1989 Season Review

JPN89 Prost leads SennaMcLaren-Honda

1. Ayrton Senna br
2. Alain Prost fr

Another dominant season for McLaren even if not quite as much so as 1988. Whereas last year the competition – Ferrari, Williams, Lotus – was in disarray, in 1989 the first two at least had largely got their act together and it showed. The rapid decline in relations between the two drivers didn’t help either, and while it only directly contributed to retirements in Japan, it was a distraction the team didn’t need. Perhaps Prost’s departure is for the best, and the incoming Berger seems much more easygoing.

FRA89 AlesiTyrrell-Ford

3. Michele Alboreto it / Jean Alesi fr / Johnny Herbert gb
4. Jonathan Palmer gb

A pretty good season for Tyrrell – the new 018 chassis proved much more competitive than last year’s model and could probably have scored more often than it did with a bit more luck. Nonetheless, fifth in the table and top “non-works” team is not bad at all. Alboreto’s departure could have been a real problem were it not for the discovery of Jean Alesi in much the same manner as Michele himself was originally given his break by Uncle Ken. Alesi will lead the team next year but Palmer, who was simply demolished by all his team-mates this year, has decided to hang up his helmet for good.

BEL89 Boutsen PatreseWilliams-Renault

5. Thierry Boutsen be
6. Riccardo Patrese it

An excellent comeback after a trying 1988 for Williams and an equally satisfying return to F1 for Renault, and with no offence to Boutsen you wonder what Mansell might have done in the same car. Riccardo Patrese had his best ever season to finish third behind the McLaren drivers and it’s a pity in a way that he couldn’t manage a win. Thierry Boutsen, by contrast, won twice but was generally outperformed by Patrese over the course of the year. Whether it was Patrese’s extra year of experience with the car or the pressures of a new team we can’t know, but he’ll be looking to kick on in 1990.

AUS89 BrundleBrabham-Judd

7. Martin Brundle gb
8. Stefano Modena

A solid comeback from the venerable team, but the promise of early season results was never really fulfilled and the team seemed to slip backwards as time went on. The Judd V8 engine just never quite developed enough power for the power circuits like Monza and Hockenheim while the Pirelli race tyres were never as good as the Goodyears despite their excellent qualifying rubber. The team’s financial situation is now precarious though – with owner Joachim Luhti in a Swiss prison facing financial charges, will the team see the start line in 1990? Brundle and Modena are signed up if they do.


9. Derek Warwick gb / Martin Donnelly gb
10. Eddie Cheever us

Seventh in the table after a solid year, with the high point being Cheever’s hometown podium finish. Warwick finished several times in the lower points and the car was usually reliable, but just lacked the speed to challenge regularly. A new start in 1990 in some ways as the three-year driver pairing of Warwick and Cheever splits up and new Japanese money comes in along with Michele Alboreto. Unknown territory to come in many ways.


11. Nelson Piquet br
12. Satoru Nakajima jp

Ferrari and Williams both hauled themselves out of their 1988 slumps this year but Lotus just couldn’t seem to manage it. Their loss of Honda power didn’t help, and nor did the internal politics that seemed to be hampering progress. New management briefly lifted spirits but then the team’s first ever double-DNQ dropped them right back down again. Another team with a clean slate next year – new drivers (Warwick and Donnelly) and a new engine (the Lamborghini V12) and they will hope that it’s what the team needs to drag it out of the doldrums again.

ITA89 CapelliMarch-Judd

15. Maurício Gugelmin br
16. Ivan Capelli it

A dreadful season for March, certainly when compared to the heroics of 1988. Gugelmin’s third place in Brazil seemed to confirm the team as a competitor, but they were the only points they scored all season. The new car was reasonably quick, but just couldn’t finish races – the team posted 19 retirements out of 26 starts after its introduction. The team put a brave face on things and will head into 1990 with continuity of drivers, engine and sponsors. Here’s hoping the cheerful, colourful squad will have better luck.


17. Nicola Larini it
18. Piercarlo Ghinzani it

The hardworking Osella squad have been working away for years with very little reward – a fourth place for Jean-Pierre Jarier in 1982 and a second for Ghinzani in 1984 remain the team’s only points finishes. 1989 was even tougher than usual, with the need to pre-qualify. Nicola Larini showed his quality by doing so eight times, but his 12th place in San Marino was the only time an Osella saw the chequered flag all year. It is in many ways a miracle that Osella keep going at all, and the team has always seemed personified by the ever-cheerful, never-successful Piercarlo Ghinzani. What next for Osella?

JPN89 NanniniBenetton-Ford

19. Sandro Nannini it
20. Johnny Herbert gb / Emanuele Pirro it

A reasonable year for Benetton – a maiden win for Nannini may have been inherited due to the Prost/Senna debacle but it was no less popular for all that, and both Herbert and Pirro proved able occupants of car 20. Pirro’s lack of qualifying pace meant he was often stuck in midfield traffic, and he made a couple of rookie errors as in Monza, but it’s a pity he’s been budged out of his seat by Piquet for next year – hopefully the Italian will find a new berth.

MON89 caffiBMS Scuderia Italia Dallara-Ford

21. Alex Caffi it
22. Andrea de Cesaris it

The 1988 debutants had a pretty good 1989, with Canada’s double-points finish and podium for de Cesaris the high point. The team made good use of the superb Pirelli qualifying tyres to often qualify in the top ten and Alex Caffi underlined his status as a star of the future by running as high as second in Phoenix before being nerfed into the concrete wall by de Cesaris. No word as yet on the team’s plans for 1990.

ITA89 MartiniMinardi-Ford

23. Pierluigi Martini it / Paolo Barilla it
24. Luis Perez-Sala es

The Minardi team had their best year to date, with Pierluigi Martini impressing in particular towards the end of the season with a series of cracking qualifying laps on the Pirelli rubber and he was often able to stay with the leaders, to the extent that he was able to lead the Portuguese Grand Prix for a lap and fifth place was even slightly disappointing. With the team scoring enough to qualify for vital travel assistance in 1990, they can look forward to another good year. Sala, though, failed to impress and there are rumours that he will be moved on.


25. René Arnoux fr
26. Olivier Grouillard fr

Another lean, lean year for the French team, whose new JS33 chassis promised much but delivered more of the same. A thoroughly demotivated Arnoux seemed to be part of the problem, failing to qualify seven times and he was regularly shown up by rookie Grouillard. Three points and 13th in the table almost flatters the team, and they will look forward to a fresh start in 1990 with two new drivers as Grouillard is also moving on, apparently having inherited Arnoux’s instincts for blocking faster drivers trying to lap him.

JPN89 MansellFerrari

27. Nigel Mansell gb
28. Gerhard Berger at

A much better year for Ferrari with three wins and six other podium visits from the excellent new 640 chassis – if only the reliability had been there, they might have put up a real challenge to the McLarens. The unfortunate Berger had the worst of it, only scoring at the 12th attempt, while Mansell endeared himself to the Tifosi by winning his debut race and putting in a series of gung-ho drives, but blotted his copybook by being disqualified twice and banned in Spain. Prost’s arrival as reigning champion will see the number 1 on a Ferrari for the first time since 1980, but how will he fit in?

GBR89 BernardLarrousse Lola-Lamborghini

29. Yannick Dalmas fr / Éric Bernard fr / Michele Alboreto it
30. Philippe Alliot fr

The team with the brightest overalls on the grid saw their long mouthful of a name get slightly shorter as Didier Calmels’ name was quietly dropped following his murder trial. The team had a rather frustrating year, with the reliability of the Lamborghini engine definitely suspect – this seemed to pick up later in the year, which will please Lotus, and the team will also continue with the engine in 1990. The team really had to drop Dalmas despite his underperformance not really being his fault, and it’s unfortunate for Bernard that Alboreto came on the market when he did – nevertheless Éric did enough in his two races to secure himself a full-time drive for 1990 alongside Aguri Suzuki, presumably following the Japanese money from ESPO.

CAN89 MorenoColoni-Ford

31. Roberto Moreno br
32. Pierre-Henri Raphanel fr / Enrico Bertaggia it

Not once in 1989 did a Coloni see the chequered flag, and most of the time they were packing up and going home before qualifying had even started. The talented Moreno started the season out of PQ and made it into the race a couple of times – and both he and Raphanel managed it in Monaco – but after the mid point both cars had to pre-qualify and despite the new C3 chassis being an improvement on the old FC188B, Moreno only managed three starts in it and neither Raphanel nor Bertaggia got out of PQ. Another pointless year for Coloni – can 1990 be any worse?

GER89 EuroBrunEuroBrun-Judd

33. Gregor Foitek ch / Oscar Larrauri ar

Not a lot to say about the EuroBrun team – not once did either Foitek or Larrauri make it out of Pre-Qualifying and it really showed that the EuroRacing side of the equation had lost interest by this stage. Will they return for 1990, or call it a day?


34. Bernd Schneider de
35. Aguri Suzuki jp

Zakspeed had never really lived up to their potential in Formula One and 1989 was no exception. Both drivers were talented – Schneider in particular was highly rated – but the problem was the Yamaha OX88 engine which turned out to be massively down on horsepower compared to pretty much every other motor out there and was heavier to boot. Despite 14 DNPQs for Schneider and a full 16 for Suzuki, both Erich Zakowski and Yamaha have pledged to continue the partnership into 1990. They will have to find new drivers though.

MEX89 OnyxOnyx-Ford

36. Stefan Johansson se
37. Bertrand Gachot be  / JJ Lehto fi

Mike Earle’s new Onyx team had a memorable first season for both the right and the wrong reasons – Johansson’s podium in Portugal was a high point, his departure from the pits trailing an air-gun a very public low. Team sponsor Jean-Pierre van Rossem’s erratic antics have taken much of the focus from the racing, though, his firing of Gachot – a talented youngster – for voicing his frustration was only redeemed by the fact that Lehto proved a real find, and he has spent most of the season spending lavishly on his own lifestyle but apparently being rather reluctant to pay the team’s bills, while publicly threatening to leave F1 if his proposed Porsche engine deal for 1990 falls through. Interesting times ahead.


38. Christian Danner de / Gregor Foitek ch / Bertrand Gachot be
39. Volker Weidler de / Pierre-Henri Raphanel fr

“If at first you don’t succeed” –  Günter Schmid’s motto. After the eventual failure of the ATS team, he returned in 1988 to moderate lack of failure with Rial, and encouraged by de Cesaris’ fourth place in Detroit the team expanded to two cars and an all-German lineup. Sadly the ARC2 chassis just wasn’t up to the job and while the experienced Danner had some success including a fourth of his own at Phoenix, youngster Weidler was all at sea. By the end of the season, just as at ATS, the team was running with few spares and waiting until components failed before replacing them – see Foitek’s accident in Spain after Danner finally quit in disgust. Although no official announcement has yet been made, no-one really expects to see Rial back in 1990.


40. Philippe Streiff fr / Gabriele Tarquini it
41. Jo Winkelhock de / Yannick Dalmas fr

A tumultuous season for the little team, with Streiff’s horror crash before the season had started, the sale of the team to Cyril de Rouvre following Bouygues construction’s sudden pull-out from sponsorship. Gabriele Tarquini at least found a home after the FIRST debacle, and at first things seemed to go well with Tarquini racing well, scoring a point and nearly scoring on other occasions too, but once the team slipped into pre-qualifying they couldn’t match the pace of the Onyx, Lola and even Osella teams, and never managed to make it out of the early sessions. Back to the drawing board for 1990.


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