Even though Ken Tyrrell’s attempts to game both sides of the FISA-FOCA war in early 1982 had won him few friends in the paddock, the fans hated to see such a great name struggling so badly, and the improvement in form culminating in Alboreto’s win in Caesar’s Palace was most welcome. Not only, that, but Alboreto’s exploits had finally attracted some decent sponsorship in the shape of the Benetton clothing company. Tyrrell would start the season with a reworked version of their 011 chassis, while expecting the new 012 mid-season – in both cases with a Cosworth DFV/DFY in the back.
Despite rumours of being poached by one of the big boys, Alboreto remained with the team into 1983 and was joined by American Danny Sullivan, an F1 rookie at 33 and reportedly insisted on by Benetton to try and drive American sales.
Nobody was really expecting a repeat of Caesar’s Palace but with more money and the undoubted talents of Alboreto there was quiet optimism about Uncle Ken’s prospects for 1983.
The extent to which Ken Tyrrell had fallen on his feet by letting the young Italian buy a seat in 1981 had become abundantly clear straight away, as Alboreto saw off Cheever (himself no slouch) in ’81 before simply blowing Borgudd and Henton away in 1982. Although his win in Caesar’s Palace was unexpected and against the run of form, it can hardly be called a “fluke” as Alboreto ran no lower than third all weekend, and if the car was good enough he could be expected to score well again.
Son of a Kentucky building contractor, Danny Sullivan worked a number of jobs in his youth until, for his 21st birthday, he was given a course at the Jim Russell Racing School in England. He raced in Formula Ford and Formula 3 during his time in the UK, before returning to the States to drive in IndyCar in 1982 and taking third place on his debut in Atlanta. Although he only contested one more race that season, he seemed to be a star in the ascendant and was singled out by Benetton as their choice of US driver to help sell more sweaters in the States.