The unofficial “works” Ford team had had a good 1988, with Boutsen impressing in particular with a series of undramatic but effective drives to take five podium places – six, before their disqualification in Belgium for fuel irregularities. The team were certainly the best of the non-turbo runners and took an overall third spot in the championship behind only McLaren and Ferrari. For 1989, with Boutsen leaving for Williams, Nannini became the lead driver and promising British youngster Johnny Herbert was brought into the second car. Ford had worked on a new engine, the HB, which would be for Benetton’s exclusive use in 1989. However delays in production of the engine, and a testing crash by Nannini, put back design and production of the new B189 chassis and so the team would begin with last year’s car – and last year’s engine, which was now used by half the field.
19. Alessandro Nannini
Nannini’s first year at Benetton had seen the chain-smoking Italian with the rock star sister make a splash with a series of hard-charging drives. Ultimately, he was probably a bit too hard-charging, having suffered more retirements than Boutsen, but on his day he seemed to have more raw pace than his team-mate. How he would handle the responsibility of being team leader now instead of the insouciant newcomer would be interesting, as will his performances against the upcoming star Herbert.
20. Johnny Herbert
The Essex-born Herbert had been a rising star in the British domestic scene since he first came to attention winning the Formula Ford Festival in 1985. Signed by Eddie Jordan’s Formula 3 team, he won the 1987 F3 title and moved into F3000 with Jordan and Camel sponsorship. He was in contention for this title when a huge accident at Brands left him badly injured and even in danger of losing his legs – just before being announced as Benetton’s new driver for 1989. The team kept faith throughout his recovery and although he still has difficulty walking he seems able to drive…