The McLaren team had dominated 1984 and fought off strong challenges to stay on top in 1985, with Alain Prost finally taking the world title that he had come so close to on two occasions before. The MP4/2 chassis introduced in 1984 entered its third year with a few aerodynamic tweaks enough to designate it the MP4/2C, If there was continuity in car, engine and tyres, the departure of the canny Niki Lauda and his replacement with born racer Keke Rosberg would keep things interesting at the Woking team. Many observers felt Rosberg was the better driver than Prost and would probably beat him and maybe take a second title. Others wondered if the neat, precise McLaren team was ready for his aggressive driving style. Only time would tell.
The nearly man in 1982, 83 and 84, Alain Prost finally secured his – and France’s – first world drivers’ title with races to spare in 1985, largely by adopting the approach that Niki Lauda had had in his 1984 championship season; he drove smoothly and patiently, never overdoing it and always willing to accept a lower points score than go out attempting to win the race. He and Lauda had worked well together, but there were many that thought he would struggle with a team-mate like Rosberg.
The 1982 World Champion had won five races during his four years with the Williams team despite their rough patch between 1983 and early 1985 – three of those races were gutsy drives on street circuits; Monaco, Dallas and Detroit; and he had a reputation as a superb street racer as well as being a combative, never-say-die driver. These traits had served him well through Williams’ thin years, and the F1 fraternity was fascinated to see what would happen with the move to McLaren. Did a second world title beckon?