Back to the drawing-board for Ken’s boys as their dire 1988 had cost them the majority of their sponsorship. The 017 chassis had been disastrous compared to the successful DG016 of 1987, and as the season drew near it became obvious that they were going to need to stick with it at least in Brazil as the new 018 was not going to be ready in time. With some tweaks to bring it into line with the new regs, it was dubbed the 017B and was tested in pure black. Jonathan Palmer was retained and his experience in developing and testing cars would be needed. Joining him was Michele Alboreto, returning to the Tyrrell team after five years with Ferrari.
3. Jonathan Palmer
The ever-cheerful doctor had made his F1 debut back in 1983 but had bounced around backmarker teams ever since, from RAM to Zakspeed and then Tyrrell, without ever seeming to really shine. He was a quintessential “safe pair of hands” with lots of testing experience and for a struggling team you do need someone who’ll bring the car home – but a “safe” reputation will never put you in a top seat. 1987 was a high point as winner of the Jim Clark cup, while 1988 was dire in the uncompetitive car.
4. Michele Alboreto
The Italian’s five years with Ferrari had started with such promise, winning his third race for the Scuderia at Zolder in 1984, but just two more wins followed as an early title tilt in 1985 ended in a flurry of retirements and he never really looked the same driver again. Granted, the Ferraris of the following years weren’t exactly classics, but tellingly he seemed usually to be beaten by his own team-mate too, with both Johansson and Berger looking much livelier in the same car. Alboreto will hope that a return to the Tyrrell team that gave him his big break will be a temporary blip and he will be back in a top team soon.