Renault were back after a 2-year absence from the sport, and Williams would be hoping that the French marque could work their magic on the team who had had a pretty dire 1988 by their own high standards. The FW12 car with its Judd engine had been a nightmare, though results improved a bit after Patrick Head made the decision to give up on the troublesome “reactive” suspension. While awaiting a new car, the team have updated the 1988 chassis to the FW12B and are looking forward to the extra power the V10 engine should give them. The talismanic Mansell is gone, though, and some don’t believe the quiet Boutsen has the star quality to replace him. We will see.
5. Thierry Boutsen
The Belgian had established himself as Mr Consistency in 1988, finishing third to the two McLarens on six occasions and come fourth in the championship and top of the non-turbo runners. His patient, methodical style also made him a valuable driver on testing and development duties, but there are still many who feel he has not yet proven himself a winner. Based on 1988’s form, moving from Benetton to Williams feels like a demotion, but he will be hoping the form book will go out of the window in 1989.
6. Riccardo Patrese
By far the most experienced driver on the grid, Patrese had at the Australian Grand Prix equalled Graham Hill’s record of 176 starts and would beat the record in Brazil. His career had often seemed about done with and yet he continued to fall on his feet with moves to Alfa Romeo, then back to Brabham and finally on to Williams. 1988 had been a tough year for both Patrese and Mansell and while rumours had gone round that Patrese would be dumped in 1989, he had done enough to scotch them and secure his place.