was initially a short-term arrangement as Michel Ferté was being considered for his long-overdue début. However, Tarquini finished three of the next four races in the top eight and therefore was retained for the rest of the season. He qualified 13th and ran fifth before retiring in Monaco and scored his first point by finishing sixth in Mexico. He lost another sixth-place finish in the United States when his engine expired on the last corner and he was running seventh when he collided with the obdurate René Arnoux in the Canadian rain.
Galopin’s new AGS JH24-Ford was introduced at Silverstone and Tarquini failed to qualify for the first time. The outward appearance was little changed but the JH24 had a stiffer carbon-fibre/Kevlar monocoque and the engine was mounted lower to improve weight distribution. That meant Galopin could lower the rear bodywork and sidepods, which were shorter than before.
The inexperienced Winkelhock failed to pre-qualify at the first seven races and was replaced by Yannick Dalmas from the British GP. There was no change of fortunes, however, as the former Larrousse Calmels driver never made it through pre-qualifying, at first with the JH23B and then with his own JH24 from Belgium. Dalmas was third quickest in that session at Estoril but his times were deleted when he was given the wrong set of tyres for his final run.
Tarquini’s failure to qualify for the British GP proved crucial because both AGS-Fords then had to pre-qualify for the rest of the season. That early hour on Friday morning was ultra-competitive with Pirelli’s sticky rubber making it difficult for the Goodyear runners. Having shown an impressive turn of pace earlier in the year, Tarquini was unable to coax his AGS through pre-qualifying for the rest of the under-funded campaign.
LARROUSSE CALMELS/ÉQUIPE LARROUSSE (LOLA)
Gérard Larrousse’s third season as a privateer was complicated by the arrest in the spring of business partner Didier Calmels, who was detained in Paris following the death of his wife in a shooting incident. Financial restructuring followed and the team was renamed Équipe Larrousse from the second race of the season. Italian industrialist Carlo Patrucco considered buying Calmels’s 51 per cent stake before a deal with Kazuo Ito’s ESPO Group was announced at the 1989 Japanese GP to secure Larrousse’s immediate future.
Gérard Ducarouge, who had previously worked with Larrousse at Matra, joined on 1 December 1988 as technical director. Another ex-colleague arrived when former Renault and Ligier designer Michel Tétu joined in June. Philippe Alliot and Yannick Dalmas were announced as drivers in September 1988.
Larrousse used Lamborghini’s new 3.5-litre normally aspirated engine, which was designed by former Ferrari technical director Mauro Forghieri and unveiled in April 1988. This was a bulky, 80-degree V12 that was tested with five valves per cylinder before conventional four-valve heads were adopted. Materials such as titanium and magnesium were used to save weight. Magneti Marelli supplied the electronics at launch although a Bosch system was soon adopted. The Lamborghini unit was also offered to March and Scuderia Italia but neither accepted.
The Lola LC89-Lamborghini was launched in Paris on 20 March but was not taken to Rio for the opening race of the year. The work of Chris Murphy and his team at Lola, with contributions from Ducarouge, the LC89 necessarily had an extended engine bay with the V12 driven through Lamborghini’s transverse six-speed gearbox. The car’s narrow composite monocoque was influenced by the March 881 while push-rod suspension was employed at the front with pull-rods to the rear.
The engine had been tested in a modified LC88B chassis during the winter and two of these overweight and extended chassis were sent to Brazil. Alliot was last on the grid and in the race while Dalmas was the fastest non-qualifier at the start of a soul-destroying campaign. The LC89 made its début at Imola where Alliot retired after a single lap and Dalmas did not start when his newly completed car refused to fire up before the parade lap. Dalmas failed to qualify for the next four races as Alliot showed improved one-lap pace, lining up 10th in Canada and seventh in France. However, reliability was non-existent and Alliot did not register a finish in the first half of the season. He crashed on the way to the grid in Montréal but ran third in the spare car before crashing again as the rain fell.
Determined to revive fortunes and facing the prospect of pre-qualification in the second half of the year, Larrousse considered driver changes and tested Emanuele Pirro, Éric Bernard, Alain Ferté and Jean-Louis Schlesser at Silverstone. Dalmas was fired and Pirro hired for the French GP, although he then accepted a drive there with Benetton and instead Bernard took the Larrousse seat for his F1 début. He duly qualified at Paul Ricard but both Lola-Lamborghinis lost strong results when their engines detonated, Alliot while running sixth and Bernard seventh. Alliot’s improved form continued and he ran fifth at Silverstone before both blew engines once again.
Larrousse had to pre-qualify from the German GP and the team preferred Michele Alboreto’s experience to Bernard’s promise for the rest of the year. The Italian veteran retired from the next four races, in pain in Hungary after cracking a rib and at Spa-Francorchamps after crashing into Riccardo Patrese. Alliot did not pre-qualify in Hungary when blocked by a tardy Zakspeed-Yamaha but started every other race. Both cars finished outside the points at Estoril and Alboreto’s campaign drew to a disappointing close by twice failing to pre-qualify and a DNQ in Japan. Alliot was competitive throughout the Spanish GP weekend, qualifying fifth and finishing sixth to score the team’s only point of the season. Eighth on the grid in Japan, Alliot retired from the last two races of Larrousse’s disappointing season.
OSELLA SQUADRA CORSE
Now in its 10th year in F1, Osella replaced its ancient Alfa Romeo turbos with Heini Mader-prepared Ford DFR V8 engines. New backing from the Fondmetal wheels funded an expanded two-car line-up with Nicola Larini retained and Piercarlo Ghinzani returning.
Technical director Antonio Tomaini designed the Osella FA1M (or FA1-M89) which followed contemporary thinking with high airbox, enclosed engine and slim carbon-fibre monocoque that further narrowed around the driver’s legs. The radiators were mounted in short sidepods and a swept diffuser increased rear downforce. The rear wing was mounted on the longitudinal Hewland DGB400 gearbox. Suspension was via pull-rods and double wishbones with the front shock absorbers attached horizontally beneath the driver’s legs. Osella switched to Pirelli tyres. Any promise was obscured by the need to pre-qualify and poor reliability.
Larini qualified for the opening two races despite the FA1M’s erratic handling. Black-flagged for starting from the wrong grid slot in Brazil, he crashed in testing at Imola but qualified the repaired car in 14th position. He ran as high as sixth in the San Marino GP before that promising performance ended when a mechanical failure forced him to crash. However, Larini did not pre-qualify for four of the next five races, including Mexico, where Enrico Bertaggia was placed on standby in case Larini was required to replace the injured Gerhard Berger at Ferrari. The exception to that disappointing run was the Canadian GP, for which Larini had a new chassis, believing his regular monocoque may have been damaged in his Imola accident. He qualified 15th, started strongly and ran third for eight glorious laps in the wet. Hopes of a points finish were dashed by electrical failure.
There was a near miss at Silverstone when Larini started from the pitlane after a rear-view mirror fell off on the parade lap. Late away, he was last when he completed the first lap and nearly ran over Jean-Marie Balestre and F1 starter Roland Bruynseraede as they were casually crossing the track. Larini failed to pre-qualify for the next three races and was excluded from the meeting in Portugal for missing the weight check. He retired in Italy and from the last three races of the season, having started in the top 11 on each occasion. Larini was highly regarded at the time as demonstrated by Ferrari’s interest, and his performance in the Canadian GP, but the Osella FA1M-Ford was no platform to display those talents.
Ghinzani was eliminated in pre-qualifying throughout the first half of the season, missing the cut in Monaco by just 0.021sec and excluded from the Mexican GP meeting for missing the weighbridge. He finally made it through on the 10th attempt and qualified three times by the end of his final season in F1, retiring on each occasion. His last race ended when hit by Nelson Piquet’s Lotus in Australia with the unlucky Italian breaking a bone in his foot in the ensuing accident.
The new technical team led by Christian Vanderpleyn upgraded the 1988 car as the Coloni FC188C-Ford with new bodywork and suspension. Coloni used Pirelli rubber during 1989. Roberto Moreno signed a one-year deal in the autumn and Pierre-Henri Raphanel brought sponsorship from La Cinq to join him in an expanded two-car line-up. The Frenchman was required to pre-qualify from the start of the season.
The heavy old FC188C was used for the first five races. During that time Moreno normally did not qualify and Raphanel was regularly eliminated in pre-qualifying. However, both qualified in Monaco, Raphanel starting from a surprise 18th on the grid after an eventful couple of days, but both dropped out of the race.
The team only sent one engineer and three mechanics to Mexico as everyone else raced to finish Vanderpleyn’s new Coloni C3-Ford. The monocoque was narrower than its predecessor and the six-speed gearbox was also new. The push-rod suspension was largely unchanged. Limited budget prevented much-needed testing and development, so little was achieved.
The C3 was finally ready for the Canadian GP and Moreno qualified for two of the next three races. But without a finish in the first half of the season, both Coloni-Fords were required to pre-qualify from the German GP. Moreno only made it through once when he lined up 15th in Portugal, the C3 having benefited from testing and work in the wind tunnel. Plagued by a misfire all weekend and having rolled the spare car during Saturday qualifying after being hit by Eddie Cheever’s Arrows, Moreno retired for a fourth time this season when his electrics failed.
Raphanel was a serial victim of pre-qualifying before switching to Rial from the Belgian GP. He was replaced by Enrico Bertaggia, who continued Coloni’s bleak record by failing to pre-qualify in six attempts. Eric van de Poele raised enough money to drive the second car in Belgium but was refused the necessary super licence.
Coloni’s poor season disintegrated with Vanderpleyn defecting to Rial and Michel Costa returning to AGS. Moreno’s 1988 F3000 engineer, Gary Anderson, helped out at Monza but to no avail.
EuroBrun concentrated on a singleton entry after its chastening experiences in 1988. For the start of the season, the old car was reworked as the ER188B to accommodate a switch from Ford DFZ to the Judd CV engines that had been acquired from Williams. The team transferred to Pirelli tyres. Brun hired George Ryton, who had worked for John Barnard at Ferrari’s Guildford Technical Office, and he established a similar remote design studio – Brun Technik Ltd – in Basingstoke to design new F1 and sports cars.
Wiet Huidekoper arrived as race engineer but Steve Ridgers assumed those duties by the British GP. As Oscar Larrauri returned to Group C and Stefano Modena left in search of faster machinery, EuroBrun signed Gregor Foitek on a one-year deal on 5 November 1988. With a novice driver having to learn new tracks in the hour-long pre-qualifying session, EuroBrun was an unmitigated disaster throughout the 1989 season.
Foitek did well to pre-qualify in Brazil but engine failure on Saturday prevented further progress that weekend. Unknown at the time, that DNQ was the highlight. Foitek did not pre-qualify for the next seven races in a dispiriting period that included a bout of salmonella and a broken finger following a testing accident at Silverstone.
Ryton’s new EuroBrun ER189-Judd was ready for the German GP, where it ran in the orange colours of Jägermeister. Barnard’s influence was clear, with shock absorbers mounted on top of the monocoque and push-rods front and rear, but the ER189 was slow in a straight line and the suspension flexed. Foitek crashed the ER189 during testing at Imola and reverted to the ER188B for the Belgian GP, where yet another pre-qualifying failure prompted him to quit. Larrauri returned and detailed changes were made to the ER189 after a test at Vallelunga. Unfortunately, there was no respite as the Argentinian did not pre-qualify for the last five GPs.
WEST ZAKSPEED RACING
Zakspeed’s four seasons with its own turbocharged engine had yielded just one points-scoring finish and new rules forced the team to find a new normally aspirated engine for 1989. Ford DFRs were considered before an exclusive deal to use Yamaha’s OX-88 engine was announced in September 1988. This 75-degree V8 featured Yamaha’s five-valves-per-cylinder configuration that had won races in Japanese F3000.
The Zakpeed 891-Yamaha was ready in February with returning technical director Gustav Brunner (from Rial) and chief designer Nino Frison (ex-Ferrari) responsible. The narrow nose, carbon/Kevlar honeycomb monocoque and high airbox were in keeping with contemporary design thinking. As with Brunner’s previous work, the 891 was compact with short, low sidepods, flowing aerodynamics and front dampers mounted horizontally to the bottom of the chassis. Thin pull-rods operated the suspension at both front and rear to minimise drag. The new transverse six-speed gearbox had a magnesium alloy casing. Title sponsor West, a cigarette brand, was in the final year of its contract.
Bernd Schneider remained for a second season and new Japanese F3000 champion Aguri Suzuki was confirmed as his team-mate on 21 November 1988. Erich Zakowski was bullish at the launch, stating, ‘Our days of just participating and learning are past. Our goal is to become a winning team.’ Unfortunately, the opposite proved the case with the Niederzissen-based outfit enduring a terrible final F1 season.
With a unique new package to develop, inexperienced drivers and the perils of pre-qualifying, Zakspeed were in trouble from the outset. Schneider spun on his first lap out of the pits during the car’s shakedown at Vallelunga and poor engine reliability prevented much-needed mileage. The engines were detuned in order to improve durability but that only resulted in poor straight-line speed.
Schneider did well to qualify 25th in Brazil, where he ran at the back until his suspension failed, causing him to crash into Eddie Cheever’s Arrows. It was the Japanese GP before Schneider made it through pre-qualifying again; he qualified 21st but retired from the race after just one lap. Suzuki endured an abject campaign and was eliminated in pre-qualifying at all 16 races as misfires, mechanical failures, driver error and a general lack of speed prevailed.
West confirmed its withdrawal by the end of August, Gustav Brunner joined March in October and Zakspeed returned to touring car racing at the end of the year.