Tyrrell began the 1986 season with the 014 chassis, with the new 015 in development and expected a few races into the season. The team had had a frustrating 1985 with only a couple of points on offer despite the best efforts of Brundle & co, and the tragic loss of Stefan Bellof really seemed to knock the team for six. Nonetheless there were reasons to be positive for 1986; a new sponsorship deal with Data General brought in some much-needed cash, the team continued with the powerful Renault turbo engine and retained the services of the talented Martin Brundle, alongside Phillippe Streiff, who had done well in his few races at the end of 1985.
The Norfolk-born driver had impressed in his two seasons for Tyrrell, but had still yet to officially score a point, between the retroactive disqualification of all the points he had gained in 1984, and his bad luck in 1985 that led to his scoring a clutch of 7th places but never quite making that final step. If he was frustrated, though, he didn’t show it and continued battling away in the Tyrrell while his former F3 sparring partner Ayrton Senna was covered in glory.
Streiff had certainly caught the eye in his few races in 1985, particularly in the last race in Australia where he came third – but only after nearly taking out team-mate Jacques Laffite in a brainless overtaking manoeuvre that blotted his otherwise impressive copybook. He had also made a debut for Tyrrell at the South African Grand Prix, boycotted by Ligier, and made enough of an impression to secure a full-time contract for 1986.