Like some other teams, Ligier had designed a new car, the JS27, that featured a lower profile, making an advantage of the new reduced fuel regulations. The 1985 season had been promising and the team’s capture for 1986 of René Arnoux who had been inexplicably sacked by Ferrari early on in 1985 boded well. Nonetheless, there were a few doubters, suggesting that Arnoux was rusty and out of practice and Laffite was now 42 years old and must surely be finding his speed and motivation lacking. Nonetheless, at least on paper, it was Ligier’s strongest lineup for some years and with continuity in engines and personnel, all concerned hoped that the promise of 1985 could be built upon in 1986.
25. René Arnoux
Alain Prost’s old team-mate and rival had looked like a world champion in waiting at times in 1983 and 84, but the unreliability of the car let him down – other times he simply looked disinterested and content to simply circulate in midfield. Neither he nor Ferrari have made any comment on his shock sacking after just one race of the 1985 season – rumours suggest that his physical condition was in question – but he clearly hopes that a Ligier team on the cusp of a renaissance could be his ticket back to the top.
26. Jacques Laffite
The veteran driver had tested in the number 25 car but reverted to his usual number 26 for the season proper, and would be hoping to help the team with whom he had become synonymous to continue their revival. Some, including some in the French motoring press, believed he was getting too old for Formula One and moreover was potentially keeping a young driver out of a seat, so he also had a point to prove to them. Nonetheless, he would turn 43 during the season and many thought this would be his last year in Formula One regardless.