Second in the Constructors’ Championship, third in the drivers’ standings for Patrese and a brace of maiden wins for Thierry Boutsen – not a bad year for Williams, all told. If not quite back to their 1986-7 dominance, it was certainly an improvement on 1988. The Renault engine seems like a good powerplant, even if it is slightly down on power in comparison to the Honda, and the FW13 chassis took a win, two seconds and a third in its seven outings at the end of the year, so the package looked good for 1990. The only question most pundits have is about the drivers: Boutsen and Patrese are capable enough, but many feel the team is lacking a real top-drawer driver to put together a title challenge.
5. Thierry Boutsen
Despite taking two wins in 1989, Boutsen had looked second-best to Patrese all year and he actually finished lower in the drivers’ standings than he had with Benetton in 1988. A heavy testing crash in Rio before the season started may have affected his fitness and knocked his confidence, while team-mate Patrese was simply on fire, having his best ever season. He will hope to up his game in 1990 and win on pure merit rather than inheriting first place in the wet.
6. Riccardo Patrese
The veteran Italian, closing in on 200 Grand Prix starts, was regarded before 1989 began as a driver whose career was slowly petering out, and it had been a bit of a surprise when he was signed for Williams in the first place. In 1989, however, he confounded all his critics with his best season in Formula One. Despite still searching for that elusive third career win, six podium finishes saw him take third place in the standings, best of the non-McLaren drivers and (satisfyingly) ahead of his 1988 team-mate Mansell. Can the most experienced driver in F1 history keep it up in 1990?