Alain Prost had won the drivers’ title despite rather than because of the car and it was time for a new design. John Barnard had left the team for Ferrari in August and American designer Steve Nichols’ first job was to put pen to paper on McLaren’s first all-new chassis since the MP4/2 debuted at the start of 1984. The MP4/3 took a lead from the previous year’s Brabham with a low-slung design taking advantage of the once-more reduced maximum fuel tank size. Under the sleeker bodywork, however, most of the internal workings were the same with the addition of the famous pop-off valves.
1. Alain Prost
Le Professeur became the first man since Jack Brabham in 1960 to win back-to-back titles and he did it much the same manner in which he had won his first: canny, intelligent driving without ever really dominating the season. His McLaren was second-best to the Williams pairing all year but where Piquet and Mansell were battling and taking points and team focus off each other, Prost benefited from Rosberg’s dreadful season to be McLaren’s sole focus. Could he pull the same trick in 1987?
2. Stefan Johansson
Johansson’s rise to the top of F1 had been a remarkable story – from two DNQ entries in 1980, to the doomed Spirit team in 1983, then a 1984 as supply driver for Tyrrell and Toleman before a sudden call-up to Ferrari in 1985 that left jaws on the floor throughout the sport. All credit to the Swede, he took the opportunity with both hands, nearly won his debut race and proceeded to show golden child Michele Alboreto up for the next two years before being unceremoniously dumped. And yet, once again he’s fallen on his feet with a year’s contract from Ron Dennis – can he do enough in the next sixteen races to extend that?