Just like 12 months earlier, the off-season was filled with rancour and bitterness between Senna and Prost, with recriminations and threatened sanctions, boycotts and so on. Added to this was an international recession and the fallout from the Gulf War, which although a military success of almost unprecendented proportions for the US-led coalition, had increased fears of terrorism, particularly against air travel. Against the background of all of this, some had argued that the 1991 season shouldn’t go ahead at all, with the lavish F1 circus looking increasingly insensitive among poverty and fear, but in the end commercial considerations and the passion of drivers and teams won out.
With the Onyx, EuroBrun and Life teams falling by the wayside, there were two new teams to replace them; the Modena team were universally known simply as “Lambo”, as they were a thinly-disguised Lamborghini works team, while Eddie Jordan’s successful F3000 squad made the step up to the big time. Elsewhere, the Osella and Arrows teams had become Fondmetal and Footwork respectively. The two new teams, plus Coloni, Dallara and Fondmetal drivers would need to pre-qualify for the first half of the season.
There were no changes in technical regulations, but one welcome format change: the “best eleven” rule was dropped, meaning every point would count. Additionally, a win would now net 10, rather than 9 points: an additional incentive to go for the lead rather than settle for second. Would it make a difference? We’d see.
Finally, while the order of the calendar remained the same, there were two new circuits: the French Grand Prix moved to Magny-Cours near Nevers in central France, while the Spanish Grand Prix would be held at the Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona – both brand new purpose-built circuits with excellent facilities.