Gilles Villeneuve’s back-to-back wins in Monaco and Spain were the bright spot in an otherwise dismal season, and yet 1981 had still been an improvement, with the 126CK turbo engine showing promise when it lasted the distance. New designer Harvey Postlethwaite was designing a lightweight carbon-fibre body to house the powerful but heavy engine and with the undoubted talents of Villeneuve and Didier Pironi to drive, the team were, while not expected to be up with Renault, tipped to do well.
The cheerful Canadian had impressed despite his equipment in 1981 and his two race wins were scant reward for a ballsy, red-blooded approach that often saw the car drifting sideways through corners as he struggled to wring pace out of the sluggish Ferrari. The Tifosi, Ferrari, the nation of Canada and Villeneuve himself would all hope for better in 1982.
Didier Pironi had struggled in 1981 and, while this was partially the fault of the car, the cool Frenchman was regularly outpaced by his team-mate and looked a little out of his depth. However, he was able to convince the Ferrari team bosses that first-year wobbles were just that and that he would improve in 1982 – now he just had to make it happen.