The off-season saw two struggling teams – Teddy Yip’s Theodore and Mo Nunn’s Ensign – merge to ensure that both didn’t go out of business. Yip provided most of the funding, so the team kept the Theodore name, while Ensign contributed designer Nigel Bennett and well funded driver Roberto Guerrero, who had put in some decent performances for Ensign in 1982. A new chassis, the N183, was designed and a second car offered to Venezuelan former motorcycle champion Johnny Cecotto.
Despite gaining his seat by virtue of sponsorship rather than purely on merit, Guerrero had acquitted himself well in his first F1 season. While the unreliability of the car prevented him from making the most of his debut, he proved a solid driver, especially when a switch from Avon to Michelin tyres benefitted the car and saw him qualify in the top 20 more often than not. Mechanical problems meant he was only able to finish one race but deserved much better and could be a man to look out for in decent equipment.
Johnny Cecotto’s father, an Italian immigrant, had raced motorbikes before retiring to run a Caracas garage, and his son soon followed him, impressing on a series of customer bikes before a works Yamaha deal took him to the 1975 World 350cc championship and the 750cc title in 1978. In 1981, Cecotto moved onto four wheels with a drive for Minardi-Ferrari in Formula 2. At the end of the season he was talking to Fittipaldi about moving up to F1 but they dropped to two cars and it fell through, so he stayed in F2 to take second place to Corrado Fabi in the European series before getting a drive with Theodore.