With 8 races gone from a 15-race season, time to cast an eye over the performances so far as the teams take a four-week break before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Not bad at all so far for the team, who had been expected to struggle against the increasing reliability of the turbos. Apart from Rosberg’s disqualification in Brazil and his accident in Long Beach, the defending champion has scored at every race so far and his win in Monaco and second in Detroit have put him third in the standings. Laffite has proved solid rather than spectacular – he has rarely challenged the front runners but has been a more consistent scorer than Daly was in the car last year.
The win in Detroit aside, Tyrrell’s season has been pretty abysmal so far, with Sullivan’s fifth place in Monaco their only other points. Alboreto is undoubtedly talented and Sullivan a solid backup, but the car just doesn’t have the pace to do much more than circulate in midfield and hope for retirements up ahead. Alboreto is contracted until the end of the year but Ken Tyrrell will do well to keep him on board beyond that.
The Brabhams have been consistently inconsistent so far. When running, they’ve been fast, but the BMW engines are proving a liability in terms of keeping going to the end of the race. Riccardo Patrese has not driven badly all season, but has retired from every race bar one so far, mostly with mechanical problems not of his making, and this is putting pressure on his position in the team. Piquet has done better, with a win, two seconds and two fourths under his belt, and is still in touch with the title race but will need a bit of luck.
A bright start with Lauda’s third in Brazil and then the sensational 1-2 from the back of the grid in Long Beach, but there’s a sense that the team are treading water while they wait for their new TAG-badged Porsche turbo engines. Failure to qualify in Monaco was a low point, and it’s generally been poor qualifying performance that has hurt the team – they haven’t been in the top twenty yet this season.
ATS have improved immeasurably from 1982, particulary in qualifying where Winkelhock has been a regular visitor to the top ten. However, this hasn’t translated into results almost entirely because of the unreliability of the car-engine package. Winkelhock has finished only three times in eight races, and even then he has missed out on points because of having to come in for repairs or new tyres. If they can sort this out, points will come.
Woeful so far for the illustrious team, who are finding that turbo power matters little if the chassis isn’t right, and things don’t seem to be helped by de Angelis’ tendency to give up and fade away if things aren’t going perfectly. There could be fireworks when the gutsier Mansell gets his hands on one at Silverstone, but there just seems too much wrong with the car to expect too much for the season and the team will have to focus on getting things right for 1984.
The French team had arrived in 1983 with the expectation of dominance, so their poor showings in Brazil and Long Beach were a shock – however, things instantly improved with the new RE40 car, with four podiums in a row for Prost (including two wins) and three more for Cheever putting Prost in the championship lead and Renault duking it out with Ferrari for the Constructors’ lead. Could 1983 finally be Prost and Renault’s year?
The farce of March’s half-hearted “comeback” to Formula 1 continues. The car simply can’t produce enough downforce to get heat into the Pirelli tyres over a few qualifying laps and Salazar’s sacking by his sponsor belies the fact he was doing about as well as could be done with the dreadful car. Jacques Villeneuve was a one-off replacement for Canada and the team will now be looking for someone else to drive the thing for the rest of the season.
More of the same from the Italian giants, who just don’t seem to be able to get their car working whatever they do. The new turbo engine is unreliable, prone to overheating and not even that fast. De Cesaris and Baldi have both shown flashes of talent and usually qualify well, and if the car had been reliable, Andrea could have made more out of his Pole in Belgium. How much longer will Marlboro Italia and the Alfa Romeo organisation continue to bankroll failure?
The decline of France’s other team continues apace. If 1982 was bad enough to cost them drivers, engines and sponsors, 1983 is proving simply woeful. The car isn’t actually all that bad, when driven well, but Boesel isn’t getting enough support and Jarier (oddly for such an experienced driver) has shown an immature, petulant streak both on and off the track and has made himself unpopular in the paddock. The team has yet to even look like scoring a point.
René Arnoux was supposed to be the main threat, with Tambay the safe-pair-of-hands backup, but in fact Arnoux had been simply demolished by his countryman so far. Tambay’s win at Imola had been a high point while despite two third places, Arnoux had yet to really get going, and the word in the Paddock was that he was in danger of having a very short stay in Maranello. His dominant win in Canada silenced some of those rumours, but he would still need to pick up the pace to keep his seat. Tambay, meanwhile, had gone from unemployed to title challenger in just twelve months: a funny old game.
Mixed fortunes so far for the team: Marc Surer’s early run of three points finishes in four races was good, but the team’s second car was a problem, with Chico Serra never feeling like more than a stopgap while the team chased Alan Jones. Thierry Boutsen has been impressive since joining the team, and could score before the end of the season. Nonetheless, the usual midfield problems of racing incidents and unreliability have been issues for the team.
Enzo Osella must be wondering if he did the right thing in continuing racing, as nothing seems to be going right for his little team. The team started off on Ford engines with four DNQs in six attempts, and Ghinzani’s switch to the Alfa Romeo V12 hasn’t helped matters much. Six starts in 16 attempts, and a retirement from every single one of them tells its own story. The team are due to take delivery of a second Alfa engine in time for Silverstone, but nobody is expecting it to help much.
The Theodore/Ensign merger started well, with Roberto Guerrero proving a talented racer beyond his pay-driver tag and scoring a feisty point in Long Beach. Since then, highs have been in short supply with a series of mechanical and accidental retirements, with a double failure to pre-qualify in Monaco a low point. Teddy Yip remains a popular figure in the paddock and Johnny Cecotto’s easygoing attitude has also won him fans, but the team will need luck to score any more results.
The hard-trying Toleman team have taken a step up so far this season, qualifying both cars for every race (except Giacomelli’s DNQ in Monaco), usually in the top half of the grid and in the top ten a few times as well. Reliability has again been a problem, though, with promising positions thrown away with blown turbos and suspension failures. Still no points but surely only a matter of time.
The little Formula Two team are preparing to make their competitive debut at Silverstone with Stefan Johansson at the wheel of their upgraded F2 chassis with Honda turbo power in the back. The Japanese concern raised much interest when they announced their return to F1 and have since tried to lower expectations and fly under the radar – probably wisely given the mixed bag that has been BMW’s publicity this season.