Disappointing so far for the Woking Wonders – their only wins coming in Monaco and Canada when the Williams cars had problems. The MP4/7 seems to be suffering from a lack of power from the Honda V12 which, combined with its greater weight, is a handicap. They never give up though: watch for more developments.
Reliability has been the team’s achilles heel so far this year, with just one finish in the first four races. When they are running, de Cesaris has been putting in some good performances and his two points finishes have been thoroughly merited. Grouillard looks less comfortable, however.
Following their disappointments in 1991, the Williams team have really got it together for 1992; they have not only the fastest car in the field by some margin but also the most technologically advanced with traction control, active suspension and more. It’s difficult to see anyone stopping Mansell’s triumphant march to the world title.
Brabham have never quite been the same since their sale by Bernie Ecclestone at the end of 1987, but rarely have they sunk so low as now, with just one qualification – van de Poele in South Africa – so far and a constant threat of winding-up hanging over their heads. Can they make it to Australia?
Much better than last year already, with Alboreto scoring a string of points places in Brazil, Spain and San Marino, followed by three frustrating seventh place finishes just outside. Suzuki, by contrast, is struggling and has failed to qualify twice – still, the team are much more buoyant than this time last year with the execrable Porsche engine.
The new Lotus 107 has been a revelation in its first few races and its double-points finish in France suggests that the illustrious team may once again be headed for the top. If they can hang on to their talented drivers and raise some sponsorship, possibly a works engine deal, the future can be bright for Hethel.
The underfunded Italian team introduced their new car, the GR02, in Canada and although it’s early days yet it looks promising. Tarquini set the 8th-fastest lap in Montreal, though neither driver went further than six laps in France. Fondmetal, and before them Osella, have spent their entire existence yearning for the security of midfield, and the GR02 might get them there yet.
Driving last year’s car, almost devoid of sponsorship, Karl Wendlinger has been driving his socks off to little avail, and his 4th place in Canada was a just – if scant – reward for his efforts. With the team focussed on Wendlinger, Belmondo has had the short end of the resources stick, but it’s notable that he’s brought the car home safely on the three occasions he’s made it to the race.
The works Ford team with their distinctive shark-nosed car are having a good season so far. Martin Brundle had an unlucky start but has definitely come good, while Schumacher is underlining his star quality (and still hasn’t been in F1 a full year!). The low-tech (by Williams standards) B192 chassis with its down-on-power Ford V8 is nonetheless a nice little runner and currently lies second in the championship race.
BMS Scuderia Italia Dallara-Ferrari
Despite Martini’s brace of points finishes, things are not going well for the “other” red Italian team. The F192 doesn’t handle well and the raised-nose design with deep end plates isn’t quite working. Still, it’s usually reliable, and Lehto has had a string of top-ten finishes – if they can tweak the aerodynamics a bit and find some speed, it could still come good.
Reliability has been Minardi’s problem so far this year. The old chassis finished just once in four races, though the new M192 looks a little better on that score, finishing four times in the next four races. Christian Fittipaldi looked lively in his debut season, but his accident in France was nasty and the team will need to find someone to replace him for a while.
Another team with a reliability problem, the JS37 is also not great on bumpy circuits, hence the problems in Mexico, Monaco and Canada – and the much improved performance at the billiard-table Magny-Cours. Thierry Boutsen seems thoroughly disillusioned, the usually genial Belgian being openly scathing about the car, while Comas has scored all the points so far.
The “revolutionary” F92A hasn’t been as successful as everyone hoped, and a disappointing winless 1991 has become a thoroughly miserable 1992. Jean Alesi has driven the wheels off the thing to take two third places, which has only increased the pressure on his team-mate Ivan Capelli, not enjoying life at Ferrari after the chummy, laid-back atmosphere of March/Leyton House.
After bankruptcy at the end of 1992 and a buyout by Venturi, this is Larrousse’s first in-house car and it’s been a baptism of fire. Early signs were encouraging and Gachot managed a priceless point in Monaco, but Katayama in particular has struggled to get the best out of the car.
What a shame – Eddie Jordan’s team had a spectacular debut season in 1991, but spent a lot of money doing so and now things have come home to roost: the “free” Yamaha engines are a millstone around the team’s neck: Gugelmin has finished twice in eight, Modena has DNQed twice and retired in the other six races. Short of ditching the engines, there’s not much they can do and look to have a hard road ahead.
The little Italian team has had a colourful first half-season in F1 to say the least and while most in the paddock wish them well and hope they’ll find their feet soon, there are echoes of the ill-fated Life team in their shambolic organisation and spectacularly off-the-pace performance. The talented Moreno deserves better than this, and the (presumably) talented McCarthy certainly deserves to actually be allowed to drive it occasionally.