Jackie Oliver’s team would have to adjust to life after their talismanic driver Riccardo Patrese after his departure for the big time, but all was not doom and gloom. A new ground-effects car, the Dave Wass-designed A4, was to be ready for the first race, and sponsors Nordica and Ragno remained loyal despite Patrese’s exit. In came reliable Swiss driver Marc Surer and Italian rookie Mauro Baldi courtesy of Ragno provided some more sponsorship.
The affable Swiss driver had had a season of two halves in 1981: a promising start with Ensign including a fourth place in Brazil and sixth in Monaco had proved no help when he was dropped in favour of the better-funded Eliseo Salazar. Winding up at Theodore, his chances for heroics were rather lower, but he proved solid and reliable, and brought the car home more often than not. A reliable driver for development was just what Arrows happened to be looking for in what looked to be a transitional year.
Baldi began racing life as a rally driver at age 22, before turning in 1975 to track racing in a Renault 5, then into Formula 3, where by 1980 he had established himself as a talented driver and won the 1980 Monaco F3 race. 1981 was Baldi’s year and he dominated the European Formula Three championships, winning a record eight races and earning himself a step straight up into F1 courtesy of the Ragno ceramics concern who were looking for a new Italian driver to put forward for the Arrows team after Siegfried Stohr’s retirement.