Ferrari had had a traumatic 1982, to put it mildly, but the team could look back with a certain sense of satisfaction on a Constructor’s Championship achieved against all the odds. The 126C2 chassis had turned out to be an excellent car after some mid-season tweaks and was adapted into a flat-bottomed version for the 1983 regulations while a new car was penned by Harvey Postlethwaite. Ferrari were also rumoured to be working on special qualifying engines with extra-high boost and a short shelf-life.
With Didier Pironi still on the mend after his accident in Germany, Ferrari’s drivers from the start of the season would be Patrick Tambay and René Arnoux, though Enzo Ferrari pledged to run a third car for Pironi as soon as he was able to race.
Patrick Tambay had started 1981 apparently finished with Formula One, stating he disliked the twitchy ground-effect cars, despite wavering and nearly driving the Arrows at Kyalami. However, when Enzo Ferrari calls, you listen, and Tambay agreed after testing the car to see out the season at Maranello, and despite missing a couple of races with a pinched nerve, acquitted himself well, scoring in every race he started, taking his maiden win and finishing the season in equal seventh place alongside one René Arnoux…
Arnoux had increasingly been frustrated at Renault during 1982 by the team’s increasingly blatant favouring of Prost, combined with a series of mechanical failures whenever he was in the ascendant. He seemed to lack Prost’s feel for the car – and if there was a car that needed a driver with a feel, it was the RE30 – and was more or less openly feuding with his team-mate and team by the second half of the season. A fresh start at Ferrari could be just what he needs.