As if Ligier’s dire 1982 season hadn’t been bad enough, the off-season had seen assets deserting the team like rats from a sinking ship: sponsor Talbot, engine supplier Matra, team manager Jean-Pierre Jabouille (whose infighting with Guy Ligier had been at least part of the problem) and drivers Laffite and Cheever all left, leaving Guy Ligier with a real problem. His longstanding friendship with French president François Mitterrand helped him replace Talbot as sponsors with government-owned tobacco firm Gitanes and Ligier was reportedly trying to negotiate a turbo engine deal with Renault, though nothing was likely to happen this year. In the meantime, a Cosworth DFV would sit in Herve Guilpin’s new JS21 chassis – a slightly odd-looking affair with almost no sidepods at all.
In to drive came Jean-Pierre Jarier who had filled in during 1981 but been denied the full-time drive he wanted, and Raul Boesel would provide some more funds in the second car.
The veteran French driver had been a mixed blessing for Osella in 1981 and 82 – a solid driver and capable of putting in a good performance but particularly after Palletti’s death his commitment had seemed lacking and his driving had suffered accordingly. Jarier now had the Ligier drive he had wanted in 1981, but would his commitment return, or would he find it difficult in a team that wouldn’t necessarily mould itself around him the way Osella had?
It was difficult to assess Raul Boesel’s first year in F1, since it happened in the execrable March. While he was usually close to team-mate Jochen Mass on pace, his inexperience told in races – though he rarely crashed – and like Mass his season went downhill as the team slipped back into non-qualification. The jury is still out on whether Boesel has real talent or is just another well-heeled pay driver.