Grand Prix Classic
1983 Season Review
For the first half of the season Piquet's Brabham was a race contender rather than a championship contender. Apart from a wretched weekend at Long Beach, Piquet was never uncompetitive, but rarely looked quite on the same level as Prost and the Ferrari drivers. What he did have was consistency and maturity - there was the well-taken win at Brazil, coming out better than the other turbo front runners in the freak conditions at Monaco and the near-miss in Detroit.
However, once the Brabham BT55B arrived in Silverstone, speed was added to the mix. Immediately he finished 2nd, and was on course for a repeat in Germany when the engine failed. He would have won in Austria but for the engine losing power (he still salvaged 3rd), and at Zandvoort if Prost hadn't driven into him.
Then, for the final three races he was majestic and near untouchable - only Patrese briefly headed him at Brands and Monza, and of course in the closing stages in Kyalami. Piquet being fast is old news; it was the coolness and maturity with which he was driving that really landed him the title. In each race, he did exactly as much as he needed to, and as he was at the absolute peak of his form it was enough.
That he was able to retain his composure in the later stages of the season when everyone else seemed to be under pressure that was the most telling thing, and there was little doubt his title was completely deserved.
1983 should have been the year. Reliability concerns and Rene Arnoux had thwarted Prost in 1982; for 1983 he had Eddie Cheever as a team-mate - someone who would tow the line. He also had the RE40, which - in Prost's hands at least - was a reliable and competitive machine.
After a false start running the antiquated RE30C in Brazil, and then the prototype 1983 car at Long Beach, it all went to plan for the first half of the season, with a fine win at Ricard and another at Spa. A potentially disastrous race at Monaco was redeemed by a 3rd place.
The second half of the season started well too - Brabham's new car was defeated at Silverstone; mechanical problems intervened at Hockenheim, but Prost still finished 4th. Austria saw Piquet suffer engine problems, and a cathartic victory for Prost as he defeated old enemy Arnoux in one of his best drives.
The next race it all fell apart, though. Piquet was faster at Zandvoort, and a ragged Prost collided with him. From there, with Renault seemingly unable to match Brabham's development, he was something of a helpless passenger - retiring at Monza having never been in contention; second by default almost at Brands; and then there was the helpless performance at Kyalami. It was sad that such a good season would be tainted by failure, and the blame didn't lie on Prost's shoulders - Zandvoort was arguably his only mistake of the year.
Having left Renault after an unhappy 1982, Arnoux seemed to be destined for a shorter, and even more unhappy, stint with Ferrari. In the first half of the season, he was destroyed by Tambay, that simple. In practice, he could match his team-mate. In races, nothing went right. Sure, there were a brace of podiums, but one was due to surviving the apocalypse of Long Beach, and the other came at Imola, where Tambay took the battle to Patrese while Arnoux span and ended up 3rd once again largely by default.
Then on the streets of Detroit it all suddenly clicked. The first of a hat-trick of poles was followed by a dominant drive until technical problems ended his race. Canada saw a lights-to-flag victory where he was only headed after his early pitstop. A pole at Silverstone went to waste thanks to poor Goodyear tyres, but then at Hockenheim there was a second win. Having looked like a flop for six races, suddenly he was a title contender.
Once again tyres led to defeat in Austria, but he was the beneficiary of Prost and Piquet's clash in Zandvoort. At Monza the Ferrari was no match for the Brabham, but the bullet-proof reliability saw him finish 2nd. However, then came two races where the Goodyears were a serious hindrance, and they just happened to be the final two races of the year.
Of course, if Arnoux had been on form at the start of the year, it might not have mattered, but those opening races where he either overdrove or disappeared meant he was always at the mercy of such factors, and regardless of his fine mid-season there were raised eyebrows when he retained his seat over Tambay. However, there was little doubt that when on form he was one of the most spectacular drivers in the field.
Many expected Tambay to revert to the role he had played to Pironi in 1982 - that of solid back-up man, with Arnoux as the main challenger. However, Tambay surprised everyone - not least Arnoux - by mounting a genuine title bid.
Sadly, he had less luck than his team-mate - Rosberg took him out at Long Beach, the marshals forced him out in Detroit when his smooth, reliable style could well have helped him to a healthy points haul. It was his engine that went at Hockenheim and in Austria, and sadly by the time his brakes let him down at Brands Hatch his challenge was basically over.
It was largely down to Tambay's development skills that the 126C2 was so competitive early on, and that the 126C3 worked out of the box. But he wasn't just a good tester who could bring a car home, and there were moments when his wonderful racecraft showed - notably the excellent pass on Arnoux at Silverstone. And he was the cannier driver too - when the car didn't work, Arnoux throttled it and suffered the consequences, while Tambay adapted.
Indeed, despite the statistics, Tambay was arguably the driving force of Ferrari for the year, and the mechanics were distraught he was dropped. Testing ahead of the South African Grand Prix made what they knew clear - that Arnoux just couldn't deliver the vital feedback needed. It might have big repercussions for them.
Rosberg had hoped the flat-bottom regulations would make Cosworth cars a match for the turbos in 1983. At the Brazilian Grand Prix, he took pole and was only beaten by Piquet in the race - and that after a pitstop fire. He was disqualified for getting a push, but undaunted.
However, it was not to be. Nevertheless, he didn't give up, and astonishingly by mid-season he was just five points off the championship lead. Had the second half of the season again visited slower tracks, he might have even retained the title - especially when the disqualification in Brazil was taken into account.
Where there were opportunities Rosberg did his best, and for the first half of the year he was the only Cosworth runner who could touch the turbo cars. His astonishing win at Monaco made up for a somewhat brainless showing at Long Beach, while elsewhere he just kept driving as hard as possible, and was often rewarded with points.
In the second half of the season the DFV just couldn't keep with the turbos on the fast circuits, while Michelin overtook Goodyear and thus Lauda and Watson overtook Rosberg. His liver complaint left him listless as well, but at Kyalami he was finally given a turbo and brought the car home a fighting 5th first time out. After spending seven races as an also-run the message was clear - Keke was back.
1983 was not, on the whole, a vintage year for Wattie. Half of his points came from the American street tracks - an eyebrow-raising win from 22nd on the grid in Long Beach thanks to Michelin race tyres and the self-destruction of others, and another survival run in Detroit.
There was also a great drive in Zandvoort which proved there was life in the Cosworth yet, but elsewhere the odds were just too great. Watson's own inability to qualify well was amplified by the McLaren's problems with Michelin's radial qualifiers (notably at Monaco). With a grid half full of fast, reliable turbos, it was just too much work to do.
That said, there wasn't an awful lot that Watson did wrong, and he didn't turn in anything as bad as, say, his 1982 British Grand Prix performance. He was under some pressure throughout the year, and there was a feeling that his days were numbered in the second half of the season - especially when the team doted on Lauda at Zandvoort, though Watson got the last laugh by taking a rostrum finish.
When he did get his hands on the TAG car, what little luck Watson had seemed to evaporate, and what with one thing and another he never really got to race the turbo. He was close to Lauda for much of the year, though there was a sense the Austrian was on autopilot waiting for the TAG. That Lauda capped off his season by looking like a front-runner in the car while Watson was black-flagged for a starting violation did little to help his chances of being retained for 1984.
Unlike predecessor Arnoux, Cheever's role as Prost's team-mate was that of a contractual #2, his brief being to aid and protect the team leader while adding points to Renault's constructors' cup bid. That he was largely unable to deliver wasn't really his fault.
It always seemed to be his Renault that broke down, and while he didn't quite have the mechanical sympathy of Prost (few do, to be fair) he didn't have the luck either. At the same time, however, qualifying wasn't his strength (five starts in the top 6 all year) and it meant too often he was chasing hard in the early parts of races.
It meant that while Prost was battling with Piquet, Arnoux and Tambay, Cheever rarely joined him at the very front, and if interlopers like the Lotuses or de Cesaris challenged the 'Big Three' teams, Cheever always seemed to be the man squeezed out. Still, his enthusiasm and racing edge rarely deserted him, despite a somewhat depressing season that never quite got going.
The only time his mission brief was properly fulfilled was at Ricard, where he qualified 2nd and finished 3rd, while in Canada he drove a fine race to finish 2nd but simply didn't have enough to challenge Arnoux for the win. Really there wasn't a huge amount of progress made on a personal level from his previous season, and while Prost undoubtedly held sway in the team, perhaps Cheever should have come a bit closer to his team-mate.
DE CESARIS (Alfa Romeo)
Over the winter there was considerable talk that Alfa Romeo might not retain de Cesaris despite his improved performances in 1982, but in the end he was kept on, and it turned out to be a smart decision.
There were still errors - skating into the back of Tambay at Monza on only the second lap - and there was still stupidity (ignoring the weigh-in signal in Brazil and giving FISA the chance to make an example of himself; claiming he had activated the empty fire extinguisher at Ricard), but generally it was a year of fine driving.
For one, his manners while being lapped were much improved, if not quite perfect. For another, when the Alfa worked, he got the best out of it. Even the most cynical were forced to raise their views on de Cesaris when he comfortably led the first half at Spa, and despite a botched pitstop he might have won if the car had lasted. In Germany too he drove a mature race, not letting his high grid placing go to his head and producing a hard but fair defence when Cheever leant on him, and was rewarded with 2nd place.
He was fast at Brands and Kyalami too, and might also have scored at numerous other races. The problem was that once again the Alfa wasn't consistent, or even reliable. From 14 starts, de Cesaris finished just five times, and one of those was after a lengthy repair stop. It was pleasing to report he was rarely the cause, however, and still retained his undoubted natural speed.
After a largely impressive debut season with Brabham, the second year saw Patrese go off the boil. In some respects, his fate was sealed from the first few races, when Piquet delivered results and Patrese emphatically didn't. Brabham love Piquet anyway, and in 1983 - with the Brazilian at the peak of his game - Patrese struggled to draw much of their attention.
While he suffered the bulk of the team's mechanical problems, there was a certain feeling that this was with good cause. For a case in point, see Monza, where he briefly scampered away from Piquet only for the engine to go. His team-mate won the race easily with reduced boost, not needing to go as fast as possible, merely faster than the rest.
When the car didn't break down, too often Patrese broke it. His crash at Imola was frankly stupid, and his overly-stubborn deflection of de Angelis at Brands saw another points finish go begging. He could, on occasion, match his team-mate's speed, but not his intelligence or maturity.
That said, there was little doubt that he could be very fast, and merely required focus and concentration. The Brabham team, once again returning to the hub of Piquet, perhaps wasn't the right place to hone these efforts. However, his solid drive at Kyalami was rewarded with what could be a cathartic win wherever he ends up in 1984, and there's little doubt he was unfortunate not to end up with at least double the points he did score.
Niki LAUDA (McLaren)
If 1982 had seen a fine comeback season, 1983 wasn't vintage Lauda. For the wily Austrian, it was a year of consolidation, and there was a sense that he wasn't particularly enamoured with risking life and limb battling for 11th place in a Grand Prix.
Considering Lauda's personality it can be easy to read too much into his actions, but the theory that his mediocre mid-season (including, of course, the non-qualification at Monaco) was an attempt to get McLaren to speed up the progress of the TAG engine.
The year started well with a brace of rostrum finishes, but these both came in races that proved to have somewhat freak results - the only races where the Cosworth cars genuinely looked a threat to the front-running turbos. After that, partially thanks to Michelin's qualifying tyres, he was somewhat lost in midfield, just another Cosworth runner.
However, from Silverstone onwards Michelin stole a march on their American rival, and Lauda began consistently challenging Rosberg's standing as fastest atmo driver. Soon after, he finally got his hands on a McLaren-TAG, and after three races spend ironing out the car was suddenly back among the front-runners in South Africa, a drive that showed exactly why his place in the team had never been questioned in 1983.
Jacques LAFFITE (Williams)
Laffite's return to Williams didn't quite go to plan. The FW08C had been developed by Rosberg, whose aggressive style is about as far from Laffite's own individual preferences as can be imagined, putting him behind his team-mate from the off.
On top of that, the Cosworth-engined Williams just wasn't as competitive as imagined. The season had started badly with an indifferent practice in Rio, but Laffite got faster as the race went on and given another ten laps would have finished higher than 4th. Then at Long Beach he started 4th and kept with the leaders, had a cooler head than Rosberg and but for the freakish performance of the Michelin runners might have won.
Even after the team's dreams of battling the turbos were shattered when the series headed to Europe, Laffite still drove well - three points finishes from the next five races, with a 7th in one and a gearbox failure when a secure 2nd at Monaco in the other. However, once Michelin made up ground mid-season, he drifted back down the grid.
There was the first corner collision with Ghinzani in Austria when he should have been rows ahead of the Osella, the frustrated withdrawal from the Dutch Grand Prix when Rosberg persevered as best he could with a misfire, and then the consecutive failures to qualify at Monza and Brands - the latter especially chastening as the team's test driver, Jonathan Palmer, got in with few problems. It was clear that Laffite just couldn't wring the neck of the car like Rosberg could. However, in Kyalami, given a more balanced car and a turbo he qualified a fine 10th, proving the old speed was still there. It boded well for 1984, when Laffite should be more of a match for his team-mate and the opposition.
Michele ALBORETO (Tyrrell)
After his heroics in 1982, it was a season of anticlimax for Alboreto. While the increased number of turbocharged cars pushed Tyrrell further down the order, his performances lacked the same guile they had done the previous season, and he was rarely much of a challenge to the Williams or McLaren cars, and was often matched by Jarier's Ligier.
Considering Ken Tyrrell had spent much of the winter reaffirming that Alboreto would see out the last year of his contract, and that the offers never really went away it's difficult to see beyond the idea that Alboreto was having a quiet year, with his future elsewhere assured - the announcement before Kyalami that he would be driving for Ferrari in 1984 was merely confirmation of an open secret.
That's not to say Alboreto was slow in 1983 - he had the upper hand over Sullivan, admittedly with preferential treatment, over nearly the whole season, and he proved in Detroit that when the Tyrrell worked he could extract fine results still. The win was lucky, but Alboreto was on form all weekend and heading for the rostrum anyway.
Elsewhere it was difficult to tell if he was really trying to extract the most from a design which was, basically, two years old, but given his smooth style it might have been that he just wasn't cut out for throwing a car around Rosberg style. Either way it meant his stint at Tyrrell largely ended on a flat note, but his bright future remains undimmed.
Nigel MANSELL (Lotus)
Overall Mansell enhanced his reputation in a very difficult year for Lotus. He fell out with Peter Warr and was still not getting along with de Angelis, two factors which might yet cost him his drive, but on the circuit he made a good impression. In the first half of 1983 he was probably the luckiest #2 driver in the field, as his contract put him in the Cosworth-engined 92 (a flat-bottomed 91) rather than the evil Renault-engined 93T.
While the 92 was hardly competitive, with Pirelli's race tyres meaning he struggled to challenge the better DFV runners, at least it went in a straight line, and when he did get in the 93T at the Race of Champions he probably saw what a good deal he had. When the rubber let him he was quite effective, dicing with Laffite at Imola and scoring a morale-boosting point in Detroit. That said, he also hit Alboreto when trying too hard on the first lap at Monaco...
When he got Ducarouge's 94T it was his first serious go with a turbo, and after a nightmare practice came home with a supremely promising 4th place. The Pirellis, however, were a limiting factor, and the drive at Silverstone looked like being a false dawn. A case in point was in Austria, where he qualified 3rd, looking like a front-runner. On race day, the Italian rubber just wasn't competitive and he was a lapped and frustrated 5th. The same threatened to happen at Brands after starting 4th, but his second set of tyres were better, and he finished a fine 3rd. There were, however, mistakes on Mansell's part too - the daft attempt to pass Warwick at Tarzan in the Dutch Grand Prix being the most glaring.
It wasn't a classic season by any means, and it seems unfair to compare his results from the first half of the season to de Angelis considering the different cars they had. It was in terms of attitude that Mansell made a better impression - while his abrasive personality caused disharmony in the team, at least when he was out on the track he was always trying his best, making up for a lack of natural speed with some serious grit.
Derek WARWICK (Toleman)
Finally, after two years, Toleman gave Derek Warwick a car capable of really showing his talent. The heavily revised TG183B was quick out of the box, and after stunning testing times Warwick would pronounce himself disappointed with 5th on the grid at Rio. The race was even more of a letdown, as he struggled home a lapped 8th on Pirellis.
Between the Italian rubber and unreliability issues, it began to look like those elusive points might never arrive. At Monaco a canny tyre choice and some excellent control (he was the only turbo runner to start on slicks) catapulted Warwick up to 4th, only to collide with Surer. At Spa the car didn't break down, but once again the limp Pirellis left him in 7th.
The addition of Holsett turbos for the Austrian Grand Prix finally gave him a car he could really push, however, and a solid drive at Zandvoort took him to 4th, and the floodgates were open. Points followed in the next three races, despite the tyres - had Warwick been on Michelins or even Goodyears, podiums would have been scored. It cemented his place as one of the hottest properties in Grand Prix racing - not just the promising driver seen on occasion in 1982, but close to the finished article.
Marc SURER (Arrows)
Any doubts that Surer is a through-and-through racer were quashed in 1983. Given the under-powered but stable Arrows A6 chassis, on the slower circuits he was a joy to watch, spectacular but safe as he hurled the car around.
In Rio he charged through to 6th. At Long Beach he reacted to the arrival of Alan Jones by once again coming home in the points despite fragmenting Goodyear tyres, and Imola saw another point. On top of that, it took a collision with Warwick to keep him from the rostrum at Monaco, and suffered an ill-starred race day in Detroit after qualifying 5th. At Spa he couldn't keep with the turbo cars, but was glorious to watch while attacking the Bus Stop chicane.
In the second half of the season, with Goodyear and the DFV on the decline, there wasn't much he could do other than run in midfield, often in tandem with Boutsen. While results weren't much to write home about in anything but relative terms, he showed tenacity and mechanical sympathy when others wouldn't have done.
Mauro BALDI (Alfa Romeo)
Euroracing boss Paolo Pavanelli and a healthy slice of politics got Baldi into the Alfa Romeo seat after a steady but unspectacular debut season with Arrows in 1982, and it's fair to say he didn't make the best of the opportunity.
Almost without fail he was soundly beaten by de Cesaris, and he had many of his team-mate's failings without matching his speed. There were some awful qualifying performances, notably only just scraping into the grid for the Montreal/Detroit double header, and when he did qualify well he inevitably slid back.
There were some good performances in there - his point-scoring drives at Imola and Zandvoort were solid enough - but he crashed a fragile car too many times, and there was a sense of a solid car going to waste when worthier drivers were scraping around with Cosworth engines.
Danny SULLIVAN (Tyrrell)
Being second driver in a team with Tyrrell's limited resources was always going to be something of a thankless task, let alone for a 33-year old with no F1 experience. And on paper Sullivan's season was little to shout about.
However, he did well considering the circumstances. Tyrrell started the season behind Williams and Arrows within the 'second division' Cosworth cars, and when Michelin made their strides mid-season the McLarens and Jarier's Ligier could be added to the list, but Sullivan was generally as competitive as Alboreto, which has to be worth something.
There were some good drives as well - his confident showing in the Race of Champions was the highlight, but there was the sensible drive to 5th at Monaco, the post pitstop charge in Canada and a good early run in Detroit to savour as well. However, the second half of the season was rougher, and it was difficult to see what exactly Tyrrell and Sullivan were doing together in some of the later races, though the driver never failed to give 100%, and mistakes were thin on the ground. It was, however, no surprise to see Sullivan make early plans for a return to Indycars in 1984.
Elio DE ANGELIS (Lotus)
The Italian's family money made sure he had the Number 1 position within Team Lotus, which meant for the first half of the season he would be the one with the Renault turbo. In practice, this was a poisoned chalice, as it put him in the diabolical 93T car.
The badly handling machine was a poor match for de Angelis, who grew ever more frustrated. He just isn't the sort of driver who responds well to poor machinery, best summed up by the retirement at Imola where he simply gave up, spooked by the car's handling. To be fair, the one time Mansell was given a 93T he didn't go a lot better.
Like the team as a whole, however, he was transformed by the arrival of the 94T, and - with the Pirelli tyres working for once - might have won at Silverstone but for technical problems.
Thereafter he suffered a run of bad luck, being unable to avoid Giacomelli in Austria and taken out in a 50/50 collision with Patrese at Brands - where again he might have won. Add in a few mechanical troubles and it was a season where results were few and far between, though there was still a lot to suggest that with the right car he could yet have a sparkling career.
Bruno GIACOMELLI (Toleman)
After being sacked by Alfa Romeo, there was a general feeling that Giacomelli washed up at Toleman almost by default, with neither party really having a particularly strong desire to work with each other.
Like Teo Fabi in 1982, Giacomelli would complain that he got a lot less support than Warwick, though considering Toleman's budget and the relative performance of the drivers, it's difficult to argue that this was particularly unjust.
There were occasions when Giacomelli's natural speed shone through - Spa and Monza saw some excellent driving, even if both were capped off with silly moments, while he was never in danger of being obliterated in the way his compatriot was. However, he also rarely caught the eye, and was somewhat lost in the midfield while Warwick was snapping at the heels of the top 10.
Johnny CECOTTO (Theodore)
The Venezuelan motorcycling champion made a good impression in his debut season, despite some difficult circumstances. His best drives were near the start of the season before fell behind on the development curve, but even then he didn't disgrace himself and was a good match for Roberto Guerrero.
At Long Beach, in only his second Grand Prix, he drove a very mature race to finish 6th when the Goodyear runners were dropping like flies and the likes of Piquet and Rosberg were crashing out. Sadly, it needed attrition to get the car into that sort of position and the circumstances didn't come up again.
Nevertheless, he didn't disgrace himself, running well in midfield and driving sensibly while the team disintegrated around him, and even Cecotto's failures to qualify reflected more on the directionless later-season Theodore outfit than on himself.
Thierry BOUTSEN (Arrows)
After spending the first part of 1983 lucklessly failing to get into F1 (dropped by Spirit in favour of Johansson, unable to find the funding to get a drive with Tyrrell), Boutsen finally arrived at Arrows in time for his home race and immediately made a good impression.
He then followed that up with excellent drives in Detroit and Montreal, dicing with more experienced men in both and being unlucky not to score in either. His battle with Watson in the latter especially showed he was a good solid racer.
Had he started the season in Brazil, there is little doubt he would have scored points. As it was he was left to learn his craft in midfield in the later half of the year, but did himself no damage there, largely matching Surer for pace. The Arrows was a good car that could be driven hard, and Boutsen did just that.
Jean-Pierre JARIER (Ligier)
Jarier finally got the full-time Ligier drive he had long lobbied for, only to find the car wasn't quite what he expected. His frustration grew as the season went on, resulting in several petulant and mindless incidents - the worst of which was undoubtedly the spiteful blocking of Tambay in Austria.
It was a shame, as the year hadn't started off too badly. The Ligier was initially the best of the DFV/Michelin runners, and at Long Beach was sensational - Jarier tearing up through the field and colliding with Alboreto, then catching back up with the leaders at a lightning rate. He then ran into the back of Rosberg in an incident which probably wasn't the Frenchman's fault, but could have been avoided with a little patience... Had he kept cool and picked off the Williams cars, he would have been long gone by the time the McLarens did the same.
There were promising showings elsewhere too - starting on wets and then making a poor pitstop. wrecked a potential good showing at Monaco, while he ran well in Austria, bad manners aside. However, it wasn't just his blocking that tainted things in 1983 - there was the stupid collision with Watson at Spa and a needless tussle with Guerrero in Holland, not to mention his farcical tyre troubles in Detroit.
By mid-season it was clear Guy Ligier was writing 1983 off, and rather than knuckle down and convince the team he was the man to lead in 1984, Jarier's behaviour both on and off the track seemed to grow even more immature, and he was something of a persona non grata in the paddock by the close of the season.
Chico SERRA (Arrows)
Out of a regular drive for 1983, Serra was engaged as a fill-in while Jackie Oliver haggled with Alan Jones at the start of the year, and gave a good account of himself in the dynamic Arrows A6 at his home race.
It was enough to get him the second seat at the Race of Champions, and then three more drives with the team while they worked out Boutsen's finances. It was a difficult situation for the Brazilian, who didn't have the backing to get a seat elsewhere, but again he approached it maturely - as he had done in Fittipaldi's final season - and showed there was some talent there.
He signed off by qualifying a superb 15th at Monaco, and coming home 7th despite starting on wets and losing a lot of time switching to slicks. However, up against Surer, Boutsen and even Jones he didn't come as anything special, and it seems as if his time in Formula 1 is over.
Raul BOESEL (Ligier)
Much like his debut season with March, Boesel's year with Ligier started off with a few signs of promise before tailing off into mediocrity. Indeed, the parallels between the two - including repeat non-qualifications at the Osterreichring and Monza and a litany of retirements in the second half of the year - suggested a driver who had reached his ceiling.
True, Boesel was taken on by the team for his sponsorship and then all but ignored, being given tired engines and being excluded from Ligier's private testing programme. Jarier got the best of what Ligier had to offer, and that wasn't much in the first place, but Boesel was one of the most anonymous drivers in the field. Even when his French team-mate was at his worst, he tended to have the upper hand.
It's difficult, after two uninspiring seasons, to see him as much more than a pay driver. A competent and sensible pay driver, but a pay driver none the less.
Stefan JOHANSSON (Spirit)
Johansson's short Formula 1 programme is a difficult beast to judge. Spirit were effectively testing at races, and the car suffered so many technical problems that the Swede rarely got a proper go at practice sessions.
The problems meant he often had to drive the team's overweight testing hack, but he often showed well in the early stages of races - notably blistering cameos at Silverstone and Hockenheim - before technical maladies intervened.
Nevertheless Johansson finally got to show he had the skills of a fine Grand Prix driver when the car was worked, and it seemed he was going to get the proper chance his talent deserved in 1984, only for Honda to withdraw support from Spirit and leave his future once again in the balance.
Manfred WINKELHOCK (ATS)
1983 saw Winkelhock regularly competitive in the neat ATS-BMW, yet the car's shocking reliability saw him fail to score a single point. After a poor start while the car's handling was sorted, he went on to qualify the thing in the top 10 nine times, and was often a factor in the early stages of the races.
His aggressive driving style drew praise and mild criticism, but there was little doubt that here was a capable driver. But the car just wouldn't finish races - Winkelhock saw a chequered flag just twice all season, and only once after a trouble-free race.
The car often ran just behind the works turbos, battling with the likes of de Cesaris, Cheever, Mansell and the Tolemans, but it always seemed to be the first to drop out. Despite his combative reputation, Winkelhock had few significant accidents, though whether he was gentle enough for the fragile D6 was a point for debate. Nevertheless, he can carry little blame for ATS' lack of tangible results, having fulfilled his side of the bargain with a season of gritty drives.
Corrado FABI (Osella)
It must have been a shock for Fabi to make the step from Formula 2 champion to struggling to qualify an Osella, but to the young Italian's credit he didn't shirk the challenge.
He was undoubtedly the faster of the Osella drivers, but his lack of experience and difficulty in adapting to life at the back of the grid counted against him compared to Ghinzani.
Fabi, for his part, seemed happier in the Cosworth car in the first half of the season and, in a season where his team-mate was a likely obstacle to qualification, struggled from switching to the Alfa Romeo car when Ghinzani had been driving the thing for a few races. He adapted as best he could, and it would be perilous to write Fabi off after a single poor season in a poor car, but he had little opportunity to show what he could do in 1983. In context, though, his successive finishes in Austria and Holland are deserving of praise.
Piercarlo GHINZANI (Osella)
As the experienced hand (and man bringing the most sponsorship money) Ghinzani got the first crack at the Alfa V12 Osella, meaning that he suffered a dreadful first half of the season (he didn't qualify for a race until Detroit), but when the team switched entirely to the FA1F he had the upper hand over Fabi.
His professionalism impressed during a difficult year, as did his good manners on the track.
This was an experienced driver doing the best he could to develop an overweight car largely being fielded for political reasons, and while Ghinzani is unlikely to ever be a world beater he gave a reasonable account of himself in an uncompetitive car in the second half of the season.
Roberto GUERRERO (Theodore)
Guerrero's second year in Formula 1 started off in fine style - 14th on the grid at Rio, even if the race was ruined by a brake problem. He then would have started 8th at Long Beach, but had his times disallowed for a tiny technical infringement.
He was generally just about faster than team-mate Cecotto in one of the closer match-ups of the season, but had less luck. He wouldn't be classified until the British Grand Prix, with most of the problems mechanical in nature - though he did collide with Sullivan at Imola.
However, while his reliability got better in the second half of the season, the stagnant Theodore team got worse, and in these circumstances that Guerrero only failed to qualify at Monaco speaks volumes. He is very in demand for 1984, and with good reason.
Kenny ACHESON (RAM March)
The likeable Acheson was the fifth driver to attempt to qualify the RAM 01, and - circumstances in Kyalami not withstanding - didn't go much further than any of his predecessors. While he outqualified both Osellas in South Africa, if the Spirit and the two Theodore drivers had been present...
Still, if's don't count for much, and Acheson got his start, and then drove sensibly to finish 12th - albeit six laps behind - for RAM's best result of the year.
It was always going to be an uphill mountain trying to get the awful car to go very far, and despite some sizeable gaps between his times and those of other strugglers on some circuits, he kept at the task in hand, and progress was slowly being made. Being the first driver to start a RAM since Long Beach was, on the balance, a fair trade-off for his optimism and effort in trying times.
Jonathan PALMER (Williams)
Given a drive in a third Williams at Brands Hatch as a reward for two years' testing work for the Grove concern, Palmer did a sensible job. He qualified a sensible 25th, and came home a sensible 13th after a sensible drive.
In the circumstances it was a pretty good job - he qualified where Laffite didn't, and Brands didn't suit the car or the Goodyear tyres, while development of the FW08C had ground to a halt by then.
The problem was, if anything, that he was too sensible. While there's a lot to be said about maturity and good behaviour on a Grand Prix debut, given a car in its' last race might perhaps have resulted in a bit more aggression. As it was, considering Palmer's blistering speed in F2, his F1 debut was faintly underwhelming.
Eliseo SALAZAR (RAM March)
At the start of the season, Salazar was roundly panned for his performances in the RAM. His incredibly nervous drive in Brazil, where he seemed terrified whenever another car came up behind him (a measure, no doubt, of his humiliating Hockenheim collision with Piquet in 1982), and then four straight failures to qualify gave his critics ample ammunition, and few tears were shed when his sponsor pulled the plug.
However, looking back from the end of the season, it's fair to say Salazar did a respectable job in what successive drivers with fewer preconceptions proved to be a dog of a car that had no mechanical grip even before the problems of Pirelli's race rubber were factored in.
He would be the only driver to qualify the RAM on merit all year - twice to boot - which has got to count for something. Unfortunately, it wasn't the most wringing endorsement, and given two years of F1 compared to his replacements' previous, it is perhaps expected he should have bested their results. As it is, the Chilean seems finished with F1, and the truth is the sport didn't really miss him.
Alan JONES (Arrows)
After a winter of discussion, Alan Jones finally returned with Arrows at Long Beach. Nursing an injury from a horse riding accident, and overweight, he qualified a respectable 12th, but in the race retired with exhaustion. To be fair, it was one of the more gruelling races on the calendar. He then finished a respectable 3rd in the Race of Champions, before returning to Australia.
The whole thing wasn't much more than a mutually beneficial testing exercise - it allowed Jones to get back in the cockpit and prove to larger teams he can still drive, and Arrows to get a bit of publicity.
While his Long Beach drive was slightly disappointing (he was out-raced by Surer before retiring), it wasn't a disaster, and a fitter Jones would most likely be more competitive in a faster car. He has reportedly been linked to Ligier and Alfa Romeo for 1984, though it is perhaps telling that - having spent winter regretting filling his second seat before Jones signalled his intention to return - Frank Williams retained Jacques Laffite for 1984 instead of contacting the Australian.
Jacques VILLENEUVE (RAM March)
Gilles Villeneuve's younger brother took over Salazar's vacated seat for his home race, and under a tsunami of overexcited local press coverage failed to qualify.
In retrospect he didn't do a bad job, coming closer than successor Acheson would for most of the year. The RAM was undoubtedly the weakest car in the field, and that Villeneuve was able to find so much time across two practices on the turbo-tailored Pirelli qualifiers pointed to some sort of talent, if nothing on the scale of his brother.
It was a sad little story full of mitigating factors, but the truth is few care for mitigating factors, and it would be a surprise if Villeneuve tries his hand at Formula 1 racing for a third time.
Jean-Louis SCHLESSER (RAM March)
An experienced driver in lower Formulae, Schlesser was given a drive in the RAM March for the Race of Champions as a prelude to running in a second car for the European races. He came 6th (admittedly of seven finishers, with 7th-place man Guerrero having been delayed by a pitstop.) there.
However, he failed to qualify for his first World Championship race at Paul Ricard - though he wasn't much slower than Salazar, or far from making the grid. However, his sponsorship fell through soon afterwards, and Schlesser left RAM in bad odour soon afterwards.
Considering RAM were unable to mount a single competitive car across 1983, it was probably the best for all concerned.