1991 Totally Biased Season Preview

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...


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??

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

(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.

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