By Maranello’s standards, 1984 had been a dismal year and second in the Constructor’s Championship was really only achieved by dint of nobody else being quite good or consistent enough – and even then Ferrari were in third behind Lotus for much of the season. One bright spot was that Michele Alboreto rose to the challenge of being an Italian driver in a Ferrari with aplomb, and his dominance of the Belgian Grand Prix was the highlight of Ferrari’s year. For 1985, the team’s designers Mauro Forghieri and Harvey Postlethwaite had designed an entirely new chassis, the 156/85, finally abandoning the 126 which had been in use since 1981. With Alboreto and Arnoux continuing driving duties, the team hoped to be back at the front in 1985.
Despite the challenges of the 1984 Ferrari, Michele Alboreto had a good year; being an Italian in a Ferrari is about the most pressure any driver can be under and Alboreto rose to it spectacularly, comprehensively demolishing Arnoux over the season as a whole, and it was his bad luck that it always seemed to be Alboreto of the two of them who had the more fragile of the two cars. Nonetheless, he took the chances that came his way and deserved his fourth place in the Drivers’ Championship.
Arnoux’s first year with Ferrari in 1983 had been a season of two halves – major disappointment followed by a second-half rally and several wins. His second year, 1984, had the same thing in reverse: early on, if Arnoux was seldom in contention for a win, he was usually found doggedly slugging away in the points, capitalising on others’ misfortunes. However, as the season wore on he seemed to fade away under the challenge of Alboreto and even show some of his old mindless blocking behaviour. Those who believe that Tambay should have been kept on for 1984 felt vindicated, not least because neither Arnoux nor Alboreto were great test drivers.