Like their rivals Williams, McLaren had spent the start of 1983 patiently waiting for their turbo engines, but their Porsche-designed TAG-badged V6es arrived earlier, allowing a better impression and more development time. Even before that, though, the McLaren cars still managed to turn heads – most notably with the stunning 1-2 from near the back of the grid in Long Beach – though there were low points as well, with both cars failing to qualify in Monaco while Rosberg was busy winning. The new turbo engine looks good when it runs, though, as Lauda demonstrated in Kyalami. With John Watson released at the end of the year, the team were able to score a real coup by snapping up Alain Prost, controversially sacked by Renault as a scapegoat for their failure to win the title. He and Lauda would both be hungry for the title in 1984 if the car delivered – and if they could avoid taking too many points off each other.
Prost had made his debut with the McLaren team, back in the bad old days of 1980 and the team had changed much since it showed him the door. Prost had also established himself as a race winner and championship contender but had lacked the equipment in the Renault team to finally go that final yard and take the title. He had come close in 1983 but had fallen out with the team: he blamed them for not developing the car as the others caught up, they pointed to his collision with Piquet at Zandvoort. Prost has a point to prove and will have to just hope that McLaren can provide him with the car to do so.
In the third year of his comeback, having won races in 1982 and 83 but also having been accused of playing it too safe, there was a sense that 1984 would be a make or break year for Lauda. He had got back into the groove in ’82, waited patiently for his turbo in ’83 and now would have to show that he was worth his considerable pay, and wasn’t just a has-been reliving his glory days and keeping a young hotshot out of a top seat. The 1975 and 1977 champion had as much as a point to prove as his new team-mate.