1985 had been a decent year for Arrows, with Boutsen’s second place at Imola the undoubted highlight, but also a good reliability record that led to five other points finishes, four of them in the last three races of the season. Both drivers had their moments, though Berger could be more headstrong than the collected Boutsen – nonetheless it was the Austrian whose BMW connections led him away from Arrows to the new Benetton-BMW team. Arrows’ A8 chassis which had served the team through 1985 was unable to get the most out of the BMW engine, and despite the best efforts of Heini Mader, the engine didn’t have the same level of support and development as the main Brabham team. This looked likely to continue into 1986, especially as Benetton had been promised equal support to Brabham, suggesting that Arrows could drop even further down the pecking order. A new chassis, the A9, was due later in the year and the team hoped that this could make better use of the power. Marc Surer returned to his old stamping ground to partner Boutsen once more.
Marc Surer had built a fine reputation as a competitive racer in the early 80s but had been worn down by the inability of Arrows to give him a decent car and had decided at the end of 1984 to quit F1 and go into sportscar racing. However, when Brabham came calling in 1985, he had come back and made a good impression with a series of combative drives that sadly went mostly unrewarded thanks to the Brabham’s unreliability. This seemed to rekindle his interest in F1 and he returned to the Arrows team for the new season.
Boutsen’s neat, unfussy driving led him to three points finishes in 1985 including of course the memorable second place at Imola – third would have been impressive enough even if Prost hadn’t been disqualified. He may not have made the headlines of a Senna or a Bellof, two other drivers who emerged during 1984, but he could get the best out of the chassis and his development and testing skills had helped the team no end.