Carl Haas’s Lola team had participated in four races at the end of the 1985 season with indifferent results – however, like Zakspeed, their entry had really been more of an extended testing session for the 1986 season. The THL1 chassis with the stopgap Hart turbo engine would be used at the start of the season, pending the new THL2 with Ford turbo power. 1980 champion Alan Jones continued with the team despite some questioning his fitness and hunger, with Patrick Tambay joining him from the sinking Renault ship – Tambay had been known as a great development driver during his stint at Ferrari and the team would hope he could bring that with him and help develop the new car.
The strapping Aussie had made a name for himself in the late 70s and early 80s with a combination of speed and grit that brought Williams their first titles, but a few years out of Formula One had seen him miss the development of Turbo engines into the dominant force in the series. Results in 1985 had been unspectacular, leading to suggestions that the 39-year-old was past it, but he seemed to be enjoying himself back in the paddock and his presence brought an air of respectability to the operation. No-one doubted his ability, of course, but he would have to prove he still belonged.
The debonair Frenchman had had rotten luck over the last couple of years, unceremoniously dumped by Ferrari at the end of the 1983 season in favour of Alboreto and moving to a Renault team in freefall after Prost’s failure to capture the 1983 title. He never stopped plugging away, though, and maintained a reputation for being a fast racer when needed and a capable pair of hands who could provide excellent testing feedback, a reputation that saw him able to successfully jump from the sinking Renault ship.