Not strictly a "Totally Biased Season Preview" but Pete Fenelon wrote this about the 1991 season.
Well, here's a list of this year's entries, plus some comments on them. As it's getting close to _that_ time of year again (the beginning of the F1 season) I thought I'd post my utterly subjective list of runners, riders and completely unsubstantiated opinions... I was going to post it eventually anyway... --------------- HONDA MARLBORO McLAREN McLAREN MP4/6 - HONDA V12 White/Red colours, sponsors Marlboro, Honda, Shell, Courtaulds 1 Ayrton Senna 2 Gerhard Berger Few changes at McLaren for '91. The MP4/5B will be replaced by the MP4/6, and the Honda V10 will be replaced by the new V12 -- although many miles have already been put on this. Berger will presumably be looking for some real success in '91, after a disappointing season in 1990. Senna must enter the season as one of the favourites for the title though. One must wonder about the team's recent tests with Michael Andretti -- will he or won't he be seen racing in F1 soon?? TYRRELL RACING ORGANISATION TYRRELL 020 - HONDA V10 White/dark blue colours, sponsors Epson, Essilor etc 3 Satoru Nakajima 4 Stefano Modena Jean Alesi made the relatively underpowered '019-DFR look ridiculously good last year, and with similar aerodynamics allied to late-1990 spec Honda V10s we can expect Great Things from Tyrrell again. It's been far too long since the team's last victory, but if anyone is capable of providing a win in the right car it's Stefano Modena, who has been on the verge of success for a long time now. Nakajima is a better driver than he has often been given credit for, and should gather points on a regular basis. CANON WILLIAMS TEAM WILLIAMS FW13B - RENAULT (FW14 on the way) Yellow/white/blue colours, sponsors Canon, Camel, ICI, Barclay etc. 5 Nigel Mansell 6 Riccardo Patrese Ignoring the hype surrounding Mansell's return to Didcot, Williams must be expected to maintain the momentum of the past couple of seasons. Their technical strength is on a level with that of McLaren and Ferrari, and the combination of Mansell and Patrese should be relatively free from the politics/ego wars which have soured Mansell's years at Ferrari. A successful 1991 would presumably mean a lot to Mansell coming in the wake of his ``retirement'' last season, and one can never disregard the steady Patrese. Williams should manage to win several GPs and will be in line for the Constructor's Championship. MOTOR RACING DEVELOPMENTS LTD BRABHAM-YAMAHA BT60Y Dark blue/white colours, not a lot of sponsorship! 7 Martin Brundle 8 Mark Blundell The ``new incarnation'' of Brabham finally seems to have got its act together. Yamamha's 1989 V8 was pretty ghastly (ask Zakspeed!) but the V12 seems to be a match for its contemporaries. The all-British driving lineup is very exciting, Brundle for the first time having a truly competitive F1 car for his _THIRD_ attempt at F1, and very talented newcomer Blundell has landed on his feet, establishing himself in a mid-ranked F1 team with considerable potential. Brabham should be in the running! FOOTWORK PORSCHE FOOTWORK-PORSCHE V12 White/red stripes, sponsors Footwork 9 Michele Alboreto 10 Alex Caffi Are Porsche serious about their return to F1? Footwork (nee Arrows) has never really been a front-line team and, although the team did well at the end of the turbo era, their performances have looked lacklustre recently. Alboreto is surely nearing the end of his F1 career, and although talented his GP-winning days seem long past. ``The Disco Kid'' Alex Caffi is generally undistinguished, although he can show flashes of talent. Perhaps this year is regarded as a learning experience? The team would certainly appear to need a star driver. TEAM LOTUS LOTUS-JUDD EV 103 (Lotus-Lamborghini 102 may be used early season) BRG/yellow temporary colours, sponsorship uncertain. 11 Martin Donnelly (Johnny Herbert or Bernd Schneider early season 12 Mika Hakkinen Lotus hit rock bottom in 1990 and to anyone with an interest in the history of motor racing this was particularly depressing. The new brooms (Warr, Windsor and Schlubel) are experienced, designer Scalabroni is good, but the team's halcyon days are long gone... Donnelly's bravery and determination is undoubted - his recovery from last year's terrible accident is a long process and he should be back by Imola; I hope his career continues as promisingly as it started. Hakkinen dominated British F3 in 1990, but the jump to F1 is large and a question mark must hang on his ability to adapt. If Lotus can get some money and an exclusive engine deal they should be able to recover some of their former strength. As it is the team will probably struggle despite all the talent involved. FONDMETAL F1 SpA FOMET 1 - FORD DFR Blue/Orange colours?? Sponsor Fondmetal 14 Olivier Grouillard Enzo Osella has been ousted from his tiny team and sponsors Fondmetal have taken over, setting up a base in England. Osella have never really been more than a backmarker team and we cannot realistically expect much more from the new incarnation, with a customer DFR and indifferent technology. Grouillard was initially thought to be something special, a driver to rival Alesi, but it has transpired that he is quick but destructive and irresponsible. I do not foresee Fondmetal achieving much in F1 this season. LEYTON HOUSE RACING Ltd. LEYTON HOUSE CG911-ILMOR V10 Aquamarine/green colours - Sponsors Leyton House, BP 15 Mauricio Gugelmin 16 Ivan Capelli Leyton House seemed to lose their way in 89 and early 90, but the team put in some stunning performances in mid-season and seem to be on the way back, despite some bad blood and politics towards the end of the year. The new Ilmor engine (from the people who originated the all- conquering Chevrolet Indycar v8) is an unknown but presumably competent unit, the chassis will probably be tricky but good, and the driver lineup experienced (this is Capelli's fifth season with the team and Gugelmin's fourth). Both drivers seem capable of winning races given the right sort of equipment, and if the Ilmor engine works I would expect to see a win or two. AUTOMOBILES GONFARON SPORTIVES AGS JH25 (??) - FORD DFR Black/gold colours - sponsor Ted Lapidus 17 Gabriele Tarquini 18 Stefan Johansson AGS have rarely been anything more than a makeweight team and nothing convinces me that they will improve in '91. The team is too small and lacks money and decent engines. This is not a recipe for success, however enthusiastic the team are. Tarquini is unspectacular, but unlikely to score points. The real surprise is the signing of Johansson, a driver whose skills have seen him as #2 at McLaren and Ferrari in the past. His troubled spells with Ligier and Onyx have devalued his currency somewhat, and I am surprised that he is sufficiently desperate to want to return to F1 in a team with as little chance as AGS. CAMEL BENETTON FORD BENETTON FORD-EXP B191 (B190 early-season) Blue/yellow/green colours, sponsors Benetton, Camel 19 Roberto Moreno 20 Nelson Piquet Designer John Barnard says that the B191 will be a break with tradition -- it won't be radically new! The lightweight and powerful Ford V8 is now well-known to be a match for the V10s and V12s on all but the fastest circuits, although a new Ford V12 is rumoured. Piquet is a true evergreen, his two GP wins last year were certainly rather unexpected but on the strength of his performances, richly deserved. He may win more! Moreno would seem the most likely man (along with Alesi) to win his first GP in 1991 -- his handling of Sandro Nannini's car in the final races of 1990 was truly impressive. It's sad that Moreno could only get into a front-line team after Sandro's injury, but he is a truly excellent driver. [Note that the old technicolour paint job is no more! The Benettons look smarter than they have done since '86) SCUDERIA ITALIA SpA BMS DALLARA 191-Judd V10 Red/white colours, sponsors Lucchini, Marlboro (?) 21 Emanuele Pirro 22 J J Lehto Something of an enigma, Dallara started reasonably well in '88 and went downhill slightly. The team's cars are always pretty and well-turned out but seem to lack performance! Emanuele Pirro, former McLaren tester, rises to #1 in the team with the departure of De Cesaris. Pirro is competent but seems to lack the true winner's spark. #2 in the team is J J Lehto, who looked very good on his few outings in the Onyx/Monteverdi outfit. Power is supplied by a new Judd V10, which is again an unknown quantity. Dallara should manage to score points, and Lehto is a man to watch. MINARDI TEAM SpA MINARDI M191 -FERRARI V12 Black/Yellow/White colours, various sponsors inc. SCM group 23 Pierluigi Martini 24 Gianni Morbidelli The jokers in the pack. After rising from no-hopers to a competent middle-ranking team, Minardi seemed content to tread water in 1990 with the promise of Ferrari power for '91. The new car certainly looks the part, and should have power to match. Martini is now no longer a newcomer and should realistically be expected to run with the big boys and look for high points finishes, and youngster Morbidelli, who knows all about Ferrari power, should be able to demonstrate his not-inconsiderable talents. Minardi are very much the dark (prancing) horses of 1991 and could surprise! LIGIER-GITANES LIGIER JS35 LAMBORGHINI V12 Blue colours - Gitanes/Loto sponsorship 25 Thierry Boutsen 26 Erik Comas After Lamborghini pulled the engines out from under Lotus and Lola, Ligier were able to secure a one-year deal prior to Renault power in 1992. The Lamborghini engine has yet to achieve great success, but shows promise. Ligier, I feel, is more likely to be a powerful force in F1 next year than this. Boutsen's enforced departure from Williams must be seen as a pretty sharp demotion, and without the very best equipment I think it's unlikely that he will achieve very much. Erik Comas could probably have landed a better drive, but the reigning F3000 champion will have access to Boutsen's obvious skills and will be measured against his team leader. SCUDERIA FERRARI FERRARI 642 V12 Red - sponsors Agip, FIAT, Marlboro 27 Alain Prost 28 Jean Alesi Favourites after McLaren to dominate F1 in 1991, Ferrari's successful 640-line of cars continues with the evolutionary 643. Power is a fraction away from Honda, but the chassis is probably better than the McLarens. Prost, if his motivation is right, should be contending for a fourth world title, and will almost definitely win several races. Perhaps Alesi will be his inspiration, the younger man having made the biggest splash in F1 since Villeneuve. If he can temper his obvious talent with some of Prost's maturity he will certainly succeed. I think we'll see rather more than two second places from Alesi this season. A long shot for World Champion. EQUIPE LARROUSSE LOLA L91 - FORD DFR Colours: Red/green/blue, sponsors GEO etc. 29 Eric Bernard 30 Aguri Suzuki A bad winter for Larrousse. Not only did they lose the Lamborghini engines which they were beginning to make work, along with much of their sponsorship, but this week they've also lost their 1990 constructor's championship points because their car was built by Lola! If the combined effect of these blows doesn't drive the team out of F1 they should be regarded as a good middle-ranking team with two promising young drivers. Bernard was excellent in F3000 and has demonstrated much promise in F1, while Suzuki amazed everyone with his performance in Japan. A question mark hangs over the team's future - let's hope that sense prevails and this promising outfit can continue. COLONI RACING COLONI - FORD DFR Red/purple? Mateus sponsorship? 31 Pedro Chaves Finally free from the disastrous Subaru linkup which moved the team from backmarker to bad joke status, Coloni can at last try to catch up with the rest of the F1 world. Chaves looked very good in both British and International F3000 last year but in truth a Coloni is not really going to be the best way to see if this talent translates to F1. Unlikely to figure much, except in races of attrition. TEAM 7UP JORDAN JORDAN 911-FORD Green/blue colours, 7UP sponsorship 32 Bertrand Gachot 33 Andrea De Cesaris The weak link in Jordan's chain would appear to be drivers! The Gary Anderson-designed chassis looks superb and has impressed in testing, the Cosworths will be equal to 1990 Benettons and Eddie Jordan has had almost instant success in every formula he's tried. Gachot has been quick but unreliable; he may shine in a more stable environment. Jordan's choice of De Cesaris is inexplicable though - it would appear that the team has little need of his substantial Marlboro backing and less of his mindless destruction... when drivers like Herbert and Warwick are out of F1 we must wonder at Jordan's choice! Nevertheless the team should do well - or at least Gachot should. MODENA TEAM LAMBORGHINI V12 (Last seen in a particularly garish purple) 34 Nicola Larini 35 Eric Van De Poele Effectively the updated version of the GLAS project has become the Lamborghini works F1 team. The car has done a lot of testing, and seems to be reasonably competent. The driver lineup shows more promise than the mechanical side of things, with Larini having demonstrated flashes of talent in his previous F1 outings, and Van De Poele is VERY good, a true future star. The Belgian should be able to make the most of the new team, and I would expect the Modena outfit to achieve competent mid-ranking status before the season is out.