The Ligier team had had yet another disappointing year, their Renault turbo engines proving no use in a dreadful chassis, and Guy Ligier and Andrea de Cesaris had both looked more and more disinterested as the season progressed. But there were reasons to be optimistic with the arrival of Gerard Larrousse and Michel Tetu from the Renault works team, and the return to the team of Jacques Laffite after two lacklustre years at Williams. Tetu’s new JS25 chassis would be married to Larrousse’s improved and clarified team organisation, and both would hope that Laffite would be back on song with his return to his long-term team.
The Italian driver had improved immensely and largely shed his “Andrea de Crasheris” image by 1984, but his year at Ligier proved troubled. Although it was hardly his fault that the car was a dud, he reacted badly to the lack of development, becoming either withdrawn and anonymous or stubborn and wayward. He did show some of his talent early in the season, though, most notably his impressive drive from a pitlane start to third at Imola before his car ran dry, and his good qualification at Monaco before being taken out by Hesnault in the first corner.
There is little doubt about Laffite’s speed, even at the age of 41, but he had the misfortune to join Williams just as the team were going through a period of transition and struggling with their Honda engines and recalcitrant FW09 chassis. He may have been put off by having a wheel fall off while heading for third in Kyalami, and the team were constantly changing the car to fit with Rosberg’s driving style which was the polar opposite of his own. That said, the good humour of “Jolly Jacques” never disappeared and must have been an asset to Williams in a difficult year. Could he recover his form at the team where he had been a title challenger in ’81?