The Zakspeed team had had a decent 1985, if not a spectacular one. The team looked organised and efficient, Palmer was providing exellent testing feedback and the team’s own engine was working reasonably well – however a series of technical retirements meant they had only posted one finish all season. Palmer was finding that there was quite a turbo lag, sometimes of several seconds, between putting his foot down and getting the power, which could be a problem, but the engine itself was producing more power than the Harts, Alfas and Motori Moderni, if less than the top-range BMW, Honda or TAG. Despite the slick look and tobacco sponsorship from West, the team had limited resources to work with, but if anyone could make the most of those resources it looked likely to be Zakspeed.
Palmer’s 1985 was a mixture of hope and frustration – the car performed consistently better than the Osella and Minardi at the back of the grid, but retired from all but one race and didn’t make much progress during the season. However, it was only ever intended to be an extended work-up for a proper tilt in 1986, and Palmer’s second year with the team would hopefully see better things.