The Arrows team had endured a painful introduction to the world of Turbo racing in 1984, with the BMW power unit proving every bit as unreliable as it had in the Brabham and ATS cars, but with the added problem that the A7 chassis it was mounted in simply wasn’t up to scratch. It understeered, or oversteered depending on the settings, and never looked like being anything other than a makeweight entry – a shame, because Surer and Boutsen were talented drivers and the 1983 car had been not a bad little package. The constant disappointment and failure seemed to have taken its toll on Marc Surer, who had been so combative in ’83, and few were surprised to see him decide to quit Formula One at the end of the year and instead go and drive Porsche sportscars. In his place comes Gerhard Berger, the young Austrian who had come into the ATS madhouse and managed to end up looking halfway decent nonetheless.
It’s difficult to judge Gerhard Berger on his 1984 season, because he only drove a few races for a team in the process of imploding spectacularly, but on the whole he made a good impression. Although he occasionally did something silly, he generally seemed to have his head screwed on the right way and simply knuckled down and did what he could under the circumstances. In fact, if not for being a late addition and ineligible, he would have scored the team’s only points of the year with a good solid drive to 6th in Monza, and showed an ability to nurse a shocking car home that could stand him in good stead in the future.
The undemonstrative Boutsen didn’t exactly have a vintage year for his first full season in F1 – through no fault of his own. Boutsen is a quick and tidy driver, and showed a mature attitude that was in contrast to the despondency that overcame Marc Surer. He also did much of the work in testing and developing the car over the course of the season and perhaps it is no coincidence that he looked the better prospect than his more experienced team-mate as the season wore on. He didn’t turn heads the same way as Senna or Bellof, but perhaps the fact that he was simply accepted as part of the furniture underlines his quality.