The Brabham team had spent much of 1981 working alongside BMW to develop a turbo engine and the chassis to carry it, and the result was the Gordon Murray-designed BT50, powered by a development of the Bavarian firm’s sportscar motor. Winter testing had shown promise, and Ecclestone’s team could look forward to another good season, particularly with the recruitment of the promising Italian Riccardo Patrese who had made waves in the Arrows car early in 1981 before the accident at Zolder that seemed to knock the fight out of the team.
1. Nelson Piquet
Brazil’s second F1 world champion had won three races in 1981 following a first with the Ford Cosworth powered car, but even with encouraging winter testing of the new BMW turbo and its BT50 mount, Piquet had accepted before the season started that the car would probably not be at its best and require further development to realise its potential. He seemed happy nonetheless to write off 1982 as a development year and look forward to 1983, and to pick up what results he could along the way.
With a judicial trial late in 1981 finally acquitting Patrese of any blame for Ronnie Peterson’s death, Patrese had a fresh start in 1982 in more ways than one. He had been with the Arrows team from their inception and nearly won on a couple of occasions, but also shown a hotheadedness which Brabham would be keen to eliminate and transform him into a reliable, fast teammate for Piquet.