1992 Totally Biased Season Preview

Not strictly a "Totally Biased Season Preview" but Pete Fenelon wrote this about the 1992 season.

This is the latest list of entries for this year's World Championship. The
details are current as of yesterday (13/2/92); the opinions are my own!
Note that everyone's on Goodyear tyres this season and there won't be any
special qualifying rubber. 

Honda Marlboro McLaren
1	Ayrton Senna
2	Gerhard Berger
McLaren MP4/6-Honda until Brazil; MP4/7 may be introduced there.
Usual colour scheme, i.e. dayglo red/white.

Obviously one of the teams to beat; McLaren remain one of the most stable
and awesomely competent teams in F1, and with drivers, engineers, designers
and management all superb it's obvious that they're going to remain major
contenders...  Senna should be a safe bet for a fourth Championship, and I 
hope Berger has a better season (i.e. wins something of his own accord!) in '92.

3	Olivier Grouillard
4	Alessandro Zanardi
Tyrrell 021-Ilmor V10
Probably dark blue, since they've just landed ELF sponsorship again!

Not a bad pairing of drivers, although both are new to the team. The Ilmor
engine started to show some promise last year, and recent Tyrrell chassis
have been fairly good (although 020 was effectively stillborn when
Postlethwaite jumped ship). Can't see them being major competitors but
should pick up points.  If Grouillard can stay on the road he's quick, and
F3000 ace Zanardi looked very good in the Jordan last season.

Canon Williams Renault
5	Nigel Mansell
6	Riccardo Patrese
Williams FW14-Renault (FW15 from midseason)
Probably similar colour scheme to last year.

Probably McLaren's major competitor, again the technical team (Head and
Newey) is stable, the engineering is superb and the money is there. Renault
seem to be a match for Honda and the addition of a now-debugged active
suspension system to FW14 seems to suggest serious benefits. Should be a
classic Williams-McLaren battle this season. Mansell seems happy at Didcot,
which is unusual for him, and is driving mightily; Patrese must be (after
Berger!) the best #2 driver in any team and I think we'll see wins from both
of them this season...

7	Giovanna Amati
8	Eric van de Poele
BT61-Judd V10
Not sure at all about sponsorship/colours

Last year's Yamaha linkup really seemed to mark the end of Brabham as a
serious F1 team, with Yamaha pressing the eject button and going to
Jordan... The team has staff problems, money problems, and driver problems -
first choice Akihiko Nakaya couldn't get a Superlicence; yet, with worse
F3000 results, lady driver Giovanna Amati managed to land the seat there.
Without wishing to sound sexist, Nakaya had a better record and deserved the
drive more... Van de Poele is extremely good -- he was great in F3000 -- but
last year's disastrous Modena Team disguised this. I hope something good comes
of all the trouble, and that van de Poele gets some attention from big teams.

9	Michele Alboreto
10	Aguri Suzuki
FA14-Mugen V10
Footwork sponsorship, white/red colour scheme
One car will have to prequalify. Driver not yet named.

After last year's Porsche fiasco, Footwork lost all credibility. Suzuki has
enabled the team to secure Mugen (Honda) V10s and this may help the
team to stagger away from the scene of the crime, although the engines
didn't do much for Tyrrell last year. Alboreto is now in the undistinguished
and rather sad twilight of a career which had many high spots -- remember
him in '85 -- and I expect that Suzuki, who is often very quick, will be the
driver looked to for the best results, if any... 

Team Lotus
11	Johnny Herbert
12	Mika Hakkinen
Various sponsorship. Cars are BRG/yellow (although were BRG/yellow in '91 
preseason they raced in white/BRG)
Lotus 102D-Ford HB for first few races, Lotus 107-Ford HB later

Last season's rebuilding programme continues, with Herbert (their first
choice for '91 #1 but unable to do the full season) and Hakkinen (very quick
and confident) in updates of last year's car at first -- then a new and
probably fairly radical actively-sprung car later on in the season. I expect
some success this year, but not with the basically two-year-old car with
which they're starting the season. Team should be _really_ back in '93, but
something good should come of this season.

14	Andrea Chiesa
15	Gabriele Tarquini
Fondmetal -- black/red/grey (very smart!)
Fomet-1 for early part of season, then TWR-built car
One car will have to prequalify. Driver not yet named.

Although Fondmetal have split from the Fomet design studio (see Central Park
Venturi-Larrousse) they will run last year's car for the first few races
before switching to a new TWR-built chassis. The driver lineup is fairly
respectable - Chiesa wasn't bad in F3000, and Tarquini has lots of (albeit
tail-end) F1 experience. I wouldn't expect miracles, but the odd points
finish could be on the cards.

March Formula One
16	Karl Wendlinger
17	Paul Belmondo
Although no longer Leyton House, will retain aquamarine colour scheme.
March CG921-Ilmor

Now _nothing_ to do with the March Group, or Leyton House, a completely
independent March F1 team picks up the cudgel and tries to go it alone.
Wendlinger could do well -- although no Schumacher he's pretty good too --
although the choice of Belmondo (son of the film star) is presumably more
closely related to $$$ than to his F3000 record, which one could charitably
call unimpressive, although he has done some F1 testing... Can't see March
doing too well, which is a pity, because I'd like to...

Camel Benetton Ford
19	Martin Brundle
20	Michael Schumacher
Yellow/Blue colours, Benetton and Camel sponsorship
B191B-Ford HB ``until V12 is ready''...

I hope Tom Walkinshaw can unlock the potential at Benetton; they have all
the right ingredients but have lacked direction in the past. In my
opinion they have the third or fourth-strongest driver pairing (after
McLaren, Williams and maybe Ferrari) and one of the best engines; the
forthcoming Ford (possibly Jaguar-badged) V12 should put them in a
_very_ strong position indeed. Brundle has FINALLY landed a really good
F1 seat, and should be in a great position to score his maiden F1 win,
and Schumacher is... well, the new Villeneuve, in my opinion. Should win
something this year...  Note that there's a cloud on the horizon - Peter 
Sauber intends to enter F1 next season and wants Schumacher and Wendlinger as 
his drivers.... _more_ Schumacher contract wars!

Scuderia Italia
21	J J Lehto
22	Pierluigi Martini
Red/white, Lucchini & Marlboro
Dallara BMS192-Ferrari

Quite a promising team, Scuderia Italia/Dallara have done more to impress
than many of the other recent Italian arrivals in F1. If the Ferrari engines
are better than those supplied to Minardi last year I'd expect some very
reasonable results (thirds, etc.) to come their way. Both drivers are good,
Martini in particular having both depth of experience and a pleasing turn of
speed, and Lehto has often demonstrated large amounts of raw talent and
bravery... this could well be the season in which the team breaks into the 
big time...

23	Gianni Morbidelli
24	Christian Fittipaldi
Probably black/yellow/white again... SCM sponsorship, plus M2000 from C.F?
Minardi M192-Lamborghini

Still making progress, although the Ferrari honeymoon was very short and
Minardi are now stuck with Lamborghini engines (which _must_ have improved...)
but have a _very_ good driver lineup -- Morbidelli drives with an admirable
maturity, and Fittipaldi's handling of his F3000 Reynard last year showed
that he seems to take after his uncle Emerson rather than his father
Wilson... Should be fairly consistent points-scorers if the engines hold up, 
but I don't expect miracles...

25	Thierry Boutsen
26	Erik Comas
Blue, with the usual Gitanes Blondes sponsorship
Ligier JS37-Renault

Politics rather than competitiveness won Ligier the Renault deal, and the
new technical team under Ducarouge have responded to the new engine by 
building a near-Williams copy!  By all accounts it's a lot better than
recent Ligiers, and Alain Prost has been putting in a lot of miles in it --
current rumour is that he _will_ be seen in the cockpit at Kyalami, probably
displacing Comas... which is a pity, because Erik looked at least as good as
Boutsen in last year's lumbering lorry of a car... Thierry deserved better;
perhaps this year's Ligier will at least get him some points... I would be
extremely surprised if the season was a _total_ failure and would expect
some reasonable results...

27	Jean Alesi
28	Ivan Capelli
Red!!!!! Usual bits and pieces - Agip, Marlboro, Pioneer etc.
Ferrari F92A

A new era (hence the new designation scheme)! This year's car is the most
radical F1 Ferrari since the original 639 3.5-litre prototype, with
extremely distinctive aerodynamics (the ``F15 Fighter'' sidepods etc.; you'll 
see photos of them everywhere...) which are, as they say, beyond the scope
of this article... New management -- Luca di Montezemolo, Claudio Lombardi
and (Return of the Prodigal?!) Niki Lauda (who will be an ``adviser'').
Alesi will have to start winning in '92 to justify the faith placed in him,
and should manage this as he is _very_ talented, and it would be nice to
think that Capelli could match his team leader, as he is no mean driver
himself -- think back to some of his March/Leyton House performances, like
France '91, or anywhere in '88... If Ferrari go two seasons without winning
anything I'll be shocked, not just surprised!

Central Park Venturi Larrousse
29	Bertrand Gachot
30	Ukyo Katayama
Venturi-Larrousse LC92-Lamborghini
Blue/Yellow/Red, Central Park and Venturi sponsorship
Both cars will have to prequalify

An interesting re-birth for the old Larrousse team, now mostly owned by
French sportscar manufacturer Venturi. The Fomet design studio has been
bought, and Robin Herd and Tino Belli have designed a very neat car; the
weak link is probably the Lamborghini engine.... We all know how good a
driver Gachot is, it's great to see him properly re-established in F1, and
Katayama is supposed to be pretty good too. All looks very promising and I'd
expect some strong points finishes this season...

Sasol Jordan Yamaha
32	Stefano Modena
33	Mauricio Gugelmin
Jordan 921-Yamaha
Blue/white, SASOL and Barclay sponsorship

Can Eddie Jordan's team win in only their second year of F1? The new chassis
is a development of last year's superb one, the Yamaha engine was showing
much promise in the Brabham and the new sequential (motorcycle-style) 
gearchange sounds like a neat hack... new money from SASOL (the South
African oil company) and Barclay cigarettes, who've been sponsoring the EJR
(really Middlebridge) F3000 team for the last season. An interesting driver
lineup, Modena's first win is long overdue -- Jordan could well be the team
to give it to him -- and the chance to assess Gugelmin's talent in something
other than the rather variable Marches/Leyton Houses which are all he's
driven in F1 to date should be interesting.... Yes. I think they'll win

Andrea Moda Formula
34	Alex Caffi
35	Enrico Bertaggia
Last seen in black/white, Andrea Moda sponsorship
Will start with revised Coloni C4, then will use Simtek chassis. Judd V10.
Both cars will have to prequalify.

The former Coloni team has been bought by an Italian shoe magnate and
re-launched. It looks like a rather more serious effort, and the purchase of
the Simtek chassis (built for an abortive BMW F1 project last year) should
mean the end of the rather blacksmithed Coloni line. (The ousted Coloni is 
building his own F3 car this season!) Simtek is a serious outfit, owned by
respected aerodynamicist Nick Wirth and FISA president Max Mosley... Not a
brilliant driver lineup, Caffi has done little to impress since his early
Dallara days, and Bertaggia has occasionally impressed a little in minor
formulae... The team should at least be _serious_ about F1 and with any luck
will do better than before...

Back to my Motor Racing Page. Return to my home page.