1987 Season Review

AUT87 JohanssonMcLaren-TAG

1. Alain Prost fr
2. Stefan Johansson se

The team’s last year with TAG power had been a little anticlimactic in the end – by their high standards at least. Prost won three and visited the podium four more times, but it was quickly obvious that neither the pace nor the reliability were there. Stefan Johansson underwhelmed and has yet to find a drive for 1988, but he is a talented driver and hopefully we haven’t seen the last of him. Honda power and Ayrton Senna for 1988 should rejuvenate the team, as long as the new engine regulations don’t affect the engine’s speed.

MON87 PalmerTyrrell-Ford

3. Jonathan Palmer gb
4. Philippe Streiff fr

Tyrrell had a pretty good year for a change – certainly they were the class of the field in the 3.5l atmospheric category and Palmer and Streiff put in some good drives to steer the team to equal 6th in the “big boys” table too. The 1988 technical regulations are expected to narrow the gap further and next year could be a vintage one if so.


5. Nigel Mansell gb / Riccardo Patrese it
6. Nelson Piquet br

Nelson Piquet won his third Driver’s title and Williams the Constructors’ title in considerable style, and the cars were comfortably the best out there for most of the season – except for the last couple of underwhelming races. For the second year running, Mansell won more races than anyone else and still couldn’t win the title – and with Williams losing their all-conquering Honda engines for next year, had he lost his chance? 1988 might be an interesting one for Williams as they joined the atmo club with Judd power and without Nelson Piquet.


7. Riccardo Patrese it / Stefano Modena it
8. Andrea de Cesaris it

The Brabham team increasingly seem to have lost their way in 1987 and despite the odd promising drive from Patrese they’ve simply been … there. Team owner Bernie Ecclestone is said to be looking to sell up as his FOCA duties take up more and more of his time, and there are even rumours that team might be wound up as he has little appetite for trying to negotiate a new engine deal with the withdrawal of long-term partners BMW. That would be a shame, but the off-season is long.

SMR87 BrundleZakspeed

9. Martin Brundle gb
10. Christian Danner de

A promising start with Brundle’s 5th place in San Marino almost literally went up in smoke as the team posted 18 retirements over the course of a season and Martin Brundle is widely expected to leave the team over the winter. Whether the talented Briton will find a car worthy of him is yet to be seen. Zakspeed will be hoping to draw a line under 1987 and that the promised extra competitiveness in 1988 will help them.

GER87 Senna PracticeLotus-Honda

11. Satoru Nakajima jp
12. Ayrton Senna gb

An interesting year for Lotus, whose revolutionary Active Suspension system seemed in the early races to give them an advantage, but while it helped on street tracks like Detroit and Monaco where Senna won, it wasn’t as much of an advantage the rest of the time. While Senna was rarely out of the points and often on the podium, and Nakajima didn’t embarrass himself and scored a few times, Lotus will probably look back on 1987 as a missed opportunity. Next year, though, they will have the coveted Number 1 on their car and a triple world champion at the wheel…

MON87 FabreAGS-Ford

14. Pascal Fabre fr / Roberto Moreno gb

The little French garagiste team began the season well, usually finishing last but finishing and scoring points in the Colin Chapman trophy in 8 of the first 9 races. The addition of second cars for Osella and Larrousse-Calmels later in the season showed Fabre up, though, and he was replaced by Roberto Moreno, who did well to record – if somewhat fortuitously – the team’s first “real” point in Adelaide. Another team hoping for the next phase of the turbo ban to even the odds in 1988.


16. Ivan Capelli it

A steep learning curve for the team but there are some promising signs for the future: Ivan Capelli looks like a good driver and once designer Adrian Newey joined the team in August there were some immediate aerodynamic improvements and results picked up a little. With better reliability too, the team began to outperform AGS in the mid-late season. The trajectory is upward, hopefully.


17. Derek Warwick gb
18. Eddie Cheever us

Not a vintage year for Arrows, but they will at least enjoy having beaten both the “works” BMW team Brabham and the other “customer” team Ligier, and Cheever and Warwick did as well as they could in the circumstances to make regular visits to the points. 19 retirements over the course of the season too many though. No more “Megatron” engines for next year – will whatever replaces them be better, or worse?

BEL87 FabiBenetton-Ford

19. Teo Fabi it
20. Thierry Boutsen be

The brightly-coloured cars never quite fulfilled the promise of their debut year in 1986 when Berger took a maiden win for them. A 50% retirement rate was largely to blame for their underperformance, but when they did finish it was in the points more often than not and a podium finish apiece was just reward for the talented drivers. Nonetheless, Teo Fabi seems bound to return to IndyCar racing in 1988 and Benetton will hope to find a good foil for Boutsen to replace him.


SMR87 OsellaOsella-Alfa Romeo

21. Alex Caffi it
22. Gabriele Tarquini it / Franco Forini ch

Another barren season for the hard-trying little team – the third full season without scoring a point – still struggling with its elderly chassis and weighty, asthmatic Alfa Romeo engines. Alfa Romeo have shown no interest in building a new 3.5l atmo engine, so the team will need to find a new supplier soon – but they might still have to struggle on for one more year. Deserve better, probably won’t get it.

minardi 87Minardi-Motori Moderni

23. Adrian Campos es
24. Alessandro Nannini it

An improvement on their debut year, but not by much. Minardi’s slick looking black and yellow cars saw a chequered flag just four times in 1987 (compared to twice in ’86). Campos in particular looked completely out of his depth, making many rookie errors, but neither driver was going to look great in a car this cumbersome. The Motori Moderni motors aren’t helping and the team are said to be looking for other options for 1988 ahead of the turbo ban.

Ligier 87Ligier-Megatron

25. Rene Arnoux fr
26. Piercarlo Ghinzani it

Piercarlo Ghinzani probably wished he’d stay with the Osella team with which he’d become synonymous. His results could scarcely have been worse, and he seemed to enjoy himself there. There was little joy at Ligier this year when after a good 1986 the team had a dreadful 1987. Arnoux’s outburst early cost them their Alfa Romeo engines (though given Osella’s fortunes this probably didn’t hurt them too much) and the replacement customer “Megatrons” were subject to all the same problems Arrows had with them. 6th and 7th place in Belgium looked promising but it turned out to be the high point of the season and the team would have to start again from scratch with new engines in 1988.


27. Michele Alboreto it
28. Gerhard Berger at

Mostly, yet another bad season for Ferrari and once again Michele Alboreto seemed to bear the brunt of the technical failures (he only finished six times all season, three of them on the podium). He was also comprehensively outqualified by Berger though, as he had been by Johansson last year. However, dramatic improvements in the Ferrari’s performance in the last few races of the season lifted the spirits of all at Maranello with Berger finally bringing the Scuderia back to winning ways. The team go into 1988 with both drivers signed up and high hopes of a competitive year.

Lola 87Larrousse-Calmels Lola-Ford

29. Philippe Alliot fr
30. Yannick Dalmas fr

Not a bad debut season for a little team like this: Alliot scored a point three times and Dalmas would have had one in his third-ever race if he had been registered. Messieurs Larrousse and Calmels have signed a three-year contract with Lola to construct the chassis (which means the cumbersome name will stay – most seem to generally be referring to the cars as “Lolas”), and will hope to keep Alliot and Dalmas, and their decent Ford 3.5l engines, for 1988.



32. Nicola Larini it

As with previous “toe in the water” exercises, it’s difficult to say much about the team, who managed just 8 racing laps. Let’s see what happens in 1988, and hope they tone down that violent yellow.


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