Team owner Teddy Mayer had departed in the off-season and left Ron Dennis in control of the team, which was due to get its own turbo engines later in the season. Luxembourg-based firm TAG had agreed to finance Porsche’s development of the engine, in exchange for it being badged as a TAG engine. In the meantime, the team would continue with the Cosworth engines in the MP4/1C chassis – another modification of the car first introduced in 1981. Niki Lauda and John Watson would continue with the team after a successful 1982 and the team hoped that the step into the ranks of the Turbos could deliver a title challenge in the near future.
The Ulsterman had had a pretty good 1982 season, all things considered. The arrival of Niki Lauda seemed to galvanise Watson and make him raise his game, and we saw early on a confident driver making the best use of his car – most notably his heroic drive in Detroit. However, he was utterly dominated by Lauda at his home race, the British press were piling on the pressure over the title challenge and the races in the second half of the season were at turbo-favouring tracks, so in the end he faded away. Nonetheless a strong season and much to look forward to.
You would hardly know that Niki the Rat hadn’t driven competitively for two years when he came back onto the Formula One circuit at the start of 1982. Although outscored by his team-mate, Lauda showed speed and decisiveness when the car was working and the cards were in his favour, but also the maturity to recognise when things weren’t going his way and he should just settle in and try and finish wherever he could. With more experience in the car and a Turbo engine, a third title was a real possibility.