Williams had undergone one dreadful and two somewhat disappointing years by their own high standards since the glory days of Mansell and Piquet in 1987. The FW12C and FW13 chassis had been competitive, but just not competitive enough, while many felt that Patrese was past his best and Boutsen was too “nice”, with speed but lacking the edge needed to really compete. The team had made two key signings during 1990, though: most publicly Nigel Mansell returning to the team to replace Boutsen, but also talented young designer Adrian Newey from the Leyton House team. Newey’s first chassis for Williams, the FW14, had looked good in testing and the team hoped to be back on championship form in 1991. Williams also become the second team to adopt a semi-automatic gearbox and the FW14 will be one of the most advanced cars on the grid.
5. Nigel Mansell
Mansell had become thoroughly identified with the Williams team during his previous stint there, and despite being taken to the hearts of the Tifosi had never seemed quite at ease at Ferrari. He and his legion of fanatical supporters will hope that his return “home” will see an uptick of form and he certainly already looks much happier and more relaxed in Williams blue than he did in Ferrari red.
6. Riccardo Patrese
The veteran Italian has driven more races than anyone else and begins his 14th season in the sport, over 200 races but just three wins to his name. He evidently works well in the Williams set up and indeed his move to the Williams team – controversial at first – has seen a vast improvement in form from his mid-80s days at Brabham and Alfa-Romeo. With a truly competitive car, he can do even better.