1. Alain Prost
2. Keke Rosberg
McLaren have lost ground in 1985 and 86 since their dominance in 1984, but when Alain Prost is on song there’s not a lot that can get in his way, and his second championship despite winning fewer races than Mansell and even being disqualified from one speaks volumes about the reliability and pace of the car. Some had expected great things of Rosberg but his season just never got going with a string of breakdowns that may have owed something to his robust style. Nonetheless, Formula One will miss the pugnacious Finn next year, and it will be interesting to see who will replace him. Ron Dennis is rumoured to want Senna.
3. Martin Brundle
4. Philippe Streiff
Losing out in the engine stakes to works teams Ligier and Lotus, the Tyrrell team once again did good work on a small budget and the talented Martin Brundle finally opened his points account and proved the better of the two drivers. Streiff was no slouch either, and between them they steered the team to 7th in the constructors’ table. Renault are pulling out of F1 ahead of the turbo ban and Tyrrell will need to source new power – hopefully they will find the right deal.
5. Nigel Mansell
6. Nelson Piquet
The Williams team would look back on 1986 with mixed feelings. The car had been the best in the field by a clear margin and with two strong performers in Mansell and Piquet they took the Constructors’ Championship with ease. Doubly frustrating then that neither man took the Drivers’ title thanks to the tyre problems in Adelaide, and something of a personality clash between Nigel and Nelson seems to be developing too.
7. Riccardo Patrese
8. Elio de Angelis / Derek Warwick
The death of the popular de Angelis in mid-season testing rattled the team and even the presence of the phlegmatic Derek Warwick couldn’t entirely steady the ship. The truth is though that the BT55 was a radical idea that hadn’t worked; Gordon Murray later agreed that they had had to make too many improvisations to make the innovative design work, leading to all sorts of mechanical problems. Back to the drawing board for 1987 then.
11. Johnny Dumfries
12. Ayrton Senna
Another good season for Senna, who again underlined his credentials as a potential world champion. The Lotus had again proved fragile though, with six retirements for Senna and nine for Dumfries, and the team was a very distant third in the Constructors’ race. Johnny Dumfries himself had been overshadowed by Senna as everyone expected, and could usually be found scrapping in midfield rather than in the points, but he had done reasonably well in the circumstances. Lotus, like Tyrrell, would be looking for a new engine deal for 1987 though, which had the capacity to spoil things.
14. Jonathan Palmer
29. Huub Rothengatter
The West German team’s first full-season effort had yielded little in the way of results, with the best being 8th places for Palmer in Detroit and Rothengatter in Austria. It wasn’t an unalloyed failure either – the cars regularly beat both Osellas in qualifying at least, and Palmer finished as often as not. But if these were small comforts then they needn’t worry too much: the team remains well-financed and organised, and Jonathan Palmer has done valuable development work as well as his race-day job.
15. Alan Jones
16. Patrick Tambay / Eddie Cheever
The American team had had a fairly forgettable year, despite starting with such high hopes: an all-star design team, lavish budget, two star drivers, custom-made Ford Turbo engine. And yet results on the track had been disappointing at best, until points finishes in Austria and Italy gave them an air of respectability. Alan Jones seemed to be having fun at least, but Carl Haas wasn’t, and neither were sponsors Beatrice Foods, who pulled out at the end of the season, leaving the team’s future in jeopardy.
17. Marc Surer / Christian Danner
18. Thierry Boutsen
After a solid 1985, Arrows seemed to go backwards in 1986 – not disastrously so, but where the A8 chassis had been a decent runner and picked up points, the A9 was a dog. It was raced a few times, and attempts were made to mate the A9’s front end with the better-working rear of the A8, but to no avail. In the end, the team scored just one point courtesy of Christian Danner, in the A8 in Austria. Another frustrating season for the clearly talented Boutsen, who must hope something better will come along soon.
19. Teo Fabi
20. Gerhard Berger
Pundits were divided on whether to regard the team as a new one or as a simple renaming of the Toleman team. Everyone agreed, though, that it was a pretty good debut. Three points finishes out of four in the first two races, followed by a third-place finish for Berger at Imola caught the attention and, though unreliability in the mid-season dampened things down a bit, the maiden win in Mexico was a rousing finale and entirely merited: the B186 was the fastest car in the field in a straight line – the fastest in Formula One history in fact.
21. Piercarlo Ghinzani
22. Christian Danner / Allen Berg / Alex Caffi
Yet another dreadful season for Enzo Osella and his merry men, presumably still persisting for the love of the sport, since material rewards were decidedly thin on the ground. Ghinzani continued driving as a hobby while team-mates came and went but nothing much changed. The cars – now nearly three years old and with overweight, thirsty engines to match – were usually found on the back row of the grid and rarely saw the chequered flag. Ghinzani finished just once, Berg four times (though twice unclassified) and Caffi finished his only race unclassified too. Back next year? Probably, somehow. Better? They can only hope.
23. Andrea de Cesaris
24. Alessandro Nannini
The little Italian team looked a little less chaotic this year but had little more in the way of success. The cars usually qualified better than the Osellas, but had an even worse reliability record, with just four finishes all year, one of them unclassified. Nannini seems to be a decent driver and de Cesaris is a known quantity by now and has curbed his headstrong ways. The high point of the year was Australia where de Cesaris in the new 186 chassis managed to not only qualify 11th, but finish for the only time. Carlo Chiti’s “Motori Moderni” engine isn’t powerful enough and the team need to work on their car preparation to improve reliability.
25. René Arnoux
26. Jacques Laffite / Philippe Alliot
A season of to halves for the Frenchmen, who looked to be having a real renaissance in the first half of the season, going into the British Grand Prix fourth in the Constructors’ table. Talismanic driver Laffite’s horror crash at Silverstone seemed to rock the team and prevent much useful development on the JS27 chassis and the team slid back with only two points finishes after Britain. The early season was enough to keep the team on course for fifth at least, but now the search for new engines for 1987 begins.
27. Michele Alboreto
28. Stefan Johansson
The red cars had a dreadful season in 1986, and the team endured a winless year for the first time in some years. Pre-season testing had been promising, but in the end the car was simply too porky and too unreliable and both drivers struggled. This being Ferrari, though, someone’s head had to roll and Stefan Johansson’s services were dispensed with shortly after the season closed – though he had outscored Alboreto and may pundits thought the team had sacked the wrong man.
31. Ivan Capelli
It’s difficult to make any judgements based on two races, but the team didn’t embarrass themselves and Ivan Capelli looked like a safe pair of hands.