The new Brabham BT56 chassis was the first not to be designed by Gordon Murray since the BT37 of 1972-73, after the South African’s move to McLaren as technical director. The new car was more conventional than the previous year’s ultra-low design, though the engine was still mounted at the 72º angle which had caused so much trouble in 1986. His work as fill-in driver done, Derek Warwick was on his way again and the team once again looked to Italy in deference to their major sponsors Olivetti and brought in Andrea de Cesaris to partner Patrese. This would be Brabham’s last year with BMW power as the Bavarian firm had no interest in developing a normally-aspirated engine and had already ceased supplying their customer teams Arrows and Benetton. Brabham would hope to end their six-year association on a high note.
7. Riccardo Patrese
Patrese’s return to the Brabham team with whom he had won twice in 1982-83 had not been a happy one, with the car slow and unreliable, but Riccardo showed himself to not only be a safe pair of hands on the road but a professional off it. Despite all his frustrations, he never criticised the team publicly and helped them get through the trauma of Elio de Angelis’ death.
8. Andrea de Cesaris
Having largely shed his “Andrea de Crasheris” moniker from his McLaren days, the Roman was now seen as a good journeyman driver, albeit one prone to the odd bout of hotheadedness, and probably not race-winning material. His financial backing from Marlboro Italia didn’t hurt either.