1989 was another great year for McLaren, taking their fifth constructors’ title, four of which had come during the 1980s (1984, 85, 88 and 89) and despite Prost’s departure to Ferrari accompanied by designer Steve Nichols, the mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” continued to be in evidence at Woking. The successful MP4/5 chassis became the MP4/5B with redesigned wings and a reshaped rear end to accommodate larger radiators and made use of the latest evolution of Honda’s V10 powerplant. Gerhard Berger comes in to replace Prost and Ron Dennis will be hoping that the genial, fun-loving Austrian proves a better foil for Ayrton Senna than the highly-strung Prost. The question will be whether Berger will be expecting to challenge Senna or whether he has been signed explicitly as a number two driver.
7. Ayrton Senna (left)
The 1988 world champion put up a good title defence but in the end was unable to match Prost’s greater consistency and was particularly hurt by a batch of DNFs in the middle of the season; sometimes mechanical, but on occasion he made the kind of mistake that suggests he is perhaps not as unflappable as he sometimes seems. Could this be a weak point in the mighty Senna’s armour?
28. Gerhard Berger (right)
For two years at Ferrari, Berger had dominated his team-mate Michele Alboreto, and it is a shame that repeated breakdowns prevented him from truly comparing himself to Mansell. Once the car became more reliable at the end of the season he opened his account with a second, a win and a second so he’d clearly lost none of his drive and motivation. If he is to be a true number two to Senna, though, he may need those famous reserves of good humour.